- Gyalwa Dokhampa
This teaching on the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha given by Gyalwa Dokhampa will touch upon - the sufferings in the six realms, why do we want to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha, how this practice helps us prepare and guide us during the time of death, important things to remember at the time of death, conditions to take rebirth in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha, benefits of this practice even during our present life, and how do we visualize during the practice.
May this Teaching give Reassurance and Blessing of Buddha Amitabha to all those who are about to Die and those who are about to Lose Loved Ones.
PART 1 - SUFFERINGS IN THE SIX REALMS
In Buddha Dharma, it is taught that there are six realms of rebirth and existence, namely the realms of hell, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, demi-gods, and gods. We definitely don’t want to be born into hell, hungry ghosts, and even the animal realm because these are obviously filled with suffering. Generally, we feel that it is acceptable to be born into the human or the god realm. However, in reality, even these upper rebirths are filled with suffering.
It is said that the human realm has eight major kinds of sufferings - the four sufferings of birth, aging, sickness, and death and the other four which include the suffering of not getting what you want, difficulty in protecting what you have, getting separated from what one likes, and meeting unwanted people and situations.
The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa describes the various sufferings that one has to endure for the nine months while in the mother’s womb, right from the moment we enter the womb. For example, when the different parts of the body like our legs and arms start to form, it is said that it is like strong forces pulling you apart. In one of Nagarjuna's teachings, it is said that if we can only remember the sufferings that one experiences during the nine months in the mother’s womb, one will never want to be reborn again in the human world.
Similarly, even though the beings in the demi-god realm have much longer lives than humans, they are consumed by jealousy over the gods, depriving themselves of enjoying anything. For example, how we forget all the blessings we have in our daily lives and are consumed by jealousy when we compare ourselves with others who we feel have more than us.
The god realm is said to be filled with enjoyment, and they live for thousands of years, but their life seems to pass quickly as they are so intoxicated. And then the worst suffering is when they are about to die, they suddenly realize that their karma to be born in the god realm is exhausted and now going to be reborn in the lower realms. During that time, the gods go through tremendous mental depression for seven days, equal to 700 years of human life, and the severity of this suffering is even more painful than the suffering in the hell realm.
Imagine what a person with no spiritual or mental strength would go through if you are born into a very successful, wealthy, or prestigious family and if you lose everything overnight. I guess it will be challenging for most of us to handle such a situation.
We do have to appreciate the little joys that we experience in the human realm but fundamentally, wherever we may be born in the six realms, it is said that we are affected by these three sufferings - Suffering of change which is like becoming poor after being rich; Suffering of sufferings which is in addition to enduring the suffering of change, one is born in the three lower realms or encounters the sufferings of the human realm; Suffering of the minute changes which is so subtle that we can’t grasp it. For example, when we reach 70 or 80 years old, we feel sad when we look at our grey hairs and wrinkles, although we have been aging every second since birth. However, suppose we realize these minute changes continuously happening, we understand that the moment we meet our loved ones, with every second, we are getting closer to having to depart. This realization is key in appreciating the time together and lessening the sadness when we have to depart. Without realizing the changing nature of everything, the attachment and pride we have in our belongings and status cause depression and other mental sufferings that could even lead to suicide.
PART 2 - COMING ABOUT OF BUDDHAS’ PURE LANDS AND WHY WE WANT TO BE REBORN IN THE PURE LAND OF BUDDHA AMITABHA
The six realms of samsara are filled with suffering, and difficult for all the favourable conditions to come together to practice until we attain enlightenment, such as meeting the Buddha dharma, meeting masters, etc. The Pure Land is an intermediate place where the conditions are favourable for us to continue our practice. That is why we wish to be reborn in the Pure Land.
Dharma teaches that to be reborn in a Pure Land is not the ultimate goal. That is not the end. If we think that the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha is like a heaven with enjoyment all the time and a lifetime vacation, then we are wrong. It is a place with perfect conditions to enhance our spiritual practice. We aspire to be reborn in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha as it provides the perfect circumstances to receive teachings from Buddha Amitabha and the other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and live for 100s and 100s of eons to practice and attain enlightenment and then come back to benefit sentient beings.
