Precepts and Shinran

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Precepts and Shinran

Postby Astus » Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:56 pm

As I've read a couple of times, and again in a recent thread initiated by Rev. Nonin's remarks on renunciation, I'd like to bring up for investigation the case of Shinran who left priesthood and got married. Many think this is a good reference for the modern Japanese situation where ordained men can and do live like lay people. Shinran, as is well known, was a Pure Land follower, a disciple of Honen, who said that for himself (and generally for people who live in this Age of Declining Dharma) it is impossible to walk the Path of Sages (everything else than Pure Land) because he is full of defilements and only Amita Buddha can help who brings even the evil to his Land of Peace and Bliss.

This sounds like an acceptible reason for not maintaining the precepts, for they're not just no longer needed but one is actually incapable of fulfilling them. On the other hand, this argument doesn't stand for any other paths where discipline in moral acts is essential.
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Does marvelous nature and spirit
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Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:45 pm

Thanks for launching this topic, Astus! You're quite right, I think, to point out that Shinran has an altogether different approach so it's questionable whether we could use him as a precedent for other paths.

Still, we can discuss the broader question: should there be such a thing, in Buddhism, as a "married priest" (or "priest/monk" or "cleric" or whatever you want to call it).

My argument is that allowing for a married priesthood does not, in and of itself, really change anything. In effect, it just creates a new kind of "job" alongside the traditional roles of monk and layperson. Now there is this sort of intermediary figure. But the path and goal remain the same. Regardless of one's function within organized Buddhism, if you want to realize the Buddha's path you're going to have to overcome the klesas.

So in this regard, the priest who lives like a layperson simply faces the same constraints as a layperson. Likewise, a layperson who lives in seclusion and practices with single-minded intensity might surpass the attainments of many monks.

The more important question, as I see it, is whether or not Japanese Zen has actually revised the path and goal. That is, does it now view "renunciation" differently? Has the nature of "enlightenment" been redefined? It could be argued, perhaps, that allowing priests to get married naturally creates a pull towards reinterpretation -- because a priest, being an authority figure, doesn't want to feel inferior to a celibate monk, and doesn't want to feel that enlightenment is out of reach. So maybe that is an issue.

There is one other side topic, touching on something Huseng brought up in the earlier thread, which may or may not be relevant here. Namely, in Theravada, it is possible to get as far as the sakadagami stage without having severed the fetter of desire, and even an anagami can go on living as a householder. Which means, according to certain teachers at least, that some degree of jhana/dhyana should be possible for non-celibates. So while we should not overestimate the samadhi attainable by the layperson (and by extension the married priest), perhaps we should not underestimate it either.

(see http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=4100 and http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3479 and the related essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi, http://www.viet.net/~anson/ebud/ebdha267.htm).

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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Astus » Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:43 pm

A lay priest is an ambiguous term for me. It can mean one who does the rituals, pastoral duties and teaching (like a Christian priest). It may also mean something less varied, like a lay teacher (could also be a scholar, a meditation teacher, or a Dharma teacher). It could also mean missionary work too, preaching to unbelievers.

Another important point is that a lay priest would either cost double, or triple than a monk. First of all, a priest would need proper education, a university degree in Dharma. Where can you obtain one like that? Not so many places, but not impossible. Also, such a priest may need a home that the laity should pay for. Another option is a part-time priest, in that case the quality of service might suffer it.

Last question I can think of is the advatages-disadvantages of a lay priest vis-a-vis a monk. A monk lives in a community, easier to maintain proper lifestyle, more time for studies and practice are available. A priest is more for the laity than for personal advancement, may not be able to carry on with his own education on a necessary level. On the other hand, a priest can be closer to the community than home leavers.
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“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby shel » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:26 pm

Sorry the other thread was closed. I believe there was a misunderstanding regarding Rev. Nonin Chowaney. As an American Zen Master who chairs the Membership Committee of the American Zen Teachers Association and serves on the Priest Training Committee of the Soto Zen Teachers Association, Rev. Nonin Chowaney is highly representative of the "state of Soto Zen today," and that was why I included his public statements and attempted to look at them critically in the discussion. I have no particular interest in the opinions of this American Zen Master, though I would welcome any offered.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:30 pm

Astus wrote:This sounds like an acceptible reason for not maintaining the precepts, for they're not just no longer needed but one is actually incapable of fulfilling them. On the other hand, this argument doesn't stand for any other paths where discipline in moral acts is essential.



