Author Topic: Pure Land topics  (Read 443 times)

Offline Chaz

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Pure Land topics
« on: December 20, 2018, 01:42:52 pm »

Whatever their practice is, it won’t matter in the least.

That hasn’t been my experience at all. In fact, without meditation practice there is no realization -- or even flash experiences of insight. One will forever feel apart.

I was comparing Pure Land with Zen as paths and saying it wouldn't matter which when one experiences realisation. Although the two practices differ the results are reportedly the same. (I’m playing an ambassador for peace here, since there seems to be some competitive animosity between posters of Zen and Pure Land comments.) If they’re not the same, one of them can’t be “right”

There’s a saying, (if we can take a "saint" to be an enlightened mind):  “If two philosophers agree, one of them isn’t a philosopher. If two saints disagree, one of them is not a saint”.

As for no realisation without meditation, I’m not so sure. The issue may be whether one recognises the experience and can make good of it. I think therefore instruction on the subject and meditation practice is necessary to understand and integrate realisation to avoid it simply becoming lost or subsumed.  There are examples I’ve read of enlightened experience/understanding in untrained people (and I’ve been scrabbling around trying to rediscover some, without success, but there is a Japanese word for them).

And "my mind being apart from Buddha Mind" is really a statement about the reality (for myself) of being in a different “state” post meditation when, as Pixie's quote suggests: “incoming defilements” transform or refract the pure luminosity of mind.

Recognition of this refraction allows the vision of the world to be like “… a bubble, a phantasm, a magic show”. The uninstructed or non meditator will be oblivious of this, having no other experience to compare normal experience with, ...

Perhaps.

I think it’s great that Buddhism has such a variety of practices, but they are sometimes confused with one another. Japanese Zen Buddhism and Pure land Buddhism are very different practices and are even somewhat competitive in Japan, where Pure Land has more adherents than zen. Zen emphasizes vigorous sitting meditation and samadhi, while Pure Land practice is primarily the reciting (nembutsu) of the name of Amitabha Buddha over and over, either out-loud or silently. Whether the results are the same is beside the point – different practices will appeal to different people.

As for realization without meditation -- I was speaking of my own practice, where the deep connection between meditation and awakening is very clear to me. I think anyone who sincerely practices sitting meditation will, over time, recognize that connection. However, I don’t see such a difference, or break, “post meditation.” Samadhi and realization are just as likely off the cushion, but are still the result of time spent practicing.

I agree that random enlightening experiences without training are real, but they are more haphazard and not so easily replicated.

The same applies to Tibetan Buddhism as well.  In the Kagyu  and Nyingma lineages, there are pure land practices associated with Amitabha as well as Avalokitishvara and other Boddhisatvas/Buddhas.  Amitabha practices are usually used in funerary rites.

There are differences with Japanese Pure Land traditions.  Tibetan liturgies are a lot more complicated than nembutsu.

Offline Pixie

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2018, 01:53:19 pm »
There's an Amitabha Puja chanted in Tibetan Buddhism, (which includes the repetition of an Amitabha mantra) and it isn't only used for funerals in my own experience.

 Dewachen prayers can also be recited at the end of other pujas, eg Chenrezi.


_/|\_
« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 02:01:19 pm by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2018, 01:55:04 pm »
Here's a link to a liturgy used in Amitabha practice.  There are many.

This is from a Drikung Kagyu source.

https://garchen.net/?ddownload=993
« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 01:57:07 pm by Chaz »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2018, 09:10:50 pm »
In the Lankavatara Sutra, the historical Buddha likens his teaching to a finger pointing at the moon:

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For instance, Mahāmati, when a man with his finger-tip points at something to somebody, the finger-tip may be taken wrongly for the thing pointed at; in like manner, Mahāmati, the people belonging to the class of the ignorant and simple-minded, like those of a childish group, are unable even unto their death to abandon the idea that in the finger-tip of words there is the meaning itself, and will not grasp ultimate reality because of their intent clinging to words which are no more than the finger-tip to them… As the ignorant grasp the finger-tip and not the moon, so those who cling to the letter, know not my truth.
http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/lanka-nondiacritical.htm


With the Lankavatara Sutra in mind, we can see Amida as a finger pointing to Dharma-body, the ultimate reality, rather than a literal Buddha from eons before the Big Bang.

