Showing posts with label LARGER SUTRA ON AMIDA BUDDHA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LARGER SUTRA ON AMIDA BUDDHA. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Visit of Bodhisattvas from other worlds to Sukhavati and prediction for attaining Buddhahood for them and all beings – commentary on section 26 – 27 of the Larger Sutra (part 1)

 As we have already seen in section 22 (“all Buddha Tathagatas in the ten directions, as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, together praise the inconceivable, supernal virtue of Amitayus”[1]), Shakyamuni mentions again the praising of Amida and His virtues, in section 26:

“The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘The majestic virtue of Amitayus is boundless. All the innumerable, countless, and inconceivable Buddha Tathagatas in the worlds of the ten directions praise Him.’”[2]

Whenever we read about such praise by all Buddhas we should know it also means praising Amida’s method of salvation which, among the methods invented by all Buddhas, it is the easiest to bring ALL beings, no matter their spiritual evolution, to the attainment of Nirvana. By praising Amida and His merits, they automatically praise His Name as all His merits are manifested into His Name which is easy to pronounce by anybody. All such praising are related with the 17th Vow where Dharmakara promised that when He becomes Amida, all Buddhas will praise His Name.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Three grades of aspirants to birth in the Pure Land - commentary on sections 23 to 25 of the Larger Sutra


“The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘Devas and humans in the worlds of the ten directions who sincerely aspire to be born in that land can be classified into three grades. ‘“[1]

As we can clearly see, these grades are not related to beings who are now in the Pure Land, but who aspire to be born there. Practitioners still living in samsara are not equal when it comes to their spiritual achievements, but Amida’s salvation is offered freely to all, without discrimination, so both virtuous people, as well as those who lack any virtue, are assured of birth in the Pure Land if they entrust to Him.

It is not an obligatory condition that only the evilest and corrupt beings should entrust to Amida; even the wise and virtuous should do that. There are high-level Bodhisattvas in various universes who also have faith in Amida and aspire to be born there. Also long-living gods as well as other beings, humans and non-humans, who are more spiritually advanced, some of them acting as unenlightened Dharma protectors, entrust to Amida, too. Such beings, while still not enlightened, are part of the higher grade of aspirants:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Assurance of attaining Nirvana in the Pure Land through faith and the praising of Amida’s merits by all Buddhas - commentary on section 22 of the Larger Sutra




“The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘Sentient beings who are born in that Buddha land all reside among those assured of Nirvana. The reason is that in that land there are neither beings who are destined to adverse conditions nor those whose destinies are uncertain.

‘All Buddha Tathagatas in the ten directions, as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, together praise the inconceivable, supernal virtue of Amitayus. All sentient beings who, having heard His Name, rejoice in faith, think of Him even once, and sincerely transfer the merit of virtuous practices to that land, aspiring to be born there, will attain birth and dwell in the stage
of non-retrogression. But excluded are those who have committed the five grave offenses and abused the Right Dharma.’”

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants – commentary on sections 14-21 of the Larger Sutra (part 2)



As I mentioned earlier, the five senses of samsaric beings (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling) lead to delusion, attachment, dissatisfaction and suffering, but when the inhabitants of the Pure Land see, hear, touch, smell or taste things belonging to that realm, - because those are enlightened manifestations and their own minds and sense organs are also enlightened, - the states of mind they experience are themselves enlightened and pure.
ANY element in samsara can be both useful or an obstacle to our life and practice, but in the Pure Land EVERYTHING there is conducive to perfect Enlightenment and is a manifestation of perfect Enlightenment.   

We already talked about the effects of seeing the Bodhi Tree or hearing the Dharma sounds produced by the gentle breeze which wafts through its branches and leaves. However, Dharma sounds are not limited to the Bodhi Tree. They are also produced by the seven jeweled trees:

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants – commentary on sections 14-21 of the Larger Sutra (part 1)


Amida Buddha and His Pure Land

Why did Shakyamuni spend so much time and effort to describe the wonders of the Pure Land? Why did He offer so many detailed explanations of the jeweled trees and their fruits, the Bodhi tree, the bathing pounds, the monasteries, palaces, pavilions, the flowers with their exquisite aromas, the sounds, and so on? The reason is very simple. Because He wanted us to wish to go there! If you know about a nice resort, you would encourage your friends to visit it, wouldn’t you? It’s the same with the Pure Land! Shakyamuni wants us to go there and He makes a lot of publicity to it. Of course, no one ever makes publicity to something which does not exist, and especially Shakyamuni would never praise and describe in so much detail the Pure Land if that place was not real. Please bear this in mind as it is of extreme importance. By making the efforts to describe the Pure Land, Shakyamuni transmits us a double message:

1) the Pure Land exists; it is a real enlightened place, and
2) you should go there.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The first teaching assembly of Amida Buddha – commentary on section 13th of the Larger Sutra


In the center of this image Amida sits on a glorious
lotus-throne and His hands are in the mudra of
Dharmacakra-pravartana (mudra of turning the
Wheel of Dharma). Source of image:
http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/horai/large-ex.htm

“The Buddha said to Ananda,  ‘The number of Sravakas at the first teaching assembly of that Buddha was incalculable;

so was the number of Bodhisattvas. Even if an immeasurable and countless number of humans multiplied by millions of koṭis should all become like Mahamaudgalyayana and together reckon their number during innumerable nayutas of kalpas, or even until they attain Nirvana, they still could not know that number. Let us suppose that there is a great ocean, infinitely deep and wide, and that one takes a drop of water out of it with a one-hundredth part of a split hair. How would you compare that drop of water with the rest of the ocean?’

Ananda replied, ‘When the drop of water is compared with the great ocean, it is impossible even for one skilled in astronomy or mathematics to know the proportion, or for anyone to describe it by any rhetorical or metaphorical expression.’
           
The Buddha said to Ananda,  ‘Even if people like Mahamaudgalyayana were to count for millions of koṭis of kalpas, the number of the Sravakas and Bodhisattvas at the first teaching assembly who could be counted would be like a drop of water, and the number of sages yet to be counted would be like the rest of the ocean.’”

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Lifespan of Amida Buddha and of 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. […]

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Commentary on the Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life (Larger Sutra)


This is a work in progress and under constant revision. The most recent chapters are added at the end of the list. Please have patience as the progress will be very slow.

. Thus I have heard - the time and place of the deliverance of the Larger Sutra and the qualities of the audience - commentary on sections 1 and 2

Shakyamuni Buddha's supreme appearance and the reason for His coming to this world - commentary on section 3

The story of Dharmakara becoming Amida Buddha - commentary on sections 4 to 10

The twelve Lights of Amida Buddha - commentary on section 11   (part one)

To encounter or see Amida's Light - commentary on section 11 (part two)

The meaning of praising or glorifying Amida's Light - commentary on section 11 (part three) 

The lifespan of Amida Buddha and the enlightened beings in His Pure Land - commentary on section 12

The first teaching assembly of Amida Buddha - commentary on section 13th 

The Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants - commentary on sections 14-21 
(part 1)

The Nirvanic features of the Pure Land and its inhabitants - commentary on sections 14-21 
(part 2)

Assurance of attaining Nirvana in the Pure Land through faith and the praising of Amida's merits by all Buddhas - commentary on section 22 

The three grades of aspirants to birth in the Pure Land - commentary on sections 23 - 25


to be continued!


Saturday, January 26, 2019

The story of Dharmakara becoming Amida Buddha – commentary on the sections 4 to 10 of the Larger Sutra



Now let’s 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…”[1]. 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:

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Shakyamuni Buddha’s supreme appearance and the reason for His coming to this world – commentary on the section 3 of the Larger Sutra


Shakyamuni Buddha with
Amida Buddha
on His head 
fragment from my commentary on the Larger Sutra 
                      - this is a work in progress and under constant revision - 
                              
Something very important happens with Shakyamuni Buddha just before starting to teach this sutra, and we must understand its significance:

“At that time all the senses of the World-honored One radiated joy, His entire body appeared serene and glorious, and His august countenance looked most majestic.”[1]

Ananda noticed this and realized that there is a reason, a holy intention of Shakyamuni for manifesting such a wonderful appearance like never before:

Friday, November 2, 2018

"Thus have I heard" - The time and place of the deliverance of this sutra and the qualities of the audience – commentary on the section 1 and 2 of the Larger Sutra



Shakyamuni Buddha teaching
the Larger Sutra

“Thus have I heard” is the starting formula of any genuine teaching (sutra) of Shakyamuni Buddha. It represents the testimony of Ananda and other direct disciples of the Enlightened One, as well as their successors, that what they transmitted to us, the future generations, is the authentic teaching of Shakyamuni himself, and not something they invented. These words are always followed by the historical place where the sutra was delivered – in our case, the Vulture Peak in Rajagṛha, and the audience gathered there to listen to it:

“Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying on Vulture Peak in Rājagṛha with a large company of twelve thousand monks. They were all great sages who had already attained supernatural powers. Their names included the following: Venerable Ājnāta kauṇḍinya, Venerable Aśvajit, Venerable Vāṣpa, Venerable Mahānāma, Venerable Bhadrajit, Ven erable Vimala, Venerable Yaśodeva, Venerable Subāhu, Venerable Pūrṇaka, Venerable Gavāṃpati, Venerable Uruvilvākāśyapa, Venerable Gayākāśyapa, Venerable Nadīkāśyapa, Venerable Mahākāśyapa, Venerable Śāriputra, Venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Venerable Kapphiṇa, Venerable Mahākauṣṭhila, Venerable Mahākātyāyana, Venerable Mahācunda, Venerable Pūrṇa maitrāyaṇīputra, Venerable Aniruddha, Venerable Revata, Venerable Kimpila, Venerable Amogharāja, Venerable Pārāyaṇika, Venerable Vakkula, Venerable Nanda, Venerable Svāgata, Venerable Rāhula, and Venerable Ānanda. All of these were elders.

Friday, April 5, 2013

My book - The 48 Vows of Amida Buddha (free online edition)

*

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