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Schools of Buddhism => Mahayana => Pure Land => Topic started by: Namaste253 on June 06, 2015, 11:05:37 am

Title: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on June 06, 2015, 11:05:37 am
I would like to share my interpretation of Amdida Buddha and the Pure Land, so please tell me if I am mistaken or off-base. The story of Dharmakara is symbolic of the historical life of Siddhartha Gautama. Both were royalty who forsook their wealth and power for the enlightenment of all beings. So when I call on the name of Amida Buddha, I imagine Amida as being the historical Siddhartha Gautama in his enlightened state, free of all human limitations and shining his infinite light on us all.

Quote
First, "Amida" symbolizes Shakyamuni, a historical person. Just as Strickland, the hero in Summerset Maugham’s novel The Moon and Sixpence, is a symbol of the painter Gauguin, a historical person, "Amida" can be considered a symbol of Shakyamuni, a historical person. We can say that "Amida" symbolizes the "humble and dynamic spirit" of Shakyamuni. As we have seen, Mahayanists created the concept of "Amida" in order to criticize the fossilized doctrines of Hinayanists and restore the vital spirit of Shakyamuni.
Second, "Amida" symbolizes the Dharma or universal Buddhahood. Mahayanists created the concept not only to express the vital spirit of Shakyamuni, but also to show the spiritual basis of Shakyamuni and all human beings. They wanted to show that just as Shakyamuni was awakened and liberated by the Dharma (or universal Buddhahood), all human beings are awakened and liberated by it.
[url]http://www.livingdharma.org/Living.Dharma.Articles/WhatIsAmida-Haneda.html[/url] ([url]http://www.livingdharma.org/Living.Dharma.Articles/WhatIsAmida-Haneda.html[/url])
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Nils Horn on June 07, 2015, 06:00:18 am
That is a possible view, beside others.

https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Amitabha_oracle#What_is_your_goal.3F
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on June 25, 2015, 11:40:14 pm
I am so thankful for Shin Buddhism. Before discovering Jodo Shinshu, I thought of Buddhism as an esoteric path of self-denial. Now, because of Jodo Shinshu, I understand Buddhism as a simple path of self-forgetfulness. Shinran has helped me to see myself and my place in the world in a different light than I thought a Buddhist teacher ever could.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on June 28, 2015, 06:19:50 am
Shinran wrote that the historical Gautama Buddha was the manifestation of Amida Buddha. Therefore, in the Nembutsu, we are taking refuge in the living Buddha, who walked this earth 2,500 years ago and who is still with us today, rather than in a fictional character or a purely metaphysical concept. According to Shinran, in a very literal sense, Amida and Shakyamuni are one and the same Buddha, and Shakyamuni came into this world to preach the Pure Land.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on June 29, 2015, 05:32:23 am
This is what I was referring to:

Quote
So, when Shinran says that Amida Buddha is ‘more ancient than kalpas countless as particles’, he is telling us that Amida Buddha is more ancient than we can measure; an unimaginably great distance into the past.

In another verse, Shinran says,

‘Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya.’ (CWS, p. 349)
[url]http://www.georgegatenby.id.au/?p=2106[/url] ([url]http://www.georgegatenby.id.au/?p=2106[/url])
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on June 29, 2015, 07:04:59 am
A note to all members: I have moved this thread to the Pure Land subsection, where it technically belongs --- all future threads that are specific to the Pure Land tradition should likewise be placed in that subsection, otherwise they will be deleted without notice.

The subsection exists for a reason, namely to provide a safe area for Pure Land practitioners to discuss the various aspects of their tradition, as well as ensure that such content is not presented in a way where it might come at the expense of other Mahayana traditions and practitioners thereof.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 04, 2015, 12:26:41 am
I'm coming a bit late to this thread, but it made me think of a small verse by the Pure Land myokonin Saichi, who wrote.....

The love that inspired Dharmakara to go through
All the sufferings and all the hardships -
I thought I was simply to listen to the story,
But that was a grievous mistake, I find.


As I see it Saichi is saying that the story of Dharmakara is OUR story, or must become so.

Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 04, 2015, 03:23:40 am
The one book that definitively explains the essential Shin Buddhist teachings for the lay person to understand is the Tannisho.
One can even argue that, in Jodo Shinshu, the Tannisho is even more important than the sutras, because it is in the Tannisho that we encounter how the sutras are to be interpreted. Shinran was neither a mythicist nor a literalist in regard to the sutras. Instead, he cut straight to the deeper meaning beyond literal factuality. In the words of the Tannisho:

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From our viewpoint, in all the scriptures the true and actual teachings are intermingled with the provisional and expedient. 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.
[url]http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/Tannisho.html[/url] ([url]http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/Tannisho.html[/url])
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 04, 2015, 04:06:20 am
Hi Namaste, I think there can be a fine line between "correct" interpretations/practice and actual condemnation of others. At the fundamental level in the Theravada texts we have the Buddha speaking of the dharma as raft, for passing over not for grasping. Again, a fine line between practicing and "grasping".

I've noticed on various forums how there is a wide understanding by Pure Land devotees of Amida and the Pure Land. Between those who see Amida as "him up there" and his Pure Land as "out there to the west" waiting to receive us at death..........right across to Amida as a personification of Reality-as-is, and "his" Pure Land is here, now when seen truly. Perhaps what would unite is the actual degree of selflessness, which in itself would imply rejection of "grasping" and identification with any particular interpretation as being the "only true one".

Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 05, 2015, 02:50:50 am
Between those who see Amida as "him up there" and his Pure Land as "out there to the west" waiting to receive us at death..........right across to Amida as a personification of Reality-as-is, and "his" Pure Land is here, now when seen truly.

