Question About Chinese pure land

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby Astus » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:32 am

Arabic Buddhist wrote:" In the Amitabha Sutra, the Buddha further explained that to be reborn in the Western Pure Land, we have to be "good men and good women." The standard for this is the Three Conditions; thus, they are a crucial part of our practice, an integral component of rebirth in the Pure Land.

To achieve this rebirth, we need belief, vows, and practice—leading a moral life and chanting Amituofo mindfully.

...

For example . Do they said THREE CONDITIONS practice is useful just in first Dharma Age . Or they have other obinions ?


That's only Ven. Chin Kung's interpretation. It is not written like that in the sutra itself, nor did Honen explain it that way. If you want a different perspective from the Chinese side that is closer to Honen - but still not the same -, I recommend Ven. Yin Kuang.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4257
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby plwk » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:24 am

If one is sincerely & properly practicing the Nembutsu, the practice of sila should also be naturally forthcoming, no? ... one's obscurations and obstacles becomes purified, hence, sila is no longer an issue for us but a natural consequence and response to the gift of Amida?


I have not seen such a connections stated anywhere, especially not Honen. Could you point to some sources here?

Firstly, I did qualify this as my own analysis. In it, I did not only include Honen but also that of Shan Dao. Like how Honen has stretched and innovated much stuff from Shan Dao, so is what my analysis is doing likewise.

Secondly, look at this passage here...
On one hand, the person who relies too much on their own personal strength fails to be open to Amida Buddha's help, and on the other hand, the person who completely despairs of their own capacity fails to help him or herself. According to Honen, it is the person who believes in their own strength and who also puts their whole heart into their religious practices that will receive the help of Amida Buddha. As for Other power, he explained that it consisted in the earnest asking of Amida Buddha's help. Honen's Conceptions of Other Power (tariki) and Self Power (jiriki)
So, the first part on the 'natural' part here that I had in mind is that the practice of nian fo/nembutsu once aligned with the Buddha's intent and mind bears forth the fruit of virtue/sila without contriving another idea of having to 'practicing sila' that is oft criticised as tainted with the ideas of self and grasping.

The second part: 'purification'
a. here, the context of 'purification' is within the scope of experiencing results of practicing the proper and true nian fo/nembutsu, one of which in this discussion, one's ability to practice sila is no longer a contrived one, especially after a period of time.
b. once one dwells in this practice with the corresponding fruit by the manifestation of the self & other power as above, it is not that one becomes perfect already, far from it, for all sentient beings have varying stages of causes and conditions to be purified, still far off from the perfection of the Noble Ones but still better than none, given the kind of conditions that this Saha World has until the end of one's lifespan here. It's a kind of like a stop gap measure, like whilst waiting for the train to come, you get hungry, one can eat a little snack first rather than starving fully before finally going home to feast on the actual dinner.
c. hence with all of that in mind, by dwelling within the 'true mandala' of nian fo / nembutsu practice, the type that utilises and activates both self and other power, as envisaged within the Threefold Sutras, isn't one already expressing a 'natural' way of responding to what Amida has offered to us, a chance of showing some kind of gratitude of encountering this precious Dharma Door?
I'm also wary of equating other-power with no-self. From the point of view of the Path of Sages, it is neither a practice nor a realisation of emptiness. And from the Pure Land side, if other-power were a way to attain insight into no-self, one would not need to be born in the Pure Land.
There is no one here equating self power with no self. Now, departing from the Japanese model, going into the Chinese analysis, I shall answer this typical ancient question threefold.

Firstly, coming back to self power. The context of 'self power' is as what I have already explained to the OP in earlier postings. One engages in right effort within the scope of the Buddha's mind and intent when it comes to faith, vows and practice in this Dharma Door as envisaged within the Threefold Sutras. Outside of which, it is merely mundane efforts leading to worldly blessings and attainments but still within the three burning realms and outside of the aspiration & attainment of anuttara samyak sambodhi.

Secondly, even Great Bodhisattvas manifest themselves in Sukhavati despite their great attainments, for instance as mentioned in texts like Samantabhadra, Avalokitesvara and so forth. Ones who are known to us in the Saha World that comes to mind immediately are personalities like Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and etc who encouraged all to seek birth in Sukhavati to complete their Path & Stages 'there', understanding that this route does not preclude anyone of the highest capacities.
There are plenty of resources which have posited on why these types also can and must choose the Sukhavati route which I will not reproduce them for fear of tedium here. I was just reading on Master Zhanran Yuanzhao recently who is such a case in point, who was such a brilliant Vinaya Master & learned one, who himself had denigrated the Pure Land earlier yet later on became its most vigorous defender. However high the attainments that they have gained, yet it is not the anuttara samyak sambodhi of a Buddha and the Sukhavati offers a more realistic and if not a 'safer bet' for the completion of the Path & Fruit, away from the travails and uncertainty plus the fivefold turbidities of Sahaloka. So it does not stop anyone of these Great Ones from gaining some measure of self mastery in this present time but they realise that it can be continued further in a more viable Sukhavati.

Thirdly, these Sages who have shown us the path to Sukhavati also take birth there in order to encourage and show us who are no where near the Noble Ones, who are mere bonpu / fanfu / prthagjana, that there is another path route and alternative to accomplish the Path & Stages of Buddhahood via Amitabha & Sukhavati. Compared to the other model of slogging it through with tons of uncertainty in many aspects, why not do it where causes & conditions are set for anuttara samyak sambodhi? If one cares enough about the part of 'sentient beings are innumerable, I vow to rescue them' and cannot bear to see anymore delay for them in samsara, then this is the most viable route to fulfil that. So, it's not that attainments are totally impossible in Sahaloka but that there is a better if not a surest way to it in Sukhavati that's all. How dare I a mere delusive one ever say that there are no sages walking amongst us? Yet, the Noble Ones show us that yes, one can do it within Sahaloka but to bear in mind that only the heroic ones will survive to the end. However, there is the choice of Sukhavati. Besides, no where in the Threefold texts that bars one from practicing or attaining any levels of the Path & Stages whilst enroute to Sukhavati...
plwk
 
Posts: 2753
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:41 am

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby Astus » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:40 pm

plwk,

Yes, as you say, there are various forms of Pure Land practice. Honen is kind of a special case because of his process of selecting (summed up here) the Rightly Established Practice as the recitation of the name. And the form of nembutsu used is just the recitation and nothing more (Varieties of Japanese Nembutsu). He did not reject other teachings. He said that for ordinary beings in this age the simple recitation is the best choice to attain buddhahood. And while recitation has innumerable merits, it doesn't follow that it makes someone a better person in this life. It may, but it's not necessary nor important.

Outside of Honen's teachings, the practice of remembrance and recitation has many uses. Already in Daoxin's (fourth Chan patriarch) teaching there are references to the Meditation Sutra and how buddha-mindfulness is identical to the buddha-mind, something that in the later tradition became the True Mark Buddha Remembrance. And this only shows how in Chinese Buddhism it is very misleading to talk of any distinct schools like Pure Land and Chan. In Tibetan Buddhism they also recommend meditation on Amitabha with the aim of attaining birth in Sukhavati, but nobody says there is a special Tibetan Pure Land school. Really, it was only Honen who rejected everything else in favour of focusing only on attaining birth with nembutsu.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4257
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby Arabic Buddhist » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:34 pm

Thank you Dharma friends for your replays .
User avatar
Arabic Buddhist
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:25 pm

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby sinweiy » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:33 am

Five Guidelines is the Three Conditions, which were related by the Buddha in the Visualization Sutra. It is not an only thing from MCK btw. :smile:

http://www.abrc.org.au/page33.html
_/\_
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
User avatar
sinweiy
 
Posts: 271
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:18 am
Location: Singapore

