No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Mr. G » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:03 pm

Nosta wrote:Wow!

Where can i found more information about that?

I just do a very small number of recitations! I feel bad, like if my practice is not enough, but i cant abandon my life and doing recitations all the time :-(


Many Pure Land temples offer a 1 - 7 day retreat, you may feel like finding one by you. I'm sure it would be very beneficial. I know there is a description of a Pure Land retreat in Tanka and Payne's book "Approaching the Land of Bliss." I forget the author's name, but it is the last chapter.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Belincia » Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:23 pm

Hello Nosta and all others

You were discussing about whether Avalokiteshvara lives on Sukhavati or in his own pureland.
As I have understood it, Bodhisattvas can manifest almost in limitless forms and Buddhas supposedly in completely limitless forms...
So, why can't Avalokiteshvara simply do both - live on Sukhavati AND his/her own pureland ?

Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are not limited by things we are... As I have understood it, there are several manifestations of Avalokiteshvara present on the Earth right now, Dalai Lama being probably best known...

Also I'd encourage you to contemplate about logics behind buddhist teachings. Ask yourselves why rebirth and karma makes or makes not sense... And read a lot...
Because I think those things are pretty logical, and not based on blind faith. Everything in nature and physics for example has causes and effects... Also if you are nasty for people, they aren't likely to love you. If you eat a lot you are going to get fat except if you have some CAUSE that prevents it.. If you think positively, you will become happier... List will be endless... Of course in most things there is many causes and effects happening at the same time, so it can be complicating.
And about rebirth: is there actually any logical reason to think that we would suddenly disappear at the moment of death ? If some people's minds are still able to create hallusinations when their bodies are virtually dead ?

And about those hallusinations, or whatever they are... I think everything we experience is eventually our own mind... Life is illusion. Still that doesn't prevent us from living and experiencing the life. Why would it prevent us from being born to Pureland ?

And about returning to help people on this realm of existence: As I have understood it, when we go to Sukhavati, our first task is to become Buddhas. Once we are Buddhas, we manifest can manifest in limitless realms helping all sentient beings. Note that we may manifest in many such forms, that no-one would understand we are Buddhas. We won't necessarily (or even likely I think) go yelling around: I am Buddha, I just came from Sukhavati...
So limitless Buddhas/Bodhisattvas from Sukhavati might very well right now be in your room but you wouldn't see them. That doesn't mean they are not benefiting you...

Last one important thing is... Finding something that inspires you. For me this is simply reading Sukhavatisutras (which you can find from internet luckily. I'd suggest to print them). I usually read them aloud by my altar. I love the "pure, ultimate, perfect" view on these sutras. It might not suit everyone, but I love it... It shows the Pureland as it is: pure, ultimate, perfect, without any stains... Let your imagination run wild :reading:
And the of the things that distinguishes Buddhist Pureland Path from Christianity etc theistic religions is: Sukhavatisutras doesn't contain a word about violence, "God's revenge, cursing etc..", Amitabha wanting anything for himself: he simply does all he can to benefit all living beings. He has ultimate compassion. That's very unlike Christian God: Christian God wants himself to be worshipped etc and has pretty big ego if you ask me. He wants to punish those who does wrong. He thinks some deserves hell.
Amitabha isn't omnipotent, but he does all he can just to benefit any living being, he doesn't even want harm for those that does terrible things or hates Amitabha himself... That's pure compassion. And that's unlike any other religion (just read Bible, you will see).

Sorry for long message, I got into writing mood ;)
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:11 pm

Nosta wrote:Hello!

Part of me believes that there is in fact, somewhere, the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, or Sukhavati.
But there is other part of me, the scientific one, that doesnt believe on it.

If Pure Land teaching is real, its the most important one from all the buddhist teachings, because its the only one that may drive someone, in on life time (the one right after dying), to reach Nibbana. And such teaching says that one needs: Pratice, Vows and FAITH [that Amithaba will save us].


Since Faith is so much important, i would like to increase it by:
- knowing for sure that the Sutras speaking on Amithaba are real, that they were really the words of Shakyamuni Buddha; if such sutras were a creation from other sects, that would be a very big shame, and would dimnish the credibility of Pure Land idea; for example, Theravada buddhists seems to be prety sure that Pure Land (as Mahayana or some concepts like "Original Mind"/"Buddha Nature", etc and i cant argue against them; they have some valid points) is not a Buddha teaching;

- having acess to more and more cases of sucessful rebirths in Pure Land; unfortunatly i only know very few (3-4 from some ebooks or the like) and thats strange, because with so many people that pratice Nembutsu, i dont see any reports/readings, movies, pictures, whatever, showing the signals of sucessfull rebirth in Sukhavati...and i already made search on internet (and even contacted 1-2 masters to send me reports/links, etc and no results, altought the answers to my questions were very kind).

So, what i ask is for you to answer (not only to me, but everybody that may read this) to such questions (1- Are Pure Land Sutras the original message of Shakyamuni Buddha? 2- Can you give more cases of sucessfull rebirth in Pure Land?).

I hope to see some nice discussion here :-), but i must confess that on other forums my task did not give any results :-(

Finnaly, apologise my english. :-)

Namo Amituofo!

"Pure Lands," are treated as a Mahayana concept, but it seems very similar to the idea of "Pure Abodes," (Śuddhāvāsa) of Early Buddhism.
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby shinchan » Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:11 pm

they hear the heavenly music fading away toward the West, and the room fills with unearthly perfume which does not dissipate for several days.


If it means anything to Nosta, I have, on more than one occasion, had a similar experience to the one described above when reciting nembutsu. Of course, since I was alone, there was no way for me to verify that sweet aroma I perceived was 'real' or simply subjective. I am about as skeptical as one can be on such matters short of being a total materialist, but this experience had a profound effect on me.

Now I realize my personal experience can't prove anything to you or anyone else but perhaps if you asked Amida for a similar form of verification, he would provide it to you. Would the smell of lotus' and the sound of phantom music while you recite nembutsu convince you that there is something to Pure Land Buddhism? If so, try my suggestion and see if anything happens.
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Nosta » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:38 pm

Belincia:1- What are the Sukhavatisutras? Is that a general name for a certain type of sutras, or is that the nme of a specifi sutra?

2- If Buddhas and Boddhisattvas can manifest themselves on many ways, why do they not simply apear in front of me and say "Hey, Nosta, its me Avalokitesvara."? Maybe we are the problem, maybe we need to develop more insight in order to see them, but if Buddhas/Bodhisatvas can travel across worlds, i dont see why we cant see them directly, right now.

3- About Buddhism being a religion much more compassive than Christian religion, i totally agree. Islamism is even worse. On their "bible" there are lots of references to the "jihad" and they even say how to kill non-believers (cutting their neck or the head with a sword seems to be the most acceptable way...).

Shinchan:1- I asked Amida once to get some signals. No sucess. Why? :-(
2- About the scent, how was that scent you felt? Did you heard some sounds too?
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Shutoku » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:14 pm

Regarding NDE, I was very much influenced by my Mother's NDE.
She is a Christian, though not of the closed minded conservative variety. In her NDE she felt indescribable peace and love and traveled through a tunnel towards an incredibly bright light, but despite it's brightness it was not hard to look towards.
She didn't want to come back actually, but as she came back to life the thought of her children inspired her.

Now years later she came to a service at my Jodo Shinshu Temple. When she saw the Amida scroll with Amida standing emitting 48 rays of light, She said that it looked very much like what she saw (although she never had described seeing a person in the light)
She also heard some Tibetan monks chanting Aum on TV and said that that was the sound.

Regarding faith. Faith involves taking that leap and trusting without a ton of supporting evidence. I think that what you are really seeking is certainty, not faith.
I'm afraid you will not find it.
As a Shin Buddhist, I find Shinran's words inspiring in this regard:

As for me, I simply accept and entrust myself to what my revered teacher told me, "Just say the nembutsu and be saved by Amida"; nothing else is involved.
I have no idea whether the nembutsu is truly the seed for my being born in the Pure Land or whether it is the karmic act for which I must fall into hell. Should I have been deceived by Master Honen and, saying the nembutsu, were to fall into hell, even then I would have no regrets.
The reason is, if I could attain Buddhahood by endeavoring in other practices, but said the nembutsu and so fell into hell, then I would feel regret at having been deceived. But I am incapable of any other practice, so hell is decidedly my abode whatever I do.

If Amida's Primal Vow is true, Shakyamuni's teaching cannot be false. If the Buddha's teaching is true, Shan-tao's commentaries cannot be false. If Shan-tao's commentaries are true can Honen's words be lies? If Honen's words are true, then surely what I say cannot be empty.
Such, in the end, is how this foolish person entrusts himself [to the Vow]. Beyond this, whether you take up the nembutsu or whether you abandon it is for each of you to determine.
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Nosta » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:07 pm

But so you speak on blind faith, and thats dangerous in a general way. Not in buddhism but on sects where one can commit suicde in a group or act with violence.

Faith my be a jumping the black, but one needs to get some ideas and some proofs on what is the other side of that "black area".
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby shinchan » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:29 am

Shinchan:1- I asked Amida once to get some signals. No sucess. Why? :-(


I wish I could give you a certain answer. A possibility that comes to mind is that I seem to be more sensitive to such things; I've had paranormal experiences since I was a child. Another possibility is that the deep state of concentration I sometimes attain causes me to hallucinate and so believe I can smell lotus flowers; like a waking dream. I want to make it clear that I did not myself ask for this sign, it just happened.

2- About the scent, how was that scent you felt? Did you heard some sounds too?


I did not hear any sounds, but apparently some people do. The lotus scent (it seemed to be lotus, but I'm not 100% sure) has occurred several times. Sometimes outside (which I generally discount), but also in my room when I chant the nembutsu under my breath.

I really thought this was weird until I read Buddhism of Faith & Wisdom by Dharma Master Thich Thien Tam:
http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf0.htm
In chapter 7 he writes that, just as in Zen, those who recite nembutsu fervently can experience 'marks' (visions) during their practice. While the ones he describes in his book are visual (visions of the Pure Land), there is really no reason why they cannot arise from any of the remaining 4 senses.

But so you speak on blind faith, and thats dangerous in a general way. Not in buddhism but on sects where one can commit suicde in a group or act with violence.

Faith my be a jumping the black, but one needs to get some ideas and some proofs on what is the other side of that "black area".


Shinran didn't have much faith. He said:
I really do not know whether the nembutsu may be the cause for my birth in the Pure Land, or the act that shall condemn me to hell. But I have nothing to regret, even if I should have been deceived by my teacher, and, saying the nembutsu, fall into hell. The reason is that if I were capable of realizing buddhahood by other religious practices and yet fell into hell for saying the nembutsu I might have dire regrets for having been deceived. But since I am absolutely incapable of any religious practice, hell is my only home.


My attitude is much like Shinran's:

I suck as a meditator. I'm undisciplined. I don't have very good karma and I can't even uphold all the precepts for more than a month. I'm habitually arrogant towards others and to top it off I'm a borderline sociopath. I still try my best (there is never any excuse to not try your best), but my best isn't so great. If there is a hell, I'm going there. So I have nothing to loose by saying Namo Amida Butsu; even if it makes me look like an idiot.

If you hold onto to so much as a sliver of hope that you can attain enlightenment in this life through your own efforts then maybe the Jodo school isn't for you. You might want to try Zen or Vajrayana -that's the swift way to enlightenment. Jodo isn't primarily for those who have faith; it's for those who have no other hope.
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Shutoku » Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:10 pm

Nosta wrote:But so you speak on blind faith, and thats dangerous in a general way. Not in buddhism but on sects where one can commit suicde in a group or act with violence.

Faith my be a jumping the black, but one needs to get some ideas and some proofs on what is the other side of that "black area".

I"m sorry Nosta, but what you seek no one can give you, because if there was some solid tangible, provable evidence that one particular religion was true, then everyone would be that religion.
Also just because there have been cults that harm people and take advantage of their faith, does not mean faith is itself a bad thing.

Sometimes food will look and taste good, but make you sick. That doesn't mean you should stop eating all food though.

What Shinran was saying is that, he knew after many years of monastic life, that he was no closer to enlightenment. That he still was full of blind passions.
Now if he were capable of attaining enlightenment on his own or on some other path, but followed the nembutsu and ended up in hell, he would have some regret. But since he knew he had no other hope of attaining enlightenment, he had nothing to lose, because without the nembutsu path hell was his destination anyway.

Do you feel you can attain enlightenment in this life?
If your answer is no, then you have nothing to lose by following Pure Land.

However if you seek tangible answers I suspect Pure Land Buddhism isn't for you. I think maybe you should look into Theravada, which seems to not delve into that "black area" so much, but sticks more to that which is knowable in this life.
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Nosta » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:22 pm

Pure Land is for me, but the bst you know something, the best you get into it. While i try to get more storys about sucessful rebirths, my faith and wish to get in Pure Land, grows up.

Of course that some Theravada buddhism is nice for me. I like Theravada, but i think that Pure Land is my Way.

:-)

And speaking on rebirths, if anyone knows more storys, post them here :-)

Thank you all of you for the great answers so far.
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby spiritnoname » Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:30 am

Umm,.. someone said you cannot prove rebirth. Why not? That just sounds crazy to me. :coffee:
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby cj39 » Wed May 18, 2011 9:09 pm

Nosta,
Do you have similar issues with other Buddhist schools or is just the Pure Land school. For example, do you practice Zen without the experience of sitting down with a Buddha over a cup of coffee or maybe a frozen yogurt and getting all your questions answered and answers questioned beforehand?
Just curious...
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed May 18, 2011 10:06 pm

Nothing cuts through attachment to that intellectual safety net as well as Shinran's Pure Land method. With all due respect to the Jodo ShinShu tradition (and I really DO respect it), c'mon, you scriptural purists and brainiacs....get stupid!!!

(at least explore the difference between the western concept of 'faith' and Shinran's 'ShinJin' 信心 ).

Obviously, there is no 'western' direction in the universe. In common usage, however, Sukhavati, Amitabha's Pure land is described as a place in the west where those who recite his name or mantra go when they die. The west is where the sun sets, so it is a metaphor for the end of one's life. Throughout Chinese -speaking countries you can even buy little transistorized 'nian fo ji' (buddha's name reciting machine) that looks like a transistor radio and chants "Amito fo" fo you. The batteries do all the work, and I think that when the batteries die, they go to the Pure Land.

The more subtle or perhaps 'profound' understanding is that, as you know, there is no permanent self in buddhism. Our consciousness is not one long thing, but a string of flickering events. You are not exactly who you were a moment ago. Every second we die and and take rebirth. So on that level, the practice of Pure Land Buddhism means faith that you might finally realize enlightenment in the next moment. In this sense, 'faith' means really believing in your own practice. Do you really, really believe that you are going to become enlightened? Would you stake your life on it?

One more thing...if Amitabha is the Buddha of infinity (infinite light, infinite life - amitayus) then his pure land must also be infinite. So, no matter where it is in the universe, it's distance must be infinite. It's boundaries extend all the way to the tip of your nose.

Oh yeah...and another thing. people want to know if the Realms, and the Pure lands are 'real' the way our experience seems 'real'. i think the answer is that they are absolutely not any more real than our own experience is right now. But how can some coagulated glob of skhandas that we call 'consciousness' leave this body and go somewhere else? I don't know. But as far as I know, there is nothing that exists in the human body that can create cognitive awareness. Amino acids and so forth may provide an environment for brain activity to occur, but as far as '"who" is experiencing that synaptic soup as "thought" , that is who is meditating. That is who experiences the cessation of brain activity as 'death' and so I do not see any reason why a 'pure realm', meaning mind's original luminosity, cannot occur when this body is no longer functioning. My understanding is that Pure Land practices give that "me" that we imagine a little bit of an edge.

I find Pure Land Buddhism to be part visualization and part koan. I don't know if the Buddha really taught it. It is said to be the only---or one of the few teachings that was not requested. In other words, the Buddha supposedly just gave it. So, I practice it along with other practices, but I don't know if Buddha taught it. if I die and go to a Buddha realm, I will inquire.
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby LastLegend » Thu May 19, 2011 2:31 am

Check out Shurangama Sutra. There are 25 methods to cultivate concentration and are represented by 25 Bodhisattvas. Pure Land is represented by the method of Mahāsthāmaprāpta who talks about how to recite Amitabha.
NAMO AMITABHA
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NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby rory » Thu May 19, 2011 5:05 am

Nostra;
Maybe some here will remember me from E-sangha, I'm a modern euro-american pure lander & forgive me if this story is a repetition to you but I hope it will inspire others with faith.
I'm a pure land devotee since 1996, originally from New York City with lots of temples and a wonderful Jodo monk who was my teacher. Then I moved to Ireland; no master, no sangha.
One day I woke up with double vision and a paralyzed left eye. Oh oh, this usually means a brain tumor or an aneurysm, I was rushed to the hospital had an IV stuck in my arm. I couldn't read, I was so weak; all I could do lie in my hospital bed and chant Amitabha's name on my beads. And like the masters say a sickbed is an amazing place to practice; because there are no distractions; no ambitions, no plans, who knows if you have a tomorrow? So your mind is concentrated & I thought about death and prayed for Amitabha to come to me & I was very scared at one point & then this golden light suffused my vision and I felt deep calm that Amitabha was coming. And no more fear. Actually I welcomed going to the Pure Land and leaving samsara. But then I felt it would be selfish to leave my elderly parents and not tell others about Amitabha & how it is all true. So I prayed to Guan Yin to help me get better and help others. The next day, I walked down the corridor pushing my IV and talking to the other very sick patients, they could not believe how calm & happy I was.
Anyway I was diagnosed with 6th nerve palsy, an infected nerve, released 10 days later. At home I chanted with so much faith and gratitude. I made a complete recovery in 3 months, with my eye returning to normal. The doctor was astonished as healing takes 1 year with no guarantee and my eye was badly crossed.

