Will Amitābha Buddha Always Be Around? 阿弥陀佛会常住吗?

Question: Is it so, that Amitā[bha] Buddha (i.e. 阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó) might not always be around?

Answer: It is not so, as all Buddhas are always ‘all around’ (with immeasurable transcendental life), even if without forms, in terms of the universal Dharmakāya (法身: Dharma Body), that pervades all space and time.

Question: Why then, is there a teaching that Āmítuófó will be ‘replaced’ by Guānshìyīn (i.e. 观世音 Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds) Bodhisattva? (Note: Guānshìyīn and Dàshìzhì [大势至: Great Power Arrived] Bodhisattvas are Āmítuófó’s first and second chief disciples respectively, who are in the ‘Stage Of One Life To Replacement’ [一生补处] of Buddhas.)

Answer: Although Āmítuófó will manifest ‘Parinirvāṇa’ to let her/him take over, he will not really be ‘replaced’, as he can still be seen, and his Pure Land will continue to function through the next Buddha. Manifestation of ‘Parinirvāṇa’ is a skilful means, to remind us of our current mortality, and to urge us to practise with more sincerity and urgency, so as to meet him in his Pure Land directly and quickly, to not take him for granted.

All Buddhas’ selfless work of guiding all beings to Buddhahood is unceasing. Even after manifesting ‘Parinirvāṇa’, they will continue manifesting in immeasurable other ways to help. Thus, mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name to reach his Pure Land will always work, as vowed by him, for delivering all beings, while it has only been 10 kalpas (十劫) since accomplishment of his Pure Land. To meet him swiftly, we just need to ensure that we reach his Pure Land by the end of this very life. Also, as Āmítuófó’s name is also an unsurpassable mantra that represents all of the Triple Gem, which includes all immeasurable Buddhas (无量佛), it will always work.

Question: When and how will he be ‘replaced’, and what will happen after that?

Answer: The answer is in the following summary of the relevant section of the ‘Sūtra [Of] Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva’s Prediction [Of Buddhahood]’《观世音菩萨授记经》, as taught by Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛).

Although Amitā[bha] Buddha has a lifespan of immeasurable hundreds of thousands of koṭis of kalpas (无量百千亿劫), he will manifest its ‘ending’. (Note: 1 koṭi is about 10 million. 1 kalpa is about 1.3 trillion years.)

‘In future vast, distant and incalculable kalpas’ (当来广远不可计劫) later, he will manifest ‘Parinirvāṇa’, after which the ‘Right Dharma will abide in his world [i.e. Pure Land] [for the duration] equal to the Buddha’s [immeasurable] lifespan’ (正法住世等佛寿命), with ‘that delivering of sentient brings all the same’ [as when he was present] (所度众生悉皆同等).

After his ‘Parinirvāṇa’, in his Pure Land, ‘all the treasure objects, bathing ponds, lotus flowers and rows of trees with many treasures, will still constantly expound the Dharma’s sounds’ (一切宝物、浴池、莲花、众宝行树,常演法音). Those who are able to attain ‘Samādhi From Mindfulness Of Buddha’ (念佛三昧) with mindfulness of him will be able to constantly see him, and this state is easily attained in the Pure Land.

At dawn immediately after the Right Dharma Age ‘ends’, Guānshìyīn Bodhisattva will sit under the Bodhi tree (菩提树) to awaken as ‘King Of Mountain With Universal Light’s Meritorious Virtues’ Thus Come One’ (普光功德山王如來), whose Pure Land named ‘Adornment Of Many Treasures Universally Collected’ (众宝普集庄严) will only be with Bodhisattvas.

He will be attended by ‘Attainment Of Great Power Bodhisattva’ (得大势菩萨), who will, after that Buddha’s (post-‘Parinirvāṇa’s) Right Dharma Age ends, awaken as ‘King Of Good-Abiding Meritorious Virtues’ Treasures Thus Come One’ (善住功德宝王如), whose Pure Land will have the same attributes.

Question: How can we further understand the nature of Āmítuófó’s manifestation of disappearance?

Answer: The answer is in the following summary of the relevant ‘Question And Answer’ in the ‘Collection [On] Peace [And] Bliss’《安乐集》, as taught by Great Master Dàochuò (道绰大师).


Question: [If] Thus Come Ones’ reward bodies [i.e. Saṃbhogakāya: 报身] constantly abide, why [does the] ‘Sūtra [Of] Guānyīn’s Prediction’ say [that] ‘After Āmítuófó enters “Parinirvāṇa”, Guānshìyīn Bodhisattva [will] next replace [the] Buddha’s position’?


Answer: This is [his] reward body manifesting [the] ‘form’ [of] disappearance, not [actual] ‘Parinirvāṇa’, [which is only manifested by manifestation bodies (i.e. Nirmānakayas: 应化身)].


That sūtra [also] says, ‘After Āmítuófó enters “Parinirvāṇa”, moreover, sentient beings [with] profound good roots, [can] still see [him] as before.’ [This] is proof [of] that.


Also, [the] ‘Treasure Nature Treatise’ says, ‘Reward bodies have five kinds [of] forms –
[1] [forms for] speaking [the] Dharma, and
[2] [forms that] can [to be] seen,
[3] [forms for] many activities without resting, and
[4] [forms for] ‘resting’ [with] ‘disappearance’, [and]
[5] [forms of] manifestation [with] no true body [or substance].’
[This] is proof [of] that [too].

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