Precepts and Shinran

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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby kirtu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:44 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.


This is unfortunately a commonly heard statement with many Buddhists from traditional Buddhist countries and ethnicities.

However the blessings of the Dharma and our teachers are vast and profound. People forget that karma is infallible. Purely keeping even just one precept will eventually have tremendous results. As Lord Buddha is supposed to have said - even just respecting a teacher with half a hand bow plants a cause for eventual enlightenment.

In this lifetime enlightenment may be unreachable for almost everyone. But what does this mean exactly? That one can't actualize the mind and activity of Shakyamuni Buddha? That one can't attain the first bhumi? That a Sravaka practitioner can't attain Arhatship, Non-Returnership, Once-Returnership or any level of Stream Entry?

Let's assume that that is all true (absolutely for real true). Where would that leave us? We are living at a time when entire groups of people are targeted for extinction by others. The human race has turned into a group of demons historically. But it is easy to change all this: follow the precepts purely without twisting them to suit evil goals. Beyond that, pursue the Bodhisattva path. As Vasubandhu and Shantideva have taught, even if we just take the vow, but take it seriously and actively, even in a weak way, attempt to fulfill the vow then we create excellent karma for ourselves and others and will eventually become Arya Bodhisattvas and truly benefit all beings.

If the entire world is overwhelmed with negativity, we at least can practice the precepts purely and be a beacon of Dharma.

Then if we are also Pure Land practitioners of whatever school we can finish up in the Pure Lands whatever we didn't in this life.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby kirtu » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:56 pm

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


OTOH people one the 1st bhumi will be seen as enlightened to people not on the bhumis.

OTOH if people do nothing that Amitabha Buddha wouldn't like them to do then they will be following the precepts naturally.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:01 pm

Huseng,

I'm sure I don't have months to spend in retreats. I could do that only if I had either the money for it or if I were a monk/yogi somewhere else. My experience with people's capacity for Buddhism is not so good. It is rare to find anyone in a community with an aptitude for deeper levels beyond general instructions for meditation and vague ideas about Dharma. I've taught at a university (this one) for three years introductory classes on Zen, Huayan, Pure Land, Buddha-nature teachings and on certain Mahayana sutras, also occasionally gave lectures on Madhyamaka as a guest teacher. The audience was of course made of university students who were there in order to study Buddhism. Still, only one or two could really understand what it was about while a majority never got it. However, there was one exception. People who came to my Pure Land lectures could understand it by the end of the semester, most of them even gained faith (to a certain degree).

I don't know if you're familiar with Ven. Yinguang's teachings (contemporary of Xuyun), considered to be the greatest Pure Land master in China in the last century. His letters explain lucidly the reason for buddha-remembrance practice as the fastest and most secure way to buddhahood for everyone. And unlike Chan - which is (originally) the path of sudden enlightenment - Pure Land can provide everyone with an assurance.

This assurance makes actually Shinran capable to make dropping moral precepts not to be against attainment of buddhahood. (Note: this is not true for all Pure Land schools.) In Chan it is also possible to a certain extent not to be bothered by morality, meditation and wisdom - simply because it is buddhahood right now. In theory at least. But in practice that is rarely the case.
"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 5:17 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.


Yeah, that's the big obstacle for me. I find Pure Land appealing -- not so much because it's "easy", but because it's egalitarian and inclusive. Especially, perhaps, in Shinran's version. But I'm having some difficulty generating conviction in Amitabha or even a clear picture of who he is. So when I 念佛, I'm not even so sure who I'm addressing.

How do you develop trust (assuming one is starting at zero)? Maybe someone here who has had a "conversion experience" could explain.

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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Andreas Ludwig » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:43 pm

How do you develop trust


You don't. There's nothing you can do about it other than being open to the possibility by surrendering what you consider your 'Big I'. When you are able to re-focus your life from yourswelf to others, from what you can do/develop to what is already done for you by others, from self effort to Other Power, then chances are good to hear the name-that-calls. But there's no guarantee and why some people get Shinjin (full entrustment) and others don't is a mystery.

