Pureland study group anyone?

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Namgyal » Fri May 17, 2013 4:37 am

PorkChop wrote:Maybe these links will help?

Thankyou.
:namaste:
Namgyal
 
Posts: 339
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:13 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Fri May 17, 2013 5:50 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Fifth Verse
"In addition, Sariputra, in that land are various kinds of unusual, wonderful birds of diverse colors, such as white cranes, peacocks, parrots, saris, kalavinkas, and jivajivas. Day and night in the six periods, these birds sing in harmonious, exquisite tones. These tones pronounce Dharmas, such as the Five Roots, the Five Powers, the Seven Bodhi Factors, and the Eightfold Right Path. Sentient beings that hear these tones all think of the Buddha, think of the Dharma, and think of the Sangha. Sariputra, do not say that these birds are born as a form of requital for sins [in their past lives]. Why not? Because, Sariputra, that Buddha Land does not have the three evil life-paths. Sariputra, even the names of the three evil life-paths do not exist in that Buddha Land, much less the actual paths. These birds are all magically manifested by Amitabha Buddha to have the Dharma tones flow everywhere."

Thich Hai-Quang Commentary
    The Five Roots:
  • 1. Faith Root (having faith in Buddhism)
  • 2. Vigor Root (cultivating with vigor, perseverance, etc)
  • 3. Mindful Root (always thinking and remembering the Buddha's teachings)
  • 4. Samadhi Concentration Root (mind is not having chaos, disturbance, emotion, distraction, feeling, etc)
  • 5. Wisdom Root (having great Buddhist wisdom)
    The Five Power:
  • 1. Faith Power (strength arising from having faith root)
  • 2. Vigor Power (strength arising from having vigor root)
  • 3. Mindful Power (strength arising from having mindful root, always remembering the words the Buddha taught)
  • 4. Samadhi Concentration Power (strength arising from having samadhi root)
  • 5. Wisdom Power (strength arising from having wisdom root)
    The Seven Parts of the Bodhi Mind (Buddhahood):
  • 1. Selective Dharma (choosing the most appropriate Dharma according to individual's preferences to cultivate and practice.)
  • 2. Vigor (always striving to cultivate all dharmas without being late and lazy)
  • 3. Happiness (always cultivate with contentment and joy)
  • 4. Peaceful (mind is at peace, light, etc.)
  • 5. Mindful (always remember the proper Dharma teaching)
  • 6. Samadhi (the mind does not get distracted, delusional, fall asleep while cultivating)
  • 7. Letting Go (letting go all binding matters such as beauty [form], money, fame, advantage, eating, resting, love, hate, etc.)
    The Eight Proper Paths of Enlightenment:
  • 1. Proper View: see and know properly according to the Buddha's teachings).
  • 2. Proper Introspection (thought): examine all dharmas according to the Buddha's proper teaching.
  • 3. Proper Speech: always speak according to the proper Dharma.
  • 4. Proper Conducts: carefully safeguard the three karmic faculties of Body, Speech, and Mind by not violating the Ten Evils(karma): Body does not: kill, steal, and commit sexual misconduct; Speech does not: lie, insult, gossip, and speak with a double-tongue; and Mind does not have: greed, hatred, and ignorance.
  • 5. Proper Life (Lifelihood): rely on Buddhist wisdom to live life.
  • 6. Proper Vigor (Effort): vigorously practice all GOOD actions and avoid all EVIL actions.
  • 7. Proper Mindfulness: always remember the four-greatfuls: Grateful for the Triple Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha); greatful for mother and father; grateful for sentient beings, and grateful for one's teacher
  • 8. Proper Samadhi (Meditation): keep the mind from being distracted and being disturbed in facing the forces of life.

Evil Paths: Animal, Hungry-Ghost, and Hell. These are three suffering paths of Greed (Hungry Ghost), Hatred (Hell), and Stupidity/Ignorance (Animal). They are evil paths because sentient beings in these realms are serving the evil karmic retributions they created as human beings.

The birds: are not formed because of their karma of being an animal (similar to our world) but are there because the Amitabha Buddha made them appear by using his extraordinary spiritual powers.

Hsuan Hua Commentary:
Sari = Egret = the "Sari" in "Sariputra", it was his mother's name.
Kalavinka is a Sanskrit word which means "good sounding bird", before it has even hatched, it sings more melodiously than anoy other bird.
JivaJivas = Two-headed birds (gong ming niao). Living beings are born this way as karmic retribution for too much sexual activity. Because the husband's and wife's sexual desire was so heavy that they indulged in intercourse day and night, they fell and turned into a bird-body with two heads. They have different consciousness, but the same karmic retribution. So be careful! If your sexual desire is too intense you may become a two-headed bird.
For people thinking to become birds in future lives: be careful, a bird's retribution is incredible; it's wisdom decreases life after life. But if you have wisdom, you won't fall.

On the birds singing the Dharma: Their clear and joyful sounds sound good to everyone. Everyone who hears them becomes happy because the sounds penetrate right into the heart. What is heard in the clear and joyful sounds? The sounds of the birds are the sounds of the Dharma.

On the Five Roots (same as above): the five roots germinate Bodhi seeds and cause your Bodhi heart to grow until it fully matures into the Five Powers.
The Five Powers are the same.
Hsuan Hua's 7 factors of enlightenment are slightly different...
    Seven Bodhi Shares: (Also the Seven Limbs of Enlightenment
  • 1. Selecting a Dharma
  • 2. Vigorously cultivating it
  • 3. Joy, derived from cultivation
  • 4. Casting out coarse delusions
  • 5. Renouncing subtle delusions
  • 6. Samadhi
  • 7. Mindfulness

Hsuan Hua goes into depth on the 8 fold path, some highlights:
Proper Thought (#2) he talks a lot about outflows.
Proper Action (#4) he talks a lot about purity of the karmas of the body, speech, & mind
Proper Lifelihood (#5) he lists the 5 kinds of improper livelihood:
1. a Monk showing off for followers
2. Speaking of your own merit and virtue.
3. Fortune Telling
4. Shouting and bragging.
5. Speaking of your own offerings.
Proper Vigor (#6) He talks about practicing day and night, no chit-chatting.
Proper Mindfulness (#8) is again about being mindful of outflows.

And dharmas such as these refers to the Four Applications of Mindfulness, the Five Roots, the Five Powers, the Seven Bodhi Shares, the Eight Sagely Way Shares, the Four Right Efforts, and the Four Bases of Supernatural Power - 37 in all.
    Four Right Efforts:
  • 1. Put an end to evil which already exists
  • 2. Preventing evil not yet arisen from arising
  • 3. Bringing goodness which does not yet exist into existence
  • 4. Developing the good which already exists.
    The Four Bases of Supernatural Power are:
  • 1. Zeal,
  • 2. Vigor,
  • 3. Mindfulness,
  • 4. Thought.
Also mentions that the birds are not born in the realms of animals, they are transformations of Amitabha Buddha's Dharma power.

BDK Notes:
JivaJiva bird becomes "Jivamjivaka"
"Kalavinka" refers to a mythological bird with a woman's head said to possess a wonderful voice.
"Sari" = A talking bird; possibly a mynah
    Five Roots: (which lead to the Five Powers)
  • 1. Faith in the Three Treasures and the Four Noble Truths.
  • 2. Making efforts to do good
  • 3. Being mindful of the true Dharma
  • 4. Concentration
  • 5. Insight into the true nature of things
    Seven practices leading to enlightenment:
  • 1. Distinguishing the true Dharma from wrong views.
  • 2. Making efforts to practice the true Dharma
  • 3. Rejoicing in the true Dharma
  • 4. Eliminating torpor and attaining ease and relaxation
  • 5. Practicing mindfulness to maintain the equilibrium of concentration and insight
  • 6. Concentration
  • 7. Mental detachment from external objects, thereby establishing a serene mind

Personal Notes:
Feels like this one just about covers all the lists.
I might come up with more comments or questions when I'm not so tired. :)
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Sat May 18, 2013 5:41 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Sixth Verse
"Sariputra, as breezes blow in that Buddha Land, the jeweled trees in lines and the jeweled nets [with bells] make wonderful music, like 100,000 melodies playing at the same time. Those who hear these tones spontaneously think of the Buddha, think of the Dharma, and think of the Sangha. Sariputra, that Buddha Land is formed with such virtues as its adornments!"

Rulu Note:
On the nets: F. Max Muller footnotes in Buddhist Mahayana Texts, that he translates the Sanskrit word kankanijalanam (bells of nets) as strings of bells. however, bells can hang from a net (jala), as described in the Mahayana Sutra of Consciousness Revealed. So the term is translated as nets with bells.

Hsuan Hua Commentary:
The gentle breezes blow through small bells hanging from the seven layers of netting on the seven rows of trees. Their sound helps us recollect the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha and is like a hundred thousand kinds of subtle music playing harmoniously all at once. Those who hear these sounds have no defiled thoughts but instead naturally recite, Namo Amitabha Buddha; Namo Amitabha Dharma; Namo Amitabha Sangha Amitabha Dharma? It's the Dharma which Amitabha Buddha taught, how can you not say "Namo Amitabha Dharma?" This is also the Sangha which Amitabha Buddha taught and transformed, so how can you not say, "Namo Amitabha Sangha?" Don't be so unimaginitive. My explanation is a new explanation for an old meaning, just like my explanation of Nirvana: "Nir" means "not produced" and "Vana" means "not destroyed." What is not produced? Sexual desire. What is not destroyed? Wisdom.

In the realm of Nirvana, the Buddha has no sexual desire, he is clear, pure, and undefiled. He is without improper thoughts of desire. His self-nature constantly gives rise to wisdom which is never destroyed.

Personal Notes:
This makes me think of my earlier statement about seeing the every day world as the Pure Land. This almost goes back to T'ien T'ai/Tendai doctrine of Original Enlightenment in that even nature around us & hanging bells can teach us, they make us mindful of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. To quote Doko "Can you find the Buddha in your annoyed thoughts in traffic? In the dust on a bookshelf? The ant crawling across your counter?"
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Sun May 19, 2013 7:53 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Seventh Verse
"Sariputra, what is your opinion? Why is that Buddha called Amitabha? Sariputra, that Buddha's radiance is infinite, illuminating worlds in the ten directions, hindrance free. Therefore, He is called Amitabha. Moreover, Sariputra, the lifespan of that Buddha and His people is measureless, limitless asamkhyeya kalpas. Therefore, He is called Amitayus. Sariputra, it has been ten kalpas since Amitabha Buddha attained Buddhahood. In addition, Sariputra, that Buddha has innumerable, countless voice-hearer disciples. All of them are Arhats, their numbers unknowable by calculation. Equally unknowable is the size of the multitude of Bodhisattvas. Sariputra, that Buddha Land is formed with such virtues as its adornments!"

Thich Hai-Quang Commentary
Says that whenever "kalpa" is used without a qualifier of "small" or "medium", then it means a Great Kalpa, which he lists as 1,344,000,000 years.
Typically 20 Small Kalpas in 1 Medium Kalpa and 4 Medium Kalpas in 1 Great Kalpa.

Hsuan Hua Commentary
Why is this Buddha called Amitabha? Amitabha means "limitless light." This Buddha's light is immeasurable so that not a single land in the ten directions is screened from it. For this reason he is called Amitabha.

