The Role of Meditation in Pure Land Buddhism 

Meditation is central to the practice of Buddhism.  Siddhartha's meditation under the Bodhi Tree was the practice that produced a Buddha, an Awakened one.  Realizing this, all Buddhist schools employ meditative forms to assist sentient beings to realize their True Nature.

The Five Elements School of Meditative Pure Land Buddhism emphasizes meditative practice as a way of understanding and actualizing the Pure Land path.  All five elements have a meditative aspect to them, which is useful in helping us to become one with Boundless Compassion and Wisdom.  As has been mentioned elsewhere on this site, practice is simply one aspect of the Pure Land Tripod of Practice, Aspiration and Faith.  Essentially all three legs of the Tripod are one, but we may use the meditative leg to facilitate a deeper understanding of the Pure Land path.

In our experience it is easier for many 21st-century Westerners to enter the Pure Land path through the practice of meditation.  The meditative practices of Pure Land Buddhism began even before the time of Master Hui-Yuan.  The Visualization Sutra is considered to be a master handbook for those who wish to engage in very dynamic visualization meditation practice, and even the simple act of reciting Amitabha Buddha's name is meditative in nature.  In his work, "The Zen Koan As a Means of Attaining Enlightenment," the famous author D. T. Suzuki pointed out that the kind of meditative concentration (Sk. Samadhi) which is realized in Buddha-Recitation is no different that that which is realized in the study and practice of the Zen koan.

The five practices which are described in this section (Sutra Study, Atonement & Veneration, Recitation, Meditation and Visualization) all have the potential to produce great amounts of meditative concentration if we approach them sincerely, energetically and patiently.  That meditative concentration will then guide us to the realization of our Purified Mind and the Pure Land in which we have never stopped dwelling.  May all sentient beings benefit from the Five Elements practices so that Boundless Compassion and Wisdom will manifest everywhere!