Pureland Buddhism is a widely practiced form of Mahayana Buddhism. The central practice of Pureland Buddhism is the nembutsu - or "keeping the Buddha in mind". For Pureland Buddhists, the Buddha at the center of our devotional practice is Amida Buddha - the Buddha of measureless light and life. The nembutsu practice can take a number of forms, but is most often done through oral recitation (in various languages) of the phrase - "I Take Refuge in Amida Buddha". Amida-shu is one particular school of Pureland Buddhism, founded and under the spiritual direction of the Head of the Amida Order - Dharmavidya David Brazier of the United Kingdom.
There are three fundamental teachings in the faith-based practice of Amida-shu Pureland Buddhism. These fundamentals are:
1) The threefold nature of Buddha - The Buddha is the object of refuge and source of grace in three ways: as absolute truth, as spiritual presence and as physical manifestation;
2) The twofold nature of the practicer - The practicer is 'bombu' in being fallible and vulnerable; and
3) The singular nature of the practice - The practice is singular in that nembutsu encompasses all.
Dharmavidya adds: Taking refuge in Buddha we choose the nembutsu as our single practice and, when we have done so, all practice becomes nembutsu. We take refuge because we realise that we are fallible and vulnerable and incapable of saving ourselves from spiritual danger by our own power unaided.We are able to take refuge because we attain faith by perceiving with our own senses, by having that faith enhanced by spiritual realisation, and by grounding it upon the intuition of absolute truth that lies beyond our immediate comprehension. This summary encompasses the whole doctrinal and practice basis of Pureland.
Pureland Buddhism teaches that faith in Amida Buddha cuts the bonds to our negative karma from the infinite past and into the infinite future. It is the faith behind the Nembutsu that is a person's link to Amida Buddha, who -- the Larger Sutra says -- created a "Pure Land" of infinite positivity and zero negativity where people go after they die, wherein they will receive the empowerment needed to continue in the life of bodhisattvas for the benefit of all sentient beings. Amida Buddha was revealed to the world in three great Mahayana sutras attributed to the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, who lived and taught in India ca. 563-483 BCE.
The "Three Sutras" of Pure Land Buddhism expound the doctrine of the Pure Land of Amida Buddha, how it was created aeons ago by Dharmakara Bodhisattva, and the way to birth in Amida Buddha's Pure Land. These sutras were all written down about 2,000 years ago, the same time as were the Lotus Sutra, the Flower Garland Sutra, the Nirvana Sutra and the other Mahayana sutras. Two of the three Pure Land sutras are called the Smaller Pure Land Sutra and the Larger Pure Land Sutra, or The Sutra on the Buddha of Eternal Life ( Sukhavativyuha-sutra in Sanskrit, which means "Sutra on the the Land of Bliss"). The Sutra on the Contemplation of Buddha Amitayus is the third great Pure Land sutra, in which the Nembutsu, Namu-Amida-Butsu, is proclaimed as the avenue to nirvana for suffering beings.
If you wish to view these Sutra's in their entirety, please click on of the the following links:
The Smaller Sukhavativyuha Sutra (The Sutra on the Buddha Amitayus)
The Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra (The Sutra on the Buddha of Eternal Life)
Sutra on the Contemplation of Buddha Amitayus