Pureland study group anyone?

Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Mon May 06, 2013 5:01 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
2nd Verse
At that time the Buddha told the Elder Sariputra, "West of here, beyond 100,000 koti Buddha Lands, is a land called Ultimate Bliss. In that land resides a Buddha called Amitabha, who is now expounding the Dharma. Sariputra, why is that land called Ultimate Bliss? Sentient beings of that land have no suffering but only experience myriad joys. Therefore, that land is called Ultimate Bliss. Moreover, Sariputra, the Land of Ultimate Bliss is surrounded by seven rows of railings, seven layers of nets, and seven lines of trees, all made of the four treasures. Therefore, that land is called Ultimate Bliss.

Hsuan Hua Commentary (Overview):
Mentions teaching of Amitabha without asking. In talking about Amitabha, brings up this cool quote: "Unless I teach the Dharma to save living beings, I will have passed through my entire life in vain."
Explains the probing with further questions because the audience seems somewhat overwhelmed by the teaching.

Explains why it is called the land of "Ultimate Bliss". Explains that being born in a lotus blossom is not like being born of desire. Being born of desire, we spend most of our lives mired in desire and that leads to more suffering. Dharma is taught to help people purify their minds. If you can purify your mind, your merit and virtue are limitless. If you cannot purify your mind, your offences are limitless.

"As we recite 'Namo Amitabha Buddha' we each create and adorn our own Land of Ultimate Bliss. We each accomplish our own Land of Ultimate Bliss which is certainly not hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhalands from here. Although it is far away, it doesn't go beyond one thought. It is not hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhalands from here; it is right in our hearts the Land of Ultimate Bliss is the original true heart, the true mind, of everyone of us. If you obtain this heart, you will be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. If you don't understand your own original true heart, you will not. The Land of Ultimate Bliss is within our hearts, not outside. This land is clear, pure, and undefiled and so is that one thought of the mind and nature. It is just that now, as common people, we are defiled by attachment. If you can empty yourself of attachments, you will immediately see Amitabha Buddha; that is the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Amitabha Buddha and living beings - do not discriminate between this and that, for the Land of Ultimate Bliss is not so far away. In one thought, turn the light within. Know that originally you are the Buddha, and your original Buddhahood is just the Land of Ultimate Bliss."

The railings represent the precepts, the netting represents concentration, and the trees represent wisdom (ie. Sila, Samadhi, Prajna).
The number seven is used for the "Seven Classes," the classification of the 37 Wings of Enlightenment into 7 groups:
1. The Four Applications of Mindfulness
2. The Four Right Efforts
3. The Four Bases of Supernatural Power
4. The Five Roots
5. The Five Powers
6. The Seven Limbs of Enlightenment
7. The Proper Eight-fold Path.
The Precepts are satisfied by prohibiting evil and preventing error. Morality is simply "All evil not done and All good conduct respectfully practiced."
The Precepts act like a fence preventing wandering thoughts & out of bounds behavior.
The seven layers of netting represent concentration in that one does not enter or emerge from true concentration.
He relates Concentration to Precepts in that being Mindful of one's behavior in keeping Precepts requires Mindfulness & Concentration so that one is aware of one's behavior and does not slip. "The eyes see forms outside, but inside there is nothing; The ears hear external sounds, but the mind does not know."
Concentration is the state of being unmoved by situation, the netting keeping one fixed in place.
The trees represent Wisdom, his analogy is based on height - when you have Wisdom you are tall like a tree, without it you are short & easily overgrown by the grass & weeds.

The four treasures are gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and crystal.
The four treasures represent the Four Virtues of Nirvana: permanence, bliss, true self (true nature), and purity.
As part of True self, he lists 8 powers of the Tathagatha:
1. Manifesting multiple bodies
2. Buddhafields appearing in one dustmote, dustmotes appearing in Buddhafields, Buddhafields within Buddhafields.
3. A large body that is capable of floating/flying.
4. Manifestating limitless kinds of living beings which always dwell together in one land (ie. the ability to see Bodhisattvas where most people see the ordinary)
5. Interchangeable sense organs. Being able to see with one's ears for example.
6. The suchness of all dharmas without the thought of dharmas (from the Heart Sutra "no wisdom and no attainment").
7. Free and unobstructed eloquence.
8. The body pervades all places, like space.

Thich Hai-Quang Commentary (Overview):
Provides a definition for Buddhaland/Buddhafield - a great world system a Buddha rules over to help and aid sentient beings to attain enlightenment.
The joy and elation of those living in the Ultimate Bliss World is greater than any level of Heavens of the Three Worlds.

