Evil Beings in the Pure Land

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      QUESTION: I watched a TV programme recently that featured a rape. it really affected me and one thing that struck me was how would it be for someone who has faith in Pureland to contemplate that the perpetrator of violence against them could also enter Pureland. It is hard to imagine feeling delight or any sense of security being in the same place or realm as one’s attacker but do we experience things differently after death or when in Pureland? Do we even have a body to be concerned about protecting when in Pureland? If you have any thoughts in response that might illuminate this issue, do please share them.

      SHORT ANSWER: Faith heals.

      LONG ANSWER: Religion heals. Christianity says to forgive, Buddha says to let go. In the Dhammapada he says:

      “He abused me, he defeated me, he cheated me, he robbed me… in those who harbour such thoughts hatred never ceases. He abused me, he defeated me, he cheated me, he robbed me… in those who do not harbour such thoughts hatred  ceases. Hatred does not cease with hating, with love alone it ceases.”

      Now hatred is very closely associated with fear. What we fear we want to exclude, avoid or destroy and this is aversion and one aspect of dukkha. It is a very central part of Buddhism that we learn how such feelings can be transformed into the enlightened path.

      Of course, we are not necessarily very good at doing this. However much I may want to be an ideal Buddhist, I may still feel fear welling up, my blood temperature rising and my muscles going tense when the person or thing that I fear approaches or cannot be avoided. At such a time I find that our Pureland faith helps me a lot. It helps me to realise that I am not in control. Even though I want something different to be happening in me, I cannot make it happen. On the one hand, this leads me to realise that I am exactly the kind of creature that Amida saves. On the other hand, it enables me to realise that the person or thing that I fear is also not fully self-controlled. This may well enable me to arrive at a better understanding of the other which may change how I feel somewhat.

      Now, it is prudent to avoid being in proximity to danger. The tiger is not evil for wanting to eat me, but I am still well advised to steer clear of him when he is hungry. A Pure Land is a realm where the intention of Buddha prevails. I can be confident, therefore, that even though there be evil minded people there, harm will not come to me and that healing will take place. We all enter the Pure Land with hearts and minds that are corrupt in varying degrees and we trust that in proximity to the Buddha and bodhisattvas there we shall heal and this will be true for others too. Insofar as we can find compassion and fellow-feeling for others, this process will go quicker.

      Those who enter the Pure Land full of greed, hate and delusion are not immediately in sight of the great Bodhi Tree and the Buddha at the centre of that land. They arrive inside a closed lotus because, as yet, they cannot stand the brilliance of the Buddha’s light. Inside their lotus chamber they learn love, compassion, joy and equanimity. When they have done so, even if it takes a hundred years, the lotus then opens naturally and they find themselves in a great pond of other lotuses, some open and some still closed. In due course they are able to go ashore and join the other beings enjoying that land and enter into the full presence of the Buddha.

      ~ Dharmavidya, February 23, 2016

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