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Amitāyurdhyāna Sūtra | part 2-2

15. 'Listen carefully! Listen carefully! Think over what you have heard!

I, Buddha, am about to explain in detail the law of delivering one's self from trouble and torment. Commit this to your memory in order to explain it in detail before a great assembly.'

While Buddha was uttering these words, Buddha Amitāyus stood in the midst of the sky with Bodhisattvas Mahāsthāmaprāpta and Avalokiteśvara, attending on his right and left respectively.

There was such a bright and dazzling radiance that no one could see clearly; the brilliance was a hundred thousand times greater than that of gold (Jāmbūnada).

Thereupon Vaidehī saw Buddha Amitāyus and approached the World-Honoured One, and made obeisance to him, touching his feet, and spoke to him as follows:

'Exalted One! I am now able, by the power of Buddha, to see Buddha Amitāyus together with the two Bodhisattvas. But how shall all the beings of the future meditate on Buddha Amitāyus and the two Bodhisattvas?'

16. The Buddha answered:

'Those who wish to meditate on that Buddha ought first to direct their thought as follows:

form the perception of a lotus-flower on a ground of seven jewels, each leaf of that lotus exhibits the colours of a hundred jewels, and has eighty-four thousand veins, just like heavenly pictures; each vein possesses eighty-four thousand rays, of which each can be clearly seen.

Every small leaf and flower is two hundred and fifty yojanas in length and the same measurement in breadth.

Each lotus-flower possesses eighty-four thousand leaves, each leaf has the kingly pearls to the number of a hundred million, as ornaments for illumination; each pearl shoots out a thousand rays like bright canopies.

The surface of the ground is entirely covered by a mixture of seven jewels. There is a tower built of the gems which are like those that are fastened on Śakra's head. It is inlaid and decked with eighty thousand diamonds, Kimśuka jewels, Brahma-mani and excellent pearl nets.

'On that tower there are miraculously found four posts with jewelled banners; each banner looks like a hundred thousand million Śumeru mountains.

'The jewelled veil over these banners is like that of the celestial palace of Yama, illuminated with five hundred million excellent jewels,

each jewel has eighty-four thousand rays, each ray has various golden colours to the number of eighty-four thousand, each golden colour covers the whole jewelled soil, it changes and is transformed at various places, every now and then exhibiting various appearances;

now it becomes a diamond tower, now a pearl net, again clouds of mixed flowers, freely changing its manifestation in the ten directions it exhibits the state of Buddha -- such is the perception of the flowery throne, and it is the Seventh Meditation.'

Buddha, turning to Ānanda, said:

'These excellent flowers were created originally by the power of the prayer of Bhikkhu, Dharmakāra. All who wish to exercise the remembrance of that Buddha ought first to form the perception of that flowery throne.

When engaged in it one ought not to perceive vaguely, but fix the mind upon each detail separately. Leaf, jewel, ray, tower, and banner should be clear and distinct, just as one sees the image of one's own face in a mirror.

When one has achieved this perception, the sins which would produce births and deaths during fifty thousand kalpas are expiated, and he is one who will most assuredly be born in the World of Highest Happiness.

17. 'When you have perceived this, you should next perceive Buddha himself.

Do you ask how?

Every Buddha Tathagata is one whose spiritual body is the principle of nature (Dharmadhātu-kaya), so that he may enter into the mind of any beings.

Consequently, when you have perceived Buddha, it is indeed that mind of yours that possesses those thirty-two signs of perfection and eighty minor marks of excellence which you see in a Buddha. In conclusion, it is your mind that becomes Buddha, nay, it is your mind that is indeed Buddha.

The ocean of true and universal knowledge of all the Buddhas derives its source from one's own mind and thought.

Therefore you should apply your thought with an undivided attention to a careful meditation on that Buddha Tathagata, Arhat, the Holy and Fully Enlightened One.

In forming the perception of that Buddha, you should first perceive the image of that Buddha; whether, your eyes are open or shut, look at an image like Jāmbūnada gold in colour, sitting on that flower throne mentioned before.

'When you have seen the seated figure your mental vision will become clear, and you will be able to see clearly and distinctly the adornment of that Buddha country, the jewelled ground, and so forth. In seeing these things, let them be clear and fixed just as you see the palms of your hands.

When you have passed through this experience, you should further form a perception of another great lotus-flower which is on the left side of Buddha, and is exactly equal in every way to the above-mentioned lotus-flower of Buddha. Still further, you should form (a perception of) another lotus-flower which is on the right side of Buddha.

Perceive that an image of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara is sitting on the left-hand flowery throne, shooting forth golden rays exactly like those of Buddha. Perceive then that an image of Bodhisattva Mahāsthāmaprāpta is sitting on the right-hand flowery throne.

'When these perceptions are gained the images of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas will all send forth brilliant rays, clearly lighting up all the jewel-trees with golden colour.

Under every tree there are also three lotus-flowers. On every lotus-flower there is an image, either of Buddha or of a Bodhisattva; thus (the images of the Bodhisattvas and of Buddha) are found everywhere in that country.

When this perception has been gained, the devotee should hear the excellent Dharma preached by means of a stream of water, a brilliant ray of light, several jewel-trees, ducks, geese, and swans.

Whether he be wrapped in meditation or whether he has ceased from it, he should ever hear the excellent Dharma.

What the devotee hears must be kept in memory and not be lost, when he ceases from that meditation; and it should agree with the Sutras, for if it does not agree with the Sutras, it is called an illusory perception, whereas if it does agree, it is called the rough perception of the World of Highest Happiness;-such is the perception of the images, and it is the Eighth Meditation.

'He who has practiced this meditation is freed from the sins (which otherwise involve him in) births and deaths for innumerable million kalpas, and during this present life he obtains the Samadhi due to the remembrance of Buddha.

18. 'Further, when this perception is gained, you should next proceed to meditate on the bodily marks and the light of Buddha Amitāyus.

'You should know, Ānanda, that the body of Buddha Amitāyus is a hundred thousand million times as bright as the colour of the Jāmbūnada gold of the heavenly abode of Yama; the height of that Buddha is six hundred thousand nayutas of Koṭis of yojanas innumerable as are the sands of the river Ganges.

'The white twist of hair between the eyebrows all turning to the right is just like the five Śumeru mountains.

'The eyes of Buddha are like the water of the four great oceans; the blue and the white are quite distinct.

'All the roots of hair of his body issue forth brilliant rays which are also like the Śumeru mountains.

'The halo of that Buddha is like a hundred million Great Chiliocosms; in that halo there are Buddhas miraculously created, to the number of a million nayutas of kotis innumerable as the sands of the Ganges; each of these Buddhas has for attendants a great assembly of numberless Bodhisattvas who are also miraculously created.

'Buddha Amitāyus has eighty-four thousand signs of perfection, each sign is possessed of eighty-four minor marks of excellence, each mark has eighty-four thousand rays, each ray extends so far as to shine over the worlds of the ten quarters, whereby Buddha embraces and protects all the beings who think upon him and does not exclude any one of them.

His rays, signs, and so forth are difficult to be explained in detail. But in simple meditation let the mind's eye dwell upon them.

'If you pass through this experience, you will at the same time see all the Buddhas of the ten quarters. Since you see all the Buddhas it is called the Samadhi of the remembrance of the Buddhas.

'Those who have practiced this meditation are said to have contemplated the bodies of all the Buddhas. Since they have meditated on Buddha's body, they will also see Buddha's mind. It is great compassion that is called Buddha's mind. It is by his absolute compassion that he receives all beings.

'Those who have practiced this meditation will, when they die, be born in the presence of the Buddhas in another life, and obtain a spirit of resignation wherewith to face all the consequences which shall hereafter arise.

'Therefore those who have wisdom should direct their thought to the careful meditation upon that Buddha Amitāyus.

