Evolution of Pure Land

Evolution of Pure Land

Postby zamotcr » Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:17 pm

I have been studying the Lotus Sutra this days and I found the concept of Pure Land to be different from the general accepted view. It's like the Pure Land concept and theory (or comoslogy, perhaps) has evolved from it's inception.

So, what I see is that ealier sutras are not so "metaphysical", but more like a place you can find in a map, similar to the view of the other realms of gods, like levels in Sumeru Mountain, and if you climb it, you can go to the gods realms.

For example, the Lotus Sutra talks about a Pure Land called Ratnasaṃbhava and said thus:

“His land will be called Ratnasaṃbhava in the kalpa called Ratnāva bhāsa. The land will be even and the earth will be made of crystal and adorned with jeweled trees. It will be without pits, pebbles, thorns, or the filth of excrement. The earth will be covered with precious flowers and will be everywhere pure.
“The people in this world will all live in wonderful towers with jeweled terraces. The śrāvakas, the disciples there will be innumerable and limitless, beyond calculation and metaphor, and there will also be innumerable thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of bodhisattvas.
The lifespan of this buddha will be twelve intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in the world for twenty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for twenty intermediate kalpas. This Buddha will always dwell in the air, teaching the Dharma for the multitude, and he will save incalculable bodhisattvas and śrāvakas.”


Some Pure Landers says that Amitabha's Pure Land will come to an end and Guanyin will take it. But the idea from the Lotus Sutra is that it will end. Some other Pure Landers tsays that Amitabha is eternal, because he is Nirvana itself. The Pure Land and other buddhist concepts evolved from time to time. Earlier sutras didn't talk about Buddha-Nature, but later did.

Right now, undersating and seeying this evolution of concepts and ideas, give me a broader view of Mahayana buddhism, very different from Theravada, and that is, Mahayana is a living religion, evolving with new views and interpretations (I accept that not all interpretations are good, but you got the idea). So, the way that ancient India or China saw the world, it is now very different from us. Much of us place Pure Land not only far way, but also in invisible to human eyes. After all, much Mahayana sutras evolved in different places and times.

Sorry if this sound confusing, I wrote what I had in my mind :)
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Re: Evolution of Pure Land

Postby plwk » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:43 am

I have been studying the Lotus Sutra this days and I found the concept of Pure Land to be different from the general accepted view. It's like the Pure Land concept and theory (or comoslogy, perhaps) has evolved from it's inception.
Of course it's different because of its purpose, function and emphasis.
Comparison will only lead one to understand the differences of what is emphasised in both.
Again, its 'evolution' is nothing strange as a near similar idea of an ideal place of cultivation and perfection of the Path & Stages can also be found in 'early Buddhism'.
So, what I see is that ealier sutras are not so "metaphysical", but more like a place you can find in a map, similar to the view of the other realms of gods, like levels in Sumeru Mountain, and if you climb it, you can go to the gods realms.
LOL and I always thought that 'metaphysical' oft includes 'gods', 'Sumeru' and you're one of those who take Mt Sumeru's existence as literal? Even HHDL doesn't. I find it more helpful to think of it as a meaningful spiritual metaphor. Sukhavati has Nine Lotus Grades and each Grade again has its subcategories, 'you can climb on' those too, no? :tongue: Similarly in what is described in other innumerable Buddha ksetras...
Some Pure Landers says that Amitabha's Pure Land will come to an end and Guanyin will take it. But the idea from the Lotus Sutra is that it will end.
Pure Landers didn't say it but a Sutra did and it did not say that the Pure Land will come to an end. What will 'end' is a Buddha's Dispensation like how in our world system for instance, Sakyamuni's will end after such and such a time after the Dharma Ending Age before a new future Buddha's Dispensation can start, in this case Maitreya and in Sukhavati's, it's Avalokitesvara's turn. And on top of that, Amitabha's Dispensation lasts way longer than Sakyamuni's before the 'baton' is passed on. Read that Sutra link to find out how long it takes for this baton to be passed on compared with our Saha World between Sakyamuni & Maitreya. A Buddha ksetra exists as an expedient as long as sentient beings exists and also the purpose of benefitting & liberating them all. In Amitabha's case, His Vows serve as the foundation of Sukhavati and even way after he manifests Mahaparinirvana, Sukhavati remains for the benefit of all parent sentient beings as a great expression of fulfilled Bodhicitta as long as there are still sentient beings not liberated. Read about a similar resolve in Chapter 40 of the Avatamsaka Sutra where Samantabhadra mentions about 10 His Great Vows and He mentions...
Realms of worlds in empty space might reach an end,
And living beings, karma and afflictions be extinguished;
But they will never be exhausted,
And neither will my vows

