Question: What is the simplest way to affirm that practice of mindfulness of Āmítuófó (Amitā[bha] Buddha: 阿弥陀佛) is the swiftest path to Buddhahood?
Answer: As below, there are three general possibilities of speed when it comes to the Pure Land (净土) practice of Niànfó (念佛) (mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name) to reach Pure Land, to facilitate training towards Buddhahood. However, only one of them, which is the last, is true –
- Super Slow Speed:
If the path of Pure Land practice for spiritual progress is super slow, all Buddhas would be sabotaging all by universally encouraging practice of Niànfó to be born in Āmítuófó‘s Pure Land. This cannot be true as all Buddhas have perfect compassion and wisdom for all, and do recommend all to do so, in compliance with the 17th great vow of Āmítuófó.*
- Average Speed:
If the path of Pure Land practice for spiritual progress is of average speed, not even a single Buddha would be strongly encouraging practice of Niànfó to be born in Āmítuófó‘s Pure Land. This cannot be true as all Buddhas have perfect compassion and wisdom for all, and do recommend all to do so, in compliance with the 17th great vow of Āmítuófó.*
- Super Fast Speed:
If the path of Pure Land practice for spiritual progress is super fast, all Buddhas would be greatly helping all by universally encouraging practice of Niànfó to be born in Āmítuófó‘s Pure Land. This has to be true as all Buddhas have perfect compassion and wisdom for all, and do recommend all to do so, in compliance with the 17th great vow of Āmítuófó.*
* The 17th great vow of Āmítuófó, as introduced by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) in the Immeasurable Life Sūtra《无量寿经》is as follows –
[17th Vow Of All Buddhas Proclaiming Name With High Praises]
If I [Dharmākara Bodhisattva: 法藏菩萨] attain Buddhahood [by becoming Āmítuófó], should the ten directions’ worlds’ immeasurable all Buddhas, not be with all of them highly praising and proclaiming my name [Āmítuófó], I shall not obtain Right Awakening.
This vow expresses the great aspiration of Dharmākara Bodhisattva (now Āmítuófó) to have all Buddhas universally recommend the practice of mindfulness of his name (Āmítuófó) to all beings, so that they will come to know of, have the greatest confidence in this practice, and to benefit from using it to reach his Pure Land.
Later in the same sūtra, Śākyamuni Buddha verifies that all Buddhas are indeed together proclaiming and praising the name of Āmítuófó, which means the 17th vow above has been fulfilled, that Dharmākara Bodhisattva has become Āmítuófó, and that all Buddhas are complying with his vow to universally recommend mindfulness of his name to all beings –
[The 17th Vow’s Accomplishment Text]
The ten directions’ Ganges’ sands of all Buddha Thus Come Ones, all together highly praise Immeasurable Life Buddha’s [Āmítuófó] majestic supernormal powers’ and meritorious virtues’ inconceivability.
The Amitābha Sūtra《阿弥陀经》also has teachings that verify the accomplishment of the 17th vow as all Buddhas of the six directions (who are similar to those of the ‘ten directions’, with the ‘six directions’ abbreviating ‘all directions’), as numerous as the Ganges River’s sands, as represented by 38 of them, likewise urged all beings to have faith in the praises of Āmítuófó‘s inconceivable meritorious virtues taught by Śākyamuni Buddha in the sūtra, which all Buddhas mindfully protect –
东/南/西/北/下/上亦有 ___ [三十八尊]佛，如是等恒河沙数诸佛。各于其国，出广长舌相，遍覆三千大千世界，说诚实言：『汝等众生，当信是称赞不可思议功德一切诸佛所护念经。』
[All Buddhas’ Words Of Praise And Exhortation Of Faith]
[I]n the eastern/ southern/ western/ northern/ below/ above direction[s], there are also ___  Buddha[s], such and all other Ganges River’s sands’ numbered Buddhas, each in his land, extending the broad and long tongue’s form [representing universal truthfulness and importance], that covers completely his three-thousandfold great-thousandfold world, speaking these truthful words, “You and other sentient beings, should believe this ‘Sūtra With Praises Of Inconceivable Meritorious Virtues And All Buddhas’ Mindful Protection’.”
Question: Are there other ways to affirm that practice of mindfulness of Āmítuófó is the swiftest path to Buddhahood?
Answer: Yes, of course. Among many other points to note, there are these –
Āmítuófó is the most popular Buddha in the universe due to all Buddhas living up to his 17th vow to publicise his name. This is not simply because he vowed to become well known, but because his 48 great vows for shaping and leading to his Pure Land and Buddhahood are indeed so excellent, that all Buddhas agree on the worth and importance of letting all beings know about his Pure Land path. Being the result of detailed surveying and synergising of all benefits of 210 koṭis (1 koṭi is 10 million or 10 billion) pure (净土) and defiled lands (秽土) while doing away with any faults, it is superior to all lands. This is why Āmítuófó‘s Pure Land is clearly the most efficient Dharma school.
Āmítuófó‘s Pure Land is universally recommended by all Buddhas for seeking birth in as it is a perfect Dharma school with a perfect principal (Āmítuófó), perfect leading teachers (Āmítuófó, Guānshìyīn [观世音] and Dàshìzhì [大势至] Bodhisattvas), perfect schoolmates (with similar great spiritual aspirations), perfect facilities and perfect empowerment of skills. This is why Āmítuófó‘s Pure Land is clearly the most efficient Dharma school.
As stated in the Amitābha Sūtra by Śākyamuni Buddha, Āmítuófó’s Pure Land was established merely 10 kalpas (world cycles) ago. Yet, not only are all there bound for Buddhahood without obstacles, many have already reached the last stage before Buddhahood, with which they survey where to manifest it –
Those sentient beings born, are all Avaivartikas [with non-backsliding progress assured of Buddhahood]. Among them, many are in the Position Of One Life To Replacement [of other Buddhas], with their number extremely great, that cannot by counting their number be known of, and only can with immeasurable and boundless asaṃkhyeya kalpas be said.
With such immeasurably fast speed of training immeasurable future-Buddhas, this is why all Buddhas and all Great Bodhisattvas (such as Mañjuśrī [文殊] and Earth Treasury [地藏]) universally recommend and guide all beings to be born there. Great Bodhisattvas, such as Universal Virtue (普贤) Bodhisattva, whose Ten Great King Of Vows (And Practices) (十大愿王) represent that of all Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, not only aspire to guide all beings there, they aspire to personally be there too. Thus, indeed, as above, Āmítuófó’s Pure Land is clearly the most efficient Dharma school.
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