Now coming to how Pure Lands (field of activity) come about, there are three important tasks for all the Bodhisattvas before they attain Buddhahood. These are:
1. Accumulation of merit (sonam and yeshey ghi tshog) through practice of generosity, prostrations, etc.
2. Meditating on what kind of world they wish as their field of activity.
3. Benefit countless number of sentient beings.
It is said that all the Bodhisattvas, on their path to Buddhahood, have the ability to choose the conditions of the Pure Land that they want to make to benefit sentient beings through their moenlam (aspiration). For example, Buddha Shakyamuni accepted this impure world of ours as his Pure Land instead of creating one. Similarly, Buddha Amitabha developed a Pure Land called Dewachen or the world of Happiness/Bliss (known as Sukhavati in Sanskrit).
It is said that it is difficult to be born in the Pure Lands of other Buddhas, but because of the wish of Buddha Amitabha, who said that even beings who are not yet enlightened could be born in his Pure Land, it is less difficult to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha. When Buddha Amitabha was a Bodhisattva, he made a prayer that, when I become Buddha, may I develop a Pure Land called Amitabha Pure Land where even ordinary beings with defilements can be born because of my practice for eons and eons as long as they have the thought to be born in the Pure Land and develop the connection with me with devotion and belief, where the three lower realms of hell, hungry ghosts, animal are not there, where everybody is able to live for eons and eons, where there is no hunger, where there is no famine, where beings are born miraculously from the lotus, and I will guide them on the path to enlightenment without having to go back into the samsara”.
PART 3 - THE TWO GREATEST FEARS AT THE TIME OF DEATH - (I) THE FEAR OF LOSING THINGS AND (II) THE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN PATH.
(i) THE FEAR OF LOSING THINGS DUE TO OUR STRONG ATTACHMENT – At the time of death, it is not healthy to be attached to anything in this world because we have to leave everything behind, and attachment can only be a cause of immense pain. For example, tomorrow, if someone comes and by force takes away your job, your belongings, savings, and everything that you have for which you have worked for many years, it will be excruciating and scary. Even to get a divorce or, say, the loss of our iPhone is so painful. At the time of death, it is not only our belongings that we have to leave behind, but we have to leave behind even this body that we cherish so much. With this fact, imagine how much pain and fear we will experience at the time of death. However, people should not feel that thinking of death is scary. Instead, thinking of death and losing things should make us appreciate and enjoy this life more, and life will have more meaning.
We are holding on to things only by our minds, but there is nothing that we can hold on to. We can appreciate and enjoy our body and material wealth when we are alive and also benefit others. Holding on to something as if it will be with us forever is an illusion. And the more we hold on to something, the fussier we become and more irritated we become from anything. For example, if we hold on to our body so much, everything irritates us - too hot, too cold, even breaking a nail. When you have a pimple, you cannot go out because you are worried that others will see it. In reality, I don’t think anybody will come so near to you to see your pimple, and most of the time, nobody will even notice it. But when you are so concerned about your pimple, you waste your whole day.
Remember that attachment is not only to do with materialistic richness. It does not matter whether you have a lot of property or not. You can get attached to your one shirt or your bag, and it is the same attachment. Irrespective of the materialistic value, if you have an attachment, pain is the same, and therefore, fear is also the same. Therefore, it is critical to understand that ATTACHMENT is what we need to eliminate to reduce the pain we experience in losing something.
Now, what can we do to reduce attachment?
First of all, we should understand that objects around us are not something that we can hold on to forever. Everything is changing every second. We should understand that everything is impermanent by nature. For example, our own body. Is our body at this moment the same that we had five minutes ago? It may seem the same, but it is not. Our body is going through change every second, which is beyond our control. It is not like suddenly after 50 years you have become old, and till then you were young. We are getting old every second. It is the same with a building. Every second it changes with deterioration, and the coming together of conditions to fall is a continuous process.
