Pure Land Buddhism

Pure Land (Shin Buddhism) is a system of belief, which promises believers a pure, blissful heavenly realm after death, through invoking the name of Amida (Amitabha), a mythological Buddha of a heavenly Pure Land.

Nichiren Buddhism rejects the dualistic concept of “pure vs impure” types of land - and explains :

  1.        There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the

            good or evil of our minds.” On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime


  1.        “Neither the pure land nor hell exists outside oneself; both lie only within one’s own heart.   

           Awakened to this, one is called a Buddha; deluded about it, one is called an ordinary

           person. The Lotus Sutra reveals this truth, and one who embraces the Lotus Sutra will

           realize that hell is itself the Land of Tranquil Light”. Hell is the Land of Tranquile Light

Pure Land Buddhism is based on belief in an outside power or “other power”  - as necessary for the individual to rely on when seeking salvation.  In his interview with Tricycle magazine, P. Ikeda referred to the difference between Pure Land Buddhism and the Buddhism of the Lotus Sutra: 

         “.... the chanting of nembutsu, relying on and seeking salvation in Amida Buddha,

          is representative of the tariki, or “other-power,” approach.  

         Nichiren’s practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo leads us to discover a power

        and wisdom that exists within us and at the same time transcends us.

        It embraces aspects of both the ‘self- and - other’ power practices”.

The doctrine of revealing the Buddhanature in one’s current existence - constitutes a problematic concept for Amida Buddhism.  If the Buddhanature exists in each person’s life, as a potential awaiting realisation, then it can be revealed during one’s lifetime, and not in a ”pure land” after death.

In recent years, some scholars of Amida Buddhism attempt to make a shift in the original beliefs contained in the Amida sutras - accepting the concept Buddhanature.  The majority of Amida believers, however, adhere to the traditional doctrine found in Amida Sutra, presenting Amida as a Buddha residing in a far away Pure Land.

                        SGI Buddhism                                Pure Land Buddhism

Aim:                  Attain enlightenment                           Rebirth in a Pure Land

                              in this life time                                          after death

Devotion:          Mandala  Gohonzon                         Statue of Amida Buddha


Author: Safwan Darshams

            The Origin of Pure Land beliefs             Separation and dualism in Amida beliefs

                    Amida and Zen Exchange                        Shifting towards the Lotus Sutra