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby Arabic Buddhist » Tue Sep 10, 2013 2:42 am

sinweiy wrote:Five Guidelines is the Three Conditions, which were related by the Buddha in the Visualization Sutra. It is not an only thing from MCK btw. :smile:

http://www.abrc.org.au/page33.html


Do i have to practice the three conditions to be reborn in pure land ?
If not . Why Shan tao and honen Rejected this teaching ?
User avatar
Arabic Buddhist
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:25 pm

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby PorkChop » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:52 am

Arabic Buddhist wrote:
sinweiy wrote:Five Guidelines is the Three Conditions, which were related by the Buddha in the Visualization Sutra. It is not an only thing from MCK btw. :smile:

http://www.abrc.org.au/page33.html


Do i have to practice the three conditions to be reborn in pure land ?
If not . Why Shan tao and honen Rejected this teaching ?


Now, this is no excuse to go and do bad stuff...

Contemplation Sutra wrote:16. The Three Rebirths in the Low Rank

The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A high rebirth in the low rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have done evil karmas. Although they did not malign vaipulya sūtras, these fools have done evils with no sense of shame or dishonor. When such a person’s life is ending, however, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will pronounce the names of Mahāyāna sūtras in the twelve categories. Because he has heard the names of such sūtras, his evil karmas which would entail 1,000 kalpas of birth and death will be obliterated. The wise friend will also teach him to join his palms and say ‘namo Amitāyus Buddha.’ By saying Amitāyus Buddha's name, his sins which would entail 50 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. Thereupon, that Buddha will immediately send magically manifested Buddhas and magically manifested Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived to come before this person. They will praise him, saying, ‘Good man, your sins are expunged because you say the name of a Buddha. I have come to receive you.’ These words being said, the person will immediately see the radiance of magically manifested Buddhas entirely filling his room. Having beheld this scene, he will be delighted and then die.

“Riding a jeweled lotus flower, he will follow after the magically manifested Buddhas and will be reborn in a jeweled pond. After forty-nine days, the lotus flower will open. When the flower opens, Great Compassion Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva, emitting immense radiance, will stand before this person and pronounce to him profound sūtras in the twelve categories. Having heard these teachings, with faith and understanding, he will activate the unsurpassed bodhi mind. After ten small kalpas, he will go through the Illumination Door of the One Hundred Dharmas, ascending to the First Ground. This called a high rebirth in the low rank.

“There are those who have heard of the words ‘Buddha, Dharma, Saṅgha.’ By hearing these names of the Three Jewels, they too can be reborn there.”5

The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A middling rebirth in the low rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have violated any of the five precepts, the eight precepts, or the complete monastic precepts. Such fools have stolen from the Saṅgha and robbed monks. They have made defiling statements with no sense of shame or dishonor. They adorn themselves with their evil ways. These sinners, because of their evil karmas, should fall into hell. When such a person’s life is ending, the fires of hell will arrive at once. Nevertheless, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will describe the awesome virtues of Amitāyus Buddha’s Ten Powers, explain in detail His radiance and spiritual powers, and praise samādhi, wisdom, liberation, and the knowledge and views of liberation. After he has heard these things, his sins which would entail 80 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. The raging fires of hell will be transformed into cool winds, which bring celestial flowers down from the sky. Seated on these flowers will be magically manifested Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have come to receive this person.

“In the instant of a thought, he will be reborn in a lotus flower in a pond made of the seven treasures. After six [large] kalpas, the lotus flower will open. When it opens, Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived will comfort this person with their Brahma tones. They will pronounce to him the profound Mahāyāna sūtras. Having heard the Dharma, he will immediately activate the unsurpassed bodhi mind. This is called a middling rebirth in the low rank.”

The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A low rebirth in the low rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have done bad karmas, such as any of the five rebellious acts or the ten evil karmas. Because of their evil karmas, these fools should go down the evil life-paths to undergo endless suffering for many kalpas. But when such a fool’s life is ending, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will comfort him in many ways, expound the wondrous Dharma, and teach him to think of that Buddha. However, this person, overcome by suffering, will be unable to think of that Buddha. His beneficent friend will then tell him, ‘If you are unable to think of that Buddha, you should say that you take refuge in Amitāyus Buddha. Say it earnestly and keep your voice uninterrupted as you say “namo Amitāyus Buddha” ten times in ten thoughts.’ By saying Amitāyus Buddha's name, thought after thought, his sins which would entail 80 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. When his life is ending, he will see a golden lotus flower appearing before him like the sun.

“In the instant of a thought, he will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. He will remain in the lotus flower for twelve large kalpas. When the lotus flower opens, Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived, with tones of great compassion, will expound to him the true reality of dharmas and the Dharma for expunging sins. Having heard the teachings, he will be delighted and immediately activate the bodhi mind. This is called a low rebirth in the low rank.

“The vision of rebirths in the low rank is called the sixteenth visualization.”
User avatar
PorkChop
 
Posts: 873
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby plwk » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:02 am

If I may highlight something Arabic Buddhist, compared with the words of later Masters and the contents of Sutras, which one would you give more concern on?
Later commentary can be a source of helpful guide but it's not a definitive one. Is your faith and practice hinged on what the two men said or done?
Are you aware that humans, no matter how much we glorify them can also make mistakes? Hence, the Buddha in earlier writings advised to utilise the teachings and discipline and compare with the what such and such a master has said, neither rejecting nor accepting until it is validated.
During the time of Sakyamuni or Amitabha Buddha, where were Shan Dao and Honen? When Shan Dao and Honen read the Sutras, who do they refer to?
There's a reason why I gave that Zen story earlier.

If this is of any help to yourself... The Four Reliances Sutra
plwk
 
Posts: 2753
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:41 am

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby Arabic Buddhist » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:13 am

PorkChop wrote:
Arabic Buddhist wrote:
sinweiy wrote:Five Guidelines is the Three Conditions, which were related by the Buddha in the Visualization Sutra. It is not an only thing from MCK btw. :smile:

http://www.abrc.org.au/page33.html


Do i have to practice the three conditions to be reborn in pure land ?
If not . Why Shan tao and honen Rejected this teaching ?


Now, this is no excuse to go and do bad stuff...

Contemplation Sutra wrote:16. The Three Rebirths in the Low Rank

The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A high rebirth in the low rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have done evil karmas. Although they did not malign vaipulya sūtras, these fools have done evils with no sense of shame or dishonor. When such a person’s life is ending, however, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will pronounce the names of Mahāyāna sūtras in the twelve categories. Because he has heard the names of such sūtras, his evil karmas which would entail 1,000 kalpas of birth and death will be obliterated. The wise friend will also teach him to join his palms and say ‘namo Amitāyus Buddha.’ By saying Amitāyus Buddha's name, his sins which would entail 50 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. Thereupon, that Buddha will immediately send magically manifested Buddhas and magically manifested Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived to come before this person. They will praise him, saying, ‘Good man, your sins are expunged because you say the name of a Buddha. I have come to receive you.’ These words being said, the person will immediately see the radiance of magically manifested Buddhas entirely filling his room. Having beheld this scene, he will be delighted and then die.

“Riding a jeweled lotus flower, he will follow after the magically manifested Buddhas and will be reborn in a jeweled pond. After forty-nine days, the lotus flower will open. When the flower opens, Great Compassion Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva, emitting immense radiance, will stand before this person and pronounce to him profound sūtras in the twelve categories. Having heard these teachings, with faith and understanding, he will activate the unsurpassed bodhi mind. After ten small kalpas, he will go through the Illumination Door of the One Hundred Dharmas, ascending to the First Ground. This called a high rebirth in the low rank.

“There are those who have heard of the words ‘Buddha, Dharma, Saṅgha.’ By hearing these names of the Three Jewels, they too can be reborn there.”5

The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A middling rebirth in the low rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have violated any of the five precepts, the eight precepts, or the complete monastic precepts. Such fools have stolen from the Saṅgha and robbed monks. They have made defiling statements with no sense of shame or dishonor. They adorn themselves with their evil ways. These sinners, because of their evil karmas, should fall into hell. When such a person’s life is ending, the fires of hell will arrive at once. Nevertheless, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will describe the awesome virtues of Amitāyus Buddha’s Ten Powers, explain in detail His radiance and spiritual powers, and praise samādhi, wisdom, liberation, and the knowledge and views of liberation. After he has heard these things, his sins which would entail 80 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. The raging fires of hell will be transformed into cool winds, which bring celestial flowers down from the sky. Seated on these flowers will be magically manifested Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have come to receive this person.

