94.   Pure Land Sect (X)

94.   Pure Land Sect (X)

94.1   Comparison of Saha world and Sukhavati

Master Tsung-tse said,

Now let us compare this world "Saha" (means "Endurance") with the Sukhavati Pure Land.
Here, in Saha, being born in a body of flesh and blood is painful.
There, in the Pure Land , you are born by transformation in a lotus flower, and are free from the pains of birth.
Here, the seasons succeed each other and you get weaker and older day everyday.
There, there are no very hot or very cold seasons, and you are free from the pains of aging.
Here, the physical body is hard to temper and often becomes sick.
There, your transformed body is fragrant, clean and pure and free from the pains of sickness.
Here, those who live to be very old age are rare and impermanence is swift.
There, life is iternal and lifespan is measureless; you are free from the pains and grief of death.
Here, you will be separated from those you love.
There, you are free of the pain of being parted from loved ones.
Here, enemies hate you, and you have to be with those who resent you.
There, those of the highest virtue are assembled together and you are free from the pain of being with those who hate you.
Here, you may be exhausted, and suffer from hunger and cold, and have unsatisfied cravings.
There, food and clothing and precious things are provided ready-made for you to use.
Here, you may have a body that is ugly and defiled and has many defects.
There, your countenance is dignified and your body shines with light.
Here, you revolve in the cycle of birth and death.
There, you experience birthlessness.
Here, there are outcrops and depressions, brambles and thorns, and the landscape is filled with filth and evil.
There, the ground is made of gold; jewel trees reach to the sky; towers of precious stones rise up above you, and flowers of all colors are spread at your feet.
Here, Shakyamuni Buddha has already passed away and Maitreya Buddha has not yet come.
There, Amitabha Buddha is preaching the Dharma at this moment.
Here, you look up in vain to the glory of Kuan-yin and Shih-chih.
There, you are on intimate terms with these two bodhisattvas, and they are your special friends.
Here, a myriad of demons and heretics attempt to confuse correct cultivation.
There, the Buddha's teaching unifies everything, and there is no trace of demons or heretics.
Here, lust misleads practitioners.
There, your body is pure and clean, and there is no sexual desire.
Here, evil beasts and monsters beat their wings with an evil sound.
There, the water birds and the forest trees all communicate the wondrous Dharma.

Comparing the two worlds, the landscape is as different as it can be. The Pure Land is superior in countless ways: one couldn't find enough time to mention them all. Therefore all the scriptures of the complete meaning of the Great Vehicle point the way to the Pure Land.

The worthy sages of the past and present all make vows that they themselves and others will be born in the Pure Land. Whoever wants to save people, must first recite the Buddha-name himself or herself. Unfortunately, people do not think in long terms: they only worry about things close at hand. Once the human body is lost, it is hard to regain it even in ten thousand eons. Thus it is urgent that all sentient beings should recite "Amitabha Buddha" as many times as possible every day, and transfer the merit to those who share the affinity for the Pure Land, and vow to be born there.



94.2   Comparison of heaven and Sukhavati

The heavenly beings in Buddhism are called "Devas", which belong to one of the "Six Divisions of Existence", they are not the immortals, they cannot escape from birth and death, they also may back-slide into the evil orders, even lower than human beings, when their stock of merit is exhausted; while the beings of Sukhavati (Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha) are the real immortals, their lives as endless as that of their Master The Buddha of Infinite Life.

In Buddhism, there are six heavens in the Desire Realm, and many heavens in Form Realm and Formless Realm. It is common that the Devas are happy with no suffering in physical sense in all heavens. However, they may suffer from decaying and aging, once their retribution of wholesome deed or Karma is completed. When the beings in the Desire Realm are dying, there are five symptoms:

  1. the flowers around the crown deteriorate
  2. the clothes being dirty
  3. having unpleasant smell in the body
  4. sweating in armpit
  5. being unhappy in seat

According to the Principle of Cause and Effect, happiness and suffering are mutually dependent and relative. The 'end' of happiness is the 'beginning' of suffering. As happiness is just a feeling in mind, it is also a kind of suffering in Form Realm. Even in the Formless happiness, the beings in deep Dhyana meditation without any thought can experience suffering from the impermanence because they still have a mind!

However, the beings in Sukhavati have no birth and death in their physical lives in stages [分段生死] , and also no birth and death in changing and transforming in terms of time [變易生死], thus they have no suffering. Their happiness is well beyond that of the Three Realms. In Sukhavati, they can continue to hear the Dharma spoken by Amitabha, cultivate the Way and attain enlightenment in one life.

One of many great differences between the Pure Land and the Heavens of other religions is the "Equality" which is peculiar to Buddhism, that every Buddha-follower may finally attain the same omnipotence as Buddha; not as in other religions where omnipotence is peculiar to a tyrant chief of the universe, whose adherents (i.e. the heavenly beings) only enjoy the bliss and leave the great task of salvation to their chief alone.


94.3   Four Lands

It is the classification by the Pure Land and Tien-tai schools of the purified realms subsumed under Sukhavati, the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha, as described in the Sutras.

  1. The Land of Common Residence of Beings and Sages (Land Where Sages and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together) -- [凡聖同居土] , where all beings, from the Six Planes of Existence (hells, hungry ghosts ..) up to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, live together. Those who have not cut off the Two Illusions, i.e. deluded views and thoughts [見思惑], live in this land. Buddha can appear in the form of his Transformation Body. In this land, it is governed by the cycle of Formation, Development, Decaying and Extinction, like the Saha World that we live. This Land is sometimes further divided into two, the Common Residence Pure Land, such as Sukhavati, and the Common Residence Impure Land, such as the world we live. In Sukhavati, there is no hell being, ghost and animal, as there is no evil path.

    If one carries with one's evil Karma when reborn in Sukhavati, where he may rely on the power of Amitabha Buddha and other Bodhisattvas, one will normally stay in the Land of Common Residence of Beings and Sages. One may move to other kind of Pure Lands within Sukhavati as described below.

  2. The Land of Expediency (Land of Expedient Liberation) [方便有餘土] -- If one continues to practice and cultivate, one's evil Karma gradually disappear. When one has got rid of the evils of the Two Illusions, i.e. deluded views and thoughts [見思惑], one will be reborn and live in this Land. It represents the Retribution body of the Buddha. This land can be hidden that ordinary beings do not see, but it can be manifested so that it can be visualized. It is inhabited by Arhats and Pratyeka-buddhas.

  3. The Land of Adorned Real Reward -- [莊嚴依報土] Permanent reward and freedom, inhabited by the great Bodhisattvas, who have cut off the Ignorance of the Motes of Dust [塵沙無明].

  4. The Land of Eternally Quiescent Light -- [常寂光淨土] Eternal stillness and light, the abode of the Buddhas, who cut off the Ignorance of the Mark of Life [生相無明]. It is the Dharma body of the Buddha in nature. This land is considered to be non-hidden and non-manifested. In Sukhavati, one can move from one Land to the other progressively with no retrogression. It is possible even for those with poor background and inadequate preparation. As for the superior ones, they are able to perceive all the four Lands. One can achieve Buddhahood in one lifetime in Sukhavati.

These distinctions of the four Lands are at the phenomenal level. At the noumenon level, there is, of course, no difference among them, as they all respond to the Mind. If the Mind is non-differentiated, all phenomena is non-differentiated. If one's 'internal' mind has differentiation, then the 'external' phenomena are different.