This assumes that we're really in a degenerate age of the dharma (mappo 末法) as Japanese Pureland advocates suggest.

I find it hard to believe that in the present day you can tow that line anymore when the whole world is open and there are evidently still advanced practitioners. We might be in a somewhat degenerate age, but the dharma is still active and hearsay would suggest some people have realizations and attainments. It is possible to eliminate klesa and it is still possible to walk the path of the sages so to speak, whether it be Sravakayana or Bodhisattvayana.

If this is so, then the arguments Shinran pushes lose their weight and can be dismissed as faulty.

If that is so, then the traditional path of the sages as they call it still requires adherence to precepts and all the other activities that come with it.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:51 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:My argument is that allowing for a married priesthood does not, in and of itself, really change anything. In effect, it just creates a new kind of "job" alongside the traditional roles of monk and layperson. Now there is this sort of intermediary figure. But the path and goal remain the same. Regardless of one's function within organized Buddhism, if you want to realize the Buddha's path you're going to have to overcome the klesas.


In Japan, however, the married priesthood are the monks despite being upasaka (laity). They have the duties of a bhiksu(ni), but are not vinaya holders.

So in this regard, the priest who lives like a layperson simply faces the same constraints as a layperson. Likewise, a layperson who lives in seclusion and practices with single-minded intensity might surpass the attainments of many monks.


That's true, but having a wife, kids, car, business, property, taxes, social engagements, soccer practices, fondue parties, a lawn mower and so on are not conducive to single-minded intense practise that might surpass that attainments of many monks.

There are some cases I can imagine where being an upasaka might allow for greater ability to pursue the path than being a bhiksu. For example, you have a lot of duties in the monastery as the later and are usually connected to an organization while your shifu/guru/master will probably assign duties. You can't necessarily just up and go off on a retreat because you feel like it, especially if you have duties to attend to. A completely unattached upasaka on the other hand might have both the financial means and personal liberty to do what they want, but I think this is rather unusual as most lay people have families, jobs, kids and so on.

Which means, according to certain teachers at least, that some degree of jhana/dhyana should be possible for non-celibates. So while we should not overestimate the samadhi attainable by the layperson (and by extension the married priest), perhaps we should not underestimate it either.


Mastery of the first jhana requires abandoning lust.

Samadhanga Sutta

The Blessed One said: "Now what, monks, is five-factored noble right concentration? There is the case where a monk -- quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities -- enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body un-pervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.


If you do not master the first, jhana the following three are unattainable. Everything I've heard and read insists this is the case and it is non-negotiable. There is no jhana without abandoning of sensory desires (kama).

However, I don't claim any mastery of jhanas, so my opinion here is entirely based on reliable testimony and traditional theory.

I think what often happens is some people are not willing to accept the theory and practise as is and want to continue on with their self-gratifying activities, so instead of recognizing the practises as well as their own shortcomings, they reform the practices and theories to suit their own shortcomings and desires, thus becoming masters without ever having mastered anything. It is bringing the goal to you rather than the other way around.

You must look extremely wise and skilled if you can while engaging in sexual activity claim mastery of practises which Buddha himself declared impossible unless sensory desires are abandoned.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:02 pm

...who said that for himself (and generally for people who live in this Age of Declining Dharma) it is impossible to walk the Path of Sages (everything else than Pure Land) because he is full of defilements and only Amita Buddha can help who brings even the evil to his Land of Peace and Bliss.


In the present day there are said to be living Arhats who are said to have rid themselves of defilements (this despite of what Shinran and Pureland advocates suggest as impossible in our present age).

If what Shinran says is true, then they're just kidding themselves. However, I doubt very much a Pureland priest would have the balls to tell one of them to their face, "Sorry, we live in a degenerate age, you're not really an Arhat 'cuz that's just not possible anymore. Knock it off already and stop pretending. We know your attainments are impossible in this dharma degenerate age."

Basically, there are a lot of problems with Shinran's theory because despite what he claims there are still people apparently becoming enlightened.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Astus » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:32 pm

I don't think it is only Pure Land people saying we're in the Age of Decline but even Tibetans (although they use this to say that Vajrayana is the solution to the problem). As for "apparently enlightened beings" I cannot say much. How is it apparent? Regarding the first jhana, if it requires abandonment of sensual craving, only a non-returner can do it, excluding even bodhisattvas. How could then such people as non-Buddhists attain it?

Nevertheless, I didn't say the truth is only with Shinran but wanted to state clearly that while Shinran had good reasons to live a layman's life, other traditions don't. I should also mention that his teacher, Honen remained a monk till the end of his life, and that was the case with every great Pure Land teacher in China too I know of. Fortunately, the Pure Land method works as well for monks as for laymen.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:07 am

Astus wrote:I don't think it is only Pure Land people saying we're in the Age of Decline but even Tibetans (although they use this to say that Vajrayana is the solution to the problem).




In Japan they proposed that enlightenment in this world was no longer possible because we past the point of no return (I think they calculated this to be somewhere in the 11th century).

As for "apparently enlightened beings" I cannot say much. How is it apparent?


People say they're enlightened. I can't confirm or deny this, so I say apparently. Also, it would contradict the Japanese Pureland claim that enlightenment in this world at present is unattainable.

Regarding the first jhana, if it requires abandonment of sensual craving, only a non-returner can do it, excluding even bodhisattvas. How could then such people as non-Buddhists attain it?


This isn't true. As I understand it it has to be abandoned which doesn't necessarily mean completely eradicating every single cause for sensual desire to arise (that comes after the jhanas). Non-Buddhists are also capable of eliminating sensory desire. However, they generally lack the teaching of dependent origination, so they remain in the higher jhana realms and are perhaps even reborn there, but this is only temporary and they eventually fall back down.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Dodatsu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:37 am

Shinran Shonin didn't say it was impossible for others to attain enlightenment, he meant it was impossible for HIMSELF to do so, and in sense, for a majority of us. How many people do we know are really enlightened vs how many people claim that they are enlightened? Ultimately, whether one follows the Pure Land teachings (Shinran did not specifically mention his own) or not, it's up to oneself. For us Shin Buddhists, it's because we know we're incapable of attaining enlightenment in this life, that is why, Shinran's teachings open a whole new spectrum and way to us.

As for Shinran's abandonment of the precepts, well, he was not the first one, but he was the first to openly do so. Also, since Shin Buddhists do not aim to attain any kind of samadhic experience or attainment, i don't see the problem why we can't get married and yet lead the life of a clergy. After all, Shin Buddhism is meant for the layperson. And in Japanese Buddhist history, Prince Shotoku who was instrumental for Buddhism's spread in Japan, was such an example.
Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:00 am

Huseng,

While I'm not much of a Dharma Decline proponent I find it a traditional and common view throughout Mahayana lands. I've also heard that those who actually have real attainments are bodhisattvas appearing in this world but no common human really attains anything. This I don't necessarily agree with. You know, I'm more of a Chan-style buddha-nature believer, which guarantees the availability of enlightenment for everyone at any time, and, certain conditions provided, it can be actualised. Still, reliable teachers are few and phony (wild fox) people are many. And while Ven. Shengyan didn't claim to be greatly enlightened, people like Living Buddha Lu Shengyan seems to say so.

