Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri May 16, 2014 4:32 pm

Hello,

I have long had an interest in Pure Land; there are many aspects that appeal to me -- especially now that I am so busy that meditation time is difficult to find. But I have also felt some barriers to taking it up as a practice, e.g.

-- I am not very faith-inclined; I am more of an empiricist and rationalist.
-- I have some trouble understanding who Amitabha is or what he represents. The concept is a little vague to me. Coming from a Zen perspective, I can see that he is a manifestation of buddha nature, but this is simply an intellectual understanding. It isn't something that I really feel.
-- I find that nianfo has use as a method to stop meandering or afflicted thoughts, but wouldn't the same be true if I recited some other, random set of syllables? I understand that one should recite with sincerity and in the spirit of calling on Amitabha, but this is difficult because I am not really sure who I am calling (see second problem, above).
-- How does one develop conviction 信心 in something/someone you can neither apprehend through observation nor establish through reason? What is the best avenue for developing it?

I'm not sure whether or not it's a suitable practice for me, but I see that others with similar disposition have taken it up, and I can see the possible benefits as an antidote to excessive rationalism/thinkiness. So I would be interested to learn more.

BTW I am interested in all the schools, but especially Chinese Pure Land because it can be practiced along with Zen/Ch'an meditation. I like the hybrid approach that is found in the Chinese tradition, and generally my inclinations are towards the "humanistic" styles of Buddhism that were developed there. However. I also welcome the Jodo Shinshu perspective.
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby PorkChop » Fri May 16, 2014 4:59 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:-- I find that nianfo has use as a method to stop meandering or afflicted thoughts, but wouldn't the same be true if I recited some other, random set of syllables?


Nianfo/Nembutsu is not a mantra. It's not a method to stop thoughts. It's a method of mindfulness. In Theravada, it would be called a kammaṭṭhāna.

There's meaning behind this set of syllables; which makes it different than chanting some random set of syllables. The thought one should bring to mind when chanting the Nianfo/Nembutsu is of a Buddha who spent countless lives working to liberate all sentient beings from suffering, who's infinitely compassionate, embracing all sentient beings just as they are, and one who's realized the liberating wisdom of the Tathagatas.

The way you think is the way you'll act, the way you act is the way you'll become.
Gratitude is pretty well proven to have positive effects on the mind.

Lazy_eye wrote:-- How does one develop conviction 信心 in something/someone you can neither apprehend through observation nor establish through reason? What is the best avenue for developing it?


The same way you make it to Carnegie Hall when you're not really sure how to play violin: practice. Take a few weeks, drop the calculating mind that tries to figure everything out logically, think of the basic narrative, and just practice saying it. If you still feel averse to the idea after a few weeks or a month of recitation, then move on. It's important to find a practice you click with. There may not be a logical explanation that really satisfies, so in that case you've gotta go with direct experience. If direct experience doesn't cut it, it's best to keep looking.

I don't think there's anything specific in these recommendations in regards to a particular school.
If you would like other ways of viewing Pure Land practice, maybe look into Mind Only - Pure Land or the Otani School.
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby duckfiasco » Fri May 16, 2014 7:13 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:-- I am not very faith-inclined; I am more of an empiricist and rationalist.

Same here. Pure Land was exactly what I needed. Your faith may be so tiny you feel stupid saying the Name, so you whisper it in case someone hears.
Still, your tiny, tiny grain of aspiration to have faith is itself faith and will grow. There's nothing you can do to make it grow faster, like a farmer who can only help provide conditions for the seed to sprout. His confidence that the seed will sprout and tender care with water and sun and weeding is not very different from this kind of practice, in my view.

-- I have some trouble understanding who Amitabha is or what he represents. The concept is a little vague to me. Coming from a Zen perspective, I can see that he is a manifestation of buddha nature, but this is simply an intellectual understanding. It isn't something that I really feel.

Amitabha may utterly flummox you, which humbles the rational mind and undermines its dominance.
I like everything to make sense and have some practical end. However, here I was saying "Amitabha", crying for absolutely no reason, feeling the burden of my rationalism lifting off, and there was absolutely no reason for it. I'd tried praying to Jesus, God, Chenrezig, any number of mindfulness practices, and nothing did a damn thing. So why would Amitabha be any different? Yet somehow it is, and it's allowed my doubting mind to stop chasing its own tail, which was exhausting and a kind of suffering.
The primary characteristic has been a sense of relief.

