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Volume 7 no 4

Voice of Bliss

All forms are illusions

Rebirth in the Pure Land is only possible through pure karma


The Pure Land School of Buddhism advocates that when people die, they bring with them the karma that they had committed to be reborn in the Western Pure Land. This led to a lively debate on the subject. Some people argued that it means that regardless of the virtuous or evil karma [1] that one has committed, a person only needs to wholeheartedly recite “Amitabha Budhha” to the extent that he resonates with the power of the Amitabha Buddha’s vow, then he will be reborn in the Western Pure Land.

On the other hand, others advocated that people must bring with them virtuous karma in order to be reborn in the Western Pure Land, but not when they bring evil karma. Yet, others advocated that a person cannot be reborn in the Western Pure Land as long as he has karma and rebirth in the Pure Land can occur only when all the karma have been eliminated.

In reality, all people will be reborn according to their karma. The kinds of karma and the corresponding realms of rebirth are as follows:

  • Karma of extreme evil leads one to be reborn in the hell realm
  • Karma of ignorance and foolishness lead one to be reborn in the animal realm
  • Karma of superstition leads one to be reborn in the ghosts and deities realm
  • Blessings of observing the Five Precepts lead one to be reborn in the human realm
  • Blessings of performing the Ten Virtuous Deeds lead one to be reborn in the heaven realm
  • Actions or karma from hatred, anger and fighting lead one to be reborn in the asura realm

These are called “rebirth according to one’s karma”.

To be reborn in the Western Pure Land requires pure karma. Besides the pure karma, rebirth in the Western Pure Land is not possible at all with whatever kinds of virtuous and evil karma. Therefore, there is no basis to speak of rebirth in the Western Pure Land and then returning to this Saha world to bear the retribution of the karma that they had committed. Only the Bodhisattava, with the power of his vow, can return to this Saha world.

Notes:

[1] karma: A deed or action (either positive or negative; intentional or unintentional) of our thoughts, speech or body and its consequences. These consequences may manifest immediately or at any time in the future. Positive karma will generate pleasant consequences and vice-versa.

 
 


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre