Buddhist Afterlife

What Happens when a Buddhist Dies?


Read from the 3 pureland sutras

The 18th Vow of Amitayus guarantees that those who have sincere faith and devotion in the Buddha will be reborn in his PureLand,where they will reach full Enlightenment under the direct guidance of a Buddha.
“All sentient beings who,having heard his name,rejoice in faith think of him even once,and sincerely transfer the merit of virtuous practices to that land,aspiring to be born there,will attain birth and dwell in the state of non-retrogression.

Description of Amitabha Buddha’s  Pure land
V114.   “In that Pure land, the land is made of seven exquisite materials: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, amber, coral, agate and emerald, and the ground is so vast and extensive that it is beyond measure. All the exquisite materials inter mingle producing beautiful and luminous combinations. The materials in that land are pure, superb and majestic far surpassing all the worlds in the ten directions. Its beautiful jewels are like those in the sixth heaven.
V115.   In this land, there are no mountains such as the ring of adamantine mountains or mount sumeru. Furthermore there are no oceans, seas, valleys, or canals. But if people do wish to see oceans or mountains they can have them manifested before them through the Buddha’s majestic power. In that land there are no hells, hungry ghosts, or animal realms nor any negative conditions to suffer from. Neither does this land have the four seasons of spring, winter, fall, or summer. The temperature is neither hot or cold it is always moderate and enjoyable.
V116.   Ananda then asked the Buddha:” World Honored One, if there is no mount sumeru in that land, then where do the four heavenly kings and the thirty three gods dwell?”
The Buddha then replied to Ananda:” Upon what does the third heaven of the yama gods, and all the heavens up to the highest heaven in the realm of form dwell on?”
V117.   Ananda answered:” They are formed by the inconceivable karma of living beings.”
The Buddha said to Ananda:” The karma of living beings is inconceivable and so are the Pure lands in which the Buddha’s preside, therefore all living beings, by the power of their meritous deeds dwell in a place corresponding to their own karmic awards.”
Ananda then replied:” I myself do not doubt this Dharma teaching I only ask this question in order to remove the doubts of future living beings.”

The trees made of jewels
V127.   “Furthermore, the Pure land of Sukhavati is filled with trees made of the seven precious jeweled materials. There are some trees made of gold, some of silver, and some trees made of other various materials such as lapis lazuli, crystal, coral, agate, and emerald. There are some trees that are made of two different precious materials up to containing a mixture of all seven of the precious materials.
V128.   Some gold trees have leaves, flowers and fruits made of silver. Some silver trees have leaves, flowers and fruits made of gold. Some lapis lazuli trees have leaves, flowers and fruits made of crystal. Some crystal trees have leaves, flowers and fruits made of lapis lazuli. Some coral trees have leaves, flowers and fruits made of agate. Some agate trees have leaves, flowers and fruits made of lapis lazuli. Some emerald trees have their, flowers and fruits made of all various jewels.
V129.   There are jeweled trees with purple gold roots, white silver trunks, lapis lazuli branches, crystal twigs, coral leaves, flowers of emerald and fruits of agate. Some jeweled trees have white silver roots, lapis lazuli trunks, crystal branches, coral twigs, agate leaves, and flowers of emerald, and purple gold fruits. Some jeweled trees have lapis lazuli roots, crystal trunks, coral branches, agate twigs, emerald leaves, purple gold flowers, and white silver fruits. Some jeweled trees have crystal roots, coral trunks, agate branches, emerald twigs, purple gold leaves, white silver flowers, and lapis lazuli fruits. Some jeweled trees have coral roots, agate trunks, emerald branches, purple gold twigs, white silver leaves, lapis lazuli flowers and crystal fruits. Some jeweled trees have agate roots, emerald trunks, purple gold branches, white silver twigs, lapis lazuli leaves, crystal flowers and coral fruits. Some jeweled trees have emerald roots, purple gold trunks, white silver branches, lapis lazuli twigs, crystal leaves, coral flowers and fruits of agate.
V130.   These jeweled trees all stand in straight rows, their trunks are symmetrical, their branches are all level with one another, all the leaves face toward each other, the flowers are in perfect concordance, the fruits are in a specific order. Their magnificient colors are so bright that one cannot see the all. When a breeze passes gently through the trees it spontaneously causes beautiful music from the pentatonic scales to be heard.

The Bodhi tree of Buddha Amitabha
V131.   Furthermore, the Bodhi tree of Buddha Amitabha is four million leagues high and the circumference of its roots is five thousand yojanas. Its branches extend two million leagues in each of the four directions. All the jewels are naturally combined in this tree. It is also adorned with the king of jewels, such as the moon light mani jewels and the ocean sustaining wheel gems. And between its twigs hang jeweled ornaments with hundreds of thousands of colors that when combined produce innumerable bright and glimmering lights. Very rare and precious nets of jewels cover the entire Bodhi tree, and any jewel a person wishes to see will instantly appear on that Bodhi tree.
V132.   When a breeze gently passes through the trees, majestic music of the Dharma is produced and spreads throughout all the Buddha lands in the ten directions. Those who hear these sounds attain penetrating wisdom of the Dharma teachings and dwell in the stage of non-retrogression. They will never again suffer from, pain, sickness or sorrow, eventually attaining Buddhahood. The beings having heard the sounds of the Bodhi tree, seen its colors, smelled its fragrances, tasted its flavors, felt the warmth of its light, and conceived teachings in their minds, they all attain the deepest penetrating wisdom of the teachings. They will always dwell in the stage of non-retrogression. Until they reach Buddhahood, their six sense organs remain pure and clear, free from the sufferings of pain and misery.
V133.   “Ananda, when humans and gods in that land see the Bodhi tree, they will attain three insights into the Dharma teachings: First, insight into word of the Dharma, second insight into perfect compliance and third insight into the non-arising. Buddha Amitabha has bestowed upon us these benefits through his majestic power. We continually benefit from the power of his primal vow, his completely fulfilled vow, his fully realized vows, his devout vows, and his completion of vows.”

The beautiful music in that Pure land
V134.   The Buddha said to Ananda,” A king of this world enjoys a hundred thousand different kinds of music. From the world ruled by the wheel turning emperor up to the sixth heaven, the beautiful music that is created in the higher realms are ten billion times more superior than the music produced in the lower realms. The thousands of different types of music produced in the sixth heaven is a million times inferior to the music that is produced from the seven types of trees in the Pure land of Buddha Amitabha. Moreover in this Pure land there are thousands of different kinds of manifested music, and all these musical tones are sounds of the Dharma. These wonderful sounds are clear, peaceful, and exquisite melodies, they are the greatest sound in all the worlds of the ten directions.

The many sounds and wonders of the pure land
V135.   “And again the lecture halls, monasteries, palaces, and pavilions are all created manifestations adorned with seven exquisite materials. And the curtains are made of various pearls and jewels such as the moon mani jewels.
V136.   Inside and out, on the left and on the right, are bathing ponds, some of them are ten yojanas in length, some are twenty, thirty, and so on, up to a hundred thousand yojanas, length, breadth and depth. They are all filled to the brim with water possessing the eight excellent qualities, clean, fragrant and the water tastes like sweet ambrosia. Some of the ponds are gold with beds of silver sand, some ponds are silver with golden sand, some ponds are crystal with lapis lazuli sands, some ponds are lapis lazuli with crystal sand, some ponds are coral with amber sands, some ponds are coral with amber sands, some ponds are amber with coral sands, some ponds are emerald with agate sands, some ponds are agate with emerald sands, some ponds are white jade with purple gold sands, some ponds are purple gold with white jade sands. Others are made of many mixtures of two to seven different types of jewels and exquisite substances.
V137. “On the banks of these ponds are sandalwood trees, whose leaves and flowers spread fragrances all over the sky. Heavenly lotuses of blue, pink, yellow and white bloom producing various shining colors that spread over the surface of the water. If the Bodhisattvas and Sharavakas enter these jeweled ponds and wish for the water to cover their feet, the water will cover their feet. If they wish for the water to rise to their knees, the water will rise to their knees. If they wish for the water to rise to their waists, the water will rise to their waists. If they wish for the water to rise to their necks, the water will rise to their necks. If they wish for the water to cover their entire body, the water will cover their entire body. If they wish for the water to recede, it will recede upon command. If they wish for the water to be warm or cool the temperature will adjust according to their wishes. The water reinvigorates the mind and delights the body, and washes away all mental defilements. The water is pure, clear and transparent. The exquisite jeweled sands shine so bright that the depth of the pond cannot obscure the sand from being seen. The rippling waves move back and forth flowing gently into each other, never too slowly nor to fast, yet these waves always produce innumerable exquisite sounds.
V138.   “A person can hear whatever sound they wish to hear. Some may hear the word ‘Buddha’ in the sound, some may hear the word ‘Dharma’ in the sound, some may hear the word ‘Sangha’, or they may hear other Dharma words such as: calmness, emptiness and non- self, great compassion, perfection, ten powers, fearlessness, unique qualities, super natural powers, unconditioned, neither arising nor ceasing, sincere compliance of the non-arising, and so on even hearing “the anointing of the Bodhisattva with ambrosia” whoever hears these sands shall feel infinite joy and these sounds will bring one into harmony with purity, freedom from desire extinction, reality, the three treasures, the ten powers, fearlessness, unique qualities, and the supernatural powers that are used by Bodhisattvas and Shravakas. In this Buddha land not even the names of the three realms of suffering can be heard, there is only the blissful sounds of Dharma. This is why this Pure land is called ‘Peace and Bliss’.

