Buddhas Emerging from the Lights of Jewel Lotuses and Preaching the Dharma to the East
I. Thesis: The Relationship between Amitabha Buddha and Other Buddhas
Shakyamuni Buddha established Buddhism some 2,600 years ago. It reveals the truth of life and the universe and points the way to the liberation from samsara and attainment of Buddhahood.
We focus our study on Pure Land Buddhism, our faith in Amitabha Buddha, and we recite Namo Amitabha Buddha exclusively. Some may wonder what the relationship is between Amitabha Buddha and Shakyamuni Buddha.
II. From the Scripture of “Buddhas Emerging from the Lights of Jewel Lotuses”
Let us discuss this issue with the title “Buddhas Emerging from the Lights of Jewel Lotuses.” And we will quote verses from one of the three Pureland sutras, The Infinite Life Sutra. This sutra has several translations by different monk-scholars over centuries; their content is similar, only the wording differs. If we study and compare these verses, we will have a clearer understanding of the meaning of the scripture.
- Verses to Quotee
(1) From the Infinite Life Sutra Translated by Samghavarman
- A host of jewel lotuses are present throughout the land.
- Each lotus has a hundred thousand kotis of petals.
- The lights of the lotuses radiate innumerous colors — green lotuses glow with green lights, white with white lights, and likewise, the ebony, the yellow, the vermillion, and the purple lotuses, all glow with awesome lights of their respective colors. Brilliant and intense, they outshine the sun and moon.
- Each lotus flower emits thirty-six hundred thousand kotis of colored rays of light.
- From each ray of light emerges thirty-six hundred thousand kotis of Buddhas with purple-gold forms and superb countenances beyond comparison.
- Each Buddha sends forth a hundred thousand rays of light.
- They expound the wonderful Dharma to all beings in the lands of the ten directions,
- Setting them on the right path to Buddhahood.
(2) From the Sutra Translated by Bodhiruci
There is a collection of sutras called A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras, which gathers several of the Mahayana sutras. One is The Sutra of the Assemblage of the Tathagata of the Infinite Life, another translation of The Infinite Life Sutra. These two translations convey the same messages with different wordings. Below are the corresponding verses of “Buddhas Emerging from the Lights of Jewel Lotuses.”
- In that Buddha-land, there are lotuses made of the seven jewels.
- Each lotus has countless hundred thousand kotis of petals.
- The petals have innumerous hundreds of thousands of rare colors.
- Each lotus emits thirty-six hundred million nayutas rays of light.
- From each ray of light emerges thirty-six hundred million nayutas Buddhas… solemn and superb.
- Each Buddha sends forth a hundred thousand rays of light.
- They go to the east to preach the Dharma to set countless sentient beings on the Dharma-path. For the same purpose, they also go to the south, the west, the north, the four intermediate directions, the zenith, and the nadir.
- Interpreting the Verses in Eight Parts
We will regroup the verses into eight segments describing:
- (1) Immeasurable lotuses fill the land
(2) Each lotus has a hundred thousand kotis of petals
(3) These petals have innumerous colors
(4) Each lotus has thirty-six hundred thousand kotis rays of light
(5) From each ray of light emerges thirty-six hundred thousand kotis of Buddhas
(6) Each Buddha also sends forth light
(7) The Buddha-lights illuminate the lands of the ten directions
(8) They preach the Dharma to liberate sentient beings to attain the joy of nirvana
Of course, one may discuss the scripture in four or six parts, but the meanings would be the same, including:
- (1) The number of jewel lotuses
(2) The number of petals
(3) The number of colors
(4) The number of rays of light
(5) The number of Buddhas
(6) The lights emitted by the Buddhas
(7) Dharma preaching
(8) Delivering sentient beings
- The Importance of the Scripture
(1) Encompassing and Summarizing all Sects of Buddhism
The verses of “Buddhas Emerging From the Lights” summarize, and epitomize The Infinite Life Sutra, the greatest of all Buddhist scriptures.
Master Tanluan, in his Commentary on the Gatha and Treatise on Rebirth, writes, The Infinite Life Sutra holds “The foremost and the utmost, the sailing voyage to non-retrogression.”
There are two subdivisions of Buddhism, Mahayana and Hinayana. The “foremost and the utmost” refers to Mahayana Buddhism, which teaches the way to Buddhahood, that is, “An upward aspiration of achieving Buddhahood, a downward obligation for delivering sentient beings.” Master Tanluan tells us that the teaching of The Infinite Life Sutra is the primary and the ultimate of Mahayana Buddhism, incomparable to all other Mahayana sects, including the Huayan, Tiantai, Three Treaties, Dharmalaksana (Consciousness-Only), Vinaya, Chan, and Tantra sects.
The “Sailing voyage to (catch the favorable wind towards) non-retrogression,” in terms of the doctrine, means the highest perfection of Buddhism, the quickest and the safest way to Buddhahood.
The two statements admire and praise Pure Land Buddhism to be the paramount of all Buddhist doctrines, and the contents of the veneration are in the verses from “Buddhas Emerging from the Lights of Jewel Lotuses.” If we can comprehend the verses, we will have firm, unchanging faith in Pure Land Buddhism. Why? Because the teaching of Pure Land Buddhism is so unrivaled and unsurpassed that it encompasses all the numerous Dharma paths preached by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the lands of all directions.
(2) The Heart of Merits and Wisdom
When reading and studying the Pure Land scriptures, it would be a pity if we do not fully grasp the meaning of these verses. If we do, we will recognize it is so fortunate that we encountered Pure Land Buddhism. If we can understand the scripture correctly and go deeper, we will realize that it is to our great fortune that we have studied and learned the Pure Land School. Without such an encounter, we would not know the Dharma, let alone the deliverance of Amitabha Buddha. Additionally, if we do not have great wisdom, not only will we not understand the Dharma, we will not even believe it. Therefore, having faith in Pure Land Buddhism requires not just a blessing but a great blessing, not ordinary wisdom but great wisdom.
- Interpreting the Connotation of the Scripture
We will now study the scripture, first according to the text, then its connotation.
(1) The Land of Jewel Lotus Accomplished by the Power of the Vows
“A host of jewel lotuses are present throughout the land.” The scripture uses the word “jewel” instead of “flower” because it is solemn and resplendent. Moreover, Buddhist ceremonials in the Land of Ultimate Bliss often are performed with jewel lotuses. These two words are also used in The Contemplation Sutra, and The Amitabha Sutra. In the Treatise and Gatha on Rebirth in the Pure Land, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu writes, “The Land of Ultimate Bliss is the Lotus Treasury World.”
“The jewel lotuses.” Why is every lotus made of several, even countless jewels? From what source does it originate? It comes from the power of Amitabha Buddha’s vows, which is unlimited, achieved by cultivating the Way of Bodhisattva through immeasurable kalpas. Hence, the lotuses in his Land of Lotus Treasury World are made of precious jewels.
“Vow” is the cause. As the cause is profound and unfathomable, so are the merits and rewards. All the jewel and adornments in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, whether they be lotuses, golden trees, splendid lakes, or magnificent pavilions, are thus created by the power of Amitabha Buddha’s vows, and “present throughout the land.”
“Present throughout the land.” In our Saha world, lotuses grow only in water. In the Land of Ultimate Bliss, they grow everywhere, on land and in water. It is for this reason the verse says, “A host of jewel lotuses are present throughout the land,” in every corner, in every nook of the Land of Lotus Treasury World. It is an achievement of Amitabha Buddha, the power of his vows. He has pledged to let all sentient beings born in his Pure Land become Buddhas, and he built for them the land of solemnity and resplendency, unrivaled among all other Buddha-lands. As he vowed, “Should anyone fail to be reborn in his land, he would not attain Buddhahood.” Otherwise, none of his accomplishments would materialize, and there would not be the meritorious and virtuous name—Namo Amitabha Buddha. Therefore, everything about the Land of Ultimate Bliss is the manifestation of his vows and his perfect enlightenment.
The Buddha’s land has several names besides the Land of Ultimate Bliss. It is also called the Land of Ease and Bliss, the Land of Peace and Nurture, the Land of Wonder and Bliss, the Land of Infinite Light, the Land of Infinite Life, and the Land of Non-contriving Nirvana. The many names attest to the Buddha’s infinite meritorious and virtuous vows and cultivations.
“Each lotus has a hundred thousand kotis of petals.” Not just kotis but countless petals. As we learned from The Sutra of the Assemblage of the Tathagata, “Each lotus has countless hundred thousand kotis of petals.”
“The lights of the lotuses radiate innumerous colors — blue lotuses glow with blue lights, white with white lights, and likewise, the ebony, the yellow, the vermillion, and the purple, all lotuses glow with awesome lights of their respective colors.” If innumerable, why list only six colors? Because it aims at people in the Saha world, where our recognition of color is limited. “Awesome” describes the lights of the colors as being superb and magnificent.
“Brilliant and intense” describes the colors of the lights as being brilliant, beautiful, and glorious.
“They outshine the sun and moon.” The intensity of the lights of the colors is more dazzling than the sun and moon. Amitabha Buddha is the Buddha of infinite life and infinite light: the infinite life is the noumenon. The infinite light is the function of the Buddha, which includes twelve kinds of Buddha-light: the infinite light, the unhindered light, the boundless light, the unobstructed light, the peerless light, the king of blazing light, the pure light, the joyful light, the wisdom light, the unbreakable light, the inconceivable light, the incomparable light, and the light surpassing the sun and moon. Unlike the lights in our world that can blind our eyes and burn our skin, the Buddha-light is always gentle and soothing, beautiful and warm, comfortable, and bright, yet soft. These are the characteristics of the Buddha-light.
(2) Numerating Thirty-Six Lights for the Comprehension of Sentient Beings
“Each lotus emits thirty-six hundred thousand kotis of rays of light.” Why thirty-six? The previous verse describes six different colors, and with each color containing five others, each pedal has thirty-six colors. Thus, the total number of color rays each lotus emits is thirty-six hundred thousand kotis. Actually, the number is innumerable. It is for our comprehension that the verse lists only thirty-six. (The Sutra of the Assemblage of the Tathagata reads, “The petal has innumerable hundreds of thousands of rare colors.”)
There are other interpretations, of course, such as the six paramitas (the perfections of giving, moral precepts, forbearance, diligence, meditation, and wisdom); each paramita encompasses the other five, totaling thirty-six. However, based on the scriptures of the two translations, it is more appropriate to refer to the colors and lights.
In our world, material substances cannot blend into each other because of physical forces. However, in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, things are mutually encompassing and intermingling without hindrance; it signifies that in A there is B, in B there is A, in AB there is CD, in CD there is AB, and so forth. In that sense, every color and every ray merges naturally with and, at the same time, encompasses the thirty-six hundred thousand kotis colors and rays of lights. It demonstrates Amitabha Buddha’s inconceivable principle and the accompanying rewards, culminating in the Land of Ultimate Bliss because of his inconceivable vows and meritorious cultivation.
According to the verse from The Sutra of the Assemblage of the Tathagata “thirty-six hundred million nayutas,” means the same as the “thirty-six hundred thousand kotis.” One nayuta is ten million; they are measurements of the immeasurables, the ultimate and the complete. Everything in the Land of Ultimate Bliss is immeasurable. The number of lotuses is immeasurable, the number of lotus petals is immeasurable, so are the number of colors, the number of rays of light, and the number of Buddhas that preach the Dharma to sentient beings in the immeasurable lands of all directions.
Amitabha Buddha is also called the Immeasurable, describing his wisdom, his merits, his virtues, and his life. This makes it easier for us to comprehend.
(3) The Buddhas from the Lotuses Going to All the Lands in Transformed Bodies
The verse, “Each lotus emits thirty-six hundred thousand kotis of rays of light,” is the subject of our discussion, “Buddhas Emerging from the Lights of Jewel Lotuses”— from the rays of color lights emitted by the lotuses emerge countless Buddhas.
“Purple-gold forms and superb countenances beyond comparison.” The colors of the Buddhas’ bodies are purple gold and their visages magnificent and incomparable. In The Sutra of the Assemblage of the Tathagata, the corresponding verse reads, “The colors of their bodies are like that of gold, possessing thirty-two physical and eighty subtle features.” The Contemplation Sutra portrays the Buddha’s noumenal/reward body (Sambhogakaya) in terms of numbers like the thirty-two and the eighty; however, the Buddha’s features and light actually are immeasurable. For the Buddha’s incarnated body (Nirmanakaya) may not be different from ours.
“Each Buddha sends forth a hundred thousand rays of light.” The number in this verse is understood to read thirty-six hundred thousand kotis or much higher, essentially innumerable. The Sutra of Amitabha reads, “The immeasurable light of the Buddha illuminates the lands of all directions without hindrance.” Therefore, the lights of the lotuses and the lights of the Buddhas are infinite.
The verse “They expound the profound Dharma to all beings in the lands of the ten directions'' may sound unfulfilling and difficult to grasp. In The Sutra of the Assemblage of the Tathagata, it reads: “Each Buddha sends forth a hundred thousand rays of light. They go to the east to preach the Dharma to set countless sentient beings on the Dharma-path. For the same purpose, they also go to the south, the west, the north, the four intermediate directions, the zenith, and the nadir,” which is more concrete and easier to comprehend.
i) Collateral Scripture from The Lankavatara Sutra
In the sixth scroll of The Lankavatara Sutra, there is a verse of “Buddhas Emerging from the Land of Ultimate Bliss”:
In the lands of the ten directions,
Among the sentient beings and Bodhisattvas,
All the Buddhas of noumenal, reward, and transformed bodies
Come from Amitabha Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss.
These four sentences may be considered a conclusive exegesis of the scripture of “Buddhas Emerging from the Lights of Jewel Lotuses” of The Infinite Life Sutra.
Since ancient times, there have been four translations of The Lankavatara Sutra. The first and earliest translation was lost. The second translation contains four scrolls, the third ten scrolls, and the fourth, from the Tang Dynasty, seven scrolls. The above scripture is quoted from the sixth scroll of the Tang translation.
This is surprising. The scripture shows that in a myriad of lands of all directions, among the countless sentient beings, all the Buddhas, who appear in their noumenal, reward, or transformed bodies, come from the Land of the Infinite Life. So, Shakyamuni Buddha was in an incarnate-body as a person when he came to our world; and Amitabha Buddha is in his reward-body appearing in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. All Buddhas have the power to transform freely into any kind of beings: Bodhisattvas, celestial beings, guardian gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, even hell dwellers. All Buddhas can also transform at will into things, like mountains and rivers, bridges and trees. The scripture tells us that all Buddhas, the Buddhas of Dharma-bodies (Dharmakaya), the Buddhas of reward-bodies (Sambhogakaya), and the Buddhas of incarnate-bodies (Nirmanakaya), originate from Amitabha Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss.
The meaning of the scripture is quite apparent and straightforward.
The Lankavatara Sutra and The Infinite Life Sutra are the classic sutras of two different sects of Buddhism. However, the two scriptures of “Buddhas Emerging from the Jewel Lotuses” have similar content and meaning. Later, we will discuss the significance of the two scriptures.
ii) The Buddha of “Everywhere in the Dharmadhatu”
From the comparison of these two passages, we understand what kind of Buddha Amitabha is. In Buddhist temples, it is customary to recite The Sutra of Amitabha during the evening sessions on odd days and worship the Eighty-eight Buddhas on even days. Of the Eighty-eight Buddhas, the last one is “Amitabha Buddha who encompasses the Dharmadhatu.” What does it mean? “Encompassing or Containing” means storing inexhaustible treasury. In this case, Amitabha Buddha encompasses and contains all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the lands of the ten directions. Therefore, Amitabha Buddha is called the Buddha Encompassing the Dharmadhatu” and the Land Bliss is the “Land Containing the Dharmadhatu.” That land encompasses all things, all the Buddhas, all Bodhisattvas, and all the eighty-four thousand dharanis.
(4) All Buddhas Carrying on the Fundamental Vow of Amitabha Buddha
“They expound the profound and subtle Dharma to all beings in the lands of all directions.” What is the profound and subtle Dharma? It refers to the deliverance by Amitabha Buddha’s fundamental vows, that is, the Dharma-path of Nianfo, because the sole purpose of Amitabha Buddha is to manifest the Buddhas in the lands of the ten directions to deliver all sentient beings indiscriminately.
In the eye of Amitabha Buddha, all sentient beings are equal, whether Bodhisattvas, sages, or mortals. He sees Buddha-nature in all sentient beings, the future Buddhas. While sages are free of affliction, they have not severed the forty-one kinds of ignorance (Avidya). The mortals bound by vexations commit karmic deeds. Nevertheless, vexation and ignorance are the phenomena, not the noumena, hence, delusive and unreal. In samsara, good and evil arise from the association of cause and condition, both of which are impermanent, constantly changing.
Mortals, driven by vexation and karma, transmigrate involuntarily in the realms of humans, animals, heavens, ghosts, asuras, and hells. Yet, all these rebirths are illusory. It is from this position that Buddha looks upon all beings equally. On the other hand, sentient beings cling to self (ego) and dharma-graha (things, phenomena), holding the notions of ego (self), personality (others), being, and life. They ascribe to good and evil, differentiating and attaching to worldly things.
Of course, in our world, good is still good, and should be commended and encouraged, thus says the verse “Do all good.” And evil is still evil, must be avoided and obliterated, so says the verse “Avoid all evil.” In this way, society will maintain harmony, family felicity, and national peace. But, if we blur the notion of good and evil, the world will be in turmoil.
Amitabha Buddha does not discriminate. He wants to deliver us from samsara to the realm of absoluteness, because the universe is emptiness, and the nature of life is suffering. Emptiness is not void but illusory. All phenomena are impermanent, never ceasing to move and change; therefore, empty.
Nor is suffering permanent. Following the Dharma-way, we will be liberated from vexation and affliction. Otherwise, we will forever be suffering in the six-realm samsara. From the phenomena, the universe is emptiness, and life is suffering. But from its noumena, it is neither emptiness nor vexation nor felicity, which is the realm of nirvana. The Heart Sutra reads: “no Birth, no Death, no Defilement no Purity; no Increase no Decrease.” And “no Good no Evil,” that is the absolute realm of nirvana: all is of eternity, bliss, self-nature and purity.
i) “Profound and Subtle Dharma” Leading to Nirvana
As we discussed before, “the profound and subtle Dharma” is the way to deliver sentient beings from samsara to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Once we arrive in that land, all our deluded views and thoughts, and deluded karma-dust (remains of evil karma) and nescience will be eradicated because they too are illusive. The Land of Ultimate Bliss is the One, the Whole of Reality. We will be in the realm of Buddha, the non-contriving Nirvana.
“Profound” means subtle and inconceivable, making the impossible possible; for instance, to recover youthful vigor, to return life to the dead, even to liberate those from Avici Hell. Yet, this Dharma is so profound that not only can it free hell dwellers, but it also enables them to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. That indeed is the most unthinkable and wondrous Dharma.
Therefore, “profound” is rebirth. Says a proverb, “Withered trees rejuvenate in spring.” Although everything withers in winter as if dead, when spring arrives, life is reborn once more. So says another, “Man has no second chance for youth.” Old people cannot be young again. However, in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, everyone is forever young and vigorous. And there is no cycle of birth and death, surpassing the “Withered trees rejuvenate in spring,” “returning life to the dead,” “making the impossible possible.” That is the meaning of “profound.”
The sentient being of the lowest level of the lowest grade in The Contemplation Sutra was doomed to fall to hells, even Avici Hell. Because he turned to the Buddha and recited his name, not only did he not fall into hell, he was freed from samsara and reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Of course, it only illustrates the compassionate deliverance of Amitabha Buddha, not to suggest it is alright to commit the ten wicked offenses and the five heinous transgressions. If we reflect on and ask ourselves, over the countless kalpas of past lives, can we honestly say we have never committed such evil transgressions? So, let’s be considerate and tolerant of each other, instead of pointing fingers at each other.
ii) “The profound” Intended for Amitabha
The significance of “the profound” is twofold: the general and the specific. The general implication is the Three-vehicle Dharma, intended for people whose roots of potentiality are not mature. The other is the deliverance by the Buddha’s primal vows, specifically aimed at people ready to accept the Buddha’s profound Dharma, to be reborn in his land, to be Buddhas.
The Infinite Life Sutra is the sutra that manifests the primal purpose of all Buddhas of the ten directions to appear in the world. The “primal purpose” is to expound Amitabha Buddha’s Eighteenth Vow. Thus, the verse “They expound the profound Dharma to all beings in the lands of all directions” points to Amitabha Buddha’s deliverance, so “the profound Dharma” is the Eighteenth Vow.
“They set the sentient beings on the right path to Buddhahood.” The “right path” is the supreme Dharma path. Every Buddha from the lights of jewel lotuses preaches the profound Dharma to sentient beings in the lands of the ten directions, to enable them to enter the perfect nirvana, the Land of Ultimate Bliss to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi (Buddhahood).
(5) Manifesting the One Principal-Accompanying Noumenon
These verses, as we discussed before, convey the message that all things in the Land of Ultimate Bliss are mutually encompassing and intermingling without hindrance. The principal and the accompanying rewards are the one noumenon. The lotuses and the rays of lights they emit are accompanying rewards, and they are part of the environment of the land; Buddhas that emerge from the lights are principal rewards, their bodies. The accompanying rewards generate the principal rewards, and the principal rewards send forth the lights, which preach the Dharma. Thus, the principal rewards are the accompanying rewards, and the accompanying rewards are the principal rewards. They merge into each other, which is the realm without obstruction as described in The Avatamsaka Sutra and manifested by the scripture of “Buddhas Emerging from the Lights of Jewel Lotuses” in The Infinite Life Sutra. It is not the only scripture in the sutra. The water, the wind, the birds, and the trees all preach the Dharma. As described in The Amitabha Sutra, everything in the Land of Ultimate Bliss sends forth lights, and all lights exhibit Buddhas who expound the Dharma.
The scripture from The Lankavatara Sutra also speaks of “Buddha emerging from the lights of jewel lotuses.” And the scripture from The Sutra of the Assemblage of the Tathagata speaks of “Buddhas expounding the Dharma to the East.” The Sutra of Amitabha reads: To the eastern direction, there are Buddha-lands “as numerous as the sands of the Ganges River, such as the lands of Akşhobhya Buddha, Merudhvaja Buddha, Mahâmeru Buddha, Meruprabhâsa Buddha, and Mañjusvara Buddha.” So are the Saha world of Shakyamuni Buddha and the Land of Medicine-Buddha.
(6) Shakyamuni Buddha Coming Forth from Lotuses
That means, of the innumerable Buddhas from the Lotuses, one is Shakyamuni Buddha, who came east to the Saha world. So, what is the connection between Amitabha Buddha and Shakyamuni Buddha? It is between the Buddha of Sambhogakaya and Buddha of Nirmanakaya. Shakyamuni Buddha appeared to us in a transformed body to teach “the profound and subtle Dharma to sentient beings in the lands of the ten directions.” All Buddhas coming forth from the lotuses in the Land of Ultimate Bliss to the lands of all directions are induced by the great power of Amitabha Buddha’s compassionate vows.
The Buddha’s compassion and the Buddha’s power of vows crystalize and manifest in the solemnity and resplendence of the Land of Ultimate Bliss. It is in this land that the Buddha receives sentient beings of all directions and enables them to be Buddhas. And Amitabha Buddha’s power of compassionate vows extends to the Buddhas in the lands of all directions, as expressed in the verses: “They go to the east to preach the profound Dharma to set countless sentient beings on the Dharma-path. For the same purpose, they also go to the south, the west, the north, the four intermediate directions, the zenith, and the nadir.”
Therefore, the Land of Ultimate Bliss, or the Buddhas from the lights of jewel lotuses, or the Buddhas of all directions expounding the Dharma, all are the manifestation of Amitabha Buddha’s vows.
Amitabha Buddha uses lotuses to conduct his mission, and his land is full of lotuses. This is the reason the Land of Ultimate Bliss is also called the Land Encompassing the Dharmadhatu. In that land, we will be born a lotus birth, sit on the same lotus, and share the Buddha’s Dharmakāya. Amitabha Buddha is the Infinite Life, so are we; Amitabha Buddha is the Infinite Light, so are we. Thus, reads The Treatise on Rebirth: “The pure lotus-beings of the Tathagata are born transformed from the lotus of perfect enlightenment.”
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Kenneth Farrall (Foyin))
 Koti: A large unit of measurement, said to equal ten million.
 Nayuta, a large numerical measurement, is said to be one hundred billion.
 The full title: The Treatise on the Sutra of the Infinite Life with the Gata Aspiring for Rebirth in the Pure Land.
 A dhāraṇī in Sanskrit is a short summary of the essential doctrine contained in a much longer sacred text, a mantra. Properly recited, the dharani conveys the same merit as reading the entire work. The term “eighty-four thousand” in ancient India simply means uncountable.
 The three-vehicles are the Hearer (enlightened by hearing the Buddha), the pratyekabuddha (enlightened by practicing the twelve links of causal conditions), and the Bodhisattva.
 Trikāya in Sanskrit means three modes or bodies of Buddha: Dharmakāya the Dharma-body or the “body of reality” synonymous with suchness or emptiness; Sambhogakāya the “body of enjoyment and reward,” the celestial body that a Buddha appears to teach bodhisattvas through visionary experiences; and Nirmāņakāya the “incarnated or transformed body” of the Buddha to benefit sentient beings. Absolutely seen, only the Dharmakāya is real.
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