Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby rory » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:33 am

Ryoto;
I had a wonderful teacher a Jodo Shu monk, Rev. Jo-An Myers, he was just so kind & compassionate, really he was such a bodhisattva. And everything I learned, to be straighforward and non-intellectualizing, to have faith in Amida, that he's real and there is a real Western Pure Land. And everything he taught came true. So you can see why I'm such a devotee.
and every single word of his advice you can read in "The Promise of Amida Buddha: Honen's Path to Bliss"
so I hope this is helpful
gassho
Rory
Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Nighthawk » Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:11 am

Thank you rory for that recommendation. I already have "Honen the Buddhist saint" which was a great read.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:52 pm

rory wrote:Tendai would also see this land as the Pure Land, Jshu sees a real Pure Land in the West.


I'm not sure if I misunderstood, but do you mean, that the Pure Land of Amida is interpreted in Tendai as being present in this world? I might be wrong, but I thought, that there are many Pure Lands in Tendai (this world being one of them) - a view most Buddhist traditions including Jodo would approve. Probably most Tendai Buddhists today (starting in the Heian Period) would aspire birth in the Pure Land of Amida, but it never occurred to me, that his Pure Land is viewed as being this saha world. Is there really such a difference in the interpretations of the Pure Land of Amida between Tendai and Jodo and not just in the actual practice for achieving birth in his Pure Land?
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:43 pm

(22) If, when I attain Buddhahood, bodhisattvas in the Buddha-lands of other directions who visit my land should not ultimately and unfailingly reach the Stage of Becoming a Buddha after One More Life, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. Excepted are those who wish to teach and guide sentient beings in accordance with their original vows. For they wear the armour of great vows, accumulate merits, deliver all beings from birth-and-death, visit Buddha-lands to perform the bodhisattva practices, make offerings to Buddhas, Tathagatas, throughout the ten directions, enlighten uncountable sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges, and establish them in the highest, perfect Enlightenment. Such bodhisattvas transcend the course of practice of the ordinary bodhisattva stages and actually cultivate the virtues of Samantabhadra.

(26) If, when I attain Buddhahood, there should be any bodhisattva in my land not endowed with the body of the Vajra-god Narayana, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby rory » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:14 pm

Tatsuo:
Tendai had many pure lands: but today I don't think most believe in an objective pure land in the West. Rather it's a purify your mind sort of thing. You can find a similar understanding of the Pure Land with Shinshu followers: this world is no other than the Western Pure Land. It's a metaphor, meaning if we purity our minds this world will be purified and the pure land. Similarly to most Shinshu followers Amida is a metaphor for Compassion as well, rather than an objective sambhogakaya buddha.

I hope i have explained things more clearly. Additionally Jodo Shu is more traditional in expecting the practitioner to make an effort and fine with other practices: worshipping Jizo, Kannon, meditation, mantra etc if they contribute to an ongoing nembutsu practice.
gassho
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Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Tatsuo » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:11 am

rory wrote:Tatsuo:
Tendai had many pure lands: but today I don't think most believe in an objective pure land in the West. Rather it's a purify your mind sort of thing. You can find a similar understanding of the Pure Land with Shinshu followers: this world is no other than the Western Pure Land. It's a metaphor, meaning if we purity our minds this world will be purified and the pure land. Similarly to most Shinshu followers Amida is a metaphor for Compassion as well, rather than an objective sambhogakaya buddha.

