Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby steveb1 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:44 am

In my admittedly relatively meager research, it seems that Amida's function and role is sometimes described as a Buddha, sometimes as a Bodhisattva. Can someone please straighten me out on this:

1. In an undisclosed age, a prince became a mendicant monk, whose ordination name was Dharmakara.
2. During his practicing and wandering, Dharmakara was instructed by a powerful, ancient Buddha.
3. As a result of this inspiring encounter, Dharmakara resolved to become a Bodhisattva.
4. Dharmakara vowed not to enter final Nirvana until all beings had benefited from his grace.
5. His Eighteenth, or Primal Vow is the express summation of Dharmakara's resolve.
6. Part of fulfilling his vow was Dharmakara's creation, through countless ages, of a perfect pure land.
7. It is said that during this process Dharmakara became Amida Buddha.

What I don't "get" is when and how Dharmakara Bodhisattva actually became Amida Buddha.

If "He" is still "gracing" limitless numbers of beings, then it would appear that "His" work continues to be that of a Bodhisattva, because of his promise not to enter final Nirvana until all beings are saved.

But if "He" is still a Bodhisattva, how is it that "He" is at the same time called a Buddha?
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Thug4lyfe » Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:50 am

The "Buddha form" is just one manifestation of the awakened one. They manifest in any form suitable for sentient beings in order to liberate them.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby steveb1 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:51 am

Food_Eatah wrote:The "Buddha form" is just one manifestation of the awakened one. They manifest in any form suitable for sentient beings in order to liberate them.


Thanks for your reply :)

Can you or anyone else please expand on this conception ... ? Is there an "Ultimate Buddha" who manifests in double form or as many forms as needed for our enlightenment and salvation? Does this Ultimate Buddha have one or several technical or "liturgical" names - is there a url or books that I may consult on this matter ... ?

My understanding thus far - and it may be flawed - is that the Bodhisattva is a real being working in the world of samsara; whereas a Buddha has passed through Mahaparinirvana, and is a transcendent being "existing" in a transcendent Buddha-Realm.

If that's correct, then I still do not grasp how Amida can at the same time be both "Bodhisattva working here" AND a transcendent Buddha "existing there".
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:46 pm

THE LARGER SUTRA ON AMITABHA
Infinite Life Sutra
The Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life
delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha

Dharmakara's practices of the Bodhisattva Path
[9] The Buddha said to Ananda, "As soon as the Bhiksu Dharmakara spoke those verses, the entire earth shook in six ways, and a rain of wonderful flowers fell from heaven, scattering everywhere. Spontaneous music was heard, and a voice in the sky said, 'Surely you will attain the highest, perfect Enlightenment.
"Then the Bhiksu Dharmakara kept all those great vows which were sincere, unfailing and unsurpassed in the whole world, and intensely aspired to attain Nirvana.
"Then, Ananda, after proclaiming and establishing those universal vows in the presence of the Buddha Lokeshvararaja before the multitude of beings, including the eight kinds of superhuman beings, such as devas and dragon-spirits, and also Mara and Brahma, the Bhiksu Dharmakara was solely intent on producing a glorious and exquisite land. The Buddha-land which he sought to establish was vast in extent, unsurpassed and supremely wonderful, always present and subject neither to decay nor change. During inconceivable and innumerable kalpas, he cultivated the immeasurable meritorious practices of the Bodhisattva Path.
"He did not harbor any thought of greed, hatred or cruelty; nor did he allow any ideas of greed, hatred or cruelty to arise. He was unattached to any form, sound, smell, taste, touch or idea. Possessed of the power to persevere, he did not avoid undergoing various afflictions. Having little desire for his own sake, he knew contentment. Without any impure thought, enmity or stupidity, he dwelt continually in tranquil samadhi. His wisdom was unobstructed, and his mind free of falsehood and deceitfulness. With an expression of tenderness in his face and with kindness in his speech, he spoke to others in consonance with their inner thoughts. Courageous and diligent, strong-willed and untiring, he devoted himself solely to the pursuit of the pure Dharma, thereby benefiting a multitude of beings. He revered the Three Treasures, respected his teachers and elders, and thus adorned his practices with a great store of merits. By so doing, he enabled sentient beings to partake of it.
"He dwelt in the realization that all dharmas are empty, devoid of distinctive features, and not to be sought after, and that they neither act nor arise; he thus realized that all dharmas are like magical creations. He avoided all wrong speech that would bring harm upon himself or others or both; he engaged in right speech that would bring benefit to himself or others or both. He abandoned his kingdom and renounced the throne, leaving behind wealth and sensuous pleasures. Practicing the Six Paramitas himself, he taught others to do the same. During innumerable kalpas, he accumulated merits and amassed virtues.
"Wherever he was born, an immeasurable stock of treasure spontaneously appeared as he wished. He taught countless sentient beings and guided them on the path of the highest, true Enlightenment. He was reborn as a rich man, a lay devotee, a member of the highest caste or of a noble family, a ksatriya king, a wheel-turning monarch, a king of one of the six heavens in the world of desire, or even higher, as a Brahma-king. He revered and worshipped all Buddhas by making the four kinds of offering to them. The merit he thus acquired was indescribably great. Fragrance issued from his mouth as from a blue lotus-flower, and every pore of his body emitted the scent of sandalwood, which permeated innumerable worlds. His appearance was majestic, and his physical characteristics and marks were truly wonderful. From his hands, inexhaustible treasures, clothes, food and drink, rare and exquisite flowers and incense, silken canopies, banners, and other ornaments were produced. In such manifestations he was unrivaled among all heavenly and human beings. He thus attained the command of all dharmas."


Dharmakara's attainment of Buddhahood
[10] Ananda asked the Buddha, "Has the Bodhisattva Dharmakara already attained Buddhahood and then passed into Nirvana? Or has he not yet attained Buddhahood? Or is he dwelling somewhere at present?"
The Buddha replied to Ananda, "The Bodhisattva Dharmakara has already attained Buddhahood and is now dwelling in a western Buddha-land, called 'Peace and Bliss,' a hundred thousand kotis of lands away from here."
Ananda further asked the Buddha, "How much time has passed since he attained Buddhahood?"
The Buddha replied, "Since he attained Buddhahood, about ten kalpas have passed."
He continued, "In that Buddha-land, the earth is composed of seven jewels -- namely, gold, silver, beryl, coral, amber, agate and ruby -- which have spontaneously appeared. The land itself is so vast, spreading boundlessly to the farthest extent, that it is impossible to know its limit. All the rays of light from those jewels intermingle and create manifold reflections, producing a dazzling illumination. Those pure, superb and exquisite adornments are unsurpassed in all the worlds of the ten quarters. They are the finest of all gems, and are like those of the Sixth Heaven. In that land, there are no mountains, such as Mount Sumeru and the Encircling Adamantine Mountains. Likewise, there are neither oceans nor seas, valleys nor gorges. But one can see those manifestations by the Buddha's power if one so wishes. In that land there is no hell; neither are there realms of hungry spirits and animals nor other adverse conditions. Neither do the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter exist. It is always moderate and pleasant, never cold or hot."
Then, Ananda asked the Buddha, "If, World-Honored One, there is no Mount Sumeru in that land, what sustains the Heaven of the Four Kings and the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods?"
The Buddha said to Ananda, "What sustains Yama, which is the Third Heaven of the world of desire, and other heavens up to the Highest Heaven of the world of form?"
Ananda answered, "The consequences of karma are inconceivable."
The Buddha said to Ananda, "Inconceivable indeed are the consequences of karma, and so are the worlds of the Buddhas. By the power of meritorious deeds, sentient beings in that land dwell on the ground of karmic reward. That is why those heavens exist without Mount Sumeru."
Ananda continued, "I do not doubt this myself but have asked you about it simply because I wished to remove such doubts for the benefit of sentient beings in the future."

Dharmakara's attainment of Buddhahood
[10] Ananda asked the Buddha, "Has the Bodhisattva Dharmakara already attained Buddhahood and then passed into Nirvana? Or has he not yet attained Buddhahood? Or is he dwelling somewhere at present?"
The Buddha replied to Ananda, "The Bodhisattva Dharmakara has already attained Buddhahood and is now dwelling in a western Buddha-land, called 'Peace and Bliss,' a hundred thousand kotis of lands away from here."
Ananda further asked the Buddha, "How much time has passed since he attained Buddhahood?"
The Buddha replied, "Since he attained Buddhahood, about ten kalpas have passed."




http://www.anzwers.org/free/chinkung/largersutra1.html
_/\_
Amituofo!

