Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:46 pm

I found again the blog of the Amida-ji Retreat Temple Romania written by Josho Adrian Cirlea. What surprised me is that he was the first I saw addressing strange tendencies among Shin believers. He made a collection of articles addressing this issue: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teaching

Based on my little experience with modern Shin teachings I think he speaks the truth. I've been perplexed before on how Shin Buddhists don't accept a really existing buddha-land of Amita Buddha. Now it seems clear. But, I'm not specifically a Shin follower myself, so I'd like to hear whatever opinion you have.
"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: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby plwk » Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:26 pm

Thanks for the link and reading it brings back many memories of similar encounters with certain fellow Buddhists and Pure Land Buddhists in the Chinese Mahayana Tradition.

1. Perhaps, it is a 'modernistic' or 'western' or simply a case of a 'personal interpretation' that even Pure Land principles and teachings as expounded by the past Patriarch Masters are being seen in a 'new light' as an 'alternative' to classical/traditional views...

2. Perhaps, this may be the general 'malady' of our times that all Buddhist Traditions are undergoing in that its teachings are constantly being 're-invented' to fit certain audiences whom amongst some see it fit to 'de-mythologize' parts of it for it to be 'palatable' and 'logical' hence the Pure Land Tradition is not free from this 'onslaught' as well?

3. Perhaps, it may be another 'expedient' used for those who need the 'metaphorical' platform?

4. Perhaps, its just 'Mappo'? What can we do?

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."

The Buddha further said,
"I have expounded this Teaching for the sake of sentient beings and enabled you to see Amitayus and all in His Land.
Strive to do what you should.
After I have passed into Nirvana, do not allow doubt to arise.
In the future, the Buddhist Scriptures and Teachings will perish.
But, out of pity and compassion, I will especially preserve this Sutra and maintain it in the world for a hundred years more.
Those beings who encounter It will attain deliverance in accord with their aspirations.

The Buddha said to Maitreya,
"It is difficult to encounter and behold Tathagata when He is in this world.
Difficult of access, difficult to hear are the Buddhas' Teachings and Scriptures.
It is also difficult to hear the excellent teachings for Bodhisattvas, the Paramitas.
Difficult too is it to meet a good teacher, to hear the Dharma and perform the practices.
But most difficult of all difficulties is to hear this Sutra, have faith in It with joy and hold fast to It.
Nothing is more difficult than this.
Thus have I formed My Dharma,
thus have I expounded My Dharma,
and thus have I taught My Dharma.
You must receive it and practice it by the method prescribed."
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:49 pm

I think it is a similar case as with rebirth generally. Many cannot move beyond their materialistic ideas and so they want to make Buddhism fit their concepts. In case of Pure Land Buddhism, some like to say that it is only a mental state and there is no such place as an actual buddha-land where beings can be born. And just as without rebirth Buddhism is meaningless, so is the Pure Land path pointless without Amita Buddha escorting beings to his Land of Bliss.
"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: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Namu Butsu » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:15 am

Hello all,

I wish to add my two cents here. I totally disagree with the view of criticizing those who do not see Amida as a literal man who became Enlightened and is dwelling somewhere in some celestial paradise. Those who speak of the deeper profound meaning of Amida Buddha are not saying that Amida is just figurative, but also real. Not real in the sense that he is some human man that became enlightened and now manifest a pure land, but real in that the Fundamental Unity and Love that penetrates all things is absolutely real. The dharmakaya is real. It is said that Amida manifested Shakyamuni Buddha. In my personal opinion the interpretation of this is that Lord Sidhartha awakened to the Dharmakaya so at this point he becomes One that that One Life of all things, so this is the Buddha seeing Buddha. So that is how I take these things. I wrote an article which I will post below on Amida and quotation from Thich nhat hanh, taitetsu Unno, and others.


http://journeytozen.wordpress.com/2010/ ... e-and-now/
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"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Namu Butsu » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:25 am

Check this out also http://www.shindharmanet.com/writings/critique.htm

times I speak of a metsudo-teki shutai or nehan-teki shutai, or [the sense of] "Being mediated by nirvana," but this [sense of] Being does not refer to I who am possessed of form, but rather to the formless I who am. That this is what I originally am is what Buddhism teaches.

