Today, the 29th December 2012, 17th Day / 11th Lunar Month, the Chinese Mahayana Tradition commemorates Amitabha Buddha
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At that time the Buddha told the Elder Shariputra,
“Passing from here through hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhalands to the West, there is a world called Ultimate Bliss.
In this Land, a Buddha called Amitabha right now teaches the Dharma.
“Shariputra, what do you think? Why is this Buddha called Amitabha?
Shariputra, the brilliance of that Buddha’s light is measureless, illumining the lands of the ten directions everywhere without obstruction, for this reason He is called Amitabha. “Moreover, Shariputra, the life of that Buddha and that of His people extends for measureless, limitless asamkhyeya kalpas; for this reason He is called Amitayus. And Shariputra, since Amitabha realised Buddhahood ten kalpas have passed.
“Shariputra, if there is a good man or a good woman who hears spoken ‘Amitabha’ and holds the Name, whether for one day, two days, three, four, five days, six days, as long as seven days, with one heart unconfused, when this person approaches the end of life, before him will appear Amitabha and all the Assembly of Holy Ones.
When the end comes, his heart is without inversion; in Amitabha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss he will attain rebirth.
Shariputra, because I see this benefit, I speak these words: If living beings hear this spoken they should make the vow, ‘I will be born in that Land.’
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When I have become a Buddha,
My Land shall be most exquisite,
And its people wonderful and unexcelled;
The seat of Enlightenment shall be supreme.
My Land, being like Nirvana itself,
Shall be beyond comparison.
I take pity on living beings
And resolve to save them all.
If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to Me, desire to be born in My Land, and call My Name, even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain Perfect Enlightenment. Excluded, however, are those who commit the Five Gravest Offences and abuse the Right Dharma.
If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters, who awaken aspiration for Enlightenment, do various meritorious deeds and sincerely desire to be born in My Land, should not, at their death, see Me appear before them surrounded by a multitude of Sages, may I not attain Perfect Enlightenment.
If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters who, having heard My Name, concentrate their thoughts on My land, plant roots of virtue, and sincerely transfer their merits towards My Land with a desire to be born there, should not eventually fulfill their aspiration, may I not attain Perfect Enlightenment.
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 Buddhas, Tathagatas, in the ten quarters, as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges, together praise the inconceivable, supernal virtue of Amitayus.
All sentient beings who, having heard His Name, rejoice in faith, remember 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 Gravest Offenses and abused the Right Dharma."
The Buddha further said,
"I have expounded this teaching for the sake of sentient beings and enabled you to see Amitayus and all in His Land. Strive to do what you should.
After I have passed into Nirvana, do not allow doubt to arise. 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.
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Then the World-Honored One said to Vaidehi,
"Do you know that Amitayus is not far away? Fix your thoughts upon and contemplate that Buddha-Land, then you will accomplish the pure acts.
I shall describe it to you in detail with various illustrations, so that all ordinary people in the future who wish to practice the pure karma may also be born in that Western Land of Utmost Bliss.
Whoever wishes to be born there should practice three acts of merit:
first, caring for one's parents, attending to one's teachers and elders, compassionately refraining from killing, and doing the ten good deeds;
second, taking the three refuges, keeping the various precepts and refraining from breaking the rules of conduct; and
third, awakening aspiration for Enlightenment, believing deeply in the law of causality, chanting the Mahayana Sutras and encouraging people to follow their
teachings. These three are called the pure karma."
The Buddha further said to Vaidehi,
"Do you know that these three acts are the pure karma practiced by all the Buddhas of the past, present and future as the right cause of Enlightenment?"
The Buddha said to Ananda and Vaidehi,
"After you have seen this, next visualize the Buddha. Why the Buddha?
Because Buddhas, Tathagatas, have cosmic bodies, and so enter into the meditating mind of each sentient being.
For this reason, when you contemplate a Buddha, that mind itself takes the form of his thirty-two physical characteristics and eighty secondary marks.
Your mind produces the Buddha's image, and is itself the Buddha. The ocean of perfectly and universally enlightened Buddhas thus arises in the
For this reason, you should single-mindedly concentrate and deeply contemplate the Buddha, Tathagata, Arhat and Perfectly Enlightened One.
"Those who have envisioned them see all the Buddhas of the ten quarters. Because they see the Buddhas, this is called the Buddha-Recollection Samadhi.
To attain this contemplation is to perceive the bodies of all the Buddhas. By perceiving these, one also realizes the Buddha's mind.
The Buddhas' mind is Great Compassion. It embraces sentient beings with unconditional Benevolence.
Those who have practiced this contemplation will, after death, be born in the presence of the Buddhas and realize the insight into the non-arising of all dharmas.
For this reason, the wise should concentrate their thoughts and visualize Amitayus.
Then Ananda rose from his seat, stepped forward, and said to the Buddha,
"World-Honored One, what should we call this Sutra and how should we receive and retain the essentials of its teaching?"
The Buddha answered,
"Ananda, this Sutra is called the Visualization of the Land of Utmost Bliss, of the Buddha Amitayus, and of the Bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta.
It is also called the Purification and Elimination of Karmic Hindrances for Attaining Birth in the Presence of All the Buddhas.
Hold fast to this Sutra and do not forget it. Those who practice this samadhi will be able to see, during their lifetime, the Buddha Amitayus and the two Mahasattvas.
If good men or women simply hear the Name of this Buddha or the names of those two Bodhisattvas, the evil karma which they have committed during innumerable kalpas of Samsara will be extinguished. And so, how much more merit will they acquire if they concentrate on Them!
You should know that all who are mindful of that Buddha are like white lotus-flowers among humankind; the Bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta become their good friends. They will sit in the place of Enlightenment and be born into the family of the Buddhas."
The Buddha further said to Ananda,
"Bear these words well in mind. To bear these words in mind means to hold fast to the Name of the Buddha Amitayus."