The oral teachings of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche.
This morning, his holiness will give teachings concerning Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light, and his Pure Land. In keeping with the teachings in general, this afternoon His Holiness will teach how to achieve transference of consciousness to the Pure Land from Amitabha Buddha. through this practice. Specifically, he will teach you how to practice this text of which all of you should have a copy. This is a daily sadhana for the practice of Amitabha Buddha. Yesterday you received initiation.
Generally, it can be said that there are many Pure Lands, many heavens of enlightened beings that we call Buddhas. The Pure Land of Great Bliss of the Buddha of Infinite Light, Amitabha, is truly a unique place. There are Pure Lands in the four directions, East, South, West, North, and in the center. Among them, the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha is the easiest to access and in this way very special. By formulating a special aspiration to be reborn in the Pure Land of great Bliss, one can accomplish the transference of one’s consciousness to the Pure Land. The power of prayer, the power of devoted and fervent aspiration, is all that is needed.
It is said that the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha, in relation to our universe, is in the western direction and above our universe. We must accept a cosmic view and realize that there are many world systems throughout space. This is a vast system of which I am speaking. Let’s take our cues here. What I am talking about, in terms of the great vastness of things, comes from this: Lord Buddha is the enlightened master in a great chiliocosm. This means that our entire universe, with its suns and moons, stars and planets, forms a unity. Multiply this by a thousand and then by a thousand and again by a thousand. This forms a chiliocosm. Lord Buddha Śākyamuni is the Lord in one of the chiliocosm. The realm of the Buddha of Infinite Light goes even beyond this cosmic scale. I am teaching now, from a prayer to express this powerful aspiration to be reborn in the Land of Great Bliss, composed by Chagme Rinpoche. In prayer, Karma Chagme Rinpoche says that the Pure Land of great bliss is on such a grand scale, so far removed from our ordinary reality, that our eyes of flesh cannot embrace it. It is not something that can be apprehended physically. It is so vast; its scale is immeasurable to any known to us, which it is impossible for our senses to perceive.
It is so far and vast, so beyond our ability to measure. We can see the stars and travel to the moon, but we can never own through the reach of our senses the reality of the Pure Land of Great Bliss. So it is with our ordinary thinking and perception. In this sense, it cannot be reached by material means. However, our own minds, once purified, once stripped of their errors, once returned to primordial condition, can directly experience the Pure Land reality of great bliss. The way to perceive the Pure Land is through the mind, not through the senses.
So, establish the vision in your mind and imagine that in the center of the vast Land of Great Bliss resides the Lord of the Pure Land: Amitabha Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light. It is ruby red in color and resembles Śākyamuni Buddha. It has the 80 major marks and 32 minor signs of a fully awakened manifestation of nirmanakāya. He has, for example, the cranial protuberance that you can see on statues and on thangkas of Lord Buddha. He has wheel marks on his hands and so on, so you can see there are a lot of different signs. Her hands are in the meditative position, the Dhyana Mudra, and in her hands is an alms bowl. He really looks like Śākyamuni Buddha, only his skin is a deep ruby color. He is resplendent and radiant. He is seated on a moon disc laying on a lotus flower. Behind his back is the wish-granting tree. To his right stands Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, Chenresig, white in color. To his left is Vajrapāṇi, the lord of mighty means. All three are Pure Land Lords of Great Bliss.
To give a brief overview on the history of the formation of the Land of Great Bliss of Amitabha Buddha, it is a Pure Land, which has no flaws. She is perfect in every way. The realization of this Pure Land did not come about without a cause. What was this cause of this perfect paradise? Many aeons ago, before becoming a Buddha, Amitabha Buddha was a monk whose name was Dharmākara, which literally means ‘The Origin of Dharma’. When he was a Bodhisattva, he made a series of prayers, or powerful aspiration, about how things should be when he becomes fully enlightened. He says: ‘There are so many Pure Lands that can be reached by those beings who have given up non-virtue, who have accumulated a great amount of merit, and who are assiduously practicing the Dharma. They can reach these Pure Lands, but it is very difficult. What about those who have not given up non-virtue, who have not accumulated a great deal of merit, and cannot practice rigorously?
