Amitabha is the Buddha of the western direction and Lord of the Western Paradise. He is the Father-Buddha of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and thus compassion is his active reflex nature – here lies his chief significance. Amitabha means “Infinite Light.”
Amitabha – Infinite Light –
In tantric practice, each of the 5 Dhyani Buddhas is visualized as the ultimate pure nature of each one of the five emotional positions (desire, hatred, sloth, pride and jealousy), where each represent an aspect of the Buddha’s Awareness.
The Buddha Amitabha is the most important of the five Buddhas in the Kathmandu Valley. The Five Buddhas, one for each of the five directions (including the centre) are the basic iconographic elements of every Tantra and Mandala. They represent five aspects of enlightenment and the five prismatic colours that arise out of the “clear light”.
Symbolism – the Thangka of Amitabha
- Amitabha : Infinite Light
- Other Names : Nangwa Thaye (Endless Light)
- Colour : Red
- Element : Fire
- Power : Attract beings by the charisma of love.
Perceptual Wisdom – Amitabha Buddha
He is also the expression of perceptual wisdom. In its ordinary state the soul’s perception is limited and contents itself with vivid perceptual discrimination of all the objects or beings it interacts with. Perceptual wisdom is the ability to perceive and judge objects or beings in all their forms equally, with unconditional love and free from all attachment, from this arises the spontaneous reflex of compassion that is the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
Perceptual wisdom can only be attained by vanquishing desire (one of the 5 poisons). Once desire is vanquished each being will be seen without distortions for what they truly are.
How to recognise Buddha Amitabha in a Thangka
He sits in the lotus posture with his hands in the dhyana mudra. He belongs to the family of the Lotus, where the lotus symbolizes purity.