Gathas in Praise of Amida Buddha

Composed by Dharma Master Tanluan

 

^Namo Amida Butsu

The ‘Immeasurable Life’ is meant by the Name. Here the Buddha is praised according to the Larger Sutra. Another Name of the Buddha is ‘peaceful bliss’.

[1] ^In a land to the west, far from this world

Located more than one hundred quadrillion lands away,

^There dwells a Buddha, the World-honored One, called Amida,

In whom I take refuge and bow in homage, aspiring to be born there.

[2] ^Ten kalpas have passed since Amida realized Buddhahood;

His life exceeds all measure.

^The Dharma-body’s wheel of light shines universally on the blind and ignorant of the world.

Therefore I prostrate myself at the feet of the Buddha.

[3] ^The light of wisdom exceeds all measure;

Therefore, we also call the Buddha “Immeasurable Light”.

^Every finite living being receives this illumination that is like the dawn.

Thus I bow my head to Amida, the true and real light.

[4] ^The liberating wheel of light is without bound;

And so we call the Buddha “Boundless Light”.

^Each person it touches is freed from attachments to being and nonbeing.

Therefore I bow my head to Amida, the enlightenment of nondiscrimination.

[5] ^The cloud of light is unhindered, like open sky;

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Unhindered Light”.

^Every being with hindrances is nurtured by this light.

Thus I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the one beyond conception.

[6] ^The light of purity is beyond compare;

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Unequaled Light”.

^All those who encounter this light are freed of karmic bonds.

Thus I bow my head to Amida, the ultimate shelter.

[7] ^The Buddha’s light is supreme in radiance;

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Lord of Blazing Light”.

^It dispels the darkness of the three courses of affliction.

Thus I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the great one worthy of offering.

[8] ^The radiance of enlightenment, in its brilliance, transcends all limits;

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Light of Purity”.

^Once illuminated by this light, we are freed of karmic hindrances and attain emancipation.

Thus I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida.

[9] ^The light of compassion illuminates us from afar, bestowing peace and bliss.

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Light of Joy”.

^Those beings it reaches attain the joy of dharma.

Thus I bow my head and prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the great consolation.

[10] ^The Buddha’s light well dispels the darkness of ignorance;

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Light of Wisdom”.

^All the Buddhas and sages of the three vehicles together offer their praise.

Thus, I bow my head to Amida.

[11] ^The light shines everywhere ceaselessly;

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Unhindered Light”.

^Hearing this power of light, the mindfulness of beings is enduring and they attain birth.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida.

[12] ^The Buddha’s light cannot be fathomed except by other Buddhas;

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Inconceivable Light”.

^The Buddhas in the ten quarters praise the attainment of birth in the Pure Land and extol Amida’s virtue.

Thus, I bow my head to Amida.

[13] ^The majestic light, transcending form, is beyond description;

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Inexpressible Light”.

^Since the Buddha vowed to attain enlightenment with his Light being the cause of awakening , it shines magnificently.

Thus, all the Buddhas praise the Light, and I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida.

[14] ^The light is more luminous than the sun and moon;

Therefore, we call the Buddha “Light that Surpasses the Sun and Moon”.

^Even Śākyamuni’s praise cannot exhaust its virtues,

Thus, I bow my head to Amida, the one without equal.

[15] ^When Amida, on becoming a Buddha, first taught the Dharma,

The sravakas and bodhisattvas present were numerous.

^And even if supernatural powers were used, it is beyond reckoning.

Thus, I bow my head to Amida, the one called “Vast Assembly”.

[16] ^The countless great bodhisattvas of the Land of Peace and Happiness

Have reached the stage of succession to Buddhahood after one lifetime.

^Except those who, based on their own vow,

Wish to unfailingly work to save beings in other lands.

^To all the bodhisattvas that have virtues like the jeweled forest,

Wholeheartedly, with my palms together, I bow my head in worship to Amida.

[17] ^All sravakas in the Land of Peace and Happiness

Emanate light that extends one fathom, like shooting stars.

^The wheel of light of bodhisattvas is four thousand li,

Shining as brilliantly as the purple-gold harvest moon,

^Amassing a stock of virtues from the Buddhas for the benefit of sentient beings.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the oceanlike great mind.

[18] ^Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta

Are supreme among all sages.

^Their light of compassion illuminates the great thousand worlds, and

They are together with the Buddha, appearing majestically.

^Working to save beings, they do not rest even for a moment,

Like the tide of the great ocean that never ceases.

^Thus, I wholeheartedly bow my head in worship to

These two great bodhisattvas.

[19] ^Sentient beings born in the Land of Peace and Happiness

All possess the thirty-two physical characteristics.

^Their wisdom is perfect and they are able to enter the profound Dharma,

Reaching the core of enlightenment without any hindrance.

^They achieve attainment of enlightenment according to their various abilities

And the threefold insight is inexplicable.

^They make use of their five supernatural powers at will,

And while on their way to attainment of Buddhahood, they never fall back to the evil realms.

^The exceptions are those, such as Śākyamuni,

Who were born and appeared in the other worlds of the five defilements.

^They will be born in the Land of Peace and Happiness, attaining great benefit.

Thus, I wholeheartedly bow my head in worship to Amida.

[20] ^Bodhisattvas born in the Land of Peace and Happiness attain the supernatural powers of the Budddha

And reach everywhere in the ten quarters in one moment.

^They pay their respects and make offerings to all the various Tathagatas

In the uncountable Buddha-worlds.

^Flowers, fragrances, and musical sounds are produced at will,

And jeweled canopies and banners as they wish.

^So wondrous and rare, there is nothing in this world that can describe them.

When they scatter flowers as an offering, the flowers from into canopies.

^The canopies shine brilliantly,

And there is nowhere their fragrance does not permeate.

^The smallest flower canopies are four hundred li in diameter,

And sometimes it covers an entire Buddha-world.

^They appear and disappear one after another,

And the bodhisattvas all rejoice with satisfaction in their offerings.

^They play celestial music in the air,

Laud the virtues of the Tathagatas, and praise their wisdom.

^The bodhisattvas learn the respective teachings, and after making offerings,

They return in the air before their mealtime.

^The free working of their supernatural powers cannot be fathomed.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the one of the unsurpassed way.

[21] ^All the bodhisattvas born in the Land of Peace and Happiness

Expound their teaching in accord with their wisdom.

^All myriad things concerning them are free of self.

Their purity is like lotus flowers upon which even dust does not alight.

^They are like boats that can freely go or return, proceed or halt.

They endeavor to provide beings with the benefit of peace of mind, discarding any kind of partiality.

^Empty, without thought of self and other,

They are like the flame of wisdom that illuminates the long night.

^They completely possess the three kinds of wisdom and six supernatural powers.

Executing myriad bodhisattva practices, they awaken the mind’s eye of sentient beings.

^Such merits of these bodhisattvas are beyond measure.

Thus, I wholeheartedly bow my head in worship to Amida.

[22] ^In the Land of Peace and Happiness, the sravakas, bodhisattvas,

Human beings, and devas all perfectly attain wisdom.

^In bodily appearance and adornments they do not differ at all.

The terms for them differ simply in accordance with the forms of existence in other worlds.

^Their countenances, dignified and wonderful, are beyond compare;

Delicate and subtle, their bodies are neither human nor deva.

^Theirs is the body of emptiness, the body of boundlessness;.

Thus, I prostrate myself to the fee of Amida, the one possessing the power of nondiscrimination.

[23] ^People who attain birth in the Land of Peace and Happiness

All dwell in the stage of the truly settled.

^None in that land are falsely settled or unsettled, and therefore all the Buddhas praise Amida.

