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Meditation for Rebirth in Pure Land of Amitābha Buddha

By Buddhistdoor International K.S. Chow
Buddhistdoor Global | 2013-04-17 |
Amida butsu at Kamakura. From www.japan-guide.com.Amida butsu at Kamakura. From www.japan-guide.com.
Editor's note: This feature was first published in the now-retired Bodhi Journal, Issue 4, June 2007.   

Introduction

Many Asian Mah
?y?nists have adhered to Pure land Buddhism (?b?g) and conceive that it is an easy path to gain emancipation. It is claimed by some masters who opine that if a thousand of Pure Land practitioners who devote to this so called easy path, a thousand of them will be reborn in the Pure Land of Amit?bha Buddha. The claim seems to suggest that without the gradual cultivation of morality, concentration and wisdom, rebirth into the Pure Land of Amit?bha Buddha can be eventuated merely by the constant recitation of the name of Amit?bha Buddha which is the Pure Land tradition of meditation. In order to know the actual message of ??kyamuni Buddha, a close examination of chapter 24 of the Mah?y?na S?tra of Infinite Life (Sukh?vati?-vy??ha-sutra ?j???L?q?ظg) can brush aside the doubt or mispresentation.

The following verses of S
?tra are extracted from the Chapter 24 on ‘Three Categories of Rebirth (?T??????)’ of the Mah?y?na S?tra of Infinite Life (?j???L?q?ظg).
 
???i????, ?̤??@?ɽѤѥ???, ?䦳?ܤߺ@?ͩ???, ?Z???T??. [Note 1]

The Buddha informed ?nanda that all sentient beings of the entire cosmos or universe, who aspire devotedly with absolute sincerity or faith to gain rebirth in the western paradise , are categorized into three categories.
 
Commentary:
The faith to obtain rebirth in the 
PureLand is not to enjoy sensual pleasures like the life in the heavenly world of the Sphere of Sense Desire. The objective of rebirth in this western paradise to associate closely with Amit?bha and other Bodhisattvas to achieve ultimately enlightenment with their guides or instructions. The unique characteristic feature of PureLand is that whoever is reborn there will not relapse.
 
???W????, ?ٮa????, ?ӧ@?F??. ?o?д???, ?@?V?M??, ????????. ?׽ѥ?w, ?@?ͩ???. [Note 2]
 
The high-capacity meditator or practitioner (of Pure Land Buddhism) ought to fulfill the following conditions:
 
i.  He must renounce household life and become a recluse.
ii. He must eliminate cravings 
iii.  He must aspire to gain self-enlightenment 
iv. He must recite the name of Amit
?bha Buddha one-pointedly 
v. He must course in the Six Perfections (p
?ramit?-s) of Generosity, Precepts, Endurance, Energy, Meditation and Wisdom.
vi. He must have a strong aspiration or will to be reborn in the Pure Land of Amit
?bha Buddha.
 
Commentary:
 
All these six aforementioned conditions for rebirth in the western paradise are stringent. Since the requirements for rebirth in the pure Land are stringent for the high capacity Pure Land meditators or practitioners, the rebirth into the Pure Land of Amit?bha is expected. In short. good result does not ensue easily. One has to cultivate and practise diligently, ardently and resolutely as advised by ??kyamuni Buddha before his parinirv?n?a.
 
????????,?{?ز׮?,????????,?P?Ѹt??,?{?U???e.?g???ض?,?Y?H????ͨ???,?K???C?_?ؤ??۵M?ƥ?.???z?i?r,???q?ۦb. [Note 3]
 
Moment before the death of this category of sentient beings, Amit?bha Buddha and other accompanying Bodhisattvas will manifest before them. Within a short moment of time, they will follow Amit?bha Buddha and the Bodhisattvas to be reborn in their Pure land. The sentient beings will manifest through the lotus flowers in the pond of seven jewels. Immediately after rebirth, their wisdom, courage and determination are instantaneously developed and are accompanied with the manifest of other supernatural powers.
 
Commentary:

The high capacity Pure land meditators or practitioners develop their mental frequencies or wavelengths which correspond with the Dharmabodies of Amit?bha Buddha or the Bodhisattvas. In short, their heart-minds must overlap one another. Therefore, rebirth into the paradise is expected. Not only there must be one-pointed recitation of the name of Amit?bha Buddha but also the mind of the practitioners must be purified through the practice. Only pure minds of practitioners and that of Amit?bha Buddha can meet at a common plane to find a footing in the Pure Land.  
 
When a satellite dish is set and  tuned to the  frequency of the satellite television station, the programmes can be received by the television set at home. A high capacity PureLand meditator is akin to a powerful satellite dish which is in tune with the main transmission station. The rewards in the PureLand are, of course, attractive. It is evident that the determined, persistent efforts of the high capacity practitioners are correspondingly rewarded in the western paradise. The western paradise is certainly not meant for those indolent ones.
 
?䤤????, ?????????@?F??, ?j?ץ?w, ???o?L?W?д???, ?@?V?M??, ????????. ?H?v?צ?, ?ѵ???w, ?^???N??, ?_?߶???. ?????F??, ?a¹?M??, ???ؿN??, ?H???^?V, ?@?ͩ???. [Note 4]

The intermediate capacity meditators or practitioners are not required tobe a recluse and course fully in the Six p?ramit?s. But they are requiredto aspire to gain self-enlightenment and recite the name of Amit?bha Buddha one-pointedly. They are expected to cultivate according to their capacities to accumulate merits such as keeping the precepts, donating to the construction of st?pa-s and Buddha statues, offering alms to the monks or nuns, paying homage to the Buddha with flowers and incenses. Having performed the merits, they are to transfer the merits and vow to gain rebirth in the Pure Land.
 
Commentary:
 
Even though the intermediate capacity Pure Land meditators or practitioners are free from two stringent primary conditions of recluseship and Six p?ramit?s imposed on the high capacity practitioners, the other remaining secondary contigent conditions are, by no means, easy to be fulfilled by the ordinary adherents. They are expected also to be ardent, diligent and resolute in their cultivation and practice. There is no free breakfast in the world.
 
???˽???, ???Ϥ????@?ѥ?w, ???o?L?W?д?????, ?@?V?M??, ????????. ?w?߫H??, ???ͺôb, ?H?ܸۤ?, ?@?ͨ???.[Note 5]
 
Even though the low capacity meditators or practitioners are not capable of cultivating merits like the high and intermediate capacity cultivators, they are too required to aspire to gain self-enlightenment and recite the name of Amit?bha Buddha one-pointedly. They must be delighted, rejoice and have strong faith in the path of Pure Land without any trace of doubt of Amit?bha Buddha. They must have absolute faith in their aspiration to gain rebirth in the PureLand.
 
Commentary:
 
Aspiration for bodhicitta (?o?д???), one-pointed recitation of the name of Amit?bha and unshakeable faith in the Pure land are, by no means, easy to be fulfilled by the low capacity Pure land meditators or practitioners. It is always expounded by some that Pure Land Buddhism is an easy path. I do not conceive that rebirth into the Pure Land is easier than rebirth in the heavenly world in the Sphere of Sense Desire. How many Buddhist practitioners believe that it is easy to be reborn in the heavenly world? I do not intend to discourage Pure Land cultivation or practice. What I always conceive is that good things do not emerge easily or with ease. We ought to strive diligently, ardently and resolutely towards any worthy goal set.
 
Endnotes:
 
1. An Elementary on the S?tra of Infinite Life. Edi. Ven.Jin Kong. Singapore: Amitabha
Buddhist Society, 1998, p.146
2. Ibid., p. 146
3. Ibid., p.147
4. Ibid., p.148
5. Ibid., p. 150  


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