Friday, August 17, 2007

Lesson 13 - Amitabha Unification Sadhana

Today's lesson is in response to a request I received on what is a proper sadhana for Amitabha Buddha. I will first define what is meant by the word sadhana. Sadhana (Sanskrit sādhanam) is a term for "a means of accomplishing something" or more specifically "spiritual practice". It includes a variety of disciplines from Hindu and Buddhist traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives. Personally when I perform sadhana in relation to Amitabha I have a practice I received many years ago and have found it to be very useful. It is called Amitabha Unification Sadhana, this was taught to me by my guru and is a direct translation from the Chinese to English by the famous Chinese author Yutang Lin. I hope to pass it along to those of you desiring a way to spread Metta (loving kindness) in your own life and those around you as well as the universal whole. Please find below the practice.

Amitabha Unification Sadhana

By Yutang Lin


Arrange offerings as usual.

Do prostration three times.

Regular Practice

Ascend the seat and practice in accordance with the sadhana as follows:

1. Motivation

Fold palms together and sincerely recite:

In a blink the swift changes of impermanence may arrive,
Sentient beings are drifting in the ocean of suffering,
This altruistic session born of sober clarity is all too precious,
For all beings this sadhana is practiced to realize Amitabha.

2. Original Purity

Rest the hands in Dhyana mudra, and silently recite three times:

All things are conditional phenomena,
Mutually dependent and coexistent;
Renouncing antagonistic discriminations,
all appear as original purity in oneness.

Visualize the whole Dharmadhatu return to original purity, and appear as boundless sky-blue light.

3. Totality

Visualize that all the four classes of saints and the six realms of sentient beings appear from this blue light.

Visualize that one’s father and mother are to the right and left side, all beings related to one through past karma to the front, and the rest of the sentient beings behind. Among the six realms of sentient beings behind one, those in hells who need salvation most are closest to one, then are the other beings in the order of hungry ghosts, animals, humans, asuras, and finally the heavenly beings. All sentient beings are facing the same direction as the practitioner.

Visualize that in the space in front of the practitioner are all the holy beings: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arahats, Pratyekabuddhas, Dharma Protectors, etc. At the center is Amitabha Buddha (red), with Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (white) and Bodhisattva Mahasthanaprapta (blue) to his right and left. These three holy beings are surrounded by all holy beings of the Western Pure Land of Utmost Joy. These are in turn surrounded by layer after layer of all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and holy beings of all other Pure Lands. With great compassion all holy beings look attentively at all the sentient beings below.

4. Taking Refuge

Fold palms together and sincerely recite three times the following refuge formula while visualizing that all sentient beings are gazing with admiration at Amitabha Buddha in the sky and recite together in unison:

I take refuge in the Vajra Guru.
I take refuge in Amitabha Buddha.
I take refuge in thorough Buddha Dharma.
I take refuge in holy beings of Bodhi.

Visualize that all holy beings are rejoicing over sentient beings’ ability to recognize and choose the path toward liberation. Amitabha Buddha, on behalf of all holy beings, grants refuge to all sentient beings. From the heart chakra of Amitabha Buddha rays of blue light radiates forth to each and every sentient being. In this way each sentient being’s bad karma is eradicated, merits increased, and Bodhicitta nurtured. This ray of blue light then stays, like a candle flame, in the heart of the sentient being, shines forth the light of Bodhi, and sheds light on the right path of Bodhi forever.

5. Offering

Visualize that all sentient beings take delight in participating the making of extensive and long-term offerings and donations, and that they join the practitioner in reciting in unison the following stanza:

Filling the whole Dharmadhatu with treasures,
Pouring all attainments of the wisdom path,
Offered without reluctance nor omission;
Beg to accept out of compassion and empathy,
Exhibit skillful display of the wondrous Dharma,
Salvage without neglect nor omission.

Visualize that all holy beings are delighted by the Bodhicitta, which is the pure motivation underlying these offerings, and therefore gladly accept and enjoy the offerings. Each and every holy being obtains complete enjoyment of all sorts. All holy beings emit lights in blue, white, yellow, red and green color that enlighten the whole Dharmadhatu and give blessings to all sentient beings. Then all holy beings other than Amitabha Buddha transform into lights and merge into Amitabha Buddha.

