Can someone help me reconcile please?

Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby beautiful breath » Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:09 pm

Hello everyone,

I have been a Buddhist for over 25 years. Not that that makes any difference to anything other than I suppose I have a certain amount of experience.

I am really interestd in Nichiren Buddhism but am finding it difficult to reconcile some of the more mainstream Buddhist thought with the practice of say chanting in your tradition. I hasten to add I am genuinely interested and not rooting for some sort of a debate. My questions are based around the following:

1) How does chanting reveal the nature of reality to our minds in the same way theravadins may use Vipassana and the Tibetans may use meditating on Emptiness?

2) Am I wrong in thinking that one of the agendas with Chanting is for material gain?

3) Do Nichiren Buddhists meditate (in the traditional sense)?

4) What are Nichiren Buddhist thoughts on life after death of the physical? Do they err towards the Tibetan (Bardo and intermediate State etc...) or are they more orthodox?

Thanks so much for your replies in advance!

BB
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby plwk » Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:11 pm

Oooh Rory? You're needed... :tongue:
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby UniversalWorthy » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:13 pm

Just my 2 cents, beautiful breath:

I am a non-sectarian practicioner of the daimoku (chant of the title of the Lotus Sutra, which is itself a formulation mantra of the essential teaching of the sutra itself) and consider Nichiren to be one of my great teachers. I have an altar that is not exclusive to the Gohonzon (the primary mandala of Nichiren-style practice), but still, the Gohonzon is my primary mandala (in the sense of a particular mandala being a point of focus and concentration). So, yes, Nichiren-prescribed practice of chanting daimoku is already a kind of calming and concentration. However, silent meditation can be added to that. What would any buddhist practice be without genuine insight? As to your specific queries regarding emptiness, etc... Well, I would say that is an area whereby some debate can arise. Having said that, all of the 'big' Mahayana paths usually incorporate both the meditation on emptiness but will not rest on that, but then lead the practicioner into the intent and aspiration of generating bodhicitta, which is essential for making one's journey to buddhahood. The daimoku, if the intent is to fufill the Bodhisattva vow and save all sentient beings, will generate the bodhicitta. If one claims that the daimoku is an express lane to buddhahood without insight or developing bodhicitta, I think they are simply pushing the suffering from the dis-ease of believing exclusivity of their own specific doctrine without caring for the greater "body of the Buddha" and the immeasurable field of merits.

thanks.
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby Jikan » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:25 pm

beautiful breath wrote:
4) What are Nichiren Buddhist thoughts on life after death of the physical? Do they err towards the Tibetan (Bardo and intermediate State etc...) or are they more orthodox?


clarification: are you saying that the Tibetan teachings on the intermediate state amount to an error? (or a kind of error)?
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:27 pm

beautiful breath wrote:
4) What are Nichiren Buddhist thoughts on life after death of the physical? Do they err towards the Tibetan (Bardo and intermediate State etc...) or are they more orthodox?


There are Theravadans that believe in the Bardo as well.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby plwk » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:37 pm

There are Theravadans that believe in the Bardo as well.

Shhh...don't let retro know.... :D
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby rory » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:05 am

Gassho; sorry to have been away from the forum.

1) How does chanting reveal the nature of reality to our minds: via ichinen-sanzen, 3,000 worlds in 1 thought moment.


2) Am I wrong in thinking that one of the agendas with Chanting is for material gain? - Yes you are wrong. I chant to become a bodhisattva and eventually a Buddha, some neo-Buddhist orgs like SGI chant for material goods but they are wrong. But the deities will protect you and prevent harm & help you in this life.

3) Do Nichiren Buddhists meditate (in the traditional sense)? Chanting sutras actually is the most traditional form of meditation. But since you are asking about quieting and contemplation, yes I do both. Chanting is my main practice but I do practice Shikan.

4) What are Nichiren Buddhist thoughts on life after death of the physical? Do they err towards the Tibetan (Bardo and intermediate State etc...) or are they more orthodox?
According to the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin's words we go to the Assembly on Sacred Eagle Peak.

feel free to ask me more
gassho
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fyi I belong to a mainstream Nichiren sect.
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby beautiful breath » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:38 am

UniversalWorthy wrote:Just my 2 cents, beautiful breath:

