Pureland and buddhahood
by Gyatrul Rinpoche
Always try to see where you are as a pureland. We think that someday we will arrive in the pureland, that it is someplace we have to go. Actually, the pureland is something you train in, something you recognize... Appearances change continuously. So if you die, it’s nothing much. It is just appearances, changing a bit. In terms of your body, maybe death seems like a big change, but in terms of appearances, it’s not a big deal, because appearances are changing all the time anyway. Watch how they constantly arise, constantly change – whether waking or in dreams, morning and night...If you die but to you everything is a pureland, then you are still in the pureland. Sentient beings’ experiences are changing, but it is all your pureland. You don’t need to buy a ticket to the pureland. You just need to recognize what you have right now. In your pureland, all happiness and suffering are liberated. They call that quality “all-encompassing purity.” “All-encompassing” means it is even, evenly pervading everything. “Purity” means all obscurations are purified, like the syllable “sang” (“purified”) in the Tibetan word for buddha, “sangye.”
At the same time, that purity is inseparable from compassion for sentient beings. All appearances are all-encompassing purity, but beings don’t recognize this. Instead, they suffer in the realms of samsara. Thus, they are naturally objects of compassion. That purity is also manifesting unceasingly. You think that Vimalamitra and all the great masters of the past came and then they went away? No! They are present, here, now. These manifestations are but the expression of the qualities of all-encompassing purity, your buddha nature. They emanate and appear in all different forms in response to the needs of beings. They are made by the mind, and the mind can do anything. It can appear in any way... In the future, if you have learned many things and then you pop up, thinking you are something special – that means you blew it! It means you couldn’t give up the afflictive emotions, the five poisons. You didn’t get real method or real wisdom. You don’t need to go anywhere; you already have it. What you need is to study and train in pure appearances. Then, your grasping to ordinary reality, grasping to
this and that as good or bad, grasping to subject and object as impure:
all these will decrease slowly...
We think we need to go to the pureland today, but we don’t know how to get there. Actually you don’t need to go there, you don’t need to “go” anywhere, in any ordinary way. Recognize that right now you are already there, in the middle of it.
We think, “A pureland, wow, sparkling! Someplace special, I want to go
there!” No, it's not like that. If we need to go to a pureland, we need to slowly, slowly understand the purity of appearances. Then all the buddhas are with us. Understanding the purity of appearances is understanding the nature of the buddhas. If you understand the nature of refuge in the buddha, then you know that the nature of the dharma is the same, and the sangha are just the emanations of that same buddha.
Guru Rinpoche is, too. He is the emanation of the forms of all the
buddhas. He is also the emanation of their speech, mind, qualities, and activities. They say there are eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, but actually there are countless emanations. When we awaken, the benefit of others will manifest like this, and we don’t need to be kissing and
hugging everybody to try to benefit them.
Kuntuzangpo is the primordial buddha, and he is called that because he has never strayed into confusion about appearances. He has always understood their nature, and thus he has never had any learning or training to do. That accurate and unchanging understanding is the ultimate teacher. It is our own nature. In fact, all the buddhas have that nature, and so do all sentient beings. So you can see, the buddhas are not something far away, out there; all their qualities are present, evident, and manifest. If you know them, that’s enlightenment. If not, that’s samsara.
- Gyatrul Rinpoche