What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Luke » Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:18 am

I know very little about Pure Land Buddhism, but I know that it's main focus is Amitabha.

Do Pure Land Buddhists ever read about or praise Shakyamuni Buddha?

And what is the role of the historical Buddha in the philosophy of Pure Land Buddhism? Is he irrelevant to them because all they need is Amitabha? Or does he have some role in Pure Land Buddhism?
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby plwk » Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:52 am

I know very little about Pure Land Buddhism, but I know that it's main focus is Amitabha.
Buddhism of Wisdom & Faith: Pure Land Principles and Practice
Shin Buddhism
More here (third post onwards)
Do Pure Land Buddhists ever read about or praise Shakyamuni Buddha?
http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/amitabha.htm
Sariputra, just as I am now one who praises the merit and virtue of all Buddhas, all those Buddhas equally praise my inconceivable merit and virtue saying these words, 'Sakyamuni Buddha can complete extremely rare and difficult deeds.
In the Saha Land, in the evil time of the five turbidities, in the midst of the kalpa turbidity, the view turbidity, the affliction turbidity, the living beings turbidity, and the life turbidity, he can attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi and for the sake of living beings, speak this Dharma which in the whole world is hard to believe.'
Sariputra, you should know that I, in the evil time of the five turbidities, practice these difficult deeds, attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi and for all the world speak this dharma, difficult to believe, extremely difficult!"

And what is the role of the historical Buddha in the philosophy of Pure Land Buddhism? Is he irrelevant to them because all they need is Amitabha? Or does he have some role in Pure Land Buddhism?
http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/B ... screen.pdf
Shakyamuni Buddha spoke the Amitabha Sutra to let all oving beings know of the power of Amitabha Buddha’s great vows to lead all who recite his name with faith to rebirth in his Buddhaland, the Land of Ultimate Bliss, where they may cultivate and quickly realize Buddhahood.

The small Sukhavati-vyuha, in contra-distinction, is unique because the entire Sutra belongs to the “self-spoken” division.
In other words, the Buddha himself spontaneously preached the Dharma, overstepping the usual practice of speaking Dharma on request.
The very fact that no one in the Great Assembly knew to ask shows the extreme importance and inconceivability of this specific Dharma.
Thus, the Buddha clearly warns, “You should know that I, in the evil time of the five turbidities… for all the
world speak this Dharma, difficult to believe, extremely difficult.”

The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra belongs to the category of Sutras “spoken without request.”
This Sutra describes the practices leading to the Buddha’s Pure Land.
Bodhisattvas didn’t ask for this dharma because they simply did not understand the subtle advantages of reciting the Buddha’s name.
Since no one asked for this wonderful Dharma, Shakyamuni Buddha spoke without request.
http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/purelan ... s/id3.html
The Buddha further said,
"I have expounded this teaching for the sake of sentient beings and enabled you to see Amitayus and all in his land. Strive to do what you should. After I have passed into Nirvana, do not allow doubt to
arise.
In the future, the Buddhist scriptures and teachings will perish. But, out of pity and compassion, I will especially preserve this sutra and maintain it in the world for a hundred years more. Those beings who encounter it will attain deliverance in accord with their aspirations.
The Buddha said to Maitreya,
"It is difficult to encounter and behold Tathagata when he is in this world.
Difficult of access, difficult to hear are the Buddhas' teachings and scriptures.
It is also difficult to hear the excellent teachings for bodhisattvas, the Paramitas.
Difficult too is it to meet a good teacher, to hear the Dharma and perform the practices.
But most difficult of all difficulties is to hear this Sutra, have faith in it with joy and hold fast to it.
Nothing is more difficult than this.
Thus have I formed my Dharma,
thus have I expounded my Dharma,
and thus have I taught my Dharma.
You must receive it and practice it by the method prescribed."
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Dodatsu » Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:53 am

Perhaps you might be interested in reading this parable:
http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/white-path.htm

Also, the following Wasans (Hymns) by Shinran refer to Sakyamuni Buddha:

Hymns on the Larger Sutra
http://www.shinranworks.com/hymns/jodowasan3.htm

Hymns on the Contemplation Sutra
http://www.shinranworks.com/hymns/jodowasan4.htm

