Pureland Westerners?

Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby nidayaqoob1230 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:57 pm

Shutoku wrote:
Lotus415 wrote:
Ryoto wrote:Try finding a Jodo Shinshu temple. You might have some luck there.


Yes, I've thought of that, but from what I've read of their teachings their thoughts on Amitabha being a myth do not really correspond to what I have studied.

I am caucasian and attend a Jodo Shinshu Temple, and have for over 15 years.

Regarding ethnicity, the Temple membership is 90% Japanese Canadian. Services are mostly in English, though Sutras are not Chanted in English, and some Gatha's (Hymns) are Japanese with romaji, however Dharma talks are either in both Japanese and English, or only English. Really only a handfull of members do not speak English at this point.
I think it is generally true that the vast majority of Shinshu Temples in North America are like this.

Regarding the nature of Amida. I have never met a Jodo Shinshu follower who did not feel Amida was real, although not all feel the description in the Sutras is necessarily to be taken 100% literally. Some do some don't, but all Shinshu followers I have met feel Amida is real and is a manifestation of Dharma-Kaya, and all feel we are helpless to attain Enlightenment by our own power and thus rely upon Amida and recite Nembutsu in gratitude.

I think the beauty of a Sangha is not just in the form the liturgy takes, or how you interpret something. The beauty of a Temple is the people who practice together. In the west I think there is a common idea that while Buddha and Dharma are important, Sangha is less so. I cannot even tell you how much my Buddhist life has been enriched by being around Temple members....even if we are not talking about Buddhism. Even if we are working together at a chow mein sale to raise funds for the Temple, or a cleaning crew keeping the Temple tidy, or just having tea after a service.

So my advice is to not get too wrapped up in pre-conceived notions of ethnicity or interpretation. Just go to a Temple and see how it feels. If one doesn't seem to fit try another. I suspect you will find that Pure Land practice will be more prevalent in more ethnically based Temples, but that's ok. Don't discount it because of that. Language and culture barriers might not be as big as you imagine, and actually even if they are pretty big, if you stick with it you will gain experience and understanding you might not have otherwise.


thank you for such a great and use full reply, What are some pureland buddhist beliefs?
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby sinweiy » Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:12 am

nidayaqoob1230 wrote:What are some pureland buddhist beliefs?



in a nutshell,
Pure Land, like all Mahayana schools, requires first and foremost the development of the Bodhi Mind, the aspiration to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.

From this starting point, the main tenets of the school can be understood at the main levels, the transcendental and the popular - depending on the background and capacities of the cultivator.

1. In its popular form, i.e. for ordinary practitioners in this spiritually degenerate age, some twenty-six centuries after the demise of the historical Buddha, Pure Land involves seeking rebirth in the Land of Amitabha Buddha. This is achieving within one lifetime through the practice of Amitabha recitation with sincere faith and vows, leading to one-pointedness of mind or samadhi.

Thus at the popular level, the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha is an ideal training ground, an ideal environment where the practitioner is reborn thanks both to his own efforts and the power of Amitabha Buddha's vows. No longer subject to retrogression, having left Birth and Death behind forever, the cultivator can now focus all his efforts towards the ultimate aim of Buddhahood. This aspect of Pure Land is the form under which the school is popularly known.

2. At the advanced level, i.e. for cultivators of high spiritual capacity, the Pure Land method, like other methods, reverts the ordinary, deluded mind to the Self-nature True Mind. In the process wisdom and buddhahood are eventually attained.

The high-level form of Pure Land is practiced by those of deep spiritual capacities:
"When the mind is pure, the Buddha land is pure ........to recite the Buddha's name is to recite the Buddha of the self-mind."

In its totality, Pure Land reflects the highest teaching of Buddhism as expressed in the Avatamsaka Sutra: mutual identity and interpenetrating, the simplest method contains the ultimate and the ultimate is found in the simplest.
http://www.amtbweb.org/tchet223.htm
_/\_
Amituofo!

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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby Wesley1982 » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:16 pm

I live in the West and am interested in learning about Buddhism.
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby Son of Buddha » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:23 am

Wesley1982 wrote:I live in the West and am interested in learning about Buddhism.



What do you want to know??

check out the BRAHMA-NET SUTRA for moral code

3 PURELAND SUTRAS for the concept of afterlife

LOTUS SUTRA on the Eternal Buddha

my FAVORITE is the MAHAPARINIRVANA SUTRA chapter 21 has the best loving kindness meditation and aspiration prayers practice you can find in a sutra,also it deals in matters of the laity more than many other sutras do.

check out earth store bodhisattva sutra for an excelent example of a how a Bodhisattva lives

honestly I would first learn the sutras then seek a "sect" to belong too,and I say this because it is better to learn the sutras(dharma) than the dogma of a group.
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby gingercatni » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:02 pm

Lotus415 wrote:I am curious if there are any Pureland westerners on here?
Having practiced on my on for more than a year now, I've been hesitant to visit some of the temples which tend to be more "ethnic" (I am caucasian, and do not speak Chinese or Vietnamese). It seems to me most of the temples which cater to "white people" tend to be the Tibetan and Zen ones, and I am not much interested in those seeing as many seem quite commercialized and "trendy".