“In the instant of a thought, he will be reborn in a lotus flower in a pond made of the seven treasures. After six [large] kalpas, the lotus flower will open. When it opens, Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived will comfort this person with their Brahma tones. They will pronounce to him the profound Mahāyāna sūtras. Having heard the Dharma, he will immediately activate the unsurpassed bodhi mind. This is called a middling rebirth in the low rank.”

The Buddha told Ānanda and Vaidehī, “A low rebirth in the low rank can be achieved by sentient beings that have done bad karmas, such as any of the five rebellious acts or the ten evil karmas. Because of their evil karmas, these fools should go down the evil life-paths to undergo endless suffering for many kalpas. But when such a fool’s life is ending, he may encounter a beneficent learned friend who will comfort him in many ways, expound the wondrous Dharma, and teach him to think of that Buddha. However, this person, overcome by suffering, will be unable to think of that Buddha. His beneficent friend will then tell him, ‘If you are unable to think of that Buddha, you should say that you take refuge in Amitāyus Buddha. Say it earnestly and keep your voice uninterrupted as you say “namo Amitāyus Buddha” ten times in ten thoughts.’ By saying Amitāyus Buddha's name, thought after thought, his sins which would entail 80 koṭi kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. When his life is ending, he will see a golden lotus flower appearing before him like the sun.

“In the instant of a thought, he will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. He will remain in the lotus flower for twelve large kalpas. When the lotus flower opens, Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived, with tones of great compassion, will expound to him the true reality of dharmas and the Dharma for expunging sins. Having heard the teachings, he will be delighted and immediately activate the bodhi mind. This is called a low rebirth in the low rank.

“The vision of rebirths in the low rank is called the sixteenth visualization.”


Thank you very much . Now my Doubt and confusion is gone :)
User avatar
Arabic Buddhist
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:25 pm

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby Arabic Buddhist » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:20 am

plwk wrote:If I may highlight something Arabic Buddhist, compared with the words of later Masters and the contents of Sutras, which one would you give more concern on?
Later commentary can be a source of helpful guide but it's not a definitive one. Is your faith and practice hinged on what the two men said or done?
Are you aware that humans, no matter how much we glorify them can also make mistakes? Hence, the Buddha in earlier writings advised to utilise the teachings and discipline and compare with the what such and such a master has said, neither rejecting nor accepting until it is validated.
During the time of Sakyamuni or Amitabha Buddha, where were Shan Dao and Honen? When Shan Dao and Honen read the Sutras, who do they refer to?
There's a reason why I gave that Zen story earlier.

If this is of any help to yourself... The Four Reliances Sutra


Of course there is no compare between buddha and masters . Master Shan tao and master honen they are disciple of the buddha . And of course If their teaching against buddha teaching i will Reject their teaching .
But My concern is maybe they have know Sutra Depend on it for their teaching .
And now i know the sutra which they depend on it .

Thank you dear friend plwk
User avatar
Arabic Buddhist
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:25 pm

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby Astus » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:44 am

plwk wrote:During the time of Sakyamuni or Amitabha Buddha, where were Shan Dao and Honen? When Shan Dao and Honen read the Sutras, who do they refer to?


Honen's presentation of the Pure Land teaching is based on the sutras. To say otherwise is to reject him as a Buddhist teacher. Honen emphasised what is the bear minimum to attain birth, something that is still achievable by ordinary humans. That's what his process of selecting the nembutsu of the Primal Vow about. He didn't say that all the other practices are wrong, meaningless or don't exist.

