Author Topic: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself  (Read 845 times)

Offline Dharma Flower

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Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« on: March 04, 2017, 04:22:41 am »
When we entrust in Amida Buddha and recite his name, Namu-Amida-Butsu, this is not Amida as a disembodied spirit or some sort of god-like being, separate from ourselves. Instead, “Amida” is a way of describing Being-Itself:

Quote
Among the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism, we can find the doctrine “All beings/Buddha-nature.” Depending on how your read these four (Chinese) characters, the meaning is very different. What is the relationship between “All being(s)” and “Buddha-nature”?

There are two readings. One is: “All beings have Buddha-nature.” The other is “All being is Buddha-nature.”

If we take the first reading as saying “All beings have Buddha-nature,” Buddha-nature is then something you have within you. If that is so, we should search for this thing called Buddha-nature within us, and polish it in order to get rid of the dust.

If, on the other hand, we read the passage as saying, “All being is Buddha-nature,” the meaning is very different. This is one of Dogen’s most fundamental teachings.
“All being” means everything. “All being” does not point to any one being in particular. It simply means “All,” the whole of being, with no exceptions-”the universe just as it is.”

The universe includes all kinds of objects or entities. The planet earth is one such entity. The planet earth includes innumerable kinds of entities, including the natural world of mountains, rivers, and living beings, including human beings, as well as animals and plants, and so on.

All of these entities seem like separate beings, but they are all components of the
earth, and the earth itself is a component of the universe. Dogen called the universe “the great earth,” meaning not the planet earth but all that is without exception. The universe, the great earth, is “all being.” It is Buddha-nature.
https://books.google.com/books?id=WHs3DAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false


The above teachings of Dogen are summarized in the following quote:

Quote
Grasses and trees, as well as thickets and forests, are impermanent and, accordingly, they are Buddha Nature. It is the same with the human body and mind, both of which are impermanent and, accordingly, they are Buddha Nature. The mountains and rivers in the various lands are impermanent, so, accordingly, they are Buddha Nature.
http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/Shobogenzo/021bussho.pdf


Please compare this to the following quote from Shinran Shonin:

Quote
Buddha-nature is none other than Tathagata. This Tathagata pervades the countless worlds; it fills the hearts and minds of the ocean of all beings. Thus, plants, trees, and land all attain Buddhahood.
http://shinranwritings.blogspot.com/p/notes-on-essentials-of-faith-alone.html

In reciting the name, Namu-Amida-Butsu, we awaken to the interdependence of all life, in gratitude for the innumerable causes and conditions which sustain our life and give it meaning. The name “Amida” means immeasurable life.

In the words of D. T. Suzuki, “Amida is not presiding over a Pure Land beyond our reach. His Pure Land is this dirty earth itself.”
« Last Edit: March 04, 2017, 05:10:00 am by Dharma Flower »
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Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Amida Buddha is Being-Itself
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2017, 04:54:58 am »
I realize that there is a Pure Land sub-forum here, but I wrote the above for the average person, who might not have any familiarity with Pure Land Buddhism or the Mahayana generally whatsoever. I hope that, maybe, it can be helpful to others.
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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2017, 03:56:36 pm »
I realize that Dogen was not a Pure Land Buddhist, but his understanding of Buddha-nature might be helpful to those who find it hard to believe in Amida as a disembodied spirit or god-like being. From this perspective, Amida is the whole of reality, just-as-it-is:

Quote
…the continental Chinese doctrine that holds that all beings possess Buddha-nature is completely transformed and radicalized in conformity with Dogen’s attempt absolutely to overcome all dualisms, such as those of acquired and intrinsic enlightenment, Buddha and ordinary beings, practice and enlightenment, and the like.

Dogen’s point, and it is one of the hallmarks of his brand of Buddhism, is that all beings are Buddha, and by “beings” Dogen means both sentient and insentient—everything without exception. On one level, distinctions remain and are significant; however, on another level, all distinctions are united and resolved, insofar as all things are merely the presencing of things as they are, or the presencing of reality.

