Larger Sutra


Illustrations from the Larger Sutra Mandala

Dharmakara's attainment of Buddhahood

The central part of the Pure Land

[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."

Hell of Black Rope (left), realm of hungry spirits (lower right),
and realm of animals (upper right).

Hell of Great Shrieking (left), Hell of Scorching and Hell of Shrieking (middle), and Hell of Crushing Mountain (right)

Hell of Avici (left) and Hell of Great Shrieking (right)

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

Transformation of 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 Buddha
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."

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