Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:32 pm

plwk wrote:
I swear there were some practicing Nichiren members here when the Forum started back then...where are they... :spy:


The Lotus Sutra is a free subject of study for all buddhists. You don't have to be a Nichirenist to read it, to study it, to be inspired by it !!

Of course dearie...but guess what's the title of this thread... :coffee:


Thank you, I read the title. Nevertheless, Readings of the Lotus Sutra, edited by Stephen F. Teiser and Jacqueline I. Stone, Columbia University Press 2009, contains eight essays on different aspects of the Lotus Sutra. The eighth one is titled Realizing This World as the Buddhaland, in it Jaqueline Stone tells us that the idea of this world as a buddhaland is found already in the chinese Tiantai/japanese Tendai school, and the concept Pureland of the Vulture Peak is also found there. Jaqueline Stone then conludes that because Nichiren started his career as a Tendai monk, much of his basic ideas have come from Tiantai/Tendai teachings, and have existed before Nichiren. We don't know much about Lotus Sutra in India, maybe it has existed as its own school also in India? I have read that in India Lotus Sutra was popular among the nuns.
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:31 pm

Now that you mention it, I can post this article by Stone about the influences of Tendai teachings on Nichiren. It's a great read and explains Nichiren Buddhism far better than most texts written by Nichiren Buddhists. ;)
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:52 pm

Aemilius wrote:What better place could you possibly find to develop the six Paramitas!? Here we have vast numbers of people to whom you can tell about the Three Jewels, about the Wonderful Mahayana Sutras, about the real truth of reincarnation and so on... That is the really effective way of gathering vast stores of merit and wisdom. What serious practitioner would want to go to some other, distant world !!??

I think the argument by Pure Land Buddhists is, that the Pure Land of Amida is much more practical for our times. Sure, the Lotus Sutra speaks about the eternal Buddha, who is teaching in this world, but he still is hidden and doesn't teach directly to everyone, like Amida does in the Pure Land. Only few realize, that the Parinirvana of Shakyamuni was a skilful mean. Amida is teaching the Lotus Sutra in his Pure Land (Lotus Sutra, chapter 7) and is more accessible than the Eternal Buddha, because the nenbutsu is enough to be born in the Pure Land. To see the Pure Land of the Eternal Buddha one must not only develop faith, but also be "In [character] upright, in mind gentle" (Lotus Sutra, chapter 16).
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby rory » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:09 am

For me 'the eternal Buddha Shakyamuni, the main body of Buddha Shakyamauni, is guiding you to the enlightenment anytime. Because the eternal Buddha Shakyamuni lives with you in your mind forever. '
It's a stronger and more dynamic relationship than with Amida. As Amida is post-mortem & I enjoy the Eternal Buddha's help right now in this very life.
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Tatsuo » Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:55 pm

Well the thing is, that many people today are far from having realized Buddhahood and when these people die, their future existence is uncertain. Even when one practices the daimoku, but leaves this practice, they will not see the Pure Land of Tranquil Light - some Nichiren Buddhists would even claim, that these people will be reborn in one of the Hells. However, the Pure Land tradition teaches, that even one nenbutsu is enough to achieve birth in the Pure Land of Amida. Because you have an immeasurable long lifetime in the Pure Land, you will not have to worry about birth in the lower planes. In addition to that, the Pure Land provides perfect conditions for practice - unlike the Saha world.
The Pure Land tradition also speak about the relationship between Amida and the practitioners being present in this very life - not only post mortem (for example the visions of Amida and his Pure Land experienced by practitioners). The nenbutsu is not only a practice to prepare for death, but also is directly connected with everyday life - Honen for example teaches, that you have immediate this worldly benefits as a result of nenbutsu practice (just as Nichiren's teaching of the daimoku).
Because the teachings of Honen and Nichiren have some ideas in common it's no wonder, that both traditions were the strongest rivals in the religious history of Japan. I think, that these similarities are mostly unknown by western practitioners of the daimoku and while there is a strong criticism of the Pure Land path, both traditions speak about a post-mortal Pure Land and this worldly benefits. It's really hard to find primary texts about Nichiren's Pure Land teachings, even though these teachings are important for him in his later life as you can read in his letters to followers concerning the Pure Land. I really wonder, why this element is so neglected, even though the context in which Nichiren speaks about the Pure Land - namely death of a practitioner - concerns everybody.
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:18 pm

I'm like everyone else, I also want eternal relief from the wheel of unsatisfactory & painful samsara. Yet intellectually I see that it is against the message of the Lotus Sutra, which teaches that even great liberated persons like Mahakashyapa, Shariputra and others will have to progress further and spent thousand million life times more for that end. How can we think of "going to a pureland", and think that we have actually understood the Lotus Sutra ??
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby rory » Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:13 pm

Tatsuo; the one thought of Amitabha isn't just any stray thought your mind has to achieve total concentration. Many people in Chinese Pure Land cautionary narratives have been distracted on their deathbed after a lifetime as pious Pure Landers & back to samsara. Honen also belongs to this school. Only Shinran says once is enough with shinjin. And there are very few followers who even believe in a real Sukhavati in Jodo Shinshu - to them it's all a metaphor.

Actually Nichiren Buddhists are taught that Jakko Jodo can also be this Saha world & it's not emphasized as a post-mortem place for the very good reason it distracts from practicing and learning in this life. I've been on both sides & just found a real passivity in Pure Land: "I am sinful; I can't do anything; I can't learn." Or you call on Kannon sama to help because we are helpless. Well we're educated, literate, we can read the sutras, learn and be responsible for our behavior.

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Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Mr. G » Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:19 pm

rory wrote: I've been on both sides & just found a real passivity in Pure Land: "I am sinful; I can't do anything; I can't learn." ..Well we're educated, literate, we can read the sutras, learn and be responsible for our behavior.


Hi rory,

As you've been on both sides, you can already imagine the arguments I have against your statements. ;) :lol:
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    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Tatsuo » Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:19 pm

rory wrote:Tatsuo; the one thought of Amitabha isn't just any stray thought your mind has to achieve total concentration. Many people in Chinese Pure Land cautionary narratives have been distracted on their deathbed after a lifetime as pious Pure Landers & back to samsara. Honen also belongs to this school.


Honen never said, that you need perfect conditions at the time of death to achieve birth in the Pure Land, just the act of reciting the name of Amida Buddha is enough: "Whether or not you meet a virtuous teacher, whether or not you are in control of circumstances at the end of your life, the recitation of Nenbutsu makes Ojo possible." (Honen Shonin’s Dialogue on One Hundred Forty-Five Topics)

And there are very few followers who even believe in a real Sukhavati in Jodo Shinshu - to them it's all a metaphor.

It is not true, that the minority of Jodo Shinshu followers believe the Pure Land is real. Almost all followers of Pure Land Buddhism in Asia and most followers in the West see the Pure Land as a place just as real as this world. How did you come to the conclusion, that most followers see the Pure Land as a metaphor?


I've been on both sides & just found a real passivity in Pure Land: "I am sinful; I can't do anything; I can't learn." Or you call on Kannon sama to help because we are helpless. Well we're educated, literate, we can read the sutras, learn and be responsible for our behavior.

Reading the Sutras is not understanding the Sutras, just as learning about Buddhism is not the same as realizing Buddhahood. Otherwise all scholars of Buddhology would be perfectly enlightened and helping living beings. You don't become a Buddha just by trying not to break the precepts, reading some Sutras and maybe take meditation classes. I think the Pure Land tradition is realistic about the capabilities of humans. Many people in the West think, that achieving Buddhahood is an easy thing to do and can be done just by reading books, meditating 20 minutes each day and going on retreats twice a year, while breaking the precepts (e.g. drinking alcohol), being proud of one's own Buddhist practice and choosing only those practices/teachings, that are suitable for the modern, educated, urban, middle class liberal - and most Western Buddhist practice even less than that. Don't get me wrong - it's ok to be modern, educated, urban, middle class and liberal - I guess 90% of the users in this forum belong to just that category - but I think we need to be more humble about our capabilities.

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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby rory » Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:12 am

Tatsuo:

1. If you don't chant nembutsu on your deathbed; do you go to the Pure Land?

2. I said Jodo Shinshu - the biggest Japanese Pure Land sect, certainly the educated priests I met regarded the Pure Land as a metaphor & most of the Western practitioners here. Ask them.

3. The Lotus Sutra was preached later than the Pure Land Sutras & in this Sutra the Eternal Buddha, Shakyamuni specifically states:

"I forthrightly abandon expedience and only preach the Supreme Way." (Chapter of Expedience" )
Shakyamni Buddha then preaches the One Vehicle, which I will discuss in a further post.
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:48 pm

Tatsuo wrote:Now that you mention it, I can post this article by Stone about the influences of Tendai teachings on Nichiren. It's a great read and explains Nichiren Buddhism far better than most texts written by Nichiren Buddhists. ;)


Thanks, it is rather long, 39 pages, but worth reading through.
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Tatsuo » Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:50 pm

1. Yes: "one who recites the name of Amida Buddha as few as ten times, or even just once, will, with certainty, attain birth in the Pure Land as taught in the universal vow" (Honen: An Outline of the Doctrine for Birth in the Pure Land).

2. The view, that Amida Buddha is nothing more than a symbol is a fairly new invention and stands both against traditional Jodo Shinshu and teachings delivered by Pure Land Masters. The supporters of these claims do not belong to traditional Pure Land Buddhism and constitute a minority in all Jodo Shinshu followers worldwide. There may be some groups in the West, in which many people adhere to these interpretations of Amida, but that doesn't have an impact on mainstream Jodo Shinshu.

3. The Lotus Sutra also states: "If good sons or good daughters in ages to come believe in the Tathagata-wisdom, do you proclaim this Law-Flower Sutra to them that they may hear and know it, in order that they may obtain the Buddha-wisdom. If there be living beings who do not believe in it, do you show, teach, benefit, and rejoice them with the other [tactful] profound laws of the Tathagata." (Lotus Sutra, Chapter 22). The Lotus teachings are only comprehensible for advanced practitioners (which are few in the latter days of the Dharma). For the others - like most of us ordinary practitioners - the expedient means are still relevant. And this is not something one can easily refute. Chapter 22 belongs to the honmon section of the Lotus Sutra, meaning it is totally devoid of expedient means. Shakyamuni Buddha speaks here about the validity of expedient means a) in the future and b) for those of less capacity, meaning all pre-Lotus teachings are still important, which includes the Pure Land Sutras. When you practice the Pure Land teachings you can still be reborn in the Pure Land and develop your practice and ultimately understand the Lotus Sutra with Amida, Kannon and other high-level Bodhisattvas as teachers.
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Indrajala » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:12 pm

Tatsuo wrote:1. Yes: "one who recites the name of Amida Buddha as few as ten times, or even just once, will, with certainty, attain birth in the Pure Land as taught in the universal vow" (Honen: An Outline of the Doctrine for Birth in the Pure Land).


How does this negate projecting and completion karma (particularly non-virtuous karma that should come to fruition in a future life)?
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Tatsuo » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:27 pm

Huseng wrote:
Tatsuo wrote:1. Yes: "one who recites the name of Amida Buddha as few as ten times, or even just once, will, with certainty, attain birth in the Pure Land as taught in the universal vow" (Honen: An Outline of the Doctrine for Birth in the Pure Land).

How does this negate projecting and completion karma (particularly non-virtuous karma that should come to fruition in a future life)?

This is kinda off-topic, so I suggest you search for the concept of "other-power" in Pure Land Buddhism. The view has it's roots in the 18th vow of Amida Buddha: "If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten quarters who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, desire to be born in my land, and call my Name, even ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment. Excluded, however, are those who commit the five gravest offenses and abuse the right Dharma."
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby rory » Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:13 am

Amida is not the most Compassionate: beings are excluded from his famous 18th vow
Amida's 18th Vow 'only
excepting the Five Rebellious Sins and Blasphemy against the
True Dharma.”
If you belong to a Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, etc Pure Land tradition you will suffer rebirth if you fail to do nembutsu to samadhi on your deathbed.

1. Whereas: Shakyamuni, the Eternal Buddha saves Everybody.

Chapter of the Parable” 3:first, the Buddha Shakyamuni proclaims, “Now these three worlds are all my own; the beings therein are
all my children. But now this place has many calamities and hardships; I alone can guard and save them.”

“I likewise am the Father of the World, The One who saves from the various sufferings and travails.” (“Chapter of the Measure of Life of the Tathagata” 16) Thus it is the Buddha Shakyamuni,revealed as the Eternal Buddha, who is truly compassionat rescuer of the unsavable!

And the Eternal Buddha does so in Ch. 12 Devadatta; where Devadatta the most evil opponent of the Buddha becomes a buddha! The Eternal Buddha saves everybody.

2. The Lotus Sutra teaches us to abandon the former expedient teachings:

“I forthrightly abandon expedience and only preach the Supreme Way.” (“Chapter of Expedience” 2 (T.9.10a))
Pure Land and other teachings are expedients and the Eternal Buddha Shakaymuni preaches the One Vehicle:

The Lotus Sutra says in the “Chapter of the Parable” (T.9.16a), “Only rejoicing to receive and keep the Great Vehicle Sutra Canon, not even receiving one verse of other Sutras”;

Also “Chapter 21: the Divine Powers of the
Tathagata” 21 states: “For that reason you, after the
Tathagata’s Extinction, should single-mindedly receive and
keep, read and recite, explain and preach, copy and write,
and practice in accordance with the preaching.”

3. Common People can keep and follow the teaching of the Lotus Sutra!

after the Extinction of the Tathagata, if they hear this Sutra and do not disparage it but give rise to the mind of following joy, you should know it is already the aspect of profound faith and understanding.” (The “Chapter of the Distribution of Merits” 17

so ordinary people need just a mind of joy not understanding

The Lotus Sutra is not something meant for great sages alone; it has nothing to do with entering into a trance (samadhi) and so on. Thus the Universal Worthy Sutras (P'u-hsien-ching/Fugenkyo) says one who practices “though not entering samadhi, only recites and keeps” (T.9.389c)

and the 6th Patriach of the Tien Tai School , Myoraku Daishi (Chan-jan) comments:, “With unconcentrated (lit., “scattered”) minds reciting the Dharma Flower (Hokke) without entering trance and samadhi, sitting, standing, or walking single-mindedly think on the characters of the Dharma Flower. ” (Maka shikan bugyo den guketsu 2-
2.18v (T.46.192c).

So Keeping & the Lotus Sutra does not require samadhi! Ordinary people just need to recite and think on the Sutra.

The Buddha Shakyamuni, the Eternal Buddha, tells us to discard previous teaching and devote ourself to the Lotus Sutra and ordinary people can do so and become Buddhas.
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brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Nosta » Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:14 pm

Is there any good ebook that you may know, that speaks about Eternal Buddha?

Thanks
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby rory » Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:10 am

Nosta;
Here you are a link to Chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra that speaks directly about Shakyamuni being the Eternal Buddha. That's from the source not a commentary.
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/reso ... otus16.htm

Do you want a commentary, articles?
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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: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Nighthawk » Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:48 am

I think we need to be more humble about our capabilities.

:anjali:


Wise words. This is Mappo after all.
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Nighthawk » Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:08 am

rory wrote: If you belong to a Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, etc Pure Land tradition you will suffer rebirth if you fail to do nembutsu to samadhi on your deathbed.
gassho
Rory


I would rather go by what the Sutra says rather than what tradition says what. And the 18th Vow of Amida Buddha makes it quite clear that those who recite the Nembutsu just as little as 10 times will achieve birth. No where in the vows does it state deathbed recital, samadhi etc. is required. The vows are pretty straight forward. Honen was quite correct in rejecting deathbed practices as our liberation is dependent on Amida alone hence the focus on "other power"
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Re: Nichiren's interpretation of the Pure Land

Postby Nosta » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:52 pm

Rory thanks for the link. I will read it as soon as possible.
Ryoto wrote:
rory wrote: If you belong to a Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, etc Pure Land tradition you will suffer rebirth if you fail to do nembutsu to samadhi on your deathbed.
gassho
Rory


I would rather go by what the Sutra says rather than what tradition says what. And the 18th Vow of Amida Buddha makes it quite clear that those who recite the Nembutsu just as little as 10 times will achieve birth. No where in the vows does it state deathbed recital, samadhi etc. is required. The vows are pretty straight forward. Honen was quite correct in rejecting deathbed practices as our liberation is dependent on Amida alone hence the focus on "other power"


Honestly i am confused with these somewhat opposite interpretations: some say that one can recite just a few times in life, others urge us to make it all the time and others advises us to practice until we can do it correctly right after death.

Anyway, i think that even the people who believes that 10 recitation during life is enough, will not loose anything if they recite also right after death. Its what i call, playing cautious.
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