How do you experience PL?

How do you experience PL?

Postby zamotcr » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:38 pm

How do you know Amitabha (or any other Buddha) and his Pure Land (or any other PL) are real?

We know that Pure Land sutras were not spoken by historical Buddha, neither any of the Mahayana sutras, as far as we know. Almost all academic agreed on this.

So, how do you validate your beliefs? How do you know Amitabha and his PL are real? How do you experience it? How do you validate it? :namaste:
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:26 pm

zamotcr wrote:How do you know Amitabha (or any other Buddha) and his Pure Land (or any other PL) are real?

We know that Pure Land sutras were not spoken by historical Buddha, neither any of the Mahayana sutras, as far as we know. Almost all academic agreed on this.

So, how do you validate your beliefs? How do you know Amitabha and his PL are real? How do you experience it? How do you validate it? :namaste:


By "real", do you mean, as compared to the experience of yourself that you are having at this moment?
...is that real?
Perhaps the answer will reveal itself if you were to ask,
"is Amitabha and his Pure Land any more real than I am?"
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby Astus » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:01 pm

Is karma real or not? Buddhism says there is karma. Is the path of the bodhisattvas real or not? Mahayana says it is. If there is karma and there is buddhahood, then the buddha-fields can be real as well. And if there are buddhas and buddha-fields, then there can be an Amitabha Buddha with his specific vows.

Also, if one wants first hand experience, consult the Pratyutpannasamadhi Sutra and Tiantai's walking samadhi.
"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."
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby Nosta » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:31 pm

I think that Zamotcr is not interested in questioning about the nature of reality here. He his assuming - I think - that real means so real like the moon, the sand, me, you,etc. Is the PL so real (or even more) that the daily stuff we see? Or is just a metaphor? Thats the main question I suppose, one that I make to myself sometimes.
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby JamyangTashi » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:46 pm

zamotcr wrote:We know that Pure Land sutras were not spoken by historical Buddha, neither any of the Mahayana sutras, as far as we know. Almost all academic agreed on this.


The Pali Suttas describe the case of a non-returner who has destroyed the five lower fetters and will reappear after death in the Pure Abodes and will be fully unbound there.

Thirty-one Planes of Existence
Jhana Sutta
Sekhin Sutta

"With the wasting away of the five lower fetters, he is one going upstream to the Peerless [the Akaniṭṭha heaven, the highest of the Pure Abodes.]
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby Seishin » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:59 pm

zamotcr wrote:We know that Pure Land sutras were not spoken by historical Buddha, neither any of the Mahayana sutras, as far as we know. Almost all academic agreed on this.
:


Technically we can say the same about the Pali Canon. The Tripitaka is most likely to be closest to what the Buddha taught but it's not 100%. Mahayana did not spring out of thin air and there are many parallels with the Pali, Agamas and Gandharan texts.

Gassho,
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby zamotcr » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:37 pm

Nosta wrote:I think that Zamotcr is not interested in questioning about the nature of reality here. He his assuming - I think - that real means so real like the moon, the sand, me, you,etc. Is the PL so real (or even more) that the daily stuff we see? Or is just a metaphor? Thats the main question I suppose, one that I make to myself sometimes.


Actually no. I want a nice discussion of different experiences people have to say that Pure Land is real. How do you verify it? Have you feel something? Things like this :)
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby Nosta » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:48 pm

Sorry for answering by you! I answered that way because in the past, when I asked similar questions, the answers would fall just on the "what is real" category...people will would answer things like "everything is a dream" etc and all I want was something more solid.

Anyway, about myself I just had very very few experiences: sometimes, when practice and faith are good, I may have some prophetic dreams. Dreams that are very very specific that will happen in the same day I have them. Is that a sign that my practice is good and a sign that PL is real? Maybe, I dont know.

Also, when I have a good practice (days and days saying many times a day the Amitabha name) I will feel much more peaceful. Is that a placebo effect? A real stuff (so to say)?
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby PorkChop » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:03 pm

zamotcr wrote:How do you know Amitabha (or any other Buddha) and his Pure Land (or any other PL) are real?

We know that Pure Land sutras were not spoken by historical Buddha, neither any of the Mahayana sutras, as far as we know. Almost all academic agreed on this.

So, how do you validate your beliefs? How do you know Amitabha and his PL are real? How do you experience it? How do you validate it? :namaste:


Because I know dukkha (suffering) is something I experience daily and I know the opposite; sukha (bliss), can be experienced - because if it couldn't the Buddha probably wouldn't have bothered teaching the path to end dukkha. And knowing that Samsara is the state of experiencing dukkha, then Sukhavati (the land of sukha/bliss) is the state of experiencing sukha. I believe in Amitabha, because is there any sentient being that the Buddha's light of wisdom does not shine upon? I believe in Amitayus, because Buddhas achieve the Deathless and because the infinite compassion of the Buddhas extends to all life. I think when you experience the infinite light of wisdom and the embrace of infinite compassion for all life, then you know.



Nosta - real or placebo doesn't matter if it works.
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby Nosta » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:23 pm

Thats true indeed! If it works, thats all that matter :)
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:15 am

Hi! As someone new to exploring Pure Land after a few years of meandering through various other Buddhist traditions, this is my experience thus far.

I have a very inquisitive mind. I want to probe and understand all sides to an issue. With religious matters, that's meant I quickly see the logic of each kind of practice and dive in enthusiastically. "Ah, this is it, now I can do something truly good." Then a while later, it's like the inquisitive side has been working 24/7 to find the drawback. Doubts creep in. I would feel steadily more disappointed, and the doubts became convincing reasons why X or Y practice wasn't for me. Everything seemed inaccessible.

I couldn't practice Theravada, because the jhanas were described as essential, and I couldn't even approach access concentration. Then seeing how people pounced on any claim of stream-entry, one of the most fundamental levels of progress, I was greatly discouraged. "Even the most basic step is out of reach!" I soon had 100 reasons not to practice Theravadan Buddhism.

I couldn't practice Kagyu, because I was too smart to believe in deities, and seeing them as expedient means made it feel like trying to lie to myself when I already knew "the truth". Not to mention visualization doesn't come naturally to me.

Then I couldn't do any Mahayana because saving all beings just seemed like a total impossibility when I couldn't even stop my own temper.

Then I couldn't do Zen because just sitting there felt like giving free rein to all my old habits, and my depression and temper quickly worsened.

Then I couldn't do Christianity, because if I found some of the basic metaphysical claims of Buddhism inaccessible, claims of a bodily resurrection of some stranger 2,000 years ago seemed totally irrelevant. I tried accepting at face value that God was real and loving, and that Jesus could help me. So I prayed and tried to see the world as a loving creation. But it didn't feel right.

Over this time, one thing has become very clear: this doubting, calculating mind can find fault with anything at all, and those faults are painful. Initially, I liked Buddhism because of its intellectual appeal, the logic and rigor. But that didn't touch my heart at all. Patience and love for others seemed a distraction next to understanding how reality REALLY is. In any case, that chameleon of doubt eventually sauntered over and I was convinced Buddhism was actually pessimistic, because look how difficult it is to be free from even basic suffering, let alone attain some supposedly natural birthright of an enlightened existence.

I believe it's our own Padma von Sambha who said that Pure Land is stupid. So stupid that it's brilliant. I can think myself into and out of any philosophy. I've only recently started entertaining the possibility that there's someone or something that can help me beside my own efforts, my own clever mind. And looking at it now, what that really means for me is the idea that the universe doesn't revolve 100% around me and my problems, that my doubts are not statements of fact but sometimes a kind of suffering. Staying glued to my doubt made the world very narrow, and possibilities scarce. But of course the world is not so small!

But when so much of my current way of thinking is what I have to do for my enlightenment to help others who aren't me, I feel like having a someone instead of a something to share these doubts with, to emotionally hand them over to for safekeeping, has been so helpful already.

When thoughts come roaring in, instead of trying to select which of the 1,000 antidotes would work, or trying not to get discouraged and tell myself negative stories, I say "Amitabha". Then it feels like the matter is taken care of. It's like permission not to worry about it.
When doubts pounce, "Amitabha" to soothe that old thorn in my side. Those doubts can manage themselves.
When rationalizing talks its way in, that Amitabha is a clever gimmick to trick myself, "Amitabha". I don't have to figure everything out all the time, I can take a break now and then.
When my temper flares and I'm ashamed, "Amitabha", and I can do something different this time. Even just thinking a name is different than beating myself up or saying something I'll regret.

For someone very new who knows little about the Pure Land sutras or the details of Amitabha's vow or qualities, I feel like what I've needed most lately is the feeling that something at all is possible. When you've talked yourself out of every religion and feel like you're backed into a corner, what you sometimes want most is a hand to lift you back to your feet.

I don't know if the Pure Land is "real" or if the Buddha even taught about it.
But I do know that feeling some modicum of hopefulness, and the ability that this basic baby practice of Amitabha has given me to take a step beyond what I believe I'm capable of, or how I "just" am, and stop running towards more suffering, more fault-finding doubts, that to me shows there's something to this.

Through these many periods of doubt, I've still gravitated towards learning about the Paramitas and what I can read about Buddhism. If Pure Land is the reason I can begin to cultivate love again and not waste my life in abstraction, then that to me makes it a valuable support to practice. That's with continuing to try to abandon negativities, cultivate goodness, and tame the mind, just basic things I think decent human beings can do with themselves.

My goal is to reduce suffering where I can. And I need all the help I can get. :cheers:
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby garudha » Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:11 pm

Nice post, duckfiasco.

