Akshobhya and Amitabha

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Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby zamotcr » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:27 am

Hello Community,

I was wondering why in Amitabha's Pure Land there is no gender, but in Akshobhya Pure Land there are womens (that can get pregnant) and men.
I thought that Pure Lands are outside Samsara and without duality (no female-male).

Can someone help me understand a little better?

Amituofo :namaste:
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Aemilius » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:32 am

I have never heard this, what is your source?

Tushita Devaloka of Bodhisattva Maitreya is considered a pureland. It is located in a higher plane of Kamaloka, so there are Devis or divine females. Being a higher level in Kamaloka there is some form of temptation, but there is no sex in the human sense of the word.
(For example the Shurangama sutra tells about the levels of Deva-realms in Kamaloka)
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby zamotcr » Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:04 pm

Akshobhya Sutra told this, as Hsuan Hua did too. Paul Harrison in the following article tell us the same:

When we look at the descriptions of buddhafields, which
represent ideal worlds from a Buddhist point of view, we find
that either women are not present at all, as in Druma's buddhaksetra
Candravimala {DKP 362al7), or they are infinitely
more beautiful and virtuous than the women of this world, as
in Aksobhya's buddhaksetra Abhirati (AkTV 755c28-756a2). The
portrayal of the female inhabitants of Abhirati is especially revealing
(756b3-15), since they are supposed to lack the vices of
the women of this world, who are said to be "ill-favoured and
ugly, with harsh tongues, jealous of the Dharma and addicted
to heretical practices". For the paragons of femininity in
Abhirati, by contrast, fine clothes and jewelry literally grow on
trees, they feel no pain or weariness in pregnancy or childbirth,
and they are free of "offensive discharge from the stinking place"
(undoubtedly the 'polluting' flow of menstrual blood), all thanks
to the former vow of Aksobhya (see AkTV 753a 11-16 for this;
cf. AsPP 455b 19-25). The supposed foibles and defects of
women are also highlighted in these sutras by those passages
which deal with the special regulations and requirements for
nuns and laywomen who follow the Bodhisattva Path (see esp.
PraS 910al5-b9, c6-29; CGZ)457bl4-c29; see also DKP 361bl 1-
362a2). Although there is considerable overlap in these passages
with those pertaining to monks and laymen, certain qualities
appear to be more readily ascribed to women, such as an excessive
concern for personal adornment, spiteful and malicious
gossip, jealousy, deceitfulness, superstition and fondness for
non-Buddhist religious practices.


Complete article: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/jiabs/article/download/9167/3026
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Kaji » Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:59 am

zamotcr wrote:Hello Community,

I was wondering why in Amitabha's Pure Land there is no gender, but in Akshobhya Pure Land there are womens (that can get pregnant) and men.
I thought that Pure Lands are outside Samsara and without duality (no female-male).

Can someone help me understand a little better?

Amituofo :namaste:

I have once heard from a monk a number of necessary properties that a land must meet to be qualified as a pure land. I don't have access to the list now and I could not find it on the Internet, but from memory "no female-male" was not in that list. Let me try looking for that lecture.
Namas triya-dhvikānāṃ sarva tathāgatānām!
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Astus » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:32 pm

Buddha-lands are different depending on the individual vows of the buddha who resides there. And just because it is a buddha-land - i.e. has a resident buddha - it doesn't mean it is necessarily out of samsara. When Shakyamuni was in this world it didn't mean that there were no hells or any evil things.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Aemilius » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:12 am

Astus wrote:Buddha-lands are different depending on the individual vows of the buddha who resides there. And just because it is a buddha-land - i.e. has a resident buddha - it doesn't mean it is necessarily out of samsara. When Shakyamuni was in this world it didn't mean that there were no hells or any evil things.


It's more subtle than that, do you mean to say that hells have true & intrinsic reality? There is no such thing in the Mahayana!

There is a partial translation of Akshobhya Vyuha Sutra in Garma C. C. Chang's A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras, hasn't anybody read it ?
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Astus » Thu Oct 04, 2012 12:22 pm

Nothing has intrinsic reality in Mahayana. But everything exists dependently. So, the hells are as real as anything else.

Jan Nattier in her "The Indian Roots of Pure Land Buddhism" explains that initially Akshobhya's land was popular, but as it reflected an older version of the concept of the bodhisattva path, Amita's land gradually took over in popularity because of its accessibility and guaranteed liberation for ordinary people.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby zamotcr » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:45 pm

Thanks everyone for the replies.

My mind is clearer now :D
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Greg » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:43 am

When I think of Ratnasaṃbhava's buddhafield Śrimat, I picture this.
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Aemilius » Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:17 am

Astus wrote:Nothing has intrinsic reality in Mahayana. But everything exists dependently. So, the hells are as real as anything else.


Yeah, I also wondered if it helps at all to think that hell has no inherent existence. As the environment is a manifestation of one's vasanas/bagchags/unconscious-tendencies, which are difficult to change. What does actually change the the vasanas? How does the hell cease to manifest? How does the human world cease to manifest?

The Lotus sutra school teaches that Shakyamuni is actually still present in the world, as Dharmakaya, Sambhogkaya, and also as Nirmanakaya, last one depending on the interpretation of the Sutra.
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Astus » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:16 pm

"What does actually change the the vasanas? How does the hell cease to manifest? How does the human world cease to manifest?"

Ingrained habits are changed by new habits or the Buddhist path. As for the cessation of the different realms, do you mean liberation from such births or in a cosmological sense? In the first case, it is by realisation on the path. In the second one, it is a matter of cyclical contraction and expansion of the realms.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Aemilius » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:26 am

Astus wrote:"What does actually change the the vasanas? How does the hell cease to manifest? How does the human world cease to manifest?"

Ingrained habits are changed by new habits or the Buddhist path. As for the cessation of the different realms, do you mean liberation from such births or in a cosmological sense? In the first case, it is by realisation on the path. In the second one, it is a matter of cyclical contraction and expansion of the realms.


As you say also non-buddhists do change their realm in the continuous rebirths. I was thinking of how it happens if and when your consciousness has already become a being of a different realm, while you are still a human. This should not be an uncommon event, especially toward to end of a person's life. Vasubandhu says that the seventh consciousness, Manas, is peculiar to each realm of rebirth and that it lasts for a being's lifetime. On the other hand the seventh and eight consciousness can undergo a transformation while you are a living person, as a result of the buddhist path. Even then you will seem like a human being, and you will continue to see other humans. (In most cases, that is. There may be some who immediately disappear from the human world when realizing the transformation of the basis consciousness). Also there are teachings that you don't see persons but you see collections of skandhas, that are empty of person. Or you see beings as Dharmata. Or you see beings as inhabitants of the pure realm, in reality, not merely in imagination.
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Astus » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:33 pm

If you are in the realm of humans your mind is human. It may have strong tendencies for another realm but it changes to that only at becoming (bhava). Disappearing from a realm is called death.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Aemilius » Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:41 pm

Astus wrote:If you are in the realm of humans your mind is human. It may have strong tendencies for another realm but it changes to that only at becoming (bhava). Disappearing from a realm is called death.


Sarvastivada uses the term Gotra in a sense of a species, they say that when you attain stream entry, once-retunership, non-returnership, or arhathood your gotra changes from an ordinary human into an arya, you become a being of a different class or a being of a new species. In the sarvastivada view there are also within these four categories of stream entry etc different Gotras according to your type.
Mahayana uses the term Gotra in the meaning that one has an inborn tendency for sravaka-lineage, pratyekabuddha-lineage or bodhisattva-lineage, etc.. Rober Thurman's translation team has coined the term Spiritual Gene for Gotra, for their translation of Mahayana sutra Alamkara. I think this new term has drawbacks, it can lead to some serious misunderstandings. Nevertheless it carries the idea that humanity consists of different spiritual subspecies, so to speak. What do you think of it?

Sarvastivada views of Gotra are discussed by Hirakawa Akira and Paul Groner in their History of Indian Buddhism
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Re: Akshobhya and Amitabha

Postby Astus » Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:00 pm

One can follow the idea of different gotras, sure. I personally believe in the universal potentiality of complete liberation, aka tathagatagarbha.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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