The Interpretation of the Buddha Land
- About the Book
This fourth-century commentary on the Buddhabhûmi-sûtra is one of the earliest texts of the Yogâcâra tradition. It includes an introductory description of the setting in which it was preached by the Buddha; the main body of the text, which treats the five factors that constitute a Buddha land, i.e., the Pure Dharma Realm and the four wisdoms: mirror wisdom, equality wisdom, discernment wisdom, and duty-fulfillment wisdom; and a concluding section of two illustrative similes and four summary verses.
The overall theme of these texts is that the Pure Land is not a physical location, but a symbol of the mind of wisdom – constituted by the five factors of the Pure Dharma Realm and the four wisdoms. These four wisdoms, grounded in the Pure Dharma Realm, present the varied structure of wisdom as conceived by Yogacara thinkers. Mirror wisdom and equality wisdom are nondiscriminative, while discernment wisdom and duty-fulfillment wisdom distinguish the nature of bodhisattva tasks and carry them out in the world. Thus the overarching context for these texts is the tension created between the critical awareness and “deliteralization” tendency of Yogacara, and the Pure Land cultus, with its veneration of many Pure Land Buddhas and its hopes of being born in the Pure Land.