Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby Astus » Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:58 am

"The worthies in the above passages all directly point at the Original Mind. There is no other method. This holds true at the level of ultimate reality; however, in the phenomenal realm, paradise and Amitabha Buddha with his forty-eight vows, really exist. So anyone who recites Amitabha's name just ten times will ascend with the power of Amitabha's vows and be reborn on a lotus leaf. In this realm, he will soon break free from the wheel of transmigration. All the Buddhas of the Three Dimensions of time say that this is so. The Bodhisattvas of the Ten Directions85 all vow to be reborn there. In addition, the records describing all of those who have been reborn there in the past or present have been transmitted accurately. All of you practitioners who have made a vow to be reborn there should beware of mistaken views. You must be diligent!
The Sanskrit "Amita" means "unlimited life-span" or "unlimited brilliance." It is the name of the most excellent Buddha throughout the Ten Directions and the Three Dimensions86 of time. When this Buddha was practicing, he was called Dharmakara. He made forty-eight vows in front of Lokesvararaja Buddha. He said, "When I become a Buddha, if any deva or human being — or even the smallest insect — residing in any of the myriad worlds in any of the Ten Directions chants my name just ten times, I will cause that being to be reborn in my realm. For, until I am able to fulfill my vow, I will not enter Buddhahood." The sages of the past used to say, "Each time one praises the Buddha, the demons lose their courage. In addition, one's name is removed from the register in hell, as a lotus flower87 blooms in a golden pond." It has also been said in the Dharma of Repentance, "There is your own power and the power of others. The former is slow, whereas the latter is fast. It is like a man who wants to cross the sea. If he plants trees for timber to make a boat, it will take a long time. This is like using your own power. But if he borrows someone else's boat and crosses the sea, he will get there fast. This is like the power of the Buddha." It has also been said, "If a child approaches water or fire and then yells, his parents, hearing his shout, come quickly to save him from danger. It is the same with a man on his death bed who shouts the Buddha's name. The Buddha, who is in possession of mysterious powers, will definitely come and greet such a person. In this sense, the compassion of the great sages surpasses that of parents. Moreover, sentient beings' birth and death is much more dangerous than water and fire."
There are those who say, "The mind is the Pure Land. You cannot be 'born' in the Pure Land. Your Self Nature is Amitabha Buddha. There is no other Amitabha to meet with." These words seem to be correct, but in fact they are not. Amitabha Buddha has no desire or hatred. Do we likewise have no desire and hatred? The Buddha transforms hell into lotus flowers as easily as you might turn your hand over. Yet, we are constantly afraid of falling into hell through the force of our own karma; we certainly could not even consider transforming hell into lotus flowers. Amitabha Buddha observes infinite worlds as if they were right in front of his eyes. For us, even the things happening right outside our wall cannot be seen, let alone the worlds in all the Ten Directions. Therefore, man's nature may be Buddha but his actions are characteristic of a sentient being. If we discuss both character and function, they are as far from each other as the sky and the earth.
Master Kuei-feng once said, "Even though you actually awaken suddenly; in the end, you must cultivate gradually." These words are true indeed!
Then, what could we say to someone who insists that this Self Nature is Amitabha Buddha? How is it that Sakyamuni was born with his fine endowments? How is it that one like Amitabha Buddha appeared through spontaneous birth? If you think about it, you cannot help but understand. When you are on your death bed, suffering and on the verge of death, are you confident that you will be completely free? If you aren't, then you should do something to avoid falling into some long-lasting torment as a result of a moment's pride.
Even Asvaghosa and Nagarjuna, both of them patriarchs, clearly bestowed upon us their words and teachings which strongly advocated working for a good incarnation in the next life. Who am I to say that one should not concern oneself with the next life? Even the Buddha himself said, "The Western Paradise is far from here. One must pass through 180,000 worlds to get there." This is an explanation of characteristics for the sake of those with dull faculties. "The Western Paradise is not far from here. This very mind/sentient being is the Buddha/Amitabha Buddha." This is an explanation of the Self Nature for the sake of those with "sharp faculties." The teachings consist of both the provisional and the actual. Speech has an exoteric and an esoteric aspect. One whose understanding and actions are in agreement can penetrate both what is near and what is far. Consequently, the School of the Patriarchs has those, like Hui-yuan, who called out to the Amitabha Buddha and those, like Jui-yen, who called out to his own self."

(Seosan Daesa: Mirror of Seon, 53.; Mirror of Zen, 52)
"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: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby Mr. G » Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:43 pm

Nice find Astus :smile:
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby padma norbu » Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:08 am

So... I just have to say his name 10 times and I'm good? Do I have to still be a good and mindful boy, too?
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby Jikan » Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:02 am

padma norbu wrote:So... I just have to say his name 10 times and I'm good? Do I have to still be a good and mindful boy, too?


It's possible to repeat the name a billion times like an old walkman without really "saying" it, with full intention. To do that, you must indeed be a good and mindful person.
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Re: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby Nighthawk » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:58 am

padma norbu wrote:So... I just have to say his name 10 times and I'm good? Do I have to still be a good and mindful boy, too?


Depends on which school of Buddhism you ask. Chinese/Taiwanese/Vietnamese buddhists will tell you to smarten up (be mindful, follow the precepts etc.) A Jodo Shinshu buddhist will tell you all you need is faith. Vajrayana buddhists will tell you the importance of finding a qualified teacher and to practice under him/her. In my opinion, all these paths lead to rome.
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Re: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby Astus » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:31 am

Lip service is quite useless. As mentioned by Ryoto, the minimal requirement is to have faith. Without intention and reliance on Amita Buddha there is no birth. Without mindfulness of the practice there is no meditation.

Seosan says in the Mirror of Seon (52):

Chanting with the mouth is called "recitation," while chanting with the mind is called "reflecting on the Buddha. To merely recite a chant without awareness does not benefit one's practice. The Dharma Gate of the six syllables "Na-mu-a-mi-ta-bul" is a short-cut approach that can definitely lead you out of the cycle of transmigration. When you chant, your mind should be directed towards the realm of the Buddha. In your thoughts, you should maintain the chanting without falling into forgetfulness. With your mouth, you should chant the Buddha's name distinctly and not let your voice become sloppy. If you do this, your mind and your voice will come together. This is the meaning of "chanting the Buddha's name."
"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: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby Mr. G » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:08 pm

Ippen's view from Hirota's No Abode:

Concerning these issues, Ippen states flatly: "Neither one utterance nor ten utterances has anything to do with the Primal Vow." After the Kumano revelation, his wanderings took him to Kyushu, where he met his former teacher Sodatsu. Conversing in a steam bath, Shodatsu asked why he taught ippen-nembutsu rather than the traditional ten utterances. Ippen responded by explaining the verse we have been cosidering. On hearing Ippen's account, Shodatsu expressed his approval and, by saying he would accept a hundred of Ippen's numbutsu, revealed he had grasped it's import: every utterance is one-utterance that transcends numerical count; every utterance is, in fact, solely the Name. The core of the nembutsu is Other Power, not any intention of the practicer; this is also Honen's stance. Ippen, however, goes beyond this to articulate a distinctive position:

Beyond the single thought-moment of nembutsu at the start
There are no final ten utterances at death;
Rather, start is made in adding thought-moment on thought-
moment,
And the thought-moment reaching its limit is the end.
("Hymn of Amida's Vow")

The concept of the ten utterances at death continued to play a significant role in Ippen's practice, and precisely it's weight lent force to his thoroughgoing assertion of the nonduality of the first utterance of the nembutsu and the last - that is, of the present and the point of death - based on the eradication of dichotomous thinking in the one thought-moment:

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")
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby plwk » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:36 pm

Sometimes I wonder how is it that a 'simple' practice can be turned into such a mountain of views...
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Re: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby Astus » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:35 pm

plwk wrote:Sometimes I wonder how is it that a 'simple' practice can be turned into such a mountain of views...


There's never been even a "simple thought", only naive philosophies and superficial views. That's why through analysis one finds both inter-dependency and emptiness at the same time, one thought including all thoughts and at the same time being without true basis.
"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: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby plwk » Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:24 am

Yes I am playing the devil's advocate here...lol
How many in the majority have such capacities for 'analysis'?
I am also thinking of the wider spectrum beyond the realm of scholars and those of 'higher' capacities...so those 'lesser' ones are left out then because they analyse less or their causes and conditions do not permit them so or limited?
Surely there is also space for those like the story of the Elder Arhat Culapanthaka?
People like myself and yourself can appreciate what Seosan opine but what about those who don't or never heard of him?
Have not the Pure Land Sutras & Sastras at the same time remind us that where Sages & Bodhisattvas can't comprehend this Dharma Door yet the simple ones can? And why?
http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/purelan ... s/id3.html
Neither shravakas nor bodhisattvas are able to know
The Sage's Mind exhaustively;
They are like those who are born blind
And yet wish to guide others.

By the power of that Buddha's Original Vows,
All who hear His Name and desire birth,
Will, without exception, be born in His Land
And effortlessly enter the Stage of Non-Retrogression.

Perhaps, that's why the Buddha Dharma has this unique feature of attracting and yet confounding a mind full of views...
Last time I read on the likes of Shinran & the Chinese Masters, they do not count only the scholars and the learned as their exclusive circles... Amitabha's vows is so expansive that none is excluded...be one an arya puskala to the prthagjanas...no?
http://www.cttbusa.org/amitabha_session ... ession.asp
The King of All Dharmas is the one word "Amitabha."
The Five Periods and the Eight Teachings are all contained within It.
One who single-mindedly remembers and recites His name
In samadhi will enter the Thus Come Ones' place of quiescence.
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Re: Seosan's Argument for Pure Land Practice

Postby Astus » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:37 am

Simplicity doesn't necessarily mean it is for people of low capacity. In fact, one may need lot of explanations to reach an understanding. I think it is quite rare that one just accepts a foreign religion based only on faith. And the original quote I brought here addresses a common view that the Pure Land and Amita Buddha are just symbols and not real at all. That is, in my view, a shallow understanding of the Pure Land teachings.
"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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