I am curious to hear of any westerners experience with Pure Land.


Well I know how you feel. I live in Northern Ireland and Buddhist centres have only really opened here over the past 10 years. Sadly no Pure Land ones. But what I've been doing is finding local people who amazingly are in the same situation as me! We are hoping to open a centre of our own, why don't you scout around you community for people like yourself, you'll meet new friends!
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby dazdaryl » Wed May 09, 2012 10:58 am

I go to a pureland temple and it is like 99% chinese people and I'm a white Australian so i'm the odd one out.

Sometimes I find the talk of heavens or pure-lands a bit annoying.
What I do like however is the importance of attaining merit, because merits are the seeds for good experiences and luck.

I don't have a denominational thing about this, I've been to a Theravada temple before and I also listen to lectures and talks on buddhist geeks that do have the trendy vibe.

We are all Buddhism though and the importance is of not getting caught up on things is the same, the four noble truths and the eight-fold path.

-Daz
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby jmlee369 » Thu May 10, 2012 7:31 am

Lotus415 wrote:Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against "ethnic" temples and understand they serve a purpose.
I am in San Francisco. I've been once to a temple which is part of Master Hsuan's lineage. I participated in one of their daily repentance ceremonies, all of which was in Chinese. I followed along in Pinyin.
There is another smaller Vietnamese temple here I have yet to visit.
Other than that, no other pure land type temples here that I know of.


Having been at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and the San Francisco branch monastery, I have to admit that the branch monastery is perhaps less accomodating for English speakers. However, CTTB is very English friendly and I would highly encourage you to participate in the Amitabha Buddha recitation in December. They daily morning, evening and meal offering ceremonies alternate between Chinese and English every other day. The Amitabha Sutra and Praise of Amitabha at the beginning of sessions will be recited in Chinese, but transliterations are available. The daily Dharma talks are also translated. The majority of your time will be spent reciting the Buddha's name, so it is a wonderful opportunity to practise intensely.

As for the trendiness of Tibetan centers, I have also been to the FPMT center Tse Chen Ling and found that they have a fairly diverse group, and their practice is very well founded (as is FPMT in general). Geshe Ngawang Dakpa is a very qualified teacher.
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby Osho » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:43 pm

Lotus415 wrote:I am curious if there are any Pureland westerners on here?
Having practiced on my on for more than a year now, I've been hesitant to visit some of the temples which tend to be more "ethnic" (I am caucasian, and do not speak Chinese or Vietnamese). It seems to me most of the temples which cater to "white people" tend to be the Tibetan and Zen ones, and I am not much interested in those seeing as many seem quite commercialized and "trendy".

I am curious to hear of any westerners experience with Pure Land.

.................................................................
Why not begin your own group?
Pure Land temples have always puzzled us. Why have them at all?
You can chant anywhere,any time.
Maybe it's a cultural thing... birds of a feather flock together... Here in England the most active Pure Land sanghas for locals are Amida Shu [David Brazier.. Dharmavidya] or Tariki Trust and lots of friendly to those two groups but unaffiliated Pure Land sanghas too. Both Amida &Tariki have websites and you could maybe glean some ideas for starting something locally. It's not that difficult to get started. Caroline Brazier's book Buddhism Comes West is quite good if a bit basic if you are already practising.
Advertising
Chanted Meditation for Peace of Mind
got us up and running.
Lunchtime short sessions are popular if you are in a commercial centre as is our hall.
Don't get hung up on 'lineages' [Buddhist version of apostolic succession]. There's only one valid line in Pure Land. It runs thus...
Amitabuddha...Chanting... You
That's it.
All the rest is just 'window dressing'.
:-)
Namu Amida Butsu
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http://bemindful.co.uk/

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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby Shutoku » Wed Aug 08, 2012 2:12 am

Osho wrote:Pure Land temples have always puzzled us. Why have them at all?

In Jodo Shinshu we do still have Sensei's who have an extensive knowledge not just of PL Buddhism, but general Buddhism as well. They still do Dharma talks that help to encourage one in their practice and in life, and for sure I think all humans tend to like being with other like-minded people both to learn and to help strengthen their own practice.
I think this is mostly true of all sects of Buddhism.

Going to temple for Jodo Shinshu followers is not required at all, but in a way that is the beauty of it. We go to temple because we want to, not because we are told we have to.
Namo Amida Butsu
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby cheondo » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:34 pm

I've had this trouble too. I'm thinking of starting a group in Austin. There's a Chinese temple, but I don't feel like chanting in Chinese. Pure Land is just not well known in the US, and most Buddhists are agnostic-types who want nothing to do with faith.

Here's a blog I keep to answer objections to Pure Land and give other westerners some reading.

purelandway.wordpress.com

Have a look and leave comments!

Amitoufo.
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby Osho » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:28 am

The Other Buddhism: Amida comes West
by
Caroline Brazier
Very useful little book we recommend for absolute newbies. May be of interest if you do decide start a group.
Every sucess to you.
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

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(Dogen).
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby Osho » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:42 am

Shutoku wrote:
Osho wrote:Pure Land temples have always puzzled us. Why have them at all?

