Pure land

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A Pure Land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The term "pure land" is particular to the Chinese (Ch. 净土, jìngtǔ) and related East Asian traditions; in Sanskrit the equivalent concept is called the "Buddha field" (Skt. buddha-kṣetra). The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.

The notion of 'pure lands' was inherited from other Indian religions already evident in the Dharma. The notion of a pure land may have evolved from the Uttarakuru, a divine continent in ancient Indian cosmology.[1] The pure realms are all accessible through experiential meditation.

Discussion[edit]

In Mahayana sutras, there are many pure lands.[2][3][4][5] Bodhisattvas, such as Avalokitesvara and Manjusri, would have their pure lands after they attained buddhahood.[6] In the Lotus Sutra, Buddha followers such as Sariputta, Mahākāśyapa, Subhuti, Moggallana and Rahula would also have their pure lands. The relative time-flow of pure lands may be different.[7] A day in a pure land may be the same duration as years in another.

Pure lands have been documented as arising due to the intention and aspiration of a Bodhisattva such as the case of Amitabha, but other discourse has codified that they are entwined with 'emanation' (Sanskrit: nirmana) and sambhogakaya theory and are understood to manifest effortlessly and spontaneously due to other activities (Wylie: phrin las) of a Buddha, in suite with the Buddha's pure qualities (Wylie: yon tan) and mysteries of body, speech and mind. In the latter effortless and spontaneous methodology, the Five Certainties/Five Excellences (Tibetan: nges-pa lnga), attributes of the body of perfect rapture (Sanskrit: sambhogakāya) play a role, namely, those of the perfected: 'teacher' (Wylie: ston-pa), 'teaching' (Wylie: bstan-pa), 'retinue' (Wylie: 'khor), 'place' (Wylie: gnas) and 'time' (Wylie: dus).[8]

Nakamura (1980, 1987: p. 207) establishes the Indian background of the padma imagery of the field which is evident iconographically, as well as in motif and metaphor:

The descriptions of Pure Land in Pure Land sutras were greatly influenced by Brahmin and Hindu ideas and the topological situation in India. There was a process of the development of lotus (padma)-symbolism in Pure Land Buddhism. The final outcome of the thought was as follows: the aspirants of faith and assiduity are born transformed (anupapāduka) in the lotus flowers. But those with doubts are born into the lotus-buds. They stay in the calyx of a lotus (garbhāvāsa) for five hundred years without seeing or hearing the Three Treasures. Within the closed lotus-flowers they enjoy pleasures as though they were playing in a garden or palace.[9]

Five Pure Abodes[edit]

Five Pure Abodes (of the form realms) (Wylie: gtsang-ma'i gnas lnga; Sanskrit: pañcaśuddhanivāsa)

  • Avṛha (Sanskrit; Tibetan: མི་ཆེ་བWylie: mi che ba)
  • Atapa (Sanskrit; Tibetan: མི་གདུང་བWylie: mi gdung ba)
  • Sudṛśa (Sanskrit; Tibetan: གྱ་ནོམ་སྣང་བWylie: gya nom snang ba)
  • Sudarśana (Sanskrit; Tibetan: ཤིན་ཏུ་མཐོངWylie: shin tu mthong)
  • Akaniṣṭa (Sanskrit; Tibetan: འོག་མིནWylie: 'og min)

The Source[edit]

Very important to all pure abodes is the 'Source' (Tibetan: ཆོས་འབྱུངWylie: chos 'byung; Sanskrit: dharmodaya) from which they dwell and which supports them, the 'Wellspring' of myriad fonts as emergent. It may be understood as an interface, portal or epiphany between the Dharmakaya and the Sambhogakaya. It is seminal in the establishment of mandalas governing the outer, inner or secret dimensions. It is the opening and consecration of the sacred space which enfolds and supports the expanse of the pure abode. In iconography it is represented by the six-pointed star, the two interlocking offset equilateral triangles that form a symmetry. This is the 'sanctum sanctorum' (Sanskrit: garbha gṛha). It later developed into the primordial purity of the lotus which supports the mandala, thangka or the murti of the deity. In temple siting it is the power place or 'spirit of place' that was augured or divined in the sacred geometry of 'geodesy' (Sanskrit: vāstu śāstra). In yoga asana, the 'source' is Vajrasana, the 'seat of enlightenment' the ancient name of Bodh Gaya and an alternate name for mahamudra or padmasana.[10]