Let me establish a Pure Land which can be easily accessed by them. May I release those beings who do not have these supernormal qualities of practitioners who have attained the other Pure Lands of all other Buddhas.
There are many versions of Amitabha Buddha’s prayer (or vow) made when he was Dharmakaya. In Tibet, there are no less than 500 different versions of the prayer. In China, one can find many texts concerning the formulation of the Great Vows of Amitabha Buddha. In general, it can be said that all his powerful aspirations can be summed up in the form of 48 Great Wishes. The Pure Land of Great Bliss was brought into reality by one of the 48 Great Vows. This is the cause of the existence of the Pure Land of Great Bliss. This Pure Land does not exist without a cause, nothing does. The cause for this is the activity of the Bodhisattva who later became Amitabha Buddha.
In general, all Buddhas carry all sentient beings in the center of their hearts with Love and Compassion. Apart from their great Compassion, they formulate powerful aspirations. They make great wishes. They exercise through many lifetimes; by training as Bodhisattvas before becoming Buddhas to touch all sentient beings through a wide variety of methods. Just as you can create a fire by rubbing two sticks together, long enough and with difficulty, so with the accumulation of merit and primordial wisdom, anything can be accomplished. What was accomplished, in this case, was the establishment of a Pure Land of Great Bliss in the western direction of our universe by Amitabha Buddha through his enormous amassment of merit and primordial wisdom. Let’s examine again, the metaphor of the two sticks needed to create a fire. Fire does not spring automatically from a single stick. You need two sticks and the effort to rub them together in a particular way for a while. In the end, a spark leaps from the conjunction of the sticks and the fire catches. In a similar way, all phenomena, all reality, all dharmas, manifest through the conjunction of emptiness and dependent origination. Everything is totally interconnected with everything else. This is called the dependent origin. This is one of the sticks.
The other stick is emptiness: the truth of emptiness, the complete lack of inherent existence of any phenomenon. The two sticks together are the true nature of reality. This is true for everything, for all realities. Let’s leave the Pure Land aside for a moment and examine the realm in which we live. Our world is the same. Our world is the product of the non-dual union of clarity and emptiness, appearance and emptiness. Things appear completely uninterrupted, and moreover have no essence.
Their essence is empty. This means that all possibilities of experience arise from the non-dual union of appearance and emptiness. Let us examine the manifestation of our world or that of the Pure Land.
Everything is not emptiness just because it appears, is it? We can see things clearly. Everything seems to have a material existence and basis in our world. This is the side of the equation indicating the clear manifestation of phenomena, of experiences. However, that side could not be without emptiness. If anything, absolutely everything, had a solid, material substance, an inherent existence, nothing could exist. It is because of emptiness that things can manifest appearances. Only because there is emptiness, everything can exist without exception. Without emptiness, there would only be an indissoluble monolithic form. There would be only one thing in this case. Nothing could come into relative existence without the ultimate basis of emptiness. This is why our world exists through emptiness. Because of emptiness, the Pure Land of Great Bliss was established by the power of aspiration, the accumulation of merit, and the primordial wisdom of enlightened being Amitabha. This is especially difficult to understand if you are new to Buddhism, I understand that, but only because there is emptiness there is appearance.
Let us now continue our examination of the particular qualities of the Pure Land formulated by the aspiration of Amitabha Buddha as the Land of Dewachen. There are many other fields of Buddhas, as has been said, but in order to achieve them, one has to reach a truly exalted level. For example, to arrive in a Land of another Buddha, it is necessary to be a Bodhisattva of the tenth ground, or approaching the portals of complete and perfect enlightenment, and to have accumulated a large amount of merit. It is difficult for ordinary beings to aspire to such a level. For us, Amitabha Buddha has formulated his powerful prayers of aspiration. Although her Pure Land seems far removed from our world, it is relatively easy to reach for sentient beings like us. This is due to the power of Amitabha Buddha’s prayers and vows. As mentioned above, there are different versions of Amitabha Buddha’s vows, prayers, and aspiration. To briefly compile them into a single statement, it is necessary to say that the essence of the prayers, vows, and aspirations are: “May a Pure Land be established so as to be attainable by ordinary beings of impure karma, demonic, who have not abandoned non-virtue.” When you reach the Pure Lands of other Buddhas, due to an exalted state before going there, you will be enlightened. In Dewachen’s case, you can achieve this, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be awake. What happens is that you will no longer regress in the cycle of existence, but instead will have all the auspicious conditions for the accumulation of merit and primordial wisdom. You can give up all non-virtue and practice in order to tame and train your mind to the point of being ripe for enlightenment. This is thus an introduction to the Pure Land of Great Bliss.
Now I am going to give you an explanation of prayer aspiration to be reborn in Dewachen Land composed by Chagme Rag-Astrs Rinpoche. To begin, I will start with a description of the Pure Land topography itself. The earth is different from our world. It is not hard, and covered with stones. It is completely flat and smooth. It is made of precious stone dust. In the Pure Land of great bliss, one always has the feeling of having an expansive view. She is really wide. There is no alteration of light and shadow. Unobstructed penetrating universal light comes from the physical form of the Buddha of Infinite Light, Amitabha. The whole realm is filled with the luminosity of Amitabha Buddha’s enlightened body. The ground is not hard. It’s soft and if you fall, you bounce back. You don’t stub your toes. Everything is very soft in Dewachen. As with the flora of Dewachen, the trees, which are abundant, are trees of wish-fulfilling jewels, trees that grant you all that you desire. On the branches stand birds of various kinds. They are all emanations of Amitabha Buddha. They have beautiful melodic voices. Unlike ordinary birdsong, they sing the Dharma teachings in a way that pacifies and enchants the mind. Anyone there who hears the Dharma melodies becomes peaceful, happy, and content. There are many rivers and streams, streams and rivulets. The water is not ordinary. She is fragrant. There are ponds where you can rest and bathe in scented waters. The earth is filled with gloriously fragrant lotus flowers, which open and emanate, from their hearts, rays of light in abundance. At the end of each spoke is a Buddha. The Buddhas all teach the Dharma. They teach the Dharma in such a way that the mind is cleared of all negative emotions.
In Dewachen Land there is no disease, poverty, old age, death. There is no distinction between one being and another. All beings are equally beautiful. All of them are filled with positive qualities. There is no fault, no need, no pain, no suffering of any kind, even the word suffering is not known there in the Pure Land of Great Bliss.
La façon de reprendre naissance en Dewachen est d’émettre une grande foi et une grande aspiration pour la Terre Pure, et avoir le désir d’y renaître. Quand vous y renaîtrez, cela ne se fait pas de façon ordinaire. Dans notre monde, nous arrivons tous dans la douleur et travaillons dans la tristesse. La naissance est un phénomène douloureux ici. En Dewachen, on ne renaît pas à travers une matrice, mais de façon magique dans le cœur d’une fleur de lotus. Si vous priez de façon concentrée et avec une grande foi pour y renaître, vous y renaîtrez. Si vous avez quelques doutes, vous y renaîtrez aussi, mais vous renaîtrez à l’intérieur d’une fleur de lotus. Vous êtes baigné dans la lumière radieuse du Bouddha mais vous ne pouvez voir toutes les qualités de la Terre Pure et vous ne pouvez-vous y balader à volonté.
Vous êtes dans une fleur de lotus fermée jusqu’à ce que les restes des doutes et des négativités soient éliminés. Alors, la fleur de lotus s’ouvrira. Si vous n’avez aucun doute en tout genre, vous renaîtrez dans une fleur de lotus ouverte. Ceci concerne le type d’aspiration que vous faites pour renaître en la Terre Pure que vous formulez au moment de la mort. Gardez à l’esprit cette importante distinction des deux renaissances en la Terre Pure. Il est important de formuler l’aspiration appropriée de renaissance au moment de la mort. Faites cela de façon énergique et sans le moindre doute. Si vous permettez le moindre doute de pénétrer vote esprit, vous renaîtrez dans une fleur de lotus fermée.
Si vous formulez une puissante aspiration au moment de la mort, alors sans expérience interférente, vous renaîtrez dans le cœur d’une fleur de lotus ouverte en présence du Bouddha de Lumière Infinie, Amitabha. Une des merveilleuses qualités de la renaissance en la Terre Pure de Grande Félicité est celle-ci :
Si vous avez lu les ‘’récits de voyages’’ pour les autres Terres Pures, vous pourriez vous rendre immédiatement par le simple souhait. Vous pouvez de façon magique vous transporter vers n’importe quelles autres Terres Pures en formulant simplement le souhait de vous y rendre. À partir de ce monde, vous ne pouvez immédiatement accéder aux autres Terres Pures, mais de la Terre Pure de Grande Félicité, vous pouvez. Vous avez le passeport, les visas, tous les tickets nécessaires pour aller dans n’importe quelle Terre Pure de n’importe quel Bouddha, dans toutes les directions et à n’importe quel moment souhaité.
Quand vous reprenez naissance dans une fleur de lotus ouverte, vous n’êtes pas encore parfait. Vous avez éliminé toutes négativités de votre courant d’esprit, mais vous reprenez naissance dans une forme qui possède beaucoup de qualités qui sont semblables à un Bouddha bien que vous ne soyez pas encore un Bouddha. Vous renaissez avec un corps resplendissant en or. Vous avez des pouvoirs télépathiques et extra sensoriels. Il existe cinq types de pouvoirs extra sensoriels dont vous jouissez. Une autre qualité que vous possédez en tant que nouveau-né, est que toutes les choses dont vous avez besoin pour en faire offrande aux Bouddhas, que vous pouvez maintenant percevoir avec vos yeux physiques, sont manifestées automatiquement de vos mains. Ainsi, vous pouvez accumuler des mérites et les perfectionner pour développer la sagesse.
Moreover, the accumulation of merit and wisdom that ultimately results in Buddhahood takes place very rapidly in the Pure Land of great bliss. Unlike other Pure Lands, the process of accumulating merit and wisdom is very rapid in Dewachen. Śākyamuni Buddha himself said: “Therefore praying to be reborn in Dewachen accumulates as much merit as if you were to offer the seven types of jewels and other precious substances, filling the three thousand thousand systems people.” In general, we can say that any sentient being who hears the name of Amitabha Buddha (in accordance with the Great Vows of Amitabha Buddha) formulates the aspiration to be reborn in Dewachen and engages in this practice, can be reborn in Dewachen. It is more difficult for those who have accumulated the negativity of the five inexpiable faults. However, even such fishermen, if they practice intensely, it is possible for them too to be reborn in Dewachen. In short, regarding the teachings of Amitabha Buddha and the Pure Land of Great Bliss, in all Mahayana countries, this practice is widespread. Why that ? This is due to the nature of Amitabha Buddha’s vows. The practice of Amitabha Buddha and the Pure Land is addressed to ordinary people. Anyone can engage in this practice. You don’t have to be a great exalted being who has given up non-virtue. You don’t have to be a super practitioner. In dependence on the power of Amitabha Buddha’s vows, you can engage in this practice. This is a practice of the sutra vehicle. Therefore, it can suit anyone. This is very democratic and available to everyone.