Pure Land Buddhism

Welcome to the Pure Land Buddhism website. It contains a collection of Pure Land Buddhism teachings in English (translations).

What is Pure Land Buddhism?

Pure Land Buddhism is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and one of the most widely practiced traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. The teachings are focused on Amitabha Buddha. The three primary texts of the tradition, known as the “Three Pure Land Sutras”, are the Infinite Life Sutra, the Amitabha Sutra and the Amitayurdhyana Sutra.

Gautama Buddha (also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni Buddha), whose teachings Buddhism was founded, predicted the people in future will have so many worries and afflictions that achieving Buddhahood in one’s lifetime is extremely difficult. It may take many lifetimes to achieve such state. Gautama Buddha knew help from another Buddha is needed: Amitabha Buddha.

Gautama Buddha, in the Great Collection Sutra, said that one could succeed in cultivation by learning the Pure Land method.

… [Gautama] recounted how the Bodhisattva Dharmakara, after witnessing the suffering of sentient beings, spent five eons (an incredibly long period of time) studying all the Buddha lands. Dharmakara then made forty-eight vows, the fulfillment of which would create the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. He declared that he would not attain Buddhahood unless his vows for a perfect pure land, where all beings would advance along the Buddhist path and never again fall back into samsara [the continual repetitive cycle of birth and death that arises from ordinary beings], were accomplished. Once these vows were accomplished, Dharmakara Bodhisattva became Amitabha Buddha.

With help from Amitabha, we do not have to rely solely on ourselves to attain enlightenment as we would with other methods.

Venerable Shi Wuling

It is like a great regal tree growing in the rocks and sand of barren wilderness. When the roots get water, the branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits will all flourish. The regal bodhi-tree growing in the wilderness of Birth and Death is the same. All living beings are its roots; all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are its flowers and fruits. By benefiting all beings with the water of Great Compassion, one can realize the flowers and fruits of the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ wisdom.

The Vows of Samantabhadra, Avatamsaka Sutra

What is the Pure Land Method?

The Pure Land method is hard to believe but easy to practice. Venerable Master Chin Kung

Rebirth in the Western Pure Land requires faith, vows, and practice. Venerable Master Sheng Yen

… the Pure Land method is a short cut to the ultimate Enlightenment. Using other methods, we take a long circuitous route to achieve Enlightenment. Seeking birth into the Pure Land is the short cut that ensures us of attaining Enlightenment in one lifetime. From this, we know that this method is outstanding and beyond comparison. All Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and past Patriarchs have praised this method. It is a rare opportunity for us to encounter it in this lifetime. […] Having encountered [the Pure Land method] in this lifetime, it would be unbearably sad to let this rarest of opportunity pass us by. It occurs so infrequently in infinite eons, we need to hold on tight, to not let go, to learn and practice as earnestly and sincerely as we can.

Venerable Master Chin Kung, January 1996, Australia

A Pure Land method is mindfully chanting the Buddha-name Amitabha (Chinese: Amituofo) while visualizing Amitabha in our minds. The other method is visualizing Amitabha’s Pure Land as per the Amitayurdhyana Sutra, or a mixture of both, whichever is most convenient to the practitioner. If one does this correctly, one will: (a) attain merits or virtues; (b) attain a calm, peaceful mind and meditative concentration; (c) be born into Amitabha’s Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss at the end of one’s lifetime. The Pure Land was created from Amitabha’s 48 Vows. Vow 18 is considered the most important by scholars:

Provided I become a Buddha, if the beings of the ten quarters who after having heard my name, and thus awakened their highest faith and aspiration of re-birth in that country of mine, even they have recollected such a thought for ten times only, they are destinated to be born there, with the exception of those who have committed the five deadly sins (Anantarya), and who have blasphemed the orthodox Law (Dharma), otherwise may I not attain the enlightenment.

Amitabha's Vow 18 (translation 1)

If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, even ten times, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment. Excepted are those who commit the five gravest transgressions or slander the correct Dharma.

Amitabha's Vow 18 (translation 2)

When I attain Unsurpassed Bodhi, sentient beings of the ten quarters who joyously and single-mindedly seek rebirth in my land after hearing my name—wholeheartedly dedicating all their merits towards this aspiration with each new thought—will be reborn in my land upon reciting my name for ten times. Until this vow is fulfilled, may I never attain Unsurpassed Bodhi.

Amitabha's Vow 18 (translation 3)

Once reborn in the Pure Land, one can learn to attain Buddhahood in bliss without suffering and never falling into the Three Evil Realms (animals, ghosts, and hells):
Provided I become a Buddha, if in that country of mine the beings who are born there should fall away (die) into the three evil realms, then may I not attain the enlightenment. Amitabha's Vow 2, translation 1

If I attain Unsurpassed Bodhi, my Buddha-land will be adorned with infinite and inconceivable merits. There shall be no hell beings, emaciated ghouls, wild beasts, pests and pestilences in my land. Sentient beings arriving to dwell in my land, even from the hells or evil paths, will all share my merits and become Bodhisattvas at once. They shall never again fall back into the states of suffering. Until these vows are fulfilled, may I never attain Unsurpassed Bodhi.

Amitabha's Vow (1 and) 2, translation 2

How Pure Land Works

Amitabha Buddha’s vast name, endowed with myriad virtues, is like a huge furnace. The many karmic offences that we living beings commit are like snow flakes falling through the air. When ordinary beings laden with karma recite the Buddha’s name, their karma melts away, just like snow flakes entering a furnace. In that way the karma disappears entirely.

Great Master Yin Gwang, 1930