Thus, I prostrate myself to the fee of Amida.

[24] ^Sentient beings who hear Amida Buddha’s Name of virtues

And entrust themselves to the Buddha with joy

^Will delight in what they hear for even a single thought-moment.

Aspiring to be born in the Pure Land, they direct their merits to the Buddha, and are then born there.

^Excepted are those who commit the five grave offenses and those who slander the right Dharma.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida with the wish to be born in the Pure Land.

[25] ^There is nothing is this world that can compare to the excellence

Of the bodhisattvas and sravakas in the Land of Peace and Happiness.

^Śākyamuni, even in his unsurpassed eloquence,

Revealed only a mere portion of it through his many discourses.

^He compared the lowliest beggar to a king.

Next, he compared the king to a cakravartin king.

^He continued to make such comparisons up to the king of the Sixth Heaven,

Gradually showing each one’s superiority in the same way.

^In a like manner, he compared the king of the Sixth Heaven to them,

But still the excellence of the bodhisattvas and sravakas is more than a thousand million kotis of times superior.

^All due to the power of Dharmākara’s Vow.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the power of the great mind.

[26] ^There is nothing that the devas and humans want

Which is not attainable. When it comes to mind, it appears immediately.

^One, two, or immeasurable treasures

Materialize as garments, accessories, and fragrances as their hearts desire.

^Buildings, food, and drink appear one after another in the same way.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the inexpressible Buddha.

[27] ^All those who are born there are possessed

Of pure bodies, which are incomparable.

^The virtues of their supernatural powers and adornments of their palaces,

Garments, and ornaments are like those of the Sixth Heaven.

^Treasure bowls and vessels appear spontaneously

And are immediately filled with food of a hundred flavors.

^Seeing and smelling it, when one wishes to taste it,

One is naturally satisfied and filled with heartfelt joy.

^Since the flavor is pure, one never becomes attached to its taste.

When the meal is over, everything disappears and again reappears when one wants it.

^The pleasures there are tranquil and not apart from nirvana.

Thus, I wholeheartedly bow my mead in worship to Amida.

[28] ^The bodhisattvas and monks in the Buddha-lands of the ten quarters

Who are born in the Land of Peace and Happiness

^Are countless and innumerable, beyond calculation.

This is the same for those born there in the past, present, and future.

^All of them have paid their respects to the countless Buddhas

And received hundreds of thousands of imperishable dharma teachings.

^These auspicious beings are all born in that land,

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida.

[29] ^If one hears the Name of Amida,

Praises the Buddha with joy, and wholeheartedly takes refuge

^For even but a single thought-moment, that person gains the great benefit.

That is, one comes to possess the treasure of virtues.

^Even if the great thousandfold world were filled with fire,

Pass through immediately to hear the Buddha’s Name!

^If one hears “Amida”, one will never retrogress.

Thus, I wholeheartedly bow my head in worship to Amida.

[30] ^The Buddhas of the ten quarters, infinite in number, all praise Amida,

Whose majestic powers are boundless.

^From the eastern Buddha-lands, countless as the sands of the Ganges,

Innumerable bodhisattvas go to pay homage.

^They make offerings to those bodhisattvas, sravakas, and other sages

In the Land of Peace and Happiness.

^They listen to and accept the Dharma teachings, and share what they have learned.

Bodhisattvas from the nine other quarters likewise to to pay homage to Amida.

^Śākyamuni Tathagata has taught in verse the praise of

The Buddha’s innumerable virtues. Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida.

[31] ^The countless bodhisattvas from everywhere,

Pay homage to Amida in order to cultivate roots of virtues.

^Some of them revere and praise Amida in celestial music and song.

Others compose verses on the Buddha’s wisdom that illuminates the world.

^Some make offering of celestial flowers and garments

Still others, in witnessing the Pure Land, establish vows similar to Amida’s.

^All those sages appear before Amida

And through the *Buddha’s august voice receive the prediction that they will attain Buddhahood.