With the understanding of impermanence, then we reduce attachment by practicing to offer everything to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In Vajrayana, we say mandala offering. What it means is that we do offering to the Buddhas. Actually, we cannot offer anything to the Buddhas in real. Buddhas do not need anything from us, but this is a method to train our minds to reduce attachment.
When we say offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, it does not mean that you have to sign our will and give something. Basically, an offering is getting rid of the attachment of having ownership over something in our mind. For example, we are staying in this monastery right now, so we are saying it is our monastery. After a few decades, another Lam will come and say it is his monastery and who knows, it may turn into a museum. So, our mind is saying this is mine, and as long as society supports this concept, we say this is my land, my house, etc.
Therefore, we should visualize offerings, and offerings can be anything. For example, if you are a company director, you can say I offer my position and status to the Buddha. This is because status, power, and family are things that we can be attached to. This is a way to reduce our attachment. The essence of making physical offerings is to reduce attachment, as the most important offering is to cut attachment from the mind.
Understanding that all our material possessions, power, status, fame, family, etc. are all impermanent, rather than holding on to them, in this life and at the time of death which will cause so much suffering, we should offer everything to the Buddha Amitabha. Pray for accepting these offerings for our sake, accumulating merit, and reducing our attachment.
Practicing while alive helps us realize that we have done everything in this life, and now we have no attachment to this worldly existence, and pray to be born in the Pure Land. We have to realize that everything that we had in this life is like a dream, and I offer everything to Buddha Amitabha.
During the time of death, we need to remind ourselves to have no attachment to anything because the pain of losing is much lesser when there is no attachment, and this helps us be more ready to accept our next rebirth.
PART 4 - THE TWO GREATEST FEARS AT THE TIME OF DEATH - (I) THE FEAR OF LOSING THINGS AND (II) THE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN PATH.
(ii) THE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN PATH - NOT KNOWING WHERE WE ARE GOING NEXT - If we don’t believe in rebirth, I guess maybe you will think that chapter is closed after you die. And I hope that for their sake, it is true and that there is nothing after this life because if there is and if they are not prepared for it, then definitely that is going to be a big problem. One master said that whether there is anything after death or not, better be prepared for it. So, in case, there is something, you are prepared for it. And if there is nothing, it does not matter. What can we do to address the fear of where we are going next, the fear of the unknown path? This is where the Buddha Amitabha practice comes in.
The Aspiration Prayer for the Pure Realm of Sukhavati explains how unbearable the suffering is in the lower realms. Even if born in the higher realms, they have their sufferings that one has to endure and impermanence. It reminds us of the uncountable times of our rebirths in the six realms and ingrains the understanding to fear of being reborn again and again in the six realms and stuck here. This gives rise to the aspiration to be reborn in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha.
THIS LIFE IS A DREAM. In this life, we experience many things such as having a family, having a good post, etc. At the time of death, whatever we experienced in this life is a dream about to end. We have to understand that our life is the same as the dream that we have when we sleep, where we have nothing tangible to show when we wake up. We may live up to the age of 80 years, and when you recollect the things you did in your life, you may remember many happy and sad experiences such as when you were successful, was a minister, travelling the world, or lost someone or something dear to you. However, all these are nothing but only memories. What happened yesterday is today’s memory and what we experience today is tomorrow’s memory. That is why we always say life is like a dream.
Till we realize that all we are experiencing is dreamlike and firmly believe that everything is real, the pain is real, happiness is real, wealth is real, and suffering is real. Without this realization, our concepts of friends, relations, enemies are also real, the joy of meeting loves ones are also real, and the pain of meeting enemies is also real. For example, as soon as you say you are married, you are husband and wife and become very important to each other. However, the moment you fight and get a divorce, you are no longer husband and wife.
At the time of death, it is important to realize that life is like a dream and not be attached to anything in it. Therefore, when someone is about to die, we have to remind that person to be caring and loving towards all sentient beings, but not be attached to anything, and remember Amitabha Buddha and their Guru, and mentally offer everything and everyone precious to us to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
PART 5 – IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER AT THE TIME OF DEATH
DO NOT GET ATTACHED TO FAMILY MEMBERS (PARENTS, SIBLINGS, AND CHILDREN) AND WORLDLY WEALTH. While we are alive and living together, we have to be good to each other, but when we are about to die, we should remember that everything is impermanent and should not have attachment. Suffering comes because of attachment, and attachment is because we do not contemplate impermanence. We feel that it is nice to have everyone around when we die and say goodbye, but this may cause the dying person even more sadness. Milarepa said, “I don’t want anyone around me when I die. I will practice and remember my root Guru at that time. I do not want anyone crying.” When we are dying, our possessions such as wealth, family, everything is like a dream. We say ‘Junor Long-ched’ - Junor means wealth and Long-ched means ability to utilize. Whatever wealth we have is for use during this lifetime. After our death, someone else will use it. That is why we should realize that all we have is only for use during this lifetime, including this body, which is everything to us in this life. This is very important to be realized at the time of death.
THE MIND AT THE TIME OF DEATH. For example, it is important to get ready when we are going to a new place like knowing which path to take from a junction. If we chose the wrong direction at the junction, we would go to the wrong place. Similarly, it is important to pray and accumulate merit while we are alive, but the time of death is equally crucial to ensure we reach the place we aspired for. If we get angry and die, it may lead us to be born in the hell realm. The period between the time of death and the next birth is when this life is finishing and before the ripening of our karma for the next life. If we make a mistake at this critical junction, we may be born in lower realms. Therefore, it is important to contemplate realizing the impermanence of this life and getting rid of attachment at the time of death. We should also purify (shakpa) our negative deeds at the time of death.
Buddha Amitabha said that if we practice the “Aspiration Prayer of the Pure Realm of Sukhavati (Dewachengi Moenlam)” prayer every day, he will come to rescue us from lower realms during the time of death. When we do this prayer, always remember that “I have to die one day and when I die, I will not be attached to all my material possessions and relations, and I pray to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha. Please bless me.”
PART 6 – CONDITIONS TO TAKE BIRTH IN THE PURE LAND OF BUDDHA AMITABHA (1)
Buddha Amitabha’s wish to make his Pure Land accessible to ordinary people who have not realized the nature of the mind is unique. To be reborn in the Pure Lands of the other Buddhas, one has to either attain the realization of a Bodhisattva or at least an Arahat. Therefore, let's say getting the visa to Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha is easier than for other Pure Lands. Also, it is like the passport of the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha is very powerful as you can travel to the other Pure Lands, once you are born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha and then come back in the night, as said in the teaching.
This uniqueness of Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha and the possibility for any of us to be born there is not because we are great practitioners and have worked so hard. Rather, it is because of Buddha Amitabha’s hard work and his aspiration for the enlightenment of all beings. Unlike us, who do some prayers and practice once a year, Buddha Amitabha practiced the six paramitas (generosity, discipline, patience, perseverance, full concentration of meditation, and wisdom) for lives and lives for three eons and made it easy for us to be born there.
Buddha Amitabha said that any being who has not committed the following five worst actions can be born in his Pure Land:
1. The killing of one’s own father
2. The killing of one’s own mother
3. The killing of an Arhat (enlightened monk) or a teacher
4. Intending to cause harm to the Buddha directly
5. Creating division (schism) between sanghas (making the sanghas fight/quarrel) and causing disharmony among spiritual groups
The fifth condition also applies to disrespecting the different yanas (different vehicles of Buddhism), especially those we are not following. This is because being disrespectful and causing disharmony among spiritual groups can lead to the deprivation of the opportunity for many others to follow the dharma path. For example, if we say that Vajrayana is excellent, but Mahayana and Theravada are not good, this creates the karma of the fifth great sin called choepang, which is giving up the dharma. This is because whatever you are rejecting is also the Buddha's teaching, and by saying that, you are blocking the spiritual path of many people who may be connected to that particular teaching.
As long as we have not committed the above-mentioned five grave sins, people like us who do both good and bad deeds, such as tell a few minor lies, drink a little bit and at the same time do some prayers - we have the opportunity to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha because of the immense hardship that Buddha Amitabha went through till enlightenment and his aspiration of creating such a Pure Land.
