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Amitayus: "The Buddha of Longevity"

Page history last edited by cameron.barras@... 11 years ago

By: Nicole Broida, Cameron Barras, Will Rickards

Amitayus Buddha Iconography

 

 

Amitayus Buddha (Buddha of limitless life) is depicted in this iconic image in red with a gaze that dispels his compassion of all beings.  Above his two hands, which are, being held in a meditative posture is the long life vase, which contains the nectar of immortality.  Amitayus is shown to be clad with jewels, along with hair that is painted blue at the ends.  His elongated earlobes are similar to that of the Shakyamuni Buddha, which signifies his superhuman qualities.

 

 

Another iconic image of Amitayus.  It is important to note that, just like in the first image, he is seated on an 8 petalled lotus seat.  These pedals signify the 8 forms of Amitayus:  Vajra Amitayus, Ratna Amityaus, Padma Amitayus, Karma Amitayus, Avaloka Amitayus, Guna Amitayus, Jnana Amitayus and Achala Amitayus.  His body is always depicted to be shining like a jewel because of his role as the Buddha who seeks to remove ignorance and allow people to reach true human potential.  The achievement of pure happiness is the principle role of Amitayus Buddha.  Additionally, Amitayus Buddha’s iconography usually contains peacock feathers, which surround his body and support his throne in this image.  

 

 

This sculpture is a simpler, iconographic image of Amitayus Buddha.  It is easier to see the vase that contains the nectar of immortality, which he is holding during a moment of meditation in this image.  Amitayus is with his eyes closed in this image, which differs from the first two.  He is shown in meditation as opposed to with a glare that defines most of the Buddha’s iconography. 

 

Myths and Rituals about Amitayus:

 

 

 

The main form of the Buddha Amitayus is the emanation of the fire element. This element is symbolized by the Buddha Amithaba and together create the lotus family. The fire-element is associated with the color red and is also associated with the western region of the universe. "The lotus stands for pure intentions of all activities, while the nectar-vase, filled with the subtle life energy (nectar) demonstrates the immense power of this element." Amityaus is not only the most popular Buddha in Tibet but also in Japan and China. The concept of extending energy as well as the possibility of having a rebirth on the lotus flower has aided to the immeasurable popularity of Amitayus. Amithaba/Amitayus have over a hundred of traditions and sects that see this Buddha as the focal point. In mainly Japanese traditions, many special ceremonies take place at sunrise and sunset because they associate Amithaba with the sun.

 

 

 

It is difficult to understand the exact relationship between Amitayus and Amitabha. According to Robert E. Fisher in Art of Tibet, "Amitayus, the Buddha of Eternal Life, is often interchangeable with Amitabha, especially in East Asia but also in Tibet. Amitayus gradually acquired a separate identity in Tibetan worship as the Buddha for the attainment of long life." (Fisher, p. 37). There are specific initiations that were given to followers of Amitayus. During the ritual, "long-life" pills are created from roasted barley flour, rock sugar or honey, and milk and yogurt. These pills are assumed to be empowered by the deity and anyone who attends would be distributed one. (Lipton and Ragnubs, pp.127-132) Many Buddhists have found the popular  tradition of commissioning images of Amitayus not only for themselves but for others. Their intention is that the result of creating these pictures will gain merit and would ensure a long life for themselves and others. These images have also been used as the focal point for many meditation practices.

 

Amitabha is described in Japan as a celestial Buddha who possesses numerous amounts of merit. One story behind Amitabha was that he was a monk named Dharmakara. However, other versions of Sutra describe him as a king who came in contact with Lokesvararaja and learned about the Buddhist teachings. 

 

 

 

Long Mantra of Amitayus

NAMO RATNA TRA YAYA / OM NAMO BHAGAVATE / APARIMITA AYUR JÑANA / SUPINISH CHITATAYE / JORA JAYA / TATHAGATAYA / ARHATE SAMYAK SAM BUDDHAYA / TAD YA THA / OM PUNYE PUNYE / MAHA PUNYE / APARIMITA PUNYE / AYU PUNYE / MAHA PUNYE / AYUR JÑANA / SARVA RUPA SIDDHI / AYUR JÑANA / KE CHE BHRUM / OM BHRUM / AH BHRUM / SVA BHRUM / HA BHRUM / CHE BHRUM / OM SARVA SAMSKARA / PARI SHUDDHA DHARMATE / GAGANA SAMUDGATE / SVABHAVA VISHUDDHE / MAHA NAYA PARIVARA YE SVAHA

 

 

This image is an aid for the meditation and visualization practice on Amitayus, the embodiment of all the Buddhas' limitless lifespan.