In Christianity, this is never said. They will never [allow one to] say in Christianity that I am God. There's nothing one can do in Christianity other than to put one's belief in [a] God ["out there"]. Man so-called and God so-called are forever divided. This relation is an absolute one. Here, Christianity and Buddhism are very different.
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"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:02 am

Dear Namu Butsu,

After reading both your writing and that critique first I have to say that it is worth studying Buddhism on a wider level. The idea presented by many that Amita Buddha is one's own pure mind is not new at all. Let's say, as it is presented in Zen, Tendai and Shingon the practice of Amida is like that but in Jodo and Jodo Shin it is different. That is because in Honen's and Shinran's perspective the jodomon (gate of Pure Land is the only available path for deluded guys (bonpu) incapable of any shodomon (gate of wise non-Pure Land) practices. If this point is missed obviously the meaning of the Pure Land teaching of Honen and Shinran are misunderstood. Saving oneself is tha path of jiriki (self-power), the Shin path is full tariki (other-power). If Amida is not really a buddha but just my mind there is no way to rely on an other power, and if there is no buddha-land there is only hell to be born in.
"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: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:31 am

Astus wrote:I think it is a similar case as with rebirth generally. Many cannot move beyond their materialistic ideas and so they want to make Buddhism fit their concepts. In case of Pure Land Buddhism, some like to say that it is only a mental state and there is no such place as an actual buddha-land where beings can be born. And just as without rebirth Buddhism is meaningless, so is the Pure Land path pointless without Amita Buddha escorting beings to his Land of Bliss.


Astus -- you've hit the nail on the head.

Japanese Buddhism, from Zen to Pureland, has become very deeply infected with materialistic ideas. I used to think revisionism was mostly limited to western appropriations of Japanese Buddhism, but unfortunately those ideas are actually stemming from revisionist ideas within the Buddhist community in Japan. It seems most prominent in Zen, but I guess Pureland has it too. I wouldn't be surprised if some people within Shingon are taking everything metaphorically and revising doctrines like Buddhalands, the Dharmakaya and rebirth to suit their default materialist inclinations. I read the writing of one guy who was denying rebirth because Kukai taught "Buddhahood in this life".

Anyway, back to topic...

Unfortunately Japanese Buddhism being what it is nowadays -- mostly funeral Buddhism -- lacks strong leadership. I honestly have no idea what most of the sects' heads do with their time. It is in stark contrast to what you see everywhere else in the world where Buddhist sangha leaders are in the public, writing books, giving public lectures and are household names in their respective countries. I mean I'm sure every Taiwanese knows who Master Xing Yun is! Does anyone but a few scholars and priests know who the current abbot of Higashi Hongan-ji is?

Contrary to what a lot of people might think about Japan, there is a very lax attitude towards Buddhist practise and Buddhism can be whatever you think it is and that's okay. I saw one fool on Japanese television say that in Pureland Buddhism people don't believe in rebirth. The other guests just went, "Oh! Is that so?" and nodded. They didn't seem to know anything about Buddhism either.

In fact I swear almost every day in Japan I encounter statements, people and activities that honest to Ambida make me wonder WTF is going on in Buddhism in this country. Even the supposedly educated Buddhists in this country (the ones who have graduate degrees in Buddhism and even teach it to others) make shockingly ignorant statements that wouldn't be tolerated anywhere else.

Like one Soto priest told me to my face that Buddha was agnostic towards rebirth. He said to me that Buddha said nothing can be known or said about what happens after death. He had misunderstood the statement in the Agammas where Buddha refused to speak about whether or not the tathagata exists after death or not.

Apparently though there are professors of Buddhism teaching the same thing in the classroom.

So, this kind of bizarre ignorant revisionism has its roots even in universities. Don't be surprised that it gets worse and worse. It doesn't matter if it is Shin Pureland or Zen -- in Japan hardly anyone understands their own sect, let alone Buddhism 101.
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:53 am

Namu Butsu wrote:Hello all,

I wish to add my two cents here. I totally disagree with the view of criticizing those who do not see Amida as a literal man who became Enlightened and is dwelling somewhere in some celestial paradise. Those who speak of the deeper profound meaning of Amida Buddha are not saying that Amida is just figurative, but also real. Not real in the sense that he is some human man that became enlightened and now manifest a pure land, but real in that the Fundamental Unity and Love that penetrates all things is absolutely real. The dharmakaya is real. It is said that Amida manifested Shakyamuni Buddha. In my personal opinion the interpretation of this is that Lord Sidhartha awakened to the Dharmakaya so at this point he becomes One that that One Life of all things, so this is the Buddha seeing Buddha. So that is how I take these things. I wrote an article which I will post below on Amida and quotation from Thich nhat hanh, taitetsu Unno, and others.


http://journeytozen.wordpress.com/2010/ ... e-and-now/


I think most Shin Buddhists would, at least historically (I don't know about now because as I said above in Japan everything is fuzzy and ambiguous) see Amida as corresponding to an actual Buddha in a Buddaland as it is described in sutra.

The original goes:

asti śāriputra paścime digbhāga ito buddhakṣetraṃ koṭiśatasahasraṃ buddhakṣetrāṇām
atikramya sukhāvatī nāma lokadhātuḥ / tatrāmitāyurnāma tathāgato'rhan samyaksaṃbuddha etarhi tiṣṭhati dhriyate yāpayati dharmaṃ ca deśayati /

Kumarajiva's translation being:

從是西方過十萬億佛土, 有世界名曰極樂, 其土有佛號阿彌陀, 今現在說法

Which states quite literally in some distant place in the western direction there is a world called sukhavati and a Buddha called Amitayus.

So, the orthodox view is actually grounded in scripture. Your opinion is not.
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Namu Butsu » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:17 pm

Thank you for your views. I understand where your coming from, but you have to understand there are still many other Jodo Shinshu practictioners who view otherwise. BCA teaches this way. There are many teachers who speak this way. Kenryo Kanamatsu views Amida in a different way in Naturalness a Classic of Shin Buddhism. I think it would be very dogmatic to say that these guys are devergence of Jodo Shinshu, as if we are excommunicating them from the Pure Land teachings. those shin buddhism that are viewing the deeper meaning of Amida are experiencing Amida as REAL in this life as the Dharmakaya as Infinite Compassion embracing them. One doesn't have to believe that Amida is like a christ like being somewhere off in heaven. These are my views. However, I am not going to go the opposite extreme and say that those who believe Amida is a literal man who became enlightened, has be led astray off the path.

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"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Hi:

The (Chinese) Pure Land masters I've encountered don't place a heavy emphasis on taking things "literally". Such emphasis, indeed, would seem to be missing the point.

Here is Chu Hung, for example:

In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes. One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles. The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.... Buddha-remembrance is discipline, concentration and wisdom. What need is there to follow texts literally when reading the scriptures?


What are the "inner principles"? In Chinese Pure Land, they seem simple enough. A transcendent state of being exists and purifying the mind will lead you there. Plant melon seeds and you'll get melons, plant beans and you'll get beans. Shin is different, I realize, and I'll leave it up to the actual Shin Buddhists to explain. Still, to follow the advice of Chu Hung, I can't see how it is fruitful to keep running back to the scriptures in an obsessive quest to make sure one's vision of Amida is more correct than Taitetsu Unno's.

To say that the Pure Land is "real" is not to say that the texts are "literally" accurate. How could they be? They are using images and vocabulary from the world that we know to describe a state which is beyond conventional understanding. The Amitabha sutra (like plenty of other Mahayana sutras) contradicts physics and the laws of nature -- intentionally so, I would think. Otherwise such texts would simply be describing the observable physical world, rather than pointing beyond.

