Akshobhya is one of the heavenly Buddhas, who has reign over the eastern paradise known as Abhirati. It is important to note that Abhirati is considered to be a state of mind and well-being, and not a physical place where the Buddha exists. It is said that those who fulfill the vow that Akshobhya made will be reborn in the eastern paradise of Abhirati and they cannot fall back into any of the lower states of awareness.
Before Akshobhya attained enlightenment and become wholly awakened, he lived as a monk who studied Buddhism. As a part of his training and his quest for his own journey to enlightenment, Akshobhya made a vow that he would never feel any type of anger or disgust at another being, ever again.
Akshobhya demonstrated that he was fully capable of holding himself to his vow, and after many years of keeping himself free from anger or disgust as an enlightened bodhisattva, which are two of the forms suffering comes in, Akshobhya attained enlightenment and was at long last a Buddha.
The entire foundation of Buddhism is essentially built around the elimination of suffering from our lives. Suffering comes in many forms, and could be mental, emotional, physical or something else entirely. Suffering is what ultimately keeps us all from attaining the happiness and tranquility that our souls are craving, and even the smallest bit of suffering can lead to further suffering and unhappiness. Some of the ways that suffering can manifest include the following.
· Anger · Greed · Envy · Hatred · Attachment to material goods · Harsh words
There are of course many other ways that suffering can take a hold of our lives; the Buddha himself said that in order to truly become enlightened and happy, we need to identify suffering and work towards eliminating it from our lives. The way in which we perceive others can be just one of the ways suffering enters into our life, which is why Akshobhya was able to attain enlightenment when he let go of his angry feelings and judgments that could lead to disgust.
When Akshobhya is depicted in statues and illustrations, he is typically shown as being blue, but he is also sometimes depicted as being gold in color. Akshobhya is most often shown with his right hand touching the earth. This type of gesture, or mudra, is the gesture that was used by the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) when he made a request of the earth to serve as a witness to the enlightenment he had attained. Akshobhya is also depicted as holding a vajra in his right hand; the vajra is the symbol of the thunderbolt, or shunyata. Shunyata is the Buddhism term used to describe emptiness or the absolute absence of existence.
Akshobhya’s name can be translated to mean both “unshakeable” and “immovable.” This is in reference to his steadfast ability to maintain the vow he took to never again feel anger and disgust. Akshobhya is also said to rule over the water element, which can account for the brilliant blue that he is oftentimes depicted as being. Some illustrations and texts describe Akshobhya as being seated on the traditional lotus throne; a throne that is being supported by the elephant, who is the symbol used to describe strength and steadfastness.
In some paintings, Akshobhya is actually displayed as being a rather wrathful being, which is essentially quite opposite to his reputation as a peaceful and content being. The Akshobhya mantra is quite literally a mantra used to evoke Akshobhya’s name, in order to help free yourself from the hatred and anger that you are suffering from. His mantra is as follows.
Om Akshobhya Hum
Om is, of course, the universal sound used to make an announcement that you are going to be seeking guidance and wisdom from the deity you are invoking with the mantra. It can be considered to be a form of hailing transcended beings. Hum can have several meanings, but it essentially refers to the idea that you are taking the lessons and the guidance offered by Akshobhya to heart.
Akshobhya is often depicted as being accompanied by two elephants, one of which he is also often pictured riding upon. Akshobhya’s consort is Lochana, with whom he is very often pictured. Some of the attributes that Akshobhya has with him include the bell, a staff, three robes, a prayer wheel, a jewel, a lotus, and a sword.
Akshobhya is said to be the very embodiment of the “mirror knowledge.” This refers to the knowledge of what is real, what is an illusion, and what is a simple reflection of the true reality we face. The mirror is said to be the mind, itself; holding onto the images of time and space, yet holding itself to be untouched by them. Akshobhya is representative of the eternal mind, illuminating the darkness that comes from ignorance, and having the sharpness needed to slice through confusion.
Buddha Akshobhya worked to teach his followers that through virtuous cleaning of the non-virtues we are all capable of, purification of the very soul could happen. Even if the non-virtues of violence and hatred exist, through meditation and the abandonment of non-virtuous behavior, and through seeking Akshobhya’s blessing of purification, all sentient beings could find their own path to enlightenment.