Dharmakara Bodhisattva

User avatar
Dodatsu
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Kyoto, Japan

Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Dodatsu » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:13 pm

『大無量寿経』の法蔵菩薩の歴史は、神話でなく、「法界の真理」そのまま顕現したもう「法」のすがた。-稲垣瑞雄先生
The history of Dharmakara Bodhisattva in the Larger Sutra is not a mythology, but the Dharma itself as it appears from the Truth of Dharmadhathu. - Rev Inagaki Zuio
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

User avatar
Wesley1982
Posts: 739
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:45 pm
Location: Magga ~ Path to Liberation.

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Wesley1982 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:15 pm

Not yet familiar with this

steveb1
Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby steveb1 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:18 am

Dodatsu wrote:『大無量寿経』の法蔵菩薩の歴史は、神話でなく、「法界の真理」そのまま顕現したもう「法」のすがた。-稲垣瑞雄先生
The history of Dharmakara Bodhisattva in the Larger Sutra is not a mythology, but the Dharma itself as it appears from the Truth of Dharmadhathu. - Rev Inagaki Zuio


Devil's Advocate-type questions:

Truthfulness is not always the same as factualness, so why cannot the Dharma be taught via "a mythology"? Buddha and Jesus both taught via parables, which no one thinks need to be historically or scientifically accurate in order to be true.

More importantly: Rev. Inagaki seems to have stated a historical claim, which opens this issue to testability, raising the question of "the historical Dharmakara".

Since no Shin text pins down Dharmakara's own historical period or location, how do people like Rev. Inagaki support a factual/historical view of Dharmakara?

The Gospels at least offer a time period for Jesus (perhaps 6 BCE to CE 33), and a location for his ministry (Galilee and Judea in Roman occupied Palestine).
Thus, the historical question of Jesus' existence and role is a "given" in the canonical texts which purport to describe him.

How then do those who insist on a historical Dharmakara support their claim? If the scriptures and history give no hint of his historical existence, then how does one support this idea, except through recourse to "faith alone"? Would not such support put one in the uncomfortable position of supporting a historical-factual claim with a non-factual, non-historical fundamentalism that states: "The texts say it; I believe it; that settles it" ... ?

User avatar
Dodatsu
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 3:49 pm
Location: Kyoto, Japan

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Dodatsu » Wed May 02, 2012 4:45 pm

Sensei is indirectly quoting from Shinran Shonin's own words on how Shin Buddhists view Amida Buddha.

"One Vehicle" here refers to the Primal Vow. "Perfect" means that the Primal Vow is full of all merits and roots of good, lacking none, and further, that it is free and unrestricted. "Unhindered" means that it cannot be obstructed or destroyed by blind passion and karmic evil. "True and real virtue" is the Name. Since the wondrous principle of true reality or suchness has reached its perfection in the Primal Vow, this Vow is likened to a great treasure ocean. True reality-suchness is the supreme great nirvana. Nirvana is dharma-nature. Dharma-nature is Tathagata. With the words, "treasure ocean," the Buddha's nondiscriminating, unobstructed, and nonexclusive guidance of all sentient beings is likened to the all-embracing waters of the great ocean.

From this treasure ocean of oneness form was manifested, taking the name of Bodhisattva Dharmakara, who, through establishing the unhindered Vow as the cause, became Amida Buddha. For this reason Amida is the "Tathagata of fulfilled body." Amida has been called "Buddha of unhindered light filling the ten quarters." This Tathagata is also known as Namu-fukashigiko-butsu (Namu-Buddha of inconceivable light) and is the "dharma-body as compassionate means." "Compassionate means" refers to manifesting form, revealing a name, and making itself known to sentient beings. It refers to Amida Buddha. This Tathagata is light. Light is none other than wisdom; wisdom is the form of light. Wisdom is, in addition, formless; hence this Tathagata is the Buddha of inconceivable light. This Tathagata fills the countless worlds in the ten quarters, and so is called "Buddha of boundless light." Further, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu has given the name, "Tathagata of unhindered light filling the ten quarters."

Notes on Once-calling and Many-calling http://www.shinranworks.com/commentaries/onceandmany2.htm

Nirvana has innumerable names. It is impossible to give them in detail; I will list only a few. Nirvana is called extinction of passions, the uncreated, peaceful happiness, eternal bliss, true reality, dharma-body, dharma-nature, suchness, oneness, and Buddha-nature. Buddha-nature is none other than Tathagata. This Tathagata pervades the countless worlds; it fills the hearts and minds of the ocean of all beings. Thus, plants, trees, and land all attain Buddhahood.

Since it is with this heart and mind of all sentient beings that they entrust themselves to the Vow of the dharma-body as compassionate means, this shinjin is none other than Buddha-nature. This Buddha-nature is dharma-nature. Dharma-nature is dharma-body. For this reason there are two kinds of dharma-body with regard to the Buddha. The first is called dharma-body as suchness and the second, dharma-body as compassionate means. Dharma-body as suchness has neither color nor form; thus, the mind cannot grasp it nor words describe it. From this oneness was manifested form, called dharma-body as compassionate means.

Taking this form, the Buddha announced the name Bhiksu Dharmakara and established the Forty-eight great Vows that surpass conceptual understanding. Among these Vows are the Primal Vow of immeasurable light and the universal Vow of immeasurable life, and to the form manifesting these two Vows Bodhisattva Vasubandhu gave the title, "Tathagata of unhindered light filling the ten quarters." This Tathagata has fulfilled the Vows, which are the cause of that Buddhahood, and thus is called "Tathagata of the fulfilled body." This is none other than Amida Tathagata.

"Fulfilled" means that the cause for enlightenment has been fulfilled. From the fulfilled body innumerable personified and accommodated bodies are manifested, radiating the unhindered light of wisdom throughout the countless worlds. Thus appearing in the form of light called "Tathagata of unhindered light filling the ten quarters," it is without color and without form; that is, it is identical with the dharma-body as suchness, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and unobstructed by karmic evil. For this reason it is called "unhindered light." "Unhindered" means that it is not obstructed by the karmic evil and blind passions of beings. Know, therefore, that Amida Buddha is light, and that light is the form taken by wisdom.

Notes on "Essentials of Faith Alone" http://www.shinranworks.com/commentaries/essentialnotes3.htm

Yes it's true none of the Shin texts put Amida in a historical context, because Amida goes BEYOND samsaric historical context. Using samsaric history or mythology, to describe Amida, to me at least, is futile and worthless.

It is taught that ten kalpas have now passed
Since Amida attained Buddhahood,
But he seems a Buddha more ancient
Than kalpas countless as particles.

Hymns on the Pure Land 55 http://www.shinranworks.com/hymns/jodowasan3.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

niizaguy
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:38 pm

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby niizaguy » Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:41 pm

I too am interested in learning more about Dharmakara, when he lived, etc. He seems to be a pretty important guy if he is Amida Buddha.

Is he just a mythical figure or what do we really know about him?

Did he live before Shakyamuni or after him? Does anyone know what the consensus is and what the evidence for the consensus is?

Thanks.

niizaguy

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 2257
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Admin_PC » Fri Feb 20, 2015 7:09 pm

niizaguy wrote:I too am interested in learning more about Dharmakara, when he lived, etc. He seems to be a pretty important guy if he is Amida Buddha.
Is he just a mythical figure or what do we really know about him?
The answers Dodatsu gave above are extremely deep and profound. I would recommend reading through them over and over again, looking up the meaning of various terms, until they make more sense. Dodatsu argues that Dharmakara is not merely myth, but he is the active workings of the Dharma (Teachings) to help guide all sentient beings towards liberation from the angle of the Truth of the Dharmadhatu - the Dharma realm, Absolute Reality...

In Mahayana the idea that there are 3 aspects (bodies) of the Buddha is extremely important & foundational. The 3rd and most fundamental of these bodies is the Dharmakaya, the formless body of undifferentiated awareness. One of Dodatsu's other quotes points out that Amida is the formless Dharmakaya manifested into form as Compassionate skillful means to help all sentient beings.

niizaguy wrote:Did he live before Shakyamuni or after him? Does anyone know what the consensus is and what the evidence for the consensus is?
Again, Dodatsu's reply in regards to this is profound. The first part he says that Amida is beyond Samsaric notions of historicity or myth. The second part he references a quote that mentions the sutras. The sutras say that it was 10 eons before Shakyamuni that Dharmakara Bodhisattva became Amida Buddha; but the quote goes on to say that there is something very primordial (no beginning) about the nature of Amida Buddha's Enlightenment. One thing that I did not see touched on in the earlier replies is that Dharmakara becomes Amida Buddha by fulfilling his vows and so as each one of us deluded beings relies on the vows to escape Samsara, these vows are constantly and continuously being fulfilled. So there's this sense that as we become Buddhas so too does Amida.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1068
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Monlam Tharchin » Mon Feb 23, 2015 6:32 am

I think your answers will be found in how you view your situation, rather than in necessarily finding specific knowledge.

If one is trapped in a burning house, smelling the smoke, feeling the heat of the fire, then a person busts through a window saying "come with me!" there is no hesitation: they practically fly into that person's arms.
However, if one is upstairs and has no idea there is a fire starting in the basement, and someone busts through the window, it may elicit the kinds of questions you ask: "who are you? where did you come from? why should I believe you?"
For me, I definitely needed to smell the smoke and see the fire, and find my attempts to free myself to be completely ineffective.

Everyone's experience with Pure Land is different, but if you find yourself drawn to it, to Amida, try allowing the possibility that doubts and questions may have answers that are at the same time totally unexpected yet just what you needed.

Pure Land has been the only vehicle big enough to hold all my doubts and skepticism.
Amitabha!

Rakz
Posts: 1160
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:04 am

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Rakz » Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:26 pm

PorkChop wrote:In Mahayana the idea that there are 3 aspects (bodies) of the Buddha is extremely important & foundational. The 3rd and most fundamental of these bodies is the Dharmakaya, the formless body of undifferentiated awareness. One of Dodatsu's other quotes points out that Amida is the formless Dharmakaya manifested into form as Compassionate skillful means to help all sentient beings.


I don't think Dharmakaya from itself can manifest anything. It's just a synonym for emptiness. From my understanding In order to generate a pure land an actual flesh and blood bodhisattva is required to have great stores of merit otherwise it is not possible.

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 2257
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Admin_PC » Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:12 am

TBH I think this would be what is meant in the Heart Sutra by "emptiness is form".... but I could be wrong...

Tan Luan's commentary on Vasubandhu's Upadesa of the Amitayus Sutra wrote:Because they see the Buddha, the bodhisattvas who have not yet realized pure mind will ultimately attain dharma-body of equality. For they will ultimately realize tranquility and equality like the bodhisattvas of pure mind or the bodhisattvas of higher stages.
In regards to the above passage, Shinran explains:
Shinran in Kyogyoshinsho IV wrote:Dharma-body of equality refers to bodhisattvas of the eighth stage or above, who have bodies arising from dharma-nature. This is dharma that is tranquility and equality. Because they realize this dharma of tranquility and equality, they are termed "dharma-body of equality." Because bodhisattvas of dharma-body of equality attain it, it is called "dharma of tranquility and equality." These bodhisattvas attain the samadhi called "arising as the fruit [of dharma-body]." With the transcendent powers of this samadhi, they are able, while remaining in one place, to be everywhere throughout the worlds of the ten quarters in one instant, at the same time, and to make offerings in various ways to all the Buddhas and the ocean of beings in the Buddha's great assemblies. They can, in places throughout the innumerable worlds where there is no Buddha, no dharma, and no sangha, manifest themselves in various forms to teach, guide, and bring all sentient beings to emancipation, thus ever performing Buddha's work. From the very beginning, however, they have no thought of going and coming, not thought of making offerings, no thought of emancipating. For this reason this body is called dharma-body of equality. This dharma is called dharma of tranquility and equality.
Master Seng Chao wrote:The dharma-body, being formless, takes on all forms. Further, it conforms with the ultimate expression. It being without words, profound writings spread more and more widely. Deep and subtle means, being without calculation, work to bring about the benefiting of beings.
Shinran explains further in the same passage:
Shinran KGSS IV wrote:The preceding seventeen phrases on the land's adornments, eight phrases on the Tathagata's adornments, and four phrases on the bodhisattvas' adornments are "extensive." That they enter into the phrase "one-dharma" is termed in brief. Why is it explained that extensive and brief interpenetrate? Because all Buddhas and bodhisattvas have dharma-bodies of two dimensions: dharma-body as suchness and dharma-body as compassionate means. Dharma-body as compassionate means arises from dharma-body as suchness, and dharma-body as suchness emerges out of dharma-body as compassionate means. Those two dimensions of dharma-body differ but are not separable; they are one but cannot be regarded as identical. Thus, extensive and brief interpenetrate, and together are termed "dharma." If bodhisattvas do not realize that extensive and brief interpenetrate, they are incapable of self-benefit and benefiting others.

[Tan Luan's Commentary states:]The phrase "one-dharma" is the phrase "purity." The phrase "purity" is "true and real wisdom or uncreated dharma-body."

These three phrases mutually interpenetrate. For what reason is ["one-dharma"] termed "dharma"? It is pure. For what reason is purity so termed? It is true and real wisdom or uncreated dharma-body. True and real wisdom is wisdom that is true reality. Because true reality is formless, true wisdom is no-knowing. Uncreated dharma-body is the body of dharma-nature. Because dharma-nature is tranquility, dharma-body is formless. Because it is formless, it never fails to manifest every kind of form. Therefore, the adornment of the Buddha's features and marks is itself dharma-body. Because it is no-knowing, it never fails to know all things. Therefore, all-knowing wisdom is itself true and real wisdom. That the true and real is termed wisdom shows that wisdom is neither active nor nonactive. That dharma-body is described as uncreated shows that dharma-body is neither form nor nonform. When negation is negated, is negation of negation affirmation? It is no-negation that is indeed affirmation. It is affirmation in and of itself, without anticipation of a negation of affirmation. It is neither relative affirmation nor relative negation; one hundred negations cannot disclose it. Hence it is said, the phrase "purity." The phrase "purity" is true and real wisdom or uncreated dharma-body. The Treatise [Tan Luan's Commentary] states:

This purity has two aspects. Reflect on this.

In the mutual interpenetration of phrases discussed before, we saw that through one-dharma, purity is entered. Through purity, dharma-body is entered. Now, purity is divided and two aspects set forth; hence, Reflect on this.

[Tan Luan's Commentary further explains:]What are the two aspects? The first is the purity of the world as environment (literally, "vessel"), the second is the purity of the world as sentient beings. "Purity of the world as environment" refers to the seventeen kinds of fulfillment of the virtues of the adornments of the Buddha-land explained earlier; these are called "purity of the world as environment." "Purity of the world as sentient beings" refers to the eight kinds of fulfillment of the virtues of the adornments of the Buddha and the four kinds of fulfillment of the virtues of the adornments of the bodhisattvas; these are called "purity of the world as sentient beings." The phrase "one-dharma" holds the significance of these two kinds of purity. Reflect on this.


The Avatamsaka states:
Avatamsaka Sutra wrote:The bodies of all the Buddhas
Are solely the one dharma-body.
Their minds are one, their wisdoms are one;
So are their powers and fearlessnesses.


Early in KGSS IV Shinran states:
KGSS IV wrote:When foolish beings possessed of blind passions, the multitudes caught in birth-and-death and defiled by evil karma, realize the mind an practice that Amida directs to them for their going forth, they immediately join the truly settled of the Mahayana. Because they dwell among the truly settled, they necessarily attain nirvana. To necessarily attain nirvana is [to attain] eternal bliss. Eternal bliss is ultimate tranquility. Tranquility is supreme nirvana. Supreme nirvana is uncreated dharma-body. Uncreated dharma-body is true reality. True reality is dharma-nature. Dharma-nature is suchness. Suchness is oneness. Amida Tathagata comes forth from suchness and manifests various bodies - fulfilled, accommodated, and transformed.


In Notes on Once and Many Callings, Shinran says:
Notes on Once and Many Calling 2 wrote:True reality-suchness is the supreme great nirvana. Nirvana is dharma-nature. Dharma-nature is Tathagata. With the words, "treasure ocean," the Buddha's nondiscriminating, unobstructed, and nonexclusive guidance of all sentient beings is likened to the all-embracing waters of the great ocean.

From this treasure ocean of oneness form was manifested, taking the name of Bodhisattva Dharmakara, who, through establishing the unhindered Vow as the cause, became Amida Buddha. For this reason Amida is the "Tathagata of fulfilled body." Amida has been called "Buddha of unhindered light filling the ten quarters." This Tathagata is also known as Namu-fukashigiko-butsu (Namu-Buddha of inconceivable light) and is the "dharma-body as compassionate means." "Compassionate means" refers to manifesting form, revealing a name, and making itself known to sentient beings. It refers to Amida Buddha. This Tathagata is light. Light is none other than wisdom; wisdom is the form of light. Wisdom is, in addition, formless; hence this Tathagata is the Buddha of inconceivable light. This Tathagata fills the countless worlds in the ten quarters, and so is called "Buddha of boundless light." Further, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu has given the name, "Tathagata of unhindered light filling the ten quarters."
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

Rakz
Posts: 1160
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:04 am

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Rakz » Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:35 pm

Thanks for the quotes. The problem I have with that is we would be having Buddhas pop up left and right now to help relieve the suffering of beings but this isn't the case. Instead we have to wait until death to finally be helped by a Buddha.

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 2257
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Admin_PC » Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:21 pm

Tenso wrote:Thanks for the quotes. The problem I have with that is we would be having Buddhas pop up left and right now to help relieve the suffering of beings but this isn't the case. Instead we have to wait until death to finally be helped by a Buddha.
Traditionally it is the case that they are popping up, we just can't perceive them. The Chapter in the Lotus Sutra on Avalokitesvara is the perfect example. In it Avalokitesvara manifests as anything to help sentient beings who chant his name, but you can also see from below he responds to the name of Amida (his teacher) as well. Or, as my teacher put it, the person who pulls over to help you change your flat tire could be a manifestation of Avalokitesvara (whether they knew it or not), presenting a powerful Dharma teaching on compassion.

Jodo Wasan wrote:Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta
Together illumine the world with the light of compassion,
Never resting even for a moment
From bringing to nirvana those with mature conditions.
This is actually a paraphrase of Tao-ch'o's An-le-chi (Collection of Passages on the Land of Peace and Bliss)
Tao-ch'o's An-le-chi wrote:“Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva and Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva will protect them [Pure Land practitioners] in this world, and after death, they will be born in the Pure Land and attain enlightenment.” (T.1958, 47:15a)


Koso Wasan wrote:My eyes being hindered by blind passions,
I cannot perceive the light that grasps me;
Yet the great compassion, without tiring,
Illumines me always.
This is actually a paraphrase of a quote by Genshin:
Genshin of Shuryogon-in wrote:Although I too am within Amida's grasp, blind passions obstruct my eyes and I cannot see [the light]; nevertheless, great compassion untiringly and constantly illumines me.


The Amitabha Sutra states:
Amitabha Sutra wrote:Śāriputra, what is your opinion? Why is this sūtra called a sūtra protected and remembered by all Buddhas? Śāriputra, if there are good men and good women who have heard and upheld this sūtra, and have heard Buddhas’ names, they are protected and remembered by all Buddhas. They will never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Therefore, Śāriputra, you all should believe and accept my words and other Buddhas’ words.


In fact there are 10 in-this-life benefits that Shinran lists that result from realizing the diamond-like true mind of Shinjin:
KGSS III wrote:The word "hear" in the passage [on the Vows] from the [Larger] Sutra means that sentient beings, having heard how the Buddha's Vow arose - its origin and fulfillment - are altogether free of doubt. This is to hear. Shinjin is shinjin that is directed to beings through the power of the Primal Vow. Joy expresses gladness in body and mind. Even includes both many and few. One thought-moment: because shinjin is free of double-mindedness, one thought-moment is used. It is the mind that is single. The mind that is single is the true cause of [birth in] the pure fulfilled land. When we realize the diamondlike true mind, we transcend crosswise the paths of the five courses and eight hindered existences and unfailingly gain ten benefits in the present life. What are these ten?

1. The benefit of being protected and sustained by unseen powers.
2. The benefit of being possessed of supreme virtues.
3. The benefit of our karmic evil being transformed into good.
4. The benefit of being protected and cared for by all the Buddhas.
5. The benefit of being praised by all the Buddhas.
6. The benefit of being constantly protected by the light of the Buddha's heart.
7. The benefit of having great joy in our hearts.
8. The benefit of being aware of Amida's benevolence and of responding in gratitude to his virtue.
9. The benefit of constantly practicing great compassion.
10. The benefit of entering the stage of the truly settled.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1068
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Monlam Tharchin » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:46 pm

Honen wrote:Just say the nembutsu and be saved by Amida.

Friend Tenso, a dead body doesn't say the nembutsu.
A living person, a confused and passionate doubting person in this world that seems far from the Pure Land, along with a faithful certain person who feels Amida is very close, they both say the nembutsu together.
Amitabha!

steveb1
Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby steveb1 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:05 am

Yes, and that's one of the primordial/primal beauties of Shin. The person of doubts and the person of "perfect faith" both say the Nembutsu as fellow bombus. They both realize that the gift of Shinjin is itself Amida's working within them, without any self-power actions or thoughts on their part. The great leveler in Shin is our common "bombuhood" and Amida's unimpeded Light and grace which cut through our bombuhood, saving us without "respecting our egoic persons" and our delusional tendency toward self-power. We are one in our deluded tendencies, and we are one in Amida's universal embrace.

Serenity509
Posts: 800
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:21 am
Location: United States

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Serenity509 » Tue Jul 28, 2015 7:44 pm

Monlam Tharchin wrote:I think your answers will be found in how you view your situation, rather than in necessarily finding specific knowledge.

If one is trapped in a burning house, smelling the smoke, feeling the heat of the fire, then a person busts through a window saying "come with me!" there is no hesitation: they practically fly into that person's arms.
However, if one is upstairs and has no idea there is a fire starting in the basement, and someone busts through the window, it may elicit the kinds of questions you ask: "who are you? where did you come from? why should I believe you?"
For me, I definitely needed to smell the smoke and see the fire, and find my attempts to free myself to be completely ineffective.

Everyone's experience with Pure Land is different, but if you find yourself drawn to it, to Amida, try allowing the possibility that doubts and questions may have answers that are at the same time totally unexpected yet just what you needed.

Pure Land has been the only vehicle big enough to hold all my doubts and skepticism.


The parable of the burning house as contained in the Lotus Sutra is perhaps good for this topic. The Buddha presents the Pure Land sutras in order to lure us out of the burning house, and then we come out and find a reality even more amazing than the sutras literally describe. What's important is that we call on Amida Buddha in faith, and the sutras are just an expedient means for getting us to do it. If we focus too much on whether the sutras are historical or not, we will stay in the house and burn alive.

