Nianfo as Mantra

Nianfo as Mantra

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:35 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Hi,

This came up in an earlier thread but it was a bit of a tangent so I would like to raise it again here.

Buddha name recitation, on the surface, sounds like the simplest of methods, except that it should be supported by 信心/shinjin. Otherwise, isn't it just a method for calming the mind, no different than counting breaths or even repeating some nonsense syllables? It's 信心 which makes the difference.

But how does one develop this? I'd be interested in hearing how both the Chinese and Japanese Pure Land schools approach this question.

Since, as I understand it, in Jodo Shinshu the nembutsu is seen more as an expression of gratitude, I might also ask: how does gratitude come about? I am asking this as someone who is neither very grateful nor devout by nature.

On a related note, what is the link between Other Power and sunyata? Could Amitabha be seen as a personification of sunyata -- or to ask it differently, would contemplation of Amitabha be a way to develop realization of sunyata? Again I would be interested in responses from across the traditions.

Namaste,
LE


I will say this and some might disagree with me. Namo Amitabha is a super mantra that has tremendous powers to change the person from inside out. This is how mantras work. So I will say that Namo Amitabha is Tantra. By reciting Buddha name gives the powers to get rid of karma, and over time the Mind will be Pure due to that.

Practitioners can reach Concentration which is comparable to Concentration of Chan, Tantra, and others. In other words, practitioners can reach enlightenment through practicing Pure Land. They can go and come as they please, no longer bound by death. When they want to go to Pure Land, they can any time. If they want to stay on earth for a little bit, they can.

Consider Conduct/Concentration/Wisdom and you will see that Pure Land is also meditation. Tantra is meditation. Chan is meditation. Others are meditation also because all lead to Concentration.

As for all forms of Buddhism, you have to practice to experience for yourself especialy with Pure Land you will definitely experience it through practice. There is no other way around it besides practice. Thinking will not give you the experience or the answer.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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Re: Nianfo as Mantra

Postby Mr. G » Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:53 am

LastLegend wrote:I will say this and some might disagree with me. Namo Amitabha is a super mantra that has tremendous powers to change the person from inside out. This is how mantras work. So I will say that Namo Amitabha is Tantra.


I don't doubt the power of nienfo, but it is not mantra or tantra. However Kakuban's himitsu nembutsu did contain esoteric influences from Shingon.
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Re: Nianfo as Mantra

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:55 am

mr. gordo wrote:
LastLegend wrote:I will say this and some might disagree with me. Namo Amitabha is a super mantra that has tremendous powers to change the person from inside out. This is how mantras work. So I will say that Namo Amitabha is Tantra.


I don't doubt the power of nienfo, but it is not mantra or tantra. However Kakuban's himitsu nembutsu did contain esoteric influences from Shingon.


Why is it not mantra or tantra? If you are talking about initiation, empowerment, and all that. Then it is not tantra. But if you are talking about the how Namo Amitabha works, then in essence it is Tantra. And the point of all that initiation, empowerment, etc is for the mantra to take effects? If so then, Namo Amitabha does not have to go through all of that.
Last edited by LastLegend on Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nianfo as Mantra

Postby Mr. G » Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:10 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Why is it not mantra or tantra? If you are talking about iniation, empowerment, and all that. Then it is not tantra. But if you talk about the how Namo Amitabha works, then in essence it is Tantra. And the point of all that iniation, empowerment, etc is for the mantra to take effects? If so then, Namo Amitabha does not have to go through all of that.


Pure Land Buddhism doesn't contain practices that utilize channels, winds, and essences. Initiation itself also changes the subtle body. In addtion, though this is a point of contention, Pure Land Buddhism does not allow one to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime....Sukhavati is achieved after physical death. It doesn't take away from my great respect for Pure Land Buddhism, but it doesnt' mean we can equate Pure Land Buddhism with Tantra. Each is different in it's own right and worthy of practice.
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Re: Nianfo as Mantra

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:37 pm

mr. gordo wrote:
LastLegend wrote:
Why is it not mantra or tantra? If you are talking about iniation, empowerment, and all that. Then it is not tantra. But if you talk about the how Namo Amitabha works, then in essence it is Tantra. And the point of all that iniation, empowerment, etc is for the mantra to take effects? If so then, Namo Amitabha does not have to go through all of that.


Pure Land Buddhism doesn't contain practices that utilize channels, winds, and essences. Initiation itself also changes the subtle body. In addtion, though this is a point of contention, Pure Land Buddhism does not allow one to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime....Sukhavati is achieved after physical death. It doesn't take away from my great respect for Pure Land Buddhism, but it doesnt' mean we can equate Pure Land Buddhism with Tantra. Each is different in it's own right and worthy of practice.


Maybe I don't know anything about Tantra. But let me ask you a question: What is the point of mantra? Is it not used as a medium? If so, then Namo Amitabha is Tantra. If you are still stuck on forms of channels, winds, and essences, initiation, etc, then Namo Amitabha is not Tantra.

What you said about Pure Land Buddhism is not true. 1) Practicing Pure Land can lead to Concentration but only a few can reach this level 2) You will leave while you are alive. You will be noticed of the exact date and time when you are leaving. Not on your deathbed.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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Re: Nianfo as Mantra

Postby Mr. G » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:54 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Maybe I don't know anything about Tantra. But let me ask you a question: What is the point of mantra? Is it not used as a medium? If so, then Namo Amitabha is Tantra.


vajra recitation is not the same as nienfo.

If you are still stuck on forms of channels, winds, and essences, initiation, etc, then Namo Amitabha is not Tantra.


I'm not "stuck" on anything. There are enough practices for people of all inclinations. I am far from stating one is better than the other. However, you are right in that nienfo is not tantra.

What you said about Pure Land Buddhism is not true. 1) Practicing Pure Land can lead to Concentration but only a few can reach this level


Sure, Chinese Pure Land Buddhists believe in proactively doing nienfo. For Japanese Pure Land Buddhists however, Honen and Shinran did not believe the nembutsu was even considered a meditation, so they were not trying to access a state of samadhi. This can be read in Honens' "One Page Statement". Shinran also stressed this in the Kyogyoshinsho.

2) You will leave while you are alive. You will be noticed of the exact date and time when you are leaving. Not on your deathbed.


Yes, I'm aware of the stories, but this doesn't mean you attain awakening here on earth...you depart for the Pure Land. Granted, the mind-only Pure Land Buddhists would disagree.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Nianfo as Mantra

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:09 pm

Ok it seems like you have your view and I have mine. So let's stop from here.
But I wish for you to read this
http://www.quangduc.com/English/pureland/05pure1.html
http://www.quangduc.com/English/purelan ... stion.html
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: Nianfo as Mantra

Postby Mr. G » Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:13 pm

LastLegend wrote:Ok it seems like you have your view and I have mine. So let's stop from here.
But I wish for you to read this
http://www.quangduc.com/English/pureland/05pure1.html
http://www.quangduc.com/English/purelan ... stion.html


I've read these and recently a lot of Chinese and Japanese Pure Land books. I think Chin Kung was an amazing practitioner. My parents are Pure Land Buddhists. :smile:
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Nianfo as Mantra

Postby Seishin » Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:06 pm

Hi All,

I have to say I'm thoroughly confused with the whole tantra/mantra thing, but it reminded me of a paper I'd read a while back called "The Esoteric Meaning of 'Amida' " http://shingondharmazazen.wordpress.com/2007/10/16/the-esoteric-meaning-of-amida/
It might have no relevance to the topic or it might prove valuable. I hope it's the latter.

Gassho,
Seishin.
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