Let those who meditate on Buddha Amitāyus begin with one single sign or mark -- let them first meditate on the white twist of hair between the eyebrows as clearly as possible; when they have done this, the eighty-four thousand signs and marks will naturally appear before their eyes.

Those who see Amitāyus will also see all the innumerable Buddhas of the ten quarters. Since they have seen all the innumerable Buddhas, they will receive the prophecy of their future destiny to become Buddha in the presence of all the Buddhas -- Such is the perception gained by a complete meditation on all forms and bodies of Buddha, and it is the Ninth Meditation.

19. 'When you have seen Buddha Amitāyus distinctly, you should then further meditate upon Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, whose height is eight hundred thousand nayutas of yojanas;

the colour of his body is purple gold, his head has a turban at the back of which there is a halo; the circumference of his face is a hundred thousand yojanas.

In that halo, there are five hundred Buddhas miraculously transformed just like those of Shakyamuni Buddha; each transformed Buddha is attended by five hundred transformed Bodhisattvas who are also attended by numberless gods.

Within the circle of light emanating from his whole body appear illuminated the various forms and marks of all beings that live in the five paths of existence.

'On the top of his head is a heavenly crown of gems like those that are fastened (on Indra's head), in which crown there is a transformed Buddha standing, twenty-five yojanas high.

'The face of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara In, like Jāmbūnada gold in colour.

'The soft hair between the eyebrows has all the colours of the seven jewels, from which eighty-four kinds of rays flow out, each ray has innumerable transformed Buddhas, each of whom is attended by numberless transformed Bodhisattvas; freely changing their manifestations they fill up the worlds of the ten quarters; (the appearance) can be compared with the colour of the red lotus-flower.

'He wears a garland consisting of eight thousand rays, in which is seen fully reflected a state of perfect beauty. The palm of his hand has a mixed colour of five hundred lotus-flowers.

His hands have ten tips of fingers, each tip has eighty-four thousand pictures, which are like signet-marks, each picture has eighty-four thousand colours, each colour has eighty-four thousand rays which are soft and mild and shine over all things that exist.

With these jewel hands he draws and embraces all beings.

When he lifts up his feet, the soles of his feet are seen to be marked with a wheel of a thousand spokes which miraculously transform themselves into five hundred million pillars of rays.

When he puts his feet down to the ground, the flowers of diamonds and jewels are scattered about, and all things are simply covered by them.

All the other signs of his body and the minor marks of excellence are perfect, and not at all different from those of Buddha, except the signs of having the turban on his head and the top of his head invisible, which two signs of him are inferior to those of the World-Honoured One -- such is the perception of the real form and body of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and it is the Tenth Meditation.'

The Buddha, especially addressing Ānanda, said:

'Whosoever wishes to meditate on Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara must do so in the way I have explained.

Those who practice this meditation will not suffer any calamity; they will utterly remove the obstacle that is raised by karma, and will expiate the sins which would involve them in births-and deaths for numberless kalpas.

Even the hearing of the name of this Bodhisattva will enable one to obtain immeasurable happiness. How much more, then, will the diligent contemplation of him!

'Whosoever will meditate on Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara should first meditate on the turban of his head and then on his heavenly crown.

'All the other signs should also be meditated on according to their order, and they should be clear and distinct just as one sees the palms of one's hands.

'Next you should meditate on Bodhisattva Mahāsthāmaprāpta, whose bodily signs, height and size are equal to those of Avalokiteśvara; the circumference of his halo is one hundred and twenty-five yojanas, and it shines as far as two hundred and fifty yojanas.

The rays of his whole body shine over the countries of the ten quarters, they are purple gold in colour, and can be seen by all beings that are in favourable circumstances.

If one but sees the ray that issues from a single root of the hair of this Bodhisattva, he will at the same time see the pure and excellent rays of all the innumerable Buddhas of the ten quarters.

'For this reason this Bodhisattva is named the Unlimited Light; it is with this light of wisdom that he shines over all beings and causes them to be removed from the three paths of existence, and to obtain the highest power.

