Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Visualization of Amitāyus Buddha

佛說觀無量壽佛經
Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Visualization of Amitāyus Buddha
Translated into Chinese in the Liu Song Dynasty
by
The Tripiṭaka Master Kālayaśas from India
Preface
Thus I have heard:
At one time the Buddha was staying on the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain, near the city of Rājagṛha, together with 1,250 great bhikṣus and 32,000 Bodhisattvas. At the head of this multitude was Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva the Dharma Prince.
At that time, in the great city of Rājagṛha, the crown prince, Ajātaśatru, urged by his evil friend Devadatta, had his father, King Bimbisāra, arrested and locked in a cell behind seven walls. He decreed to all state ministers that no one could visit the king.
Nevertheless, Queen Vaidehī was loyal to the great king. She bathed, smeared her body with honey and roasted flour, and hid [a flask of] grape juice under her necklaces. She secretly offered them to the king [on her visit]. Having eaten the flour and drunk the juice, the great king asked for water to rinse his mouth. After rinsing his mouth, he joined his palms reverently and made obeisance to the World-Honored One, who was on the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain in the distance. He said, “Mahāmaudgalyāyana is my kin and friend. I pray that he, out of lovingkindness and compassion, will impart the eight precepts to me.”
Maudgalyāyana flew to the king like an eagle. Day after day, he imparted the eight precepts to the king. The World-Honored One also sent the venerable Pūrṇa to expound the Dharma to the king. Time passed this way for twenty-one days. Because each day he ate the honey flour and heard the Dharma, the king looked well and content.
But then Ajātaśatru asked the guard, “Is my father still alive?”
The guard replied, “Your Majesty, each day the queen brings the king honey flour smeared on her body and grape juice concealed under her necklaces. The śramaṇas Maudgalyāyana and Pūrṇa soar across the sky to expound the Dharma to the king. They are unstoppable.”
Having heard these words, Ajātaśatru was furious with his mother. He said, “My mother is a traitor, keeping company with traitors. The evil śramaṇas are using magic and spells to stave off death from this evil king for so many days.”
He drew his sharp sword to slay his mother. But Moonlight, an intelligent and resourceful minister, and Jīva, another minister, saluted the crown prince and said, “Your Majesty, we have learned from the Vedas that since the beginning of this kalpa, 18,000 evil kings have killed their fathers for the throne. But never has anyone killed his mother. Your Majesty, if you commit this rebellious sin, it means that you defile the name of the kṣatriya caste and become a caṇḍāla [an outcaste]. As your ministers, we cannot bear to hear of this, so we should remain here no longer.”
Having said that, the two great ministers retreated step by step, hands on their swords.
Ajātaśatru was astonished and intimidated. He asked Jīva, “You will not be with me?”
Jīva replied, “Your Majesty, take care not to harm your mother.”
So, to save himself, Ajātaśatru relented. He dropped his sword, withdrawing his intent to kill his mother. He then ordered the palace guards to confine his mother in a secluded palace, forbidding her to go out.
While under house arrest, Vaidehī pined. Facing the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain in the distance, she made obeisance to the Buddha and said, “In the past, the Tathāgata-Bhagavān often sent Ānanda to greet and comfort me. I now despair because I cannot see the sublime visage of the World-Honored One. I pray that You will send Mahāmaudgalyāyana and the venerable Ānanda to see me.”
And with tears of sorrow falling like rain, she made obeisance to the Buddha in the distance. In an instant, even before Vaidehī raised her head, the World-Honored One, on the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain, knew the thoughts in her mind. He commanded Mahāmaudgalyāyana and Ānanda to fly there, and He disappeared from the mountain and appeared in the palace. When Vaidehī raised her head from her obeisance, she saw Śākyamuni Buddha the World-Honored One, purple-tinged golden, seated on a lotus flower made of a hundred treasures. He was attended by Mahāmaudgalyāyana on His left and Ānanda on His right. In the sky stood the Brahma-kings, the god-king Śakra, the four god-kings who protect the world, and other gods, and they showered celestial flowers everywhere as an offering to the Buddha.
When Vaidehī saw the Buddha-Bhagavān, she cast off her necklaces and threw herself on the ground. Weeping loudly, she asked the Buddha, “For what sins in my past lives have I given birth to this evil son? Through what causes and conditions does the World-Honored One have Devadatta in His retinue? I pray only that the World-Honored One will reveal to me a place free from sorrow and distress. I wish to be reborn there. I dislike this turbid evil world of Jambudvīpa. This place, teeming with hell-dwellers, hungry ghosts, and animals, is where the evil ones assemble. I wish that, in my next life, I will not hear the evil sounds or see the evil people. I prostrate myself on the ground before the World-Honored One, beseeching You to sympathize with my repentance. I pray only that the Buddha will teach me to visualize a place of pure karma.”

The Teachings
Display of All Buddha Lands
Then the World-Honored One sent forth golden beams of light from between His eyebrows. The beams shone everywhere in innumerable worlds in the ten directions. Then they returned to the crown of the Buddha’s head and transformed into a golden plateau as immense as Mount Sumeru, in which were displayed pure Buddha Lands in the ten directions. Some lands were made of the seven treasures; some lands were solely lotus flowers; some lands were like the palaces in the sixth desire heaven; some lands were like crystal mirrors. Thus displayed were all lands in the ten directions! And thus Vaidehī could see the splendors of innumerable Buddha Lands.
Then Vaidehī said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, although these Buddha Lands are all pure and radiant, I now would rather be reborn in Sukhāvatī, Amitāyus Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss. I pray only that the World-Honored One will teach me how to visualize that land and have the right experience.”
Then the World-Honored One smiled, and beams of light in five colors issued from the Buddha’s mouth. Each beam shone on the crown of King Bimbisāra’s head. Although the great king was imprisoned, his mind’s eye was unhindered as he saw the World-Honored One in the distance. He made obeisance, placing his forehead on the ground, and easily achieved the third voice-hearer fruit, becoming an Anāgāmin.

The Three Meritorious Works
Then the World-Honored One told Vaidehī, “Do you know now? Amitāyus Buddha is not far from here. You should think of and visualize that land formed by pure karma. I now will explicate it to you with analogies and thereby enable those ordinary beings of the future who will do pure karmas to be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss.
“Those who wish to be reborn in that land should carry out three meritorious works. First, they should honor and support their parents, serve their teachers and elders, cultivate lovingkindness by not killing sentient beings, and do the ten good karmas. Second, they should take and uphold the Three Refuges, and fully observe their precepts without any breach in their conduct. Third, they should activate the bodhi mind, deeply believe in causality, read and recite Mahāyāna sūtras, and persuade others to do the same. These three works are called the pure karmas.”
The Buddha said to Vaidehī, “Do you not know now? These three karmas are the right cause for [all] the pure karmas of Buddhas of the past, present, and future.”

Explication of the Sixteen Visualizations
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “Hearken! Hearken! Ponder it well! For the sake of sentient beings of the future that are tormented captives of their own afflictions, which are like bandits, the Tathāgata now will explicate the pure karmas. Very good, Vaidehī, ask your questions at once. Ānanda, accept and uphold the Buddha’s words, and pronounce them to the multitudes. The Tathāgata will now teach Vaidehī and all sentient beings of the future how to visualize the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. By virtue of the Buddha’s power, you will be able to see that Pure Land, just as you see the reflection of your own face in a clear mirror. Once you see the wonderful and joyful things in that land, you will be delighted and instantly achieve the Endurance in the Realization of the No Birth of Dharmas.”
The Buddha told Vaidehī, “You are an ordinary being with coarse perceptions. Without the god-eye, you cannot see far. Nevertheless, Buddha-Tathāgatas have exceptional ways to enable you to see.”
At that time Vaidehī asked the Buddha, “By virtue of the power of the Buddha, I will be enabled to see that land. However, after the Buddha’s parinirvāṇa, how can sentient beings that are impure, wicked, and burdened by the five kinds of suffering see Amitāyus Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss?”

1. The Setting Sun
The Buddha told Vaidehī, “You as well as other sentient beings should concentrate your mind and focus on the one place, thinking of the west. How does one visualize? All sentient beings with eyes that are not born blind have seen the setting sun. One should sit properly, facing the west, and visualize that the sun is setting. One should focus one’s mind and visualize, with unshakable concentration, the setting sun like a hanging drum. Success in visualizing the setting sun means that one can see it distinctly with eyes open or closed. The vision of the sun is called the first visualization. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

2–3. The Water and the Ground
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “Having achieved the first visualization, one should next visualize water. One should visualize that everywhere in the Western Pure Land is an expanse of water, seeing distinctly that the water is pure and clear, not losing this picture.
“Having visualized the water, one then visualizes that it is ice. Seeing the ice as clear and transparent, one then visualizes that it is aquamarine. Having achieved this vision, one can see that the aquamarine ground is completely transparent and that it is supported underneath by golden cylindrical banners made of diamonds and the seven treasures. Each cylindrical banner has eight sides and angles, each side inlaid with 100 gems. Each precious gem emits 1,000 beams of light, and each beam has 84,000 colors, shining through the aquamarine ground like 1,000 koṭi suns, which are too brilliant to be seen in their entirety.
“On the aquamarine ground are crisscrossing golden ropes, which clearly divide the ground into areas for the seven treasures. Each treasure radiates beams of light in 500 colors. These beams are like flowers, also like stars and moons. Gathered in the sky, they form a platform of radiance, on which stand ten million lofty towers, each tower made of 100 treasures. As adornments, on both sides of the platform are 100 koṭi flower banners and innumerable musical instruments. Eight kinds of pure winds flow out of the radiance to stir the musical instruments, which play tones expounding the truths: suffering, emptiness, impermanence, and no self.
“The vision of water is called the second visualization. When one has achieved this vision, one sees each object clearly. One does not lose it, eyes open or closed. Except during sleep,[1] one constantly remembers this picture. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “The vision of water is called a rough visualization of the ground in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. If one enters samādhi, one will see the ground of that land so clearly that the details are too numerous to be described. The vision of the ground is called the third visualization.”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “Uphold the Buddha’s words and pronounce this Dharma of visualizing the ground to the multitudes of the future who wish to be liberated from their suffering. For those who visualize the ground, their sins which would entail 80 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. After death, they will definitely be reborn, in a future life, in the Pure Land, where they will have no doubts in their minds. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

4. The Jeweled Trees
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “After achieving the vision of the ground, one should next visualize the jeweled trees. To visualize the jeweled trees, one should visualize each tree in seven lines of trees. Each jeweled tree is 8,000 yojanas tall, complete with flowers and leaves made of the seven treasures. The flowers and leaves are each of different jewel colors. The aquamarine colors gleam with golden light; the crystal colors, red light; the emerald colors, conch shell light; the conch shell colors, green gem light. Each tree is adorned with coral, amber, and all kinds of treasures.
“Covering the trees are nets of wonderful precious gems. Each tree is covered by seven layers of nets. Between each two layers are 500 koṭi wonderful, splendid palaces, like the palaces of Brahma-gods. Celestial children are in these palaces, and each child is adorned with necklaces of 500 koṭi śakrābhi-lagna jewels. The radiance of these jewels reaches a distance of 100 yojanas, like an assembly of 100 koṭi suns and moons, which are too numerous to be named. So superb are the colors of these intermingled jewels!
“The jeweled trees are matched line to line, leaf to leaf. Among the tree leaves are wonderful flowers, upon which appear fruits made of the seven treasures. Each tree leaf measures 25 yojanas in length and width and has, like celestial necklaces, 1,000 colors and 100 pictures. The wonderful flowers are the colors of the gold from the Jambu River. Like twirling fire wheels, they roll among the leaves, while fruits spring up as if from the god-king Śakra’s vase. Their vast radiance is transformed into banners and innumerable jeweled canopies. Displayed in the jeweled canopies is all the Buddha work in the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World. Also displayed in them are Buddha Lands in the ten directions.
“Having visualized the trees [as wholes], one should distinctly visualize the tree trunks, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits, one by one. The vision of the trees is called the fourth visualization. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

5. The Pond Waters
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “Having achieved the vision of the trees, one should next visualize the pond waters. To visualize the pond waters, one should visualize the eight ponds in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The waters in each pond are the liquid form of the seven treasures. The treasure waters are soft, and they issue from the wishing-fulfilling jewel, the king of jewels. They are divided into fourteen tributaries, each in the wonderful colors of the seven treasures. These channels are formed with yellow gold, and their beds are covered with diamond dust. In the waters [of each pond] are 60 koṭi lotus flowers made of the seven treasures. Each lotus flower is perfectly round, 12 yojanas across. As the treasure waters flow up and down the stems of the lotus flowers, they make wonderful sounds expounding the truths—suffering, emptiness, impermanence, and no self—and the pāramitās, and praising Buddhas’ sublime appearances.
“Sprung from the wish-fulfilling jewel-king, wonderful golden beams of light transform into birds of 100 jewel colors which, in harmonious, exquisite melodies, constantly praise the merit of thinking of the Buddha, thinking of the Dharma, and thinking of the Saṅgha.
“The vision of waters with the eight virtues is called the fifth visualization. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

6. The Towers and the Surroundings
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “In each region of that land of multitudinous treasures are 500 koṭi treasure towers. Inside each tower are innumerable gods, playing celestial music. Musical instruments hover in the sky like celestial jeweled banners, and they sound without being played. Their tones pronounce the thinking of the Buddha, the thinking of the Dharma, and the thinking of the Saṅgha.
“This vision is called a rough visualization of the jeweled ground, jeweled trees, and jeweled ponds in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. This general vision is called the sixth visualization. For those who have achieved this vision, their evil karmas done in innumerable koṭis of kalpas will all be obliterated. After death, they will definitely be reborn in that land. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “Hearken! Hearken! Ponder it well! I will expound to you this Dharma for removing your suffering. You should remember and uphold it, and widely expound it to the multitudes.”
As these words were being said, Amitāyus Buddha appeared. He stood in the sky, attended on His left and His right by the two Great Ones, Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived. Their glowing radiance was too great to be seen in its totality, with which the 100,000 colors of the gold from the Jambu River could never compare.
At that time Vaidehī, upon seeing Amitāyus Buddha, made obeisance at the Buddha’s feet and asked, “World-Honored One, by virtue of the Buddha’s power, I now have come to see Amitāyus Buddha and the two Bodhisattvas. How should sentient beings of the future visualize Amitāyus Buddha and the two Bodhisattvas?”

7. The Lotus Flower Seat
The Buddha replied to Vaidehī, “To visualize that Buddha, one should first visualize a lotus flower on the ground made of the seven treasures. One should visualize that each petal of the lotus flower has, like celestial pictures, 100 jewel colors and 84,000 veins, and should see clearly that each vein emits 84,000 beams of light. The smaller flower petals each measure 250 yojanas in length and width. Such a lotus flower has 84,000 petals. Between these petals are 100 koṭi jewel-kings serving as adornments. Each jewel emits 1,000 beams of light that are like a blanket made of the seven treasures, covering the ground everywhere.
“On the lotus flower is a platform made of śakrābhi-lagna jewels, and it is adorned with 80,000 diamonds and kiṁśuka-colored gems, jewels from Brahma heavens, and nets of wonderful precious gems. Erected on the platform are jeweled cylindrical banners, each with four posts. Each jeweled banner is as immense as a billion koṭi Sumeru Mountains. The jeweled draperies on each banner are like those in the palaces of Yāma Heaven [the third desire heaven]. They each are adorned with 500 koṭi wonderful precious gems. Each precious gem emits 84,000 beams of light, and each beam has 84,000 distinct colors of gold. Each golden beam spreads all over that treasure land, assuming various forms from place to place—diamond platforms or nets of precious gems or clouds of various flowers—and freely displays Buddha work [in worlds] in the ten directions. The vision of the flower seat is called the seventh visualization.”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “Such a wonderful flower is formed by the power of the original vows of the bhikṣu Dharmākara [who is now Amitāyus Buddha]. Those who wish to think of that Buddha should first visualize this wonderful flower seat. When one creates this picture, one should not mix it with other things. One should visualize it item by item, seeing clearly each petal, each gem, each beam, each platform, and each banner. When one visualizes everything so clearly, it is like seeing one’s own face in the mirror. For those who have achieved this vision, their sins which would entail 500 koṭi kalpas[2] of birth and death will all be expunged. One will definitely be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

8. The Three Holy Ones
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “After achieving this vision, one should next visualize that Buddha. Why? A Buddha-Tathāgata’s body is the dharma realm, which pervades the thinking mind of all sentient beings. Therefore, when one visualizes a Buddha, one’s mind has a Buddha’s thirty-two physical marks and eighty excellent characteristics. The mind forms a Buddha, and the mind is the Buddha. The ocean of Saṁbuddhas is formed by one’s thinking mind. Therefore, one should single-mindedly focus on and visualize that Buddha, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha.
“To visualize that Buddha, one should first visualize His image. With eyes open or closed, one should visualize a precious image in the color of the gold from the Jambu River, seated on that lotus flower. Having beheld the image seated there, one’s mind’s eye is opened and one also sees distinctly all the adornments in the Land of Ultimate Bliss made of the seven treasures, such as the jeweled ground, jeweled ponds, and jeweled trees in lines, as well as the celestial jeweled draperies over the trees and the jeweled nets all over the open sky. The vision of this scene is so clear that it is like seeing it in one’s palm.
“Having achieved this vision, one should next visualize on that Buddha’s left side a huge lotus flower, which is just like the lotus flower described before, without any difference, and visualize on His right side another such lotus flower. One then visualizes an image of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva seated on the left lotus flower seat, golden in color like that Buddha’s image. One then visualizes an image of Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva seated on the right lotus flower seat. When this vision is achieved, the images of that Buddha and the two Bodhisattvas all emit wonderful beams of light. Their golden beams of light illuminate all the jeweled trees. Under each tree all across that land are three lotus flowers, seated on which are a Buddha and two Bodhisattvas.
“When this vision is achieved, the meditator should hear radiant flowing waters, jeweled trees, wild ducks, and mandarin ducks expounding the wondrous Dharma. In or out of samādhi, one constantly hears the wondrous Dharma. Even when out of samādhi, one still remembers what one has heard and should verify whether the teachings heard accord with those in the sūtras. If not in accord, they are called false perceptions. If in accord, this vision is called a rough visualization of the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The vision of this scene is called the eighth visualization. For those who do this visualization, their sins which would entail innumerable koṭis of kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. They will attain the Thinking-of-Buddhas Samādhi in their present life. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

9. The Sublime Body of Amitāyus Buddha
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “After achieving this vision, one should next visualize the glory of Amitāyus Buddha’s body. Ānanda, know that Amitāyus Buddha’s body is in a billion koṭi colors of the superb gold in Yāma Heaven. That Buddha’s height measures as many yojanas as the sands of 600,000 koṭi nayuta Ganges Rivers. The white hair between His eyebrows, like five Sumeru Mountains, curls to the right. That Buddha’s eyes, with blues and whites distinct, are pure like the water in four great oceans. The pores of His body emit radiance as immense as Mount Sumeru. The halo of that Buddha is as vast as 100 koṭi Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold Worlds. In His halo appear as many magically manifested Buddhas as the sands of a million koṭi nayuta Ganges Rivers. Each Buddha is attended by an innumerable multitude of magically manifested Bodhisattvas.
“Amitāyus Buddha has 84,000 excellent marks; each mark includes 84,000 excellent characteristics; each characteristic emits 84,000 beams of light. Each beam universally illuminates all worlds in the ten directions, attracting and accepting sentient beings that think of Buddhas, never abandoning them. His radiance, excellent characteristics, and magically manifested Buddhas are beyond description. However, one should picture them and make the mind’s eye see. Seeing Amitāyus Buddha is seeing all Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions. Seeing all Buddhas is called the Thinking-of-Buddhas Samādhi. Doing this visualization is called visualizing the bodies of all Buddhas. By visualizing the bodies of all Buddhas, one sees the Buddha mind. The Buddha mind is [the mind of] great lovingkindness and compassion. With unconditional lovingkindness, Buddhas accept all sentient beings. Those who do this visualization, after death, will be reborn, in a future life, before Buddhas and will achieve the Endurance in the Realization of the No Birth of Dharmas.
“Therefore, the wise should focus their minds and intently visualize Amitāyus Buddha. To visualize Amitāyus Buddha, one should begin with one excellent mark, the white hair between His eyebrows, and make it vividly clear. One who can see the white hair between His eyebrows should readily see all His 84,000 excellent marks. Seeing Amitāyus Buddha is seeing innumerable Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions. Seeing innumerable Buddhas, one will receive in their presence the prophecy [of attaining Buddhahood]. This comprehensive vision of all the features of that Buddha’s physical body is called the ninth visualization. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

10. The Sublime Body of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “Having seen Infinite Light Buddha clearly, one should next visualize Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva. This Bodhisattva’s height measures 800,000 koṭi nayuta yojanas.[3] His body is purple-tinged golden. On the top of his head is a fleshy mound. The light disks in the halo about his neck each measure 100,000 yojanas across. In each light disk are 500 magically manifested Buddhas, who resemble Śākyamuni Buddha. Each magically manifested Buddha is attended by 500 magically manifested Bodhisattvas and innumerable gods. Displayed in the radiance of His entire body are sentient beings in all kinds of physical forms, taking the five life-paths. On the top of his head is a wonderful śakrābhi-lagna jewel, worn as a celestial crown. Standing on his celestial crown is a magically manifested Buddha, 25 yojanas tall.
“Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva’s face is in the colors of the gold from the Jambu River. The hair between his eyebrows has the colors of the seven treasures, and it emits 84,000 beams of light. In each beam are innumerable, countless hundreds of thousands of magically manifested Buddhas. Each Buddha is attended by innumerable magically manifested Bodhisattvas. They all freely manifest themselves everywhere in worlds in the ten directions.
“His arms are red like the color of red lotus flowers, and they gleam with 80 koṭi wonderful beams of light, worn as necklaces. Displayed in these necklaces is the entire majestic Buddha work. His palms have the colors of 500 koṭi diverse lotus flowers. The tips of his ten fingers each display 84,000 pictures, like imprinted markings. Each picture has 84,000 colors, and each color emits 84,000 beams of light, which gently shine on all things. With these precious hands, he accepts and guides sentient beings. When he raises his foot, his sole shows the mark of a thousand-spoked wheel, which readily transforms into 500 koṭi platforms of radiance. Wherever he steps, flowers made of diamonds and jewels spread everywhere and cover everything. His physical characteristics are as perfect as those of a Buddha. Only the fleshy mound on the top of his head and the invisible crown of his head cannot be compared with those of the World-Honored One. The vision of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva’s physical body is called the tenth visualization.”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “Those who wish to see Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva should do this visualization. Those who visualize him will not encounter disasters. Their karma hindrances will be completely removed, and their sins which would entail innumerable kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. One will acquire immeasurable merit merely by hearing this Bodhisattva’s name, and even more by visualizing him. To visualize Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, one should first visualize the fleshy mound on the top of his head, and next visualize his celestial crown. One should visualize other features successively, making each as clear as if seen in one’s palm. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

11. The Sublime Body of Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “One should next visualize [Mahāsthāmaprāpta] Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva. This Bodhisattva’s body measurement is the same as Avalokiteśvara’s. The light disks in his halo each measure 125 yojanas[4] across and radiate beams of light through a distance of 250 yojanas. The radiance of his entire body illuminates worlds in the ten directions with purple-tinged golden light. Sentient beings with the right conditions all can see it. Seeing the light from even one of this Bodhisattva’s pores is seeing the pure radiance of innumerable Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions. Therefore, this Bodhisattva is called Boundless Light, who illuminates all sentient beings with the light of wisdom, enabling them to abandon the three evil life-journeys and to gain superb strength. Therefore, this Bodhisattva is called Great Might Arrived.
“This Bodhisattva’s celestial crown is adorned with 500 jeweled flowers. On each jeweled flower are 500 jeweled platforms. On each platform are wide-ranging displays of pure Buddha Lands in the ten directions. The fleshy mound on the top of his head is like a red lotus flower. Standing on the fleshy mound is a jeweled vase filled with radiance that displays the entire Buddha work. His other physical marks are equal to Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva’s, without any difference.
“When this Bodhisattva walks, all worlds in the ten directions are shaken. Wherever the earth quakes, 500 koṭi jeweled flowers appear. Each jeweled flower is as splendid and glorious as the Land of Ultimate Bliss. When this Bodhisattva sits down, the land made of the seven treasures is instantly shaken. Magically manifested copies of Amitāyus Buddha, of Avalokiteśvara, and of Great Might Right, as numerous as innumerable dust particles in the space between Golden Light Buddha’s land below and Radiance King Buddha’s land above, all assemble in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Jam-packed in the sky, seated on jeweled lotus flower seats, they expound the wondrous Dharma to deliver suffering sentient beings.
“Doing this visualization is called seeing Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva. The vision of Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva’s physical body is called the eleventh visualization. For those who do this visualization, their sins which would entail innumerable asaṁkhyeyas of kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. They will not be reborn through the womb. They will always visit pure Buddha Lands. This visualization is called the complete vision of Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

12. One’s Rebirth in a Lotus Flower
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “Having seen the preceding scenes, one should next visualize oneself reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, seated cross-legged in a lotus flower, and imagine the lotus flower closing and opening. One should visualize that, when the lotus flower opens, beams of light in 500 colors come to illuminate one’s body. One should visualize that one’s eyes are opened to see Buddhas and Bodhisattvas all over the sky. One also hears the wondrous Dharma, expounded by the sounds of the water, birds, trees, and Buddhas, which should accord with the Dharma in sūtras in the twelve categories. One will remember everything without lapse even when one is out of samādhi.
“Seeing this scene is called seeing Amitāyus Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss. This comprehensive vision is called the twelfth visualization. Then innumerable magically manifested copies of Amitāyus Buddha, together with those of Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived, will often come to this meditator. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

13. The Three Holy Images in Smaller Size
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “If one earnestly wishes to be reborn in the Western Pure Land, one should visualize a Buddha image sixteen feet tall, standing on the surface of pond water. As described earlier, Amitāyus Buddha’s body measurement is boundless, beyond the mental power of ordinary beings. However, because of the power of that Tathāgata’s original vows, those who visualize Him will succeed. One can acquire immeasurable merit merely by visualizing that Buddha’s image, and even more by visualizing all of His physical features. Amitāyus Buddha demonstrates his spiritual powers at will as He freely manifests Himself in worlds in the ten directions, whether as a vast body filling the entire sky or as a small body, only sixteen or eighteen feet tall. The form He manifests is in the color of pure gold. His halo, His magically manifested Buddhas, and His jeweled lotus flower are just as described before.
“The bodies of Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived look the same in every aspect. Sentient beings, by observing the appearances of their heads, can know whether it is Avalokiteśvara or Great Might Arrived. These two Bodhisattvas assist Amitāyus Buddha to deliver all sentient beings. The vision of the three images [Amitāyus Buddha and the two Bodhisattvas] is called the thirteenth visualization. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

14. The Three Rebirths in the High Rank
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “Sentient beings reborn in the Western Pure Land are classified into nine grades. Those who wish to achieve a high rebirth in the high rank in that land must invoke three minds in order to succeed. What are these three? First, an earnest mind; second, a profound mind; and third, a mind wishing for rebirth in the Pure Land as one transfers one’s merits to other sentient beings. Those with these three minds will definitely be reborn in that land.
“Moreover, there are three kinds of sentient beings that will be reborn there. What are those three? First, those who, with the mind of lovingkindness, refrain from killing sentient beings and fully observe the precepts for their conduct. Second, those who read and recite Mahāyāna vaipulya sūtras. Third, those who practice the six remembrances and, with a wish for rebirth in that Buddha Land, transfer their merits to others.
“A person who has acquired such merits in one to seven days will be reborn there. When this person is about to be reborn in that land, because he has made boldly energetic progress, Amitāyus the Tathāgata, together with Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived, innumerable magically manifested Buddhas, 100,000 voice-hearer bhikṣus, and innumerable gods riding their palaces made of the seven treasures, will appear to him. Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, holding a diamond platform, together with Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva, will come before this person. Amitāyus Buddha, together with Bodhisattvas, will emit great radiance to illuminate his body and extend a welcoming hand to receive him. Avalokiteśvara, Great Might Arrived, and innumerable Bodhisattvas will praise him, encouraging his heart.
“This person, having beheld this scene, will be exultant and exuberant. He will see himself ride the diamond platform, following after that Buddha. In the instant of a finger snap, he will be reborn in that land. After his rebirth in that land, he will see that Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, with all their physical marks, and he will hear radiant jeweled trees expound the wondrous Dharma. Having heard it, he will forthwith achieve the Endurance in the Realization of the No Birth of Dharmas. He can, in a short while, serve Buddhas in all worlds in the ten directions and successively receive before them the prophecy [of attaining Buddhahood]. He will then return to his own land and acquire innumerable hundreds of thousands of Dhāraṇī Doors. This is called a high rebirth in the high rank.
“Those who wish to achieve a middling rebirth in the high rank need not read or recite vaipulya sūtras. However, they should have a good understanding of their tenets, and their minds should not be upset by the highest truth. They should deeply believe in causality, and not malign the Mahāyāna. Then, with a wish for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, they can transfer these merits to others. When such a person’s life is ending, Amitāyus Buddha, holding a purple-tinged golden platform, together with Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived, surrounded by an innumerable multitude and retinue, will come before the person and praise him with these words: ‘Dharma-Son, you practice the Mahāyāna teachings and understand the highest truth. Therefore, I now have come to receive you.’
“As Amitāyus Buddha and 1,000 magically manifested Buddhas simultaneously extend their hands, this person will see himself seated on the purple-tinged golden platform, palms joined, praising Buddhas. In the instant of a thought, he will be reborn in that land, in a pond made of the seven treasures. This purple-tinged golden platform is like a huge jeweled flower, which opens after one night.
“The person’s body after rebirth will be purple-tinged golden, with a lotus flower made of the seven treasures under his feet. That Buddha and the Bodhisattvas will all emit light to illuminate his body, and his eyes will be opened and bright. Because of his training in his previous life, he will hear sounds that pronounce only the profound highest truth. He will descend the golden platform and make obeisance to that Buddha. Joining his palms, he will praise the World-Honored One. After seven days, he will achieve [the spiritual level of] no regress from his resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Forthwith, he will fly to worlds in the ten directions to serve Buddhas. He will train in samādhis in the places where Buddhas are. After one small kalpa, he will achieve the Endurance in the Realization of the No Birth of Dharmas and will receive before Buddhas the prophecy [of attaining Buddhahood]. This is called a middling rebirth in the high rank.
“A low rebirth in the high rank can be achieved by those who, though having faith in causality and not maligning the Mahāyāna, mainly activate the unsurpassed bodhi mind and, with a wish for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, transfer these merits to others. When such a person’s life is ending, Amitāyus Buddha, holding a golden lotus flower, together with Avalokiteśvara, Great Might Arrived, and other Bodhisattvas, will conjure up 500 magically manifested Buddhas to receive him. These 500 magically manifested Buddhas will simultaneously extend their hands, praising, ‘Dharma-Son, you are pure, and you have activated the unsurpassed bodhi mind. I have come to receive you.’
“As soon as he beholds this scene, he will find himself seated in the golden lotus flower. Then the lotus flower will close and follow after the World-Honored One. He will be reborn in a pond made of the seven treasures. After one day and one night, the lotus flower will open. He will be able to see that Buddha in seven days. Although he sees that Buddha’s body, its features will not clear in his mind. Only after twenty-one days will he be able to see them clearly and hear the wondrous Dharma pronounced by various sounds. He will then travel to worlds in the ten directions and make offerings to Buddhas. Before those Buddhas, he will again hear the profound Dharma. After three small kalpas, he will go through the Illumination Door of the One Hundred Dharmas, ascending to the First Ground, the Ground of Joy. This is called a low rebirth in the high rank.
“The vision of rebirths in the high rank is called the fourteenth visualization. This visualization is called the right visualization while other visualizations are the wrong visualization.”

15. The Three Rebirths in the Middle Rank
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A high rebirth in the middle rank can be achieved by sentient beings that accept and abide by the five precepts and regularly observe the eight precepts. While training in observance of precepts, they commit neither any of the five rebellious sins nor any other wrongdoings. With a wish for rebirth in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, they transfer these roots of goodness to others.
“When such a person’s life is ending, Amitāyus Buddha, together with bhikṣus, surrounded by His retinue, will radiate golden light as He comes to this person. That Buddha will expound the teachings on suffering, emptiness, impermanence, and no self, praise renunciation of family life, and praise liberation from suffering. Having beheld this scene, this person, with great joy in his heart, will see himself seated on a platform borne by a lotus flower. He will fall on both knees, join his palms, and make obeisance to that Buddha. In the instant before he raises his head, he will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The lotus flower will quickly open. When the flower opens, he will hear various sounds praising the Four Noble Truths, and he will become an Arhat, achieving the Three Clarities, the six transcendental powers, and the eight liberations. This is called a high rebirth in the middle rank.
“A middling rebirth in the middle rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have observed for one day and one night the eight precepts, the śrāmaṇera precepts, or the complete monastic precepts, with no flaw in their conduct. If they, with a wish for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, transfer these merits to others, they are infused with the fragrance of the precepts. When such a person’s life is ending, he will see Amitāyus Buddha, together with His retinue, radiating golden light and holding a lotus flower made of the seven treasures, come before him. He will hear a voice in the sky, which praises, ‘Good man, because a good person such as yourself follows the teachings of Buddhas of the past, present, and future, I have come to receive you.’
“This person will see himself seated in a lotus flower, which then closes. He will be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, in a jeweled pond. After seven days, the lotus flower will open. After the flower has opened, he will open his eyes, join his palms, and praise the World-Honored One. After hearing the Dharma, he will be delighted and become a Srotāpanna [Streamer Enterer]. After half a [small] kalpa, he will become an Arhat. This is called a middling rebirth in the middle rank.
“A low rebirth in the middle rank can be achieved by good men and good women who honor and support their parents and are kind and generous to others. When such a person’s life is ending, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will expound the joyful things in Amitāyus Buddha’s land as well as the bhikṣu Dharmākara’s forty-eight great vows. After hearing these things, he will die. In the instant of a strong man extending his arm, this person will be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. Seven days after his rebirth, he will encounter Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived. Having heard the Dharma from them, he will be delighted and become a Srotāpanna. After one small kalpa, he will become an Arhat. This is called a low rebirth in the middle rank.
“The vision of rebirths in the middle rank is called the fifteenth visualization. This visualization is the right visualization while other visualizations are called the wrong visualization.”

16. The Three Rebirths in the Low Rank
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A high rebirth in the low rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have done evil karmas. Although they did not malign vaipulya sūtras, these fools have done evils with no sense of shame or dishonor. When such a person’s life is ending, however, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will pronounce the names of Mahāyāna sūtras in the twelve categories. Because he has heard the names of such sūtras, his evil karmas which would entail 1,000 kalpas of birth and death will be obliterated. The wise friend will also teach him to join his palms and say ‘namo Amitāyus Buddha.’ By saying Amitāyus Buddha’s name, his sins which would entail 50 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. Thereupon, that Buddha will immediately send magically manifested Buddhas and magically manifested Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived to come before this person. They will praise him, saying, ‘Good man, your sins are expunged because you say the name of a Buddha. I have come to receive you.’ These words being said, the person will immediately see the radiance of magically manifested Buddhas entirely filling his room. Having beheld this scene, he will be delighted and then die.
“Riding a jeweled lotus flower, he will follow after the magically manifested Buddhas and will be reborn in a jeweled pond. After forty-nine days, the lotus flower will open. When the flower opens, Great Compassion Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva, emitting immense radiance, will stand before this person and pronounce to him profound sūtras in the twelve categories. Having heard these teachings, with faith and understanding, he will activate the unsurpassed bodhi mind. After ten small kalpas, he will go through the Illumination Door of the One Hundred Dharmas, ascending to the First Ground. This called a high rebirth in the low rank.
“There are those who have heard of the words ‘Buddha, Dharma, Saṅgha.’ By hearing these names of the Three Jewels, they too can be reborn there.”[5]
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A middling rebirth in the low rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have violated any of the five precepts, the eight precepts, or the complete monastic precepts. Such fools have stolen from the Saṅgha and robbed monks. They have made defiling statements with no sense of shame or dishonor. They adorn themselves with their evil ways. These sinners, because of their evil karmas, should fall into hell. When such a person’s life is ending, the fires of hell will arrive at once. Nevertheless, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will describe the awesome virtues of Amitāyus Buddha’s Ten Powers, explain in detail His radiance and spiritual powers, and praise samādhi, wisdom, liberation, and the knowledge and views of liberation. After he has heard these things, his sins which would entail 80 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. The raging fires of hell will be transformed into cool winds, which bring celestial flowers down from the sky. Seated on these flowers will be magically manifested Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have come to receive this person.
“In the instant of a thought, he will be reborn in a lotus flower in a pond made of the seven treasures. After six [large] kalpas, the lotus flower will open. When it opens, Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived will comfort this person with their Brahma tones. They will pronounce to him the profound Mahāyāna sūtras. Having heard the Dharma, he will immediately activate the unsurpassed bodhi mind. This is called a middling rebirth in the low rank.”
The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A low rebirth in the low rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have done bad karmas, such as any of the five rebellious acts or the ten evil karmas. Because of their evil karmas, these fools should go down the evil life-paths to undergo endless suffering for many kalpas. But when such a fool’s life is ending, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will comfort him in many ways, expound the wondrous Dharma, and teach him to think of that Buddha. However, this person, overcome by suffering, will be unable to think of that Buddha. His beneficent friend will then tell him, ‘If you are unable to think of that Buddha, you should say that you take refuge in Amitāyus Buddha. Say it earnestly and keep your voice uninterrupted as you say “namo Amitāyus Buddha” ten times in ten thoughts.’ By saying Amitāyus Buddha’s name, thought after thought, his sins which would entail 80 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. When his life is ending, he will see a golden lotus flower appearing before him like the sun.
“In the instant of a thought, he will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. He will remain in the lotus flower for twelve large kalpas. When the lotus flower opens, Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived, with tones of great compassion, will expound to him the true reality of dharmas and the Dharma for expunging sins. Having heard the teachings, he will be delighted and immediately activate the bodhi mind. This is called a low rebirth in the low rank.
“The vision of rebirths in the low rank is called the sixteenth visualization.”

