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Shakyamuni Buddha’s Counsel to be Reborn in the Land of Bliss

From deepspaceinitiative.org

In the Amitabha Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha earnestly urges sentient beings three times to aspire to be born in Amitabha’s Land of Bliss:

1. Shariputra, those sentient beings who hear of that land should aspire to be born there. Why? Because they will be able to meet such sacred beings of supreme virtue in one place together.

2. Shariputra, perceiving these benefits, I say: all sentient beings who hear this teaching should aspire to birth in that land.

3. Hence, Shariputra, good men and women of faith should aspire to birth there.

Why does Shakyamuni Buddha urge us to aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss?

After introducing the splendors of the circumstantial reward (the environment) and the direct reward (the living beings) in the Land of Bliss, Shakyamuni Buddha raised a question:

“Do you know why I urge you to aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss?”

Shakyamuni Buddha answered his own question: “because you will be able to meet such sacred beings of supreme virtue in one place together.” Is it a good reason that can motivate ordinary beings like us to aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss?

In the Contemplation Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha heard Queen Vaidehi’s complaint:

“I do not wish to live in this defiled and evil world of Jambudvipa where there are hells, realms of hungry spirits, animals and many vile beings. I wish that in the future I shall not hear hated/evil speeches or see wicked people.”

The words defiled, hated, evil, and wicked are contrary to the word “virtuous.” Queen Vaidehi looked forward to being reborn in the pure and virtuous world, where she can see virtuous people and hear their kind speeches. She voiced our wish from the bottom of our hearts.

She also beseeched Shakyamuni Buddha: “Please reveal to me a land of no sorrow and no affliction where I can be reborn.” She also entreated the Buddha: “O Sun-like Buddha . . . teach me how to visualize a land of pure karmic perfection.”

The Land of Bliss is the pure land of no sorrow and no affliction, where people “suffer no pain but only enjoy pleasures of various kinds.” In order to be reborn in such a land, Queen Vaidehi expected to practice the visualization of pure karmic perfection and to become a sacred being with supreme virtues!

Will we remain ordinary beings or become virtuous sages in the Land of Bliss?

Many people doubt. We are iniquitous sentient beings in the world without the merit and virtues needed to become a sage or bodhisattva. When we are reborn in the Land of Bliss, shall we remain ordinary beings surrounded by sacred beings of supreme virtue?

However, the Amitabha Sutra explicitly states: “All living beings in the Land of Bliss are able to meet together in one place.” They must possess the same merit and virtues in order to live in the same Dharma Realm.

For instance, it is said by the Tiantai school of Buddhism that the Pure Land is subdivided according to the spiritual attainments of the beings who dwell there. Ordinary beings live in the “Common Land for the Ordinary and Sagely Beings,” while sravakas live in the “Expedient Non-Ultimate Land.” Bodhisattvas, meanwhile, live in the “Land Adorned with the Real Reward.”

However, Master Shandao says that Amitabha’s Land of Bliss is a realm of Unconditioned Nirvana, which is the Reward Land of Amitabha Buddha. So, without Buddha-like merits and virtues, one is unable to be reborn there.

In the Infinite Life Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha says:

“That Buddha-land, like the realm of unconditioned Nirvana, is pure and serene, resplendent and blissful. The sravakas, bodhisattvas, heavenly beings and humans there have lofty and brilliant wisdom, and are masters of the supernatural powers.

“They are all of one form, without any differences, but are called ‘heavenly beings’ and ‘humans’ simply by analogy with the states of existence in other worlds. They are of noble and majestic countenance, unequaled in all the worlds, and their appearance is superb, unmatched by any being, heavenly or human. They are all endowed with bodies of Naturalness, Emptiness, and Infinity.”

So, according to the Sutra, we are all of one form, without any differences, once we are reborn in the Land of Bliss. Why is it so? It is because all of us attain rebirth through the same cause: Amitabha-recitation, with recourse to the same power—Amitabha’s vow power!

Without Amitabha’s vow power, how can we attain the Six Paranormal Powers in the Land of Bliss? Without Amitabha’s unsurpassed merit and virtues contained in his Name, how can we have 32 marks and 80 kinds of excellence when we are reborn in the Land of Bliss?

As said above, Shakyamuni Buddha describes the living beings in the Land of Bliss as different by way of “analogy with their states of existence in other worlds.” This is a skillful means designed to help us more easily believe and accept the splendors of the Land of Bliss.

The meaning of “meeting in one place together”

In the Amitabha Sutra, Shakyamuni tells us that we will “be able to meet such sacred beings of supreme virtue in one place together.” Here, he conveys two important messages to all Amitabha-reciters who aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss.

First, all those reborn in the Land of Bliss will equally become sacred beings with supreme virtues with buddha-like qualities, such as paranormal powers, wisdom, and so on. Second, the Land of Bliss is a buddha-land—Amitabha’s reward land—adorned with his unsurpassed merit and virtues.

The Land of Bliss is the only buddha-land where ordinary beings can attain assured rebirth simply by reciting Amitabha’s Name throughout one’s life—or even by merely thinking of Amitabha’s Name at the moment of one’s last breath.

That is the reason why Shakyamuni Buddha urges all ordinary beings to aspire to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, so that they can attain ultimate liberation and emancipation, absolute freedom and utmost bliss.

Namo Amituofo!

Related features from BDG

What Prevents Us from Following and Practicing the Buddhist Teachings?
A Wake-Up Call to all Buddhists
How Can Buddhas Deliver All Sentient Beings, Including Us, to Buddhahood?

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ATAN
ATAN
28 days ago

Namo Amituofo!