Q&A

Should We Focus on All Buddhas & Bodhisattvas?

Question: In my daily practice, I pay homage to various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This is because each Buddha or Bodhisattva reminds me of their most significant quality, which inspires me to emulate them. Is this alright, or might it result in confusion?

Answer: Paying homage to various enlightened beings to remind ourselves of their outstanding virtues is excellent. However, it is also important to have a main practice too. E.g. by focusing more on one of the Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, while mindful that though each exemplifies a certain virtue greatly, their virtues are really interconnected (in an all-in-one and one-in-all way). This is because all the great Bodhisattvas worthy of respect are re-manifested ancient Buddhas, and all Buddhas embody all Bodhisattvas’ qualities perfectly. (If not, they wouldn’t be Buddhas.)

It is good to have a key Bodhisattva or Buddha as focus because this helps to keep us singleminded, which develops concentration and stronger connection to that particular Bodhisattva or Buddha, which then gives rise to wisdom more efficiently. This is all the more important if we wish to be born in a specific Buddha’s Pure Land.

This is why the Pure Land masters (e.g. see http://tinyurl.com/Amituofo69) advocate exclusive focus on Amitabha Buddha (or more clearly related Bodhisattvas) because he represents the collective virtues of all enlightened beings in perhaps one of the most clear and “bright” way. Mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha is also universally recommended by the Buddhas in all directions, as stated in the Amitabha Sutra. This is the perspective from the Pure Land tradition. (In other Buddhist traditions, there might be focus on other enlightened beings.)

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