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THE SMALLER SUTRA ON AMIDA BUDDHA

This Sutra was delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha and translated into Chinese during the Yao-Ch'in dynasty by the Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva from Kuccha

Translated from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki


The text follows the Taisho Tripitaka
edition, vol. 12, and the passage numbers
follow Jodoshinshu Seiten, 1988, pp. 121-128.

Preface

[1] Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the Jeta Grove
monastery of Anathapindada's Garden at Shravasti, together with a large
assembly of twelve hundred and fifty monks, who were all great arhats,
well-known to the people. Among them were great disciples such as the
Elders Shariputra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Mahakashyapa, Mahakatyayana,
Mahakausthila, Revata, Shuddhipanthaka, Nanda, Ananda, Rahula,
Gavampati, Pindola-Bharadvaja, Kalodayin, Mahakapphina, Vakkula and
Aniruddha. He was also accompanied by many bodhisattvas, mahasattvas,
such as the Dharma Prince, Manjushri, the Bodhisattva Ajita, the
Bodhisattva Sweet-smelling Elephant, and the Bodhisattva Constant
Endeavor, and by innumerable devas, including Shakra, lord of the gods,
and many others.


The land and the Buddha
are introduced


[2] The Buddha then said to the Elder Shariputra: "If you travel
westward from here, passing a hundred thousand kotis of Buddha-lands, you
come to the land called 'Utmost Bliss,' where there is a Buddha named
'Amida.' He is living there now, teaching the Dharma.


Why the land is called
'Utmost Bliss'


[3] "Shariputra, why is that land called 'Utmost Bliss'? The beings in that
land suffer no pain but only enjoy pleasures of various kinds. For this
reason, that land is called 'Utmost Bliss.' Again, Shariputra, in that Land of
Utmost Bliss there are seven rows of balustrades, seven rows of decorative
nets, and seven rows of trees. They are all made of four kinds of jewels and
extend over the whole land, encompassing everything. For this reason, that
land is called 'Utmost Bliss.' Again, Shariputra, in the Land of Utmost Bliss
there are seven-jewelled ponds, filled with water of the eight excellent
qualities. The beds of the ponds are covered solely with gold sand, and from
the four sides of each pond rise stairs of gold, silver, beryl and crystal. Above
these stand pavilions adorned with gold, silver, beryl, crystal, sapphire, rosy
pearls, and carnelian. In the ponds are lotuses as large as chariot-wheels --
the blue ones radiating a blue light, the yellow a yellow light, the red a red
light and the white ones a white light. They are marvelous and beautiful,
fragrant and pure. Shariputra, the Land of Utmost Bliss is filled with such
splendid adornments.
"Again, Shariputra, in that Buddha-land heavenly music is played
continually. The ground is made of gold. Six times during the day and night
mandarava flowers rain down from the sky. Every day, in the serenity of the
early morning, the people of that land fill the hem of their robes with
exquisite flowers and go to make offerings to a hundred thousand kotis of
Buddhas dwelling in the worlds of other quarters. Then they return for their
morning meal. After the meal they enjoy a stroll. Shariputra, the Land of
Utmost Bliss is filled with such splendid adornments.
"Again, Shariputra, in that land there are always many kinds of rare and
beautiful birds of various colors, such as swans, peacocks, parrots, sharis,
kalavinkas and jivamjivakas. Six times during the day and night birds sing
with melodious and delicate sounds, which proclaim such teachings as the
five roots of goodness, the five powers, the seven practices leading to
Enlightenment, and the Eightfold Noble Path. On hearing them, the people
of that land become mindful of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
But, Shariputra, you should not assume that these birds are born as
retribution of their evil karma. The reason is that none of the three evil
realms exists in that Buddha-land. Shariputra, even the names of the three
evil realms do not exist there; how much less the realms themselves? These
birds are manifested by Amida Buddha so that their singing can proclaim
and spread the Dharma.
"In that Buddha-land, Shariputra, when soft breezes waft through the rows
of jewelled trees and jewelled nets, they produce subtle, wonderful sounds. It
is as if a hundred thousand musical instruments were playing together.
Everyone who hears the sounds spontaneously becomes mindful of the
Buddha, the Dharma and Sangha. Shariputra, that Buddha-land is filled with
such splendid adornments.


Why the Buddha is called
'Amida'


[4] For what reason, Shariputra, do you think that Buddha is called 'Amida'?
Shariputra, the Buddha's light shines boundlessly and without hindrance
over all the worlds of the ten quarters. It is for this reason that he is called
'Amida' (Amitabha). Again, Shariputra, the lives of the Buddha and the
people of his land last for immeasurable, unlimited and incalculable kalpas.
It is for this reason that the Buddha is called 'Amida' (Amitayus).
Shariputra, ten kalpas have passed since Amida Buddha attained
Enlightenment. Moreover, Shariputra, he has an immeasurable and
unlimited number of shravaka disciples, all of them arhats, whose number
cannot be reckoned by any means. His assembly of bodhisattvas is similarly
vast. Shariputra, that Buddha-land is filled with such splendid adornments.


Why one should
aspire to be born
there


[5] "Again, Shariputra, all sentient beings born in the Land of Utmost Bliss
dwell in the Stage of Non-retrogression. Many of them are in the Stage of
Becoming a Buddha after One More Life. Their number is so great that it is
beyond reckoning; it can only be described as innumerable, unlimited and
incalculable.
"Shariputra, those sentient beings who hear of that land should aspire to be
born there. Why? Because they will be able to meet such sages of supreme
virtue. Shariputra, one cannot attain birth in that land with few roots of
goodness or a small stock of merit. Shariputra, if a good man or woman who
hears of Amida Buddha holds fast to his Name even for one day, two days,
three, four, five, six or seven days with a concentrated and undistracted
mind, then, at the hour of death, Amida Buddha will appear before them
with a host of holy ones. Consequently, when their life comes to an end, the
aspirants' minds will not fall into confusion and so they will be born
immediately in the Land of Utmost Bliss of Amida Buddha. Shariputra,
perceiving these benefits, I say: All sentient beings who hear this teaching
should aspire to birth in that land.


Praise of Amida's virtue by
Buddhas of the six quarters


[6] "Shariputra, just as I praise the inconceivable virtue of Amida Buddha,
so do the Buddhas in the eastern quarter, as numerous as the sands of the
Ganges, such as Aksobhya Buddha, Meru-dhvaja Buddha, Mahameru
Buddha, Meru-prabhasa Buddha, and Manju-svara Buddha. While dwelling
in their own lands, they extend their long, broad tongues and, encompassing
with them the universe of a thousand million worlds, pronounce these words
of truth: Sentient beings should accept this sutra entitled 'Praise of the
Inconceivable Virtue and Protection by All Buddhas.'

[7] "Shariputra, there are in the southern quarter Buddhas as numerous as
the sands of the Ganges, such as Candra-surya-pradipa Buddha,
Yashah-prabha Buddha, Maharci-skandha Buddha, Meru-pradipa Buddha,
and Ananta-virya Buddha. While dwelling in their own lands, they extend
their long, broad tongues and, encompassing with them the universe of a
thousand million worlds, pronounce these words of truth: Sentient beings
should accept this sutra entitled 'Praise of the Inconceivable Virtue and
Protection by All Buddhas.'

[8] "Shariputra, there are in the western quarter Buddhas as numerous as the
sands of the Ganges, such as Amitayus Buddha, Amita-ketu Buddha,
Amita-dhvaja Buddha, Mahaprabha Buddha, Mahaprabhasa Buddha,
Ratna-ketu Buddha and Shuddha-rashmi-prabha Buddha. While dwelling in
their own lands, they extend their long, broad tongues and, encompassing
with them the universe of a thousand million worlds, pronounce these words
of truth: Sentient beings should accept this sutra entitled 'Praise of the
Inconceivable Virtue and Protection by All Buddhas.'

