Author Topic: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?  (Read 2893 times)

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2020, 09:43:44 pm »
It's easy to say the Pure Land is just a symbol or a warm feeling in our hearts if you haven't experienced the kind of loss and suffering that Shinran did. It would go against our sense of justice as human beings if there weren't some ultimate state to existence beyond all tragedy and suffering. Some call it heaven, some call it the Pure Land, but something tells us this world cannot be our ultimate home. We are only visiting this planet, and Amida's hand is extended to welcome us all home. When Honen passed away, Shinran said that he only returned home

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2020, 04:44:00 am »
When you have certain insight experiences, one of the most powerful aspects is the overwhelming feeling of coming home. that the universe out there is indeed our home, and that this life is a fleeting episode of mistaken identity. It's what happened to me many years ago, and I spent a long time trying to come to terms with it using the many Buddhist, and other, interpretations out there. Since then I've come to terms with what it means for me.

For me they are stories for those who have not yet experienced the thing for themselves. In an instant, all things are true, for a given definition of truth, yet none are 'the' true description of any fundamental underlying reality. When we die we will still be part of the oneness of everything. Nothing disappears but our current, somewhat mistaken, identities. Not perhaps what anyone else would want to hear, but they don't have the other significant aspects of insight experience.

What really clinches it is the overwhelming happiness which comes with the feeling of coming home, of the feeling of freedom it brings. So what if there is no afterlife? So what if there is no heaven or hell? So what if this present consciousness merely dissipates as my body dies? It really doesn't matter, when you have experienced such instances of understanding. No, really. Unfortunately, this doesn't help anyone else, as they haven't experience the thing for themselves. Hence the proliferation of 'feelgood' stories about what goes on after death.

They are neither 'right' or 'wrong' for me, but are irrelevant to my being a Buddhist. If they make people feel good about things, then I have no objection to them as long as I don't have to believe. If they repel people, then they can reject such stories too. For me the important thing is work towards experiencing insight for yourself, as nothing else will do it in the same way. I'm quite happy knowing that I'll be home after I die, more so than as a separate human being, or as some kind of re-appearing spirit.

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2020, 04:47:28 am »
In the Buddha's words, there cannot be an escape from the born and the conditioned without the Unborn and the Unconditioned.

Offline Pixie

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2020, 05:14:28 am »
In the Buddha's words, there cannot be an escape from the born and the conditioned without the Unborn and the Unconditioned.

Which sutta are you refering to? This one?

https://suttacentral.net/ud8.3/en/anandajoti

If so, the Buddha is talking about Nibbana, not literal rebirth and other realms.


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May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2020, 09:16:24 am »
According to Shinran and other Pure Land teachers throughout history, the Pure Land and the realm of Nirvana are one and the same. This is why Shinran referred to rebirth into the Pure Land as the birth of non-birth, just as the Buddha referred to Nirvana as the unborn.

Offline Pixie

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2020, 02:44:10 pm »
Nibbana isn't another realm somewhere!

This is from Ven. Ajahn Sumedho's introduction for the book "The Island - An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings On Nibbana" by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro.


Quote

A DIFFICULTY WITH THE WORD ‘NIBBANA’ IS THAT ITS meaning is beyond the power of words to describe. It is, essentially, undefinable.

Another difficulty is that many Buddhists see NibbAna as something unobtainable – as so high and so remote that we’re not worthy enough to try for it. Or we see Nibbana as a goal, as an unknown, undefined something that we should somehow try to attain.

Most of us are conditioned in this way. We want to achieve or attain something that we don’t have now. So Nibbana is looked at as something that, if you work hard, keep the sila, meditate diligently, become a monastic, devote your life to practice, then your reward might be that eventually you attain Nibbana –even though we’re not sure what it is.

Ajahn Chah would use the words ‘the reality of non-grasping’ as the definition for Nibbana: realizing the reality of non-grasping. That helps to put it in a context because the emphasis is on awakening to how we grasp and hold on even to words like ‘Nibbana’ or ‘Buddhism’ or ‘practice’ or ‘sila’ or whatever.

It’s often said that the Buddhist way is not to grasp. But that can become just another statement that we grasp and hold on to. It’s a Catch 22: No matter how hard you try to make sense out of it, you end up in total confusion because of the limitation of language and perception. You have to go beyond language and perception. And the only way to go beyond thinking and emotional habit is through awareness of them, through awareness of thought, through awareness of emotion. ‘The Island that you cannot go beyond’ is the metaphor for this state of for this state of being awake and aware, as opposed to the concept of becoming awake and aware.

Continues on page X111 at the link:

https://cdn.amaravati.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/18/The_Island_-_Ajahn_Amaro_and_Pasanno_update_2015.pdf



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« Last Edit: March 03, 2020, 02:47:43 pm by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2020, 06:17:38 pm »
There is an article online by Bhikkhu Bodhi on Nirvana as a transcendent reality. It's worth reading, and he makes use of the Pali scriptures.


Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2020, 12:26:19 pm »
In the skillful means chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the historical Buddha says that only a buddha can see the reality of enlightenment for what it truly is. For unenlightened beings like ourselves, the Buddha has devised similes and parables, various forms of skillful means, to meet our level of understanding. Is Amida a literal flesh and blood man who attained buddhahood eons ago, galaxies away? Or is Amida symbolic of the Buddha-nature in all things, compassionately taking us just as we are? The right answer to this question is whatever's necessary for you to say the Nembutsu, whatever is the right skillful means for your situation and level of understanding. Namu-Amida-Butsu.

Offline Venerable Lantian Xinshen

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2020, 02:42:15 pm »
Nirvana is composed of two words: Nir (not) Vana (flame). Not flame. Nirvana is not flame, not the flame of desire. Nirvana is realized when the fire of tanha is extinguished. I spent over 20 years in a Pure Land sect as a clergyman. It has very little, if anything, in common with Theravada. Anatta is replaced with a belief in an immortal soul for one thing.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #25 on: March 18, 2020, 08:05:20 am »
Nirvana is composed of two words: Nir (not) Vana (flame). Not flame. Nirvana is not flame, not the flame of desire. Nirvana is realized when the fire of tanha is extinguished. I spent over 20 years in a Pure Land sect as a clergyman. It has very little, if anything, in common with Theravada. Anatta is replaced with a belief in an immortal soul for one thing.

Shinran Shonin, like Tan-Luan and Shan-tao, understood the Pure Land to be the formless realm of Nirvana. This is why Shinran referred to rebirth into the Pure Land as the birth of non-birth, just as the Buddha referred to Nirvana as the unborn.

Pure Land Buddhism, like Theravada Buddhism, teaches non-self. This is why Shinran referred to the state of beings reborn into the Pure Land as inconceivable, beyond the speculation of unenlightened beings like ourselves.

Pure Land Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism share a very important thing in common, that for most lay people in both traditions, the primary goal of Buddhist practice is a fortunate afterlife rather than attaining enlightenment in this life.

Another important similarity between Pure Land Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism is that, in both traditions, most lay people prefer scripture reading and devotional practices over silent, seated meditation. While lay Theravada Buddhists engage in devotional practices to Gautama Buddha, the Four-Faced Brahma, etc., Pure Land Buddhists engage in devotional practices to Amitabha and Guanyin.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 08:07:55 am by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land & Theravada Buddhism: Not so different?
« Reply #26 on: March 25, 2020, 10:57:11 am »
The popular conception of the Pure Land as a Buddhist heaven, where we’ll someday meet our deceased relatives, has perhaps more to do with Chinese ancestor worship, with its emphasis on filial piety, than with Buddhism itself.

Shinran, like Tan-luan and Shandao, understood the Pure Land as the formless realm of Nirvana, rather than a heaven, and referred to it as “the birth of no-birth,” just as the Buddha described Nirvana as “the unborn.”

Buddhism was not immediately accepted in China, because the doctrines of non-self, rebirth, and Nirvana challenged traditional Chinese beliefs about the spirits of dead relatives, that good deeds should be done in their honor.

If there is no permanent, unchanging self, but instead a stream of consciousness from one lifetime to the next, what good is there in dedicating merit to one’s ancestors? The answer to this question might be unsettling for many.

Chinese folk religion therefore came to produce an image of the Pure Land as a Confucian-like and Taoist-like paradise, as an accommodation of Buddhism to traditional Chinese values and customs.

Shinran said that he never recited the Nembutsu out of filial piety. Nonetheless, Shinran had compassionate understanding for those who, however misguided, clung to the notion of a permanent self that will meet our deceased ancestors.

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves:

Quote
Meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expositions/chapter-on-transformed-buddha-bodies-and-lands/

 


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