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  • Writer's pictureAMTB NSW

The Amitabha Sutra - The Buddhas in the Nadir

In the worlds of the nadir there are countless other Buddhas, like the Buddha “Lion”, the Buddha “Repute”, the Buddha “Light” [of Name], [the Buddha “Dharma”,] the Buddha “Dharma Banner”, and the Buddha “Upholding the Dharma”. Each of them . . . [with the truthfulness of a Buddha, teaches] in his own land and covers a whole cosmos, speaking these sincere words: “all of you sentient beings should believe this sutra extolling inconceivable virtues, which all Buddhas protect and keep in mind”.

The names of the six Buddhas in the nadir represent Buddhism, a teaching that shows all beings how to break through delusion and attain awakening. The six names also signify seeking birth in the Western Pure Land. Both attaining awakening and seeking birth in the Pure Land are accomplished through wisdom. Thus, wisdom is imperative.

Unfortunately, the highest priority for many people today is the accumulation of wealth. For them, good health and longevity come next in importance, and then wisdom. Thus, of the three, wisdom is often viewed as the least important. Clearly, prioritizing this way is due to ignorance, to a lack of understanding.

In Buddhism, the most important of the three priorities is wisdom. Here, too, good health and longevity come next. But wealth is last. Having wisdom, one will know the causes that will allow one to attain health, longevity, and wealth. But more significantly, by uncovering wisdom, one will know how to reach supreme, perfect enlightenment.

The first Buddha named in the nadir was Buddha Lion.

When a lion roars, all other animals pause and listen. Likewise, when a Buddha speaks, innumerable beings stop to hear his teachings on how to end suffering and attain lasting happiness.

The second Buddha named was Buddha Repute.

His name signifies that when bodhisattvas or patriarchs act on behalf of Buddhas to propagate Buddhism they become famous. But because these bodhisattvas and patriarchs are awakened and have wisdom, they know that this fame is to be used to benefit others, not themselves.

The third Buddha named was Buddha Light [of Name]. “Light” signifies ultimate and perfect wisdom, the wisdom of all Buddhas. This wisdom enables the Buddhas to adapt their teaching methods to suit and accommodate all beings, regardless of their abilities or personal preferences. “Name” teaches us to chant the buddha-name until our mind is no longer deluded and we achieve one-mind undisturbed. Accomplishing this, we will be born in the Western Pure Land.

The fourth Buddha named was Buddha Dharma.

The Dharma is the truth that all Buddhas teach. In our world, the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha have been faithfully passed down by patriarchs and accomplished masters. By relying on their words, which are ultimately the words of Sakyamuni Buddha, we are relying on the Dharma.

The fifth Buddha named was Buddha Dharma Banner.

Here again, we see that “Banner” in a Buddha’s name signifies the instruction of how to choose from the diverse Dharma doors set forth by Sakyamuni Buddha. For beginners, who are trying to find which method is most suitable, it can be a very confusing time. A Dharma master accomplished in cultivation and experienced in teaching can help people choose a Dharma door, pointing these people in the right direction for their learning and cultivation.

The sixth Buddha named in the nadir was Buddha Upholding the Dharma.

This name means that we uphold—receive and always practice—the Buddha’s teachings. If we wish that all beings who have an affinity with a Buddha come to accept, uphold, and study his teachings, and also teach others through their own words and behavior, we must first do so ourselves. This will set a good example.

Buddhas, past patriarchs, and accomplished practitioners sincerely practiced the teachings before they taught people. When one fulfills the teachings and indeed benefits from them, it is proof that the Dharma door being practiced is the right one. When we too accomplish this, it means that we have no doubts or questions. Those we teach will believe us.

— Chapter 41, "Pure Mind, Compassionate Heart: Lessons from the Amitabha Sutra", Venerable Wuling

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