I am a non-sectarian practicioner of the daimoku (chant of the title of the Lotus Sutra, which is itself a formulation mantra of the essential teaching of the sutra itself) and consider Nichiren to be one of my great teachers. I have an altar that is not exclusive to the Gohonzon (the primary mandala of Nichiren-style practice), but still, the Gohonzon is my primary mandala (in the sense of a particular mandala being a point of focus and concentration). So, yes, Nichiren-prescribed practice of chanting daimoku is already a kind of calming and concentration. However, silent meditation can be added to that. What would any buddhist practice be without genuine insight? As to your specific queries regarding emptiness, etc... Well, I would say that is an area whereby some debate can arise. Having said that, all of the 'big' Mahayana paths usually incorporate both the meditation on emptiness but will not rest on that, but then lead the practicioner into the intent and aspiration of generating bodhicitta, which is essential for making one's journey to buddhahood. The daimoku, if the intent is to fufill the Bodhisattva vow and save all sentient beings, will generate the bodhicitta. If one claims that the daimoku is an express lane to buddhahood without insight or developing bodhicitta, I think they are simply pushing the suffering from the dis-ease of believing exclusivity of their own specific doctrine without caring for the greater "body of the Buddha" and the immeasurable field of merits.

thanks.


Beautiful...thanks! :cheers:
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby beautiful breath » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:42 am

Jikan wrote:
beautiful breath wrote:
4) What are Nichiren Buddhist thoughts on life after death of the physical? Do they err towards the Tibetan (Bardo and intermediate State etc...) or are they more orthodox?


clarification: are you saying that the Tibetan teachings on the intermediate state amount to an error? (or a kind of error)?


err [ɜː]
vb (intr)
1. to make a mistake; be incorrect
2. to stray from the right course or accepted standards; sin
3. to act with bias, esp favourable bias to err on the side of justice

Ie...do Nichiren Buddhists lean (err) towards the Tibetan Schools take on the after death state?

Thanks,

BB...
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby beautiful breath » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:44 am

Mr. G wrote:
beautiful breath wrote:
4) What are Nichiren Buddhist thoughts on life after death of the physical? Do they err towards the Tibetan (Bardo and intermediate State etc...) or are they more orthodox?


There are Theravadans that believe in the Bardo as well.



Hmmm....here is my problem; does that make them Theravadins? My understanding is that death and rebirth are almost instantaneous!

BB...
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby jmlee369 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:35 am

The concept of the Bardo as far as I know is considered orthodox in the East Asian traditions, hence the many memorials until the 49th day after death.
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby beautiful breath » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:55 am

jmlee369 wrote:The concept of the Bardo as far as I know is considered orthodox in the East Asian traditions, hence the many memorials until the 49th day after death.


Interesting...why have I always lanoured under the impression that this was exclusive to the Tibetan Tradition?

Does anyone have any links re this?

BB...
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby Josef » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:27 pm

The "bardo" was a part of Buddhism long before Tibet.
It was a mainstream teaching in many Indian schools, most commonly known in the Sarvastivadin branch.
The idea that the bardo is somehow not an "orthodox" teaching or that it is a Tibetan idea is a common misconception.
There is nothing to reconcile.
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby Jikan » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:24 pm

beautiful breath wrote:
jmlee369 wrote:The concept of the Bardo as far as I know is considered orthodox in the East Asian traditions, hence the many memorials until the 49th day after death.


Interesting...why have I always lanoured under the impression that this was exclusive to the Tibetan Tradition?

Does anyone have any links re this?

BB...


No, but I can confirm it's true in practice. My teacher, in explaining how the postmortem process works, just uses the word "bardo" rather than the Japanese equivalent because more people are familiar with it and its meaning is nearly identical. The tradition works from different textual and cultural bases, but the broad outlines are really close. YMMV. Now, that's Tendai-shu. I don't know how it works in any of the many Nichiren schools.
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby rory » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:57 am

You never heard of Emma O, and the judgement of the dead and the various hells? Otherwise known as King Yama & there were tons of appalling Pure Land treatises on the various torments of the various hells. Of course birth isn't instantaneous.

It just seems that there is no purgatory/bardo mentioned as Westernized Buddhism gets rid of anything it considers 'mythic' - gods, demons, hells, asuras from it's montheistic pov. Also in Pure Land is the belief that after death you are instantly born in Sukhavati, skipping Emma but they still have memorial rites.

For Nichiren Buddhists who have faith in the Lotus Sutra; that all the merits of the Buddha are in the words of the Lotus Sutra and by chanting them and especially the Daimoku, the Buddha's merits are transferred to ourselves. Well this is our last rebirth & we'll be with Shakyamuni over at Sacred Eagle Peak. And then help others. Of couirse those who don't will have to go to Emma O and accept rebirth.

