舍利弗！众生闻者，应当发愿，愿生彼国.。所以者何？得与如是诸上善人俱会一处. 舍利弗！不可以少善根福德因缘，得生彼国。 [When sentient beings hear [of the Land of Ultimate Bliss], they must take a vow to be born in this land. (1) Why so? So that they can be together with all these beings of superior goodness. (2) One cannot be born in this land through minor good roots, blessings, virtues and causal connections.(3) ]
There are 4 types of rebirths. Rebirth through moisture (life forms that arise from moisture) Rebirth from an egg. (Eg. Chicken and birds) Rebirth from a womb (mammals) Rebirth from spontaneously appearing (Hell, Ghost, heavens) Beings in Sukhavati are reborn by spontaneously appearing. According to pureland beliefs, beings appear from lotuses that bloom from lakes in Sukhavati.
To be reborn in Sukhavati, we must have a desire or a goal to be reborn there. Such desire is not bad and is similar to a desire for enlightenment. It provides us the mental energy to practice. When we make a vow to be reborn in Sukhavati we also indirectly acknowledge that our human life is impermanent. More importantly, we also aspire to escape rebirth in Samsara.
Thus, the above practice includes reflecting impermanence, renouncing samsara, aspiration for enlightenment, and right effort.
Following that, the scripture reminds us that Sukhavati is a place where good beings take rebirth and gather. It is an assembly place for noble disciples of Buddha.
At a fundamental level, beginners would understand this as being free from evils and only possessing good qualities. Thus, a pureland practitioner would observe the precepts, abstain from harming others. He would practice charitable deeds and be good to all beings.
At a higher level, noble and good disciples of Buddha actually refer to enlightened practitioners. The scripture reminds us as follows;
“One cannot be born in this land through minor good roots, blessings, virtues and causal connections”
This verse is important because it provides a reality check. If we practice chanting every day but are triggered by little things in life; losing our temper and compassion, then we lack the quality for rebirth in Sukhavati. Thus, the practice of pureland Buddhism also requires us to train our minds;just like Zen Buddhism or Theravada Buddhism.
As emphasized in the earlier posts, pureland practice is not a type of “God-worshipping” practice. It also requires us to quiet our minds and attain concentration. It also requires us to practice morality. Ultimately, we still need wisdom and see the Dharma.
May all be well and happy.
May the pandemic end.