Shin and "Bhakti Devotion"?

Shin and "Bhakti Devotion"?

Postby steveb1 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:29 pm

Wiki states that Bhakti Devotion: "...in Hinduism and Buddhism is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine"

I am curious as to why Jodo Shinshu seems to have no Amida devotion in the bhakti sense - other than, of course, the nembutsu itself. Considering all that Amida has done, continues to do, and will do in the future, for us ... it amazes me that there seems to be no such devotion in Shin. There seems to be nothing in Shin like the gods-devotion in Hinduism, or the "Sacred Heart"-type of devotion found in Catholicism. I realize, of course, that Amida is not a creator or an intervener or even a god. But he is in many of his roles the functional equivalent of a loving deity. So it puzzles me that Shin practicers do not relate to Amida as - say - evangelical Christians or devout Catholics relate to Jesus. I have read some lovely poetry addressed in gratitude to Amida, but - apparently in line with Shin's claim that Amida is not a god - such devotion as appears in poetry and prayers still maintains a devotional restraint and reserve appropriate to people of Shinjin who eschew Amida's divinity, as opposed to people of god-or-Jesus devotionm who espouse their gods' full deity.

So I'm interested in any ideas on why, granted Amida's ultimacy in the life of Shin folk, practicers' gratitude never seems to have slipped over the line from nembutsu-thankfulness to full-blown "deistic-type" heart-devotion.

As usual, thanks in advance for any opinions :)
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Re: Shin and "Bhakti Devotion"?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:44 pm

My understanding, and a few thoughts ...

Bhakti Yoga is essentially losing oneself, or one's attachment to a 'self' through devotion to a spiritual higher power, a god, whatever you want to call it. It's like the drop of water that retains all of its qualities, yet loses it's separation from the big scheme of things when it falls into the ocean.

In that respect, it could be argued that Shin Buddhism is a kind of Bhakti yoga, because by relying completely, or taking complete refuge in infinite mind (which is characterized by Amida Buddha) one lets go of the finite mind of delusion, the source of suffering for beings.

The essential difference, I think, is that Bhakti yoga's premise is one of being united, or reunited with something we can call "the divine" whereas in Buddhism, one was never separated to begin with. Instead, merely the arising of confusion has occurred as a result of self-grasping, and so we do not see our true nature.

But, if Nembutsu practice were truly Bhakti Yoga, one would have to keep practicing until one achieved oneness with Amida. But this is self-power, which is dismissed in Shin Buddhism as futile. Instead, it is through the principle of Amida's vow by which one is already established in the Pure Realm. In other words, Because the true nature of mind is infinite already, there is nothing to gain (as there would be in Bhakti Yoga) , merely, in gratitude, only something to realize.

I think this sort of Bhakti-style Buddha-worship did arise now and then over the centuries, and was dimissed as being basically a misunderstanding.

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Re: Shin and "Bhakti Devotion"?

Postby Astus » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:26 pm

There is no point in worshipping Amita Buddha. True faith means believing completely in the primal vow, that our birth in the Pure Land is guaranteed. And the reason of achieving birth there is to swiftly attain enlightenment and liberate all beings. One is thankful for Amita Buddha's great compassion, just as we feel gratitude toward someone who gave us something of immense worth.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Shin and "Bhakti Devotion"?

Postby steveb1 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:24 pm

Thank you both for your informative posts :)
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