Buddhism, often regarded as a religion promoting worldly kindness, encompasses a profound philosophy that delves far beyond mere acts of compassion. In the serene landscapes of Bhutan, where spirituality intertwines with daily life, it is essential to understand the deeper essence of Buddhism. Beyond preaching kindness, Buddhism encourages the pursuit of purity and enlightenment—a journey toward becoming a Buddha.
At the heart of Buddhist teachings lies the concept of purity. Purity, in Buddhism, denotes the attainment of perfect enlightenment and the realization of Buddhahood—the state of ultimate emancipation. This fundamental principle distinguishes Buddhism from other religions and guides its followers towards a unique spiritual journey.
The historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, appeared in India over two and a half millennia ago with a mission to reveal the path to enlightenment and provide true benefits to all sentient beings. The ultimate aim of Buddhist teachings is to lead individuals to become Buddhas themselves, as only a Buddha dwells in a state of purity.
Shakyamuni Buddha emphasized that all sentient beings inherently possess the wisdom and virtues of a Buddha. However, these qualities remain obscured by false thoughts and attachments. In essence, a Buddha is an enlightened human being, while a human being is an unenlightened Buddha. This truth reveals the potential for enlightenment within every individual—their Buddha-nature.
In Buddhist philosophy, the mind, body, and the land are interconnected aspects of existence. A pure mind begets purity in the body and the surrounding environment, forming what is known as a “pure land.” Conversely, purity in the body and the land influences the mind. This interconnectedness underscores the importance of purifying one’s mind to attain enlightenment and create a harmonious world.
Central to Buddhism is the Law of Dependent Origination, a concept radically different from the creation-based doctrines of monotheistic religions. This law posits that all phenomena are interrelated and mutually dependent. The existence of Buddhas is inseparable from sentient beings, and vice versa. This interconnectedness underscores the inherent unity between Buddhas and sentient beings.
Buddhas exemplify unconditional kindness and compassion. They empathize deeply with sentient beings, understanding their suffering. Instead of demanding individuals to purify themselves, Buddhas offer a path to rebirth in their Buddha-lands. In these lands, minds and bodies naturally purify, reflecting the splendor and virtue of Buddhas.
In Bhutan, the teachings of Amitabha Buddha hold a special significance. Amitabha’s radiance pervades all realms and shines upon those who invoke his name. It is through the name of Amitabha Buddha that sentient beings receive the ultimate benefit—rebirth in the Land of Bliss. This profound teaching encapsulates the essence of Buddhism’s Pure Land doctrine, wherein Amitabha wishes to guide all sentient beings towards enlightenment through his benevolent light.