The Deliverance of Amitabha Buddha
By Master Jingzong
Basics of Amitabha Buddha's Deliverance
The Infinite Life Sutra, as Spoken by the Buddha says:
In the unfathomably distant past, there was a king who took monastic vows under Lokesvararaja Buddha. His name was Bodhisattva Dharmakara. He had lofty, brilliant wisdom and great compassion, and aspired to deliver all iniquitous, suffering beings. With the guidance and support of Lokesvararaja Buddha, Bodhisattva Dharmakara comprehensively observed two hundred and ten kotis of Buddha-lands, and clearly perceived all Buddhas' vows on the deliverance of sentient beings. Then he single-mindedly abided in serenity and contemplated for five kalpas – an extremely long period of time. He designed his grand blueprint for attaining Buddhahood and delivering sentient beings, and undertook the renowned 48 Great Vows. The 48 Vows have the following special characteristics:
1.The Vows are foremost. They surpass all Buddhas' and Bodhisattvas' vows in terms of scale, depth, breadth and level of difficulty. The merits, virtues and benefits needed to achieve the Vows are unparalleled.
2. The Buddha-land is foremost. The Land of Bliss contains the highlights of all Buddhas' pure lands. It is the most pure and splendid realm, unmatched by the others. It』s the full manifestation of the fundamental body of the truth – a realm of unconditioned nirvana.
3. The light is foremost. After Bodhisattva Dharmakara attained Buddhahood, his light permeates all worlds in the cosmos, exceeding the lights of all other Buddhas. His might, merits and virtue in delivering sentient beings are unrivaled among Buddhas.
4. The name is foremost. Bodhisattva Dharmakara resolved to incorporate all the merit and virtues of his Buddhahood into his Buddha name – Namo Amitabha Buddha. This name contains and transcends all the merit of all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, sages, deities, sutras, mantras and Dharma schools. It is praised and acclaimed by all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, deities and demon kings. It prevails in all worlds.
5. The deliverance is foremost. There are sentient beings who have committed extremely serious karmic offenses and severed all meritorious roots. They are difficult to teach and transform, and are therefore abandoned by all Buddhas. But Bodhisattva Dharmakara vowed to deliver them all, including even those in Avici Hell, other big and small hells, and fiery and freezing hells. He so delivers us with his Buddha name of light, in all worlds and at all times, without weariness and without cessation.
Among the 48 Vows, the 18th is called the "Vow of Rebirth Through Name-Recitation." It is the core and root of the 48 Vows, and directly concerns our liberation from samsara, rebirth in the Pure Land, and attainment of Buddhahood. It is vitally important. This Vow stipulates: Bodhisattva Dharmakara will deliver all sentient beings who, regardless of their offenses and blessings, exclusively recite the Buddha name of Bodhisattva Dharmakara – Namo Amitabha Buddha – and aspire to be reborn in the Pure Land. The Vow includes those who only at the point of death encounter the teaching of such deliverance through name-recitation and hastily recite the Buddha's name ten times or one time, or even merely generate a single thought of entrusting their lives to Amitabha Buddha. Bodhisattva Dharmakara pledges: If he fails to fulfill this vow, even though he can achieve Buddhahood, he will not do so but continue his practice until the vow is accomplished.
After making his Vows, Bodhisattva Dharmakara practiced for inconceivably long kalpas, accumulated immeasurable virtues, and became a Buddha ten kalpas ago. His name is "Namo Amitabha Buddha," and his land is the "Western Land of Bliss." Since attaining Buddhahood, he has been applying his name of light to waken and ripen the karma of countless sentient beings of the ten directions and deliver them to the Land of Bliss. In the past ten kalpas, countless sentient beings from our world and other worlds of the ten directions were reborn in Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land. Sentient beings of the present and future to be delivered there are like rivers running into the sea without stop.
Characteristics of Amitabha Buddha's Deliverance
1. Pro-active. Without our asking, Bodhisattva Dharmakara took the initiative to make his Vows, practice and attain Buddhahood to deliver us.
2. On an equal basis. Out of great compassion, Amitabha Buddha saves all sentient beings on a basis of equality, irrespective of their being rich or poor, noble or lowly, good or evil, smart or dull. His compassion is like the sun shining universally, the earth bearing its loads evenly, and rainwater nourishing all life. Amitabha benefits all equally, without distinguishing between the loved and the hated.
3. Unconditional. Any sentient being, so long as he recites the name "Namo Amitabha Buddha" and aspires to be reborn in the Pure Land, will certainly be delivered by Amitabha Buddha. There is no additional condition or restriction.
Scope of Amitabha Buddha's Deliverance
From the perspective of space, Amitabha's deliverance embraces all sentient beings of this world and of all worlds in the boundless cosmos.
In terms of time, it covers unlimited kalpas in the future.
So far as the types of sentient beings are concerned, Amitabha's deliverance encompasses humans, deities, animals, small insects, hungry ghosts and miserable hell beings.
Method and Circumstances of Amitabha Buddha's Deliverance
Amitabha Buddha rescues sentient beings with his name of light. He emits boundless radiance to all worlds. All Buddhas in the lands of the ten directions acclaim and commend his name. He forms karmic connections with all sentient beings, and plants seeds of his name into their minds. With his light, he facilitates maturation of our virtuous roots and induces us to recite Namo Amitabha Buddha. If someone recites his name, his light immediately finds her, and shines on and protects her night and day, without interruption. When she approaches the point of death, Amitabha leads an assembly of Bodhisattvas of the Land of Bliss to appear before her, and releases a flood of light to welcome and guide her. Exquisite fragrance and music console and delight the person, who then follows the Buddha and is born by transformation within a lotus flower in a seven-jeweled pond of the Pure Land. Immediately the lotus blooms, and her body, appearance and light spontaneously become the same as those of the great Bodhisattvas.
Benefits of Amitabha Buddha's Deliverance
The benefits are innumerable, consisting of two categories:
1. Benefits for the present lifetime. Sentient beings who recite Namo Amitabha Buddha are embraced and protected by the Buddha's light. They enjoy peace and happiness in the present lifetime. The benefits include elimination of karmic obstacles, growth of meritorious blessings and wisdom, recovery from illness, harmonious relationships with others, avoidance of calamity and misfortune, a life with direction, security, happiness and satisfaction, and inner peace and serenity.
2. Benefits of rebirth. At the point of a reciter's death, Amitabha Buddha will appear before him, emitting light to offer empowerment. His body will suffer little from illness, and his heart will greatly rejoice. He'll maintain pure and correct mindfulness, sit on a jeweled lotus flower, follow the Buddha, and in an instant be reborn by transformation inside a lotus in the seven-jeweled pond of the Land of Bliss. He'll promptly realize the truth of all phenomena in the universe, obtain a body and mind of infinite light and infinite life, and co-exist with the truth. He will thus be free from the cycle of rebirth forever, enter the bliss of Dharma-nature and nirvana, enjoy great freedom, great perfection and great wisdom – and rapidly attain Buddhahood. With great compassion, he will pity all sentient beings suffering for negative deeds, generate multiple bodies to present in the worlds of the ten directions, and indefatigably rescue his parents, brothers and sisters of countless past kalpas and all karmically affiliated beings, to be reborn together in the Land of Bliss.