"Source of phenomena or qualities (chos 'byung, dharmodaya). Pundarika defines dharmodaya as that from which phenomena devoid of intrinsic nature originate. "Phenomena devoid of intrinsic nature" refers to the ten powers, the four fearlessnesses, and the other 84,000 aspects of the teachings. Their source, dharmodaya, is the pure realm, the abode of all buddhas and bodhisattvas, the place of bliss, the place of birth; it is not the place that discharges blood, urine, and regenerative fluids, i.e., the vagina. Source: Stainless Light, Toh. 1347, vol. Da, f237a3-5".[11]

Śuddhāvāsa worlds[edit]

The Śuddhāvāsa (Pāli: Suddhāvāsa; Tib: gnas gtsang.ma) worlds, or "Pure Abodes", are distinct from the other worlds of the Rūpadhātu in that they do not house beings who have been born there through ordinary merit or meditative attainments, but only those Anāgāmins ("Non-returners") who are already on the path to Arhat-hood and who will attain enlightenment directly from the Śuddhāvāsa worlds without being reborn in a lower plane (Anāgāmins can also be born on lower planes). Every Śuddhāvāsa deva is therefore a protector of Buddhism. (Brahma Sahampati, who appealed to the newly enlightened Buddha to teach, was an Anagami from a previous Buddha[12]). Because a Śuddhāvāsa deva will never be reborn outside the Śuddhāvāsa worlds, no Bodhisattva is ever born in these worlds, as a Bodhisattva must ultimately be reborn as a human being through their 'compassion' (Sanskrit: Karuṇā) and bodhisattva vows.

Sukhavati[edit]

Chagdud (1998, 2003: pp. 11–12), in discussing the mindstream of Lokeṣvararāja (Japanese: Seijizaio Nyorai) that in fulfillment has come to be known as Amitābha:

According to the sutra known as the Rolling of Drums, countless eons ago there was a joyous kingdom whose sovereign had great devotion for the buddha of that time, Lokesvararaja. The king renounced his kingdom, became a monk, and vowed to reach enlightenment. He expressed his bodhicitta intention through forty-eight vows, and promised to refuse buddhahood if any of these vows were not fulfilled. With these words, the earth trembled and flowers rained down from the skies. Praises resounded and with them the prophecy that this monk would surely become a buddha. And so he did, as the Buddha Amitabha.

In his lifetime as this bodhisattva monk, Amitabha saw that countless pure realms existed for realized ones who had been victorious over the mind's delusions, but no such realm was accessible to those still struggling on the path. Among his forty-eight vows was the aspiration to create a pure realm for all those who heard his name, wished to attain that realm, established the roots of virtue, and dedicated their merit in order to be reborn there. So powerful was his intention that he swore to refuse buddhahood if it did not enable him to manifest such a realm.[13]

Sukhavati is by far the most popular among pure land Buddhists. There are many old and recent Buddhist texts reporting the condition of its dying believers. Some Buddhists and followers of other religions claimed they went there and came back, and they were viewed as cults.[14][15][16][17]

Some controversial teachings said the successors of Amitabha in Sukhāvatī would be Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta.[18][19][20][21]

Other well-known pure lands[edit]

