Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby mystique » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:13 am

In Buddhism there is Three marks of existence and one of them is Anicca or impermanence which stated nothing lasts forever. Even the universe including the Sentient beings and Buddha live in it will die then born again (which is proved by science with big bang and big crunch theory).

But in Pure Land buddhism, amithaba buddha stated (in vows no. 15):
"Provided I become a Buddha, the life of the beings in that country of mine should be eternal, excepting by their own free will whenever they choose to pass away from life, otherwise may I not attain the enlightenment."

So it means sentient beings who live in sukhavati/pure land is eternal and will lasts forever, this theory contradicts gautama buddha teachings. As we all know Gautama is the founder of Buddhism that we now know. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:25 am

mystique wrote:But in Pure Land buddhism, amithaba buddha stated (in vows no. 15):
"Provided I become a Buddha, the life of the beings in that country of mine should be eternal, excepting by their own free will whenever they choose to pass away from life, otherwise may I not attain the enlightenment."
If they can choose to end their life there then it's not eternal is it? ;)

Anyway, Annica refers to conditioned phenomena, Pure Lands are not conditioned (ie samsaric) that's why there is no suffering in Pure Lands.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:52 pm

Besides the Pure Land being out of samsara, eternal life there doesn't mean permanent. In fact, whatever that is alive is necessarily changing, therefore not permanent. The Pure Land itself is a step on the path to buddhahood. Once buddhahood is reached, you don't stay in Amitabha's land.
"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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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby PorkChop » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:11 pm

mystique wrote:In Buddhism there is Three marks of existence and one of them is Anicca or impermanence which stated nothing lasts forever. Even the universe including the Sentient beings and Buddha live in it will die then born again (which is proved by science with big bang and big crunch theory).

But in Pure Land buddhism, amithaba buddha stated (in vows no. 15):
"Provided I become a Buddha, the life of the beings in that country of mine should be eternal, excepting by their own free will whenever they choose to pass away from life, otherwise may I not attain the enlightenment."

So it means sentient beings who live in sukhavati/pure land is eternal and will lasts forever, this theory contradicts gautama buddha teachings. As we all know Gautama is the founder of Buddhism that we now know. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


I'm assuming by Gautama's teachings you're talking the Pali Canon; because if you recognized the Mahayana Canon this is a non-issue.

Since you are proselytizing the Pali canon in a Mahayana subforum, do you realize that Gautama taught Pure Abodes in the Pali canon that last for aeons and aeons? These Abodes last longer than expansion and contraction phases of the universe. An example of this is Akanistha. From the viewpoint of any sentient being who could not view anything lasting beyond the expansion & contraction phase of the universe (as most realms are destroyed in this process) it would appear to be infinite. Do you also realize that Gautama taught the Deathless? This involves escaping the cycle of birth and death, since there is no more death, it could be described as infinite life; unless of course you think that Nibbana and complete enlightenment are temporary some how? (they're not) or if you thought that Gautama taught annihilationism? (he did not)

On the Pure Land side of things, the adornments of the Pure Land represent the 37 factors of an enlightened mind. Pure Land schools teach that the Pure Land is a realm where enlightenment is reached. Many of Amitabha's vows stress encouraging those who reach the Pure Land to engage in the bodhisattva path and manifest back in the world to ease the suffering of sentient beings and eventually they are ready to manifest as perfectly enlightened Buddhas. Either way, nobody stays there forever. There are other sutras that even say that eventually Amitabha will parinirvana and Avalokitesvara will take over. Some schools teach that the Pure Land is Mind Only (a pure Mind is a pure land) & that Amitabha is Self-Nature (there is no Buddha outside of Mind). Other schools present the Pure Land as Dharmakaya (Thusness or emptiness or sunyata) manifesting as skillful means, while presenting Amitabha as Dharmakaya manifesting as compassion. Still other schools have other interpretations that fall within the general praxis of Mahayana thought, such as Amitabha as Samboghakaya (bliss body of the Buddhas that does not cease). The running theme is that a bodhisattva must reside in the No Birth of Dharmas (thus nothing that dies), that mind-streams continue beyond the break-up of the body, and that complete perfect enlightenment is not a temporary situation that one falls back from.

As the twin verses (#1 & 2) of the Dhammapada state:

Mind precedes all knowables,
mind's their chief, mind-made are they.
If with a corrupted mind
one should either speak or act
dukkha follows caused by that,
as does the wheel the ox's hoof.

Mind precedes all knowables,
mind's their chief, mind-made are they.
If with a clear, and confident mind
one should speak and act
as one's shadow ne'er departing.

PS- In the future, it would be more polite if you asked a question respectfully instead of making such an assertion and asking for correction.

EDIT: Probably should've included more info...
Pure Land practice is nianfo = nembutsu = buddhanusmrti = buddhanusatti = mindfulness of the Buddha (Dharma and Sangha); a practice accepted by all schools to purify one's mind (and karma). As noted above, all schools accept that the state of one's mind & karma affect how one interacts with the world, and that by purifying both, one's experience of the world completely changes.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby Aemilius » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:53 pm

Excellent reply PorkChop!

I would add that even in Sravakayana, (which means mostly Theravada in practice), time is not an absolute existent outside of man or a conscious being. Time is a property of the perceiver, thus "eternity" too is merely mind or shunyata.

The twin verses that You quote from Dhammapada are nowadays translated painfully avoiding any association with the Yogacara or Mind Only school of Buddhism. In the past they have been translated as "Mind precedes all existents", or something along those lines.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu has: "All phenomena are preceded by heart", in the Accesstoinsight Dhammapada translation.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby mystique » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:46 am

Astus wrote:Besides the Pure Land being out of samsara, eternal life there doesn't mean permanent. In fact, whatever that is alive is necessarily changing, therefore not permanent. The Pure Land itself is a step on the path to buddhahood. Once buddhahood is reached, you don't stay in Amitabha's land.


Thanks Astus, That is make sense.



PorkChop wrote:PS- In the future, it would be more polite if you asked a question respectfully instead of making such an assertion and asking for correction.


I'm really really sorry about that. peace.. :namaste:
But I want to know the truth backed with evedence. Because Gautama Buddha taught us not to blindly believe what he tells us, he wants us to try the teachings and prove them for ourselves. The Buddha wants us to know, not merely believe.
Even Dalai Lama stated "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, Buddhism will have to change."

Unlike Gautama buddha, Its really hard to find any relic or historical evidence of Amithaba Buddha and the data such as who is Amitabha Buddha before enlightened, the year He was born and died, location, etc. Not much data i can find.
The first known sutra mentioning Amitabha is the Pratyutpanna Sutra by the Kushan dynasty monk named Lokaksema around 180 180 CE which then became a foundation for Pure Land Buddhism founder "Hui Yuan" for his teachings. Then how come only Lokaksema know about Pure Land and Amitabha Buddha in that era?
Its impossible that Amitabha Buddha is just popped up out of nowhere. There must be some background history about Him.

PorkChop wrote:unless of course you think that Nibbana and complete enlightenment are temporary some how?


Yes, even the highest planes of existence have it's own lifespan.
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... _cosmology

It even similar with jainism cosmology, the highest plane also have it own lifespan.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jain_cosmology

The reason I bring older religion than buddhism such as jainism to the table, because most of the jainism and buddhism teaching is almost exactly the same even the 5 great vows in jainism similar with 5 precepts in buddhism, the previous 24 buddha is same just different name, the background life, and physical description of both founder also similar. Maybe jainsm is the basis of buddhism or Mahavira (founder of jainism) and Gautama (founder of buddhism) is the same person? This is some of the similarities:
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... nd_Jainism
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby PorkChop » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:01 am

Not my final post
Last edited by PorkChop on Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby PorkChop » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:01 am

mystique wrote:I'm really really sorry about that. peace.. :namaste:


Thanks for the consideration. This forum deals with such posts on a weekly (daily) basis, so apologies for any curtness.

mystique wrote:But I want to know the truth backed with evedence. Because Gautama Buddha taught us not to blindly believe what he tells us, he wants us to try the teachings and prove them for ourselves. The Buddha wants us to know, not merely believe.


Of course, but having Right View, includes the 4th Noble Truth, which means that there is a path away from the realm of birth and death. Otherwise, unless you take subjective first-person evidence as true, you're not going to get any objective evidence revealing the truth of an after-death experience, regardless of what path you chose. In the meantime, your only measuring stick is whether or not the teachings are beneficial to you in your day-to-day life. My own experience is that these teachings hold up

mystique wrote:Unlike Gautama buddha, Its really hard to find any relic or historical evidence of Amithaba Buddha and the data such as who is Amitabha Buddha


First off, I think the idea that Gautama Buddha (as popular culture currently understands him) is historically true is a bit of a stretch - even his name is a bit of a contention (not a Sakyan name, but a Brahman). The idea that Amitabha Buddha is a historical truth, versus a timeless truth is the source of your problems. A belief in Amitabha is only requiring you to believe in the idea that there is an answer beyond the idea of cyclical suffering. The idea of Amitabha is not to get you to believe in an individual who is permanent and immortal, but to believe that there is a way out of your own idea of cyclical suffering.

"Not much data i can find."

You're not going to find any data on Bodhisattva Dhamakara (Amida before enlightenment) because it exists before this current instantiation of the known universe. The idea of Amitabha/Amida is that it points to a reference that is beyond known time. The story says X number of kalpas ago, meaning there would be nothing recorded of such an event. You can stick to the idea that such events must be recorded, or you can accept the idea that it is a timeless truth.

mystique wrote:The first known sutra mentioning Amitabha is the Pratyutpanna Sutra by the Kushan dynasty monk named Lokaksema around 180 180 CE which then became a foundation for Pure Land Buddhism founder "Hui Yuan" for his teachings.


Definitely don't get hung up on the date of the teachings. The point of the teachings is that it points to a timeless truth, as verified by the Pali Canon even if there is no mention of the name "Amitabha". The figure mentioned in the truth has no effect on the veracity of the truth. If you read the Pratyutpanna you'll realize that the identity of Amitabha is an illusion, just as is the illusion of your own identity

mystique wrote:Then how come only Lokaksema know about Pure Land and Amitabha Buddha in that era?


Certainly Lokaksema did not have any effect on the truth, he merely translated what was taught to him based on the earlier teachings.

mystique wrote:Its impossible that Pure Land is popped up out of nowhere. There must be some history about it.

Of course, the Pure Lands derive from the teachings of the Pure Abodes as descried by the historical Buddha (which themselves probably derive from an earlier era). Certainly that was not the beginning, as Brahma Sahampati, the one who counseled the historical Buddha, was a resident of the Pure Abodes (an antecedent to the Pure Lands); which still does not point at the exact truth of the Pure Lands.

mystique wrote:Yes, even the highest planes of existence have it's own lifespan.
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... _cosmology


This still does not point to the truth of Nibbana/Nirvana or the true lifespan of the Pure Lands.

mystique wrote:It even similar with jainism cosmology, the highest plane also have it own lifespan.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jain_cosmology

This still does not point to the lifespan of the Pure Abodes and the Pure Lands (which are only reachable by followers of the Buddha), nor does it point to the Nibbana/parinibbana/Nirvana/pariNirvana of the historical Buddha.

mystique wrote:The reason I bring older religion than buddhism such as jainism to the table, because most of the jainism and buddhism teaching is almost exactly the same


Maybe you should look for the source of this in corruptions of the earlier teachings of Buddhism, which are not Jainism, and certainly not the Mahayana teachings of the Pure Land.

Even if the Pure Land should have a lifespan, it would not exist in the period of the expansion and contraction of the universe (same for the Pure Abodes).

Mahavira and Gautama Buddha have similar life stories, but both were written down in the time of and at the location of the kingdom of Ajatasatru, son of King Bimbisara, a major fixture of the earliest forms of Buddhism.

The way to look at the Pure Land teachings is not the way of looking at a historical person at a historical place, at a historical time. The way to look at them is in the context of eternal truths. Eternal truths include such things as being compassionate towards other human beings. The way to look at Amitabha is to look at the gratitude you should feel towards all of the sentient (and non sentient) beings who have enabled you to enjoy what comforts you've enjoyed in your life. The way you should look at the Pure Land of Amitabha is not as a historical place, subject to impermanence, but at the virtues you've been able to cultivate in your life, such as any of the 37 factors of enlightenment that appear in the Pali canon.

I'm not saying it is bad to question Amitabha or the Pure Land, you should do that in every moment of your life. What I'm saying is to identify the truth(s) of Amitabha and the Pure Land and see if they make sense to your view of life.

Nobody in Mahayana Buddhism is saying you HAVE to believe in Amitabha or the Pure Land, but what is being advised is to take a look a whether to see entrusting in such teachings have a positive or negative effect in your life. If you feel such teachings are negative, then find other teachings - there are 84,000. If you feel such teachings are positive, then you will not be let down by them, instead you will find such glories you cannot imagine (this is a reference to the analogy of the burning house in the Lotus Sutra).

The idea of Mahayana teachings is not like you would find in a newspaper, where person A did something B in location C at time D to person E. The point is to find the timeless truth that you can apply to your own life. If you cannot find any timeless truth in these teachings, then it is okay to move on. There is nothing that says that you must follow the Pure Land teachings to escape the endless cycle of samsara. What is said is that if you can believe such teachings, then you don't have to worry so much about an endless existence in samsara, in fact you no longer need to worry about rebirth in the 3 lower realms (if you believe such a thing).

I hope you see where I'm getting at. This is not a statement that says you have to follow this path or that path. All I'm saying is that if this is the path you like, then there is no point in having doubts - because it is the doubts themselves that will hold you back. Just don't worry about going to hell by following this path – regardless of which canon you follow, because it won't send you there, it will encourage wholesome behaviors and eventually lead you to a good destination. If you want proofs of "no hell" then you would have to accept any of the countless stories of people before and after their death (and birth in the Pure Land).

I guess my main point is that: if you don't believe in any of this stuff, that's okay; just don't come here and assert ideas of a truth that you don't (to be honest) have any idea about. If the ideas of these teachings are too ignorant for you, nobody will blame you for moving on, but please don't levy criticism on us. We haven't done anything to deserve it and (to be completely honest) you cannot do anything to prove without a doubt that these teachings are "wrong." To our defense, Shan Tao said (paraphrasing) "even if a Buddha comes down and tells you that this is not a correct teaching, you must not believe it; so much less so for all of the normal sentient beings." Given that Shan Tao took Bodhisattva vows, his commitment to alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings, and knowing his own actions in life (helping out children) I tend to give the guy some credit (Japanese Pure Land school founder Honen believed ShanTao to be a manifestation of Amitabha himself). Nevertheless, my own encounters with Pure Land practitioners has led me to believe they are not destined for hell.

Whatever you end up believing, I wish you the best in whatever path you choose.  
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby plwk » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:43 am

But I want to know the truth backed with evedence. Because Gautama Buddha taught us not to blindly believe what he tells us, he wants us to try the teachings and prove them for ourselves. The Buddha wants us to know, not merely believe.
Yes, all of us want 'the truth and nothing but the truth, so help us Buddha' right? So, when the Khuddaka Nikaya listed 28 ancient Buddhas in the Buddhavamsa and in particular the 6 which is mentioned all over other Nikayas like the Mahapadana Sutta: DN14, before Gotama, have you ever asked if any of these are 'real' like Amitabha? Anyone can ask back the same question to you and what would be your answer? For that matter, Metteyya Bodhisatta (Maitreya Bodhisattva), the future Buddha, that is mentioned only once in the entire Pali Canon in the Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta, can you show us if he's real? Do you see the challenge of your own question? And if you're going to tell me that those Buddhas are mentioned in the Pali Texts, well, so is Amitabha, Avalokitesvara, Manjusri and so forth in a Mahasamghika text which is a collection of 49 Sutras known as the Maharatnakuta Sutra as used by Mahayanists of today.