From how I understand Shinran, he understood Amida Buddha as being both of those things at the same time. He also believed that the historical Buddha was a manifestation of Amida.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 05, 2015, 04:48:36 pm
Nirvana is often mistaken as annihilation, since the word literally means "to blow out." What's being blown out, though, is not existence but the suffering that goes along with it. Nirvana, being freedom from suffering, is often described as ultimate bliss. The Pure Land is a way of describing Nirvana in positive terms. When one sees the Pure Land beautifully depicted as it is in this video, one can imagine how the concept emerged in ancient India to give hope for poor, suffering people who had to cope with not even having access to clean water. Describing Nirvana as total emptiness just wouldn't appeal to their situation, so the Buddha compassionately used expedient means in order to help them understand a higher truth. One should remember that the historical Buddha even settled a war being fought between tribes over water rights.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVzh7qfMPuk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVzh7qfMPuk)
Quote
Shinran asserts in the Jinenhonisho that Amida is a medium, means, source that enables us to know the formless, colorless Dharmakaya. Like the Name (Myogo), belief in Amida and the Pure Land, though specific and seemingly limited symbols, direct the mind to contemplate the deeper reality from which the form of Amida and the Pure Land have emerged as the dynamic symbols that activate faith. Reality is objective to us to the extent that our minds do not create reality. We exist in reality. In that sense Amida and the Pure Land, as symbols of the highest reality, are not merely constructions of our mind, though they have arisen in the course of Buddhist history as a focal point of Buddhist aspiration and contemplation. In the course of the spiritual evolution of Buddhism, they have become vehicles to convey that reality to us.
[url]http://shindharmanet.com/course/c22/[/url] ([url]http://shindharmanet.com/course/c22/[/url])


It's also worth noting that, in Jodo Shinshu teaching, once you attain Nirvana, you immediately return to this world as a Bodhisattva in order to help lead all other beings to enlightenment. So our goal, then, for after we leave this world is to return to it in a completely compassionate and blissful state, just as Amida Buddha has helped us.

Just as Amida Buddha freely offers birth in the Pure Land to anyone who calls on his name, so too will we selflessly help the suffering people of this world as Bodhisattvas. And just as our birth in the Pure Land is immediately assured the moment we accept faith, so too can we begin the work of Bodhisattvas by aiding the suffering of others in the here and now as engaged Buddhists.

Quote
Having been doing a lot of reading lately, I noticed this excerpt from Chapter 6 of the Lotus Sutra, with Watson’s excellent translation. After the Buddha Shakyamuni bestows his prophecy to Mahakashyapa, he describes the “Buddha-realm” Mahakashyapa will have after attaining Buddha-hood:

    His realm will be majestically adorned, free of defilement or evil, shards or rubble, thorns or briers, or the unclean refuse of latrines. The land will be level and smooth, without high places or sags, pits or knolls. The ground will be of lapis lazuli, with rows of jeweled trees and ropes of gold to mark the boundaries of the roads.

It’s interesting to note that these passages are very similar. It seems that this description of a Buddha-realm as being adorned with jewels and pleasant things is a common literary device for the composers of the Mahayana sutras.

Interestingly, I’ve also noticed that The Pali Canon often “recycles” certain stock phrases as well, so it’s not just a Mahayana thing.

I think part of this is that when sutras were first committed to memory by the early followers, they had to be heavily edited and rearranged for easier memorization. So, every sutra you ever read always sounds stilted and stylized; it’s probably the only way the early Buddhists could keep track of voluminous sutras in their minds.

In any case, having noticed this a while back, I have had to ask myself “what can I take away from this as a Buddhist?” A literary device, once you notice it, kind of loses it’s meaning. However, having had time to think about this, like Shinran, I believe that the Pure Land really is nothing but Nirvana itself. Not a geographic place, but Nirvana plain and simple...
[url]http://jkllr.net/2008/03/03/imagery-of-the-pure-land-sutras/[/url] ([url]http://jkllr.net/2008/03/03/imagery-of-the-pure-land-sutras/[/url])
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 06, 2015, 12:28:22 am
Between those who see Amida as "him up there" and his Pure Land as "out there to the west" waiting to receive us at death..........right across to Amida as a personification of Reality-as-is, and "his" Pure Land is here, now when seen truly.

From how I understand Shinran, he understood Amida Buddha as being both of those things at the same time. He also believed that the historical Buddha was a manifestation of Amida.

Thanks Namaste, that is interesting. I know that Nagarjuna, more known as the expounder of the Madhyamaka, also wrote various hymns of praise to Amida and seemed to see no contradiction.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 07, 2015, 11:19:58 pm
This is very worth reading:

Quote
Many people also find it odd that Pure Realm (Pure Land) Buddhists teach the exclusive reliance on “Other Power” while the Buddha, in his final instructions to his disciples, seems to have adamantly insisted on self power:
“Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves.  Rely on yourselves, and do not rely on external help.  Hold fast to the Dhamma as a lamp.  Seek salvation alone in the Dhamma.  Look not for assistance to any one
besides yourselves.”  Mahaparinibbana Suttanta
Many people mistakenly believe Other Power is either Higher Power or External Power.  Buddhists reject the idea of a higher power in the sense of a God who is the creator and controller of the universe.  All things
have Buddha nature and are thus equal. As for external or other power, the non-dualistic insight of Buddhism sees the designation of internal and external as conventional distinctions only and not absolute.  Other Power
simply refers to the Dharma Power which is other than the vicious circle of samsara (birth-and-death), other than ego or self-centered power that loops and feeds back on itself.   You might say it’s self regenerating.
A fundamental teaching of all Buddhists is the “Three Marks of Existence”:  Dukkha, Impermanence and Selflessness (anatman).  Looked at in terms of Selflessness, the Buddha’s deathbed instruction to “rely on
yourselves” can be just as misleading as the Pure Realm schools’ teaching of “exclusive reliance on Other Power.”  The Buddha seems to be saying, “Rely on yourself but there is no self.  Rely on that which doesn’t exist.”  Actually, as you study Buddhism, Self Power and Other Power resolve themselves into Non-Self.  They are just two different ways of getting there; different paths for people of different capacities and inclinations.*...
Words in Buddhism are always pointing beyond themselves to intuitive and, at the same time, practical and visceral experiences and insights.  The teachings of Buddhism are like a finger pointing to the moon.  Don’t get stuck on the finger or you will never see the moon of the true Dharma.
*Our capacity to gain enlightenment in this life is a very important point which, at least superficially, separates some schools of Buddhism.  It is an important point to understand and leads to many other points of
debate or differences in perspective and attitudes between schools.  In the Jodo Shinshu teaching, we talk about those with Shinjin (“faith”) living with the assurance of enlightenment (Pure Realm) at the moment of
death. 
[url]http://seattlebetsuin.org/newsletter/201302-en.pdf[/url] ([url]http://seattlebetsuin.org/newsletter/201302-en.pdf[/url])
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 08, 2015, 02:27:39 am
Thanks Namaste, interesting, the excerpt covered much the same ground as a short essay by the Pure Land writer Unno in a book I once read of Christian/Buddhist dialogue.

