What is Pureland?

"Only repeat the name of Amida with all your heart... This is the very work which unfailingly issues in liberation..." Honen Shonin

Pureland Buddhism is a presentation of spirituality that has its own language and forms that can take a little getting used to, but its essence is the same essence as is at the heart of all great spirituality: How to put oneself in relationship with unconditional love, and to live a life that is open, spontaneous, feelingful and full of love.

In Pureland, that great unconditional love is embodied by Amida, the measureless Buddha. In Pureland we recognise human nature as being full of the passions of greed and hate, that as human beings we are foolish and make mistakes. Crucially we also recognise that, despite this, we are completely acceptable and lovable in that condition. Just as we are.

In the language of Pureland Buddhism what we are accepted by is the love of the Buddhas, and Amida Buddha in particular. We practice reciting the Buddha's name in order to allow some of the spirit of that great love into our lives.

In modern psychological terms, our practice is to allow the archetypal figure of Amida (completely wise and loving) to infect our unconscious mind - to bring about a deep change at this level.

Practicing in this way our lives become more meaningful. As we recognise our own nature as ordinary flawed and fallible human beings, we become more sympathetic to the failings of others. We feel loved and more able to love others in return.

The Malvern Sangha group is part of Amida-shu. The type of Buddhism Amida-shu practices is Pureland Buddhism in the Japanese tradition. Japense Pureland follows the teachings of Honen and Shinran Buddhists priests of medieval Japan. Pureland Buddhism traces its roots back to the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha who lived in Northern India and Nepal 2500 years ago.

For more information see Chanting in our home for a description of my what my daily practice was like in 2010. See Life of No Regret for a commentary on our central text and Sutra Chanting for a description of another of our practices.

For more about Amida-Shu's presentation of Buddhism see Dharamvidya's Who Loves Dies Well and Caroline Brazier's The Other Buddhism.

Namo Amida Bu