But then comes the much tougher question, just because it's mentioned in a text, does it mean that it's 'true' just like Superman is mentioned in comics?
That's where we have to look at an array of scholarship, textual studies, language and all the way to religious experience & interpretation, it's hard work of looking at, investigating, practicing, questioning and so forth to come to any one or several answers.
Even Dalai Lama stated "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, Buddhism will have to change."
Well, since you quote him, if you ever get to meet him, ask him to prove to you if 'Chenrezig' (Avalokitesvara) is 'real'? See what he tells you and then come back and report to us here, backed up with science, logic and demonstrable evidence...
Unlike Gautama buddha, Its really hard to find any relic or historical evidence of Amithaba Buddha and the data such as who is Amitabha Buddha before enlightened, the year He was born and died, location, etc. Not much data i can find.
Let's go back some 2-300 years into time, when science, technology and scholarship were lacking in many areas, even Gotama Buddha was doubted as to whether he was historical or just a pious legend, not to mention the other 'trans-historical Buddhas'. Look at the Piphrawa case as one instance, how much of back and forth has been done on that.

Since Gotama Buddha talked about the 'unseen beings' like devatas, yakkhas (yaksas), petas (pretas), asuras or on Mount Meru/Sineru or the Eight Causes of Earthquakes in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, do you know with certainty if any of them are 'real' historically with scientific, logical and evidential demonstrations?

Astus and Pork Chop have given reasonable and good answers for your perusal on one view of what 'really' Amitabha & Sukhavati is about.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:03 pm

Mystique, may I ask why you posted? It doesn't sound like you're asking but proposing a conclusion you've reached. Were you disappointed somehow in your practice?

I ask because the only time I've criticized Buddhist schools was when hoping specific practices would soothe the pain in my life, and feeling like not a single thing I tried was helping. I then found logical arguments to justify my difficulties after the fact.

If that's the case, you've actually come to exactly the right place.

Best of luck to you.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby PorkChop » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:25 pm

plwk wrote:Astus and Pork Chop have given reasonable and good answers for your perusal on one view of what 'really' Amitabha & Sukhavati is about.


Yeah I'm kind of kicking myself for taking that line of thought in my post, because it sounds like I'm denying any sort of verifiable reality to the stories - which I absolutely do not think is the case. I really should've left it open for other interpretations. "Amitabha as metaphor/symbol for timeless truth" was how I was able to approach the teachings and (combined with practice) build up my confidence in them, but that is not the sum total of my thoughts on the issue.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:05 am

Mystique wrote:n Buddhism there is Three marks of existence and one of them is Anicca or impermanence which stated nothing lasts forever. Even the universe including the Sentient beings and Buddha live in it will die then born again (which is proved by science with big bang and big crunch theory).


The point about spiritual realization is to know that which is beyond the cycle of creation and destruction. In Western thinking, that is generally expressed in theistic terms, that is, what is 'beyond' is Spirit.

The scientific account of the nature of the Universe cannot see right back to the singularity - that instant prior to the Big Bang when everything existed in an infinitesmal point. It can see back to a few trillionths of a second after that. Furthermore the question as to why a Universe should emerge from the event, and not just a chaotic mass of particles or electrical fields, is also not known to science. Currently scientists are much happier to entertain the idea that the Universe science can detect, is one amongst billions of universes, than to accept the idea that the emergence of order and living beings was anything other than dumb luck.

Astus wrote:eternal life there doesn't mean permanent


I am interested in how 'eternal' and 'permanent' might be distinguished.

Basically, the Pure Land teachngs seem to me to arise from the deification of the Buddha. That is not meant as a criticism, but I find it hard to distinguish quite a lot of what is said in Pure Land philosophy from Christian theology.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby PorkChop » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:44 am

jeeprs wrote:Basically, the Pure Land teachngs seem to me to arise from the deification of the Buddha. That is not meant as a criticism, but I find it hard to distinguish quite a lot of what is said in Pure Land philosophy from Christian theology.


As far as the "deification" thing, the Buddha was always "the teacher of devas" and was never really considered a normal dude. A lot gets made about terms like "salvation" appearing in Pure Land commentaries, but is that not what happened to people like Angulimala - who should've spent aeons suffering for all the people he killed? The Pali canon is chock full of examples of the Buddha saving people from themselves ("it's as if something that was once turned over, has now been set right").

