Author Topic: Alan Watts on Pure Land Buddhism  (Read 1749 times)

Offline Namaste253

  • Member
  • Posts: 130
    • View Profile
Alan Watts on Pure Land Buddhism
« on: July 16, 2015, 11:03:46 pm »
In some places, Alan Watts is seen taking a dismissive attitude of Pure Land Buddhism, but when looking at it from a deeper perspective, he spoke favorably of it:

Quote
Popularly, Amitabha is somebody else. He is some great compassionate being who looks after you. Esoterically, Amitabha is your own nature; Amitabha is your real self, the inmost boundless light that is the root and ground of your own consciousness. You don't need to do anything to be that. You are that, and saying Nembutsu is simply a symbolical way of pointing out that you don't have to become this, because you are it...
The Middle Way, right down the center, is where you don't have to do a thing to justify yourself, and you don't have to justify not justifying yourself. So, there is something quite fascinating and tricky in this doctrine of the great bodhisattva Amitabha, who saves you just as you are, who delivers you from bondage just as you are. You only have to say "Namu Amida butsu."
http://terebess.hu/english/watts5.html



 

Offline Namaste253

  • Member
  • Posts: 130
    • View Profile
Re: Alan Watts on Pure Land Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2015, 03:03:56 am »
Though D. T. Suzuki is often credited with popularizing Zen in the West, he was a Jodo Shinshu believer as well:

Quote
A quick analysis of D.T. Suzuki's Zen and Nembutsu thought seems necessary before I go deeper into the theme of my own choice. His father was a follower of Rinzai Zen and his mother was a Shin devotee belonging to a rather unorthodox group that emphasized mystical experience. D.T. Suzuki's propensity toward mysticism must have come from his mother. It is widely admitted that his Zen is strongly characterized by Shin, and his interpretation of Shin has a tinge of Zen. For many of us who are, by and large, trained to think in sectarian terms, Zen and Shin are clearly distinguishable approaches, but for D.T. Suzuki, by his innate spirituality, there was no such rigid distinction. For this reason, he has been criticized by some fundamentalist Zen and Shin exponents, but the happy unity of Zen and Shin in his personality has had a lasting influence on serious thinkers and practicers of Buddhism. Among those who are present here, I believe many have been strongly inspired by his books at some stage of their spiritual pilgrimage. Whether his interpretation of Shin is orthodox or not, his books and articles on Shin are still widely read and will remain an important source of inspiration for many ages to come. The atmosphere he had created has become so widespread that we cannot ignore D.T. Suzuki when we address people of today about Jodoshinshu. This means that we can no longer explain and discuss Shin only in the context of Jodoshinshu. Zen is bound to come into our perspective when we present Shin in the modern context.
http://www.euroshinshu.org/www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/nembutsu-zen.htm

Offline Cobblers Apprentice

  • Member
  • Posts: 66
    • View Profile
Re: Alan Watts on Pure Land Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2015, 05:17:26 am »
In some places, Alan Watts is seen taking a dismissive attitude of Pure Land Buddhism, but when looking at it from a deeper perspective, he spoke favorably of it:

Quote
Popularly, Amitabha is somebody else. He is some great compassionate being who looks after you. Esoterically, Amitabha is your own nature; Amitabha is your real self, the inmost boundless light that is the root and ground of your own consciousness. You don't need to do anything to be that. You are that, and saying Nembutsu is simply a symbolical way of pointing out that you don't have to become this, because you are it...
The Middle Way, right down the center, is where you don't have to do a thing to justify yourself, and you don't have to justify not justifying yourself. So, there is something quite fascinating and tricky in this doctrine of the great bodhisattva Amitabha, who saves you just as you are, who delivers you from bondage just as you are. You only have to say "Namu Amida butsu."
http://terebess.hu/english/watts5.html



It seems to be the case that many who live in the West when hearing of Pure Land Buddhism for the first time "hear" it through the prism of a "born again" Christianity.

As I see it, this is unfortunate from two perspectives. First, that Pure Land Buddhism is not "heard" at all. Second, that often all that is known of Christianity is the "born again" variety.

(Oh yes, Suzuki. His book - actually a transcription of talks he gave - "Buddha of Infinite Light", is a good introduction to Amida)

Offline Namaste253

  • Member
  • Posts: 130
    • View Profile
Re: Alan Watts on Pure Land Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2015, 11:17:50 am »
It seems to be the case that many who live in the West when hearing of Pure Land Buddhism for the first time "hear" it through the prism of a "born again" Christianity.

As Buddhists, we should be mindful that both modernism and fundamentalism are Western inventions. While modernism is the tendency to look at sacred texts as purely mythological inventions, fundamentalism insists on literal belief in the letter of the text, while often neglecting its spirit.

Since Shinran wrote that Amida Buddha existed from the eternal past, and took form as Shakyamuni Buddha, this gives the impression that Amida Buddha and the Eternal Buddha are one and the same, not that Amida Buddha had a beginning in a specific time and a specific place.

Since the Tannisho says that, in the scriptures, the true and real is mixed with the provisional and expedient, many have taken this to at least suggest the possibility that the story of Dharmakara is an expedient means for reflecting on the life of Siddhartha Gautama, and his vow to attain enlightenment for the sake of helping anyone who comes to him.

This would not be a case of spiritual materialism, but instead an opportunity to reflect on the very real enlightenment of the historical Buddha, and what it means for the salvation of mankind.

The idea, then, is to focus on Shakyamuni who manifested the Eternal Buddha in this world, not to encourage spiritual materialism. I hope that there can be more peace and understanding all around.

Offline Namaste253

  • Member
  • Posts: 130
    • View Profile
Re: Alan Watts on Pure Land Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2015, 04:07:51 pm »
As Shin Buddhists, we find the right mindfulness and right concentration of the Eight-Fold Path in the Nembutsu. The advantage is that, unlike sitting meditation or esoteric rituals, the Nembutsu can be practiced anywhere, at any time. The word Nembutsu originally means "mindfulness of the Buddha."

Offline Namaste253

  • Member
  • Posts: 130
    • View Profile
Re: Alan Watts on Pure Land Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2015, 06:39:39 pm »
The title of this article is off-putting, but it brings attention to our human limitations. In an ultimate sense, samsara and Nirvana are one, and in momentary instances, we can even witness the light of Amida Buddha appear before us in our present form. But as long as we are foolish, unenlightened beings, we will never fully experience the world of unconditioned Nirvana in this lifetime:
Quote
I, as an unenlightened person, can speak about the unity between samsara and Nirvana for days and nights but I use only mere words and still remain caught in my limited mind. No matter how much I speak about this, I still don’t become a Buddha.
Only from the Buddha’s perspective (the absolute truth), Nirvana and samsara are one, but from the perspective of an unenlightened person, these two are different. Thus, samsara and Nirvana will remain different as long as we are not Buddhas, no matter how much we speak about unity...
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2008/07/pure-land-nembutsu-samsara-and-nirvana.html#more


The most important thing to remember is that, in every circumstance of your life, Amida Buddha loves you and will never abandon you:
Quote
Because of the merit transference from Amida, you are now assured of Buddhahood, which you will attain in the moment of your death, when you are born in the Pure Land. You are established in this stage of non-retrogression, not by yourself, but by Amida ("being grasped by Amida") who will never abandon you ("never to be abandoned") – this is what is mean by non-retrogression, or assured of Nirvana.
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2008/07/pure-land-nembutsu-samsara-and-nirvana.html#more


The light of Amida Buddha is so radically inclusive that all people will eventually be embraced by it:
Quote
This is the Vow in which Dharmakara, the future Amida Buddha promises that his Light as a Buddha will be infinite...
So, Amida’s Infinite Light is a transcendent manifestation capable to go anywhere in the universe. It can be seen by beings of superior capacities, humans or non-humans, and felt in the hearts and minds of the believers in the aspect of shinjin. Amida’s Light is a permanent presence upon beings everywhere, opened or not opened to it. Through his Light Amida tries permanently to influence beings and make them accept his salvation contained in the Primal Vow (18th). It is like an immense magnet attracting all beings to him. Some become opened to it sooner while others will do so in the future. Amida will continue sending it until all hells are empty and all beings will become Buddhas.
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2012/03/short-explanation-of-12th-vow-of-amida.html
« Last Edit: July 18, 2015, 06:47:10 pm by Namaste253 »

 


SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal