Amitabha Named by Virtue
“For that reason, this Buddha is called Amitabha.” These are powerful words.
Amitabha means immeasurable light. So, what kind of virtuous quality makes him deserve such a title? Because “His radiant light is immeasurable and illuminates without hindrance the worlds of the ten directions. For that reason, this Buddha is called Amitabha.” A Buddha’s title is not arbitrary, or flashy for reputation follows success. Those with real achievements will be known.
This is true “fame and fortune.” Only after He has fulfilled the merits and virtues to deliver all sentient beings may His light “illuminate the worlds of the ten directions without hindrance.” It is like an “ultimate brand” that stands unchallenged and pure. Otherwise, disappointed customers would have tarnished, shattered, and de-legitimized the brand.
Likewise, if you recite his name and are not reborn in the Buddha land, you may reject his brand of “immeasurable light”: What sort of immeasurable light wouldn’t let me be reborn in his land? That cannot be immeasurable!
To mortals, a name represents a wish and desire. We like to flatter ourselves with fancy titles and good-luck names. Even though they might have an effect, they are tawdry and deceptive. As the saying goes, “a great reputation is difficult to endure.” If a common person is constantly being called a king, what might the real king think and do? Arrest him and execute him as an example for future presumptuous kings.
A title must match appropriately with one’s virtue to be acceptable and secure; if not, fame consumes fortune. Yet, mortals covet fame, which depletes our merit and puts our physical and mental health at risk. So, we should be wary of lofty titles.
The title of Amitabha Buddha is so grand that all Buddhas of the ten directions extol his name. If his virtues and merits were not sufficient, could he hold that title without being consumed by fame? That is what we mean by “A great reputation is difficult to endure.”
Amitabha Buddha’s merits are infinite and inconceivable. Sentient beings of the ten directions worship him, call his name, and beg for his deliverance; not just mortals but also sages and Bodhisattvas. Even Buddhas of the ten directions commend and acclaim him. The Buddha sits in his Eternal Land of Quiescent Light, unmoving, and ceaselessly delivers sentient beings. How? The Buddha’s name is unpretentious; it matches his merits, which are complete and ultimate. That is why he is called Amitabha.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team,
edited by Householder Foyin)
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings