Sunday, January 11, 2015

The story of Amida Buddha as told by Shakyamuni Buddha


           
Shakyamuni Buddha teaching about Amida Buddha
and his Pure Land
Because we are unenlightened, we cannot fully comprehend with our limited minds everything that is related with Amida Buddha and his Pure Land. But because we were given a teaching and guidance on how to look at them and how to accept them, I think it is good if we know these instructions, so that we can never be misguided by others.

            Shakyamuni Buddha’s main teaching about Amida Buddha can be found in the Three Pure Land Sutras[1], among which the Larger Sutra is the most important. In fact, Shinran thought that teaching this sutra was the main reason for Shakyamuni’s appearance on earth[2]. He was also convinced that the Larger Sutra is the true teaching of the Buddha Dharma, while all other methods and teachings Shakyamuni preached during his lifetime, are provisory. Here are just a few important passages from his Kyogyoshinsho that support this vision:


“To reveal the true teaching: It is the Larger Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life. The central purport of this sutra is that Amida, by establishing the incomparable Vows, has opened wide the Dharma storehouse, and full of compassion for small, foolish beings, selects and bestows the treasure of virtues. [The sutra further reveals that] Shakyamuni appeared in this world and expounded the teachings of the way to Enlightenment, seeking to save the multitudes of living beings by blessing them with this benefit that is true and real[3]. Thus, to teach the Tathagata’s Primal Vow is the true intent of this sutra; the Name of the Buddha is its essence”[4].

“[…] the Larger Sutra reveals the true teaching. It is indeed the right exposition for which the Tathagata appeared in the world, the wondrous scripture rare and most excellent, the conclusive and ultimate exposition of the One Vehicle[5], the precious words disclosing perfect, instantaneous fulfillment, the sincere words praised by all the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters, the true teaching in consummate readiness for the beings of this day. Let this be known”[6].

 He also said in his Hymn of True Faith and the Nembutsu (Shoshinge):

“The reason for the Buddha's appearance in the world
Is, above all, to expound the Primal Vow of Amida, wide and deep as the ocean.
All beings in the evil age of the five defilements
Should believe in the truth of the Buddha's words.[7]” 

So, for us, disciples of Shakyamuni and Shinran, this sutra is supreme and all the teachings and events related in it are to be accepted as true. As Shakyamuni himself encouraged us, we have to accept this sutra in faith:

“you should single heartedly accept in faith, uphold, and chant this sutra, and practice in accordance with its teachings”[8].

*

            Now let us see what Shakyamuni told us about Amida Buddha and his Pure Land.
In section 4 of the Larger Sutra he first enumerates many Buddhas of the past eons of time who appeared in samsara to teach the Dharma: “in the distant past – innumerable, incalculable and inconceivable kalpas ago…”[9].

Doing so, he showed to us that human history, as we know it, is only a very small fraction of the endless and inconceivable time of the universe and that the various world systems and beings living in them had existed before the appearance of this earth. So he mentioned 52 great Buddhas who appeared in samsara, taught the Dharma and entered Nirvana before the story of Amida actually happened. After these 52 Buddhas, another great Buddha named Lokesvararaja appeared, still in a distant, and impossible to explain, time and place:

“Then there appeared a Buddha named Lokesvararaja, the Tathagata, Arhat, Fully Enlightened One, Possessed of Wisdom and Practice, Well-gone One, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Beings, Teacher of Gods and Humans, and Enlightened and World-honored One”.[10]

During the time and place of this Buddha, there lived a king who, after hearing his teaching, renounced the throne and became a monk (bhiksu) named, Dharmakara:

“At that time there was a king who, having heard the Buddha’s exposition of the Dharma, rejoiced in his heart and awakened aspiration for highest, perfect Enlightenment. He renounced his kingdom and throne, and became a monk named Dharmakara”.[11]

As the sutra tells us, this monk, Dharmakara, was already a superior person when he went to see Lokesvararaja Buddha:

“Having superior intelligence, courage, and wisdom, he distinguished himself in the world. He went to see Tathagata Lokesvararaja, knelt down at his feet, walked around him three times keeping him always on his right, prostrated himself on the ground, and, putting his palms together in worship, praised the Buddha”.[12]

Then he informed him about the spiritual decision he took to become a Buddha himself for the sake of all sentient beings:

“I resolve to become a Buddha,
Equal in attainment to you, O Holy King of the Dharma,
To save living beings from birth and death,
And to lead them all to liberation.”[13]

And in fulfilling his aspiration he mentions the creation of a special land:

“When I have become a Buddha,
My land shall be most exquisite.”[14]

where to bring sentient beings everywhere and make them perfectly happy:

“Those who come from the ten directions
Will find joy and serenity of heart;
When they reach my land,
They shall dwell in peace and happiness.”[15]

To make them perfectly happy means, of course, to help them attain Nirvana, his land being in fact, a manifestation of Nirvanic bliss and freedom:

“The seat of Enlightenment will be supreme.
My land, being like Nirvana itself,
Will be beyond comparison.”[16]

After he said the above words, he invites Lokesvararaja Buddha and all Buddhas to see into his mind and heart, and become witness to the truth of his aspiration:

“I beg you, the Buddha, to become my witness
And to vouch for the truth of my aspiration.

The World-honored Ones in the ten directions
Have unhindered wisdom;
I call upon those Revered Ones
To bear witness to my intention”.[17]

However, Dharmakara needed a practice to fulfill his aspiration to become a Buddha and establish a special land/realm where to bring all beings to Nirvana, so he also asked Lokesvararaja Buddha for guidance:

“I beseech you to explain the Dharma to me fully, so that I can perform practices for the establishment of a pure Buddha land adorned with innumerable excellent qualities. So please teach me how to attain Enlightenment quickly and to remove the roots of the afflictions of birth and death of all.’”[18]

More exactly, he asked Lokesvararaja to show to him all the Buddha-lands of the ten direction, so that he can better know what to do and how to practice to create his own Buddha-land:

“I sincerely beseech you, World Honored One, to explain in detail the practices by which Buddha Tathagatas established their pure lands. After I hear that, I wish to practice as instructed and so fulfill my aspirations.”[19]

As Shakyamuni Buddha told us in the Larger Sutra, Lokesvararaja Buddha, “recognized Bhiksu Dharmākara’s noble and high aspirations” and “explained in detail the greater and lesser aspects of two hundred and ten kotis of Buddha-lands, together with the good and evil natures of heavenly and human beings living there. He revealed them all to the bhiksu just as he had requested”.[20]

Then, “having heard the Buddha’s exposition of the glorious pure lands and also having seen all of them”, Dharmakara “resolved upon his supreme, unsurpassed vows”.[21]
At this point, the sutra tells us again (for the second time)[22], that Dharmakara was not an ordinary practitioner, when he resolved to make his vows: “his mind being serene and his aspirations free of attachment, he was unexcelled throughout the world”[23].

As Shakyamuni told us, Dharmakara contemplated the vows he was about to make for five full kalpas and then he chose the necessary practices to fulfill them:

For five full kalpas he contemplated the vows and then chose the pure practices for the establishment of his Buddha-land.”[24]

To practice sitting meditation for even 5 hours a day is an extremely hard job for any nowadays practitioner, not to mention to sit for one day, seven days, a few months or a year, but to contemplate continuously for five full kalpas is truly beyond our capacity to understand. No wonder then that hearing about the time Dharmakara spent in contemplation, Ananda immediately asked the Buddha to specify how long was the lifespan of beings who belonged to the time and land of Lokesvararaja:

“Ananda asked the Buddha, “How long was the lifespan of beings in the land of Buddha Lokesvararāja?” The Buddha replied, “The length of life of that Buddha was forty-two
kalpas.”[25]

So, after five kalpas of contemplation, Dharmakara Bodhisattva “adopted the pure practices that had led to the establishment of the excellent lands of two hundred and ten kotis of Buddhas”.

Thus, being sure about the Vows and what practices to follow, he went to inform Lokesvararaja Buddha:

“He went to the Buddha, knelt down at his feet, walked around him three times, joined his palms in worship, and sat down. He then said to the Buddha, ‘I have adopted the pure practices for the establishment of a glorious Buddha-land.’”[26]

Having heard the Dharmakara’s wonderful vows, Lokesvararaja was overjoyed and asked him to proclaim them to the entire assembly:

“The Buddha said to him, ‘You should proclaim this. Know that now is the right time. Encourage and delight the entire assembly. Hearing this, other bodhisattvas will practice this Dharma and so fulfill their innumerable great vows.’
The bhiksu replied, ‘I beg you to grant me your attention. Now I will fully proclaim my vows.’”[27]

So, the entire section 7 of the Larger Sutra contains the list of the 48 Vows of Dharmakara. I have already given to you an explanations of all the 48 vows in my book, The 48 Vows of Amida Buddha (click here), so for the moment, I wish to continue with the story told in the sutra.

Then, after listing the 48 Vows Shakyamuni described the various practices Dharmakara  engaged into for “inconceivable and innumerable kalpas” in order to become a Buddha and manifest his Pure Land:

“Then, Ananda, after proclaiming and establishing those universal vows in the presence of Buddha Lokesvararaja before the multitude of beings, including the eight kinds of superhuman beings, such as devas and dragon spirits, and also Mara and Brahma, Bhiksu Dharmakara was solely intent on producing a glorious and exquisite land. The Buddha-land that he sought to establish was vast in extent, unsurpassed, and supremely wonderful, always present and subject neither to decay nor change. During inconceivable and innumerable kalpas, he cultivated the immeasurable meritorious practices of the bodhisattva path.”[28]

            Then, Ananda asked Shakyamuni a direct and very important question for us:

“Ananda asked the Buddha, ‘Has Bodhisattva Dharmakara already attained Buddhahood and then passed into Nirvana? Or has he not yet attained Buddhahood? Or is he dwelling somewhere at present?’

The Buddha replied to Ananda, ‘Bodhisattva Dharmakara has already attained Buddhahood and is now dwelling in a Western Buddha- land called ‘Peace and Bliss,’ a hundred thousand kotis of lands away from here.’

Ananda further asked the Buddha, ‘How much time has passed since he attained Buddhahood?”
The Buddha replied, “Since he attained Buddhahood about ten kalpas[29] have passed.”[30]

In the Smaller Amida Sutra[31], Shakyamuni also said to Sariputra on the same topic:

“The Buddha then said to Elder Sāriputra: ‘If you travel westward from here, passing a hundred thousand kotis of Buddha-lands, you will come to the land called Utmost Bliss, where there is a Buddha named Amitayus. He is living there now, teaching the Dharma’”.[32]

As Shakyamuni confirms, Dharmakara already attained Buddhahood, and from then on in the Larger Sutra or the Smaller Sutra and Contemplation Sutra, he no longer calls him by this name, but “Amitayus”, which means Infinite Life or “Amitabha” - “Infinite Light”. These two aspects, “Infinite Life” (Amitayus) and “Infinite Light” (Amitabha) are merged into the word “Amida[33], which means the Buddha of Infinite Life and Infinite Light. His Infinite Life is the effect of the 13th Vow which he made when he was Dharmakara Bodhisattva, while the Infinite Light is the effect of the 12th Vow. So, we cannot separate Amitayus (Infinite Life) from Amitabha (Infinite Light) because these are the two aspects of the same Buddha. In the section 4 from the Smaller Amida Sutra, Shakyamuni explained this to Sariputra:

“For what reason, Sāriputra, do you think that Buddha is called Amitabha? Sāriputra, the Buddha’s light shines boundlessly and without hindrance over all the worlds of the ten directions. It is for this reason that he is called Amitabha. Again, Sariputra, the lives of the Buddha and the people of his land last for innumerable, unlimited, and incalculable kalpas. It is for this reason that the Buddha is called Amitayus.”[34]

Shakyamuni tells us another important aspect about Dharmakara who became Amida Buddha – he “is now dwelling in a Western Buddha-land called ‘Peace and Bliss,’” – which is to be found not here, but “a hundred thousand kotis[35] of lands away from here”.  
This is extremely important, as it shows that there is a clear distinction between this world with its unenlightened beings, and the Pure Land. Shakyamuni did not explained Amida and his Pure Land in ultimate terms, and did not say that they are to be found in one’s heart/mind or “here and now”, as some nowadays deluded scholars are trying to convince us. On the contrary, Dharmakara who became Amida Buddha is dwelling in his Pure Land, outside of this samsaric realm.

