Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby Tiger » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:05 pm

It is said that one who does Pure Land practices gets fruits due to his own efforts as well as the power of the vows of Amitabha Buddha. Is this really true that the power of Amitabha Buddha's vows really help us or just a statement to instill strong faith on the practitioners which would further help in their own practice? Chan/Zen school doesn't teach an Amitabha Buddha outsider our own mind. So this should essentially mean that our success in cultivation is purely dependent on our own dedication and effort?

I would like to add that I've been practicing Buddhanusmriti for almost a year and I do notice improvement in my mindfulness and the ability to reduce useless thoughts in my mind.

Namo Amitabha Buddha
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby Mr. G » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:08 pm

Is this really true that the power of Amitabha Buddha's vows really help us or just a statement to instill strong faith on the practitioners which would further help in their own practice?


Japanese Pure Land Buddhists like Honen, Shinran and Ippen would say that it's ALL due to Amida. Chinese Pure Land Buddhists tend to take a more moderate approach where effort must be made by the practitioner. A Japanese Pure Land Buddhist would say that any so called "effort" made is due to Amida's vows.

Chan/Zen school doesn't teach an Amitabha Buddha outsider our own mind. So this should essentially mean that our success in cultivation is purely dependent on our own dedication and effort?


Only if you choose to side with that theory. :smile:
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby plwk » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:28 pm

Is this really true that the power of Amitabha Buddha's vows really help us or just a statement to instill strong faith on the practitioners which would further help in their own practice?
http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf32.htm#doctrinal
What is meant by the realm of the Self-Mind harmonizing with the "gathering in" power of Amitabha Buddha?
The Sutras state:
Amitabha Buddha constantly emits rays of light, gathering in all sentient beings in the ten directions who practice Buddha Recitation, without exception.

For this reason, when reciting the Buddha's name, the practitioner is immediately "gathered in," silently, by the Vow-power of Amitabha Buddha. As he singlemindedly recites, his bad karma is "sunk and deposited," his pure mind is revealed, and the light of his mind interacts with the light of Amitabha Buddha.
This makes it possible for him to see the Pure Land, or the deities strolling there, before his very eyes.
The power of the cultivator's pure vows directed toward the Pure Land is called "self-power;" the power to emit light and to escort the cultivator back to the Pure Land is called the Buddhas' power or "other-power."
Thanks to these two powers, the Pure Land cultivator, although not yet possessing extensive mystical powers, can still be reborn in the Pure Land.
At the time of death, depending on his virtues, he will see Amitabha Buddha, the great Bodhisattvas, or members of the Pure Land Assembly reaching out to him, to welcome and escort him. Some cultivators, while not witnessing anything, also achieve rebirth in the Pure Land thanks to the power of their vows and the power of Buddha Amitabha's guiding light. Therein lies the importance of "other-power."

Chan/Zen school doesn't teach an Amitabha Buddha outsider our own mind. So this should essentially mean that our success in cultivation is purely dependent on our own dedication and effort?
http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf32.htm#misreading
The Sixth Patriarch and high-ranking Zen Masters were intent on teaching the doctrine of Mind. Thus, all of their words were based on these tenets, pointing directly to the Self-Nature, with the mind as the center. What the Patriarch really meant was that if the mind is pure, even though we may be in the Saha World, we are emancipated and free. If the mind is impure, even though we may be in the Pure Land, we are still subject to the sufferings of Birth and Death.

In truth, for the Pure Land cultivator who understands the Dharma, the Patriarch's words serve only to urge him on, encouraging him to recite the Buddha's name to the level of purity of mind, devoid of all attachment to forms. The Patriarch certainly did not reject the act of reciting the Buddha's name seeking rebirth in the Pure Land as Buddha Sakyamuni, the Buddhas of the ten directions, the great Bodhisattvas and the Patriarchs all recommended seeking rebirth there. In fact, the two foremost Indian Zen Patriarchs, Asvaghosha and Nagarjuna, both recommended the Pure Land method. Nagarjuna himself, according to the Lankavatara Sutra, was enlightened to the preliminary Bodhisattva ground of "extreme Joy," and was reborn in the Pure Land.

If the Sixth Patriarch had truly intended to reject Buddha Recitation, he would have been criticizing and rejecting Buddha Sakyamuni, the Buddhas of the ten directions, the Bodhisattvas and the Patriarchs, including the very precursors who established his own Zen School, the Patriarchs Asvaghosha and Nagarjuna. How could that be? Therefore, if we were to misunderstand the Sixth Patriarch's words and use those very words to deprecate Buddha Recitation, we would be slandering and sowing the seeds of injustice toward him.

Moreover, every method has two aspects noumenon (principle) and phenomena. The quotation from the Sixth Patriarch is at the level of principle. We must also consider the phenomenal aspect of the path to liberation.
If we base ourselves only at the level of noumenon and follow the above reasoning, then can such actions as entering the monastic life, being vegetarian, and keeping the precepts, including Buddha, Sutra and Mantra Recitation as well as meditation, all be mistakes?

