Navayana Buddhism

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Fu Ri Shin » Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:37 am

Huseng wrote:
Fu Ri Shin wrote:Luckily, it would seem that most who deal with suffering and don't believe in an afterlife have a more mature view than this.


Really? If the suffering becomes intolerable suicide is often resorted to with the reasoning that cessation of suffering will follow brain death.

If the suffering becomes intolerable, which it may not. There are many who suffer and who do not believe in an afterlife, but do not commit suicide. They often, it would appear, have a worldview that even in a materialistic/annihilationist context considers the suffering and well-being of others insofar as their actions are concerned, or at least has some veneration for life.

In the context of other worldviews this may not always make logical sense, but to think that those not subscribing to an afterlife would actualize their outlook by killing themselves is an exceedingly ignorant conclusion. It overlooks the complexity of human beings and needn't be voiced as a generalization or otherwise.
"Once delusion is extinguished, your wisdom naturally arises and you don’t differentiate suffering and joy. Actually, this joy and this suffering, they are the same."

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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:49 am

Lazy_eye wrote:As the suttas make clear, though, nibbana isn't to be confused with annihilation. Even from a sravakayana perspective, to equate the two is reflective of wrong view.



An arhat following their death is not reborn in the three realms.

A materialist killing themselves believes they are taking themselves out of reality permanently.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:52 am

pueraeternus wrote:Huseng,

Do you know if this is also the case for Shingon practitioners/priests?


I have little experience with Shingon priests specifically, but it wouldn't surprise me to know of revisionism in Shingon as well. In Jodo Shinshu of all Japanese schools there are priests saying the pure land is really inside you and not something to be reborn in post-mortem (you might not expect that kind of development). Again, a lot of revisionism going around.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby muni » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:54 am

Huseng wrote:[
A materialist killing themselves believes they are taking themselves out of reality permanently.


Very sad indeed. The body is "their being".
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Caz » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:04 am

Huseng wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:Huseng,

Do you know if this is also the case for Shingon practitioners/priests?


I have little experience with Shingon priests specifically, but it wouldn't surprise me to know of revisionism in Shingon as well. In Jodo Shinshu of all Japanese schools there are priests saying the pure land is really inside you and not something to be reborn in post-mortem (you might not expect that kind of development). Again, a lot of revisionism going around.


So the general evaluation is that Japanese Buddhism has become Degenerate ?
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:40 am

Caz wrote:
Huseng wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:Huseng,

Do you know if this is also the case for Shingon practitioners/priests?


I have little experience with Shingon priests specifically, but it wouldn't surprise me to know of revisionism in Shingon as well. In Jodo Shinshu of all Japanese schools there are priests saying the pure land is really inside you and not something to be reborn in post-mortem (you might not expect that kind of development). Again, a lot of revisionism going around.


So the general evaluation is that Japanese Buddhism has become Degenerate ?


In my experience and opinion, Japanese Buddhism as it stands now is degenerate and in many cases (but not all) no longer qualifies as Buddhadharma. Discipline and observances (precepts and so on) might be neglected, but a lot of fundamental aspects of Buddhadharma (karma and rebirth being the two key ones) are simply rejected in contemporary Japan, at least in the intellectual spheres (who are also the upper echelons and leadership). It is largely just a hereditary priesthood that earns a comfortable income, or supplementary tax-free income, by performing archaic rituals that few know the meaning of anymore. The same thing has occurred in Shinto where you have priests who really don't believe that Kami exist, yet nevertheless maintain shrines and perform rituals for money.

If people express an interest in Zen, I advise them to investigate and pursue Chan as it taught and practised in Taiwan. If someone expresses an interest in Vajrayana I'll advise them to look into Tibetan Buddhism for the simple fact that despite all the institutional nonsense you can still relatively easily find legitimate teachers and resources in English. Going for the Kalacakra initiation is a lot easier than getting something of equivalent power in Shingon (which normally requires ordination as a priest). If you want to do Shingon you'll have to learn at least two new languages and live in Japan, or possibly Taiwan. To practise it also requires ordination.

