A Foundation of Pure Land Buddhism

We find clear evidence of Buddha teaching something similar to what evolved into Pure Land Buddhism in a number of Pali Suttas. Let me show you an example.

First, we have to take note of the following five wonderful qualities of one who is aroused to meditation.


“One who is aroused to practice is one of conviction, not without conviction… is one with persistence aroused, not lazy… is one of established mindfulness, not muddled mindfulness… is centered in concentration, not uncentered. One aroused to practice is discerning, not undiscerning.

Faith is the thing that gives you strength to move toward the unknown. Persistence is the thing that will get you to the other shore. Mindfulness is the practice of taking note of this present moment experience, however it manifests. Concentration is the ability to focus your mind on an object of your choosing. Discernment is the culmination of these various qualities– it is your clear awareness of what is to be done and what is not to be done.

Recollection of Tathagata

This ‘Recollection of Tathagata’ is a root of Pure Land Buddhism.

[1] “There is the case where you recollect the Tathagata: ‘Indeed, the Blessed One is pure and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.’ At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed senses pleasure. In one sensing pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated.

“Mahanama, you should develop this recollection of the Buddha while you are walking, while you are standing, while you are sitting, while you are lying down, while you are busy at work, while you are resting in your home crowded with children.

Mahanama is one of Buddha’s original disciples. Or, so a little internet research has led me to believe. There is actually some mystery around this character.

When I first read this, I assumed that Mahanama was a lay-person. The part where he says, “while you are resting in your home crowded with children.” What do you think? Can you help me understand who Mahanama is?

I really love that last command: “while you are resting your home crowded with children”.

When you read the reasoning of the Pure Land Patriarchs, who assert that theirs is the easiest path for us deluded beings today, you find that they believe it is easy to practice recitation of the name Amitabha Buddha. You can chant that name all day long. No matter where you are or what you’re doing. This sentiment, that recollection of the Buddha is beneficial and to be practiced in all places, not just in the meditation hall, is also expressed here in this Pali Sutta.

Some of the Pure Land Patriarchs say theirs is the only possible path for us poor beings today, because we are so crazy–  its the “Dharma Ending Age” — but there have also been famous Monks that have created beautiful combinations of Zen and Pure Land teaching. I am with them. The most recent of these Masters was D.T. Suzuki. Go read what he has to say about Amitabha and you will have fun.

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