Asamkhyeya, a Sanskrit word, means "limitless number." Amitayus means "limitless life." It's been 10 Great Kalpas, or aeons, since he became a Buddha and how many great kalpas he will live in the future is uncertain, but boundless, measureless, asamkheyaya kalpas they will be.

In Amitabha Buddha's Land of Ultimate Bliss, there are many Sravakas, "sound-hearer" disciples who have certified to the attainment of non-outflows and are all Arhats without desire. You can't count them. The assembly of Bodhisattvas is just as big.
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Berry » Sun May 19, 2013 9:45 am

Could you give a link to the website for this information please ?


many thanks


Berry
.
"Don’t burden others with your expectations. Understanding their limitations can inspire compassion instead of disappointment " ~ Chagdud Tulku
User avatar
Berry
 
Posts: 146
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:19 am

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Sun May 19, 2013 6:58 pm

Berry wrote:Could you give a link to the website for this information please ?

many thanks

Berry


I'm reading out of like 4 hard copy books, luckily some do have electronic copies.

For Rulu's translation:
http://www.sutrasmantras.info/sutra23.html

For Hsuan Hua's translation & commentary:
http://cttbusa.org/amitabhacommentary/contents.htm

For the BDK's translation & commentary:
http://www.bdkamerica.org/digital/dBET_ ... s_2003.pdf

For Thich Hai Quang's translation & commentary, no pdf that I know of but book can be found here:
http://www.dharmaflowertemple.com/index ... &Itemid=68

Sorry I didn't cover more commentaries, I feel like I left out a lot of Japanese & Korean commentaries, as well as a lot of older commentaries.
I wanted to stick with line-by-line/verse-by-verse style commentary and that's what I had.
I'll try to start pulling more from Mind-Seal of the Buddhas.
I've been waiting on my hard copy of this book for months, so I'll start using the following link (provided by Astus):
http://www.ymba.org/books/mind-seal-buddhas
FYI - the stickied resources thread entry for this link is out of date.

EDIT: Quick note - The entire link below is a commentary on the last passage from the sutra that I quoted above:
http://www.ymba.org/books/mind-seal-bud ... s-amitabha
I could cut and paste, but I think that'd be redundant
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Berry » Sun May 19, 2013 9:27 pm

Thank you very much.


:namaste:
.
"Don’t burden others with your expectations. Understanding their limitations can inspire compassion instead of disappointment " ~ Chagdud Tulku
User avatar
Berry
 
Posts: 146
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:19 am

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Mon May 20, 2013 5:25 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Eighth Verse
"Furthermore, Sariputra, sentient beings reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss are at the spiritual level of avinivartaniya. Many among them are in the holy position of waiting to attain Buddhahood in their next life. Their numbers are so large that they are unknowable by calculation, and can be reckoned only in terms of measureless, limitless asamkhyeyas. Sariputra, sentient beings that have heard [of that land] should resolve to reborn in that land. Why? To be in the same place together with people of superior virtues. Sariputra, no one with the condition of few roots of goodness and a meager store of merits can be reborn in that land."

Thich Hai-Quang Commentary
Translates "avinivartaniya" as "Non-retrogression State: they will never again regress until the day they attain the Ultimate Enlightenment of Buddhahood."

Hsuan Hua Commentary
In Hsuan Hua's translation, the word is "avaivartika" and translates it as "not retreating or turning away." Those beings who are avaivartika do not retreat in position, conduct, or thought. (para) Not retreating in position means that they do not retreat to the position of common men, or if they have aspirations to complete Buddhahood, then they do not retreat to the position of "premature Nirvana". Not retreating in thought means that every day their thoughts to cultivate increase. Not retreating in conduct means that day by day they work harder and never say, "I have cultivated for quite a while, it is time to take a rest." Taking a rest is simply retreating and turning away from Annuttarasamyaksambodhi, "the utmost right and perfect enlightenment." Those who are avaivartika do not retreat in their quest for Bodhi.

There are many living beings in the Land of Ultimate Bliss who in this very life can step into the position of Buddhahood. Born in a lotus flower, in one life they can realize Buddhahood. How many such beings are there? You could never count them all. They can't be calculated or even estimated. All you can say is that, in limitless, measureless asamkhyeya kalpas, you could not name them all.

Although you may express the desire to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, unless you have good roots, blessings, and virtuous conduct, you won't be able to be reborn there. You must have cultivated all the Paramita doors for many lifetimes and in this way obtained great good roots, great blessings, and great virtue, in order to have the opportunity to meet this wonderful Dharma.

Mind-Seal of the Buddhas
[What is the special excellence of the Pure Land?] Sentient beings can be reborn there carrying their karmic load with them, and thereby transcend the triple world "horizontally." [Amitabha's Pure Land] is a pure land where saints and ordinary beings dwell together, but it includes all Four Lands [the Land where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together, the Land of Expedient Liberation, the Land of Real Reward, and the Land of Eternally Quiescent Light], and reveals the four teachings [elementary, common, special, and complete].

Sentient beings who are born in Amitabha's Pure Land purify the Four Lands completely, see the three Buddha-bodies perfectly, and fully arrive at the point where they cannot fall back from their position, from their practice, or their mindfulness. All the people in Amitahha's Pure Land will attain enlightenment in one lifetime.

The sutra uses a Sanskrit word, "avaivartika", which means "not falling back". [There are three senses of this "not falling back" that apply to sentient beings in the Pure Land.] First, they do not fall back from their position: having entered the holy stream [four levels of sagehood culminating in Arhatship], they do not fall back to the level of gods and men. Second, they do not fall back from their practice: as followers of the Bodhisattva path they continue to work for the salvation of all beings, and do not fall back (para) in regards to their concerns being limited to individual salvation. Third, they do not fall back from their mindfulness: from mind-moment to mind-moment, they flow into the ocean of all-knowledge...

In Amitabha's Pure Land, the ten forms of mindfulness are fully developed, and even those who dwell in its lowest level, and have been born in there bringing along their karmic burdens, do not fall back from their position, from their practice, or from their mindfulness...

According to the doctrines of the non-Pure Land Buddhist scriptures, it is a major error and a deviation from the established terminology to speak of skipping stages.

It is only in Amitabha's Pure Land, where saints and ordinary beings dwell together, that people are not in any of these stages, and yet in all of them. Such transcendence of names and forms does not exist in any other Buddha-land: this definition of stages and levels, this teaching, does not exist in any other Buddha-land. But how could any of this exist if not for the ultimate reality of the true nature of mind, if not for the special effect of reciting the Buddha-name, if not for the great vows of Amitabha?

[In the non-Pure Land Buddhist scriptures] the stage of having only one lifetime to go before enlightenment is generally attributed only to Bodhisattvas. But everyone in the Land of Ultimate Bliss will achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. Everyone in the Pure Land is sure to experience the stage of having only one lifetime to go before enlightenment, and among them are countless numbers of such superlative [Bodhisattvas].

Among the teachings given by Sakyamuni Buddha for a certain era, only the Flower Ornament [Avatamsaka] Sutra explains perfect realization in a single lifetime. The basis for perfect realization is explained in the Chapter on the "Vows of Samantabhadra", in the Ten Great Vows showing the way back to the land called "Peaceful Nurturing" [another name for Amitabha's Pure Land]. The Flower Ornament [Avatamsaka] Sutra is thus urging the whole assembly in the Flower Treasury World (cosmos) on toward the Pure Land.

How amazing! Ordinary people [in the Pure Land] reach the stage of having only one lifetime to go before enlightenment, just like the great Bodhisattvas. What a sublime teaching -- it is truly unfathomable! What was given to us in the Flower Ornament [Avatamsaka] Sutra is here in the Amitabha Sutra. Yet from ancient times until now, few have believed in it, and many have doubted it. Complex writings have been produced, but the truth has been sacrificed. All I can do to set things right is give my heart's blood.

The Arhats and the Bodhisattvas the sutra talks about at the beginning [as part of the assembly listening to Buddha expound the sutra] can be called "good people". But only those with only one lifetime to go before enlightenment, those who are at the top level of the causal ground for enlightenment, are called "beings of superior goodness" (beings of the highest virtue). The sutra says "all these beings of superior goodness" because their number is large.

"Being together" expresses the idea that in the Pure Land the ordinary and the holy live together. There are sages of real attainment, who still carry some past impure karma, and sages adept in provisional expedients, with their vows of great compassion, so ordinary people in the Pure Land get to live together with holy sages. There are real saints whose desires have been extinguished, and teachers with skill in means whose entanglements have been ended. They differ widely in levels of attainment, and of bliss, but for the time being they are together in the Pure Land.

In our mundane world, on the other hand, those who see and hear [such holy sages] are few, and among those who do have the good fortune to see or hear them, few can approach them.

When a Buddha is in the world, there may be relatively many holy ones [helping to spread the teaching], but after all they are still rare jewels, and they cannot cover the whole world like the stars of the firmament.

But even though Amitabha's Pure Land is a place where saints and ordinary beings dwell together, what they do and what they accomplish there are far from the same.

Those who have been born in the Pure Land are together due to their stainless karma and inconceivable deeds. These beings act as one another's teachers, and work in harmony, so that they may end ignorance together, and together achieve wondrous enlightenment.

The ordinary lowly ones born in the Pure Land, by virtue of not falling back from mindfulness, have transcended [many levels of Bodhisattvahood]. If we say they are ordinary people, [this is wrong, because they are beyond the cycle of rebirth]; they are on the verge of becoming enlightened, and are no different from the great Bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta. Although they are going to attain enlightenment in one lifetime, still, they must be called ordinary people, and they cannot be called Bodhisattvas with enlightenment equal to the Buddhas. This state of affairs cannot be encompassed by the systems of the non-Pure Land sutras, and has no precedent in Buddha-lands other than Amitabha's Pure Land.

We must realize that in our great mission to open up enlightened perception, this barrier to the Land Where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together is the hardest to cross over. The Land of Ultimate Bliss, Amitabha's Pure Land Where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together, is unique -- it goes beyond all the other pure lands where saints and ordinary beings live together.

Only when we comprehend this can we have deep faith in the power of the vows of Amitabha. Only when we believe in the power of Amitabha Buddha can we have deep faith in the merits of his name. Only when we invoke the name of Amitabha can we have deep faith that the True Nature of our own minds is actually inconceivable. Only when we have this deep faith can we make great vows.

The text of the sutra says sentient beings must take a vow to be born in the Pure Land. This word "must" points to deep faith. Making vows with deep faith is precisely the Mind of Supreme Enlightenment. In sum, faith and vows are truly the guiding compass to the Pure Land. Relying on faith and vows and consistently invoking the Buddha-name is correct practice.

If your faith and vows are solid and strong, then even you recite the Buddha-name only ten times, or only once, as you are on the brink of death, you are sure to attain birth in the Pure Land. Without faith and vows, even if you recite the Buddha-name until [you achieve a level of concentration the Zen literature describes as] "wind cannot enter you and rain cannot wet you" and "you stand like a silver wall or and iron wall", you will still not have a way to be born in the Pure Land.

Those who cultivate Pure Land practices must realize this truth. The Longer Amitabha Sutra also takes vows as essential and is identical in meaning to this section.

