Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pure Land Buddhism?

Buddha statue in a Tokyo garden

Buddha statue in a Tokyo garden

Shakyamuni Buddha gave many discourses which are called Sutras. These are teachings on a specific topic. Normally the Buddha would be asked to answer a certain question and the result would be his teaching. One time the Buddha began speaking without being asked about the Pure Land (The Amitabha Sutra). It was rare that he would do this so this must have been something very important.

There was once a Bodhisattva named Dharmakara who made 48 vows. He later became known as Amitabha Buddha. He stated that if even one of these vows were unfulfilled he would not become a Buddha. The 18th vow states that anyone who recites his name with utmost sincerity will be reborn in Sukhavati (the land of bliss or the Pure Land).

Our practice is based on this 18th vow. There are three things which we must do to consider ourselves a Pure Land Buddhist.

  • First, we must have Faith that there is a place called the Pure Land. Shakyamuni Buddha gave this teaching so it must be true.
  • Secondly, we must make a sincere Vow that we wish to be born in this Land of Bliss. By making this vow we are saying that we wish to escape Samsara, the cycle of repeated births and deaths. It is in Sukhavati that we hear the Dharma and become Enlightened.
  • Finally, our Practice consists of repeating the Nembutsu. This was Dharmakara.s 18th vow which is the Buddha Remembrance. The Practice consists of repeating the Buddha.s name. It is most commonly done in Chinese, Japanese or English (Namo Amitofu, Namu Amida Butsu or Namo Amitabha Buddha). The Practice helps one stay focused on the Buddha.

So our path can be said to consist of Faith, Vows and Practice.

This is a much simplified explanation of Pure Land Buddhism but it covers the basics of this form of Buddhism.

What is the Essence of Buddhism?

Do not involve in evil things. Do whatever that benefits others. Always keep the mind clean and clear. That is all of the teachings.

As Buddhists we follow the Three Jewels

I take refuge in the Buddha, the one who shows me the way in this life. I take refuge in the Dharma, the way of understanding and love. I take refuge in the Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness.

Many of us “take the precepts” which are guidelines which we have decided to follow

  1. I vow not to kill.
  2. I vow not to steal
  3. I vow not to lie or say harmful things
  4. I vow not to engage in sexual misconduct
  5. I vow not to use items that are harmful to my mind and body

We also follow the Four Immeasurables consisting of

  • Compassion
  • Sympathetic Joy
  • Loving Kindness and
  • Equanimity

Our Pure land practice is made up of

  • Faith
  • Vows and
  • Practice

Buddhism is still practiced widely in Japan.  You may wish to visit the buddhanet website for more information.