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THE LARGER SUTRA OF IMMEASURABLE LIFE: Part 1

This Sutra expounds the Sacred Story of Amida and was delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha and translated into Chinese during the Ts'ao-Wei dynasty by the Tripitaka Master Samghavarman from India

Translated from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki

The text follows the Taisho Tripitaka
edition, vol. 12, and the passage numbers
follow Jodoshinshu Seiten, 1988, pp. 3-40.

Preface

[1] Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying on the Vulture
Peak in Rajagriha with a large company of twelve thousand monks. They
were all great sages who had already attained supernatural powers. Among
them were the following: the Venerable Ajnata-kaundinya, the Venerable
Ashvajit, the Venerable Vaspa, the Venerable Mahanama, the Venerable
Bhadrajit, the Venerable Vimala, the Venerable Yashodeva, the Venerable
Subahu, the Venerable Purnaka, the Venerable Gavampati, the Venerable
Uruvilva-kashyapa, the Venerable Gaya-kashyapa, the Venerable
Nadi-kashyapa, the Venerable Mahakashyapa, the Venerable Shariputra, the
Venerable Mahamaudgalyayana, the Venerable Kapphina, the Venerable
Mahakausthilya, the Venerable Mahakatyayana, the Venerable Mahacunda,
the Venerable Purna-maitrayaniputra, the Venerable Aniruddha, the
Venerable Revata, the Venerable Kimpila, the Venerable Amogha-raja, the
Venerable Parayanika, the Venerable Vakkula, the Venerable Nanda, the
Venerable Svagata, the Venerable Rahula and the Venerable Ananda. All of
these were Elders.
Mahayana bodhisattvas also accompanied the Buddha, including all those of
this Auspicious Kalpa, such as the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, the
Bodhisattva Manjushri and the Bodhisattva Maitreya. There were also the
sixteen lay bodhisattvas, such as Bhadrapala, as well as the Bodhisattva
Profound Thought, the Bodhisattva Wisdom of Faith, the Bodhisattva
Voidness, the Bodhisattva Bloom of Supernatural Power, the Bodhisattva
Hero of Light, the Bodhisattva Superior wisdom, the Bodhisattva Banner of
Wisdom, the Bodhisattva Tranquil Ability, the Bodhisattva Wisdom of Vows,
the Bodhisattva Sweet-smelling Elephant, the Bodhisattva Hero of Treasures,
the Bodhisattva Dwelling-in-the-Center, the Bodhisattva Practice of Restraint
and the Bodhisattva Emancipation.

Virtues of the bodhisattva audience


[2] Each of these bodhisattvas, following the virtues of the Mahasattva
Samantabhadra, is endowed with the immeasurable practices and vows of the
Bodhisattva Path, and firmly dwells in all the meritorious deeds. He freely
travels in all the ten quarters and employs skillful means of emancipation. He
enters the treasury of the Dharma of the Buddhas, and reaches the Other
Shore. Throughout the innumerable worlds he attains Enlightenment.
First, dwelling in the Tusita Heaven, he proclaims the true Dharma. Having
left the heavenly palace, he descends into his mother's womb. Soon after he
is born from her right side, he takes seven steps. As he does so, an effulgence
illuminates everywhere in the ten quarters and innumerable Buddha-lands
shake in six ways. Then he utters these words, "I will become the most
honored one in the world." [266a] Shakra and Brahma reverently attend
him, and heavenly beings adore and worship him. He shows his ability in
calculation, writing, archery and horsemanship. He is also conversant with
the divine arts and well-read in many volumes. In the field outside the palace
he trains himself in the martial arts, and at court shows that he also enjoys
the pleasures of the senses.
When he first encounters old age, sickness and death, he realizes the
impermanence of the world. He renounces his kingdom, wealth and throne,
and goes into the mountains to practice the Way. After sending back the
white horse that he has been riding, together with the jewelled crown and
ornaments which he has been wearing, he takes off his magnificent clothes
and puts on a Dharma robe. He cuts his hair and shaves his beard, sits
upright under a tree and strives at ascetic practices for six years in accord
with the traditional way. Since he has appeared in the world of the five
defilements, he behaves as the multitude. And as his body appears dirty, he
takes a bath in the Golden River. As a god bends a branch down towards
him, he is able to climb up the river bank. A divine bird follows him closely
to the seat of Enlightenment. A deva takes the form of a youth and,
perceiving a favorable sign, respectfully presents him with the auspicious
grass. The Bodhisattva compassionately accepts it, spreads it under the
Bodhi-tree and sits upon it with his legs crossed. He emits a great flood of
light to inform Mara of this. Mara and his army come to attack and tempt
him, but he brings them under control with the power of wisdom and makes
them all surrender. Then he attains the supreme Dharma and realizes the
highest, perfect Enlightenment.
As Shakra and Brahma request him to turn the Wheel of the Dharma, the
Buddha visits various places and preaches the Dharma in his thunderous
voice. He beats the Dharma-drum, blows the Dharma-conch, brandishes the
Dharma-sword, hoists the Dharma-banner, rolls the Dharma-thunder, hurls
the Dharma-lightning, brings the Dharma-rain, and bestows the Dharma-gift.
At all times, he awakens the world with the sound of the Dharma. His light
illuminates countless Buddha-lands, causing the entire world to quake in six
ways. It encompasses Mara's realm, shaking his palace, so that he and his
host become frightened and surrender. The bodhisattva tears asunder the net
of evil, destroys wrong views, removes afflictions, flushes the gutters of
desire, protects the Dharma-castle, opens the Dharma-gate, washes off the
grime of the passions, and reveals the pure white Dharma. He unifies
everything in the Buddha Dharma, and thus proclaims the right teaching.
He enters the town to beg alms; he accepts even rich food to enable the
donors to accumulate merit and also to show that he is a field of virtue.
Wishing to expound the Dharma, he smiles and so cures the three pains with
various Dharma-medicines. He teaches that the aspiration for Enlightenment
has immeasurable merit and, by giving predictions to bodhisattvas, he
enables them to attain Buddhahood.
He demonstrates that he passes into Nirvana, but endlessly brings sentient
beings to emancipation. In removing their defilements, planting various roots
of virtue and attaining excellent merit, he displays wonderful and
inconceivable works.
Furthermore, each of the bodhisattvas in the assembly is able to visit various
Buddha-lands and expound teachings of the Way. His manner of practice is
pure and undefiled. Just as a magician with his perfect skill can create at will
various illusions, including images of man or woman, at will, so the
bodhisattva, having thoroughly learned all the methods of emancipation and
attained serene awareness of reality, can freely teach and transform beings.
He manifests himself everywhere in innumerable Buddha-lands, performing
acts of compassion for sentient beings tirelessly and with diligence. [266b] He
has thus obtained complete mastery of such methods of emancipation.
He is thoroughly conversant with the essentials of the sutras for bodhisattvas
and, as his fame spreads everywhere, he guides sentient beings throughout
the ten quarters. All Buddhas remember him and give him their protection.
He has already dwelt in all the Buddha's abodes and performed all the deeds
of the Great Sage. He proclaims the Tathagata's teachings, acts as a great
master for other bodhisattvas and, with profound samadhi and wisdom,
guides multitudes of beings. With penetrating insight into the essential nature
of dharmas, he discerns different aspects of living beings and closely watches
over all the worlds. In making offerings to the Buddhas, he manifests
transformed bodies like flashes of lightning. Having well learned the
extensive wisdom of fearless and having realized the illusory nature of
dharmas, he destroys Mara's nets and unties all the bonds of passion. He
rises above the stages of shravakas and pratyekabuddhas and attains the
samadhis of emptiness, non-form, and non-desire. He skillfully provides
expedient means and thus reveals three distinct teachings. Then for those of
the middle and lower stages, he demonstrates his passing into Nirvana. But,
in reality, he is non-active and non-acquisitive, and, being aware that
dharmas in themselves neither arise nor perish, he realizes that they are of
absolute equality. He has attained innumerable dharanis, a hundred
thousand samadhis and various kinds of spiritual faculties and wisdom.
With the Meditation of Vast and Universal Tranquillity, he enters deeply into
the Dharma-treasury for bodhisattvas. After attaining the Buddha-garland
Samadhi, he proclaims and expounds all the sutras. While dwelling deep in
meditation, he visualizes all the innumerable Buddhas and in an instant visits
every one of them.
By elucidating and teaching the ultimate truth to sentient beings, he delivers
them from the state of extreme pains, from the conditions in which suffering
is so great as to prevent people from finding time for Buddhist practices, and
also from the conditions in which suffering is not so great as to prevent them
from doing so. Having attained the Tathagata's thorough knowledge and
eloquence, he has fluent command of languages, with which he enlightens all
beings. He is above all worldly affairs and his mind, always serene, dwells on
the path of emancipation; this gives him complete control over all dharmas.
Without being asked to do so, he becomes a good friend to each of the
multitude of beings and carries their heavy karmic burdens on his back. He
upholds the Tathagata's profound Dharma-treasury and protects the seeds of
Buddhahood, so that they may continue to multiply. Having awakened great
compassion for sentient beings, he kindly expounds the teaching, and endows
them with the Dharma-eye. He blocks the paths to the three evil realms,
opens the gate of virtue and, without waiting for their request, provides
beings with the Dharma. He does this for the multitude of beings just as a
dutiful son loves and respects his parents. He indeed looks upon sentient
beings as his own self.
With such roots of virtue, all the bodhisattvas in the assembly had reached
the shore of emancipation. They had acquired the Buddha's immeasurable
merit and attained the sacred, pure and inconceivable wisdom. Innumerable
bodhisattvas, mahasattvas, such as these assembled there all at once.