Next, the fact that Amida is now dwelling in his Pure Land, also shows that he is active now in bringing all beings to his realm. This now is everlasting and is referring both to the time when Shakyamuni delivered that discourse (sutra) and also to the time of Shan-tao, Honen, Shinran, Rennyo, we in the XXI century and the future generations that will come after us. Amida is a Buddha of the present in the sense that he has already attained Buddhahood and will act forever for the salvation of all beings. We must not forget that Amida is also the Buddha of “Infinite Life”, so for him, now is without end.

            But Shakyamuni did more than simply presenting the story of Dharmakara becoming Amida. In order to show that people must accept the existence of this great Buddha, and of his Enlightened realm, he actually revealed them to his audience. Here is what happened:

“The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘Rise to your feet, rearrange your robes, put your palms together, and respectfully revere and worship Amitayus.’ […] Ananda stood up, rearranged his robes, assumed the correct posture, faced westward, and, demonstrating his sincere reverence, joined his palms together, prostrated himself on the ground, and worshiped Amitayus. Then he said to Śhakyamuni Buddha, ‘World-honored One, I wish to see that Buddha, his Land of Peace and Bliss, and its hosts of bodhisattvas and sravakas.’

As soon as he had said this, Amitayus emitted a great light, which illuminated all the Buddha lands. The Encircling Adamantine Mountains, Mount Sumeru, together with large and small mountains and everything else shone with the same [golden] color. That light was like the flood at the end of the period of cosmic change that fills the whole world, when myriads of things are
submerged, and as far as the eye can see there is nothing but the vast expanse of water. Even so was the flood of light emanating from Amitayus. All the lights of sravakas and bodhisattvas were outshone and surpassed, and only the Buddha’s light remained shining bright and glorious. At that time Ananda saw the splendor and majesty of Amitayus resembling Mount Sumeru, which rises above the whole world. There was no place that was not illuminated by the light emanating from his body of glory [Sambhogakaya or Dharmakaya as compassionate means – Amida’s transcendent body]. The four groups of followers of the Buddha in the assembly saw all this at the same time. Likewise, those of the Pure Land saw everything in this world.

Then the Buddha said to Ananda and Bodhisattva Maitreya, “Have you seen that land filled with excellent and glorious manifestations, all spontaneously produced, from the ground to the Heaven of Pure Abode?” Ananda replied, “Yes, I have.”
The Buddha asked, “Have you also heard the great voice of Amitayus expound the Dharma to all the worlds, guiding sentient beings to the Way of the Buddha?”
Ananda replied, “Yes, I have."[36]

The passage is clear and can’t be misinterpreted. Ananda asked Shakyamuni to see Amida and his Pure Land - “I wish to see that Buddha, his Land of Peace and Bliss”, and then he actually saw him – “Ananda saw the splendor and majesty of Amitayus”. In fact, not only him, but all those gathered there on Vulture Peak to listen to the Larger Sutra, saw Amida and the Pure Land – “the four groups of followers of the Buddha in the assembly saw all this at the same time”. Both those in this world and those in the Pure Land, saw each other – “likewise, those of the Pure Land saw everything in this world”.

No sincere follower and reader of the above lines can possibly misinterpret what happened there. The revelation of Amida and his Land really took place, and the audience literally saw them before their very eyes. There is no hidden, metaphorical or symbolical meaning in this. I repeat, the audience literally saw them before their very eyes. Anybody who tells you that you should not actually take into consideration this vision of Amida and his Land, as it was described in the sutra, is a person who lacks faith and who is consciously or unconsciously deceiving you.

Not only that Shakyamuni showed Amida and the Pure Land to the audience, but he also asked them to confirm what they saw and heard:
Have you seen that land filled with excellent and glorious manifestations, all spontaneously produced?”

To this, Ananda replied, “Yes, I have”.

“Have you also heard the great voice of Amitayus?”

Ananda, also replied:

“Yes, I have”.

