The Pure Land Practice Can Save All Living Beings

Update: 24/07/2007
The Pure Land Practice takes one-mind unconfused as a means to be born in the Sukhavāti for the everlasting joy. From outside perceiving, it seems to attend to self-benefit of Hinayāna’s way. Indeed, it is Mahāyāna’s ideal that can bring benefit for all beings. How can it be? For anyone, who is really with the wholehearted practice, can be born in the Sukhavāti, can see the Buddha, hear Dharma, attain the Anutpattikadharmakshanti _ the Insight into the non-origination of all Dharmas, gain the inexpressible karma merit always working the benefit of living from body, speech and mind; then come back to the Sahā world for saving all sentient beings. So escaping from suffering and to be born in the Pure Land is not for only self-benefit but for saving of others, and this is the bodhisattva’s mind.

The Pure Land Practice Can Save All Living Beings


Buddhism has various ways of practice, being divided into Mahāyāna and Hinayāna. The Hinayāna practice pays attention to their own benefit, own liberation. While the Mahāyāna takes others’ benefit as the main purpose of practice. Being questioned, the pure land practitioners want to be born in Sukhavāti because of being afraid of Sāha world’s suffering, how can be called Mahāyāna? The bodhisattvas’ vow with great compassion, always thinking of living beings, being willing to sacrifice themselves not only in the human realm but including the hell beings, the hungry ghost or the animal realm for guiding them, without any discrimination or attachment. This is Mahāyāna ideal. In comparison, there is a big disparity between Mahāyāna and Hinayāna, just like the ocean and water in the buffalo’s footprint; then how can compare the Pure Land practice to the Mahāyāna ideal?

Answer: Reciting the Amitābha’s name in Pure Land practice is truly Mahāyāna practice, which can both repay for the four debts of gratitude and save the three miserable paths. Without practice but want to save all beings, it’s impossible thing, giving damage to oneself and others. It is similar to the case of saving a drowning man while don’t know how to swim. With such stupid act, the lives of both can be taken away. Concerning to the Pure Land practitioners, who desire to help all beings but without following the Pure Land way to be born in the Sukhavāti is no way to do.

 For Mahāyāna practice, it is not difficult to develop the initial mind, but how to keep it non-retrogression is more difficult: “The initial Bodhisattva, roe and mango flower; the three with much causes but less effect”. In the past, Śāriputra took the bodhisattva’s vow the Lord of devas (Sakra) came to test him in the form of brahmin. Seeing him in suffering the bodhisattva asked: “Why are you so sorrowful?” He replied: “My mother gets sick” “Why don’t you invite for her a doctor but crying here?” “I tried with most of doctors but no effect” The bodhisattva said: “Every sick has its medicine”. The brahmin replied: “It’s correct! The doctor said my mother sickness can be cured only by the initial bodhisattva’s eye, otherwise she will die. Because it’s impossible to find the medicine, I’m in sorrow cry”. The bodhisattva thought: “The Lord Buddha had spent so many life-spans for doing danaparamita (giving perfection) including head, eyes, brain, marrow… for saving beings; I now take a bodhisattva’s vow, which should give my eye to save his mother. Then said: “Don’t cry, I’m now making up my mind to be a bodhisattva, take my eye for your mother’s medicine”. He after that took his right eye out and gave it to the brahmin. The brahmin said: “According to doctor, it should be the left eye”. The bodhisattva feels a little mind and said: “Why don’t you tell me early!” But he started thinking: “To make up the bodhisattva’s mind should not be regretted” and took the left eye out. The brahmin hold the left eye, rose up to his nose and said: “How can I make medicine with such a stinking eye”. He then threw down and trampled on. The bodhisattva lamented: “Sentient beings are uneasy to protect, very difficult to gratify!” He then retrogressed. Because he hasn’t attained the Anutpattikadharmakshanti. Insight into the non-arising of dharmas, wanting to carry out the bodhisattva’s way, they have done what is hard to do and renouncing what are difficult to abandon but for the hard patience, which they can’t bear in. Therefore, their great vow has been retrogressed and changed to small vow, even being afraid of making the great vow again. For being a Mahāyānist to save all living beings, first take The Pure Land practice to be born in Sukhāvati, in which the practitioners can approve the Buddhas, Dharma and finally attain the Anutpattikadharmakshanti. At that point, one can enter the Buddhas’ land from the ten directions, arise the four immeasurable minds (brahmavihara) and six perfection (six paramitas), and bring about benefit for living beings, take them out of the three worlds, and quickly reach enlightenment. This is really the Hinayāna’s ideal from the initial mind but Mahāyāna’s way is in the fruit. This practice in comparing to the Arhat way of Hinayāna has some more surpassing.