-- I find that nianfo has use as a method to stop meandering or afflicted thoughts, but wouldn't the same be true if I recited some other, random set of syllables? I understand that one should recite with sincerity and in the spirit of calling on Amitabha, but this is difficult because I am not really sure who I am calling (see second problem, above).

You can still be totally distracted while saying the Nianfo. It isn't a magic spell or mantra so much for me. But the difference between a distracted mind saying the Nianfo and a distracted mind trying to amputate itself with antidotes or crushing force of will is a great deal of suffering is alleviated by trusting Amitabha, through this recitation, to buoy me up. It's akin to learning to float on your back in water. It looks like you're doing nothing, but it takes a very basic skill, then a moment of trust and surrender to the water to hold you.

-- How does one develop conviction 信心 in something/someone you can neither apprehend through observation nor establish through reason? What is the best avenue for developing it?

The best avenue is to do it. I have personal direct experience with Amitabha that my logical side can't make heads or tails of, and has tried innumerable times to explain away as any number of things. But time and time again, the logic reveals its total inability to assuage my suffering or even help itself, and must again lean on Amitabha. The Name comes to mind and there is relief.
To get to know Amitabha, you can read about him while using an empirical approach to meet him in your own practice. Really, as you say, it's not meeting an external entity, so you don't have to go very far at all.

I apologize if any of this is faulty, as I'm still a new PL practitioner. I've made a few other posts about my experience on this forum that may be interesting also.
Good luck with your exploration! You really have nothing to lose as Porkchop stated. Just try it, wholeheartedly, and see how it goes.
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby steveb1 » Sun May 18, 2014 11:41 pm

One thought, from the Jodo Shinshu tradition. It doesn't take faith to recite the Nembutsu sincerely - if by "faith" is meant an effort to believe on our part. In Shin, Amida Buddha himself supplies both the attraction to faith and the faith to sincerely say the Nembutsu. This is Other Power, not self power. Perhaps the OP would like to investigate Shin, and if agreeing with its principles, will no longer be disturbed about not being a person of faith. You don't need to be a person of faith because Amida himself creates faith in the adherant as well as empowering the adherant's Nembutsu practice.
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Osho » Mon May 19, 2014 12:20 am

:good:
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby steveb1 » Mon May 19, 2014 3:01 am

Well thank you, Osho. :)
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby duckfiasco » Mon May 19, 2014 3:50 am

Lovely, steveb1.
Faith is a funny thing. When I first said the nembutsu, it was exactly as you say. Zero faith or expectation of anything good. Total skepticism. The tired, sufferingly rational mind doesn't know where to turn, and its resources are so limited and unimaginative. This kind of mind lacks even flour to make the bread of faith.
But Amida seemed to respond, so decisively and so many times I couldn't write it off. Just by trying at all. So very little is actually demanded of us in this way, because we are so confused. Yet how great the mercy of Amida in comparison!

For me as an American, it can be problematic sometimes to think in terms of Amida, the enlightened being.
I don't know if this is true for Lazy_eye as well, but the strong connotations of Christianity that savior or saving or faith have can make Amida a bit hard to get to know.
Something I neglected to share was that Other-Power may be an easier access point, if you tend to think Amida->Jesus->no thank you.
The unending, inconceivable generosity of life, which gives us sensations, thoughts, breath, emotions, a dazzling display of change that we have zero power to create ourselves, is something that stirs up great gratitude and awe, regardless of how we assess our faith.
It is so beyond our understanding and scope, what else could it be but Other-Power? And just think: this Other-Power which animates everything in your knowing also animates, constitutes, and imbues you. When you say the nembutsu, who really is saying it?
So then how can we relate to Other-Power? Amida, the primary person-like manifestation of Other-Power, just as we are person-like manifestations of the same.
Seeing the depth and penetration of Other-Power, while saying the nembutsu truly Amida calls to Amida.

So maybe for some, untying the knot of painful doubt can go from observation->Other-Power->Amida, instead of trying to jump straight into Amida's love, where we might get confused and put off by the traces of other prominent religions in the West.