^All bodhisattvas strengthen their aspirations and practices.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the *Bhagavat.

[32] ^When the Sacred Lord, World-honored Amida expounds his teaching,

The great assembly gathers at the seven jeweled hall.

^Hearing what the Buddha expounds, without exception they all comprehend,

Rejoice, and attain enlightenment.

^At that time a breeze arises from each of the four directions

And blows through the jeweled trees, producing exquisite tones.

^Harmonious and clear sounds excel

The melodies of any musical instrument,

^Fragrant wind blows through scattering the heavenly flower petals.

As if to chase the wind, the flowers flutter, making a natural offering. This is repeated without cessation.

^All the devas make offerings of heavenly flowers

And venerate the Buddha playing a hundred thousand kinds of music.

^The virtues of the Three Treasures all gather in this way.

Thus in reflecting on these images, I pay homage to Amida, the one called “the Hall”.

[33] ^The wondrous land, vast beyond measurement,

Is made up of the spontaneously produced seven jewels.

^It arises from the adornments originating in the power of the Buddha’s Primal Vow.

Thus, I bow my head to Amida, the pure one who broadly grasps all beings.

[34] ^The brilliance of that land is wondrous and transcendental.

The beings there are filled with joy and serenity and there is no distinction of the four seasons.

^The working of self-benefit and benefit of others has been perfectly fulfilled.

The compassionate means that skillfully creates the adornments brings us to take refuge.

^The jeweled land, brilliant and transparent, is flat and level like the palm of one’s hand.

There are no obstacles such as mountains, rivers, hills, or ravines.

^But if one wishes to see them, through the Buddha’s supernatural power, they appear at once.

Thus, I bow my head to Amida, the honored-one beyond conceptual understanding.

[35] ^The bodhi-tree is four million li in height,

With a girth, at its base, of five thousand *yojanas.

^Its branches and leaves spread two hundred thousand li.

And are formed naturally of a composite of all kinds of gems.

^They are adorned with the kings of gems, that is,

The moon-radiant mani-jewels and the ocean-supporting-wheel gems.

^Everywhere amid its branches hang jeweled adornments

That change colors in a thousand million ways.

^Their flame-like light surpasses that of a thousand suns

And endless treasured nets cover it all.

^All the ornaments appear in response to one’s wish.

Thus, I bow my head and prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the one called “Bodhi-tree”.

[36] ^When a soft wind blows through the tree and products the sound of Dharma,

It reaches universally the Buddha-lands of the ten directions.

^All those who hear the sounds attain profound insight into existence.

Never encounter any kind of suffering until they attain Buddhahood.

^The supernatural power of the Buddha is profound and great without measure.

Thus, I bow my head and prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the one called “Bodhi-tree”.

[37] ^When one’s six organs sense the fragrance, color, sound,

Feeling, taste and the Dharma of the Bodhi-tree,

^One attains insight into the reality of Dharma.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the one called “Bodhi-tree”.

[38] ^When one receives the virtue of the Bodhi-tree on one’s six sense organs,

The organs are purified until one reaches the attainment of Buddhahood.

^With the insight into the reality through first hearing the sacred sound, then learning to obey the truth, and finally realizing the non-origination of all things.

They will attain enlightenment in accordance with their ability as a bodhisattva.

^The magnificent virtue of the Bodhi-tree is

Totally originated in the Tathagata’s five transcendental powers.

^The Buddha’s majestic power and Primal Vow―fulfilled,

Luminous, resolute, and ultimate―

^Are means of compassion beyond our conceptual understanding.

So I take refuge in and bow my head to Amida, the truly immeasurable one.

[39] ^Emperors of the world and those up to the Sixth Heaven

Enjoy eight varieties of wondrous music.

^Even if the musical tones of each heaven surpasses the preceding by ten million kotis of times,

The excellence of the tunes produced by the jeweled trees of the Pure Land surpasses it twice as much.

