Role of Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta in Shin Buddhism?

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KiwiNFLFan
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Role of Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta in Shin Buddhism?

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

I've heard that Jodo Shinshu focuses exclusively on Amitābha Buddha. I was even told by a fundamentalist Shin priest that worshipping other Buddhas or Bodhisattvas for benefits in this life is wrong in Shin Buddhism.

What is the attitude to this in regular Shin Buddhism? I've heard that BCA temples have pictures of Shinran Shōnin and Rennyō Shōnin on either side of the butsudan, not Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta. Do Shin Buddhists generally recite prayers to Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta?
Steel
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Re: Role of Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta in Shin Buddhism?

Post by Steel »

KiwiNFLFan wrote: Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:33 am I've heard that Jodo Shinshu focuses exclusively on Amitābha Buddha. I was even told by a fundamentalist Shin priest that worshipping other Buddhas or Bodhisattvas for benefits in this life is wrong in Shin Buddhism.

What is the attitude to this in regular Shin Buddhism? I've heard that BCA temples have pictures of Shinran Shōnin and Rennyō Shōnin on either side of the butsudan, not Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta. Do Shin Buddhists generally recite prayers to Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta?
The primary focus is on Amitabha and the nembutsu because the main goal of this school is rebirth in Sukhavati. It's better to stick to one practice and keeping it simple rather than being all over the place and getting no where. That doesn't mean other practices are wrong or that Jodo Shinshu denounces other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I've never heard that from any priest before even from Josho Adrian if that's who you're referring to.
KiwiNFLFan
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Re: Role of Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta in Shin Buddhism?

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

The primary focus is on Amitabha and the nembutsu because the main goal of this school is rebirth in Sukhavati. It's better to stick to one practice and keeping it simple rather than being all over the place and getting no where.
I understand. The primary goal is to attain ōjō, which is the same as Jōdo Shū. However, what about praying for more mundane things that one needs for one's life? Do you just pray to Amida Buddha for those things?
That doesn't mean other practices are wrong or that Jodo Shinshu denounces other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
So could someone follow Jodo Shinshu Buddhism and at the same time still pray to Kannon-sama or Jizō-sama?
Steel
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Re: Role of Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta in Shin Buddhism?

Post by Steel »

KiwiNFLFan wrote: Mon Sep 07, 2020 12:38 pm I understand. The primary goal is to attain ōjō, which is the same as Jōdo Shū. However, what about praying for more mundane things that one needs for one's life? Do you just pray to Amida Buddha for those things?
I've never read about Shinran or Rennyo talking about praying for worldly things, I'm sure they would see it as a useless endeavor since worldly things are temporary and have nothing to do with buddhahood. In Japan I think people mainly pray to Kannon and shinto gods for those.
So could someone follow Jodo Shinshu Buddhism and at the same time still pray to Kannon-sama or Jizō-sama?
You could but I'm sure these prayers aren't recited at shin temples.
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明安 Myoan
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Re: Role of Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta in Shin Buddhism?

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Hi, Kiwi.

In the Pure Land Sutras, Avalokite and Mahasthamaprapta assist Amida Buddha. Their appearance and beneficial activities are described for example in the Contemplation Sutra.
Shinran, Honen Shonin, and Master Shantao all teach that, in accordance with the Contemplation Sutra, when we think of Amida Buddha, we gain the friendship and protection of Avalokite and Mahasthamaprapta. They come together.
For example, in Shinran's Hymns on Benefits in the Present.

In the Japanese schools, Amida Buddha is like our compassionate mother/father and Kannon and Seishi are our good friends.
So while the roles of Kannon and Seishi differ from other schools, they are no less precious or important.

Honen and Shinran also taught that, in accordance with the Pure Land Sutras, nembutsu grants immeasurable merit and purifies eons of negative karma. So those motivations for prayer can be met through nembutsu.

As for what to pray for, Honen wrote, "in life, I accumulate merit through nembutsu, and at death I go to the Pure Land. Whatever happens, I have made up my mind not to be anxious about myself, and so come life, come death, nothing troubles me."
It's natural to want our lives to go well, but if you pray for your practice to go well, to be inspired by the Three Jewels, then your life goes better, too.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the Nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen
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Zhen Li
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Re: Role of Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta in Shin Buddhism?

Post by Zhen Li »

The roles of both bodhisattvas are quite important. As other have mentioned, if you have Shinjin, you only say the Nembutsu. Recognising this world as something which is only fit to leave behind, there is no need for worldly prayers.

Essentially, all buddhas and bodhisattvas are Amitābha Buddha as the Dharmakāya, so there is no need for reliance upon other practices, while at the same time we cannot denigrate them—the Nembutsu is the One Vehicle, so the other vehicles are all necessary for beings of their own karma.

Shinran writes:
Essentials of Faith Alone wrote:Namu-amida-butsu is the Name embodying wisdom; hence, when persons accept and entrust themselves to this Name of the Buddha of inconceivable wisdom-light, holding it in mindfulness, Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta accompany them constantly, as shadows do things. The Buddha of unhindered light appears as Avalokitesvara, and becomes manifest as Mahasthamaprapta. A sutra states that Avalokitesvara, with the name Bodhisattva Treasure-response, reveals himself as the god of the sun and dispels the pitch darkness of ignorance in all beings; and Mahasthamaprapta, with the name Bodhisattva Treasure-happiness, reveals himself as the god of the moon and illuminates the long night of birth-and-death. Together they bring forth wisdom in all beings.
In BCA, as with any Honganji-ha temple, the following scrolls (wakigake, side scrolls) can (in order of frequency based on my limited experience) appear besides an image or scroll of Amida or the Rokuji Myōgo (Six Character Name):
1. Shinran Shōnin
2. Rennyō Shōnin
3. Kūji Myōgo (南無不可思議光如来)
4. Jūji Myōgo (帰命尽十方無礙光如来)
5. Portraits of the Six or Seven Pure Land Masters (in the Amidadō at Nishi-Honganji Hōnen has his own scroll so they have six)
6. Shōtoku Taishi
7. Hōnen Shōnin

It may be said that Avalokiteśvara is not present, but Shinran Shōnin saw Avalokiteśvara manifesting as Shōtoku Taishi at the Rokkaku-dō. This is known from Eshin-ni's Letter 3 and the Godenshō. Moreover, the Kudenshō confirms that many people regarded Shinran as Avalokiteśvara's manifestation, as did his wife, Eshinni, who's letters record that she had a dream confirming Hōnen's identity as Mahāsthāmaprapta as well as Shinran as Avalokiteśvara. She confirmed the former with Shinran, but did not mention the latter aspect of her dream. So, regardless of whether one considers Shinran as Avalokiteśvara, Shinran and the Jōdo Shinshū tradition certainly regard Shōtoku Taishi as Avalokiteśvara, and thus he is present in some shrines.

Similarly, Mahāsthāmaprapta is regarded as present in the form of Hōnen. Shinran clearly believed Hōnen was Mahāsthāmaprapta, and Hōnen confirmed this himself, this is mentioned in the above documents, as well as in Shinran's Hymns of the Pure Land colophon and Hymns of Masters of the Pure Land 106.
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