The Infinite Life Sutra mainly reveals the cause and effect of Amitabha’s deliverance of sentient beings, and emphasizes the merits and virtues of exclusive recitation of Amitabha’s Name.
The merits and virtues of exclusive recitation of Amitabha’s Name are vast. Whether you are a monastic or householder, a practitioner or not, you can exclusively recite this Name (Namo Amitabha Buddha). In so doing, you will be liberated from reincarnation within the Three Domains and the Six Realms, attain rebirth in the Land of Bliss, and expedite the achievement of Buddhahood. However, it is very difficult for sentient beings to believe.
As it is difficult to believe, Shakyamuni Buddha gave special instructions to Maitreya Bodhisattva. Why did he choose Maitreya? It is because he is a Bodhisattva of Equal Enlightenment, who will succeed Shakyamuni Buddha as the Buddha of the Saha World (to preach and deliver sentient beings there).
In the Chapter on Dissemination, there are four main points in the transmission given by Shakyamuni Buddha to Maitreya Bodhisattva:
1. One will attain great benefit with sufficient unsurpassed merits and virtues by merely reciting Namo Amitabha Buddha.
2. No matter how much in pain we are, we must strive to hear this teaching. Even if we had to jump over a sea on fire, the merits and virtues received are so great, it would be worth it. Many Bodhisattvas have no opportunity to hear it. If someone can hear this teaching, he will not retrogress, and will be assured of becoming a Buddha.
3. To keep this teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance existent in the universe forever. Even in the period between the extinction of one Buddha and the descent of another Buddha in the human world, continue to disseminate the teaching and transmit it on and on.
4. It is extremely difficult matter for a person who can hear this teaching, and can further believe it.