Good roots stem from the Bodhi Mind, the direct causal basis. Other meritorious actions that promote the path, such as charity, discipline, and meditation, bring merits and virtues.

Literalist disciples of (para) the other paths who only worry about personal salvation, have few good roots. The meritorious deeds and virtues of human beings and gods, defiled as they are, are also few. These will not enable you to be born in the Pure Land. Only if you have faith and vows and recite the Buddha-name will each and every repetition of the Buddha-name be amply supplied with good roots and merits. Even if you invoke the Buddha-name in a scattered state of mind, the merits and good roots are still incalculable -- how much the more so when you invoke the Buddha name single-mindedly without confusion.

On the subject of rebirth, [Zen Master Hsing An] stated, quoting the Amitabha Sutra: "the Sutra says 'You cannot hope to be reborn in the Pure Land with little merit and virtue and few causes and conditions or good roots. Therefore, you should have numerous merits and virtues as well as good roots to qualify for rebirth in the Pure Land. However, there is no better way to plant numerous good roots than to develop the Bodhi Mind, while the best way to achieve merit and virtues is to recite the name of Amitabha Buddha. A moment of singleminded recitation surpasses years of practicing charity; truly developing the Bodhi Mind surpasses eons of cultivation. Holding firmly to these two causes and conditions assures rebirth in the Pure Land" (Thich Thien Tam,Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith, sect. 11).

The development of the Bodhi Mind (the aspiration for Enlightenment to benefit both self and others) is crucial in Pure Land Buddhism. Without this Bodhi Mind, the cultivator will not be fulfilling the ultimate intention of the Buddhas - to help all sentient beings become frilly enlightened.

Personal Notes
Up till now, I've been typing this all in by hand. Finding those links for Berry made me realize that maybe I didn't have to. I think I'll type in everything but the Mind-Seal commentaries by hand. I feel like I get a lot out of typing it. I'll still read through the Mind-Seal commentary and paraphrase anything that might not be so diplomatic.

The last sentence about people with few good roots & meager stores of merit not being able to be born there is intriguing to me. Japanese Shin Buddhists teach that any self effort to establish good roots and earn merits are tainted by selfishness; therefore, charity and other good deeds ultimately have no bearing (you see a similar discussion in Christianity about whether or not charity is ultimately selfish). To Shinran by truly having faith you are in effect practicing and making a vow. The quote from Zen Master Hsing An addresses the issue in another way - that charity & good deeds ultimately fall short of developing the Bodhi Mind. The way Ou-I puts it, making the vows in deep faith seems primary, and "Bodhi Mind" seems to mean "bodhicitta" or "the aspiration for Enlightenment for the sake of all Sentient Beings". Personally, I'm not a big fan of downplaying the paramitas, but I guess if you truly embrace the mind that will sacrifice early liberation to achieve perfect enlightenment for the sake of others, then practicing the paramitas will manifest naturally. For me, the paramitas are not about getting some reward, they are practice, to improve myself and help overcome my afflictions.
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby SeeknShinjin » Mon May 20, 2013 6:45 am

Hello,
Thank you for putting together this study. I am apart of the Jodo Shinshu Tradition. May I add this comment from Shinran's view of good and evil:
When the thought of saying the nembutsu erupts from deep within, having entrusted ourselves to the inconceivable power of Amida's vow which saves us, enabling us to be born in the Pure Land, we receive at that very moment the ultimate benefit of being grasped never to be abandoned.

Amida's Primal Vow does not discriminate between the young and old, good and evil - true entrusting alone is essential. The reason is that the Vow is directed to the person burdened with the weight of karmic evil and burning with the flames of blind passion.

Thus, in entrusting ourselves to the Primal Vow, no other form of good is necessary, for there is no good that surpasses the nembutsu. And evil need not be feared, for there is no evil which can obstruct the working of Amida's Primal Vow.

http://www.livingdharma.org/Tannisho/Ta ... rsI-X.html


True Entrusting is Faith.

Thanks,
SeeknShinjin
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed May 15, 2013 4:52 am
Location: Fontana, CA

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Mon May 20, 2013 4:03 pm

SeeknShinjin wrote:Hello,
Thank you for putting together this study. I am apart of the Jodo Shinshu Tradition. May I add this comment from Shinran's view of good and evil:
...



Thanks for that!
If you see anywhere else where I may I have missed something, please add.
I plan on picking up a copy of the Kyougyoushinshou when I can get around to it and I already picked up a copy of the Tannisho; unfortunately I haven't read either yet. The extent of my Shin & Jodo knowledge comes from podcasts (esp DharmaRealm), blogs (esp Echo of the Dharma), a few youtube clips from one of the San Jose temples, and miscellaneous sites on line - in other words, my knowledge is severely lacking. :)
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby SeeknShinjin » Mon May 20, 2013 9:28 pm

I use the online translation of Kyogyoshinsho as its free haha here:
http://www.shinranworks.com/index.htm

You are doing great though, were all learning together.

Thanks,
:twothumbsup:
SeeknShinjin
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed May 15, 2013 4:52 am
Location: Fontana, CA

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Thu May 23, 2013 6:38 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Ninth Verse
"Sariputra, if, among good men and good women, there are those who, having heard of Amitabha Buddha, single-mindedly uphold His name for one day, two days, three days, four days, five days, six days, or seven days, without being distracted, then upon their dying, Amitabha Buddha, together with a holy multitude, will appear before them. When these people die, their minds will not be demented and they will be reborn in Amitabha Buddha's Land of Ultimate Bliss. Sariputra, I see this benefit, so I speak these words. If there are sentient beings that hear what I say, they should resolve to be reborn in that land."

Hsuan Hua Commentary
Hsuan Hua equates "good man or woman" to one who holds the five precepts and cultivates the 10 good deeds. Hey says they "should hold to the recitation of Amitabha Buddha's name, just like holding something tightly in the hand." He talks about the character for "whether", talking about how close it is to the character for "suffering", so you could say "suffering for one day, two days...."

If you recite the Buddha's name from four o'clock in the morning until ten at night for seven days, you can reach the level of one heart unconfused. When your life is about to end, Amitabha Buddha thinks, "That living being suffered for seven days reciting my name, and so now I will guide him to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The time has come!" Then, Amitabha with Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva, and the entire clear, pure, ocean-wide assembly of Bodhisattvas appear before you, and lead you to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. If you think you can escape, you can't. you are surrounded. At this time, your heart is without inversion. You won't say, "I don't want to go! It's too boring there!" It would never occur to you to refuse Amitabha's invitation, and so you are born at once in the Western Land.

Previously, the text said, "Those living beings who hear should vow, 'I wish to be born in that country.'" This passage says, "I will be born in that land," that is "I vow that I shall certainly be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss."

Mind Seal of the Buddhas
[By invoking the Buddha-name], you will bring on a response -- the impression is made and the seal is lifted -- Amitabha and his holy retinue come to you without coming, and extend a hand to lead you off. You, the person practicing Buddha-name recitation, recognize Amitabha in your mind, and you go to the Pure Land without going, placing yourself in a jewel lotus there.

When the sutra speaks of "good men and good women", it does not matter whether they are monks and nuns or householders, or whether they are high-ranking or low-ranking or old or young. No matter what your station in life, all you have to do is hear the Buddha-name, and the good roots you have accumulated over many eons immediately ripen, and all forms of evil and perversity are transformed into virtues.

"Amitabha Buddha" is the all-inclusive term for the myriad virtues. When you use the name of Amitabha to summon virtue, all the virtues are engendered. Thus, reciting the name of Amitabha is the correct practice, and you do not need to get involved with other practices such as visualization or meditation. Reciting the name of Amitabha is the simplest and most direct method.

If you hear [the Buddha-name] and believe in it, if you believe in it and make vows, then you are fit to recite the Buddha-name. If you do not have faith and do not make vows, it is as if you never heard [the Buddha-name] at all. Merely hearing the name of Amitabha [without faith and vows] may become a long-term causal basis [for your enlightenment], but it cannot be called the "wisdom that comes from hearing".

Reciting the Buddha-name is a matter of being mindful of the Buddha-name from moment to moment --thus it is the "wisdom that comes from reflecting [on what you heard]".

There are two levels of practice in reciting the Buddha-name: reciting the Buddha-name at the phenomenal level and reciting the Buddha-name at the level of inner truth (noumenon).

1. Reciting the Buddha-name at the phenomenal level means believing that Amitabha exists in his Pure Land in the West, but not yet comprehending that he is a Buddha created by the Mind, and that this Mind is Buddha. It means you resolve to make vows and to seek birth in the Pure Land, like a child longing for its mother, and never forgetting her for a moment.

2. Reciting the Buddha-name at the level of inner truth (noumenon) means believing that Amitabha and his Pure Land in the West are inherent features of our own [pure] Minds, the creation of our own [pure] Minds. It means using the great name of Amitabha, which is inherent in our Minds and the creation of our Minds, as a focal point to concentrate our minds on, so that we never forget it for a moment.

The sutra speaks of reciting the Buddha-name for one to seven days, defining a period of time in which we should accomplish the work. This passage can be interpreted in two ways.

[One interpretation is that] those with sharp faculties will be able to reach complete undisturbed Buddha-remembrance after one day of invoking the Buddha-name. Those will dull faculties will only be able to reach complete undisturbed Buddha-remembrance after seven days of invoking the Buddha-name. Those of middling faculties may take from two to six days to reach complete undisturbed Buddha-remembrance.

Another [interpretation of this passage is that] those with sharp faculties will be able to achieve complete undisturbed Buddha-remembrance for seven days, those will dull faculties will only be able to achieve it for a single day, and those of middling faculties may achieve it for from two to six days.

There are also two categories for the One Mind [i.e. singleminded practice].

i) Regardless of whether you recite the Buddha-name at the phenomenal level or the inner truth level, if you invoke the name of Amitabha until you subdue all afflictions (anger, greed, ignorance...) and put an end to illusions of views and thoughts, this is the One Mind at the phenomenal level.

ii) Regardless of whether you recite the Buddha-name at the phenomenal level or the inner truth level, if you invoke the name of Amitabha until your mind opens and you see inherent Buddhahood, this is the One Mind at the level of inner truth.

The One Mind at the phenomenal level is not tainted by delusions of views and thoughts, and the One Mind at the inner truth level is not deluded by the supposed dualisms [of essence and form, nirvana and samsara, Buddhas and sentient beings]. This is "the wisdom that comes from cultivating practice".

When you are not deluded by delusions of views and thoughts [at the moment of your death], the response you get is that Amitabha Buddha will appear before you in his Emanation Body, along with his whole retinue of holy ones. Your mind will no longer create the delusions of desire, form, and formlessness characteristic of this mundane world "Endurance", and you will go to be reborn in either the Pure Land Where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together, or the Pure Land of Expedient Liberation.

When you are not deluded by dualisms [at the moment of your death], the response you get is that Amitabha Buddha will appear before you in his Reward Body, along with his whole retinue of holy ones. Your mind will no longer create the delusions of Samsara and Nirvana, and you will go to be reborn in either the Pure Land of Real Reward, or the Pure Land of Eternally Quiescent Light.

We must realize that reciting the name of Amitabha is not only a method that is simple and direct, it is also a method for sudden Complete Enlightenment. Since [in reciting the Buddha-name] you merge with Buddha from moment to moment, without bothering with visualization or meditation, you immediately witness perfect illumination, with no excess and no lack. Those of the highest faculties cannot go beyond this level while those of the lowest capabilities are also able to reach it. Of course the way Amitabha appears to people and the level of the Pure Land they are born in is not the same [for those of different faculties].

We can say that the method of reciting the name Amitabha fully encompasses all the varieties of Buddhism, the "eight teachings and five periods" [i.e., all the teachings of the Buddha's during his lifetime, according to the T'ien--t'ai schema]. In so doing, it is the most complete expression of the Buddha's compassionate heart, teaching spontaneously without being asked. What incredible power!

Question: The Meditation Sutra is devoted to explaining visualization. Why do you say not to bother with visualization?

Answer: This idea comes from the Meditation Sutra itself. Because the superior forms of visualization [focusing on the Sambhogakaya of Amitabha] are beyond the mental power of ordinary people, that sutra in the thirteenth contemplation also introduces a lower grade of visualizing the form of Amitabha [focusing on the Nirmanakaya, that is, the physical form, of Amitabha]. However those whose karmic barriers are heavy cannot even focus on Amitabha in that way, so in the sixteenth contemplation, the sutra teaches the method of invoking the name of Amitabha. The Amitabha Sutra concentrates on the Buddha-name-recitation method of the sixteenth contemplation because it is the Dharma Ending Age, and there are many people with heavy karmic obstructions...

Question: Masters like T'ien-ch'i and Tu-feng have proposed meditating on the Zen question, "Who is the one reciting the Buddha-name?" Why do you say that it is not necessary to practice Zen meditation?

Answer: This idea comes from Master T'ien-ch'i himself as well as other masters. Master T'ien-ch'i did not want to stand idly by while people reciting the Buddha-name failed to comprehend the compassion of Sakyamuni Buddha [in teaching Buddha-name-recitation], so he posed this question to help them wake up [to the real sense of reciting the Buddha-name, which is that it is our True Mind, not our deluded errant mind, which should do the recitation [i.e. recitation should be singleminded with no deluded errant thoughts]. When he taught this it was like the dawn returning after a long night.

If we are unwilling to still our minds [by following Master T'ien-ch'i's advice to contemplate "Who is the one reciting the Buddha-name?"] in order to recite the Buddha-name with complete concentration, we are taking hold of "a fragment of tile with which to knock on a door to hit out at our own grandparents [our Mind]": we are rebelling against our own patriarchal teachers and doing evil, rather than obeying them and being good.

Question: Those who are willing to still their minds by reciting the Buddha name will be alright, but how can those who are unwilling to still their minds achieve accord with the Buddha's Mind?

Answer: Alas! The reason that Master T'ien-ch'i is asking you to be willing to still your minds by reciting the Buddha name and reach accord [with the Buddha's Mind] is precisely because you are not yet willing to do so. Since you have not yet developed true faith, it is as though you are wearing thick leather blinders, and cannot cut through them. You must realize that those with eyes have no reason to light a lamp when the sun is shining -- why should those without eyes struggle to find a lamp in broad daylight?

The Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta [one of the three Pure Land sages] has given us a saying that is like a great mass of fire lighting the "Buddha recitation Samadhi": "Without using any other expedients than Buddha recitation, you manage to open your own mind." Who dares to touch this saying? How can you not be burned by it?

Question: When Amitabha Buddha appears to Pure Land practitioners when they are on the brink of death, how can they be sure it is not a demon?

Answer: If a Zen follower is not meditating on the Buddha, and yet Buddha suddenly appears unexpectedly, this is called a demon (delusion). A Pure Land practitioner sees the Buddha while focussing on the Buddha. Thus in his case [cause and effect coincide] and his mind is in unison with that of the Buddhas. The appearance of the Buddha is therefore not a demon. There is no need to worry about this.

Question: When the sutra speaks of reciting the Buddha-name singlemindedly for seven days, does this refer to ordinary times, or to the time when we are about to die?

Answer: This refers to ordinary times.

Question: If we recite the Buddha-name for seven days, singlemindedly and without confusion, but later we again become confused and create bad karma, will we still achieve birth in the Pure Land?

Answer: A person who has actually managed to recite the Buddha-name singlemindedly will not give rise to confusion or create bad karma again.

Question: The Longer Amitabha Sutra speaks of attaining birth in the Pure Land through ten repetitions of the Buddha-name. The Treatise of the Precious King of Samadhi speaks of attaining birth in the Pure Land through a single repetition of the Buddha-name. Are they referring to ordinary times, or to the time when we are about to die?

Answer: Attaining birth in the Pure Land through ten repetitions of the Buddha-name applies to both times. If we recite the Buddha-name ten times each morning, this is an ordinary occasion. On the other hand, the Longer Amitabha Sutra speaks of attaining birth in the Pure Land through ten repetitions (and this is the same as what the Meditation Sutra says) -- this refers to when we are on the brink of death. As to passage in the "Treatise of the Precious King of Samadhi" about attaining birth in the Pure Land through a single repetition of the Buddha-name, this refers to the time when we are facing death.

Question: If we can attain birth in the Pure Land through ten repetitions of the Buddha name, or even a single repetition, why do we need seven days of reciting the Buddha-name, as the Amitabha Sutra says?

Answer: If we have not done the work of reciting the Buddha-name singlemindedly for seven days during ordinary times, how can we reach the Pure Land through ten repetitions or a single repetition when we are on the brink of death?

It would be one chance in a million if someone who had committed many evils were to have a causal basis from past lives ripen as he was on the brink of death, enabling him to meet a spiritual friend, hear his teaching, and develop faith and vows. How could he be so lucky? [Master Tien J'us book] Doubts and Questions about the Pure Land has refuted this idea of waiting till death to practice Buddha recitation in great detail. People these days should read that book.

Question: If Amitabha's Pure Land is a hundred billion worlds away from here, how can we be reborn there instantly?

Answer: A hundred billion worlds are not beyond one moment of thought, since fundamentally there is nothing outside the True Mind. When we rely on the power of Buddha that is inherent in our own mind, what is so hard about being born in the Pure Land instantly?

It is like a many layered scene of mountains and rivers and towers reflected in a mirror: all the layers appear there in the mirror, and in reality there is no near and far. All are reflected at once, appearing without before or after. When the sutra says "West of here, past a hundred billion Buddha-lands, there exists a world called 'Ultimate Bliss''', it is also like this. When the sutra says "In this land there exists a Buddha called Amitabha, who is expounding the Dharma right now", it is also like this.

It is also like this when a person [who has developed faith and vows and recited the Buddha-name] is about to die, and Amitabha and all his retinue of saints appear before that person. It is also like this when the person dies without his or her mind falling into delusion, and the person is immediately born in Amitabha's Land of Ultimate Bliss.

We must recognize that every word in the sutra is reflected in the Great-Perfect-Wisdom-Mirror of the Ocean-Seal Samadhi. Great PerfectWisdom Mirror. This is a reference to the all-seeing wisdom of the Buddhas, which is likened to an Immense, round mirror as large as the universe.

Question: Reciting the Buddha-name is a partial practice, an auxiliary practice. Why do you call it a principal practice?

Answer: Basing ourselves on the One Mind, we speak of faith, vows, and practice. There is however no order of precedence here, nor is naming three aspects a set definition. Without vows and practice, we cannot speak of true faith. Without practice and faith, we cannot speak of true vows. Without faith and vows, we cannot speak of true practice.

Relying fully on our faith and our vows, we recite the Buddha-name. Thus faith, vows, and practice seem to be three things, but all three are fully present in every repetition of the Buddha-name. This is why reciting the Buddha-name is called the cause and condition for good roots, merits and virtues. The Meditation Sutra means this when it says that by invoking the Buddha-name, from moment to moment we are clearing away the bad karma of eighty million eons of birth and death. Without great merits, virtues and good roots, how could we clear away bad karma on such a grand scale?

Question: With the intensity that comes [to reciting the Buddha-name] on the brink of death, we can clear away a lot of bad karma. Can we achieve the same result in ordinary times if we invoke the Buddha-name singlemindedly?

Answer: When the sun comes out, all darkness disappears. When we invoke the great name of Amitabha, myriad evil deeds are wiped away.

Question: Can we also clear away bad karma if we invoke the Buddha-name with a scattered mind?

Answer: The merit and virtue of the Buddha-name are inconceivable, so how could they not clear away bad karma? But reciting the Buddha-name with a scattered mind does not guarantee being reborn in the Pure Land, since the good roots created by a diffuse, scattered recitation is no match for the evils that have accumulated from time without beginning.

We must understand that all of space could not contain our accumulated evils, if they took on physical form. Every repetition of the Buddha-name might wipe away the bad karma of eighty millions eons of birth and death, but even if we recited the Buddha-name day and night for a hundred years, the amount of bad karma which would be wiped out is like the amount of dirt under a fingernail, while the amount of bad karma remaining is like all the dirt on earth.

The only way [to eliminate all bad karma] is to recite the Buddha-name to the point of singleminded concentration. Then it is like a powerful warrior breaking out of an encirclement, so even three armies cannot hem him in any more. In all instances however, invoking the Buddha-name is a seed for becoming enlightened. It is like an indestructible diamond.

When Sakyamuni Buddha was in the world, there was an old man who asked to become a monk. The congregation of five hundred monks all said the old man was lacking in good roots. Buddha however said: "Countless ages ago this man was being pursued by a tiger, and cried out "Nam Mo Amitabha Buddha!" Now the good roots from that occasion have become ripe: he has met me and found the path. This is not something that followers of the Lesser Vehicle can perceive." This story, as well as the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, show that even those who invoked the Buddha-name in a scattered, confused state of mind have planted the seed of Buddhahood. How can we not believe them?

It is my humble hope that no matter whether you are a layperson or a monk or nun, no matter whether you are smart or stupid, [you will adopt a positive attitude] toward this simple, direct, supreme round and sudden Pure Land teaching. Do not look upon it as difficult, and shrink away from it. Do not look upon it as easy, and become complacent and not try hard enough. Do not look upon it as shallow, and wrongly despise it. Do not look upon it as profound, and not dare to accept it as your task.

The name of Amitabha which we recite is truly inconceivable [because it is our True Mind]. But the True Mind of those who recite it is also truly inconceivable. If you recite the Buddha-name once, you are inconceivable for the time the sound of it lasts. If you recite it ten or a hundred or a thousand or a million times, or countless times, you are inconceivable all the while the sound of your recitation lasts.

Buddha says, "I have seen this benefit." The vision of the Buddha is the ultimate in clarity. The benefit he has seen is that through reciting the Buddha-name sentient beings can transcend the Five Corruptions, purify the Four Lands, and reach the level where they do not fall back from their position, their practice, or their mindfulness. This is the benefit brought about by the inconceivable merit of the Buddha-name.

With reference to what happens when we die, this benefit is that our minds do not fall into delusion and error. If we cultivate practice in this polluted world through our own effort, it is extremely hard to gain power over the crucial juncture of birth and death.

