A Vision of Amitabha
I is the end of the day, all becomes quiet and on the horizon the brilliant sun sets. The red glow of the sun illuminates the sky and a palace appears – a palace with ruby walls - it is warm and inviting – it is a friendly place where you can completely relax. The palace is a place of magic where everything you long for is available. You only have to think of what you want and it appears.
You are bathed in a golden glow of soft light and you feel happy and at peace. You rest in the bud of a golden lotus – you are in a pure land where the trees are made of jewels. Jeweled flowers are carried along by the rivers. You are caressed by gentle breezes that cause a rainfall of flowers. Everything is permeated with golden radiance. In all directions you see vast lotus flowers where Buddhas sit and teach the Dharma. And in the middle of this glowing scene is the Buddha Amitabha, seated on a great Lotus throne. You are in Sukhavati, a pure land in which you have ideal conditions for spiritual progress – you are bathed in the joy of hearing the Dharma and you will hear the Dharma until Amitabha leads you to perfect Buddhahood.
Amitabha symbolizes attraction. His color is deep ruby red, the color of love and compassion, the color of the blush of delicate emotion, the color of fascination. Amitabha is the Buddha of love and compassion, always approachable, giver of unconditional love. Like the setting sun, Amitabha is warm and gentle – he guides our emotional energy to the quest of Enlightenment.
Meditating, visualizing Amitabha, arouses our emotional energy and transforms worldly passion into discriminating wisdom, the wisdom that sees the uniqueness, the distinctive characteristics of phenomenon.
The passionate lover wants to be with one person, aware of that person’s distinctive qualities which are seen as endearing, special and lovable. The discriminating wisdom of Amitabha sees and loves the differences of all beings without the sense of self and other – there
is no exclusive attachment, there is loving appreciation of all beings. Amitabha teaches us about non-duality and ego-lessness that can lead us to insight and to the pure land, Sukhavati. From the passionate lover of one person, we become the loving presence for all beings. Amitabha’s emblem is the lotus – the symbol of gentleness, openness and receptivity.
His element is fire, which consumes and creates space. His animal is the peacock which, according to legend is capable of swallowing poisonous snakes without being harmed. This symbolism of being open even to poison, and transforming it to beauty (the snake nourishes the peacock’s beautiful plumage) illustrates the transformative power of Amitabha’s love and compassion.
In the realm of the wheel of life, Amitabha transforms the hungry ghosts – those beings who wallow in, and who devote their lives to craving. Hungry ghosts have large stomachs and tiny mouths – they are frustrated and desperate, unloved and unlovable and so they grasp at life. Amitabha’s meditation soothes their restlessness and brings them to a deep state of peace. Amitabha is the meditating Buddha, the central image of Buddhism, representing the Buddha’s attainment of Enlightenment while in deep meditation under the bodhi tree.
Amitabha’s hands are in the meditating mudra, the mudra that expresses the union of opposites: activity and receptivity, the middle way, a constant awareness of balanced spiritual development. It is through the process of meditation on Amitabha’s infinite love and compassion combined with wisdom which creates a pure land in which we make spiritual progress.
Contemplating Amitabha, meditating in Sukhavati we can look at the personal worlds we create; we can raise our level of consciousness; we can lovingly shape our world and the worlds of those around us, the worlds of all beings in which warm rays of love flow from the heart.