• By Nhat Quan
    After attaining enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, the Buddha hesitated in teaching the Dharma to sentient beings. Because of the ignorant nature, because of sentient beings' great greed, anger, and attachment to self, he was worried that the Buddha Dharma would not have a chance to penetrate the too-thick minds of superstition, of attachment, of theocracy, of people in the caste system a class that dominates Indian society. After days of meditation to find salvation, along with the requests of the gods, one morning he sat in contemplation by the lake, looking at the lotus flowers:
    - There are flowers that have bloomed,
    - There are buds about to bloom,
    - Some buds are still submerged under the water.
    Then, he contemplated the minds of sentient beings to see that:
    - There are sentient beings who have developed Buddha nature,
    - There are sentient beings who are about to develop Buddha nature and
    - There are sentient beings who will develop Buddha nature.
    No matter how dark the minds of sentient beings are, they all have Buddha nature and one day Buddha nature will manifest like lotus flowers that will gradually rise from the mud to bloom beautiful and flowers fragrant. So he left the Bodhi tree to begin his work of education. This is seen clearly in the Buddhist scriptures. The Tripitaka collects all the Buddha's teachings with a single content:
    - Teach sentient beings the path to liberation.
    Depending on your background and circumstances, He taught different methods.
    Among those countless methods, there is a method hidden in folklore that has brought Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Buddhism through cruel tribulation. There is a method that is flexible, timely, and appropriate to the situation, simplifying the practice to the maximum to bring you into direct daily contact with your Buddha nature. There is a dharma that has brought Buddhism into the people, into people's hearts, and has coexisted with the nation throughout history, typically Vietnamese Buddhism. Through many dangers, this method has ups and downs with the Vietnamese people to bring the nation to a happy shore. This method is the Pure Land method.
    The Pure Land is not only present in the Western Pure Land, or the Eastern Pure Land of Medicine Master, but is also present here, in this world at this moment right in your own mind. When your mind is peaceful, the world you are living in is Nirvana, Ultimate Bliss. When the mind is disturbed, the realm of hell appears. In The Tale of Kieu by Nguyen Du, he expressed this philosophy through verses:
    - When people are happy, the scene is also happy
    When people are sad, the situation is never happy.
    From this tendency, Pure Land practitioners can also experience the realm of Ultimate Bliss right in this world. That is also the meaning of what is taught in the Amitabha Sutra:
    - If someone makes a vow to be born in the Pure Land, then that person, while making the vow, has achieved the highest, irreversible enlightenment and is present in the Pure Land, although his body is still in the Saha world.
    This you can understand. If on a beautiful day, you go to the park to meditate and chant Buddha's name until your mind is calm and your afflictions have subsided. At that time, your senses will be more sensitive to see the clearer sky, the greener trees, the brighter flowers, the more fragrant scent, the birds singing better... the scene around you is naturally brilliant and clearly brightened up. All colors are as beautiful as the colors of jewels and gems. At that time, you feel like you are in a fairyland, that realm is similar to the realm described in the Amitabha Sutra with golden land, a seven-jeweled pond, jade trees... and the sound of pine trees and birds singing sounds as elegant as the wonderful sounds of Dharma. This experience was also described by Nguyen Du in The Tale of Kieu when Ms. Kieu saw Kim Trong appear:
    - An area like a Quynh tree, Giao branch.
    This sentence describes the area where Kim Trong appeared, the trees suddenly transformed into unusually beautiful, all clear, sparkling, and brilliant as if made of Quynh jade and Giao jade.
    Thus, Pure Land practitioners can experience the world of ultimate bliss immediately, while still alive, rather than waiting until death to be reborn in ultimate bliss. As quoted in the above sutra passage, you are already present in the Eastern Pure Land when you vow to be reborn. In other words, at that time your mind was already in the Pure Land realm. When the mind is calm, the afflictions have subsided, and the world around is also pure. At that time you were truly living in the pure world. In the Sutras, it is said that the Eastern Pure Land is tens of millions of Buddha lands away, but to those with profound insight into the Medicine Buddha, the Eastern Pure Land appears in an instant.
    The highest ideal of Pure Land practitioners is transformation:
    - Awaken your mind, transform Saha into Pure Land, transform afflictions into Bodhi.
    The Pure Land realm can be realized right in this life and can be experienced in daily life. When afflictions have been transformed and the mind is pure, it is Eastern Pure Land or Western Pure Land. However, the efforts of those who practice do not stop here, with Bodhisattva vows, the transformation is not only for the individual but also brings benefits to all sentient beings. Therefore, the mission of awakening the mind and transforming the world of suffering into a world of peace is the path of practice. In that ideal, people who practice Eastern Pure Land or Western Pure Land want to express the blissful world of Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha right in the heart of a suffering world. Since then, forms of commitment to salvation have been born in charitable activities such as nursing homes, hospices, orphanages, clinics...