In Dogen’s well-known reading of the passage from the Nirvana Sutra that says that all sentient beings possess Buddha-nature, the meaning comes to be “All are sentient beings and the total being is Buddha-nature.” This means that the total being just as it is is Buddha…
https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/jiabs/article/viewFile/8591/2498


Quote
In the Zen teaching, no matter how confused, anxious or perplexed we might be, we already are Amida Buddha as we are. This is the teaching of Buddha and the Zen Patriarchs.
It is because we have come to think of the symbolic self as “me” that we do not realize that essentially we are Amida Buddha.
So, in the Zen sect, we teach that when a person chants Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu…that this is not done toward some Buddha which is separate from you, but rather you yourself are Amida Buddha and then by calling your own name you enter samadhi (a condition of forgetting the ego-self by being completely absorbed in any certain activity).
This is the way Zen teaches about the Pure Land teaching. So regardless if we are talking about Shakyamuni Buddha or Avalokiteshvara (the bodhisattva of compassion) or Jizo (the bodhisattva of children), in Buddhism the teaching is that there is no Buddha separate from you yourself.
People are free to believe as they wish, but as long as the God or Buddha which you believe in is separate from you, that isn’t good. We must practice with the intention of eliminating that separation as we make prostrations, do practice and enter samadhi.
If you practice in this way, then certainly you will come to realize that you, yourself are the Truth, the natural principle of things.
http://faculty.luther.edu/~kopfg/internal/fullsyllabai/Roshi.html


According to Honen Shonin, we should recite the Nembutsu just as we are. Those with "aberrant views" should recite the Nembutsu anyway as a person with "aberrant views."

Quote
Regarding the potential for a nembutsu devotee, I would say that one should recite nembutsu in whatever is the natural state one was born into. Since one is born into this world through the power of one’s residual karma, rectification is impossible.
To illustrate, one born as a woman cannot become a man in this life even if she fervently desires to be a man. The wise should recite nembutsu as wise people do; the unlearned should recite nembutsu in their natural state; the compassionate should recite nembutsu with compassion; and one with aberrant views may recite nembutsu as a person with aberrant views.
Each should recite nembutsu in his own manner. This is because Amida Buddha awakened his all-encompassing essential vow for all sentient beings in the ten directions.
https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0861716965


In an ultimate sense, Dogen and Shinran are not so different:

Quote
The Other Power of Amida's Vows, above all the Eighteenth, can accomplish all this unprompted and without repression, but with what Shinran termed jinen honi: natural ease and spontaneity. Clearly this idea owes something to Dogen and his Soto Zen and through them ultimately to Taoist metaphysics. But when we read of Dogen saying: 'Forgetting body and mind by placing them together in the Buddha's hands and letting him lead you on, you will without design or effort gain freedom and attain Buddhahood', then he just as clearly shows the influence of Shinran's conception of the Other Power.

Again when Dogen tells busy farmers who have no time to enter a monastery and practise zazen that repetition of the Name is enough to bring them to Enlightenment, he has obviously been influenced by the Pure Land teachings of Honen and Shinran. There is an old tradition that Dogen and Shinran once met for a discussion and understood each other so well that at the end of their interview Shinran gave Dogen his nenju, or invocatory beads, while Dogen in exchange presented Shinran with his hossu, the horsetail fly-whisk of a Zen master.
http://www.nembutsu.info/hsrbunat.htm


Amida Buddha is Existence-Itself when seen as a compassionate whole. In gratitude to this boundless compassion, I say Namu-Amida-Butsu. In the words of Shinran, "The Nembutsu alone is true and real."
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 11:19:48 pm by Dharma Flower »
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Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2017, 10:42:16 am »
I really don’t know what to say about Nembutsu. It’s so alien to my own way -- which is to discard all discrimination, concepts, names, forms and images (like Amida) that, to my mind, only block the way to enlightenment.

It takes some faith to practice, faith is a result of insight. To already have your mind made up, before you even practice, seems like a good way to miss the unexpected, the openings which can only come from having an “open“ mind.

I’m sure you can fire all kinds of quotes at me but what I’d really like to hear about is your own experience of practice.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2017, 10:49:43 am »
I really don’t know what to say about Nembutsu. It’s so alien to my own way -- which is to discard all discrimination, concepts, names, forms and images (like Amida) that, to my mind, only block the way to enlightenment.


It's strange you should say that, considering how important the Nembutsu has historically been to the Zen tradition:

Quote
The practice of Amida Butsu, or Amitabha, is widespread in Japan. This involves chanting “Namu Amida Butsu” while prostrating oneself. In Zen Buddhism, a person who chants “Namu Amida Butsu” is already Amida Butsu. The object toward which prostrations are made, namely, Amida Butsu, and the person making the prostrations are one…
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1555949.The_Essence_of_Zen


Quote
This teaching of the Pure Land school looks completely different from the Zen school, in which one realizes satori (enlightenment) within one’s own zazen (sitting meditation) practice. In fact, it seems to be a teaching of salvation similar to Christianity.
However, even Amitabha Buddha of the Pure Land school is just another name for universal self (Dharma-body, Buddha-nature), here given the name of a buddha. Of course, Amitabha, also known as Amitayus, isn’t the name of a person who actually existed historically.
In Sanskrit, amitabha and amitayus mean “infinite light” and “immeasurable life.” In other words, Amitabha Buddha is that life which connects all things… 
I am, in fact, embraced and saved by the boundless Amitabha. Being thankful for this, I chant Namu-Amida-Butsu. When we say this with our mouths, we are expressing our deep sense of gratitude. When we perform it with our whole body, it is zazen as the activity of the reality of life, the zazen of believing and sitting.
When people of the Pure Land School chant Namu-Amida-Butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu-Amida-Butsu with our whole body.

http://www.julesprast.nl/dharma/pureland/Opening%20Hand%20Thought%20Pure%20Land.pdf


Quote
In the Zen teaching, no matter how confused, anxious or perplexed we might be, we already are Amida Buddha as we are. This is the teaching of Buddha and the Zen Patriarchs.
It is because we have come to think of the symbolic self as “me” that we do not realize that essentially we are Amida Buddha.
So, in the Zen sect, we teach that when a person chants Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu…that this is not done toward some Buddha which is separate from you, but rather you yourself are Amida Buddha and then by calling your own name you enter samadhi (a condition of forgetting the ego-self by being completely absorbed in any certain activity).
This is the way Zen teaches about the Pure Land teaching. So regardless if we are talking about Shakyamuni Buddha or Avalokiteshvara (the bodhisattva of compassion) or Jizo (the bodhisattva of children), in Buddhism the teaching is that there is no Buddha separate from you yourself.
People are free to believe as they wish, but as long as the God or Buddha which you believe in is separate from you, that isn’t good. We must practice with the intention of eliminating that separation as we make prostrations, do practice and enter samadhi.
If you practice in this way, then certainly you will come to realize that you, yourself are the Truth, the natural principle of things.
http://faculty.luther.edu/~kopfg/internal/fullsyllabai/Roshi.html


I think the Zen masters Sekkei Harada and Kosho Uchiyama might know a thing or two more about the Nembutsu than anonymous posters on an internet forum. I haven't even begun to quote Chinese Cha'an masters on the Nembutsu.

I am sorry if I am being presumptuous, but your post reflects a deep ignorance of Zen history, willful or otherwise. Your "own way" must be entirely unique to yourself. :smack:

I am saying these things out of sincere sympathy and respect for the millions of Zen Buddhists throughout history who've trusted in the Nembutsu as a meditation device.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 11:08:11 am by Dharma Flower »
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Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2017, 11:14:21 am »
Have you ever practiced zen with a sangha and a teacher? I asked about your personal experience not selective quotes.

Nembutsu is mentioned in passing in a few places but it doesn't figure much in actual practice of zen or in the literature or in it's favorite Sutras like the Lankavatara. I've read all of Dogen a few times and I don't remember him recommending Nembutsu.

In my over 50 years of zen practice I've trained with numerous teachers in both of the main schools of zen (Rinzai and Soto) as well as Sanbo Kyodan which is popular here in the U.S. and I've never once been instructed to recite Nembutsu.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2017, 11:25:48 am »
In my over 50 years of zen practice I've trained with numerous teachers in both of the main schools of zen (Rinzai and Soto) as well as Sanbo Kyodan which is popular here in the U.S. and I've never once been instructed to recite Nembutsu.


Zen masters throughout history have recommended different Buddhist practices for different people with different temperaments, preferences, backgrounds, etc. It is the Bodhisattva way of skillful means to teach the Dharma according to the specific needs of others.

I've read all of Dogen a few times and I don't remember him recommending Nembutsu.


Your ignorance of Zen history, willful or otherwise, is getting tiresome:

Quote
The Other Power of Amida's Vows, above all the Eighteenth, can accomplish all this unprompted and without repression, but with what Shinran termed jinen honi: natural ease and spontaneity. Clearly this idea owes something to Dogen and his Soto Zen and through them ultimately to Taoist metaphysics. But when we read of Dogen saying: 'Forgetting body and mind by placing them together in the Buddha's hands and letting him lead you on, you will without design or effort gain freedom and attain Buddhahood', then he just as clearly shows the influence of Shinran's conception of the Other Power.

Again when Dogen tells busy farmers who have no time to enter a monastery and practise zazen that repetition of the Name is enough to bring them to Enlightenment, he has obviously been influenced by the Pure Land teachings of Honen and Shinran. There is an old tradition that Dogen and Shinran once met for a discussion and understood each other so well that at the end of their interview Shinran gave Dogen his nenju, or invocatory beads, while Dogen in exchange presented Shinran with his hossu, the horsetail fly-whisk of a Zen master.
http://www.nembutsu.info/hsrbunat.htm


Please keep in mind that I am saying these things out of sincere respect and sympathy for the millions of Zen Buddhists throughout history who've trusted in the Nembutsu as a meditation device.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 11:28:07 am by Dharma Flower »
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Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2017, 12:46:54 pm »
Since you're trying to use Dogen to proselytize your sect, here’s what Dogen had to say about chanting Nembutsu in his famous treatise on zazen, Bendowa --

Quote
Furthermore, do you really know the virtue to be gained by working at such practices as reading sutras or chanting nembutsu? The notion that merely making sounds by moving your tongue leads to the virtue of the Buddha work is completely meaningless; it is extremely far, tremendously distant, from resembling Buddha-dharma. Intending to reach the Buddha-way through stupid ceaseless chanting millions of times is like steering a cart north and trying to go south. It is also the same as trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Continuously uttering sounds like frogs in a spring rice paddy croaking day and night is also ultimately worthless.

From The Wholehearted Way, a translation of Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa by Shohaku Okumura and Taigen Daniel Leighton page 25.


There are different types of frogs. Many are quietly doing zazen.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2017, 12:56:53 pm »
Since you're trying to use Dogen to proselytize your sect


What sect do you speak of? Nembutsu practice is common throughout many sects and schools of Buddhism, throughout history.

There are different types of frogs. Many are quietly doing zazen.

Quote
This teaching of the Pure Land school looks completely different from the Zen school, in which one realizes satori (enlightenment) within one’s own zazen (sitting meditation) practice. In fact, it seems to be a teaching of salvation similar to Christianity.
However, even Amitabha Buddha of the Pure Land school is just another name for universal self (Dharma-body, Buddha-nature), here given the name of a buddha. Of course, Amitabha, also known as Amitayus, isn’t the name of a person who actually existed historically.
In Sanskrit, amitabha and amitayus mean “infinite light” and “immeasurable life.” In other words, Amitabha Buddha is that life which connects all things… 
I am, in fact, embraced and saved by the boundless Amitabha. Being thankful for this, I chant Namu-Amida-Butsu. When we say this with our mouths, we are expressing our deep sense of gratitude. When we perform it with our whole body, it is zazen as the activity of the reality of life, the zazen of believing and sitting.
When people of the Pure Land School chant Namu-Amida-Butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu-Amida-Butsu with our whole body.
[/bhttp://www.julesprast.nl/dharma/pureland/Opening%20Hand%20Thought%20Pure%20Land.pdf


« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 01:01:28 pm by Dharma Flower »
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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2017, 01:02:18 pm »
Again, I say these things out of sincere sympathy and respect for the millions of Zen Buddhists throughout history who've trusted in the Nembutsu as a meditation device.  They deserve to be heard and respected. :namaste:

Leftover hippie Westerners are, thankfully, not the final arbiter of the Zen tradition.  :eek:
« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 01:05:15 pm by Dharma Flower »
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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2017, 01:27:57 pm »
The quote below was from the same book that your selective secondhand quote from Uchiyama came from. Maybe you should try reading Dogen yourself. Uchiyama in his commentary was sucking up to all the folks in Japan who chant nembutsu, but in his own practice he only taught zazen as Dogen did. He just didn't have the balls to say what Dogen did here:

"Furthermore, do you really know the virtue to be gained by working at such practices as reading sutras or chanting nembutsu? The notion that merely making sounds by moving your tongue leads to the virtue of the Buddha work is completely meaningless; it is extremely far, tremendously distant, from resembling Buddha-dharma. Intending to reach the Buddha-way through stupid ceaseless chanting millions of times is like steering a cart north and trying to go south. It is also the same as trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Continuously uttering sounds like frogs in a spring rice paddy croaking day and night is also ultimately worthless." From The Wholehearted Way, a translation of Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa by Shohaku Okumura and Taigen Daniel Leighton page 25.