If there is the least bit of bad karma that you have not cleared away [by the time you are about to die], you will plunge into an untoward rebirth -- this applies no matter whether you have ignorantly cultivated a misguided practice and trusted in your deluded intellect, or whether you have had some profound awakenings and your conduct has been consistent and correct. As the Pure Land Patriarch Yung-ming said, "Nine out of ten people who practice Zen meditation miss the road: scenes of delusion appear before them [at death], and in an instant they follow them off." This is truly a chilling prospect! Even Arhats become deluded again as they emerge from the womb, and even Bodhisattvas can become benighted between death and a subsequent rebirth. Here [at the point of death], how can you forcibly act the master? If you expect to be so lucky, you are a fool.

The only way out is to have faith and vows and recite the Buddha-name, and rely on Other-power. Amitabha's vows of compassion are certainly not empty promises. If we have faith and vows and recite the Buddha-name, when we die Amitabha and the assembly of saints will appear before us to lead us away. That way we will not fail, and we will be free to be reborn in the Pure Land.

Buddha saw that sentient beings' greatest suffering is to fall into confusion at the moment of death, and so he vouchsafed this Pure Land teaching to us. This is why he urged us again and again to take vows: because vows can guide us.

Question: If Buddha is a creation of the Mind, if Buddha is the Mind, why do you not speak of our own inherent Buddha as supreme? Why do you insist that another Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, is better?

Answer: This Pure Land teaching is all a matter of comprehending that Amitabha Buddha is precisely our own Buddha Nature, our Mind. If we mistakenly refer to the Buddha as "other", we would fall into one form of delusive view. If we were to overemphasize our own inherent Buddha, this would be another form of delusive view. Both are wrong.

Through our invoking the Buddha-name both at the phenomenal level and at the level of inner truth (noumenon), Amitabha and his retinue of saints appears before us: this is our inherent True Nature becoming manifest. Also, we are born in the Pure Land and see Amitabha and hear his teaching: this is perfecting the body of wisdom of our True Nature. This is not awakening through something other than ourselves.

The Pure Land teaching is profound and wondrous. It destroys all sophistry and cuts off all delusive views. Only those with the wisdom of Ashvaghosha, Nagarjuna, Chih-i and Yung-ming can take it up completely. Those of worldly intelligence, the followers of Confucianism and the devotees of Zen, may try to figure it out to the limit of their powers, but the more they think about it, the farther off they get. In terms of being able to reach the wisdom of the Buddhas and mesh with the wonders of the Path, such intellectuals are not as good as simple men and women who recite the Buddha-name in all sincerity.

"I have seen this benefit and so I speak these words". Buddha's eye and Buddha's voice clearly affirm this truth, so how can we dare to go against it? Shouldn't we accept it?

The Pure Land method of developing faith and vows and reciting the Buddha-name both perfectly subsumes and perfectly surpasses all other Buddhist methods. Vertically, it intermingles with all the Buddhist teachings; horizontally, it stands apart from them. "Horizontal" and "vertical" are figures of speech, which can readily be understood through the following example. Suppose we have a worm, born inside a stalk of bamboo. To escape, it can take the hard way and crawl "vertically" all the way to the top of the stalk. Alternatively, it can poke a hole near its current location and escape "horizontally" into the big, wide world. The horizontal escape, for sentient beings, is to seek rebirth in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha.

Buddha spontaneously gave this Pure Land teaching without being asked. Who is worthy to extol it and transmit it? Only when a Buddha communicates with a Buddha is it possible to fully express the absolute reality of all the teachings. This Amitabha Sutra is about a Buddha-realm, and it can only be transmitted from Buddha to Buddha. The Amitabha Sutra belongs to the "self-spoken division" of the Tripitaka (Buddhist canon):

"Because its principles were too profound and wonderful for the Sravakas or Bodhisattvas to comprehend, no one requested the Pure Land Dharma-door. Nonetheless, it had to be revealed and so the Buddha spontaneously spoke this very important sutra, doubly important because it will be the last to disappear in the Dharma-ending age (Master Hsuan Hua, A General Explanation of the Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra [the Amitabha Sutra], p.1)."

The Brahma Net Sutra (which contains the lofty Bodhisattva precepts) and the Avatamsaka Sutra (the Mahayana sutra par excellence) are the only other well-known examples of self-spoken sutras.
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Fri May 24, 2013 5:17 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Tenth Verse
"Sariputra, as I now praise Amitabha Buddha's inconceivable merit, so too do Buddhas in worlds in the east, such as Aksobhya Buddha, Meru Banner Buddha, Great Meru Buddha, Meru Light Buddha, and Wonderful Tone Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: 'You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sutra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.'"

Hsuan Hua Commentary
"Not only do I praise the ... merit and virtue of Amitabha... but so does Aksobhya Buddha in the East..."
Aksobhya Buddha of the Vajra division in the East is the Buddha who eradicates disaster and lengthens life. His name means, "unmoving and eternally dwelling Dharma body." His Dharma body does not move, and it eternally dwells.

Sumeru Appearance Buddha. Sumeru means "wonderfully high." This Buddha's marks are as lofty as Mount Sumeru. Great Sumeru Buddha, that is, Great Wonderfully High Buddha. Sumeru Light Buddha, Wonderfully High Light Buddha. All Buddhas such as these. The names of a few of the Eastern Buddhas have been mentioned. If one were to speak of them in detail, they would be as numberless as sands in the Ganges.

The long tongue represents the Buddhadharma circulating to all places, and the Buddha's sincere and actual words, "All of you should believe, praise, and hold in reverence, the inconceivable merit and virtue of this sutra of the mindful one of whome all Buddhas are protective." The Buddhas are mindful and protective of this sutra, just as they are mindful and protective of the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Blossom Sutra. If you read or recite the Amitabha Sutra, the Buddhas of the ten directions will happily come to your aid, and in the future, when your life is over, they will witness your rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Thich Hai-Quang Commentary
Three thousand Great Thousand Worlds: is a great world system (similar to a galaxy) consisting fo one billion moons, suns, Earth-like planets, etc. At minimum a Buddha will rule over a Great World System, but some will combine several to hundreds and thousands as their Buddhaland. The Saha World of Shakyamuni Buddha is one Great World System.

This sutra is protected by all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the practitioners who faithfully practice and chant this sutra will also receive the protection from all the Buddhas.

Mind Seal of the Buddhas
The final part of the sutra deals with its transmission. This is in two sections: a general admonition to accept the teaching, and a concluding encouragement. The merits of Amitabha are inconceivable in five senses.
First, Amitabha enables us to transcend the triple world "horizontally," without having to wait until we cut off delusion.

Second, Amitabha's Pure Land includes the Four Lands [the land where Saints and Ordinary Beings Dwell Together, the Land of Expedient Liberation, the Land of Real Reward, and the Land of Eternally Quiescent Light], so that we do not have to go step-by-step to arrive at them. [i.e. once reborn in the Pure Land, we will never retrogress]

Third, Amitabha's merit makes salvation possible for us by simply invoking his name, without having to resort to meditation methods.

Fourth, Amitabha's merit makes salvation possible in seven days, without requiring many eons and many lifetimes.

Fifth, by invoking the name of one Buddha, Amitabha, we are protected and kept in mind by all the Buddhas.

All this is the result of the great vows and deeds of our guide and teacher Amitabha. That is why Buddha speaks of "the benefits of the inconceivable merits of Amitabha Buddha."

Furthermore, when Pure Land practitioners recite the Buddha-name with faith and vows, they are gathering in all the merits of the Buddhas, and making them their own merits. This is another reason why Buddha speaks of "the benefits of the inconceivable merits of Amitabha Buddha."

Later on in the text, Sakyamuni Buddha speaks of "the inconceivable merits of all the Buddhas" and also my inconceivable merits." Here Sakyamuni Buddha is saying that all the Buddhas, as well as he himself all consider Amitabha as themselves.

"Akshobhya" means "Immovable". Buddha has countless virtues, and so he must have countless names, each established according to the teaching situation. Sometimes these names are based on causal conditions, sometimes on results achieved, sometimes on inherent nature, sometimes on apparent characteristics, sometimes on practices or vows or other things. Although each name only refers to one aspect of Buddhahood, each name still includes the four benefits a Buddha brings: [joyful faith, helping others, counteracting evil, and witnessing absolute truth]. Each name illustrates a particular quality of Buddhahood. If we were to try to express all the qualities of the enlightened ones, we could talk till the end of time and never be able to finish.
Space in the east is infinite, and there is an infinite number of worlds there. Since there is an infinite number of worlds, there is also an infinite number of Buddhas who dwell in those worlds. Thus the sutra refers to "countless other Buddhas." All these Buddhas are using their eloquence to urge us to have faith in this sutra. If we sentient beings still fail to have faith in this sutra, we are being utterly stupid and benighted.

[One of the traditional marks of a Buddha is a "long, broad tongue".] If an ordinary person tells no lies for three lifetimes, his tongue will be long enough to reach his nose. The Buddhas mentioned in this sutra have realized the wondrous Pure Land teaching of the Great Vehicle, and so their tongues are long and broad enough to cover a whole galaxy of worlds. This symbolizes that they are truly in accord with absolute reality -- it is fact, not fiction.

The title of the sutra as it circulates among us today, The Amitabha Sutra Spoken by Buddha, was devised by the master translator Kumarajiva, who knew that we Chinese like brevity. It skillfully matches the wondrous practice of reciting the Buddha-name. Master Hsuan-tsang translated the sutra with the longer title, The Sutra Extolling the Pure Land Accepted by Buddha. The two translations differ in style, but there is no change in the meaning.

Personal Note:
The "Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World" reminds me of Chi-I's "Three-Thousand realms in a single moment of life" (一念三千).
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Mon May 27, 2013 3:52 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Eleventh Verse
"Sariputra, in worlds in the south are Sun-Moon Lamp Buddha, Renown Light Buddha, Great Flame Aggregate Buddha, Meru Lamp Buddha, and Infinite Energetic Progress Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: 'You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sutra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.'"

Rulu Commentary:
In text 366, Kumarajiva translates the Sanskrit name "Maharciskandha" into Chinese as Great Flame Shoulder. The Sanskrit word arci can mean flame or ray, and skandha can mean shoulder or aggregate. In text 367, Xuanzang translates Maharciskandha as Great Light Aggregate. Here, this name is translated as Great Flame Aggregate.

Hsuan Hua Commentary:
"All living beings," they say, "in all lands and all countries and in all the limitless worlds, should believe, praise, and hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue of this sutra." You must bring forth hearts of real faith, real vows, and real practice. Praise the inconceivable merit and virtue of this sutra which Shakyamuni Buddha spoke without request. If you believe, accept, praise, and recite it, all the Buddhas will protect you. Resolve to revere Amitabha Buddha and the Amitabha Sutra.

Hsuan Hua prefers the translation of "Great Flame Shoulder" for "Maharciskandha".

Personal Note:
Will probably cover this in more detail for each direction, but I think the names of the Buddhas are significant, as is the fact that 6 directions of Buddhas are covered in stead of 10, and the total number of Buddhas.

