Home » Features » Where To Meet Amitābha Buddha & Maitreya Bodhisattva Together 如何同见阿弥陀佛与弥勒菩萨

愿我临欲命终时,
尽除一切诸障碍,
面见彼佛阿弥陀,
即得往生安乐刹。

– 普贤菩萨
《普贤菩萨行愿品》

May I, when approaching, almost [at] life’s end,
completely eradicate all obstacles,
[to] personally meet that Buddha Amitā[bha],
[and] immediately attain rebirth [in his] Land [Of] Peace [And] Bliss.

– Samantabhadra Bodhisattva
(Chapter [On] Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Practices [And] Vows)

Is it so, that at the end of this life, if aspiring to meet a greatly enlightened one, so as to learn from him, one can either aspire to meet an existing (ancient) Buddha (such as Amitābha Buddha [阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó] in his Western Pure Land Of Ultimate Bliss [西方极乐世界]), or a future Buddha (such as Maitreya Bodhisattva [弥勒菩萨] in the Tuṣita Heaven’s Inner Court [兜率内院])? To those yet to study the sūtras carefully, it might seem so. However, the best of both worlds can be experienced without any disadvantage when we look closely at the following excerpt from the ‘Flower Adornment [i.e. Avataṃsaka] Sūtra’s Chapter [On] Universal Virtues’ [i.e. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva] Practices [And] Vows’《华严经普贤行愿品》:

[经]:【普贤菩萨】:一刹那中,即得往生极乐世界。到已即见阿弥陀佛、文殊师利菩萨、普贤菩萨、观自在菩萨、弥勒菩萨等。此诸菩萨,色相端严,功德具足,所共围绕。

[Sūtra]: [Universal Virtues Bodhisattva]: Within one kṣaṇa [i.e. instant], immediately attaining rebirth [in the] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss. Already reached, immediately seen [are] Amitā[bha] Buddha, Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, [One Who] Contemplates [At] Ease [i.e. Avalokiteśvara] Bodhisattva, Maitreya Bodhisattva [and] others. All these Bodhisattvas, [are with] appearances dignified [and] magnificent, [and] meritorious virtues complete, as [they] together surround [one].

[Note 1]: With right and proficient practice, all can be swiftly born in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, to instantly meet not just Āmítuófó, but also the great Bodhisattvas listed, who respectively personify the great and perfect Wisdom, Practice, Compassion and Loving-kindness of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

[Note 2]: The ‘others’ should include Kṣitigarbha [i.e. Earth Treasury] Bodhisattva, who personifies great and perfect Vows or Aspirations. This can be known with the following excerpt from the ‘Sūtra [In Which The] Buddha Speaks [Of] Earth Treasury Bodhisattva’ (Dùnhuáng Treasury Version)《佛说地藏菩萨经》(炖煌藏本):

[经]:【释迦牟尼佛】: 若有善男子善女人… 念地藏菩萨名,此人定得往生西方极乐世界… 此人舍命之日,地藏菩萨亲自来迎,常得与地藏菩萨共同一处。

[Sūtra]: [Śākyamuni Buddha]: If [there] are good men [and] good women… mindful [of] Earth Treasury Bodhisattva’s name [with profound Faith (深信) and sincere Aspiration (切愿)], these persons [will] definitely attain rebirth [in the] Western [Pure] Land [Of] Ultimate Bliss… These persons, [on the] days [they] renounce [their] lives, [will have] Earth Treasury Bodhisattva personally come [to] welcome [them, and they] always [be] able [to be] with Earth Treasury Bodhisattva together [in] one place.

[Note 3]: The immediate excerpt above implies that not only does Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva guides beings to Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, he can also be met there, since they can constantly be with him. This ‘one place’ for gathering cannot be elsewhere, such as a hell, unless one is already functioning like a great Bodhisattva like him. Of course, all the great Bodhisattvas, despite being present in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land to inspire and teach beings there with their majestic presence and example, are also capable of concurrently manifesting many forms elsewhere in other realms, to guide other beings, including to Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, to most swiftly expedite their progress towards Buddhahood.

[Note 4]: A Bodhisattva listed in the first excerpt, who might be missed with cursory reading, is Maitreya Bodhisattva, who will become the next Buddha in our Sahā World, about 5.6. billion years later. If we reread the two sūtra excerpts for combined understanding, they teach that we can meet the most famous ancient Buddha, Āmítuófó, along with the renowned Four Great Bodhisattvas (四大菩萨) (who represent the four cardinal virtues of Buddhahood – Compassion, Wisdom, Vows and Practice), who are all future Buddhas, along with Maitreya Bodhisattva – all in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land!

Such is the splendid nature of Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, as a ‘grand central station’, a ‘one-stop solution’, through which all the best spiritual role models can be met. As such, of course it offers the swiftest path to accomplishment of Buddhahood. These great Bodhisattvas are not only personally attracted to reach Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, they personally attract us to reach it with their example of reaching it, and with their presence there.

[Note 5]: Although being the easiest Pure Land to enter (with the Three Provisions of profound Faith, sincere Aspiration and true Practice [实行] of mindfulness of his name), through Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, as assured in his vows, it is possible to access anywhere with great ease, be it a defiled land or another Pure Land, be it in person, or by sight and sound with ‘heavenly’ (or ‘divine’) eyes and ears. This means any other Pure Land that one is curious about can be visited. Other than meeting Maitreya Bodhisattva in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, his other ‘version’ in currently in Tuṣita can be met too. After birth in Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, we can easily travel to and fro. We can also train via Āmítuófó’s Pure Land, before joining Maitreya Bodhisattva’s assembly when he manifests Buddhahood.

