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The Amida Sutra
(Skt. Smaller Sukhavativyuha sutra)
(Ch. Amituo jing)
(Jp. Amida-kyo)

Based on the contemporary Japanese translation of the Jodo Shu Research Institute,
published in
Kyoka Kenkyu (Journal of Jodo Shu Edification Studies), No. 14, 2003

Background on the Text

Translation by Imperial Edict of the Qin
Kumarajiva, Yao-Qin dynasty Dharma Priest of the Tripitaka1


I, Ananda, heard the following from the Buddha, Shakyamuni. At one time Shakyamuni was at the Jetavana garden in Shravasti.2 As many as twelve hundred and fifty people assembled, and they were especially eminent monks. They were all illustrious practitioners known as arhats who had eliminated their delusions and were of great renown.3 Among them, the elders Shariputra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Mahakashyapa, Mahakatyayana, Mahakausthila, Revata, Suddhipanthaka, Nanda, Ananda, Rahula, Gavampati, Pindola Bharadvaja, Kalodayin, Mahakapphina, Vakkula, and Aniruddha, were outstanding disciples.
4 There was also a vast number of bodhisattvas; the most excellent among them were Dharma Prince Manjushri, the Bodhisattva Ajita, the Bodhisattva Gandhahastin, and the Bodhisattva Nityodyukta.5 In addition, innumerable celestial deities such as Indra had gathered6.

Then the Buddha Shakyamuni explained to the elder Shariputra: "To the far west of this world (of delusion), beyond as many as ten trillion buddha-worlds, therefs another world called Ultimate Bliss with a buddha whose name is Amitabha, who is there even now teaching the Dharma.7 Shariputra, do you know why that buddha-world is called Ultimate Bliss? It is because the people who live there never experience suffering; they are mantled in multitude forms of happiness. For that reason it is called Ultimate Bliss.

gAlso, Shariputra, the world is adorned with seven railings, with seven rows of gauze curtains with little bells, and surrounded by seven rows of trees.8 All are set with four kinds of jewels, which adorn the world throughout. For that reason this world is called Ultimate Bliss.

"Again, Shariputra, in that world there are lotus ponds whose shores are decorated with seven kinds of jewels.9 The ponds brim with waters of eight good qualities and the floor of the ponds are lined with sand of gold.10 The ponds are surrounded by steps on their four sides made of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and crystal. Above are pavilions lavishly adorned with the seven jewels of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, coral, red pearls, and agate.11 There are lotuses blooming in the ponds, and their flowers are as large as the wheel of a cart. The blue flowers emit a blue light; the yellow flowers emit a yellow light; the red flowers emit a red light; and the white flowers emit a white light. Each of the lotus flowers glows, weaving an harmonic scene while emitting a subtle fragrance. Shariputra, this land of Ultimate Bliss is an ideal environment so that whatever one lays eyes upon will bring about awakening.

gAlso, Shariputra, in Amitabha Buddhafs land of Ultimate Bliss, there is always heavenly music playing. Moreover, the ground is made of gold, and flower petals float down from the skies six times every day.12 Early every morning, the people there gather the petals into their flower baskets and travel to ten trillion buddha-worlds to offer them in worship to the buddhas. Having become mealtime during this activity, they return in an instant to Ultimate Bliss, take their meal and then practice mindfulness by walking. Shariputra, the land of Ultimate Bliss is an ideal environment to follow the Buddha path and awaken to enlightenment.

"Furthermore, Shariputra, in the land of Ultimate Bliss there are various birds of brilliant coloring, such as white egrets, peacocks, parrots, sharikas, kalavinkas, and jivamjivakas.13 The birds sing six times a day in exquisite voices. Their very singing expresses Amitabhafs teachings, such as the Five Roots of Goodness, the Five Powers, the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, and the Noble Eightfold Path.14 When the people of the land of Ultimate Bliss hear the birdfs voices, all of their thoughts are dedicated to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. 

gShariputra, do not assume that these were born as birds as a result of misdeeds in former lives. This is because in the land of Ultimate Bliss, the three unfortunate realms of hell, hungry ghosts, and animals do not exist. Shariputra, you will not even hear the names of these three realms in the land of Ultimate Bliss. How could it be said that one could fall into one of these unfortunate realms when they do not in fact exist? Amitabha Buddha manifested these birds in the hope that they would transmit these teachings with their songs.