^Again, exquisite music spontaneously arises.

Being clear and serene, the sound of the Dharma brings joy to the heart and mind.

^Unexcelled in subtlety and elegance, it resonates throughout the ten quarters.

Thus, I bow my head to Amida, the music of purity.

[40] ^Trees of the seven kinds of jewels fill the land,

Mutually reflecting each other’s brilliance.

^The flowers, branches, and leaves all shine off of each other.

Thus, I bow my head to Amida, the store of virtues fulfilled through the Primal Vow.

[41] ^On occasion, pure winds blow in the jeweled trees.

Producing the five tones of the scale, in which *kung and shang spontaneously harmonize with each other.

^Splendid and elegant music naturally arises.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the one imbued with purity.

[42] ^The Buddha-land extends endlessly,

Overspread by countless, fully decorated jeweled nets.

^They are made of gold lace, gems,

And rare and indescribable precious treasures.

^Covering the four directions of the land, the nets are hung with jeweled bells.

When a mild and moderate breeze wafts through, causing them to ring, they reverberate the sound of the wondrous Dharma.

^Elegant and sublime fragrances permeate the air.

In all whose who smell them, the impurities and defilements of blind passions cease to arise.

^When the breezes touch their bodies, they all attain the same pleasure

As bhiksu who entered the samadhi of total extinction.

^When the breezes blow, flowers are scattered all over the Buddha-land.

They naturally group themselves according to the color and do not become mixed up.

^Soft in texture, they emit a rich fragrance.

When one steps on them, one’s foot sinks four inches,

^And when the foot is lifted, the flowers become restored to its original state.

When the flowers have served their purpose of adorning the land, the ground opens up and they disappear, leaving no trace.

^In due time, the flowers appear and disappear six times a day.

Such is the inconceivable occurrence of the Pure Land. Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida.

[43] ^Lotus flowers made of all kinds of jewels are strewn everywhere in that world.

Each jeweled flower has a hundred thousand kotis of petals,

^Sending out rays of light of countless kinds of colors.

Vermillion, purple, red green combine to create all other colors.

^The brightness of those lights is so magnificent that it outshines the sun and the moon.

Thus, I wholeheartedly bow my head in worship to Amida.

[44] ^Thirty-six hundred thousand kotis of beams

Of light emerge from within each flower.

^From within each ray of light appear Buddhas,

And they are the same in number as the light from each flower.

^The physical characteristics and marks of their bodies are like the Gold Mountain,

And each Buddha emits one hundred thousand rays of light.

^Each of those Buddhas expounds the excellent Dharma

To lead the beings in the ten quarters into the Buddha’s path.

^Such a wondrous working knows no bound!

Thus, I take refuge in Amida.

[45] ^The pavilions ad halls were not created by craftsmen.

They all appear miraculously adorned with the seven kinds of jewels.

^There are canopies adorned with moon-radiant mani-jewels and other various gems,

And there are pools for bathing that are of perfect symmetry.

^They are brimming with water of the eight excellent qualities,

Pure and fragrant with the taste of nectar.

^There are golden pools with beds of white silver sand.

Each pool made of one of the seven kinds of jewels contains a bed of sand of the corresponding other jewels.

^On the banks of these pools grow sandalwood trees,

Whose branches hang and spread perfume all around constantly.

^Celestial lotus flowers are in bloom, shining in their various colors and reflect on the water,

Appearing like an auspicious cloud.

^The land free of all attachments is beyond conception.

Thus, I bow my head to Amida, the treasury of virtues.

[46] ^When the bodhisattvas and sravakas enter these jeweled pools,

The depth is to their liking.

^If they wish the water to bathe their bodies, it will spontaneously do so.

If they wish the water to recede, it will do so accordingly.

^The temperature of the water is cool or warm just as they wish.

The water refreshes the mind and comforts the body, washing away the grime of one’s heart.

