Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:11 pm

Do you think Honen thought of himself as a reformer to change the face of Japanese Buddhism for ever? But he did. It is a fascinating biography.

Do you know if they already do online ordinations in Japan like for Christians in the USA? I'd love to get a black robe. :)
"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 4:20 pm

Astus wrote:Do you think Honen thought of himself as a reformer to change the face of Japanese Buddhism for ever? But he did. It is a fascinating biography.

Do you know if they already do online ordinations in Japan like for Christians in the USA? I'd love to get a black robe. :)


Hyuk hyuk... :smile:

Online? I dunno about that. It isn't all that difficult really if you come to Japan.
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Indrajala » Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:22 pm

Oh, hey look you can buy a black robe online:

http://www.myojostar.com/products.htm
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:35 pm

Hi Huseng,

Have you heard this story? :)

Star Fish Story

Kind wishes,
Laura
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:14 pm

Astus,

If we said that because the Pure Land is Mind-Only, then it doesn't exist, then we would essentially be saying Mind doesn't exist. If we have a terrifying (or blissful) dream, our experience of it while dreaming can be very real -- until we wake up, of course.

As I understand it, there are two aspects of Pure Land practice. One is faith in the existence of Amitabha and the Pure Land, and the determination to be reborn there via the resolute practice of buddha recitation. (The Shin revision of this, however, rejects the idea that we can get anywhere through our own efforts, so nembutsu becomes an expression of gratitude instead).

The other is "believing and understanding that Lord Amitabha Buddha of the West inherently exists in full within our mind, is created by our mind, and making this sacred name -- inherently existing in full within our mind and created by our mind -- the focus of our recitation, without a moment of neglect." [Patriarch Ou' I].

The teachers are very clear and consistent in saying that both the above aspects are necessary and inseparable. As we see also in Zen, there can be a tendency to skip past the "provisional" and go straight for the "ultimate", but this is like jumping out of the boat after glimpsing the shore. Nevertheless, we have to remember that the boat is an expedient not absolute truth.

The argument over modernist "divergences" seems to hinge on whether the expedients are being correctly presented. I think teachers such as Taitetsu Unno and Alfred Bloom are seeking to present them in a way which is appropriate for their audiences, namely, modern Westerners, while staying true to the tradition. It a task that requires skill and obviously there are going to be disagreements over certain specific interpretations.

I don't see anything wrong with this; on the contrary, it's quite commendable. Otherwise Buddhism just becomes a club for medievalists and little old ladies who may or may not realize that the earth is round. To reject Western forms of the dharma is to deny the Avatamsaka sutra's promise that the Buddhas teach all beings according to their capacities.

Namaste,

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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Astus » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:22 pm

Lazy eye,

What Ouyi, Hanshan and other masters say are all right and I have no problem with it at all. The issue here is not the validity of other forms of the Pure Land tradition but the interpretation of the Shin thought. Neither Honen nor Shinran advocated the so called Mind Only Pure Land (唯心淨土), although I think they were well aware of its existence. It is because they found the Pure Land path the single option for deluded common men of the Dharma ending age. Understanding the meaning of the teaching of Mind Only not being an easy task it seems natural to me that such a teaching cannot be called a universal means saving people of all capacities from high to low.

Reinterpreting the teaching to fit current needs is very good. But the criterion of transformation is on one hand to stay true to the original intention and on the other to bring good results. Now, saying that Amita Buddha is the true nature of mind without providing the necessary methods is misleading. Simple faith doesn't lead to recognising buddha-mind, neither does the sole repetition of any sets of words. Thus it is not enough to change the presentation of Shin Buddhism, one has to give a complete practical path too. Finally, if one reforms not only the explanation but the technique too it becomes a new lineage and it is not to be called Jodo Shinshu any more.