And regarding people telling me they are enlightened, well, some accept that claim, others don't, but for me actually such a statement is proof enough that the person in question is not enlightened. While we have many Buddhists around I don't see a single Buddha and those who claim to be enlightened are usually not in the same league as the historical Buddha. Is it arrogant to say 'Well, I don't think that what you claim is true'? Perhaps, but you can switch that easily around, since it sounds very arrogant to me when these days a person - usually a teacher with some or many disciples - says 'You know, I'm enlightened'...I always hear our old friend 'Ego' speaking... :spy:

My Shin Buddhist perspective is that enlightenment is the closer the less one thinks it's important to talk about it. ;)

Anyway, just my two cents.

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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:24 pm

Kirtu,

If enlightenment seems unreachable then the Pure Land path is the optimal choice. That way one can get free from samsara and fulfil the bodhisattva path easily. Otherwise, even if one collected an immense heap of merit throughout a single life, there's no guarantee one won't be born in the lowest hells and stay there for many aeons.

Lazy_eye,

I think that if you can accept the Buddha as the true teacher, the Mahayana as his true teaching and the respected teachers of the Pure Land tradition as valid transmitters of the correct interpretation, it is easy to embrace the Pure Land path. I believe the cardinal point is to trust in the Mahayana sutras, for then on one can study even alone what the Buddha taught about the Land of Peace and Bliss and how to get there.
"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 shel » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:44 pm

Huseng wrote: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 practises 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.

This is what I find particularly disturbing. However, for the American tradition of Zen there doesn't seem to be much choice in the matter. Many of the founding members of the Zen tradition in America, from LA's Hakuyū Taizan Maezumi Roshi, middle America's Dainin Katagiri Roshi (Nonin Chowaney's teacher), to the east coast's Eido Shimano Roshi, were well know to be having sexual relations, with their students no less. Where can you go with a foundation like this, especially if there's no other authority in which to turn in that tradition.

A quote from the http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/CriticalZen/ComingDownfromtheZenClouds.htm:
The idealization inherent in the terms "dharma transmission," "roshi," "renunciate," "priest," and "monk," has contributed to the problems we have experienced in American Zen. By the very nature of the roles the student ascribes to the titles, he routinely gives trust to the teacher that he would not give to anyone else. This trust is often quite complete and natural, because the wearing of the robes traditionally signifies the turning away from selfish motivations, the vow to save all sentient beings and not to inflict harm. To an observer not familiar with this type of religious practice, the extent to which a student surrenders can appear astonishing. Many people accept this kind of trust in spiritual practice, but it leads to problems when the teacher is not emotionally mature or disciplined enough to assume the responsibility for guiding students. Though the teacher may have some level of attainment, it is too often far from the idealized view of the student or from that promoted by the Zen institutions…

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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:43 pm

Andreas Ludwig wrote:
You don't. There's nothing you can do about it other than being open to the possibility by surrendering what you consider your 'Big I'. When you are able to re-focus your life from yourswelf to others, from what you can do/develop to what is already done for you by others, from self effort to Other Power, then chances are good to hear the name-that-calls.


So is Amitabha a personification of sunyata? Sorry if this question is too obvious.

Astus wrote:I believe the cardinal point is to trust in the Mahayana sutras, for then on one can study even alone what the Buddha taught about the Land of Peace and Bliss and how to get there.


That's another good point about PL -- one can practice without a teacher or sangha, if neither are available.

And, as you suggest, the nembutsu/念佛 is not just a phrase people say..it carries the weight of the Mahayana teachings.

Thanks to both of you for the wise advice.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:55 am

Hi all,

I've encountered the concept across various schools of Buddhism that if Buddhahood is not attained in this lifetime, we can nevertheless plant seeds for future lives. I don't see this as an all-or-nothing situation.

Whether it is a gradual path or any other kind of path, we are always planting seeds, and hopefully cognizant of the fact that Buddhahood is attainable.

This is a gentle reminder that it is very important that we not disparage the beliefs or paths of others. If recitation of Amitabha's name is sufficient practice for one in this life, then it is sufficient. And for many of us belief in Pure Lands is perfectly sensible. In fact it can be very hopeful. For an ordinary household it is very difficult at times to be entirely dedicated to the dharma.

I would like to add as a side-note that it is not specific to Pureland only that full Buddhahood in this lifetime is less than likely. That is in case that's something we are hinting at here. However this is neither dangerous nor meant to put people off to the path. It is, in fact, considered to be most realistic and compassionate by some to say this is so. We do what we can with earnest, in some cases as though our hair was on fire.

May all be well, enjoy the fellowship found at DharmaWheel, and eager to embrace diversity as well as mutual understandings.

Kind wishes,
Laura
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:33 am

Dodatsu wrote: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).


How does it work that you can have instant liberation from samsara and achieve full Buddhahood without passing through the ten bhumis of the Bodhisattva stages and the three incalculable aeons? What about the prerequisite merit stores and penetrating wisdom that clears away all kleśā?

It sounds less like Buddha-dharma to me and more like theology where the dharmakaya has been reinterpreted as an omnipotent force that can liberate you from suffering just by uttering the right phrase and tossing in your lot with it.

It raises issues not unlike the theodicy. If the dharmakaya or Buddha is so powerful to just pluck anyone out of suffering regardless of their karmas, why not just do it for everyone instead of the select few that utter "Namu Amida Butsu"?
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Dodatsu » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:19 am

That's because in Shin Buddhism, the Pure Land is synonymous with Nirvana itself. Shinran Shonin deals with a whole chapter on this in the Kyogyoshinsho, drawing from the various Buddhist scriptures:
Passages on the Land of Happiness states:

Through quoting from the various Mahayana scriptures, the method and model for teaching and for listening will be clarified. The Great Assembly states:

The person who teaches the dharma should think of himself as king among physicians and of his work as the elimination of pain. He should think of the dharma that he teaches as sweet nectar (amrta) or milk of the finest taste (manda).

The person who listens to the dharma should think that excellent understanding thereby increases and grows and that his sickness is being cured.

Such a teacher and listener together can make the Buddha-dharma flourish. They dwell always in the presence of the Buddhas...

According to the Nirvana Sutra:

The Buddha said, "If a person just constantly practices the nembutsu-samadhi with a sincere mind, the Buddhas of the ten quarters will always see him, just as if they were actually in front of him."

Therefore the Nirvana Sutra states:

The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Kasyapa, "If there are good sons or good daughters who always solely practice the nembutsu with a sincere mind, whether they be in mountain forests or in villages, whether it be day or night, whether they be sitting or reclining, the world-honored Buddhas will always see them, as if they were before their eyes. The Buddhas always, for the sake of such people, accept the offerings they make."...

According to the Commentary on the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, there are three explanations of this. First, the Buddha is the supreme dharma-king and bodhisattvas are the dharma-vassals. Only the Buddha, the World-honored one, is to be venerated and revered. For this reason we should constantly practice the nembutsu.

Second, the bodhisattvas themselves declare, "For innumerable kalpas we have received the World-honored one's attention in nurturing our dharma-body, wisdom-body, and body of great compassion. Thanks to the Buddha we have been able to fulfill meditation, wisdom, and innumerable practices and vows. In order to return in gratitude the Buddha's benevolence, we desire to serve him always. We are like great vassals who, receiving the king's kindness, are always mindful of him."

Third, the bodhisattvas speak these words, "In our causal stage, we encountered true teachers, but we maligned wisdom and tumbled into evil paths. Though we passed countless kalpas in performance of other practices, still we could not emerge. Later, by once happening to be near a true teacher, we were taught to practice the nembutsu-samadhi. At that time we were immediately enabled to cast off all our hindrances and to attain emancipation. Because of this immense benefit, we desire never to part from the Buddha."...

The Larger Sutra states:

If you aspire for birth in the Pure Land, you should unfailingly take as essential the awakening of the mind aspiring for enlightenment; this is the basis [for attaining birth]. Why? Because "enlightenment" is a name for the supreme Buddha-way. If you desire to attain Buddhahood by awakening this mind of aspiration, it will be vast and pervade the dharma-realm; it will be everlasting and continue throughout all the future. This mind is in every respect free of the hindrances of the two vehicles. If you awaken this mind, you will break out of the round of existence that you have been undergoing ever since the beginningless past...

The Sutra of Great Compassion states:

What is "great compassion"? Those who continue solely in the nembutsu without any interruption will thereby be born without fail in the land of happiness at the end of life. If these people encourage each other and bring others to say the Name, they are all called "people who practice great compassion."

Wang Jih-hsiu states:

As I reflect on the Sutra of Immeasurable Life, I find that sentient beings, as they hear the Name, realize even one thought-moment of shinjin and joy, and aspiring to be born in that land, they then attain birth and dwell in the stage of nonretrogression. "The stage of nonretrogression" is avaivartika in Sanskrit. The Lotus Sutra states that this is the stage of fulfillment attained by Bodhisattva Maitreya. The birth attained in one thought-moment is, as such, the same as [the stage of] Maitreya. The Buddha's words are not empty. The Sutra of Immeasurable Life is truly the shortest path to attainment of birth, the superlative means to liberation from suffering. All people should embrace [its teaching].


And from his own letter:
Since those who have realized shinjin necessarily abide in the stage of the truly settled, they are in the stage equal to the perfect enlightenment. In the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life those who have been grasped, never to be abandoned, are said to be in the stage of the truly settled, and in the Sutra of the Tathagata of Immeasurable Life they are said to have attained the stage equal to perfect enlightenment. Although they differ, the terms "truly settled" and "equal to enlightenment" have the same meaning and indicate the same stage. Equal to the perfect enlightenment is the same stage as that of Maitreya, who is in the rank of succession to Buddhahood. Since persons of shinjin will definitely attain the supreme enlightenment, they are said to be the same as Maitreya.

Now, the Larger Sutra speaks of "[the stage] next [to enlightenment], like Maitreya." Since Maitreya is already close to Buddhahood, it is the custom in various schools to speak of him as Maitreya Buddha. Since those counted among the truly settled are of the same stage as Maitreya, they are also said to be equal to the Tathagatas. Know that persons of true shinjin can be called the equal of Tathagatas because, even though they themselves are always impure and creating karmic evil, their hearts and minds are already equal to Tathagatas.

Since it is already established that Maitreya will attain the supreme enlightenment, we speak of the "Dawn of the Three Assemblies" when he will preach as a Buddha. The person who lives the truth and reality of the Pure Land should understand this. In the Hymns [on the Samadhi] of All Buddhas' Presence Shan-tao, the Master of Kuang-ming temple, explains that the heart of the person of shinjin already and always resides in the Pure Land. "Resides" means that the heart of the person of shinjin constantly dwells there. This is to say that such a person is the same as Maitreya. Since being of the stage equal to enlightenment is being the same as Maitreya, the person of shinjin is equal to the Tathagatas.

Shoka 1 [1257]

Shinran

To Shoshin-bo
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 Dodatsu » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:33 am

Huseng wrote:It sounds less like Buddha-dharma to me and more like theology where the dharmakaya has been reinterpreted as an omnipotent force that can liberate you from suffering just by uttering the right phrase and tossing in your lot with it.

It raises issues not unlike the theodicy. If the dharmakaya or Buddha is so powerful to just pluck anyone out of suffering regardless of their karmas, why not just do it for everyone instead of the select few that utter "Namu Amida Butsu"?


Amida Buddha has been "beckoning" us for kalpas and kalpas, but we don't hear the Vow because of our "doubt" - a major fetter. That's why we're stuck here in samsara with all our karmic evil.


Hymns of the Dharma-Ages
Pure Land Hymns on the Right, Semblance, and Last Dharma-Ages
2

It is now more than two thousand years
Since the passing of Sakyamuni Tathagata.
The right and semblance ages have already closed;
So lament, disciples of later times!

3

Now, amid the five defilements in the last dharma-age,
Sentient beings are incapable of practice and realization;
Hence the teachings that Sakyamuni left behind
Have all passed into the naga's palace.

4

During the right, semblance, and last ages,
Amida's Primal Vow has spread.
At the end of the semblance and in this last dharma-age,
Good practices have all gone into the naga's palace.

Good practices: Sakyamuni's teachings.

5

The Great Collection Sutra teaches
That we are now in the fifth period of five-hundred years;
Because people are resolute in conflict and dispute,
The pure dharma is concealed in dormancy.

l.4: all roots of good are hidden within the naga's palace.

6

When sentient beings' life-span of tens of thousands of years,
Through a gradual decline of their karmic reward,
Decreased to twenty thousand years,
The age came to be called the "evil world of the five defilements."

Life-span of tens of thousands of years: the direct recompense of long life has gradually become short.

7

As the time of kalpa-defilements advances,
The bodies of sentient beings gradually grow smaller;
Their evil and wrongdoing amid the five defilements increase,
So that their minds are like poisonous snakes and evil dragons.

l.3: evil karma increases

8

Ignorance and blind passions abound,
Pervading everywhere like innumerable particles of dust.
Desire and hatred arising out of conflict and accord
Are like high peaks and mountain ridges.

l.3: greed, envy, jealousy, and contention increase.
l.4: blind passions and evil increase, so that they are like high peaks and mountain ridges.


9

Sentient beings' wrong views grow rampant,
Becoming like thickets and forests, bramble and thorns;
Filled with suspicion, they slander those who follow the nembutsu,
While the use of violence and the poison of anger spread widely.

ll.1-2: blind passions and evil increase, becoming like thickets and forests, bramble and thorns.

10

With life-defilement, the untimely end occurs in a moment,
And both forms of recompense - oneself and one's environment - perish.
Rejecting right and turning to wrong prevails,
So that people senselessly injure others.

Life-defilement: the life of human beings shortens and becomes weak.
l.2: the lives of human beings and their possessions collapse and disappear.
l.4: people have only evil thoughts; this characterizes sentient beings of the world of five defilements.


11

Without entrusting themselves to the Tathagata's compassionate Vow,
No sentient beings of these times - the last dharma-age, and
The fifth five-hundred year period since Sakyamuni's passing -
Will have a chance of parting from birth-and-death.

l.3: know that this period is the beginning of the last dharma-age.

12

The ninety-five nonbuddhist teachings defile the world;
The Buddha's path alone is pure.
Only by going forth and reaching enlightenment can we benefit others
In this burning house; this is the natural working of the Vow.

Ninety-five nonbuddhist teachings: know that nonbuddhist paths are divided into numerous kinds, and that besides these there are also the sixty-two nonbuddhist views.
l.2: know that only the Buddha's path is pure and excellent.
Going forth and reaching enlightenment: becoming Buddha.
Burning house: this Saha world.


13

With the advent of the age of the five defilements
Both monks and laity have fallen into contention;
When they see persons who have entrusted themselves to the nembutsu,
Filled with suspicion, they slander and attack them.

Age: the age and its beings.

14

Those who, it appears, will never attain enlightenment
All attack the practice of solely saying the Name.
The mark of destroying the teaching of sudden attainment
Is that for them, the vast sea of birth-and-death will have no end.

Destroying: to slander, to destroy.

15

We may think that these times belong to the right dharma-age,
But in us - the lowest of foolish beings -
There is no mind that is pure, true, or real;
How could we awaken the aspiration for enlightenment?

These times: the age and its beings.
l.2: foolish beings sinking in the depths of blind passions. We who are possessed of blind passions.


16

The aspiration for enlightenment through self-power taught in the Path of Sages
Is beyond our minds and words;
We foolish beings ever sinking in transmigration -
How could we awaken it?

Ever sinking: constantly sinking in the great ocean of birth-and-death.
Transmigration: wandering in the twenty-five forms of existence.


17

Under the guidance of Buddhas who appeared in this world,
Three times the sands of the Ganges in number,
We awakened the aspiration for supreme enlightenment,
But our self-power failed, and we continued to transmigrate.

The aspiration for supreme enlightenment: the mind that desires to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.
Continued to transmigrate: know that, with the aspiration for enlightenment of self-power, we have wandered thus in birth-and-death to this day.


18

With the advent of the semblance and last dharma-ages, and this world of the five defilements,
The teachings left by Sakyamuni entered into concealment.
Only the compassionate Vow of Amida becomes widely known,
And attainment of birth through the nembutsu spreads.

