Author Topic: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha  (Read 1627 times)

Offline IdleChater

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2017, 09:31:17 am »
...
On the level of ultimate truth, Amida is Dharma-body itself, the Buddha-nature in all things and beings:
...

What kind of 'ultimate level' are impermanent fabrications that are empty of inherent existence?  :fu:

The Dharmakaya is not impermanent. From a Mahayana perspective, the Dharmakaya and Nirvana are aspects of the same Ultimate Reality, what the Buddha called the unconditioned: ...

How could there be an 'unconditioned' depending on linguistic expression of 'the unconditioned' and quotations of linguistic expressions? That's ridiculous.
Just conditioned mental fabrications.

I don't know, dude. It doesn't seem like you are being respectful of Mahayana teachings.

If you're expressing your view in "The Dharma Express" section then it may draw all kinds of criticisms that may arise from all kinds of buddhist perspectives.
So check if you can find a forum section that is dedicated exclusively to your view. If however your view is a private view then you won't find a place where your view will be protected against criticism. A secure place however at any rate is your mind. To be on the save side you may refrain from uttering your view.

Let's keep it ecumenical, dude.

'ecumenical' is a christian concept. Oxford dictionary: 'involving or uniting members of different branches of the Christian Church.

See how deeply you still are conditioned by your upbringing?

Then how about lets not be so anal.  You know what he meant.

It only shows what a jerk you are.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2017, 09:35:16 am »
Amida Buddha in my perspective is the Dharma-body that's inherent in every practitioner.

That makes sense if Dharma-body is in everything.

Offline Solodris

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2017, 12:54:52 pm »
Amida Buddha in my perspective is the Dharma-body that's inherent in every practitioner.

That makes sense if Dharma-body is in everything.

That would bring me to the conclusion that Dharma-body is within the mind.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2017, 01:19:02 pm »
Amida Buddha in my perspective is the Dharma-body that's inherent in every practitioner.

That makes sense if Dharma-body is in everything.

That would bring me to the conclusion that Dharma-body is within the mind.

Sure, sure. How likely is it, though, that one will realize Dharma-body and attain Buddhahood in this lifetime?

Offline Solodris

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2017, 01:50:00 pm »
Amida Buddha in my perspective is the Dharma-body that's inherent in every practitioner.

That makes sense if Dharma-body is in everything.

That would bring me to the conclusion that Dharma-body is within the mind.

Sure, sure. How likely is it, though, that one will realize Dharma-body and attain Buddhahood in this lifetime?

Very likely!
« Last Edit: September 17, 2017, 01:31:10 pm by Solodris »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2017, 02:22:12 pm »
This is what I've been saying:

Quote
“Amida” means “immeasurable,” “infinite” or
“ eternal.” It is well known that Nagarjuna taught that the
Absolute can be expressed only in negative, not positive,
terms. “Amida,” being a negative expression, may be one of such cases. In this connection Shinran says:

“Amida’s Original Vow was meant for us in order that we might become the Supreme Buddha. The Supreme Buddha has no form; and because it has no form, it is called ‘Suchness.’ If it were shown to have form, it could not then be called the 'Supreme Nirvana.’ I learned from my master that Amida Buddha is so called, only to make known to us its formlessness. The name of ’ Amida Buddha’ is only a skillful means (upaya) of making 'Suchness’ known to us.”

Consequently, the name, Amida, itself shows that it is already a limited, relative Buddha, for naming something inevitably qualifies it. Therefore, when we express in words the Infinite Buddha as Amida, it is only the Buddha objectified on the level of secondary truth.

Therefore, Shinran called Amida “Dharmakaya as Upaya.” That which is pointed at with the name of Amida is, needless to say, unnamable, inexpressible,
for it is Suchness itself.
http://dl.ndl.go.jp/view/download/digidepo_9602325_po_CRJ-196.PDF?contentNo=1&alternativeNo=
« Last Edit: September 16, 2017, 02:51:11 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2017, 04:39:19 pm »
Is Amida a literal flesh and blood Buddha from eons before the Big Bang, galaxies away, as it says in The Infinite Life Sutra or does the sutra convey a truth beyond history?

The story of Dharmakara Bodhisattva in The Infinite Life Sutra is patterned after the life of the historical Buddha. Dharmakara is said to be a king who, like Shakyamuni, renounced his throne to pursue the life of a monk.

The story of Dharmakara becoming Amida, then, is a metaphorical narrative for the timeless reality of Amida, who is Dharma-body itself, the eternal Buddha:

Quote
When the Larger Sutra states that Dharmakara made The Forty-Eight Vows and attained Buddhahood some ten kalpas ago, it describes the transcendental activity of Thusness (Dharma-body) in terms of causality. On the other hand, when Shinran states in his Wasan,

Since Amida became a Buddha
Ten kalpas have passed. So (the Sutra) says.
But He seems to be an old Buddha
Older than the immeasurable mote-dot kalpas (Jodo Wasan 55).

and also, when he states that Amida is the ‘Buddha from the eternal past’ (ibid. 88), he shows us the eternal presence of Amida Buddha.
http://www.nembutsu.info/atpl.htm
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 08:55:48 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2017, 09:36:03 pm »
Dr. Carl Becker, a researcher of near-death experiences, documented at least a hundred cases in China and Japan of people who claimed to see visions of Amida or the Pure Land on their deathbed:

Quote
The Pure Land tradition is renowned for recording the miraculous experiences of Amida Buddha and his attendants coming to guide the dying to the Pure Land. Some people say that these experiences are just hagiography, but the specificity of detail in such accounts gives prima facie reason for distinguishing them from adjacent fairy tales. Prof. Becker himself has identified some 100 such accounts from China and Japan.

In the 1970s, Prof. Becker found other people studying near-death experiences in the United States. With hints from the renowned death specialist Dr. Elizabath Kubler-Ross, he helped to found the International Association of Near Death Studies. In the process of this study, researchers found the need to coin the new term “figure of light” which they found common across various cultures. Hospital research around the world has shown that this “figure of light” is experienced by many dying people. This is not just a belief, but has been well documented over the past 30 years worldwide and the last 15 years in Japan. This is hardly surprising, since Japan has a long tradition of this belief in Pure Land practice, but such studies have been slow to permeate modern Japanese medicine…

Prof. Becker then showed a video on Near Death Experience (NDE) from Japanese television for which he acted as a consultant. In many NDEs, people speak of being (re)born through a tunnel of light, which image matches the Pure Land account of being (re)born through the calyx of the lotus into the Pure Land. There are many accounts of natural and flowery images as in the Pure Land. These are difficult to attribute solely to anaesthesic drugs, since such drugs tend to create architectural and geometrical images, and most experiencers had not received medication in the first place. Many NDEs in hospitals cannot be explained as delusions or dreams; there are many documented incidents of soldiers who were seen by their wives in their homes at the moment that they were mortally wounded on distant battlefields. We know that such phenomena can occur, but we don’t know how.
http://www.jsri.jp/English/ojo/round1/day2morn.html


In this video, Master Chin Kung describes contemporary stories of Pure Land devotees who predicted their time of death in advance, and who passed away in a sitting or standing position while reciting Amida’s name:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Cbt5r5Jmw

For someone like myself, who probably wouldn’t even have hope of attaining stream entry in this lifetime, seeking rebirth into the Pure Land is an attractive option.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2017, 10:38:44 am by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2017, 06:55:03 pm »
Pure Land Buddhism is the largest school of Buddhism in East Asia, especially in China and Japan.

Pure Land Buddhism has roots in ancient Indian Buddhism, rather than being an aberration of it:

The Indian Roots of Pure Land Buddhism
http://www3.nccu.edu.tw/~ckeng/doc/Nattier_PureLand.pdf

Amida isn’t a creator god, since the universe has always existed in some form, and he doesn’t answer petitionary prayer. Amida is, according to Shinran, Dharma-body itself or the Buddha-nature in all things:

Amida Buddha, The Central Symbol of Pure Land Teaching
http://bschawaii.org/shindharmanet/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2012/03/Bloom-Amida.pdf

And it’s not as simple as just recite Amida’s name and that’s the end of it. Trusting in Amida for one’s future Buddhahood, if sincere, results in a change of heart and a change of life, out of gratitude for Amida’s compassion:

It is deplorable that you have told people to abandon themselves to their hearts’ desires and to do anything they want. One must seek to cast off the evil of this world and to cease doing wretched deeds; this is what it means to reject the world and to live the Nembutsu. When people who may have said the Nembutsu for many years abuse others in word or deed, there is no indication of rejecting this world.
http://shinranworks.com/letters/lamp-for-the-latter-ages/16-2/
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 01:39:39 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #24 on: September 30, 2017, 10:23:10 pm »
The following description of the Eternal Buddha is from The Teaching of Buddha by The Society for the Promotion of Buddhism, Japan’s equivalent to The Gideon’s Bible, which can be found in many hospitals and hotel rooms:

Quote
Do not think that the compassion of the Buddha is only for the present life; it is a manifestation of the timeless compassion of the eternal Buddha that has been operative since unknown time, when mankind went astray due to ignorance…

Do not seek to know Buddha by His form or attributes; for neither the form nor the attributes are the real Buddha. The true Buddha is Enlightenment itself…

If someone sees some excellent features of Buddha and then thinks he knows Buddha, his is the mistake of an ignorant eye, for the true Buddha can not be embodied in a form or seen by human eyes. Neither can one know Buddha by a faultless description of his attributes. It is not possible to describe His attributes in human words.

