Bridging the Gap Between Ordinary Beings and Amitabha Buddha
By Master Zhisui
The distance between the mind of an ordinary being and that of the Buddha seems vast and infinitely unreachable; yet those minds are also close, mere moments away, or even at no distance at all.
The Amitabha Sutra states: “From here travelling westward, past ten trillion Buddha lands, one arrives at the world known as Ultimate Bliss.” Our minds pervade everywhere, are omnipresent in all dharma realms, and identical to Amitabha Buddha’s mind. So why then does it seem there are ten trillion Buddha lands separating us and the Buddha?
The “ten trillion Buddha lands” signify a vast distance, but not a physical separation. It’s the spiritual distance between our minds and the Buddha’s mind. The difference between ordinary beings and the Land of Ultimate Bliss is immense. The latter is Amitabha’s magnificent reward land, a realm of purity; the human mind, however, is bound to samsara, the endless cycle of the six realms, a defiled world.
Though the Land of Ultimate Bliss is said to exist ten trillion Buddha lands away, it is also right beside us. Upon our rebirth there, we will discover that it is very close, for it is “as infinite as the cosmos, expansive and without limits.” By simply reciting the name of Amitabha, we are in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The reason why we cannot perceive the glorious merits of that land is due to the veil of ignorance which shrouds our minds. It’s like wearing a blindfold in the sunlight, blinding ourselves to the world outside.
The distance between ordinary beings and the Land of Ultimate Bliss, and between our minds and the Buddha's mind, may seem either great or small. It depends on one’s perspective. But in truth, there is no distance at all. With just a shift in thought, by turning the mind toward the Buddha and reciting his name, we can become a Buddha, and be one with Amitabha and his Land of Ultimate Bliss.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
- Recitation of Amitabha’s name, relying on his Fundamental Vow (the 18th)
- Rebirth of ordinary beings in the Pure Land’s Realm of Rewards
- Rebirth assured in the present lifetime
- Non-retrogression achieved in this lifetime
The 18th Vow of Amitabha Buddha
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.
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings