Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby cheondo » Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:58 pm

Hi all,
I'd say my home tradition is Korean Buddhism, but not the austere zen type, rather the living, devotional type, which is what I experienced over there. There's very little information about Pure Land in Korea (Jung To). I speak low level Korean and was able to find a monk named Jeong Mok who just published a commentary on the Amita Sutra. In a recent interview he claims Koreans don't understand Pure Land well and it has a kind of bad reputation as being for lazy or simple people.

If anyone knows anything about Korean Pure Land, I think this would be a great thread to add the information to. I'm hoping to make contact with Jung Mok monk. If I do, I'll update this thread.

Namu Amitabul!

As a side note, there is a school of Buddhism there now called Cheon Tae (or Chuntae) which emphasizes, and AFAIK, only prescribes the chanting of Guan Yin Pu Sah (Kwan Se Eum Bosal). Reminds me of Pure Land, but they have NO English resources at all. At the head temple, the layfolks and monk stay up all night chanting together.
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:43 pm

cheondo wrote:Hi all,
I'd say my home tradition is Korean Buddhism, but not the austere zen type, rather the living, devotional type, which is what I experienced over there. There's very little information about Pure Land in Korea (Jung To). I speak low level Korean and was able to find a monk named Jeong Mok who just published a commentary on the Amita Sutra. In a recent interview he claims Koreans don't understand Pure Land well and it has a kind of bad reputation as being for lazy or simple people.

If anyone knows anything about Korean Pure Land, I think this would be a great thread to add the information to. I'm hoping to make contact with Jung Mok monk. If I do, I'll update this thread.

Namu Amitabul!

As a side note, there is a school of Buddhism there now called Cheon Tae (or Chuntae) which emphasizes, and AFAIK, only prescribes the chanting of Guan Yin Pu Sah (Kwan Se Eum Bosal). Reminds me of Pure Land, but they have NO English resources at all. At the head temple, the layfolks and monk stay up all night chanting together.
Seon is the mind of the Buddha and Kyo is the practice.

Zen and Pureland are not two but one.
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby Astus » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:57 pm

Cheontae is Korean for Tiantai/Tendai (天台), and this is their website. As far as I know there is no separate school for Pure Land in Korea either (just as there isn't in anywhere else except Japan), nevertheless, the practice of the yeombul (nianfo/nenbutsu) is widespread. Cheonghwa was a Korean monk in the 20th century who propagated yeombul practice combined with Seon. To me it seems that the mainstream view of the majority of the elite monastics and teachers is about the combined Seon and yeombul method where it is more about attaining a pure mind rather than birth in the Pure Land. This is emphasised by Hanam for instance, one of the most influential Seon monks in the 20th century, who sanctioned the abolishment of a yeombul recitation association from the Manil-hermitage in 1921 (see: Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism, p 177ff). As for other levels of Buddhism, I have no information.
"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: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby Astus » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:59 pm

KwanSeum wrote:Seon is the mind of the Buddha and Kyo is the practice.

Zen and Pureland are not two but one.


Pure Land is not a Kyo/Teaching school.
"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: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:07 am

Astus wrote:Cheontae is Korean for Tiantai/Tendai (天台), and this is their website.
I've never come across Cheontae as a sect before. When I read your question I assumed you were asking about Chongt'o which is Korean for the Pure Land.


Astus wrote:Cheontae is Korean for Tiantai/Tendai (天台), and this is their website. To me it seems that the mainstream view of the majority of the elite monastics and teachers is about the combined Seon and yeombul method where it is more about attaining a pure mind rather than birth in the Pure Land.
Are you sure there is a difference? - perhaps you are assuming too much!

So are you really asking if anyone knows anything about the Chuntae sect? If you are then I've no idea about it - sorry!

