Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra

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Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra , translated by Lapis Lazuli Texts
Taishō Tripiṭaka volume 12, number 366. Translated originally by Kumārajīva in 402 CE. Also known as the Amitābha Sūtra, this text describes the pure land of Sukhāvatī and how to enter into this realm, through various skillful means and explanations of truth. The sūtra advocates the practice of reciting the name of Amitābha as a mantra. At the end of the Kumārajīva edition is a mantra for rebirth in Sukhāvatī, along with instructions for it passed down from another Indian master. This section of the text has also been included in the English translation.

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was dwelling in the Jeta Grove of Anāthapiṇḍada’s park, along with a great saṃgha of twelve hundred and fifty bhikṣus. All were great arhats well known to the assembly. Among them were Elder Śāriputra, Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Mahākāśyapa, Mahākātyāyana, Mahākauṣṭhila, Revata, Śuddhipanthakena, Nanda, Ānanda, Rāhula, Gavāṃpati, Piṇḍolabhāradvāja, Kālodayin, Mahākapphiṇa, Vakkula, Aniruddha, and many other such great śrāvakas. With them were bodhisattva-mahāsattvas such as Dharma Prince Mañjuśrī, Ajita Bodhisattva, Gandhahastin Bodhisattva, Nityodyukta Bodhisattva, and many other such bodhisattva-mahāsattvas. There was also Śakra, Lord of the Devas, along with innumerable multitudes from all the heavens.

At that time, the Buddha addressed Elder Śāriputra, saying, “From here, going to the west past ten trillion buddha-lands, there is a world realm called Sukhāvatī. In this land there is a buddha called Amitābha who is presently expounding the Dharma. Śāriputra, for what reason is this land called Sukhāvatī? It is because in this land, all sentient beings do not have a multitude of afflictions, but rather experience every type of bliss. For this reason, it is called Sukhāvatī. Moreover, Śāriputra, this land is completely encircled and surrounded by seven tiers of railings, seven layers of netting, and seven rows of trees. They are all made of four kinds of precious jewels, and therefore this land is called Sukhāvatī.

“Moreover, Śāriputra, Sukhāvatī has pools of the Seven Precious Jewels, filled with waters of the Eight Meritorious Qualities, and the bottoms of these pools are pure because they are gold sand. On the four sides, there are steps made of combined gold, silver, beryl, and crystal. Above, there is a tower gloriously adorned with gold, silver, beryl, crystal, mother of pearl, ruby, and coral. Within the pools there are lotus flowers as large as chariot wheels. They shine with green, yellow, red, and white rays of light, and have a subtle fragrance. Śāriputra, Sukhāvatī is accomplished thusly, adorned with these merits and virtues.

“Moreover, Śāriputra, this buddha-land continuously produces heavenly music, and the ground is yellow gold. In the six periods of the day and night, the heavens rain down māndārava flowers. In this land throughout the clear morning, due to the precepts, all sentient beings have an abundant multitude of exquisite flowers. With these flowers, they make offerings to the ten trillion buddhas of the other directions. At mealtime, each returns to his original land to eat and walk about. Śāriputra, Sukhāvatī is accomplished thusly, adorned with these merits and virtues.

“Moreover, Śāriputra, this land always has all kinds of marvelous, many-colored birds: swans, peacocks, parrots, egrets, kalaviṅkas, and two-headed birds. There are many multitudes of birds, and in the six periods of the day and night, they produce harmonious music. Their music elucidates the Five Roots, the Five Powers, the Seven Factors of Bodhi, the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path, and thusly the Dharma. In this land, all sentient beings who hear such sounds are altogether mindful of the Buddha, mindful of the Dharma, and mindful of the Saṃgha. Śāriputra, do not speak of such birds as truly produced as retribution for evil actions. For what reason? This buddha-land does not have the Three Evil Destinies. Śāriputra, in this buddha-land, there are not even the names of the Three Evil Destinies, let alone their actual existence. These many multitudes of birds were created by Amitābha Buddha by transformation, in order for the sound of the Dharma to be proclaimed everywhere. Śāriputra, in this buddha-land, a gentle breeze is expelled, causing the rows of jeweled trees and jeweled nets to produce subtle music, as though 100,000 notes were in harmony. The minds of all those who hear such sounds are naturally mindful of the Buddha, mindful of the Dharma, and mindful of the Saṃgha. Śāriputra, this buddha-land is accomplished thusly, adorned with these merits and virtues.

