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12. Gokuraku Jodo (Sukhavati)

"Gokuraku Jodo" -- it is like the world of dreams, and yet, is a world sometimes experienced with reality distinguished from dreams; Besides, although it can be experienced with reality, the world cannot be objectively or visually observed.

We sometimes have a dream or a memory of a dream. Have you ever wondered who is having the dream? In a dream, though, you probably think to yourself, "I am having the dream."

In the dream world, you can fly in the sky, or you can see people who have died; no matter what extraordinary things happens there, while you are experiencing and joining the cast of the dream, there is always another "I," who is observing the dream world. This "I, a watcher" continues to be present in the day while you are studying, doing business, housekeeping, etc.

Try to recall the moments immediately preceding getting up in the morning. Don't you find somewhere in yourself a consciousness or a sense that continues to exist since you were sleeping? The sense may be a vague feeling that is somewhat, for example, cheerful, gloomy, or the like. It may also be a sense related to some matter occupying your thoughts since the previous night. Or, it may be a sensation that you were somewhere in another world.

I wonder how I will feel when I face my own death. Will "I, who is a watcher" be there? What is a difference of the state at that time from the consciousness when I am dreaming or when I am sleeping? Is the experience of death different depending on whether or not one possesses a religious belief?

We usually think of our lives in the day as important reality and lay the day lives as a basis of our whole lives. The world of dreams or fantasy are taken into account, if not denied, merely in limited situations, such as an artistic field or a psychotherapeutic field.

That is, realistic business, study, housekeeping, and the like are principal, and dreams and fantasy are accessory.

rapid_descent_of_amidaAt the death, however, this priority is inverted. As the tide ebbs, so the actual life, which was once believed to be important, retreats farther; on the other hand, the world of dreams, fantasy, religion, beliefs, and spirituality emerges into reality. At that very moment, triumphant over the turbulence of our mind, Supreme Existence rushes from the beyond down to us to receive us... This is the teaching of the Pure Land.

There is no place the moon does not shine,
But it only illuminates
In the heart of those who gaze at it.
(Jodo-shu Anthem)