PART 7 – CONDITIONS TO TAKE BIRTH IN THE PURE LAND OF BUDDHA AMITABHA (2)
To avail this opportunity that Buddha Amitabha has created for all beings to be born in his Pure Land, we must create the following three conditions through our own practice. The wish of Buddha Amitabha has made it easier for all beings to be born in his Pure Land but it is not possible to be born there just by the hard work and prayer of Buddha Amitabha. We cannot be born there just by sleeping and relying on Buddha Amitabha. If this was the case, then there is no cause and condition. For example, even if other people have cooked delicious food, without your own effort to put it in your mouth, the food will not automatically get in your mouth. Good food exists because of the other person who has cooked it, but for it to be in your mouth, you have to put it.
Likewise, to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha, we have to create the following three conditions:
(1) One should have a Bodhicitta mind. Praying just for oneself to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha will accumulate merit but much lesser. Or even worse is thinking, I want to be born there but don’t let that other person I hate come there. Instead, it is important to have the aspiration not just for oneself but for all sentient beings. Then the merit accumulated is hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than just praying for oneself. Such an aspiration is praying that I want to be reborn there so that I can get enlightened under the blessing and guidance of Buddha Amitabha and then benefit all the sentient beings, knowing that even if we are born as human beings, we may or may not encounter dharma and we have to go through a lot of sufferings. This kind of aspiration to benefit all sentient beings is called the bodhicitta mind (Jangchub gi sem).
(2) One should have the devotion to Buddha Amitabha and his Pure Land. The second condition to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha is to have devotion and belief in the existence of the Pure Land and visualization of the Pure Land in the west direction while practicing. Buddha Amitabha said that when we talk, pray, etc., he listens and understands. Visualizing is important to familiarize oneself with the existence of the Pure Land. For example, some children do not want to come to dharma teachings, but parents can force them and bring them here. Even though their mind is somewhere else, their body is here. But after we die, we do not have a physical body. So, the mind goes wherever it wants to go.
During this state, after we die, our thoughts are projected as our experiences. For example, when the deceased being feels anger, jealousy, and other afflictive emotions, they see strong winds, thunderstorms, windstorms, loud noises, and experience terrifying things. Such experiences in the intermediate stage are projections of our own afflictive emotions. Within 49 days, most of the beings will be reborn except for some that get stuck in the intermediate stage for a very long time. During the 49 days after death, Buddhas of the five directions teach and bless us, but most beings run away from the Buddhas. This is because when we are alive, we always imagine Buddha as a statue that is not alive and prays to the statue figure. In addition, our confidence in the existence of Buddha Amitabha is frail with a mix of doubt, and our visualization is static. Therefore, after death, even when Buddha comes, we feel scared and run away. This is why when we are alive, it is crucial to familiarize and visualize Buddhas as real and alive (smiling, speaking, moving, showing loving-kindness) and not like a statue.
At that time, if the mind is not familiar with Buddha Amitabha and his Pure Land, it will not go there. In that case, it won't be easy to generate a strong desire to the born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha as our mind will be attached to things that we are familiar with. Because of our attachment to this world, we will only be thinking of this world, resulting in getting stuck in this realm. For example, if you are a drunkard, your mind will easily go to the bar.
Similarly, the more we visualize the Buddha Amitabha Pure Land when we are alive, the more we will be thinking about it after we die. Thus, visualizing the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha when we are alive trains our minds to go there as soon as we die. However, if we doubt the existence of the Pure Land, even if we are born there, for 500 years, even if we can hear the Buddha’s teachings, the lotus flower through which we are born will not open, and we cannot see his face. This is why both familiarization with the visualization of the Buddha Amitabha and devotion are important.
PART 8– CONDITIONS TO TAKE BIRTH IN THE PURE LAND OF BUDDHA AMITABHA (3)
The third condition to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha is the dedication of merit.