Glorious features of the Buddha

[3] At that time all the senses of the World-Honored One radiated joy, [266c]
his entire body appeared serene and glorious, and his august countenance
looked most majestic. Having perceived the Buddha's holy intention, the
Venerable Ananda rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, prostrated
himself, and joining his palms in reverence, said to the Buddha,
"World-Honored One, today all your senses are radiant with joy, your body
is serene and glorious, and your august countenance is as majestic as a clear
mirror whose brightness radiates outward and inward. The magnificence of
your dignified appearance is unsurpassed and beyond measure. I have never
seen you look so superb and majestic as today. With respect, Great Sage, this
thought has occurred to me: 'Today, the World-Honored One dwells in the
rare and marvelous Dharma; today, the World-Hero dwells in the Buddha's
abode; today, the World-Eye concentrates on the performance of the leader's
duty; today, the World-Valiant One dwells in the supreme Bodhi; today, the
One Most Honored in Heaven realizes the Tathagata's virtue. The Buddhas
of the past, present and future contemplate each other. How can this present
Buddha not contemplate all other Buddhas?' For what reason does his
countenance look so majestic and brilliant?"
Then the World-Honored One said to Ananda, "Tell me, Ananda, whether
some god urged you to put this question to the Buddha or whether you asked
about his glorious countenance from your own wise observation."
Ananda replied to the Buddha, "No god came to prompt me. I asked you
about this matter of my own accord."
The Buddha said, "Well said, Ananda. I am very pleased with your question.
You have shown profound wisdom and subtle insight in asking me this wise
question out of compassion for sentient beings. As the Tathagata, I regard
beings of the three worlds with boundless great compassion. The reason for
my appearance in the world is to reveal teachings of the Way and save
multitudes of beings by endowing them with true benefits. Even in countless
millions of kalpas it is difficult to come upon and meet a Tathagata. It is as
difficult as seeing an udumbara flower, which blooms very rarely. Your
question is of great benefit and will enlighten all heavenly and human beings.
Ananda, you should realize that the Tathagata's perfectly enlightened
wisdom is unfathomable, capable of leading innumerable beings to
emancipation, and that his penetrating insight cannot be obstructed. With
just one meal, he is able to live for a hundred thousand kotis of kalpas, or an
incalculable and immeasurable length of time, or beyond. Even after that
lapse of time, his senses will still be radiant with joy and show no signs of
deterioration; his appearance will not change, and his august countenance
will look just the same. The reason for this is that the Tathagata's meditation
and wisdom are perfect and boundless and that he has attained unrestricted
power over all dharmas. Ananda, listen carefully. I shall now expound the
Dharma."
Ananda replied, "Yes, I will. With joy in my heart, I wish to hear the
Dharma."