6. Praise

Recite with ardent devotion and may use accompanying Dharma instruments such as bell, drum, inverted bell (Yin Qing) and wooden fish; visualize that all sentient beings join the practitioner in ardently reciting in unison the following praise:

Amitabha Buddha emits pure lights,
Spiritual nature of sentient beings in all directions are revealed!
Amitabha Buddha enunciates clear sounds;
Sorrows of sentient beings at all times are eradicated!
Amitabha Buddha always remembered,
Even trapped in the mire of sorrows one is still spotless!
Amitabha Buddha is the mentor,
Rebirth in Pure Land and full enlightenment are at hand!

Visualize that Amitabha Buddha, upon hearing this praise, is very pleased by the right faith of the practitioner and the sentient beings. Amitabha Buddha emits bright red lights from his heart chakra shining through the whole Dharmadhatu and giving blessings to all sentient beings. Then Amitabha Buddha sprinkles showers of nectar from his bowl upon sentient beings to purify their karma of body, speech and mind. The nectar is also granted for sentient beings to drink in order to nourish their wisdom and expand their life span.

7. Accomplishment

Visualize that, through the nectar blessing of Amitabha Buddha, all sentient beings in the whole Dharmadhatu have returned to the original purity; they all transform and merge into a boundless sky-blue light. Amitabha Buddha, having thus purified all sentient beings, also transforms and merges into this light of original purity. The whole Dharmadhatu becomes a limitless and indiscriminative Oneness.

In this vast expanse of blue brilliance, suddenly there appears a karma vajra. Above the karma vajra, there appears a magnificent Dharma seat supported by eight lions.

Then above the seat there appears, one after the other and one above the other, a lotus, a moon cushion and a sun cushion. At the center of the sun cushion there appears a red seed word "Hsri" standing upright. Hsri transforms into Amitabha Buddha with red brilliant rainbow body, sitting in lotus posture, and holding at his lap with both hands a bowl full of nectar. In the heart chakra of Amitabha Buddha there is a lotus, above which is a moon cushion, and a sun cushion atop. Standing upright at the center of this sun cushion is a red seed word "Hsri." Evenly distributed around and above the circumference of the sun cushion are the six words constituting the Heart Mantra of Amitabha Buddha. All six words of this mantra wheel are red in color and are arranged counterclockwise in their regular order.

The Heart Mantra of Amitabha Buddha

Om A Mi Da Wa Hsri

8. Spinning

Recite the Heart Mantra and simultaneously visualize that the mantra wheel in the heart chakra is spinning. The word Hsri at the center remains still. The mantra wheel spins clockwise with ever increasing speed. After a long while of spinning, the mantra wheel gradually slows down until it comes to a complete stop.

As the mantra wheel spins, it simultaneously emits waves of red light spreading in all directions throughout the whole Dharmadhatu. With each wave of red light countless numbers of Amitabha Buddhas are sent forth. These Amitabha Buddhas surf the waves of light to all corners of the Dharmadhatu in order to salvage all sorts of sentient beings.

9. One Breath

With mouth closed and tongue touching the upper front palate, practice deep breathing through the nostrils. While inhaling visualize that the ignorance, sinful karma, sickness, suffering, sorrows, karmic hindrances, etc., of all sentient beings are transforming into foul and black air, and yet are inhaled by Amitabha Buddha out of great compassion. While holding the breath visualize that all such foul and black air has been purified by the profound wisdom and countless merits of Amitabha Buddha into clean and fresh air of wisdom which will nourish the wisdom life of each and every sentient being. While exhaling visualize that this clean and fresh air of wisdom permeates the whole Dharmadhatu, nourishing and maturing all sentient beings so that they would open and expand their minds and attain full enlightenment soon.

10. Identification

Having merged through the communion in one breath of Amitabha Buddha and all sentient beings, the Buddha and sentient beings transform into light and become one in the brilliant blue light of original purity. The nominal distinction between "Buddha" and "sentient being" gradually fades away. The whole Dharmadhatu again appears as limitless blue brilliance.

From this brightness of original purity Amitabha Buddha appears in human form as the practitioner to facilitate teaching and salvaging sentient beings in this world in accordance with their various aptitudes and conditions. Then Amitabha Buddha descends from the seat. Afterwards Amitabha Buddha employs the form, speeches and activities of the practitioner to expand ingenious contrivances in limitless fashions toward the compassionate salvation of all sentient beings.

No comments: