Q&A

Do We Have Little Affinity With Amitābha Buddha? 我们与阿弥陀佛少缘吗?

View With Review #4 (p.250)

View: Since focusing much on rebirth (往生), does Amitābha Buddha’s (阿弥陀佛) Pure Land (净土) teachings reject this world and its pleasures? If so, do most have little karmic affinity (缘) with him? Did Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) teach [that Medicine Buddha’s (药师佛) Eastern Pure Land (东方净土) represents growth, while] Amitābha Buddha’s Western Pure Land (西方净土) represents retirement? Do Buddhists only chant Amitābha Buddha’s name (念佛) to deliver (超度) the deceased, and Medicine Buddha’s name to eradicate disasters (消灾) and lengthen life (延寿)?

Review: Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land teachings never reject this world, as it makes sense to best do what we should to make it a better place now, since we and our descendants live in it, even while aspiring to reach the best place for spiritual perfection, which is Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land, for training on how to better all other worlds, including this one. Thus, the Pure Land teachings focus on both this world and the next.

It is not that most have little affinity with Amitābha Buddha, as many do have great affinity with him instead. This has been so from ancient times till today, which is why Amitābha Buddha’s name is ubiquitously heard and seen, so much more often than other Buddhas’ names. This is so as Śākyamuni Buddha mentioned him the most among all other Buddhas, in hundreds of sūtras.

Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land also has physical pleasures, which are spiritually pure, that surpass all worldly pleasures. It is after all, the Land Of Ultimate Bliss (极乐世界). Its blissfulness only motivates us to further our spirituality, unlike worldly pleasures that tend to distract us.

There is no sūtra teaching that just because Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land is in the West, its teachings are to be practised only when dying or after death. (Also, beings to the West of Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land would perceive it as an eastern land instead.) What more, as Śākyamuni Buddha repeatedly taught, since death can arrive abruptly, at any time, practice should begin now, before it is too late. 

Amitābha Buddha is also the Buddha Of Immeasurable Life (无量寿佛) and the Unsurpassable Great King Of Healers (无上大医王), whose name is Āgada (阿伽陀药), as a complete cure-all medicine, thus able to lengthen life by healing, naturally while also eradicating disasters. The great efficacy of mindfulness of his name for everyday life, and when nearing the end of life, is attested in countless historical cases. This practice works as it creates great meritorious virtues (功德) and connects to his great meritorious virtues, that dilute our negative karma (恶业) which causes suffering.

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