    The practice method of Eastern Pure Land or Western Pure Land is very simple. Just focus on reciting the name of the Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha:
    - Namo Tieu Tai Dien Tho Medicine Master Luu Ly Quang Vuong Buddha.
    - Namo welcoming Master Amitabha Buddha
    This practice is based on the following foundations:
    Faith: Deep belief in the salvation of the Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha. That is also a deep belief in your own pure mind. Only the effort to fully develop the Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha in your own mind will bring you out of suffering. Faith also means confidence in your own ability to become enlightened. The element of altruism is also emphasized in practice. However, the power of others here is the skillful means to develop self-reliance. When you have faith, you will make efforts easily, thereby easily succeeding.
    Vow: Vow to be reborn in the Eastern Pure Land world or the Western Pure Land world. Making a vow to be reborn is the transformation of your inner afflictions into enlightenment, the transformation of your greedy and angry self into a pure lotus flower in the pure land. This vow is a voluntary transformation, towards the bright path, the path of enlightenment and liberation.
    - Practicing: Reciting the name of Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha. This recitation has the purpose of transforming three karmas: Body means action, mouth means language and mind means thoughts. Therefore, during recitation, all three aspects above are practiced at the same time:
    - Body: sit still, recite the rosary, or walk in meditation... monitor the movements of walking, standing, lying, and sitting for strict mindfulness. With such a clear awareness of body movements, negative actions will be eliminated.
    - Mouth: Mouth chanting Buddha's name continuously. Recite out loud or silently. Recite with your breath. When language is focused on reciting Buddha's name, evil words have no chance to arise.
    - Idea: visualize the solemn appearance of the Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha and the purity of the world of the Eastern Pure Land or the Western Pure Land. When thoughts are focused on the positive, negative things will be transformed and the mind will be pure and clear.
    Practicing like this until one's mind is undisturbed, meaning body and mind are united in reciting the Buddha's name. At that time, you yourself are the Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha, the world you are living in is the Eastern Pure Land or the Western Pure Land.
    Reciting the Buddha's name means reciting the mind: Reciting the Buddha's name means awakening your own mind, reciting the Buddha's name in your own mind. Through the above information, you can see that the method of reciting Buddha's name has the following purposes:
    - Be aware that each person has a Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha in their mind.
    - Awakens the Buddha nature latent in each person's heart.
    - Develop the ability to transform enlightenment in each person.
    - Experience the pure land now and here.
    - Realize a world of bliss right in the heart of a world of suffering.
    From practical intentions, you see:
    - Eastern Pure Land Dharma or Western Pure Land Dharma is a strong vitality that has existed with steadfast faith and simple practice that has brought Buddhism into the hearts of every person in this world
    The Pure Land Dharma is flexible and adaptable to each local situation. Since then, the sound of chanting Buddha's name has also changed according to each country. Pure Land Buddhism has gone beyond the monastery fence to enter the village. From there, everyone can guide practice together in daily life.
    The Eastern Pure Land or Western Pure Land Dharma is a path of direct practice to awaken and contact your own Buddha nature every day, in an effort to develop boundless wisdom in your own mind, a simple path that leads to You face your true mind, directly realizing the truth through experience. It is confidence in the enlightenment ability of one's own mind; is the determination to move towards the path of liberation.
    Eastern Pure Land or Western Pure Land Dharma is the path to transform inner greed and anger into enlightenment. Transform afflicted people into the pure lotus flowers of liberation; is the perfect means to develop Buddha nature.
    The Eastern Pure Land or Western Pure Land Dharma is the expression of immeasurable compassion in relief activities. Bringing Buddhism to suffering people; is the ideal of social reform in the wish to manifest worldly bliss in the heart of a suffering world.
    The Eastern Pure Land or Western Pure Land Dharma is the hope of the suffering people; is a light in the terrifying darkness of turbulent times. In that miserable situation, Pure Land Buddhism is like a torch that lights the way to help people overcome dangers, and the practice has given people the strength to strive and improve their living conditions to overcome misfortune, transforming the world of suffering into the Pure Land.
    In that ideal, today Buddhism has made positive contributions to solving suffering in Western society. A society with excessive material consumption, mental stress, and spiritual deprivation. Faced with that multi-faceted suffering, Buddhism with its practical methods of practice has helped people escape suffering. With practice methods that help people reduce mental stress, and develop a peaceful spiritual life. That is why Buddhism is growing stronger and stronger in the West. Pure Land Buddhism with its simple, practical, and direct practice method will be a great contribution to the work of propagating the Dharma in the West.
    In short, in the process of practicing to awaken one's own mind, it is important to recognize the Buddha nature present in each person, as well as in others. It can be said that the pure land method is a simple path of practice, easily popularized among the masses. Everyone, old or young, male or female, rich or poor, intellectual or ordinary, can practice anywhere and at any time. Thanks to this simplicity, Buddhism has become a popular method of practice for the masses, not just for monks, aristocrats, or the intellectual elite, but for everyone, for those who have a noble and good heart.
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