Of couse as the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings says, there is no difference between your mind and the universe, so if you attach to your kama and rebirth you will be reborn. I'm attaching to the Buddha.
gassho
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby rory » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:38 am

UniversalWorthy wrote:Just my 2 cents, beautiful breath:

I am a non-sectarian practicioner of the daimoku (chant of the title of the Lotus Sutra, which is itself a formulation mantra of the essential teaching of the sutra itself) and consider Nichiren to be one of my great teachers. I have an altar that is not exclusive to the Gohonzon (the primary mandala of Nichiren-style practice), but still, the Gohonzon is my primary mandala (in the sense of a particular mandala being a point of focus and concentration). So, yes, Nichiren-prescribed practice of chanting daimoku is already a kind of calming and concentration. However, silent meditation can be added to that. What would any buddhist practice be without genuine insight? As to your specific queries regarding emptiness, etc... Well, I would say that is an area whereby some debate can arise. Having said that, all of the 'big' Mahayana paths usually incorporate both the meditation on emptiness but will not rest on that, but then lead the practicioner into the intent and aspiration of generating bodhicitta, which is essential for making one's journey to buddhahood. The daimoku, if the intent is to fufill the Bodhisattva vow and save all sentient beings, will generate the bodhicitta. If one claims that the daimoku is an express lane to buddhahood without insight or developing bodhicitta, I think they are simply pushing the suffering from the dis-ease of believing exclusivity of their own specific doctrine without caring for the greater "body of the Buddha" and the immeasurable field of merits.

thanks.


Universal Worthy; you seem to be confused & this isn't a sectarian issue, rather about Madhyamika philosophy. Nichiren Buddhism, just like Tendai (from which it sprang) and Tiantai (from which Tendai sprang) rests on Madhyamika philosophy; The Two Truths - that all things are provisionally real [dependent co-arising; all things are essentally empty [emptiness] : and they are both true simultaneously [the Middle Path]. So meditating on 'emptyness' would be incorrect for our school; we meditate on the Two Truths.

The Daimoku isn't a mantra at all; it is the title of the Lotus Sutra; Zhiyi, the principal 'founder' of the Tiantai School wrote an entire treatise on the title of the Lotus Sutra, it was of such vast importance. But it's late; I'll explain more in a later post about Madhyamika, ichiren sanzen and the daimoku.
with gassho
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby UniversalWorthy » Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:04 pm

Thanks Rory for touching on Madhyamika which I am already familiar with. In fact, we are currently studying it with my sangha. I find it especially helpful to always return and water the good roots.

I am not sure when you say "So meditating on 'emptyness' would be incorrect for our school" what you mean by 'incorrect.' If by 'incorrect' you mean 'incomplete' then I am with you of course.

Also, in your earlier post you say "Well this is our last rebirth & we'll be with Shakyamuni over at Sacred Eagle Peak. And then help others" I am reminded of the gosho Three Kinds of Treasure wherein Nichiren states: "The heart of the Buddha's lifetime of teachings is the Lotus Sutra, and the heart of the practice of the Lotus Sutra is found in the 'Never Disparaging' chapter. What does Bodhisattva Never Disparaging's profound respect for people signify? The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being" To me, no matter the interpretation, the purpose of the Bodhisattva is to develop bodhicitta and dedicate merit to all sentient beings. Whether we call it the vast assembly, the Assembly in the Air, whatever mandala, this is the refuge, the merit field (ie. pure land) which will not be consumed by fire at the end of the kalpa.


gassho
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:17 pm

beautiful breath wrote:Hmmm....here is my problem; does that make them Theravadins? My understanding is that death and rebirth are almost instantaneous!

BB...
In the Theravadran Abhidhamma there is a moment of consciousness called rebirth linking consciousness. My question to you would be how long is a moment of consciousness (esp. regarding a dead person that is not weighed down by physical form)?
:namaste:
PS
1) How does chanting reveal the nature of reality to our minds in the same way theravadins may use Vipassana and the Tibetans may use meditating on Emptiness?
Chanting is also used by Vajrayanaists (Tibetans) to reveal the nature of reality (Emptiness) to our minds. ;)
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby Virgo » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:22 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
beautiful breath wrote:Hmmm....here is my problem; does that make them Theravadins? My understanding is that death and rebirth are almost instantaneous!

In the Theravadran Abhidhamma there is a moment of consciousness called rebirth linking consciousness. My question to you would be how long is a moment of consciousness (esp. regarding a dead person that is not weighed down by physical form)?

A moment of consciousness is ultra-fast.

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Re: Can someone help me reconcile please?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:18 pm

The time it takes to snap one's fingers apparently. But the thing is, how would time work for somebody that is not limited by physical space?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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