당신은 한국어를 말할 수? 당신이 한국에 살고 있습니까?
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby cheondo » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:18 am

Astus wrote: Cheonghwa was a Korean monk in the 20th century who propagated yeombul practice combined with Seon. To me it seems that the mainstream view of the majority of the elite monastics and teachers is about the combined Seon and yeombul method where it is more about attaining a pure mind rather than birth in the Pure Land. This is emphasised by Hanam for instance, one of the most influential Seon monks in the 20th century, who sanctioned the abolishment of a yeombul recitation association from the Manil-hermitage in 1921 (see: Makers of Modern Korean Buddhism, p 177ff). As for other levels of Buddhism, I have no information.


My experience is also that Amitabha is part of the package, where a pure mind is emphasized and not going to the pure land. I haven't asked a lot of monks about this myself; the monks I met were generally interested in the Diamond Sutra, Platform Sutra, and sutras dealing with Kwanseum Bosal. Since I like Korean Buddhism so much, I'm hoping for a resurgence in the Pure Land way. Maybe Jung Mok's new commentary will spark some interest.
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:21 am

cheondo wrote:My experience is also that Amitabha is part of the package...
Visit most Korean temples early in the morning and you'll find the monks chanting "Amitabul" (Korean for Amitabha). Amitabul, being the Buddha of Chongt'o (Pure Land) is of central importance in Buddhism, there is no doubt about that.

cheondo wrote:...where a pure mind is emphasized...
A pure mind is required for Seon or Chongt'o. Are you suggesting one can practice Buddhism without a pure mind?

cheondo wrote:Since I like Korean Buddhism so much, I'm hoping for a resurgence in the Pure Land way.
I am also committed to Korean Buddhism, but the essence of Korean Buddhism is the synchronisation of all things.

In my case I chant KwanSeum bosal all day everyday. I chant Amitabul every evening and bow 108 times morning and night to KwanSeum bosal, Amitabul and Birojana-bul (cosmic Buddha) who is the central Buddha of my shrine and hence my practice. I also face the wall and meditate for an hour every morning and again in the evening. I neither practice Zen or Pure Land - I simply practice!

As the Avatamasaka sutra says, "a speck of dust includes all the worlds" and the wisdom of all Buddhas is just like this: it is complete in all the bodies of all sentient beings. It is merely that ordinary, foolish people are unaware of it and do not realise it.

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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:32 am

cheondo wrote:Hi all,
I'd say my home tradition is Korean Buddhism, but not the austere zen type...
Perhaps Seon being austere is a stereotype that is not useful.
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby Astus » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:27 pm

What qualifies as a Pure Land path is when one's aim is to be born in the Pure Land. If one chants Namo Amita Buddha only for the sake of purifying the mind, gaining concentration and such, that is not a Pure Land method. But if one does bows and pilgrimages for attaining birth, it is a Pure Land practice then. So it is not the matter whether one uses recitation, visualisation or something else but if one has the faith and vow (to be born in the Pure Land) or not. Using the recitation of the name is just the simplest and easiest method in the Pure Land school but not the only one. Also, if one works on purifying one's mind in order to gain birth in the Pure Land, that is a valid method. Even reciting other buddhas' name can be a way to the Pure Land. Or it can be something else. It depends primarily on faith and vow. Without faith in Amita Buddha and the Pure Land it's meaningless to call it anything close to the teachings of the Pure Land school.
"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: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:24 pm

Astus wrote:What qualifies as a Pure Land path is when one's aim is to be born in the Pure Land. If one chants Namo Amita Buddha only for the sake of purifying the mind, gaining concentration and such, that is not a Pure Land method.
Are you assuming that the Pure Land is way over yonder and Amitabul is far removed from us?
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby Astus » Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:21 pm

KwanSeum wrote:Are you assuming that the Pure Land is way over yonder and Amitabul is far removed from us?


Do I assume that America is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean? Do I get there if I understand that all phenomena are only mental dharmas, or should I get a plane ticket? I can also say that Barack Obama is the true nature of my mind, however, that doesn't make me the president of the U.S. of A. Thus it is that there is not just emptiness but also causes and conditions.

