Thursday, June 11, 2009

Amida Buddha, The Buddha of Light

" I have nothing to say. Even if I were to explain, people attached to the phenomenal world would not believe me; on the contrary, they would criticize the sutra."
--Bassui, Zen Master, 14th century Japan

Amida Buddha
is the heart of Ch'an Buddhist faith and practice. Originating in Mahayana practice and revealed by the historical Buddha over 2,600 years ago, the name Amida is Japanese (from the ancient Sanskrit language) which means ‘Immeasurable Life and Light’ or Oneness.

Bassui wrote, "Amida means the Buddha nature of ordinary people. Upon realizing your true nature, eighty thousand delusions will change into eighty thousand wonderful meanings. These are referred to as Kwan Yin Bodhisattva and Seishi Bodhisattva and other sages."
Kwan Yin, or Kannon as the bodhisattva is also called, sometimes considered the Great Compassionate One, freely loving, and universal, assures spiritual liberation for all. By this living experience of love and compassion, no one is left behind.
Religions offer sacred or mythical stories so that ordinary people can understand that which is not visible to the eye. For example, there are stories of virgin births, crucifixions, visits by angels, ascensions through heavens and resurrections. Some may dismiss myths as false, or just nice little stories but in reality, myth serves as the medium by which our inner deep subconscious mind interacts with our outer conscious mind and world. Myths manifest themselves in a many ways, often most clearly in religious experience and rituals.

In The Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life, the main Ch'an Buddhist scripture, the historical Buddha tells Ananda, one of his chief disciples this sacred story, "There was a prince called Dharmakara, which means Storehouse of the Dharma, who like the true historical Prince Siddhartha Gautama or Shakyamuni, renounced his royal position, and became a monk. His reason for pursuing the religious life was motivated by his great compassion and deep understanding for all suffering beings throughout the universe and time. Due to his compassion, Dharmakara declared 48 religious vows, the Primal Vows, creating a Pure Land that would liberate each and every suffering being throughout time and space." The Way was now open for the ordinary people of ordinary minds.

A Pure Land, "depends upon the purity of the mind," writes Bassui, "the appearance of the Amida buddha comes when the mind remains undisturbed... If you destroy all thoughts, your true nature being no mind, the resting mind, the most basic, empty mind, both pain and pleasure cease. This is what is referred to as the land of bliss... The physical body... is a temporary formation of the five aggregates."

The undisturbed mind is described by Bassui as a mind that is, "consisting of the four elements, having no individual form; when there is thus no individual form, the nature of the mind is as it is, and there is no aspect of disorder. This is called the one undisturbed mind as it is said in a sutra that the undisturbed, straightforward mind is the abode of the Buddha Way because there is no misconception there."

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