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 Post subject: Cosmology and Pure Land
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:50 pm 
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I was meditating in Pure Land nature and I started to think:
Saha is a trichiliocosm, Sukhavati is a trichiliocosm, Vaiḍūryanirbhāsa is another trichiliocosm and this is infinite.

Well, it is said that a trichiliocosm is limited in space (but is huge!). Some masters equates a trichiliocosm with a galaxy.
This is an horizontal cosmology.

Each trichiliocosm may contain 28 realms of existence (our Saha does). Perhaps other trichiliocosm, depending on the karma of the living beings there, may have more or less than 28 realms, perhaps other realms does not have hells, or maybe they don't have human realms, etc. This is a vertical cosmology.

Now, thinking of Amitabha, its description does not fit with a trichiliocosm. A trichiliocosm includes stars, planets, suns, moons, four continents. If we read PL sutras, there is no Mount Sumeru and is describes as one land, not as multiple lands of Mount Sumeru, four continents, with stars, moon and sun. The only thing that I found to match with a trichiliocosm is that it is the realm of Buddha Amitabha.

Quote:
Then Ananda asked the Buddha, "If, World-honored One, there is no
Mount Sumeru in that land, what sustains the Heaven of the Four Kings and
the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods?"


Also, since each trichiliocosm has a vertical cosmology, Samsara are the 6 realms (28 planes), there are also 4 Enlightened realms, I thought that Pure Land was some kind of "physical, material, observable by humans, subject to law of physics, the same physical plane as us", but thinking on this, Sukhavati can be in any of the 10 realms, why it has to be on the "Physical world" where there are other 9 realms? Also, it seems more plausible if the Pure Land is in the 10th realm, the realm of the Buddha, the Buddha Amitabha. So, in this way, Pure Land is not subject to birth and death nor to Samsara, because it is one of the 4th realms not subject to Samsara, the Buddha-realm.

Is there something wrong in my reasoning?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:27 pm 
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Nothing wrong with your reasoning,
just too much.
.
.
.

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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:38 pm 
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i want to point out that your post seems to be suggesting that it is '' out there '', rather it is '' in here '', inside or nowhere. outside is only emptiness, from inside comes all the rest i.e the appearance.

_________________
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:10 pm 
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I don't think there are specific rules in Buddhism about how should various realms exist. There is certainly no sophisticated cosmological doctrine that explains all the details, as it'd be mostly a philosopher's job. Amitabha's land lacks oceans too. It is meant to be a very pleasant place. Yes, it is normally categorised beyond the samsaric realms, that's how beings can stay there indefinitely.

_________________
"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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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:25 pm 
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Astus wrote:
I don't think there are specific rules in Buddhism about how should various realms exist. There is certainly no sophisticated cosmological doctrine that explains all the details, as it'd be mostly a philosopher's job. Amitabha's land lacks oceans too. It is meant to be a very pleasant place. Yes, it is normally categorised beyond the samsaric realms, that's how beings can stay there indefinitely.


I completely understand your point, Astus. Realms can be whatever they are.
The problem is my mind. My mind needs categorize to understand. Also, I completely reject a far far away physical world with the descriptions of Pure Land, for my mind that does not make sense, specially because of that huge life-span and wonderful things that I don't think will fall under physic laws, etc, etc. Also this physical universe is subject to birth and death, even stars and planets do. So, for me, that will make sense if we talk about a non-physical world, and the only logical explanation that I can find (I don't know other) is to place Pure Land in the 10th Realm of existence, the Buddha-Realm.

I would like to know how do you see it, I want to get feedback from everyone, to understand better :)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:06 pm 
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of course Amitabha's pure land is a buddha realm.

_________________
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:24 pm 
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There is a huge gap between the modern understanding of the world and the ancient one. This difference could be grasped by the single word "physical". To us something is either physical/perceptible/comprehensible/regular/real or spiritual/mental/supernatural/fantastic. This is an old method of demonising and disqualifying an unwanted view. The Pure Land is not physical, so not like our world, so it is far away, and maybe even just a symbol or a pious myth. This way we end up reinforcing our received cultural education and rejecting/transforming anything that does not fit into it. And that's absolutely normal. The Pure Land teachings could spread because it fit well into people's preconditioning, that the world is inhabited by other forms of intelligent life. Modern scientific education comes from an opposite view, that denies all "superstitions" (although once the word superstition was applied to pagan beliefs by Christians).