Personal Commentary:
Just wanted to add that the Sanskrit of the Land of Ultimate Bliss is सुखावती "sukhavati". This is important because the root of the word is सुखा "sukha", which is the opposite of दुःख "dukkha". "Dukkha" we all know as "suffering", but it has a nuance of like a wobbly wheel without grease, that grinds, resists, and doesn't roll smoothly. "Sukha" as the opposite, has a connotation of smoothly flowing along with conditions & not resisting them.
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Luke » Mon May 06, 2013 9:13 am

^Very interesting. It reads like any other quality Mahayana sutra. It is not full of any sappy evangelizing.

Although I don't desire to do Amitabha practices at this point, I like reading about Amitabha and his characteristics.
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Mon May 06, 2013 2:47 pm

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!"
lol :D


This had me laughing.
:rolling:
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Jikan » Mon May 06, 2013 2:57 pm

Luke wrote:Wow! I never knew that Pure Land Buddhists were so oppressed in west!
:D


Just caught up in this thread and read PorkChop's account of his experience at that other discussion board. I don't know if "oppressed" is the exact word, but "dismissed" might be better. It's true, there are some who take a very, very conservative position on what is or is not Dharma, based on their assumptions about what counts as authoritative teaching (the "older" teaching must be the most "authentic"). I've seen this in interacting with different Buddhist groups in our area. Chanting sutra is regarded by some as being some kind of cultish Asian degeneracy appropriate to "the Bronze age" and not as pure Dharma (to me this is a racist view... the "bronze age" thing is something I've heard said).

I don't mean to threadjack here, but to show that these problems exist and are real. Perhaps the best way to address them is to let our practice speak for itself.
Need help getting on retreat? Want to support others in practice? Pay the Dana for Dharma forum a visit...

viewtopic.php?f=114&t=13727
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Re: Pureland study group

Postby Will » Mon May 06, 2013 4:05 pm

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:

viewtopic.php?f=43&t=192
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Pureland study group

Postby Will » Mon May 06, 2013 5:07 pm

Some helps from Master Hua's teachings on Amita Buddha practice:

http://btts.drba.org/uploads/6/3/3/1/63 ... itabha.pdf
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Pureland study group

Postby PorkChop » Mon May 06, 2013 11:27 pm

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:

viewtopic.php?f=43&t=192


That's good to know. I've gotten a lot of out Lam Rim Chen Mo audio classes, so it's good to hear that Je Tsongkhapa's a fan. :)
Hope I was just hearing Thurman's comments out of context as his work is a large part of what drew me (back) to Buddhism.

Thanks for the linked thread, some really great pictures.
First I've heard of Thornbush, wish the forum search functions worked better.
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Re: Pureland study group

Postby Luke » Mon May 06, 2013 11:36 pm

PorkChop wrote:First I've heard of Thornbush, wish the forum search functions worked better.

Oh, he/she posted tons of great information back in the early days of this forum. We owe him/her a lot! :namaste:
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Astus » Wed May 08, 2013 11:06 am

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).

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.[13]
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."]
"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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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Wed May 08, 2013 5:17 pm

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).


:good:
Thanks for that!
You reminded me that there are sooo many good books out there for good commentary.
I will definitely be re-visiting this thread periodically after finishing this current effort; adding interesting thoughts as I come across them.
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Will » Thu May 09, 2013 3:44 am

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.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Thu May 09, 2013 5:03 am

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.
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Will » Thu May 09, 2013 5:25 am

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.


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.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Thu May 09, 2013 5:43 am

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.


:good:
deathless oxcart continent goes back to the kosala sutta.
completely agree on the rest!
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Re: Pureland study group

Postby Will » Thu May 09, 2013 3:03 pm

Mind-Seal of the Buddhas is a wonderful teaching, but for those who prefer a pdf version, here is one:

http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/mindseal.pdf
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Tue May 14, 2013 5:57 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Third verse
"Also Sariputra, in the Land of Ultimate Bliss are ponds made of the seven treasures, filled with water with the eight virtues. Covering the bed of each pond is gold dust. The stairs and walkways on the four sides of each pond are made of gold, silver, aquamarine, and crystal. Standing majestically are lofty towers, all adorned with gold, silver, aquamarine, crystal, conch shell, ruby, and emerald. The lotus flowers in the ponds are as large as carriage wheels. The blue colors gleam with blue light; the yellow colors, yellow light; the red colors, red light; the white colors, white light. They are wonderful, fragrant, and pure. Sariputra the Land of Ultimate Bliss is formed with such virtues as its adornments!"

Thich Hai Quang commentary
Four Jewels: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal (diamond)
Seven Jewels: gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal (diamond), mother-of-pearl, red pearl, and carnelian
Water of eight virtues and merits: Light, Refreshing, Soft, Pure, Clean, Clear, Delicious, and Illness will not arise from great consumption but will nourish and develop one's cultivated path.

Hsuan Hua commentary
Lapis Lazuli is an opaque, blue semi-precious stone, found near Magadha
Crystal is also called "water jade."
Mother-of-pearl has what looks like cart tracks running across it. Translated form the Chinese it is "great shells."
Waters of eight meritorious virtues:
1. Tepid - warm and yet cool. If you want the temperature adjusted it does so automatically.
2. Pure - the water doesn't get dirty. Feels like milk running over your body, smooth, comfortable, and extremely fine and subtle to the touch. The more you wash with it, the nicer you feel, there is no better feeling than this.
3. Sweet - You don't have to drink it. Just wash with it, and you will know that it is very sweet.
4. Soft - The water is not hard. It is very light and soft.
5. Moistening - When dirty people wash with it, they become clean. This water will wash any filth right off your body and leave you bright and clean.
6. Harmonising. If you wash with this water, your heart and mind will be at peace, without the slightest trace of bad temper. Without a hot temper, without the fire of ignorance, and without affliction, you will be in harmony with everyone. If they scold you, you won't get angry, and if they knock you over, it won't create a problem. "So what if they hit me?" you will say. You will be at peace with everyone. See how fine this is?
7. Banishes hunger and thirst.This is most important. After bathing in the waters of eight meritorious virtues, when it's time to eat, you are not hungry, and when it is time to drink, you are not thirsty. No milk and no bread and yet no hunger or thirst. The Land of Ultimate Bliss is unspeakably wonderful.
8. Nourishes all roots. It gives sustenance to all your sence organs. your eyes become bright and light and your ears, if once deaf, now can hear. If your nose is stopped up, wash with the water of eight meritorious virtues and it will get to work again. Whatever you eat tastes good, and your hands and feet work without feeling tired. Not only that, the water also nourishes your good roots and gets rid of your bad karma. How great would you say this merit and virtue is? We should quickly seek rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss so that we may bathe in the pools of the waters of eight meritorious virtues, and have our good roots nourished.
These waters have eight independent merits and virtues, eight happy merits and virtues, eight subtle, wonderful, inconceivable merits and virtues, and more. No matter what karmic obstacles you have, they all dissolve when you get into these pools.

The stairways - We may think our stairways of marble are spendid, but those in the Land of Ultimate Bliss are inlaid with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and crystal, and the pathways emit multicolored rays of light.
The towers - Why are they adorned with so many treasures? To make them beautiful to look at! The seven jewels used to adorn the pavilions represent the perfection of Amitabha Buddha's ten thousand virtues. The great adornments are the measure of his great virtuous practices, for without virtuous practice, there can be no seven jeweled adornments.
The loutuses - Then how big are the pools? Each is as big as a hundred great seas. One great sea is big indeed, how big would you say a hundred great seas are? The lotuses in these pools are as large as carriage wheels, which are much bigger than automobile tires. The carriage wheels on the chariot of the Wheel-turning Sage King are one yojana in diameter. A small yojana is forty miles, a middle-sized one is sixty-miles, and a large one is eighty miles. This lotus, then, is eighty miles in diameter. Lotuses growing in pools as large as a hundred great seas would have to be at least that big. Tiny flowers in such big pools wouldn't look right.
A song about Amitabha BUddha goes like this:
"Amita, the great sage and master,
Serene, subtle wonderful, beyond all others...
Pools of seven gems,
Flowers of four colors and waves of solid gold.
"

The water is subtle and soft. It looks like water, but when you reach out to touch it, it feels as if nothing were there. It feels like water, but it is so fine that you can't grab a hold of it. It is like there's nothing there, but still it is there. It is just that subtle.
"Wonderful" means ineffable. There is no way you can even think about it. The water is also fragrant. Once you get in it you won't want to get out. As soon as you smell its fragrance, you will bring forth the Bodhi mind. In this world, we chase after good smells, but in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, the fragrances cause one to say, "Too fine! I did better hurry up and cultivate the Way."

The smells of this world cause you to think, "Not bad... it is really bitter at the Temple. Cultivation isn't as good as..." But smells are defiled dharmas. Forms, sounds, smells, tastes and tangible objects are the five sense objects, and cultivators of the Way must certainly see through and break all attachment to them. First of all, do not become attached to beautiful form. Beauty is only skin deep; beneath the skin there is just pus, blood, and flesh.

So you should not become attached to forms. In order to cultivate, you should borrow forms and sounds and yet not become attached to them. Don't say, "Ah, this music is so beautiful. When I hear it, I... get all confused and don't know what I'm doing." If you must sing, sing in praise of Amitabha Buddha. Don't become attached to smells either.