Why do you think Shakyamuni Buddha asked them to confirm what they just saw and heard? Why he insisted to hear Ananda say with his own mouth, “yes I have seen” and “yes, I have heard”? It is because he wanted all beings, including us, disciples of later generations, to accept Amida as a real Buddha, and his Land as a real enlightened place where we should wish to go after death. It was for our sake that he told the story of Amida Buddha and enabled the audience to see him and his Land:

I have expounded this teaching (sutra) for the sake of sentient beings and enabled you to see Amitayus (Amida) and all in his Land. Strive to do what you should. After I have passed into Nirvana, do not allow doubt to arise."[37] 

According to the Contemplation Sutra, Amida Buddha and his Pure Land were also showed to Queen Vaidehi, wife of King Bimbisara from Magadha[38]. Ananda and Mahamaudgalyayana, two of his main disciples, were themselves present as witnesses of this revelation. Here are the words of this sacred text:
“I [Vaidehi] beseech you, World-honored One, to reveal to me a land of no sorrow and no affliction where I can be reborn. I do not wish to live in this defiled and evil world of Jambudvipa where there are hells, realms of hungry ghosts, animals, and many vile beings. I wish that in the future I shall not hear evil words or see wicked people. World-honored One, I now kneel down to repent and beg you to take pity on me.’

Then the World-honored One sent forth from between his eyebrows a flood of light that was the color of gold and illuminated the innumerable worlds in the ten directions. Returning to the Buddha, the light settled on his head and transformed itself into a golden platform resembling Mount Sumeru. On the platform appeared the pure and resplendent lands of all the Buddhas in the ten directions. […] Innumerable Buddha lands like these, glorious and beautiful, were displayed to her.

Vaideiī then said to the Buddha, ‘O World-honored One, these Buddha-lands are pure and free of defilement, and all of them are resplendent. But I wish to be born in the Land of Utmost Bliss of Amitāyus’.”[39]

[…]“Vaidehi said to the Buddha, “World-honored One, through the Buddha’s power, even I have now been able to see that land’”.[40]

[…]  “The Buddha said to Ananda and Vaidehi, ‘Listen carefully, listen carefully and ponder deeply. I will expound for you the method of removing suffering. Bear my words in mind and explain them to the multitude of beings.’
When these words were spoken, Amitayus appeared in the air above, attended on his left and right by the two mahasattvas Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta. So brilliant was their radiance that it was impossible to see them in detail. They could not be compared even with a hundred thousand nuggets of gold from the Jambu River.
After she had this vision of Amitayus, Vaidehi knelt down in worship at Shakyamuni’s feet and said to him, “World-honored One, through your power I have been able to see Amitayus and the two Bodhisattvas”.[41]

After the Contemplation Sutra was delivered to Queen Vaidehi, Shakyamuni Buddha returned with his companions to the Vulture Peak. There, Ananda told the audience all that happened, including the vision with Amida Buddha and his Pure Land:

“Then the World-honored One returned to Vulture Peak through the air. There Ananda fully explained to the assembly what had happened. Innumerable humans, devas, nagas, yaksas, and all other beings greatly rejoiced to hear the Buddha’s teaching”.[42]

            As disciples who read and hear this teaching, long after Shakyamuni “passed into Nirvana”, we must be on guard against those false teachers and deluded scholars who are incapable to accept the story of Dharmakara becoming Amida as it was told by Shakyamuni, and the testimony of Ananda, Mahamaudgalyayana, queen Vaidehi and the entire audience from the Vulture Peak who literary saw Amida Buddha and his Pure Land. No matter what nice or sophisticated words such people might use, we must by no means, be confused by them. If Shakyamuni, in his all-knowing wisdom as a Buddha, would have thought there is a better way to explain to us the Dharma about Amida Buddha, then he would surely chose it, but he didn’t.

So great is the importance of Amida Dharma and the Larger Sutra, that Shakyamuni promised to keep it in the world even after all the other sutras would disappear:

In the future, the Buddhist scriptures and teachings will perish. But, out of pity and compassion, I will especially preserve this sutra and maintain it in the world for a hundred years more. Those beings who encounter it will attain deliverance in accord with their aspirations.[43]

His urge to listen and accept it in faith is overwhelming:

Even if a great fire were to fill the universe of a thousand million worlds, you should pass through it to hear this sutra, to arouse joyful faith, to uphold and chant it, and to practice in accordance with its teachings.[44]

How can one dare to say this sutra does not contain the true story of Amida Buddha, when Shakyamuni himself said that even if the universe is on fire, we should by all means, accept it in faith? When all the Masters of our lineage accepted it, how can we say otherwise? 

