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  • Writer's pictureAMTB NSW

The Amitabha Sutra - Joyfully Accepting the Sutra

When Buddha finished preaching this scripture, Shariputra and all the monks, gods, humans, asuras and others who had been listening, having heard what the Buddha said, rejoiced and faithfully accepted it. They all bowed in homage and departed.

This is the final passage in the Amitabha Sutra. “Rejoiced” means that as the minds of those in the assembly opened up with understanding, they felt joy, both physically and mentally. Quite frankly, this joy is indescribable. Nothing else comes close to it because it is nothing less than being able to be forever free of the continuous cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. From no other teaching can one find such joy: not from mundane or even from supramundane teachings.

For example, Sakyamuni said that the teaching found in the Ten Virtuous Karmas Sutra can help one end one’s suffering in this world. But the teaching found in the Amitabha Sutra is more wondrous still. It describes how to rely on one’s own efforts, which will invoke the help of Buddhas and bodhisattvas.

Those who mindfully chant the buddha-name will be assisted by the supportive powers of Amitabha Buddha’s causal vows and will be protected and kept in mind by all the Buddhas in the ten directions. How can we not rejoice upon hearing these words? With careful observation and sincere contemplation, we will come to see that nothing can compare with this unequaled joy of being assisted, protected, and kept in mind by Amitabha Buddha and all the Buddhas in the ten directions.

In the phrase “faithfully accepted it,” “faithfully” signifies that those in the assembly had no doubt in what Sakyamuni Buddha just taught them.

“Accepted it” means they took in the teaching and never forgot it.

They then “bowed in homage.” By bowing, all those in the Amitabha assembly expressed their most sincere gratitude. Their bowing demonstrates that when one sincerely understands the teaching, dissolves doubt, develops belief, and makes the vow, then one’s bow is an expression of profound and heartfelt appreciation. One’s body and mind become one. In gratitude, one then unceasingly remembers, upholds, and studies the teachings, and compassionately teaches others through words and behavior.

And so, in like manner, when we feel grateful for this inconceivably wondrous teaching, we too should express our gratitude as fully as possible by upholding and learning the teachings, and compassionately teaching others through words and behavior. From this moment until the moment we attain buddhahood from practicing the Pure Land method, how can we do anything else but gratefully take these teachings to heart and always be mindful of Amitabha!

— Chapter 47, "Pure Mind, Compassionate Heart: Lessons from the Amitabha Sutra", Venerable Wuling

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