  • Inner Court of Tushita (兜率內院):[23][24] Some Buddhist scriptures have noted that Maitreya is currently teaching at the Inner Court of Tushita, with some Buddhist Masters, such as Xuanzang, expressing wish to go there.[25][26] Other Buddhist monks have also been known to have dreamt of going to the Inner Court of Tushita.[27][28] Some I-Kuan Tao followers claimed to have traveled there.[29][30][31][32] The Inner Court of Tushita was historically a popular place for Buddhist to wish to be reborn in;[33][34][35][36] however, the vast majority of Pure Land Buddhists today hope to be reborn in the Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land.[33][37][38]
  • Abhirati of Akshobhya in the east is suggested by some scholars to be the earliest pure land mentioned in Mahayana sutras.[39]
  • Vaidūryanirbhāsa (東方淨琉璃世界) of Bhaisajyaguru in the east is compared by some pure land buddhists to Amitabha's pure land in the west.[40] Bhaisajyaguru is also said to have avatars in six other pure lands.[41]
  • Changle (長樂淨土) of Qinghuadadi Taiyi Jiuku Tianzun (青華大帝太乙救苦天尊)[46][47] is a Taoist pure land. Taiyi Jiuku Tianzun also have Avatars in the taoist pure lands in ten directions (eight directions, up, down).[48]

There are some pure land worlds in controversial sutras and folk religion texts.[49][50][51][52][53][54]

Field of Merit[edit]

The Field of Merit (Wylie: tshogs zhing) is a pictorial representation in tree form of the triratna and the guru, employed in Tibetan Buddhism as an object of veneration when taking refuge. It is visualized internally as a part of the commencement phase of each sadhana.

The Field of Merit is a Pure Land. Each school or sect has its own distinctive form of the tree in which the numerous lineage-holders or vidyadhara and dharma protectors or dharmapala are represented.

In discussing the visualisation of the Merit Field, Namkha'i (2001: p. 103) links the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha with the Three Roots of Guru, Deva and Dakini:

The merit field (tshogs zhing), that is the source of all the accumulation of merit, designates the manifestation of the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) and of the Three Roots (Guru, Deva, Dakini) visualised by the practitioner.[55]

Mandala[edit]

Pure land: Painted 19th century Tibetan mandala of the Naropa tradition, Vajrayogini stands in the center of two crossed red triangles, Rubin Museum of Art.