Does not the 48 Great Vows of Amitabha encapsulates this? It's like a company founded and the purpose of its existence is to serve customers and profit being its aim.
As long as there are customers and profitability, it will continue no? Yes, the company founder may be long gone but its new Board of Directors / President will ensure its continuity based on the similar basic underlying principles for which the company exists for.
Some other Pure Landers tsays that Amitabha is eternal, because he is Nirvana itself.
All Buddhas are 'eternal'. This is a standard Mahayana teaching and by extension as some scholars believe, it's also what some Early Schools posit about a Buddha's attributes. By the way, isn't one of Nirvana's qualities / attributes 'eternal' too for which They embody / personify, e.g re-Mahaparinirvana & Lotus Sutras? So, it's not unique to Pure Landers alone. I will not go into elaboration on this again because there are numerous threads on it.
The Pure Land and other buddhist concepts evolved from time to time. Earlier sutras didn't talk about Buddha-Nature, but later did.
Sure and well, depends who you're talking to. In the Nikayas/Agamas, the Buddha talked about a 'luminous mind'. Later, this idea of a 'luminous mind' had other connotations by various quarters but as what I have read, it seems to retain some level of faithfulness to its original position. To me, it just represents one's own Buddha potential. Of course, there are other ways of looking at it but I prefer to keep things simple.
Right now, undersating and seeying this evolution of concepts and ideas, give me a broader view of Mahayana buddhism, very different from Theravada, and that is, Mahayana is a living religion, evolving with new views and interpretations (I accept that not all interpretations are good, but you got the idea).
By the way, Theravada is not the only comparison we have. If you have dug deep enough, you will find traces of Mahasamghika, Sarvastivada and some others in doctrinal Mahayana stuff via Sutras & Sastras, who were at one time cousin to or rival to Theravada. It's only a modern phenomena of say in the last 200 years or so, that we are fortunate to have encountered Theravada in a formal way in studies and critical evaluation for which the traditional treatises in the Mahayana literature corpus, that when they compare and contrast early ideas with Mahayana, it was Theravada's ancient rivals and cousins and not Theravada per se. The modern generation for want of knowing about the history and early times, superimposed them on Theravada, making it as if it was totally Theravada's ideas too when in actual fact, it wasn't, just because Theravada managed to survive from back then until now but it is not that others are totally dead too as we have 2 surviving Vinaya lineages plus a huge corpus of Sutra & Sastra literature from several ancient Schools. And it is not too far stretched to be reserved about traditional histories from Buddhist Traditions which purport to give an 'accurate' view of what went on back then and needs to be examined in the light of modern scholarship and evidence.
So, the way that ancient India or China saw the world, it is now very different from us.
Like DOH! Of course LOL
Much of us place Pure Land not only far way, but also in invisible to human eyes.
Yes, this is similar for some who think that the PhD level in studies is as far for them as Pluto is from Earth, no? Now if only such would spend their time and effort in deepening & widening one's own study, practice and realisation, then this would soon become an initial hurdle?
If people wish to understand
The Buddhas of the three periods of time,
They should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm:
Everything is made from the mind.

The Flower Adornment Sutra

First, the glorious description...
The Buddha then said to the Elder Shariputra: "If you travel westward from here, passing a hundred thousand kotis of Buddha-lands, you come to the Land called 'Utmost Bliss,' where there is a Buddha named 'Amida.' He is living there now, teaching the Dharma.
The Smaller Sutra on Amida Buddha

Then the practical description...
Then the World-Honored One said to Vaidehi, "Do you know that Amitayus is not far away?
Fix your thoughts upon and contemplate that Buddha-land, then you will accomplish the pure acts.
I shall describe it to you in detail with various illustrations, so that all ordinary people in the future who wish to practice the pure karma may also be born in that Western Land of Utmost Bliss.

The Sutra on Contemplation of Amitayus

From the 'Ten Doubts about Pure Land' by the 4th Tiān Tāi Patriarch, Great Master Zhì Yǐ...
Question 9
The Western Pure Land is ten billion Buddha Lands away from here. Common, ordinary people are weak and frail. How can they reach it?
Answer
The Western Pure Land is described as being ten billion Buddha Lands away from here only with respect to the limited concepts of ordinary people with eyes of flesh and blood, mired in birth and death. For those who have attained the pure karma of rebirth in the Pure Land, the Mind in samadhi at the time of death is precisely the Mind reborn in the Pure Land. As soon as the thought (of rebirth) arises, rebirth is achieved.

