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Selections from The Sutra on Contemplation of Buddha Amitayus (vegan): 5th – 9th Contemplation, Part 1 of 2

2023-12-22
Lingua:English
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It is a pleasure to present selections from “The Sutra on Contemplation of Amitayus” translated by J. Takakusu in the book, “Buddhist Mahayana Texts.” Today, we will be focusing on the contemplation of ponds and various objects in the Pure Land, as well as the contemplation of the lotus throne of the Buddha.

5. Contemplation of ponds in the Pure Land

“[…] The perception of the water is as follows: In the Land of Highest Happiness there are waters in eight lakes; the water in every lake consists of seven jewels which are soft and yielding. Deriving its source from the king of jewels that fulfils every wish, the water is divided into fourteen streams; every stream has the color of seven jewels; its channel is built of gold, the bed of which consists of the sand of variegated diamonds.

In the midst of each lake there are sixty millions of lotus-flowers, made of seven jewels; all the flowers are perfectly round and exactly equal (in circumference), being twelve yoganas. The water of jewels flows amidst the flowers and rises and falls by the stalks (of the lotus); the sound of the streaming water is melodious and pleasing, and propounds all the perfect virtues (Parâmitâs), ‘suffering,’ ‘non-existence,’ ‘impermanence,’ and ‘non-self;’ it proclaims also the praise of the signs of perfection, and minor marks of excellence of all Buddhas. From the king of jewels that fulfils every wish, stream forth the golden-coloured rays excessively beautiful, the radiance of which transforms itself into birds possessing the colors of a hundred jewels, which sing out harmonious notes, sweet and delicious, ever praising the remembrance of Buddha, the remembrance of the Dharma, and the remembrance of the Sangha; such is the perception of the water of eight good qualities, and it is the Fifth Meditation.”

6. Contemplation of various objects in the Pure Land

“Each division of that (Buddha) country, which consists of several jewels, has also jewelled storeys and galleries to the number of five hundred millions; within each storey and gallery there are innumerable Devas engaged in playing heavenly music. There are some musical instruments that are hung up in the open sky, like the jewelled banners of Heaven; they emit musical sounds without being struck, which, while resounding variously, all propound the remembrance of Buddha, of the Dharma and of the Sangha, Bhikshus, etc. When this perception is duly accomplished, one is said to have dimly seen the jewel-trees, jewel-ground, and jewel-lakes of that World of Highest Happiness (Sukhâvatî); such is the perception formed by meditating on the general (features of that Land), and it is the Sixth Meditation. If one has experienced this, one has expiated the greatest sinful deeds which would (otherwise lead one) to transmigration for numberless millions of kalpas; after his death he will assuredly be born in that land.”

7. Contemplation of the lotus throne of the Buddha

“‘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 Amitâyus stood in the midst of the sky with Bodhisattvas Mahâsthâma and Avalokitesvara, 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 (Gâmbûnada). Thereupon Vaidehî saw Buddha Amitâyus and approached the World-Honoured One, and worshipped Him, touching His feet; and spoke to Him as follows: ‘O Exalted One! I am now able, by the power of Buddha, to see Buddha Amitâyus together with the two Bodhisattvas. But how shall all the beings of the future meditate on Buddha Amitâyus and the two Bodhisattvas?’

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 colors 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 yoganas in length and the same measurement in breadth. Each lotus-flower possesses eighty-four thousand leaves, each leaf has the kingly jewels to the number of a hundred millions, as ornaments for illumination; each jewel 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 Sakra’s head. It is inlaid and decked with eighty thousand diamonds, Kimsuka jewels, Brahma-mani and excellent jewel nets. On that tower there are miraculously found four posts with jewelled banners; each banner looks like a hundred thousand millions of Sumeru mountains.

The jewelled veil over these banners is like that of the celestial palace of Yama, illuminated with five hundred millions of excellent jewels, each jewel has eighty-four thousand rays, each ray has various golden colors to the number of eighty-four thousand, each golden color 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 jewel 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 Ânanda, said: ‘These excellent flowers were created originally by the power of the prayer of Bhikshu, Dharmâkara. 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.’”

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