[2] Explanation Of Amitābha Sūtra’s Name 释《阿弥陀经》名 The First Layer Of Profound Meaning 第一重玄义


Five: Explanation [Of] Sūtra’s Profound Meanings

文分五: 初、释名,二、辨体,三、明宗,四、明力用,五、明教相。

Text Divided [In] Five [Parts]: First, Explanation [Of] Name, Second, Distinguishment [Of] Essence, Third, Explanation [Of] Principles, Fourth, Explanation [Of] Function [And] Use, Fifth, Explanation [Of] Teaching’s Forms.

【解】: 将释经文,五重玄义。

[Explanation]: About [to be] explained [is the] sūtra’s text, [with] five layers [of] profound meanings.


A1: Explanation [Of] Name


First, [is] explanation [of] name.


This sūtra [is] with [the one] able [to] speak [and the] spoken persons as [its] name.

「佛」者, 此土能说之教主,即释迦牟尼,乘大悲愿力,生五浊恶世,以先觉觉后觉,无法不知,无法不见者也。

That ‘Buddha’, this land’s master teacher, [is] then Śākyamuni [Buddha, who] rode [upon his] great compassionate vows’ power, [to be] born [in this] Five Defilements’ Evil Period, with [him] first awakening, after awakening, awakening [others, with] no Dharma that [is] not known, [and] no Dharma not seen.


[The] one [who] ‘speaks’, [is with] ‘joy’ as [his] embrace.


[As the] Buddha, with delivering [of] sentient beings as [his] embrace, [was with] sentient beings’ capacity [for] accomplishing Buddhahood maturing [then], for [them] speaking [this] difficult [to] believe Dharma, [to] enable [their] ultimate liberation, thus [was he with] ‘joy’.


‘Amitā’, [is the one] spoken, that land’s guiding teacher, [whom] with forty-eight vows, receive those sentient beings [with] Faith [and] Aspiration mindful [of] Buddha, [to be] born [in his] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss, [to] forever ascend [to] non-retrogression.      


[In] Sanskrit, [on] ‘Amitā’, this [is] called ‘Immeasurable Life’ [i.e. Amitāyus], also called ‘Immeasurable Light’ [i.e. Amitābha].

要之,功德智慧、 神通道力、依正庄严、说法化度,一一无量也。

In essence, [of his] meritorious virtues, wisdom, supernormal [powers, path’s [spiritual] strength, Circumstantial [and] Direct [Rewards’] adornments, speaking [of the] Dharma [to] transform [and] deliver, each [and] every one [is] immeasurable.  


All [from the] Buddha’s golden mouth, [are] commonly named as ‘sūtras’.


Matching [the] above five words, are [with] Common [and] Separate [Teachings] combined as [the] title.


Teachings, Practice [and] Principles [as] three, [can] each [be] discussed [as] Common [and] Separate [Teachings], extensively like [in the Tiān]tái Tripiṭaka [teachings] as explained.

[Note: In the title of the sūtra are the three above. ‘(The) Buddha Speaks’「佛说」and ‘Sūtra’「经」express the teachings (教). ‘Amitā’「阿弥陀」expresses both Principles (理) and Practice (行), as upholding the name (持名) is the Main Practice (正行), with the name itself containing the Principles.]

– 净土宗九祖藕益大师

– 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

Related Articles:

下文: 辨《阿弥陀经》体
Next Section: Distinguishment Of Amitābha Sūtra’s Essence
The Second Layer Of Profound Meaning

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

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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