53 past Buddhas

[4] The Buddha said to Ananda, "In the distant past -- innumerable,
incalculable and inconceivable kalpas ago -- a Tathagata named Dipankara
appeared in the world. Having taught and freed innumerable beings and led
them all along the path of Enlightenment, he passed into Nirvana. Next
appeared a Tathagata named Far-reaching Light. 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, Non-attachment, Dragon-deva, Nocturnal
Light, Peaceful and Brilliant Peak, Immovable Ground, [267a] 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 the Moon, Beryl Light of the Sun and the
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, Storage of Good, Majestic Glory, Wisdom of the
Dharma, Call of the Phoenix, Roar of the Lion, Voice of the Dragon and
Dwelling-in-the-world. All these Buddhas have already passed into Nirvana.

Lokeshvararaja Buddha and Dharmakara


[5] "Then appeared a Buddha named Lokeshvararaja, the Tathagata, Arhat,
Perfectly Enlightened One, Possessed of Wisdom and Practice, Perfected
One, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Master of
Gods and Men, Buddha and World-Honored One.
"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 the highest,
perfect Enlightenment. He renounced his kingdom and the throne, and
became a monk named Dharmakara. Having superior intelligence, courage
and wisdom, he distinguished himself in the world. He went to see the
Tathagata Lokeshvararaja, knelt down at his feet, walked round him three
times keeping him always on his right, prostrated himself on the ground, and
putting his palms together in worship, praised the Buddha with these verses:

Sanbutsuge - Verses Praising the Buddha

1. The shining face of the Buddha is glorious;
Boundless is his magnificence.
Radiant splendor such as his
Is beyond all comparison.
The sun, the moon and the mani-jewel,
Though shining with dazzling brightness,
Are completely dimmed and obscured
As if they were a pile of ink-sticks

.2. The countenance of the Tathagata
Is beyond compare in the whole world.
The great voice of the Enlightened One
Resounds throughout the ten regions.
His morality, learning, endeavor,
Absorption in meditation, wisdom
And magnificent virtues have no equal;
They are wonderful and unsurpassed.

3. He meditates deeply and directly
On the oceanic Dharma of all the Buddhas.
He knows its depth and breadth
And penetrates to its farthest end.
Ignorance, greed and anger
Are forever absent in the World-Honored One.
He is the lion, the most valiant of all men;
His glorious virtue is unlimited.

4. His meritorious achievements are vast;
His wisdom is deep and sublime.
His light, with awe-inspiring glory, [267b]
Shakes the universe of a thousand million worlds.
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 emancipation.

5. My discipline in giving, mind-control,
Moral virtues, forbearance and effort,
And also in meditation and wisdom,
Shall be supreme and unsurpassed.
I vow that, when I have become a Buddha,
I shall carry out this promise everywhere;
And to all fear-ridden beings
Shall I give great peace.

6. Even though there are Buddhas,
A thousand million kotis in number,
And multiudes of great sages
Countless as the sands of the Ganges,
I shall make offerings
To all those Buddhas.
I shall seek the supreme Way
Resolutely and tirelessly.

7. Even though the Buddha-lands are as innumerable
As the sands of the Ganges,
And other regions and worlds
Are also without number,
My light shall shine everywhere,
Pervading all those lands.
Such being the result of my efforts,
My glorious power shall be immeasurable.

8. 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.

9. Those who come from the ten quarters
Shall find joy and serenity of heart;
When they reach my land,
They shall dwell in peace and happiness.
I beg you, the Buddha, to become my witness
And to vouch for the truth of my aspiration.
Having now made my vows to you,
I will strive to fulfilll them.

10. The World-Honored Ones in the ten quarters
Have unimpeded wisdom;
I call upon those Honored Ones
To bear witness to my intention.
Even though I must remain
In a state of extreme pain,
I will diligently practice,
Enduring all hardships with tireless vigor."

Dharmakara's resolution to become a Buddha

[6] The Buddha said to Ananda, "Having spoken these verses, the Bhiksu
Dharmakara said to the Buddha Lokeshvararaja, 'Respectfully,
World-Honored One, I announce that I have awakened aspiration for the
highest, perfect Enlightenment. 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 infinite excellent qualities. So please teach me
how to attain Enlightenment quickly and to remove the roots of afflictions of
birth-and-death for all.'"
The Buddha said to Ananda, "At that time the Buddha Lokeshvararaja
replied to the Bhiksu Dharmakara, 'You yourself should know by what
practice you can establish a glorious Buddha-land.' The Bhiksu said to the
Buddha, 'That is far too vast and deep for my comprehension. I sincerely
beseech you, World-Honored One, to explain in detail the practices by which
Buddhas, Tathagatas, established their pure lands. After I hear that, I wish to
practice as instructed and so fulfill my aspirations.'
"At that time the Buddha Lokeshvararaja recognized the Bhiksu
Dharmakara's noble and high aspirations, and taught him as follows: 'If, for
example, one keeps on bailing water out of a great ocean with a
pint-measure, one will be able to reach the bottom after many kalpas [267c]
and then obtain rare treasures. Likewise, if one sincerely, diligently and
unceasingly seeks the Way, one will be able to reach one's destination. What
vow is there which cannot be fulfilled?'
"Then the Buddha Lokeshvararaja 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. Then the Bhiksu,
having heard the Buddha's exposition of the glorious pure land and also
having seen all of them, resolved upon his supreme, unsurpassed vows. His
mind being serene and his aspirations free of attachment, he was unexcelled
throughout the world. For five full kalpas he contemplated the vows, and
then chose the pure practices for the establishment of his Buddha-land."
Ananda asked the Buddha, "How long was the life-span of beings in the land
of the Buddha Lokeshvararaja?"
The Buddha replied, "The length of life of that Buddha was forty-two
kalpas."
He continued, "After that Dharmakara Bodhisattva adopted the pure
practices which had led to the establishment of the excellent lands of two
hundred and ten kotis of Buddhas. When he had finished this task, he went
to the Buddha, knelt down at his feet, walked round 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.'
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.'

Forty-eight Vows

[7] (1) If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be in my land a hell, a
realm of hungry spirits or a realm of animals, may I not attain perfect
Enlightenment.
(2) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should after
death fall again into the three evil realms, may I not attain perfect
Enlightenment.
(3) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
all be the color of pure gold, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(4) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
all be of one appearance, and should there be any difference in beauty, may I
not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(5) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
remember all their previous lives, not knowing even the events which
occurred during the previous hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas,
may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(6) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
possess the divine eye of seeing even a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of
Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(7) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
possess the divine ear of hearing [268a] the teachings of at least a hundred
thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddhas and should not remember all of them,
may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(8) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
possess the faculty of knowing the thoughts of others, at least those of all
sentient beings living in a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of
Buddha-lands, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(9) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
possess the supernatural power of travelling anywhere in one instant, even
beyond a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands, may I not
attain perfect Enlightenment.
(10) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should give
rise to thoughts of self-attachment, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(11) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
dwell in the Definitely Assured State and unfailingly reach Nirvana, may I
not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(12) If, when I attain Buddhahood, my light should be limited, unable to
illuminate at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands,
may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(13) If, when I attain Buddhahood, my life-span should be limited, even to
the extent of a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain
perfect Enlightenment.
(14) If, when I attain Buddhahood, the number of the shravakas in my land
could be known, even if all the beings and pratyekabuddhas living in this
universe of a thousand million worlds should count them during a hundred
thousand kalpas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(15) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should
have limited life-spans, except when they wish to shorten them in accordance
with their ogirinal vows, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(16) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should
even hear of any wrongdoing, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(17) If, when I attain Buddhahood, innumerable Buddhas in the land of the
ten quarters should not all praise and glorify my Name, may I not attain
perfect Enlightenment.
(18) 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.
(19) If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten
quarters, who awaken aspiration for Enlightenment, do various meritorious
deeds [268b] 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.
(20) 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, pland 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.
(21) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
all be endowed with the thirty-two physical characteristics of a Great Man,
may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(22) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the Buddha-lands of
other quarters who visit my land should not ultimately and unfailingly reach
the Stage of Becoming a Buddha after One More Life, may I not attain
perfect Enlightenment. Excepted are those who wish to teach and guide
sentient beings in accordance with their original vows. For they wear the
armour of great vows, accumulate merits, deliver all beings from
birth-and-death, visit Buddha-lands to perform the bodhisattva practices,
make offerings to Buddhas, Tathagatas, throughout the ten quarters,
enlighten uncountable sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River
Ganges, and establish them in the highest, perfect Enlightenment. Such
bodhisattvas transcend the course of practice of the ordinary bodhisattvas,
manifest the practices of all the bodhisattva stages, and cultivate the virtues
of Samantabhadra.
(23) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land, in order to
make offerings to Buddhas through my transcendent power, should not be
able to reach immeasurable and innumerable kotis of nayutas of
Buddha-lands in as short a time as it takes to eat a meal, may I not attain
perfect Enlightenment.
(24) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be
able, as they wish, to perform meritorious acts of worshipping the Buddhas
with the offerings of their choice, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(25) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be
able to expound the Dharma with the all-knowing wisdom, may I not attain
perfect Enlightenment.
(26) If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be any bodhisattva in my
land not endowed with the body of the Vajra-god Narayana, may I not attain
perfect Enlightenment.
(27) If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings should be able, even with
the divine eye, to distinguish by name alculate by number all the myriads of
manifestations provided for the humans and devas in my land, which are
glorious and resplendent and have exquisite details beyond description, may
I not attain perfect Enlightenmet.
(28) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land, even those with
little store of merit, should not be able to [268c] see the Bodhi-tree which has
countless colors and is four million li in height, may I not attain perfect
Enlightenment.
(29) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not
acquire eloquence and wisdom in upholding sutras and reciting and
expounding them, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(30) If, when I attain Buddhahood, the wisdom and eloquence of
bodhisattvas in my land should be limited, may I not attain perfect
Enlightenment.
(31) If, when I attain Buddhahood, my land should not be resplendent,
revealing in its light all the immeasurable, innumerable and inconceivable
Buddha-lands, like images reflected in a clear mirror, may I not attain
perfect Enlightenment.
(32) If, when I attain Buddhahood, all the myriads of manifestations in my
land, from the ground to the sky, such as palaces, pavilions, ponds, streams
and trees, should not be composed of both countless treasures, which surpass
in supreme excellence anything in the worlds of humans and devas, and of a
hundred thousand kinds of aromatic wood, whose fragrance pervades all the
worlds of the ten quarters, causing all bodhisattvas who sense it to perform
Buddhist practices, then may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(33) If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the immeasurable and
inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, who have been touched by
my light, should not feel peace and happiness in their bodies and minds
surpassing those of humans and devas, may I not attain perfect
Enlightenment.
(34) If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the immeasurable and
inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, who have heard my Name,
should not gain the bodhisattva's insight into the non-arising of all dharmas
and should not acquire various profound dharanis, may I not attain perfect
Enlightenment.
(35) If, when I attain Buddhahood, women in the immeasurable and
inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who, having heard my Name,
rejoice in faith, awaken aspiration for Enlightenment and wish to renounce
womanhood, should after death be reborn again as women, may I not attain
perfect Enlightenment.
(36) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the immeasurable and
inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, who have heard my Name,
should not, after the end of their lives, always perform sacred practices until
they reach Buddhahood, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(37) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in the immeasurable
and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, who having heard my
Name, prostrate themselves on the ground to revere and worship me, rejoice
[269a] in faith, and perform bodhisattva practices, should not be respected
by all devas and people of the world, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(38) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
obtain clothing, as soon as such a desire arises in their minds, and if the fine
robes as prescribed and praised by the Buddhas should not be spontaneously
provided for them to wear, and if these clothes should need sewing,
bleaching, dyeing or washing, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(39) If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not
enjoy happiness and pleasure comparable to that of a monk who has
exhausted all the passions, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(40) If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land who wish to
see the immeasurable glorious Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, should not
be able to view all of them reflected in the jewelled trees, just as one sees
one's face reflected in a clear mirror, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(41) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other
quarters who hear my Name should, at any time before becoming Buddhas,
have impaired, inferior or incomplete sense organs, may I not attain perfect
Enlightenment.
(42) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other
quarters who hear my Name should not all attain the samadhi called 'pure
emancipation' and, while dwelling therein, without losing concentration,
should not be able to make offerings in one instant to immeasurable and
inconceivable Buddhas, World-Honored Ones, may I not attain perfect
Enlightenment.
(43) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other
quarters who hear my Name should not be reborn into noble families after
their death, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(44) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other
quarters who hear my Name should not rejoice so greatly as to dance and
perform the bodhisattva practices and should not acquire stores of merit,
may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(45) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other
quarters who hear my Name should not all attain the samadhi called
'universal equality' and, while dwelling therein, should not always be able to
see all the immeasurable and inconceivable Tathagatas until those
bodhisattvas, too, become Buddhas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(46) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be
able to hear spontaneously whatever teachings they may wish, [269b] may I
not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(47) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other
quarters who hear my Name should not instantly reach the Stage of
Non-retrogression, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(48) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the lands of the other
quarters who hear my Name should not instantly gain the first, second and
third insights into the nature of dharmas and firmly abide in the truths
realized by all the Buddhas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment."