Teachings left by Sakyamuni: know that the teachings that were left by Sakyamuni have been distorted and lost, and have entered [into concealment].

19

Of the Vows embraced as supreme and all-surpassing,
Selected through five kalpas of profound thought,
The Vows of immeasurable light and life
Were made the foundation of the working of great compassion.

20

Concerning the aspiration for supreme enlightenment in the Pure Land path,
We are urged to realize the mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood;
The mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood
Is itself the mind that seeks to save all sentient beings.

Aspiration for supreme enlightenment: the mind that desires to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.
l.2: Other Power aspiration for enlightenment. In the Primal Vow, Amida encourages beings to aspire to be born in the Land of Bliss and attain Buddhahood.
Mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood (l.3): the mind deeply entrusting oneself to Amida's compassionate Vow and aspiring to become Buddha is called "aspiration for enlightenment."
Mind that seeks to save all sentient beings: know that this is the mind that desires to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.




21

The mind that seeks to save all sentient beings
Is directed to us through Amida's Vow of wisdom.
Those who realize this true entrusting that is directed to us
Attain great, complete nirvana.

Mind that seeks to save all sentient beings: Other Power aspiration for enlightenment; desire to bring all sentient beings to Buddhahood.
Amida's Vow of wisdom: Amida Tathagata's compassionate Vow.
True entrusting that is directed to us: entrusting ourselves without double-mindedness to the power of Amida's Vow.
Attain great, complete nirvana: to attain the same enlightenment as Amida Tathagata.


22

Persons who enter Amida's directing of virtue to beings
And realize the mind that seeks to attain Buddhahood
Completely abandon their self-power directing of merit,
Thus benefiting sentient beings boundlessly.

Amida's directing of virtue: Amida's giving us the Primal Vow.

23

When the waters of the mind entrusting to Other Power enter
The ocean waters of Amida's Vow of wisdom,
Then in accord with the nature of the true and real fulfilled land,
Blind passions and enlightenment come to be of one taste.

l.2: Amida's Primal Vow is wisdom. This Primal Vow is likened to the great ocean.
Waters of...entrusting: true and real shinjin is likened to water.
True and fulfilled land: the Land of Bliss is called the fulfilled land.
l.4: our minds and Buddha's mind become one. When we are born in the Land of Happiness, evil and good become one taste. Blind passions and virtues become one.


24

All those who deeply entrust themselves
To the two aspects of Amida's directing of virtue
Attain the stage equal to perfect enlightenment;
Hence, their mindfulness continues unceasingly.

Two aspects of Amida's directing of virtue: the directing of virtue of Amida Tathagata's Primal Vow has two aspects - directing virtue for going forth and directing virtue for return.
Stage equal to perfect enlightenment: the stage of the truly settled.


25

Persons who truly realize shinjin,
Which is directed to them through Amida's Vow of wisdom,
Receive the benefit of being grasped, never to be abandoned;
Hence they attain the stage equal to perfect enlightenment.

Persons who truly realize shinjin: persons who realize true and real shinjin.
Grasped, never to be abandoned: Amida Tathagata takes in and holds the persons of shinjin.
l.4: know that they attain the stage of the truly settled.


26

Bodhisattva Maitreya must pass 5,670,000,000 years
Before attaining Buddhahood,
But the person who realizes true shinjin
Will attain enlightenment with the end of this life.

27

The person who attains the stage equal to perfect enlightenment
By the working of the Vow of birth through the nembutsu,
Being the same as Maitreya,
Will realize great, complete nirvana.

Stage equal to perfect enlightenment: the stage of the truly settled. Maitreya is said to be in the stage equal to perfect enlightenment.
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 » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:04 am

I'm not convinced.

The first question is that if liberation from samsara was so simple, why did Shakyamuni Buddha not teach it? He taught that refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha was necessary, but his teachings also make clear liberation from the chains of samsara is up to the individual. The whole process of punarbhava cannot just be halted by a divine being. If a Buddha could do it, much less all the Buddhas of the ten directions, then presumably none of us would be in samsara at the present moment. If a Buddha could snap his finger and pluck every being out of suffering it would do it as they possess maha-karuna which is compassion beyond what any of us could imagine.