"Ordinary people generally think that if the Pure Land is Mind-Only, then it does not exist. This is the understanding of demons and externalists. Such a deluded view, which appears correct but is in reality wrong, affects more than half of all people and causes practitioners to forfeit true benefits.
It is precisely because of the Self-Nature Amitabha that the practitioner must recite the name of Buddha Amitabha of the West seeking rebirth in the Pure Land – so as to achieve the Self-Nature Amitabha through gradual cultivation. If he merely grasps at the Buddha Amitabha of the West, he cannot achieve immediate escape from Birth and Death – not even if he is truly awakened, much less if (like most people who ask this question) he is pretentious and just indulges in empty talk without engaging in practice.
Thus, the answer to your question [are the Mind-Only Pure Land and the Self-Nature Amitabha the same as or different from the Western Pure Land and Amitabha in the Pure Land?] is that they are one yet two before Buddhahood is attained, two yet one after Buddhahood is attained."

(Yin Kuang: Pure-Land Zen, Zen Pure-Land, p. 57)
"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: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:36 pm

Astus wrote:
KwanSeum wrote:Are you assuming that the Pure Land is way over yonder and Amitabul is far removed from us?
I can also say that Barack Obama is the true nature of my mind...
True

Astus wrote:
KwanSeum wrote:...however, that doesn't make me the president of the U.S. of A.
What is the 'me' you talk of?
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby Astus » Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:17 pm

KwanSeum wrote:What is the 'me' you talk of?


Don't derail the discussion with questions about linguistics.
"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: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:53 am

Astus wrote:
KwanSeum wrote:What is the 'me' you talk of?


Don't derail the discussion with questions about linguistics.
I wasn't trying to, but I see this conversation is going nowhere. Where did the OP go anyway? I assume we didn't answer his question.
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby plwk » Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:28 am

Where did the OP go anyway?

The Jung To... :tongue:
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:00 pm

plwk wrote:
Where did the OP go anyway?

The Jung To... :tongue:
부처가 그를 축복 (Buddha bless him)
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby cheondo » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:15 pm

I'm still here! My wife and I are translating Jung Mok's article. Korean is not easy to translate into English, especially Buddhist Korean. Kwanseum, looks like you can speak Korean, maybe you want to have a go at looking at what this Jung Mok's monk is up to. So far I gather he's published 10 volume commentary (!) on the larger Amita Sutra and he's very much a self-power kind of guy. I'll post the translation here when I finish. (not of the commentary obviously... the article at ibulgyo.com.
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:28 pm

cheondo wrote:I'm still here! My wife and I are translating Jung Mok's article. Korean is not easy to translate into English, especially Buddhist Korean. Kwanseum, looks like you can speak Korean, maybe you want to have a go at looking at what this Jung Mok's monk is up to. So far I gather he's published 10 volume commentary (!) on the larger Amita Sutra and he's very much a self-power kind of guy. I'll post the translation here when I finish. (not of the commentary obviously... the article at ibulgyo.com.
That would be fantastic. Although my Korean leaves much to be desired I lived there for over a decade and my wife is Korean - making my kids dual Korean/English! I'm also still attached to Korean temples and thus still use my Korean often.

I'm looking forward to your post.

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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby cheondo » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:28 pm

I have a similar situation, but I was there only four years and have only one child. It reads that you're in the UK -- are you involved with the Amita Trust? Looks like an interesting organization.
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Re: Korean Pure Land Buddhism

Postby KwanSeum » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:44 am

cheondo wrote:I have a similar situation, but I was there only four years and have only one child. It reads that you're in the UK -- are you involved with the Amita Trust? Looks like an interesting organization.
No, I've no connection to the Amita Trust.

Just to clarify then, you lived in Korea for four years and have a Korean wife and child? Where do you live now? Can you speak Korean? Are you still attached to any Korean temples?

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