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 Post subject: Panendharmism, anyone ?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:29 am 
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Sensei G.R. Lewis of the Buddhist Faith Fellowship of Connecticut suggests that we might view Amida in a "panendharmic" or "panenbuddhistic" manner, described at his website (brief citation for discussion purposes only):

===

Shin Buddhism’s view on ultimate reality or God may be considered panentheistic. The term panentheism means “all within God (theos)” which means everything including ourselves is within God, but God is more than all of the components. This is exactly the Buddhist view but there is a big problem with this word; Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God. Instead we suggest a couple of new terms, as first coined by G.R. Lewis, that better describe our view of ultimate reality: panendharmism (all within dharma) or panenbuddhism (all within Buddha).

So what is panenbuddhism? Simply put, all things are within and part of ultimate reality, known as dharmakaya, which is an interpenetrating and boundless unfolding web of pure consciousness (pure awareness), personified as Amida. However, Amida is more than the sum of all of its components.

Everything in life is co-manifesting and intimately interpenetrating with everything else and has its ultimate reality in everything. That is to say, this dynamic reality is in constant flux and nothing has a stable eternal nature. There is no individual self or absolute identity but all things are temporary phenomena and are full of the totality, the Oneness of reality, personified as Amida Buddha. In Buddhism, this reality is known as shunyata or emptiness.


http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/beliefs/id7.html

===

Do you see Amida "bound up" with or in the physical universe to the extent that "his" function and presence can be termed "panendharmic" ?

Or for you is Amida a wholly transcendent "entity", uninvolved in a direct way with the samsaric world ?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts :)

Gassho,

Steve


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:53 pm 
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Quote:
Do you see Amida "bound up" with or in the physical universe to the extent that "his" function and presence can be termed "panendharmic" ?

Or for you is Amida a wholly transcendent "entity", uninvolved in a direct way with the samsaric world ?


I would say no, to begin with.
But when you ponder the question, it all seems way to theistic, doesn't it. Dharma is not Theism, it is not religion like Zoroastrianism or Athiesm. When you start to frame things in that sort of perspective, you end up drifting to wrong view because of theistic inclinations, or dispositions. Then things become strange, and aversion is established subtly.

Quote:
Consciousness is unextended, infinite and radiant all around.

In it neither water, nor earth, nor fire, nor air can find a place.

In it, length, shortness, subtlety, coarseness, beauty, ugliness and name-and-form cease completely.

When consciousness ceases, all things cease.


The Buddha Mind is not "bound up." But on the other hand, how could it be wholly uninvolved with our world? Seeing as how consciousness gives rise to conditioning the mind and matter. The Buddha Mind is unborn, and underlies everything, it precedes even the four great elements, and the superior element of consciousness. However it is clearly stated that the true consciousness is pure, endless, eternally luminous all around and blissful. What's more, as with all the five elements, the consciousness element should be directly seen as it is; this is not mine, this I'm not, this isn't my self. Empty, impermanent. How could this be a transcendent entity uninvolved with the world? How could this be bound up?

This is where we find the Middle Way.
He who understands dependent origination, understands the Dharma.

Namo Samyaksambuddha


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:59 am 
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Son

Thanks for your thoughtful and thought provoking reply :)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:10 am 
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steveb1 wrote:
Son

Thanks for your thoughtful and thought provoking reply :)

:namaste: Thank you, Steve.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:28 am 
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It is sad to see that people who fail to study Buddhist sutras and shastras start coming up with strange ideas to fill in the gap in their understanding. Naturally, where they end up is confusion.

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"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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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:21 am 
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Astus wrote:
It is sad to see that people who fail to study Buddhist sutras and shastras start coming up with strange ideas to fill in the gap in their understanding. Naturally, where they end up is confusion.


Referring to Sensei Lewis?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:43 pm 
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thought experiment: how would Honen respond to Sensei Lewis?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:40 pm 
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Jikan wrote:
thought experiment: how would Honen respond to Sensei Lewis?

:D :applause:

"Buddha is all within God..."

Honen: "Who is without him?"

"Nothing and no one is without him."

Honen: "There. There is Buddha."

(Just a thought experiment.)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:27 pm 
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Thanks to all the bright folks who are taking the time to address my question. I guess it could be refined and/or sharpened by asking about the nature of Amida's presence to us. "His" grace and his gift of Shinjin are available here and now. To me, this signals some kind of presence, or at least some sort of ongoing activity, that is extant, or occurring, within our samsaric realm. Since Amida makes himself available to all, through all ages, then is it appropriate to say that he is "everywhere"?

In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, "Cleave the wood, and I am there". I think this logion can be interpreted two ways: 1. Jesus is "here" as some type of "embedded" presence that permeates reality; or 2. Jesus is "here" only in the sense of being spiritually available to all persons at all times.