Amida, who attained Buddhahood in the infinite past,
Full of compassion for foolish beings of the five defilements,
Took the form of Sakyamuni Buddha
And appeared in Gaya
(Hymns on the Pure Land 88)

Sakyamuni, revealing the "essential" gate
To lead people of meditative and nonmeditative practices
And provisionally teaching the right and sundry practices,
Wholly urges us to perform the saying of the Name alone.
(Hymns on the Pure Land Masters 65)

Sakyamuni and Amida are our father and our mother,
Full of love and compassion for us;
Guiding us through various skillful means,
They bring us to awaken the supreme shinjin.
(Hymns on the Pure Land Masters 74)

Casting off long kalpas of painful existence in this world of Saha,
We live in expectation of the Pure Land, the uncreated;
This is the power of our teacher, Sakyamuni;
Let us respond always in gratitude for his compassion and benevolence.
(Hymns on the Pure Land Masters 87)

Regards :smile:
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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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Huifeng » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:36 am

Luke wrote:I know very little about Pure Land Buddhism, but I know that it's main focus is Amitabha.

Do Pure Land Buddhists ever read about or praise Shakyamuni Buddha?

And what is the role of the historical Buddha in the philosophy of Pure Land Buddhism? Is he irrelevant to them because all they need is Amitabha? Or does he have some role in Pure Land Buddhism?


Remember, Luke, there are several different strains of Pureland practices. Even the Chinese and Japanese versions can differ a fair bit at times. I thus hope posters can be quite specific about which stream of Pureland thought they are referring to, for clarification.
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Luke » Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:49 am

Thanks for the great links, everyone. Those answer my questions about Pure Land philosophy.

But what is the role of Shakyamuni in Pure Land rituals? Do they chant praises of Shakyamuni or do they only chant Amitabha's name?

Does every Pure Land temple have a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha?
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby plwk » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:38 pm

But what is the role of Shakyamuni in Pure Land rituals?

As far as I have known all these years, in the Chinese Mahayana Trad and specifically in Pure Land, a Mahayana Dharma Door, Sakyamuni Buddha is highly regarded and honored, after all, Amitabha Buddha was made known by Sakyamuni Buddha, without the former, the latter would remain unknown to us. He is praised as the original or fundamental teacher and in fact in Sutra chanting, in the opening invocation, sung thrice: 'Namo Original/Fundamental Teacher Sakyamuni Buddha' and in temples where the traditional morning liturgy is followed, there is a praise to Sakyamuni Buddha and His Name recited while doing circumambulations.

Do they chant praises of Shakyamuni or do they only chant Amitabha's name?

Of course but it also depends on the temple and chosen liturgy format.
In most cases, it's either a combined thingy or just one.
E.g In one of the Chinese Mahayana liturgy, they have sung bowing repentances using Buddhas & Bodhisattvas names...a 'typical' one would be....
Namo Original/Fundamental Teacher Sakyamuni Buddha (thrice bowing)
Namo Amitabha Buddha (12 times bowing)
Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (thrice bowing)
Namo Mahastamaprapta Bodhisattva (thrice bowing)
Namo Great Clear and Pure Ocean Assembly of Bodhisattvas (thrice bowing)
Even so, the format above is from one temple and may differ in yet others in terms of number of bowing times and so on.

In another Pure Land Morning Liturgy: (quoted in excerpts as an example)
After the part of singing verses in making offerings, comes the bowing part:
'I now single-mindedly bow to our Original Teacher Sakyamuni Buddha, the Greatly Kind and Compassionate Teaching Host of humans and gods of the Saha World.' (bow & half bow)

(Kneeling, recite the following)
I, disciple (your name) repent with utmost sincerity, universally for the sake of the four benefactors, those in the three existences and all beings of the Dharma Realm:

(Sung bowing repentance)
All unwholesome karma committed in the past, (bow & rise)
From greed, hatred and ignorance of time immemorial, (bow & rise)
Arising from Body, Speech and Mind, (bow & rise)
Now do I repent and reform it all. (bow & rise)

Offenses arising from the Mind, Repentance is thus by the Mind, (bow & rise)
When Mind is eradicated, Offenses are abandoned, (bow & rise)
Mind abandoned, Offenses eliminated, both Empty,(bow & rise)
Thus is True Repentance and Reform.(bow & rise)

(Contemplation verse while bowing:)
The worshipped and worshipper are empty and still in nature,
The Response and the Way are intertwined inconceivably,
This Way Place of mine is like a wish fulfilling pearl,
Sakyamuni Buddha manifests in it,
I manifest before Sakyamuni Buddha,
Bowing down, I return my life in worship.
(Then starts the rest of the liturgy with bowing to Amitabha Buddha and the Hosts of Sukhavati...)


