Author Topic: Amida: The Buddha of Skillful Means  (Read 339 times)

Offline Dharma Flower

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Amida: The Buddha of Skillful Means
« on: February 04, 2018, 12:18:03 pm »
Shinran Shonin referred to Amida as ‘Dharmakaya-as-upaya,’ meaning that Amida is a skillful device or symbol for the Dharmakaya, the Buddha-nature in all things, rather than a literal flesh and blood Buddha.

As the Lotus Sutra explains, the historical Buddha Shakyamuni used similes and parables, various forms of upaya or skillful means, for making the reality of enlightenment accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves:

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Skillful means is one of the major themes of the Lotus Sutra. In the second chapter, the Buddha explains the importance of upaya, and he illustrates this in the third chapter with the parable of the burning house. In this parable, a man comes home to find his house in flames while his children play happily inside. The father tells the children to leave the house, but they refuse because they are having too much fun with their toys.

The father finally promises them something even better waiting outside. I have brought you pretty carts drawn by deer, goats, and bullocks he said. Just come outside, and I will give you what you want. The children run out of the house, just in time. The father, delighted, does make good on his promise and acquires the most beautiful carriages he can find for his children.

Then the Buddha asked the disciple Sariputra if the father was guilty of lying because there were no carts or carriages outside when he told his children there were. Sariputra said no because he was using an expedient means to save his children. The Buddha concluded that even if the father had given his children nothing, he was still blameless because he did what he had to do to save his children.
https://www.thoughtco.com/upaya-skillful-or-expedient-means-450018

Rather than historical accounts, the Pure Land sutras are metaphorical narratives or parables for realizing the salvific activity of Dharma-body in the world. Amida is thus more than, not less than, a literal flesh and blood Buddha.

Shinran also explained that the true Pure Land is the formless realm of Nirvana and thus inconceivable. The flowery imagery of the Pure Land sutras is intended for making knowable that which is otherwise unknowable.

Rather than a flesh and blood Buddha from eons before the Big Bang, Amida is the ultimate source of all Buddhahood. Reciting the Nembutsu, the name of Amida Buddha, we are reborn into the Pure Land, the realm of Nirvana.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2018, 08:31:18 am by Dharma Flower »

 


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