I can tell you just keep chanting & if you need an online sangha you are welcome here: http://groups.google.com/group/jodoshubuddhism we have 2 priests there as well.
I hope this is of help to you - keep chanting, practice will make your faith grow.
with gassho
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby LastLegend » Thu May 19, 2011 2:44 pm

^Excellent
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Anders » Thu May 19, 2011 2:51 pm

Guanyin to the rescue again! :smile:
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby rory » Fri May 20, 2011 5:35 am

Yup, Kannon-sama never fails; this is my favorite dharma gate for sure.
I recognize more names here from E-sangha. This is super.
gassho
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby Nosta » Fri May 20, 2011 9:28 pm

Its good to see so many people from e-sangha coming back to here again :-)

Rory, thank you for sharing your story. Its inspiring indeed :thumbsup:
I hope you are complety healed from your problem. I posted here at 2 months more or less, a similar case regarding my tinnitus (ear "ringing") problem and my healing after some Medicine Buddha recitations. Coincidence or not, my problem is much, much better!

About my faith, i have faith but not 100%.

And i think that little people have it to 100%.

Its natural to have doubts, to make questions. And we must take in account our "heavy" world filled with lies, false prophets (so to say), wrong doctrines and so on. Also, we must take into account the scientific tought that, altought being good, its bad for things like believing on Amitabha (and i have a scentific tought, always questioning everything). But even so, may faith is bigger than before. Faith grows up with little steps. One cannot avoid having questions.

Sharing experiences with each other, like we do here, its great! My faith raises up! And i am very thankful for having this oportunity. In my coutry and even worst in my smalll town, its very hard to find buddhists and aven harder to find pure land practioners. I tought that maybe chinese comunity (spread on some points of my city) may be a good way to find pure land buddhists...i must think on that idea, the problem is that they dont speak english and only say a few words of portuguese (i am portuguese).


About the concern of some people here, regarding the autenticy of Pure Land teachings (ie, is Pure Land/Amitabha a real teaching from Buddha, or a later "add"?), i have the same questions too. I try to avou to think to much on that, because such questions will lead to no answer (unless you find some great scholarship guys as we can find here in this forum :thumbsup: ) and such questions are not good for practice if you have them always in your mind. But sometimes i cannot avoid it too.
The best thing to do is to follow the idea from a great master (cannot remember right now the name but i found it in the free ebook "Buddhism of Wisdow and Faith": "say one sentence less and say one more recitation: thats a good practice; say one sentence less and say one more recitation: thats a good practice too". :namaste:
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Re: No Proofs of Sucessful Rebirths?&Are Pure Land sutras real?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat May 21, 2011 1:39 am

When you cannot find the right answer, maybe you are not asking the right question.
Pure Lands are no more real than the world you experience right now.
'Pure' means there is no obstruction. From here, Amitabha appears to be across the universe.
From Amitabha's view point, there is no distance at all.
"Amitabha is Real" and "Amitabha is a metaphor" are both exactly the same thing. That's ShinJin.
It has nothing to do with blind faith. It's not like Christianity at all despite a similar outward appearance.
It is realizing the enlightened mind from Amita. In other words, it is infinity looking at the finite.
When we take refuge in our habits and perceptions we take refuge in the finite.
When we go to Amita Buddha, we take refuge in the infinite.
In the infinite there is no difference between you and Buddha.
Amita is infinite, so there is no difference between Amitabha and the original infinite nature of your own mind.
Amitabha's pure land is real and you are already there, but relying on your own limited mental habits you don't see it.
So, maybe people have a better chance when they are dead. More free time.
That's why there is the idea of 'faith' meaning total trust. But it is not duality faith.
If you totally trust that mind is infinite, then what does that mean? Can you cross that ocean?
If you aren't sure, then what is it you are doing?
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