[9] "Shariputra, there are in the northern quarter Buddhas as numerous as
the sands of the Ganges, such as Arci-skandha Buddha,
Vaishvanara-nirghosa Buddha, Duspradharsa Buddha, Aditya-sambhava
Buddha and Jalini-prabha Buddha. While dwelling in their own lands, they
extend their long, broad tongues and, encompassing with them the universe
of a thousand million worlds, pronounce these words of truth: Sentient
beings should accept this sutra entitled 'Praise of the Inconceivable Virtue
and Protection by All Buddhas.'

[10] "Shariputra, there are in the nadir Buddhas as numerous as the sands of
the Ganges, such as Simha Buddha, Yashas Buddha, Yashah-prabhasa
Buddha, Dharma Buddha, Dharma-dhvaja Buddha and Dharma-dhara
Buddha. While dwelling in their own lands, they extend their long, broad
tongues and, encompassing with them the universe of a thousand million
worlds, pronounce these words of truth: Sentient beings should accept this
sutra entitled 'Praise of the Inconceivable Virtue and Protection by All
Buddhas.'

[11] "Shariputra, there are in the zenith Buddhas as numerous as the sands
of the Ganges, such as Brahma-ghosa Buddha, Naksatra-raja Buddha,
Gandhottama Buddha, Gandha-prabhasa Buddha, Maharci-skandha
Buddha, Ratna-kusuma-sampuspita-gatra Buddha, Salendra-raja Buddha,
Ratnotpalashri Buddha, Sarva-artha-darsha Buddha and Sumeru-kalpa
Buddha. While dwelling in their own lands, they extend their long, broad
tongues and, encompassing with them the universe of a thousand million
worlds, pronounce these words of truth: Sentient beings should accept this
sutra entitled 'Praise of the Inconceivable Virtue and Protection by All
Buddhas.'


Why this sutra is called
'Praise of the Inconceivable
Virtue ...'


[12] "Shariputra, why do you think this teaching is called 'the Sutra of
Protection by All Buddhas'? Shariputra, all good men and women who hear
the Name of Amida Buddha expounded by all the Buddhas and the name of
this sutra1) are protected by all the Buddhas and dwell in the Stage of
Non-retrogression for realizing the highest, perfect Enlightenment. This is
why, Shariputra, you should accept my words and the teachings of all the
Buddhas.
"Shariputra, those who have already aspired, now aspire or in the future will
aspire to be born in Amida Buddha's land, all dwell in the Stage of
Non-retrogression for realizing the highest, perfect Enlightenment. They have
already been born, are now being born, or will be born in that land. Hence,
Shariputra, good men and women of faith should aspire to birth there.


Praise of Shakyamuni's virtue by
all the Buddhas


[13] "Shariputra, just as I now praise the inconceivable virtue of other
Buddhas, they also praise my inconceivable virtue, saying, 'Shakyamuni
Buddha, you have accomplished an extremely difficult and unprecedented
task. In this Saha world, during the evil period of the five defilements -- those
of time, views, passions, sentient beings, and life-span -- you have attained
the highest, perfect Enlightenment and, for the sake of sentient beings, have
delivered this teaching, which is the most difficult in the world to accept in
faith.'
"Shariputra, you must realize that I have accomplished this difficult task
during the period of the five defilements. That is to say, having attained the
highest, perfect Enlightenment, I have, for the sake of all the world, delivered
this teaching, which is so hard for them to accept. This is indeed an extremely
difficult task."

Epilogue


[14] When the Buddha delivered this sutra, Shariputra and all the monks,
together with beings of the whole world, including devas, humans and asuras,
rejoiced at what they had heard and reverently accepted it. Having
worshipped him, they departed.


The End of
The Sutra on Amida Buddha
delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha

[Note 1] The Taisho Tripitaka edition reads: all good men and women who hear this
sutra and hold fast to it and also those who hear the names of those Buddhas.