58. To have right recollection of Maitreya Buddha
And vow to be born in his Pure Land
This method is most precious and rare
it is very close, easily attainable and open to all
If one sees a Buddha and always hears the Dharma,
Why should one worry about future regression?
Since Sakyamuni Buddha has passed away and Maitreya Buddha has not yet arrived, one might think that one needs to have a specific Buddha as one's place of refuge when one practices the seven branches or the six recollections or worships and prostrates to the Buddha or recites the Buddha's Name. One might feel that only in that situation could one have firm faith thinking, 'Since this Buddha has a special connection with me, only in this way can I be protected without fear of regression.' Although these conceptions lack a profound and thorough understanding of the virtues of the Three Treasures and the principle of cause and effect, this is the way the sentient beings usually feel.
In response to this concern, the great and compassionate Sakyamuni Buddha taught the doctrines of being truly mindful of the Honored Maitreya and of seeking to be born in Maitreya's Pure Land. In one Assembly, Sakyamuni Buddha personally designated Maitreya Bodhisattva as the next Buddha of this world. At present, Maitreya Bodhisattva is living in the Tusita Heaven in a special region called the 'Inner Court of Tusita'. Whoever will be the next to descend here as a Buddha, must first live there; Sakyamuni Buddha did so in the past. The Inner Court of Tusita is an adorned Pure Land where Maitreya Bodhisattva frequently preaches the Dharma to infinite numbers of beings. After some time, Maitreya Bodhisattva will come to Jambudvipa to become a Buddha. By then, this world will have already been transformed into a Pure Land. In this world, Maitreya's human Pure Land, Maitreya Buddha will transform and save infite sentient beings in the three Dragon Flower Tree Assemblies.
Therefore, if one vows to be born in the Pure Land of Tusita, one will see Maitreya Bodhisattva and will follow him in his descent to the human world of the future. Seeing a Buddha and hearing the Dharma, one will progress upward naturally. How could one worry about regression? This compassionate Discourse by Sakyamuni Buddha is contained in Sutras such as the 'Mi Le Xia Sheng Cheng Fo Jing' (Maitreya Descending as Buddha Sutra) and the 'Mi Le Pu Sa Shang Sheng Jing' (Ascension of Maitreya Bodhisattva Sutra)
In comparison to rebirth in other Pure Lands of the worlds in ten directions, the doctrine of rebirth in Maitreya's Pure Land is most precious and secure. This can be obtained with reference to its three aspects.
1. Closeness: Maitreya, now in the Tusita Heaven, will come to our human world in the future - to this very world, in this same realm of desire. these two locations, Maitreya's Pure Land and this world are very close. Maitreya's Pure Land is not like the other Pure Lands, one must pass through many Buddha Lands. As for the length of time involved in this process, after one is reborn in the inner court of Tusita in the next life, it will not be too long before one will return to the human world. This is not like being reborn in other Pure Lands where the length of time is required to return to this world is unknown.
2. Easy attainability: The Pure Land of Tusita and the Pure Land of this world, as it exist in the future, are both Lands in the realm of desire. One therefore needs only to take refuge in the Three Treasures, keep the Precepts purely, give properly, and in addition to the vow to be born in Maitreya's Pure Land reciting, 'Praise the Future Descending Maitreya Buddha'. Then one can be born in the Pure Land of Tusita. This is different from being born in other Pure Lands, in which one has to be single minded without scatteredness. To be single minded without scatteredness in meditation is certainly not easy.
3. Universal accessibility: To be born in Maitreya's Pure Land, one need not necessarily vow to attain the Bodhi Mind or the mind of renunciation. This is because people with good roots for human and divine rebirth who want to have better future lives can be reborn there with their vows. In the Pure Land of Tusita and the future Pure Land of this world, the Honored Maitreya, in accord with various capacities of all beings, expounds the human and divine Dharma, the Two Vehicle Dharma and the Bodhisattva Dharma, so that everyone will receive benefits accordingly. Through seeing a Buddha and hearing the Dharma, beings are gradually transformed with steady upward progress - from having human and divine capacities to transcend the world, from having the capacities of the Two Vehicles to having those of the Great Vehicle - and finally return to the way of the Buddha. The beings of the Two Vehicles cannot be reborn in those other Pure Lands, so they cannot receive human and divine beings. Therefore, the doctrine for the Pure Land of Maitreya is the one that is really open to all those who would attain the deliverance of the Five Vehicles.Some people say,
'If we are to be reborn in Maitreya's Pure Land now, what will we do after Maitreya Buddha enters Nirvana if we have not been liberated from birth and death by that time?
