Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby alasdairyee » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:56 pm

Hello, I'm a little interested in pure land visualisation practices according to the comtemplation sutra, anyone does this practice? Anyone can help me better understand how to go about doing this practice? Do I visualise all 16 visualisations at once or is there another way I should go about doing it?

Thanks
Namo Amituofo!
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:29 pm

There was a series of lectures about that topic on the website of the New York Buddhist Church (Jōdo-Shinshū) with instructions on how to meditate. Unfortunately it is now taken off-line, but it is still available via the Wayback Machine. Normally Jōdo-Shinshū followers wouldn't meditate (at least not for achieving birth in the Pure Land), but the instructions may be useful anyway :)
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby plwk » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:10 am

http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf52.htm#methods
Contemplation by Thought Recitation
This entails meditation on the features of Buddha Amitabha and His Land of Ultimate Bliss, in accordance with the Meditation Sutra. (The Sutra teaches a total of sixteen contemplations.) If this practice is perfected, the cultivator will always visualize the Pure Land before him. Whether his eyes are open or closed, his mind and thoughts are always coursing through the Pure Land. At the time of death, he is assured of rebirth there.

The virtues obtained through this method are immense and beyond imagination, but since the object of meditation is too profound and subtle, few practitioners can achieve it. This is because, in general, the method presents five difficulties:
i) with dull capacities, one cannot easily succeed;
ii) with a crude mind, one cannot easily succeed;
iii) without knowing how to use expedients skillfully and flexibly during actual practice, one cannot easily succeed;
iv) without the ability to remember images clearly, one cannot easily succeed;
v) with low energy, one cannot easily succeed.

Very few can avoid all five pitfalls. Thus, upon reflection, this method also belongs to the category of difficult Dharma doors.

Ten Variants of Oral Recitation
10. "Contemplation of the Buddha" Recitation

The methods of contemplation taught in the Meditation Sutra are very important and lead to immense virtue, but they are not a popular expedient for sentient beings in the Dharma-Ending Age. Nevertheless, since the ancient masters did not wish to see the special benefits of the meditation method go unused, they selected the easiest of the Sixteen Contemplations (Contemplation of Amitabha Buddha) and combined it with Oral Recitation to form the Contemplation of the Buddha-Oral Recitation technique. (Recitation is predominant, with contemplation of the Buddha occupying a subsidiary position.)

Each day, after reciting the Buddha's name, the practitioner reserves a special period of time for concentrating his mind and contemplating the Embellishments and Light of Amitabha Buddha. This method is derived from Contemplation Number Thirteen in the Meditation Sutra, in which Buddha Amitabha is visualized as some sixteen feet tall and of golden hue, standing at the edge of the Seven-Jewel Pond. If the practitioner cannot yet visualize the Seven-Jewel Pond, he can picture Amitabha Buddha standing before his eyes in a zone of light, in open space, the left hand held at chest level and forming the auspicious mudra, the right arm extending downward in the position of "welcoming and guiding."

To be successful in this meditation, it is necessary, at the outset, to visualize the body of Amitabha Buddha in general, then concentrate on the urna (white mark between the eyebrows). This mark is empty and transparent, like a white gem with eight facets ... The urna is the basic mark among the thirty-two auspicious marks of the Buddhas. When this visualization is successful, thanks to the affinity thus created between Amitabha Buddha and the practitioner, other marks will appear clearly, one after another. However, to ensure success, the practitioner should read through the Meditation Sutra memorizing the thirty-two auspicious marks of Buddha Amitabha before commencing his practice.

With this method, Buddha Recitation should be primary, because if the practitioner does not succeed at visualization, he can still fall back on recitation to ensure rebirth in the Pure Land. In truth, however, recitation aids visualization and visualization complements recitation, so that these two aspects work in parallel, leading the practitioner toward the desired goal.

Although this technique is somewhat more difficult than the others, if it can be accomplished successfully, immeasurable benefits are achieved. It is therefore described here at the very end, to foster diligent practice.
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby alasdairyee » Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:03 am

Heh thanks. Yea read that already, thought I'd at least give it a try.

Thanks.
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby Jikan » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:05 pm

alasdairyee wrote:thought I'd at least give it a try.


This comment cheers my heart.

Last night I led our sangha in walking nembutsu practice. For people who are primarily interested in silent meditation, nembutsu can be a hard sell. For some it's a non-starter. But people really seem to open up to it if they just give it a good-faith try. A sense of humor helps... to be "game" for it, so to speak.

My point is that if you're willing to try, you're willing to succeed in practice. Go for it!

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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby Mr. G » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:05 pm

alasdairyee wrote:Hello, I'm a little interested in pure land visualisation practices according to the comtemplation sutra, anyone does this practice? Anyone can help me better understand how to go about doing this practice? Do I visualise all 16 visualisations at once or is there another way I should go about doing it?

Thanks
Namo Amituofo!



Shan-tao's Kannenbomon
Visions of Sukhavati: Shan-Tao's Commentary on the Kuan Wu-Liang Shou-Fo Ching
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby Mr. G » Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:49 pm

alasdairyee wrote: Do I visualise all 16 visualisations at once or is there another way I should go about doing it?



Not do dodge your questions, but a commentary I read (Shan Tao?) states to do them one at a time. I don't have my books on me at hand right now as I'm at work.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby Jechan » Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:01 pm

Yes, that's what I read, too. One at a time. One month per visualisation, it's a long haul but it might yield some good results. :twothumbsup:
If you are a Pure Land practitoner, Buddha recitation should be primary. Visualisations, sutra recitations, bowing, should be secondary.
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby Tatsuo » Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:19 pm

Why should recitation of the name be primary and visualisation/sutra recitations and bowing be secondary? Only since Hōnen the verbal nenbutsu has been the focus of Pure Land practice and that only in the schools he founded or influenced (Jōdo shū, Jōdo Shinshū, and Jishū)*. In Tendai for example, the other practices are doctrinally equal to the verbal nenbutsu. Even practices like recitation or copying of the Lotus Sutra or practices related to Kannon or Jizō can serve as a way to achieve birth in the Pure Land.
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby Astus » Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:26 pm

Recitation of the name is easier than visualisation and other such methods and this is a common understanding in Chinese PL too. That doesn't mean one shouldn't do them it's just one has to be clear about one's situation and willingness. Honen puts recitation to the front so that people can grow strong in faith after which it's fine to get busy with so call auxiliary practices.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby Tatsuo » Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:43 pm

Well yes, recitation of the name is mostly considered to be easier in East Asian Buddhism. But that doesn't mean, that all East Asian Pure Land traditions came to the same conclusion, that verbal nenbutsu is the only effective way of achieving birth in the Pure Land. So as a Pure Land practitioner you can also choose to do another practice than the verbal nenbutsu as your main practice, which will be as effective as the recitation of the name for achieving birth in the Pure Land.
Last edited by Tatsuo on Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby Astus » Sat Feb 26, 2011 2:07 pm

No disagreement here.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:52 am

Different methods work for different people. Some people find visualization of Amitabha while mouth reciting to be helpful in terms of concentration.
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Re: Meditation/Contemplation/Visualisation Sutra practice

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:58 am

Jechan wrote:Yes, that's what I read, too. One at a time. One month per visualisation, it's a long haul but it might yield some good results. :twothumbsup:
If you are a Pure Land practitoner, Buddha recitation should be primary. Visualisations, sutra recitations, bowing, should be secondary.


All practices are important just remember to always have Amitabha in Mind.

Reading Sutras is actually practicing concentration when one does not stop to think and analyze. Most people will protest to this idea but this method works. Nowadays only a few know of this method.
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