While he remained a monastic till the end of his life, he didn't require of everyone else to do the same. He recited the name tens of thousands of times a day and regularly went to retreats, but he said that a single utterance suffices. He was a highly educated Buddhist master, and he said that the only thing needed is the nembutsu and one doesn't have to know what even the Three Minds are.

Honen's approach is like the not so bright student who wants to get over his university years and it is enough if he can pass all the exams. Sure, there are a few top students with the best grades and honours and whatnot. And there are many who can just survive. Honen included everyone in his teachings from the imperial court and elite monastics to the prostitutes and fishermen. For instance, even today you can't learn all the esoteric practices of Shingon unless you are ordained (and speak Japanese). But you can recite Namu Amida Butsu no matter who you are or what you know and attain buddhahood. Wasn't that the intention of the Buddha, to give a path that liberates all beings?
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4257
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby plwk » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:03 pm

Let's face it Astus. In the Pure Land tradition, teachers are a mere reference point and not the main point.

One can spend volumes raving about what he said, what she said, I would rather spend my time seriously getting to know the basic Threefold or Three plus Two texts and practicing nian fo and then if I have extra time, I may read about what he said, what she said. If there's one pitfall I see most commonly in most Buddhist practitioners is that they are way more familiar with what he said, what she said than what the actual scriptural texts said. Not that I am a fan of the modern phenomena and movement of Sutra/Sutta only or the ancient Sautrantikas in the context of 'Sutra only' but if only people spent more time to actually study and read the Sutras first.

As you have said it yourself, Honen's presentation of the Pure Land teaching is based on the sutras. Hence, I learned a great lesson from all of them: read the Sutras for oneself. But do most people who come into this sub forum do that? I was hesitant to use the Sutras here after past experience with many who only want to know what he said, what she said. Porkchop has taken the less travelled road, full on to bring out the actual scriptural text. Some even found me tedious in quoting Sutra texts but if you don't even know the source of the river, how not to get muddled half way up the stream?

Again, the Pure Land path started with Sakyamuni Buddha as per the Threefold texts. The whole schema on Amitabha & Sukhavati came out from there.
In the Chinese Tradition, one doesn't chant Namo Ben Shi Shi Jia Mo Ni Fo for nothing or fun. Acknowledging Sakyamuni Buddha as the mula guru also means to familiarise oneself with the actual texts with His teachings and not to hope for some shortcut or easy way out of 'letting others do one's homework' by reading only commentaries and sermons. Yeah, some may retort on which fisherman has the time huh? But is everyone a fisherman? Is that a matter of excuse or actual deprivation for textual illiteracy? The Shorter Amitabha Sutra must have been the most chanted Sutra in the Chinese tradition me thinks, not only during rites and funerals but also weekly group practices. Even those who can't read and from the lower income groups amongst the older generation have somewhat memorised it by mere listening and habituation. I myself have seen elderly folks memorised this Sutra when I was in Taiwan and in my own country when visiting temples there. Parroting one would say? And what if I may ask are the more well off ones parroting? Samsaric texts on feng shui and geomancy to get more wealth & prosperity? I rather they parrot Buddha Dharma texts.

Back when I was a Christian, I used to encourage my paternal grandfather who's literate to read the actual Chinese translation Bible on a weekly basis to my grandma who's not. When I was asked why, I just told my grandfather that it's the most basic thing to do, what other best is best than to know the actual root text for oneself than secondary ones? Yeah listening to the pastor's sermons are nice and complementary but nothing beats on knowing the root text for oneself and I gave him a whole set of scriptural citations on knowing the Word and the early Church Fathers who opined the same. Don't we have enough of cases of religious abuse and misuse when people don't know the root? The result was she got herself familiarised with the actual Bible texts. I still recall how a close Dharma friend confided on a story of a poor family in a rural village in my country who were told by a 'Venerable' that if they didn't cough up enough of money for the funeral to proceed and warned of dire consequences for the departed if they can't get into the Pure Land. I have no way of verifying this tale but yes, I know of and have heard of even some modern funeral homes and individuals who market funeral 'packages' and schemes advising that it's necessary if they want to get into the Pure Land kinda like a modern rendition of Martin Luther's time where peddlers of indulgences with their outrageous claims for the salvation of souls in purgatory.
And it's big business making big money out of people's ignorance, no?

Hui Yuan, Shan Dao, Honen, Shinran, you, me and others are mere later recipients of this knowledge and practice. I am unsure about you but I do not even for an instant elevate any of them on special thrones or titles. Yeah, Honen did 60,000 recitations a day but even he made it clear it's not about the numbers. And none of them have ever escaped critical evaluation and at times censuring just because they had formal training and done teaching by their peers and the general public.
Similarly, I will look at all of them with a critical eye, not for the sake of being critical but this is what is entailed when doing comparative analysis and study.
No one here ever stated that any one of them are adharma but the point is they are human teachers. Learned? Yes. Experienced? Yes. Attained? I have no evidence for that except for pious biographies and to what extent. The Buddha laid out the 4 Reliances, no? He laid out the 4 Great Frames of Reference as found in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, no? There are even those Buddhists who don't bat an eyelid to keep a critical eye on the Buddha Himself, not to mention anything on the later ones. For me, it's not a problem as long as it's done in the spirit of pariyatti, patipatti & pativedha.
plwk
 
Posts: 2753
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:41 am

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby Astus » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:47 pm

plwk wrote:Let's face it Astus. In the Pure Land tradition, teachers are a mere reference point and not the main point.


I see it the other way around. Without teachers developing an interpretation there is no Pure Land tradition. First of all, there are more than three sutras mentioning Amitabha, so selecting those three as the primary source is already a traditional choice and not something said by the Buddha. Reciting the name, that's not taught in any of the three sutras, but again developed in China. The sutras can be interpreted in many ways. In Buddhism it is perfectly valid and acceptable to create one's own interpretation, maybe even start a new school if one can gather enough followers. I'm not saying it is some sort of heresy or something bad, especially when one does not come up with non-Buddhist views like a creator God and an eternal soul but stays within the boundaries of the four seals.

To follow up on your Christian example, it took a number of ecumenical councils to establish a generally accepted interpretation. Even defining what books are canonical took time and consensus. And there were and are Christian churches who don't agree with any of that. Luther may have believed that the Bible in itself is enough, but he was already building on a 1500 years old tradition, and in fact accepted many of the traditional interpretations (e.g. Virgin Mary, Mother of God).
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4257
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Question About Chinese pure land

Postby plwk » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:21 pm

Teachers have followers, or more accurately willing followers, that doesn't mean they are acceptable to all's palate and taste.
The history of Chinese Pure Land has one that is fraught with interpretations and re-interpretations and none of the 13 Masters are of any particular strict order like the Ch'an or Tibetan ones either. Same with Master Jing Kong, who is most popular, if there was another more popular faction, the same cycle repeats itself.

I am not one like Martin Luther but his friend Erasmus who is only interested in trimming the branches but not to chop the whole tree down.
In case you're forgetting, the Councils are not readily acceptable by all in Christendom but it depends on who's political patronage speaks louder, that one gets more airtime to impose a canon and authority. But yes, for expedience's sake, a list has been handed down and used but how and when is another question. That doesn't stop me or anyone to read beyond that list. My parents flipped when I read the Catholic Bible and some New Testament Apocrypha.

That's why after I was done with the basic Three, I ventured into other texts that are ancillary for some but important for me to see the connection between the dots beyond even Amitabha Himself into other aspects of Sukhavati and the other Two Sages outside of the Three. The Chinese Tradition prescribes the 3 + 2 in most places but I took that framework and worked beyond that and didn't have to commit myself to any one particular teacher, just taking what's useful and true from them and moving on. This is a kind of diversity that is heretical to exclusivists but hey, yesterday's heresy is today's orthodoxy and vice versa. And as you said, so long as it's within the main and basic framework. Again, the Pure Land framework itself is not personality centric, only Pure Landers impose that.
plwk
 
Posts: 2753
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:41 am

Previous

Return to Pure Land

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Hickory Mountain and 10 guests

>