Serenity509
Posts: 800
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:21 am
Location: United States

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Serenity509 » Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:35 pm

The name Dharmakara means "storehouse of the Dharma," and the word Dharmakaya means "body of the Dharma." As you can see, the two terms have practically the same meaning. The story of Dharmakara Bodhisattva is a symbolic narrative of how Amida, whom Shinran describes as Dharmakaya-as-compassion, accepts you just as you are, and goes to any length to awaken you.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharmak%C4%81ya

Please notice that the name Dharmakara means "storehouse of the Dharma," and how the Buddha uses the term in this parable:

Shariputra, that rich man first used three types of carriages to entice his sons, but later he gave them just the large carriage adorned with jewels, the safest, most comfortable kind of all. Despite this, that rich man was not guilty of falsehood. The Tathagata does the same, and he is without falsehood. First he preaches the three vehicles to attract and guide living beings, but later he employs just the Great Vehicle to save them. Why? The Tathagata possesses measureless wisdom, power, freedom from fear, the storehouse of the Dharma. He is capable of giving to all living beings the Dharma of the Great Vehicle. But not all of them are capable of receiving it. Shariputra, for this reason you should understand that the Buddhas employ the power of expedient means. And because they do so, they make distinctions in the one Buddha vehicle and preach it as three.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upaya#Par ... ning_house


The Lotus Sutra is well-loved for its parables, especially the parable of the burning house, in which the Buddha illustrates the doctrine of expedient means. Is it possible that the story of Dharmakara Bodhisattva is itself another parable of the Buddha, an expedient means for conveying a higher truth?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Sutra

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upaya#Par ... ning_house

Since we know that, even as far back as in the Pali canon, the Buddha taught in parables, would it come as a surprise that the story of Dharmakara Bodhisattva itself might be a parable based on the Buddha's own life story? This is from the book Ocean by Kenneth Tanaka:

I cannot say for sure whether or not this actually took place. But based on what we now know about the history of the universe and human experience, it probably did not really happen. If Monk Dharmakara lived innumerable eons ago, he would be older than the earth, which is said to be between five and ten billion years old.

There are fewer and fewer Jodo-Shinshu Buddhists who take the story as fact. Especially in North America, most teachers and lay members understand it as a myth. Myth, however, does not mean false or untrue. Myth helps explain a deeper meaning that cannot be better explained any other way. Our appreciation of the myth agrees with that of Prof. Joseph Campbell who so eloquently helped to educate the modern public about the truth and power of myths. There are, however, many people who still see myth as false; that is why I am referring to the Jodo-Shinshu myth as “sacred story” to avoid any confusion.
http://www.yamadera.info/ocean/chapter-9.htm

User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 1876
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Aemilius » Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:46 am

Serenity509 wrote:

Since we know that, even as far back as in the Pali canon, the Buddha taught in parables, would it come as a surprise that the story of Dharmakara Bodhisattva itself might be a parable based on the Buddha's own life story? This is from the book Ocean by Kenneth Tanaka:

I cannot say for sure whether or not this actually took place. But based on what we now know about the history of the universe and human experience, it probably did not really happen. If Monk Dharmakara lived innumerable eons ago, he would be older than the earth, which is said to be between five and ten billion years old.

There are fewer and fewer Jodo-Shinshu Buddhists who take the story as fact. Especially in North America, most teachers and lay members understand it as a myth. Myth, however, does not mean false or untrue. Myth helps explain a deeper meaning that cannot be better explained any other way. Our appreciation of the myth agrees with that of Prof. Joseph Campbell who so eloquently helped to educate the modern public about the truth and power of myths. There are, however, many people who still see myth as false; that is why I am referring to the Jodo-Shinshu myth as “sacred story” to avoid any confusion.
http://www.yamadera.info/ocean/chapter-9.htm


It is very useful to meditate on Time. On the vastness of time, as it is presented in The Avatamsaka sutra, Lotus sutra and the Pureland sutras.
And on the vastness of time, as it is presented in the geological time scale.
There is a whole chapter about vast numbers (as measurements of time) in the Avatamsaka sutra. Time span of the geological time scale seems rather short compared with it.
If you get some experience of the vastness of time, there is no difficulty in accepting that the geological time is rather narrow and limited, and that there really is a more vast time beyond the geological time.
We don't need to resort to "mythical time", because time in actuality goes beyond the geological time.
The Mahayana sutras describe a really existing time. Don't be limited by the modern geological time, (which itself is also really vast, and a good starting point).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_time_scale
svaha

antiquebuddhas
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2015 12:10 pm