I see a lot of people saying the Christian thing, but I guess I just really don't see it.
I grew up a Catholic and spent a whole lot of time in religious ed classes in Catholic school and to me the doctrines are miles apart. There's no guilt trip, there's no angry God who commits infanticide on his children with floods - intentionally, no idea of testing people like Job, no idea of battles with satan, no Jesus whigging out on the money changers, no prayers for vengeance like Psalm 23, no threats of punishment & revenge on nonbelievers (something Jesus even preached), no God controlling all of the conditions around you, no subservience to God, no "us" vs "them", no intermediary priests, no fear... Fundamentally, I think even the basic ideas of "faith" and "belief" are significantly different between the two religions. If I was going to say any major similarities, it would probably be the similarities between the Dhammapada and the sermon on the mount. I guess you could point at the idea of someone that we're not sure if they exist, who is infinitely compassionate - but how's that any different than Avalokitesvara, Brahma Sahampati (who talked the Buddha into teaching & talked him into returning to the monks after he'd left at one point), or the idea of Shakyamuni when he was on this earth?
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:06 am

My understanding of Christianity is completely different to that. I went to a church school but declined Confirmation and had I been asked back then, would have described myself as non-religious. But early on in life I had some spiritual experiences and discovered 'spiritual books' as a teen, which is what eventually led me to Buddhism (via Krishnamurti, Yogananda and those kinds of books. So maybe I wasn't non-religious at all.)

But all through that, I never became atheist. I wrote an undergraduate essay called 'God is not God'. Basically this was a critique of the social construction of God as an amalgamation of various ideas and cultural sources - whereas, I argued, what the real God was, was something beyond words, creeds, and even ideas - something like 'the unknown God'. I discovered later that this is something that some Christians actually understand. So I still feel some affinity with Christianity, but I don't feel the least inclination to attend a Christian church.

I think even the basic ideas of "faith" and "belief" are significantly different between the two religions.


I agree. I don't think the emphasis is on 'belief' in Buddhism nearly so muc as it is in Christianity. I think that the institution of Christianity has tended to exploit the notion of belief because it is easily manipulated. So I am not trying to proselytize Christianity. But my academic background (such as it is, I am not an academic) is in comparative religion and 'history of ideas', so I find it natural to seek for common themes in various cultural forms. And I find a lot of the language associated with those contemporary Pure Land teachings could be found in contemporary (and maybe not very mainstream) Christian sources too.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby duckfiasco » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:34 am

jeeprs wrote:Basically, the Pure Land teachings seem to me to arise from the deification of the Buddha. That is not meant as a criticism, but I find it hard to distinguish quite a lot of what is said in Pure Land philosophy from Christian theology.

I had this impression as well until I read among others Daisetz Suzuki's "Shin Buddhism" which you can find here: http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/viewp ... Suzuki.pdf
I actually posted a quote from his essay in another thread. There are important distinctions drawn between the "superior savior/inferior saved" model of Christianity and the Other Power of Pure Land.

Also, the sentiment reflected in this poem by Seichi is another important distinction that shows the color of emptiness fundamental to all Buddhism:
The Oya-sama who never fails me
Has now become myself,
Making me hear his Name--
The "Namu-amida-butsu."

I am a fortunate one:
Oya-sama is given me,
The Oya who turns me into a Buddha--
'Namu-amida-butsu


The nembutsu is seen to be an act by Other Power in itself, not something we undertake as a petition for conditional grace calculated to bring our salvation like prayer or seeking mystical union in God would imply.
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby plwk » Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:21 am

Basically, the Pure Land teachngs seem to me to arise from the deification of the Buddha.
'Deification'... an interesting term, at least for today's musings. Ever looked at an infant and how it stares and drools at everything in awe and what appears to be bewilderment and fascination? It doesn't help that some parents add to that bewilderment and fascination of the awesomeness of everything.

I oft muse to myself, previously in middle management and looking up to the CEO position, what 'awe' do I have for that position and how I 'deify' it yet I realise deeply within that rather than wasting my time and resources in 'aweing, drooling & deifying', I would rather continue in further training and development until such a time when the CEO position no longer becomes a 'deification' nor another exercise of 'aweing and drooling' but a realisation of a potential.
By then, it becomes a sustained clarity of responsibility and awareness of what, why, when, where & how this CEO position is about.

Is there anything in the Buddha Dharma that needs 'deification'? When the Buddha replied to Dona, the Brahman that He is neither a deva nor a human and their associated fallible qualities but to know Him as 'Awakened', what do these mean to most people these days? Are they going to howl at Him in their humanistic horror when He says He's not human?

The Samyak Sambodhi aspiration via the Bodhisattva Path, the highest of the high standard for Pure Landers and others who aspire for it, isn't a 'Pure Land' thingy.
It's found in all of Buddhism too. These days, somehow, when many talk about spirituality, somehow 'standards' are kept in the closet or tossed out with the bath water and basin yet it's always been there... see this as example...
Bhikkhus, of all sentient beings, feetless, two-footed, four-footed, many-footed, material, immaterial, perceptive, not perceptive and neither perceptive or non perceptive, the Thus Gone One worthy and rightfully enlightened is the foremost, it is said.
Bhikkhus, those who have placed faith in the Enlightened One have placed faith in the highest for the highest results

Bhikkhus, of all compounded things, the Noble Eightfold path is foremost.
Bhikkhus, those who have placed faith in the Noble Eightfold path have placed faith in the highest for the highest results

Anguttara Nikaya: Catukkanipàta: Chakkavaggo: Aggappasada Sutta

'Deification'? In today's reductionist environment, what hasn't been made into a reducible and marketable package in order to placate modern yet fickle & restless minds? The late Ven Dr K Sri Dhammananda aptly retorts back to those who accuse Buddhists of 'idolatry' (deification?) with this in his What Buddhists Believe: Buddhists are not idol worshippers but ideal worshippers

I can't speak for others but personally, after all that study and practice, for me, it's always been a Pathway to Buddhahood, with corresponding practice and realisation results, both in this lifetime & beyond, rather than a one off comfortable and adventitious marketed fairy tale package for death bed cases or those who haven't done much in life. The Chinese Buddhist Tradition of Pure Landers doesn't spout off stuff like for instance presenting the Pure Land Pathway within the traditional Tian Tai's Five Periods and Eight Teachings for nothing or out of vanity. It comes with the solemn lifetime understanding & commitment of pariyatti, patipatti & prativedha within the scope of sila, samadhi & prajna YET it has an uncanny ability to reach out to all from the 'village idiot' to the likes of Nagarjuna. I have lost count of how many times I have to repeat this meme again and again in this forum... And the 'Pure Land' pathway is just one of the many kinds of presenting this Samyak Sambodhi aspiration in the larger menu of the duhkha nirodha marga scheme. If this presentation isn't what one is looking for, there's always others. No sweat about it.
That is not meant as a criticism, but I find it hard to distinguish quite a lot of what is said in Pure Land philosophy from Christian theology.
Sure. it's the most common but fallacious criticism levelled at Pure Land for as long as I can recall. This criticism is likened to divorcing a child from its parents, leaving it an orphan without a family and losing its proper identity. When Pure Land is presented as an adventitious fairy tale package without the Pathway as found within the Buddha Dharma, hence, it's just another fanciful theistic theatrics at play with another perfectionist maniac known as 'Amitabha'...
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby SeeknShinjin » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:40 am

When I first started to study Shin Buddhism, I had this same idea that you did about to Pure land Contradicting the Buddhas teachings. But, with more study, I came to find out there is a deeper meaning behind the Pureland Sutras. Dr. Nobuo Haneda, who is one of my teachers has some great articles from his Dharma Breeze Book. Articles like "What is Amida Buddha?" and "What is Pureland?" can be found here.
http://maidacenter.org/

Thanks ,

SeekN
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby smcj » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:52 am

Are they going to howl at Him in their humanistic horror when He says He's not human?

The translation I read went something like, "I have ceased the outflows that made me human." But in any case it is an eyebrow-raising statement.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:04 am

thanks, the articles on Maida Centre are quite illuminating. I shall read with interest.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Pure Land Contradicts Buddha Teachings....

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:22 pm

They're great articles, totally aligned with my understanding. I also like that Dogen is referenced frequently.
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