Friday, February 22, 2019

The Lifespan of Amida Buddha and the enlightened beings in His Pure Land – commentary on the 12th section of the Larger Sutra

“The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘The lifespan of Amitayus (Amida) is so long that it is impossible for anyone to calculate it. To give an illustration, let us suppose that all the innumerable sentient beings in the worlds of the ten directions were reborn in human form and that every one became a sravaka or pratyekabuddha. Even if they assembled in one place, concentrated their thoughts, and exercised the power of their wisdom to the utmost to reckon the length of the Buddha’s lifespan by the number of kalpas, even after a thousand million kalpas they could still not reach its limit. So it is with the lifespan of sravakas, bodhisattvas, heavenly beings, and human beings in His land. Similarly, it is not to be encompassed by any means of reckoning or by any metaphorical expression. Again, the number of sravakas and bodhisattvas living there is incalculable. They are fully endowed with transcendent wisdom and free in their exercise of majestic power; they could hold the entire world in their hands.’”[1]

This fragment is related with the 13th Vow of Amida, which I already explained in the section dedicated to the 48th Vows.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The meaning of praising or glorifying Amida’s Light – commentary on the third part of section 11 of the Larger Sutra

Shakyamuni Buddha said:

“The light of Amitayus (Amida) shines brilliantly, illuminating all the Buddha lands of the ten directions. There is no place where it is not perceived. I am not the only one who now praises His light. All the Buddhas, Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas praise and glorify it in the same way. If sentient beings, having heard of the majestic virtue of His light, glorify it continually, day and night, with sincerity of heart, they will be able to attain Birth in His land as they wish. Then the multitudes of Bodhisattvas and Sravakas will praise their excellent virtue. Later, when they attain Buddhahood, all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten directions will praise their light, just as I now praise the light of Amitayus.’

Monday, February 18, 2019

To encounter or see Amida’s Light – commentary on the second part of section 11 of the Larger Sutra

Amida's Light sent to His
devotee shown in the lower part 

After describing the twelve Lights of Amida Buddha, Shakyamuni continues:

“If sentient beings encounter His light, their three defilements are removed; they feel tenderness, joy, and pleasure; and good thoughts arise. If sentient beings in the three realms of suffering see His light they will all be relieved and freed from affliction. At the end of their lives they all reach liberation.”[1]

All the benefits enumerated there, like the removal of defilements, the feeling of tenderness, joy and pleasure, apparition of good thoughts, freedom from suffering and liberation, come from the Light of Amida and become effective due to encountering (“if sentient beings encounter His light”) and seeing this Light (“if sentient beings in the three realms of suffering see His light”).

Friday, February 15, 2019

The twelve Lights of Amida Buddha – commentary on the first part of section 11 of the Larger Sutra

Image of Amida Buddha at the altar
of Amidaji temple
  fragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra

The whole section eleven should be read in connection with my explanation of the 12th Vow where Bodhisattva Dharmakara promised that His Light as a Buddha will be infinite.
Now Shakyamuni himself speaks about the Light of Amida Buddha, praising it as supreme among the lights of all Buddhas and describing it as having twelve special characteristics, corresponding to twelve names:

 “‘The majestic light of Buddha Amitayus (Amida) is the most exalted. No other Buddha’s light can match His. The light of some Buddhas illuminates a hundred Buddha lands, and that of others a thousand Buddha lands. Briefly, that of Amitayus illuminates the eastern Buddha lands as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River. In the same way, it illuminates the Buddha lands in the south, west, and north, in each of the four intermediate directions, and above and below. […]

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

No need for ritual empowerment or initiation to connect with Amida Buddha

Question: Do I need to receive rituals of empowerment or initiations in order to connect with Amida Buddha?

My answer: You don't need empowerment to connect with Amida Buddha. The greatest of all Buddhas is always available to you and offers His salvation freely and without any intermediary.
All you need to do is accept His helping hand, say His Name in faith and wish to be born in His Pure Land after death. In His Primal Vow, Amida did not mention any empowerment, but only "entrust to me, say my Name and wish to be born in my land". If nothing else was mentioned there, then you do NOT need anything else. Through following the three requirements of His Primal Vow you enter into karmic relation with Amida Buddha and into the stage of those assured of birth on His Pure Land. 
Any other practice associated with Amida Buddha which is not related with the three elements of His Primal Vow should NOT be your concern, because it does not constitute Amida's main intention. Jodo Shinshu is the school of the Primal Vow. We follow exclusively the requirements of the Primal Vow and by doing this we are always in direct connection with Amida Buddha.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Attitudes when doing ordinary offerings or Dharma offerings

Question: What should be the attitude when we help others with material things or if we are priests and offer teachings?

My answer:  When you give something to a poor person, (and I encourage my Dharma friends to make constant offerings of food, money, clothes, or whatever one can, to those who are in difficult situations), you should be humble, respectful and grateful to them for accepting your offering.
Be respectful as poverty is hard to bear and any insult can add immensely to their suffering. Be humble and grateful at being offered the opportunity to help them, as this will also help you to develop compassion and fulfill your filial duty towards your parent like sentient beings.

NEW poems by Gansen John Welch