The Compassionate Vows of Amitabha Buddha
- From TBN, issue 409, 478 and 479
- By Living Buddha Lian Sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu
- Translated and Edited by True Buddha Foundation Translation
Someone once asked me,
"Through your years of cultivation, you have learned Taoism,
Sutrayana and Tantrayana. Where do you wish to go?"
I replied, "The Western Pure Land."
"Why the Western Pure Land?"
"Among all Buddhas, Amitabha Buddha made the greatest vows
of compassion and the vows I made exactly match the vows of [Amitabha]
Buddha in delivering sentient beings."
This person then asked me, "Why did you make this vow?"
My reply was, "During my early days of study, I was influenced
by Chronicles of the Saints of the Pure Land and The Pure Land Essay
of Long Shu. In these two books, there were three stories in particular
that made a deep impression on me, and because of these I made my
Here are the accounts of the three stories:
A man named Yin Ke could not discriminate between good and evil
and was fond of wine and meat. Later, he read the book Stories of
Rebirth and every time he read a story from the book, without exception,
his heart was deeply touched. After a while, he completely stopped
his evil ways and performed only virtuous deeds. He also cut his
consumption of wine and meat and began chanting the Buddha’s
After seven days of chanting, he saw Amitabha Buddha appearing before
him, telling him, "You still have ten years to live. Chant
the Buddha’s name well and I shall deliver you ten years from
Yin Ke then said, "Saha is a polluted and evil place, where
one can easily lose one’s right thoughts. I wish to be delivered
to the Pure Land earlier and serve the enlightened ones."
Amitabha Budda said, "If you are so determined, I shall deliver
you in three days’ time."
Three days later, Yin Ke passed away peacefully, without any sign
of any illness. He had indeed been reborn in the Pure Land.
Zen master Huai Yu was diligent in his cultivation to purify his
One day, he saw Buddhas and Bodhisattvas filling the space above
him and observed someone approaching him with a silver lotus seat.
Zen master Huai Yu thought to himself, “All my life, my goal
in cultivation has been to attain the golden lotus seat, so why
today do they bring me the silver lotus seat?”
The person with the silver lotus seat then disappeared.
The Zen master became even more diligent in his cultivation and
after twenty-one days, he again saw the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
filling the space above him. The one who first brought the silver
lotus seat now arrived with a golden lotus seat.
Zen master Huai Yu then passed away peacefully.
A man named Liu Yiming was staying at the Tong Lin Temple and had
assembled a group of people to chant the Buddha's name. One day,
while contemplating the magnificent image of the Buddha, he saw
Amitabha Buddha appearing before him.
Liu Yiming wondered if Amitabha Buddha would touch his crown.
And Amitabha reached out his hand and touched Liu Yiming's crown.
Liu Yiming again wondered if Amitabha would clothe him with the
And Amitabha clothed him in the Buddha's robe.
Later, Liu Yiming passed away naturally and was reborn in Amitabha's
These three stories are plain and simple, no magic, no twists and
turns, but I can feel the compassionate vows of Amitabha Buddha
in them. The power of Amitabha's vows is incredibly great.
Yin Ke wished to be reborn in the Pure Land in three days’
time. Amitabha granted his wish—after three days, Yin Ke was
reborn in the Pure Land. Yin Ke was remarkable. Rather than asking
for a long life, knowing that the human world is filled with too
many temptations, he instead asked to leave this world and enter
the Pure Land as soon as possible. I am filled with great respect
and admiration for him.
Zen master Huai Yu longed for the golden lotus seat. Amitabha Buddha
gave him a golden lotus seat. Isn't it true, that when a diligent
cultivator makes a wish to the Buddha, the wish is fulfilled?
Liu Yiming's situation was definitely evidence of this. He wished
for Amitabha to touch his crown, and Amitabha touched his crown.
He wished for Amitabha to clothe him with the Buddha's robe, and
Amitabha clothed him with the Buddha’s robe. Amitabha Buddha
and the sentient beings—his power can reach them wherever
they are. We can say that he has great compassion and great vows.
He is indeed a great Buddha, who can fulfil the wishes of all of
the sentient beings.
I honestly tell all of you:
When I chant the Buddha’s name, the Buddha appears.
My pure thoughts flow continuously and ceaselessly.
I have come from the Western Pure Land; when I die, I shall return
to the Western Pure Land. I have personally witnessed the Western
Pure Land and my own past life. Now I witness Amitabha Buddha. In
Sutrayana and Tantrayana, in both, Amitabha is my Personal Deity.
I can deliver not only myself, but also deliver others. My great
vow and the great vow of Amitabha Buddha are identical—not
just similar, but identical.