Great Faith, Great Wisdom: Practice and awakening in the Pure Land sutras of Mahayana Buddhism eBook


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Ratnaguna presents a commentary on the three Pure Land Sutras – the archetypal ‘land of bliss’ presided over by the Buddha Amitabha.

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Great Faith, Great Wisdom: Practice and awakening in the Pure Land sutras of Mahayana Buddhism

Ratnaguna and Śraddhāpa

The three Pure Land Sutras are a body of Mahayana scriptures that for centuries have played an important part in the spiritual life of East Asian Buddhists. These texts describe Sukhavati, the archetypal ‘land of bliss’ presided over by Amitabha or Amitayus, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Eternal Life. Ratnaguna explores the practices that enable the practitioner to be reborn in this ideal world, and outlines how this can be understood in both a literal and metaphoric sense. So ‘rebirth’ in Sukhavati’ can take place in this very life, and dwelling there can be understood as a description of the Enlightened Mind. He also explores faith-imagination as the faculty that perceives reality.

The Buddhist texts – both ancient and perennial – put forward a path of faith and grace, as well as effort and practice. Using a practical and imaginative approach, Ratnaguna explores the main themes, and the 16 meditations outlined by the Buddha. This book will appeal to both practising Buddhists – whether from the East Asian Pure Land traditions or not – and anyone interested in Buddhism from a practical point of view.

Includes new translations of the three Pure Land sutras by Śraddhāpa.

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2 reviews for Great Faith, Great Wisdom: Practice and awakening in the Pure Land sutras of Mahayana Buddhism eBook

  1. Ratnachuda

    This is a ‘Great’ book by Ratnaguna. He displays his in-depth knowledge of the three Sukhavati sutra’s interspersed with quotes from the pali canon and Sangharakshita.
    Thoroughly recommend to anybody interested in Buddhism as Ratnaguna takes us on a journey to the Pure Land of Amitabha. For myself familiar with another translation of the Shorter and Longer Sukhavati sutra’s I found Shraddhapa’s translations into a modern idiom less appealing. However I appreciated having a copy of the Contemplation sutra and I valued his scholarship.

  2. convenientlylocated

    This book is a revelation.

    Ratnaguna argues that the development of faith is not an auxiliary practice, but tantamount to wisdom itself. Welcome words to anyone experiencing a crisis in their practice, as they move from a reliance on “self-power” to “other-power.”

    Could reliance on Amitābha be the more sophisticated form of practice?

    He also provides a new perspective for anyone struggling with the language of the sūtras.

    Instead of the literal-minded approach that sees only exaggeration & absurdity, Ratnaguna suggests ways to approach the writings on multiple levels. The result is an enriching & satisfying engagement with the Pure Land texts.

    Ratnaguna’s writing is approachable & engaging. With vast knowledge of his subject, he pre-empts the skepticism of the postmodern reader, & introduces us to a world of beauty that’s been there all the while.

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Talks and Links

Explore the book and its story.

Read an eloquent review in Pure Land Notes.

Read an in-depth review in the Western Buddhist Review.

Access an interview with Ratnaguna on Great Faith, Great Wisdom, filmed by Clear Vision.

Listen to Opening the Mind's Eye, Ratnaguna's talk from the Cambridge Buddhist Centre on 24 May 2016

Watch Ratnaguna discuss life, Buddhist practice and Great Faith, Great Wisdom at the London Buddhist Centre on 9 May 2016.

Listen to The Pure Land and Imagination by Ratnaguna

Listen to Pure Land Buddhism and the Supra-Personal Force by Ratnaguna

Listen to The Sangha in the Pure Land Sutras by Ratnaguna

Go on a virtual (audio) retreat with Ratnaguna - talks and meditations on Amitabha's Pure Land


'Ratnaguna beautifully explores these ancient texts, bringing out their significance for us today. Great Faith, Great Wisdom is a ground breaking work and it will appeal not only to Buddhists, particularly Mahayana Buddhists, but also to artists, poets, archetypal psychologists and historians of art.' - Urgyen Sangharakshita, founder of the Triratna Buddhist Community