96.2 This Mind is the Buddha
96.3 Mind-only Pure Land and the Rebirth in Pure Land
96.4 One Cannot Deny that the Pure Land Exists
It has been said that "to be born is definitely to be born, but to return to the Pure Land is not really to return." This is the wonderful doctrine of Mind-only Pure Land or Mere Consciousness Pure Land. If the mind-ground [¤ß¦a] is pure as one practices contemplation and visualization in thought after thought, then it is not difficult to accomplish this wonderful state. This is the real cause of the rebirth in the Pure Land.
According to Mind-only Pure Land, if the mind is pure, the land is pure. The Pure Mind is the enlightened mind.
As discussed in Chapter 91, there are, in general, four methods of Buddha Remembrances. Amongst the four, if one practices the Contemplation Method in accordance with the Contemplation Sutra, one should clearly understand the principles as 'This mind is the Buddha'; 'if the mind is pure, the Buddha appears'; all realms and states are Mind-only, there should be no attachment to them'.
Once one understands that realms and states do not come from the outside and avoid developing attachments to them, these states then become more sublime and the mind becomes purer and more focused. Up to that point, the benefits of Contemplation Method are significant.
However, some practitioners are too eager to seek for auspicious realms in the course of contemplation, their minds may become more agitated, inverted and deluded. Not only are they not in communion with the Buddhas, they even begin to create the causes of demonic events [µÛÅ]]. Therefore, one should apply one's mind correctly in the contemplation.
In order to avoid our minds to be lost in demonic realms, it is highly recommended to cultivate through Recitation of Buddha's name, which is easy and effective.
Though it is said that Pure Land is just mind and Amitabha is merely one's own nature, it does not mean that there is not any Pure Land or Sukhavati, or that there is no Amitabha Buddha, or there is no need to seek rebirth in Pure Land, Understanding that mind has the propensity to become Pure Land does not mean being there; knowing that Amitabha is one's own nature does not imply knowing Amitabha. Amitabha has the potential of inconceivable blessings and the power to change the hell into a lotus by his steady gaze.
One cannot reach the stage of 'no Buddha outside Mind, no Mind outside Buddha’ without earnestness. One cannot reach that stage without Faith, Vows and Practices, the main tenets of Pure Land Buddhism. In the word of Elder Master Ou I [êù¯q], in Chan practice, those who meditate on Self-nature Amitabha and the Mind-only Pure Land, do not cultivate in accordance with traditional Pure Land tenets, but merely seek an undisturbed mind as the goal. It is obviously different from that of the goal of Pure Land Buddhism -- the rebirth in Pure Land.
In the words of a sage from long ago, "A rebirth in Pure Land means a decision to be reborn; going to Pure Land is not really going." First part of that sentence speaks of action and the second part speaks of principle. They complement each other and jointly bring the combination of principle and action to perfection. This wonderful teaching is unfortunately misunderstood by most and the paradigm of principle and action that it advances is frequently overlooked. Most of those in Pure Land practice engage in the activity but never give thought to the principle. Not understanding that "going to Pure Land" does not mean literally going somewhere, but that the action is in the decision and in the rebirth, they overlook how the action assists the principle. The principle, although different from action, depends on it to manifest itself. Clinging to principle at the expense of action produces an intellectual vacuum, but clinging to action at the expense of principle still makes rebirth in Pure Land possible. This method was devised out of compassion for the uninformed multitude and makes the Buddha's enlightening path accessible to them even if they do not understand its principle. Reciting "Amitabha" does not signify the great enlightenment. Just holding on to the Buddha's name while reciting, caring neither about understanding nor enlightenment, will reduce evil karma.
Some people say that the Pure Land is nothing but mind, that there is no Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss beyond the trillions of worlds of the cosmos. This talk of Mind-only (or Mere-consciousness) has its source in the words of the Sutras, and is true, not false. But those who quote it in this sense are misunderstanding its meaning.
Mind equals objects: there are no objects beyond mind. Objects equal mind: there is no mind beyond objects. Since objects are wholly mind, why must we cling to mind and dismiss objects? Those who dismiss objects when they talk of mind have not comprehended mind. It is the inconceivable Dharma of Non-duality in Buddhism.
Some people also say that the Pure Land which is seen at the moment of death is entirely in the dying person's own mind, so there is no Pure Land.
It would be right to say this is the dying person's own mind if he alone saw Amitabha Buddha and the Pure Land at the moment of death. But everyone there at the time [of the death] sees it: they hear the heavenly music fading away toward the West, and the room fills with unearthly perfume, which does not dissipate for several days. Since the heavenly music does not proceed toward any other direction, but toward the west, and after the person is dead, the perfume remains, can it be said that there is no Pure Land? …
On the other hand, when hell appears to a person at the moment of death, is this not mind? It is mind. Does the person fall into hell? Yes, he falls into hell. Then it is obvious that since the person falls into hell, hell exists. Is it then only the Pure Land that does not exist? When the mind manifests hell, the person falls into a hell that really exists. When the mind manifests the Pure Land, isn't the person born in a Pure Land that really exists?"