In conclusion, we should understand the Sixth Patriarch's words as an explanation and exhortation based exclusively on pure noumenon or essence. We should not misunderstand them and use them to reject phenomena and marks. This being the case, Pure Land cultivators should redouble their efforts and practice to the point of emptiness of mind. Only then will they be in accord with the intent of the Patriarch.
http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf72.htm#recite
There are two aspects to Buddha Recitation -- essence and practice. According to Elder Master Ou-I:
"Buddha Recitation-practice" means believing that there is a Western Pure Land and a Lord Buddha named Amitabha, but not yet realizing that "this Mind makes Buddha, this Mind is Buddha." It consists of resolutely seeking rebirth in the Pure Land and reciting as earnestly as a lost child longing for his mother, never forgetting her for a single moment.
"Buddha Recitation-essence," on the other hand, means believing and understanding that Lord Amitabha Buddha of the West inherently exists in full within our mind, is created by our mind, and making this sacred name -- inherently existing in full within our mind and created by our mind -- the focus of our recitation, without a moment of neglect."

In other words, "Buddha Recitation-practice" is the method of those who do not understand anything about meaning or essence, who just believe that there is a Land of Ultimate Bliss and a Buddha named Amitabha, and who fervently and earnestly recite the Buddha's name seeking rebirth there.
"Buddha Recitation-essence" is the method of those who practice in an identical manner, but who also deeply realize that the Pure Land and Lord Amitabha Buddha are all in the True Mind, manifested by the pure virtues of the True Mind.

This being so, is there a difference between Buddha Recitation-practice and Buddha Recitation-essence? Of course there is. Those who follow Buddha Recitation-practice see Amitabha Buddha as outside the Mind; therefore, opposing marks of subject-object still exist. Thus, such practice is not yet all-encompassing and complete. Those who practice Buddha Recitation-essence thoroughly understand the True Mind and therefore sever all marks of subject-object -- to recite is Buddha, to recite is Mind, reconciling Mind and Realm.

There is one erroneous idea, prevalent among those who lean toward the subtle and the mysterious, which requires clarification. Many of them, emphasizing theory over practice, tend to be attached to the concept of "Amitabha as the Self-Nature, Pure Land as Mind-Only," and reject the existence of the Western Pure Land or rebirth there. These individuals explain the sutra teachings on Pure Land from the viewpoint of principle or essence, saying "Amitabha is our Buddha Nature, the Pure Land is the pure realm of the Mind, why seek it on the outside?" This is the great mistake of those who emphasize mundane, conventional reasoning.

They cling to theory (essence) while neglecting practice, prefer essence to marks, and rely on Ultimate Truth to reject the manifestations of mundane truth -- failing to realize that the two are inseparable
http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf32.htm#doctrinal
As far as the question of "self-power" vs. "other power" is concerned, it is wrong to understand the Pure Land method as exclusive reliance on Buddha Amitabha's power. The Pure Land practitioner should use all his own power to rid himself of afflictions, while reciting to the point where his mind and the Mind of Amitabha Buddha are in unison. At that moment, in this very life, the Buddha will emit rays to silently gather him in and at his death, he will be welcomed and guided back to the Pure Land. The "welcoming and escorting" feature is really the principal manifestation of the "other-power."

As an analogy, for a student to exert his own efforts to the utmost is, of course, a laudable thing. If, in addition, he has the benefit of an excellent teacher who follows his progress and assists him, his level of achievement will be higher, resulting in assured success in his final examinations.

Adding other-power to self-power is similar. Therefore, how can it be considered weak or mistaken to exert all of our own efforts to cultivate and then seek additional help to achieve rapid success?
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby Osho » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:06 pm

Possibly because to follow that jiriki path of conscious striving after knowledge might be construed of stepping off the tariki-grace path of knowing.
Knowledge is of the intellect whilst knowing is only ever intuited.
All this study. So busy, so noisy.
Why bother?
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby Astus » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:00 am

First, buddhas throughout the ten directions are real beings. Zen followers also pray to buddhas, bodhisattvas, Dharma protectors and even to local deities at some places. Saying that buddhas and all appearances are mind doesn't mean you just imagine yourself a big house and you then live in a big house. Where you live right now is a mental phenomenon simply because it is your experience. Contemplating on this is the path of wisdom. The path of Pure Land - if we use such a distinction - is focusing on attaining birth in the Land of Peace and Bliss. Within this you may also find different approaches and methods, you can choose whichever you like. The vows of Amita Buddha define his specialities as a buddha. The power of the vows means that those who have faith in them and rely on them are assisted by Amita Buddha. This is not a matter of imagination. Although people can imagine a dragon, but nobody is afraid of them because dragons are not real. However, if you think about the dangers of crossing a street, you don't think it's all just a fantasy. This is quite an important difference.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby gyougan » Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:44 am

Tiger wrote:Chan/Zen school doesn't teach an Amitabha Buddha outsider our own mind.


Some Shin Buddhists, notably professor Shigaraki, believe that Amida should be seen as a symbol. And I think he's right!

People can pretend they believe in a "real Amida buddha who resides somewhere far away in the West" but unless they are great yogis who can see Reward Bodies, they are simply brainwashing themselves.

If Amida is seen as a symbol, Shin Buddhism can become a true path of spiritual growth which Buddhism is supposed to be. But these people who even believe in the Dharmakara story in a historic sense are really turning Shin Buddhism into Christianity. In the end, they have given a lot of money to the Shin organization but got NOTHING in return.
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby Astus » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:57 am

If Amita Buddha were only a symbol then aspiration to be born in the Pure Land is meaningless and useless. It is also questioning the whole bodhisattva path. The result is then a simple calming practice of reciting the name that can bring some inner peace while one focuses on recitation, but nothing more. It is certainly not a path to liberation in a Buddhist sense.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby Nosta » Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:36 pm

gyougan wrote:
Tiger wrote:Chan/Zen school doesn't teach an Amitabha Buddha outsider our own mind.


Some Shin Buddhists, notably professor Shigaraki, believe that Amida should be seen as a symbol. And I think he's right!

People can pretend they believe in a "real Amida buddha who resides somewhere far away in the West" but unless they are great yogis who can see Reward Bodies, they are simply brainwashing themselves.

If Amida is seen as a symbol, Shin Buddhism can become a true path of spiritual growth which Buddhism is supposed to be. But these people who even believe in the Dharmakara story in a historic sense are really turning Shin Buddhism into Christianity. In the end, they have given a lot of money to the Shin organization but got NOTHING in return.


If Amitabha is just a symbol, Pure Land would be the most useless path. Amitabha is real and Siddharta Gautama warned about how hard is to believe on such incredible concept, the Pure Land & Amitabha.
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby Music » Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:48 pm

Nosta wrote:
gyougan wrote:
Tiger wrote:Chan/Zen school doesn't teach an Amitabha Buddha outsider our own mind.


Some Shin Buddhists, notably professor Shigaraki, believe that Amida should be seen as a symbol. And I think he's right!

People can pretend they believe in a "real Amida buddha who resides somewhere far away in the West" but unless they are great yogis who can see Reward Bodies, they are simply brainwashing themselves.

If Amida is seen as a symbol, Shin Buddhism can become a true path of spiritual growth which Buddhism is supposed to be. But these people who even believe in the Dharmakara story in a historic sense are really turning Shin Buddhism into Christianity. In the end, they have given a lot of money to the Shin organization but got NOTHING in return.


If Amitabha is just a symbol, Pure Land would be the most useless path. Amitabha is real and Siddharta Gautama warned about how hard is to believe on such incredible concept, the Pure Land & Amitabha.


Could you tell me where siddharta said this?
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby NGSigma » Tue Aug 28, 2012 1:18 am

May I quote from the Pratayutpanna Sutra:

" The Buddha said, “If Bodhisattvas hear of a Buddha’s name and wish to see Him, they will be able to see Him by constantly thinking of Him and His land...... Because they are able to see Him by virtue of three powers: the power of Buddhas, the power of the samādhi, and the power of their own merit. "

AND " The Buddha said, “Because of intent thinking, one will be reborn there. ..."

Thus, in my own perspective, the power of the vows of Buddhas (including Amitabha Buddha) is real.

:namaste:
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby Mr. G » Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:04 am

Music wrote:
Nosta wrote:
If Amitabha is just a symbol, Pure Land would be the most useless path. Amitabha is real and Siddharta Gautama warned about how hard is to believe on such incredible concept, the Pure Land & Amitabha.


Could you tell me where siddharta said this?


In the Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra and Meditation Sutra.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby Mr. G » Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:07 am

Astus wrote:If Amita Buddha were only a symbol then aspiration to be born in the Pure Land is meaningless and useless. It is also questioning the whole bodhisattva path. The result is then a simple calming practice of reciting the name that can bring some inner peace while one focuses on recitation, but nothing more. It is certainly not a path to liberation in a Buddhist sense.


But even if Amitabha were only a symbol, nienfo has a basis in the practice of Buddhanusmrti which leads to enlightenment.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Power of Vows of Buddha Amitabha?

Postby dakini_boi » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:40 pm

gyougan wrote:
Tiger wrote:Chan/Zen school doesn't teach an Amitabha Buddha outsider our own mind.


Some Shin Buddhists, notably professor Shigaraki, believe that Amida should be seen as a symbol. And I think he's right!

People can pretend they believe in a "real Amida buddha who resides somewhere far away in the West" but unless they are great yogis who can see Reward Bodies, they are simply brainwashing themselves.

If Amida is seen as a symbol, Shin Buddhism can become a true path of spiritual growth which Buddhism is supposed to be. But these people who even believe in the Dharmakara story in a historic sense are really turning Shin Buddhism into Christianity. In the end, they have given a lot of money to the Shin organization but got NOTHING in return.


It's irrelevant whether you think Amitabha is "real" or a "symbol." These are completely meaningless distinctions in this context. If any part of you actually believes that you yourself are "real," then you must admit you suffer from the deepest superstition and brainwashing of all. Regarding Amitabha as symbolic or real are equally conceptual designations. Practice in a way that inspires you. And don't dis other sangha who are doing their best as well! And be grateful for the infinitude of skillful means that exist to help all real and symbolic beings, who all suffer equally from their delusions. :anjali:
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