Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby zamotcr » Thu Dec 05, 2013 3:42 pm

Arjan Dirkse wrote:There are also patriarchs and masters who taught PL as pure mind.


The following extract is from Answers to Questions by Grand Master Chu-hung (The Eighth Pureland Patriarch). I took it from "Pure Land Pure Mind" by J.C. Cleary:

Grand Master Chu-hung wrote: Some people say that the Pure Land is nothing but mind, that there is no Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss beyond the trillions of worlds of the cosmos. This talk of mind-only has its source in the words of the sutras, and is true, not false. But those who quote it in this sense are misunderstanding its meaning.
Mind equals objects: there are no objects beyond mind. Objects equal mind: there is no mind beyond objects. Since objects are wholly mind, why must we cling to mind and dismiss objects? Those who dismiss objects when they talk of mind have not comprehended mind.
Some people also say that the Pure Land which is seen at the moment of death is entirely in the dying person's own mind, so there is no Pure Land.
[People with this opinion] fail to consider this. It would be right to say this is the dying person's own mind if he alone saw that which is seen at the moment of death by those who recite the buddha-name and are born in the Pure Land: the Pure Land, along with the congregation of saints coming to greet him, the heavenly music, unearthly perfume, the banners and towers and the rest of it. But everyone there at the time [of the death] sees it: they hear the heavenly music fading away toward the West, and the room fills with unearthly perfume which does not dissipate for several days. Since the heavenly music does not proceed toward any other direction, but toward the west, and after the person is dead, the perfume remains, can it be said that there is no Pure Land? ...
Let me ask [the person who thinks Pure Land is mind-only], "When hell appears to you at the moment of death., is this not mind?" "It is mind." "Does the person fall into hell?" "Yes, he falls into hell." [I would say] "Then it is obvious that since the person falls into hell, hell exists. Is it then only the Pure Land that does not exist? When the mind manifests hell, the person falls into a hell that really exists. When the mind manifests the Pure Land, isn't the person born in a Pure Land that really exists?" [As the saying goes]:

Better you should speak of existence on the scale of the polar mountain, than speak of nonexistence to the extent of a mustard seed.

Don't do it!
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby Arjan Dirkse » Thu Dec 05, 2013 3:59 pm

Exactly, I agree. On some level, pure land is just indistinguishable from pure mind.

If pure land was just a place, it would be no different than Disney World.
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby muni » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:04 pm

Arjan: "If pure land was just a place, it would be no different than Disney World". :smile:

Here is an example of the symbolic and the meaning.
Two I pick out:

It is only by creating peace in our own mind that is possible to accomplish peace in the external world, but similarly, sacred places in the world powerfully remind us of internal spiritual wealth. To make pilgrimage to such places is to make an inner journey through the landscape of our own minds.

The pureland represents the glorious manifestation of enlightened mind as a pure, jewel-like environment.

http://padmasambhavapureland.com/us/terrapura.php
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby thunderbumble » Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:31 pm

zamotcr wrote:
thunderbumble wrote:You can believe in your dualism. I'll believe in my non dualism.
The Amida Buddha is with me and I'm with Amida.
Total reliance.
Namu Amida Butsu


That is not the traditional understanding of Pure Land thunderbumble.

The idea behind Pure Land is not only right here, but also a place to be reborn after death. You can believe whatever you want, but the sutras, the patriarchs and several masters taught the PL as a place.


I believe it's a place. Let me explain.

On the wall over my altar, is Shakamuni Buddha.
Nirmana-kaya, or Transformation-body,

Under and directly below is Amitabha
The Sambhogakāya, or Enjoyment-body,
Flanked by
Avalokiteśvara on the right and Mahāsthāmaprāpta on the left
The Dharmakāya, or Dharma is symbolically displayed as the NEMBUTSU
Under the trinity and closest to me when I sit on the
Zafu and zabaton.
You are correct to think the iconography is reverse.
However, the Dharmakaya is the nearest object of devotion and closest to my "HEART".
THE HEART is my dedication to Amida Buddha. I love Amida Buddha.
'body', 'speech' and 'mind'
The Pure Land is not a world in this "dimension"
Of space and time.
The Buddha taught


So, bhikkhus, you should train in this way: The heart-deliverance of loving-kindness will be maintained in being and made much of by us, used as our vehicle, used as our foundation, established, consolidated, and properly managed. That is how you should train
Samyutta Nikaya 20:3
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby Zhen Li » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:24 am

If our experience in this world right here is dependent upon our mind, what need to speak of how the pureland is?

The origin, cessation, and path to the cession of the world can all be found here in this fathom-long body with its thoughts and perceptions.
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby zamotcr » Fri Dec 06, 2013 6:26 am

thunderbumble wrote:
zamotcr wrote:
thunderbumble wrote:You can believe in your dualism. I'll believe in my non dualism.
The Amida Buddha is with me and I'm with Amida.
Total reliance.
Namu Amida Butsu


That is not the traditional understanding of Pure Land thunderbumble.

The idea behind Pure Land is not only right here, but also a place to be reborn after death. You can believe whatever you want, but the sutras, the patriarchs and several masters taught the PL as a place.


I believe it's a place. Let me explain.

On the wall over my altar, is Shakamuni Buddha.
Nirmana-kaya, or Transformation-body,

Under and directly below is Amitabha
The Sambhogakāya, or Enjoyment-body,
Flanked by
Avalokiteśvara on the right and Mahāsthāmaprāpta on the left
The Dharmakāya, or Dharma is symbolically displayed as the NEMBUTSU
Under the trinity and closest to me when I sit on the
Zafu and zabaton.
You are correct to think the iconography is reverse.
However, the Dharmakaya is the nearest object of devotion and closest to my "HEART".
THE HEART is my dedication to Amida Buddha. I love Amida Buddha.
'body', 'speech' and 'mind'
The Pure Land is not a world in this "dimension"
Of space and time.


Yes, it is a place :smile:

I also believe that the descriptions are images and symbols to understand the Pure Land, not actual descriptions. Pure Land is real, but we have to see more than the literal descriptions, of course.
I also don't believe it's a world in this dimension, because this dimension is part of Samsara, the same with space and time, those are part of Samsara too, but Amitabha's Pure Land is a Buddha Land, outside the 6 worlds and beyond Triple Realm, so is not a world you may find in our perceptible universe. Amitabha as Enjoyment Body is also very real, more real than us.
What I don't like are those theories that says that Amitabha is just a metaphor and does not exist, like Santa Claus. I may agree that what we actually know about Amitabha are just symbols and not the "real" Amitabha, that cannot be described with human words. But Amitaba is very real. The same I think, applies to Pure Land. We don't have direct knowledge of Pure Land, our limited senses won't let us know it, so, using pictures, images and metaphors we may grasp its meaning.

:thumbsup:
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby futerko » Fri Dec 06, 2013 6:57 am

zamotcr wrote:Yes, it is a place :smile:

I also believe that the descriptions are images and symbols to understand the Pure Land, not actual descriptions. Pure Land is real, but we have to see more than the literal descriptions, of course.
I also don't believe it's a world in this dimension, because this dimension is part of Samsara, the same with space and time, those are part of Samsara too, but Amitabha's Pure Land is a Buddha Land, outside the 6 worlds and beyond Triple Realm, so is not a world you may find in our perceptible universe. Amitabha as Enjoyment Body is also very real, more real than us.
What I don't like are those theories that says that Amitabha is just a metaphor and does not exist, like Santa Claus. I may agree that what we actually know about Amitabha are just symbols and not the "real" Amitabha, that cannot be described with human words. But Amitaba is very real. The same I think, applies to Pure Land. We don't have direct knowledge of Pure Land, our limited senses won't let us know it, so, using pictures, images and metaphors we may grasp its meaning.

:thumbsup:


Given that in our current state, we don't have direct perception, there would only seem to be two options; either to imagine, or to engage on a symbolic level.
The phrase, "just a metaphor," seems misplaced, and would seem to address the first, imaginary ideal, but in fact metaphors really belong to the realm of symbolism.