Why would I try to find correlation? Because I really believe that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas described are not just random lists of pretty names. I understand that introducing the additional Buddhas by name can help us form a karmic connection and also to help us realize that it's possible for more than just 1 individual to become Buddha. I just think there are teachings & metaphors associated with each of the Buddhas listed. From the Anguttara Nikaya & elsewhere in the Mahayana Sutras, we already know that they like to group teachings in numbered lists and represent those lists metaphorically. I think if we just think of these Buddhas as pretty names and don't pick up on the correlating list and the metaphor, then we may miss the essential teaching.

As the Pure Land sutras are largely geared towards householders; pointed out imho by the setting of householder Anathapindika's Jeta Grove, I think that householder teachings are a good place to start looking for corresponding numbers/metaphors/teachings. The only place off the top of my head that 6 directions are significant is the Sigalovada Sutta about how householders should worship in the 6 directions.
If we take the 6 directions from the Sigalovada Sutta:
"And how, young man, does the noble disciple protect the six directions? These six directions should be known: mother and father as the east, teachers as the south, spouse and family as the west, friends and colleagues as the north, workers and servants as the lower direction, and ascetics and Brahmans as the upper direction."

Mother and Father are the east... the eastern direction is the first direction in the Amitabha Sutra, starting with Aksobhya, who is imperturbable & doesn't get angry. Following him are 4 more Buddhas, for a total of 5. In the Sigalovada Sutta, there are 5 ways a mother and father should be respected by a child ('I will support them who supported me; I will do my duty to them; I will maintain the family lineage and tradition; I will be worthy of my inheritance; and I will make donations on behalf of dead ancestors.') There are also 5 ways a mother and father should reciprocate towards the child ('by restraining you from wrongdoing, guiding you towards good actions, training you in a profession, supporting the choice of a suitable spouse, and in due time, handing over the inheritance.') I think each of the Buddhas from the East (Aksobhya Buddha, Meru Banner Buddha, Great Meru Buddha, Meru Light Buddha, and Wonderful Tone Buddha) lines up to one of the recommendations from at least one of the 2 sets of recommendations, either learning how to act towards others with their names as a clue or learning from how they would act towards us coming from that direction.

Teachers are the south... in both sutras, the southern direction is the second taught. There are 5 Buddhas presented here and 5 ways of showing respect in the Sigalovada Sutta. A teacher should be respected by a student in the following 5 ways: "by rising for them, regularly attending lessons, eagerly desiring to learn, duly serving them, and receiving instruction." A teacher should reciprocate that respect in 5 ways: "by training in self-discipline, ensuring the teachings are well-grasped, instructing in every branch of knowledge, introducing their friends and colleagues, and providing safeguards in every direction." The Buddhas described in the South are: Sun-Moon Lamp Buddha, Renown Light Buddha, Great Flame Aggregate Buddha, Meru Lamp Buddha, and Infinite Energetic Progress Buddha. These names do seem to correspond to the first set of 5, perhaps in a different order. Sun-Moon Lamp Buddha corresponding to "rising for them" like the Sun & Moon appear to rise in the sky. Renown Light Buddha corresponding to "attending lessons" - showing one's own light to the teacher. Great Flame Aggregate Buddha; here, I'd probably go with Great Flame Shoulder - as baring one's shoulder is a sign to request teachings and his name would correspond to "eagerly desiring to learn". Meru Lamp Buddha would line up with "duly serving them" (though on the second list would be "introducing their friends and colleagues"), while the second makes more sense, I suppose the analogy with the first would be serving the teacher as a lamp serves the scholar. Finally, Infinite Energetic Progress Buddha would line up with "receiving instruction", as one receives instruction they make progress.

Granted, this theory isn't perfect, but it would at least be a helpful mnemonic to remember these Buddhas.
If anyone else has any theories behind the significance of the directions & the names, I'd be more than happy to hear them.
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Tue May 28, 2013 6:43 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Twelfth Verse
"Sariputra, in worlds in the west are Infinite Life Buddha, Infinite Aggregate Buddha, Infinite Banner Buddha, Great Light Buddha, Great Radiance Buddha, Jewel Brilliance Buddha, and Pure Light Buddha. Buddhas such as these are numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends his wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: 'You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sutra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.'"

Hsuan Hua Commentary:
After speaking of the Buddhas in the East and South who praise Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha spoke of the Buddhas in the West, for example Measureless Life Buddha, who is just Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Life. you would recognize him right away. However, there are many Buddhas who have the same name. Measureless Life Buddha might be Amitabha, the teacher in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, or it might be some other Buddha. It might be Amitabha Buddha or it might not be. What if it is? What if it isn't? Don't be attached one way or the other, because there really isn't any "is" or "is not." The Buddhadharma is just that wonderful.

Which "is"? Which "isn't"? Is and is not are your discriminations. For the Buddha there is one substance, one unity, and no division between this and that. The Buddha is identical with the Way, and each Buddha is identical with every other. Although all Buddhas are the same, they are each adorned with their own individual characteristics. In spite of the differing adornments, they are not like people who become jealous and obstruct each other saying, "Hey! How can you be so mean to me?" The Buddha has none of this. "You are just me," he says, "and I am just you, with no division." Why? Because the Buddha has attained the state of no-self, where "is" and "is not" are the same.

Those who wish to become Buddhas must not have discriminative thoughts, false thoughts, desires, or longings. They must have nothing at all. This is truly wonderful to the extreme. Do not be attached. If you actually recognize Amitabha Buddha, you won't waste your energy trying to discriminate one limitless life Buddha from another.

Hsuan Hua's list includes: Measureless Life Buddha, Measureless Appearance Buddha, Measureless Curtain Buddha, Great Light Buddha, Great Brightness Buddha, Jewelled Appearance Buddha, Pure Light Buddha. Measureless Appearance Buddha has limitless marks. it is not known how many Buddha-marks he has. measureless Curtain Buddha is covered and sheltered by many jeweled curtains. Great Light Buddha's light shines everywhere. Great Brightness Buddha, Jeweled Appearance Buddha, and Pure Light Buddha all have a clear, pure, bright light. Were we to speak of all the Buddhas who are such as these in detail, they would be as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges river.

All the Buddhas in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss and in the many Buddha-worlds extend their gigantic tongues. Now, when we extend our tongues, they can't even cover a room, but the tongues of the Buddhas cover the entire three thousand great thousand world systems. Why? For them, the three thousand great thousand world systems are just one thought, and one thought is just the three thousand great thousand worlds. Three thousand great thousand worlds are not beyond one thought, and the Buddha's tongue covers them all.

Don't be attached to the idea that the Buddha's tongue is actually that big. If it were, his speech would be clumsy. The appearance of the Buddha's vast and long tongue indicates that, wherever there is Dharma, the Buddha's tongue is there, too. it is not for certain that our tongues are small. We too, can extend our vast and long tongues and cover the three thousand great thousand worlds, speaking of the Dharma and causing it to circulate.

When you hear the Buddhadharma, don't be attached. Although a tongue covers the three thousand great thousand worlds, there is not even a mote of dust; there is basically nothing at all. "Nothing?" you ask. "Then was the Buddha lying?" If the Buddha did not lie, how could you believe him! From the point of view of living beings, it seems to be a lie, but from the point of view of the Buddha, it is true, real speech, not false speech, not a lie. Living beings see it as a lie and the Buddha sees it as the truth. It's the same speech, but when the Buddha speaks it, it's true and when living beings speak it, it's a lie. This point is not easy to understand. If you want to be clear about this doctrine, do not fear suffering or difficulty. Work hard! You can't just study for two and a half days and then think that you have mastered the work. You can't stop listening to sutras or reciting the Buddha's name. Don't pretend to be investigating dhyana by doing nothing at all and saying, "I know what the Buddha said. There's not much to it, really. I have studied for about five years and it is all like that, not very interesting. So now I study nothing at all and it's a great improvement. I don't have nearly so many problems." Such talk is not very principled, wouldn't you say?

You should know that Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated blessings and wisdom for three asamkhyeya kalpas by practicing giving and studying the Buddhadharma. He cultivated his fine characteristics for a hundred great kalpas and as a consequence he has the thirty two marks and eighty minor characteristics of a Buddha. Why don't we have a single mark? Why do people look at you and say, "He is so ugly. Keep away from him. He is no good, you can tell by looking at him?" Some people make you angry on sight. Why? It is because they don't cultivate and they have no virtuous conduct, and it shows up in their appearance.

The Buddha's tongue, then, covers the entire universe and speaks the truth. The Buddha does not cheat and he does not lie. Do not try to fathom the Sage's wisdom with your ordinary opinions; don't try to measure the Sage's mind with your common mind. Haven't I always told you that the first level Bodhisattvas don't know the realm of second level Bodhisattvas, and tenth level Bodhisattvas don't know the realm of equal enlightenment Bodhisattvas? First stage Arhats don't know the realms of second stage Arhats, and second stage Arhats don't know the realm of third stage Arhats. First stage Arhats may think that they are doing things correctly, but from the point of view of second stage Arhats they may be wrong. Second stage Arhats may think they are right, but the third stage Arhats may look at them and say, "You are off just a little bit."

I am your teacher, and you can't know my realm. If you knew, you wouldn't need a teacher. So reflect upon what I say. Don't complain, "He is just talking." This world is very dangerous. The only reason you haven't disintegrated in the sea of suffering is because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are protecting you.

BDK Commentary:
BDK does a nice job giving the Sanksrit names of the Buddhas in Roman characters...

East: Aksobhya (Immovable), Merudhvaja (Sumeru Banner), Mahameru (Great Sumeru), Meruprabhasa (Sumeru Light), Manjusvara (Beautiful Voice).
South: Candrasuryapradipa (Lamp of the Sun and Moon), Yasaprabha (Light of Fame), Maharciskandha (Shoulders of Great Flame), Merupradipa (Sumeru Lamp), Anantavirya (Limitless Effort)
West: Amitayus (Immeasureable Life), Amitaketu (Immeasurable Ensign), Amitadhvaja (Immeasurable Banner), Mahaprabha (Great Light), Mahaprabhasa (Great Brilliance), Ratnaketu (Jewel Banner), Suddharasmiprabha (Brilliance of Pure Light)
...(Will continue with the rest as I cover their direction)....

Personal Note:
This section has seven Buddhas, instead of the 5 of earlier sections so my theory on the Sigalovada Sutta might be shot. That being the case, I'd still like to cover it. According to the Sigalovada, the West is the spouse & family. The five ways a wife should be respected: "by honoring, not disrespecting, being faithful, sharing authority, and by giving gifts." The five ways a wife should reciprocate: "by being well-organized, being kindly disposed to the in-laws and household workers, being faithful, looking after the household goods, and being skillful and diligent in all duties." In this case, it's very hard to line up the Buddha names with any of these attributes. Besides the meaning, I wish I knew the metaphorical significance of "Meru" (Mt Meru), "Prabha" (Light), "Amita" (Infinite), and "Vaja" (Banner). Also wish I knew the significance of 7 Buddhas in the West, 6 in the Nadir, 10 in the Zenith, and 5 everywhere else. I should probably cross reference the names against other sutras to see if there are any stories associated with each of the others.

At least my theory on the "Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World" sounding similar to Zhiyi seems to be confirmed by Hsuan Hua. He covered a lot of stuff in that commentary, from channeling Zhiyi, to an explanation of the Kaccayanagotta Sutta, to Upaya (skillful means), and not getting too proud of your studies.
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Wed May 29, 2013 4:53 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Thirteenth Verse
"Sariputra, in worlds in the north are Flame Aggregate Buddha, Supreme Tone Buddha, Hard-to-Vanquish Buddha, Sun Birth Buddha, Web-of-Radiance Buddha. Buddhas such as these are numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: 'You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sutra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.'"

BDK Commentary:
Sanskrit names in English characters.
In the North are: Arciskandha (Flaming Shoulder), Vaisvanaranirghosa (Universal Sound), Duspradharsa (Not to Be Assailed), Adityasambhava (Sunrise), Jaliniprabha (Net Light).

Hsuan Hua's Commentary:
Not only are the Buddhas in the East, South, and West are praising Amitabha Buddha, but those in the North praise him as well.

Great Blazing Shoulders Buddha emits light from his shoulders.

Most Victorious Sound Buddha has a spectacular sound which is heard throughout the three thousand great thousand worlds. "The why haven't I heard it?" you ask. You aren't in that world system of three thousand great thousand worlds. If you were, of course you would hear it. But you are in this world system, not that one.

Hard to Injure Buddha cannot be destroyed. No one can defame his Buddhadharma. you should hold in reverence the inconceivable merit and virtue, for it is most wonderful. Were the merit and virtue conceivable, it would have a limit. The sutra's merit and virtue is without a limit and so it is the Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective. Because its merit and virtue is very wonderful, it is the sutra of which all Buddhas are mindful and protective, its meritorious virtue is extremely wonderful.

Now I shall quit speaking and that is also wonderful. Were I to keep talking, it wouldn't be wonderful.

Personal Note:
Continuing with explaining the Sigalovada Sutta in hopes of any carry-over: In the northern direction are friends in colleagues.
In this way should they be respected: by generosity, kind words, acting for their welfare, impartiality, and honesty.
In this way should friends and colleagues reciprocate: by protecting you when you are vulnerable, and likewise your wealth, being a refuge when you are afraid, not abandoning you in misfortunes, and honoring all your descendants.
Aside from "kind words" lining up with "Universal Sound" (Supreme Tone), hard to see any parallels.
Some of the names are very similar to earlier names.
Really wish I knew more about the significance of these names.
Maybe if I had a background in the Vedas it might also help pick out some of the references, as was pointed out for a lot of Pali Suttas in Gombrich's "What the Buddha Thought."

EDIT: Just wanted to add one more thing that I probably should've added last post. I have a bunch of audio of Joseph Campbell breaking down the symbolism of the imagery prevalent in Hinduism and I think that's why I want to understand these things a little more. He took something that seemed very foreign, small details that seemed to be very arbitrary, and explained them to the point of an entirely cohesive narrative. It would be nice if we had some of that same type of explanation for here, kind of like the breakdown of the Dhyani Buddhas in Vajrayana.
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Fri May 31, 2013 5:29 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Fourteenth Verse
Sariputra, in worlds toward the nadir are Lion Buddha, Renown Buddha, Renown Light Buddha, Dharma Buddha, Dharma Banner Buddha, and Dharma Upholder Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: 'You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sutra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.'

Hsuan Hua Commentary:
"Having spoken of the Buddhas in the North, East, South, and West, Shakyamuni Buddha again says to Shariputra, "In the world below there is a Buddha named Lion who speaks the Dharma with a lion's roar." Well-known Light Buddha's name has been heard by everyone in the triple world. Famous Light Buddha's light as well as his fame shines everywhere within the triple world. Dharma Curtain Buddha has a jeweled Dharma curtain. Dharma Maintaining (Upholder) Buddha exclusively upholds the Buddhadharma. You can explain his name in two ways: The first is that there is such a Buddha in the world below; the second is that you who now receive, maintain, and recite the Amitabha Sutra will in the future become Dharma Maintaining Buddhas.

Thich Hai-Quang Commentary:
Lion Adorning Characteristic Buddha: It is important to understand: This Buddha has the most extraordinarily beautiful and adorning appearance among all gods and men (similar to the appearance of a lion as the supreme physique among all other animals). Thus "Lion" denotes a symbolic name of that Buddha and does not refer to an animal. The Buddha teachings are filled with symbolic meanings and often beginning Buddhists misinterpret the content by interpreting the literal meaning of the word(s). This is particularly problematic for scholars who translate the Buddha Dharma without consulting with a knowledgeable Dharma Master as to the extent of the true meanings of the work they translate. For example, in a sutra, a Bodhisattva lights a "Nguu-Dau Chien-Dan Huong" as an offering to the Buddha. Literally translated this means "Head of the Buffalo Incense." A Western Scholar translated this literally and in the footnote suggested that some Buddhists of the day practiced "strange and superstitious rituals such as lighting a buffalo's head on fire as an offering to Buddha, etc." Unintentionally, he greatly distorted the meaning of the teachings. This phrase actually referred to a unique species of incense tree found only in a mountain which resembles the shape of a "Buffalo's Head." (This species of incense is extremely rare and is not found in this world. It is located in another human realm West of Mount Sumeru [Heaven realm]; planet Earth is South of this mountain.) Hence, it was called "Head of Buffalo Incense" and not that "people of those days" practice "strange and superstitious rituals." This type of translation is truly damaging because it distorts the true teachings of the Buddha causing beginning Buddhists to have doubts and skepticism of Buddhism in an unjust manner.

BDK Commentary:
Buddhas in the Nadir: Simha (Lion), Yasas (Fame), Yasasprabhasa (Brilliance of Fame), Dharma, Dharmadhvaja (Banner of the Dharma), Dharmadhara (Holding the Dharma).

Mind Seal of the Buddhas:
Below our mundane world there is an infinite number of galaxies and beyond it there are also an infinite number of galaxies, including the heavens of desire, of form, and the formless heavens, and so on.

The word "Dharma" means "teaching", "truth", "method".
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:50 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Fifteenth Verse
Sariputra, in worlds toward the zenith are Brahma Tone Buddha, Constellation King Buddha, Fragrance Superior Buddha, Fragrant Light Buddha, Great Flame Aggregate Buddha, Adorned with Jeweled Flowers in Diverse Colors Buddha, Salendra King Buddha, Jeweled Lotus Flower Splendor Buddha, Seeing All Meaning Buddha, and Sumeru Likeness Buddha. Buddhas such as these are as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. Each Buddha in His own land extends His wide-ranging, far-reaching tongue, completely covering the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, and speaks these truthful words: 'You sentient beings should praise His inconceivable merit and believe in this sutra, which is protected and remembered by all Buddhas.'

Hsuan Hua commentary:
Translates Buddha names as: Pure Sound Buddha, King of Past Lives Buddha, Superior Fragrance Buddha, Fragrant Light Buddha, Great Blazing Shoulders Buddha, Vari-colored Jewels and Flower Adornment Body Buddha, Sala Tree King Buddha, Jeweled Flower Virtue Buddha, Vision of All Meaning Buddha, Such as Mount Sumeru Buddha.

If you light incense, Superior Fragrance Buddha will appear and Fragrant Light Buddha will emit light. As in the Southern World, in the world above there is also a Buddha called Great Blazing Shoulders. This light from his shoulders represents the two kinds of wisdom, provisional and real. Vari-colored Jewels and Flower Adornment Body Buddha adorns the virtue of his supreme attainment with the causal flowers of the ten thousand practices. Sala Tree King Buddha: the Sala tree is found in India. Sala means "solid and durable." No water can wash this tree away just as nothing can destroy the Buddha's Dharma body. The Buddha, then, is like the Sala tree.

BDK commentary:
In the Zenith are Buddhas: Brahmaghosa (Brahma's Voice), Naksatraraja (King of Stars), Gandhottama (Best Fragrance), Gandhaprabhasa (Fragrant Light), Maharciskandha (Shoulders of Great Flame), Ratnakusumasampuspitagatra (Having a Body Adorned with a Jewel Flower), Salendraraja (Lord King of the Sala Tree), Ratnotpalasri (Jeweled Flower Virtue), Sarvarthadarsa (Seeing all Meaning), Sumerukalpa (Sumeru-like).

Thich Hai-Quang commentary:
Sala Tree: a large tree symbolizing the Buddha's unwavering mind remaining completely undistracted by anything, similar to a large tree with weathers the storms of ten thousand years.

Mind Seal of the Buddhas:
These are the infinite worlds that are located toward the zenith, above our mundane world. They too have many layers, and [like our mundane world] include realms of desire, of form, and formlessness, in an infinite number of levels.

Question: There are certainly pure lands in all directions, so why make a special point of praising Amitabha's Pure Land in the west?

Answer: This is not a good objection. If we made a point of praising Akshobhya's Pure Land in the east, you would wonder why we were emphasizing the eastern direction, and go on and on with your specious reasoning.

Question: Why not make the whole universe the focal point [instead of Amitabha's Pure Land]?

Answer: There are three reasons. We focus on Amitabha's Pure Land because this makes it easy for beginners to orient their minds, because Amitabha's fundamental vows are more powerful, and because Amitabha has a special link with the sentient beings in our world.

The Buddhas offer salvation to sentient beings, and sentient beings accept the Buddhas' teachings, but in this process there are differences in degrees of difficulty and ease and profundity and shallowness -- it is all a matter of karmic links.

Depending on where the karmic affinities of sentient beings lie, the Buddhas extend the virtue of their benevolence, and stimulate the development of those sentient beings with all kinds of teachings. They can enable sentient beings to experience joy in the teaching and have faith in it, they can spark the development of the seeds of goodness from past lives, they can make it hard for the barriers of delusion to screen the sentient beings off from the truth, and they can enable sentient beings to bring forth their self-nature.

Fundamentally all the Buddhas manifest their teaching activities from within the Dharmakaya. They solidify sentient beings' affinity with the truth and strengthen their seeds of enlightenment. Whether within the world or beyond it, the deeds of the Buddhas are all inconceivable. They energize teaching vehicles and expound them to vast audiences. They plunge into the ocean of suffering where sentient beings dwell, and use their compassion to enable them to harmonize with the still light. Thus do the Buddhas exemplify the myriad virtues and epitomize the highest spiritual powers.

We must understand [the fundamental Buddhist principle] that the seeds of enlightenment arise within the causal nexus. The causal nexus is the universe as a whole. [With enlightened perception], when the Buddhas are mindful of one, they are mindful of all, and when one is born, all are born: there is one scent, one flower, one sound, one form. When the Buddhas accept our repentance and give us guarantees of enlightenment, when they rub our heads and reach down their hands to us, they create a universal fusion of all the worlds of the past, present, and future in the ten directions.

Therefore, this element that will accelerate us toward enlightenment, this method of reciting the Buddha-name, arises from within the causal nexus, and our Pure Land practice is precisely an instance of what you were calling "taking the universe as a whole as the focal point".

People at a shallow level should resolve to devote themselves to seeking birth in the Pure Land. But people at a profound level should not abandon Amitabha's Pure Land in the west and seek the Flower Treasury World [Vairocana Buddha's universal pure land] instead. If you think that Amitabha's Pure Land is an expedient device, but Vairocana's Flower Treasury World is a true reality, if you think that Amitabha's Pure Land is associated with the Lesser Vehicle, but Vairocana's Flower Treasury World belongs to the Mahayana teaching, you are completely under the sway of imaginary ideas and emotional clingings (see note 4). How so? Because you have not comprehended that provisional expedients and true reality have a single essence, and that categories like big and small have no set identity.