However, Shakyamuni foresaw the inner and outer difficulties of accepting this sutra:
most difficult of all difficulties is to hear this sutra, have faith in it with joy, and hold fast to it. Nothing is more difficult than this”[45]

It is extremely important to understand that Amida Dharma is, first of all, what Shakyamuni himself expounded and taught. This is why he said at the end of the Larger Sutra: “thus have I formed my Dharma, thus have I expounded my Dharma, thus have I taught my Dharma”. It means, “dear disciples, do not let yourself drawn into confusion! This is the Dharma you should accept - in the exact way I myself formed it and expounded it”. This is also evident from the next sentence: “you must receive it and practice it by the method prescribed”.
Attention, dear readers – Shakyamuni said we must receive it and practice it in the way it was taught. Not to change it like we are some kind of owners of the Dharma or enlightened beings ourselves. So please, do not approach the Amida Dharma with a possessive mind, but with the humbleness of receiving the most precious medicine.

Namo Amida Bu






[1] The Three Pure Land sutras are:
- Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life ( Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra in Skt./Bussetsu Muryōju Kyo in Jpn.); it is often called Larger Sutra. This sutra was translated into Chinese during the Ts’ao-Wei dynasty (252 C.E.), by Tripitaka Master Samghavarman (Kosogai in Jpn.).
- Sutra on Visualisation of the Buddha of Infinite Life (Amitayurdhyana Sutra in Skt./Bussetsu Kanmuryoju Kyo in Jpn.); it is often called Contemplation Sutra. This sutra was translated into Chinese during the Liu-Sung dynasty ( 424-442 C.E.) by the Tripitaka Master Kalayasas (Kyoryoyasha).
- Sutra on the Amitayus Buddha (Smaller Sukhavativyuha Sutra in Skt./Bussetsu Amida Kyo in Jpn.); it is often called Smaller Sutra. This sutra was translated into Chinese during the Yao-Ch’in dynasty (402 C.E.), by the Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva (Kumaraju in Jpn).
[2] See the chapter „The reason for Shakyamuni’s appearance in this world” from my book, Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Teachings, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 2011.
[3] „The benefit that is true and real” is the infinite merit and virtue of Amida embodied in his Name. To say his Name in faith, desiring to be born in his Land, is what the Primal Vow urges us to do. 
[4] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.7
[5] „One vehicle” („Ichijo” in Jpn or „Ekayana” in Skrt) is the complete and supreme Dharma of the Buddha which provides the method of attaining Buddhahood quickly.
[6] The Collected Works of Shinran, Shin Buddhism Translation Series, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto, 1997, p.10
[7] The Way of Nembutsu-Faith: A Commentary on the Shoshinge, by Hisao Inagaki, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1996, pp. 163-183. The same translation can be found at http://horai.eu/shoshinge-eng.htm
[8] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.70
[9] In the distant pastinnumerable, incalculable, and inconceivable kalpas agoa Tathagata named Dipankara appeared in the world. Having taught and freed innumerable beings and led them all along the Way of enlightenment, he passed into Nirvana. Next appeared a Tathagata named Far-reaching Illumination. After him came Moonlight, and then Sandalwood Incense, King of Beautiful Mountains, Crown of Mount Sumeru, Brilliant like Mount Sumeru, Color of the Moon, Right Recollection, Free of Defilement, Nonattachment, Dragon Deva, Noc turnal Light, Peaceful and Brilliant Peak, Immovable Ground, Exquisite Beryl Flower, Golden Beryl Luster, Gold Treasury, Flaming Light, Fiery Origin, Earth Shaking, Image of the Moon, Sound of the Sun, Flower of Freedom, Glorious Light, Miraculous Power of the Ocean of Enlightenment, Water Light, Great Fragrance, Free of Dust and Defilement, Abandoning Enmity, Flame of Jewels, Beautiful Peak, Heroic Stance, Merit-possessing Wisdom, Outshining the Sun and Moon, Beryl Light of the Sun and Moon, Supreme Beryl Light, Highest Peak, Flower of Enlightenment, Brightness of the Moon, Sunlight, King of the Colors of Flowers, Moonlight on the Water, Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance, Practice of Removing Hindrances, Pure Faith, Storehouse
of Good, Majestic Glory, Wisdom of the Dharma, Voice of the Phoenix, Roar of the Lion, Cry of the Dragon, and Dwelling in the World. All these Buddhas have already passed into Nirvana.”
(The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.9) 
[10] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.9-10.
[11] Idem., p.10.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Idem, p.11.
[14] Idem, p.12.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Idem., p.12-13.
[19] Idem., p.13.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] First time, at the begining of the story of Dharmakara, Shakyamuni mentions,“Having superior intelligence, courage, and wisdom, he distinguished himself in the world”. This is important to keep in mind, for when I explain  the doctrine of the Two Dharma Body of Amida Buddha (click here to read it).
[23] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.13.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Idem., p.14.
[27] Ibid.
[28] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.22.
[29] In the section 4 of the Smaller Amida Sutra, Shakyamuni also said to Sariputra: “ten kalpas have passed since Amitāyus attained Enlightenment”.
[30] Idem, p.23-24.
[31] The Smaller Amida Sutra was preached at a different time and location – the Jeta Grove of Anathapindada’s Garden in Sravasti.
[32] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.103.
[33] Chin / O-Mi-T’o-Fo; Jpn / Amida; Vn / A-Di-Đà. The word “Amitabha” is also used in English to represent both   “Amitabha” (“Infinite Light”) and “Amitayus” (“Infinite Life”). (T. Cleary).
[34] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.104-105.
[35] Koti is a term used in ancient India to express a high numerical value equivalent to one hundred thousand, ten milion, or one hundred milion.
[36] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.65-66.
[37] Idem., p.70
[38] According to the story of this sutra, the queen and her husband were imprisoned by their son Ajatasatru, at the advice of Devadatta. Out of despair, the queen faced towards the place where Shakyamuni was staying at that moment and prayed that he send two of his major disciples to comfort her. Shakyamuni did this immediately, and he himself came to her through the air. The teaching he gave to the queen has been known since then as the Sutra on Visualization of the Buddha of Infinite Life (in short, the Contemplation Sutra):