If one wishes to see the Buddha then one sees him. If one sees him then one asks questions. If one asks then one is answered, one hears the sutras and rejoices greatly. One reflects thus: 'Where did the Buddha come from? Where did I go to?' and one thinks to oneself: 'The Buddha came from nowhere, and I also went nowhere.' One thinks to oneself: The Three Realms—the Realm of Desire, the Realm of Form, and the Realm of the Formless—these Three Realms are simply made by thought. Whatever I think, that I see. The mind creates the Buddha. The mind itself sees him. The mind is the Buddha. The mind is the Tathagata. The mind is my body, the mind sees the Buddha. The mind does not itself know the mind, the mind does not itself see mind. A mind with conceptions is stupidity, a mind without conceptions is nirvana. There is nothing in these dharmas which can be enjoyed; they are all made by thinking. If thinking is nothing but empty, then anything which is thought is also utterly nonexistent.' So it is, Bhadrapala, such is the vision of the bodhisattvas who are established in the meditation."
The Buddha then recited the following verses:

Mind does not know mind;
With mind one cannot see mind.
Mind giving rise to conceptions is stupidity;
Free of conceptions it is nirvana.

There is nothing fixed or firm in these dharmas;
They are forever located in thinking.
When one understands emptiness,
One is altogether free of conceptual thinking.


This is what the Buddha said in the Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra (ch. 2, tr. by Paul Harrison), which inspired many to practice in order to reach the Western Land of Amita Buddha in China since it was translated in 179 CE by Lokaksema among the very first Mahayana texts to be found in Chinese. However, in the Pure Land tradition this is not considered to be a central scripture unlike the so called Three Pure Land Sutras.

I think that Pure Land Buddhism as it is found in East Asia is far from being attracting for a modern audience full of materialist concepts. But not everyone is like that even in the so called West. And those who tried hard to follow any of the Sage's Path but had to realise his/her failure the easy path of buddha-remembrance provides an escape even for them from the grip of life and death.

Many cannot even live according to the five lay precepts. Isn't it then a massive delusion to hope for enlightenment in this life when even their human birth is far from being assured? Of course, not taking the teaching of karma seriously and being ignorant of the drawbacks of samsara it is no wonder people are short sighted and look for only the present benefits.

Shinran in chapter 4 of the Kyogyoshinsho describes the activities of enlightened beings who dwell in the Pure Land, that is the returning phase. However, until we're still about to go there his words in the Shoshinge apply (stanza 8):

"The Light of All-embracing Compassion always illumines and protects us;
The darkness of ignorance has already been destroyed by it,
But still the clouds and mists of greed, desire, anger and enmity
Continually cover the sky of True Faith;"


If it were so that people reached the Pure Land here and now they would be like this (stanza 18):

"Upon reaching the World of Lotus-store,
We will realize True Suchness and attain Dharma-body.
Then, playing in the forests of evil passions, we will display supernatural powers;
Entering Samsaric states, we will manifest accommodative and transformed bodies to save beings."


Do you really think common deluded beings can easily realise Amita Buddha as the self-nature and perform the tasks of an enlightened bodhisattva? If not, it is misleading to tell them so.
"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 Andreas Ludwig » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:25 pm

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 know Adrian (and his friend Paul Roberts) and his crusade against 'modern Shin teachers' not 'believing the story literally' but I am a bit surprised to see you joining their fundamentalist crusade about 'correct faith'. As far as I know you are not a Shin Buddhist and - excuse me mate - your statement quoted above has nothing to do with what Shinran taught. The Pure Land is NOT a special environment to attain liberation, that's the 'traditional' Pure Land teaching (including Honens), but a poetic description of Nirvana. Amida is the formlessness of the dharmakaya taking form as compassion - not a 'being', i.e. not something or somebody part of what we can grasp (i.e. giving form according to what we know or can think). If you read Shinrans works (including his letters) it's crystal clear that he went beyond the 'literal understanding' of the holy story and way beyond what his beloved teacher Honen taught.

