Amida Buddha (Jp. Nyorai) is one of the five meditation or wisdom Buddhas. These Buddhas are symbols and used when meditating — when trying to be present — they are not Buddhas that actually lived on earth. Each of these Buddhas has a pure land, one in each of the four directions and one in the middle.
Four to five hundred years after the death of Buddha, a new esoteric impulse occurred in India and many new Buddhist sutras appeared. This new impulse was later called Mahayana (Great Vehicle) Buddhism, in contrast to the Buddhism that had developed right after Budda's death which was then called Hinayana (Little Vehicle). The inner meaning of the Little and Great Vehicle refers to tools or techniques to reach the other shore. The other shore symbolizes the state of Divine Presence while this shore refers to the state of psychological sleep.
Some of the new sutras described the Pure Land of Amida Buddha, and Buddhist sects developed that worshipped Amida Buddha. By reaching this Pure Land one could free oneself of the endless rebirths in one of the six states of being. According to Buddhist and Hindu thought, after one dies, one is reborn in one of six states, called the Six States of Existence or the Six Roads of Reincarnation. This idea is also know by the Sanskrit word Samsara. These six states are: Hell Beings, Hungry Ghosts, Animals, Humans, Ashuras or half Gods and Gods.
The inner meaning of this idea is that these six realms represent six kinds of thoughts or emotions in a human being.
This Tibetan Tanka shows the six states of being with a Buddha figure in the center of the image of each of the six states. A hell being symbolizes a negative emotion, a hungry ghosts could be a strong desire, an animal is an impulse we have in common with beasts such as the urge for food and reproduction, a human symbolizes a noble thought, an ashura is a thought related to spiritual work on oneself but not related to being present, and a god refers to a thought that encourages us to be present.
Amida`s Buddha`s Pure Land is a symbol for the state of presence, in which one is purified of these six kind of thoughts and emotions going round in one`s mind.
It doesn`t necessarily mean that one has no thoughts and emotions anymore, but that one`s experience of 'I', is no longer in them. In the state of Presence one observes them without being attached to them, and the part that observes, Real 'I', or the God within, is pure.
One`s Higher Self has awakened and is born in this Pure land, the state of presence, and sees the many thoughts and emotions as something separate from itself.
It is said that one attains rebirth in this Pure Land by mindfully chanting of the name of Amida Buddha, Namu Amida Butsu with firm faith.
One day symbolizes one breath — the night is the inhalation and the day represents the exhalation — in which one repeats the name of God.
The seventh day or breath symbolizes rebirth in Amida Buddha`s Pure Land, the state of presence.
When the end comes (Amida Sutra), refers to the end of the life of the spiritual body of effort, six words contained in the prayer, not to the end of the physical body. One can find the idea of a prayer of repeating Gods name in all Esoteric Traditions. The inner meaning is to use reminders to be present, timed with one`s breath, to reach the Divine state of presence, in which the God within is awakened.
The inner meaning of repeating Amida`s name with firm faith is that one must have a sincere desire to be present, for if one simply repeats the name of God — a reminder to be present — without this desire, one will not experience the state of Divine Presence.
Groupings of Six Kannon Bodhisattva statues or Six Jizo Bodhisattva statues are quite common in Japan and they are said to protect people in all six realms of rebirth. Each statue represents one breath of remembrance, similar to the Six Buddhas coming from Kuya`s mouth and the Six Buddhas in the image of the Tibetan Wheel of Life. They all symbolize six syllables to reach the pure land of Divine Presence.
In addition to the six states of being, there are four additional realms for enlightened beings. These are combined with the six realms to form the ten worlds:
1. Hell beings
2. Hungry ghosts
6. Heavenly beings
7. Sravaka arhats
8. Pratyeka buddhas
Here we see the same symbolism as with the Ten Incarnations of Vishnu, From number one to six, there is a gradual rise in level of being, symbolizing presence getting gradually stronger as one intones a six syllable mantra. The last four are enlightened beings, like the four last incarnations of Vishu, symbolizing prolonged presence for four breaths.
The Japanese word jippō (十方）is translated in various ways, such as the ten directions, the ten quarters, the ten domains, and the ten worlds, all of which refer to the whole universe not in a literal, worldly sense but in a spiritual one.