^It is so clear, pure, and serene that it appears invisible.

The jeweled sand is so bright that they shine through the water no matter how deep it may be.

^Streams of water gently meander, flowing into each other.

Their movement is exquisite and tranquil, soothing the hearts of people.

^Innumerable ripples arise, producing spontaneously wondrous sounds.

Through which one hears the Dharma in accordance with one’s wishes.

^Some will hear the wondrous teachings of the Three Treasures.

Some will hear the teachings of ‘tranquility’, ‘emptiness’ and ‘no substance’.

^Others will hear the teachings of ‘unlimited paramita’,

‘Ten powers’, ‘special qualities’ and ‘supernatural powers and transcendental wisdom’.

^Still others will hear the teachings of ‘nonattachment’, ‘nonorigination of all existence’,

And the ‘sprinkling of the Dharma nectar on the head’.

^Everyone rejoices at what is given according to one’s taste.

According to the aspects of the Three Treasures and the significance of reality,

^The bodhisattvas and sravakas will all carefully listen

To the practices they perform along the path.

^Even the name, “three evil realms of suffering”, does not exist there.

Only delightful sounds of naturalness and heard.

^This is why the land is called “Peace and Happiness”.

Thus, I prostrate myself at the feet of Amida, the ultimately honored one.

[47] ^The great master, Nāgārjuna Mahasattva, who was born at the beginning of the Age of Semblance Dharma,

Corrected distortions of the teaching.

^He closed off wrong views and opened the right path;

He is the eye for all beings of this Jambudvīpa continent.

^Reverently according the Śākyamuni’s words, he reached the stage of joy,

Took refuge in Amida, and was born in the Land of Peace and Happiness.

[48] ^*There is a saying that when a naga moves, the clouds will follow accordingly.

Shrubs and trees are scattered across the Jambudvīpa continent.

^I take refuge sincerely in the compassionate, honorable one, Nāgārjuna.

Thus, I wholeheartedly prostrate myself before him.

[49] ^I have been wandering in the three worlds since the beginningless past.

Turning on the wheel of falsity.

^The karma I commit every moment, every instant,

Is a step bound to the six courses, so that I stay in the three evil realms.

^May the compassionate light protect me

And keep me from losing the mind aspiring for enlightenment.

^May my voice praising the Buddha’s wisdom and virtue be heard

By anyone in the ten quarters whom I may know.

^And may those who aspire for birth in the land of Peace and Happiness

All, everywhere, have their hindrances dispersed as they desire.

^My merits I have gained, both great and small,

I give to all beings, so that we will be born together.

^Entrusting myself to Amida, the Inconceivable Light,

I single-heartedly bow my head and pay homage to the Buddha.

[50] ^Those buddhas of immeasurable wisdom throughout the ten quarters―past, present, and future―

All, without exception, having grounded themselves in the reality of oneness,

^Equally attain the enlightenment of perfection in the two aspects of wisdom;

Their grasping and guiding beings, according to various conditions, is truly immense.

^By taking refuge in Amida Buddha’s pure Land,

I take refuge in *all the buddhas’ lands.

^Single-heartedly I extol the one Buddha;

May this entrustment extend to the unhindered ones throughout the ten quarters.

^To each of those innumerable buddhas of the ten quarters,

I bow my head in worship with all my heart.

 

Buddha’s august voice Eight tones of the Buddha’s voice: beautiful, malleable, harmonious, illustrious, bold, infallible, deep and resonant.
Bhagavat One of the ten epithets of Buddha.
kung and shang These twonotes were often used to denote music in general.
This verse is a play on the characters used for Nāgārjuna’s name (龍樹), is ‘nāga’ meaning ‘dragon’ and ‘arjuna’ is ‘greenery’, that is, shrubs and trees.
all buddhas Tanluan and Shinran frequently equate all buddhas to Amida Buddha because their enlightenment is the same.