[43] Why Focus On Buddha Recitation & Not Visualisation? 为何专称佛而不观佛?


Question: [As the] Contemplation Sūtra focused clearly [upon] practising visualisation [in its earlier parts], why say [to] not exhaust [ourselves with] visualisation?


Answer: This following meaning [is] from [the] Contemplation Sūtra.


That sūtra’s cause [for] superior visualisation [is] not [with] ordinary beings’ mind power within reach, thus at [the] thirteenth [contemplation, the Buddha] separately opened [with] visualisation of [the Buddha’s] inferior image [as a Manifestation instead of Reward Body, which is easier to visualise], yet [if] those [with] obstacles heavy [are] still not able [to be visually] mindful [of] that Buddha, thus with [the] sixteenth [contemplation, he] widely opened [the] door of calling [his] name.


Now, due [to] those [in this] Dharma[-Ending] Age [with] obstacles heavy [being] many, thus [should there be] focus mainly [upon the] sixteenth contemplation.


[It] should [be] known [that] persons [with spiritual] roots, although dull, yet [with the] Buddha’s image of [one] zhàng [and] six [chǐs] [i.e. 2.72m], [or] eight chǐs [1.36m], [and the] name of Immeasurable Life Buddha [i.e. Āmítuófó], [the latter is] not necessarily not [also with the] mind made, [that the] mind is. Thus, those [with] visualisation inferior [need] not exhaust [themselves with practice of] superior visualisation, yet those [who] call [the Buddha’s] name [need] not at all exhaust [with any] visualisation.  

[Note: As Śākyamuni Buddha’s birth in India was recorded in China during the Zhōu Dynasty’s (周朝), that era’s measurement system is referred to below, for converting to today’s metric system.

丈六 = 一丈六尺 = 1 zhàng and 6 chǐs
1 chǐ (尺) = 17cm
6 chǐs = 6×17cm = 102cm
8 chǐs = 8 × 17cm = 136cm (1.36m) = ordinary persons’ height
1 zhàng (丈) = 10 chǐs = 10 × 17cm = 170cm
1 zhàng and 6 chǐs = 170cm + 102cm = 272cm (2.72m) = the Buddha’s height

According to the Sarvāstivāda Vinaya Vibhāṣā《萨婆多毘尼毘婆沙》, ‘The Buddha’s body (is of) zhàngs six, (that) ordinary persons (are) half of.’「佛身丈六,常人半之。」The above calculation fits the translation and ratio exactly, as ordinary persons’ height of 8 chǐs (1.36m) is half of 1 zhàng and 6 chǐs (2.72m). The Explanation above describes visualisation of Āmítuófó with his manifested height, or with that of an ordinary person.

While the Buddha’s actual height might seem incredible, according to Guinness World Records, the tallest man ever recorded is Robert Wadlow (1918-1940), who happened to have the exact same calculated height (2.72m) as the Buddha: Although the Buddha’s height is meritoriously and prominently tall to skilfully gather attention with his presence when teaching, different beings in our world perceived him differently, according to their karma, with some even seeing him to be like an ordinary person.]

– 净土宗九祖澫益大师

– Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì
(Essential Explanation [Of The] Sūtra [In Which The] Buddha Speaks [Of] Amitā[bha] Buddha)

Namo Amituofo: Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

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Complete English Translation Of ‘The Essential Explanation On The Amitābha Sūtra As Spoken By The Buddha’

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