Kanji for Muryoko

'Infinite Light'

Journal of Shin Buddhism


Chapter 13

Amida's Twelve Lights

The majestic Light of Amida, which is above all forms and Amida's Light surpasses the sun and moon;
Hence, he is called the 'Buddha of Light Outshining the Sun and Moon'.
Even Shakyamuni was not able to praise him fully.
Take refuge in the Peerless One. (Jodo Wasan 13)

We have seen in the foregoing hymns various aspects of the Light of Amida Buddha. The first hymn was a general description of Amida as a Dharma-body Buddha, whose presence throughout the universe is recognized as the essential basis of all beings. From the second to the twelfth hymns, the specific qualities and functions of the Light are praised. In concluding the above, this hymn shows, in general terms, the supremacy of the Light by comparing it with the sun and the moon, which to us, are the most brilliant and important of all the heavenly bodies.

In the Three Pure Land Sutras we find Amida's Light described in various ways. The Amida Sutra, the shortest of all, simply states that Amida's Light is immeasurable, illuminating all the worlds of the ten quarters without hindrance. The Contemplation Sutra presents Amida in full effulgence and describes his physical dimensions in astronomical figures. For example, it is stated in the ninth contemplation:

'Amida possesses eighty-four thousand physical characteristics, each having eighty-four thousand secondary marks of excellence. Each secondary mark emits eighty-four thousand rays of light; each light shines universally upon the lands of the ten quarters, embracing, and not forsaking, those who are mindful of the Buddha.'

As compared with the Contemplation Sutra which presents Amida as the central object to be visualized in contemplation, the Larger Sutra is more detailed in explaining the essential characteristics and functions of his Light, on which are based the twelve different names given to Amida. The twelve names are as follows: Infinite Light, Boundless Light, Unhindered Light, Incomparable Light, Light of the King of Flames, Pure Light, Light of Joy, Light of Wisdom, Unceasing Light, Inconceivable Light, Ineffable Light and the Light Outshining the Sun and Moon. But these are not all that describe Amida.

According to the Larger Sutra, if sentient beings have heard of the majestic virtue of Amida's Light and glorify it day and night with uninterrupted sincerity of heart, they will be able to attain birth in his Land. Because his Light is incomparably glorious and most effective in bringing living beings to emancipation, Shakyamuni said that he would not be able to explain its virtue exhaustively, even if he continued speaking for one kalpa.

How fortunate we are to have been led to take refuge in Amida's Light of Wisdom and Compassion through the guidance of Shinran and other Pure Land masters! His Light gives a new meaning to life by removing our delusions and fallacies, guides us safely to the Other Shore, and constantly supplies us with the pure energy emanating from the Infinite Life that is Amida.

Namu Amida Butsu

Return to Muryoko Contents Page