Taitetsu Unno (1998) once wrote about the symbolic nature of gold and lotuses in relation to Pureland Buddhism. He discussed Dharmakara’s vow that all beings in his pure land would be of the color of gold, signifying their enlightenment and their equality. Unno also notes that the lotus is a metaphor for the uniqueness of every person of the Pure Land. In brief, all beings of Sukhavati share a common awakened nature while still recognized as individuals in their own right.
In my particular religious community, Amida Shu, we recognize a common bond through Amida but we are respected as very different people. Some of us are psychotherapists and some of us are nurses, while others are college students and parents. I’ve found that same quality in the Oneness Buddhism community, which also stems from the Pureland school of Shin. It’s ministers share a common love for Dharma but come from many different walks of life and share their experiences in unique ways.
Even going back to the first Sangha, the Buddha recognized the different talents and affinities of his disciples. He never dismissed their identities for some “higher” truth of sameness. A healthy tradition respects unity and difference at the same time.
This is a very important aspect of practice for me. We don’t have to be something we’re not to be held by Amida. The Buddha loves every being just as they are and we can honor the Blessed One by doing the same as best we can.
Namo Amida Bu
Unno, T. (1998) River of Fire River of Water: An introduction to the Pure Land Tradition of Shin Buddhism. Doubleday
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