DEDICATION OF MERIT. Every time we do something good, it is imperative to dedicate the merit to accumulate positive karma. Karma is like energy that can be used to do anything. If you pray to become rich, you will become rich, but that prayer will not take you to the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha. That is why the dedication of merit for the right purpose is very important. You have to direct your karma to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha. For example, when we offer butter lamps, we have to pray that by this light offering to the Buddha, I and all sentient beings, when we are dying, when we are confused and lost in the darkness of intermediate stage, may the lamp guide me and all sentient beings to the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha. We should understand that if we are born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha where there is Tara and Guru also, we have the opportunity to receive teachings from all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, practice, and strengthen our spiritual practice. Therefore, we should dedicate our merit to be born there. Whatever positive karma we accumulate, we should dedicate and pray for our rebirth in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha, benefit all sentient beings, and lead them to be born there.
These three conditions - to have a Bodhicitta mind, devotion to Buddha Amitabha and his Pure Land, and dedication of merit to be born there to benefit all sentient beings - are important to be developed right now when our mind is inside our body. When we are alive, even if our mind does not want to do something, we can be forced to do things by our body. Therefore, we should use this opportunity when alive to train our mind to be born in the Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha.
One day, when my root teacher was in Nepal, he saw an old lady doing circumambulations. He heard her praying and wishing for so many things. From what he was hearing, all her moenlams (aspirations) were for this life only. Although she was already in her 80s, she was still praying for long healthy life, prosperity for her family, success of her family’s business and good education for her grandchildren, and so on. And only one aspiration that she was making was not self-centered, where she said may my root teacher live a long and healthy life. But she never prayed to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha.
Such aspirations show that even when we reach 80 years old, we humans never realize that we have to die but still feel like we have many more years to live on this earth. We never remember the impermanence of everything, including ourselves. Whether we are young or old, we have to die one day, and therefore, it is important to accumulate merit. We have to do offerings for the prosperity of this life, but we should never forget that we have to die one day and ask ourselves, where will we be born after we leave this body?
In one way, we feel like this life is long, but when we think of the many lives to come, this life is so short. Believing in the cause and condition, whatever good deeds we do, whatever merit we accumulate, we should not only think of this life but also of the future lives. When death comes our way, our family members, status and title, wealth, and popularity have to be left behind. At this time, only the negative karma of our bad deeds and the positive karma of our good deeds will accompany us. Our next life is determined according to our karma. Therefore, when we do practice dharma, it is essential to remember our next lives. The cremation ground is never empty; some go there young and some old. Irrespective of our age, we always forget impermanence and the inevitability of death. Therefore, always remember that while this life is important, afterlives are equally important.
PART 9 – BENEFITS OF PRACTICING THE PRAYER OF PURE LAND OF BUDDHA AMITABHA
In addition to creating the karma to be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha, praying to Buddha Amitabha also increases our life span. Buddha Amitabha also manifests as Sangay Tshepamey, the Buddha of Longevity, and he is also known as the Father of all Buddhas.
That is why Buddha Amitabha will be there even when a thousand Buddhas come and go as his length of life is said to be many countless eons. Guru Rinpoche also practiced Amitabha Buddha in Maratika, Nepal, and he got the blessing of being deathless.
As per sutras, it is said that three kinds of forces or energies that sustain our life – life force (tshey), karma (ley), and merit (soenam). If someone’s life force is finished but their karma and merit to be a human being are not yet exhausted, that being will be reborn in the human realm. In case a being’s life force and karma to be a human being are still there, but merit is exhausted, the being has to go through many difficulties such as poverty and sickness because the being doesn’t have any merit left. If all these three forces are exhausted, then even Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha himself will not be able to help us. But as long as one of these three forces is there, especially the life force, merit can be accumulated, and karma can be created. In such a case, the blessings of Buddha Amitabha will increase one’s life span. That is why Amitabha Buddha Pure land practice is not only for the deceased but even for this life.
I can share an experience from some years ago in London. I met a lady in the Intensive Care Unit, and I was told that doctors had also given up hope for her survival. Upon instruction from my Teacher, I gave her a picture of Buddha Amitabha and asked her to recite the Buddha Amitabha mantra ‘Om Ami Dewa Hri’ and did the abridged Buddha Amitabha Pure Land prayer near her. Later, I learned that she recovered and lived for several more years than expected.