NOTE 4: The Avatamsaka Sutra teaches the interpenetration of all dharmas -- the smallest dharma contains the largest and vice versa. As a modern example, a single computer chip can contain numerous books. This teaching is clearly expressed in chapter 26 of the sutra, which describes the last phases of practice of a Bodhisattva before final Buddhahood. In that chapter, it is taught that at each and every stage, the actions of the Bodhisattva "never go beyond Buddha Recitation":

This is a summary of the tenth stage of enlightening beings, called Cloud of Teaching ... Whatever acts they undertake, whether through giving, or kind speech, or beneficial action, or cooperation, it is all never apart from thoughts of Buddha [Buddha Recitation], the Teaching, the Community... (Thomas Cleary, tr., The Flower Ornament Scripture [Avatamsaka Sutra],Vol.11, p.111.)

Personal Note:
Gotta be some significance to 10 Buddhas in the zenith...
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:09 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Sixteenth Verse
Sariputra, what is your opinion? Why is this sutra called a sutra protected and remembered by all Buddhas? Sariputra, if there are good men and good women who have heard and upheld this sutra, and have heard Buddhas' names, they are protected and remembered by all Buddhas. They will never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Therefor, Sariputra, you all should believe and accept my words and other Buddhas' words. If there are those who have resolved, are now resolving, or will resolve to be reborn in Amitabha Buddha's land, they will never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, whether they have already been reborn, are now being reborn, or will be reborn in that land. Therefore, Sariputra, if, among good men and good women, there are those who believe [my words], they should resolve to be reborn in that land.

Hsuan Hua Commentary:
Explains first verse: Shariputra, if there is a good man or a good woman, one who maintains the five precepts and cultivates the ten good deeds, who can receive, maintain, recite from memory, and not forget the names of the Buddhas just mentioned, that good man or woman will be the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective. Not only will the Buddhas of the six directions come to his aid, but the Buddhas of all ten directions will support him. He will further attain to irreversibility of the utmost right and perfect enlightenment, anuttarasamyaksambodhi.

Do you see how extremely compassionate the Buddha is? We should be grateful to the point of tears and pay attention when the Buddha says, "All of you, adults and children as well, should believe and accept what I tell you." You should also believe and accept what I explain to you now. Don't have doubts. Don't say, "When it comes right down to it, I don't know if the Chinese dharma master's doctrines are correct." You should believe what I say. You should also believe what Shakyamuni Buddha says and what all the Buddhas praise as the inconceivable merit and virtue of this Sutra of the Mindful One of Whom all Buddhas are Protective. Believe me when I say that this sutra's doctrines are true, real, and not false. You are certainly not being cheated, so vow to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

In order to make vows you must have faith. Faith, vows, and practice are the three prerequisites for cultivation of the Pure Land Dharma Door. First, believe there is a Land of Ultimate Bliss. Secondly, have faith in Amitabha Buddha. Thirdly, believe that you and Amitabha Buddha have a great karmic affinity, and that you can certainly be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. With faith in these three things, you may then make the vow, "I desire to be born in Amitabha's country."

There is a saying: "I want to be born in the Pure Western Land." .... "I want to be born there. Nobody's forcing me to go, nobody's dragging me there. Although Amitabha Buddha has come to guide me, I am going as a volunteer because I want to be close to him. I want to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss and to see Amitabha Buddha when my lotus flower opens. I want to meet the Buddha and hear the Dharma." These are the vows you need.

Then you must practice. How? Recite the Buddha's name, saying "Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha..." as if you were trying to save your head from the executioner, running ahead to keep your head, like the Sixth Patriarch. He knew that after after his death someone would try to steal his head, and so he told his disciples to take precautions. When he died, they wrapped his neck with sheets of iron. When the thief tried to cut off his head, he couldn't do it. The Great Master the Sixth Patriarch protected his head, even after he had entered the stillness of Nirvana. How much the more should we who have not entered the stillness "protect our heads" by cultivating the recitation of the Buddha's name. Reciting the Buddha's name is actual practice.

Faith, vows, and practice are the travel expenses for rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. They are your ticket. All those who vow to be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss can attain the irreversible position, thought, and conduct with respect to the utmost right and perfect enlightenment. All those who believe should make the vow- and this is an order! No kidding around. "I will be born in that country." If you make this vow, you can be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

BDK Commentary:
In regards to "if there are good men and good women who have heard and upheld this sutra, and have heard Buddhas' names...", The popular editions read "all good men and women who hear the Name of Amida Buddha expounded by all the Buddhas and the name of this sutra."

Thich Hai-Quang Commentary:
Translates "resolve" as "vows" (which is common for other versions).
Vows: The reason the Buddha repeatedly taught people to make vows is among the three "essential ways" of Pureland Buddhism; of Faith, Vow, and Practice. Vow is most important because a vow (to gain rebirth to the Ultimate Bliss World) encompasses both faith and practice. This concept was taught by the Eleventh Patriarch of Pureland Buddhism, the Great Venerable Master Sua-Sen.

Mind Seal of the Buddhas:
This sutra is devoted to revealing the supreme essentials of mind. The names of various Buddhas also reveal their supreme, perfect, ultimate virtues. Thus those who hear this sutra and the names of the Buddhas are protected and kept in mind by all the Buddhas. Those who hear this sutra and accept its teachings will consistently recite the name of Amitabha, and the name of Amitabha is itself protected and kept in mind by all of the Buddhas.

Question: What about those who only hear the names of the various Buddhas, but do not uphold the teachings of the sutra -- are they also kept in mind by all Buddhas and protected against backsliding?

Answer: There is a partial answer to this, and a comprehensive answer.

The Sutra on Divining the Results of Good and Evil Karma says that those who intone the Buddha-name in a confused, unfocused, defiled state of mind are not really hearing the Buddha-name and are incapable of. decisive faith and understanding. By reciting the Buddha-name they only obtain conditioned merits in the world, and they do not get the far-reaching and profoundly wondrous benefits of reciting the Buddha-name.

Those who singlemindedly recite the Buddha-name to the point of total concentration called "One-Practice Samadhi" achieve the mind of vast and wondrous practice. This is called attaining the Tolerance of Non-Birth (the forbearance that comes from realizing that all phenomena are unborn). By doing this these people truly hear the names of the Buddhas of the ten directions.

This is the way it must be with the sutra as well. After you hear it, you must put it into practice by reciting the Buddha-name. When you recite the Buddha--name to the point of singlemindedness, then you are really hearing the names of the Buddhas, and then you become protected and kept in mind by the Buddhas. This is the partial answer.

The comprehensive answer is this: The compassion of the Buddhas is inconceivable, and the merits of their names are also inconceivable. Therefore, once you hear a Buddha-name, no matter whether you are mindful or not, or whether you believe in it or not, it always becomes the seed of an affinity with the truth. Moreover, when the Buddhas bring salvation to sentient beings, they do not sort out friends and enemies: they go on working tirelessly for universal salvation. If you hear the Buddha-name, Buddha is bound to protect you. How can there be any doubts about this?

Even those who have just heard the Buddha-name once share in the essential true nature of phenomena; hearing the Buddha-name means they have a basis to work from, and have found what will be the cause of their enlightenment in the long run, which they will never lose.

The sutra uses the Sanskrit term anuttarasamyaksamhodhi, which means complete, unexcelled, true enlightenment. This is the awakening that is the fruit of the Great Vehicle.

To say you have reached the level where you do not fall back (non-retrogression) from your station, from your practice, or from your mindfulness, is another way of saying you will become enlightened in one lifetime. Thus Buddha urges all his listeners to believe in what this sutra is saying and accept it, and to have faith that the merit of hearing the Buddha-name is like this. Can we refuse to believe what Sakyamuni and all the other Buddhas have communicated to us?

Those who have vowed to be born in the Pure Land in the past have already been born there. Those who are now vowing to be born in the Pure Land will be born there at the end of this lifetime. Those who in future lives vow to be born in the Pure Land will be born there in the future. Here Buddha is demonstrating that vows that are made on the basis of pure faith are sure to come true. Without faith, we cannot make vows. Without vows and faith, rebirth cannot occur. That's why Buddha says, "If they have faith, they must vow to be born in that land."

Again: vows are a token of faith, and the key link for practice. Making vows is then a most crucial component. When Buddha mentions vows, faith and practice are included. That's why he repeatedly urges us most earnestly to make vows.

When we vow to be born in Amitabha's Pure Land, we are demonstrating our disgust with the mundane world, and our joy in the Pure Land.

In feeling aversion to the mundane world, we are relying on the first two Noble Truths [the truth of suffering, and the truth of the formation of suffering], and taking two of the great vows of Bodhisattvas [to deliver all sentient beings from suffering, and to cut off countless afflictions].

In joyously seeking the Pure Land, we are relying on the other two Noble Truths [the truth of the path, and the truth of ending suffering], and taking the other two great vows of Bodhisattvas [to master the endless variety of Buddhist teaching, and to consummate the Supreme Path]. By doing this we reach the stage where we do not fall back from the path of Great Enlightenment.

Question: If we make vows now, is it not correct that all we can talk about is the life to come, not this present life?

Answer: There are two senses here. One concerns a lifetime called the present one. If we vow in the present life to recite the Buddha-name, when we die we are sure to be born in the Pure Land.

The other is about an instant called the present. If our Mind accords with the Mind of Buddha Amitabha for one moment, we are born in the Pure Land for one moment. If we reach accord moment after moment, we are born in the Pure Land moment after moment. Wondrous cause and wondrous effect are not apart from the One Mind. They are like the two ends of a balance, going down and up and sometimes being level.

Why do we have to wait until our life in the mundane world is over before we can be born in the Pure Land's jewel ponds? All we have to do is develop faith and vows and recite the Buddha-name right now, and the lotus bud in which we will be born in the Pure Land is already in bloom, and the image of the Pure Land's golden thrones appear before us -- at that moment we are no longer inhabitants of this mundane world.

Reciting the Buddha-name is then the highest form of the complete and sudden teaching: impossible to rationalize; difficult to conceive. Only those with great wisdom can truly believe in it.

Personal Notes:
A couple parts of Hsuan Hua's commentary reminds me of Nagarjuna's "practice like your hair's on fire".

The 2nd-to-last paragraph of the Mind Seal quote really drives it home for me that this path isn't just being fatalistic about not being able to accomplish anything in this life (a common criticism of Pure Land, especially Japanese schools). If Faith, Vows, and Practice are approached diligently, then we won't have to die before experiencing the Pure Land.
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 862
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:28 am

Hey Porkchop
Thank you for the time it takes to compile arrange and post all these commentaries along with the sutra qoutes. your postings are being read,I havent commented on them cause everything you post is already well covered in the post itself.

I cant wait for when it comes time to get to the Infinite Life Sutra(Larger Sutra)
Peace and Love
User avatar
Son of Buddha
 
Posts: 888
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:48 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Pure Land

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: duckfiasco, zamotcr and 6 guests

>