Once a month we take the opportunity to honor and call upon the attributes of Amitābha Buddha, the Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life. He is a Celestial Buddha* that represents comprehensive love and works for the awakening of all beings.
On Amitābha Buddha day we focus on doing good deeds and chanting the Buddha's name. By repeating Namo Amitābha Buddha** we practice mindfulness, while cultivating love and the light of awakening. Most often a set number of recitations for the day are committed to--often using the mala beads as a way of keeping track. Chant Namo Amitābha Buddha 108, 500, 1000, 10,000 times--the number of recitations do not matter, but if you set a number, it is best to stay committed to reciting Amitābha Buddha's name that number of times.
Visualization of Amitābha Buddha's image is another method of contemplative practice. The practice begins with seeing within the mind's eye the bright red disk of the setting sun and sometimes gradually settling the mind on the image of Amitābha Buddha. One can use a statue or print of Amitābha Buddha as a tool to begin meditative visualization. Many images of Amitābha can be found on the internet or in books. It can be difficult to distinquish Amitābha Buddha from other Buddhas. Usually he is depicted seated with his hands in the meditation mudra (thumbs touching and fingers together). I have also attached a file (see below) that can be printed out and colored according to your own tastes. Coloring can be utilized as a meditative practice. Use the time coloring the image of Amitābha Buddha as a way to honor and cultivate the attributes of the buddha.
Lastly, honor and cultivate the qualities of Amitābha Buddha on this day by taking the time to do something nice for someone. It can be someone you know, a relative, a friend, a stranger, even someone you have difficulty with. On this day, it is crucial to remember that love is not reserved for specific individuals, but is to be shared with all. That includes yourself!
Happy Amitābha Buddha Day!
*A Celestial Buddha is a Heavenly Being who was once a human being who had achieved such an advanced level of spiritual development and awakening that once they "passed on" (died) they no longer needed to re-embody on the earth.
**Amita Bul (the Korean version of Amitābha Buddha)
A blog by the Lotus Heart Zen Sangha
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