My take on the matter is that if you want to understand Buddhist cosmology, especially its Mahayana version, you have to become a proper philosopher, and put aside everything (or rather, as much as you can) you think about the world and start anew, establishing yourself on the Buddha's words. That is, the world is what we experience as the world. Our experience is formed by our habits. Entire worlds can become out of beings' habitual impulses. This is what samsara is about. Buddhas are beings who have not only defeated their habits (karma), but out of compassion gained mastery over their experience. That way buddhas establish various lands to assist deluded beings in gaining liberation. All the abilities of the buddhas are made out of perfect merits that were created by perfect deeds (paramitas) and steered by vows - this is what the bodhisattva path is about. Amitabha is one of the many buddhas, and his story is about how he, as a bodhisattva, made his 48 special vows to create a land where every willing person can attain birth.

_________________
"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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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:22 am 
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Astus wrote:
There is a huge gap between the modern understanding of the world and the ancient one. This difference could be grasped by the single word "physical". To us something is either physical/perceptible/comprehensible/regular/real or spiritual/mental/supernatural/fantastic. This is an old method of demonising and disqualifying an unwanted view. The Pure Land is not physical, so not like our world, so it is far away, and maybe even just a symbol or a pious myth. This way we end up reinforcing our received cultural education and rejecting/transforming anything that does not fit into it. And that's absolutely normal. The Pure Land teachings could spread because it fit well into people's preconditioning, that the world is inhabited by other forms of intelligent life. Modern scientific education comes from an opposite view, that denies all "superstitions" (although once the word superstition was applied to pagan beliefs by Christians).


You are right. I don't see Pure Land as superstition, I do believe in it, just I'm trying to figure it out how. Of course ancient understanding may not fit to us, because we have developed another world view. My guess was to try to fit the Pure Land into my preconditions. It is hard, but I think each people has their own precondition, so, everyone will explain Pure Land with his own vision.

I think then, that I will have to practice, it is ok to think but only when it does not interfer with my practice.

What I'm started to deduce, there are limitless worlds, both vertical and horizontal. And the sutras just try to explain that to us, in a mundane words, but at then, they are impossible to understand for us. Saying they are physical is limiting the idea to our own limited vision, also saying is spiritual is the same. They maybe a parallel universe, spiritual, material at both time :crazy: or they maybe something that we will never know, but at this time, a physical world like us will not fit right for a Pure Land. At the mean time, I will need a way of understanding, that's what I'm searching. I don't know if my first post are someway correct, I hope it is.

Astus wrote:
My take on the matter is that if you want to understand Buddhist cosmology, especially its Mahayana version, you have to become a proper philosopher, and put aside everything (or rather, as much as you can) you think about the world and start anew, establishing yourself on the Buddha's words. That is, the world is what we experience as the world. Our experience is formed by our habits. Entire worlds can become out of beings' habitual impulses. This is what samsara is about. Buddhas are beings who have not only defeated their habits (karma), but out of compassion gained mastery over their experience. That way buddhas establish various lands to assist deluded beings in gaining liberation. All the abilities of the buddhas are made out of perfect merits that were created by perfect deeds (paramitas) and steered by vows - this is what the bodhisattva path is about. Amitabha is one of the many buddhas, and his story is about how he, as a bodhisattva, made his 48 special vows to create a land where every willing person can attain birth.


That's what I will have to do, but how can I put aside my old high school science class? :rolling: Seriously, it is hard to drop for me the current view of the world. I will have to, but I don't know how and at the end, are Buddha and Science compatible or can both have an arrangement? :reading:


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:38 am 
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Pure land practice is perfect for intellectuals
and those who cling to reason
for their safety.
.
.
.

_________________
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:43 am 
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zamotcr wrote:
That's what I will have to do, but how can I put aside my old high school science class? :rolling: Seriously, it is hard to drop for me the current view of the world.

Same reason why PL Buddhism in Japan has been in a severe decline for many years.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:57 am 
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Nighthawk wrote:
Same reason why PL Buddhism in Japan has been in a severe decline for many years.


Because people discovered new ideas about the universe? Seriously?
In Japan a lot of people take Amitabha as a metaphor and of course that is wrong. That is the reason of the decline.

Buddhism, specially Mahayana found space among new ideas, theories and philosophies. If that wasn't true, there would not be Mahayana sutras. Several sutras composed in China would not exists. Avatamsaka Sutra presents a new cosmology not present before. So I don't think new cosmologies are the issue. The issue is lack of faith.
One can have faith and accept new science ideas, get a new understanding of old teachings without denying Buddhas nor Bodhisattvas.

