Author Topic: Why is the Pure Land in the West?  (Read 792 times)

Offline Dharma Flower

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Why is the Pure Land in the West?
« on: May 22, 2019, 11:10:40 pm »
If the Pure Land is the formless realm of Nirvana, beyond time and space, why is it described as residing in the western direction? Here is a common answer.

As we all know, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Just as the setting sun marks the “death” of each day, the Pure Land is where we are destined at the end of life.
In the Contemplation Sutra, one of the three Pure Land sutras, the first exercise given for visualizing the Pure Land involves gazing upon the setting sun:

Buddha then replied: ‘You and all other beings besides ought to make it your only aim, with concentrated thought, to get a perception of the western quarter. You will ask how that perception is to be formed. I will explain it now. All beings, if not blind from birth, are uniformly possessed of sight, and they all see the setting sun. You should sit down properly, looking in the western direction, and prepare your thought for a close meditation on the sun; cause your mind to be firmly fixed on it so as to have an unwavering perception by the exclusive application of your mind, and gaze upon it in particular when it is about to set and looks like a suspended drum.

While staring directly into the setting sun might not be ideal for our ocular health, it at least helps to answer the question as to why the Pure Land is said to be in the west.


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