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


(2 customer reviews)

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

In this video, Ratnaghosha explains why he’s been inspired by Great Faith, Great Wisdom.


SKU (ISBN): 9781909314566 Categories: , , ,


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

In locating these sutras as an aid to developing the imaginative faculty, Ratnaguna shows how their rich imagery evokes expansive mind-states which take us beyond the personal story into the greater realms of spiritual truth. - Caroline Brazier, author The Other Buddhism: Amida Comes West

Unshackled by the binding orthodoxy often found in East Asian Buddhism, the European authors of Great Faith, Great Wisdom offer perspectives that are refreshingly insightful and novel. By stressing the value of “imagination” over “understanding”, the book shows why Pure Land Buddhism has been a dominant stream of Mahayana Buddhism for two millennia. Readers will be fascinated by dimensions and sensibilities beyond the usual doctrines and meditations that the West has come to associate with Buddhism. Kenneth Kenshin Tanaka Professor, Musashino University, Tokyo President, International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies, author of The Dawn of Chinese Pure Land Doctrine

Great Faith, Great Wisdom offers a lively translation and thoughtful, readable commentary, inviting a rethinking of the role of imagination in Buddhism. It is a welcome contribution. David L. McMahan, Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious Studies, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, author of Empty Vision: Metaphor and Visionary Imagery in Mahayana Buddhism

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

  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