Liberty Lawyer agency

 Amitabha’s Perfect Enlightenment and Sentient Beings’ Rebirth are Interdependent


       The Primal Vow states: “If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who earnestly believe and rejoice, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment.”. In other words, “I will attain perfect enlightenment only when I have accumulated the merit necessary for the rebirth of all sentient beings.”

       Dharmakara Bhikkhu directly links his attainment of perfect enlightenment to our rebirth; his achievement of perfect enlightenment was solely for the rebirth of sentient beings from the ten directions. In the Pure Land path, this connection is termed “Sentient beings’ rebirth and Amitabha Buddha’s perfect enlightenment are inextricably bound.”  The two are interdependent.

       “I, Dharmakara Bhikkhu, have attained perfect enlightenment, and that means  sentient beings from the ten directions are assured of rebirth because the two are one and the same.”

       Should even one single sentient being fail to achieve rebirth, then Dharmakara Bhikkhu absolutely cannot attain perfect enlightenment. He must first accumulate the merits necessary for the rebirth in the Pure Land of all sentient beings. In fact, his attainment of perfect enlightenment is dependent upon such merits, without which his enlightenment is impossible.

       Has Dharmakara Bhikkhu attained Buddhahood?  According to the Amitabha Sutra and the Infinite Life Sutra, he became a Buddha ten kalpas ago.

       The fact that Dharmakara Bhikkhu became a Buddha has great implications. It is much more than just his attaining perfect enlightenment. It also denotes that we, sentient beings, are assured of rebirth in his Pure Land. If our rebirth is not guaranteed, he could not have realized Buddhahood. Do not think that Dharmakara Bhikkhu’s attainment of Buddhahood has got nothing to do with us, and that we remain ordinary beings transmigrating in samsara. If you perceive it this way, Amitabha’s becoming a Buddha would be all in vain.

       The name Namo Amitabha Buddha (or Namo Amituofo in Chinese) and our rebirth are two sides of the same coin. One side represents the name Amitabha acquired when he attained perfect enlightenment, the other side, which is not as commonly recognised, represents our rebirth. If we only acknowledge the first side of the coin but not the other, then it is not truly ‘Namo Amituofo’. We all know that Dharmakara Bhikkhu was called Amitabha Buddha when he attained perfect enlightenment. Lesser known is the fact that this name also means our rebirth. His name is the evidence of our rebirth.

       We seek rebirth exclusively through reciting Amitabha’s name, as there is no other way to Amitabha’s Pure Land. That is why Dharmakara Bhikkhu said “should you fail to be born in my land, may I not attain perfect enlightenment.” His perfect enlightenment depends on our rebirth. Amitabha bestowed on us the merits he accumulated for our rebirth when he gave us his name. If we try to seek rebirth by cultivating all sorts of practices on our own, it is to no avail. It would be like the metaphor given in the Surangama Sutra - trying to make cooked rice by steaming sand. Despite your great effort in cooking, all you get in the end is a heap of sand, not cooked rice.

       In seeking rebirth, Amitabha-recitation is the only way. Without it, our various diligent spiritual practices amount to mere ‘sand’ rather than ‘cooked rice.’ All assorted practices lack the genuine merit inherent in the Buddha’s name, leaving rebirth impossible. Therefore, we must all recite ‘Namo Amituofo’, as our rebirth hinges on it.

       We must all understand that Dharmakara Bhikkhu’s attainment of  Buddhahood is synonymous with the assurance of our rebirth, and nothing else. Seeing the name ‘Namo Amituofo’ should be recognised as a tangible proof of our rebirth - a vivid expression of the merit securing that rebirth.  Grasping this concept is what is meant by “Having heard his name” as stated in the Infinite Life Sutra. In this way, you truly hear and understand the profound meaning of Amitabha Buddha’s name.


       Excerpt from “Master Shandao’s Thoughts on the Pure Land Dharma.”   


(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