Entrusting the Name, Namu-Amida-Butsu, we are led by Dharma-body to the Pure Land, the realm of Nirvana. In sincere gratitude for our rebirth, we say the Nembutsu.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2018, 09:38:48 pm by Dharma Flower »

Offline Chaz

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2018, 03:53:54 pm »
In the Lankavatara Sutra, the historical Buddha likens his teaching to a finger pointing at the moon:

Quote
For instance, Mahāmati, when a man with his finger-tip points at something to somebody, the finger-tip may be taken wrongly for the thing pointed at; in like manner, Mahāmati, the people belonging to the class of the ignorant and simple-minded, like those of a childish group, are unable even unto their death to abandon the idea that in the finger-tip of words there is the meaning itself, and will not grasp ultimate reality because of their intent clinging to words which are no more than the finger-tip to them… As the ignorant grasp the finger-tip and not the moon, so those who cling to the letter, know not my truth.
http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/lanka-nondiacritical.htm



With the Lankavatara Sutra in mind, we can see Amida as a finger pointing to Dharma-body, the ultimate reality, rather than a literal Buddha from eons before the Big Bang.

Entrusting the Name, Namu-Amida-Butsu, we are led by Dharma-body to the Pure Land, the realm of Nirvana. In sincere gratitude for our rebirth, we say the Nembutsu.


Could you tell us just who's teaching that is?  The reason I ask, is that that teaching runs somewhat against what other schools teach to interpret the "finger pointing at the moon".  What I was taught is that a dharma teaching points to the Dharma which reflects the clear light of emptiness.  Amithaba doesn't ever figure in, even in those lineages that observe pureland practices of this Buddha.

I'm not suggesting one is right and the other wrong.  I'd just like to know whose teaching that is.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2018, 08:07:11 pm »
Amithaba doesn't ever figure in, even in those lineages that observe pureland practices of this Buddha.


In the teaching of Shinran, Amida is a finger pointing to the Dharmakaya, the ultimate reality:

Quote
Then what or who is Amida? Amida means 'immeasurable', 'infinite' or 'eternal'. It is well known that Nagarjuna (2nd century CE) taught that the Absolute cannot be expressed in positive terms but only in negative terms. Amida being a negative expression, may be one such example.

In this connection, Shinran says : 'Amida's Original Vow was meant for us to become the Supreme Buddha. The Supreme Buddha has no form. Because it has no form, it is called 'Suchness'. If it were shown as having forms, it could not be called the 'Supreme Nirvana' either. I learned from my master that Amida Buddha is so called only so as to make known to us its formlessness. The Name of Amida Buddha is only a skilful means to make Suchness known to us'.

Consequently, the name of 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 the 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://www.nembutsu.info/bandonem.htm


Shinran was familiar with the two-truths doctrine of Nagarjuna, which is likened to a finger pointing at the moon:

Quote
With regard to relying on the meaning, meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as, like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. [To take words to be the meaning] is like looking at the finger and not at the moon. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expositions/chapter-on-transformed-buddha-bodies-and-lands/


On the level of relative truth, Amida is a literal Buddha from galaxies away, eons before the Big Bang. On the ultimate truth, Amida is Dharma-body itself, the ultimate truth of all reality.

For further explanation, I recommend reading The Essential Shinran by Alfred Bloom:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9729498-the-essential-shinran

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2018, 06:00:50 pm »
Much like how Smarta Hindus see all the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon as symbolic manifestations of the one Brahman, I see all the celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism, including Amitabha and Guanyin, as symbolic manifestations of the one Dharmakaya.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2018, 05:18:44 am »
In the teaching of Shinran, Amida is a finger pointing to the Dharmakaya, the ultimate reality...Much like how Smarta Hindus see all the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon as symbolic manifestations of the one Brahman...

You're making Dharmakaya sound the same as Brahman, the ultimate reality.  But I don't think this is correct, at least according to this Wiki article:

"The dharmakāya (Sanskrit, "truth body" or "reality body", Wylie: chos sku, rdzogs sku) is one of the three bodies (trikaya) of a buddha in Mahayana Buddhism. The dharmakāya constitutes the unmanifested, "inconceivable" (acintya) aspect of a buddha out of which buddhas arise and to which they return after their dissolution".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharmak%C4%81ya

Again you seem to be muddling up and misrepresenting teachings from different traditions, in order to promote a perennialist agenda. 

For the sake of clarity I think it's better to acknowledge the differences, rather than trying to gloss them over and pretend that "It's all one, man".
« Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 05:43:12 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2018, 05:23:33 am »
"finger pointing at the moon". 

A much abused phrase, in my experience.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 05:31:22 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline Chaz

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2018, 09:41:25 am »
"finger pointing at the moon". 

A much abused phrase, in my experience.

Yeah, right up there with the "If you meet the  Buddha on the road" koan.

Much abused and sometimes misinterpreted.  Nothing wrong per se, but the interpretation we saw here recently, is a little hard to get one's head around.

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2019, 11:19:26 am »
You're making Dharmakaya sound the same as Brahman, the ultimate reality.

The Dharmakaya is the ultimate reality in Mahayana Buddhism. Though similar, it's not the same as Brahman in Hinduism.

