The Virtue of the Name of Amida Tathagata
Concerning "Immeasurable Light," the [Contemplation]
The Buddha of immeasurable life possesses eighty-four thousand
features. Each feature possesses eighty-four thousand marks.
Each mark gives forth eighty-four thousand beams of light.
Each beam of light shines everywhere throughout the worlds
of the ten quarters, grasping and never abandoning sentient
beings of the nembutsu.
Regarding this light, the Master of Eshin-in states:
Each feature gives forth seven hundred five kotis and six
million beams of light and appears resplendently ablaze.
Such is the light given forth by each feature; know how much
greater the light given forth by all the eighty-four thousand
features must be. Because of the greatness of the number of
beams of light, the expression "immeasurable light"
Next, concerning "boundless light," because immeasurable
light thus illumines the ten quarters without bound or limit,
the expression "boundless light" is used.
Next, concerning "unhindered light," with the light
of the sun or moon, when something has come between, the light
does not reach us. Amida's light, however, being unobstructed
by things, shines on all sentient beings; hence the expression,
"Buddha of unhindered light." Amida's light is unhindered
by sentient beings' minds of blind passions and karmic evil;
hence the expression, "Buddha of unhindered light."
Were it not for the virtue of unhindered light, how would
it be for us? It is taught that one hundred thousand millions
of triple-thousandfold worlds lie between the world of perfect
bliss and this Saha world. In each of the triple-thousandfold
worlds there are fourfold Encircling Iron Mountains, [the
lowest] equal in height to Mount Sumeru. Next, there are Encircling
Iron Mountains about each small thousandfold world reaching
the sixth heaven [of the realm of desire] in height. Next,
there are Encircling Iron Mountains about each middle thousandfold
world reaching [the heaven of] the first stage of meditation
of the realm of form in height. Further, there are Encircling
Iron Mountains about each great thousandfold world reaching
[the heaven of] the second stage of meditation in height.
Thus, if Amida were not Buddha of unhindered light, the light
would not pass through even a single world, not to speak of
one hundred thousand million. Because the light of the Buddha
of unhindered light is unhindered in shining through such
inconceivable mountains and grasping sentient beings of nembutsu,
the expression "unhindered light" is used.
Next, concerning "light of purity," it is light
that Dharmakara Bodhisattva attained through becoming free
of thoughts of greed. There are two kinds of greed: lustful
greed and greed for things. It is light attained by becoming
free of these two kinds of greed. It is light for eliminating
the defilements and impurities of sentient beings. It is for
sweeping away the evil of lustful greed and greed for things.
Hence, the expression "light of purity" is used.
Next, concerning "light of joy," it is light attained
with roots of good free of anger. Being free of anger means
that externally there is no expression of anger or irritation
and in the heart and mind there is no feeling of jealousy
or envy. It is light attained with such a mind, and has been
attained in order to sweep away the karmic evil of sentient
beings' anger, wrath, hatred, and envy; hence the expression
"light of joy."
Next, concerning "light of wisdom," it is the light
that has been attained with roots of good free of folly. "Roots
of good free of folly" means that it has been attained
in order to bring all sentient beings to awaken the mind aspiring
to learn wisdom and attain supreme enlightenment. It brings
them to realize the mind by which one entrusts oneself to
the nembutsu. To entrust oneself to the nembutsu is to already
have become a person who realizes wisdom and will attain Buddhahood;
know that this is to become free of foolishness. Hence the
expression "Buddha of the light of wisdom" is used.
Next, concerning "unequaled light," because there
is no light equal to that of Amida, the expression "unequaled
light" is used.
Next, concerning "lord of blazing light," the brilliance
of the light is likened to blazing fire at its height. It
is stated that it is like flames at their height without any
Next, concerning "uninterrupted light," this light
shines without discontinuance and without cessation...
...is light that..."Surpass" means that the light
of Amida excels that of the sun and moon. In order to bring
us to know that it excels and transcends all other light,
the expression "surpasses the sun and moon" is used.
I have set forth the meaning of the twelve kinds of light
roughly. It is difficult to write it down exhaustively and
in complete detail.
Amida Buddha is the light of wisdom. This light is called
"Buddha of unhindered light." The reason for the
expression "unhindered light" is that it is not
obstructed or impeded by the minds of karmic evil and blind
passions of all sentient beings of the ten quarters. In order
to clarify and to bring us to know that the light of Amida
surpasses conceptual understanding, the expression "I
take refuge in the Tathagata of unhindered light filling the
ten quarters" is used. When we constantly hold in mind
and say the Name of the Buddha of unhindered light, since
it embodies the virtues of all the Buddhas of the ten quarters,
in saying the Name of Amida, all the virtues and roots of
good come to fullness in us. Hence Bodhisattva Nagarjuna has
taught, "I have expounded the virtues of that honored-one;
the good [I have received] is boundless, like the waters of
the ocean." Thus, the expression "Buddha of inconceivable
light" is taught. Because Amida is Buddha of inconceivable
light, we may also say "Buddha of unhindered light filling
the ten quarters"; this is stated by Bodhisattva Vasubandhu
in the Treatise on the Pure Land. Amida Buddha has
names based on the twelve kinds of light...(Note)
Concerning "Buddha of inconceivable light," even
Sakyamuni Tathagata taught that the virtue of the light of
Amida Tathagata cannot be comprehended. Because it cannot
be comprehended, the expression "Buddha of inconceivable
light" is used.
Next, concerning "inexpressible light," Sakyamuni
states that the virtue of the Buddha of inconceivable light
is difficult to expound fully. It means that words cannot
describe it. For this reason, the expression "inexpressible
light" is used. Thus Master T'an-luan, in Gathas in
Praise of Amida Buddha, combining Buddha of inconceivable
light and Buddha of inexpressible light, states, "I take
refuge in the Buddha of inconceivable light." That which
is expressible concerning the Buddha of inconceivable light,
Bodhisattva Vasubandhu previously...
...is stated. It cannot be said that the practicer of self-power
is equal to Tathagata. With one's own mind of self-power,
it is impossible to reach the land of the Buddha of inconceivable
It is taught that only by shinjin that is Other Power does
one reach the land of the Buddha of inconceivable light. The
person of shinjin aspiring to be born in that land possesses
inexpressible, inexplicable, and inconceivable virtues that
cannot be thought or described. Hence the expression, "Buddha
of inconceivable light."
Namu-fukashigiko-butsu (Buddha of inconceivable
The draft records:
Copied on the 2nd day of the twelfth
Bun'o  metal/monkey
highly conjectural, some scholars have suggested that the
following passage was originally part of the text: "...is
stated in the Treatise on the Pure Land. In the Vow
that all Buddhas praise the Name there is the great practice.
The great practice is to say the Name of the Buddha of unhindered
light. This practice embodies all practices. It is perfect
and most rapid in coming to fulfillment. Hence, it is called
great practice. For this reason, it breaks through all the
ignorance of sentient beings. Further, because we who are
possessed of blind passions entrust ourselves without double-mindedness
to the Vow of the Buddha of unhindered light, we reach the
land of immeasurable light. When we reach the land of light,
through the spontaneous working of the Vow we come to attain
immeasurable virtues and to possess vast and great light.
Because we attain vast and great light, we realize the various
facets of enlightenment." (back)