O Saichi, will you tell us of Other Power?
Yes, but there is neither self power nor other power.
What is, is the Graceful Acceptance only.

(From Saichi's Journals)
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 08, 2015, 04:48:06 am
With the Buddhist understanding of non-duality, we can say that Ultimate Reality is neither personal nor impersonal, It is trans-personal. In the very least, we can say that It's perfectly and profoundly compassionate. The Nembutsu is not a form of petitionary prayer. Instead, it's our awakening to the limitless compassion that underlies the Universe:

Quote
Shin Buddhism’s view on ultimate reality or God may be considered panentheistic.   The term panentheism means “all within God (theos)” which means everything including ourselves is within God, but God is more than all of the components. This is exactly the Buddhist view but there is a big problem with this word; Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God. Instead we suggest a couple of new terms, as first coined by G.R. Lewis, that better describe our view of ultimate reality: panendharmism (all within dharma) or panenbuddhism (all within Buddha).

So what is panenbuddhism?  Simply put, all things are within and part of ultimate reality, known as dharmakaya, which is an interpenetrating and boundless unfolding web of pure consciousness (pure awareness), personified as Amida. However, Amida is more than the sum of all of its components.

Everything in life is co-manifesting and intimately interpenetrating with everything else and has its ultimate reality in everything. That is to say, this dynamic reality is in constant flux and nothing has a stable eternal nature. There is no individual self or absolute identity but all things are temporary phenomena and are full of the totality, the Oneness of reality, personified as Amida Buddha. In Buddhism, this reality is known as shunyata or emptiness.
[url]http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/beliefs/id7.html[/url] ([url]http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/beliefs/id7.html[/url])
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 08, 2015, 05:34:53 am
What attracts me to Jodo Shinshu is not belief in a divine personage sitting on a lotus flower in a perfect world, billions of light years away. Instead, it's the humility that we learn by trusting in the Nembutsu rather than our own efforts that sets Jodo Shinshu apart from other schools of Buddhism.

As Jodo Shinshu Buddhists, we need not be afraid of the Buddha of the Pali canon. If the Pali canon gives the earliest teachings of and about the Buddha (though I recognize there may be some dispute about this), then what Jodo Shinsu presents is a particular way of interpreting this original teaching, not a deviation from it.

If the Buddha is one and the Dharma is one, then there is nothing to fear in this. Theravada has its own way of interpreting the Pali texts, but it need not be ours. They don't belong to any one school of Buddhism. The idea of expedient means is that there is one Ultimate Truth, the compassion which pervades the universe, which for the sake of us foolish beings, is presented in various ways for the sake of our diverse personality types and understandings.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 08, 2015, 06:24:34 am
The most important idea in this podcast is that if Jodo Shinshu is about getting your beliefs exactly right, then it's just another form of self-power, since insistence on getting your beliefs exactly right is another form of personal pride. Jodo Shinshu is the path of true entrusting, but it is trusting in the compassion that pervades the universe, rather than in a set of propositional beliefs.

http://www.dharmarealm.com/?p=202 (http://www.dharmarealm.com/?p=202)
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on July 08, 2015, 06:28:02 am
In the Jodo Shinshu teaching, we talk about those with Shinjin (“faith”) living with the assurance of enlightenment (Pure Realm) at the moment of
death.

Therein lies the source of much of the criticism that Pure Land traditions receive, where if Shinjin is understood as "faith alone" it would be no different than the evangelical doctrine of justification, where the practice of virtue gets placed on the back-burner, if practiced at all --- Shinjin (信心) was originally the Japanese word for the Buddhist concept of citta-prasada (clear or clarified heart-mind), but now carries a more popular related meaning of faith or entrusting.
 

Dark is the night
     When I have lost my way
Amida Tathagata leads me by the hand;
     How great the Vow-Power is!

When you die
     Where do you go?
          Darkness awaits you.
Absolutely dark, absolutely hopeless;
     Absolutely lonely, absolutely powerless.
Such a time will come; it will come any minute.
     What will you do? What can you do?

No use thinking of attaining Shinjin;
     No use being proud of having attained it.
The end of your life is painful;
     You will cease to breathe -
          That’s why it will be painful.
This pain is the result of your evil karma;
     There is no way to escape from
          The law of cause and effect
               Nothing you can do about it.

You commit evils like torrential rain, as Shinran says,
     What will be the result of evils?
The law of causality
     Sends you to hell
          Willy-nilly.

Hell is the outcome of your karmic evils.
     Though there is no knowing where it is,
          It certainly comes to be
               Definitely!



The Nembutsu is not a form of petitionary prayer.

You can say that as many times as you want, but the Nembutsu is in fact the very definition of a petitionary prayer --- to say anything other than that would be disingenuous at best.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 08, 2015, 09:02:21 am
In the Jodo Shinshu teaching, we talk about those with Shinjin (“faith”) living with the assurance of enlightenment (Pure Realm) at the moment of
death.

Therein lies the source of much of the criticism that Pure Land traditions receive, where if Shinjin is understood as "faith alone" it would be no different than the evangelical doctrine of justification, where the practice of virtue gets placed on the back-burner, if practiced at all --- Shinjin (信心) was originally the Japanese word for the Buddhist concept of citta-prasada (clear or clarified heart-mind), but now carries a more popular related meaning of faith or entrusting.
 

Dark is the night
     When I have lost my way
Amida Tathagata leads me by the hand;
     How great the Vow-Power is!

When you die
     Where do you go?
          Darkness awaits you.
Absolutely dark, absolutely hopeless;
     Absolutely lonely, absolutely powerless.
Such a time will come; it will come any minute.
     What will you do? What can you do?

No use thinking of attaining Shinjin;
     No use being proud of having attained it.
The end of your life is painful;
     You will cease to breathe -
          That’s why it will be painful.
This pain is the result of your evil karma;
     There is no way to escape from
          The law of cause and effect
               Nothing you can do about it.

You commit evils like torrential rain, as Shinran says,
     What will be the result of evils?
The law of causality
     Sends you to hell
          Willy-nilly.

Hell is the outcome of your karmic evils.
     Though there is no knowing where it is,
          It certainly comes to be
               Definitely!



The Nembutsu is not a form of petitionary prayer.

You can say that as many times as you want, but the Nembutsu is in fact the very definition of a petitionary prayer --- to say anything other than that would be disingenuous at best.

Hi Dharmakara, if often seems to me that Pure Landers can get it in the neck from both sides.... :) When seeking to speak of the Nembutsu to Christians most are insistent that it is a way of "works" and with most Buddhists it is a way purely of "faith" and thus becomes
 "petitionary".

Initially, in my own studies - aligned with practice - it was akways explained to me as more an expression of gratitude for that which is a given. Certainly, as a result of my practice, it has morphed - without any express decision on my part - into a saying of "thank you, thank you" to each and every experience, good or bad. Which as I see it links in many ways with the oft spoken zen way of ceasing to cherish opinions.

It seems that only "the cushion" - and plenty of time on it - will qualify as
"true" practice for some. So be it.

(Obviously this does not argue against "cushion time". My own reading and study has told me that the "ways" of Pure Land and Zen have often been practiced side by side throughout history in the same monasteries)

Thanks



Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on July 08, 2015, 09:48:08 am
Yes, total agreement, and no one should tell you different.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 17, 2015, 12:05:45 am
Coming from a Christian background, I am struck by the differences between Shinran and Jesus. While Jesus was most likely celibate, Shinran left the austere life of a monk to marry and have children. While Jesus yelled at people who disagreed with him, even threatening them with hell, Shinran showed a milder attitude in the face of opposition. While Jesus chose apostles and told them to baptize all nations, Shinran humbly insisted that he didn't have a single disciple. While Jesus claimed to be the only way to the Father, Shinran referred to himself as "foolish, bald-headed one."

These and other reasons make Shinran a more appealing figure to me. His relatives and followers believed Shinran to be the Buddha for our age of dharma decline, and the more I learn about his life story, the more I agree with that assessment:

 
Quote
Master Kakunyo commenting this last testimony said: „Jozen portrayed Shonin’s face only. Jozen had this dream in the night of the twentieth day of the month in the third year of Ninji[13]”

He then concludes:

„As I deeply contemplate this miraculous and portentous event, I clearly see that Shonin was an incarnation of Amida Tathagatha. It follows then that the teaching he promulgated was most likely Amida’s direct exposition. Amida holds up the brilliant lamp of undefiled wisdom to disperse the darkness of delusion in the world of defilement; furthermore, he showers the rain of Dharma everywhere in order to moisten the dried-up hearts of ordinary and deluded beings in the distant future. Let us revere and entrust ourselves to his teaching.”
[url]http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2010/03/shinran-manifestation-of-amida-buddha.html[/url] ([url]http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2010/03/shinran-manifestation-of-amida-buddha.html[/url])


If you look at Jodo Shinshu as it's practiced in Japan, its central historical figure is not Shakyamuni Buddha but Shinran, who taught faith in the celestial Buddha. There is nothing wrong with this whatsoever if you view Shakyamuni as merely a human vehicle or manifestation of the Eternal Buddha, as Shinran taught:
Quote
Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya
[url]http://www.adelaideshinbuddhistdojo.com.au/shinranwasan/jw88.htm[/url] ([url]http://www.adelaideshinbuddhistdojo.com.au/shinranwasan/jw88.htm[/url])


 Shinran is often called "Saint Shinran," though he went against the usual idea of a saint being detached from family life and everyday concerns. What Shinran did is he sanctified day-to-day life. When Shinran taught that it is the wicked man who Amida Buddha saves, he was not condoning immoral behavior as much as he was opening up salvation to those traditionally rejected by society, such as hunters, fishers, and prostitutes.

Shinran showed the same mercy and kindness for Bennen, who wanted to kill him, that Shakyamuni had for Angulimala, a ruthless serial killer:
Quote
Bennen, who had never met Shinran, developed a hatred for Shinran because Bennen’s followers were leaving his teaching and practice and taking up the nembutsu. In one of his letters, Shinran says, that Bennen, now called Myoho-bo, ‘originally had thoughts of unimaginable wrongdoing.’ We are told that Bennen wanted to kill Shinran.
[url]http://www.georgegatenby.id.au/?p=43[/url] ([url]http://www.georgegatenby.id.au/?p=43[/url])
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 17, 2015, 11:25:28 pm
If we are saved wholly by Other-Power, rather than our own efforts, how do we receive the gift of faith? If we don't believe in petitionary prayer, how do we request Amida Buddha to give us more faith? I ask this in all seriousness.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 18, 2015, 12:46:57 am
If we are saved wholly by Other-Power, rather than our own efforts, how do we receive the gift of faith? If we don't believe in petitionary prayer, how do we request Amida Buddha to give us more faith? I ask this in all seriousness.

Relating this to "anatta" (not-self), yes it is an important question. How do we become that which we already are? Long ago I was raising questions concerning the "scope of effort", in the sense that effort will fall away at the moment of emancipation?

Within the Pure Land Tradition, the writer Taitetsu Unno has said that it is a necessary step on the path when we recognise that what we first understood to be self power was in fact the working of Other Power.