I think pure lands are a matter of faith and faith is one of the highest virtues.
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:48 pm

zamotcr wrote:How do you know Amitabha (or any other Buddha) and his Pure Land (or any other PL) are real?


I think it's a state of mind, and within us. I think it's not unlike Jesus saying the kingdom of God is within, or Hindu jivanmukti. I don't think you have to die and go anywhere to experience the Pure Land, the kingdom of God, or moksha. I think they're all within us, and through practice, are revealed. Just my beliefs.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby KonchokZoepa » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:09 pm

i don't know if duck fiasco answered like this i didn't read. but i think i have said this before on the same topic.

you need to be able to have an understanding of dependent arising and of shunyata. when u see and understand these things. there is no more doubt regarding pure lands. you know and see their existence and how they exist.

and also, when asking, are pure lands real or do they exist, if we take the madhyamaka approach, they are not existent, not non existent, not either and not both. so if they are not existent, not non-existent, neither or both, then they are something in between those extremes and to see that middle you need your personal experience of shunyata, then you can start understanding more how pure lands are, beyond existence or non existence are just words, and its impossible to explain. you need the vision of emptiness, at least a small glimpse of it and of dependent arising, the interconnectedness of all phenomena. then you can start to see the actual nature of pure lands.
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby zsc » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:46 pm

"What is real" answers often do seem like cop-outs, but it's hard for me to articulate my experiences to someone who doesn't share my premises when they ask for "validation".

But I'll try anyway.

I woke up last night from some disturbing dreams. They weren't that horrific, but I often have dreams that take place in the exact place I fell asleep. My mind has everything down to the last detail, so I often do believe that they are real, unlike some who notice that their dreamscapes are odd, so they suspect that they are dreaming. This gets me in trouble when terrifying scenarios are playing out in this "counterfeit" world, but also when I think I have woken up and gotten ready when I'm really sleeping through alarm. When I get into dream loops, where I keep trying to wake up from a dream only to wake up in another, in the dream I usually test something like light switches; if it doesn't turn on, I'm more than likely still dreaming.

This time though, I woke up in the middle of the night from my "dreams" with the feeling that this was the dream world, and the dreams I had were "more real", because for whatever reason, solid forms seemed more fluid, and I knew it wasn't just my cat moving around. It took me a while to ground myself to get back to sleep even after this world had passed the light-switch test.

But that experience of "unreality" contributed to my silent yeombul practice the morning after. Sitting there with Imee Ooi's "Great Compassion Mantra" playing on my headphones, eventually the constructed barrier between "I" and Amida started to crack, and I could rest in the reality that Amida's wisdom and compassion are not separate from "me", just as I am not separate from him, and neither is my suffering, or anyone else's. Whatever anguish or joy I experience, or anyone else experiences, he also experiences, because there are no two separate subjects to have two separate experiences. In that moment, I experienced him as "real" really because I had gotten a glimpse into how "unreal" reality can seem. However, I do not think I am anywhere near realized enough to experience what I did with that amount of depth 24-7, since that would really hinder my ability to cope with this and still function in the conventional world.

That's all I got for now. I don't know if that's "proof" or something.
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby garudha » Fri Mar 28, 2014 5:31 pm

zsc wrote:"What is real" answers often do seem like cop-outs, but it's hard for me to articulate my experiences to someone who doesn't share my premises when they ask for "validation".

But I'll try anyway.

I woke up last night from some disturbing dreams. They weren't that horrific, but I often have dreams that take place in the exact place I fell asleep. My mind has everything down to the last detail, so I often do believe that they are real, unlike some who notice that their dreamscapes are odd, so they suspect that they are dreaming. This gets me in trouble when terrifying scenarios are playing out in this "counterfeit" world, but also when I think I have woken up and gotten ready when I'm really sleeping through alarm. When I get into dream loops, where I keep trying to wake up from a dream only to wake up in another, in the dream I usually test something like light switches; if it doesn't turn on, I'm more than likely still dreaming.

This time though, I woke up in the middle of the night from my "dreams" with the feeling that this was the dream world, and the dreams I had were "more real", because for whatever reason, solid forms seemed more fluid, and I knew it wasn't just my cat moving around. It took me a while to ground myself to get back to sleep even after this world had passed the light-switch test.

But that experience of "unreality" contributed to my silent yeombul practice the morning after. Sitting there with Imee Ooi's "Great Compassion Mantra" playing on my headphones, eventually the constructed barrier between "I" and Amida started to crack, and I could rest in the reality that Amida's wisdom and compassion are not separate from "me", just as I am not separate from him, and neither is my suffering, or anyone else's. Whatever anguish or joy I experience, or anyone else experiences, he also experiences, because there are no two separate subjects to have two separate experiences. In that moment, I experienced him as "real" really because I had gotten a glimpse into how "unreal" reality can seem. However, I do not think I am anywhere near realized enough to experience what I did with that amount of depth 24-7, since that would really hinder my ability to cope with this and still function in the conventional world.

