Amitabha Sutra

The Amitabha Sutra

Translated [from Sanskrit to Chinese circa 402 AD] at Yao Chin by the Tripitaka Master Venerable Kumarajiva from the Kingdom of Kuqa

Thus I have heard:

At one time Buddha dwelt in the Jetavana, Anathapimdasya Arama in the Kingdom of Sravasti together with a gathering of great Bhiksus, 1250 in all, all great Arhats whom the assembly knew and recognized. Elders Sari-putra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Mahakasyapa, Mahakatyayana, Mahakausthila, Revata, Suddhipanthaka, Nanda, Ananda, Rahula, Gavampati, Pindola-bharadvaja, Kalodayin, Mahakaphina, Vakkula, Aniruddha, and others such as these, all great disciples; together with all the Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, including Dharma Prince Manjusri, Ajita Bodhisattva, Gandhastin Bodhisattva, Nityodyukta Bodhisattva, and others such as these, all great Bodhisattvas. Also present were Sakra, chief among gods, and the numberless great multitudes from all the heavens.

At that time the Buddha told the Elder Sariputra, “Passing from here through hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddha lands to the West, there is a world called Ultimate Bliss. In this land a Buddha called Amitabha right now teaches the Dharma. Sariputra, why is this land called Ultimate Bliss? All living beings of this country do not endure sufferings but only enjoy bliss. Also, Sariputra, this Land of Ultimate Bliss is everywhere surrounded by seven tiers of railings, seven layers of netting, and seven rows of trees, all formed from the four treasures. For this reason it is named Ultimate Bliss.”

“Moreover, Sariputra, the Land of Ultimate Bliss has pools of the seven jewels filled with the eight waters of merit and virtue. The bottom of each pool is pure, covered with golden sand. On the four sides are stairs of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and crystal. Above are pavilions adorned with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother-of-pearl, red pearls, and carnelian. In the pools are lotuses as large as carriage wheels: green colored of green light; yellow colored of yellow light; red colored of red light; white colored of white light. They are subtle, wonderful, fragrant, and pure. Sariputra, the realization of the Land of Ultimate Bliss is meritoriously adorned like this.

Also, Sariputra, in that Buddha land there is always heavenly music and the ground is yellow gold. In the six periods of the day and night a heavenly rain of mandarava flowers falls, and throughout the clear morning each living being of this Land, with sacks full of the myriads of wonderful flowers, makes offerings to the hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhas of the other directions. At mealtime they return to their own country, and having eaten, they stroll around. Sariputra, the realization of the Land of Ultimate Bliss is thus meritoriously adorned.

Moreover Sariputra, in this land there are many fantastic multi-colored birds: white cranes, peacocks, parrots, egrets, kalavinkas, and jivajivaka birds. In the six periods of the day and night the flocks of birds sing forth harmonious and elegant sounds. Their clear and joyful sounds proclaim their five roots, the five powers, the seven Bodhi elements, the eight sagely ways, and dharmas such as these. When living beings of this land hear these sounds, they are altogether mindful of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Sariputra, do not say that these birds are born as retribution for their karmic offenses. For what reason? In this Buddha land there are no three evil ways of re-birth. Sariputra, in this Buddhaland not even the names of the three evil ways exist, how much the less their actuality! Desiring that the Dharma sound be widely proclaimed, Amitabha Buddha by transformation made this multitude of birds. Sariputra, in that Buddha land, when the breeze blows rows of jewelled trees and jewelled nets give forth subtle and wonderful sounds like a hundred thousand kinds of music played at the same time. All those who hear this sound naturally bring forth in their hearts mindfulness of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Sariputra, the realization of the Land of Ultimate Bliss is thus meritoriously adorned.

Sariputra, what do you think? Why is this Buddha called Amitabha? Sariputra, the brilliance of that Buddha’s light is measureless, illumining the lands of the ten directions everywhere without obstruction. This is why he is called Amitabha. Also, Sariputra, the life of that Buddha and that of his people extends for measureless limitless asankhyeya kalpas. This is why he is called Amitabha. Sariputra, since Amitabha realized Buddhahood, ten kalpas have passed. Also Sariputra, that Buddha has measureless limitless ‘sound-hearer’ disciples, all of who are Arhats. Their number is incalculable and so is his assembly of Bodhisattvas. Sariputra, the realization of the Land of Ultimate Bliss is thus meritoriously adorned.

Also Sariputra, all the living beings born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss are avaivartika. Among them are many who in this very life will achieve Buddhahood. Their number is many, in fact, it is incalculable and only in measureless, limitless asankhyeya kalpas could the number be spoken. Sariputra, those living beings who hear should vow, ‘I wish to be born in that country.’ Why is that? Those who thus attain are all superior and good people, all coming together in one place.

Sariputra, one must have good roots, blessings, virtues, and causal connections to attain birth in that Land. Sariputra, if there is a good man or good woman who hears spoken ‘Amitabha Buddha’ 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, then when this person approaches the end of life Amitabha Buddha and the entire assembly of holy beings will appear before him. If his mind is clear when the end comes when the end comes then he will attain rebirth in Amitabha Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss. Sariputra, I say this because because of this benefit. If living beings hear this spoken they should make the vow, ‘I will be born in that land.’

Sariputra, as I now praise the inconceivable benefit from the merit and virtue of Amitabha Buddha. Thus in the East are also Aksobhya Buddha, Merudhvaja Buddha, Mahameru Buddha, Meruprabhasa Buddha, Manjughosa Buddha, and other Buddhas as countless as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, every-where overing the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and true words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom All Buddhas Are Protective.’

Sariputra, in the worlds to the South are Candrasuryapradipa Buddha, Yashprabha Buddha, Maharciskamdha Buddha, Merupradipa Buddha, Arantavirya Buddha and other Buddhas as countless as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, every-where overing the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and true words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom All Buddhas Are Protective.’

Sariputra, in the worlds to the West are Amitayus Buddha, Amitaskmdha Buddha, Amitadhvaja Buddha, Mahaprabha Buddha, Maharasmiprabha Buddha, Maharatnaketu Buddha, Suddharasmi Buddha and other Buddhas as countless as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, every-where overing the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and true words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom All Buddhas Are Protective.’

Sariputra, in the worlds to the North are Maharcislamdha Buddha, Dumdubhisvaranirghosa Buddha, Duspradharsa Buddha, Adityasambhava Buddha, Jaleniprabha Buddha and other Buddhas as countless as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, every-where overing the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and true words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom All Buddhas Are Protective.’

Sariputra, in the worlds below are Simha Buddha, Yasas Buddha, Yasahprabha Buddha, Dharma Buddha, Dharmadhvaja Buddha, Dharmadhara Buddha, and other Buddhas as countless as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, every-where overing the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and true words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom All Buddhas Are Protective.’

Sariputra, in the world above are Brahmaghosa Buddha, Naksatraraja Buddha, Gamdhottama Buddha, Gamdhaprabhasa Buddha, Maharciskamdha Buddha, Ratnakusumasampuspitagatra Buddha, Salendraraja Buddha, Ratnorpalasri Buddha, Sarvarthadarsa Buddha, Sumerukalpa Buddha, In his own country each brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, every-where overing the three thousand great thousand worlds, and speaks the sincere and true words, ‘All you living beings should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom All Buddhas Are Protective.’

Sariputra, what do you think? Why is it called Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom All Buddhas Are Protective? Sariputra, if a good man or a good woman hears this Sutra, practices it, and hears the names of all these Buddhas then this good man or woman will be a mindful person of whom all Buddhas protect and will irreversibly attain to anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Therefore, Sariputra, all of you should believe and accept my words and those which all Buddhas speak.

Sariputra, if there are people who have already made the vow, who now make the vow, or who are about to make the vow, ‘I desire to be born in Amitabha’s Country’, these people whether born in the past, now being born, or to be born in the future, all will irreversibly attain to anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Therefore, Sariputra, all good men and good women, if they are among those who have faith, should make the vow, ‘I will be born in that country.’

Sariputra, just as I am now one who praises the merit and virtue of all Buddhas all those Buddhas equally praise my inconceivable merit and virtue saying these words, ‘Sakyamuni Buddha can complete extremely rare and difficult deeds. In the Saha Land, in the evil time of the five turbidities, in the midst of the kalpa turbidity, the view turbidity, the affliction turbidity, the living beings turbidity, and the life turbidity he can attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi and for the sake of living beings, speak this Dharma which in the whole world is hard to believe.’ Sariputra, you should know that I, in the evil time of the five turbidities, practice these difficult deeds, attain anuttara-samak-sambodhi and for all the world speak this dharma, difficult to believe, extremely difficult!”

After the Buddha spoke this Sutra, Sariputra and all the Bhiksus, all the gods, men, and asuras, and others from all the worlds, hearing what the Buddha had said, joyously welcomed, faithfully accepted, bowed and left.

Reference for Chinese translation: Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (CBETA), cbeta.org , Taisho Tripitaka, Vol. 12 No. 0366, http://tripitaka.cbeta.org/T12n0366_001.