Author Topic: Pure Land History - ymba quote  (Read 2346 times)

Offline Shi Hong Yang

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Pure Land History - ymba quote
« on: February 09, 2010, 09:15:29 am »
Elder Master Yin Guang  The Direct Approach to Buddhadharma
Of all the Buddhist sects in China, Pure Land is the most popular.  It urges its adherents to generate a vow to be reborn in Buddha's country, namely, in the Western Pure Land.  The region is glorified in many of the Mahayana sutras, particularly in those having Pure Land for topic.  The Pratyupanna, Pei Hwa, Ratnakuta and several others are sutras that clearly set forth both the significance and the goals of Pure Land practice and therefore should be considered as its sources.  In his Awakening of Faith, Asvaghosa Bodhisattva recommends recitation of Amitabha Buddha's name and exhorts devotees to seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land.  Nagarjuna Bodhisattva dedicated one chapter and twelve sections to the subject of easy practice, while Vashubandhu Bodhisattva wrote a treatise on rebirth in Pure Land.  All above mentioned writings propagate Pure Land.

Pure Land teachings have reached China at the same time as the rest of textual Buddhadahrma and the Pure Land practice was initiated by the great Dharma-master Hui Yuan during the eastern Chin Dynasty (317-420 A. D.), the first one to practice sincere recitation of the Buddha's name.  He established the Lotus Society at Mount Lu in Kiangsi Province, a place that was frequented by numerous Dharma-masters and by renown adherents of Confucianism.  Hundreds responded to one call.  Dharma-masters T'an Luan, Chi Che, Tao Cho, Shan Tao, Chin Liang and Yung Ming subsequently spread the Dharma of Pure Land for the benefit of others as well as their own.  Ch'an masters Chang Lu, T'ien I, Yuen Whao, Ta T'ung, Chung Feng, T'ien Ru, Chu Shih and K'ung Ku intergrated Pure Land practice with that of their sect.  The great master Lien Chih of the Ming Dynasty, who was first introduced to Pure Land by Hsiao Yen Chih, understood its significance and adopted its practice, feeling that karma purified by those means complements and supports the practice of Ch'an.  Dharma masters Ou I, Chih Liu, Hsing An and Meng Tung followed Lien Chih's example and practiced Pure Land.

The Avatamsaka sutra, held to be the leading sutra of Mahayana, contains a section dedicated to Samantabhadra Bodhisattva and to his ten Great Vows orientating sentient beings towards rebirth in Pure Land.  He should therefore be considered the first patriarch of Pure Land.  Initially, the great master Hui Yuan had no intention of establishing a Pure Land sect in China.  He merely hoped that people would generate the Great Vow.  The popularity of Pure Land steadily increased during the last thousand years despite the fact that it had no structured approach of its own to the teachings.  It was not until the Sung Dynasty that the seven Pure Land Patriarchs were selected from among the most celebrated of its masters renowned for their pure motives and great merit.  Hsiao Fa Shih of Shih Ming Mountain whose focus was exclusively on Pure Land, selected Hui Yuan, Shan Tao, Cheng Yuan, Fa Chao, Shao K'ang, Yen Shou and Hsing Chang.  Subsequently Dharma-master Chih Pan recorded for posterity all information deemed necessary for a well rounded teaching of Pure Land.  In the years that followed, additional luminaries have joined the roster, raising the number of Pure Land Patriarchs to eleven.  An illustrious disciple Yun Chi voted in the great master Lien Chih; inclusion of Ou I, Hsing An and Chi Wu was motivated by respect for these illustrious forefathers.  This feature distinguishes Pure Land from Ch'an; the tradition of the latter was established gradually and required many successive generations to become fully established.  The practice of Pure Land aims to save all regardless of potential and therefore it is a blend of wide variety of dharmas.  It can be considered the source of all dharmas to which they all return.  This also explains the absence of a rigid system.

Chinese Buddhism is the oldest form of Buddhism in the USA, in 2013 it is 161 years old.  The first Buddhist temples were built in California in 1952 & 1854. Second oldest is Korean in 1900 and Japanese in 1902 both in Hawaii.

Offline ph0kin

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Re: Pure Land History - ymba quote
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2010, 09:41:17 pm »
The practice of Pure Land aims to save all regardless of potential and therefore it is a blend of wide variety of dharmas.  It can be considered the source of all dharmas to which they all return.  This also explains the absence of a rigid system.

An interesting point, and a thought-provoking one at that.  I'm used to always hearing about the recitation of Amitabha's name only, not necessarily in conjunction with other dharmas, so I'd be curious to know more.

Offline t

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Re: Pure Land History - ymba quote
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2010, 10:09:00 pm »
An interesting point, and a thought-provoking one at that.  I'm used to always hearing about the recitation of Amitabha's name only, not necessarily in conjunction with other dharmas, so I'd be curious to know more.

My :twocents:....

On one level...
Its teachings are based on compassion, on faith in the compassionate Vows of Amitabha Buddha to welcome and guide all sentient beings who so desire to His Pure Land;

It is an easy method, in terms of both goal (rebirth in the Western Pure Land as a stepping-stone toward Buddhahood) and form of cultivation (can be practiced anywhere, any time with no special liturgy, accoutrements or guidance);

It is a panacea for the diseases of the mind, unlike other methods or meditations which are directed to specific illnesses (for instance, meditation on the corpse is designed to sever lust, while counting the breath is for the purpose of reining in the wandering mind);

It is a democratic method that empowers its adherents, freeing them from arcane metaphysics as well as dependence on teachers, gurus, roshis and other mediating authority figures.

Another level...
High-ranking masters of the Buddhist canon often commented:
The Buddha Recitation method encompasses the Zen, Sutra Studies, Discipline (Vinaya) and Esoteric (Tantric) Schools.
Why is it that Buddha Recitation encompasses all four schools? It is because when reciting the Buddha's name, we rid ourselves of all deluded thoughts and attachments, which is Zen . The sacred words "Amitabha Buddha" contain innumerable sublime meanings, hidden in and springing forth from those words, which is the Sutra Studies School. Reciting the Buddha's name at the deepest level stills and purifies the three karmas (of mind, speech and body), which is the Discipline School. The words "Amitabha Buddha" have the same effect as a mantra, eliminating grievances and wrongs, severing evil karma, granting wishes and subduing demons. This is the Esoteric School.

For example, during a year of long, severe drought, the Great Master Lien Ch'ih, instead of reciting the "rain mantra," just walked around the countryside hitting his gong while reciting the Buddha's name. It was reported that wherever he went, the rain would begin to fall. There is also the case of the Elder Zen Master Yuan Chao Pen, who, rather than practice meditation, would just recite the sacred words "Amitabha Buddha." In the process, he became enlightened to the Original Nature and attained the Buddha Recitation Samadhi. Extrapolating from the above, the words "Amitabha Buddha" include the Five Periods and the Eight Teachings [i.e., all the teachings of Buddha Sakyamuni] and encompass all the paramitas.

The Meditation Sutra further teaches:
A single wholehearted recitation of Buddha Amitabha's name will obliterate all the heavy karma committed in [eight billion eons] of Birth and Death.(J.C. Cleary, Pure Land, Pure Mind. Unpub. manuscript.)

If Pure Land followers can concentrate their minds, they are bound to develop wisdom, as with other methods. In addition, since they recite the Buddha's name while in concentration, their evil karma and obstructions will easily be dissolved, and they will attain a high degree of merit and wisdom much sooner. For this reason, Elder Master Lien Ch'ih lauded the Buddha Recitation method as "great samadhi" "great wisdom," "areas merit and virtue," and "great emancipation."

According to the Meditation Sutra, if anyone who has committed the "Five Grave Offenses" or "Ten Evil Deeds" sees evil omens appear as he is on the verge of death, he need only recite the Buddha's name one to ten times with all his heart, and Buddha Amitabha will descend to welcome and escort him to the Pure Land. For an extremely sinful person to be saved and reach the stage of non-retrogression with just a few recitations of Buddha Amitabha's name is quite an accomplishment. The Patriarch Yin Kuang has these words of praise:

Persons of the highest capacities can attain samadhi if they practice Buddha Recitation with an undisturbed mind. Those of the lowest capacities will still succeed with only ten utterances [as they may be reborn in the Pure Land and ultimately achieve samadhi and Buddhahood]. This is an outstanding feature not found in any other method.

Buddha Recitation and the Four Practices
Sentient beings usually differ in preferences and innate capacities. Therefore, although they may engage in the common practice of Buddha Recitation, they are bound to differ somewhat in their practice. For this reason, ancient masters have summarized four types of practice: Zen-Pure Land; Sutra Recitation-Pure Land; Esotericism-Pure Land; Exclusive Pure Land Practice.

The first category of cultivators comprises those who engage primarily in Buddha Recitation but practice Zen as well. They are said to practice Zen-Pure Land also called dual practice of Zen and Pure Land. Here, rebirth in the Pure Land is the principal goal, while seeing the True Nature and becoming enlightened to the Way is a secondary matter which depends on the individual practitioner's good roots and conditions.

The second category comprises those whose main practice is Buddha Recitation with Sutra Recitation as an ancillary practice. They are said to practice Sutra Recitation-Pure Land. As for the sutras chanted, some prefer the Diamond Sutra or the Amitabha Sutra, while others prefer the Avatamsaka Sutra or Lotus Sutra, or else individual chapters, such as the "Avalokitesvara Chapter" (Lotus Sutra, ch. 25) or the Chapter on "Samantabhadra's Practices and Vows" (Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 40).

The third category is composed of those who engage in Buddha Recitation as their primary practice and Mantra Recital as an ancillary one. They follow the practice of Esotericism-Pure Land. The mantras vary with the practitioner and include such dharani as the Great Compassion Mantra, the Thousand-Armed Avalokitesvara Dharani, the Rebirth Dharani, etc.

The fourth category of cultivators comprises those who practice Buddha Recitation diligently and exclusively without cultivating other methods. Within this group, those of high capacities practice the Sixteen Meditations as taught in the Meditation Sutra, while the great majority only practice oral recitation of the Buddha's name.

Maitri  :namaste:


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