 Concerned about The Pure Land practice, take Birth in the Amitābha’s land as the final aim for ending all suffering and enjoying the everlasting happiness. From the narrow outlook, it is like for own benefit but from the deep seeing it is for benefit of others. When they achieve the three wheels of body, speech and mind, they are inexpressible karma merit always working for the benefit of the living. The meaning of abandoning the worldly suffering is for saving living beings. This is the bodhisattva’s loving kindness. The meaning of take Birth is to join the sentient beings’ joy and it is bodhisattva’s compassion. Then how we name The Pure Land practice as Hinayāna way?


Three wheels of inexpressible karma: 1/ The inexpressible powers of body: bodily self-transformation can transform as Buddha, bodhisattva or any beings from the six realms; can be a wholesome or unwholesome one, wise or fool one…from the Buddha’s lands of ten directions, so as to go in and out for the sake of all beings. 2/ The inexpressible powers of speech: gaining fully the four unlimited bodhisattva powers of interpretation, or reasoning; preaching the six paramitas,  the ten virtuous actions, the five precepts… all dharmas, which belong this world and outside this world, can bring benefit to all living beings, just depend on their ability. 3/ The inexpressible powers of mind: that can see deeply the sentient beings’ fundamental ability, which can be wise, fool, quick or slow understanding, flexible or stubborn mind… to take the proper form, give the suitable dharma. As AvalokiteÅ›vara Bodhisattva, up to living beings’ ability to perform powers, not being divided body but appeared everywhere, which is inexpressible karma. Until gaining this inexpressible karma, we can repay the four debts of gratitude and save beings from the three worlds.


Without taking the Pure Land practice to be born in Sukhāvati, how great in making vow, it’s unsure for self-saving, how can be for others. There is only calling the Buddha’a name with the utmost, at the last moment we can be born in the Pure Land both by the self-supporting and the Amitābha’s power. The two powers in one moment give the chance of Birth, seeing Buddha, hearing dharma, realizing the non-arising of dharma, then depending on the great vow to save living beings, can enter innumerable Buddha lands, perform the six transcendental powers, take the four integrative methods for leading all living beings to emancipation. Until having no controlling by karma, we can fulfill our great vow and repay the four debts of gratitude.

 1.     The Pure Land practice can repay the Buddha’s gratitude: The Buddha always follows us from the first existence till now. He guided us when we are in delusion, He gave compassion when seeing us doing wrong things, He used different means for sake the living beings in the six realms, He was joyfully seeing us in human beings form. This gratitude can’t be described in words. Taking The Pure Land practice, first for self-saving, then saving others, enhancing this practice to everyone, deputizing for the Buddha in sake living beings from the three worlds, being dignified the Buddha’s son, called truthful repaying the Buddha’s gratitude. The sutra mentioned that “supporting we sustain uncountable suffering for living beings but didn’t teach them dharma, it is not truthful repaying the Buddha’s gratitude”


2.      The Pure Land practice can repay parent’s gratitude: parent gave us our lives, nourished us with a boundless love. Father teaches us from wrong to right, overshadows us, loves us as a precious gem for the whole life. Mother spent ten months of pregnant time and three months for sucking and spoon-feed, is willing to sacrifice for our whole life. If we support parents only material things without guiding them to the virtuous life, we did not really repay them. Taking the Pure Land practice to be born in Sukhāvati then get back to save them from suffering forever. This is entirely repaying to parent’s gratitude. Furthermore, we all had parents in every existence, because of having no wisdom so we couldn’t see, couldn’t repay. With the power of Anutpattikadharmakshanti.b Insight into the non-arising of dharmas and the six transcendental powers, we can save innumerable parents from the first existence. This is truthful repayment to parent’s gratitude.


3.      Taking Pure Land practice can repay the master’s gratitude: parents gave us the physical body; masters gave us the dharma body. Without masters, wisdom can’t be opened, learning couldn’t process, morality can’t be fulfilled. In comparison, the master’s gratitude was even deeper than parent’s one, therefore, to be repayable master’s gratitude we need to practice the Pure Land’s way for living beings’ benefit. KumārajÄ«va, a great Buddhist scholar, He first studied teachings of the Sarvāstivādin schools under Bandhudatta, later studied Mahāyāna Buddhism under Buddhasvāmin, realized the nature of dharma, and seeing the limitation of Sarvāstivādin doctrine. Having assimilated the Mahāyāna teaching, he interpreted to the first master Bandhudatta and finally converted him to Mahāyāna. Bandhudatta after that received KumārajÄ«va as a teacher, KumārajÄ«va didn’t accept it then Bandhudatta said: “I am your Sarvāstivādin master, you are my Mahāyāna master”. KumārajÄ«va was a sample of truthful repayment master’s gratitude.


4.      The Pure Land practice can repay the living beings’ kindness. Question: “What kindness we have to repay to living beings?” Answer: “Without farmers we have no rice, without weavers we have no clothes, all the living requirements we had got from the contribution of all living beings”. Question: “Those things we use money to buy how can be in debt?” Answer: “Granted we use money to buy but without beings’ labors how can we get it?” Furthermore, all living beings were our parents, our masters, or our relatives from the previous lives just form-changed so we can’t recognize them. Therefore, we can’t deny the relationship between us and living beings; even a dog, a buffalo also gives us their kindness and we need to repay. Calling the Buddha’s name is for self-benefit, indeed for the sake of all beings. If we take the human form with all defilements to save them as the bodhisattva’s job, it is really not easy. Just like taking a holed boat to save the drowning man, it is a senseless deed. When we take Birth, seeing Buddha, hearing dharma, gaining the insight into the no-arising of dharma, attaining the three wheel of inexpressible karma from body, speech and mind, then we have enough skillful means to help all living beings. This is the truthful repayment to living beings’ kindness.

Three kinds of existence: Sense-sphere existence, form-sphere existence, formless-sphere existence. This is also called three worlds: karma world, form world, formless world. Why do we consider three kinds of existence as three worlds? It’s because the sentient beings from the three worlds take their existences up and down up to their karma. Good karmas give them the superior existence as devas, asuras and human being; bad karmas give the inferior existence in hell, hungry ghost or animal. If the good karma combines with unconfused meditation will take birth in the form or formless world. The saṃsāra created by the three kinds of karma: good, bad and neutral karmas, and when causes and effects have been set up, existence coming. If we take the three worlds connecting with the nine lands, it is nine existences.

The nine lands: From the Heavens of Desires (six heavens) downward they are called the five destinations, just like  human being, demons, animals living together in the human realm. The First Dhyana Heaven is the heaven after earthly life; the Second Dhyana Heaven is the heaven of cessation of rebirth; the Third Dhyana heaven is the land of wondrous joy after the previous joys; the Fourth Dhyana heaven is the Pure Land of abandonment of Recollection of past delights. Then we have the four formless heavens: The land of infinite space, The land of infinite perception, The land of nothingless, The land of neither consciousness nor unconsciousness, all are twenty-five existences, born from the law of karma. The Pure Land practitioner finished self-saving, taking vow for saving others from the three worlds. The Diamond sutra said: no matter they are egg-born, womb-born, moisture-born and born by transformation or spontaneous rebirth, born with form or formless, with perception or non-perception, with consciousness or unconsciousness, I will lead them to nirvāna”. This is for the sake of beings from three existences. Therefore, it is to say The Pure Land practice can save living beings.

Translated By Master Vien Anh

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