Again, Suzuki has spoken of the paradox at the heart of all "paths", that though there is in one sense nothing to do, to do nothing is never an option. Hope fully it will be accepted to quote a Christian here, Thomas Merton. His words are taken from a discussion he had with D T Suzuki "Wisdom in Emptiness", as recorded in the book of essays "Zen and the Birds of Appetite"........

"The innocence and purity of heart which belong to paradise are a complete emptiness of self in which all is the work of God, the free and unpredictable expression of His love, the work of grace. In the purity of original innocence, all is done in us but without us, in nobis et sine nobis. But before we reach that level, we must also learn to work on the other level of 'knowledge' - scientia - where grace works in us but 'not without us' - in nobis sed non sine nobis."

As I see it (theistic language aside)  there is a transition between the two that we all must walk in our own unique way. Again, as I see it, that transition can never be the product of one exclusive creed or set of doctrines, not of a "belief" as such, in anyone or anything. We get back to expedient means and the nature of Reality-as-is.

I bring fullness and satisfaction to the world,
 like rain that spreads its moisture everywhere.
 Eminent and lowly, superior and inferior,
 observers of precepts, violators of precepts,
 those fully endowed with proper demeanor,
 those not fully endowed,
 those of correct views, of erroneous views,
 of keen capacity, of dull capacity -
 I cause the Dharma rain to rain on all equally,
 never lax or neglectful.
 When all the various living beings
 hear my Law,
 they receive it according to their power,
 dwelling in their different environments.....
 ..The Law of the Buddhas
 is constantly of a single flavour,
 causing the many worlds
 to attain full satisfaction everywhere;
 by practicing gradually and stage by stage,
 all beings can gain the fruits of the way.

 (The Lotus Sutra, Parable of the Dharma Rain)
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 18, 2015, 01:17:24 am
I asked a Shin Buddhist sensei on Facebook how to receive the gift of faith, and this was his response:

Quote
Petitionary prayers would mean that we ask Amida to give us women, cars and jewelry smile emoticon This does not mean that we cannot say, “Amida, please help me to become more open, to understand your Dharma and to receive faith”.

But Amida is already willing to save you, it is already there near you, trying to give you the gift of faith. No matter you say, “please, Amida, give me faith”, He is already there, near you, since He became a Buddha, trying to do just that.

So, what you need to do is to listen to Amida Dharma again and again. Listen, ask Dharma questions, reflect upon what you hear and upon your condition as unenlightened being without the capacity to save yourself by yourself, and stay focus on Amida.

Master Rennyo said:

"Regardless of our doubts, if we listen intently with our entire being, we will be given shinjin because of Great Compassion. The Buddhist teaching begins and ends in hearing."

So, in our tradition, listening to the teaching is the most important practice. You have to listen again and again, and one day, you will become open and you will receive shinjin. The words "we will be given shinjin because of Great Compassion" shows that shinjin comes from Amida, but the first part "if we listen intently with our entire being" shows what we have to do, if we wish to receive the gift of faith from Amida.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 18, 2015, 01:55:23 am
I asked a Shin Buddhist sensei on Facebook how to receive the gift of faith, and this was his response:

Quote
Petitionary prayers would mean that we ask Amida to give us women, cars and jewelry smile emoticon This does not mean that we cannot say, “Amida, please help me to become more open, to understand your Dharma and to receive faith”.

But Amida is already willing to save you, it is already there near you, trying to give you the gift of faith. No matter you say, “please, Amida, give me faith”, He is already there, near you, since He became a Buddha, trying to do just that.

So, what you need to do is to listen to Amida Dharma again and again. Listen, ask Dharma questions, reflect upon what you hear and upon your condition as unenlightened being without the capacity to save yourself by yourself, and stay focus on Amida.

Master Rennyo said:

"Regardless of our doubts, if we listen intently with our entire being, we will be given shinjin because of Great Compassion. The Buddhist teaching begins and ends in hearing."

So, in our tradition, listening to the teaching is the most important practice. You have to listen again and again, and one day, you will become open and you will receive shinjin. The words "we will be given shinjin because of Great Compassion" shows that shinjin comes from Amida, but the first part "if we listen intently with our entire being" shows what we have to do, if we wish to receive the gift of faith from Amida.

That is good. Unno speaks of the need of "deep hearing" in his fine books on Shin Buddhism.

I was just looking up  a small verse and found a post I made on another Forum a while back. Here it is.....

For me the Pure Land way offers the encouragement to be totally honest with oneself and ones feelings and fears, such is one's trust in Amida's (Reality-as-is) Compassion and Infinite Light. For me, Amida is another name for the nameless, that can take whatever name, the will that works tirelessly throughout Reality - or, as reality - for the ultimate enlightenment of all. All experience has the potential to bring enlightenment; even the moments of apparent failure, of deep existential anxiety, can be transformed by pure acceptance, the embrace of Infinite Compassion. And my own experience is that this can be so virtually in spite of our own "beliefs" and "strategies" rather than because of them. There is a technical term in the Pure Land teachings that means "to become so of itself, not by calculation" and for me this means that it is not my own "understanding" or grasp of truth that brings genuine trust/faith, but Other Power.

This is expressed by some words of a Pure Land devotee......

In the timeless process of birth-and-death,
for the first time I was made to realize
the Other Power of Amida Buddha.
My understanding resulted from listening,
but listening is nothing but a little scratch on a precious gem.
I trusted my understanding instead of trusting Amida.
Until now I was satisfied with my understanding.
But, my understanding does not save me;
It is Amida who saves me.


For me, all the theologies of the world are "little scratches on a precious gem". They have their uses yet ultimately faith is more a letting go (of "self" and its strategies) than a clinging to them, or in Christian apophatic (negative) terms, more a "darkness" than a light.

Anyway, just to finish, another "ode" from the pen of the Pure Land "saint" Saichi.........

