The Amitabha Sutra - Ponds of Seven Jewels
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Moreover, the Land of Ultimate Bliss has ponds of seven jewels filled with the waters of eight virtues.
Just as with the rows of railing, netting, and trees, the number seven in “ponds of seven jewels” symbolizes perfection. Unlike the gems of our world, those in the Pure Land are perfectly pure, flawless, and soft. Their colors are incomparably more varied and their tactile
quality vastly more pleasing.
After hearing about these wonderful features, we need to remind ourselves that we do not go to the Pure Land to surround ourselves with exquisite gemstones. We go there to achieve the attributes they symbolize: purity and perfection.
The Pure Land has myriad ponds “filled with the waters of eight virtues.” All who wish to can refresh themselves in the ponds. The Infinite Life Sutra explains that both the depth and the temperature of the water change to meet our preferences. The water will be as deep or as shallow, as warm or as cool as we would like it to be. But it is not just the water that is wonderful. Everything in the Pure Land makes the beings there feel peaceful and content.
The first of the water’s eight virtues is clarity and purity. The water in the Pure Land is perfectly pure, unlike the water in our world, which is contaminated by natural and human-made pollutants. Even water from our most remote mountain streams has impurities, ranging from minerals to bacteria.
The second virtue is coolness. The temperature of the water in the Pure Land depends on the beings’ preferences. To say the water is cool means that it calms and cleanses the mind. Water temperatures in our world are subject to changes in weather and other influences. Ranging from boiling to freezing, the water here can quickly become hazardous.
The third virtue is sweetness. The water in the Pure Land is pleasing and refreshing. In our world, ocean water is salty and undrinkable in its natural state. Even fresh water often tastes unpleasant.
The fourth virtue is lightness and softness. The water in the Pure Land is very light because the beings there have let go of attachments and discriminations. In our world, because of our myriad attachments, the water is so heavy that a single gallon of it weighs over eight pounds.
The fifth virtue is softening. While the water in the Pure Land is moistening, water in our world can dry out our skin. Thus, we often have to resort to moisturizers to return our skin to its earlier supple and soft condition.
The sixth virtue is peaceful. In the Pure Land, the water accords with the beings’ wishes. As it is always soothing and poses no danger, the beings feel very peaceful. Water in our world may be beautiful and calm. But it can also be dangerous, inundating all that lies in its way.
The seventh virtue is nourishing. The water in the Pure Land makes the beings there feel energetic, not only free from thirst but also from hunger and illness. In our world, drinking too much water leads to bloatedness and discomfort. After we drink, our throat can still feel rough and dry. We could even die from quickly drinking an excessive amount of water.
The eighth virtue is nurturing. This is the most important virtue. The water in the Pure Land helps the beings there to strengthen their good roots. It purifies their thoughts, enabling them to improve their practice. And merely by touching the water, they are invigorated. In this world, not only does water provide mere temporary relief from thirst, it is often unhealthy, thus causing problems for both our body and mind.
— Chapter 10, "Pure Mind, Compassionate Heart: Lessons from the Amitabha Sutra", Venerable Wuling