Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vows related with the 22nd Vow of Amida Buddha (the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land)



 The following vows are an elaboration of various aspects already promised in the 22nd Vow. Thus, in the 23rd Vow and the 24th, it is promised again, that beings who attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land of Amida, and will forever manifest themselves as Bodhisattvas[1], can go everywhere in the ten direction of the universe to make offerings to all Buddhas, praise them and worship them, out of gratitude for their benevolence and guidance[2]:

If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land, in order to make offerings to Buddhas through my transcendent power, should not be able to reach immeasurable and innumerable kotis of nayutas of Buddha-lands in as short a time as it takes to eat a meal, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. (23rd Vow)

If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be able, as they wish, to perform meritorious acts of worshiping the Buddhas with the offerings of their choice, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. (24th Vow)

This is because the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land can see, clearly like looking into a mirror, all the Buddha lands of the ten directions, as promised in the 40th Vow:

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land who wish to see the immeasurable glorious Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, should not be able to view all of them reflected in the jeweled trees, just as one sees one's face reflected in a clear mirror, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.

In the 25th Vow, 29th and the 30th Vow, it is promised that the Enlightened Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land will have unsurpassed and unlimited wisdom for instructing beings everywhere in accordance with their capacities:

If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not be able to expound the Dharma with the all-knowing wisdom, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(25th Vow)

If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in my land should not acquire eloquence and wisdom in upholding sutras and reciting and expounding them, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. (29th Vow)

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the wisdom and eloquence of bodhisattvas in my land should be limited, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(30th Vow)

This aspect is also contained in the 22nd Vow where it is said that those born in the Pure Land will enlighten uncountable sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges, and establish them in the highest, perfect Enlightenment.

Vajrapani
These Enlightened Bodhisattvas, that means us after being born in the Pure Land of Amida, are able to engage in saving and guiding sentient beings because they have manifestations (“body”) like the Vajra-god Narayana (Vajrapani):

If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be any bodhisattva in my land not endowed with the body of the Vajra-god Narayana, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
(26th Vow)

Vajra- god[3] Narayana is in fact, Vajrapani (from Sanskrit vajra, "thunderbolt" or "diamond" and pani, lit. "in the hand") [4], one of the most important Enlightened Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism. He is the protector of Buddha Dharma, and he represents the Power of all Buddhas. Just as Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, mentioned in the 22nd Vow, represents the endless saving activity of all Buddhas, Vajrapani represents the immense and all surpassing Power of the Buddhas[4]. How wonderful it is that after we are born in the Pure Land we will be exactly like these two great Enlightened Bodhisattvas!
Just like Samantabhadra we will always be active in samsara, and like Vajrapani we will be all-powerful!

And because Vajrapani is a protector of the Dharma, we too, will forever protect it and destroy wrong understanding. In the Buddhist iconography Vajrapani is often depicted as a wrathful warrior with his outstretched right hand brandishing a vajra and his left hand holding a lasso to bind demons. In some depictions he wears a skull crown[6] with his hair standing on end while in others he wears a five pointed Bodhisattva crown to depict the power of the five major Buddhas (Vairocana, Akyobhya, Amida, Ratnasambhava, Amogasiddhi). 




[1] As I explained in the chapter dedicated to the 22nd Vow, there are two types of bodhisattvas:
1.Ordinary type of bodhisattvas in aspiration who make the vows of becoming Buddhas for themselves and all beings, but who are still on the path and still unenlightened (not Buddhas yet). Anyone who now makes the above Bodhisattva vows may call himself or herself a bodhisattva in aspiration.

and

2. Bodhisattvas who already attained Buddhahood or perfect Enlightenment but who do not remain secluded in this Enlightenment. These are in fact, Buddhas who manifest themselves as Bodhisattvas.
Those who are born in the Pure Land of Amida through the gate of the Primal Vow become such Buddhas who manifest themselves as Bodhisattvas. Please carefully read my explanations from the chapter “Returning from the Pure Land(explanation of the 22nd Vow of Amida Buddha)”.
[2] In the 22nd Vow it is promised that Bodhisattvas in the Pure Land will make offerings to Buddhas, Tathagatas, throughout the ten directions.
[3] Here the word „god” is not used in the sense of a limited being karmically related to the realm of the gods, although sometimes Vajrapani can appear as a guardian god.
[4] In Japanese Buddhism, Vajrapani is known as Kongojin ("Diamond-hand) which manifests as two pair of muscular guardian deities of the Buddha Dharma often depicted at the entrance of Buddhist temples. Their names are Misshaku Kongo and Naraen Kongo. "Naraen" is the equivalent of Narayana from Sanskrit
[5] Also we can say that Avalokitesvara represents the great compassion of the Buddhas, Manjushri their wisdom, and Tara their miraculous deeds. All these Bodhisattvas are real Enlightened Persons active in Samsara. 
[6] The skull crown is also an phonographic symbol of  Mahakala. 

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