Question: There are passages in the Amitabha Sutra that speaks of (altogether) 38 Buddhas of the various six directions (with Shakyamuni Buddha in the ‘centre’). I came across some similar Buddha names in the chanting text of the 88 Buddhas (for repentance, whereby devotees recite the name of each Buddha followed by a bow). Does prostrating to the 88 Buddhas have anything to do with the Amitabha Pure Land teachings?
Answer: When we chant the names of the Buddhas listed in the Amitabha Sutra with a respectful and repentful heart, it should have similar effect to chanting the names listed in the 88 Buddhas, though devotionally speaking in quantity, they number about half and prostration in not practised while chanting the names. When we practise repentance, it is for furthering spiritual practice, part of which can be seeking birth in Pure Land.
However, the main purpose of the names listed in the Sutra is to let us know that countless Buddhas bear testimony to the reality of the Pure Land teachings. The listed were but a sampling. It is also stated that one who is mindful of the Amitabha Sutra (which contains their names and the Pure Land teachings) will be protected and kept in mind by all Buddhas. Such blessings aid practice of the path to perfect enlightenment.