Buddha Amitayus sits with his legs crossed in meditation wearing a golden crown and regal jewelry. Flanked by two attendant bodhisattvas, he holds a vase filled with ambrosia or the nectar of immortality referencing the meaning of his name “limitless life”. Behind Amitayus is a repeated motif of a Buddha in brilliant gold. Though originally considered a form of Amitabha, the Buddha of the West, Amitayus has developed his own unique characteristics and cult. Considered one of the three long life deities in Himalayan Buddhism (the other two are White Tara and Ushnishavijaya), people worship Amitayus in hopes of increasing their lifespan. The goal of increasing one’s lifespan is not for selfish purposes, rather it is so one can prolong his or her practice of Buddhism, displaying a determination to take full advantage of the precious human life and body.
Image credit: The Buddha of Immeasurable Life Amitayus Tibet; 17th century Pigments on cloth Rubin Museum of Art C2002.18.1 (HAR 65106)
Mindfulness Meditation Series
Himalayan practitioners have, for centuries, used meditation to quiet the mind, open the heart, calm the nervous system, and increase one’s ability to focus. Now, western scientists, business leaders, and the secular world have embraced meditation as a vital tool for brain health. Learn more
About the Teacher
Tracy Cochran is editorial director of Parabola, a quarterly magazine that for forty years has drawn on the world’s cultural and wisdom traditions to explore the questions that all humans share. She has been a student of meditation and spiritual practices for decades and teaches mindfulness meditation and mindful writing at New York Insight Meditation Center and throughout the greater New York area. In addition toParabola, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Psychology Today, O Magazine, New York Magazine, the Boston Review, and many other publications and anthologies. For more information please visit tracycochran.org.