Patriarch Ou I tells us that "the land of Ultimate Bliss really does exist ten billion Buddha lands away, adorned with ultimate adornments".

But he also says:

Believing in inner truth means having deep faith that the ten billion Buddha lands are in reality not outside our Mind. Since there is really nothing outside of this Mind, we have deep certainty that the whole assembly of beings and surroundings in the Western Paradise is a set of reflections appearing in our mind.


If we look at it this way, the whole argument over "is it a physical place or a state of consciousness" simply dissolves. So does the argument over whether Amida sits on a lotus flower in some other part of the cosmos, or manifests within our own mental space. A Buddha, anyway, is by definition not a separate "being" in the any sense that we're used to -- i.e., he's not some sort of magnified Steve Jobs. I would think "Fundamental Unity and Love that penetrates all things" is a reasonable approximation of what it means to be such a being.

Regards,

LE
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:06 am

Huseng,

Certainly, as it is reported from many sources Japanese Buddhism is in a sad state, not because of an external force oppressing it, but materialism taking over the hearts of people. On the other hand, wasn't that the same before? You read ancient Chinese Buddhist masters complaining about the decline in study and discipline among the monks. The teaching about the Dharma ending age is not new at all. The difference between now and then is while formerly people turned to gods, spirits and magic, now they have science, TV and malls. A change in appearance but not much in attitude. Japan is among the highest developed countries on Earth. And just like in the case of divine beings, people with enough wealth to feed a whole village for a week or more have little interest beyond their own. Since I believe Japan is the closest thing one can get to Western mentality, we better watch and learn how those few who take Buddhadharma seriously live and talk in such a society. When Shinran and other Kamakura reformers lived large Buddhist institutions were at war against each other. Isn't it better now? They could banish Honen, Shinran and Nichiren to dangerous lands only because of their teachings and expel Dogen from Kyoto. Isn't it better now to let everyone preach what they want?

While the idea of Dharma ending age is elemental in the Pure Land schools, historically (a very Western thing) looking at the present there wasn't much change in the past millennia regarding the percentage of people devoting themselves to understanding Buddhism deeply.

"Concerning the difficulty of accepting this Dharma in faith, to transform ordinary people into sages through this Dharma is actually as easy as turning one's palms - so easy that many people with shallow wisdom are skeptical about this. Thus the Larger Sutra, fasc. 2, states, "[The Pure Land] is easy to reach, but very few actually go there." Hence, we know that this Dharma is difficult to accept in faith."
(Yongqin quoted in the Kyogyoshinsho, tr. by H. Inagaki)
"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: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:01 am

Namu Butsu,

"One doesn't have to believe that Amida is like a christ like being somewhere off in heaven."

I understand very much that this is the impression of many Western people who hear about the Pure Land path, especially considering that in the Shin school it is "salvation only by faith". It takes some learning to fully understand the purpose and meaning of this teaching within the Buddhist context. And of course it is difficult to absorb even the basics of Shakyamuni's teachings, not to mention the deeper levels of Mahayana. Without comprehending the reasons for the selection of exclusive nenbutsu as it is described in the Senchakushu (see it outlined here, also discussed in chapter 6 of the KGSS) one may confuse the meaning of faith in the Primal Vow.

Ways to see one's true nature "here and now" are abundant in Mahayana, adding teachings on Amita Buddha and the Land of Peace and Bliss to it are quite redundant. On the contrary, it happened that Amita Buddha was already popular when traditions like Tiantai and especially Chan took it up and explained it in their own ways.