PART 10 – VISUALIZATION DURING PRACTICE OF BUDDHA AMITABHA
Like said earlier, it is important to believe that Buddha Amitabha is living in the western direction, many planets away from this universe. It is equally important to know how the Pure Land looks like and visualize the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha (Reference from the sutra text from 84000):Click here .
Buddha Amitabha is in the center with Chenrezig (Buddha of Compassion) on his right and Vajrapani (Chana Dorji) on his left in the presence of Jitsuen Drolma and Guru Rimpoche. Tshepamey (Amitayus) and Buddha Amitabha are the same. Buddha Amitabha is called Tsepamey when he is wearing ornaments. If we pray to Buddha Amitabha while we are alive, our life will be longer with no sickness, fulfilling all our wishes, and when the time of our death comes, he helps us be born in his Pure Land. As portrayed in the visualization of the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha, the Tsawai Lama (Root Guru) of Jitsuen Drolma (Tara), Chenrigzig (Buddha of Compassion), and Guru Rimpoche is Sangay Yuepamey. That is why there is a Buddha Amitabha on the crown of Chenrigzig and Jitsuen Drolma. Guru Rimpoche is Buddha Amitabha’s Thugsey (Heart Son). When we say Guru Pema Siddhi Hung, Pema signifies that Guru Rimpoche is from the lotus family. Therefore, whoever we pray to is all the same. The most important aspect of praying is to accumulate merit and tame our minds.
Visualize Buddha Amitabha in front of us on a lotus flower, on the sun and moon. The Pure Land is vast and spacious, made of gold, silver, and precious stones, a place where whatever we wish for comes true and all sounds are dharma.
If possible, always turn to the west side where the sun sets and prostrate to the west side. Buddha Amitabha is not a Buddha of the past, but he is still living. He is the longevity Buddha and lives for a very long time. Beings there live for thousands of years and has the opportunity to listen to teachings and practice.
If we think carefully, this earth has so many different landscapes which are not manmade, but these are there because of some causes and conditions. Therefore, if the earth can exist, why not the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha built because of Buddha Amitabha’s practice and his wish.
As we chant “Om Ami De Wa Hri,” rays coming from the Buddha’s body cleanse all defilements of body, speech, and mind of all beings on my right and left. We should regret our negative deeds and purify them for all beings. Then all beings transform into light and dissolve into the heart of Buddha Amitabha. After the dissolution, stay in the nature of your mind.
Do this not only for ourselves but for everyone. When we do good things for others, we train ourselves to become good people.
PART 11 – CONCLUSION OF THE PRAYER OF PURE LAND OF BUDDHA AMITABHA
The Aspiration Prayer for the Pure Realm of Buddha Amitabha, known as Sukhavati (Di Ne Nyima Nub Gi Chog Rol Na) was composed by Chakmed Raga Asay, who is believed to be a manifestation of the Buddha Amitabha himself. It is said that when he passed away, not only himself but even his chicken and dog also did not leave any body remains behind and took everything to the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha.
The abridged Prayer for Rebirth in Dewachen (Ngotshar Sangay Moenlam) was spoken by the Buddha Amitabha himself to Terton Trulku Migyur Dorji, a disciple of Chakmed Raga Asay, at the age of 13, after he saw the entire Buddha Amitabha Pure Land in his vision and Buddha Amitabha himself taught this prayer. This is why this prayer is very sacred.
Finally, please remember that the greatest fears when we die are the fear of losing things caused by attachment and the fear of the unknown path. To reduce attachment, we should practice offering and understand that everything is impermanent. To overcome the fear of the unknown path, we should practice Buddha Amitabha prayer. This is one way of how Dharma teaches to handle death.
With the merit accumulated through this teaching, may I and all sentient beings be born in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha, receive teachings from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and benefit all sentient beings.
Aspiration Prayer of the Pure Realm of Sukhavati available for download - Click here
Teaching on Buddha Amitabha Pureland – Reference from the sutra text from 84000: Click here