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An Introduction to the Amitabha Sutra: Chap. 36: Extolling the Virtues of Amitabha Buddha

Right now I am extolling the benefits of the inconceivable virtues of Amitabha Buddha.

Fortunately for us, unawakened beings who have yet to see and experience these benefits, Sakyamuni Buddha, as well as accomplished masters, taught us about them. As we have just learned, the first is horizontal transcendence, thanks to which we need not undergo the slow, painstaking progress through vertical transcendence. With horizontal transcendence, we can transcend the cycle of rebirth in this very lifetime.

A second benefit is that the four lands which make up the Western Pure Land, and represent four states of mind, all merge. This is in marked contrast to other Buddha Lands where the four lands are separate and distinct. In the Western Pure Land, dwelling in one land is like existing in all four lands at the same time for all beings are together. Even though Amitabha Buddha and the bodhisattvas actually abide in lands other than the one we are in, we can still be with them. We can still learn directly from them. And so, although we will not yet have attained these lands, these states of mind, through our own cultivation, we will nonetheless have access to all the beings in those lands.

A third benefit is attainment of the three stages of non-retrogression. As we previously learned, the three stages of non-retrogressions are no falling back from one’s level, no falling back from one’s practice, and no falling back from one’s mindfulness. We will attain all three when Amitabha Buddha and the bodhisattvas come to guide us to the Pure Land.

These profound benefits and many more can be achieved through one practice: the mindful chanting of the Buddha-name. No other forms of meditation are required. From the moment we first practice till the moment we achieve rebirth in his land—we chant “Amituofo.” Exquisitely simple. Incredibly effective.

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