gShariputra, in the land of Ultimate Bliss, a pleasant breeze wafts, swaying the rows of trees colored with various jewels and waving the gauze curtains with little bells, stirring an exquisite melody. This is just as though hundreds of thousands of musical instruments were being played in unison. For all who hear this melody, their devotion to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha is spontaneously deepened. Shariputra, in this way the land of Ultimate Bliss is an ideal environment so that whatever one hears will bring about awakening.

gShariputra, why do you suppose this Buddha is called Amitabha? Shariputra, this Buddha emits immeasurable light, shedding light upon all the worlds of the ten directions without obstruction. For that reason this Buddha is called Amitabha, the Buddha of Immeasurable Light. Also, Shariputra, the lifespan of this Buddha and those in the land of Ultimate Bliss is immeasurably long of incalculable aeons.15 For that reason this Buddha is called Amitayus, the Buddha of Immeasurable Life. Shariputra, from the day Amitabha achieved enlightenment until the present day, an eternity of ten aeons has already passed. In addition, Shariputra, this Buddha has an immeasurable number of disciples, practitioners called arhats (who have eliminated their passions), whose numbers are incalculable. So are the numbers of the bodhisattvas also incalculable. Shariputra, in this way the land of Ultimate Bliss is an ideal environment for sentient beings to achieve enlightenment.

gMoreover, Shariputra, all sentient beings born in the land of Ultimate Bliss will never veer from the Buddhist path on their way to enlightenment. The vast majority have the virtue of becoming a buddha in their very next life. Their numbers are so vast as to be unknowable by calculation, and can only be explained in terms of counting for immeasurable incalculable aeons.

"Shariputra, those sentient beings who now hear of this Pure Land should aspire to achieve Birth in this land of Ultimate Bliss because there they can join these virtuous beings. However, Shariputra, those that aspire to be born in this land cannot rely merely on the roots of goodness acquired through spiritual practices or the effects of virtuous merit. (Then what should they do to attain this Birth?)16

gShariputra, should good men and good women hear of the teaching of Amitabha and assiduously recite the nenbutsu invocation, gNamu Amida Butsuh (Homage to Amitabha Buddha) for one day, two days, three, four, five, six, or seven days, or more, then at the end of their lives, Amitabha Buddha will appear before their very eyes with his entourage of bodhisattvas and saintly disciples from the land of Ultimate Bliss. For that reason, in their last moment they will be without anxiety and Amitabha will bring them forthwith to be born in Amitabha Buddhafs land of Ultimate Bliss.

gShariputra, I clearly see the benefit of this (that Amitabha Buddhafs salvation is without fail) and therefore explain to you that sentient beings hearing this teaching should aspire to be born in Amitabhafs Pure Land (to assuredly attain Birth there).

gShariputra, as I have now praised the sublime virtue of Amitabha, (who established the nenbutsu for Birth), so are there buddhas (with buddha-worlds) to the east such as Akshobhya Buddha, Merudhvaja Buddha,  Mahameru Buddha, Meruprabhasa Buddha, and Manjudhvaja Buddha as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River.17 Each from their own lands, have extended their vast tongues encompassing a billion world systems, pronouncing these words of truth: eAll of you should believe in The Discourse that tells of all the buddhas who praise the inconceivable virtue of Amitabha and who offer protective salvation.18

gIn addition, there are buddhas (with buddha-worlds) to the south such as Candra Suryapradipa Buddha, Yashaprabha Buddha, Maharciskandha Buddha, Merupradipa Buddha, and Anantavirya Buddha as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River. Each from their own lands, have extended their vast tongues encompassing a billion world systems, pronouncing these words of truth: eAll of you should believe in The Discourse that tells of all the buddhas who praise the inconceivable virtue of Amitabha and who offer protective salvation.f

