Understanding the nature of the Pureland

It is sometimes helpful to understand the concept of the Pureland from the Yogacara perspective. The Yogacara school (otherwise known as Mind-Only school or Consciousness-Only School) upholds the concept that all phenomena arise from the vijnana or consciousness and that the basis of all functions of consciousness is the alaya-vijnana or alaya-consciousness.

In Pureland, the Buddha-nature that we all have, is referred to as the Amitabha Buddha Self-Nature. The Amitabha Buddha is the Buddha of Infinite Light, Infinite Compassion and Infinite Wisdom which is no other than 'our' own self-nature.

At the popular level of Pureland practice, devotees rely on the 'Other' power of the Amitabha Buddha for purification and rebirth in the Pureland. But as Pureland practitioners advances, they begin to understand the mutual interconnectedness between this 'Other' power of the Amitabha Buddha, and their 'own' Amitabha Buddha Self-Nature. At the Consciousness-only level, the Amitabha Buddha of the Western Pureland ('other') and the Amitabha Buddha Self-Nature are in fact no different. The 'Pureland' and the Samsara are no different. Only that one is seen through the eyes of delusion and the other is through the eyes of awakening.

Having said that however, I am not saying that there is no 'Other' power of the Amitabha Buddha and there is no Pureland other than the Pureland within our minds. The boundary between 'Other' and 'me' is the self-ego that practising Buddhists are trying to let go off or transcend. The mutual interconnectedness of the all the Buddhas, 'our' Buddha self-nature and the Buddha-nature of all sentient beings, I would say, is inconceivable to the unenlightened human mind. To understand these things properly, we would probably have to spend the rest of our lifetime practising, and studying the scriptures - especially the Abhidharma.