February 26th - 28th and April 2nd - 4th
The Pure Lands are an integral aspect of Indian Mahayana, Tibetan and East Asian Buddhisms rarely taught in the West. For most of us, they represent our greatest opportunity after death. These two weekends on exoteric (sutra) and esoteric (tantra) Pure Lands are designed to provide everything you need to know about the Pure Land tradition. The first weekend explores the origins and development of the Pure Land tradition in India and Tibet and the lineage of masters that support its propagation, touching also on its expansive development in China, Korea, and Japan. We will talk about the role of the pure land teachings in the popular imagination of masses of laypeople throughout Asia, and define the many types of pure lands, their entry requirements, and why Amitabha’s Pure Land of Sukhavati is so unique. Why should we take rebirth there, and how can we better develop the bodhisattva vow by going there? What is it like being in a Pure Land, and how can I help those left behind by going to one? What constitutes Pure Land practice?
The central tenets of self-power vs. other-power, and the role of faith and devotion are explored. The power of merit is presented, and how the transfer of merit works with transforming karma. What are the causes for rebirth into a Pure Land, and how can the transfer of Amitabha’s merit bring me into his Pure Land? How is Sukhavati different from heaven, and Amitabha from God -- how do we relate to Pure Lands, both theistically and non-theistically? We will also present and discuss a number of pure land art works from various cultures throughout Asia.
The second weekend deals with the esoteric application of Pure Land doctrine. How does the tantric tradition relate to Pure Lands, and how can I discover a Pure Land right here and now? What is the relationship between the tantric mandala and the pure lands of the various contemplative archetype buddhas? Where does Shambhala fit in, and what is the essence of purification? How does phowa, and the bardo teachings in general, relate to the Pure Lands? What are the “hidden lands” (beyul) and how do we find them? The relationship of pure land to pure mind is explored: how the transformation of one implies the transformation of the other.
We can use the Pure Land tradition to augment our spiritual path, and to prepare us for our eventual rebirth into a Pure Land – either in the next moment, or in our next life. In addition to talks and discussion, both weekends present meditations that pave our way to a Pure Land now -- and after death.