...Everything is made from the mind alone. If you have samadhi power, then fragrances aren't fragrant and bad smells don't stink; good sounds aren't good sounds, and bad sounds aren't bad; beauty isn't beautiful, and ugliness isn't ugly. Samadhi power is the skill one derives from cultivation. If you have this skill, when people are good to you, you are not happy and when they are bad, you don't become afflicted. With samadhi power, you won't listen to the talk of your tongue when it says to you, "Take a taste of this and see if it tastes better than..." I often tell you that when I eat, I don't know if the food is good or not. It is not that I don't know. If I didn't know I would be like wood or stone. I am just not affected by the taste. I eat the same amount, whether it tastes good or not, without discrimination.

The lotuses of four colors in the Land of Ultimate Bliss shine with four colors of light which represent the Four Applications of Mindfulness, the Four Right Efforts, and the Four Bases of Supernatural Power. In reciting and studying the Amitabha Sutra, we should cultivate samadhi power. If you have samadhi power, then the Land of Ultimate Bliss is right here. If you don't, even if you went to the Land of Ultimate Bliss, you would run right off to the Land of Ultimate Misery. With samadhi power, the Land of Ultimate Misery is the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Without affliction, you can say, "Everything is okay." If that is not the Land of Ultimate Bliss, what is?

Personal comments
Probably not going to fully grasp the significance of the numbers until I finish reading more sutras (like the Anguttara Nikaya - Numbered Discourses). The 4 jewels, 7 jewels, and 8 virtues all have significance. At the end of his commentary, Hsuan Hua's coverage of the four colors of lotuses is a nice start. Something tells me the 8 virtues of the water have something to do with mental purification and nothing to do with actual water (probably a loose allusion to the river Ganges).
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Wed May 15, 2013 4:48 am

The Buddha Pronounces the Sutra of Amitabha Buddha
Fourth Verse
"Also, Sariputra, celestial music is always playing in that Buddha Land, and its ground is made of yellow gold. Day and night in the six periods, the sky rains down celestial mandarava flowers. At dawn, sentient beings of that land fill their robes with wonderful flowers to make offerings to 100,000 koti Buddhas [in worlds] in other directions. At mealtime, they return to their own land to eat and do walking meditation. Sariputra, the Land of Ultimate Bliss is formed with such virtues as it's adornments!"

Hsuan Hua Commentary
Mandarava, a sanskrit word, may be interpreted as "according to your wish," or "white flower". However you would like them too be, that's the way these flowers are.

On making offerings: How long does it take? Not long, just the time it takes to eat a meal, half an hour or so. These living beings can travel to billions of Buddhalands in a very short space of time because they have obtained the Eight Great Freedoms of the Self; they are free and independent, and everything accords with their wishes. Having obtained the "as you will" spiritual penetrations, if they want to go somewhere, they arrive there immediately.

When we bow to the Buddha, we should envision our bodies filling the limitless Buddhalands of the tend directions, personally bowing to all the Buddhas. If you can contemplate the Dharma realm in this way, then your body is as big as the Dharma realm. The Avatamsaka Sutra says: "If one wishes to understand completely the Buddhas of the three periods of time, He should contemplate the nature of the Dharma realm: Everything is made from the mind alone."

Thich Hai-Quang Commentary
Translates the line about walking meditation as "leisurely practicing the dharma", which includes walking meditation, Buddha name recitation, being mindful of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, etc.

BDK notes
Translates mandarava as "A beautiful and fragrant flower; its name translates as 'heavenly wonderful flower.'"

Personal notes
Wish I knew more the significance of celestial music and the ground made of gold. If I had to guess, I'd say that the celestial music represented spoken Dharma teachings and that the ground made of gold represents the precious Mind ground of the Buddhas. Another possibility is less about specific metaphors and more the general metaphor that even the common place becomes precious - learning to appreciate everything around you as your impressions of it are all created by Mind.
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby sinweiy » Thu May 16, 2013 1:20 pm

I heard if one need to listen to certain Dharma, the sound in Pureland, will play what you wish to hear, uniquely for you. the others will also be listening to their own Dharma talk, unless they also wish to tune into the same sound. the sound in Pureland is that amazing, and you do not need a ear piece to do so. :smile:
_/\_
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: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby Namgyal » Thu May 16, 2013 11:04 pm

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?
:namaste:
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Re: Pureland study group anyone?

Postby PorkChop » Thu May 16, 2013 11:26 pm

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?
:namaste:


Given the number of patriarchs that were recognized by both schools, I would say so...
Maybe these links will help?
http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/integrated/id4.html
http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/integrated/id8.html
http://pureland2013.wordpress.com/pure- ... sty-china/
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/yin_kuang.pdf
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