Does every Pure Land temple have a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha?

A bit of stuff here...
Firstly, as I have read and heard, in the Chinese Mahayana Trad, when one hears of a 'Pure Land temple', technically, there is no 'Pure Land lineage' strictly speaking, although the Pure Land Dharma Door of Amitabha Buddha and His Sukhavati started with this Dharma being imported from the Gandhāra region to China as early as 147 CE, when the Kushan monk Lokakṣema started Sutra translation work in China, especially when the 'Threefold Pure Land Sutras' were made available in the Chinese language.
It was the Ven Master Hui Yuan who founded the 'White Lotus Society' on Mt Lushan in Jiangxi Province in 402 CE, promoted & popularised the Pure Land Dharma Door in China, was posthumously named and recognised as the 'First Patriarch' and succeeded later by others (some of the 13 Pure Land Patriarchs are actual Ch'an Masters who found their affinity with Pure Land teaching, practice and realization & became leaders in teaching and promoting the Pure Land Dharma to others).
So, these 'Pure Land temples' are actually from the Ch'an lineages (mainly those of the Linji, Caodong and Guiyang Schools although there is another opinion stating 'Ch'an lineages' vs Tian Tai, but that's another story).
Even the famed Pure Land Master in our times, whom some regard him as the 14th Pure Land Patriarch Master, the Ven Master Chin Kung, was ordained in a Linji Ch'an temple in Yuanshan, Taipei, promoted the Pure Land Dharma vigorously all over the world. See here and here

And they may be of 4 types:
-exclusively dedicated to the Amitabha Buddha & His Sukhavati practice or
-those that promote dual practice: combining Ch'an and Pure Land, which is a common feature then and now or
-those exclusively Ch'an but they use recitation of Amitabha Buddha or any other Buddha/Bodhisattva only as a matter of liturgy and as a koan practice.
-those that have great facilities, space, availability of resources and openness: all of the above.

Secondly, there's also the other 'Pure Land' practices where one practices to seek rebirth in other Pure Lands other than Amitabha's like the Eastern Pure Land of Bhaisajya-Guru or Avalokitesvara's or Maitreya's and etc...although may not be as popular as devotion to Amitabha and His Sukhavati.

Thirdly, no hard and fast rules and it varies according to temple preference, budget, space and a host of other factors. Most temples in the Chinese Mahayana Trad would have His Image, if not in the shrine hall, it may be in other halls, displayed prominently. There's one Caodong Ch'an temple I know in my country, with Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva as the main Host and named after Him, and they are known to promote the dual practice of Ch'an and Pure Land, displays in their main reception/lecture hall (although not the main shrine hall) a huge statue of the reclining Sakyamuni Buddha flanked by Manjusri and Samantabhadra Bodhisattvas on the left and right.

Some examples I have seen are...(and there are other endless combinations, not limited to ones below)
Ananda-Sakyamuni-Mahakasyapa
Amitabha-Sakyamuni-Bhaisajya-Guru
Ksitigarbha-Sakyamuni-Avalokitesvara
Manjusri-Sakyamuni-Samantabhadra


I have seen even in those specially dedicated to only Amitabha Buddha and His Pure Land practice, have the arrangement as follows: (can be statue or painted image)
Sakyamuni Buddha (centre)
Mahastamaprapta Bodhisattva-Amitabha Buddha-Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Individual » Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:30 am

It's nice to hear all this good stuff about Pureland. :)
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby catmoon » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:11 am

Yeah, good old pureland. The beauty of it is, when the philosophical arguments come up, the attitude seems to be like "Dude! Relax! Have a little faith!". End of problem. Serve tea. Watch flowers.
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Nosta » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:41 pm

Are you being ironic or really saying that such attitude is beauiful? Sorry for asking, but i am trying to understnd your toughts. :-)
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:18 pm

catmoon wrote:Yeah, good old pureland. The beauty of it is, when the philosophical arguments come up, the attitude seems to be like "Dude! Relax! Have a little faith!". End of problem. Serve tea. Watch flowers.