[Note 6]: Maitreya Bodhisattva’s presence in some key sūtra assemblies associated with Āmítuófó, such as that of the ‘Amitābha Sūtra’《阿弥陀经》and the ‘Immeasurable Life Sūtra’《无量寿经》, are reminders that he too received the Pure Land teachings. Being the next Buddha in our world, he had to learn how to adorn a Buddha Land, and to guide beings to a Pure Land, as our world when he manifests Buddhahood will yet to be a complete Pure Land. He was also specifically entrusted with Āmítuófó’s Pure Land teachings by Śākyamuni Buddha in the ‘Immeasurable Life Sūtra’, for both practice and teaching accordingly, now and in the future. (The next excerpts continue from the first.)

[经]: 其人自见生莲华中,蒙佛授记。得授记已,经于无数百千万亿那由他劫,普于十方不可说不可说世界,以智慧力,随众生心而为利益。不久当坐菩提道场,降服魔军,成等正觉,转妙法轮。

[Sūtra]: These persons [will] personally see themselves born [from] lotus flowers within, [to] receive [the] Buddha’s predictions [of Buddhahood. Having] attained predictions already, passing of innumerable hundreds [of] tens [of] thousands [of] koṭis [of] nayutas [of] kalpas, [and] universally of [the] ten directions’ unspeakably unspeakable worlds, [they will be guiding] with [the] power [of] wisdom, according [to] sentient beings’ minds then, for benefitting [them]. Not long, [they] will sit [upon the] Bodhi[maṇḍa] seat [of enlightenment], subdue Māra’s armies, accomplish equally right awakening [of Buddhahood, and] turn [the] wonderful Dharma wheel. [Note: 1 koṭi is about 10 million. 1 nayuta is about 100 billion.]

[Note 7]: With transformed births from lotuses that represent purity, all who have reached Āmítuófó’s Pure Land will be able to receive confirmation of when they will most appropriately manifest Buddhahood. In the mean time, even if there is much space and time in between, immeasurable beings can be benefitted with the Dharma, as empowered by Āmítuófó, as part of perfecting Bodhisattva practice. Before long, which is as swiftly as possible, all will be ready for Buddhahood. As such, the path of practice through Āmítuófó’s Pure Land is the swiftest for Buddhahood, for both oneself and everyone else.

[经]: 能令佛刹极微尘数世界众生,发菩提心,随其根性,教化成熟,乃至尽于未来劫海,广能利益一切众生。

[Sūtra]: [They will be] able [to] enable Buddha lands’ extremely fine dust [motes’] number [of] worlds’ sentient beings, [to] give rise [to the] Bodhi[citta] mind, according [to] their [spiritual] roots [and] natures, teaching [and] transforming [to] mature [them], and even exhausting of [the] future’s ocean [of] kalpas, widely able [to] benefit all sentient beings.

[Note 8]: Having become Buddhas, we will be able to timelessly guide even more beings of more worlds to give rise to the aspiration for Buddhahood, with the ultimate skilful means. As the path to Āmítuófó’s Pure Land is suitable for all beings, be they of higher, average or lower spiritual capacities, all can be benefitted by reaching it, to progress accordingly there towards Buddhahood without fail. All Buddhas’ unanimous praise in the ‘Amitābha Sūtra’ and the great Bodhisattvas’ congregation there bear the most qualified and thus highest collective testimony to this.

[Note 9]: It is a misconception that reaching Āmítuófó’s Pure Land is ‘harder’ than Tuṣita Heaven’s Inner Court, due to ‘need’ to give rise to Bodhicitta (菩提心) the conventional way – as it is not a must, although having it now can directly lead to a higher grade of birth there. According to the ‘Contemplation Sūtra’《观经》, those yet to give rise to Bodhicitta will definitely be able to do so fully there. Again, all needed to enter Āmítuófó’s Pure Land are the Three Provisions. As the Pure Land is a trillion worlds to the West, it is also mistaken to be ‘hard’ to reach, although it is reachable within an instant, once connected to Āmítuófó, by being mindful of his name, ‘wholeheartedly without being scattered’ (一心不乱), which is simply being ‘utmostly sincere’, not needing a highly concentrated meditative state. 

[Note 10]: It is also a misconception that Tuṣita Heaven’s Inner Court is ‘easier’ to reach, due to thinking that the key criteria is simply ‘more positive karma’, as there is the question of how much is enough. The Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng (净土宗十三祖印光大师) taught that [in this moral-declining era], it is easier to be reborn in Pure Land than as humans, [due to Āmítuófó’s Other-powered (他力) support, which also makes it is easier to reach his Pure Land than any heaven]. As Tuṣita is within the same Desire Realm (欲界) we are in now, it is also mistaken to be ‘easy’ to reach, although having a clear-cut Aspiration to transcend all Three Realms (三界), which includes the Desire Realm, with the direct reception and guidance (接引) of Āmítuófó is both easier and safer. Above are some reasons why Āmítuófó’s Pure Land is a favourite destination for many Buddhists. 

我既往生彼国已,
现前成就此大愿,
一切圆满尽无余,
利乐一切众生界。

– 普贤菩萨
《普贤菩萨行愿品》

I, then reborn [in] that land already,
[will] presently manifest accomplishment [of these ten] great vows,
all perfectly [and] completely, without exception,
[to bring] benefits [and] joy [to] all sentient beings’ realms.

– Samantabhadra Bodhisattva
(Chapter [On] Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Practices [And] Vows)

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