0. The original title of this booklet in Chinese is "Nien Fo Lun." "Nien Fo" means either oral invocation of Buddha's name, or mental contemplation of Buddha(usually both). A complete translation of the title would be cumbersome, hence "Amidism."
1. Tripitaka means Three Baskets of the Law. Dharma refers to the three-part canon. This collection is divided into Sutras which contain the discourses of Buddha, Vinaya which contains the Rules of Discipline which govern the Sangha (Brotherhood of Monks and Nuns), and Sastras, the philosophical analysis of the Sutras.
2. Twelve Divisions are classified in the Mahayana Canon. They are:
A. Sutra--Buddha's sermons; B. Geya--metrical pieces; C. Gatha--verses, chants; D. Nidana--the Law of Causation; E. Itivrttaka--narratives of disciples; F. Jataka--stories of Buddha's previous lives; G. Adbhuta--dharma-miracles; H. Avadana--parables; I. Upadesa--theories; J. Udana--impromptu or unsolicited addresses of Buddha; K. Vaipulya -- expanded sutras; L. Vyakarana -- prophecies
3. Chinese Buddhism usually refers to the Dhyana sect as The Sect. "Dhyana" is transliterated from the Sanskrit into "Ch'an na" in Chinese, and shortened to Ch'an, or Zen in Japanese pronunciation. Its meaning approximates mental cultivation, or meditation.
4. There are many Teaching schools, which have numerous subdivisions. These schools or branches are usually named after the geographical area of origination, such as T'ien T'ai, or after the doctrines, such as San Lun, Fa Hsiang, etc.
5. The Five Precepts are (1) not to kill, (2) not to steal, (3) not to indulge in harmful sexual conduct, (4) not to lie, (5) not to take intoxicating liquors or harmful drugs. These are minimum moral requirements for any Buddhist. On certain occasions, the Ten Precepts are observed. In addition to the above training rules are the precepts (6) not to eat at unregulated hours, (7) not to use cosmetics or perfumes, (8) not to sleep on high or luxurious beds, (9) not to attend theatrical performances, (10) not to handle silver, gold, or money.
6. A mantra is an invocation based on the scientific knowledge of the power of sound. The three-fold mysteries refer to the physical, oral, and mental faculties.
7. For a psychological explanation of the Ten Dharma Worlds, see page 23~24. The Ten Dharma Worlds include six inferior and four superior existences: namely (1) Narka - hells, (2) Preta - hungry ghosts, (3) Tiryagyoni -animals, (4) Asura - malevolent spirits, (5) Manusya -human beings, (6) Devas - celestial beings, (7) Sravaka -Buddha's personal disciples, (8) Pratyeka - solitary Buddhas, (9) Bodhisattvas- beings who delay final enlightenment in order to aid others, and (10) Buddhas -fully enlightened ones.
8. Besides the sense organs for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, Buddhism considers the mind as the sixth sense.
9. The six sense objects are sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and the world of ideas.
10. It should be understood that Buddha viewed the human body in a detached and scientific manner. This view does not mean that we should ignore the needs of the body, but rather attend to it as a physician would care for a wound. Thus caring for the body, it may be used as a vehicle to assist us in the realization of enlightenment - Editor's Note.
11. The five desires are those for wealth, sex, food, fame, and sleep.
12. Faith, determination (wish or resolve) and practice (good works) are equally important factors in Amidism.
13. According to the doctrines propounded by the T'ien T'ai School, there were Four Realms in the Buddha Lands: (1) Mixed Habitation, where ordinary men and devas dwell with the Saints and Buddhas, etc., (2) Expedient Realm, the inhabitants of which have partially destroyed illusion, (3) Permanent Reward Realm, where Bodhisattvas dwell, and (4) the Realm of Eternal Rest and Light, where Buddhas dwell.
14. The contemplation work of the Idealist School holds that all is mind in its ultimate nature.
15. The Three Realms are the Realm with Desires, Realm with Forms, and Realm without Forms.
16. The Non-Unconceivable Heaven is the realm above the Unconceivable Heaven.
17. "They" refers to the birds in the Pure Land who sing to preach the Dharma.
18. See footnote 8.
19. See part two, fifth paragraph.
20. Samadhi, a state of concentration.
21. The urna is the white curled hair between Buddha's eyebrows--one of the 32 attributes of the Buddha.
22. See footnote 7.
23. Dharmalakshana is the nature and characteristics of all things.
24. Some of the names of the Buddhas in the six directions are given in the Sutra.
25. The Ten Good Karmas are the antitheses of the ten evils comprising the three physical, four oral and three mental evils mentioned above.
26. See footnote 7.
27. The Four Noble Truths are (1) the universality of pain and conflict, (2) the cause of pain which is craving, (3) the realization that there is an end to pain, and (4) the way or path leading to cessation of pain.
28. There are twelve links in the chain of existence: (1) ignorance, (2) karmic action, (3) consciousness, (4) name and form, (5) six sense organs, (6) contact, (7) sensation, (8) craving, (9) grasping, (10) becoming, (11) birth, (12) old age and death.
29. The Six Paramitas (Perfections) are (1) giving, (2) keeping the precepts, (3) patience in all circumstances, (4) zeal, (5) meditation, and (6) wisdom.
30. The seven categories of Buddha's followers are listed on the beginning of part five. Sometimes reference is made to only four categories: bhikshus, bhikshunis, laymen and laywomen.
31. Minute contemplation and analysis of the Body, Feelings, Mind, and Mind-Objects.
32. Saha world refers to this universe, of which this earth is a part.
33. The Three Kayas is the doctrine of the basic unity of reality underlying manifestation, the phenomenal and noumenal.
34. The five skandhas are the temporary conglomerates that comprise a human being. They are: (1) Name and form (usually defined as physical elements), (2) Feelings or sensations, (3) Perceptions or awareness, (4) Emotional reactions, (5) Consciousness, the relation between subject and object.
35. The Northeast is the popular name for "Manchuria." Officially, it is known as the Three Eastern Provinces.
36. In some accounts of Amidist practice, devout followers of the Pure Land are shown to have succeeded in purifying their minds to such an extent that they know in advance the time of their deaths.
37. To help the reader understand the next story, it should be made clear that rebirth in the Pure Land is of ultimate importance to the Amidists. In the Amidist view, it may be said that if one has gained foreknowledge of his rebirth in the Pure Land, his karmic debts have been paid - Editor's Note.
38. This apparently rather exaggerated statement should be taken only as encouragement towards the continued physical practice of Buddhism, not literally nor as mathematically exact (Editor's Note).