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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:16 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:04 am
Posts: 821
Huifeng wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:

This came up in an earlier thread but it was a bit of a tangent so I would like to raise it again here.

Buddha name recitation, on the surface, sounds like the simplest of methods, except that it should be supported by 信心/shinjin. Otherwise, isn't it just a method for calming the mind, no different than counting breaths or even repeating some nonsense syllables? It's 信心 which makes the difference.

But how does one develop this? I'd be interested in hearing how both the Chinese and Japanese Pure Land schools approach this question.

Since, as I understand it, in Jodo Shinshu the nembutsu is seen more as an expression of gratitude, I might also ask: how does gratitude come about? I am asking this as someone who is neither very grateful nor devout by nature.

On a related note, what is the link between Other Power and sunyata? Could Amitabha be seen as a personification of sunyata -- or to ask it differently, would contemplation of Amitabha be a way to develop realization of sunyata? Again I would be interested in responses from across the traditions.


On the easiest ways is to immerse yourself in the tradition. Once one sees how many people have had success through practicing what are essentially the same practices that you are doing now (though perhaps rather more intensely!), it will certainly inspire one with great faith and confidence.

On the other hand, it is best to avoid those naysayers and skeptics who always like to cast doubt on such practices. Such company is like poison in one's ears.

So, read all those old stories, from the story of the Buddha himself - my favorite! - through the likes of Arya Nagarjuna, Arya Asanga and Arya Vasubandhu, the great masters of China like Master Huiyuan and Master Shandao. (Or whatever tradition you wish to develop faith in.)

Last point: Whenever the voice arises saying "But it is my nature to question! It is my nature to be skeptical!", without going overboard and falling into blind faith, remember that this "my nature" stuff is just ego, ultimately all these things are conditioned. We can condition them to faith in the Triple Jewel, which leads towards liberation, or we can condition them towards doubt, which leads to ongoing samsara. Every conditioned thing can change, we just have to condition it in the most beneficial direction.

Hi Huifeng, do you know of any monks or lay people personally who have showed auspicious signs at death?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:54 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am
Posts: 1471
One or two, but most practitioners that I know are still pretty young so have not passed away during the time that I have known them.

My Prajñācāra Blog
Buddhist Studies at Fo Guang University, Taiwan

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:10 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:28 pm
Posts: 698
Thank you for your answers people, they were helpful indeed, but it remains the confusion in my mind: why do we have 2 opposite teachings and wich should we choose?

HUIFENG: Tell us more about that auspicious signs.

Thank you very much again to all of you. :-)

PS: This is a very interesting and important thread.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:32 pm 
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Location: Budapest

They're not opposing views but different approaches. As you may well know, in PL there's made a separation of self-power and other-power. They basically mean attitudes. Self-power PL practices include visualisation and recitation when they're done with the intent of attaining birth through the taming of the mind. Other-power practice means that you rely on Amita Buddha's vow-power to attain birth. In practice it comes down to the recitation of the name with the intent of being mindful of the Buddha (nianfo - buddha-mindfulness) not necessarily to attain any special mind-state but to nurture faith. Thus reciation and faith are not really two but a single path. Honen affirms this in his One Sheet Document: "Reciting the nembutsu does not come from studying and understanding its meaning. There is no other reason or cause by which we can utterly believe in attaining birth in the Pure Land than the nembutsu itself. Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally gives rise to the three minds and the four modes of practice."

"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

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

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)

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