(by the way, Santa Claus also exists as a symbol, everyone has heard of him, and everyone knows what he represents, therefore he has symbolic currency. Just because he doesn't exist in the way you might imagine he does, does not therefore entitle you to dismiss his symbolic significance to millions of children worldwide.)
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby muni » Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:34 am

:soapbox: Buddha Amitabha ( there is a same conversation about Vajrasattva in the Nyingma forum) real-unreal is what we use to say about but these two are by extremes of samsara. And samsara is the world of idea. Therefore how to describe by the power of conditioned, like drawing a celestial field with palace and everything on a water surface? With a pencil of ideation? Or maybe we are teaching ourselves something by such.
I think to believe the many metaphors which are pointing to: the spiritual wealth of our mind is not found by constructed mental elaborations. The symbols are inspiring like is said, to discover our inner wealth of Mind, as a lamp to see what our habitual focussed on boundaries- eye doesn’t see. :meditate: ( as nondual is also in a post above, we see by habit trees but not together with the space...)

Blah blah…..okay, okay. Have a nice day. :namaste:
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby Arjan Dirkse » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:19 am

Amitabha is very real. It is a little straw doll I have here in my house, I can let you feel and touch it to ascertain its realness.

Real - unreal, metaphor - non metaphor is all a senseless discussion when it comes to faith. Does anyone have physical evidence Amitabha exists, or mathematical proof? Is there photographical evidence of the Pure Land? No. And even if there were such proof, why would that matter? Like the straw doll example, why would realness improve on Amitabha? Likewise metaphor: why would something being a metaphor mean it's less valuable? Love is a metaphor in a way, used to describe chemical processes in the brain. Does that mean love is unreal, or worthless? Of course not.

And sutras are never proof for anything, don't forget sutras - and all scriptures in all religions - are written by the believers. Like Mencius said, people who believe everything that's written in a book shouldn't have any books at all. So what you're left with is your own mind, its hopes and beliefs. That is what faith is, if anything Amitabha is the most real because we believe in him. The problem with the original article that was posted is that it seeks to distinguish between "real entity" and "symbol". But symbols are as real as anything else.
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby muni » Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:40 pm

Maybe in discerning wisdom and dream, that what is meant, is real while all ideations about, like pro and contras aren't.

"Rely on the real meaning, not on the provisional one;
Rely on your wisdom mind, not on your ordinary, judgmental mind".

o o :namaste:
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby steveb1 » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:17 am

Nighthawk wrote:Amida Buddha is a real Buddha otherwise the PL path would be pretty useless and there would be no reason to follow it.


That's pretty much it for me, too. Amida is a real Buddha. We non-Buddhas may not have a clear and complete vision of what a real Buddha is. Shin teaches that we can't know that until, by the working of his grace, we realize Buddhahood in the PL. This is why we have the images of Dharmakara's quest, his instruction by an advanced Buddha, his becoming a bodhisattva and eventually Amida Buddha, as well as painting and statuary depicting him - these give our untransformed, samsaric, human perceptual apparatus something to understand about Amida even in this life. But the invisible Amida is a real Buddha, a transcendent "being". As such, he is "the Really Real", and as such his working is, in Shinran's words, "inconceivable" for us on this side of the mundane-transcendent divide. He is, however, and at the same time, fully present and fully available in the Nembutsu. He is both "Person" and "Power".

And, of course, he is also "Symbol" in a similar way to Jesus in Christianity. Few Christians would deny that Jesus is a transcendent Person and Power, and they also would not deny that Jesus is a potent symbol as well - prince of peace, good shepherd, light of the world, etc., who is mystically present in the believer's soul.
I think that a similar categorization can be applied to Amida as well: "He" is a real, transcendent Buddha, who is also present in the adherent's heart, by his own arrangement and by his own providence.
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby thunderbumble » Sat Dec 07, 2013 8:27 pm

steveb1 wrote:
Nighthawk wrote:Amida Buddha is a real Buddha otherwise the PL path would be pretty useless and there would be no reason to follow it.


That's pretty much it for me, too. Amida is a real Buddha. We non-Buddhas may not have a clear and complete vision of what a real Buddha is. Shin teaches that we can't know that until, by the working of his grace, we realize Buddhahood in the PL. This is why we have the images of Dharmakara's quest, his instruction by an advanced Buddha, his becoming a bodhisattva and eventually Amida Buddha, as well as painting and statuary depicting him - these give our untransformed, samsaric, human perceptual apparatus something to understand about Amida even in this life. But the invisible Amida is a real Buddha, a transcendent "being". As such, he is "the Really Real", and as such his working is, in Shinran's words, "inconceivable" for us on this side of the mundane-transcendent divide. He is, however, and at the same time, fully present and fully available in the Nembutsu. He is both "Person" and "Power".

And, of course, he is also "Symbol" in a similar way to Jesus in Christianity. Few Christians would deny that Jesus is a transcendent Person and Power, and they also would not deny that Jesus is a potent symbol as well - prince of peace, good shepherd, light of the world, etc., who is mystically present in the believer's soul.
I think that a similar categorization can be applied to Amida as well: "He" is a real, transcendent Buddha, who is also present in the adherent's heart, by his own arrangement and by his own providence.

Jesus said,
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind", before also referring to a second commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself".

Key words, "heart, body and mind". This was inscribed on the back of the Thangka I have in Tibetan.

Amida Buddha, to me, is unconditional love.
Wisdom and Compassion combined is Love.
I believe, this Love can fulfil the 8 Fold Path.
The Buddha said,

“Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will develop and cultivate the liberation of mind by lovingkindness, make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it.’ Thus should you train yourselves.”

NAMU AMIDA BUTSU
The Buddha taught


So, bhikkhus, you should train in this way: The heart-deliverance of loving-kindness will be maintained in being and made much of by us, used as our vehicle, used as our foundation, established, consolidated, and properly managed. That is how you should train
Samyutta Nikaya 20:3
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby thunderbumble » Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:39 am

Misquote, "body, speech and mind".
The Buddha taught


So, bhikkhus, you should train in this way: The heart-deliverance of loving-kindness will be maintained in being and made much of by us, used as our vehicle, used as our foundation, established, consolidated, and properly managed. That is how you should train
Samyutta Nikaya 20:3
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby Jiko » Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:39 am

So much doubt. If only everyone just recited Buddhas name with singleness of mind, they would see what is real or not real.

To my mind it goes like this;

Shakyamuni did preach on vulture peak about Amida, Honen Shonin said he was there and I believe him.
Amida Buddha manifested as Shan Tao and Honen in samadhi received direct transmission from Shan Tao who was Amida Buddha.

This is the simple faith with which I accept the teaching, with this firm in mind and unshakable by any, I just go on reciting.

We cannot get answers debating if Amida is a symbol or not, the answers are in the name itself.
Where disputation takes place, blind passions arise. The wise keep their distance
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:30 am

dude wrote:For instance, when we learn in the Lotus Sutra that the lifespan of the Buddha is truly inconceivably long

What do you mean by this exactly? That the Buddha lived for a very long time? Or do you mean that the Buddha doesn't really die, but tells people he's leaving as a way to motivate their seeking minds?


One way to understand that statement in the Lotus Sutra is that Buddha identifies himself with Dharmakaya, and thus he is beyond time and history.
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:27 am

thunderbumble wrote:Buddha Shakyamuni died 500 years before that sutra was written. Mahayana scholars say Buddha Shakyamuni never gave this sermon. It's allegorical.


There is certain logic why it is possible and likely that Buddha actually thought the Mahayana teaching about Buddha Amitabha. The preserved Sravakayana teachings are not the whole Dharma, or the whole of what the Buddha Shakyamuni taught.
In the Sravakayana doctrine it is possible that in the course of spiritual evolution a human being can become a Brahma, can become Ishvara or Indra. In the Theravada Canon Buddha tells that in his past life he had been a Brahma for one whole cosmic era, a mahakalpa. It is also said there that Indra had become Indra through the practice of mindfullness. In Buddhism a being's spiritual evolution takes place in the course of hundred thousands of lives, hundred millions of lives.

Thus it is logical that cosmic buddhas such as Vairocana, Akshobhya, Ratnaketu, Amitayus, etc... have come to exist during the vast and immense course of time. Their place is logical in buddhism.
Like in the biological or ordinary evolution there have appeared giraffs, elephants, dolphins, frogs, snails, ants, humans, etc.. during the vast geological eras.

Otherwise there would have been only the Brahmanical gods for certain kind of people, for certain kind of buddhist followers.
The body of a human being is not the final limit to the spiritual evolution. Thus there are the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Dharma is very subtle, difficult to understand, and many people cannot understand their difference to Brahmanical Gods, (the difference of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to brahmanical or other gods). Many people cannot understand any other Dharma than Sravakayana. They do not see the logical necessity of the Mahayana.
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby daverupa » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:37 pm

Aemilius wrote:They do not see the logical necessity of the Mahayana.


Well, it wasn't historically taught by the Buddha, so logically necessary or not it's a simsapa leaf he left on the tree.

Nor is 'Mahayana' one thing such that it's logically necessary, since between its many iterations Mahayana is sometimes logically contradictory, having developed over so much time, with so many different texts sometimes talking at cross purposes. Even something basic such as the understanding of skillful means - once meaning the skill of meditating and not accidentally becoming awakened as a mere arahant - comes to mean very different things later on as a result.

So even if the path is logically necessary, the teachings about it are all over the map and not from the Buddha. They are to do with other (ideas about) Buddhas, and so are Buddhism in a very general sense, but none of it appears to be what the historical guy was up to.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby steveb1 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:39 pm

Aemilius, thank you for that fascinating, articulate contribution. The considerations you raised and facts you presented definitely increased my appreciation and reverence for the Mahayana :)
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:43 am

daverupa wrote:
Aemilius wrote:They do not see the logical necessity of the Mahayana.


Well, it wasn't historically taught by the Buddha, so logically necessary or not it's a simsapa leaf he left on the tree.

Nor is 'Mahayana' one thing such that it's logically necessary, since between its many iterations Mahayana is sometimes logically contradictory, having developed over so much time, with so many different texts sometimes talking at cross purposes. Even something basic such as the understanding of skillful means - once meaning the skill of meditating and not accidentally becoming awakened as a mere arahant - comes to mean very different things later on as a result.

So even if the path is logically necessary, the teachings about it are all over the map and not from the Buddha. They are to do with other (ideas about) Buddhas, and so are Buddhism in a very general sense, but none of it appears to be what the historical guy was up to.


Well, we can't really know what he taught if we were not there, can we?
Even if we had been present, we could have heard and understood it differently. Dependent on our mental capacity and other factors. Then we would each repeat our own versions of what we had heard and understood, and go on like this for decades and centuries. What did the historical Buddha teach in that case?

And also, to use a metaphor that was used by the Shakyamuni, which compares Dharma to climbing a mountain: When You have climbed certain distance and have reached a higher altitude, You will know personally what things are necessary there, at the higher altitude. Things that were impossible to understand when You were on the sealevel.
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Re: Namo Amitabha Buddha, True and False

Postby daverupa » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:56 pm

Aemilius wrote: Well, we can't really know what he taught if we were not there, can we?


We have very good ideas about it, in fact.

Even if we had been present, we could have heard and understood it differently. Dependent on our mental capacity and other factors. Then we would each repeat our own versions of what we had heard and understood, and go on like this for decades and centuries. What did the historical Buddha teach in that case?


The oral recitation lineages worked differently than this. The favorable comparisons between the Agamas and Nikayas bear witness to a strong and mostly successful conservation effort. Large-scale differences set in with the various Abhidhammas, and these broaden further within the various Commentarial and Mahayana traditions.

And also, to use a metaphor that was used by the Shakyamuni, which compares Dharma to climbing a mountain: When You have climbed certain distance and have reached a higher altitude, You will know personally what things are necessary there, at the higher altitude. Things that were impossible to understand when You were on the sealevel.


Interesting; have you a citation for this from within that body of early oral material (i.e. an Agama cite, maybe something from a Nikaya)?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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