Shakyamuni is quoted as saying, "The universe is without a refuge, without a Supreme God." (Attaan.o loko anabhissaro) (MN II 68.)

Again, this is no different from the issue of the theodicy that we find with monotheist models. You might reply that it is by my choice that I fail to have faith in Amida's vow, but then it still begs the question why my admission of faith is necessary for a Buddha to save me?

If Shinran's arguments fail to hold up, then we can ignore his dismissal of precepts. The precepts were taught by Shakyamuni who was a Buddha. Shinran, on the other hand, was a mere monk who dismissed his responsibility to uphold precepts.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:50 am

Greetings Huseng,

Huseng wrote:I'm not convinced.


If it's not your chosen path Huseng, you don't really need be convinced, do you?

Simply acknowledge it is one of the 84,000 dharma gates and sincerely hope that people using this particular dharma gate gain benefit from it, act wholesomely as a result of it, and in this very life lay the seeds for future enlightenment.

Metta,
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:54 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Huseng,

Huseng wrote:I'm not convinced.


If it's not your chosen path Huseng, you don't really need be convinced, do you?

Simply acknowledge it is one of the 84,000 dharma gates and sincerely hope that people using this particular dharma gate gain benefit from it, act wholesomely as a result of it, and in this very life lay the seeds for future enlightenment.

Metta,
Retro. :)


I don't see anything wrong with debate and discussion. This is how we determine what is suitable and unsuitable. What is true dharma and what is false dharma. What is necessary and what is unnecessary. The classical Indian traditions debated fiercely with one another and I think the result was a refining of doctrine for both sides. If you're going to make a point and have to defend it, you'll inevitably see any faults within your argument and account for them thus strengthening your own understanding.

Buddhists can respectfully disagree with each other. Challenging someone's religious views doesn't have to be perceived as intolerant.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Dodatsu » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:00 am

Go and read the "Larger Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life 無量寿経", you can get a full English translation here at http://www12.canvas.ne.jp/horai/dharma-treasury-index.htm

Like what retrofurist said, if it's not your Path, no matter how much we tell you also you will pick up flaws and arguments to back up your own arguments against Shinran Shonin and his teachings. We're not here to convince you either. This is the path I've taken and this is the path and teachings i'm adhering to.

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. (Shinran)
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 Dodatsu » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:06 am

Shinran, on the other hand, was a mere monk who dismissed his responsibility to uphold precepts.


I think this is uncalled for. Are you taking the precepts as "commandments"? In Shinshu, the precepts are worthy of upholding, if you are able to uphold them, go ahead. But don't take the precepts as something that will feed your ego. This is what Shinran admonished against. Many of us tend to think that we're "holier-than-thou" when we follow the precepts and see others to be "lower" when they don't.
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 » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:07 am

Huseng wrote:The whole process of punarbhava cannot just be halted by a divine being. If a Buddha could do it, much less all the Buddhas of the ten directions, then presumably none of us would be in samsara at the present moment. If a Buddha could snap his finger and pluck every being out of suffering it would do it as they possess maha-karuna which is compassion beyond what any of us could imagine.


But if a Buddha could not do this, then his powers would be limited and thus he would not be a Buddha.

As Ven. Chin Kung puts it:

In my early years, I questioned whether the Buddha had the ability to help a person to immediately become a Buddha, even if they were doomed to birth in the Avici Hell...If Buddha was unable to accomplish this, then his wisdom and ability were limited and saying that he had all virtues and perfect abilities was a compliment rather than a fact. However, if the Buddha was capable of helping such a person become a Buddha, then I would believe that he was really perfect in wisdom and capable and thus worthy of our admiration.


According to the Infinite Life Sutra, ten sincere recitations of Amitabha's name is enough for rebirth in Sukhavati. So is it simply Shinran you are objecting to or Pure Land in general?

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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:16 am

Dodatsu wrote:
Shinran, on the other hand, was a mere monk who dismissed his responsibility to uphold precepts.


I think this is uncalled for. Are you taking the precepts as "commandments"? In Shinshu, the precepts are worthy of upholding, if you are able to uphold them, go ahead. But don't take the precepts as something that will feed your ego. This is what Shinran admonished against. Many of us tend to think that we're "holier-than-thou" when we follow the precepts and see others to be "lower" when they don't.


