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Chan and Pure Land (II)

Chan and Pure Land Are Both Sensible Paths of Dharma Practices

Chan and Pure Land both are sensible paths of dharma practice. Even during the process of practice, one can readily reap plenty of benefits for the body and mind. In the past, there have been much misconception by many, that since the goal of practicing Chan is enlightenment, without enlightenment all efforts are in vain; and that since the goal of practicing Pure Land is to cut off the cycle of birth and death, before one reaches the pure land of ultimate bliss [sukhavati], who knows what, if any, effect there is.

Actually, whether you practice Chan or Pure Land, you can get benefits everywhere, any time in your daily life. And you can become enlightened as well as reach the Pure Land. Those who are enlightened definitely would be able to be born in the Pure Land. Those who have not yet been enlightened but have vowed to be reborn in the Pure Land would be able to be born in the Pure Land, while those born in the Pure Land definitely would become enlightened.

The Vision of Dharma Drum Mountain

The vision of Dharma Drum Mountain is: to uplift the character of humanity and build a pure land on earth. This is relevant to the topic today, because before we become Buddhas, we must first be good human beings. And before we reach the western pure land, we have to care for people in this world. Dharma Drum Mountain employs various styles of education to deliver caring, that is, caring of the secular society. In the meantime, we reach the goal of education through various means of caring for the human needs.

This world we are in is not a pure land. It has plenty of violence, crimes, and disasters. But still we must take care of people, care for others. We cannot focus only on our own safety and happiness while ignoring issues of safety, peace and happiness of the society at large. If we encounter some misfortune ourselves, take it as a condition that helps us grow, an opportunity for gaining experience. Often we hope for the help from the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. Why not learn from the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, so that when people encounter us, they get needed helps as if they are encountering Buddha and Bodhisattvas.

Whether practicing Chan or Pure Land, as Buddhists we are learning from Bodhisattvas and the Buddha. Otherwise, we would not become enlightened, would not reach Buddhahood. In other words, without caring and compassion for others and for the society at large, it is not possible for us to succeed in dharma practice. Thus, to believe in Buddha is to learn from Buddha, to uplift one's character ultimately to the level of Buddhahood. This is different from western religions that rely on faith in God but cannot learn to be God. What we need to learn is the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha. That is the purpose of the Buddhism faith.

After we believe in and learn from the Buddha, we will have the help of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, protecting deities, and other helpful people. Therefore, Buddhism is about learning the Dharma, and that includes the concepts and methods of Chan and Pure Land that were taught by the Buddha. Dharma came from the Buddha, which was passed on by generations after generations of Sangha, from the time of India to the present. If someone says that he/she does not have transmission, and he/she is a Buddha, that would be problematic. That may be a new age religion, but definitely is not Buddhism. I received transmission and verification from my teachers, and thus I introduce the concepts and methods of dharma practice to you all. This is Buddha Dharma.


Extended Reading

The Practice Method of Chan and Pure Land (I)


Wisdom for Life on Earth (人間世)


Yeh, Shu-Jen (葉姝蓁)

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