Shinran also explained that those who abuse the Dharma are the only persons who cannot attain birth in the Pure Land. Defining the meaning of abusing the Dharma he quotes Vasubandhu: "If one says, "There is no Buddha," "There is no Buddha Dharma," "There is no bodhisattva," or "There is no Dharma for bodhisattvas," such views, held firmly in the mind by one's own reasoning or by listening to others' teachings, are called 'abusing the right Dharma.'" Denying the existence of Amita Buddha clearly cuts away the possibility of birth for then there is neither faith nor aspiration. What's the point of calling it a Pure Land school?
"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: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:20 am

Lazy_eye,

Although the Pure Land teachings can be slightly different from those in Japan, look at what the late patriarch Yin Kuang said:

"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."
(Pure-Land Zen, letter 12, p. 57)

And patriarch Tiantai Zhiyi said:

"The dull and ignorant, on the other hand, are caught up in the concept of birth. Upon hearing the term “Birth”, they understand it as actual birth; hearing of “Non-Birth”, they (cling to its literal meaning) and think that there is no rebirth anywhere. Little do they realize that “Birth is precisely Non-Birth, and Non-Birth does not hinder Birth.”
Because they do not understand this principle, they provoke arguments, slandering and deprecating those who seek rebirth in the Western Pure Land. What a great mistake! They are guilty of vilifying the Dharma and belong to the ranks of deluded externalists (non-Buddhists)."

(Ten Doubts about Pure Land)

Finally, here is Shinran's quote of Tanluan's explanation:

"Question: In Mahayana sutras and discourses it is repeatedly explained that sentient beings are, in the final analysis, like space, unborn. Why does Bodhisattva Vasubandhu state that he aspires to be born?

Answer: When it is explained that sentient beings are, like space, unborn, there are two possible meanings. First, sentient beings and their births and deaths conceived as real by ordinary people are, after all, as non-existent as the hair of a tortoise or open space. Second, since all things are produced by causes and conditions, they are as unproduced and as non-existent as open space. The birth that Bodhisattva Vasubandhu desired should be taken in the sense of [produced by] causes and conditions. Because birth takes place depending on causes and conditions, it is only provisionally called 'birth,' not in the sense that there are real sentient beings and real births and deaths as ordinary people imagine.

Question: In what sense do you speak of 'birth'?

Answer: When someone among those who are thus provisionally called 'men' performs the Five Mindful Practices, his thought in the preceding moment becomes the cause of his thought in the following moment. The provisional 'person' in this defiled land and the provisional 'person' in the Pure Land (who he is going to be) are neither exactly the same [593a] nor definitely different. Likewise, the thought of the preceding moment and that of the following moment are neither exactly the same nor definitely different. Why is this so? If they were the same, there would be no causality, and if they were different, there would be no continuity. This principle is explained in detail in the discourses dealing with the problem of 'sameness' and 'difference'."
"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: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Namu Butsu » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:40 am

Astus,

Thank you very much for your response. I see that you have much more knowledge about Buddhism than I have. I want to ask based on your quotations, mainly these quotations:

"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."
(Pure-Land Zen, letter 12, p. 57)


Shinran also explained that those who abuse the Dharma are the only persons who cannot attain birth in the Pure Land. Defining the meaning of abusing the Dharma he quotes Vasubandhu: "If one says, "There is no Buddha," "There is no Buddha Dharma," "There is no bodhisattva," or "There is no Dharma for bodhisattvas," such views, held firmly in the mind by one's own reasoning or by listening to others' teachings, are called 'abusing the right Dharma.'" Denying the existence of Amita Buddha clearly cuts away the possibility of birth for then there is neither faith nor aspiration. What's the point of calling it a Pure Land school?


I am trying to understand these texts. So based on these are you suggesting that Shinran and others are saying that Amida Buddha is as real as you and me and as real as Shakyamuni? I am uncertain because I cannot understand these basic texts.

Also if this is so what makes this school of Buddhism different christianity and the eternal christ and eternal heaven? What about Buddhism being about the present moment?

I look foward to your response.

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"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Namu Butsu » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:42 am

Also we cannot be certain that the Pure Land sutras were spoken by the Buddha, so if we are not going to take the teachings and be able to experience Buddhism now, then why emphasize such faith in something that could be superstition?
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"Just say the nembutsu and be liberated" Shinran Shonin
"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby plwk » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:38 am

Also we cannot be certain that the Pure Land sutras were spoken by the Buddha, so if we are not going to take the teachings and be able to experience Buddhism now, then why emphasize such faith in something that could be superstition?

http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf32.htm#points
Holding the rosary, I am rid of worldly thoughts,
Suddenly, I already became a Buddha a long time ago.
Thus, Pure Land embraces people of all levels.
For those of high capacities it is a sublime method;
for those of limited capacities it turns into a simple method.

The Patriarch Yin Kuang has these words of praise:
"Persons of the highest capacities can attain samadhi if they practice Buddha Recitation with an undisturbed mind.
Those of the lowest capacities will still succeed with only ten utterances [as they may be reborn in the Pure Land and ultimately achieve samadhi and Buddhahood].
This is an outstanding feature not found in any other method.

At one time in my life, I was told, the only certain things in life are death and taxes...
But guess what? That does not stop me from living my life and seeking a way out from Samsara...I chose to challenge that statement and have found there's more to death and taxes...

What is sraddha and what is superstition? What is Dharma and Adharma? What is real and unreal?
Surely, one's own practice and experience on top of received teachings would have at some point in time allowed one to see through what is chaff and what is wheat? Otherwise, what's the point of having a map towards sainthood ranging from a Stream Enterer all the way to a Buddha? Perhaps, it all speaks of one's own commitment level as well..I have heard that doubt, for some, is often used as one kind of comfort zone as a form of non-action and excuse.

One reasoning here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
A1. "Now, householders, of those brahmans & contemplatives who hold this doctrine, hold this view — 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no priests or contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves' — it can be expected that, shunning these three skillful activities — good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, good mental conduct — they will adopt & practice these three unskillful activities: bad bodily conduct, bad verbal conduct, bad mental conduct. Why is that? Because those venerable brahmans & contemplatives do not see, in unskillful activities, the drawbacks, the degradation, and the defilement; nor in skillful activities the rewards of renunciation, resembling cleansing.

A2. "Because there actually is the next world, the view of one who thinks, 'There is no next world' is his wrong view. Because there actually is the next world, when he is resolved that 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong resolve. Because there actually is the next world, when he speaks the statement, 'There is no next world,' that is his wrong speech. Because there actually is the next world, when he is says that 'There is no next world,' he makes himself an opponent to those arahants who know the next world. Because there actually is the next world, when he persuades another that 'There is no next world,' that is persuasion in what is not true Dhamma. And in that persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, he exalts himself and disparages others. Whatever good habituation he previously had is abandoned, while bad habituation is manifested. And this wrong view, wrong resolve, wrong speech, opposition to the arahants, persuasion in what is not true Dhamma, exaltation of self, & disparagement of others: These many evil, unskillful activities come into play, in dependence on wrong view.

A3. "With regard to this, a wise person considers thus: 'If there is no next world, then — at the break-up of the body, after death — this venerable person has made himself safe. But if there is the next world, then this venerable person — on the break-up of the body, after death — will reappear in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. Even if we didn't speak of the next world, and there weren't the true statement of those venerable brahmans & contemplatives, this venerable person is still criticized in the here-&-now by the wise as a person of bad habits & wrong view: 2 one who holds to a doctrine of non-existence. If there really is a next world, then this venerable person has made a bad throw twice: in that he is criticized by the wise here-&-now, and in that — with the break-up of the body, after death — he will reappear in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. Thus this safe-bet teaching, when poorly grasped & poorly adopted by him, covers (only) one side, and leaves behind the possibility of the skillful

See also:
The Right and the True
Entrusting
Doubt: #60-82

My reflection:
http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/purelan ... s/id3.html
To obtain human life is difficult in the extreme;
To meet a Buddha in this world is also difficult;
It is difficult, too, for a man to attain faith and wisdom.
Once you have heard the Dharma, strive to reach its heart.

If you have heard the Dharma and do not forget it,
But adore and revere it with great joy,
You are my good friend. For this reason,
You should awaken aspiration for Enlightenment.

Even if the whole world is on fire,
Be sure to pass through it to hear the Dharma;
Then you will surely attain the Buddha's Enlightenment.
And everywhere deliver beings from the river of birth-and-death.

The Buddha further said,
"I have expounded this teaching for the sake of sentient beings and enabled you to see Amitayus and all in His Land.
Strive to do what you should.
After I have passed into Nirvana, do not allow doubt to arise.
In the future, the Buddhist Scriptures and Teachings will perish.
But, out of pity and compassion, I will especially preserve this Sutra and maintain it in the world for a hundred years more.
Those beings who encounter it will attain deliverance in accord with their aspirations.

The Buddha said to Maitreya,
"It is difficult to encounter and behold Tathagata when He is in this world.
Difficult of access, difficult to hear are the Buddhas' teachings and scriptures.
It is also difficult to hear the excellent teachings for Bodhisattvas, the Paramitas.
Difficult too is it to meet a good teacher, to hear the Dharma and perform the practices.
But most difficult of all difficulties is to hear this Sutra, have faith in it with joy and hold fast to it.
Nothing is more difficult than this.
Thus have I formed my Dharma, thus have I expounded my Dharma, and thus have I taught my Dharma. You must receive it and practice it by the method prescribed."
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Indrajala » Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:26 am

Astus wrote: Isn't it better now to let everyone preach what they want?


The powers that be could tell their preachers to tow the party line or leave.

The problem is that in Japanese Buddhism anything goes. It has become whatever you want it to be. You can play Zen Monk, say you're doing Dogen-zen, but conveniently ignore all the rules he insisted upon like celibacy and humble living. Unless you go off and break the law or something, hardly anyone will tell you to smarten up. This seems universal from Pureland to Zen to Shingon.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has no problems safeguarding the well-being of his school and has told certain individuals that their practises are unwelcome within the organization that he heads.

Aw well, such is the degenerate age we live in. :toilet:
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:39 pm

In Mahayana there are uncountable buddhas throughout the infinite worlds. They're as real as this and many other galaxies. Revering many enlightened ones is one of the features of Mahayana. Saying that it is not the teaching of the Buddha is questioning the truth of the Great Vehicle. It is not only the Pure Land sect saying that Amita Buddha and all the others are real but the very sutras themselves accepted in every Mahayana tradition from Tibet to Japan.

Buddhism is not about the present moment but leading sentient beings from suffering to real happiness. Aspiring to be born in any of the buddha-lands is one among the many ways someone could achieve that. And among the myriad buddha-lands the Western Land of Amita Buddha is a special one as far as it is accessible to simple deluded beings and not just enlightened bodhisattvas. The method to be born there is found not only in the so called Pure Land tradition but also in all the other Mahayana schools, including Tibetan ones.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with theistic religions. The Pure Land is not the end but a special environment to attain liberation. Amita Buddha is not a god but a perfectly enlightened being. I recommend you first read this short introduction to Pure Land Buddhism. And this is a very succinct introduction to Shin Buddhism: click.
"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: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:43 pm

Huseng,

I see, so you're saying that even the churches and abbots don't care about the quality of their teaching. That is sad indeed. Then perhaps you should study hard and become a reformer priest! :)
"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: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Indrajala » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:02 pm

Astus wrote:Huseng,

I see, so you're saying that even the churches and abbots don't care about the quality of their teaching. That is sad indeed. Then perhaps you should study hard and become a reformer priest! :)


Astus, you're not the first one to suggest such a scheme. :stirthepot:

The problem is that temples are mostly family run business operations. They serve a kind of role in the community. The eldest son usually get stuck with the family property and has to put on robes whether he likes it or not. It just becomes a show, so whether they get it really right or not becomes irrelevant.

I mean here in Japan they get fake priests (European males are popular for the role) to do Christian style weddings in fake chapels. A lot of Buddhist temples more or less amount to the same thing.

As to becoming a priest in Japan, I used to think it'd be a good idea, but I've concluded that if I manage to set myself up to become ordained in this life, I want to become a full bhiksu and not a lifelong novice. While I really wish with genuine sincerity that the sangha in Japan would recover to good health, I'm hardly in a position to be a reformer. Maybe in some distant future. :anjali:
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