Thus, the Meditation Sutra states that “the Land of Amitabha Buddha is not far from here!” Moreover, the power of karma is inconceivable.
In the space of one thought, rebirth in the Pure Land is achieved. There is no need to worry about distance.
This is analogous to a person asleep and dreaming. Although his body is on the bed, his Mind is travelling all over, to all worlds, as though he were awake.
Rebirth in the Pure Land is, generally speaking, similar to this example.

After all, much Mahayana sutras evolved in different places and times.
To me, I can accept this. But tell that to a traditionalist, you may get a range of baffled stares to annoyance to...
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Re: Evolution of Pure Land

Postby Son of Buddha » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:02 am

To PLWK

Has anyone ever thanked you for responding to EVERY SINGLE thread related to Pure Land?
:bow:
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Re: Evolution of Pure Land

Postby zamotcr » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:38 am

plwk wrote:Of course it's different because of its purpose, function and emphasis.
Comparison will only lead one to understand the differences of what is emphasised in both.
Again, its 'evolution' is nothing strange as a near similar idea of an ideal place of cultivation and perfection of the Path & Stages can also be found in 'early Buddhism'.


Yup, the idea is the same, what change is the concept, different descriptions, more elaborated. The nature of Pure Lands are describes a little different in later texts.

LOL and I always thought that 'metaphysical' oft includes 'gods', 'Sumeru' and you're one of those who take Mt Sumeru's existence as literal? Even HHDL doesn't. I find it more helpful to think of it as a meaningful spiritual metaphor. Sukhavati has Nine Lotus Grades and each Grade again has its subcategories, 'you can climb on' those too, no? :tongue: Similarly in what is described in other innumerable Buddha ksetras...

Oh no, of course I don't take Sumeru as real. I was studying Indo-European myths months ago, and the Mountain or a Tree was very common in ancient european cultures. It was thought that the mountain or the tree connects all the worlds or realms, and that's how I see it, as a metaphor that says that all the worlds or realms are united or "interconnected", gods realms are as near as our neighbor also Pure Land, is right here, and far away.

But of course not, is not a mountain, is not a tree, is just a symbol.

Pure Landers didn't say it but a Sutra did and it did not say that the Pure Land will come to an end. What will 'end' is a Buddha's Dispensation like how in our world system for instance, Sakyamuni's will end after such and such a time after the Dharma Ending Age before a new future Buddha's Dispensation can start, in this case Maitreya and in Sukhavati's, it's Avalokitesvara's turn. And on top of that, Amitabha's Dispensation lasts way longer than Sakyamuni's before the 'baton' is passed on.


The sutra you pointed out I read that is very controversial and not upheld by everyone.

All Buddhas are 'eternal'. This is a standard Mahayana teaching and by extension as some scholars believe, it's also what some Early Schools posit about a Buddha's attributes. By the way, isn't one of Nirvana's qualities / attributes 'eternal' too for which They embody / personify, e.g re-Mahaparinirvana & Lotus Sutras? So, it's not unique to Pure Landers alone. I will not go into elaboration on this again because there are numerous threads on it.


Yeah, they are eternal. What I read is that they manifest or teach only for limited time, and then pass the flag to another one, like you pointed out.

By the way, Theravada is not the only comparison we have.


Of course not, I just said Theravada as a simplification.

Like DOH! Of course LOL


:rolling: yeah, it seems obvious, but not everyone think this way :p

After all, much Mahayana sutras evolved in different places and times.
To me, I can accept this. But tell that to a traditionalist, you may get a range of baffled stares to annoyance to...


Well traditionalist may say whatever they want, but the studies shows that Mahayana Sutras are not historical, they may deny it, but the truth is the truth and they are a later development. Pure Land sutras are one of the olders. Lotus Sutra is dated between 100 BC and 100 AD. So yup, they were not spoken by historical Buddha, but perhaps by another enlightened master.
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Re: Evolution of Pure Land

Postby zamotcr » Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:10 pm

One thing I've noticing is this:

In the beginning Pure Land were not as high as today is. It was described more like another galaxy far far away, you could even point it location in a map.
Pure Land is depicted as a trichiliocosm (and a trichiliocosm includes the triple realm: all heavens down to hells and the PL Sutras described the Pure Land like a trichiliocosm, but just without hells nor animal realm).

Over time, this became more metaphysical, . Pure Land is regarded as outside of samsara, outside of triple realm. Each master and patriarch gave new visions or interpretations (we have Shan-tao, who said that Pure Lands are Reward Land). Now Pure Land is regarded more as an Infinite Realm or Realm of Nirvana, Nirvana itself, something more higher than before, outside of Samsara and triple realm (I think this make it a non-physical matter realm and makes it something more like a transcendental realm).

So, for me, it's important to look the whole concept, not just the sutras. Masters give a valuable explanations and new looks.
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Re: Evolution of Pure Land

Postby kirtu » Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:52 pm

zamotcr wrote:Right now, undersating and seeying this evolution of concepts and ideas, give me a broader view of Mahayana buddhism, very different from Theravada, and that is, Mahayana is a living religion, evolving with new views and interpretations


So is Theravada. There used to be 16 or 17 or so Sravaka lineages and now there is only one. And few people know the history of Theravada going back several centuries, for example. But there are still many different Mahayana lineages. We are seeing changes in Mahayana over centuries up to 2.5 millenia. The changes that we are seeing in Theravada are not so obvious and are much more incremental because we are seeing them over a period of decades to 150 years (so the lifespans of 4-5 masters max).

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Re: Evolution of Pure Land

Postby thunderbumble » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:12 pm

zamotcr wrote:I have been studying the Lotus Sutra this days and I found the concept of Pure Land to be different from the general accepted view. It's like the Pure Land concept and theory (or comoslogy, perhaps) has evolved from it's inception.

So, what I see is that ealier sutras are not so "metaphysical", but more like a place you can find in a map, similar to the view of the other realms of gods, like levels in Sumeru Mountain, and if you climb it, you can go to the gods realms.

For example, the Lotus Sutra talks about a Pure Land called Ratnasaṃbhava and said thus:

“His land will be called Ratnasaṃbhava in the kalpa called Ratnāva bhāsa. The land will be even and the earth will be made of crystal and adorned with jeweled trees. It will be without pits, pebbles, thorns, or the filth of excrement. The earth will be covered with precious flowers and will be everywhere pure.
“The people in this world will all live in wonderful towers with jeweled terraces. The śrāvakas, the disciples there will be innumerable and limitless, beyond calculation and metaphor, and there will also be innumerable thousands of myriads of koṭis of nayutas of bodhisattvas.
The lifespan of this buddha will be twelve intermediate kalpas. The True Dharma will last in the world for twenty intermediate kalpas and the Semblance Dharma will also last for twenty intermediate kalpas. This Buddha will always dwell in the air, teaching the Dharma for the multitude, and he will save incalculable bodhisattvas and śrāvakas.”


Some Pure Landers says that Amitabha's Pure Land will come to an end and Guanyin will take it. But the idea from the Lotus Sutra is that it will end. Some other Pure Landers tsays that Amitabha is eternal, because he is Nirvana itself. The Pure Land and other buddhist concepts evolved from time to time. Earlier sutras didn't talk about Buddha-Nature, but later did.

Right now, undersating and seeying this evolution of concepts and ideas, give me a broader view of Mahayana buddhism, very different from Theravada, and that is, Mahayana is a living religion, evolving with new views and interpretations (I accept that not all interpretations are good, but you got the idea). So, the way that ancient India or China saw the world, it is now very different from us. Much of us place Pure Land not only far way, but also in invisible to human eyes. After all, much Mahayana sutras evolved in different places and times.

Sorry if this sound confusing, I wrote what I had in my mind :)


I feel the very biggest mistake Pureland Buddhist "fundamentalists" make is clinging to a tiny part of many texts and interpretations based on the culture of the time in which they were written.
Firstly, they deny the Buddha by denying the truth of impermanence.
Secondly, they deny Shinran by insisting on the illusion of form.
( Shinran, in a letter to his followers, says, “Supreme Buddha is formless, and because of being formless is called jinen. Buddha, when appearing with form, is not called supreme nirvana. In order to make it known that supreme Buddha is formless, the name Amida Buddha is expressly used; so I have been taught.” (Mattøshø 5, in The Collected Works of Shinran [Kyoto: Jødo Shinsh¥ Hongwanji-ha, 1997], p. 530). The same passage is found in te Shøzømatsu Wasan (The Collected Works of Shinran, p. 428). In the Note on ‘Essentials of Faith Alone,’ he also
The Buddha taught


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

Postby Malcolm » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:23 pm

zamotcr wrote:I have been studying the Lotus Sutra this days and I found the concept of Pure Land to be different from the general accepted view. It's like the Pure Land concept and theory (or comoslogy, perhaps) has evolved from it's inception.


