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 Amitabha-Recitation: The Essence of Avatamsaka Sutra and Lotus Sutra


       Towards the end of the Ming Dynasty, a venerable monk named Master Ouyi wrote a book explaining the Amitabha Sutra, titled Explication of Important Points in the Amitabha Sutra. In this book he extolled the Dharma path taught in the Amitabha Sutra by saying:

“It is the profound teaching of the Avatamsaka Sutra, the secret essence of the Lotus Sutra; the core instruction of the Buddhas, and the beacon for the Bodhisattvas in their myriad practices.”

       Master Ouyi was saying that the Dharma teaching expounded in the Amitabha Sutra is the ultimate purpose and profound essence of the Avatamsaka Sutra. Whether in its eighty or forty fascicle form, the quintessence of the sutra is found in the final chapter of "Samantabhadra’s Practices and Vows.” Its aim was to guide all Bodhisattvas present at the Avatamsaka assembly to aspire for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. This is both the purpose and the profound essence of the Avatamsaka Sutra.

       The Lotus Sutra also asserts that by practicing according to its teachings, one can be reborn upon a lotus in the Land of Ultimate Bliss at the moment of death, surrounded by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Upon the lotus blooming, one beholds the Buddha and attains Buddhahood. Thus, the most esoteric and essential aspects of the Lotus Sutra's twenty-eight chapters also point toward rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. However, achieving this through the methods prescribed in the Lotus Sutra is a 'difficult path,' beyond the reach of us ordinary beings—it is the realm of Bodhisattvas. But we can achieve the aim of the Lotus Sutra simply by reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha.

       Therefore, it is said that the profound teaching of the Avatamsaka Sutra and the secret essence of the Lotus Sutra are found in the practice of reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha. All Buddhas promulgate the Dharma path of Amitabha-recitation  and exhort sentient beings to practice it. The phrase ‘the beacon for the myriad practices of Bodhisattvas' suggests that although Bodhisattvas undertake a wide array of practices and uphold the Six Paramitas, their ultimate goal is to attain Buddhahood. This pinnacle of spiritual achievement can be realized through the recitation of Amitabha's name, a practice that serves the dual purpose of benefiting oneself and others.

       Thus, there is a saying:

"Most sutras praise Amitabha Buddha, and the recitation of his name sums up the sacred teachings of a lifetime."

       It means that most of the sutras in the entire twelve divisions of the Tripitaka extol and uphold the Pure Land teachings, and that the conclusion of the sacred teachings during the lifetime of Sakyamuni Buddha is simple:  recite the name of Amitabha Buddha.


(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)



Master Huijing

Master Huijing

Master Jingzong

Master Jingzong

Guiding Principles

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