Your liberation from suffering is on the line. Such a carefree attitude is not advisable.
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Nighthawk » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:53 am

Huseng wrote:
catmoon wrote:Yeah, good old pureland. The beauty of it is, when the philosophical arguments come up, the attitude seems to be like "Dude! Relax! Have a little faith!". End of problem. Serve tea. Watch flowers.


Your liberation from suffering is on the line. Such a carefree attitude is not advisable.


It is better than spending your whole life meditating, keeping precepts and still not gain even stream entry. Sure you'll be reborn into the heavenly realms or a rich family in the human realm but you are still stuck in samsara.
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby catmoon » Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:25 am

Nosta wrote:Are you being ironic or really saying that such attitude is beauiful? Sorry for asking, but i am trying to understnd your toughts. :-)


No not being ironic. More like nostalgic. There was a time when I navigated mainly under the power of faith and those were peaceful times. Now I seem to spend way too much time buried in the minutiae of philosophical arguments.
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Huifeng » Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:15 pm

Well, different Pureland practitioners have different ideas about just how much faith, recitation, merit, samadhi and / or other factors are required to make it to the Pureland. Some stress the "rebirth with karma" and the lowest of the nine lotus grades as showing that anyone can do it, but others indicate that actually there are few guarantees, and one needs some really serious Buddha recollection samadhi to get there.
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:16 pm

maestro wrote:
Huseng wrote:
catmoon wrote:Yeah, good old pureland. The beauty of it is, when the philosophical arguments come up, the attitude seems to be like "Dude! Relax! Have a little faith!". End of problem. Serve tea. Watch flowers.


Your liberation from suffering is on the line. Such a carefree attitude is not advisable.


It is better than spending your whole life meditating, keeping precepts and still not gain even stream entry. Sure you'll be reborn into the heavenly realms or a rich family in the human realm but you are still stuck in samsara.


This assumes however that merely through Pure Land practices you have a guarantee of reaching a Pure Land. I don't think you do.

Meditation and keeping of precepts, which are the basis for prajna, were taught by Shakyamuni and such methods readily encouraged and taught by countless masters across many countries. You cannot ignore that fact.

You still need to contend with the reality of karma. Unless you're a very advanced Bodhisattva, you do not get to decide where you will be reborn. Activities in life can indeed influence where and how you will take rebirth, but beyond influencing the outcome to some effect you don't have a say in the matter. If you assume Amitabha will pluck you out of suffering just because you did some Pure Land practises, you're ascribing powers to a Buddha. That's quite risky in my opinion.

This is one particular problem that always arises when I discuss Pure Land ideas with Pure Land advocates: they ignore the reality of karma which Buddha quite clearly taught. People place Amitabha into the position of an omnipotent god and the issue of the theodicy arises which really should not given that in Buddhism we reject such ideas. If a Buddha, which is ultimately compassionate, has the ability to pluck beings out of suffering at will, then why don't they?

Meditation and keeping of precepts, whose efficacy have basis both in scripture and in reality, seems far more reliable than hoping some being out there will pluck you out of samsara when you die. If a Buddha had the ability do it they'd have already done it in the infinite past.
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby kirtu » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:44 pm

Huseng wrote:
maestro wrote:It is better than spending your whole life meditating, keeping precepts and still not gain even stream entry. Sure you'll be reborn into the heavenly realms or a rich family in the human realm but you are still stuck in samsara.


This assumes however that merely through Pure Land practices you have a guarantee of reaching a Pure Land. I don't think you do.

Meditation and keeping of precepts, which are the basis for prajna, were taught by Shakyamuni and such methods readily encouraged and taught by countless masters across many countries. You cannot ignore that fact.

You still need to contend with the reality of karma. Unless you're a very advanced Bodhisattva, you do not get to decide where you will be reborn. Activities in life can indeed influence where and how you will take rebirth, but beyond influencing the outcome to some effect you don't have a say in the matter. If you assume Amitabha will pluck you out of suffering just because you did some Pure Land practises, you're ascribing powers to a Buddha. That's quite risky in my opinion.

This is one particular problem that always arises when I discuss Pure Land ideas with Pure Land advocates: they ignore the reality of karma which Buddha quite clearly taught.


