From Amitayus, of tender care,
Breaks a warm and happy smile
And a trillion rays of light
Fill the billion Buddha lands.
Then Quan Shi Yin, so great and kind,
Prostrates before that Buddha, saying thus:
“Why do you make this lovely smile:
What is the reason, what the cause?”
The Buddha’s voice,
Like Brahma thunder rolling forth declares
“From the ten quarters sincere people come
I clearly discern their pure intention,
Their wish to adorn a land of bliss.
Be assured, they will succeed.
This is from the larger Pureland Sutra. Here, Amitayus sees deeply into our hearts. Whatever appears at the surface of our lives, Amitayus sees that deep in our hearts we're inspired to adorn a land of bliss: to bring into being the conditions that will inspire love, compassion, joy and peace in the lives of all beings. Wouldn't we wish it so?
Yet, here we are, in the world of conditions, where I read in the news that Armenians are fleeing from war, people in Mozambique are being beheaded by rebels, and people are drowning in the Mediterranean as they desperately seek to reach Europe and a supposedly better life.
We all have within us a mixed bag of love and cruelty, greed and generosity, intelligence and blind ignorance. It's understandable that one at first thinks that the thing to do is to cultivate one side of our nature and eliminate the other. However, the whole of our nature is embedded in this world of conditions as it is, and, as Honen says: “The ordinary person is powerless to control it.” So, people are not perfectible.
What is more true, if less intuitive, is that the land of bliss is adorned with just such beings as ourselves, not merely with perfect angels. It's precisely beings such as ourselves, who are invited and welcome; and it's only when we deeply realize this, that we're able to welcome and invite our fellows. It's understanding - in an experiential way - our bombu-nature that gives rise to fellow-feeling and this is the foundation of real compassion.
Here's another piece from the sutra:
Hear this Dharma, keep it in mind,
Revere it, rejoice and mend.
Resolved on this Way, following this Way,
We shall be such friends.
Let us in our hearts resolve:
“Were the world to be all on fire
I will pass through that blaze this Dharma to hear
The Buddha way will then give me the means
To save those drowning in the flood.”
Namo Amida Bu
Thank you very much