“Preaching the Dharma right now” tells us that in the Pure Land, Amitabha is currently teaching the Dharma. He has been doing so since he became a Buddha ten kalpas ago. Sakyamuni taught the Dharma in this world for fifty years. Even this was extremely difficult for him to do for our world has a very poor learning environment. People here have very short lives and little time to learn and practice. They have deep-seated bad habits and numerous afflictions, not the least of which are selfishness, greed, anger, ignorance, and arrogance. They have innumerable worldly desires including those for food, sleep, sensory indulgence, fame, prestige, wealth.
Absorbed in all these afflictions and desires, people have not created the necessary conditions for Buddhas to come here often to teach. As we have learned, Maitreya, the next bodhisattva who will come to our world to be a Buddha, will not do so for another 5,670 million years! This shows how incredibly rare it is to be able to personally learn from a Buddha.
The Western Pure Land, however, has an excellent learning environment. Because Amitabha has been teaching there for kalpas, not only have uncountable beings in that land not developed afflictions and bad habits, they have eradicated their afflictions and strengthened their good habits. From this, we can see why a good learning environment is so important.
While there are uncountable beings in the Pure Land now, initially there were none. Where did they come from? These beings with their abundance of good roots, good fortune, and causal connections came from worlds in all the ten directions. Having good roots means that one is able to believe and comprehend the teachings in this sutra. Having good fortune means that one is both willing to practice according to the teachings and able to succeed in that practice. Good roots and good fortune are what are developed within oneself. Causal connections are external factors and refer to favorable conditions. The most important favorable condition is to meet a truly good teacher who introduces and teaches this Dharma door to us.
It is an incredibly rare opportunity to hear of such an ideal land for learning and practice. If we want to be reborn there, we too must have abundant good roots, good fortune, and favorable causal connections. We may be able to rely on others to help us where favorable conditions are concerned, but we have to cultivate good roots and good fortune ourselves.