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 Reciting the Buddha’s Name Transcends King Yama’s Judgment


        While there are six realms, chances are, we will end up in the three evil realms when our lives end.  No matter how invincible or courageous (like warriors in mythology), no one can avoid facing King Yama in the underworld. Only those who transcend the saha world by reciting the name of Amitabha and aspiring to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss will be free from facing the King Yama, and they will even make the King pay homage to them. For those who recite the Buddha’s Name, not only can ghosts and malevolent demons not harm them, but also King Yama dares not to harm them. In addition, from the highest of kings and generals, down to the lowest of mongers and slaves, all must go through King Yama. For this reason, Buddhism attaches great importance to death and impermanence, intending to transcend them.

        I will give you a few stories of how the King Yama respects Amituofo reciters:

        In the Tang Dynasty, a man named Fang Zhu died suddenly. As his spirit came to hell, King Yama said to him, “According to the Book of Life and Death, you once advised an old man to recite the name of the Buddha. Now the old man has been reborn in the Pure Land of Bliss. You can also be reborn because of this merit, which is the reason I invite you to meet with me today.”.

        Householder Fang Zhu said, “I vowed to recite the Diamond Sutra ten thousand times, and I want to go on a pilgrimage to Mount Wutai. I don’t want to be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss yet.” King Yama said, “Chanting sutras and going on a pilgrimage are all good things, but it is not as good as the expeditious rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.” But Fang Zhu’s mind was set. So, King Yama had to let him go back to the human realm.  From this event, we know that by advising others to study Buddhism and recite Namo Amituofo, we will not only be saved and delivered to the Land of Ultimate Bliss, but also we will affect the hell realm and be respected by its King.

        There is another story:

        A soldier named Zhenglin in Raozhou passed away, and his soul came to the underworld somewhat prematurely. So, he was allowed to return to his human life. Before he could do so,  King Yama said to him, “When you go back to the human world, you should strive to do good deeds and accumulate virtue. When you see other people killing animals, you should recite Namo Amituofo. Then the slaughtered animals will be reincarnated or reborn in a good place. In this way, you can also obtain blessings. “

        From these two events, we know that reciting Namo Amitufo not only allows us to be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, but also helps the dead elevate to a better realm and, at the same time, increases our fortune and prolongs our lives. Both events were recorded in the Song Dynasty in Wang Rixiu’s “Longshu Pure Land Text.” This famous book is dedicated to the teachings of Pure Land Buddhism.

        Let me tell you another story of “Three Unfulfilled Wishes” :

        A monk visited a lay friend and advised him to seize the time to study Buddhism and recite the Buddha’s Name. The friend said: “Learning Buddhism and reciting the Name of the Buddha is very good, and I wish to do so, but I still have three wishes that have not been fulfilled. The first is that I need a new home that has not been built yet. Second, I have a son who is still single. The third is that I have a daughter who hasn’t found a husband. I will concentrate on learning and reciting the Buddha’s name when these three things are complete.” But a few days later, this friend died suddenly, and the monk wrote a poem with deep regret:

        This poem reads,

My friend’s name is Zhang Zuliu, and I advised him to study Buddhism and recite the Name of the Buddha. He said he had to fulfill three wishes first, but King Yama had no such consideration for him. Before he could carry out any of the three, his soul was taken to face King Yama.

        As the saying goes, “When King Yama wants you to die at 3 o’clock, he won’t let you live past that;” there’s no room for negotiation and begging. So, if you recite Namo Amituofo immediately, that might prolong your life, or you will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss and not have to encounter King Yama.


(Translated and edited by the Pure Land School Translation Team)



Master Huijing

Master Huijing

Master Jingzong

Master Jingzong

Guiding Principles

Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings