Author Topic: Is the Nembutsu a Prayer?  (Read 1412 times)

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Is the Nembutsu a Prayer?
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2019, 07:17:54 pm »
The Buddha’s last words were to let the Dharma be your light, seeking no external refuge. While the Nembutsu might seem like prayer to a divine being, this is not the case. In reciting Amida’s name, Namu-Amida-Butsu, we awaken to the symbolic light of Dharma-wisdom, the truth of reality, in our daily lives. The name Amida means boundless light.

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Is the Nembutsu a Prayer?
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2019, 09:55:36 pm »
The Buddha’s last words were to let the Dharma be your light, seeking no external refuge. While the Nembutsu might seem like prayer to a divine being, this is not the case. In reciting Amida’s name, Namu-Amida-Butsu, we awaken to the symbolic light of Dharma-wisdom, the truth of reality, in our daily lives. The name Amida means boundless light.

I very much agree and do my best to follow this advice.

There are later comments by others which point to the same advice:

"By worshipping (external Buddhas) you come under the spell of devils ... Buddha is your own mind, don't misdirect your worship." [Bodhidharma. 1st Chan patriarch.]

"... go for refuge to the Buddha of your own mind." [Hui Neng] (? please correct me)

"If your nature is deluded
Buddha-hood is ordinary being,
If your nature is enlightened
Ordinary being is Buddha-hood."    [Hui Neng 6th Chan patriarch.]

There is no enlightenment separate from us, no Buddha-nature, no Nirvana which can be found anywhere outside of mind.

I know I keep quoting these gems but I think they very succinctly remind us not to wander off into fantasies of heavenly abodes elsewhere and to keep our focus on the transformation of our own energies into those which could be said to be heavenly in themselves.

 :om:

Offline stevie

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Re: Is the Nembutsu a Prayer?
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2019, 11:28:39 pm »
Dear Dharma friends,

let me add some words from a Middle Way perspective to counter a potential extreme that would be a detrimental deception from my perspective.  <3

The Buddha’s last words were to let the Dharma be your light, seeking no external refuge.
But seeking internal refuge isn't advisable either.

"By worshipping (external Buddhas) you come under the spell of devils ... Buddha is your own mind, don't misdirect your worship." [Bodhidharma. 1st Chan patriarch.]
That's not a very helpful saying because nobody possesses a mind.
See here:
Quote
“My mind has no peace as yet! I beg you, master, please pacify my mind!”
“Bring your mind here and I will pacify it for you,” replied Bodhidharma.
“I have searched for my mind, and I cannot take hold of it,” said the Second Patriarch.
“Now your mind is pacified,” said Bodhidharma.


"... go for refuge to the Buddha of your own mind." [Hui Neng] (? please correct me)
The issue again is 'your own mind' which might entail an extreme mind-only monism and/or solipsism.


There is no enlightenment separate from us, no Buddha-nature, no Nirvana which can be found anywhere outside of mind.
There is no enlightenment which is one with us and no Buddha-nature, no Nirvana can be found anywhere inside of a mind.


Again ... please don't misunderstand my words but your words appeared to me as if implicitly affirming one extreme being better than the other extreme, so I had to even this out.

 :anjali:

།བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ།

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Is the Nembutsu a Prayer?
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2019, 06:38:20 pm »

Hello Stevie, to reply to your points in reply to mine:

I quite agree, extremes are not to be fallen into.

The Buddha (is reputed to have) said that he would accept what the world held to be real, to be real, and this was in order that he could communicate with the world in the language of the world. That he communicated with people on different levels of understanding in different ways was his use of skilful means. Consequently there are many seeming contradictions in the teachings which exist to advise different levels of understanding.

To someone who seeks without, advice to look within is good advice, and vice versa. When that is accomplished then further advice  on the middle will be able to be understood.

To suggest that nobody possesses a mind to someone who is possessed by, and in the thrall of mind is not going to convince them otherwise. Most of us like to think we possess our mind but in my experience at least, I don't. Rather the opposite.

"I" am mind and this is the problem. It is mind which is in thrall of its own productions. The fact that it cannot see past this situation, except temporarily, indicates the work which needs to be done. Intellectually it is easy, "I" can read books, understand the logic and point at the moon, but this is of little help.

Your quote from Bodhidharma ends with: ".. now your mind is pacified." so he at least recognises that the un-pacified mind is mind, even if ultimately the truly pacified mind might be said to have left the world of extremes.

"... of your own mind." again recognises the reality which the Buddha recognised, and gave us the teachings to make good. Note the word "of". Not in, but of your own mind. It may not be completely accurate to say "your own mind" but from the perspective of the deluded individual, that is the way it is.

"There is no enlightenment etc, to be found outside of mind" in itself didn't suggest there was an "inside" of mind where it might be found. Just a warning perhaps, not to expect "divine intervention" as result of praying to imagined external Buddhas.

Thank you for pointing out the potential for misunderstanding. I hope I haven't just set up a whole lot more.

 :om:

Offline stevie

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Re: Is the Nembutsu a Prayer?
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2019, 11:25:17 pm »
Dear  paracelsus,

thank you very much for your reply!  <3

I think our elaborations are already helpful to show that things and views are relative which includes individual approaches to the Middle Way beyond extremes.

I for my part would express it this way:
Since the conventional and all its innumerable phenomena including mind and matter, the internal and the external don't truly exist why associate any of these illusory phenomena with that which is beyond the conventional ('Budddha') but reject the association of its conventional opposite with that which is beyond the conventional? Why esteem one illusion more than the other since they are the same in being mere illusions? ('llusion' here is a metaphor and not truly existing)

Having said that for me there is no problem with praying to imagined external Buddhas because imagined external Buddhas are not different from imagined internal mind and from my perspective 'practice' means skillful means and the sphere beyond extremes being inseparable.

 :anjali:
།བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ།

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Is the Nembutsu a Prayer?
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2019, 09:39:33 pm »
Dear  paracelsus,

thank you very much for your reply!  <3

I think our elaborations are already helpful to show that things and views are relative which includes individual approaches to the Middle Way beyond extremes.

I for my part would express it this way:
Since the conventional and all its innumerable phenomena including mind and matter, the internal and the external don't truly exist why associate any of these illusory phenomena with that which is beyond the conventional ('Budddha') but reject the association of its conventional opposite with that which is beyond the conventional? Why esteem one illusion more than the other since they are the same in being mere illusions? ('llusion' here is a metaphor and not truly existing)

Having said that for me there is no problem with praying to imagined external Buddhas because imagined external Buddhas are not different from imagined internal mind and from my perspective 'practice' means skillful means and the sphere beyond extremes being inseparable.

 :anjali:

Hello Stevie,

Thank you for your reply. I'm away from my computer for a week and will ponder your response while I'm away.

I think though, that the argument of internal and external Buddhas is, as you suggest, irrelevant, since neither inner nor outer are truly existing conditions but are merely distinctions made between the innumerable illusory phenomena of the conditional/conventional, if I have it correctly.

 :om:

Offline stevie

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Re: Is the Nembutsu a Prayer?
« Reply #21 on: June 01, 2019, 01:28:52 am »

I think though, that the argument of internal and external Buddhas is, as you suggest, irrelevant, since neither inner nor outer are truly existing conditions but are merely distinctions made between the innumerable illusory phenomena of the conditional/conventional, if I have it correctly.

Dear paracelsus,

from my perspective the distinction between inner mind and outer Buddhas is relevant in as much the conventional (which includes skillful means) and the sphere beyond extremes are inseparable and 'not truly existing' does not truly negate anything.

 :anjali:
།བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ།

 


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