A few years ago I was engaged in the Buddhist practice of Amitabha visualization. Amitabha is the western Buddha of infinite light. It is taught that if we practice his mantra and visualize Amitabha’s Pureland as made up of insubstantial, jewels of luminous light, we can visit his peaceful Pureland in our dreams. This is of immense benefit for readying us for a peaceful death and helps us navigate the dangerous pathways of the bardo.
It is also said that, ultimately, this very samsaric realm we inhabit is no different from the blessed Pureland.
Once, as I slept in my studio on a Spring night, I dreamed I flew over a desert landscape chanting the Tibetan version of Amitabha’s mantra: Om ami dewa hri. I flew over a bombed out village and saw scenes of bloody violence and suffering. I thought: Strange, the mantra doesn’t seem to be working. This is no blessed pure land but a vision of pure hell. I chanted the mantra with more intensity: Om ami dewa hri, om ami dewa hri. But all I saw was hellish torment and fighting. All I heard was the sound of screams, gunfire and explosions. Finally, the dream faded and I woke in my studio where all was peaceful and quiet. The only sound was the singing of birds. I lifted myself to see, outside the window, the cherry tree sending forth radiant blossoms in a lovely vision of luminous, rainbow colored jewels of light.