For the same reason this Bodhisattva is called the Bodhisattva of Great Strength (Mahāsthāmaprāpta).

His heavenly crown has five hundred jewel-flowers; each jewel-flower has five hundred jewel-towers, in each tower are seen manifested all the pure and excellent features of the far-stretching Buddha countries in the ten quarters.

The turban on his head is like a lotus-flower; on the top of the turban there is a jewel pitcher, which is filled with various brilliant rays fully manifesting the state of Buddha. All his other bodily signs are quite equal to those of Avalokiteśvara.

When this Bodhisattva walks about, all the regions of the ten quarters tremble and quake.

Wherever the earth quakes there appear five hundred million jewel-flowers; each jewel-flower with its splendid dazzling beauty looks like the World of Highest Happiness (Sukhāvatī).

'When this Bodhisattva sits down, all the countries of seven jewels at once tremble and quake:

all the incarnate, divided Amitāyuses - innumerable as the dust of the earth - and all the incarnate Bodhisattvas - Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta - who dwell in the middlemost Buddha countries situated between the Buddha country of the lower region presided over by Buddha "Golden Light," and the country of the upper region presided over by Buddha "King of Light" –

 all these assemble in the World of Highest Happiness (Sukhāvatī) like gathering clouds, sit on their thrones of lotus-flowers which fill the whole sky, and preach the excellent Dharma in order to deliver all the beings that are immersed in suffering –

such is the perception of the form and body of Bodhisattva Mahāsthāmaprāpta, and it is the Eleventh Meditation.

'Those who practice this meditation are freed from the sins which would otherwise trap them in births-and-deaths for innumerable asamkhya kalpas.

'Those who have practiced this meditation do not live in an embryo state but obtain free access to the excellent and admirable countries of Buddhas.

Those who have experienced this are said to have perfectly meditated upon the two Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta.

20. 'After you have had this perception, you should imagine yourself to be born in the World of Highest Happiness in the western quarter, and to be seated, cross-legged, on a lotus-flower there.

Then imagine that the flower has shut you in and has afterwards unfolded;

when the flower has thus unfolded, five hundred coloured rays will shine over your body, your eyes will be opened so as to see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who fill the whole sky;

you will hear the sounds of waters and trees, the notes of birds, and the voices of many Buddhas preaching the excellent Dharma, in accordance with the twelve divisions of the scriptures.

When you have ceased from that meditation you must remember the experience ever after.

'If you have passed through this experience you are said to have seen the World of Highest Happiness in the realm of the Buddha Amitāyus -- this is the perception obtained by a complete meditation on that Buddha country, and is called the Twelfth Meditation.

'The innumerable incarnate bodies of Amitāyus, together with those of Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta, constantly come and appear before such devotees as above mentioned.'

21. Buddha then spoke to Ānanda and Vaidehī:

'Those who wish, by means of their serene thoughts, to be born in the western land, should first meditate on an image of the Buddha, who is sixteen cubits high, seated on a lotus-flower in the water of the lake.

As it was stated before, the real body and its measurement are unlimited, incomprehensible to the ordinary mind.

'But by the efficacy of the ancient prayer of that Tathagata, those who think of and remember him shall certainly be able to accomplish their aim.

'Even the mere perceiving of the image of that Buddha brings to one immeasurable blessings. How much more, then, will the meditating upon all the complete bodily signs of that Buddha!

Buddha Amitāyus has supernatural power; since everything is at his disposal, he freely transforms himself in the regions of the ten quarters.

At one time he shows himself as possessing a magnificent body, which fills the whole sky, at another he makes his body appear small, the height being only sixteen or eighteen cubits.

The body he manifests is always pure gold in colour; his halo - bright with transformed Buddhas - and his jewel lotus-flowers are as mentioned above. The bodies of the two Bodhisattvas are the same always.

'All beings can recognize either of the two Bodhisattvas by simply glancing at the marks of their heads. These two Bodhisattvas assist Amitāyus in his work of universal salvation –

such is the meditation that forms a joint perception of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, and it is the Thirteenth Meditation.'