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“Why is this Buddha called Amitabha? Shariputra, the brilliance of that Buddha's light is measureless, illuminating the lands of the ten directions everywhere without obstruction. For this reason he is called Amitabha.”

- Buddha Sakyamuni to the Elder Shariputra,Amitabha Sutra

Amitabha is one of the Five Dhyāni Buddhas in Vajrayana Buddhism. He is the Buddha of Immeasurable Radiance and Infinite Light. He is the Buddha of Dewachen, the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, millions of Buddhalands to the West. He made 48 great vows for his Pure Land and as a result, all living beings of this country endure no suffering and enjoy every bliss.

He is shown wearing the robes of a monk, seated in vajra posture on a lotus throne. His hands are on his lap in the exposition mudra, right hand over left with the palms face up and the tips of the thumbs lightly touching. Sometimes, he holds a lotus or a begging bowl in his hands.

He can also be depicted, seated or standing, with his left hand raised, palm facing outward with his forefinger and thumb lightly touching. This symbolizes wisdom that can be attained by all sentient beings. His right hand is extended downwards with the forefinger and thumb also lightly touching to express compassion that is specifically directed at beings who are incapable of liberating themselves from ignorance.

The Amitabha empowerment creates a direct and distinct connection between the aspirant’s consciousness and that of Buddha Amitabha. After that connection is made, a person may practice the Sadhana of Buddha Amitabha, which leads to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pureland or Dewachen.

It is said in the Amitabha Sutra that “in this Buddhaland the three evil paths do not exist. Shariputra, even the names of the three evil paths are unknown in this Buddha's land; how much less could they actually exist!” and “in that Buddhaland when the gentle winds blow, the rows of jeweled trees and jeweled nets reverberate with fine and wondrous sounds, as a symphony of one hundred thousand kinds of music played in harmony. All who hear these sounds are naturally mindful of the Buddha, mindful of the Dharma, and mindful of the Sangha. Shariputra, the Land of Utmost Happiness is crowned in splendor and virtues such as these.”

“Shariputra, those living beings who hear of this should vow, ‘I wish to be born in that country.’ And why? Because those who are born there assemble in one place with people whose goodness is unsurpassed. Shariputra, if one has few good roots, blessings, and virtues, one cannot be born in that land.

Shariputra, if there is a good man or good woman who hears of Amitabha and holds his name whether for one day, two days, three, four, five days, six days, as long as seven days with one mind unconfused, when this person nears the end of life, before him will appear Amitabha and all the Assembly of Holy Ones. When the end comes, his mind will not be utterly confused, and in Amitabha's Land of Ultimate Bliss he will quickly be reborn. Shariputra, because I see this benefit, I speak these words; and, if living beings hear this teaching they should make the vow: I wish to be born in that land.”

The mantra of Amitabha, Om ah mi dewa hri, is an invocation of his infinite radiance and boundless light. It is an expression of the intention to realize our true selves and to allow our own Buddha nature to radiate with the compassion, wisdom, and light of Amitabha. The gift that the Amitabha Sadhana brings us is the experience of happiness and bliss in our lives, in the here and now, as we walk through our own paths to Full Realization and Supreme Enlightenment.

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