If sensual desires has to be left behind temporarily or partially, even married lay people can attain absorption on a retreat or on a peaceful morning.

Dodatsu,

Thanks for dropping 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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:02 pm

Huseng wrote: You must look extremely wise and skilled if you can while engaging in sexual activity claim mastery of practises which Buddha himself declared impossible unless sensory desires are abandoned.


There's a difference between "mastery" of jhanas and "attainment" of jhanas. One would not be able to master them without also eliminating (not just abandoning) sensual desire, as sensuality is considered the main obstacle to jhana.

But someone who, say, goes on a three-month retreat under the guidance of a good teacher might be able to attain jhana to some degree. Even if they have not renounced sex permanently. The hindrances can be dealt with as they arise.

More to the point, though, the full experience of jhana is said to be such that one would no longer want to settle for mere sensual pleasures. That's why (in Theravada) realizing the jhanas is said to be instrumental in moving from sakadagami to anagami. Once that "fetter" has dropped away, there's nothing stopping you. The famous laywoman Dipa Ma reached that level and was reportedly able to walk through walls and do other cool paranormal stuff.

I tend to think - based on my reading and discussions with people I consider reliable, as well as some teaching talks on the subject -- that there's a stage where jhana practice is compatible with (non-celibate) lay life, and then there's a stage where it's not. As with most Buddhist practices, actually.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:26 pm

Dodatsu wrote:Shinran Shonin didn't say it was impossible for others to attain enlightenment, he meant it was impossible for HIMSELF to do so, and in sense, for a majority of us.


That's a depressing prospect if what he said is true. I can see such statements doing more harm than good. Some might lose whatever confidence they might have had in meditation and so on, and just pray for rebirth in the Pureland while continuing on with their regular samsaric lifestyle.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:44 pm

Astus wrote:
While I'm not much of a Dharma Decline proponent I find it a traditional and common view throughout Mahayana lands. I've also heard that those who actually have real attainments are bodhisattvas appearing in this world but no common human really attains anything.


Astus

I think we're in a state of degeneration, but then that's been a common theme for centuries upon centuries. On the other hand, nothing is set in stone and as all things are empty they can be changed.


This I don't necessarily agree with. You know, I'm more of a Chan-style buddha-nature believer, which guarantees the availability of enlightenment for everyone at any time, and, certain conditions provided, it can be actualised. Still, reliable teachers are few and phony (wild fox) people are many. And while Ven. Shengyan didn't claim to be greatly enlightened, people like Living Buddha Lu Shengyan seems to say so.


Indeed -- unfortunately there are far too many false teachers. There is also a lot of influence from materialism and other schools of thought that are generally deemed default and receive state sponsorship like western psychology. Stop and consider how most people uncritically accept the existence of an "unconscious mind", the "subconsciousness" or the "ego / id" notions. Buddhism also has a commercial value, so it attracts entrepreneurs and swindlers.


If sensual desires has to be left behind temporarily or partially, even married lay people can attain absorption on a retreat or on a peaceful morning.


I don't disagree with this, but the thing to keep in mind is the sheer time and devotion samadhi and jhanas take. Most lay people do not have the time or energy to do it because they have a life to live and a schedule which dictates their activities.

You can be an upasaka yogi and you wouldn't be the first by any means, but it isn't common for most upasaka like me or you to be able to devote months, if not years, to solid meditation. I know people who are wealthy enough to go to Nepal several times a year and hang out in the Himalayas chanting mantras, but at most they got a few weeks before getting back on the plane.

A bhiksu(ni) on the other hand can rely on offerings and usually won't have commitments that me and you would.

See the truth is we're suckers to society. The ordained folks have it good. Hardly any worldly commitments and people happily give them free lunch every day. Being a layperson actually sucks when you look at the lifestyle of most monks and nuns. They're on permanent vacation from all the insanities of ordinary lay life.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Dodatsu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:19 pm

Huseng wrote:
Dodatsu wrote:Shinran Shonin didn't say it was impossible for others to attain enlightenment, he meant it was impossible for HIMSELF to do so, and in sense, for a majority of us.