The appearance and pleasures of those who inhabit the Pure land
V139.   “Ananda, all those sentient beings who are born into this Pure land are in possession of a pure body, exquisite voices and sounds, supernatural powers and merits, the palaces for which they live in, clothing to wear, food and drink, beautiful flowers, and fragrances and adornments are like those of the gods in the sixth heaven. When it comes meal time dining utensils will spontaneously appear before them, these dining utensils will be made of the seven jeweled substances such as: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, agate, coral, amber, emerald, and also the moon bright pearl and if one wishes these dining utensils will be filled with food and drink of a hundred flavors.
V140.   Even though the food appears before them, nobody actually eats the food. Instead they look as the food and smell it, then with the thought of eating, the food is consumed and one feels that he has eaten. Their bodies and minds become tranquil, and they become unattached to the taste of food. Once the meal is over all the dining utensils disappear, and reappear when it comes time for the next meal. “That Buddha land, is pure, tranquil, blissful and majestic just like the realm of unconditioned Nirvana.

Beings in the Pure land are neither gods nor humans
V141.   The Shravakas, Bodhisattvas, humans, and gods in that Buddha land have superior wisdom and have mastered the supernatural powers. All living beings in that land share the same physical appearance, without any differences. There are neither gods nor humans in that land, they are only called these names to help those in the six transmigrations describe them. Their appearance is perfection, having no equal amongst gods or humans, and their countenance is noble and magnificient. They have acquired the bodies like infinite empty space.

Pleasures enjoyed in the Pure land
V147.   The Buddha said to Ananda,” In the land of Amitabha each god and human is provided with clothing, meals, flowers, incense, ornaments, silken canopies, Dharma banners, and they enjoy all the beautiful sounds. Their mansions, palaces and pavilions where they live are proportioned accordingly with the size of their bodies. If they want precious jewels all they have to do is wish for them and one, two or even innumerable jewels will appear before them. Also in that land beautiful jeweled tapestries cover the entire ground where all gods and humans walk. Innumerable jeweled nets made of golden laces, pearls, and a hundred thousand kinds of rare and wonderful treasures which are spread all around that Buddha land along with exquisite jeweled bells which shine ever brightly. A calm and refreshing breeze gently blows across the land. The temperature is perfect it is neither too cold nor too hot, it neither blows too fast nor too slow. When the breeze passes through the jeweled nets and trees it produces countless exquisite sounds of the Dharma to be heard and myriad kinds of delicate fragrances to be smelled. Those who have smelled these fragrances will forever be freed from all suffering and impurities. If touched by the breeze itself they shall attain the same bliss as a monk who has entered into the Samadhi of ultimate extinction.

The exquisite lights that are emitted from the jeweled flowers in that land
V148.   Moreover as the breeze blows, flowers are dispersed all over, filling the entire Buddha land. These flower fall dividing according to their own color groups, without ever mixing together. They are soft, gentle, bright, and produce delightful aromas. If one steps upon the flowers their feet will sink four inches, but when one raises his foot off the flowers, they will resume their original form. Eventually they will stop falling, once this process has ended all the flowers will spontaneously disappear, leaving no trace of them ever having been there. The process of the breeze blowing and the flowers scattering occurs six times a day.
V149.   Moreover many jeweled lotus flowers fill the Pure land. Each jeweled lotus has a hundred thousand kotis of petals which lights radiate numerous different colors such as. Blue lotuses emanate a blue light, white lotuses emanate a white light and likewise dark blue, red, yellow and purple lotuses emanate magnificeint lights. The brilliance of these jeweled lotus lights far surpasses the lights of the sun and moon. Every flower issues forth thirty six hundred thousand kotis rays of light, and each ray sends forth thirty six hundred thousand kotis of Buddha’s. The bodies of these Buddha’s are purple gold and adorned with the exquisite major and minor marks of all Buddha’s. Furthermore each of these Buddha’s emit a hundred thousand rays of light that spread the teachings of the sublime Dharma to all living beings in the ten directions, therefore establishing innumerable living beings on the path to Enlightenment.