Larger Sutra


Illustrations from the Larger Sutra Mandala

Amida and his land seen by the audience.
Amida and the Pure Land shown to the audience

[41] 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 mountains 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

[42] 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 ten quarters?"
"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 birth
The cause of the two kinds of birth

[43] 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 there.

Shakyamuni's encouragement of faith

[44] "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 lotus-flowers.
"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."

Embryonic birth

[45] 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 there.
"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 other Buddha-lands

[46] 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 sutra

[47] 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 100 years more.


[48] 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.
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.

End of Part Two of
The Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life

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