That's a depressing prospect if what he said is true. I can see such statements doing more harm than good. Some might lose whatever confidence they might have had in meditation and so on, and just pray for rebirth in the Pureland while continuing on with their regular samsaric lifestyle.


Well, that's really up to your point of view. Shinran Shonin spent 20 years as a monk on Mt Hiei, Honen Shonin spent 30 and both found that they were unable to attain enlightenment despite all the number of years they spent up there doing various practices and studies, that's why both of them left. Honen Shonin left first, and founded an independent Pure Land school in Japan.
Even Saicho, the founder of Japanese Tendai, found himself unable to attain enlightenment, and aspired to attain birth in the Pure Land. Many of us who find ourselves attracted to Shinran's message (at least for "converts" like me) are those who were unable to find comfort in the other teachings. The other teachings are all supreme teachings; but they're not for me, i can't attain emancipation no matter how much i try, that's why i take refuge in Shinran's teachings.

To share:
Each of you has come to see me, crossing the borders of more than ten provinces at the risk of your life, solely with the intent of asking about the path to birth in the land of bliss. But if you imagine in me some special knowledge of a path to birth other than the nembutsu or of scriptural writings that teach it, you are greatly mistaken. If that is the case, since there are many eminent scholars in the southern capital of Nara or on Mount Hiei to the north, you would do better to meet with them and inquire fully about the essentials for birth.
As for me, I simply accept and entrust myself to what my revered teacher (Honen) told me, "Just say the nembutsu and be saved by Amida"; nothing else is involved.
I have no idea whether the nembutsu is truly the seed for my being born in the Pure Land or whether it is the karmic act for which I must fall into hell. Should I have been deceived by Master Honen and, saying the nembutsu, were to fall into hell, even then I would have no regrets.
The reason is, if I could attain Buddhahood by endeavoring in other practices, but said the nembutsu and so fell into hell, then I would feel regret at having been deceived. But I am incapable of any other practice, so hell is decidedly my abode whatever I do.

If Amida's Primal Vow is true, Shakyamuni's teaching cannot be false. If the Buddha's teaching is true, Shan-tao's commentaries cannot be false. If Shan-tao's commentaries are true can Honen's words be lies? If Honen's words are true, then surely what I say cannot be empty.
Such, in the end, is how this foolish person entrusts himself [to the Vow]. Beyond this, whether you take up the nembutsu or whether you abandon it is for each of you to determine.

Thus were his words

(Tannisho - A Record in Lament of Divergences 2)
Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:27 pm

That is a really powerful statement of faith.. Thank you for posting it, Dodastsu.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:30 pm

Dodatsu wrote:Well, that's really up to your point of view. Shinran Shonin spent 20 years as a monk on Mt Hiei, Honen Shonin spent 30 and both found that they were unable to attain enlightenment despite all the number of years they spent up there doing various practices and studies, that's why both of them left. Honen Shonin left first, and founded an independent Pure Land school in Japan.
Even Saicho, the founder of Japanese Tendai, found himself unable to attain enlightenment, and aspired to attain birth in the Pure Land. Many of us who find ourselves attracted to Shinran's message (at least for "converts" like me) are those who were unable to find comfort in the other teachings. The other teachings are all supreme teachings; but they're not for me, i can't attain emancipation no matter how much i try, that's why i take refuge in Shinran's teachings.


It sounds as if Honen and Shinran were impatient. But there were probably other reasons for their dissatisfaction. Dogen too was originally a Tendai monk.

At any rate, the idea has generally been that even if you don't end up becoming enlightened in this lifetime, you cultivate the roots for it to happen in a future lifetime.