gFurthermore, there are buddhas (with buddha-worlds) to the west such as Amitayus Buddha, Amitaketu Buddha, Amitadhvaja Buddha, Mahaprabha Buddha, Mahaprabhasa Buddha, Ratnaketu Buddha, and Suddharasmiprabha Buddha as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River.19 Each from their own lands, have extended their vast tongues encompassing a billion world systems, pronouncing these words of truth: eAll of you should believe in The Discourse that tells of all the buddhas who praise the inconceivable virtue of Amitabha and who offer protective salvation.f

gMoreover, there are buddhas (with buddha-worlds) to the north such as Arciskandha Buddha, Vaishvanaranirghosa Buddha, Duspradharsa Buddha, Adityasambhava Buddha, and Jaliniprabha Buddha as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River.
20 Each from their own lands, have extended their vast tongues encompassing a billion world systems, pronouncing these words of truth: eAll of you should believe in The Discourse that tells of all the buddhas who praise the inconceivable virtue of Amitabha and who offer protective salvation.f

gAdditionally, there are buddhas (with buddha-worlds) in the lower regions such as Simha Buddha, Yashas Buddha, Yashahprabhasa Buddha, Dharma Buddha, Dharmadhvaja Buddha, and Dharmadhara as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River. Each from their own lands, have extended their vast tongues encompassing a billion world systems, pronouncing these words of truth: eAll of you should believe in The Discourse that tells of all the buddhas who praise the inconceivable virtue of Amitabha and who offer protective salvation.f

gAlso, there are buddhas with buddha-worlds in the upper regions such as Brahmaghosa Buddha, Naksatraraja Buddha, Gandhottama Buddha, Gandhaprabhasa Buddha, Maharciskandha Buddha, Ratnakusuma Sampuspitagatra Buddha, Salendraraja Buddha, Ratnotpalashri Buddha, Sarvarthadarsha Buddha, and Sumerukalpa Buddha as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River.
21 Each from their own lands, have extended their vast tongues encompassing a billion world systems, pronouncing these words of truth: eAll of you should believe in The Discourse that tells of all the buddhas who praise the inconceivable virtue of Amitabha and who offer protective salvation.f

gShariputra, why do you think this discourse was given the appellation The Discourse that tells of all the buddhas who praise the inconceivable virtue of Amitabha and who offer protective salvation? Shariputra, if good men and good women hear the name of this discourse and the name of Amitabha Buddha praised by all the Buddhas, these good men and good women will be protected by all the buddhas and all will (after Birth) attain supreme perfect enlightenment without veering from the Buddhist path. For that reason Shariputra, all of you take these words of mine and of all the Buddhas, accept them and believe in them.

gShariputra, whosoever (contemplating Amitabhafs land of Ultimate Bliss) aspires to Birth in Amitabhafs land of Ultimate Bliss in the past, present, or future, they will all (after Birth) attain supreme perfect enlightenment without veering from the Buddhist path, having attained Birth in the past, present, or future. That is the reason, Shariputra, those among good men and good women who sincerely believe, if they vow to attain Birth in the land of Ultimate Bliss (and recite the nenbutsu) they should assuredly attain that Birth.

gShariputra, in the same way I praise the inconceivable virtue of all the buddhas for their protective salvation (given because their hearts were moved by the nenbutsu practitioners), all the buddhas also praise my inconceivable virtues: eShakyamuni Buddha, you have accomplished this most difficult and unprecedented achievement. While being in this present world full of the five corruptions\the corruption of the age, the corruption of views, the corruption of public morality, the corruption of human character, and the corruption of shortening lifespans\you have attained supreme perfect enlightenment, and furthermore, you have explained this teaching (of Ultimate Bliss and Birth there through the nenbutsu), difficult to believe for being beyond the common understanding of this world, for the sake of sentient beings.22

gShariputra, you should remember this. While being in this present world full of the five corruptions, I have accomplished this most difficult achievement and attained supreme perfect enlightenment. In addition, for the sake of the people of this world, I have explained this teaching (of Ultimate Bliss and Birth there through the nenbutsu), difficult to believe for being beyond the common understanding of this world. For that reason, all of the Buddhas praise me for this emost difficult achievement.fh

When Shakyamuni Buddha finished explaining this sutra,  Shariputra and all the monks, the realms of celestial beings, people, and the asura demons.23 all were filled with delight having carefully taken each individual word and engraved it on their hearts, and after paying homage to Shakyamuni Buddha, they then departed.


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