These people are fearful of not seeing a Buddha or hearing the Dharma and thereby regressing. They do not know that Sakyamuni Buddha is so compassionate that He has given us the future descending Maitreya Buddha. The Paths of all the Buddhas are the same, so will not Maitreya Buddha tell us how to associate with the future Buddha too?
Some people say,
'Previously it was said that one should cultivate the divine Dharma without wanting to be a divine being, so why talk about seeking to be reborn in Tusita Heaven?'
The primary reason that one wants to avoid being born in the heavens is that one does not want to be born in the longevity heavens through one's profound meditation. In the heavens of the realm of desire and in Maitreya Bodhisattva's Inner Court of Tusita in particular, one frequently sees the future Buddha, listens to the Dharma and practices, so it is all right to be reborn there.
Some people say,
'Why not advocate being reborn in Amitabha's Pure Land?'
They should know that Amitabha Buddha's most blissful Pure Land is a Pure Land particular to the Great Vehicle - in which Sravaka Buddhists generally do not believe or which they are ignorant.
Some people say,
'In the past, Buddhasimha practiced the doctrines of Maitreya, vowing to be born in the inner court of Tusita but instead he ended up in the outer court enjoying sensual pleasures. So it may not be reliable to be reborn in the Pure Land of Tusita.'
These people do not know that the story of Buddhasimha being born in the outer court was purposely spread by other people with ulterior motives but was never mentioned in the biographies of those who transmitted the doctrines of Maitreya, such as Paramartha, the Tripitaka Master Xuan Zang, Asanga and Vasubandhu.
In brief, regardless of the kind of capacity one has for studying Buddhism, one needs to only take refuge in the Three Treasures, give properly, keep the Precepts purely and vow to to return to Maitreya's Pure Land. One is guaranteed to progress upward in the course of practice through seeing the future Buddha and hearing the Dharma frequently, so one should not worry about the possibility of future regression. Therefore, please sincerely vow to be reborn in the Inner Court of Tusita and recite 'Praise the Future Descending Maitreya Buddha!'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
Hoping for far-off results
When lay people came to visit Luang Pu, he ordinarily wouldn't ask them about anything far away.
He'd usually ask, "Have you ever meditated?" Some would respond that they had, others that they hadn't.
One woman, a member of the latter group, was more outspoken than the rest.
She said, "As I see it, there's no reason we have to go to all the trouble of meditating. Every year I hear the Mahachaad sermon [a long, poetic chant of the Buddha's penultimate life, as Prince Vessantara] at least 13 times at many different temples. The monks there say that listening to the Mahachaad story guarantees I'll be reborn in the time of the Buddha Sri Ariya Metteya, where I'll meet with nothing but pleasure and ease. So why should I make things difficult for myself by meditating?"
Luang Pu said,
"Things that are excellent are right in front of your face, and yet you don't show any interest.
Instead, you place your hopes on far-off things that are nothing but rumors. This is the mark of a person who's hopeless. When the Paths, Fruitions, and Nibbana of the Dispensation of the Buddha Gotama are still with us, totally complete, and yet you dither around and don't show any interest in them, then when the dispensation of the Buddha Sri Ariya Metteya comes, you'll dither around even more."
In India, the composition of the classic ‘Pure Land Scriptures’ (such as the Longer and Shorter Sukhāvatī-vyūha Sūtras) helped to popularize the idea that the Buddhas who dwelt in these Pure Lands could bring unenlightened beings into them for teaching without compromising the purity of the environs. In China, the rise of the Pure Land school popularized this idea, and spurred many centuries of theoretical accounts of the nature of the Pure Lands, and the genesis of typologies that sought to classify the various types of Pure Lands. For example, the thinker Ching-ying Hui-yüan (523–92) identified three different types of Pure Land, depending upon the beings that dwell in them or attain their vision: (1) the phenomenal Pure Land where unenlightened beings go which, while purified by the Buddha's presence, still presents itself to their minds according to their desires; (2) the Pure Land with characteristics, which accommodates those who achieved enlightenment (bodhi) following the Hīnayāna path and Mahāyāna followers in the early stages of practice; and (3) the true Pure Land, achieved by accomplished Bodhisattvas on the Mahāyāna path. This latter type had further subdivisions into lands of Bodhisattvas and lands of Buddhas, with the latter further categorized into two aspects: the land as it appears to the Buddha residing in it, and the way he manifests it to other beings.
