Illustrations from the Larger Sutra Mandala
Amida and his land seen by the audience.
|Amida and the Pure Land shown to the audience
 The Buddha said to Ananda, "Rise
to your feet, rearrange your robes, put your
palms together, and respectfully revere and
worship Amitayus. Buddhas and Tathagatas
in the lands of the ten quarters always praise
with one accord that Buddha's virtues of
non-attachment and unimpeded activity."
Ananda stood up, rearranged his robes, assumed
the correct posture, faced westward, and,
demonstrating his sincere reverence, joined
his palms together, prostrated himself on
the ground and worshipped Amitayus.
Then he said [278a] to the Buddha Shakyamuni,
"World-Honored One, I wish to see that
Buddha, his Land of Peace and Bliss, and
its hosts of bodhisattvas and shravakas."
All the worlds, Mt. Sumeru and other
illumined by Amida's light.
As soon as he had said this, Amitayus emitted
a great light, which illuminated all the
Buddha-lands. The Encircling Adamantine Mountains,
Mount Sumeru, together with large and small
mountains, and everything else shone with
the same (golden) color. That light was like
the flood at the end of the period of cosmic
change that fills the whole world, when myriads
of things are submerged, and as far as the
eye can see, there is nothing but a vast
expanse of water. Even so was the flood of
light emanating from Amitayus. All the lights
of shravakas and bodhisattvas were outshone
and surpassed, and only the Buddha's light
remained shining bright and glorious.
At that time Ananda saw the splendor and
majesty of Amitayus resembling Mount Sumeru,
which rises above the whole world. There
was no place which was not illuminated by
the light emanating from his body of glory.
The four groups of followers of the Buddha
in the assembly saw all this at the same
time. Likewise, those of the Pure Land saw
everything in this world.
|Two kinds of birth in the Pure Land
 Then the Buddha said to Ananda and the
Bodhisattva Maitreya, "Have you seen
that land filled with excellent and glorious
manifestations, all spontaneously produced,
from the ground to the Heaven of Pure Abode,?"
Ananda replied, "Yes, I have."
The Buddha asked, "Have you also heard
the great voice of Amitayus expound the Dharma
to all the worlds, guiding sentient beings
to the Way of the Buddha?"
Ananda replied, "Yes, I have."
The Buddha further asked, "Have you
also seen the inhabitants of that land move
freely, riding in seven-jewelled airborne
palaces as large as a hundred thousand yojanas,
to worship the Buddhas of the lands in the
"Yes, I have," replied Ananda.
"Have you also seen that some of the
inhabitants are in the embryonic state?"
"Yes, I have. Those in the embryonic
state dwell in palaces as high as a hundred
yojanas or five hundred yojanas, where they
spontaneously enjoy pleasures as do those
in the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods."
A Palace for those of the embryonic
|The cause of the two kinds of birth
 Then the Bodhisattva Maitreya said to
the Buddha, "World-Honored One, for
what reason are some of the inhabitants of
that land in the embryonic state and the
others born by transformation?"
The Buddha replied, "Maitreya, if there
are sentient beings who do various meritorious
deeds aspiring for birth in that land while
still entertaining doubt, such beings are
unable to comprehend the Buddha-wisdom, inconceivable
wisdom, ineffable wisdom, boundless Mahayana
wisdom, and incomparable, unequaled, and
unsurpassed supreme wisdom. Although they
doubt these wisdoms, they still believe in
retribution for evil and reward for virtue
and so cultivate a stock of merits, aspiring
for birth in that land. Such beings are born
in a palace, where they dwell for five hundred
years without being able to behold the Buddha,
hear his exposition of the Dharma, or see
the hosts of bodhisattvas and shravakas.
For this reason, that type of birth in the
Pure Land is called 'embryonic state.'
