Origins of Amitabha

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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Astus » Sat Jun 05, 2010 10:10 am

But was there any similar description of the antarabhava as in Vajrayana? I've never seen it so far.

It makes the transference to the Pure Land less salvational because it turns the experience and the teaching into a neural phenomenon if it is originated from NDE.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
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True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Mr. G » Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:15 pm

Namu Butsu wrote:Is there any site that speaks about NDE of common people witnessing the pure land etc?

Gassho


The book "Never Die Alone: Death as Birth in Pure Land Buddhism", specifically the piece by Professor Carl Becker (Jodo Shu practitioner) entitled "Embracing the Pure Land Vision: Coming to Grips with Dying through Living".

His other book "Breaking the Circle: Death and the Afterlife in Buddhism" is much more comprehensive and deals with NDE's as well.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Nighthawk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:21 am

"Honen the Buddhist Saint" is also a very good one.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Jikan » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:53 pm

to the OP:

I think the teachings of the Pure Land sutras are authentic Dharma.

I think their presentation may well have been influenced or conditioned or determined (pick the strength of verb you prefer) by extant religious discourses and cultural material available at the time the sutras were put to paper. Hence the similarity to any Central Asian religious discourse of the time you might choose to make a comparison to.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby tobes » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:32 am

There's a really fascinating methodological issue at stake in this question.

I basically agree with Ven.Huifeng, in the sense that inquiries which are primarily textual or archeological give us good knowledge on some things - social-cultural context for example - but squarely fail to capture the phenomenological experience of the subjects in question.

And on inquiries which are specifically geared around subjects who purport to be meditating, engaged in spiritual practices etc - failing to account for phenomenological experience is a very grand failure indeed.

But it would seem impossible to deploy a phenomenological method, given that those experiences have long ceased.

So maybe the resolution is to put a pretty definitive limit on what textual/archeological methods can tell us: yes they provide some useful insights, but no, they do not provide adequate knowledge on many critical aspects in the unfolding of Buddhism.

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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Lhug-Pa » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:20 am

Tracing the origins of Religions in relation to one another doesn't really imply Darwinist materialism so much. Although some people go about it that way. I think if we go deep enough into it, that it would prove quite the opposite of materialism.

Anyhow, Vajranatha also suggested a direct connection between Amitabha and Ahura Mazda; and also between Maitreya and Mithra.

I've also seen Ahura Mazda linked to Asura Maya, but I haven't looked into it much.

It's said that there is some archeological evidence that there are Bönpo Stupas, that are nearly identical to Gautama Shakyamuni Buddhist style Stupas, that were built before Shakyamuni Buddhism even reached Tibet. See also Zhang-Zhung in relation to Persia, etc. Source: Heart Drops of Dharmakaya by Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby LastLegend » Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:37 am

If people are going to dismiss Pure Land, they must also hold some concepts about Nirvana. And I would say what exists before will not exist now. This is case of nihilism.
So how much do we know about the enlightened state to dismiss Pure Land? And to understand Pure Land, one has to understand Mahayana teachings in general.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Lhug-Pa » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:15 am

Huseng wrote:Would the validity of Pure Land Buddhism be destroyed if it could be proven that the early Pure Land ideas arouse more from Zoroastrianism rather than a strictly Buddhist environment?


No.

Since it is said that the ones who founded all authentic Religions knew Gnosis (Vidya), Amitabha/Ahura-Mazda are not meant to exist as mere personalities or mental concepts.

Amitabha/Ahura-Mazda are symbols of the Nature of the Light of Consciouness Itself, of the expression of the Ain Soph Aur of the Phoenician Tree of Life. They're a symbol of the 'link' between deity and Seity. Samantabhadra/Samantabhadri is an example of a symbol of Seity.

So regardless as to how the symbols of Amitabha and Ahura-Mazda developed, they are symbolic of the same Principle: Unbounded Light.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Thug4lyfe » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:46 am

Why deez thread here? Shouldn't it be in the pureland section?
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Indrajala » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:34 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:
Huseng wrote:Would the validity of Pure Land Buddhism be destroyed if it could be proven that the early Pure Land ideas arouse more from Zoroastrianism rather than a strictly Buddhist environment?



Since it is said that the ones who founded all authentic Religions knew Gnosis (Vidya), Amitabha/Ahura-Mazda are not meant to exist as mere personalities or mental concepts.

Amitabha/Ahura-Mazda are symbols of the Nature of the Light of Consciouness Itself, of the expression of the Ain Soph Aur of the Phoenician Tree of Life. They're a symbol of the 'link' between deity and Seity. Samantabhadra/Samantabhadri is an example of a symbol of Seity.



This is problematic because you are associating multiple religious ideas together as more or less being the same despite arising from differing cultural backgrounds, not to mention issues of chronology.

So regardless as to how the symbols of Amitabha and Ahura-Mazda developed, they are symbolic of the same Principle: Unbounded Light.


I don't think Pure Land Buddhism can be boiled down to "unbounded light". The idea, at least exoterically, is that a devotee hopes to be reborn in a buddha-realm following death, whereupon existence is bliss and maybe some kind of bodhisattva practice is then possible.

More esoteric interpretations are possible, but in reality it is a faith based practice where people hope to be reborn in a realm of bliss. It isn't about some principle of "unbounded light".
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Mr. G » Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:46 pm

Huseng wrote:
Lhug-Pa wrote:
Huseng wrote:Would the validity of Pure Land Buddhism be destroyed if it could be proven that the early Pure Land ideas arouse more from Zoroastrianism rather than a strictly Buddhist environment?



Since it is said that the ones who founded all authentic Religions knew Gnosis (Vidya), Amitabha/Ahura-Mazda are not meant to exist as mere personalities or mental concepts.

Amitabha/Ahura-Mazda are symbols of the Nature of the Light of Consciouness Itself, of the expression of the Ain Soph Aur of the Phoenician Tree of Life. They're a symbol of the 'link' between deity and Seity. Samantabhadra/Samantabhadri is an example of a symbol of Seity.



This is problematic because you are associating multiple religious ideas together as more or less being the same despite arising from differing cultural backgrounds, not to mention issues of chronology.


Good point Huseng.

Scholars have proposed various theories concerning the origin of Amida Buddha. They may be grouped into two broad categories. First, those suggesting a source external to India, such as Zoroastrianism which is said to have parallels to Pure Land: the sun-god and Amitabha, and Zrvan akarana (Unlimited Time) and Amitayus. Second, those claiming a source internal to Indian religion, such as the Vedic pantheon or early Buddhist mythology. These theories are all most intriguing, but evidence is insufficient for any single theory to be considered more valid than the rest.

- Prof. Fujita Kotatsu - Pure Land Buddhism in India
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Nosta » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:27 pm

What about thinking in other way? Pure Land Buddhism started from Shakyamuni Buddha, and thats it. Buddha spoke about Amitabha from his hearth and mind, without recuring to any old tradition (like Zoroastrianism, etc). This is the more "paranormal" theory (and the one that pure land folowers accept), because we must accept as real that Buddha was really an omniscient being with acess to information impossible to achieve for humans.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Nighthawk » Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:02 am

Well according to most scholars the Mahayana sutras are rejected as containing authentic words from Shakyamuni, but that's a whole other discussion. It is a possibility that the Pure Land sutras were written by a high level Bodhisattva instead.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Mr. G » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:09 pm

Ryoto wrote:It is a possibility that the Pure Land sutras were written by a high level Bodhisattva instead.


Perhaps a high level Bodhisattva that acquired knowledge through the practice of buddhanasmrti (recollection of the Buddha) :

There is a reason to believe that historically the development and promulgation of buddhanasmrti practices may have something to do with the important meditation schools of Kashmir. We know that Kashmir was renowned throughout Central Asia and China for it's teachers of meditation. Texts in which Mainstream Buddhist and Mahayana elements were mixed, but with a strong emphasis on recollection of the Buddha, composed in Kashmir....The great missionary Kumarajiva , himself from Central Asia, spent some time in Kashmir and had a close interest in the practice of recollection of the Buddha.

...With the Mahayana doctrine of infinite Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dwelling in infinite Buddha Lands of the 10 directions, the practice of recollection of the Buddha gained still further in importance as a means of contacting those Buddhas and their realms.