Thanks for reading :cheers:
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby duckfiasco » Mon May 19, 2014 5:02 am

A lovely passage that may more clearly illuminate this point, which was so helpful to me and I hope is helpful for Lazy_eye
Ven. Zhi Sheng wrote:We cannot understand “other” power from the stance of “self” power. It is only when we understand other power from the perspective of “other-ness”, the complete breaking away from the ego controlled mind, then we are truly able to understand. Amidha Buddha (Other) takes us out of ourselves. The shift in consciousness is a movement away from the self-mind to the Bodhi Mind. Is this not the aspiration of Mahayana Buddhism? We stand in a very dangerous position if we believe that we have attained anything purely by ourselves as the ego is well within striking distance like a poisonous snake we have failed to see in the long grass of our illusion. Even if we take a look at the immediate world around us we quickly see that all which we “possess” is a result directly or indirectly of others. The very laptop upon which I type at this moment is a collection of components designed, manufactured and sold by others. Even if we were to look at our great achievements personal and career wise we would soon find than many others contributed. Nothing is absolutely through our own power.

The “Other” places our focus on a giving relationship. Do we think that the practice of Dhana is just reserved for those occasional moments of giving to the temple or the occasional good deed to another? Dhana, compassionate giving, must be our total stance. When in Buddha Name Remembrance and Buddha Name meditation we recite the Buddha’s name with deep and utmost sincerity and single-mindedness we give the gift of our entire being. We let go of our “self” and give. We give to Amidha Buddha in the Buddha’s complete nature of oneness with all being. When we give with a sincere heart we receive the grace from the gift. In this we become both Giver and Receiver and a new relationship is born; that is the relationship that surpasses all notion of self. This then is our salvation, the ultimate freedom found only in the gift, the Bodhi consciousness.

The complete quote: http://newlotus.buddhistdoor.com/en/news/d/33863
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Wayfarer » Mon May 19, 2014 5:14 am

:good:

I'm learning a lot from these Pure Land posts and links, keep 'em coming.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby steveb1 » Mon May 19, 2014 5:38 am

duckfiasco wrote:Lovely, steveb1.
Faith is a funny thing. When I first said the nembutsu, it was exactly as you say. Zero faith or expectation of anything good. Total skepticism. The tired, sufferingly rational mind doesn't know where to turn, and its resources are so limited and unimaginative. This kind of mind lacks even flour to make the bread of faith.
But Amida seemed to respond, so decisively and so many times I couldn't write it off. Just by trying at all. So very little is actually demanded of us in this way, because we are so confused. Yet how great the mercy of Amida in comparison!

For me as an American, it can be problematic sometimes to think in terms of Amida, the enlightened being.
I don't know if this is true for Lazy_eye as well, but the strong connotations of Christianity that savior or saving or faith have can make Amida a bit hard to get to know.
Something I neglected to share was that Other-Power may be an easier access point, if you tend to think Amida->Jesus->no thank you.
The unending, inconceivable generosity of life, which gives us sensations, thoughts, breath, emotions, a dazzling display of change that we have zero power to create ourselves, is something that stirs up great gratitude and awe, regardless of how we assess our faith.
It is so beyond our understanding and scope, what else could it be but Other-Power? And just think: this Other-Power which animates everything in your knowing also animates, constitutes, and imbues you. When you say the nembutsu, who really is saying it?
So then how can we relate to Other-Power? Amida, the primary person-like manifestation of Other-Power, just as we are person-like manifestations of the same.
Seeing the depth and penetration of Other-Power, while saying the nembutsu truly Amida calls to Amida.

So maybe for some, untying the knot of painful doubt can go from observation->Other-Power->Amida, instead of trying to jump straight into Amida's love, where we might get confused and put off by the traces of other prominent religions in the West.

