"A Mi Tuo Fo"
One of the most common inscriptions
found on Chinese Buddhist temple coins is "a mi tuo fo" (阿弥陀佛).
"A mi tuo fo", sometimes
pronounced "e mi tuo fo", is
pronunciation for the
Sanskrit name of the Amitābha Buddha (Amida Buddha).
mi tuo" is the transliteration of
the Sanskrit word "Amida" which means "boundless" (wuliang 无量). "Fo" is the Chinese word for
Amitabha is the name of a specific Buddha known as the
Infinite Light. He vowed to forgo nirvana until all beings were
able to join him.
In Chinese, "a mi tuo fo"
therefore means the "boundless" or "immeasurable" Buddha. This is
a reference to Pure Land Buddhism where the
Buddha is "immeasurably" bright, everlasting and immeasurably "pure".
Over time, however, the expression "a
mi tuo fo"
gradually evolved into a very common blessing and
greeting meaning "may Buddha protect", "may Buddha preserve
us" and "take refuge in the Buddha".