I therefore wonder in what way we may best view Amida's universal presence. Is his presence somehow mysteriously embedded throughout reality, or is his presence "here" more by proxy, that is, as a powerful manifestation of an ever-grasping grace, of a constantly available spiritual ("Other") power.

I realize that Amida is neither a god nor a creator-intervener in the physical universe, and I don't conceptualize him as such. I also know that Amida is known subjectively in the heart and mind. So my question, even after having received Amida's embrace, is an intellectual and symbolic one, i.e., how best to picture and image Amida's ever-presence to us here and now in this world. Do the sutras and/or Shinran and Rennyo use visual metaphors in describing the manner in which Amida is universally present, or working, or available in the "here and now" ...?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:32 pm 
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You are premising a question on how to understand Amitabha Buddha on your interpretation of Christian scripture. Put more simply, you are effectively asking Jesus to teach you about Buddhism. Does this seem sensible to you?

To my poor head, it seems more sensible to ask Jesus about his teachings, and ask the Buddha about the Buddhist teachings.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:59 pm 
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Jikan wrote:
You are premising a question on how to understand Amitabha Buddha on your interpretation of Christian scripture. Put more simply, you are effectively asking Jesus to teach you about Buddhism. Does this seem sensible to you?

To my poor head, it seems more sensible to ask Jesus about his teachings, and ask the Buddha about the Buddhist teachings.


No, I was using an example from Thomasine Christianity of how Jesus can be everywhere. Nor did I interpret Thomasine scripture, for the simple reason that it needs no interpretation, since it is a perfect example of a claim for a spiritual being existing wherever we "cleave the wood". I was in no way asking Jesus to teach me about Amida.

Then I inquired whether Amida is considered to be everywhere, and if so:

1. Is Amida personally embedded everywhere in the world, when we "cleave wood"; or
2. Is Amida present in the world only as a spiritual process of grace available to souls, but not present "in the wood we cleave".

I further inquired if, when the sutras and the Masters address Amida's all-availability, do they present visual metaphors or images representing or symbolizing his universal presence.

Thus: I simply asked a question about Amida Buddha and about his sutras and the Masters who taught about him.

This is definitely not attempting to "learn Buddhism by studying Christianity". In the future will you do me the kindness of reading what I actually post, rather than what you project upon my words. Thank you.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:39 pm 
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steveb1 wrote:

Then I inquired whether Amida is considered to be everywhere, and if so:

1. Is Amida personally embedded everywhere in the world, when we "cleave wood"; or
2. Is Amida present in the world only as a spiritual process of grace available to souls, but not present "in the wood we cleave".

I further inquired if, when the sutras and the Masters address Amida's all-availability, do they present visual metaphors or images representing or symbolizing his universal presence.

Thus: I simply asked a question about Amida Buddha and about his sutras and the Masters who taught about him.



If you read the sutras, you'll find metaphors corresponding to all the senses inclusive of sight.

The answer to both your numbered questions will depend on your understanding of "emptiness of self and other," which is basic Mahayana. If you have even an introductory-level understanding of this, you'll find that the distinctions and hermeneutic tools by which you've framed your question fall apart in this context (the distinction between 1 and 2 of your questions becomes incoherent without the interpretive matrix you insist on using, and insist is not an interpretation or a means of interpretation). Object all you want, but you're insisting on asking a Christian question of the Buddhist tradition when you ask about grace and souls and, implicitly, divine salvation in a fallen world.

Take a look at the Awakening of Faith, and read the Pure Land sutras: much more relevant to your inquiry here than the texts you've quoted and in fact interpreted for us.

:anjali:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:59 pm 
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Let's put into simpler terms. Amita Buddha is available to everyone because any human is capable of faith. He is also available in meditation, as it is described in the Visualisation Sutra. In fact, the very name in recitation is the presence of Amita Buddha, as that is what appears in one's perception. The fact that the Buddha's light reaches everywhere means that all are embraced and there is no hindrance formed by any karma. It doesn't mean that Amita Buddha is present everywhere, since he is in the Pure Land.

_________________
"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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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:11 pm 
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Astus wrote:
Let's put into simpler terms. Amita Buddha is available to everyone because any human is capable of faith. He is also available in meditation, as it is described in the Visualisation Sutra. In fact, the very name in recitation is the presence of Amita Buddha, as that is what appears in one's perception. The fact that the Buddha's light reaches everywhere means that all are embraced and there is no hindrance formed by any karma. It doesn't mean that Amita Buddha is present everywhere, since he is in the Pure Land.


Astus, thanks for the clear explanation - makes sense of the questions i was asking :)


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