Thanks for reading :cheers:


Hey, Duck, thanks for the beautiful words and for your other post, too. Yes, it's too easy for people of Xtian background to end up equating Amida with Jesus, which of course, misses several essential spiritual differences. ... and "what you said" re: who is really saying the Nembutsu: bombus cannot say it wholeheartedly, so Amida says it in us and for us. Even when we hear his Call, Amida echoes it/answers it in us and for us. This is truly grace without works, without merit, without self power!
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Wayfarer » Mon May 19, 2014 6:02 am

(I'm never happy to see criticism of Christianity here or elsewhere. It is getting a hiding from all kinds of intellectuals in the Western world, and even though I no longer identify with it, I feel very protective towards it. It is like the feeling of watching someone abusing an elderly relative. Also I don't like to think that the various faith communities are at total odds with each other, that is just more ammunition for the materialists who say that if they all disagree with on another, all the more reason to think that none of them have got it right. Whereas if there really is some common ground between them, then you can say it indicates a larger truth.)
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Lindama » Mon May 19, 2014 6:10 am

Hi LE,
I don't know what Pure Land is. All I can say i that there is no such thing as a zen perspective. So where do you think you are coming from?
be well
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Astus » Mon May 19, 2014 9:50 am

Besides just accepting/believing in the Vow (i.e., reciting the name connects one to Amita Buddha and brings about deliverance to the Pure Land after death), one can take this as a method (it is a Mahayana skilful means after all). The first thing to consider is if one can accept that there is such a thing as karma. Karma means that there is a non-material mental continuum that follows a specific type of causal law. If you cannot agree to that - either because of indecision or disbelief - then no matter what practice you choose, it is only for a temporary pacification of mind. If you want to move beyond that level, either you leave it to chance or you start investigating your mind and studying the teachings. On the other hand, if you accept karma, then it can be followed by considering first how one's attachment leads to various births, then a contemplation on the existence of bodhisattvas, buddha-lands and buddhas. Once that is understood, it becomes obvious how and why birth in the Pure Land is possible through buddha-remembrance.
"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)

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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 for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 19, 2014 4:44 pm

Thank you all for your insightful comments! The "take-home" that I'm getting so far is that one should simply recite mindfully, remembering the narrative of Amida and the qualities that he represents, and then let the process develop from there.

I'm not necessarily hostile to exploring parallels with Christianity or other religions; just because my inclinations are rationalist doesn't mean that I don't see value in religious practice. I don't pretend to be particularly well-informed, however. On the surface, I can see some affinities with the Christian notion of "grace". One difference that comes to mind is that grace in at least some Christian traditions is not universal; God decides for some reason or another to extend it (and there are some who do not receive grace). Whereas Amida's vow covers everyone -- even, in Shinran's school, those who committed the "five heinous deeds."

While reading Ven. Zhi Sheng's discussion of Other Power, I was struck by the resemblance to Thich Nhat Hanh's "interbeing". Placing them side by side will show the similarity:

Ven. Zhi Sheng wrote:We cannot understand “other” power from the stance of “self” power. It is only when we understand other power from the perspective of “other-ness”, the complete breaking away from the ego controlled mind, then we are truly able to understand. Amidha Buddha (Other) takes us out of ourselves. The shift in consciousness is a movement away from the self-mind to the Bodhi Mind. Is this not the aspiration of Mahayana Buddhism? We stand in a very dangerous position if we believe that we have attained anything purely by ourselves as the ego is well within striking distance like a poisonous snake we have failed to see in the long grass of our illusion. Even if we take a look at the immediate world around us we quickly see that all which we “possess” is a result directly or indirectly of others. The very laptop upon which I type at this moment is a collection of components designed, manufactured and sold by others. Even if we were to look at our great achievements personal and career wise we would soon find than many others contributed. Nothing is absolutely through our own power.


And from TNH:

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow, and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are...If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply. we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger's father and mother are in it too. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of 'non-paper elements'. And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. [from a Heart Sutra commentary, condensed slightly)


I understand "interbeing" to be a formulation of sunyata (emptiness), so would it make sense to say that Amida is a personification of emptiness? Or it it more that Amida has realized emptiness and can assist us in doing the same (with the understanding that Buddha is not an external entity)?

People sometimes say that "other power" represents a departure from the existing Buddhist paradigm, but considering all the above it seems like a logical extension of non-self. Or, to put it differently, in the previous traditions the self strives to become free of the concept of self, whereas Pure Land provides direct engagement with non-Self through the skillful means of Amida-remembrance.
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby yan kong » Mon May 19, 2014 8:53 pm

Lindama wrote:Hi LE,
I don't know what Pure Land is. All I can say i that there is no such thing as a zen perspective. So where do you think you are coming from?
be well
linda


There is from a Ch'an perspective, the father of zen.
"Meditation is a spiritual exercise, not a therapeutic regime... Our intention is to enter Nirvana, not to make life in Samsara more tolerable." Chan Master Hsu Yun
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby duckfiasco » Mon May 19, 2014 9:50 pm

My apologies for coming across as anti-Christian. Christianity was one of my main interests in trying to find a spiritual path, especially contemplative Christianity as described by Keating and the Desert Fathers. I do recognize though that many who come to Buddhism especially in the US have a seeking drive that naturally at some point explored Christianity as a path, or may even do so in the future.