“Vaidehi, thus confined, grew emaciated with grief and despair. Facing Vulture Peak, she worshiped the Buddha from afar and said, “O Tathagata, World-honored One, you used to send Ananda to comfort me. Now I am in deep sorrow and distress. Since there is no way of my coming to look upon your august countenance, World-honored One, I pray you send Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana and Venerable Ananda here to see me.”
When she had said these words, tears of sorrow streamed down her cheeks like rain. Then she bowed toward the Buddha in the distance. Even before she raised her head, the World-honored One, who was then staying on Vulture Peak, knew Vaidehi’s thoughts and immediately ordered Mahamaudgalyayana and Ananda to go to her through the air; he himself disappeared from the mountain and reappeared in the inner chamber of the royal palace”.

Rennyo Shonin explained that at the time Vaidehi made her request, Shakyamuni Buddha was preaching the Lotus Sutra on Vulture Peak:

“Long ago, when Shakyamuni expounded the Lotus Sutra, the wondrous text of the One Vehicle, on Vulture Peak, Devadatta provoked Ajatasatru to acts of treachery; Shakyamuni then led Vaidehi to aspire to the Land of Serene Sustenance. Because Shakyamuni withdrew from the assembly gathered at Vulture Peak where he was expounding the Lotus Sutra, descended to the royal palace, and graciously set forth the Pure Land teaching for Vaidehi’s sake, Amida’s Primal Vow has flourished to this day. This is why we say that the teachings of the Lotus and the nembutsu were given at the same time”.
(Rennyo Shonin Ofumi: The Letters of Rennyo, IV-3, BDK English Tripitaka Series, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, p. 104)

[39] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.70-71
[40] Idem., p.79.
[41] Idem, p.83-84.
[42] Idem p.100.
[43] Idem, p.70.
[44] Idem, p-69-70
[45] Idem, p.70


1 comentarii:

Paul & Camille said...

Beautiful Josho, if we read it from the scriptures then there can be no doubt. Namu Amida Butsu. Gassho, Camille :)