“Śāriputra, what do you think? For what reason is this buddha called Amitābha? Śāriputra, the radiance of this buddha is immeasurable, illuminating the lands of the ten directions with no obstruction. For this reason he is called Amitābha. Moreover, Śāriputra, the lifespan of this buddha extends for immeasurable, limitless eons. For this reason he is also called Amitāyus. Śāriputra, since Amitābha Buddha attained buddhahood, ten eons have passed. Moreover, Śāriputra, this buddha has innumerable, limitless śrāvaka disciples, all arhats with unfathomable true abilities and knowledge. The many bodhisattvas are also such as this. Śāriputra, this buddha-land is accomplished thusly, adorned with these merits and virtues.

“Moreover, Śāriputra, in the land of Sukhāvatī, all sentient beings are avaivartika. Those who have only one more birth are also extremely many, innumerable and inconceivable in number. Only in innumerable, limitless, incalculable eons could their number be spoken. Śāriputra, all sentient beings hearing this should vow to be born in this land. For what reason? When they gather thusly, many high and virtuous people are able to join together in one place. Śāriputra, those with few roots of goodness, and the causes of merits and virtues, may not attain birth in this land. Śāriputra, if there is a virtuous man or virtuous woman who hears and speaks ‘Amitābha Buddha,’ holding and maintaining his name for one, two, three, four, five, six, or seven days single-mindedly without confusion, then at the end of his or her life, Amitābha Buddha will appear with the multitude of holy beings. At the end of this person’s life, with a mind unconfused, he or she will quickly attain rebirth in Amitābha Buddha’s land of Sukhāvatī. Śāriputra, because I see this benefit, I speak these words: if there are sentient beings who hear this teaching, they should vow to be born in this land.

“Śāriputra, thus do I now praise and extoll the inconceivable merits and virtues of Amitābha Buddha. In the East there are also Akṣobhya Buddha, Appearance of Sumeru Buddha, Great Sumeru Buddha, Radiance of Sumeru Buddha, Wondrous Sound Buddha, and thusly as many buddhas as there are sand grains in the Ganges River. Each in his own land sends out a broad and long tongue completely covering three thousand great thousand-worlds, speaking these true words: ‘All you sentient beings should believe this sūtra, which all buddhas praise for its inconceivable merit and virtue, and are truly protective and mindful of.’

“Śāriputra, in the southern world realm there are Lamp of the Sun and Moon Buddha, Renowned Radiance Buddha, Great Flaming Shoulders Buddha, Lamp of Sumeru Buddha, Immeasurable Vigor Buddha, and thusly as many buddhas as there are sand grains in the Ganges River. Each in his own land sends out a broad and long tongue completely covering three thousand great thousand-worlds, speaking these true words: ‘All you sentient beings should believe this sūtra, which all buddhas praise for its inconceivable merit and virtue, and are truly protective and mindful of.’

“Śāriputra, in the western world realm there are Amitāyus Buddha, Innumerable Qualities Buddha, Immeasurable Banner Buddha, Great Radiance Buddha, Great Brilliance Buddha, Jeweled Characteristics Buddha, Clear Light Buddha, and thusly as many buddhas as there are sand grains in the Ganges River. Each in his own land sends out a broad and long tongue completely covering three thousand great thousand-worlds, speaking these true words: ‘All you sentient beings should believe this sūtra, which all buddhas praise for its inconceivable merit and virtue, and are truly protective and mindful of.’

“Śāriputra, in the northern world realm there are Flaming Shoulders Buddha, Most Victorious Sound Buddha, Indestructible Buddha, Born of the Sun Buddha, Net of Brilliance Buddha, and thusly as many buddhas as there are sand grains in the Ganges River. Each in his own land sends out a broad and long tongue completely covering three thousand great thousand-worlds, speaking these true words: ‘All you sentient beings should believe this sūtra, which all buddhas praise for its inconceivable merit and virtue, and are truly protective and mindful of.’

