Chapter 13 - On The Pure Land

1. Where, exactly, is the Pure Land? It is immanent within your mind. As long as you are free of worries and vexations, your mind is the land of equanimity hence the Pure Land.

2. When reciting the name of the Buddha, pronounce each word distinctly with full concentration. Further, vow to be reborn in the Pure Land so as to escape this bitter prison of samsara.

3. "When the mind is pure, the buddha-land is also pure". Practice recitation dilligently to the extent that the mind is pure, clear, and unfettered by vexations or illusive thoughts. When you attain such a state, this world is the Pure Land and your mind the kingdom of Amitabha Buddha.

4. Within the limitless void, a world resembles a grain of sand. If there are as many worlds as there are grains of sand in the Ganges, and if all beings of these worlds are willing to recite the Buddha's name, they can all be reborn in the Pure Land.

5. An important prerequisite to be reborn in the Pure Land is to relinquish all worldly concerns. One can only be reborn in the Pure Land without the encumbrances and entanglements of this world.

6. If our minds are composed and stable, we are naturally free of vexations. We can live every day with a pure mind and good spirit, crave for nothing but live according to circumstances, and our hearts will be filled with joy and bliss. Such is the state of the Pure Land. So why quest elsewhere when the Pure Land is immanent within our minds? On the other hand, if your mind is unsettling and disgruntling, you will become vexed easily and you will feel restless wherever you are.

7. Practice recitation to the extent that your mind becomes absolutely pure and clear, and you will be reborn through the lotus into the Pure Land. Those who are born through the physical bodies of their parents will remain in the cycle of birth and death.

8. Do not pray for the divine manifestation of Buddhas and/or Bodhisattvas at your deathbed. Such revelations are most likely to be illusions. What you should do is to recite the name of the Buddha with a pure mind and free of appeals. Then, whatever is manifested in your mind will be genuine revelation.

9. There are limits to the merits we can enjoy in this world. But the blessings we attain through practice will invigorate our Buddha-nature, unfold our wisdom, and help us retrieve our true nature. It is by no means easy to become monastic practioners, as we have to endure immeasurable hardships. But such endurance will help us remove the massive karmic obstructions we have accumulated through the eons. Only by so doing will we be able to eradicate all our negative karma, be reborn in the Pure Land, and ultimately attain Buddhahood.

10. (At dusk, we recite the following stanza:) "The day is drawing to an end and our lives are cutting short accordingly. Just like the fishes in a drying pond, how much joy can there be?" Indeed, we do not realize that our lives are drawing closer to an end each day, just like the fishes in a drying pond that are still swimming happily, not realizing their imminent extinction. We just live one day after another, do not know where we are going after we die. Therefore, we should constantly remind ourselves not to lessen our vigilance. Practice diligently so that we can be reborn in the Pure Land.

11. A diligent practitioner is just like an old farmer who tills in the field all day and can joyfully rest at home after the sun goes down. The Pure Land is his ultimate home and resting-place.

12. We monastic practitioners should not be afraid of death because there is the Pure Land to look foward to. We should also attain the level in our practice at which we can easily untie our minds from all worldly concerns and can resolve all difficulties with a simple change of perception.

13. A snap pf thought takes 90 ksana (of time), and there are 900 births and deaths within a ksana. Hence, within the time of a snap of thought, there are 81,000 births and deaths. At the critical moment of our last breath, even only one snap of thought (other than the wish to be reborn in the Pure Land) arises to distract us, we will be unable to escape the cycle of birth and death. Thus, the last snap of thought before we die is of utmost importance! What kind of thought will flash through our minds depends on the state of our minds at that instant. If our minds are completely pure and we are making no distinction among the forms of self, others, sentient beings, and life, we will be reborn in the Pure Land.

14. Where is the Pure Land? You have to begin your search through purifying your own mind. If your mind is unfettered by worldly distractions and delusion, and is absolutely pure and clear, then your mind itself is the Pure Land. So there is no need to keep questing "where is the Pure Land?" If you continue to have such an illusive idea of pursuit, you are still defiled by greed, anger, and ignorance. Do not cling to the idea that there is indeed a Pure Land somewhere out there. In fact, the Pure Land is immanent in your mind and can only be brought out through diligent practice. As an old stanza makes it clear: "Do not search afar for the Buddha because the Buddha is right there at the Spirit Vulture Peak, and the Peak within your mind. Everyone has a pagoda under the Spirit Vulture Peak within his/her mind, under which he/she can practice to attain Buddhahood." It will be a total mistake to search for the Buddha outside our minds. If we practice by training our minds, we can eventually reach the Pure Land.