- Mahayana Buddhism: Doctrinal Foundations



And as an interesting side note, there is the interesting and controversial account of the Theravadan Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera with Buddhas:

On the nights subsequent to Ãcariya Mun’s attainment of vimutti, a
number of Buddhas, accompanied by their Arahant disciples, came to
congratulate him on his vimuttidhamma. One night, a certain Buddha,
accompanied by tens of thousands of Arahant disciples, came to visit;
the next night, he was visited by another Buddha who was accompanied
by hundreds of thousands of Arahant disciples. Each night a different
Buddha came to express his appreciation, accompanied by a different
number of Arahant disciples. Ãcariya Mun stated that the number of
accompanying Arahant disciples varied according to each Buddha’s
relative accumulation of merit – a factor that differed from one Buddha
to the next. The actual number of Arahant disciples accompanying each
Buddha did not represent the total number of his Arahant disciples;
they merely demonstrated the relative levels of accumulated merit and
perfection that each individual Buddha possessed. Among the Arahant
disciples accompanying each of those Buddhas were quite a few young
novices. Ãcariya Mun was skeptical about this, so he reflected on it and
realized that the term “Arahant” does not apply exclusively to monks.
Novices whose hearts are completely pure are also Arahant disciples,
so their presence did not raise issue with the term in any way.
Most of the Buddhas who came to show their appreciation to Ãcariya
Mun addressed him in much the following manner:

“I, the Tathãgata, am aware that you have escaped from the harmful effects
of that monstrous suffering which you endured in the prison of saÿsãra,24
so I have come to express my appreciation. This prison is enormous, and quite
impregnable. It is full of seductive temptations which so enslave those who
are unwary that it is extremely difficult for anyone to break free. Of the vast
number of people living in the world, hardly anyone is concerned enough
to think of looking for a way out of dukkha that perpetually torments their
bodies and minds. They are like sick people who cannot be bothered to take
medicine. Even though medicines are plentiful, they are of no use to a person
who refuses to take them.
“Buddha-Dhamma is like medicine. Beings in saÿsãra are afflicted with
the painful, oppressive disease of kilesas, which causes endless suffering.
Inevitably, this disease can be cured only by the medicine of Dhamma. Left
uncured, it will drag living beings through an endless succession of births
and deaths, all of them bound up with physical and mental pain. Although
Dhamma exists everywhere throughout the whole universe, those who are
not really interested in properly availing themselves of its healing qualities are
unable to take advantage of it.

..In short, all the Arahant
monks and novices who accompanied each Buddha exhibited impec-
cable behavior worthy of the highest respect. They were neat, orderly,
and pleasing to the eye – like immaculately folded robes.
Ãcariya Mun had always been curious to know how walking and
sitting meditation were practiced at the time of the Buddha. He also
had questions about the proper etiquette to be used between junior
and senior monks, and whether it was necessary for a monk to wear his
formal robes while doing meditation. When such questions arose in his
mind, invariably one of the Buddhas, or an Arahant disciple, appeared
to him in samãdhi and demonstrated how these practices were originally
performed in the Buddha’s day. For example, Ãcariya Mun was curious
to know the correct manner of practicing walking meditation so as to
show proper respect for Dhamma. A Buddha or an Arahant then ap-
peared, demonstrating in detail how to place the hands, how to walk,
and how to remain self-composed. Sometimes, these demonstrations
included explicit instructions; at other times, the methods were dem-
onstrated by example. They also showed him such things as the proper
way to sit in samãdhi, including the most suitable direction to face and
the best seated posture to assume.

http://www.luangta.com/English/site/book8_biomun.html
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Jikan » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:29 pm

Ryoto wrote:Well according to most scholars the Mahayana sutras are rejected as containing authentic words from Shakyamuni, but that's a whole other discussion. It is a possibility that the Pure Land sutras were written by a high level Bodhisattva instead.


Rejected is probably too strong a word, although some do indeed reject these sutras (look around the scholarship for the concept of "Protestant Buddhism").

A common view: The Mahayana sutras represent the authentic teaching of the Buddha. It's very unlikely that the words recorded in Sanskrit (or Chinese...) and attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha were uttered by him in exactly the way presented by the texts. So it's possible to accept the Surangama Sutra as authentic Dharma, without needing to assume it is a transcription of a discourse given by Shakyamuni Buddha on the occasion of Ananda's struggling with distraction, for instance. Same for the Pure Land sutras.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Nosta » Sun Dec 11, 2011 6:47 pm

Jikan wrote:
Ryoto wrote:Well according to most scholars the Mahayana sutras are rejected as containing authentic words from Shakyamuni, but that's a whole other discussion. It is a possibility that the Pure Land sutras were written by a high level Bodhisattva instead.


Rejected is probably too strong a word, although some do indeed reject these sutras (look around the scholarship for the concept of "Protestant Buddhism").

A common view: The Mahayana sutras represent the authentic teaching of the Buddha. It's very unlikely that the words recorded in Sanskrit (or Chinese...) and attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha were uttered by him in exactly the way presented by the texts. So it's possible to accept the Surangama Sutra as authentic Dharma, without needing to assume it is a transcription of a discourse given by Shakyamuni Buddha on the occasion of Ananda's struggling with distraction, for instance. Same for the Pure Land sutras.



But how can we accept such Dharma as real if didnt came from Buddha? How can we be sure thats a real and valid teaching?
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Nosta » Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:11 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Ryoto wrote:It is a possibility that the Pure Land sutras were written by a high level Bodhisattva instead.


Perhaps a high level Bodhisattva that acquired knowledge through the practice of buddhanasmrti (recollection of the Buddha) :

There is a reason to believe that historically the development and promulgation of buddhanasmrti practices may have something to do with the important meditation schools of Kashmir. We know that Kashmir was renowned throughout Central Asia and China for it's teachers of meditation. Texts in which Mainstream Buddhist and Mahayana elements were mixed, but with a strong emphasis on recollection of the Buddha, composed in Kashmir....The great missionary Kumarajiva , himself from Central Asia, spent some time in Kashmir and had a close interest in the practice of recollection of the Buddha.

...With the Mahayana doctrine of infinite Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dwelling in infinite Buddha Lands of the 10 directions, the practice of recollection of the Buddha gained still further in importance as a means of contacting those Buddhas and their realms.

- Mahayana Buddhism: Doctrinal Foundations



And as an interesting side note, there is the interesting and controversial account of the Theravadan Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera with Buddhas:

On the nights subsequent to Ãcariya Mun’s attainment of vimutti, a
number of Buddhas, accompanied by their Arahant disciples, came to
congratulate him on his vimuttidhamma. One night, a certain Buddha,
accompanied by tens of thousands of Arahant disciples, came to visit;
the next night, he was visited by another Buddha who was accompanied
by hundreds of thousands of Arahant disciples. Each night a different
Buddha came to express his appreciation, accompanied by a different
number of Arahant disciples. Ãcariya Mun stated that the number of
accompanying Arahant disciples varied according to each Buddha’s
relative accumulation of merit – a factor that differed from one Buddha
to the next. The actual number of Arahant disciples accompanying each
Buddha did not represent the total number of his Arahant disciples;
they merely demonstrated the relative levels of accumulated merit and
perfection that each individual Buddha possessed. Among the Arahant
disciples accompanying each of those Buddhas were quite a few young
novices. Ãcariya Mun was skeptical about this, so he reflected on it and
realized that the term “Arahant” does not apply exclusively to monks.
Novices whose hearts are completely pure are also Arahant disciples,
so their presence did not raise issue with the term in any way.
Most of the Buddhas who came to show their appreciation to Ãcariya
Mun addressed him in much the following manner:

“I, the Tathãgata, am aware that you have escaped from the harmful effects
of that monstrous suffering which you endured in the prison of saÿsãra,24
so I have come to express my appreciation. This prison is enormous, and quite
impregnable. It is full of seductive temptations which so enslave those who
are unwary that it is extremely difficult for anyone to break free. Of the vast
number of people living in the world, hardly anyone is concerned enough
to think of looking for a way out of dukkha that perpetually torments their
bodies and minds. They are like sick people who cannot be bothered to take
medicine. Even though medicines are plentiful, they are of no use to a person
who refuses to take them.
“Buddha-Dhamma is like medicine. Beings in saÿsãra are afflicted with
the painful, oppressive disease of kilesas, which causes endless suffering.
Inevitably, this disease can be cured only by the medicine of Dhamma. Left
uncured, it will drag living beings through an endless succession of births
and deaths, all of them bound up with physical and mental pain. Although
Dhamma exists everywhere throughout the whole universe, those who are
not really interested in properly availing themselves of its healing qualities are
unable to take advantage of it.

..In short, all the Arahant
monks and novices who accompanied each Buddha exhibited impec-
cable behavior worthy of the highest respect. They were neat, orderly,
and pleasing to the eye – like immaculately folded robes.
Ãcariya Mun had always been curious to know how walking and
sitting meditation were practiced at the time of the Buddha. He also
had questions about the proper etiquette to be used between junior
and senior monks, and whether it was necessary for a monk to wear his
formal robes while doing meditation. When such questions arose in his
mind, invariably one of the Buddhas, or an Arahant disciple, appeared
to him in samãdhi and demonstrated how these practices were originally
performed in the Buddha’s day. For example, Ãcariya Mun was curious
to know the correct manner of practicing walking meditation so as to
show proper respect for Dhamma. A Buddha or an Arahant then ap-
peared, demonstrating in detail how to place the hands, how to walk,
and how to remain self-composed. Sometimes, these demonstrations
included explicit instructions; at other times, the methods were dem-
onstrated by example. They also showed him such things as the proper
way to sit in samãdhi, including the most suitable direction to face and
the best seated posture to assume.

http://www.luangta.com/English/site/book8_biomun.html



To all of you, see that you can download for free the ebook about Venerable Acariya Mun Buridatta Thera life.
It seems to be a curious and interesting book. I already download it here:
http://www.luangta.com/English/site/boo ... MunAll.pdf

I would suggest to create a database here in the forum (if such database does not already exist) for Dharma resources. I know that there is already a Pure Land database, but i am not sure of something siimilar related to Dharma in general.

And speaking on databases, remember that you have real precious ebooks on http://www.buddhanet.net/ebooks.htm.

Sorry for this little "offtopic" but i think thats important to remember, from times to times, where one can have access to Dharma.
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Mr. G » Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:17 pm

Nosta wrote:
But how can we accept such Dharma as real if didnt came from Buddha? How can we be sure thats a real and valid teaching?


A couple of ways:

If a teaching conforms to the 4 seals:

1.All compounded things are impermanent.
2.All stained emotions are painful.
3.All phenomena are empty.
4.Nirvana is peace.

As Sakya Panita said:

Whatever was spoken by the Buddhas, compiled by the Councils, realized in meditation by siddhas, expounded by learned experts (panditas),
translated by translators, and widely recognized by the learned - that alone is the Buddha's Doctrine that should be studied, taught and practiced.

Donald Lopez also writes that to determine what should be considered buddhavacana was developed at an early stage, and that early formulations don't suggest that Dharma is limited to what was spoken by the historical Buddha.

Vasabhandu also defends the Mahayana sutras in the Vyakhyayukti
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Mr. G » Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:20 pm

Nosta wrote:
To all of you, see that you can download for free the ebook about Venerable Acariya Mun Buridatta Thera life.
It seems to be a curious and interesting book. I already download it here:
http://www.luangta.com/English/site/boo ... MunAll.pdf

I would suggest to create a database here in the forum (if such database does not already exist) for Dharma resources. I know that there is already a Pure Land database, but i am not sure of something siimilar related to Dharma in general.

And speaking on databases, remember that you have real precious ebooks on http://www.buddhanet.net/ebooks.htm.

Sorry for this little "offtopic" but i think thats important to remember, from times to times, where one can have access to Dharma.


General Dharma links and resources can be added here:

viewtopic.php?f=77&t=2984

For tradition specific resources, posts would be added to either already existing stickied threads or a new one could be started.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Origins of Amitabha

Postby Thug4lyfe » Mon Dec 12, 2011 1:35 am

The Dharma ENding age :(

The lack of faith will be the worst hinderance to the practice :(
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