Sorry about the lengthy quote - the issue is that Pure Land practice produces karma that throws the practitioner into the Pure Land. IOW Pure Land practice creates the karma to effect rebirth in the Pure Land. This is clearly implied in the Pure Land sutras. It may not be explicitly stated in Japanese Pure Land teaching (I don't know because I haven't attended Japanese Pure Land teaching much) but In Tibetan Buddhist Pure Land teaching this is taught.

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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:03 pm

kirtu wrote:Sorry about the lengthy quote - the issue is that Pure Land practice produces karma that throws the practitioner into the Pure Land. IOW Pure Land practice creates the karma to effect rebirth in the Pure Land. This is clearly implied in the Pure Land sutras. It may not be explicitly stated in Japanese Pure Land teaching (I don't know because I haven't attended Japanese Pure Land teaching much) but In Tibetan Buddhist Pure Land teaching this is taught.

Kirt


I don't reject the existence of Pure Lands.

I just think a lot of devotees mistakenly assume it is 100% guarantee or at any rate relatively easy to arrive at one. They then cook up these ideas that they can do without meditation and precepts because such activities have no bearing on their future rebirth in the Pure Land. You don't have to bother with difficult practices because whether you do them or not, you've got a purported guarantee of being reborn in the Pure Land.

I know not everyone says this, but generally this is the attitude I often encounter with Pure Land advocates.
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Dodatsu » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:52 pm

It is true in the Pure Land schools (at least in Japan) that meditation and prajna have no bearings to our birth in the Pure Land, that's why Pure Land Buddhism is "common folk" Buddhism since the common folk did not and still do not have the time for the practice of meditation nor the cultivation of Prajna. The Name of Amida Butsu encompasses all the virtues that the Buddha had completed and has directed towards our birth in the Pure Land. Honen once metaphorically described that if the various practices were the beams, pillars, foundation stones of a house, then the Name Namo Amida Butsu is the complete house. Beams, pillars, walls, foundation stones cannot be called a house. That's why it's 100% effective for our birth in the Pure Land and our subsequent attainment of Enlightenment.
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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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:55 pm

Dodatsu wrote:It is true in the Pure Land schools (at least in Japan) that meditation and prajna have no bearings to our birth in the Pure Land, that's why Pure Land Buddhism is "common folk" Buddhism since the common folk did not and still do not have the time for the practice of meditation nor the cultivation of Prajna. The Name of Amida Butsu encompasses all the virtues that the Buddha had completed and has directed towards our birth in the Pure Land. Honen once metaphorically described that if the various practices were the beams, pillars, foundation stones of a house, then the Name Namo Amida Butsu is the complete house. Beams, pillars, walls, foundation stones cannot be called a house. That's why it's 100% effective for our birth in the Pure Land and our subsequent attainment of Enlightenment.


Is there any way to empirically verify such a claim besides dying and seeing if you end up in the Pure Land?
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Huifeng » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:05 am

Dodatsu wrote:It is true in the Pure Land schools (at least in Japan) that meditation and prajna have no bearings to our birth in the Pure Land, that's why Pure Land Buddhism is "common folk" Buddhism since the common folk did not and still do not have the time for the practice of meditation nor the cultivation of Prajna. The Name of Amida Butsu encompasses all the virtues that the Buddha had completed and has directed towards our birth in the Pure Land. Honen once metaphorically described that if the various practices were the beams, pillars, foundation stones of a house, then the Name Namo Amida Butsu is the complete house. Beams, pillars, walls, foundation stones cannot be called a house. That's why it's 100% effective for our birth in the Pure Land and our subsequent attainment of Enlightenment.


I'm really glad you added "at least in Japan".
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Re: What is the role of Shakyamuni Buddha in Pure Land?

Postby Astus » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:35 am

Huseng wrote:Is there any way to empirically verify such a claim besides dying and seeing if you end up in the Pure Land?


Once you reach a higher bodhisattva level you'll have no problem seeing buddha-lands far far away. Or perhaps even on the 1st bhumi you can converse with buddhas. Also, the Pratyutpannasamadhi Sutra gives you a technique to meet Amita Buddha face to face. And maybe you can try phowa too. There's also an attainment called nenbutsu-sanmei which for instance Honen could achieve. So many ways, you just have to chose the one you like.
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