The T'ien-t'ai school of China established a four fold typology of both pure and impure lands. (1) ‘Lands where the holy ones and ordinary beings dwell together’ indicated impure lands where Buddhas appear in order to teach. (2) ‘Lands of skilful means with remainder’ pointed to lands inhabited by Hīnayāna adepts who had taken the path of skilful means in which teachings were adapted to their capacities rather than expressed directly. They had escaped saṃsāra, and so this realm is outside the ordinary realms of rebirth and represents a true liberation, but the inhabitants still have more to learn. (3) ‘Lands of true recompense without obstruction’ are attained by those Mahāyāna Bodhisattvas who have achieved a direct vision of the truth. (4) Finally, the ‘Land of eternally quiescent light’ is the destination of perfected Buddhas and is free of all defining characteristics and dualisms, and so manifests only quiescence and peace, with nothing to fix the mind upon.
All the Pure Lands of the Buddhas of the ten directions have equal qualities and virtues. Their Dharma Nature is also the same. Therfore, the practitioner should meditate on all the virtues of the Buddhas and seek rebirth in the various Pure Lands of the ten directions. Why should he specifically seek rebirth in the Pure Land of one particular Buddha (i.e., Amitabha)? Is this not contrary to the truth of "equally in seeking rebirth"?
All the Pure Lands of the Buddhas are, in truth, equal. Nevetheless, since the majority of sentient beings in our world generally have dull faculties and defiled, scattered minds, it will be difficult for them to achieve samadhi, unless they concentrate exclusively on one realm.
The practice of constantly focussing on Amitabha Buddha is the "Single Mark Samadhi". Because the Mind is exclusively devoted to one thing, the practitioner achieves rebirth in the Pure Land. In the Sutra Rebirth According to One's Vows, Buddha Sakyamuni was asked by a Bodhisattva, "Honored One! There are Pure Lands in all ten directions. Why do you especially extol the Western Pure Land and urge sentient beings to focus continuously on Amitabha Buddha, seeking rebirth in His Land?"
The Buddha replied, "Sentient beings in this Saha World generally have polluted, scattered minds. Therefore, I only extol one Pure Land in the West, focussing their Minds on a single realm. If they meditate on all Buddhas, the scope of attention will be too broad, their Minds will be lost and scattered and they will find samadhi difficult to attain. Thus, they will fail to achieve rebirth in the Pure Land.
"Furthermore, seeking their virtues of one Buddha is the same as seeking the virtues of all Buddhas -- as all Buddhas have one common Dharma Nature. That is why to focus on Amitabha Buddha is to focus on all Buddhas, to be born in the Western Pure Land is to be born in all Pure Lands."
Thus, the Avatamsaka Sutra states:
"The bodies of all the Buddhas / are the body of any one Buddha. / They have the same Mind and the same wisdom. / They are also equal in power and fearlessness."
The Avatamsaka Sutra further states:
"It is like the full moon, round and bright, its image reflected in all rivers and ponds. Although the reflection is everywhere, there is but a single moon. So it is with ... (the Buddhas). Although they appear in all realms, their bodies are non-dual."
In summary, based on these examples, the wise will understand the truth that "one is all, all is one". When this truth is grasped, concentrating on one Buddha is precisely concentrating on all Buddhas.
Nosta wrote:After reading last plwk post i get with the sensation that each school will argue that their pureland is the best...first i read about Amitabha's pure land being the best and the most easy to achieve, etc. Now i read the same about Maytreya...thats perfect for making people confuse.
III. The Different Types of Pure Lands
[In addition to the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, there are many other pure lands.] The many pure lands can be classified into four main categories: the distinctive pure lands of the Mahayana School, the pure land of the Three Vehicles, the pure land of the Five Vehicles, and the pure land on Earth.