“Śāriputra, in the nadir world realm there are Lion Buddha, Renown Buddha, Renowned Radiance Buddha, Dharma Buddha, Dharma Banner Buddha, Dharma Maintainer Buddha, and thusly as many buddhas as there are sand grains in the Ganges River. Each in his own land sends out a broad and long tongue completely covering three thousand great thousand-worlds, speaking these true words: ‘All you sentient beings should believe this sūtra, which all buddhas praise for its inconceivable merit and virtue, and are truly protective and mindful of.’

“Śāriputra, in the zenith world realm there are Brahma Sound Buddha, Constellation King Buddha, Fragrance Above Buddha, Fragrant Radiance Buddha, Great Flaming Shoulders Buddha, Assorted Jewel Flower Adorned Body Buddha, Sāla Tree King Buddha, Jewel Flowers of Virtue Buddha, Seeing Every Meaning Buddha, Sumeru Likeness Buddha, and thusly as many buddhas as there are sand grains in the Ganges River. Each in his own land sends out a broad and long tongue completely covering three thousand great thousand-worlds, speaking these true words: ‘All you sentient beings should believe this sūtra, which all buddhas praise for its inconceivable merit and virtue, and are truly protective and mindful of.’

“Śāriputra, with regard to the meaning, why is it called a sūtra that all buddhas are truly protective and mindful of? Śāriputra, if there are virtuous men and virtuous women who hear, accept, and maintain this sūtra, and hear the names of all these buddhas, these virtuous men and virtuous women will truly be protected and watched over by every buddha. In all cases they attain non-regression from Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi. For this reason, Śāriputra, all of you should accept and believe my words, which are truly spoken by all buddhas.

“Śāriputra, if there are people who have already made the vow, who are making the vow presently, or who will make the vow to be born in the land of Amitābha Buddha, then these people all attain non-regression from Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi. Whether in a past life, present life, or future life, they will be in this land. Śāriputra, it is for this reason that all virtuous men and virtuous women who believe this, should vow to be born in this land.

“Śāriputra, as I now praise the inconceivable merits and virtues of all buddhas thusly, they also speak of my inconceivable merits and virtues, saying: ‘Śākyamuni Buddha is able to accomplish what is extremely difficult and exceedingly rare! Within this Sahā Land, in the world of the five impurities — the impurity of the eon, the impurity of appearances, the impurity of afflictions, the impurity of sentient beings, and the impurity of life — he attains Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi and speaks this Dharma that is so difficult to believe!’ Śāriputra, understand that in the world of the five impurities, I perform this difficult task, attaining Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi, and in every world speaking this Dharma that is difficult to believe, so very difficult!”

After the Buddha had spoken this sūtra, Śāriputra along with all the bhikṣus, as well as the devas, humans, and asuras from every world, heard what the Buddha had said. Blissfully believing and accepting, they paid their respects and departed.

Pure Land Rebirth Mantra:

namo amitābhāya tathāgatāya tadyathā
amṛtabhave amṛtasaṃbhave
amṛtavikrānte amṛtavikrāntagāmini
gagana kīrtīchare svāhā

For one who recites this mantra, Amitābha Buddha will constantly abide at the crown of the head, and after dying, he or she will be assigned this rebirth. Nāgārjuna Bodhisattva, wishing to give rise to peace, perceived this mantra in a dream. Tripiṭaka Master Yaśa recites this mantra, and Dharma Master Xiu from Tian Ping Temple received this mantra from the mouth of Tripiṭaka Master Yaśa. He says, “The true roots of this sūtra are not in any foreign kingdom. Accept and maintain this mantra method in the six periods of the day and night, 37 times at each. In the morning and at night, one should bathe, rinse his or her mouth, and chew a neem twig. Make proper offerings of incense before an image, kneeling with palms joined, and recite this mantra 37 times. Persist in this way every day, and it will annihilate the four grave acts, the five heinous crimes, and the ten evils. Every sort of offense can be eliminated. Being without the many evil ghosts and spirits of anger and confusion, at the end of one’s life, rebirth will be assigned in the land of Amitābha. Moreover, for those who continuously accept, maintain, recite, and study, the merits and virtues are truly inconceivable.”

This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.
Original:
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
 
Translation:
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