Amituo fo (阿彌陀佛), Amitābha, is the Buddha in the West Pure Land (西方淨土). In Chinese Buddhism, Amitābha is also called Wuliangshou fo (無量壽佛), the Buddha of Infinite lifespan, or Wuliangguang fo (無量光佛), the Buddha of Infinite Light.
Reagarding to the Wuliangshou jing (無量壽經), The Infinite Life Sutra, eons ago, there was a king who met Guan Zizaiwang rulai (觀自在王如來), Lokeśvararāja in Sanskrit, and learned his teaching. Then the king became a monk named Dharmakara (法藏) and practiced Buddhist teaching. After he got enlightenment, he made forty-eight vows to saving all of the sentimental being. He sought to creat a world without dying and suffering and anyone who shares his vows will reborn in his wonderland, the West Pure Land. Amitābha’s wonderand is far from our world. He also has two bodhisattvas as his assistants. They are bodhisattva Dashizhi (大勢至菩薩), Mahāsthāmaprāpta, and bodhisattva Guanyin (觀音菩薩), Avalokiteśvara.
According to another sutra, the Beihua jing (悲華經), Karuṇā-puṇḍarīka-sūtra in Sanskrit, Amitābha used to be a king named Wuzheng Nian (無諍念), and he had two princes. The elder one was named Buxuan (不眴). The younger was named Nimo (尼摩). King Wuzheng Nian had a minister named Baohai (寶海). Baohai’s son became a monk and got enlightenment, named Baozang fo (寶藏佛), the Treasure Buddha. King Wuzheng Nian and his two sons were encouraged by Baozang fo and made vows to become a Buddha. As a result, by eones efforts, King Wuzheng Nian became Amitābha. The Princes Buxuan and Nimo became Avalokiteśvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta individually.
In Chinese Buddhism, various Pure Land sects are the major groups who devote to Amitābha. The first Pure Land sect was established in Eastern Jin dynasty. The devotees of Amitābha mainly visualize the image of or chant the name of Amitābha in order to reborn in the Pure Land after death.
The practice and idea of Amitābha are very important in Chinese religion and cultural. In Taiwan’s Buddhist monastery, the devotees say the name of Amitābha to each other as a greeting. When a person is dying or dead, sometimes ones family member and other volunteers will around the person chanting Amitābha and praying for him or her.
No doubt Amitābha and his Pure Land are very important religious phenomenom in Taiwan.
Keywords: Amitābha, the Pure Land