A long, long time ago, there was monk named Dharmakara, who made 48 great vows to create a world with no suffering and full of happiness IF he were ever to become a Buddha.
Our own Buddha, Shakyamuni revealed to Ananda that this monk has achieved Buddhahood a long time ago and is currently teaching in this land in the West. Dharmakara became one of the greatest of all Buddhas – this Buddha’s name is Amitabha. He is also called Amitayus. All that is needed to be reborn there when we die is 10 sincere thoughts of his name. There, people are born transformationally from lotuses.
This is not an easy Dharma to believe – even our own Shakyamuni Buddha said so. However, there real cases of people who have been born there. So this series will go through these real life stories of people being reborn in the Pure Land called Sukhavati – the Land of Utmost Happiness or the Land of Ultimate Bliss:
In the Dynasty of Sung, there was a lady of the Kingdom of Yut:
- Her surname was Wong and
- Her husband was the King of Keng – the Uncle of the Emperor Chit-Chung of Sung.
She cultivated good karma by repeating the Buddha’s name earnestly day and night without ceasing and guided all the concubines and maid servants to have the same vow to be reborn in the Pure Land.
There was 1 concubine who was lazy, so the lady warned her, “I cannot break my discipline and rule just because of you.” She intended to take action against the concubine who became very frightened and repented. The concubine then practised repeating the Buddha’s name with zeal and industry.
One day, the maid servant told her colleagues that she had to leave. That night, the room was filled with a strange and very pleasant fragrance. It was found that she had died but with no sign of any disease or sickness.
The next night, one of her colleagues told the Lady of Yut that the deceased maid had requested her (the colleague) to thank the Lady of Yut for her good teachings. She (the deceased maid) had already been reborn in the Pure Land.
The Lady replied, “If she can come to see me in my dreams, I will believe you”. That very night, the Lady dreamt that the dead maid servant came and gave thanks to her just as what her colleague had said earlier.
“Is it possible to go to the Pure Land?” she had asked.
“Yes.” the maid servant answered. And in the dream, the maid servant guided the Lady to the Pure Land.
They then arrived at a big pond planted with small and large lotus lilies. Some were magnificent in their glory but others just languished. The lady asked why they were like that.
The maid answered, “When one in the world of the living repeats the name of Amitabha once, a lotus will be planted in the pond.
- “If the practice is with great diligence and sincerity, the lotus will grow magnificently and in glory.
- “On the other hand, negligence and laziness will cause the lotus to languish.
“If one repeats the name of the Buddha without ceasing and completes the contemplation of insight until even the appearance will change because of the spiritual attainment, one is sure to be reborn in the Pure Land.”
Sitting among the Lotus, was a man who was wearing the costume of the official of the Dynasty. His body was adorned with precious crown and jewellery. The lady asked, “Who is he?”
The maid answered, “He is Yeong Kit.”
They then saw another man also wearing official clothings but he was sitting on a lotus which was quite languid. The lady asked again who he was, and the answer was, “Ma Hui”.
Though both men practised accumulation of good karma as was written in “The Record of the Pure Saints in the Pure Land”, one was not very diligent.
The Lady then asked, “Where would I be born?”
The maid then continued walking for several miles. They came upon a flower terrace, illuminating brilliantly with great splendor and paved with greenish gold. The maid said, “This is the place you shall be reborn and this is the Golden Throne of the Superior Order, the highest of the 9 Stages of birth in the Pure Land!”
When the Lady woke up, she was both happy and sad.
In the same year, on the morning of her birthday, she got up early and burnt incense. She stood and looked at the Kuan-yin Mansion. Shen all the members of the family arrived to greet and congratulate her on her birthday, they found that she had already passed away.
The above story is extracted from “A Biography of Rebirths in the Pure Land”.
Source: Records of Home Coming to the Pure Land (an abridged translation, Chapter IV: Anecdotes of the Pure Land Sect (2), p 53