That's all I got for now. I don't know if that's "proof" or something.


My friend had a similar habit of performing a "dream-world" test except it wasn't a light switch but a cord to pull on.
I'm not sure what exact mantra they had been reciting, but I know it was one of unlimited compassion for other being's failings, and they had learnt to recite the mantra whilst bringing other people into thought, Friends & Foes, individually.
They told me that one time, in a dream, sometime after performing the mantra in their meditation practice, they paused before turning on the light (pulling the cord). Then, Turning around and expecting, to see their terrifying dream, it was right there in front of them--unbearably close. They then started to recite their mantra, except they didn't speak it--only the essence was there, and brought their terrifying fear into focus all the time whilst performing mantra essence. They told me that when they woke up a great weight had been lifted from their shoulders. :heart:
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Mar 28, 2014 5:44 pm

zamotcr: Sorry to post again so soon, but I've noticed several threads where you seem to be struggling with the kind of logical, scientific-minded doubt that I know very well, for instance wondering if the Pure Land is on an extradimensional plane.

I think what PL can offer people like you and me is an opportunity to set that burden down.
I identify so strongly with things being logical, their worth being based on my ability to intellectually tame them... it's one of my personal biggest hindrances, really another kind of ego trying to be at the absolute center of life. And it's exhausting trying to maintain that.

A spirit of inquiry and curiosity is a gift.
When motivated by love, it makes people like you and me easily understand the plight of others, see how they could think or do harmful things when some may dismiss them as monsters or jerks.

But in my case at least, it started to become motivated by something else, a worldview where things have to make a specific kind of sense, have a specific practical use.
The result for me was only obvious after a long time: a painful proliferation of paralyzing doubt that spread itself over everything I tried to do.
You can't reason with doubts like these, even though they want to reason with you and give opinions on every single aspect of your practice, usually negative :toilet:

I've tried ignoring them, suppressing them, having "child-like" faith, reading the sutras, taking formal refuge, talking to teachers, contemplating the Four Thoughts, etc...
The only thing that's remotely helped is saying Amitabha's name.
I don't have very many intellectual ideas about Amitabha or the Pure Land yet (I'm sure I'll collect some).
I think the mere possibility that something can lay outside of understanding, far from the grabby hands of my intellect, gives me the chance to relax for once, to let things be taken care of.
That's what doubt wants most of all: a chance to rest.

I'm sorry if this is off-base, but it's the impression I have from reading several of your posts. I may be projecting :rolleye:
Last edited by duckfiasco on Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby PorkChop » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:30 pm

duckfiasco wrote:The only thing that's remotely helped is saying Amitabha's name.
I don't have very many intellectual ideas about Amitabha or the Pure Land yet (I'm sure I'll collect some).
I think the mere possibility that something can lay outside of understanding, far from the grabby hands of my intellect, gives me the chance to relax for once, to let things be taken care of.
That's what doubt wants most of all: a chance to rest.


There's a lot of beautiful sentiment in this statement and in your other post.
Thanks for sharing!
:twothumbsup:
I wouldn't even bother with the intellectual side of things. That's not to say that it's not there, but look how far you've come just by letting it go! Honen said if he had to come back to this world again, he hoped he could come back as a simple person who just said Amitabha's name non-stop, with all their heart. That means a lot coming from one of the most well-read monks in Japan at the time. Letting it go is Tariki, letting your intellect get its grubby little hands on everything is Jiriki. I think you've seen how ineffective the later is. The perfect response to "Is Amitabha and the Pure Land real?" is "Namo Amitabha Buddha".
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby PorkChop » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:50 pm

zsc wrote:That's all I got for now. I don't know if that's "proof" or something.


I'm no expert or at all qualified, but to me it sounds like you're on the right path. :thumbsup:

I'm not usually able to remember my dreams, but I've asked for help a number of times before going to bed.
Usually, it's in the sense of "how do I figure this out?" and I've woken up with some surprising answers the next day.
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Re: How do you experience PL?

Postby Osho » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:25 pm

zamotcr wrote:How do you know Amitabha (or any other Buddha) and his Pure Land (or any other PL) are real?

We know that Pure Land sutras were not spoken by historical Buddha, neither any of the Mahayana sutras, as far as we know. Almost all academic agreed on this.

So, how do you validate your beliefs? How do you know Amitabha and his PL are real? How do you experience it? How do you validate it? :namaste:



PL is more about practice than 'belief' - taking that slippery term 'belief' in its Christian ( for example) context.
The ' believer' Christian is tasked to convince others of her or his belief.
The PL cultivator simply cultivates.
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).
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