Gassho

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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Namu Butsu » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:42 pm

Astus,

It is not that it is saying that you realize Amida in your mind through self effort. You dont have to believe in a literal Heaven and Literal body in that western paradise. It is about Amida whom represents Infinite Light and Eternal Life, Boundless Compassion that is the Primordial foundation of the Cosmos. This FORCE penetrates all manifest things and holds them all in Compassion. The perfect interconnectedness of all things make up the wonderful Nature of Amida. The form taken is Amida and the Name (Namu amida butsu). These (Amida) and (Namu Amida Butsu) are the finger pointing to the moon. For Amida can only truely be experienced from PURE FEELING as Kenryo Kanamatsu states in "Naturalness A Classic of Shin Buddhism". Hopefully my friend you do not think he is also a NON Shin Buddhist for his views. Taitetsu Unno himself states that in the beginning Amida and ourselves may seem separate. But through the Inifinite Light of Wisdom from Amida (and not through self Power) one realizes oneness with Amida.

We dont have to go to some heaven to experience Amida. This is what Shinran, Kenryo Kanamatsu, Sensei Seibuhr, Dr. Alfred Bloom, and other great teachers are talking about. We experience the Pure Land here and now. Not that out of our practice we get somewhere through a calculating mind. Nay, it is through the result of the Perfect Working of Infinite Compassion. It is as some Zen masters experience in shikintaza (just sitting) in which there is absolutely NO GOAL, but the working of the Buddha becomes manifest when they cast aside their self calculating mind and thus they have satori. We dont realize Enlightenment from Nembutsu, but Amida embraces us and through that working of Infinite Compassion we are brought to realization. So in this life we experience such joy at Deep Entrusting from the working of Ultimate Reality and then when the physical body breaks away we immediately enter Nirvana (Pure Land).

You dont have to be a Zen master. Many Shin Buddhist have experienced this and we have much of their poetry as examples of what they experienced. This is what Taitetsu Unno, and others demonstrate through their lectures and books. To say they are not Shin Buddhist is very arrogant and reminds me of exactly the Kamakura period in which teachers were going around fighting and slandering others for following other sutras. We do not need to go Nichiren. These arguments and books written about "Divergence" remind me of when I was muslim, there is a sect who call themselves Salafiyah (followers of the pious predecessors) in which would throw people outside the "Orthodox" realm of believers for not interpreting text literally. I left Islam because of the DOGMA overload. I did not plan to find this in Buddhism, but it seems some people make it that way (not a criticism just stating my perception, I also sometimes fall into dogma).

If you wish to view Amida as a literal body man who became enlightened, then by all means do so, and I am not saying this is bad, but I think as Andreas pointed out and what Alfred Bloom has pointed out to me is that for Shinran, Amida was not merely a Buddha residing in the Pure Land, he is reality itself which embraces us and is the foundation of Life. We have our essence in this Ocean of Oneness and Ultimate Reality.

If you view Amida as a literal enlighten man that is fine as Taitetsu Unno points out at the beginning many see Amida as separate. Then later practice deepens not from our self power, but through deep hearing of Amida which Amida is all the while transmitting the frenquency to touch Ultimate Reality.

Thank you very much for allowing me to share my views.

Gassho
Namo Amida Butsu
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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 Astus » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:49 pm

Glad to see you here Andreas. You're right, I'm not a Shin follower as stated in my initial post. I'm not on a crusade either, so if you can reply to what I presented here as my unprofessional understanding of Shinran's thought I'd happily change my mind. My problem has been with Shin Buddhism as described by some that if shinjin equalled attaining non-retrogression - the realisation of no-birth of dharmas - in the here and now instead of meaning an assured birth in the Pure Land and consequently attaining enlightenment, it'd be in direct contradiction with not just Honen but generally Mahayana. But if it is simply an assured birth then a real Amita Buddha and a real Pure Land is necessary. Or it might be that my logic here is faulty somewhere. If so, please point at my mistake.
"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 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:54 pm

Dr. Alfred Bloom once wrote to me in an email:

"What seems to be happening among some Pure Land Buddhists is to absorb the western mode of religious thought and apply it to the descriptions in the Sutras, making Buddhism almost unintelligible for modern people who may know something of the texts and the history.



It is true that the ordinary person with limited background in the development of Buddhism may think that the descriptions are to be taken literally. However the guideline for the truth of a teaching cannot be just its popular understanding. We must look more deeply into the consequences or implications of whatever view is taken. Therefore in the popular view the Pure Land is over there somewhere very far and the Buddha resides there. When we die he comes to meet us and escort and welcome us to the Pure Land. This is a very simple conception which is expressed here and there in the traditions. However, it is not the central mode for understanding the tradition concerning human destiny.



Philosophically such a popular view raises many problems for Buddhist thought. In the first place, reality is a matter of mind. All our views and conceptions root in our minds. There is nothing outside the mind. Buddhist practices are designed to transform the mind from its attachments to the sense of objective existence which is delusory. Mahayana Buddhism rejects substantialism, that things have independent existence or an essence which is unchangeable. All reality, so far as it is thought to be enshrined in our own thoughts and beliefs is empty. Mahayana Buddhism has a distinction of Absolute truth and Conventional truth. There are mutually interdependent insofar that we can approach the absolute truth through the conventional-worldly truth and we gain perspective on conventional truth through our awareness of the absolute truth. Also connected with this distinction is the principle of Upaya which teaches that the Buddha gives teaching depending on the level of understanding and capacity of the person to understand. It is not a “one size fits all” teaching. Mahayana philosophy and the interpretation of the apparent world of experience is more subtle and complex than the popular beliefs which are used to console people.



In this context in modern studies we usually describe these teachings as myth. Myth is a story depicting salvation which in it broad sensed is true, but the details of the story and imagery are not true so far as they relate to our known world. What is important is the meaning of salvation conveyed by the stories and texts and whether the details of the stories themselves are true or not.



In relation to Shin Buddhism as a major thread of Pure Land teaching, we should note that for Shinran Amida Buddha was not merely a Buddha residing in the Pure Land, he is reality itself which embraces us and is the foundation of life. According to his description Amida represents the Utlimate Reality or Body of Truth which is colorless, formless and inconceivable or inexpressible reality. Accordingly, the Land which is closely associated with Amida is also not so much a specific place far off, but the spiritual realm or reality which flows through our present lives and takes us to ultimate fulfillment-Nirvana. Nirvana is not a place but more closely as condition in which all attachments, passions have been overcome and we experience total freedom and bliss. We become Buddha and as “one” with the Buddha, we work for the salvation of all beings. Shinran pointed to the mystery of this reality in the use of the term Jinen honi and No reason is reason or no working is working. "
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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 Astus » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:05 pm

Namu Butsu,

What you say I'm all OK with it. That certainly sounds like a faith lived at its full extent. It is wonderful. My argument was only against saying that Amita Buddha is not a real being who reached perfect enlightenment via walking the bodhisattva path for many aeons. To say that Amita Buddha is also a dharmakaya buddha and the true nature of everything is not a contradiction but the application of the three bodies (trikaya) teaching, that is definitely fine with me.

Regarding Dr. Bloom's letter I have a question. How do you get in contact with that ultimate reality? If it is through Amita Buddha's compassion then isn't it the case that actually there is a buddha (sambhogakaya) leading people to it (dharmakaya)? And if that is the case there is no disagreement here as such is the teaching of all Pure Land sects, what he, however, calls a myth (if I get it right).
"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 catmoon » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:13 pm

Of course, one COULD just say, look, the pure lands can be viewed metaphorically or not, depending on the nature of the mind doing the viewing and the greatest benefit to that mind.
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Namu Butsu » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:23 pm

Astus,

Amida is the Ultimate Reality. Ultimate Reality is that which is penetrating our lives. Its as Robert Thurmen says, When one becomes a Buddha, they realize they were never not a Buddha. How so? Because when one touches Amida and is transformed by the Deepest True Nature of the Cosmos, that person becomes Buddha. Buddha witnesses Dharmakaya and sees Dharmakaya. Dharmakaya sees Dharmakaya. Buddha sees Buddha. You dont have to believe that Amida is a person who became a Buddha and created a Pure Land.The teachings go much deeper than this. Like I said, Taitetsu Unno talks about the beginning stage in which we see Amida as separate. But through this Infinite Grace we realize our oneness. Namu (foolish self) Amida Buddha become ONE. This is the mahayana nondualistic view. Samsara and Nirvana are one. So Namu and Amida are one.