Benefits Received from the Teachings
When the World-Honored One spoke these words, Vaidehī, together with 500 female attendants, having heard the Buddha’s words, immediately saw the wide-ranging features of the Land of Ultimate Bliss and saw that Buddha and the two Bodhisattvas. With such joy, never experienced before, she came to a great realization, achieving the Endurance in the Realization of the No Birth of Dharmas. The 500 female attendants activated the anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi mind and resolved to be reborn in that land. The World-Honored One bestowed upon them a prophecy that they all would be reborn in that land and that, after their rebirth there, they would attain the Samādhi of All Buddhas Standing before One. Meanwhile, innumerable gods activated the unsurpassed bodhi mind.

Circulation of the Sūtra
At that time Ānanda rose from his seat, came before the Buddha, and asked, “Word-Honored One, what is the name of this sūtra? How does one uphold the tenets of this Dharma?”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “This sūtra is called Visualization of the Land of Ultimate Bliss, Amitāyus Buddha, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva. It is also called Annihilating Karma Hindrances and Being Reborn before Buddhas. All of you should accept and uphold it, never forgetting or losing it. Those who train in this samādhi will, in their present life, succeed in seeing Amitāyus Buddha and the two Great Ones. If, among good men and good women, there are those who hear the names of that Buddha and the two Bodhisattvas, their sins which would entail innumerable kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. Even more will their benefits be if they remember and think of them. Know that, if a person thinks of that Buddha, this person is a puṇḍarīka flower among men. Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived will be his beneficent friends, and he will be reborn in Buddha family, to be seated in a bodhimaṇḍa.”
The Buddha told Ānanda, “Uphold well these words. To uphold these words is to uphold Amitāyus Buddha’s name.”
After the Buddha had spoken these words, the venerable Maudgalyāyana, the venerable Ānanda, Vaidehī, and others, having heard the Buddha’s words, greatly rejoiced.
The World-Honored One walked across the sky and returned to the Gṛdhrakūṭa Mountain. Then Ānanda proclaimed to the multitudes this event, as described above. Innumerable gods, dragons, and yakṣas, having heard the Buddha’s words, greatly rejoiced. They made obeisance to the Buddha and departed.

—Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Visualization of Amitāyus Buddha
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T12n0365)

Notes
1. In text 365 (T12n0365), the exception is allowed for eating. However, in the Ming edition of the Chinese Canon and in the circulation text, the exception is allowed for sleep. The latter makes more sense. (Return to text)
2. Three different figures for the length of time are found. (1) It is 500 koṭi kalpas in text 365. (2) It is 50,000 koṭi kalpas, according to the Song, Yuan, and Ming editions of the Chinese Canon. (3) It is 50,000 kalpas, according to J. Takakusu (1894, part 2, 177). The first of these three figures is used here. (Return to text)
3. Three different figures for the height of Avalokiteśvara are found. (1) It is “as many yojanas as the sands of 80 koṭi nayuta Ganges Rivers” in text 365. (2) It is 800,000 koṭi nayuta yojanas, according to the Song, Yuan, and Ming editions of the Chinese Canon, a figure adopted in the circulation text. (3) It is 800,000 nayuta yojanas in Takakusu’s translation (ibid., 181–82). The second of these three figures is used here. (Return to text)
4. Although the figure 225 yojanas is found in text 365, it is 125 yojanas, according to the Song, Yuan, and Ming editions of the Chinese Canon. The latter figure is in agreement with that in Takakusu’s translation (ibid., 184). (Return to text)
5. This passage is included in text 365 and in Takakusu’s translation (ibid., 196), but not included in the Song, Yuan, and Ming editions of the Chinese Canon. (Return to text)

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