A form of Mahāyāna Buddhism popular among the laity and especially important in Japan. It was founded by the Pure Land (Ch'ing T'u) or Lotus School in China in the 4th century a.d., if not earlier. Its three basic tenets are contained in three Sanskrit sūtras that were translated into Chinese, whence they passed into Japanese. Amida is the Japanese adaptation of the Sanskrit epithets of Buddha: Amitābha, "immeasurable light," and Amitāyus, "immeasurable life." The idea of the Pure Land is central in the Chinese Lotus School and in the Jôdo (Pure Land) doctrine developed in Japan in the 12th and 13th centuries. Salvation is offered to all men who have faith in Amida and invoke his name as "the Lord of immeasurable light and immeasurable life." Through this faith and repeated invocation the humblest layman is assured a re-birth in the Pure Land, the Western paradise. Amidism is the largest Buddhist sect in Japan.
See Also: buddhism.
Bibliography: r. masunaga, "Amida," f. kÖnig, ed., Religionswissenschaftliches Wörterbuch 47–48. j. a. hardon, Religions of the World (Westminster, MD 1963) 124–126. a. lloyd, The Creed of Half Japan (New York 1912). h. de lubac, Amida (Paris 1955). f. kiichi, "Die Jōdo-Lehre," Christus und die Religionen der Erde, ed. f. kÖnig (Vienna 1961) 3:428–432. a. hauchecorne, "Les Religions du Japon" in Histoire des religions, ed. m. brillant and r. aigrain, v.2 (Paris 1954) 212–215.
[m. r. p. mcguire]