"The (inner Heavenly) Light of this Buddha is infinite, and shines on all lands throughout the universe without obstruction. Thus, this Buddha is called Amitabha," it means "Limitless Light," also meaning "Limitless life span," He lives forever.
Amitabha Sutra. Amitabha, A-M-I-T-A-B-H-A, Ami-ta-bha. "Thus I have heard: Once, Buddha was in the land of Sravasti, in the garden of Jeta and Anathapindika. He was accompanied by 1,250 great Bhiksus, and all of them great Arhats, well known to the assembly. Among them were His leading disciples, such figures as the Elders Sariputra, Maudgalyayana, Mahakasyapa, Mahakatyayana, and Mahakausthila."
Now you know why I can't remember the names. "Revata, Suddhipanthaka, Nanda, and then Ananda, Rahula," His son, His biological son. "Gavampati, Pindola Bharadvaja, Kalodayin, Mahakapphina, Vakkula, and Aniruddha, all great disciples. Also present were the Bodhisattvas Mahasattva, like Manjusri, Prince of the Dharma, wisdom, the Bodhisattva Ajita, the Invincible, and the Bodhisattva of Constant Progress, Gandhahastin, Nityodyukta, and other such great enlightened beings. Also present was Sakra, the king of the gods."
He followed Buddha everywhere before He became Buddha, and now that the Buddha was there, he also came down. What are you doing here again? You want to make the Buddha suffer again? The king of the gods, Sakra, it may not be the same Sakra because even the king of gods, they change position. They die and somebody else takes their place. So the Kingdom of gods is sometimes up for grabs. If you're good enough, you just come up. Because the Sakra, maybe at that time his merits ran out, and then he had to go. And then the throne was empty. So whoever has enough merit just comes up, takes the place, so simple. "Sakra was there, the king of the gods, along with countless numbers of heavenly beings, making up a great assembly."
I have to tell you that Sakra is the king of 33 Heavens only, the god of the gods of 33 Heavens in the Astral level. He's not the God of all the gods, like he's not the God Almighty and all that, so don't blame him for being so cruel and wicked, and testing the Buddha-to-be in such, many agonizing ways. He's not the Almighty God. He's not even the Second-level god. You never heard of him coming down and making trouble. And Brahma, you never see him making Buddha suffer. It's just the astral, similar to humans. If they're from the Astral Level, they do many naughty things, not very kind things, because they’re from the astral level or hell.
“At that time, the Buddha said to the Elder Sariputra: ‘West of here, past a hundred-billion Buddha-lands, there exists a world called Ultimate Bliss. In this land, past a hundred-billion Buddha-lands, far away, there exists a Buddha called Amitabha who is expounding the Dharma right now.’ For His people in that land. Buddha said to Sariputra: ‘Why is this land called Ultimate Bliss? It is called Ultimate Bliss because the sentient beings in this land are free from the myriad sufferings, and only know every kind of joy. Furthermore, this land is called Ultimate Bliss because it is surrounded by seven rings of railings, and seven layers of nets, and seven rounds of trees, all made of the four precious jewels. Moreover, the Land of Ultimate Bliss has many jeweled ponds filled with the waters of eight virtues. The bottom of each of the ponds is pure golden sand, and the stepped walkways that lead up from all four sides of each of the ponds are made of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and crystal. Above the ponds there are many towers which are adorned with silver and gold and lapis lazuli and crystals, and mother of pearl and red agate. In the ponds there are lotus flowers as big as cart wheels: blue ones shining with blue light, yellow ones shining with yellow light, red ones shining with red light, and white ones shining with white light, each emitting a subtle pure fragrance. The Land of Ultimate Bliss is complete with all these merits and adornments. And there is more. Celestial music is constantly playing in this Buddha land, and the ground is made of gold. Flowers in the shape of heavenly orbs rain down at all hours of the day and night. Every morning the sentient beings of this land decorate their garments with multitudes of wondrous flowers.’” Ah, the flowers rain down so that they can decorate their garments.
"And make offerings to hundreds of billions of Buddhas in other worlds." So they take the flowers, they fly to billions of other Buddha-lands and make offerings. Can you imagine that? Without any airplanes, without a car, without pollution. Sounds similar to our land, except it's more wonderful and precious. "When it is mealtime, they return to their own lands, to eat and circumambulate the teaching assembly, all the Buddhas, the teachers. The Land of Ultimate Bliss is complete with all of these merits and adornments."
In the Original Universe, we don't eat, we don't feel hungry. We have all kinds of fruits, all kinds of trees, all kinds of things, but nobody needs to eat anything. Too busy creating, enjoying, enjoying the creative power, and making things and then making it disappear or making it again, and blessing, enjoying also. And there is more still.
"The Land of Ultimate Bliss is complete with all of these merits and adornments." And there is more still. "In this land, there are birds of all sorts of wondrous variegated colors: white cranes, peacocks, orioles, myna birds, cuckoos. All these birds bring forth harmonious songs day and night. Their songs communicate such Buddhist teachings as the Five Roots, the Five Powers, the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, the Eightfold Path, as well as other teachings." Even birds, they're preaching in that land. "When the sentient beings in this land hear the voices of the birds, they are mindful of the Buddhas, mindful of the Dharma, and mindful of the sangha." The birds are reminding them.
