The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Meditative Pure Land Buddhism: The 5 Elements School
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The 5 Elements
The Pure Land path is one of the most versatile of all Buddhist paths because it can accommodate people of any capacity or life situation, making it ideal for people who are living in an increasingly complex technological world.
Practicing 5 Elements Pure Land can be as simple as choosing one Element as the main focus of one's practice, or one may combine the Elements into a wide variety of forms that are both accessible and deeply meaningful.
(1) The Visualization Sutra, a manual of visualization meditation which gives a detailed description of the features of the literal Pure Land, allowing the practitioner to develop high levels of meditative concentration through holding these images in the mind.
The Sutra includes descriptions of the characteristics of Amitabha Buddha and the two attendant Bodhisattvas: Avalokitesvara, representing engaged compassion, and Mahasthamaprapta, representing wisdom;
The water element represents the practice of Buddha-Recitation.
The air element represents the purifying aspect of the practices of Atonement and Veneration. Atonement helps us to "clear the air" through the self-acknowledgment of our harmful actions and through the vows we make in order to refine our behavior.
Veneration (showing deep respect for the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Enlightened Beings) reminds us of the wide-open and spacious nature of the Boundless Compassion and Boundless Wisdom which is our True Self.
In 5 Elements Pure Land this includes Amitabha Buddha, the Bodhisattvas Avalokitesvara (Regarder of the Cries of the World) and Mahasthamaprapta (The One Who Has Attained Great Strength), and the Pure Land of Bliss itself.
When this question is deeply asked in Ch'an fashion, the practitioner begins to see that the nature of the Mind and the Pure Land of Bliss are one and the same and that Amitabha Buddha is our True Nature.