I did not state I took precepts as commandments. I said they were taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. Therefore we should take them seriously and understand why they are essential. Morality-ethics or maintenance of precepts is one of the three trainings alongside wisdom and meditation which like a tripod must be maintained lest the whole model of practise falls apart.

Let me defer for a moment to Daoxuan.

《四分律刪繁補闕行事鈔》卷1:「顯理之教乃有多途。而可以情求大分為二。一謂化教。此則通於道俗。但汎明因果識達邪正。科其行業沈密而難知。顯其來報明了而易述。二謂行教。唯局於內眾定其取捨立其網致。顯於持犯決於疑滯。指事曲宣文無重覽之義。結罪明斷事有再科之愆。然則二教循環非無相濫。舉宗以判理自彰矣。謂內心違順託理為宗則準化教。外用施為必護身口便依行教。然犯化教者但受業道一報。違行教者重增聖制之罪。故經云。受戒者罪重不受者罪輕。文廣自明所以更分者。恐迷二教之宗體妄述業行之是非。故立一門永用蠲別。」(CBETA, T40, no. 1804, p. 3, a22-b5)

The teaching which reveals the truth has many avenues, but one can ascertain a large division of two. The first is called the edifying teachings. This would encompass both the holy and vulgar. It just broadly illuminates cause and effect. Consciousness reaches right and wrong [morality]. Analyzing karma is subtle and difficult to know. Revealing those future repercussions is to be understood and easily explained. The second is called practical teachings, which are just limited to the inner assembly, set what is selected and rejected and establish control. It is revealed by the maintenance and violation [of the precepts], decided by doubt and obstruction. All precepts are individually indicated and explained in detail. The text need not be doubly read. One binds the sin and clearly severs it. Each precept [if violated] has the offense of multiple transgression [because one violates the monastic precept and commits negative karma].
Thus the two teachings rotate around eachother and are not without mutually overflowing into eachother. In examining the model and making distinctions, the principle indeed reveals itself.
It said that internally the mind has adversity and favourable circumstances -- relying on the princple as the model one then learns the edifying teaching. Externally actions are undertaken – one must guard the body and speech and so then one depends on the practical teaching. Thus, one who violates the edifying teachings only receives a single retribution on the path of karma. The one who violates the practical teachings doubly increases the sin of [violating] the sacred discipline.
Thus, the scripture says, “For those who have received the precepts it is heavy sins and for those without minor sins.” The texts are broad and clear in themselves, so further analysis I fear would lead to confusion of the essence of the two teachings or to deluded explanations of the rights and wrongs of karma. Thus we establish one method and forever utilize a purified distinction.


As Daoxuan points out violation of the sacred discipline is twofold and thus transgressions against the vows you take are not to be taken lightly. One receives not only the retribution of simple cause and effect, but also the retribution of having violated what one pledged not to do.

Vows, morality and ethics are the absolute foundation of any Buddhist practise. They establish the causes and conditions which are necessary to sever the conditions of samsara. Without them there is no samadhi and without samadhi there is no prajna. With no prajna there is no liberation from suffering.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:24 am

Lazy_eye wrote:But if a Buddha could not do this, then his powers would be limited and thus he would not be a Buddha.


Are you proposing that a Buddha is omnipotent in the sense of having absolute control of any condition or cause in reality?

According to the Infinite Life Sutra, ten sincere recitations of Amitabha's name is enough for rebirth in Sukhavati. So is it simply Shinran you are objecting to or Pure Land in general?


I don't deny the existence of Purelands. I'm objecting to the proposal that merely by having faith in a Buddha that one can be plucked out of samsara and transformed instantly into a Buddha. If you propose that Buddha is omnipotent and is supremely compassionate, then you have an issue of a theodicy in which you cannot explain why suffering exists despite an omnipotent and compassionate being apparently existing. If it is omnipotent, then it has the ability to end all suffering right now. If it is compassionate and omnipotent, then it would end all suffering right now. However, suffering exists so we can indeed from that make our conclusions about such a proposal.
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