This is a free translation of two Buddhist texts on what is arguably the most popular of all Buddhist conceptions of an ideal world, the "Land of Bliss" of the Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light. The two texts, known to Western students of Buddhism as the "Smaller" and "Larger" Sukhavatiyuha Sutra, explain the conditions that lead to rebirth in the Pure Land and the manner in which human beings are reborn there. The longer of the two texts also tells the story of how the Buddha of Infinite Light came to preside over this marvel-filled paradise. Both texts describe the layout and the wonders of the Pure Land, and the preconditions that lead to rebirth in this Buddhist paradise. they form the spiritual foundation of pure faith that pervades East Asian Buddhism, a doctrine of faith the parallels Western doctrines of grace while reflecting a complex historical and doctrinal cross-current of faith, effort, and visionary religion. At times solemn, fantastic, and humorous, the accounts reflect the rich literary and religious imagination of India, alternately expressing abstract conceptions and intense feeling deeply rooted in the culture and belief systems that gave birth to them. Each of the two sutras is translated from Sanskrit and Chinese versions to capture some of the nuances that separate South Asian and East Asian forms of Pure Land faith. The translator, a leading Buddhist scholar, seeks to make the sutras accessible to those only vaguely familiar with Buddhism and Buddhist ideas by paraphrasing his interpretation of the text instead of echoing the syntax and surface meanings of the source languages. Like the translations, the accompanying introductions are written for the nonspecialist. The present volume containing a free English rendering of both sutras will be followed by two forthcoming volumes that will contain the original texts with detailed scholarly translations and notes. The Land of Bliss, the Paradise of the Buddha of Measureless Light is the first English translation in a century of two great religious classics of India and the world.
LUIS O. GOMEZ is Charles O. Hucker Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Michigan.
"It is commendable that the translator has made the sutra accessible to the English readers in a very lucid manner. The translator author deserves appreciation & acknowledgement for such an important work. Both the students and the scholars of Buddhism & Comparative Religion will find this work useful."
-----The Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies.
Vol. 6, 2005,