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Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 9:12 PM
Subject: Distiction Between Sakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha Buddha

I would like to know how to differentiate Sakyamuni Buddha form Amitabha Buddha as their appearence look very similar.
Thank you for your time and attention.



Dear Wilson,

Sakyamuni is our historical Buddha, who was born in India, attained enlightenment and taught the Dharma (True Teaching) that has come down to us. He represents the pinnacle of human evolution in the spiritual sense. Before him, the priests and preachers taught that one could only be save through sacrifices or belief in God or gods. Sakyamuni realized that human being only need to free their minds from concepts and superstitions to be free. Actually, he taught that we are already free and "saved" ("The mind is pure and bright by nature") -- only problem is we do not know this, and this ignorance is reinforced by others.

Amitabha is an archetypal Buddha, that is, to say he is the embodiment of special qualities. In this case, Amitabha ("boundless light") is the embodiment of light in the sense of Enlightenment, or the truth that frees. According to Sanskrit texts, he is the Buddha residing in the west of our universe. (Buddhists believe that there are many universes, and we are not the only inhabitants in this world or universe.) The West is the direction of the setting sun, so he also represents the after-life. Understandably he is a favourite with the Chinese of China for two reasons:

(1) The west is a holy direction since it is in that direction pilgrims have to travel if they want to go to the Buddhist holy lands in India.
(2) The west being the direction of the setting sun also represents death, and the Chinese find faith and comfort in this notion.


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