 

 

An Entertaining Story of Amitayus by Thitch Nhat Hahn:

 

ANGRY BUDDHA

 

 From "Being Peace" by Thitch Nhat Hahn

 

"A woman who practices reciting Buddha Amitabha's name, is very tough and recites "NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA" three times daily. Although she is doing this practice for over 10 years, she is still quite mean, shouting at people all the time. She starts her practice lighting incense and hitting a little bell. A friend wanted to teach her a lesson, and just as she began her recitation, he came to her door and called out: "miss Nuyen, miss Nuyen!".

As this was the time for her practice she got annoyed, but she said to herself: "I have to struggle against my anger, so I will just ignore it." And she continued: "NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA, NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA..." But the man continued to shout her name, and she became more and more oppressive. She struggled against it and wondered if she should stop the recitation to give the man a piece of her mind, but she continued reciting: "NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA, NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA..."

The man outside heard it and continued: "Miss Nuyen, miss Nuyen..."

Then she could not stand it anymore, jumped up, slammed the door and went to the gate and shouted: "Why do you have to behave like that? I am doing my practice and you keep on shouting my name over and over!"

The gentleman smiled at her and said: "I just called your name for ten minutes and you are so angry. You have been calling Amitabha Buddha's name for more then ten years now; just imagine how angry he must be by now!"

 

 

See More Image of Amitayus by Jack Bradley

 

 

The Legend of Buddha Amitabha:

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Resources:

http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=368

http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/resources/buddhist_stories.html

http://www.ackland.org/art/exhibitions/buddhistart/students/duggins1/Amitayus.html

http://www.iol.ie/~taeger/panchen/amistang.html

http://www.snowlionpub.com/html/product_4650.html

http://www.thangkar.com/art/show/show/ami/amb002-en.htm

http://www.buddhasvillage.com/gallery/amitayus.htm

http://www.indianetzone.com/13/amitabha.htm

 http://www.exoticindiaart.com/product/EC88/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYhP8zr3j84&feature=channel

 

Comments (10)

sushupta.srinidhi@... said

at 9:43 am on Apr 10, 2010

I enjoyed the story at the end especially!...Your pictures are really nice and detailed, with explainations. Only thing I would add is, maybe, an introduction....nice work, though!

Quang Nguyen said

at 8:56 pm on Apr 11, 2010

Very informative. Short and brief yet a lot of information was put out for all of us to understand.Be nice to add a short introduction of this Bodhisattva then jump into how he looks like as a Bodhisattva. Images are well chosen and visual of this Bodhisattva. Love the story by TNH. Instead of having a link to a youtube video, why not just add it to the webpage. 4/5

lynn.miller@colorado.edu said

at 7:46 am on Apr 14, 2010

Yeah, I agree that an introduction would help. The description of the images would be easier to put in context if I had a general understanding of Amitabha first. Otherwise, great job.

Tyler Gates said

at 11:07 am on Apr 14, 2010

Man this guy does a lot of meditation mudra! Somewhat brief but interesting info 4/5

TylerY said

at 1:16 pm on Apr 15, 2010

The information provided was quite interesting, I especially liked the story of the woman at the end. However, I feel that there needs to be more citation and probably more analysis on the images that were given. Overall though the page is well done and flows. 4/5

kristen.cretecos@... said

at 12:07 pm on Apr 16, 2010

I thought you did a good job describing the images and I liked the creativity with the story, video and mantra. However, I would have liked to see more original writing by the group about background info, the importance of this bodhisattva, etc. 4/5

Jeff Gary said

at 2:17 pm on Apr 16, 2010

Nice work, very informative, I don't have any complaints! 5/5

Chieh Lun Tang said

at 2:54 pm on Apr 16, 2010

Very nice, the story at the end was very interesting. The video was also pretty good.

Henry said

at 2:14 pm on Apr 18, 2010

I found this post very engaging and well-informed. The writing style is clear and easy to follow. Only three points need work. As another comment mentioned, the piece needs an introduction. Second, the portion devoted to his origin myth is overly short. I would prefer you tell the myth of Amitayus rather than relying on the video. Lastly, the section on ritual offerings was fascinating and could be expanded upon. Overall, nice work.
Grade: 4.0

Lauren said

at 10:08 pm on Apr 20, 2010

This is very informative and interesting. An introduction would be helpful

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