19 April 2011

Contemplation: Pure Lands

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take this as your object of contemplation:

The Pure Lands mentioned in the sutra include the world we inhabit now. Buddhas and bodhisattvas view this world as a Pure Land. Ordinary sentient beings are unable to see it as such because they cannot overcome their addictions to negative patterns of self-attachment and discover this intrinsic samadhi. On the other hand, practitioners who enter the door of Ch'an would not view the world as impure, miserable, or chaotic. To them it would be a beautiful place. People who reach this level in their practice recognize beauty in everything.

Actually, it is not necessary to enter samadhi to experience such feelings. If you can put aside, for a moment, all anxieties and concerns in your mind, and just gaze upon something without discrimination, you may experience the world as a lovely place--a world that is fresh and alive. But if you have a mind that is plagued with attachment and aversion, then you will always be filled with turbulent and disturbing thoughts; nothing will appear beautiful and serene. Your mind will project an image or atmosphere of agitation which eclipses, engulfs, and keeps you from perceiving the serenity all around you.

From Master Sheng-Yen's commentary on the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment, p. 79.

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