"Enlightenment is to turn around and see MY own mistake, Other's mistake is also my mistake. Others are right even if they are wrong. i'm wrong even if i'm right. " - Master Chin Kung
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:20 pm

no doubt, Amitabha is already a Buddha, 10 kalpas ago as stated. He had already gone through the very long bodhisattva stage.

and in order for His vow to be effective, He had achieved Buddhahood.
Buddha and Bodhisattva or even mara can transform into the appearance of Buddha or a Bodhisattva. but only a true Buddha can help or teach or liberate a Buddha-elect (Ekajatipratibuddhas), last stage Bodhisattva. a bodhisattva can help a bodhisattva lower than them but not a bodhisattva higher than them. a REAL Buddha can help All.
note that a complete true Buddha has the complete power to liberate limitless numbers of beings. a Mahasattva who had the ability to achieved Buddhahood, but depending on their wish, delayed their attainment, also have great power to liberate limitless numbers of beings. a normal bodhisattva do not have the complete power to help. Imagine a doctor and a nurse, the ability of a doctor is greater than a nurse, but BOTH job are to help liberate limitless numbers of beings. not because one attained Buddhahood(i.e. become a Doctor) and their job to help stop there. liberate limitless numbers of beings is the ultimate bliss.
in Mahayana, the nirvana of the two vehicles are no longer an aim. Samsara IS also Nirvana. We abide in neither. :smile:
_/\_
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"Enlightenment is to turn around and see MY own mistake, Other's mistake is also my mistake. Others are right even if they are wrong. i'm wrong even if i'm right. " - Master Chin Kung
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby jikai » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:04 am

steveb1 wrote:
Food_Eatah wrote:The "Buddha form" is just one manifestation of the awakened one. They manifest in any form suitable for sentient beings in order to liberate them.


Can you or anyone else please expand on this conception ... ? Is there an "Ultimate Buddha" who manifests in double form or as many forms as needed for our enlightenment and salvation? Does this Ultimate Buddha have one or several technical or "liturgical" names - is there a url or books that I may consult on this matter ... ?



The "Ultimate Buddha" who's manifestations make up the many Buddha's is Dainichi Nyorai (Jap.), Dari Rulai (Chn.), Mahavairocana (skrt.)
"There are no seperate dharma's in the Three Realms. There is only the operation of the one mind."
"Whoever wishes to benefit beings ought to establish teachings that fit their capacities, expound the dharma in accordance with their capacities, and match the doctrines to them"
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby jikai » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:08 am

The below link explains in detail:
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/dainichi.shtml

I quote from it: "Dainichi is the most important of all the myriad Buddha. In fact, Dainichi is said to be everywhere and everything, like the air we breathe, with all other Buddha and divine beings considered as emanations of Dainichi."
hope that helps :)
gassho
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby steveb1 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:12 am

Thank you,

sinweiy

... and ...

jikai

.... for your replies, scans, links and information - now I have sources to study :)
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby rory » Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:57 pm

Dainichi is the eternal cosmic buddha for Shingon and esoteric Tendai followers, also Kegon. But when speaking about Japanese Buddhism that's not the case for [Zen?], Nichiren or Pure Land sects. The Eternal Buddha is Shaka Butsu for Nichiren and, Amida for Pure Land followers. I'm not sure enough about the Zen sects. Not to argue, just to have a discussion. Also the idea that "Samsara is Nirvana" belongs to the theory that we all are inherently Buddhas, certainly Japanese Pure Land sects deny that entirely, that was a medieval philosophical wave of Hongaku - original enlightenment. Jacqueline Stone of Princeton wrote a brilliant book all about it.
gassho
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby steveb1 » Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:35 am

rory, thank you for your reply - I will check out that book :)
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:45 am

two Big Sutra indicate that a Buddha(Shakyamuni) still continue liberating sentient beings, all the time. "Samsara" is always their preaching ground; impermanence is permanence sort to speak.

From the time I attained Buddhahood,
The eons that have passed
Are limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads
Of kotis of asamkhyeyas in number.
I always speak the Dharma to teach and transform
Countless millions of living beings,
So they enter the Buddha Way.
And throughout these limitless eons,
In order to save living beings,
I expediently manifest Nirvana.
But in truth I do not pass into quiescence.
I remain here, always speaking the Dharma.
I always stay right here,
And using the power of spiritual penetrations,
I cause inverted living beings,
Although near me, not to see me. ----Lotus Sutra

http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/reso ... otus16.htm

"The innumerable worlds in the cosmos are like the eyes of the net. Each and every world is different, its variety infinite. So too are the Dharma Doors (methods of cultivation) taught by the Buddhas.
"I have come to this world eight thousand times. Based in this Saha World, seated upon the Jeweled Diamond Seat in Bodhgaya and all the way up to the palace of the Brahma King, I have spoken in general about the Mind-Ground Dharma Door for the benefit of the great multitude.
"Thereafter, I descended from the Brahma King's palace to Jambudvipa, the Human World. I have preached the Diamond Illuminated Jeweled Precepts (the Bodhisattva precepts) from beneath the Bodhi-tree for the sake of all sentient beings on earth, however dull and ignorant they may be. These precepts were customarily recited by Vairocana Buddha when he first developed the Bodhi Mind in the causal stages. They are precisely the original source of all Buddhas and all Bodhisattvas as well as the seed of the Buddha Nature.