Namo Amida Butsu
:buddha1:
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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 Namu Butsu » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:33 pm

When Shakyamuni became Enlightened, it was the Dharma that Liberated him. The Dharma is Amida. Amida Buddha is that evolutionary force that works on all of the cosmos. The Truest Deepest Nature of the Cosmos.
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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 Namu Butsu » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:12 pm

In Naturalness: A Classic of Shin Buddhism, Kenryo Kanamatsu gives a great and deep description of Amida Buddha and Other Power:


"However, being shut up within the narrow walls of our limited self, we lose our simplicit and turn a deaf ear to the call welling up from the inmost depths of our heart. We are not quite conscious of our inherit longing, for it is hidden under so many layers of pride and self-deception. Just as we are not ordinarily conscious of the air, so we are opt to overlook the claims of the heart demanding our foremost attention. But when we meet happenings incompatible with our selfish desires and baffling human calculations, we are made to pause and reflect on the feebleness of our earthly desires. This is the time when the heart asserts itself and forces us to look beyond our narrow self. Here we feel an unthinkable power stronger than ourselves, compelling us to choose between the self and the not-self, between ignorance and enlightenment. This Unthinkable Power stronger than ourselves, this persistent urge impelling the self to transcend itself, is a call to us of the All-feeling Compassionate heart, the Eternal Spirit of Sympathy-who is in his essence the Light and Life of all who is World-conscious. To feel all, to be conscious of everything, is the Spirit. We are immersed in his consciousness body and soul. It is through his consciousness that the sun attracts the earth; it is through his consciousness that the light waves are being transmitted from planet to planet. Not only in space, but this Light and Life, this All-Feeling Being is in our hearts.

He is all-conscious in space, or the world of extension; and he is all-conscious in heart, or the world of intention. He is working in the inmost recesses of our heart as the innate love-that basal, pure , universal-feeling that interpenetrates all objects, that moves and exists in unbroken continuity with the outer world. Our self has ceaselesslyh to shed its limits in oblivion and death, and repeatedly sink into this basal pure feeling. It must dive boldly into the depths of existence, touch the Fundamental Unity, and follow the eternal rhythm of the World's Heart so as to become one with the all.

The enlightened man, with his inner perspective deepened and enlarged, meets the One Eternal Spirit in all objects. He realizes the wholeness of his existence by disclosing the One Living Truth everywhere that makes all realities true. In his mind's eye, it reflects something supernatural. The water does not merely cleanse his limbs, but it purifies his heart, for it touches his spirit. The earth does not merely hold his body, but it gladdens his mind, for its contact is more than a physical contact- it is a living persence of the Glory of Amida-the Eternal Spirit. This is not mere knowledge, as science is,but it is an intuition of the spirit by the spirit. This is where Buddha speaks to Buddha. Amida's revelation is not to be sought after by our own effortsl it comes upon us by itself, of its own accord. Amida is always in us and with us, but by means of our human understanding we posit him outside us, against us, as opposing us, and exercise our intellectual power to the utmost to take hold of him.

This revelation, however, would take place only when this human power has been really exhausted, has given up all its selfishness, when we have come bck to our simplicity. We can only feel him as Heart of our heart and Spirit of our spiritl we can only feel him in the love and joy we feel when we give up our self and stand before him face to face."
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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 Astus » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:07 pm

Namu Butsu,

Thanks for the quote. It seems to me more emotional-poetic than logical-descriptive, so I'd rather not analyse its content.

What I'm asking is a clear technical outline of the method of realising ultimate reality in your interpretation of Shin Buddhism. Otherwise it is difficult for me to undestand what you exactly say and where our agreements and disagreements lie.
"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 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:33 pm

hello astus,

I quote again from my above post:



"This revelation, however, would take place only when this human power has been really exhausted, has given up all its selfishness, when we have come bck to our simplicity. We can only feel him as Heart of our heart and Spirit of our spiritl we can only feel him in the love and joy we feel when we give up our self and stand before him face to face."

So you give up your self calculations and entrust to Amida that Life Force within all things that is working in Infinite Compassion to liberate us. It is a force of the universe. As a quantum phycist asked a Tibetan Lama what is the force that binds us all, the Tibetan lama said "Compassion" then questioner asked is it a experience or a force?" the Tibetan lama said "Both".

This is Amida Buddha.

If it is not so clear to you my friend, then take up Jodo shinshu and apply the Nembutsu. Not in a sense of self power but in the sense of saying the nembutsu for being grasped. Those who speak of Amida as a Real Force, but not as a "real" human being who is enlightened, have experienced Amida here and now.

Its like the zen saying, If you understand things are just as they are. If you dont understand, things are just as they are. This is the same with Amida. If you understand Amida grasp you in his compassion and if you dont understand Amida grasp you in his compassion.

Namo amida butsu
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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 Andreas Ludwig » Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:53 pm

Ok, perhaps I should have avoided to take part in this thread at all since I know these old debates too well from several fora, conversations and mailing lists and I know those who want to see Amida as an entity somewhere 'out there' won't change their views about it anyway. But I'll try and give my opinion about it:

@Namu Butsu,

If it is not so clear to you my friend, then take up Jodo shinshu and apply the Nembutsu. Not in a sense of self power but in the sense of saying the nembutsu for being grasped.


That won't be possible since according to Shinrans teachings you can't 'apply' the nembutsu to have some effects. The effect of being grasped is there first and the nembutsu is what follows naturally - not the other way round. You can not 'decide' whether to say the nembutsu 'in the sense of self-power' or to say it 'in the sense of saying it for being grasped' - such a decision would be made based on the usual ego calculation and therefore the decison as such is futile, at least when it comes to realizing shinjin. That's why I think that Shinshu is not for everybody, one should go and try any other method of becoming enlightened or whatever one may call this goal and see how far one can come. One should try as hard as possible, because only when you give all and fail completely you can understand what Shinran was about when he said 'Since I am incapable of any practice whatsoever, hell would definitely be my dwelling' and 'only the Nembutsu is real.' Otherwise it's just a 'doctrine' to discuss and a personal decision to agree or disagree with it. It's absolutely pointless.

@Astus,

I'm not on a crusade either, so if you can reply to what I presented here as my unprofessional understanding of Shinran's thought I'd happily change my mind.


What I meant with 'afaik you are not a Shin Buddhist' was, that you perhaps haven't read enough of Shinrans writings to actually see the difference between his teachings and all other Pure Land traditions (including Honens). That you said "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" is clearly a sign that you don't know about these - important - differences. The Pure Land is not an environment to attain something, it's Nirvana. Amida Buddha is not just an enlightened being among others, s/he is reality in the most absolute sense.

Adrians and Paul Roberts ranting and raving about what they consider 'false teachers' is a red rag for me, so my reply may sound harsher than it is meant to be. But it has nothing to do with what Shinran was about and is the ultimate anti-thesis to his compassionate way to bring the end of suffering to all beings. They split the Shin community in 'true shin buddhists' and 'other shin buddhists' based on their own limited understanding, i.e. based on their very own ego. They insult many respected Shin teachers and try to form a christian-like fundamentalist book religion. That also explains their interest in Rennyo who was the first to 're-interpret' Shinrans teachings so they could be used to form a mass movement and a powerful institution. So you say you are not joining their crusade - but you join them nevertheless, or so it seems:

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


You are saying that your experience with 'modern Shin teachings' is limited, so how can you agree with what Adrian says? How can you decide what's a 'strange tendency' in Shinshu? And btw what is 'modern shin teaching'? Modern vs true Shin teaching like Adrian thinks? Modern ideas in opposition to the 'right faith'? Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu teachings? How can you decide what's a divergence when your knowledge is limited? By just trusting that Adrian is right? I mean you are saying it explicitly: he is speaking the 'truth'...how can you know? Why have you been perplexed by what Shin Buddhists (how many do you know?) don't accept? Perhaps what you expect to see accepted is not part of what Shin Buddhists care to accept? Who's the judge here? You in your limited experience and knowledge about Shinrans teachings or Adrian, who is fighting his very own fight for what he considers 'True Shin Buddhism'?

