Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby Luke » Sat May 04, 2013 11:39 pm

Are there some ways to do Pure Land practices which benefit others?

Personally, I don't care about being born in a Pure Land, but I admire Amitabha and want to benefit others.

(I am already well aware of the Vajrayana practices of Amitabha sadhanas and Phowa practices. But here I am interested in non-tantric Amitabha meditations/rituals which benefit others.)
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby PorkChop » Sun May 05, 2013 2:33 am

As far as I know, the main Pure Land practice to benefit others is bedside recitation of nianfo/nembutsu for a dying person or someone who's recently passed. A more general Mahayana practice that is also in Tibetan Buddhism is Medicine Buddha recitation for the sick, I bring it up because Medicine Buddha has his own Pure Land, furthermore one of Medicine Buddha's vows is to encourage others to be reborn in Amitabha's Pure Land.

Typically Pure Land practitioners are householders, and Pure Land type of practice is the common form of householder practice even in Early Buddhism & Theravada; therefore it tends to be a more socially-engaged form of Buddhism (to loosely quote David Brazier of AmidaShu) and thus the paramitas/paramis are key, the first of which is Dana (giving). Thus, by giving to those in need one is practicing Pure Land.

Just want to point out that the ultimate goal of Pure Land practice (and similar practices) is Enlightenment, the Pure Land (or Pure Abode) is a way-station and not a permanent residence. This is the view of all schools. According to the Pali Suttas and the Agamas, mindfulness of the Buddhas is part of Right Mindfulness (of the 8 fold path) and can lead one to be an Anagami or even further. From my understanding of even Japanese Pure Land, it's not so much that Enlightenment is impossible in this world, but striving for Enlightenment based on a reification of the Self (self-power) is a much harder route. By being mindful of a Buddha, one can gradually relinquish hold of one's illusory self. In Theravada, they chant "Buddho" instead of "Namo Amitabha Buddha" or "Omitoufo" or "Namo Amida Butsu". As Ajaan Dune Atulo points out, once the recitation becomes so single minded, eventually the word drops off and realizations (bodhi) can occur. Therefor, I think the common criticism of Pure Land as giving up on any sort of realizations in this life is a mistake. It's a raft (a very simple one) to get you to the other shore, it just makes sure that if you're not able to accomplish it in this life that you will assuredly accomplish it soon.
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby Luke » Sun May 05, 2013 12:05 pm

PorkChop wrote:From my understanding of even Japanese Pure Land, it's not so much that Enlightenment is impossible in this world, but striving for Enlightenment based on a reification of the Self (self-power) is a much harder route.

Yes, and I guess that the much harder routes just sound more "badass" in a Clint Eastwood sort of way:

"I'll do it all myself, punk!"
Image

But "badassness" is usually just clinging to one's self and clinging to how one is perceived, so it's probably not so wise, but since I am more of the depressed, anti-hero type, I retain this type of thinking for the time being.

PorkChop wrote: As Ajaan Dune Atulo points out, once the recitation becomes so single minded, eventually the word drops off and realizations (bodhi) can occur. Therefor, I think the common criticism of Pure Land as giving up on any sort of realizations in this life is a mistake.

Who were the greatest Pure Land masters in the past? People need to hear about great masters to be inspired.
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby sinweiy » Mon May 06, 2013 2:07 am

Luke wrote:Who were the greatest Pure Land masters in the past? People need to hear about great masters to be inspired.



Nagarjuna on the the Path of Easy Practice
Richard St. Clair (Shaku Egen)

Bodhisattva Nagarjuna (ca. 150-250) is claimed as a patriarch for many different schools of Buddhism. In True Shin Buddhism, Master Shinran counted Nagarjuna as the first of the Seven Patriarchs, the last of whom was his own teacher and mentor, Master Honen.

Nagarjuna is widely regarded as the second most influential and important teacher of Buddhism, after Shakyamuni Himself. But the teachings he is widely known for are his self-power teachings - i.e. teachings for those on the Path of the Sages, looking to work their way up the mountain of enlightenment by becoming Bodhisattvas.

Many if not most of those who look to Nagarjuna have NO IDEA that he is a seminal figure in Pure Land Buddhism - much less Pure Land Buddhism based entirely on OTHER-POWER - a.k.a. True Shin Buddhism.

Nagarjuna was the first sage to define refuge in the Other Power of Amida Buddha as the easy pathway to Buddhahood. His reasoning is crystal clear. Let us look at what he wrote in his Discourse on the Ten Bodhisattva Stages some time in the 3rd century. He first writes,


"Even if you have fallen into hell, you will eventually be able to reach Buddhahood."


This is SO IMPORTANT. The person most likely to fall into hell is the BOMBU, the person sunken deeply in blind passions. This is the person that Amida Buddha MOST directs his Primal Vow towards, the person who would never, by personal effort, be able to realize Buddhahood. He is talking expressly about YOU and ME.

It is also important because it says that hell, what is called Avici, is a TEMPORARY place where beings of heavy karma are purged of evil karma and enabled to have rebirths in higher realms - ultimately realizing enlightenment and Buddhahood through the Other Power of Amida Buddha.

Nagarjuna continues:


"To the practicers of Mahayana, the Buddha said:
'To make vows and seek the Path to Buddhahood is a task harder than lifting the whole universe'."


How amazing! Is there anywhere else a more stark presentation of the difficulty of self power practice towards Buddhahood as in this statement?

And this relates directly to the Second Pillar of True Shin Buddhism, where we as BOMBUs come to the realization that not by even the most self power effort for innumerable births could we realize Buddhahood. In effect, we are POWERLESS over our blind passions.

Nagarjuna continues with a Q&A:


"[Question]: You say that the Stage of Non-retrogression is extremely difficult to enter, requiring a long period of practice, and ask me if there is a path of easy practice whereby you can attain this stage quickly.

[Answer]: These are words of a cowardly and contemptible man, and not those of a brave man with a strong aspiration. If, however, you insist on hearing from me about this method of practice, I will explain it to you."


Isn't Nagarjuna really talking about the BOMBU? The brave man with strong aspiration in our Mappo age is virtually nonexistent today. The people in our Age of Declining Dharma have no ability to attain enlightenment by self effort.

We are collectively the person with feet of clay, what Master Rennyo calls the "wretched" person, or in Nagarjuna's dramatic words the "cowardly and contemptible" person.

I know for a fact that I, for one, am indeed a cowardly and contemptible person of blind passions and heavy karma. Without Amida's Vow to save me, I'd be lost forever. Master Shinran said much the same thing recorded by his pupil Yuien-bo in the Tannisho:


"[If] I could attain Buddhahood by endeavoring in other practices, but said the nembutsu and so fell into hell, then I would feel regret at having been deceived. But I am incapable of any other practice, so hell is decidedly my abode whatever I do.

If Amida's Primal Vow is true, Shakyamuni's teaching cannot be false. If the Buddha's teaching is true, Shan-tao's commentaries cannot be false. If Shan-tao's commentaries are true can Honen's words be lies? If Honen's words are true, then surely what I say cannot be empty."


Nagarjuna continues, and this is the crux:


"There are innumerable modes of entry into the Buddha's teaching. Just as there are in the world difficult and easy paths - travelling on foot by land is full of hardship and travelling in a boat by sea is pleasant - so it is among the paths of the bodhisattvas.

Some exert themselves diligently, while others quickly enter Non-retrogression by the easy practice based on faith."


This is a direct reference to Part II of the Larger Sutra on Amida Buddha (Sanskrit: Sukhavativyuha Sutra, or Japanese: Daimuryoju Kyo):


"By the power of [Amida] Buddha's Original Vows,
All who hear his Name and desire birth,
Will, without exception, be born in his land
And effortlessly enter the Stage of Non-retrogression."


And this is where Nagarjuna, for the first time in the history of the Dharma in our world, is about to define


The path of easy practice based on Amida's Vow.


He continues:


"Amida Buddha's Primal Vow is as follows:

'If anyone contemplates me, recites my name, and takes refuge in me, he will instantly enter the Stage of Assurance and subsequently attain the highest perfect Bodhi.'

For this reason, you should always be mindful of Him."


Mindful is a Dharma term that means "thinking on the Buddha." In True Shin Buddhism it means the Nembutsu, Namu Amida Butsu: "I take refuge in Amida Buddha".

Further it means Faith in Amida Buddha, and it means in the larger sense the gift of SHINJIN that Amida bestows on all who take singleminded and steadfast refuge in Him. It also means gratitude to Amida Buddha who saves us: "Thank You, Amida Buddha."

This is the very fountainhead of Pure Land Buddhism. It is because of this that Master Shinran called Bodhisattva Nagarjuna the First Patriarch of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. Here Nagarjuna is following Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching about Amida Buddha in the Larger Sutra on Amida Buddha.

He has quoted the all-important PRIMAL VOW. This is the Vow by which IN PARTICULAR those lost in suffering and heavy karma, the BOMBUs, are saved and enabled to become Buddhas at their life's end by being reborn in Amida's Pure Land.

Now in Nagarjuna's time there were still some "brave people with strong aspiration" to Buddhahood. He was close enough in the lifetime of Shakyamuni that Shakyamuni's buddha-field was still energetic enough to enable a few people to attain Buddhahood. For such "brave people with strong aspiration" self power was still a viable option. But not for us.

We live a long time after Shakyamuni, and His buddha-field is no longer energetic enough to enable anyone to achieve Buddhahood by self effort. This is why the EASY PATH of faith in Amida Buddha, defined by Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, has become the ONLY route in our time to realize the Buddha's promise of salvation and enlightenment in His Pure Land.

In conclusion, we see the beginning of the development of True Shin Buddhism in the inspired words of Nagarjuna. This Easy Path was developed over the centuries by the other Patriarchs of Jodo Shinshu, culminating in the teaching of Master Shinran.

And...thanks to Najarjuna, and specifically to his JUNIRAI (Twelve Hymns of Adoration to Amida Buddha), we see that Amida is a real Buddha, and that He truly is interested in saving us BOMBUs, who cannot save ourselves no matter what we do.

Here are The Twelve Adorations of Amida Buddha (Junirai) by Bodhisattva Nagarjuna. Taken together, they are a wonderful devotional writing.

Namu Amida Butsu!
Thank You, Amida Buddha!!

Richard St. Clair
(Shaku Egen)

http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/easypath.html
Last edited by sinweiy on Mon May 06, 2013 2:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
_/\_
Amituofo!

"Enlightenment is to turn around and see MY own mistake, Other's mistake is also my mistake. Others are right even if they are wrong. i'm wrong even if i'm right. " - Master Chin Kung
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby sinweiy » Mon May 06, 2013 2:09 am

Twelve Adorations of Amida Buddha
By Nagarjuna

Translated by Hisao Inagaki
1. With reverence I bow my head to Amida, the Sage,
The Most Honored One, who is revered by humans and devas.
You dwell in the wonderful Land of Peace and Bliss,
Surrounded by innumerable children of the Buddhas.

2. Your spotless golden body is like Sumeru, the king of mountains;
Your steps while you are absorbed in Shamatha are like an elephant's;
Your eyes are as pure as blue lotus-flowers.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

3. Your face is in perfect shape and serene like the full moon;
Your majestic light shines like a thousand suns and moons
put together;
Your voice sounds like a heavenly drum or a cuckoo.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

4. You reside in the crown which Kannon wears on his head;
Your excellent features are adorned with jewel-ornaments;
You destroy anti-Buddhist views, devilish thoughts and
conceited ideas.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

5. Incomparable, spotless, broad and pure
Is your virtue; it is serene and clear like space.
You have attained freedom in giving benefit to beings.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

6. Bodhisattvas in your Land, renowned everywhere in the ten
directions,
Are always glorified even by innumerable maras;
You dwell with the Vow-Power for the sake of all sentient beings.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

7. In the jewel-pond strewn with gold sands grows a lotus;
The excellent throne on its dais has been produced by your
acts of merit;
On the throne you are seated like the king of mountains.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

8. From the ten directions the Buddhas' children come in flocks;
Manifesting supernatural powers, they reach the Land of Peace and Bliss.
They look up at your august face adoringly and worship you
without interruption.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

9. All things are impermanent and selfless,
Like an image of the moon in the water, lightning or morning dew.
Your sermons to the multitudes are, in reality, wordless.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

10. In the Revered Buddha's Land exist no evil names,
Nor are there beings in the female form, nor fear of evil realms.
All worship the Honored One in sincerity of heart.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

11. In the Buddha's Land accomplished with innumerable skillful devices,
There are no samsaric realms, nor evil teachers;
Upon attaining birth there, one reaches Bodhi without falling back.
Hence, I prostrate myself to the ground and worship Amida, the Holy One.

12. I have extolled the Buddha's excellent virtue,
Thereby acquiring boundless merit like the ocean.
The roots of pure good I have thus acquired
I wish to share with other beings, aspiring together to be born in his Land.
http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/junirai.htm
_/\_
Amituofo!

"Enlightenment is to turn around and see MY own mistake, Other's mistake is also my mistake. Others are right even if they are wrong. i'm wrong even if i'm right. " - Master Chin Kung
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby Luke » Mon May 06, 2013 9:02 am

sinweiy wrote:Nagarjuna on the the Path of Easy Practice
Richard St. Clair (Shaku Egen)

Do you have a link to Nagarjuna's essay on Pure Land which this man was quoting? It would be more convincing to see the whole thing rather than just a few of its quotes out of context.
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby sinweiy » Mon May 06, 2013 9:49 am

Luke wrote:Do you have a link to Nagarjuna's essay on Pure Land which this man was quoting? It would be more convincing to see the whole thing rather than just a few of its quotes out of context.


no, i do recalled Nagarjuna praised PL with the, Twelve Adorations of Amida Buddha, so i was looking for it and somehow saw that by Richard St. Clair (Shaku Egen).
maybe others can help.
_/\_
Amituofo!

"Enlightenment is to turn around and see MY own mistake, Other's mistake is also my mistake. Others are right even if they are wrong. i'm wrong even if i'm right. " - Master Chin Kung
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby PorkChop » Mon May 06, 2013 2:59 pm

I believe it's Chapter 9 of Nāgārjuna's Discourse on the Ten Stages: (Dasabhumika-vibhasa)
http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/Nagarjun ... ctice.html

References:
H. Inagaki, Nagarjuna's Discourse on the Ten Stages: Dashabhumika-vibhasa - translation and study of Verses and Chapter 9. Ryukoku Literature Series V, Ryukoku University, 1998, pp. 135-159.
The Stanzas of Nagarjuna on the Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, Translated from the Pure Land, Vol. 1, No. 1, June, 1979, from the French, by Franny Sime, August, 1980. First published by the Buddhist Discussion Centre (Upwey) Ltd, Newsletter No. 5, September, 1981.

Also, Vasubandhu has the Aparimitayus-sutra-shastra - a pretty killer Pure Land work.
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby PL4ever » Mon May 06, 2013 4:09 pm

PorkChop wrote:Also, Vasubandhu has the Aparimitayus-sutra-shastra - a pretty killer Pure Land work.

Could you post a link to this sutra?
I can't find it.
Thanx in advance.
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby Will » Mon May 06, 2013 4:19 pm

Luke wrote:Are there some ways to do Pure Land practices which benefit others?

Personally, I don't care about being born in a Pure Land, but I admire Amitabha and want to benefit others.

(I am already well aware of the Vajrayana practices of Amitabha sadhanas and Phowa practices. But here I am interested in non-tantric Amitabha meditations/rituals which benefit others.)


Any Mahayana practice should include the transference of merit, so any practice benefits others.

Sometimes people think birth in Pure Land is the end of it. Not at all. The large sutra says plainly that an after-death visit to the Pure Land of Amita is followed by continuing one's bodhisattva work of helping all beings.
Revealing one essence: this means the inherently pure, complete, luminous essence, which is pure of its own nature. -- Fa-tsang
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Re: Pure Land practices to benefit others?

Postby Will » Mon May 06, 2013 4:22 pm

PL4ever wrote:
PorkChop wrote:Also, Vasubandhu has the Aparimitayus-sutra-shastra - a pretty killer Pure Land work.

Could you post a link to this sutra?
I can't find it.
Thanx in advance.


Here is Rulu's version: http://www.sutrasmantras.info/sutra26.html
Revealing one essence: this means the inherently pure, complete, luminous essence, which is pure of its own nature. -- Fa-tsang
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