I agree, that maybe this understanding of the Pure Land is prevalent today, but only in the community of Western converts to Buddhism. I'd bet, that you will not find this view among most Asian Buddhists. Most Buddhists in the West seem to have problems with the (integral) devotional part of Buddhism and mostly seek "happiness", calm and insight. Similar trends occurred, when Buddhism was introduced to Asian countries. In Japan for example the first Buddhists were not very interested in the devotional aspects (or even in insight), but in the state protection and rituals for certain benefits of the rulers. In the Heian Period the interest in the devotional practices grew - and I think this will also happen in the West. Buddhism without the devotional aspects may be suitable for the well educated middle class, who delight in philosophical speculation or have the time to deepen their meditation practice, but will not reach the common man/woman. And it will be somehow lifeless IMHO...
But I wouldn't say, that this is a problem of Tendai or Jodo Shinshu in general. In Asia those traditions will include the devotional aspects of Buddhism and it's followers will probably experience only these aspects of their traditions. And you are free to embrace this part of Buddhism in the West, too. It's a personal decision and most authentic teachers will not try to convince you, that this is the wrong way, because if they did, this would imply, that almost all Buddhists of the past and present in Asia got it wrong.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Nighthawk » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:14 am

It's pretty sad to see most shinshu followers in the west see it more as a "mental health program" than an actual path leading out of samsara permanently.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:40 am

"Pure-Land Zen Zen Pure-Land", it's a very good book. It compose of letters from Master Yin Guang. The letters were original in Chinese and translated into English. Here is one of the letter:

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 ?

It is because the Mind-only Pure Land exists that we are reborn in the Pure Land of the West. If the mind is not pure, it is impossible to achieve rebirth in the Pure Land. Even when those who have committed cardinal transgressions achieve rebirth through ten recitations, such rebirth is due to their reciting the Buddha’s name with a pure mind, thus eliciting a response from Amitabha Buddha. 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 Self-Nature Amitabha but does not recite the name of 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.

The Teaching of Great Master Yin Guang (13th chinese Pureland patriarch).
_/\_
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:52 am

rory wrote:And no, I'm never coming back to this Saha world, I'll help people as a bodhisattva staying in the Pure Land. Kannon sama will get another helper :namaste: :namaste:
gassho
rory


oh. think we may still need to go out to make offering to Buddhas of the other directions before lunch/meal time. :p

Moreover, Shariputra, in this Buddhaland heavenly music always plays, and the ground is made of gold. In the six periods of the day and night a heavenly rain of mandarava flowers falls, and throughout the clear morning, each living being of this land offers sacks filled with myriads of wonderful flowers to the hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhas of the other directions. At mealtime they return to their own countries and after eating they walk about. Shariputra, the Land of Utmost Happiness is crowned in splendor and virtues such as these. --Amitabha Sutra


offering to Buddhas, help accumulate our merits in the speedest way. :)
but depends, our Saha world (the name of our world, World of Endurance) may or may not be around. it'll become another world, Kalpa of Stars.

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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Thug4lyfe » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:06 am

The future Saha World!!!!

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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby gyougan » Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:57 pm

rory wrote:Tatsuo:
You can find a similar understanding of the Pure Land with Shinshu followers: this world is no other than the Western Pure Land. It's a metaphor, meaning if we purity our minds this world will be purified and the pure land. Similarly to most Shinshu followers Amida is a metaphor for Compassion as well, rather than an objective sambhogakaya buddha.
Rory


What you are describing is not the general Jodo Shinshu view in Japan. All Japanese Shinshu followers I know do not try to rationalize Amida nor do they hold a metaphorical view of Amida.

I've been reading Otani Koshin's (current monshu of Jodo Shinshu Hongaji-ha) books in Japanese recently and he is very clear: Amida is the Buddha that Bodhisattava Dharmakara became. And of course Shinran himself is just as clear about this.

Unfortunately some folks in the West probably are trying to rationalize and conceptualize Amida so that it conforms to their presuppositions.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Shutoku » Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:53 am

Ryoto wrote:It's pretty sad to see most shinshu followers in the west see it more as a "mental health program" than an actual path leading out of samsara permanently.

I don't experience this at all in Canada.
Most Shinshu followers I know may feel the description of Amida and the Pure Land are metaphorical, but they don't think that Amida and the Pure Land do not exist. Most see the Pure Land as Nirvana, and Amida as ultimate reality. Shinshu is most definitely seen as a path to Nirvana by all the followers I know. All of them see it very much as a path for them and their loved ones out of Samsara. (Of course some also take the Sutras very literally too.)

Now I will agree there are those who want to promote more meditation and feel-good ideas, and de-emphasis literal interpretations of the Sutras to make Jodo Shinshu more attractive to Westerners, but over all it is a strategy that is failing (sadly it seems to be true also of all other strategies to attract people outside the Japanese community, or anyone under the age of 60), as Shinshu Temples in Canada are all heavily Japanese Canadian with only a handfull of members from other ethnic backgrounds, and still most of them are married to a Japanese Canadian. (I am an exception to the rule, and I hear the Calgary Temple is about 50% non-Japanese...which is remarkable if true!)

Now just as a point of interest, earlier the 22nd vow was quoted, including a reference to "sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges".
Now unless the Earth is a lot older than is commonly believed, The River Ganges did not exist when Dharmakara made these vows. For those who take it all very literally, how do you interpret this?
This is a genuine inquiry, I'm not trying to bait anyone or anything like that. I am just interested in how people view this. Honestly I am not bright enough nor educated enough to get into a heavy debate with any of you. :emb:
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby gyougan » Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:27 am

Shutoku wrote:Now just as a point of interest, earlier the 22nd vow was quoted, including a reference to "sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges".
Now unless the Earth is a lot older than is commonly believed, The River Ganges did not exist when Dharmakara made these vows. For those who take it all very literally, how do you interpret this?
This is a genuine inquiry, I'm not trying to bait anyone or anything like that. I am just interested in how people view this. Honestly I am not bright enough nor educated enough to get into a heavy debate with any of you. :emb:


Why do you think Dharmakara made the vows on this Earth?

In my opinion, "as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges" simply means "too many to count" and has nothing to do with the existence of river Ganges.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Huifeng » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:40 am

Hi,

After someone PMed to join in the discussion here, I thought I'd throw in a few thoughts. Though, given that the thread is about "... in Jodo Shinshu" and I am from the Chinese side of Pureland teachings, not the Japanese, I hope I don't go to far astray. :smile:

steveb1 wrote:In my admittedly relatively meager research, it seems that Amida's function and role is sometimes described as a Buddha, sometimes as a Bodhisattva. Can someone please straighten me out on this:

1. In an undisclosed age, a prince became a mendicant monk, whose ordination name was Dharmakara.
2. During his practicing and wandering, Dharmakara was instructed by a powerful, ancient Buddha.
3. As a result of this inspiring encounter, Dharmakara resolved to become a Bodhisattva.
4. Dharmakara vowed not to enter final Nirvana until all beings had benefited from his grace.
5. His Eighteenth, or Primal Vow is the express summation of Dharmakara's resolve.
6. Part of fulfilling his vow was Dharmakara's creation, through countless ages, of a perfect pure land.
7. It is said that during this process Dharmakara became Amida Buddha.


Okay. Though I'm wondering about the "all" in point #4. ...

What I don't "get" is when and how Dharmakara Bodhisattva actually became Amida Buddha.


When: As the sutra states, "10 kalpas ago" 成佛以來于今十劫. Though, he is still a living Buddha in the present (but not in this Saha world).
How: Basically through cultivating the bodhisattva path.

If "He" is still "gracing" limitless numbers of beings, then it would appear that "His" work continues to be that of a Bodhisattva, because of his promise not to enter final Nirvana until all beings are saved.


hmmm, not too sure about the term "grace" here. I'm not sure what the original term is, so it's hard to comment.
But, back to the issue of "all" beings, most of the vows involved are about "the people in my [buddha] field" (我剎中人), or those people and gods who hear my name (十方無央數世界諸天人民。聞我名號). So, it's not really focusing on "all", but a specific group of people.

But if "He" is still a Bodhisattva, how is it that "He" is at the same time called a Buddha?


I think we need to resolve the previous question first, before this one.
But, something to keep in mind: Some statements are a kind of rhetoric, and we need to find the meaning behind that, not just a literal interpretation of every word.

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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Huifeng » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:46 am

gyougan wrote:
Shutoku wrote:Now just as a point of interest, earlier the 22nd vow was quoted, including a reference to "sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges".
Now unless the Earth is a lot older than is commonly believed, The River Ganges did not exist when Dharmakara made these vows. For those who take it all very literally, how do you interpret this?
This is a genuine inquiry, I'm not trying to bait anyone or anything like that. I am just interested in how people view this. Honestly I am not bright enough nor educated enough to get into a heavy debate with any of you. :emb:


Why do you think Dharmakara made the vows on this Earth?

In my opinion, "as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges" simply means "too many to count" and has nothing to do with the existence of river Ganges.


The statement about "sands of the Ganges" is kind of paraphrasing from Sakyamuni to describe this to people in this world. So, yes, it's not saying that the Ganges existed in that world of Dharmakara.

But, keep in mind that a lot of ancient Buddhist cosmology thinks that the world is largely the same in different world cycles. Although Amitabha's Pureland is flat, has rivers but no oceans, etc., some basic ideas may still be retained.

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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby Shutoku » Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:10 am

gyougan wrote:
Shutoku wrote:Now just as a point of interest, earlier the 22nd vow was quoted, including a reference to "sentient beings as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges".
Now unless the Earth is a lot older than is commonly believed, The River Ganges did not exist when Dharmakara made these vows. For those who take it all very literally, how do you interpret this?
This is a genuine inquiry, I'm not trying to bait anyone or anything like that. I am just interested in how people view this. Honestly I am not bright enough nor educated enough to get into a heavy debate with any of you. :emb:


Why do you think Dharmakara made the vows on this Earth?

In my opinion, "as numerous as the sands of the River Ganges" simply means "too many to count" and has nothing to do with the existence of river Ganges.

I'm afraid you misunderstood me.
I don't think he made the vows on Earth.
The Ganges river however, is on the earth, and did not exist when he made the vows.
Of course the reference obviously implies a very very big number. I don't think anyone could miss that.
However in the Sutra, it is Shakyamuni quoting Dharmakara. It seems unlikely Dharmakara would actually mention the Ganges River since it didn't exist yet.
Shakyamuni using something that his listeners could relate to is very plausible indeed. It is actually what I think he was doing throughout the Sutra.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby gyougan » Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:16 am

Huifeng wrote:
gyougan wrote:But, keep in mind that a lot of ancient Buddhist cosmology thinks that the world is largely the same in different world cycles. Although Amitabha's Pureland is flat, has rivers but no oceans, etc., some basic ideas may still be retained.


Yes, a lot of incidents which are said to have happened numerous kalpas ago have a feeling to them that they happened in ancient India.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:57 am

The statement about "sands of the Ganges" is kind of paraphrasing from Sakyamuni to describe this to people in this world. So, yes, it's not saying that the Ganges existed in that world of Dharmakara.


Shakyamuni using something that his listeners could relate to is very plausible indeed.


ditto.
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby sinweiy » Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:50 am

Food_Eatah wrote:The future Saha World!!!!



Shariputra, just as I now praise the inconceivable merit and virtue of all Buddhas, all those Buddhas also praise my inconceivable merit and virtue, saying these words: Shakyamuni Buddha can accomplish extremely difficult and rare deeds in the Saha Land during the evil time of the Five Turbidities: during the time turbidity, the views turbidity, the affliction turbidity, the living beings turbidity, and the lifespan turbidity. He can attain anuttarasamyaksambodhi and for the sake of living beings proclaim this Dharma, which the whole world finds hard to believe.
---Amitabha Sutra

actually what we see of Saha Land is in the time of Five Turbidities which is not very pleasant to encounter, but it is not always in such a way. like Shakyamuni Buddha vowed to come in such a bad time, while Maitreya vowed to come when the time is most well. you may wish to come visit if you like. i do like to come visit. :smile:

Maitreya is a blessed Buddha. At the time when he arrives to be born, the earth will have gone through many changes. Mountains, rivers, cliffs and gorges will have disappeared, and most parts of the Earth will have become flat plains. The seas will be calm and the soil fertile, so there will be many natural recreational parks. Favourable weather conditions will prevail throughout the four seasons. Beautiful flowers will blossom everywhere and everything will be pleasant. Crops and harvests will be plentiful. Fruits will be beautiful and sweet. Grains will grow naturally and without husk. They will be extremely fragrant and tasty. When matured, the grains will be readily edible without the need for cooking. Feeding on them, people will enjoy longevity and will be free from sickness. There will be no natural disasters. Everyone will be kind, good-natured, and free of evil thoughts and behaviour. Greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, suspicion�. killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, intoxication �.etc, unwholesome thoughts and bad conduct all will not exist. Everyone will realise the wonderful practice of cultivating the three pure karmas of body, speech and mind. They will exhibit equality in thinking and will not discriminate. They will distance from disputes and will be amicable and joyous with each another. They will utter good words of encouragement, perform numerous virtuous deeds and refrain from all evil deeds. There will be no need to worry about food and drink. As for clothing, weaving will not be needed, since soft delicate garments of different styles will grow from celestial garment trees on earth. People can help themselves to these for clothing. Palaces and houses will miraculously appear, and the ground filth-free. As for latrines, whenever people need to relieve themselves, the ground will automatically open up to receive their waste and then close up afterward. The ground will produce different kinds of precious gems that can casually be handpicked by anyone. Admiring and playing with these gems, people will say, "I've heard that in past kalpas (possibly referring to our present kalpa) people hurt one another over such gems and precious stones. They were imprisoned and suffered all sorts of distress. Now these gems and precious stones are like tiles and stones which no one needs to guard over. This really is a pure and peaceful world."

At that time, even though the world will consist of many small countries, only one big country will be the common ruler. On the Earth will be a vast plain, covering four million Li (里 ), with four great oceans located in each direction. There will exist a big city named Ketumati City (鸡 头 城 ), spanning 500 Li from east to west, and 280 Li from north to south. The land is flat and expansive and well populated with people. The streets are neat and orderly. In the sky above, there will be a dragon king named 'Water Radiance', drizzling fragrant water at night and maintaining breezy sunny weather during the day. In the city, a Yaksa (罗 杀 从 , Demon) by the name of 'Leaf-Flower', will appear in the middle of the night to serve the people; removing the filth from the city, sweeping and cleaning, and sprinkling the ground with perfumes so that the city will be very clean and fragrant. Dragons, deities and ghosts will work for the benefit of human beings. They neither need offerings to be made to them nor do they need to be worshipped, as such superstitious practices will no longer exist. The climate and environment will be favourable; the citizens gentle and amiable; and ghosts and deities will provide their support and protection. These conditions effect the birth of a 'Turning-Wheel Saint King' (转 轮圣 王 ) named Rang-qu. Ketumati is his capital city. The King will apply Buddha-dharma to govern and guide his subjects. He has the Golden Wheel Treasure, Elephant Treasure, Horse Treasure, Pearl Treasure, the Lady of Virtue and Beauty Treasure, the Minister of Soldiers Treasure, and the Minister of Treasure. He will secure the city with these treasures, rather than with conventional swords and batons. The place will be carefree and joyous, and freedom, peace and equality will prevail.

http://www.jenchen.org.sg/vol8no3a.htm
/\
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Re: Amida's function in Jodo Shinshu

Postby steveb1 » Sat Nov 26, 2011 10:28 am

Huifeng wrote:Hi,

After someone PMed to join in the discussion here, I thought I'd throw in a few thoughts. Though, given that the thread is about "... in Jodo Shinshu" and I am from the Chinese side of Pureland teachings, not the Japanese, I hope I don't go to far astray. ~~ Huifeng


===

Thanks for coming into the discussion, Huifeng. No, I don't think you "went far astray" at all - to the contrary, you've given me more food for thought :)
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