In the final part of the Amitayurdhyana Sutra (Contemplation Sutra), Shakyamuni Buddha discusses the nine levels into which those born into the Pure Land are categorized:
1. the highest level of the superior grade
2. the middle level of the superior grade
3. the lowest level of the superior grade
4. the highest level of the middling grade
5. the middle level of the middling grade
6. the lowest level of the middling grade
7. the highest level of the inferior grade
8. the middle level of the inferior grade
9. the lowest level of the inferior grade
All nine grades of beings can achieve birth in the Pure Land if they remember the Buddha Amideva, calling on His Name. Beings of the highest level of the superior grade are those who keep the precepts and practice the teachings with sincerity; such beings will be welcomed by Amideva at the moment of death and escorted by him to the very center of the Pure Land. After a brief stay in that Land, they will receive the prophecy of enlightenment from the lips of the Protector.
As can be expected, beings on the intervening levels (between the highest level of the superior grade and the lowest of the inferior grade) exhibit decreasing effort and sincerity in practicing the teachings. They attain birth in the Pure Land, but in locations proportionately farther from the center. Their attainment of enlightenment will require correspondingly long periods of learning and practice in the Pure Land.
Those of the lowest level of inferior grade are beings who commit the five grievous unskillful acts, and who would otherwise reside in mental states of incessant suffering. However, the Buddha Shakyamuni teaches that Amideva will embrace and enlighten even these beings, if they call on His Name.
om Amideva hrih