I do have faith. I believe Amitabha is real, as others Buddhas are. I just trying to understand Pure Land in a logical way. And for me logical is not a physical far away galaxy, but something more elevated. That what I exposed in the first post. I don't think that is the cause of decline though.

If I can't use reasoning in which way is that better than Christianity?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:18 am 
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zamotcr wrote:
In Japan a lot of people take Amitabha as a metaphor and of course that is wrong.


It is not necessarily wrong.
There is a point of understanding that goes beyond metaphor vs. literal.


zamotcr wrote:
The issue is lack of faith.

Lack of faith in...exactly what?

The point of Pure land practice is to stop taking refuge in your limited way of seeing things.
"Other Power" refers to Amitabha Buddha's compassion,
but ultimately there is no difference between that and your own true nature.

As Ippen said, so eloquently,
"Once our false thinking has completely ceased,
There is neither start nor finish, beginning nor end;
In the oneness of Buddha and sentient being
"Say Namu-Amida-Butsu"

----"Hymn of Amida's Vow"

In this regard, Chanting the name is not that much different than the Zen Koan or the Vajrayana visualization.

zamotcr wrote:
One can have faith and accept new science ideas, get a new understanding of old teachings without denying Buddhas nor Bodhisattvas.

Yes, of course. I don't understand what you are asking.
Are you asking why doesn't Amitabha's Pure Land resemble the description of other Buddha -fields?

I don't know that anyone here can give you an answer to that,
but I would suggest it has to do with what is established for the purpose of fulfilling the vow.
Or, maybe he just needed room for more furniture.

zamotcr wrote:
If I can't use reasoning in which way is that better than Christianity?

If you are simply going on faith without understanding, then maybe no difference, but you would have to ask a Christian for their opinion on that. There is a slogan that some Christians say:
"Let go and Let God"
...which is very similar to relying purely on other power.
but the difference is that in Buddhism, the true nature of mind is already clear, essentially enlightened
but is obscured by clinging to discursive thoughts.
Most Christians do not assert that one's mind is the same thing as God.

If you think of 'other power" as truly something other
then you are creating a dualism in the mind. You are still clinging to discursive thinking.

That is why I suggested that there is nothing wrong with your reasoning
there is just too much reasoning
meaning that this kind of reasoning won't bring you the answer you are looking for.
.
.
.

_________________
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:33 am 
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PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Yes, of course. I don't understand what you are asking.


Hi PadmaVonSamba, I was replying to Nighthawk answer.

Nighthawk wrote:
zamotcr wrote:
That's what I will have to do, but how can I put aside my old high school science class? :rolling: Seriously, it is hard to drop for me the current view of the world.

Same reason why PL Buddhism in Japan has been in a severe decline for many years.


I just want to know how is the better approach to cosmology. Astus gave a great hint here. I just want inputs, to know better, to understand better my faith.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:43 am 
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zamotcr wrote:
Nighthawk wrote:
Same reason why PL Buddhism in Japan has been in a severe decline for many years.


Because people discovered new ideas about the universe? Seriously?


I strongly believe materialism/science is to blame for the decline.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:52 am 
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Nighthawk wrote:
zamotcr wrote:
Nighthawk wrote:
Same reason why PL Buddhism in Japan has been in a severe decline for many years.


Because people discovered new ideas about the universe? Seriously?


I strongly believe materialism/science is to blame for the decline.


Materialism yes, true. And believing that Pure Land is a physical realm, is not materialism?

Of course current attitude of science has a lot of fault here, but that make current discoveries bad? No... We know about evolution, about rising and ending of stars, planets. We know more of universe we live on. This will never be bad, unless you want to live believing that our planet has a big Sumeru, with four continents, flat, sorrounded by iron mountains.Of course things changes, and that the good thing about Mahayana, that is not static, a closed book.

Scientific attitudes are bad, science are not. Of course science is limited in their scope, but that does not make it less. It has shown us a lot of good things. I think the Earth is round.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:45 am 
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zamotcr, i would study and gain an experiental understanding of emptiness. i sincerely believe that will clear all of your doubt and confusion and the grinning analysis and actually provice you with a closer experience of the pure land, where it is, how it exists, how can it exist etc. this

or you can continue with a more scientific analysis..

_________________
If the thought of demons
Never rises in your mind,
You need not fear the demon hosts around you.
It is most important to tame your mind within....

In so far as the Ultimate, or the true nature of being is concerned,
there are neither buddhas or demons.
He who frees himself from fear and hope, evil and virtue,
will realize the insubstantial and groundless nature of confusion.
Samsara will then appear as the mahamudra itself….

-Milarepa

OMMANIPADMEHUNG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6P9tOYmdo


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:50 am 
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For me this is throwing a light regarding physical and so on: http://books.google.be/books?id=E8C3_VZ ... ti&f=false

:namaste:

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:56 am 
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zamotcr wrote:
Seriously, it is hard to drop for me the current view of the world. I will have to, but I don't know how and at the end, are Buddha and Science compatible or can both have an arrangement?


Dropping a view and putting it aside are two different things. There are many ways to analyse something, and you don't need to refuse physics to do an aesthetic evaluation. Religion is not philosophy, mathematics, sport or economics, but it also does not exclude any of them. It makes no sense to claim that only "purple" is true while "yellow" is false as they are just various colours. At the same time, it is also pointless to say that purple and yellow are compatible, they mean the same thing, etc.

Quote:
If I can't use reasoning in which way is that better than Christianity?


First of all, reasoning has many forms and just because something is logical it doesn't mean it is true (or false). It is good to be reasonable, and denying the force of rationality is exactly what it is: irrational. Christianity has many forms too, and at least the older, mainstream churches (Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, etc.) have no problem with reasoning, philosophy and science. Theology itself is a combination of faith and reason.

Secondly, in what sense can one religion be better than the other? It is a matter of personal choice and taste. But of course, arguments for the truth/superiority of one belief over the other is abundant.

If you want to understand the way various Pure Land teachings are considered orthodox Mahayana, you need to study Mahayana. Explanations in Pure Land works assume that one is already familiar with general Mahayana.

Quote:
And believing that Pure Land is a physical realm, is not materialism?


Physical in Buddhism means that something is perceived by the five bodily senses. The only purely mental realm in Buddhism is called the arupaloka, where no form exists at all. That means that from Avici to Akanishta everything is physical. Since Sukhavati has many physical characteristics, as described in the sutras, it is also considered physical in its Buddhist sense.

_________________
"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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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:15 pm 
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Astus wrote:
My take on the matter is that if you want to understand Buddhist cosmology, especially its Mahayana version, you have to become a proper philosopher, and put aside everything (or rather, as much as you can) you think about the world and start anew, establishing yourself on the Buddha's words. That is, the world is what we experience as the world. Our experience is formed by our habits. Entire worlds can become out of beings' habitual impulses. This is what samsara is about. Buddhas are beings who have not only defeated their habits (karma), but out of compassion gained mastery over their experience. That way buddhas establish various lands to assist deluded beings in gaining liberation. All the abilities of the buddhas are made out of perfect merits that were created by perfect deeds (paramitas) and steered by vows - this is what the bodhisattva path is about. Amitabha is one of the many buddhas, and his story is about how he, as a bodhisattva, made his 48 special vows to create a land where every willing person can attain birth.


Astus, can you delineate the major principles of what Buddha said about cosmology? Which correct views one should adopt, a proper way of understanding. I want to know more to study in that line :)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:16 pm 
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Astus wrote:
Dropping a view and putting it aside are two different things. There are many ways to analyse something, and you don't need to refuse physics to do an aesthetic evaluation. Religion is not philosophy, mathematics, sport or economics, but it also does not exclude any of them. It makes no sense to claim that only "purple" is true while "yellow" is false as they are just various colours. At the same time, it is also pointless to say that purple and yellow are compatible, they mean the same thing, etc.


Ok, got you here. Analise both apart, each theory has their merit.

Astus wrote:
If you want to understand the way various Pure Land teachings are considered orthodox Mahayana, you need to study Mahayana. Explanations in Pure Land works assume that one is already familiar with general Mahayana.


I want to but I feel lost. There a lot of disagreements between masters, every Master explain the same things in very different ways. I want to understand, I want to know Mahayana way.

Astus wrote:
Physical in Buddhism means that something is perceived by the five bodily senses. The only purely mental realm in Buddhism is called the arupaloka, where no form exists at all. That means that from Avici to Akanishta everything is physical. Since Sukhavati has many physical characteristics, as described in the sutras, it is also considered physical in its Buddhist sense.


Ok. I didn't think on it. Yes, everything is described with physical characteristics and perhaps it is in that way. What I was referring with "physical" is the physicality of us, i mean, I can touch a physical phone, I can see physical people in front of me, the "physical" world around us. But we usually don't see devas around, even when they are physical, they physicality (or their level of existence, reality, or dimension, I don't know) is different from us in someway. Perhaps they are here, but our senses are limited by something that does not let us see them around us.

I don't know if you got my point in what I was referring to.


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