Juseige - Verses Confirming the Vows


[8] The Buddha said to Ananda, "The Bhiksu Dharmakara, having thus
proclaimed those vows, spoke the following verses:

1. I have made vows, unrivaled in all the world;
I will certainly reach the unsurpassed Way.
If these vows should not be fulfilled,
May I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

2. If I should not become a great benefactor
In lives to come for immeasurable kalpas
To save the poor and the afflicted everywhere,
May I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

3. When I attain Buddhahood,
My Name shall be heard throughout the ten quarters;
Should there be any place where it is not heard,
May I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

4. Free of greed and with deep, perfect mindfulness
And pure wisdom, I will perform the sacred practices;
I will seek to attain the unsurpassed Way
And become the teacher of devas and humans.

5. With my divine power I will display great light,
Illuminating the worlds without limit,
And dispel the darkness of the three defilements;
Thus I will deliver all beings from misery.

6. Having obtained the eye of wisdom,
I will remove the darkness of ignorance;
I will block all the evil paths
And open the gate to the good realms.

7. When merits and virtues are perfected,
My majestic light shall radiate in the ten quarters,
Outshining the sun and the moon
And surpassing the brilliance of the heavens.

8. I will open the Dharma-store for the multitudes
And endow them all with treasures of merit.
Being always among the multitudes,
I will proclaim the Dharma with the lion's roar.

9. I will make offerings to all the Buddhas,
Thereby acquiring roots of virtue.
When my vows are fulfilled and my wisdom perfected,
I shall be the sovereign of the three worlds.

10. Like your unhindered wisdom, O Buddha,
Mine shall reach everywhere, illuminating all;
May my supreme wisdom
Be like yours, Most Excellent Honored One.

11. If these vows are to be fulfilled,
Let this universe of a thousand million worlds shake in response [269c]
And let all the devas in heaven
Rain down rare and marvelous flowers."

Dharmakara's practices of the Bodhisattva Path

[9] The Buddha said to Ananda, "As soon as the Bhiksu Dharmakara spoke
those verses, the entire earth shook in six ways, and a rain of wonderful
flowers fell from heaven, scattering everywhere. Spontaneous music was
heard, and a voice in the sky said, 'Surely you will attain the highest, perfect
Enlightenment.
"Then the Bhiksu Dharmakara kept all those great vows which were sincere,
unfailing and unsurpassed in the whole world, and intensely aspired to attain
Nirvana.
"Then, Ananda, after proclaiming and establishing those universal vows in
the presence of the Buddha Lokeshvararaja before the multitude of beings,
including the eight kinds of superhuman beings, such as devas and
dragon-spirits, and also Mara and Brahma, the Bhiksu Dharmakara was
solely intent on producing a glorious and exquisite land. The Buddha-land
which 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.
"He did not harbor any thought of greed, hatred or cruelty; nor did he allow
any ideas of greed, hatred or cruelty to arise. He was unattached to any form,
sound, smell, taste, touch or idea. Possessed of the power to persevere, he did
not avoid undergoing various afflictions. Having little desire for his own
sake, he knew contentment. Without any impure thought, enmity or
stupidity, he dwelt continually in tranquil samadhi. His wisdom was
unobstructed, and his mind free of falsehood and deceitfulness. With an
expression of tenderness in his face and with kindness in his speech, he spoke
to others in consonance with their inner thoughts. Courageous and diligent,
strong-willed and untiring, he devoted himself solely to the pursuit of the
pure Dharma, thereby benefiting a multitude of beings. He revered the Three
Treasures, respected his teachers and elders, and thus adorned his practices
with a great store of merits. By so doing, he enabled sentient beings to
partake of it.
"He dwelt in the realization that all dharmas are empty, devoid of distinctive
features, and not to be sought after, and that they neither act nor arise; he
thus realized that all dharmas are like magical creations. He avoided all
wrong speech that would bring harm upon himself or others or both; he
engaged in right speech that would bring benefit to himself or others or both.
He abandoned his kingdom and renounced the throne, leaving behind wealth
and sensuous pleasures. Practicing the Six Paramitas himself, he taught
others to do the same. During innumerable kalpas, he accumulated merits
and amassed virtues.
"Wherever he was born, an immeasurable stock of treasure spontaneously
appeared as he wished. He taught countless sentient beings and guided them
on the path of the highest, true Enlightenment. He was reborn as a rich man,
a lay devotee, a member of the highest caste or of a noble family, a ksatriya
king, a wheel-turning monarch, a king of one of the six heavens in the world
of desire, or even higher, as a Brahma-king. He revered and worshipped all
Buddhas by making the four kinds of offering to them. The merit he thus
acquired was indescribably great. Fragrance issued from his mouth as from a
blue lotus-flower, and every pore of his body emitted the scent of
sandalwood, which permeated innumerable worlds. His appearance was
majestic, and his physical characteristics and marks were truly wonderful.
From his hands, inexhaustible treasures, clothes, food and drink, rare and
exquisite [270a] flowers and incense, silken canopies, banners, and other
ornaments were produced. In such manifestations he was unrivaled among
all heavenly and human beings. He thus attained the command of all
dharmas."

Dharmakara's attainment of Buddhahood

[10] Ananda asked the Buddha, "Has the 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, "The 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 have
passed."
He continued, "In that Buddha-land, the earth is composed of seven jewels --
namely, gold, silver, beryl, coral, amber, agate and ruby -- which have
spontaneously appeared. The land itself is so vast, spreading boundlessly to
the farthest extent, that it is impossible to know its limit. All the rays of light
from those jewels intermingle and create manifold reflections, producing a
dazzling illumination. Those pure, superb and exquisite adornments are
unsurpassed in all the worlds of the ten quarters. They are the finest of all
gems, and are like those of the Sixth Heaven. In that land, there are no
mountains, such as Mount Sumeru and the Encircling Adamantine
Mountains. Likewise, there are neither oceans nor seas, valleys nor gorges.
But one can see those manifestations by the Buddha's power if one so wishes.
In that land there is no hell; neither are there realms of hungry spirits and
animals nor other adverse conditions. Neither do the four seasons of spring,
summer, autumn and winter exist. It is always moderate and pleasant, never
cold or hot."
Then, Ananda asked the Buddha, "If, World-Honored One, there is no
Mount Sumeru in that land, what sustains the Heaven of the Four Kings and
the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods?"
The Buddha said to Ananda, "What sustains Yama, which is the Third
Heaven of the world of desire, and other heavens up to the Highest Heaven
of the world of form?"
Ananda answered, "The consequences of karma are inconceivable."
The Buddha said to Ananda, "Inconceivable indeed are the consequences of
karma, and so are the worlds of the Buddhas. By the power of meritorious
deeds, sentient beings in that land dwell on the ground of karmic reward.
That is why those heavens exist without Mount Sumeru."
Ananda continued, "I do not doubt this myself but have asked you about it
simply because I wished to remove such doubts for the benefit of sentient
beings in the future."

Amida's light

[11] The Buddha said to Ananda, "The majestic light of the Buddha
Amitayus 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-land, as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges. In the
same way, it illuminates the Buddha-lands in the south, west and north, in
each of the four intermediate quarters, above and below. Further, the light of
some Buddhas extends seven feet; that of others, one yojana, or two, three,
four or five yojanas; and the distance covered increases in this way until the
light of some Buddhas illuminates one Buddha-land.
"For this reason, Amitayus is called by the following names: the Buddha of
Infinite Light, the Buddha of Boundless Light, the Buddha of Unhindered
Light, [270b] the Buddha of Incomparable Light, the Buddha of the Light of
the King of Flame, the Buddha of Pure Light, the Buddha of the Light of
Joy, the Buddha of Light of Wisdom, the Buddha of Unceasing Light, the
Buddha of Inconceivable Light, the Buddha of Ineffable Light, and the
Buddha of the Light Outshining the Sun and the Moon.
"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
emancipation.
"The light of Amitayus shines brilliantly, illuminating all the Buddha-lands
of the ten quarters. There is no place where it is not perceived. I am not the
only one who now praises his light. All the Buddhas, shravakas,
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
shravakas will praise their excellent virtue. Later, when they attain
Buddhahood, all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the ten quarters will praise
their light, just as I now praise the light of Amitayus."
The Buddha continued, "The majestic glory of the light of Amitayus could
not be exhaustively described even if I praised it continuously, day and night,
for the period of one kalpa."

Amida's life-span

[12] The Buddha said to Ananda, "The life of Amitayus 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 quarters were
reborn in human form and that every one became a shravaka 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 life, even after a thousand million kalpas they
could still not reach its limit. So it is with the life-span of shravakas,
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 the shravakas 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."

The number of the audience at the first assembly

[13] The Buddha said to Ananda, "The number of shravakas at the first
teaching assembly of that Buddha was incalculable; so was the number of the
bodhisattvas. Even if an immeasurable and uncountable number of humans
multiplied by millions of kotis should all become like Mahamaudgalyayana
and together reckon their number during innumerable nayutas of kalpas, or
even until they attain Nirvana, they could still 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 hundredth part of a split hair. How
would you [270c] 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 expressions."
The Buddha said to Ananda, "Even if people like Mahamaudgalyayana were
to count for millions of kotis of kalpas, the number of the shravakas 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."

Jewelled trees

[14] Again, seven-jewelled trees completely fill that land. There are some
made of gold, some of silver, and others made of beryl, crystal, coral, ruby
or agate. There are also trees made of two to seven kinds of jewels.
"There are gold trees with leaves, flowers and fruits of silver; silver trees with
leaves, flowers and fruits of gold; beryl trees with leaves, flowers and fruits of
crystal; crystal trees with leaves, flowers and fruits of beryl; coral trees with
leaves, flowers and fruits of ruby; ruby trees with leaves, flowers and fruits of
beryl; agate trees with leaves, flowers and fruits made of various jewels.
"Again, there are jewelled trees with purple-gold roots, white-silver trunks,
beryl branches, crystal twigs, coral leaves, ruby flowers and agate fruits.
There are jewelled trees with white-silver roots, beryl trunks, crystal
branches, coral twigs, ruby leaves, agate flowers and purple-gold fruits. There
are jewelled trees with beryl roots, crystal trunks, coral branches, ruby twigs,
agate leaves, purple-gold flowers and white-silver fruits. There are jewelled
trees with crystal roots, coral trunks, ruby branches, agate twigs, purple-gold
leaves, white-silver flowers and beryl fruits. There are jewelled trees with
coral roots, ruby trunks, agate branches, purple-gold twigs, white-silver
leaves, beryl flowers and crystal fruits. There are jewelled trees with ruby
roots, agate trunks, purple-gold branches, white-silver twigs, beryl leaves,
crystal flowers and coral fruits. There are jewelled trees with agate roots,
purple-gold trunks, white-silver branches, beryl twigs, crystal leaves, coral
flowers and ruby fruits.
"These jewelled trees are in parallel rows, their trunks are evenly spaced,
their branches are in level layers, their leaves are symmetrical, their flowers
harmonize, and their fruits are well arranged. The brilliant colors of these
trees are so luxuriant that it is impossible [271a] to see them all. When a pure
breeze wafts through them, exquisite sounds of the pentatonic scales, such as
kung and shang, spontaneously arise and make symphonic music.

The Bodhi-tree

[15] "Again, the Bodhi-tree of the Buddha Amitayus is four million li in
height and five thousand yojanas in circumference at its base. Its branches
spread two hundred thousand li in each of the four directions. It is a natural
cluster of all kinds of precious stones and is adorned with the kings of jewels,
namely, moon-light mani gems and ocean-supporting-wheel gems.
Everywhere between its twigs hang jewelled ornaments with a thousand
million different colors intermingling in various ways, and their innumerable
beams shine with the utmost brilliance. The Bodhi-tree itself is covered with
nets of rare, excellent gems, and on it appear all kinds of ornaments in
accordance with one's wishes.
"When a gentle breeze wafts through its branches and leaves, innumerable
exquisite Dharma-sounds arise, which spread far and wide, pervading all the
other Buddha-lands in the ten quarters. Those who hear the sounds attain
penetrating insight into dharmas and dwell in the Stage of Non-retrogression.
Until they attain Buddhahood, their senses of hearing will remain clear and
sharp, and they will not suffer from any pain or sickness. Whether they hear
the sounds of the Bodhi-tree, see its colors, smell its perfumes, taste its
flavors, perceive its lights or conceive of the Dharma in their minds, they all
attain profoundly penetrating insight into dharmas and dwell in the Stage of
Non-retrogression. Until they attain Buddhahood, their six sense-organs will
remain sharp and clear, and they will not suffer from any pain or disease.
"Ananda, when humans and devas of that land see the Bodhi-tree, they will
attain three insights: first, insight into reality through hearing the sacred
sounds; second, insight into reality by being in accord with it; and third, the
insight into the non-arising of all dharmas. These benefits are all bestowed by
the majestic power of Amitayus, the power of his primal vow, his perfectly
fulfilled vow, his clear and manifest vow, his firm vow, and his accomplished
vow."
The Buddha said to Ananda, "A king of this world possesses a hundred
thousand kinds of music. From the realm ruled by a wheel-turning monarch
up to the Sixth Heaven, the sounds of the music produced in each higher
realm are ten million kotis of times superior to those of a lower one. The
thousands of varieties of musical sound produced in the Sixth Heaven are a
thousand kotis of times inferior to one sound produced from the
seven-jewelled trees in the land of Amitayus. Again, in that land, there are
thousands of varieties of natural music, which are all, without exception,
sounds of the Dharma. They are clear and serene, full of depth and
resonance, delicate and harmonious; they are the most excellent of sounds in
all the worlds of the ten quarters.

Glorious adornments

[16] "Again, the halls, monasteries, palaces and pavilions are spontaneous
apparitions, all adorned with the seven jewels and hung with curtains of
various other jewels, such as pearls and moon-bright mani gems.
"Inside and out, to right and left, are bathing pools. Some of them are ten
yojanas in length, breadth and depth; some are twenty yojanas, others,
thirty, and so on, until we come to those measuring a hundred thousand
yojanas in length, breadth and depth. They are brimful of the water of eight
excellent qualities, clear, fragrant and tasting like nectar. [271b]
"There are golden pools with beds of silver sand; silver pools with beds of
golden sand; crystal pools with beds of beryl sand; beryl pools with beds of
crystal sand; coral pools with beds of amber sand; amber pools with beds of
coral sand; agate pools with beds of ruby sand; ruby pools with beds of agate
sand; white-jade pools with beds of purple-gold sand; purple-gold pools with
beds of white-jade sand. Others are composed of two to seven jewels.
"On the banks of these pools are sandalwood trees, whose flowers and leaves
hang down and diffuse perfumes everywhere. Heavenly lotuses of blue, pink,
yellow and white bloom profusely in various tints and tones, completely
covering the surface of the water.
"If bodhisattvas and shravakas in that land enter the jewel-ponds and wish
the water to rise to their ankles, it rises to their ankles. If they wish it to rise
to their knees, it rises to their knees. If they wish it to rise to their waists, it
rises to their waists. If they wish it to rise to their necks, it rises to their
necks. If they wish it to pour over their bodies, it spontaneously pours over
their bodies. If they wish it to recede, it recedes. Its temperature is moderate,
cool or warm, according to their wishes. The water comforts the body and
refreshes the mind, washing away their mental defilements. Clear and pure,
the water is so transparent that it seems formless. The jewel-sand shines so
brightly that even the depth of the water cannot prevent its brilliance from
being seen. The rippling water forms meandering streams, which join and
flow into each other. Their movement is peaceful and quiet, neither too fast
nor too slow, and their ripples spontaneously produce innumerable
wonderful sounds. One can hear whatever sound one wishes. For example,
some hear the sound 'Buddha,' some hear the sound 'Dharma,' some
'Sangha,' others hear 'tranquillity,' 'emptiness and non-self,' 'great
compassion,' 'paramita,' 'ten powers,' 'fearlessness,' 'special qualities,'
'supernatural powers,' 'non-activity,' 'neither arising nor perishing,' 'insight
into the non-arising of all dharmas,' and so on until the various sounds of
the wonderful Dharma, such as 'the sprinkling of nectar upon the head of a
bodhisattva,' are heard. As one hears those sounds, one attains
immeasurable joy and accords with the principles of purity, absence of
desires, extinction, and reality. One is in harmony with the Three Treasures,
the Buddha's powers, fearlessness and special qualities, and also with
supernatural powers and other methods of practice for bodhisattvas and
shravakas. Not even the names of the three realms of suffering are heard
there, but only Nirvanic sounds of bliss. For this reason, that land is called
'Peace and Bliss'."

Bodily appearance of the inhabitants
and the pleasures they enjoy

[17] "Ananda, those born in that Buddha-land are endowed with such bodies
of purity and provided with various exquisite sounds, supernatural powers
and virtues. The palaces in which they dwell, their clothing, food and drink,
the wonderful flowers, and the various kinds of incense and adornments are
like those naturally provided in the Sixth Heaven of the world of desire.
"At mealtimes, plates made of the seven jewels -- namely, gold, silver, beryl,
agate, ruby, [271c] coral, and amber, and also moon-bright pearl --
spontaneously appear, filled with food and drink of a hundred tastes,
according to one's wishes. Although the food is offered, no one actually eats
it. Once it has been seen and smelt, one naturally feels that it has been eaten,
and so is satisfied; thus one feels relaxed in mind and body, free from
attachment to the sense of taste. When the meal is over, everything
disappears, but reappears at the next mealtime.
"That Buddha-land, like the realm of unconditioned Nirvana, is pure and
serene, resplendent and blissful. The shravakas, bodhisattvas, heavenly
beings and humans there have lofty and brilliant wisdom, and are masters of
the supernatural powers. They are all of one form, without any differences,
but are called 'heavenly beings' and 'humans' simply by analogy with the
states of existence in other worlds. They are of noble and majestic
countenance, unequaled in all the worlds, and their appearance is superb,
unmatched by any being, heavenly or human. They are all endowed with
bodies of Naturalness, Emptiness, and Infinity."

Karmic rewards of a beggar and a king

[18] The Buddha said to Ananda, "If a beggar in extreme poverty sits by the
side of a king, how can their appearances be compared?"
Ananda replied, "If such a man sits by the side of a king, his emaciated,
mean and ragged appearance cannot be compared with the king's. His
appearance is a thousand million kotis or even incalculable times inferior to
the king's. What is the reason for this? The conditions of a beggar in extreme
poverty--being at the lowest social level, with barely enough clothes to cover
his body, scarcely enough food to sustain his life, with hunger and cold
always tormenting him, and having almost lost in human contact -- are all
the result of his misdeeds in former lives. In the past he did not cultivate
roots of virtue, but instead, accumulated riches without giving anything to
others. He became more miserly as his wealth increased, desired to obtain
more, insatiably hankered after further acquisitions and gave no thought to
good actions. Thus he piled up a mountain of evil karma. When his life
ended, all his wealth was gone, and what he had accumulated with great toil
and worry was of no avail to him; all passed in vain into the possession of
others. Having no stock of merit on which to depend and no virtue on which
to rely, after death he fell into one of the evil realms, where he suffered pain
for a long period. When his karmic retributions ended, he was able to escape,
but was reborn into a lower class; being foolish, base and inferior, he barely
maintains the appearance of a human being.
"The king of a country is the most Honored of all men. This is the reward for
virtues accumulated in former lives, in which he, with a compassionate heart,
gave generously to many, saved people from suffering through kindness and
benevolence, performed good deeds with sincerity, and never disputed with
others. When that life ended, he was rewarded by rebirth into a higher state.
Born in a heavenly realm, he enjoyed bliss and happiness. His accumulated
virtues produced such a surplus of goodness that, when he was reborn as a
man in this life, his birth was, deservedly, into a royal family. Being naturally
noble, his dignified and majestic demeanor commands the respect of his
people, and superb clothes and sumptuous food are prepared and served to
him as he pleases. All this is a reward for virtues from his past lives."

Comparison between heavens and the Pure Land

[19] The Buddha said to Ananda, "What you say is true. Even though a king
is the noblest of all men and has a regal countenance, if he is compared with
a wheel-turning monarch, he will appear as base and inferior as a beggar
beside a king. Likewise, however excellent and unrivaled the majestic
appearance of such a monarch may be, [272a] if he is compared with the lord
of the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods, he will also appear incomparably
inferior, even ten thousands kotis of times more so. Again, if this heavenly
lord is compared with the lord of the Sixth Heaven, he will appear a hundred
thousand kotis of times inferior. If the lord of the Sixth Heaven is compared
with a bodhisattva or a shravaka dwelling in the land of Amitayus, his
countenance and appearance will be far from matching those of the
bodhisattva or shravaka, being a thousand million kotis of times or even
incalculable times inferior."

Pleasures in the Pure Land

[20] The Buddha said to Ananda, "Devas and humans in the land of
Amitayus are each provided with robes, food and drink, flowers, perfume,
ornaments, silken canopies and banners, and are surrounded by exquisite
sounds. Their abodes, palaces, and pavilions are exactly in accordance with
the size of their bodies. One, two or even innumerable jewels appear before
them, as soon as they wish. In addition, beautiful jewelled fabric covers the
ground where all the devas and humans walk. In that Buddha-land there are
innumerable jewelled nets, all adorned with skeins of gold thread, pearls, and
a hundred thousand kinds of rare and marvelous treasures. All around the
nets hang jewelled bells of the utmost beauty, which shine brilliantly. When a
natural breeze of virtue arises and gently blows, it is moderate in
temperature, neither cold nor hot, refreshing and soft to the senses, and
moves neither too slowly nor too quickly. When the breeze wafts over the
nets and the various jewelled trees, countless excellent sounds of the Dharma
are heard, and ten thousand kinds of delicate fragrances of virtue are
diffused. If one smells those fragrances, one's impurities and passions
spontaneously cease to arise. If touched by the breeze itself, one enjoys the
same pleasure as a monk who has entered the Samadhi of Extinction.

Flowers and innumerable rays of light emitted from them

[21] "Again, as the breeze blows, flowers are scattered throughout the
Buddha-land; they spontaneously divide into different colors, not mixed
together. They are soft and pleasant to touch, glow brilliantly, and diffuse
rich fragrances. When one's foot is placed on them, they sink down four
inches, but when the foot is lifted, they rise to their former level. When the
flowers have served their purpose, the earth opens up and they vanish,
leaving the ground clean and without trace of them. At the right moment, six
times a day, the breeze wafts, scattering the flowers in this way. Moreover,
lotus-flowers of various jewels fill the land; each has a hundred thousand
kotis of petals with lights of numerous colors -- blue lotuses glow with a blue
light, white ones with a white light, and, likewise, dark blue, yellow, red, and
purple lotuses glow with lights of their respective colors. The brilliance of
these lights is so magnificent that it outshines the sun and the moon. Each
flower emits thirty-six hundred thousand kotis of rays of light, each sending
forth thirty-six hundred thousand kotis of Buddhas. The bodies of these
Buddhas are purple-gold, and their physical characteristics and marks are
superb beyond compare. Each Buddha emits a hundred thousand rays of
light and expounds the wonderful Dharma to beings in the ten quarters, thus
setting innumerable beings on the right Path [272b] of the Buddha.

End of Part One of
The Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life