Furthermore, this land is called “Ultimate Bliss” because it is surrounded by seven rings of railings, and seven layers of nets, and trees of seven treasures,……
And the journey begins….
The magic number here is seven and if we just gloss over this verse, it sounds like a realty advertisement that describe the Amitabha Pure land. There are 7 layers of fence or railings surrounding the pure land. Now that is good security right? The sky has seven layer of Brahma (heavenly) nets (just like the force-shield in sci-fi movies) and the trees bear fruits of jewels. Imagine that!
Without further explanations from qualified masters, the above is again open to personal interpretations. For beginners in the path, the meaning of the verse may be limited to a literal interpretation. There is nothing wrong with that. It provides a sense of security, a sense of refuge. A safe place where we are protected from all external harms. This is represented by bejeweled railings surrounding the world and bejeweled nets in the sky. Bejeweled means of finest quality.
To a beginner who is tired of the dangers of the mundane world; for example war and invasion, robbery and violence, and such threats. Then the world of Amitabha is safe and attractive.
When we delve deeper, we discover a wealth of hidden meaning to be taught when the practitioner is ready to learn more. (I have to do research before sharing the following) And thus, lets start our journey to explore the Dharma that is embedded in this wonderful sutra.
Bejeweled railings/fence, sky netting and tress; these 3 items can be interpreted as follows;
- Railings – Precepts / Morality (protect us from wrong conducts / bad karma)
- Brahma Net – Meditative concentration (Protect us from distractions)
- Bejeweled Tree – Wisdom (Protect from ignorance)
In another interpretation, the 3 and 7 form the number 37 to represent 37 Limbs of Enlightenment;
- 4 mindfulness (四念处) – Being mindful that (1) Our physical body is impure and repulsive (2) All sensations leads to sufferings (3) Mind is impermanent (4) there is no “I”
- 4 right efforts (四正勤) – (1) cease all unwholesomeness (2) do not create new unwholesomeness (3) preserve and maintain existing wholesomeness (4) Create new wholesomeness
- 4 bases of miraculous power (四如意足) – (1) Concentration build upon desire (desire for samandhi) (2) Concentration based on persistence (3) Concentration build upon intention (4) Concentration of contemplation (Reference Link)
- 5 roots ( 五根) – (1) Faith/conviction (2) Energy/persistence (3) Mindfulness (4) Stillness / jhanas (5) Wisdom/understanding
- 5 powers (that arises from the 5 roots) – (1) Faith/conviction (2) Energy/persistence (3) Mindfulness (4) Stillness / jhanas (5) Wisdom/understanding
- 7 factors of Enlightenment (七菩提) – (1) Mindfulness (2) Investigation (3) Effort (4) rapture (5) Relaxation (6) Concentration, (7) Equanimity
- 8 fold path (八正道) – (1) Right Understanding (2) Right Intent (3) Right Speech (4) Right Action (5) Right Livelihood (6) Right Effort (7) Right Mindfulness (8) Right Concentration.
We will go into the above details.
May all be well and happy.
Translated text in English is from http://www.buddhasutra.com/files/amidasutra.htm