Can you perhaps see now what I meant? I would be a bit more cautious to align yourself with Adrian here...


My problem has been with Shin Buddhism as described by some that if shinjin equalled attaining non-retrogression - the realisation of no-birth of dharmas - in the here and now instead of meaning an assured birth in the Pure Land and consequently attaining enlightenment, it'd be in direct contradiction with not just Honen but generally Mahayana.


I don't actually understand your point here, why are you talking about attaining the state of non-retrogression as in opposition to an assured birth in the Pure Land? Shinjin is the experience of being grasped never to be abandoned and yes it is attaining the stage of the truly settled, or non-retrogression on the path to enlightenment. Both aspects are connected in the most closely way. Receiving Shinjin means to experience the joy of being grasped by the Power of the Vow in the here and now - and 'birth in the Pure Land ' or enlightenment, will unfailingly be brought about naturally because of this being grasped by Amida. Shinjin is the realisation that 'from the very beginning one is made to become so', that enlightenment is the natural implication of being grasped by the reality of Amida. There's no either or situation here, it's two sides of the same coin.

But if it is simply an assured birth then a real Amita Buddha and a real Pure Land is necessary. Or it might be that my logic here is faulty somewhere.


I don't see any logic here, faulty or not. Again the Pure Land is not a location but the state of enlightenment, Nirvana itself. Nirvana is real or otherwise we wouldn't be talking about Buddhism here. Amida is real or we couldn't talk about the experience of being grasped by 'his' saving power in our life. All this confusion on your side is based on the fact that you have a clear picture in mind how things have to be, to 'work' properly. That is nothing more than 'Hakarai', the ongoing calculation based on the ego structure of human nature. Amida though is ultimate reality experienced as compassion in your very own life without any caculation getting in the way. To get rid of what we think ultimate reality is, or how things are is the necessary step here. To expect that ultimate reality is exactly like what we can imagine is limiting reality to what we as foolish beings can grasp (which is not really that much I'm afraid) and is reinstating the ego as the ultimate judgement tool again. And the Dharma is trying to dethrone this judgement tool and allow us to see things as they are - not to see them as we are...

It seems to me more emotional-poetic than logical-descriptive


Jodo Shinshu is an emotional-poetic way to enlightenment and because you expect a totally different approach it perhaps is not what fits into your understanding. Shinran didn't start with the scriptures and then devoloped an experience based on a certain kind of 'logic'. He had an experience in his life that transformed him completely and he then developed a certain kind of understanding of his experience. This understanding he tried to integrate then with the traditional scriptures of the Pure Land tradition. For him his experience was the inner meaning, the true meaning of the Pure Land teachings and why he said there are two levels of truth expressed in the scriptures: the hidden and manifest meanings.

And that is why any fundamentalist reading of the 'holy scriptures' and any 'you have to believe it all literally' is actually an anti-shinran attitude. Shinran re-interpreted an existing tradition and their scriptures based on his personal awakening to the saving power of unlimited compassion and he wasn't even shy to read the scriptures in a way they would fit to that experience. Shinran wasn't about a dead book religion, he wasn't even about religion at all if that simply means a set of doctrines made 'to believe' so you can say 'you are a true believer and you are not' - which is what Adrian and Paul Roberts try to do. Shinran brought back the fire of personal experience into Buddhism and he said to his followers that they don't need temples, priests, golden sculptures or be afraid of their afterlife because they are not able to hold the precepts etc.. And now we have some folks running around telling us we have to believe it 'this way and not the other'? No matter what your experience is with the living reality of Amida? Just believe it the way it is written?

It was the Shin priest Kenneth O'Neill who rightly said:

My interests do not lie with orthodoxy for its own sake; my allegiance lies with the spirit of free expression and interpretation exemplified by our founder, Shinran Shonin.


I see the confusion Adrian is causing in many of those who are interested in Shinrans teachings and I had my discussions with him. I know how frantic and aggressive he can become if one doesn't follow his 'true shin buddhism' and I am impatient of such an 'holier than thou' attitude. Btw I completely agree with Prof. Dr. Alfred Bloom that one doesn't have to be a know-nothing when following Shinran, although some try to make us think so - and to believe 'Kalpas ago' (even before there was an earth) there was human being named Dharmakara who then became a being of light in a 'land in the west' where we can now join him after death is simply isulting my intelligence. If others can believe that, fine, more power to them, but don't go around and tell others that is mandatory to experience the liberating power of the vow. You may not do so, but Adrian and his friends do.

And Shinran was quite clear about the trans-historic nature of Amida:

Amida, the Buddha existing from the eternal past,
Pitying the common fools [in the world] of the five defilements,
Appeared in the Castle of Gaya
Manifesting Himself as Shakyamuni Buddha. (Jodo Wasan 88)


Amida as a reality has always been Buddha, there was no point in 'history' when he wasn't Buddha, no matter what the Sutras say. And this eternal Buddha reality manifested as the historical Buddha. So there's no need to think that the historical Buddha actually taught about Amida and a Pure Land (of which we have no evidence at all and it is highly unlikely) to see the connection between them. Amida is Buddha nature manifested in Sakyamuni and in ourself if we are able to realize it. Amida as understood by Shinran is made absolute and transcending history - and our calculation!

What I'm asking is a clear technical outline of the method of realising ultimate reality


And what Namu Butsu tried to explain is that you won't get that 'clear technical outline of a method' because there's none. In Shinshu we don't have a tool to produce Shinjin, full entrustment. Shinjin might happen to you if you are able to get rid of such ideas. Enlightenment can't be forced to happen, it can't be produced, there's no method to use. Giving up self-effort actually means to give up any calculation how to produce it - one could say, when it has become meaningless it might happen all the faster. That's why Shinran said Shinjin is a gift, a grace to receive - there's absolutely no way to make it appear. And as long as you think there's something you can do about it, you are closing the door to Amidas call.

It's like Hisao Inagaki said:

Again, Faith is joy; it is joyful acceptance of Amida's saving Power. Amida approaches us in the form of Namuamidabutsu, and when this is received in our hearts, it becomes Faith. In other words, the Sacred Name is all that Amida is, and Faith, too, is Amida himself.


Amida has been called the ultimate point of reference and I think that's in fact what 'he' is in Shinrans teachings. Or as Shin'ichi Hisamatsu said:

In my opinion, Buddha in Buddhism must have a fundamentally atheistic character. According to the essential Buddhist way of thinking, the theistic Buddha expounded in Buddhist scriptures must be a provisional one secondary in importance to the Buddha having ultimate significance.


Giving up any calculation also means to be open to reality as such and not sticking to our own ideas and views. Not to be able to look 'behind' the myth of Amida (a myth is not a lie btw...) is to close our eyes to this reality because we are afraid it could be greater than what we are able to understand.

Gassho

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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:34 pm

The Pure Land is not an environment to attain something, it's Nirvana. Amida Buddha is not just an enlightened being among others, s/he is reality in the most absolute sense.


Admittedly, this is where I fail to see a divergence in views discussed here. Please pardon my ignorance and intrusion into this conversation. How could one practice in line with Amitabha Buddha without placing one's practice squarely in the dharamakaya/all Buddhas as well?

I know that I'm reading this conversation through the lense of a Vajrayana Buddhist but honestly when I read the comments from Andreas, Astus, and Namu Butsu the disagreement only seems to lie in whether or not Amitabha Buddha had an earth-bound body at one time, and if Amitabha is present right here in this moment in the actions of our body speech and mind. How could it be anything else?

If we were to compare Dharmakaya to vapor, Sambhogakaya to clouds, and Nirmanakaya to rain, then Svabhavikakaya is the essential nature of them all -- water-ness or moisture.
source

This may be disagreeable to some, but the Pureland is right here before us in this moment, is it not?

Again, please pardon my ignorant intrusion. But I am curious :)

Kind wishes,
Laura
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Re: Divergences from the Jodo Shinshu Teachings

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:12 pm

Perhaps the simplest way to ask my question is, would anyone hope to 'enter' the Pure Land right here and now? However unlikely that may be given our present condition, as a practitioner is that an aim?

Kind wishes,
Laura
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