48 Vows of Bodhisattva Dharmakara (Amida Buddha)

From the Three Pure Land Sutras, Volume II: The Larger Sutra, pg. 20-29

1

“‘If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be hell, the realm of hungry spirits, or the realm of animals in my land, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

2

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land, should, after their death, return once more to the three evil realms, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

3

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not all be the color of genuine gold, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

4

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not all be of the same appearance and should be either beautiful or ugly, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

5

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not remember all their former lives,[1] and thus be unable to know at least the events of the previous hundred thousand kotis of *nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

6

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not possess divine eyes,[2] and thus be unable to see at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha‐lands, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

7

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not possess divine ears,[3] and thus be unable to hear the teachings being expounded by at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddhas or remember them all, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

8

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not possess the wisdom to see into the minds of others,[4] and thus be unable to know the thoughts of the sentient beings of at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha‐lands, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

9

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not possess divine feet, and thus be unable to go beyond at least a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha‐lands in a thought‐moment, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

10

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should give rise to any thought of attachment to their body, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

11

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not dwell in the *stage of the truly settled and necessarily attain nirvana, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

12

If, when I attain Buddhahood, my light should be finite, not illuminating even a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of Buddha‐lands, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

13

If, when I attain Buddhahood, my life should be finite, limited even to a hundred thousand kotis of nayutas of kalpas, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

14

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the number of sravakas in my land could be counted and known, even if all the sravakas and pratyekabuddhas in the *triple‐thousand great thousand worlds should spend at least a hundred thousand kalpas counting them, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

15

When I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land will not have a limited life span, except when they wish to shorten it freely according to their original vows. Should this not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

16

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should even hear that there are names of evil acts, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

17

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters should not all glorify and praise my name, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.[5]

18

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters who, with sincere and *entrusting heart, aspire to be born in my land and say my name even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment. Excluded are those who commit the *five grave offenses and *those who slander the right Dharma.[6]

19

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters, while awakening the mind aspiring for enlightenment and performing meritorious acts, should desire to be born in my land with sincere aspiration, and yet should I not appear before them at the moment of death surrounded by a host of sages, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

20

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters, upon hearing my name, should place their thoughts on my land, cultivate the roots of virtue, and *direct their merit with sincere mind desiring to be born in my land, and yet not ultimately attain birth, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

21

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not all have the thirty‐two major physical characteristics[7] of a great person, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

22

When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas of other Buddha‐lands who come and are born in my land will ultimately and unfailingly attain the *stage of succession to Buddhahood after one lifetime. Excepted are those who, in accordance with their original vows to guide others freely to enlightenment, don the armor of universal vows for the sake of sentient beings, accumulate roots of virtue, emancipate all beings, travel to Buddha‐lands to perform bodhisattva practices, make offerings to all the Buddha‐tathagatas throughout the ten quarters, awaken sentient beings countless as the sands of the Ganges, and bring them to abide firmly in supreme, true enlightenment. Such bodhi‐ sattvas surpass those in the ordinary bodhisattva stages in carrying out practices; in reality, they cultivate the virtue of Samantabhadra. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.[8]

23

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land who, upon receiving my transcendental power and making offerings to Buddhas, should not be able to reach all the innumerable and countless nayutas of Buddha‐lands in the brief period of a single meal, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

24

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land, in accumulating roots of virtue in the presence of Buddhas, should not be able to obtain whatever they wish in order to make offerings to these Buddhas, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

25

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land should not be able to expound the Dharma with all‐knowing wisdom, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

26

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land should not possess the diamond‐like body of Nåråyaˆa, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

27

When I attain Buddhahood, all the myriad features enjoyed by the humans and devas in my land will be glorious and resplendent with superb, wonderful, and exquisite forms and colors that are beyond description. If, even with the divine eye that they acquire,[9] they should be able to clearly distinguish and enumerate these features, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

28

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land, even those of little virtue, are unable to perceive the bodhi‐tree of immeasurable light and countless colors, which is four million li[10] in height, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

29

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land should not possess wisdom and eloquence when comprehending, reciting, and expounding sutras, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

30

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land should possess limited wisdom and eloquence, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

31

When I attain Buddhahood, my land will be pure and brilliant, completely illuminating and reflecting all the countless, innumerable, and inconceivable Buddha‐worlds in the ten quarters, as if one were looking at one’s own face in a clear mirror. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

32

When I attain Buddhahood, all the myriad features in my land, from the ground to the sky, such as palaces, pavilions, ponds, streams, flowers, and trees, will comprise countless precious substances and a hundred thousand kinds of fragrance, which splendidly adorn the land, surpassing anything in the realms of humans and devas. Those fragrances will pervade the worlds in the ten quarters, bringing bodhisattvas who sense them to perform the practices of the Buddha‐way. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

33

When I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings throughout the countless and inconceivable Buddha‐worlds in the ten quarters, having received my light and having been touched by it, will become soft and gentle in body and mind, surpassing humans and devas in those qualities. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

34

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings throughout the countless and inconceivable Buddha‐worlds in the ten quarters, having heard my name, should not attain the bodhisattva’s insight into the nonorigination of all existence and all the profound dharanis, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

35

When I attain Buddhahood, the women throughout the countless and inconceivable Buddha‐worlds in the ten quarters, having heard my name, will rejoice in entrusting heart, awaken the mind aspiring for enlightenment, and wish to renounce the state of being women. If, after the end of their lives, they should be reborn as women, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

36

When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas throughout the countless and inconceivable Buddha‐worlds in the ten quarters, having heard my name, will, after the end of their lives, always perform the sacred practices and fulfill the Buddha‐way. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

37

When I attain Buddhahood, the devas and humans throughout the countless and inconceivable Buddha‐worlds in the ten quarters who, having heard my name, prostrate themselves on the ground and bow to me in reverence, rejoice in entrusting heart, and perform the bodhisattva practices, will be revered by devas and people of the world. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

38

When I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land will acquire garments as soon as such a desire arises in their minds, and they will naturally be clothed in fine robes as commended and prescribed by the Buddhas. If they should need sewing, bleaching, dyeing or washing, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

39

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the humans and devas in my land should not attain happiness and delight comparable to those of a bhiksu whose blind passions have all been exhausted, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

40

When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land who wish to see innumerable glorious Buddha‐lands in the ten quarters, whenever they please, will be able to see them all reflected in the jeweled trees as if one were looking at one’s own face in a clear mirror. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

41

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in other lands, having heard my name, should have any disabilities in their physical faculties until they become Buddhas, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

42

When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in other lands, having heard my name, will all attain the samadhi of pure emancipation. While dwelling in that samadhi, they will make offerings in an instant of thought to the countless and inconceivable number of Buddhas, World‐honored Ones, without losing their concentration of mind. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

43

When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in other lands, having heard my name, will be reborn into noble families after the end of their lives. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

44

When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in other lands, having heard my name, will leap and dance with joy and perform the bodhisattva practices, thereby acquiring the roots of virtue. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

45

When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in other lands, having heard my name, will all attain the samadhi of universal sameness. While dwelling in that samadhi, they will continually behold all the countless and inconceivable numbers of Buddhas until they become Buddhas themselves. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

46

When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in my land will spontaneously be able to hear, as they wish, the Dharma that they desire to hear. Should it not be so, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.

47

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in other lands, upon hearing my name, should not be able to reach the stage of nonretrogression, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment. (48) If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in other lands, upon hearing my name, should not be able to attain the first, second, and third *dharma‐insights and should they fall back from the pursuit of the teachings of the Buddhas, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.’”

48

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas in other lands, upon hearing my name, should not be able to attain the first, second, and third *dharma‐insights and should they fall back from the pursuit of the teachings of the Buddhas, may I not attain the perfect enlightenment.’”


[1] See Appendix 9, “The special qualities of a Buddha.”

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] See Appendix 9, “The special qualities of a Buddha.”

[5] Compare to Shinran’s reading: “If, when I attain Buddhahood, the countless Buddhas throughout the worlds in the ten quarters do not all praise and say my Name, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.” (CWS I: 13)

[6] Compare to Shinran’s reading: “If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters, with sincere mind entrusting themselves, aspiring to be born in my land, and saying my Name perhaps even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment. Excluded are those who commit the five grave offenses and those who slander the right dharma.” (CWS I: 80)

[7] See Appendix 6, “The thirty‐two major physical characteristics of a great person.”

[8] Compare to Shinran’s reading: “When I attain Buddhahood, the bodhisattvas of other Buddha‐lands who come and are born in my land will ultimately and unfailingly attain [the rank of] ‘succession to Buddhahood after one lifetime’—except for those who, in accordance with their original vows freely to guide others to enlightenment, don the armor of universal vows for the sake of sentient beings, accumulate roots of virtue, emancipate all beings, travel to Buddha‐lands to perform bodhisattva practices, make offerings to all the Buddhas and Tathagatas throughout the ten quarters, awaken sentient beings countless as the sands of the Ganges, and bring them to abide firmly in the unexcelled, right, true way. Such bodhisattvas surpass ordinary ones, manifest the practices of all the bodhisattva stages, and discipline themselves in the virtue of Samantabhadra. Should it not be so, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.” (CWS I: 160–161)  

[9] This means that these features cannot be fully distinguished by the humans and devas in the Pure Land even with their divine eyes.

[10] A Chinese unit of distance.