Nothing is left to Saichi,
Except a joyful heart nothing is left to him.
Neither good nor bad has he, all is taken away from him;
Nothing is left to him!
To have nothing - how completely satisfying!
Everything has been carried away by the 'Namu-amida-butsu'.
He is thoroughly at home with himself:
This is indeed the 'Namu-amida-butsu'.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 18, 2015, 05:25:52 am
This sensei has also helped me to see that we shouldn't take the descriptions of the Pure Land too literally, but should instead focus on the higher reality that they convey:

Quote
It is very important to realize that Shakyamuni does not speak about the Pure Landof Amida in terms of ultimate reality beyond form (Dharmakaya) but instead he uses many images and colourful words[2]. The language of the Three Pure Land sutras is descriptive and effusive, clearly not intended to practitioners who are trying to go beyond forms...
Although the true nature of all Buddhas and their manifestations is ultimate Dharmakaya, one cannot take refuge, have faith or aspire to be born into Dharmakaya. This is why we have a Buddha in Form and Name called Amida in whom we can entrust and a Pure Land where we might wish to be born after death[3]. Without them, our attainment of Buddhahood would be impossible.
[url]http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2012/05/manifestations-of-pure-land-commentary.html[/url] ([url]http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2012/05/manifestations-of-pure-land-commentary.html[/url])


Quote
We ourselves will attain Enlightenment when we are born in the Pure Land, because the essence of the Pure Land is Enlightenment/Nirvana/Dharmakaya itself...
The Light of the Pure Land is the Light of Amida Buddha, the Pure Land itself being the transcendental manifestation of Amida Buddha...
 It is obvious that the treasures found in the Pure Land are not intended for the enjoyment of the six senses but for expressing the Dharma, calling beings to the Dharma, praising Amida’s virtues and showing the supreme place this enlightened land occupies among other Buddha lands. They are spiritual treasures, even if they are described using the terms we are familiar with, like palaces, pavilions, ponds, streams and trees, aromatic wood, etc.
[url]http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2015/07/the-two-aspects-of-pure-land.html[/url] ([url]http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.ro/2015/07/the-two-aspects-of-pure-land.html[/url])
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 18, 2015, 06:15:39 am
Also, this is Koshin Ohtani, the 24th successor of Shinran Shonin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk0Xshu3hQQ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk0Xshu3hQQ)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBYEDCFfJGg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBYEDCFfJGg)
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 18, 2015, 02:20:07 pm
Also, this is Koshin Ohtani, the 24th successor of Shinran Shonin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk0Xshu3hQQ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk0Xshu3hQQ)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBYEDCFfJGg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBYEDCFfJGg)

I used to think that anyone who insisted that the story of Dharmakara is literally true must be ignorant or misinformed. But then I gave it more thought, and I realized that if you went into a mosque and said that the Koran is fictional, or if you went to a church and insisted that Jesus is fictional, you would get a negative response. Telling people that the source of their salvation is fictional elicits a negative reaction. So I find myself gravitating toward a more literal understanding of Amida Buddha and the Pure Land, though I still welcome difference of opinion.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on July 18, 2015, 04:54:12 pm
though I still welcome difference of opinion.

It would certainly be nice if this were true, but a little over a week ago you were wearing a different face, where in this very thread you not only claimed I was ignorant and misinformed, but also stated that I was misrepresenting the Pure Land tradition, so my own experience with you would imply that this is not true.

So there's no misunderstanding, I'm not saying this to humiliate you or open festering sores, but to stress the importance of humility, doing so out of compassion and loving-kindness, where if a person were to feign humility it only gives them a deeper hole to climb out of:

"There are also certain individuals of great talent and ability, whose writings can astound the gods. However, their actions are no different from those of the dullards in the marketplace. The root cause is their rejection of phenomenal cultivation and cause and effect [karma]. This grave error is repeated by other people; it is a case of betraying the Dharma with one’s body (actions). The depth of such offenses and transgressions is immeasurable! Witnessing this, those endowed with profound wisdom can only sigh in pity and compassion."

Pure-land Zen, Zen Pure-land
Yin Kuang / Sutra Translation Committee (1993)
p. 26

Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 18, 2015, 06:06:16 pm
I'm sorry for giving a wrong impression. I don't always take the time that I should to consider how my postings will come across.

Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 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?
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara 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?
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 18, 2015, 10:02:42 pm
Perhaps when Amida appears to people in a human form, it is expedient means.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice 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.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 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.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara 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.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 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.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 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."
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara 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?
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 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 (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 (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).
[url]http://www.jsri.jp/English/Honen/TEACHINGS/outline.html[/url] ([url]http://www.jsri.jp/English/Honen/TEACHINGS/outline.html[/url])
 


 This doesn't mean, however, that I judge people who disagree with this.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara 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?
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 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.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara 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.

Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 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.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara 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.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 19, 2015, 07:25:00 pm
The final thing I can say about this is that we believe the light and grace of Amida Buddha enables us to follow the Buddhist path. Trusting in Other-Power isn't an excuse to be complacent as much as it is the grace and strength we need to continue on the Buddhist path. I am sorry for not communicating this very well.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on July 19, 2015, 08:15:03 pm
I'm not saying that Other-Power is an excuse to be complacent, but that it can be used as an excuse by some practitioners --- there's a difference between the two.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 20, 2015, 12:21:25 am
I'm not saying that Other-Power is an excuse to be complacent, but that it can be used as an excuse by some practitioners --- there's a difference between the two.

Hi Dharmakara, obviously true, yet is it not the case that any particular path can have its ups and downs? Some think that to sit on a cushion for inordinate lengths of time will make them a Buddha, while - alas - it CAN merely makes them feel elevated above the common herd. Then we have the merit accumulators where the little self is busy gathering its store. Well, we all know what Bodhidharma said to the Emperor of China......well, perhaps we don't, but there you go.

Anyway, here is a passage from a book by Hiroyuki Itsuki,  "Tariki: Embracing Despair, Discovering Peace." (Tariki is the Japanese for "Other Power", as opposed to Jiriki, self power)

(The book is party autobiographical, and the descriptions of Itsuki's early life (as a refugee) sweep away any thought that his words are in any way "sentimental")

The Other Power (Tariki) derives from the true and full acceptance of the reality that is within us and surrounds us. It is not a philosophy of passivity or iresponsibility, but one of radical spiritual activity, of personal, existential revolution. Its essence is the spontaneous wondrous force that gives us the will to act, to "do what man can do and then wait for heaven's will." Importantly, Other Power is a power that flows from the fundamental realization that, in the lives we live, we are already enlightened. This enlightenment does not come easily. It is born of the unwelcome understanding that, despite our protestations, we are insignificant, imperfect beings, born to a hell of suffering that defines human existence. But in this hell, we sometimes excounter small joys, friendship, the kind acts of strangers, and the miracle of love. We experience moments when we are filled with courage, when the world sparkles with hopes and dreams. There are even times when we are deeply grateful to have been born. These moments are paradise. But paradise is not another realm; it is here, in the very midst of the hell of this world. Other Power, a power that transcends theological distinctions, avails us of these moments. In the endless uncertainties of contemporary life, Other Power confers upon us a flexibility of spirit, an energy to feel joy, and the respite of peace.

The point being made, at least by me, (and I am not saying anyone is arguing differently) is that the Pure Land Way is authentic Buddhism. It is a path that, like all Buddhist Paths, seeks to solve the paradox of the "not-self" becoming a lamp unto itself.

I have quoted this before, but it is worth quoting again, from the pen of the cobbler Saichi.....

Oh Saichi, will you tell us of Other Power?
Yes, but there is neither self power nor Other Power.
What is, is the Graceful Acceptance only.


And perhaps, just to pick up on the  "transcends theological distinctions" of Itsuki's words, here is the Catholic monk Thomas Merton speaking from out of the Christian Tradition....

In our being there is a primordial YES that is not our own; it is not at our own disposal; it is not accessible to our inspection and understanding; we do not even fully experience it as real.......Basically......my being is not an affirmation of a limited self, but the YES of Being itself, irrespective of my own choices. Where do "I" come in? Simply in uniting the YES of my own freedom with the YES of Being that already IS before I have a chance to choose. This is not "adjustment". There is nothing to adjust. There is reality, and there is free consent. There is the actuality of one YES. In this actuality no question of "adjustment" remains and the ego vanishes.


(From "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander")

Edit. Hi, I see your post 46 acknowledges my first point. Sorry.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on July 20, 2015, 01:20:51 am
The point being made, at least by me, (and I am not saying anyone is arguing differently) is that the Pure Land Way is authentic Buddhism. It is a path that, like all Buddhist Paths, seeks to solve the paradox of the "not-self" becoming a lamp unto itself.

I certainly would never declare who is a Buddhist and who is not, but when it comes to something being "authentic" it would imply that there has been no fabrication, something I don't believe any Buddhist tradition can claim at this point.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 20, 2015, 03:42:51 am
The point being made, at least by me, (and I am not saying anyone is arguing differently) is that the Pure Land Way is authentic Buddhism. It is a path that, like all Buddhist Paths, seeks to solve the paradox of the "not-self" becoming a lamp unto itself.

I certainly would never declare who is a Buddhist and who is not, but when it comes to something being "authentic" it would imply that there has been no fabrication, something I don't believe any Buddhist tradition can claim at this point.

OK.........then "as authentic as any other current Buddhist Tradition", this again in the context of not judging anyone, as to who is or isn't anything.

Hopefully this is satisfactory.



 ;D
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on July 20, 2015, 06:26:59 am
People just need to work the word "authentic" in --- nothing but one track minds  :lmfao:

None are authentic and if you want to see why this is so, all you have to do picture the following scenario: let's say that the historical Buddha was able to stand before us today, who among us would recognize him, long enough accept him if he said "I didn't teach that" --- no, a slave to the "ism" will never be able to do this because he or she is too busy chasing willo-wisps in the wind.

My friend, you will never here the word "authentic" come out of my mouth because there isn't a Buddhist sect or tradition that hasn't been caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar when it comes to authenticity.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 20, 2015, 06:45:59 am
People just need to work the word "authentic" in --- nothing but one track minds  :lmfao:

None are authentic and if you want to see why this is so, all you have to do picture the following scenario: let's say that the historical Buddha was able to stand before us today, who among us would recognize him, long enough accept him if he said "I didn't teach that" --- no, a slave to the "ism" will never be able to do this because he or she is too busy chasing willo-wisps in the wind.

My friend, you will never here the word "authentic" come out of my mouth because there isn't a Buddhist sect or tradition that hasn't been caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar when it comes to authenticity.

Ah ha! so I assume my change of words was not satisfactory to your own ears.

Apologies. I see that slaves to the "ism" and one track minders must watch their step around you.

 ;D
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on July 20, 2015, 06:54:29 am
No, they don't need to watch their step around me, but the one thing they shouldn't be doing is attempting to insult the intelligence of those who know better --- if there's any Pure Landers or others over here who find my position intolerable, then it would be better that they go to Dharma Wheel and Dhamma Wheel because they'll defend the "ism" over there, whereas we won't cater to the "ism" on this forum.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Cobblers Apprentice on July 20, 2015, 07:10:10 am
No, they don't need to watch their step around me, but the one thing they shouldn't be doing is attempting to insult the intelligence of those who know better --- if there's any Pure Landers or others over here who find my position intolerable, then it would be better that they go to Dharma Wheel and Dhamma Wheel because they'll defend the "ism" over there, whereas we won't cater to the "ism" on this forum.

Personally, I do not find your position intolerable. I have a sense of humour.

 ;D
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on July 20, 2015, 07:21:38 am
I have a sense of humor too, but it usually gets me in trouble  :teehee:
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 21, 2015, 12:27:58 pm
I would like to please share the most important things I have to share about Pure Land Buddhism. I hope that sharing these things can help to benefit others, and I am sorry if these things offend anyone. 

While Shin Buddhist teachers who read the Pure Land sutras metaphorically are often accused of being modernists who've deviated from the faith, what if they are actually trying to refocus our attention on Shakyamuni, the historic founder of the faith?