Mandala, especially sand mandala, are 'pure lands' and may be understood as nirmanakaya, as are all murti, thanka and sacred tools that have consecrated, dedicated and the 'deity' (Sanskrit: ishtadevata) invoked and requested to reside.[clarification needed] Some namkha are pure lands. According to Nirmanakaya (as tulku) theory, nirmanakaya spontaneously arise due to the intention, aspiration, faith and devotion of the sangha.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 西方淨土的宗教學詮釋
  2. ^ "大寶積經". Cbeta.org. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  3. ^ 淨土思想之考察 釋聖嚴
  4. ^ "從凡聖同居土到常寂光淨土 陳清香" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  5. ^ "极乐世界四种国土详情及生因详情揭秘". Folou.com. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  6. ^ 菩薩的淨土. Google Books. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  7. ^ "诸佛净土的时间长短". Bskk.com. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  8. ^ Dorje, Jikdrel Yeshe (Dudjom Rinpoche, author), & translated and edited: Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (1991). The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamentals and History. Boston, USA: Wisdom Publications. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-86171-199-4.
  9. ^ Nakamura, Hajime (1980, 1987). Indian Buddhism: A Survey with Bibliographical Notes. Edition: reprint published by Motilal Banarsidass Publ. [Reprint. Originally published: Hirakata, Japan : KUFS Publication, 1980. Originally published as no. 9 in series: Intercultural Research Institute monograph series.] p. 207. ISBN 978-81-208-0272-8. [1] (accessed: Saturday March 21, 2009)
  10. ^ Though in modern parlance Vajrasana, Mahamudra and Padmasana may denote different asanas, and indeed other esoteric positions and doctrines, it is understood that they are also synonymous for the meditative 'seal' or 'lock' (Sanskrit: mudra; bandha) of crossed-legs-with-ankles-on-highs-asana which commands the flame of kundalini to rise and unfold.
  11. ^ Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé (author, compiler); Elio Guarisco (translator); Ingrid McLeon (translator, editor) (2005). The treasury of knowledge: book six, part four: Systems of Buddhist Tantra. Ithaca, New York, USA: Snow Lion Publications. p. 399. ISBN 978-1-55939-210-5.
  12. ^ Susan Elbaum Jootla "Teacher of the Devas": The Wheel Publication No. 414/416 (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1997) article link at Access to Insight
  13. ^ Khadro, Chagdud (1998, 2003). P'howa Commentary: Instructions for the Practice of Consciousness Transference as Revealed by Rigzin Longsal Nyingpo. Junction City, CA, USA: Pilgrims Publishing, pp.11–12
  14. ^ "关于《西方极乐世界游记》的争议析疑". Blog.wenxuecity.com. 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
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  16. ^ "一个青年女居士的净土亲历记". Vip.6to23.com. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  17. ^ 《極樂世界遊記》
  18. ^ "《悲華經》卷3". Cbeta.org. 2008-08-30. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  19. ^ "悲華經,破! (1)" (in Chinese). Blog.udn.com. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  20. ^ 觀音淨土的呼喚
  21. ^ "觀音淨土遊記". Goon-herng.tw. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  22. ^ 灵山一会
  23. ^ "兜率內院疑點之探討" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  24. ^ "兜率內院疑點之回應" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  25. ^ 往生彌陀淨土、兜率淨土修持難易比較
  26. ^ "日本弥勒行者考". Fjdh.com. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  27. ^ "發現新世界——小兜率天——法王晉美彭措夢境經歷". Buddhanet.idv.tw. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  28. ^ "虛雲和尚年譜". Bfnn.org. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  29. ^ 天佛院遊記[dead link]
  30. ^ '+json[i].author_nickname+' (2009-07-08). "三、3-3.1天佛院簡述". Blog.xuite.net. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  31. ^ 彌勒淨土遊記
  32. ^ "四禪淨土遊記". Boder.idv.tw. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  33. ^ a b "極樂淨土與兜率淨土說略". Pss.org.tw. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  34. ^ "人生理想境界的追求─中國佛教淨土思潮的演變與歸趣". Ccbs.ntu.edu.tw. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  35. ^ "兜率净土与十方净土之比较". Bairenyan.com. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  36. ^ "[不負責讀經小整理] 求生兜率天的經典記載". Cbs.ntu.edu.tw. 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
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  38. ^ 我要回應 本篇僅限會員/好友回應,請先 登入 (2006-06-11). "標題:云何西方淨土最殊勝". Mypaper.pchome.com.tw. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  39. ^ "阿閦佛國經". Cbeta.org. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  40. ^ "藥師如來本願經". Cbeta.org. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  41. ^ "藥師琉璃光七佛本願功德經卷上". Suttaworld.org. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  42. ^ "Homepage of Padmasambhava's Pureland". Padmasambhavapureland.com. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  43. ^ "蓮師淨土--鄔金剎土簡介". Blog.sina.com.tw. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  44. ^ 莲师刹土云游记[dead link]
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  46. ^ "太乙救苦天尊". Nsts.idv.tw. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  47. ^ (2008-09-17 13:51:54) (2008-09-17). "道家太乙净土法门". Blog.sina.com.cn. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  48. ^ 用户名: 密码: 验证码: 匿名? CheckLogin(); 发表评论. "道教净土概论". Lhsdj.org. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  49. ^ "蓮生活佛講真實佛法息災賜福經". Tbsn.org. 1988-12-17. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  50. ^ "佛說北斗七星延命經". Cbeta.org. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  51. ^ 佛說八陽神咒經
  52. ^ 北斗古佛消災延壽妙經
  53. ^ "悲華經". Cbeta.org. 2008-08-30. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  54. ^ http://s2.pimg.tw/avatar/k5744038/0/0/zoomcrop/20x20.jpg?v=1252649294. "【全真叢書002】西天佛國遊記(一)". K5744038.pixnet.net. Retrieved 2011-12-31. 
  55. ^ Norbu, Namkhai (2001). The Precious Vase: Instructions on the Base of Santi Maha Sangha. Shang Shung Edizioni. Second revised edition. P. 103. (Translated from the Tibetan, edited and annotated by Adriano Clemente with the help of the author. Translated from Italian into English by Andy Lukianowicz.)

References[edit]