8 The Buddhist Connection

The Buddhist Connection

Importance of Dying & Death

“Real care of the sick does not begin with costly procedures but with the simple gift of affection and love.” (His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

“During an illness, the main thing is to take care of the dying person’s mind. Others can take care of the body, but you can take care of the mind.” (Lama Zopa Rinpoche)

It’s natural to want to die peacefully, free of pain.

Buddhists believe that having a peaceful and virtuous mind at the time of death can lead to a happy next life. Conversely, a mind that is disturbed, anxious, afraid, angry or unforgiving can lead to a difficult death and a rebirth full of suffering.

Therefore it is important for a dying person to have access to a peaceful and virtuous environment. The Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, Inc. (‘Pure Land Centre’) is all about creating this environment as a purpose-built facility in Perth, Western Australia.

Composition of Committee

The Centre’s Committee of nine people is comprised of Buddhist students from Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, Phen Dhe Ling, and the Buddhist Society of WA.

We hope in time to include other faith groups, for example, from the Christian tradition.

Patron Saint Mitrugpa

Kyabje Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, the spiritual leader of the FPMT (the FPMT is the global Mahayana Buddhist group to which the Pure Land Centre is affiliated) recently recommended that we name our proposed centre the Pure Land of the Indestructible Buddha, after the Buddha Mitrugpa. He also advised us to purchase a thangka (wall-hanging) of Mitrugpa, and thanks to Venerable Chodron (founder of the Wheel of Life Palliative Care Support Group), and an anonymous donor, this has been done.

Mitrugpa is the Tibetan name for the Buddha Akshobya, one of the ‘Five Dhyani Buddhas’. Rinpoche says that Mitrugpa is a powerful Buddha for purifying negative karma, especially karma created in relation to the guru, and especially before death.

Symbolism of Logo

The logo of the Pure Land Centre is meant to have a universal appeal, consistent with the Pure Land Centre being open to all, irrespective of belief. At the same time, we wanted to reflect the origin of the project, the Buddhist organising committee, the affiliation with the international organization, the FPMT, and the spiritual advice received from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who recommended the ‘Indestructible Buddha Mitrugpa’ as our patron saint. (Read more on ‘Patron Saint Mitrugpa’)

In the words of the designer of the logo, Penni Sutton, ‘I was seeking a symbol that reflected the concentration and mindfulness or attentiveness required by Buddha Mitrugpa to develop the indestructible patience that leads us toward realizing the true nature of things.’ Penni chose the Enzo Circle, a Zen Buddhist symbol, as the unifying element. This circular form expresses the completeness or the emptiness of the present moment. It encompasses everything within it. It symbolizes with elegance and simplicity absolute enlightenment, strength and the emptiness of inherent existence of all phenomena.

Penni explains that another of the main elements, the blue underpinning the Enzo circle, is the colour of the Buddha Mitrugpa. In Tibet, the sky is often used as a symbol for the changeless true nature of reality. Hence Mitrugpa is often associated with the dark blue of the sky and he symbolizes the recognition of our true nature within the mind, and the wisdom of changeless true reality.

‘The Bodhi leaf,’ says Penni, ‘which appears as a new shoot (or it could also be interpreted as an ageing leaf) is both a symbol of buddhanature and a symbol of growth, in this case the wisdom of realizing the true nature of things.’

History of Centre

The Pure Land Project started as an initiative of the Wheel of Life Palliative Care Support Group, which is a social outreach community service attached to the Hayagriva Buddhist Centre, 64 Banksia Terrace, Kensington, WA 6151.

Based on experience gained in the Wheel of Life Palliative Care Support Group, running comprehensive training courses for care of the dying, it was decided to create a centre for care of the dying and in particular for those who want to focus on the emotional and spiritual side during their last weeks. The Pure Land Centre was proposed as a peaceful place that supported the dying person maintain a positive, virtuous mind to the moment of death.

The Wheel of Life Management Team decided to commit to building a physical centre, a place where the emotional and spiritual needs of the terminally ill can be met in a peaceful, caring and virtuous environment.

On 1 March 2018, the Pure Land Centre Project was accepted as a new ‘FPMT Study Group’ by FPMT, which is an international grouping of 160 centres all belonging to the same Mahayana Buddhist tradition. After a probationary period, the Pure Land Centre will be able to apply to become a ‘fully affiliated FPMT Centre’ providing a palliative care service.

In the latter half of 2018 the Pure Land Project received approval from FPMT to move forward and establish itself as an incorporated not-for-profit charitable organization. The Pure Land Centre is now a fully incorporated body under the Incorporations Act WA and its official (legal) name is: The Pure Land Centre of the Indestructible Buddha Incorporated (referred to as ‘The Pure Land Centre’). The Pure Land Centre has its own website and bank account. There is a Management Committee with members from different Buddhist traditions and an Advisory Committee comprised of both Buddhists and non-Buddhists.