A bit off topic now, but for those so inclined, I recommend the writings of the Quakers, like George Fox and William Penn. You'll find many instructive parallels between their idea of an immediately accessible God and Buddha Nature, and especially their descriptions of humility/grace and similar concepts in Pure Land. For instance:
Thomas R. Kelly wrote:There stands the world of struggling, sinful, earth-blinded men and nations, of plants and animals and wheeling stars of heaven, all new, all lapped in the tender, persuading Love at the Center. There stand the saints of the ages, their hearts open to view, and lo, their hearts are our heart and their hearts are the heart of the Eternal One. In awful solemnity the Holy One is over all and in all, exquisitely loving, infinitely patient, tenderly smiling.
...
There, beyond, in Him is the true Center, and we are reduced, as it were, to nothing, for He is all. Is religion subjective? Nay, its soul is in objectivity, in an Other whose Life is our true life, whose Love is our love, whose Joy is our joy, whose Peace is our peace, whose burdens are our burdens, whose Will is our will.

Sound familiar? The rest is at: http://www.quaker.org/pamphlets/wpl1939a.html

Lazy_eye wrote:Thank you all for your insightful comments! The "take-home" that I'm getting so far is that one should simply recite mindfully, remembering the narrative of Amida and the qualities that he represents, and then let the process develop from there.

Yes! And for those who remain mired in doubt and confusion about even this, Amida seems to draw out latent qualities beyond our imagination. From our perspective, it looks like some compassionate Other is at work in us, hence the term Other-Power. It's like uncovering precious gems in a dirt field, the skeptic who is shown faith, the introvert who is shown overwhelming love for others, the depressed who laughs in unexpected gratitude. We're so busy talking to ourselves about ourselves all the time that we need a lot of help. And saying the nembutsu, Other-Power reveals itself as such a source of compassion.

I understand "interbeing" to be a formulation of sunyata (emptiness), so would it make sense to say that Amida is a personification of emptiness? Or it it more that Amida has realized emptiness and can assist us in doing the same (with the understanding that Buddha is not an external entity)?

Sometimes it's helpful to think of Amida in this way, because 99% of our interactions consists of relationships with people. Amida helps here.
But in my experience also, somehow Amida responds regardless of the depth of your understanding or ability to meditate, cultivate ethics or insight. Amida loves and helps the prostitutes, the butchers, the self-hating and the rest. When Shinran was exiled and lived among the suffering masses, he saw that most people simply lack the time and capacity to attain personal insight through deep meditative states. They're too busy surviving!
I won't pretend to understand, but that looks like part of Amida's grace: lack of logical mastery doesn't seal the gates of relief or compassion, because for a long time now, he's held them open wide. And masters like Honen, Shinran, Shan-tao, and modern teachers like Taitetsu Unno compassionately remind us of this fact.

People sometimes say that "other power" represents a departure from the existing Buddhist paradigm, but considering all the above it seems like a logical extension of non-self. Or, to put it differently, in the previous traditions the self strives to become free of the concept of self, whereas Pure Land provides direct engagement with non-Self through the skillful means of Amida-remembrance.

:twothumbsup: That mirrors my experience as well.

I thought of a metaphor. Pure Land is like a flower on a tree. Some expert on trees might say "that's not part of the tree, look!" and point to the bark and leaves and roots, nothing like the flower. Other experts might say "flowers grow in the dirt. Nothing to do with trees at all" and point to irises and daises and such. Yet without the bark or the leaves of the tree, the flowers wouldn't grow at all. And if the tree grows, the flowers will also, regardless of how many kinds of similar flower things grow in the ground elsewhere. Pure Land is a natural evolution in its own right, sprung from the fertile ground of many compassionate teachers. And what a boon for someone like me, who would've ditched Buddhism long ago as beyond my capacities without it.

I recently started reading the book "The Promise of Amida Buddha: Honen's Path to Bliss" which clearly shows the development of the vocal nembutsu and Pure Land. It doesn't go into Shinran's thought as far as I can tell, but it's been very instructive so far.

Sorry my posts get so long :rolleye:
Namu Amida Butsu
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Osho » Mon May 19, 2014 11:07 pm

Lindama wrote:Hi LE,
I don't know what Pure Land is. All I can say i that there is no such thing as a zen perspective. So where do you think you are coming from?
be well
linda


There's this Chan perspective on PL....
"A true Chan or Zen practitioner would not ask a Buddha for help."
( Master Sheng Yen: page 212 in his ' Zen Wisdom').
Some PL folks do cultivate zazen though.
There's room for all sorts and conditions in PL, it's very inclusive.
Anyone can cultivate nembutsu.
Hope that helps.
:smile:
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http://bemindful.co.uk/

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(Dogen).
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby yan kong » Mon May 19, 2014 11:12 pm

http://www.ymba.org/books/buddhism-wisd ... d-practice

This is a publication that might help you.

Metta
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Gary » Tue May 20, 2014 11:56 am

There are many branches to the Pure Land Tree. For those who are "not very faith-inclined" I would recommend some form of Chinese Pure Land. This incorporates Ch'an thought with Pure Land and sometimes Mind-Only. It is a good starting point for many new to Pure Land Buddhism. Often times this will lead you to explore more Japanese forms of Pure Land. Jodo and Shinshu, where faith and practice co-exist. Master Honen's (Jodo School) of thought is very different from the Shinshu teachers and scholars of today. Please be aware of this. His teaching is a "literal" teaching of Pure Land Buddhism. Which means that one recites Amida's name to be born into the Pure Land at the time of death.

duckfiasco wrote:I recently started reading the book "The Promise of Amida Buddha: Honen's Path to Bliss" which clearly shows the development of the vocal nembutsu and Pure Land. It doesn't go into Shinran's thought as far as I can tell, but it's been very instructive so far.


"The Promise of Amida" is a book on the teachings and writings of Master Honen. As Honen was the teacher to Shinran, you will not see any of Shinran's thought. Though you may see Master Honen's thought influencing Shinran's.

Gassho,

Gary
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Re: Pure Land for the not very faith-inclined?

Postby Dodatsu » Tue May 20, 2014 1:19 pm

Gary wrote:There are many branches to the Pure Land Tree. For those who are "not very faith-inclined" I would recommend some form of Chinese Pure Land. This incorporates Ch'an thought with Pure Land and sometimes Mind-Only. It is a good starting point for many new to Pure Land Buddhism. Often times this will lead you to explore more Japanese forms of Pure Land. Jodo and Shinshu, where faith and practice co-exist. Master Honen's (Jodo School) of thought is very different from the Shinshu teachers and scholars of today. Please be aware of this. His teaching is a "literal" teaching of Pure Land Buddhism. Which means that one recites Amida's name to be born into the Pure Land at the time of death.

duckfiasco wrote:I recently started reading the book "The Promise of Amida Buddha: Honen's Path to Bliss" which clearly shows the development of the vocal nembutsu and Pure Land. It doesn't go into Shinran's thought as far as I can tell, but it's been very instructive so far.


"The Promise of Amida" is a book on the teachings and writings of Master Honen. As Honen was the teacher to Shinran, you will not see any of Shinran's thought. Though you may see Master Honen's thought influencing Shinran's.

Gassho,

Gary


In Hongwanji-ha, most of the traditional teachers and scholars still uphold to the "literal" teaching of the Pure Land. Shinran brought the idea of Pure Land to be synonymous with Enlightenment (Nirvana) itself, but never rejected the literal idea of birth in the Pure Land which has been central to the Pure Land teachings. Even the Head Abbot of Hongwanji-ha has also spoken about the "literal" Pure Land and the idea that we are born there at the time of death. Another example is that in the Musical Liturgy that was arranged for Shinran Shonin's 750th Memorial is the inclusion from one of Shinran's Letters,
My life has now reached the fullness of its years. It is certain that I will go to birth in the Pure Land before you, so without fail I will await you there

(Lamp for the Latter Ages 12, http://www.shinranworks.com/letters/mattosho12.htm)
Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin
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