BTW I have studied zen history extensively and nembutsu was not a factor, either in its practice or its development. Chanting Nembutsu is almost as popular as zen in Japan and there is some crossover by a few teachers such as Uchiyama, but the two sects are very separate and different.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2017, 01:33:49 pm »
The quote below was from the same book that your selective secondhand quote from Uchiyama came from. Maybe you should try reading Dogen yourself. Uchiyama in his commentary was sucking up to all the folks in Japan who chant nembutsu, but in his own practice he only taught zazen as Dogen did. He just didn't have the balls to say what Dogen did here:

"Furthermore, do you really know the virtue to be gained by working at such practices as reading sutras or chanting nembutsu? The notion that merely making sounds by moving your tongue leads to the virtue of the Buddha work is completely meaningless; it is extremely far, tremendously distant, from resembling Buddha-dharma. Intending to reach the Buddha-way through stupid ceaseless chanting millions of times is like steering a cart north and trying to go south. It is also the same as trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Continuously uttering sounds like frogs in a spring rice paddy croaking day and night is also ultimately worthless." From The Wholehearted Way, a translation of Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa by Shohaku Okumura and Taigen Daniel Leighton page 25.

BTW I have studied zen history extensively and nembutsu was not a factor, either in its practice or its development. Chanting Nembutsu is almost as popular as zen in Japan and there is some crossover by a few teachers such as Uchiyama, but the two sects are very separate and different.

I have to go to work now.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2017, 02:01:14 pm »
BTW I have studied zen history extensively...


You are either lying or you are woefully ignorant of Zen history:

Quote
The unified practice of Ch'an and Pure Land, known in Chinese as "Ch'an-ching I-chih," has a long history. As early as the 4th century C.E., Master Hui-Yuan (334-416), considered to the be first Pure Land Ancestor, incorporated meditative discipline into Pure Land practice.

Tao-HsinTao-Hsin (580-651), the Fourth Ancestor of the Ch'an school, taught what he called the "Samadhi of Oneness," utilizing the recitation of the Buddha's name to pacify the mind. It should be noted that since this practice involved reciting the name of any Buddha (a practice dating back to the origins of Buddhism) it was not specifically designed to produce rebirth in the Realm of Bliss, but it did act as a bridge linking Ch'an and Nien-Fo practices. Tao-Hsin taught that the Pure Mind is the Pure Buddha-Land.

The unified practice was also advocated by the Fifth Ch'an Ancestor Hung-Jen (601-674) who saw recitation as a good practice for beginners. Hung-Jen also advocated the visualization practices laid out in the Visualization Sutra.

Buddha recitation not concerned with rebirth was taught by a number of Hung-Jen's disciples including Fa-Chih (635-702), the Fourth Ancestor of the Ox-Head School of Ch'an. It was also put forth by the Ching-Chung School which was descended from Chih-Hsien, one of the Fifth Ch'an Ancestor's 10 eminent disciples, in the early 8th century C.E.

Descendents of Chih-hsien who advocated the unified practice included Wu-Hsiang, a former Korean prince who made invocational Nien-Fo practice a key part of the Dharma Transmission Ceremony. Although the practice was still not centered around Buddha Amitabha or rebirth in the Realm of Bliss, it marked the first time that Nien-Fo practice was explicitly adopted as part of a Ch'an school. Subsequent schools which taught Nien-Fo as part of their training included the Pao-T'ang School, the Hsuan-Shih Nien-Fo Ch'an School and the Nan-Shan Nien-Fo Ch'an School.

Ancestor Tz'u-Min (679-748) is said to have been the first Pure Land Ancestor to advocate harmonizing Pure Land practice and Ch'an. Tz'u-min developed his Pure Land faith after a pilgrimage to India, where he was inspired by stories centered around Buddha Amitabha and Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.

Pai-ChangThe Ch'an Ancestor Pai-Chang Huai-Hai (720-814), who wrote the "20 Monastic Principles" which were the blueprint for Ch'an monastic practice, included "Recitation of the Name of Buddha Amitabha." Pai-Chang stated, "In religious practice, take Buddha Recitation as a sure method." The practice of chanting Amitabha's name during a Ch'an monk's funeral was also put forth by Master Pai-Chang.

The T'ang Hui-Ch'an Persecution (845 C.E.) and the Huei-Ch'ang and Shih-Tsung Persecutions of the late Chou Dynasty (10th century C.E.) served to bring Ch'an and Pure Land even closer together. These government crackdowns on Buddhist sects enervated the academically oriented Buddhist schools such as the T'ien-t'ai and Hua-yen sects. Correspondingly, the rise of Neo-Confucianism drew many speculative thinkers away from those schools. But the Ch'an and Pure Land schools, marked by their emphasis on practice, their extreme degree of portability and their non-reliance on Imperial patronage, survived intact. By this time, the Ch'an school had incorporated true Nien-Fo Amitabha practices into its training regimens, and the Pure Land school had incorporated more meditational elements into its own system.

The Ch'an monk and Pure Land practitioner Yung-Ming Yen-Shou (905-975) is said to have been the key figure in the synthesis of Ch'an and Pure Land during this period. He taught that the Pure Land is the Realm of the Purified Mind.

The unified practices were taught in Vietnam by the Thao-Duong School, founded by the Chinese monk Ts'ao-Tang, who was taken to Vietnam as a prisoner of war in 1069 C.E. Other eminent Chinese monks who promoted unified practice were Chu-Hung (1535-1615) and Han-Shan (1546-1623).

During the 17th century C.E., the monk Yin-Yuan Lung-Chi, known as Obaku in Japanese, brought the unified Ch'an/Pure Land practice to Japan. His school is known as the Obaku Zen School, and survives to this day as a minor sect in the shadow of the much more influential Soto and Rinzai Zen sects.
http://www.cloudwater.org/index.php/pure-land-buddhism/history-of-combined-practice


Like all great teachers, like the Buddha himself, Dogen taught different things to different people at different times who had different karmic needs:

Quote
Again when Dogen tells busy farmers who have no time to enter a monastery and practise zazen that repetition of the Name is enough to bring them to Enlightenment, he has obviously been influenced by the Pure Land teachings of Honen and Shinran. There is an old tradition that Dogen and Shinran once met for a discussion and understood each other so well that at the end of their interview Shinran gave Dogen his nenju, or invocatory beads, while Dogen in exchange presented Shinran with his hossu, the horsetail fly-whisk of a Zen master.
http://www.nembutsu.info/hsrbunat.htm


Again, I say these things only out of sincere sympathy and respect for the millions of Zen Buddhists throughout history who've trusted in the Nembutsu as a meditation device. Thankfully, Western leftover hippies are not the final arbiter of the Zen tradition:


May you be happy and well.  :anjali:
« Last Edit: March 06, 2017, 02:59:32 pm by Dharma Flower »
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May you be happy and well.  :anjali:

Online IdleChater

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2017, 03:07:24 pm »
BTW I have studied zen history extensively...

You are either lying or you are woefully ignorant of Zen history:

Dude, maybe you should back off the aspersions.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Amida Buddha as Being-Itself
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2017, 04:30:56 pm »
Dharma Flower,

You’re apparently getting your information about zen second-hand and only from sources that are into nembutsu. I've got a huge bookshelf of books on zen, many on the history. Maybe I missed something in my studies.

I repeat what I said earlier, which you failed to respond to --

"Have you ever practiced zen with a sangha and a teacher? I asked about your personal experience not selective quotes.

In my over 50 years of zen practice I've trained with numerous teachers in both of the main schools of zen (Rinzai and Soto) as well as Sanbo Kyodan which is popular here in the U.S. and I've never once been instructed to recite Nembutsu. (If zen and nembutsu are the same you'd think someone would have told me).

I really don’t know what to say about Nembutsu. It’s so alien to my own way -- which is to discard all discrimination, concepts, names, forms and images (like Amida) that, to my mind, only block the way to enlightenment. (That's a good topic).

It takes some faith to practice, faith is a result of insight. To already have your mind made up, before you even practice, seems like a good way to miss the unexpected, the openings which can only come from having an “open“ mind. (another good topic).

I’m sure you can fire all kinds of quotes at me but what I’d really like to hear about is your own experience of practice."

Hurling personal insults in an open-forum like this is like spitting at the sky, it only comes down on you. Fortunately you're not representative of the all the good folks who chant nembutsu.

Back to work.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

 


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