"If there are sentient beings who with
resolute faith accept these kinds of wisdom,
from the Buddha's wisdom to the supreme wisdom,
do meritorious deeds and sincerely transfer
the merit acquired (to that land), [278b]
those beings will be born by transformation
spontaneously. seated with legs crossed,
in the seven-jewelled lotus-flowers, and
instantly attain the same glorious forms,
wisdom and virtue as those of other bodhisattvas
|Shakyamuni's encouragement of faith
 "Further, Maitreya, if great bodhisattvas
in the Buddha-lands of other quarters desire
to see Amitayus, and revere and make offerings
to him and the hosts of bodhisattvas and
shravakas, they will, after death, be born
in the land of Amitayus. Spontaneously transformed
they will be born from within the seven-jewelled
"Maitreya, you should know that those
born by transformation are possessed of supreme
wisdom, while those in the embryonic state
lack that wisdom and must pass five hundred
years without being able to see the Buddha,
hear his teaching of the Dharma, see the
hosts of bodhisattvas and shravakas, make
offerings to the Buddha, learn the rules
of conduct for bodhisattvas, or perform meritorious
practices. You should know that this is because
those beings harbored doubt and lacked
wisdom in their previous lives."
 The Buddha said to Maitreya, "Let
us suppose that a wheel-turning monarch has
a special chamber which is adorned with seen
jewels and provided with curtained couches
and silken banners hanging from the ceiling.
If princes have committed offense against
the king, they are taken to that chamber
and fettered with gold chains. There they
are served with food and drink, provided
with clothes, couches and cushions, flowers
and incense, and can enjoy music. Being treated
just like the wheel-turning monarch himself,
they have no wants. Do you think that those
princes would enjoy living there?"
"No they do not," replied Maitreya.
"They would seek various means of approach
to ask a man of power to help them escape."
The Buddha said to Maitreya, "Those
beings born within the lotus-buds are like
that. Because of their doubt in the Buddha's
wisdom, they have been born in palaces. Although
they receive no punishment or ill treatment
even for a single moment, they must pass
five hundred years there without being able
to see the Three Treasures, make offerings
to the Buddha, or cultivate a stock of virtue.
This is distressing to them. Though there
are other pleasures, they do not enjoy living
"If those beings become aware of the
faults committed in their former lives and
deeply repent, they can, as they wish, leave
and go to where Amitayus dwells. Then they
can worship and make offerings to him; they
can also visit innumerable and countless
other Buddhas to perform various meritorious
practices. Maitreya, you should know that
the bodhisattvas who allow doubt to arise
lose great benefits. For this reason, you
should have resolute faith in the supreme
wisdom of the Buddha."
|Bodhisattvas' visits to the Pure Land from
 The Bodhisattva Maitreya said to the
Buddha, "World-Honored One, how many
non-retrogressive bodhisattvas are there
in this world who will be born in that Buddha-land?"
The Buddha replied, "Sixty-seven kotis
of non-retrogressive bodhisattvas from this
world will be born there. Each of these bodhisattvas
[278c] has previously made offerings to innumerable
Buddhas with almost as much diligence as
you did, Maitreya. Furthermore, bodhisattvas
of lesser practices and those who have performed
small acts of merit, whose number is beyond
calculation, will all be born there."
Visit of bodhisattvas from 14 Buddha-lands
The Buddha said to Maitreya, "Not only
those bodhisattvas from this world but also
those from Buddha-lands in other quarters
are born there. First, in the land of the
Buddha named Far-reaching Illumination there
are one hundred and eighty kotis of bodhisattvas,
who all visit there. Second, in the land
of the Buddha Jewel-storehouse there are
ninety kotis of bodhisattvas, who all visit
there. Third, in the land of the Buddha Immeasurable
Sound there are two hundred and twenty kotis
of bodhisattvas, who all visit there. Fourth,
in the land of the Buddha Taste of Nectar
there are two hundred and fifty kotis of
bodhisattvas, who all visit there. Fifth,
in the land of the Buddha Dragon-subduing
there are fourteen kotis of bodhisattvas,
who all visit there. Sixth, in the land of
the Buddha Superior Power there are fourteen
thousand bodhisattvas, who all visit there.
Seventh, in the land of the Buddha Lion there
are five hundred kotis of bodhisattvas, who
all visit there. Eighth, in the land of the
Buddha Undefiled Light there are eighty kotis
of bodhisattvas, who all visit there. Ninth,
in the land of the Buddha Peak of Virtue
there are sixty kotis of bodhisattvas, who
all visit there. Tenth, in the land of the
Buddha Mountain of Excellent Virtue there
are sixty kotis of bodhisattvas, who all
visit there. Eleventh, in the land of the
Buddha King of Men there are ten kotis of
bodhisattvas, who all visit there. Twelfth,
in the land of the Buddha Splendid Flower
there are innumerable and incalculable bodhisattvas
who are all non-retrogressive and possessed
of unrivaled wisdom, who have previously
made offerings to countless Buddhas and are
able to learn in seven days the adamantine
teachings of the Dharma that can only be
attained by mahasattvas after practicing for
a hundred thousand kotis of kalpas. Those
bodhisattvas all visit there. Thirteenth,
in the land of the Buddha Fearlessness there
are seven hundred and ninety kotis of great
bodhisattvas and incalculable minor bodhisattvas
and bhiksus, who all visit there."
The Buddha said to Maitreya, "Not only
do the bodhisattvas from those fourteen Buddha-lands
visit that land, but also bodhisattvas from
innumerable Buddha-lands in the ten quarters,
whose number is incalculable. Even if I were
to give you only the names of the Buddhas
in the ten quarters and the number of the
bodhisattvas and bhiksus who visit that land,
enumerating them continuously day and night
for a kalpa, I would not be able to complete
the list. This is why I have given you only
a brief description." [279a]
Shakyamuni transmits the sutra to Maitreya.
|Shakyamuni's encouragement to accept this
 The Buddha said to Maitreya, "If
there are people who hear the Name of that
Buddha, rejoice so greatly as to dance, and
remember him even once, then you should know
that they have gained great benefit by receiving
the unsurpassed virtue. For this reason,
Maitreya, even if a great fire were to fill
the universe of a thousand million worlds,
you should pass through it to hear this sutra,
to arouse joyful faith, to uphold and chant
it, and to practice in accordance with
its teachings. This is because there are
many bodhisattvas who wish to hear this teaching
but are still unable to do so. If there are
sentient beings who have heard it, they will
attain the Stage of Non-retrogression for
realizing the highest Enlightenment. This
is why you should single-heartedly accept
in faith, uphold and chant this sutra, and
practice in accordance with its teaching."
The Buddha further said, "I have expounded
this teaching for the sake of sentient
beings and enabled you to see Amitayus and
all in his land. Strive to do what you should.
After I have passed into Nirvana, do not
allow doubt to arise. In the future, the
Buddhist scriptures and teachings will perish.
But, out of pity and compassion, I will especially
preserve this sutra and maintain it in the
world for a hundred years more. Those beings
who encounter it will attain deliverance
in accord with their aspirations.
The Buddha said to Maitreya, "It is
difficult to encounter and behold Tathagata
when he is in this world. Difficult of access,
difficult to hear are the Buddhas' teachings
and scriptures. It is also difficult to hear
the excellent teachings for bodhisattvas,
the Paramitas. Difficult too is it to meet
a good teacher, to hear the Dharma and perform
the practices. But most difficult of all
difficulties is to hear this sutra, have
faith in it with joy and hold fast to it.
Nothing is more difficult than this. Thus
have I formed my Dharma, thus have I expounded
my Dharma, and thus have I taught my Dharma.
You must receive it and practice it
by the method prescribed."
The sutra will remain in the world
 When the World-Honored One had finished
his exposition of this sutra, aspiration
for the highest Enlightenment was awakened
in innumerable sentient beings. Twelve thousand
nayutas of human beings attained the pure
Dharma-eye; twenty-two kotis of devas and
humans attained the Stage of a Non-returner;
eight hundred thousand bhiksus realized the
wisdom of destroying defilements; forty kotis
of bodhisattvas attained the Stage of Non-retrogression;
and all, adorned with the virtue of the universal
vows, will ultimately attain perfect Enlightenment.
End of Part Two of
At that time the entire universe of a thousand
million worlds shook in six ways, and a great
light illuminated all the lands in the ten
quarters. A hundred thousand kinds of music
played spontaneously, and innumerable marvelous flowers
fell in profusion from the sky.
When the Buddha finished delivering this
sutra, the Bodhisattva Maitreya and bodhisattvas
from the lands in the ten quarters, together
with the Elder Ananda, other great shravakas,
and all those in the assembly, without exception,
rejoiced at the Buddha's discourse.
The Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life
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