I’ll turn back this page here. "Do not think that these birds were born as birds due to karmic retribution or past misdeeds. Why not? Because in this Buddha land, the three evil planes of existence, as animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings, do not exist. In this Buddha land, even the names of the evil planes of existence do not exist, much less the realities. All of these birds are the creations of Amitabha Buddha, fashioned in order to broadcast the sounds of the Dharma." Like radio, living radio, it's also a miracle.
"In this Buddha land, there is a slight breeze that stirs the rounds of jewel trees and jewel nets, so that they emit subtle wondrous sounds, like hundreds and thousands of melodies playing all at once. All those who hear these sounds spontaneously develop the intention to be mindful of the Buddha, the sangha and the Dharma. This Buddha land is complete with all of these merits and adornments. What do you think? Why is this Buddha called Amitabha? The (inner Heavenly) Light of this Buddha is infinite, and shines on all lands throughout the universe without obstruction. Thus, this Buddha is called Amitabha," it means "Limitless Light," also meaning "Limitless life span," He lives forever.
Also, the lifespan… Now, look at that! "Also the lifespan of this Buddha and His people is an infinite number of immeasurable eons, and so He is called Amitabha." You live forever there. You’d like to go there? Can do, can do. "Amitabha Buddha attained enlightenment ten eons ago." That's not long. Normally, it's numerous asamkhyeya, eons and eons, eons. This is only ten eons, He's young! Young Buddha. "Moreover, this Buddha has innumerable disciples, all of whom are Arhats, and whose numbers are incalculable. Amitabha also has a following of innumerable Bodhisattvas."
Crowded family. "The Land of Ultimate Bliss is complete with all of these merits and adornments. None of the sentient beings who are born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss ever fall back into a lower realm, meaning, they are avaivartika. Many among them have only one more lifetime to go, before enlightenment." So they're not complete, they're OK. Just that they're not like, enlightened. The Buddha just fetched them up, But it doesn't mean that they are enlightened, not very enlightened, perhaps not. Because they still eat. They adorn their garments with flowers and all that, sounds cute. As long as you can live forever and peacefully there, who cares? One more lifetime.
"These beings are very numerous, and their number is incalculable. When sentient beings hear of the Land of the Ultimate Bliss, they must take a vow to be born in this land. Why so? So that they can be together with all of these beings of superior goodness. One cannot be born in this land through minor good roots, or blessing, or virtues and causal connections." It means they have to be real good, real good. Passed all the exams, passed all the tests.
"If there are good men or good women who hear of Amitabha Buddha, and recite His name single-mindedly and without confusion, for one day or two days only, or three days or four days or five days or six days or seven days," from one day to seven days, then... "Then when these people are about to die, Amitabha Buddha and all the sages who are with Him will appear before them. When these people die, their minds will not fall into delusion, and they will attain rebirth in Amitabha Buddha's Land of Ultimate Bliss."
If you don't like to study with me, there is a choice here. Backup, plan B. No problem! I'm not jealous. Otherwise, I wouldn't tell you. But you have to recite single-mindedly, not like you "Namo Amitabha, what?" "Amitabha who?" “Master, I concentrate…” "I have seen this benefit, and so I speak these words," it means Shakyamuni Buddha spoke these words truthfully.
"I have seen these benefits," He said, "so I speak these words. If sentient beings hear what I say, they must make a vow to be born in that land." He didn't even say, "Make me born into Shakyamuni Buddha Land." Maybe because Shakyamuni Buddha doesn't make a vow to take sentient beings up into His land, but Amitabha Buddha did, that's why. OK? And Shakyamuni, without jealousy, introduced His colleague. What I mean is the Buddha spoke the truth.
That's why if you go to China or some Buddhist land or in Taiwan (Formosa) or in Âu Lạc (Vietnam), you heard people, they gather in the temple for one, or three-days or seven-days retreat, they just recite His name all day, and of course, meditate some also. But otherwise, they just recite His name. When I was younger, I sang this Amitabha Buddha song for you? Yes. At that time I could stretch my voice very long, remember? And very high. I cannot anymore. I can talk still, but I don't have such energy to sing like before, like at that time.
"Right now, I am extolling the benefits of the inconceivable merits of Amitabha Buddha. But in the eastern direction, there are also countless other Buddhas: the Akshobhya Buddha, and the Buddha Marks of the Polar Mountain, and the Buddha Great Polar Mountain, and the Buddha Light of the Polar Mountain, and the Buddha Wondrous Voice, etc. Each of them preaches in his own land with the eloquence of a Buddha, and covers a whole cosmos, speaking the Truth. All of you sentient beings should believe this scripture, extolling their inconceivable merits, and which all Buddhas protect and keep in mind." This secret, this merit, most Buddhas know about it and protect them.