Though we speak of His form, the Eternal Buddha has no set form, but can manifest Himself in any form. Though we describe His attributes, yet the Eternal Buddha has no set of attributes, but can manifest Himself in any and all excellent attributes.

Buddha’s body is Enlightenment itself. Being formless and without substance, it always has been and always will be. It is not a physical body that must be nourished by food. It is an eternal body whose substance is Wisdom. Buddha, therefore, has neither fear nor disease; He is eternally changeless.

Therefore, Buddha will never disappear as long as Enlightenment exists. Enlightenment appears as the light of Wisdom that awakens people into a newness of life and causes them to be born into the world of Buddha (the Pure Land)…

Dharmakaya is the substance of the Dharma; that is, it is the substance of Truth itself. In the aspect of Essence, Buddha has no shape or color, and since Buddha has no shape or color, He comes from nowhere and there is nowhere for Him to go. Like the blue sky, He arches over everything, and since He is all things, He lacks nothing…

The work of Buddha is to manifest in all affairs and on all occasions the pure essence of Dharmakaya (the absolute nature of Buddha); so Buddha’s mercy and compassion flow out from this Dharmakaya in endless life and boundless light, bringing salvation to mankind.
http://www.e4thai.com/e4e/images/pdf/theteachingofbuddha.pdf


The name Amida means “eternal life” and “infinite light.” Amida is such an important part of traditional Japanese culture that death row inmates visit a shrine to Amida and say their final Nembutsu before undergoing execution:



The Pure Land is the formless realm of Nirvana. This is why Shinran referred to rebirth into the Pure Land as “the birth that is non-birth,” just as the historical Buddha referred to Nirvana as “the unborn.”

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2017, 10:48:59 pm »
Probably the most important sutra to understanding Pure Land Buddhism is the Lotus Sutra, because Shinran considered Amida and the Eternal Buddha of the Lotus Sutra to be the same being, without beginning or end, instead as a literal flesh and blood Buddha from ten kalpas ago. Also, the Buddha explains in the Lotus Sutra how he used similes and parables, skillful means to convey a higher truth, just like how Amida is a upaya, according to Shinran, for us coming to know the higher truth of Dharma-body.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #26 on: October 05, 2017, 06:59:11 pm »
The following description is from the inside flap to Yoshiro Tamura’s classic translation of the Lotus Sutra:

Quote
The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma, popularly known as the Lotus Sutra, is revered by millions of Buddhists as containing the core and culmination of the Buddha’s teaching. …it is one of the most important scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism and indeed one of the major documents of world religion.

The Lotus Sutra consists of a series of sermons delivered by the Buddha toward the end of his 45-year teaching ministry before a great multitude of disciples and countless others. The setting and scope are cosmic, but the sermons themselves, presented in both prose and verse, are replete with parables and graphic anecdotes.

At the heart of the sutra are three major concepts of Mahayana Buddhism:

All sentient beings can attain perfect enlightenment - that is, buddhahood - and nothing less than this is the appropriate final goal of believers;
The Buddha is eternal, having existed from the infinite past and appearing in many forms throughout the ages to guide and succor beings through the teaching of the Wonderful Dharma; and
The noblest form of Buddhist practice is the way of the bodhisattvas, those who devote themselves to attaining enlightenment not only for themselves but for all sentient beings.
https://rk-world.org/introlotussutra.aspx


As a former Tendai monk, Shinran Shonin understood Amida and the Eternal Buddha of the Lotus Sutra as the same being, Dharma-body itself:
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-ENG/bloom.htm

Just as the Lotus Sutra contains many parables as skillful means, the stories of Amida attaining Buddhahood ten kalpas ago are parables for the eternality of Dharma-body:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upaya

Shinran placed his full trust in Amida Buddha, as expressed in the words Namu-Amida-Butsu, for his future attainment of Buddhahood, rather than his own efforts.

Shinran taught that, in the Pure Land, one attains Buddhahood and immediately returns to this world to serve all beings, in fulfillment of the Bodhisattva vow.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2017, 08:06:04 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2018, 05:49:44 pm »
While the Buddhist Churches of America is of the Jodo Shinshu tradition, it allows members the freedom to find their own interpretations and understanding of the Buddha's teachings.

I have never seen or experienced a priest or representative of the BCA say anything negative about reciting the Nembutsu with a Zen/Ch'an interpretation in mind.

I can therefore feel comfortable in the BCA, as far as English-speaking Buddhist organizations in the United States go. I am very thankful for having the BCA in my life the last two and a half years.

I am currently reading Pure-land Zen, Zen Pure-land by Ch'an (Zen) master Yin Kuang. In Chinese Buddhism, he is regarded as a modern Pure Land patriarch. Like Nagarjuna, he makes the distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth:

https://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/yin_kuang.pdf

At the conventional level, Amida is a literal Buddha and the Pure Land is a literal place billions of Buddha-lands to the West. At the ultimate level, Yin Kuang says Amida is the Buddha-nature in all things, including our own Buddha-nature, and the Pure Land is here and now.

He also warns that, if the Pure Land is mind-only, it is not an excuse to neglect our practice of reciting Amida’s name. This is because, for most people, Pure Land practice is the only realistic way to attain Buddhahood.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 12:57:54 am by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2018, 02:41:33 pm »
For almost the last three years, I’ve been part of the Jodo Shinshu tradition of Japanese Buddhism, though my interpretations of Shinshu teaching aren’t always ‘orthodox,’ as I’m also influenced by Ch’an/Zen.

I recite the Nembutsu, NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU, the name of Amida Buddha, with the understanding that our true nature and Amida’s are ultimately the same:

The Mahayana tradition strongly emphasizes that every sentient being has buddha-nature (Skt. buddhata, Jp. bussho). We have buddha-nature within ourselves. A buddha and an ordinary person are ultimately the same by nature, the same ontologically. The only difference is the degree of apprehension of truth. A buddha has attained perfect wisdom, but we sentient beings have not yet attained it. That is, a buddha and an ordinary person differ from each other epistemologically.
http://www.jodo.org/about_plb/what_plb.html

In terms of practice, I am in line with traditional Shinshu practice, but I also voluntarily observe the five precepts, including vegetarianism and abstaining from intoxicants.

I don’t attempt any complex visualization practices other than maybe thinking of an image of Amida Buddha while reciting the Nembutsu. Sometimes, as they do in Zen, I also imagine my body as the body of the Buddha.

The nenju beads in a loop represent that all beings are interconnected in the wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha. Unlike a rosary, the beads are not for counting, since there is no set number of Nembutsus to recite.

One’s recitation of the Nembutsu is free and spontaneous, and need not be especially focused or concentrated. If Amida is already our true nature, it need not be forced.

It is sort of like the Taoist concept of naturalness. We simply relax in gratitude, letting the Nembutsu do its work in our life. In reciting Amida’s name, we awaken to our True Self.

The Buddha’s last words were to be a lamp unto yourself, seeking no external refuge. How do we square this with the Nembutsu, since Namu-Amida-Butsu means “I take refuge in Amida Buddha”?

The name Amida means “boundless light.” Amida, rather than an external refuge, is the boundless light of our own Buddha-nature. In reciting the Nembutsu, we awaken to the True Self, the lamp within.

Rather than a literal flesh and blood man who attained Buddhahood ten kalpas ago, billions of Buddha-lands to the west, Amida is Dharma-body itself, the Buddha-nature in all things and beings.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2018, 08:56:50 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2018, 06:33:35 pm »
While Zen is more well-known in the West, Jodo Shinshu is the largest sect of Buddhism in Japan. This sect was founded by Shinran Shonin, the most well-loved religious figure in Japanese history, who left the monastic life to marry and have children. 

Unlike other Buddhist sects, Jodo Shinshu doesn’t require abstinence from meat and alcohol. Ascetic practices are unnecessary (optional) if we are already Amida Buddha in our true nature. Reciting the Nembutsu is a way of acknowledging and awakening to our innately enlightened true self.

It's not discouraged in Jodo Shinshu to be vegetarian or abstain from alcohol. It's just that Jodo Shinshu was one of the first Buddhist sects to accept people who had to kill meat to earn a living, like hunters and fishermen.

Another thing is that many people aren't able to follow the traditional prohibition of intoxicants because they're chronically addicted, no matter how many times they try to stop. Jodo Shinshu gave these people a path to enlightenment as well.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 06:49:18 pm by Dharma Flower »

 


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