How To Abbreviate Āmítuófó’s Sacred Name 如何简称阿弥陀佛之圣号 [11] Amitābha Sūtra’s ‘Omitted’ Words《阿弥陀经》脱文

Amitā[bha] Sūtra’s ‘Omitted’ Words


Xiāngyáng’s stone carved Amitā[bha] Sūtra, [was] then [by] that Suí [Dynasty’s] Chén Rénléng written. [With] calligraphy clear [and] graceful, [it was by] many people admired [and] liked. From ‘wholeheartedly without [being] scattered’ below, then saying, ‘[in] focused upholding [of Āmítuófó’s] name, with reciting [of his] name thus, many transgressions [are] eliminated, [which] then is [with] many good roots [and] blessed virtues [as] cause [and] condition.’ Today, [in the] world’s circulated version, [it] omits these twenty-one words.

[Note 1: The (more popular) circulated version today, as translated by Great Master Kumārajīva (鸠摩罗什大师) states ‘only’ the following, with the above words ‘supposedly’ at ___ below: ‘Śāriputra, one cannot, with few good roots and blessed virtues, as cause and condition, attain birth in that land. Śāriputra, if there are good men and good women, who hear this said about Amitā[bha] Buddha, firmly uphold mindfulness of his name (i.e. Āmítuófó), if for one day, if for two days, if for three days, if for four days, if for five days, if for six days, if for seven days, wholeheartedly without being scattered, ___ , when these persons approach life’s end, Amitā[bha] Buddha, with many in his noble assembly will appear before them. When these persons’ lives are ending, their minds will not be inverted, and they will immediately attain rebirth in Amitā(bha) Buddha’s Land Of Ultimate Bliss.’ (舍利弗,不可以少善根福德因缘,得生彼国。舍利弗,若有善男子、善女人,闻说阿弥陀佛,执持名号,若一日、若二日、若三日、若四日、若五日、若六日、若七日,一心不乱,___,其人临命终时,阿弥陀佛,与诸圣众,现在其前。是人终时,心不颠倒,即得往生阿弥陀佛极乐国土。)

Note 2: As the two extant versions of the sūtra do not contain the twenty-one words, it is difficult to absolutely affirm that the sūtra/s is/are supposed to contain them, that they were not included by mistake, or as an extra note in the stone carving, as ‘suggested’ by another sūtra’s text – as included in the structurally similar Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitābha Buddha’s Fundamental Esoteric Spiritual Mantra《佛说阿弥陀佛根本秘密神咒经》. However, this sūtra omits this opening line in the same section – ‘Śāriputra, one cannot, with few good roots and blessed virtues, as cause and condition, attain birth in that land.’ (舍利弗,不可以少善根福德因缘,得生彼国。) This makes sense as including it would be inversely repetitive.]


Also, [a sūtra] treasury’s version [is with] this sūtra also named ‘Sūtra [With] All Buddhas’ Protection [And] Reception’, then [with the] ten directions’ Buddhas. In [the] ‘raising’ [of] names, today’s version omits four directions’ Buddhas [i.e. lists six directions’ Buddhas only].

[Note 3: The full name of the sūtra mentioned is the Sūtra On Praises Of The Pure Land With Buddhas’ Protection And Reception《称赞净土佛摄受经》, as translated by Great Master Xuánzàng (玄奘大师). Although it is popularly believed that the two extant versions of the sūtra were translated from the same single Sanskrit version, as there are some significant (yet mutually corroborating) differences in their contents, they could be from two Sanskrit versions, as perhaps taught by the Buddha on two occasions, to benefit more with their important teachings. One of the reasons for this possibility is due to the obvious differences of the six directions’ Buddhas’ names, as compared with the ten directions’ Buddhas’ names, as it is difficult to explain how Great Master Kumārajīva would choose to omit a significant number of Buddhas, whose names are each equally important. Thus, there might be no omission of four directions’ Buddhas in his popular version at all, with it simply reflecting how the Buddha did once teach.]

[How To Abbreviate Āmítuófó’s Sacred Nam


[In the] Sanskrit language, [with] ‘Ā’, this [is to] say ‘Without’ [or ‘Im’].

[Note 4: ‘Im’ is an English prefix with the meaning of negation.]


[In the] Sanskrit language, [with] ‘mítuó’ [or ‘mitā’ for more accurate pronunciation], this [is to] say ‘measure’.

[Note 5: The ancient Chinese way of pronouncing ‘Āmítuófó’ (阿弥陀佛) is the same as ‘Amitā(bha) Bud(dha)’, as abbreviated without the bracketed syllables.]


[If] omitting words [to shorten], rather [with] calling [of] ‘Āmí’, [there] cannot [be] calling [of] ‘mítuó’.

[Note 6: Unfortunately, this mis-abbreviation remains a common mistake today. It has become so prevalent that it is already kind of ‘accepted’ in general speech and writing. However, its misuse should still be clarified here for furthering right understanding. Mis-abbreviation should not be used for actual mindfulness practice.]


If calling ‘mítuó’, then is [this] ‘measure’, with [the] meaning of ‘Without Measure’ [or ‘Immeasurable’] contradicted.

[Note 7: That ‘Immeasurable’ is Āmítuófó’s light (无量光) (of wisdom [智], that pervades all space) and Āmítuófó’s life (无量寿) (of blessings [福], that pervades all time), along with his other immeasurable spiritual qualities. Thus, Āmítuófó’s name itself is also an abbreviation, of his immeasurable nature.

As taught by the Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì (净土宗九祖蕅益大师) in his ‘Essential Explanation On The Amitābha Sūtra As Spoken By The Buddha’《佛说阿弥陀经要解》, ‘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.’ (要之,功德智慧、神通道力、依正庄严、说法化度,一一无量也。)]


If calling ‘Āmí’, [this] still has [the] meaning of ‘Immeasurable’ retained in it.

[Note 8: While there is great value in understanding the actual meaning and standard pronunciation of Āmítuófó’s name, as long as the Three Provisions (三资粮) of Faith, Aspiration and Practice (信愿行) are present, slightly different verbal or mental pronunciations due to different languages and dialects will still work for connecting to him.

Note 9: When practising mindfulness of Āmítuófó’s name in everyday life, which is already very short with four words, it should not be further abbreviated. (For expressing homage [礼敬] and taking refuge for life [皈命], the prefix of「南无」[Námó] before his name can be omitted if there is already a sufficient sense of reverence.)

Although they can recite in their minds too, for the physically very weak (and possibly dying), who wish to recite Āmítuófó’s name aloud, but are unable to recite it in full, provided that the requisites in Note 8 are met, they can

(i) further abbreviate his name to the three words of ‘Āmítuó’ (阿弥陀), which is without his ‘Buddha’ title but nevertheless a supreme dhāraṇī (陀罗尼) (or mantra: 咒), as can be seen in the Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitābha Buddha’s Fundamental Esoteric Spiritual Mantra《佛说阿弥陀佛根本秘密神咒经》, or

(ii) even further abbreviate his name to the two words of ‘Āmí’ (阿弥), as in Note 6, or

(iii) finally abbreviate his name to the one word of ‘Ā’ (阿), as the beginning of his name, with it representing its entirety. It is this syllable that is particularly significant too, representing (interconnected blessings of) ‘the ten directions’ and three periods’ Buddhas’ (十方三世佛), not just Āmítuófó, who literally stands for ‘Immeasurable Buddha(s)’ (Amitā Bud[dha(s)]: 无量佛) with his name too. (See the last Related Article on this too.)

With the same understanding, the last one word of ‘fó’ (佛) can be chosen too. However, there should not be general mindfulness of (all or any random) Buddha(s) in mind, only with specific Faith and Aspiration (信愿) to reach Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, for it to be reached.]

Sòng [Dynasty’s] Wáng Rìxiū
Lóngshū’s Pure Land Text: First Scroll

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an 

Previous Essay:

[10] Speaking Of Preparation

Next Essay:

[1] First Pure Land Teachings’ General Essential: Collectively Speaking Of The Great Treasury Of Sūtras…

Nine Essays:

Lóngshū’s Pure Land Text:
[1] First Scroll: Nine Essays On Arising Of Faith In Pure Land, etc.

Related Teachings:

Clear Proof Of Upholding Name As Much Good Roots And Blessed Virtues

How To Have Enough Good Roots & Blessed Virtues As Cause & Condition For Birth In Pure Land?

How To Pronounce Āmítuófó’s Name?

Meaning Of Āmítuófó’s Name

Explanation Of Amitābha Sūtra’s Name
The First Layer Of Profound Meaning

The Sūtra On Praises Of The Pure Land With Buddhas’ Protection And Reception 

Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitābha Buddha’s Fundamental Esoteric Spiritual Mantra
Āmítuófó‘s Name Is A Supreme Mantra

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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