In Jodo Shinshu we do still have Sensei's who have an extensive knowledge not just of PL Buddhism, but general Buddhism as well. They still do Dharma talks that help to encourage one in their practice and in life, and for sure I think all humans tend to like being with other like-minded people both to learn and to help strengthen their own practice.
I think this is mostly true of all sects of Buddhism.

Going to temple for Jodo Shinshu followers is not required at all, but in a way that is the beauty of it. We go to temple because we want to, not because we are told we have to.

............................................
Some Pureland [written that way as one word] groups in England have gone down that structured path with Reverend teachers and de facto Bishops. Other groups meet to chant and discuss without 'benefit' of clergy. Ours is a Pure Land group in that second camp. Rule of thumb here being Pureland groups have religious robes n rituals type trappings whilst Pure Land groups tend not to have much in the way of overt religiosity.
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

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(Dogen).
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby PorkChop » Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:00 pm

cheondo wrote:I've had this trouble too. I'm thinking of starting a group in Austin. There's a Chinese temple, but I don't feel like chanting in Chinese. Pure Land is just not well known in the US, and most Buddhists are agnostic-types who want nothing to do with faith.

Here's a blog I keep to answer objections to Pure Land and give other westerners some reading.

purelandway.wordpress.com

Have a look and leave comments!

Amitoufo.


Down here in San Antonio there's a Vietnamese Temple that practices a blend of TienTai, Pure Land, and Zen/Thien.
Sunday 5:30 pm services are in English, show up early if you have questions (usually around 5), there is usually a vegetarian dinner afterwards.
They have some free books on Pure Land.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Buddhist- ... 4740084368
Nice, friendly group of people.
I know most of you Austin types look down on us San Antonio folks, but if you ever find yourself with free time on a Sunday, you should come check it out.
One of the long-term members drives down from Round Rock.
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Re: Pureland Westerners?

Postby Kaji » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:50 am

Osho wrote:Why not begin your own group?
Pure Land temples have always puzzled us. Why have them at all?
You can chant anywhere,any time.
Maybe it's a cultural thing... birds of a feather flock together...

I can see your point. The Pure Land methodology requires faith, vow and practice. I have heard this in a lecture by Ven Fun Zai (Cantonese pronunciation, "Kuan Ji" in Mandarin), and I paraphrase and translate into English, "The Pure Land methodology is easy to practise, but very difficult to believe in. If your faith is strong enough, you would definitely practise it wholeheartedly. You would not waste any second that could be used to nienfo. You wouldn't even have come to this lecture, but instead stay home and nienfo."

If you could gather so much power in your faith and vow to practise anywhere and any time, perhaps you have no need of a temple or group. However, most people need some kinds of encouragement, assistance or guidance...
"Are Amitabha Buddha's vows really real?"
"I just think this is too good to be true. Is there any evidence it actually works?"
"I'm not sure how shall I best contemplate Amitabha Buddha?"
"Random thoughts keep coming into my mind whenever I try to contemplate the Buddha and this really disturbs my practice."

A practising group, especially one with a knowledgeable monk or nun to lead the practice and answer questions, would be great for this. A temple with proper rituals and ceremonies would be even better, as it can gather the empowerment and support of Dharma protectors.

Do not neglect the power of group practice. It is said that if ten people conspire to murder a person, each of them bears the full karma of the murder. If ten people work together to build a stupa for a Buddha, each of them receives the same level of merit as if he/she builds the stupa all by him/herself. Thus, if a group of people engage in the same Buddhist practice, such as reciting Amitabha's name, the effects and merits are multiplied and each individual receives more than what can be achieved alone.

Group practice has other practical advantages. It can help you maintain focus. When random thoughts start to creep in, the group's chanting can remind you to regain focus. When you are tired after having chanted for a while, you can lower the volume of your voice while the group keeps up the intensity. In essence, you take advantage of the group's strength and tempo. Some people knows that daily practice at home is great, but cannot maintain discipline to do so. Attending a group's rituals and ceremonies on a regular basis can make it easier to keep up practice.

A group can share wisdom, knowledge and experience. Someone's mother is going to pass away soon - let's arrange a team to take shifts in deathbed recitation. When she passed away there were auspicious signs confirming rebirth to the Western Pure Land - share the wonderful news with the rest of the group and inspire everyone's confidence and faith. Share ideas, e.g. "Hey, I recently discovered a great way to remind me to contemplate the Buddha - I am conditioning myself to nienfo every time I see my baby or hear her cries." Maintain a daily list of practices for the group's members, e.g. "Joe Bloggs, 27 Sept 2012 - I have recited the Amitabha Sutra for morning practice today. I have recited Amitabha's name 500 times so far today and will do 500 more by the end of the day." This kind of group sharing can be done on an Internet forum like this one.

To the question of why have Pure Land temples or groups, my suggested answer in summary is that it empowers the practice for people with different backgrounds, personalities, habits, affinities, levels of abilities, knowledge, experience, etc.
Namas triya-dhvikānāṃ sarva tathāgatānām!
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