Working toward a Pure Land on Earth


Context of the Teaching: Master Cheng Yen taught the members of Tzu Chi Junior College of Nursing’s Mother-Sister Association that there are two types of purity. One is the purity within one’s own mind, and the other is purity in the environment. If we all treat each other with love, this is pure love.


When you go to the school, try your best to give the students a detailed explanation of the meaning behind “working toward a pure land on Earth”. We hope to awaken their love so they can begin purifying themselves. There are two types of purity. One is the purity within one’s own mind, and the other is the purity in the environment. Once we purify the ground of our own mind, we can influence others. If everyone treats each other with love, this is pure love, which purifies the ground of our mind.


Tzu Chi collaborated with King Car Cultural and Education Foundation and Girl Scouts of Taiwan to hold the “Working toward a Pure Land on Earth” event. Someone asked me, “Master, what do you mean by working toward a pure land on Earth?”

I said, “We are working toward this pure land because we have faith in ourselves that we will fulfill our vows in the future.” We all wish our society can become a “peaceful land.” When the world is at peace and everyone is kindhearted, we will get along so harmoniously that there will be no need to lock our doors. This will be our pure land on Earth.


We must create a loving environment, for the world needs us to purify it. “Working toward a pure land on Earth” is planning for bright and happy days to make this world into a pure land.
I started planning for this present pure land twenty-six years ago. Everyone should also have this same determination to work toward a pure land twenty-six years from now.
Wherever there is suffering, we will extend our strength there and reach out our hands to help people. Since we have vowed to bring purity to this world, we must also bring purity to people’s minds. We must create a loving environment, for the world needs us to purify it. We begin by purifying our environment and cleaning up our surroundings so that we may also purify our mind.


Tzu Chi has a wish, which is to transform the greedy desires of modern society into pure love and to turn discord into harmony. Because of this, we hold this Mother’s Day celebration while also advocating to “work toward a pure land on Earth.” Starting from today, let’s change our bad habitual tendencies from the past and start building up good deeds. We all need to rise up to the task of bringing purity to ourselves and to society. We start from the environment of our own homes. We must not underestimate our own physical strength and the capacity of our minds.


I often say that we must “work toward a pure land on Earth.” All Buddhist practitioners should devote themselves to going among people instead of running away from the world. We should teach by example and guide the world’s sentient beings to walk the Bodhisattva Path and accept the virtuous Dharma. Then, they will be able to correct their past mistakes and walk toward the Bodhisattva Path.


Birth, aging, illness, death, and parting from those we love are forms of suffering in the world. When we have great love and open our hearts to give, this is the greatest happiness of all. When we lose ourselves in the worldly suffering that surrounds us and forms attachments, it is like we are living in hell. But when we are able to open up our hearts, it is like heaven on earth.
Dear bodhisattva volunteers, we must not only create a heaven on earth; we must also create a pure land here. We must mindfully work toward building a pure land on Earth. I hope this time will come soon.
I must thank all the loving people in society, especially Tzu Chi’s Living Bodhisattvas. We must form this aspiration and make vows lifetime after lifetime. We form the same aspirations as Guanyin Bodhisattva and make the same vow as Earth Treasury Bodhisattva. With vows come strength, and with aspirations come blessings. We must put our vows into action and create blessings for the world.


In the past few days, there has been unrest in society. At hospitals near affected areas, patients are troubled, and some students cannot attend class. When just a few people feel unsettled, they can disrupt their entire environment as they bring unrest to their surroundings. This also wastes children’s precious study time. This makes everyone in society feel uneasy, which is too big of a price for society to pay.
Look at the world of Tzu Chi. Whether Tzu Chi volunteers are local or far away, they all practice pure great love. They do not discriminate between religions or countries. Isn’t this a pure land within the mind? Then, when they take action, aren’t they creating a pure land on Earth? Indeed, they are! We must work toward a pure land on Earth; that all begins with the mind.


The Buddha told us that the kalpa of decay is brought on through the accumulation of collective karma and the evil karma of sentient beings. When people’s minds turn evil, they will do harm to the world. For the past thirty or so years, I have been telling everyone to bring purity to people’s minds to gather good karma.
We all must truly work together with concerted effort to make the most of the year 2000. In the past, discord between groups and among people was inevitable. “2000” ends in three zeros, representing a total reset. We should start making preparations and truly go into the community, weaving together everyone’s love and transforming evil karma with good karma.
Sentient beings are heavily defiled; their minds are severely defiled. However, I have always been happy in my heart because there are so many people in society who are willing to help. This is how we begin to bring purity to people’s hearts.
Tzu Chi volunteers advocate for people to donate their bodies for medical science, and they are also very willing to do this. This comes from selflessness; they have set aside their selfish greed and have become pure in body and mind.
If everyone could see the bigger picture, let go of their attachments, and willingly give of themselves, wouldn’t society be so beautiful? I hope that as we enter the new millennium, we can resolve our conflicts from the past and return them to nothing. For the sake of our future, we must steadfastly bring purity to people’s minds and work toward a pure land on Earth.


No matter how bad someone is, they still have a virtuous intrinsic nature. If we want to create a beautiful social environment, we must let our pure stream continuously flow through people’s minds. Only then will their defiled minds become pure.
People teach other people, and the environment nurtures people. With good people to provide guidance and a good environment to nurture us, we can work toward a pure land on Earth. I have faith that, in a future not far from now, a pure land will be before us.
Now, we must lead everyone to deeply repent. This is the best way to cleanse our mind. This is like a pure stream that flows through our mind every day. Even if we do not cleanse our mind with clean water, our mind will become free of defilements as time goes by. In addition to repentance, we must proactively establish a beautiful environment in our mind, for only then will we truly create a pure land in this world.


Context of the Teaching: Master was explaining the sutra passage from The Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance: “Those who wish to attain this Dharma body must first give rise to Bodhicitta, seek all-encompassing wisdom, realize permanence, joy, self, and purity, attain the fruit of Sarvajna, achieve the pure buddha land, and lead all sentient beings to enlightenment.”
“The fruit of Sarvajna” is the state of buddhahood, which is also all-encompassing wisdom. If we can give rise to bodhicitta to seek all-encompassing wisdom, then we can realize the pure buddha land and help all sentient beings attain enlightenment. By fully understanding all things in the world and no longer giving rise to discursive thoughts as we go among people, we can form good affinities with sentient beings and bring purity to their minds. In this way, we can purify the world and work toward a pure land on Earth.


The media must spread goodness so that good words can be heard by everyone, and the Dharma must also be spread. To do this, we need the mission of humanistic culture. The mission of humanistic culture enables us to spread the virtuous teachings. In addition, it also ensures that everyone can work hand in hand to keep moving forward, step by step, in a long procession. When the entire world is connected like this, we will be able to work toward a pure land in the Saha world.


This is new era for Tzu Chi. We started forty-one years ago with a cause. That cause was a seed, which we have constantly sowed and spread with love. We need Living Bodhisattvas to spread the seeds of goodness, as well as bodhisattva farmers to cultivate and irrigate them to create a lush bodhi forest.
People can become Living Bodhisattvas with a single thought. Everyone should form aspirations and make vows to work toward a pure land on Earth. This is our heartfelt wish.
I hope this pure land of bodhisattvas will exist between us. Then, there will be no more calamities in the world. We must all be vigilant and reverent, for only then can we rid the world of disasters and calamities.


Context of the Teaching: In 2009, Typhoon Morakot devastated Southern Taiwan. Tzu Chi volunteers worked day and night for eighty-eight days to build Shanlin Great Love Village to shelter the disaster survivors.
Our sincere Tzu Chi volunteers all share the same aspiration. With hearts united, they manifest these extraordinary powers. So, with unity comes concerted effort; this force is truly powerful! In eighty-eight days, we witnessed bodhisattvas create a pure land. Over twenty years ago, I called upon people to work toward a pure land on Earth, and now, this seems like a possibility.
We gather everyone together in the hopes that, on this earth, we will nurture virtuous role models. In the future, this Great Love Village that people call home will be filled with purity and humanistic culture; it will truly be a pure land on Earth.
Our strength came from all directions, and bodhisattvas emerged from every corner. They mobilized and gathered together to devote themselves to relief work after the August 8 flood. Every bodhisattva who gave of themselves on this land was a benefactor of the villagers; they are all bodhisattvas.


Tzu Chi volunteers worldwide are promoting environmental protection and the reduction of carbon emissions. This is very touching. What society needs is love. To give with love, we must not only be free of greed, never grasping or stealing or taking away; we must also give of ourselves again and again. Once people’s minds are in harmony, there will be pure lands everywhere. When we no longer need police to maintain the peace, this world will be a pure land.
I hope our world will be a pure land. It has been twenty-one years since we began promoting this idea. This is not a one-time event but a long-term movement. We must constantly promote it. I often say that we must review old teachings with new insights and do everything in a steadfast and grounded way, using love to pave our path every step of the way. Then, we should look back and ask ourselves, “How did we pave the path in the very beginning?” We brought purity to people’s minds, and this is working toward a pure land on Earth.

Working toward a Pure Land on Earth
May 3, 1991
Teachings to the Tzu Chi Mother-Sister Association
May 5, 1991
Tzu Chi Commissioners’ Gathering
May 8, 1991
Tzu Chi Twenty-Sixth Anniversary Medicine Buddha Dharma Assembly
May 14, 1991
Teachings in Liming New Village, Taichung
January 14, 1993
Tzu Chi Commissioners’ Gathering
February 17, 1999
Morning Volunteer Assembly
March 22, 2000
Morning Volunteer Assembly
April 7, 2000
Conversation with Kaohsiung Faith Corps and Commissioners Function Team Leadership
October 1, 2001
Morning Volunteer Assembly
July 1, 2003
Morning Dharma Talk
May 10, 2007
Tzu Chi Forty-First Anniversary Medicine Buddha Dharma Assembly
June 10, 2007
Morning Volunteer Assembly
February 10, 2010
Morning Volunteer Assembly
April 25, 2012
Morning Volunteer Assembly