What exactly is a “Pure Land?” It’s actually two things at once:
- It is the realm of Purified Mind itself, our own Essential Enlightened Nature. The Mahavaipula-mahasmanipata Sutra states, “The triple worlds exist in the mind. Why is that? One sees in one’s mind whatever one thinks of. It is our mind that sees the Buddha. Our mind becomes the Buddha. Our mind is the Buddha; our mind is the Tathagata.”
- It is a literal realm of rebirth in which the impediments to cultivation are nonexistent, enabling one to purify one’s karma without hindrance.
These two aspects of the Pure Land come about as the result of what is known as the Interpenetration of Phenomenon and Principle. This teaching points out the interdependent nature of the relative world and the true, underlying nature of that world, based on the teaching of One Mind. The Tang Dynasty master Yun-Ming Yen-Shou, who was a key figure in the synthesis of the Ch’an and Pure Land schools said, All things of Principle and Phenomenon are based on the Mind.
From the perspective of Principle, a Sutra says, “Contemplating that all dharmas are made from the Mind, one accopmlishes a body of wisdom and becomes enlightened without the help of others.” This is an insight into the True Mind as the fundamental through the contemplation of True Suchness.
From the perspective of Phenomenon, a Sutra says, “The Mind is just like a skillful painter who is able to draw everything in the world. The five aggregates arise from the Mind. There is nothing that is not created from it.” This perspective takes the rational cogitating mind as fundamental through the conscious mind.
The object of Pure Land Buddhism is the direct realization of the Purified Mind and our subsequent rebirth into the Realm of Bliss. Our Purified mind is the Pure Land, and our True Nature is Amitabha Buddha…
One fact is undeniably clear: Pure Land practice can accommodate people of any and all capacities. It utilizes practices which include meditation, visualization, recitation, devotion and Sutra study, so one may choose a practice which is consistent with one’s capacity and inclination. This is why Pure Land Buddhism is such a marvelous path for those who are seeking liberation in this modern age when there are so very many distractions and impediments to Enlightenment.