--Brahma Net Sutra

http://www.purifymind.com/BrahmaNetSutra.htm

/\
_/\_
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:55 am

Why Samsara is Nirvana

Nibbana is not annihilation, but really is an image of freedom because the underlying Pali root in the term ‘nibbana’ means ‘unbinding’.”


I would like to share a few more thoughts on how nirvana is viewed in Mahayana, specifically in Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka or Middle Way philosophy, as far as I understand it.

I should point out that Madhyamaka looks at everything through the lens of the Two Truths: the conventional or relative truth (vyavahara) and the ultimate or absolute truth (paramartha). What is valid from the standpoint of the relative truth of our everyday world is not necessarily valid from the ultimate side. In the final analysis, though, the relative and the ultimate are neither different, nor identical. Nor does one stand independently of the other.

The same can be said of samsara and nirvana. In Madhyamaka, samsara represents the world of birth and death, the world of suffering, while nirvana represents realization of the ultimate truth, without which freedom from the bondage (bandhana) of suffering is not possible.

As noted above, one sense of nirvana is that of “unbinding.” In the Madhyamaka-karika or “Roots Verses on the Middle Way,” Nagarjuna says, “If binding, would exist prior to one who is bound, there would be bondage, but that does not exist.”

Binding/bondage belongs to the relative truth. In the ultimate truth, if binding existed prior to the bondage of a sentient being, then it would have inherent existence. Yet, ultimately, neither bondage nor anything else has inherent existence (Svabhava, own-being, self), and so release from bondage is not an inherently existent phenomenon either.

This is important because grasping onto the false idea of inherent existence is the primary cause for suffering. Nagarjuna felt that the term “nirvana” was useful for indicating spiritual release, but only if the term did not refer to something that could be an object for clinging. A few verses on, he says, “Those who grasp at the notion, ‘I will be free from grasping and Nirvana will be mine,’ have a great grasp on grasping.”

In The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, Jay Garfield provides a good explanation of this:


It is [possible] to grasp after nirvana – to reify it as a state and to crave it as a phenomenon inherently different from samsara and as highly desirable since it is indeed characterized as liberation from suffering. But this grasping onto the end of grasping is itself a grasping and so precludes the attainment of nirvana. Nirvana requires, according to Nagarjuna, a complete cessation of grasping, including that onto nirvana itself. While that might seem paradoxical, it is not: To grasp onto something in this sense requires, inter alia, that one reify it. By refusing to reify liberation, in virtue of seeing it as the correlative of bondage, which itself is not inherently existent, it is possible to pursue the path to liberation without creating at the same time a huge obstacle on that path – the root delusion with regard to nirvana itself.

If things do not exist in themselves, then from the ultimate truth they are unreal, illusions. Nirvana, for Nagarjuna, if seen as something inherently existent, is only an illusion that will perpetuate more grasping, followed by more suffering.

There are no real distinctions in Madhyamaka philosophy because all things are considered empty of inherent existence or own-nature. For samsara and nirvana to be distinct from one another, they would have to be inherently existent things. But they are empty, and within this emptiness, they are without distinction.

Samsara and nirvana are only different in the relative sense, because they designate entirely different things. Again, in the ultimate sense, there is no difference, because of their emptiness. Everything is empty, including emptiness.

This many sound like theoretical nonsense, but it has a practical application. The aim of this thinking is to shatter all dualities and destroy all avenues for grasping. When we can get past dualistic thinking, that is, seeing only the distinctions, not recognizing the parity or the correspondence between things, then the world opens up for us. We then see the wholeness of life. We become whole. Being whole means to be healthy, and this sort of spiritual health translates into release from the things that bind us to suffering. It is freedom.

Frederick Streng has written,


This is a freedom which applies to every moment of existence, not to special moments of mystical escape to another level of being, nor to the freedom attained by priestly activity at a sacred time and place . . . To know things as they actually are, frees the mind of presuppositions and the emotions from attachments. Thus this freedom is also a purification process; it removes such evils as hated, fear, greed, or nimiety which accompany attachment.

Without suffering, one can never know release. As long as we see freedom as something separate from our suffering, we are grasping onto an object, inviting more suffering. Just as we are related to our karma, we are related to our suffering, and nirvana, our freedom, is also related to our suffering.

If we can understand that samsara “is” nirvana in this way, in each moment, and know that suffering, ultimately related to our goal, is the very tool that allows us to reach the goal, then I think, we are one step closer to where we want to be. Of course, we need take that extra step of realizing that the goal of freedom is ultimately empty, for as long as we live we will experience suffering in one form or another. The goal of complete release is an illusion. There is only the Endless Further.


http://theendlessfurther.com/?p=1339
_/\_
Amituofo!

"Enlightenment is to turn around and see MY own mistake, Other's mistake is also my mistake. Others are right even if they are wrong. i'm wrong even if i'm right. " - Master Chin Kung
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:38 am

i think it's also why Vajrayana got so many "samsaric" mantras, like meat eating, killing animal etc. they help to clear the conscience in order to stay in samsara. as Vajrayana is about staying in samsara endlessly. because no choice, some time have to commit karma. mantras help. can't always be a good person to liberate beings. sometimes need opposite teaching.

we Purelanders also need to be prepare, we will be coming back too to liberate endless sentient beings 乘愿再来度众生! are you game for it? :)
_/\_
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"Enlightenment is to turn around and see MY own mistake, Other's mistake is also my mistake. Others are right even if they are wrong. i'm wrong even if i'm right. " - Master Chin Kung
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby rory » Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:58 am

steveb the book is "Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism." a great great book.

In a note to "Pure-Land Zen; Zen Pure-Land" by Master Ying Kuang Ven. Thich Thien Tam (p. 112 points out that we should be atttached to existance! which makes us mindful of cause & effect. As a Pure Lander I'm attached to the Pure Land, it keeps me practicing, I'm mindful that I have lots of karma, so I try to expiate it, not make bad karma & keep my eye on getting into the Pure Land so I don't wind up in Samsara

And no, I'm never coming back to this Saha world, I'll help people as a bodhisattva staying in the Pure Land. Kannon sama will get another helper :namaste: :namaste:
gassho
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Thug4lyfe » Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:48 am

I think most of us needs to be good first and then become a true bad ass gangsta know wat im sayin?
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Thug4lyfe » Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:52 am

rory wrote:And no, I'm never coming back to this Saha world, I'll help people as a bodhisattva staying in the Pure Land. Kannon sama will get another helper :namaste: :namaste:
gassho
rory

woooo, too good for da likes of us huh? :(

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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby steveb1 » Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:34 pm

Thanks to sinweiy for all the information and for everyone else who is continuing to enlighten me :)
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby jikai » Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:34 pm

rory wrote:Dainichi is the eternal cosmic buddha for Shingon and esoteric Tendai followers, also Kegon. But when speaking about Japanese Buddhism that's not the case for [Zen?], Nichiren or Pure Land sects. The Eternal Buddha is Shaka Butsu for Nichiren and, Amida for Pure Land followers. I'm not sure enough about the Zen sects. Not to argue, just to have a discussion. Also the idea that "Samsara is Nirvana" belongs to the theory that we all are inherently Buddhas, certainly Japanese Pure Land sects deny that entirely, that was a medieval philosophical wave of Hongaku - original enlightenment. Jacqueline Stone of Princeton wrote a brilliant book all about it.
gassho
Rory


Hi Rory,
You are indeed correct. As a Tendai practitioner I was only posting based on my own practice. Your right though, i should have been more specific as to the use of Dainichi Nyorai. When you say your a Pure Land practitioner, I was wondering whether that was Jodo Shu or Jodo Shin? (i'm guessing a Japanese tradition as you closed with gassho :) ).

I ask because as a Tendai practitioner we also have pure land practices, i'd like to see how different they are in a 'Pure Land' tradition :).
Gassho
Jikai
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"Whoever wishes to benefit beings ought to establish teachings that fit their capacities, expound the dharma in accordance with their capacities, and match the doctrines to them"
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby rory » Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:54 pm

Hi jIkan;
I recognized the Tendai mon :thumbsup: I practiced Tendai awhile back, coming from my Pure Land background, Jodo Shu. I'd say intellectually the biggest difference would be in Tendai you're practicing to get enlightened in this life, JShu regards this as pretty impossible, Tendai would also see this land as the Pure Land, Jshu sees a real Pure Land in the West. Tendai ascribes to Madhyamika philosophy while Jshu to the Pure Land sutras. In Tendai you could chant mantras for the Pure Land, pray to go to Kannon's Pure Land, do meditative and circumambulation practices in Jshu there is one primary practice : Nenbutsu.

I enjoyed the variety of practices in Tendai, while having a big Pure Land faith; it fit quite fine.
gassho
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Nighthawk » Mon Nov 14, 2011 4:11 am

Hello rory,
Just curious why Jodo Shu over Jodo Shinshu?
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