I personally don't find Shinran's arguments convincing. However, if others are able to gain peace from them, then I won't criticize them for that. However, declaring that enlightenment is impossible or extremely unlikely in the present age is not only arrogant, but also inconsiderate and dangerous. If some people hear that they'll throw whatever interest they might have had in spiritual cultivation out the window, say to hell with it and just go bugger off into regular samsara while casually uttering Namu Amida Butsu once in awhile.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Dodatsu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:05 pm

No i don't think they were impatient, of course there were other factors that led to them leaving "the mountain". Honen and Shinran share the same view that other than the Pure Land teachings, there were no other paths for them, personally, to attain emancipation. You yourself say below:
At any rate, the idea has generally been that even if you don't end up becoming enlightened in this lifetime, you cultivate the roots for it to happen in a future lifetime.

For Honen, Shinran and the rest of us, the Nembutsu is the unsurpassed good roots, and by saying the Nembutsu will lead us to attain enlightenment at the moment we attain birth in the Pure Land.

However, declaring that enlightenment is impossible or extremely unlikely in the present age is not only arrogant, but also inconsiderate and dangerous. If some people hear that they'll throw whatever interest they might have had in spiritual cultivation out the window, say to hell with it and just go bugger off into regular samsara while casually uttering Namu Amida Butsu once in awhile.

Well the Nembutsu IS the embodiment of Amida Buddha's vow and practice which is directed to us sentient beings. Thus (to us Pure Land Buddhists) it exceeds all other forms of practice and spiritual cultivation (of course, you will disagree with this, but this is how we view the Name), so even if one "occasionally" says the Name, it also has the benefits of leading us to attain birth in the Pure Land, which leads to the sure attainment of emancipation.

Sounds too simple and too good? Well, this is the flip-side of the coin. Other than the Path of Sages, there is the Pure Land Path which is simple and easy, but difficult to put faith in. By acknowledging that we're "bonbu", it brings us back to the reality of the difficulty many of us will have in endeavoring in other practices. Thus, like what i quoted in the Tannisho, whether one takes up the Nembutsu of the Primal Vow, or rejects it, is ultimately up to oneself.
Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:27 pm

Dodatsu wrote:Sounds too simple and too good? Well, this is the flip-side of the coin. Other than the Path of Sages, there is the Pure Land Path which is simple and easy, but difficult to put faith in. By acknowledging that we're "bonbu", it brings us back to the reality of the difficulty many of us will have in endeavoring in other practices. Thus, like what i quoted in the Tannisho, whether one takes up the Nembutsu of the Primal Vow, or rejects it, is ultimately up to oneself.


I don't deny the existence of Purelands, but if only Buddhahood was that simple: just recite Namu Amida Butsu and you're yanked out of samsara regardless of whatever wicked karma tailing behind.

In any case, going back to the original topic we should acknowledge what precepts Shinran might have been rejecting.

In his time if the Tendai precepts were only Bodhisattva precepts, then getting married, while having been a violation of social norms perhaps, might not have actually been a violation of any precepts. Moreover, not shaving your head and so on as well are not demanded in most sets of Bodhisattva vows that I'm aware of.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Dodatsu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:45 pm

No, but at that time if you were a monk or nun you were expected to be celibate, as in most Buddhist traditions. However, it was well-known that many were "married", at least in secret. Later during the Edo period it was decreed that other than Shugendo and Shinshu, monks and nuns of all traditions had to be celibate and were subject to severe punishment if they broke that rule. As you know, the Meiji restoration reversed all that.

I don't deny the existence of Purelands, but if only Buddhahood was that simple: just recite Namu Amida Butsu and you're yanked out of samsara regardless of whatever wicked karma tailing behind.

Well, for us (Shin Buddhists at least), it is that simple! Shinran Shonin argued this out in his Kyogyoshinsho (http://www.shinranworks.com/majorexpositions.htm).
Contemplating the power of Tathagata's Primal Vow,
One sees that no foolish being who encounters it passes by in vain.
When a person single-heartedly practices the saying of the Name alone,
It brings quickly to fullness and perfection [in that person] the great treasure ocean of true and real virtues.
- Shinran Shonin
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