I really like Japanese Buddhism. Its history, figures and ideas really had me attracted to Buddhism when I was a teenager. However, after living in Japan for three years and doing a MA degree there I concluded if you want to practice Mahayana Buddhadharma and not just be an academic, you would do best to pursue the interest either in Taiwan or with Tibetan Buddhism.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Caz » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:33 am



I have little experience with Shingon priests specifically, but it wouldn't surprise me to know of revisionism in Shingon as well. In Jodo Shinshu of all Japanese schools there are priests saying the pure land is really inside you and not something to be reborn in post-mortem (you might not expect that kind of development). Again, a lot of revisionism going around.[/quote]

So the general evaluation is that Japanese Buddhism has become Degenerate ?[/quote]

In my experience and opinion, Japanese Buddhism as it stands now is degenerate and in many cases (but not all) no longer qualifies as Buddhadharma. Discipline and observances (precepts and so on) might be neglected, but a lot of fundamental aspects of Buddhadharma (karma and rebirth being the two key ones) are simply rejected in contemporary Japan, at least in the intellectual spheres (who are also the upper echelons and leadership). It is largely just a hereditary priesthood that earns a comfortable income, or supplementary tax-free income, by performing archaic rituals that few know the meaning of anymore. The same thing has occurred in Shinto where you have priests who really don't believe that Kami exist, yet nevertheless maintain shrines and perform rituals for money.

If people express an interest in Zen, I advise them to investigate and pursue Chan as it taught and practised in Taiwan. If someone expresses an interest in Vajrayana I'll advise them to look into Tibetan Buddhism for the simple fact that despite all the institutional nonsense you can still relatively easily find legitimate teachers and resources in English. Going for the Kalacakra initiation is a lot easier than getting something of equivalent power in Shingon (which normally requires ordination as a priest). If you want to do Shingon you'll have to learn at least two new languages and live in Japan, or possibly Taiwan. To practise it also requires ordination.

I really like Japanese Buddhism. Its history, figures and ideas really had me attracted to Buddhism when I was a teenager. However, after living in Japan for three years and doing a MA degree there I concluded if you want to practice Mahayana Buddhadharma and not just be an academic, you would do best to pursue the interest either in Taiwan or with Tibetan Buddhism.


A Terrible shame. :cry:
Abandoning Dharma is, in the final analysis, disparaging the Hinayana because of the Mahayana; favoring the Hinayana on account of the Mahayana; playing off sutra against tantra; playing off the four classes of the tantras against each other; favoring one of the Tibetan schools—the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu, or Nyingma—and disparaging the rest; and so on. In other words, we abandon Dharma any time we favor our own tenets and disparage the rest.

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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:00 pm

Huseng wrote:
Caz wrote:
Huseng wrote:
I have little experience with Shingon priests specifically, but it wouldn't surprise me to know of revisionism in Shingon as well. In Jodo Shinshu of all Japanese schools there are priests saying the pure land is really inside you and not something to be reborn in post-mortem (you might not expect that kind of development). Again, a lot of revisionism going around.


So the general evaluation is that Japanese Buddhism has become Degenerate ?


In my experience and opinion, Japanese Buddhism as it stands now is degenerate and in many cases (but not all) no longer qualifies as Buddhadharma. Discipline and observances (precepts and so on) might be neglected, but a lot of fundamental aspects of Buddhadharma (karma and rebirth being the two key ones) are simply rejected in contemporary Japan, at least in the intellectual spheres (who are also the upper echelons and leadership). It is largely just a hereditary priesthood that earns a comfortable income, or supplementary tax-free income, by performing archaic rituals that few know the meaning of anymore. The same thing has occurred in Shinto where you have priests who really don't believe that Kami exist, yet nevertheless maintain shrines and perform rituals for money.

If people express an interest in Zen, I advise them to investigate and pursue Chan as it taught and practised in Taiwan. If someone expresses an interest in Vajrayana I'll advise them to look into Tibetan Buddhism for the simple fact that despite all the institutional nonsense you can still relatively easily find legitimate teachers and resources in English. Going for the Kalacakra initiation is a lot easier than getting something of equivalent power in Shingon (which normally requires ordination as a priest). If you want to do Shingon you'll have to learn at least two new languages and live in Japan, or possibly Taiwan. To practise it also requires ordination.

I really like Japanese Buddhism. Its history, figures and ideas really had me attracted to Buddhism when I was a teenager. However, after living in Japan for three years and doing a MA degree there I concluded if you want to practice Mahayana Buddhadharma and not just be an academic, you would do best to pursue the interest either in Taiwan or with Tibetan Buddhism.


I have little experience with Shingon priests specifically, but it wouldn't surprise me to know of revisionism in Shingon as well. In Jodo Shinshu of all Japanese schools there are priests saying the pure land is really inside you and not something to be reborn in post-mortem (you might not expect that kind of development). Again, a lot of revisionism going around.


