Dharma Drum Mountain has been actively promoting the Pure Land on Earth Movement. We teach these concepts and methods of practice to all practitioners, whatever their cultural or educational background. Our slogan is: "Everywhere is a meditation hall; every place is a Buddhist temple."
Every family is encouraged to set up a meditation space, a place where together or alone they can compose their minds and experience genuine peace. We believe that "engaged Buddhism" begins by engaging one's own mind, in one's own space.
We promote this peace movement wherever we go. In Taiwan, Europe, and America we have conducted over 150 seven-day meditation retreats. Those who continue their meditation practice become our worldwide "ambassadors of peace." We have founded a university in Taiwan, which will provide undergraduate and graduate education in social and humanitarian subjects geared toward the development of the individual and the peaceful transformation of society.
We hold annual international conferences at the Institute of Chung-Hwa Buddhist Culture in Taipei that focus on promoting global understanding and the spread of Buddhist principles and practices of peaceful living. Our professional seminars spread the message and practice of peace to professionals in all fields, including prominent military and political leaders. Ordinary Buddhists around the world promote this idea and ideal of peace, sharing it with and encouraging others.
In July of 1997 we sponsored the Third Chung-Hwa International Conference on Buddhism in Taiwan, with the conference topic "The Earthly Pure Land and Contemporary Society." In discussions for the subtopic "Building a Pure Land on Earth," scholars from eleven countries from Asia, North America, and Europe presented 48 papers on ways the vision of the Pure Land has practical relevance today and for the future.
The keynote of the conference was expressed in this way: "Neither the diverse Buddhist traditions, nor fields of scholastic discipline, nor any religion can assert that only its faith or tradition is superior! It is essential that in the process of mutual acceptance and learning, we work toward the vision of "Building a Pure Land on Earth."
The notion of "a pure land on Earth" is particularly emphasized in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. The Huayan Sutra (Sanskrit: Avatamsaka-sutra) states: "The moment you give rise to the sincere and earnest intention [to attain enlightenment], you have attained enlightenment." (Taisho Vol.9, p. 449) This means that as soon as you give rise to the aspiration to attain the Buddha's mind of compassion and wisdom, you have become a Buddha.
Although you are not yet a perfect and complete Buddha, your mind is in harmony with the enlightenment of all Buddhas. As long as you are a Buddha, the world you see is a pure land, for when seen through the Buddha's eyes of wisdom and compassion, every place in the world is a pure land. In other words, peace is created in and with a mind at peace.
A similar idea can be found in the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, which teaches that by helping others achieve enlightenment, you achieve it yourself. Where do we find people that we can help? We can find them in this world, and in every world in the ten directions, but mostly right in our immediate surroundings-our families, friends, colleagues, and especially, our adversaries, whom we should regard as bodhisattvas.
The Methods: How to Build A Pure Land on Earth
The methods we use are called the three practices, which are precepts (morality), concentration (meditation), and wisdom.
The precepts are the vows you take to lead a peaceful life through regulating your behavior of body, speech, and mind. In the passive sense, upholding the precepts means vowing not to commit any wrongful act. In the active sense, it means vowing to engage in as many acts as possible that benefit yourself as well as others; it means taking responsibility.
The purpose of practicing meditation is to create inner peace by calming the mind and stabilizing your emotions. If you practice meditation well you are less likely to become angry or agitated in your everyday life. By meditation, we do not mean just sitting in concentrated states; we also mean bringing mindfulness to all your activities. Through meditation your emotions and behavior will become more stable, and conflicts with others will lessen. Through this and other practices we can eventually establish peace in the lives of individuals and societies.
Some relatively simple methods of meditation include observing your thoughts or your breathing, or counting your breaths. As soon as you begin to observe, your mind will calm down quickly. When you practice the precepts and meditation together, wisdom naturally arises in your mind, which means that you will be able to see everything more objectively, and your mind and behavior will not be adversely affected by the environment. By practicing the precepts, meditation, and wisdom, your mind and actions will be at peace. You will be able to live peacefully with others at all times.