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Sukhavati Sutta / Pureland

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  • Sukhavati Sutta / Pureland

    Hello there,

    in a conversation today with someone who recently had a death in the family, and where the family follows the Pureland tradition, I was interested to hear their conviction that the person who had just passed on is now in the Pureland of Bliss and would not be "reborn" again, as the conversation goes. [I am happy for them none the less, as it gives them closure].

    If someone could help me understand this better. I'm perplexed in that I didn't think it was that "easy" to NOT be re-born again considering our many defilements. Lotsa ignorance on my part here.


    Would appreciate some light being shed here.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Dear Wai See,

    I have not had much contact with followers of the Pure Land school of Buddhism, so I can only give the "Ajahn Brahm style Theravada Buddhism" response.

    To avoid being reborn again one must attain Arahantship, that is the ending of greed, hatred and delusion via the eight-fold path. That include practicing the deep meditations - the Jhanas and being a Monk or Nun (there were a handful of cases in the Buddha's time of lay Arahants). It is a long gradual training (very gradual!)

    I can only speculate, but perhaps the Pure Land teachings are based on the idea of the anagami, or non-returner. These are beings who have got almost to the very end of the path but didn't quite eliminate delusion and are then born into the "Pure Abodes" where they spend much if not all of their time in the Jhana states. The similarity of "Pure Land" and "Pure Abodes" and the idea that one is never reborn after that seems to show there is some sort of influence there.

    Does that make sense? Have I offended anybody?

    J.R.

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    • #3
      Bhante, if I may add something here?

      My understanding of Pure Land is that it is a devotional practice and one needs to have pure devotion for Amitaba Buddha, reciting his name over and over, giving praise and worship. Many Shinto customs will also be mixed with most Pure Land practice and the shrines/temples will incorporate features from both traditions. In the home, a butsu-dan (prayer cabinet or Buddha shrine) will have a special place and can be plain to elaborate and usually expensive, as well as mindfulness of everyday tasks. The Shinto feature of super-cleanliness and ancestor worship and nature also take prominent spots in practice. This is all in my own words remembered from a required college religion course I once took. If one were devoted to and showed a lot of love for Amitaba Buddha, one will be born for the final time in the Pure Land of the Western Paradise. Sorry that I have no sources to cite other than myself.

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      • #4
        Bhante, if I may add something here?
        Please do. It makes my life easier if you do my job.

        J.R.

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        • #5
          Thank you Bhante for your kind response.
          I understand what you are saying regards the non-returner; and the practice path that is gradual.
          After my earlier query, I did look up regards Pureland tradition on the internet (very brief n quick search on line) and as Jerrod puts it, it's the practice of pure devotion to Amitabha Buddha.
          I'm going out on a limb here and probably offending many as I think absolute devotion without the gradual practice to rid our defilement is kinda like 'superstition' and the belief in an all powerful being that will 'save' us.
          Again thanks for your response.
          Cheerios

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