Astonishing and tragic. I am quite drawn to Shingon, but due to the lack of resources in the US (esp in the North-East), there was no way I could even learn the basics from a proper center. There is a movement of Chinese Bhikshus (mostly from Taiwan and south-east Asia) going to Japan to learn and bring back the teachings, in a bid to revive Zhengyan, together with whatever that is left of Hanmi (there are actually still authentic esoteric practitioners in China, but from what I gather it is probably just parts of the original Zhengyan corpus of teachings, or very early Vajrayana practices). Appears that there is greater urgency for them to complete this undertaking.

I think this situation in Japanese Buddhism shows that we cannot be complacent when it comes to people trying to present Buddhism shorn of all the fundamentals such as karma and rebirth. We should speak up and reject such views, especially in forums such as this. If not, by and by we might see Buddhism in the West degenerating before it can even come to full bloom.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:20 pm

pueraeternus wrote:Astonishing and tragic. I am quite drawn to Shingon, but due to the lack of resources in the US (esp in the North-East), there was no way I could even learn the basics from a proper center. There is a movement of Chinese Bhikshus (mostly from Taiwan and south-east Asia) going to Japan to learn and bring back the teachings, in a bid to revive Zhengyan, together with whatever that is left of Hanmi (there are actually still authentic esoteric practitioners in China, but from what I gather it is probably just parts of the original Zhengyan corpus of teachings, or very early Vajrayana practices). Appears that there is greater urgency for them to complete this undertaking.


There are still plenty of esoteric practices such as mantras and certain rituals within mainstream Chinese Buddhism, though they're not specifically called "mijiao" 密教. However, ideas and practices exclusively stemming from esoteric scriptures such as the Mahāvairocana Sūtra might not so easily found, though it might be there in the general fabric. Actually if you could become functional in Mandarin and Classical Buddhist Chinese you could just as easily find Mijiao teachers in Taiwan while not excluding Chan or Pure Land teachers and general Mahāyāna practices. In fact, my friend in Taiwan who is studying Mijiao under a lay teacher has done so with relative ease compared to what he would have faced in Japan. In Japan he probably would have had to ordain and possibly shell out a lot of money to receive formal instruction in a seminary type program. Even if he didn't have to attend a seminary program, just finding a willing teacher and financially supporting yourself in Japan can be a struggle. In Taiwan the cost of living is low and most Buddhist masters as I understand it are all too happy to help foreigners especially practice Buddhism.

This is why I think if you're serious about East Asian Buddhism, Taiwan is the place to be. There is a lot more support. For example, a lot of temples in Taiwan give free lunch to anyone who shows up and many can provide lodging at little to no expense. In Japan Buddhist practice generally costs a lot of money. They'll charge you 500 yen ($6) just to walk inside some temples and admire the garden. In Taiwan they're quite serious about providing the dharma to anyone who seeks it, so the idea of charging admission into a temple is not there. Another example is how in Taiwan you can do Buddhist Studies for free at the Buddhist colleges while in Japan it costs over $11,000 / year for something equivalent. The priorities are completely different. In Taiwan it is educate people wanting to learn the dharma, in Japan it is train priests who are commonly expected to come from wealthy families. In Taiwan you pay nothing to become a monk, in Japan you pay at least $20,000 or more for two years of seminary.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:57 pm

LightSeed wrote:Ok, I can see where this comes from, and that's all fair. :)

I'm going to ask what might seem like a facetious question here, again I mean no offense (just trying to be mindful of Right Speech):

How much buddhism makes one a buddhist?

You know that in the end those are mere labels. The question shouldn't be what makes one a Buddhist. It should be how much Buddhism do you need to know to attain enlightenment as it is seen by Buddhist schools. People can call themselves Buddhists as much as they want, even if they decide to make up a whole new version of Buddhism, if that makes them pleased. It doesn't matter. It's just a label. What matters is when Buddhism stops being as useful as it was meant to be by its founder.

And what I mean is, is rebirth the real sticking point here? It's certainly a hot-button issue. How about the rest of the Buddha's ( :quoteunquote: ) cosmological or supernatural teachings? Is there a point at which literal can become metaphorical or representative, or even anecdotal, and still "qualify" as buddhism?

The point is not accepting rebirth without having good reasons to do so. The point is when one outright denies it, and I'm going to bold the next part, so that Buddhism fits under an incompatible metaphysical system. Instead of considering Buddhist metaphysics (although this is not exact, let's use the expression) as working hypothesis, you accept another system of beliefs (in this case biased towards materialism) that renders Buddhism pretty much useless. What lies at the root of the mindframe that leads one to reject rebirth, other realms and literal karma is the problem. Not not accepting them right away. It's not doubt that hinders your progress in the Buddhist path. It's an illusion of knowledge, as Alan Wallace would put it. It's a belief that many times is not presented as such.
In ways that I'm not going to detail, the path to cut trough illusion is twisted to lead nowhere else but inside that same illusion. You can improve the illusion (and even this is somehow debatable), but can't cut through any longer because you accepted it as real. Reality is not like a dream any longer. Only your ideations. Bang, from that point up you've ruined Buddharma because you fell in the trap of your senses, to put it simply. You see, what you find in those materialistically prone versions of Buddhism is a caged and twisted version of the Dharma. It has been forced to conform to an alien worldview and lost its value in the process.

And I'm certainly not saying let's strip all the tradition or ritual or whathaveyou out of Buddhism and call it a new religion, I'm just curious as to where the perceived line is.

For me and my personal tastes you could strip all the traditional, ritual and so on. That doesn't make me tick. But when I see the ritual, I understand why some people are helped by it, where is its place. I'm not the only Buddhist around the block and perhaps others have different propensities and needs. Some people like these aspects so they help them, even if I'm not one of those cases. But I see their value, a relative value. They can indeed help if you carefully learn their meaning and what really is going on. But they are not indispensable, not for everyone at least. However, what may look simple superstition at a first glance may end up being considered very different when you study it deeply. These rituals and tales and what have you are not what makes Budddhism valuable. They add value, in some cases though, as there are people who love that richness. But in the end they are just ways to help the practitioners, skillful means. Not ends in themselves, but means. While there are paths very ritualistic inside Buddhism, there are others very naked. They don't cancel each other. If carefully analyzed, they do not disagree on epistemological or ontological aspects about the nature of reality, unlike those new versions. Even when they don't agree completely, they are very close, all things considered. Just different strokes for different folk.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:14 pm

Huseng, I had no idea things were so bad in Japan... if to that you add the situation of many Zen schools in the West, I'm afraid the future doesn't look very bright. Do you see any way of things changing for the better? Some sort of solution?
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:16 pm

LightSeed wrote:However, as I'm not a Buddhist, I'm not in a position to understand.
I'll take it you are from a Christian country and have some knowledge of Christianity right? (or any Abrahamic religion for that matter). So let's say I came along one sunny day and say I am a New Christian. As a New Christian I do not believe in God. I also don't believe there is a heaven and a hell (and a purgatory for the Catholics amongst us), we live our life and then we die. There is no reward or punishment for our actions past those dealt out by the state judicial system. I don't believe that Christ is the son of God. I reckon he was just some clued up dude. I don't believe everything written in the bible if it does not accord with my sensibilities. I reckon the ten commandments are okay, though the bits about "the Lord your God and no other God but me" is kind of archaic and outdated and anyway, since I don't believe in an all-knowing all-powerful God, I just let it slide. etc... That is New Christianity.

Do you reckon it "deserves" to be called Christianity?

So why does the Navayana "deserve" to be called Buddhism if it dispenses with a number of very key concepts that were (apparently) taught by the Buddha?
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby LightSeed » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:41 pm

You know that in the end those are mere labels. The question shouldn't be what makes one a Buddhist. It should be how much Buddhism do you need to know to attain enlightenment as it is seen by Buddhist schools. People can call themselves Buddhists as much as they want, even if they decide to make up a whole new version of Buddhism, if that makes them pleased. It doesn't matter. It's just a label. What matters is when Buddhism stops being as useful as it was meant to be by its founder.


:good:

Do you reckon it "deserves" to be called Christianity?


By whoever sees it as such, yes, sure, why not, like Dechen said, it's just a label. Do I think "Navayana Buddhism" "deserves" to be called Buddhism? Do I think it's entitled to that label? Has it EARNED it? I really have no idea, I'm not a Buddhist. That's why I asked. :) I'm getting a pretty clear picture of what other buddhists think though, and I'll absorb any education on the subject I can get.

Since it's not a form of buddhism, it has no sangha, no teachers, nothing more than this one guy's paragraph on his own blog, I was struggling with how it's being seen as a threat to Buddhism.

Coming back to comparative Christianity, I had clearly been seeing it differently. Buddhists are seeing navayana as buddhism without fundamental parts of buddhism. Christianity without a god. I was seeing it as perhaps Christianity without say....angels. Which is why I asked where the line is, what the qualifications for Buddhism are. The missing angels are ok, but the missing God is not...or missing both is not ok.

Of course, some Christians would probably faint at the idea of no angels, I don't know, I'm not a Christian either.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:11 pm

apropos of Japanese schools:

I can't speak for the state of practice in Japan, but I've seen good things at the Tendai Buddhist Institute (Canaan, NY) first-hand, and I have reason to believe there's authentic practice to be found at Mandala Vermont, both in the Northeast of the US. FWIW.

In all these schools (Tendai, Shingon, and the others too), there are earnest people who are sincerely practicing Dharma in the mix. If there's to be such a thing as Buddhism in the future, it depends on those who are practicing like persons with their hair on fire right now.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:12 pm

Lightseed, you know, the best part of my post comes bellow that, if I may say so! :lol:

;)
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:13 pm

Jikan wrote:apropos of Japanese schools:

I can't speak for the state of practice in Japan, but I've seen good things at the Tendai Buddhist Institute (Canaan, NY) first-hand, and I have reason to believe there's authentic practice to be found at Mandala Vermont, both in the Northeast of the US. FWIW.

In all these schools (Tendai, Shingon, and the others too), there are earnest people who are sincerely practicing Dharma in the mix. If there's to be such a thing as Buddhism in the future, it depends on those who are practicing like persons with their hair on fire right now.

That's good to know, Jikan.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:32 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Huseng, I had no idea things were so bad in Japan... if to that you add the situation of many Zen schools in the West, I'm afraid the future doesn't look very bright. Do you see any way of things changing for the better? Some sort of solution?


I don't see any attempts at reform in Japan. Japanese Buddhism has no eminent leaders. The individual sects have their respective contemporary figureheads, but they cannot be compared to figures like HH the Dalai Lama, Master Thich Nhat Hanh, HH Sakya Trizin or Master Sheng Yen who are all quite international in their activities.

In reality most intellectual traditions in Japan just ape whatever is popular in the west, so unless the dominating philosophy of the west goes from materialism to something more idealistic or at least tolerating of Buddhist world views, then Buddhism in Japan will just continue along the way it is following now.

Zen in America is something else. I imagine to them it seems perfectly justified to reject karma and rebirth if they meet some Japanese priest who holds the same views.

We'll see if American Zen actually survives in the coming decades as hard economic times and ecological payback hits everyone hard. Popular Zen works in vogue at the moment might appeal to hipsters who want their Zen sanitized of religion and supportive of their questionable sex lives, but such ideas will offer little spiritual or emotional support to people facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, prolonged poverty, hunger and a collapsing society. I believe this is where we are headed and I don't foresee hipster Zen as being anything more than a passing fad of a few decades.
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby LightSeed » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:53 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Lightseed, you know, the best part of my post comes bellow that, if I may say so! :lol:

;)


:thinking: You don't say.... I kinda liked that part best. :lol:

In all seriousness, I see what you're saying. Rebirth is essential, otherwise Buddhism misses the point. I just don't read it as George Boeree is taking the stance that he disbelieves in rebirth specifically, but more that he's offering a position for those who are struggling with those notions, those who wish to believe but don't. I certainly understand now why it's a problem for Buddhists. Moot point anyway, he's not a Buddhist.

Makes for a lively discussion though, doesn't it? Thank you for taking the time to respond to me with thoughtful and intellectual answers. :applause:
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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Zenshin 善心 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:12 pm

Huseng wrote:In Jodo Shinshu of all Japanese schools there are priests saying the pure land is really inside you and not something to be reborn in post-mortem (you might not expect that kind of development). Again, a lot of revisionism going around.


I guess I'm lucky then - I attend a temple in Futsukaichi where they firmly believe in post-mortem birth in the Pure Land. I've only been in Japan for seven months mind, by the sounds of it this is the exception rather than the rule :/
All beings since their first aspiration till the attainment of Buddhahood are sheltered under the guardianship of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who, responding to the requirements of the occasion, transform themselves and assume the actual forms of personality.

Thus for the sake of all beings Buddhas and Bodhisattvas become sometimes their parents, sometimes their wives and children, sometimes their kinsmen, sometimes their servants, sometimes their friends, sometimes their enemies, sometimes reveal themselves as devas or in some other forms.


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Re: Navayana Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:46 pm

Jikan wrote:In all these schools (Tendai, Shingon, and the others too), there are earnest people who are sincerely practicing Dharma in the mix. If there's to be such a thing as Buddhism in the future, it depends on those who are practicing like persons with their hair on fire right now.


There are, but they don't seem to be the ones in charge or instructing tomorrow's generations in university.
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