Stories of Lotuses
Master Fazhao was a patriarch of Pure Land in the Tang Dynasty. He wrote a verse that has to do with the lotus:
When a person recites the Buddha-name in this world,
If he recites it and never abandons it throughout his life,
The lotus will come here to greet him.
When a person utters “Namo Amitabha Buddha” in this world, a lotus will grow for him in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Nianfo is the cause, and the budding lotus is the consequence. Reaping the fruit of lotus by sowing the seed of Nianfo is called “Lotuses blossom for Buddha-reciters.”
As long as one “never abandons it throughout his life,” at the end of his life, the lotus will come to escort him to the Buddha-land. Not only will Amitabha Buddha bring the lotuses to us, we will also have a transformational rebirth in the lotuses. Why? By reciting the Buddha, our lives and roots are embodied in the lotus-womb, even though our lives have not ended yet. Once they do, we will be transformed into that lotus in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Likewise, if we sow the seed of reincarnation in the realm of humans to be someone’s children, such a causality will be fulfilled naturally by the karmic force without any stratagem. If it is the seed of heavens, it will result in rebirth in heavens. The same holds true for hells, hungry ghosts, animals, and so forth. Right now, we are sowing the seeds of Nianfo, the karma of lotus-birth; thus, when dying, we will have a lotus-transformed birth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. This is simply the nature of karma.
Of course, this karmic causality is not because of our own good merits or deeds, but the power of Amitabha’s vows. One of Amitabha’s vows says, “If you recite my name, you will be given a lotus-transformed birth in my land. Should you fail to reach the Pure Land, I shall not be Buddha.” Since Amitabha attained Buddhahood ten kalpas ago, any sentient beings in the lands of all directions who recite his name will sprout lotus-wombs with their OWN names on them, and, through these, will be given lotus rebirths.
There are many true stories. One small book published by Pure Land, A Collection of Children’s Journeys to the Land of Ultimate Bliss, recorded twenty-one stories told by children who see the land in their dreams or real lives. For whoever has doubts about the existence of the Pure Land it may do well to read it. Unlike adults whose minds are sullen and full of concerns, children’s minds are pure and straightforward. It is much easier for them to visit the Pure Land, and they tell true stories of what they saw and experienced.
I would like to share with you some of the stories, one titled “The seven year old Yiqiao’s journey to the Land of Ultimate Bliss.”
Seven-year-old Yiqiao’s Journey to the Land of Ultimate Bliss
“One day in 1994, I took my daughter Yiqiao to a nearby dharma-site to take part in the group-practice of Buddha-chanting. She was well-behaved and followed the chanting. About half-an-hour later, she became sleepy and said, “Mom, I want to take a nap.” So, I took her to a nearby dormitory to rest, and I continued chanting outside the room in case she could not find me after waking up.
“After thirty or forty minutes, Yiqiao woke up and ran to me. Her face lit up with joy, and she said to me excitedly: “Mom, mom, I just dreamed Amitabha Buddha took me to his Land of Ultimate Bliss!” I was inquisitive: “What did the Buddha look like? The big statue in the vihara hall?” She said: “No. The Buddha in my dream was very beautiful, very kind, and always smiling. He told me: ‘Yiqiao, practice Nianfo often and come to the Land of Ultimate Bliss.’ “
“Yiqiao told me that Amitabha Buddha was standing on a huge lotus. His face was round and chubby, and his hands and his feet were chubby as well. In the Land of Ultimate Bliss, everything and everywhere were glittering golden lights. The ground and trees were jewels. There were many lotuses in an enormous lake. Marked on the lotuses were many names, and she read them out: dad, mom, grandma, and grandpa. After the story spread, many lotus friends came and asked her: ‘Yiqiao, did you see my name on the lotus?
“Amitabha Buddha’s compassionate plea, ‘practice Nianfo often and come to the Land of Ultimate Bliss,’ is directed not only to Yiqiao but to all of us.
“Namo Amitabha Buddha.”
(Recorded by Tong Meiyue, December 6, 2014)
This is a twenty-some year-old story which shows that the lotuses in the Buddha-land are labeled with people’s names. There is another crucial point of the story: the Buddha encourages all of us to practice Nianfo often and be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Children, in general, are relatively pure-minded, without vexations or deluded thoughts. Unfortunately, many of today’s children are not so innocent; they indulge themselves in many worldly things like electronic games and handsets that pollute their minds.