In order to better understand Amida Buddha in relation to the Dharmakaya, I recommend The Essential Shinran by Alfred Bloom:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9729498-the-essential-shinran

There's nothing I can say on this forum that wasn't better said by Shinran himself. As a former Tendai monk, Shinran was one of the most well-read Buddhist scholars of his time. Jodo Shinshu, which he founded, is the largest sect of Buddhism in Japan.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 11:36:22 am by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2019, 11:22:50 am »
"finger pointing at the moon". 


A much abused phrase, in my experience.


It's an analogy used by Shinran himself, as a scholar of Nagarjuna:

Quote
With regard to relying on the meaning, meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as, like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. [To take words to be the meaning] is like looking at the finger and not at the moon. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expositions/chapter-on-transformed-buddha-bodies-and-lands/


Based on his understanding of the two-truths doctrine, Shinran saw the Pure Land sutras as a finger (relative truth) pointing to the moon (ultimate truth):

Quote
From our viewpoint, in all the scriptures the true and actual teachings (ultimate truth) are intermingled with the provisional and expedient (relative truth). The Master's real intention was that you should discard the provisional and keep to the actual, put aside the expedient and abide by the true. You should take great care not to misunderstand the scriptures...

Again there are still others who say that, depending on the amount offered to the Buddhist order, one will become a greater or smaller buddha. How utterly nonsensical this is! Such a view is ludicrous.

First, one ought not to try to delimit the size of the Buddha, for when the stature of the supreme teacher of the Pure Land is described in the scriptures, this is an expedient form (relative truth) referring to his spiritual body (ultimate truth).

Since Amida embodies the realization of ultimate truth, surpassing all forms, long or short, square or round, and also all colors, blue, yellow, red, white, and black, how then can his stature be determined as large or small?
http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/Tannisho.html


In the words of Shinran, "The Supreme Buddha is formless." Amida is a finger pointing to the Dharmakaya, the Supreme Buddha, the ultimate truth of all reality.

While the Infinite Life Sutra says Amida attained Buddhahood ten kalpas ago, Shinran saw Amida as "a Buddha more ancient than kalpas countless as particles."

To better understand the teachings of Shinran, founder of Japan's largest Buddhist sect, I recommend The Essential Shinran by Alfred Bloom:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9729498-the-essential-shinran
« Last Edit: January 01, 2019, 11:46:59 am by Dharma Flower »

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2019, 03:47:25 am »
The Dharmakaya is the ultimate reality in Mahayana Buddhism.

No, it really isn't.  The ultimate reality in Mahayana is sunyata.  Again you are muddling up concepts from different schools, which leads to confusion.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2019, 04:26:50 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline Chaz

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2019, 07:26:13 am »
The Dharmakaya is the ultimate reality in Mahayana Buddhism.

No, it really isn't.  The ultimate reality in Mahayana is sunyata.  Again you are muddling up concepts from different schools, which leads to confusion.

Yes.  Dharmakaya is the ultimate basis of reality, from which all phenomena emmanate.  This is not the same as being the ultimate reality.  DharmaFlower, you're reaching.  You are trying to express the idea that Amida is Dharmakaya and therefore ultimate reality.  From a broader Mahayana perspective, where Amida is not the central Buddha,  your assertions simply make no sense.  I'm sure it makes perfect sense to you, but I'm afraid it's not enough.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Pure Land topics
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2019, 03:38:29 am »
The Dharmakaya is the ultimate reality in Mahayana Buddhism.

No, it really isn't.  The ultimate reality in Mahayana is sunyata.  Again you are muddling up concepts from different schools, which leads to confusion.

Yes.  Dharmakaya is the ultimate basis of reality, from which all phenomena emmanate.  This is not the same as being the ultimate reality. 

According to the Wiki article, Dharmakaya sounds like a sort of ground of being for Buddhas, rather than an ultimate basis of reality, or whatever.  Though it seems to have been interpreted differently in different schools.

I still struggle to understand how these various "ultimates" and the 3 bodies are consistent with sunyata.  Or are there exceptions to sunyata?

"The dharmakāya (Sanskrit, "truth body" or "reality body", Wylie: chos sku, rdzogs sku) is one of the three bodies (trikaya) of a buddha in Mahayana Buddhism. The dharmakāya constitutes the unmanifested, "inconceivable" (acintya) aspect of a buddha out of which buddhas arise and to which they return after their dissolution".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharmak%C4%81ya


"The doctrine says that a Buddha has three kāyas or bodies:
The Dharmakāya, Buddha nature, law and order, or Truth body which embodies the very principle of enlightenment and knows no limits or boundaries;
The Saṃbhogakāya, Buddha fields or body of mutual enjoyment which is a body of bliss or clear light manifestation;
The Nirmāṇakāya, Buddha incarnation, Emanation, or created body which manifests in time and space.[1] [2]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trikaya
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 03:54:49 am by Dairy Lama »
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