Luke wrote:Ah, but proselytizing could be fun!
"Say the holy name with me, my Pure Land Buddhist brothers and sisters! A-mi-taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-bha! That's right! Come on with it, my brothers and sisters! Feel the power!! A-MI-TAAAAAAA-BHA!! Yeah! Praise the Buddha!"
Luke wrote:Wow! I never knew that Pure Land Buddhists were so oppressed in west!
Will wrote:No one is more 'vajrayanaish' than Je Tsongkhapa, so Thurman's remark poo-pooing Pure Land is only Thurman talking. Any Dharma Master worth his salt knows Pure Land is a viable practice.
The late Thornbush has a thread here where Je Rinpoche's Praise of Amitabha is given - along with other aspirations to Amitabha:
At that time Buddha said to the Elder Shariputra: "West of here, past a hundred billion Buddha-lands, there exists a world called "Ultimate Bliss". In this land there exists a Buddha called Amitabha, who is expounding the Dharma right now.
The Pure Land method takes in all people, whether they are of low, medium, or high capacity. It is beyond all relativities, in perfect fusion. It is inconceivable: it is perfectly all-encompassing, and goes completely beyond all other Buddhist methods. It is very profound and hard to believe in. Therefore it is specially announced to those of great wisdom: without the highest level of wisdom, you cannot arrive directly at the stage where you have no doubts about the Pure Land teaching.
"West" signifies the place where the Pure Land appears, which is west of here. A "Buddha-land" is a whole great galaxy of worlds that are all taught by one Buddha. In terms of our world, there is a central polar mountain, and four continents to the east, west, south, and north of it, illuminated by the same sun and moon, surrounded by a circular range of iron mountains: this is one world. A thousand of these makes a small world system, a thousand small world-systems makes a medium world system, and a thousand medium world-systems makes a great galaxy of worlds. West of a hundred billion of such Buddha-lands is the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Question: Why is the Land of Ultimate Bliss in the west?
Answer: This is not a good question. If the Land of Ultimate Bliss were in the east, you would be asking why it is in the east. Isn't this just playing with words? What's more, if you look at the Land of Ultimate Bliss from the point of view of the hundred billion Buddha-lands, it is in the east. What is worth creating doubts about?
"There exists a world called Ultimate Bliss." This introduces us to the name of Amitabha's environment, to his domain. In the temporal dimension, its time is reckoned in terms of past, present, and future. In the spatial dimension, its boundaries are reckoned in terms of the ten directions [the four cardinal directions, the four intermediate directions, the nadir and the zenith].
The Sanskrit name for the Land of Ultimate Bliss is "Sukhavati". It is also called the Land of Peaceful Nurturing, the Land of Peace and Bliss, the Land of Pure Equanimity, and so on. The basic meaning is that it is utterly peaceful and secure, and forever removed from all forms of pain and suffering. This is explained at length below.
There are four kinds of Pure Land, and each category is in turn subdivided in terms of purity or defilement [see glossary, "Four Pure Lands"].
Buddhas have three bodies, which are discussed in terms of singularity and multiplicity [see glossary: "Three Bodies of the Buddhas"].
When the sutra says "there exists a world called Ultimate Bliss" and "there exists a Buddha called Amitabha," it is saying that both that world and that Buddha do actually exist. There are four meanings here.
It indicates that there is a real Pure Land, and makes us happy to seek it.
It gives us truthful instructions, to make us concentrate on the Pure Land.
It states that the Pure Land is not a figment of the imagination or a mirage, that it is not a provisional manifestation or a roundabout teaching not to be taken literally, that it is not an empty falsity, that it is not a land reached via the Theravada vehicle.
It demonstrates perfectly that the Pure Land is part of our true nature, to enable us to have a profound realization of it and penetrate into the truth of Real Mark (the Mind).
"Buddha expounding the Dharma" on this occasion shows that both the Pure Land and Amitabha exist -- this is not a case of "the past is already gone, and the future has not yet taken shape." We must make a vow to be born in the Pure Land, and to personally hear Amitabha's teaching, so that we may quickly achieve true enlightenment.
The fact that the Pure Land and Amitabha Buddha are here in the present encourages us to have faith. The fact that Amitabha's world is called the Land of Ultimate Bliss encourages us to vow to be born there. The fact that the Buddha in the Pure Land is called Amitabha encourages us to engage in the wondrous practice of invoking his name.
The words of the sutra are concise, but the meaning is very profound.
This concludes my commentary on the introductory portion of the sutra.
[ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY: According to the contemporary Vietnamese Master To Lien: "If we are discussing the different manifestations of the universe, the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha is indeed ten billion Buddha lands away. However, if we are speaking of the Pure Land of the Mind, then the ten billion Buddha lands are not outside the narrow confines of our own minds. If we recite the Buddha's name singlemindedly, the Pure Land can be found in every recitation -- the Pure Land is here and now."]
Astus wrote:I'd like to add Ouyi's Mind-Seal of the Buddhas among the commentaries. It is a good representative of inclusive interpretation.
Just for the first section of the part describing the buddha-land itself (in Ouyi's commentary this is still the introductory part).
Will wrote:Why is Happy Realm in the West? This globe rotates on its axis from West to the East. So this is the standard Samsara-like direction. Buddha said he taught 'going against the current' - against Samsara. Thus looking toward the setting Sun or thinking toward or meditating on the Western direction is 'going against the current' of samsara.
PorkChop wrote:Will wrote:Why is Happy Realm in the West? This globe rotates on its axis from West to the East. So this is the standard Samsara-like direction. Buddha said he taught 'going against the current' - against Samsara. Thus looking toward the setting Sun or thinking toward or meditating on the Western direction is 'going against the current' of samsara.
So I've thought about this somewhat.
I agree with what you're saying.
At the same time I believe the term for the western part of the world system is known as the "deathless oxcart world".
Also, the west is where the sun sets, the end of the current day, and for many, metaphorically it means the end of this current life.
I'm wondering if either of these has anything to do with it.
Will wrote:Have not heard about the 'oxcart world', but the end of daily life, worldly, samsaric life, at the 'setting' of the sun in the West is just a shorthand way of talking about the axis rotation notion.
But we should not get too excited about the 'correct' interpretation, because other Buddhas have their Pure Lands in non-Western directions. And they all teach 'against the current' too.
Namgyal wrote:I came across a Chinese temple which had no texts and no teachings apart from emptiness and compassion. Their meditation was simply sitting and their only other practices were reciting Amitabha mantras and making offerings to Amitabha, Medicine Buddha or Guan-yu. I don't know their tradition but it seemed to be about half meditation and half Pure Land. I suspect it's Ch'an, but is it possible for a Ch'an school to incorporate that much Pure Land?
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