The second story I will share with you is about my younger niece’s experience, which is also in the book.
A Child-Reciter’s Dream-Voyage to the Land of Ultimate Bliss
About twenty years ago, when I was studying in Japan, I would occasionally come back to Taiwan and stay at my brother’s house. His elder daughter, Du Qimu, was in kindergarten at the time. I often encouraged my brother to buy her children’s Buddhist story books and let her listen to tapes of bedtime stories. By that time, Qimu already had some idea about Buddhism.
One day, Qimu told me she dreamed a Bodhisattva took her on a voyage to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Everything in the land was made of sparkling jewels, and you could have anything you could think of. When she had a desire for seaweed soup, immediately a large bowl and plate appeared. In the bowl was the soup. She said, both the bowl and plate were made of gleaming jewels, and even the soup was shining.
A year later, on the evening of October 23, 1993, we spoke of her dream again. My sister’s daughter Cai Peixuan, who was younger than Qimu, said, “I don’t believe it. How can there be such a place?”
So I told her, “You can go there and take a look yourself.”
She asked, “How can I go there?”
I said, “At your bedtime if you recite Amitabha Buddha sincerely, the Buddha will come to take you to his land.”
She asked, “Really?”
I said, “Yes, really.”
She said, “All right, I will try it.”
That night, this little girl recited the Buddha’s name until falling asleep. The next morning, she came to me: “It is true. There is a Land of Ultimate Bliss.” So, she too has been to the land. Children are so pure-minded and straightforward.
(Recorded in the lecture of Master Huijing on May 26, 2011)
The third story is about another seven-year-old girl. Her mother’s name is Lin Siyu and her seventy-year-old grandmother is named Liu Jinzhu. Both are lotus members of our Pure Land Community of Taipei.On April 11 this year, I learned about their little girl, and suggested to Siyu to encourage her daughter to listen to and recite Namo Amitabha Buddha. I told her it would eliminate negative karmas, avoid future calamities, and open up her wisdom. I said that those who recite the Buddha’s name would often have a dream-journey to the Land of Ultimate Bliss, especially children. Siyu and her mother accepted my suggestion and hoped her daughter would see the land in her dreams.
On April 25, I met Siyu, who told me that on April 11, she said to her daughter that if she recited the Buddha’s name before bedtime, she would see the Land of Ultimate Bliss in her dream. That night, her daughter did just that, and the next morning told her: “Mom, last night, Amitabha Buddha took me to the Land of Ultimate Bliss!” She then drew a picture of the Buddha standing in the sky. I said to Siyu; little children may not be able to describe certain things, but you can ask specific questions about the Land of Ultimate Bliss, like what the ground, or buildings looked like, or were there were trees and lotuses and what did they look like? What sort of clothes did the Buddha wear? Were there other people? Did she smell unusual fragrances? Any colored lights? Were there names marked on the lotuses? She would tell you asked her.
Later, Siyu told me she did ask her daughter those questions. Her daughter answered and said, “there are names on the lotuses. I saw mom’s name and grandma’s name. But I was surprised to not see dad’s name.” Both her mother and grandmother are Buddha-reciters. Her father is a Buddhist but does not practice Nianfo. She also said, ‘I now know my grandma’s name is Lin-Liu Jinzhu.’ Lin was her grandma’s maiden name. It was in the Land of Ultimate Bliss that she saw her grandmother’s full name for the first time.
Let us encourage our little children, especially those around first grade or kindergarten, to recite the Buddha’s name. It eradicates their karmic obstacles and improves their wisdom in the present, and in the future noble people will offer help. They could also visit the Land of Ultimate Bliss in their dreams. Children older than third and fourth grade may already be too sophisticated to do it. Furthermore, children who have a dream-journey to the Land of Ultimate Bliss may not be able to describe the land effectively. Their parents should help them express their experience and write it down. Such documents may be precious in their lives. While everything is impermanent and empty, such memories forever exist.
(Translated and edited by the Pure Land School Translation Team)
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