Author Topic: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land  (Read 4318 times)

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2015, 06:06:35 pm »
If Dharmakara attained Buddhahood on a distant planet, how do we know that he looked like us? If life has evolved on other planets, there are many forms that intelligent beings could have taken. Though our depictions of Amida Buddha are in a form resembling Shakyamuni Buddha, how do we know this is what he really looks like? Does intelligent life take the same form, no matter where it evolves?

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #31 on: July 18, 2015, 08:48:15 pm »
If Dharmakara attained Buddhahood on a distant planet, how do we know that he looked like us?
I have no intention of visiting any planet without a Starbuck's or a Tom-N-Toms  :teehee:

As for the Bodhisattva Dharmakara, I don't see how we could know if our vision of this would be similar to Pablo Picasso staring at a blank canvas.

If life has evolved on other planets, there are many forms that intelligent beings could have taken.

Yes, this would appear to be the consensus among scientists, not to mention the fact that it would be sheer arrogance on our part to believe that all intelligent beings need to look like we do.

Though our depictions of Amida Buddha are in a form resembling Shakyamuni Buddha, how do we know this is what he really looks like?

Again, we wouldn't really know --- for example, if we were to use a Christian motif, which of these would seem more plausible: [1] that man is made in God's image; or [2] that man has made God in his image?

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2015, 10:02:42 pm »
Perhaps when Amida appears to people in a human form, it is expedient means.

Offline Cobblers Apprentice

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2015, 12:42:00 am »


As for the Bodhisattva Dharmakara, I don't see how we could know if our vision of this would be similar to Pablo Picasso staring at a blank canvas.

I've heard it said that we must make the story of Dharmakara our own. To aspire to become less self-seeking and consequently more open to others, even in our own small way, is a good story to make our own.

My experience is that such an aspiration/vow leads to the recognition of the significance of "acceptance", which seem to run throughout all of Reality. Pure mindfulness (and often very impure) reveals how I have spent - and spend - much time seeking to become, yet it is not to become, but to be. And paradoxically, genuine transformation seems to come from pure recognition/acceptance, rather than contorted attempts to change.

Anyway, a good little discussion and debate going on here.

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2015, 01:54:12 am »
To be honest, when I read the Pure Land sutras, I can't help but see the story of Dharmakara as symbolic of or inspired by the life of Shakyamuni Buddha. It's too much of a coincidence that they were born into royalty and gave up their privilege for the sake of attaining Buddhahood. Does it mean that there's monarchical forms of government on distant planets? My personal view, if you ask me and not what others tell me to believe, is that the Pure Land sutras are a mixture of literal truth and metaphorical language, in order to help inspire a deeper appreciation for the Buddha's Dharma.

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2015, 10:10:43 am »
To be honest, when I read the Pure Land sutras, I can't help but see the story of Dharmakara as symbolic of or inspired by the life of Shakyamuni Buddha. It's too much of a coincidence that they were born into royalty and gave up their privilege for the sake of attaining Buddhahood.

If you want to see a real funny coincidence, you should check out the backhground story of Mahavira --- some scholars are of the opinion that the early Buddhists used his biographical story when writing about the life of the Buddha.

Does it mean that there's monarchical forms of government on distant planets?

It's an evolutionary trait shared by several unrelated species here on Earth, so it probably wouldn't be unique to our planet.

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #36 on: July 19, 2015, 12:45:12 pm »
The similarities between the teachings and life stories of Buddha and Mahavira are sometimes so similar that scholars are puzzled as to which aspect originated with Buddha and which originated with Mahavira. This might be scary if Buddha claimed to be a god and the only way to escape the fires of hell. Instead, on his deathbed, he taught something very different:

"Therefore, be ye lamps unto yourselves, be a refuge to yourselves. Hold fast to Truth as a lamp; hold fast to the truth as a refuge. Look not for a refuge in anyone beside yourselves. And those, who shall be a lamp unto themselves, shall betake themselves to no external refuge, but holding fast to the Truth as their lamp, and holding fast to the Truth as their refuge, they shall reach the topmost height."

As the Buddha would say, the person of the Buddha or the teachings of the Buddha are ultimately just a raft for getting to the other shore or a finger pointing at the moon. In our foolish, limited human form, these are our necessary aids along the path, rather than the destination itself.

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #37 on: July 19, 2015, 02:29:03 pm »
Buddhism is unique among the world's religions in that it's primarily based on following a path, rather than assenting to propositional beliefs. Even with our afterlife settled in the light and compassion of Amida Buddha, that still leaves open the question of how we are going to find joy, peace, and togetherness in this body, in this lifetime. Even with faith, our negative karma still comes back to us while we're in this lifetime. The idea, though, isn't to stress too much as to whether you're following the path exactly right. Even Buddhist schools based on self-power only expect monastics to follow all the precepts. The advantage we have as Shin Buddhists is that we have right mindfulness and right concentration already covered in the Nembutsu, which originally means "mindful of the Buddha."

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #38 on: July 19, 2015, 03:06:48 pm »
The advantage we have as Shin Buddhists is that we have right mindfulness and right concentration already covered in the Nembutsu, which originally means "mindful of the Buddha."

Two thoughts come to mind in regard to this: [1] if this were true, then it would also mean that Shin Buddhists have cornered the market, so to speak, when it come to the potential of enlightenment, where to claim such could be misconstrued as a hallmark of sectarianism; and [2] would this not also downplay the amount of effort required in achieving right mindfulness and right concentration?

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #39 on: July 19, 2015, 03:35:19 pm »
The advantage we have as Shin Buddhists is that we have right mindfulness and right concentration already covered in the Nembutsu, which originally means "mindful of the Buddha."


Two thoughts come to mind in regard to this: [1] if this were true, then it would also mean that Shin Buddhists have cornered the market, so to speak, when it come to the potential of enlightenment, where to claim such could be misconstrued as a hallmark of sectarianism; and [2] would this not also downplay the amount of effort required in achieving right mindfulness and right concentration?


That's a really good question. If you don't interpret the eightfold path as things you need to get down exactly right in order to attain enlightenment, since enlightenment itself is a free gift from the Buddha for all who come to him in faith regardless of their sect, then it will be interpreted and practiced differently.

Here is an example of what right mindfulness means in the context of Shin Buddhism:
http://www.ocbuddhist.org/ministers-messages/2015/6/10/mindfulness-and-shin-buddhism

I see the eightfold path as a way of cultivating gratitude, inner peace, and togetherness, rather than something required to earn our way to enlightenment.

Let's look again at what D. T. Suzuki said is the advantage of relying on Other-Power, rather than purely on self-power:

Quote
Later in life Suzuki was more inclined to Jodo Shin (True Pure Land) practice on a personal level, seeing in the doctrine of Tariki, or other power as opposed to self power, an abandonment of self that is entirely complementary to Zen practice and yet to his mind even less willful than traditional Zen. In his book Buddha of Infinite Light (2002), (originally titled, Shin Buddhism) Suzuki declared that, "Of all the developments that Mahayana Buddhism has achieved in East Asia, the most remarkable one is the Shin teaching of Pure Land Buddhism." (p. 22)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._T._Suzuki


A main goal, I believe, of trusting in Other-Power is to practice the teachings of the Buddha better than if you simply relied on your own efforts:
Quote
On a surface level, it may appear that Honen's emphasis on the other power (tariki) of Amida's Grace is a radical departure from Shakyamuni's emphasis on the self power (jiriki) of the Noble Eightfold Path...
As we have noted, Honen's emphasis on the cosmic other power of nembutsu recitation may seem to be a radical departure from Shakyamuni's practices of precepts and meditation, which appear very concrete and self power oriented. Yet this reflects another surface level misunderstanding. Honen's teachings in particular, and the whole Pure Land tradition in general, reflect the vital core of Shakyamuni's fundamental teaching of Not-self (Skt. anatman, Jp. muga).
http://www.jsri.jp/English/Honen/TEACHINGS/outline.html
 


 This doesn't mean, however, that I judge people who disagree with this.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2015, 03:52:59 pm by Namaste253 »

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #40 on: July 19, 2015, 04:07:01 pm »
That's a really good question. If you don't interpret the eightfold path as things you need to get down exactly right in order to attain enlightenment, since enlightenment itself is a free gift from the Buddha for all who come to him in faith regardless of their sect, then it will be interpreted and practiced differently.

But wouldn't this transform enlightenment into a prize found at the bottom of a CrackerJack box?

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #41 on: July 19, 2015, 04:26:23 pm »
That's a really good question. If you don't interpret the eightfold path as things you need to get down exactly right in order to attain enlightenment, since enlightenment itself is a free gift from the Buddha for all who come to him in faith regardless of their sect, then it will be interpreted and practiced differently.

But wouldn't this transform enlightenment into a prize found at the bottom of a CrackerJack box?

According to Shinran, the purpose of birth in the Pure Land is so that we immediately attain enlightenment and come back to this world as a Bodhisattva, and help the people still suffering in this world. This quest to improve ourselves and help others, though, need not wait for the moment of death.

When you accept that Amida has guaranteed our salvation, it can sometimes get easy to be complacent in life, since the work has already been done for us. But what can we do, after accepting salvation, for the light of Amida Buddha to shine more brightly in this world and in our personal lives? The Other-Power of Amida's wisdom and compassion is not just for our final salvation, but to enable the sanctification of our daily life and how we live it, so that we all may live in a world of more joy and peace.

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #42 on: July 19, 2015, 05:00:44 pm »
This probably isn't going to set well with anyone on this forum, regardless of sect or tradition, but the bottom line is no one is willing to do the hard work, they have no intention of doing the hard work because they lack the discipline to undertake it with diligence, where instead they come up with every excuse under the sun for not doing the hard work.

They aren't practitioners of the Buddha-dharma, but "posers" who give the Buddha-dharma lip service.

They aren't practitioners of the Buddha-dharma, but misguided fools who will ensure that the Dharma Ending Age will occur.

They aren't practitioners of the Buddha-dharma, but agents of Mara.


Offline Namaste253

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #43 on: July 19, 2015, 05:07:58 pm »
I think we may need to agree to disagree on this. The idea isn't that we should be complacent in the Dharma, but instead that we should trust in Other-Power to help us along the way, instead of trusting in our own ego-power.

Quote
Later in life Suzuki was more inclined to Jodo Shin (True Pure Land) practice on a personal level, seeing in the doctrine of Tariki, or other power as opposed to self power, an abandonment of self that is entirely complementary to Zen practice and yet to his mind even less willful than traditional Zen. In his book Buddha of Infinite Light (2002), (originally titled, Shin Buddhism) Suzuki declared that, "Of all the developments that Mahayana Buddhism has achieved in East Asia, the most remarkable one is the Shin teaching of Pure Land Buddhism." (p. 22)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._T._Suzuki

I'm sorry again for giving a wrong impression.

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
« Reply #44 on: July 19, 2015, 05:37:16 pm »
My friend, you haven't give me the wrong impression --- all I'm saying is that sole reliance in Other-Power ensure that there will be no effort on the part of the practitioner. Also it doesn't ensure that the ego isn't at play, especially when it comes to over-estimating one's progress on the path, something that actually occurs within all traditions, including your own.

 


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