A. The Distinctive Pure Lands of the Mahayana School
The distinctive pure lands of the Mahayana (or the Great Vehicle) School include the Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss and the Medicine Buddha's (i.e., Bhaisajyaguru Buddha) Pure Land of Azure Radiance. In fact, Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss is especially remarkable.
Although there are numerous discussions in Mahayana sutras regarding the many pure lands of the various Buddhas of the ten directions and espousing their many easy-to-travel paths of cultivation, it is the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha that elicits the most awe and wonderment. Of the many Dharma methods discussed in the sutras, the most extraordinary is that of the Pure Land practice where one recites and remembers the name of Amitabha Buddha so that one may be reborn in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. This Dharma method is an unique feature of Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land and is the result of the strength of the forty-eight great vows which Amitabha Buddha made while he was cultivating [to become a Buddha]. With the merits of his compassionate vows, Amitabha Buddha manifests the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. Amitabha Buddha also proclaims categorically that anyone who believes in the great vows of Amitabha Buddha and wishes to be reborn in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss should contemplate the name of Amitabha Buddha, be it for one day, two days, or even just ten times. If the person is sincere and can contemplate the name of Amitabha Buddha with one-pointedness of mind, the strength of Amitabha Buddha will guide the person to be reborn by transformation into a lotus flower in the land of Ultimate Bliss, even though he or she may still be burdened with karma. Once one reaches the Pure Land, [one does not regress back into the wheel of rebirth. This is because in the Pure Land,] one continues to practice so that one will eventually become free from the wheel of rebirth and attain the ultimate bodhi. [Because of the unique features of this Dharma method,] it is said that the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha is most remarkable.
The other pure land is the Medicine Buddha's Eastern Pure Land of Azure Radiance. While the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha symbolizes restoration, the Pure Land of Medicine Buddha symbolizes growth. It says in the sutra that when Medicine Buddha was cultivating the path of Buddhahood, he made twelve great vows. He vowed to help us sentient beings so that we grow in wisdom and are successful in our careers and endeavors; he vowed to help us when we are handicapped, poor, and helpless. He vowed that we will not be lacking in food and other neces-sities, that we do not fall prey to false teachings, that we do not break the law and thus are safe from the pain of punishment, that there is equality between the genders, and that we will become Buddhas. With his great vows, Medicine Buddha manifests the Pure Land of Azure Radiance in the east. Most remarkably, the Bhaisajyaguru Sutra points out that those who recite the name of Medicine Buddha can also be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha in the west if they so desire and practice accordingly.
Some people may say that the heaven of the Christian religion is the same as the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss in Buddhism. Actually, the two are not the same. Venerable Yin Shun, a contemp-orary master, pointed out two differences between the Buddhist Pure Land and the Christian heaven.
1. Complete equality with no class differ-ence. In the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, there is complete equality, with no class difference. This is not true for the Christian heaven, where only God is God and other heavenly beings will never become God. In the Pure Land, everyone can become Buddha. There is no class difference.
2. Continuing practice and not final fulfillment. Christians believe that going to heaven is the final fulfillment or the ultimate state. This contrasts with the Buddhist teachings that one still needs to practice even after being reborn into the Pure Land. In the Pure Land, as one is reborn by transformation into a lotus flower, one must continue to practice until the lotus flower blooms. In other words, one learns the Dharma and practices accordingly until Buddhahood is attained.
B. The Pure Land of the Three Vehicles
The Pure Land of the Three Vehicles—sravaka, pratyeka-buddha, and Bodhisattva—is the liberation they realize as they practice and cultivate according to the following stages: eliminate defilements, realize the truth, and become liberated from life and death. Although the Pure Land they realize is from the same Dharma and results in the same liberation—just as all rivers entering the sea will acquire the same salty taste of the sea—their state of mind tends to be founded on self-liberation. Though it is true that these holy practitioners do not create any more new karma and will not go through the suffering of life and death again, they should continue to further their practice toward an even more sublime state of mind. The Pure Land of the Three Vehicles is not the ultimate goal; it is only a stop on their way to the destination. Thus, the holy practitioners of the Three Vehicles should also recite the name of Amitabha Buddha and aim for the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss so they can continue on their path to Buddhahood.
C. The Pure land of the Five Vehicles
The Pure Land of the Five Vehicles—human, celestial being, and the three vehicles mentioned in the last section—is in fact the Tusita Pure Land of Maitreya Bodhisattva, whom Sakyamuni Bud-dha had prophesied will be the future Buddha of our world. The Tusita Pure Land, also known as the Inner Court of Tusita, is a majestic, pure heaven within the three realms, where Maitreya Bodhisattva is currently teaching the Dharma. If one is reborn in the Tusita Pure Land, one will be able to see Maitreya Bodhisattva. When Maitreya Bodhisattva becomes the Buddha of our world in the future, one will also follow Maitreya Bodhi-sattva and be reborn into this world. In this way, one has the opportunity to personally listen to the teachings of the Maitreya Buddha.
D. The Pure Land on Earth
An example of the Pure Land on Earth is the one described in the Vimalakirti Sutra. It was said in the sutra that though Vimalakirti lived in the saha world, his state of mind was that of the Pure Land. [So, what does the Pure Land on Earth mean? Before, we explore the answer to this question, we have to first understand the where-abouts of pure lands.]
When we speak of pure lands, be it the Mahayana Pure Land, the heavenly Pure Land, or the earthly Pure Land, we can use the colloquial term "heaven" to speak of them. When people ask where heaven or hell is, they are, in a certain way, also raising the question of the whereabouts of pure lands. In this regard, I would like to make the following three points.
1. Heaven can be found in heaven, and hell can be found in hell.
2. Both heaven and hell can be found among us. There are many of us, who because of previous merits and good causal conditions, enjoy a peaceful and happy life. Is this not life in heaven? Then, there are those who are beset with mental anguish and are afflicted with physical pain. Is this not life in hell?
3. Both heaven and hell are in one's mind. There are people whose minds are filled with grudges, discontentment, mistrust, hatred, greed, and delusion—this is hell. If we can forget about disputes with others, expand our hearts and minds to accept everything, give generously to others, be complimentary of others, or treat others with compassion—this is heaven. As we have not been reborn into the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss at this moment, the way that we can be close to Amitabha Buddha is to work together to transform our saha world into a Pure Land on Earth.
If we want to construct a Pure Land on Earth, we have to start with our minds because "when the mind is pure, the land is also pure." We have to start with eliminating unwholesome attach-ments to the five desires (wealth, beauty, fame, food, and sleep) and the six worldly dusts (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and idea).
Once, Sariputra asked the Buddha, "The Buddha lands of the ten directions are all very pure. Why is our saha world so corrupted and filthy?"
The Buddha replied, "You cannot comprehend the world in which I live." With this, the Buddha pressed the earth with his toe. Immediately, the world became brilliant, pure, and magnificent. The Buddha then continued, "This is the world in which I live."
From this, we can see that while we may be doing the same task in the same place at the time, we all react differently. The worlds within our minds are all different.
Among the different types of pure lands in Buddhism, Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss of the distinctive Mahayana teachings is especially remarkable. While there is the Pure Land of the Three Vehicles, it is biased toward liberation only for themselves. Although the "easily accessible" Pure Land of Maitreya Bodhisattva is open to all, it does not provide the opportunity of "realizing Buddhahood in one lifetime" that is available in Amitabha's Pure Land. Also, as the Maitreya Pure Land is within the Tusita Heaven, it is still within the three realms [of the wheel of rebirth]; in contrast, the Amitabha's Pure Land is one in which those who are reborn into it will never regress [back into the swirl of rebirth.]
...thats perfect for making people confuse.
Huifeng wrote:The basic criteria for rebirth in any Pureland is to have faith in that Buddha or Bodhisattva, to vow to be reborn there rather than anywhere else, to perform meritorious deeds, and to dedicate those deeds to rebirth in that Pureland. The meritorious deeds include recitation of sutras and other teachings, and in this case, those teachings about or of Maitreya Bodhisattva would be the most appropriate. The better you can fulfill these requirements, the better the chance of rebirth. This may be better than thinking in terms of specifics, where we may be inclined to check things off on a list. Things are not really so cut and dried.
Nighthawk wrote:Hmmm I reckon Amitabha's Pure Land still the easiest one to get to.
Nighthawk wrote:Kaji wrote:Nighthawk wrote:Hmmm I reckon Amitabha's Pure Land still the easiest one to get to.
That view is shared by Vasubandhu Bodhisattva, who originally followed Maitreya's Pure Land practice.