Chances are, the archeological foundation for the concept of the "western paradise" was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasargadae as well as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gardens

See this interesting paper as well:

http://www.sino-platonic.org/complete/s ... radise.pdf
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
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Re: Evolution of Pure Land

Postby thunderbumble » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:27 pm

Had Shinran meekly clung to TienTai dogma, He'd have remained bald.
However; the Burning House of his age required a new cart because the old Medicine was
Withheld from the ordinary person to whom the current dogma held no hope.
The Buddha taught


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

Postby Malcolm » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:29 pm

kirtu wrote:
zamotcr wrote:Right now, undersating and seeying this evolution of concepts and ideas, give me a broader view of Mahayana buddhism, very different from Theravada, and that is, Mahayana is a living religion, evolving with new views and interpretations


So is Theravada. There used to be 16 or 17 or so Sravaka lineages and now there is only one. And few people know the history of Theravada going back several centuries, for example. But there are still many different Mahayana lineages. We are seeing changes in Mahayana over centuries up to 2.5 millenia. The changes that we are seeing in Theravada are not so obvious and are much more incremental because we are seeing them over a period of decades to 150 years (so the lifespans of 4-5 masters max).

Kirt



There are three in fact: Theravada, Mulasarvastivada and Dharmaguptaka.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Evolution of Pure Land

Postby Indrajala » Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:29 pm

I found this interesting:

    [T]he merit of the act of Mahāyāna inscriptions is always said to be intended for the attainment of anuttarajñāna. This is apparent from the very beginning of our Mahāyāna inscriptions and is found even in what might be called, form a purely epigraphical point of view, an early proto-Mahāyāna inscription from Mathurā. This proto-Mahāyāna inscription, published first by Nakamura and more recently by Mukherjee, is of importance for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it contains the earliest, indeed the only, reference to the Buddha Amitābha in Indian inscriptions and is, therefore, one of the few hard facts we have concerning this Buddha and his cult in India proper. The inscription records the fact that in the year 26 of Huveṣka an “image of the Blessed One, the Buddha Amitābha, was set up for worship of the Buddha” (bhagavato buddha amitābhasya pratimā pratiṣṭhapita buddha pūjāye) by an individual named Nāgarakṣita or Sāmrakṣita.


Gregory Schopen, “Two Problems in the History of Indian Buddhism The Layman/Monk Distinction and the Doctrines of the Transference of Merit” in Indian Monastic Buddhism Collected Papers on Textual, Inscriptional and Archaelogical Evidence (New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited), 39.
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Re: Evolution of Pure Land

Postby thunderbumble » Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:35 pm

Indrajala wrote:I found this interesting:

    [T]he merit of the act of Mahāyāna inscriptions is always said to be intended for the attainment of anuttarajñāna. This is apparent from the very beginning of our Mahāyāna inscriptions and is found even in what might be called, form a purely epigraphical point of view, an early proto-Mahāyāna inscription from Mathurā. This proto-Mahāyāna inscription, published first by Nakamura and more recently by Mukherjee, is of importance for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it contains the earliest, indeed the only, reference to the Buddha Amitābha in Indian inscriptions and is, therefore, one of the few hard facts we have concerning this Buddha and his cult in India proper. The inscription records the fact that in the year 26 of Huveṣka an “image of the Blessed One, the Buddha Amitābha, was set up for worship of the Buddha” (bhagavato buddha amitābhasya pratimā pratiṣṭhapita buddha pūjāye) by an individual named Nāgarakṣita or Sāmrakṣita.


Gregory Schopen, “Two Problems in the History of Indian Buddhism The Layman/Monk Distinction and the Doctrines of the Transference of Merit” in Indian Monastic Buddhism Collected Papers on Textual, Inscriptional and Archaelogical Evidence (New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited), 39.

The actual lay practice of Theravada is to accumulate merit. My lover and fiancee is Thai and did the novice monk ceremony for the make merit for the family.
Many lay Theravada Buddhists "pray" to Buddha for all manner of things in this life or the next.
Special crematoriums are places where people go to see you off and celebrate. I don't fully understand this.
However, in lay practice (and by many ordained monks) it's quite different than what we read in the Pali Suttas.
It's quite easy to see how the human mind clings to a permanent self.
Can an atheist be a Buddhist?
Certainly.

Can a atheist be a Pure Land Buddhist?

"All existing things are impermanent and without a biting self. They are like the moon reflected in water, like lightning, like shadows, like to dew. "The Dharma cannot
be expressed by words", the Buddha proclaimed. Thus I bow in reverence to the Noble One, Amida."
Junirai

"The person who attains Shinjin and Joy it is taught, is equal to the Tathagatas. Great Shinjin is itself Buddha Nature; Buddha Nature is none other than Thathagata".
Shinran Shonin (Jodo Wasan 94)
The Buddha taught


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

Postby thunderbumble » Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:38 pm

("Without an ABIDING self..." , Sorry, auto correct :oops: "
The Buddha taught


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