The 21st Vow of Amida Buddha promises that anyone born in the Pure Land will be perfected with the 32 attributes of a great being, which include webbed fingers and toes, a long, broad tongue, and a retractable male organ. How much of this can we read literally?

Theravada teaches that there's only one Buddha per universe age, with ours being Shakyamuni Buddha. A disciple of the Buddha who attains enlightenment is referred to not as a Buddha but as an Arahant.

Mahayana, on the other hand, includes a seemingly infinite number of Buddhas. This makes me wonder which idea came first, the one Buddha or the infinite Buddhas, and which is closest to what the historical Buddha taught.

When Shin Buddhists today teach that Amida Buddha is symbolic of Dharmakaya or is Shakyamuni Buddha in his transcendent form, rather than another Buddha from a distant world, is this because they are attempting to go back to an original Buddhist belief of there being only one Buddha?

It was Shinran, not some modernist thinker, who wrote that Amida existed from the eternal past and took form as Shakyamuni Buddha. The Tannisho also says that, in the scriptures, the provisional and expedient is mixed with the true and the real, and that it's up to us to discern which is which.

The story of Dharmakara Bodhisattva, as others have noted, may be symbolic of Shakyamuni Buddha's own life story, in that both figures renounced their royal titles for the sake of enlightening all beings. The Smarta tradition of Hinduism teaches that the vast array of gods are actually different aspects of the same god. My impression is that, in Mahayana Buddhism, the vast array of Buddhas are, in some sense, different aspects of Shakyamuni Buddha in his enlightened form.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 21, 2015, 12:48:09 pm
I'm not saying that Other-Power is an excuse to be complacent, but that it can be used as an excuse by some practitioners --- there's a difference between the two.

I agree with what you are observing. In the Tannisho, Shinran said don't take poison just because you have the antitode, in response to Nembutsu followers who used Amida's grace as an excuse to commit grave sins.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Dharmakara on July 21, 2015, 01:40:24 pm
That was an excellent analogy  :namaste:
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 21, 2015, 05:35:06 pm
The Buddha is not a god, who must be feared and obeyed. The Buddha is an awakened teacher, who says "Be lamps unto yourselves."  The injunction to be "lamps unto yourselves" would seem callous if we didn't have a Buddha-nature to guide us from within. What makes Pure Land devotion, then, different from Christian or Muslim devotion is that, in an ultimate sense, we view the Buddha and ourselves to have one and the same nature.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 22, 2015, 02:42:15 pm
Buddhist devotion is often described as a way of cultivating wholesome states of mind, so that we may cut through the limitations of our ego-self. This is a way of looking at why we recite the Nembutsu. We express devotion to Amida Buddha in order to cultivate in ourselves his qualities of wisdom and compassion:

Quote
The Buddha taught that the biggest barrier to realization is the notion that "I" am a permanent, integral, autonomous entity. It is by seeing through the delusion of ego that realization blooms. Devotion is a upaya for breaking the bonds of ego.
For this reason, the Buddha taught his disciples to cultivate devotional and reverential habits of mind. Thus, devotion is not a "corruption" of Buddhism, but an expression of it...
In the Zen monastery where I first learned about Buddhism, the monks liked to point to the Buddha on the altar and say, "That's you up there. When you bow, you are bowing to yourself." What did they mean? How do you understand it? Who are you? Where do you find the self? Working with those questions is not a corruption of Buddhism; it is Buddhism...
Most of the time, it's more accurate in western terms to think of the iconographic devas and bodhisattvas as archetypes rather than as supernatural beings. For example, a Buddhist might evoke the Bodhisattva of compassion in order to become more compassionate.
[url]http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/a/buddhaatheism.htm[/url] ([url]http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/a/buddhaatheism.htm[/url])
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 23, 2015, 01:46:47 am
Is there any similarity between Biblical fundamentalism and Pure Land fundamentalism? Insisting that Dharmakara attained Buddhahood billions and billions of years before the Big Bang on a world billions of light years beyond the known universe, and then manifested the Western Pure Land by his own Vow-power, and that anyone who doesn't believe this is without shinjin, reminds me of creationists who insist that the universe is six thousand years old and Noah's ark explains dinosaur fossils.

I'm not trying to demean anyone's sincerely held religious beliefs, but the insistence that we must ignore scientific observation for the sake of literal belief in ancient texts, and that we don't have any other option otherwise we aren't truly saved, seems antithetical to the spirit of Buddhism. I'm sorry if I am offending anyone in sharing this, and I think it only applies to a vocal minority in Pure Land Buddhism today, just as as creationists are a vocal minority of the world's Christians.

Until relatively recently, Tibetan Buddhists believed that the earth is flat with Mount Meru at the center, and now the Dalai Lama recognizes this was not literally true, for obvious reasons. True and sincere religion should have nothing to fear in scientific discovery, and neither should one viewpoint be forced on another if we are all links in Amida's golden chain.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: cosmic_dog_magic on July 23, 2015, 11:43:45 am
here and there, there are immeasurable references to time and space in teachings, it's relative, product of mind and the sense of them changes as well, there are meditations on them.  I don't think Buddhism is without it's cheeky exaggeration.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 23, 2015, 12:51:22 pm
In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says that better is it for a person to live one day in contemplation and a settled mind than it is to live for a hundred years in idleness and delusion.

This reminds me of when Shinran says that all one needs is to say the Nembutsu once with a sincere mind in order to be born in the Pure Land. The original meaning of Nembutsu is mindfulness of the Buddha.
Title: Re: Amida Buddha and the Pure Land
Post by: Namaste253 on July 23, 2015, 02:15:54 pm
here and there, there are immeasurable references to time and space in teachings, it's relative, product of mind and the sense of them changes as well, there are meditations on them.  I don't think Buddhism is without it's cheeky exaggeration.

Since the Buddha refused to answer the question of whether the universe had a beginning or is eternal, I think it might be best to defer to what science says about the origin and age of the universe.
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