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby antiquebuddhas » Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:20 am

Dodatsu wrote:『大無量寿経』の法蔵菩薩の歴史は、神話でなく、「法界の真理」そのまま顕現したもう「法」のすがた。-稲垣瑞雄先生
The history of Dharmakara Bodhisattva in the Larger Sutra is not a mythology, but the Dharma itself as it appears from the Truth of Dharmadhathu. - Rev Inagaki Zuio

Dharmakara Bodhisattva, first time hearing about Dharmakara Bodhisattva.
"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." Lord Buddha

steveb1
Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby steveb1 » Mon Dec 07, 2015 10:53 pm

Coming out of the Christian tradition, I see a developmental parallel between Dharmakara and Jesus in the sense that they both underwent a spiritual transformation and "became" new beings - Jesus became Christ/the glorified/exalted Son of God, and Dharmakara became Amida Buddha. The parallel ends there, because with Jesus we have a purported record of his earthly (pre-Easter) mission, whereas with Dharmakara we have very little data, no life-story at all - only a narrative in whicht an anonymous prince in a remote time and place abandoned his high office and "hit the road" as a religious seeker, met a realized Buddha, assumed the name "Monk Dharmakara", took the Bodhisattva Vow and after many eons of Mind-sculpting a perfect Pure Land, ultimately became Amida Buddha. Unlike the stories of Jesus and Gotama, there are no details about Dharmakara as regards what teachings he may have encountered on the way, what positive or negative incidents he may have had, what conflicts and debates he may have engaged in. There are no Gospels for Dharmakara.

But despite the paucity of historical-biographical information for Dharmakara, still the fact that he is said to have had an earthly existence seems significant to me. The earthly prince-monk Dharmakara seems not to be a mere "docetic" projection from the Unknowable, given to us via skillful means for our benefit. Of course, he could be that. But it cheers me to think that Dharmakara was a real, samsara-bound human being who underwent a transformation, just as it cheers me to think that Jesus and Buddha were also such beings, who also underwent the ultimate spiritual transformation. This idea roots Dharmakara, Jesus and Buddha firmly in the suffering world that we all know so well, even as it offers us a "raft from the Other Shore" which redeems us even in the midst of samsara...

...so anyway, just a few of my random thoughts about Dharmakara and his transformation...

User avatar
sth9784
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:57 am
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby sth9784 » Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:29 pm

The question of Dharmakara, and Amida being a "real" Bodhisattva/Buddha is very strange to me. I think this entire line of questioning originated when people coming into Pure Land traditions have with them some of their ideas from Christian traditions. Besides the view of Amida, there is also some influence, in my opinion, on other aspects of Pure Land tradition such as Shinjin. I do not think it is an important question, or even one that need be asked, because everyone is going to have different views, and I think it only confuses people when some say 'he is historic, and the metaphorical view is incorrect', or 'he is just a metaphor, and is not historic'.
Crom!

User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 1876
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: Dharmakara Bodhisattva

Postby Aemilius » Thu Dec 10, 2015 9:50 am

sth9784 wrote:The question of Dharmakara, and Amida being a "real" Bodhisattva/Buddha is very strange to me. I think this entire line of questioning originated when people coming into Pure Land traditions have with them some of their ideas from Christian traditions. Besides the view of Amida, there is also some influence, in my opinion, on other aspects of Pure Land tradition such as Shinjin. I do not think it is an important question, or even one that need be asked, because everyone is going to have different views, and I think it only confuses people when some say 'he is historic, and the metaphorical view is incorrect', or 'he is just a metaphor, and is not historic'.


There is much more to it. This dilemma is much more based on the scientific world view of the geological history of planet Earth (and the history and formation of the solar systems and galaxies) versus the Buddhist view of the formation of the Saha-universe or trichiliocosm (and other Lokadhatus or world systems), and the Buddhist view of the great, middle length and small Kalpas, and the doctrine of the Bodhisattva career; its length, nature and characteristics.
Thus there are important Buddhist doctrines and explanations involved.
svaha


Return to “Pure Land”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests