Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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tonysharp
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Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

Post by tonysharp »

Aside from Taming the Monkey Mind: A Guide to Pure Land Practice (PDF) by Cheng Wei-an, which is excellent, and The Pure Land Handbook by Master YongHua, which I'm about to start, are there any other published books that detail Pure Land practice? I'm looking for the best physical book that I can buy and read away from my computer and phone.

Some other notable Pure Land books I've found are River of Fire, River of Water, Call of the Infinite: The Way of Shin Buddhism, The Promise of Amida Buddha: Honen's Path to Bliss, and The Essential Shinran: A Buddhist Path of True Entrusting. However, at a cursory look through the reviews and contents, these don't appear to provide instructions on the practice.

Practice instructions are included in the Surangama Sutra (pg. 231), but they're very brief. And, of course, there's the Amitayurdhyana Sutra itself, but I was hoping to find something a little more contemporary.

Your recommendations would be appreciated.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Promise of Amida does contain theory and practice instructions, but since it's a collation of Master Honen's writings, there's some amount of repetition. It can also be hard to track which letter contains which teachings. The intro provides a summary of each writing, which helps somewhat.

His One-Sheet Document is a famous one:
In China and Japan, many Buddhist masters and scholars understand that the nembutsu is to meditate deeply on Amida Buddha and the Pure Land. However, I do not understand the nembutsu in this way. Reciting the nembutsu does not come from studying and understanding its meaning. There is no other reason or cause by which we can utterly believe in attaining birth in the Pure Land than the nembutsu itself. Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally gives rise to the three minds (sanjin) and the four modes of practice (shishu). If I am withholding any deeper knowledge beyond simple recitation of the nembutsu, then may I lose sight of the compassion of Shakyamuni and Amida Buddha and slip through the embrace of Amida's original vow. Even if those who believe in the nembutsu study the teaching which Shakyamuni taught his whole life, they should not put on any airs and should sincerely practice the nembutsu, just as an illiterate fool, a nun, or one who is ignorant of Buddhism. I hereby authorize this document with my hand print. The Jodo Shu way of the established mind (anjin) is completely imparted here. I, Genku, have no other teaching than this. In order to prevent misinterpretation after my passing away, I make this final testament.

January 23, the Second Year of Kenryaku (1212)
One can begin reciting and benefiting from nembutsu, thinking of Amida, with no knowledge of what the Three Minds and Four Modes mentioned are, or why nembutsu even has the above benefits. But since study nourishes practice in a synergistic way, it would be helpful to eventually read the Three Sutras and Master Shantao's teachings, which are referenced amply in Master Honen's Senchakushu.

There are a few threads about Jodo Shu on the forum that distill things as well.
Last edited by 明安 Myoan on Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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I think the best book of this type, by far, is Dharma Flower Temple's The Daily Practices of Western Pure Land Buddhism. It presents a full practice, instructions on the practice, and a detailed commentary on the practice and the doctrines behind the practice. It may be the single most informative Pure Land text you can get. It is extraordinarily vast. It is basically a complete representation of the entire Buddhist path with a focus on Pure Land, and it does a great job tying major Buddhist doctrines and Mahayana in general into Pure Land practice. Even if you're not new to Buddhism it will probably expand your understanding of Buddhism in general and Pure Land especially. With that said, it can be a really slow read, and is probably best read reading a little at a time, and contemplating it. Like 90% of the text is notes and references to the sutras. This book is from the Vietnamese perspective. It is from the lineage of Thich Thien Tam, the author of Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith: Pure Land Principles and Practice. I would buy the book from that link. There is an Amazon page, but it seemed to be having some issues when I tried it. I may be wrong, I'll look when I get at home, but I think their copy of the Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra has a copy of a practice you can do.

The thing with The Daily Practices of Western Pure Land Buddhism is that the practice involves Pure Land, Thien/Zen and Vietnamese Tantra. I think at least some of the practices might require empowerment, and they definitely seem like they would require quite a bit of in-person training to perform. It is a complicated practice. The practice in their copy of the Amitabha Sutra has a more basic Pure Land practice.

If you haven't heard of Venerable Master Chin Kung, He and his group, Amitabha Society, have some really good books along the lines of what you're looking for in the Chinese Pure Land tradition. Most of those books are here:

http://www.amitabha-gallery.org/elibrary.htm

Particularly Going Home to the Pure Land, which outlines an entire practice. I think For the Sake of All Beings and In One Lifetime: Pure Land Practice have some practice instructions as well, but not a full practice. The Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra is a great commentary. Everything We Do Matters is a good read as well.
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

Post by tonysharp »

Just As You Are: Buddhism For Foolish Beings by Kaspalita Thompson and Satya Robyn provide instructions as well.

This thread on Honen and Shinran has been helpful in differentiating Jōdo-shū from Jōdo Shinshū. I'm still trying to decide which of these traditions to choose.
Mönlam Tharchin wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:41 pmPromise of Amida does contain theory and practice instructions, but since it's a collation of Master Honen's writings, there's some amount of repetition. It can also be hard to track which letter contains which teachings.
Does Promise of Amida explain how to sit, where to put the hands, how many repetitions to do, how often repetitions should be done, and so on? Unfortunately, the previews I've found won't let me see enough of the book to confirm if this information is included. Or maybe I'm expecting more formalization than is actually necessary for practice.
SonamTashi wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:42 pm I think the best book of this type, by far, is Dharma Flower Temple's The Daily Practices of Western Pure Land Buddhism. It presents a full practice, instructions on the practice, and a detailed commentary on the practice and the doctrines behind the practice. It may be the single most informative Pure Land text you can get.
Excellent. This looks to be exactly what I need. Is there somewhere I can see a preview of this text?
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

Post by SonamTashi »

tonysharp wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:23 am Just As You Are: Buddhism For Foolish Beings by Kaspalita Thompson and Satya Robyn provide instructions as well.

This thread on Honen and Shinran has been helpful in differentiating Jōdo-shū from Jōdo Shinshū. I'm still trying to decide which of these traditions to choose.
Mönlam Tharchin wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:41 pmPromise of Amida does contain theory and practice instructions, but since it's a collation of Master Honen's writings, there's some amount of repetition. It can also be hard to track which letter contains which teachings.
Does Promise of Amida explain how to sit, where to put the hands, how many repetitions to do, how often repetitions should be done, and so on? Unfortunately, the previews I've found won't let me see enough of the book to confirm if this information is included. Or maybe I'm expecting more formalization than is actually necessary for practice.
SonamTashi wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:42 pm I think the best book of this type, by far, is Dharma Flower Temple's The Daily Practices of Western Pure Land Buddhism. It presents a full practice, instructions on the practice, and a detailed commentary on the practice and the doctrines behind the practice. It may be the single most informative Pure Land text you can get.
Excellent. This looks to be exactly what I need. Is there somewhere I can see a preview of this text?
Just a note: I'm personally quite skeptical of Amida-Shu, so I'd approach Just As You Are: Buddhism For Foolish Beings with caution, it isn't entirely traditional for one thing. But your mileage may vary, and I don't think their basic Pure Land practices are harmful or anything. They just seem to be involved in teaching/transmitting practices they have no apparent connection to, particularly Vajrayana (Dharmavidya could clear this up by demonstrating that he has the transmissions and permission to pass on these teachings, the standard for demonstrating things like this is pretty well established, but he has never done so, despite the opportunity to do so). I was also a little disappointed in the contents of the book, but that is more just a personal opinion.

In regards to The Daily Practices of Western Pure Land Buddhism, I do not believe there are any previews online. I could perhaps take some pictures, as long as it isn't enough to infringe on copyrights. Is there anything in particular you are looking for?
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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SonamTashi wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:22 pmIn regards to The Daily Practices of Western Pure Land Buddhism, I do not believe there are any previews online. I could perhaps take some pictures, as long as it isn't enough to infringe on copyrights. Is there anything in particular you are looking for?
One or two screenshots would be really helpful if it's not an inconvenience. Thank you. I'm mainly looking for instructions on how to sit, where to put my hands, how many repetitions to do, and how often repetitions should be done. There are so many Pure Land resources, but instructions for the actual practice in a physical book is difficult to find. Another option I was considering was using a site like www.print-my-pdf.com to print Taming the Monkey Mind, but I'm not sure if that's allowable.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

Post by SonamTashi »

tonysharp wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:39 pm
SonamTashi wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:22 pmIn regards to The Daily Practices of Western Pure Land Buddhism, I do not believe there are any previews online. I could perhaps take some pictures, as long as it isn't enough to infringe on copyrights. Is there anything in particular you are looking for?
One or two screenshots would be really helpful if it's not an inconvenience. Thank you. I'm mainly looking for instructions on how to sit, where to put my hands, how many repetitions to do, and how often repetitions should be done. There are so many Pure Land resources, but instructions for the actual practice in a physical book is difficult to find. Another option I was considering was using a site like www.print-my-pdf.com to print Taming the Monkey Mind, but I'm not sure if that's allowable.
The book has exactly that, so I think you'll like it. I'll see what I can do and I'll get a few pictures posted.
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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Okay, so first I checked and Dharma Flower Temple's copy of the Amitabha Sutra does have a nice little Pure Land practice, with sutra recitation, including the Heart Sutra, and repentance and other things. Also, The Daily Practices of Western Pure Land Buddhism has a second, but brief, practice at the end of the text for a "gratitude ceremony."

Both books have the liturgy clearly given. At each part of the practice the text says how much to do. There are lots of prostrations, so the text will say something like "say x prayer/verse and then do 1 prostration " then it will give you another verse, followed by a prostration etc. So the numbers are pretty clear and instructions are easy to follow. There are a number of mantras for different purposes, including an esoteric Amitabha mantra. After these is the nembutsu practice. It says to do at least 1000 recitations (and the text gives a few different methods of recitation).
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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The second picture wasn't showing up for me so I uploaded it again.
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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Also, the text is clear to state that this is not a full esoteric practice, but rather a Pure Land practice with esoteric elements. Along these lines the text states:

In the following "way of practice..." combining the Pureland and Esoteric Dharma Doors... Pureland cultivators must pay close attention to the various instructions by the author. This will allow the practitioners to cultivate properly the Dharma teachings and obtain results.
So after rereading this I believe it is intended that the book be enough to begin practice without an irl teacher. Thus the instructions and commentary are extremely dense and detailed. However, it is a complex practice, so if you have questions you could email them or perhaps reach them through their website. Their number is also on the book.

The practice is long enough, I wouldn't do it more than twice a day, unless you have lots of time. Even then I would probably do the practice in the morning/evening and then perhaps do the gratitude practice in the evening/morning, or just do the main practice once a day. You could also replace one or the other with the practice in their Amitabha Sutra translation. It is easier, without the Esoteric elements and with more of a general Mahayana flavor, but it does not have as much commentary/instructions. Also, nembutsu throughout the day is always a good thing to do to supplement your practice.
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

Post by 明安 Myoan »

My only caution about the Daily Practices book that Sonam mentions is that if you're generally new to Mahayana, it's a dive into the deep end.

I second the recommendation for "Going Home to the Pure Land" by Shi Wuling. It's Chinese Pure Land and includes reciting the Shorter Sutra, as well as the rebirth dharani. It's very short, so a quick read.

Regarding your other questions, Jodo Shu is based on Master Shantao's teaching.
Foundational to that is the selection of nembutsu as the foundational practice for this life and for birth.
Honen wrote:Someone remarked to the Venerable Honen that his every utterance of nembutsu must meet the requirements of the Buddha's own thought. The Venerable Honen asked. "Why do you say so?" His interlocutor replied, "You are learned and therefore you know all about the merit of recitation and you understand in detail the deep meaning of Amida's Vow."

To this the Venerable Honen answered, "If you really believe in Amida's fundamental vow, you won't say such things as that. The fundamental vow is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. The recitation of such people perfectly fulfills the Buddha's requirements.

"If wisdom were the cause of deliverance from birth-and-death, then why would I, Genku(Honen), abandon the path of sages and devote myself exclusively to this pure land path? The practice of the path of sages consists in the attempt to become free of birth-and-death through one's own understanding, whereas to enter the path of the pure land is just to accept one's state of incorrigible ignorance and to be born in the Land of Bliss (by virtue of Amida Nyorai's power)." (From Gyojo ezu, Chapter 21)
Shantao, Collection on the Essentials for Rebirth wrote:It may be asked, “All good practices are meritorious, and each can lead to Rebirth. Why is it that the Gateway of the Nembutsu alone is encouraged?” In answer, I would say that when I now urge everyone to practice the Nembutsu, I do not intend to set aside the various other superior practices. What I mean to say is that the Nembutsu is not difficult to perform for either man or woman, whether highborn or low, whether walking, standing still, sitting, or lying down, and no matter when, where, and under what karmic conditions. And finally, when anyone is on his deathbed and desires to be reborn, no practice is more accessible than the Nembutsu.
This is different from other Mahayana Pure Land schools, which include veneration of other buddhas, purification practices, meditation on noumenon, antidotes to apply, and so on.

Daily Jodo Shu practice can be very simple. Here's a brief morning service.
During the day, one recites nembutsu and aspires for birth no matter one's internal or external situation.

As a practical note, Honen suggests a daily goal, such as 10,000 nembutsu, for reasons explained in the Senchakushu.
But since "even one nembutsu" fulfills Amida's 18th Vow, such a goal is for our benefit, not a precondition.
Honen also suggests using rosary, like a walking stick helps someone with weak legs.

Shinran admired Kyoshin, who left a bustling temple to start a family. He had no fence to the West, nor enshrined any holy images. However, he recited nembutsu all day and night, to the point that he gained the nickname "Amida Maru".
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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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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City of 10,000 Buddhas which practices Ch'an and Pure Land has instruction books as well as Ven. Hsuan Hua's wise words about practice:
From the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua’s instructional talks:

Whenever you recite the Buddha’s name you plant a seed in the field of the Dharma-nature. Reciting is also like applying fertilizer, for if you recite a lot and are sincere, your lotus will be a superior grade and the fruit will be superb. If your recitation reaches the level of single-minded concentration, then on the verge of death you will be without sickness and pain, just as if you had entered Ch’an samadhi. You will be reborn in the Western Land from within the lotus which you have nurtured...
http://cttbusa.org/lotuses_cttb/vow_pureland.asp#rt
they sell texts and a practice book.
https://www.bttsonline.org/chinese-and- ... %E7%B1%8D/
The important thing is to get a practice book, beads and start chanting Amida's name!
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The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

Post by 明安 Myoan »

rory wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:06 am The important thing is to get a practice book, beads and start chanting Amida's name!
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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SonamTashi wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2019 1:47 pmThe book has exactly that, so I think you'll like it. I'll see what I can do and I'll get a few pictures posted.
Thank you so much for the information and pictures. It's been extremely helpful.
Mönlam Tharchin wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:17 pm(...)
I greatly appreciate the information you've shared. Thank you.
rory wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:06 amThe important thing is to get a practice book, beads and start chanting Amida's name!
That's precisely what I'm trying to settle on. :D

For those who may be interested, I found a nicely organized PDF booklet from the Calgary Buddhist Temple, a Jodo Shinshu sect in Canada. It didn't have proper bookmarks, so I added some, and uploaded it to my cloud folder to share. The filename is JSGuide.pdf. This booklet can be purchased from their temple, but I don't think they deliver.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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tonysharp wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:28 pm The Pure Land Handbook by Master YongHua, which I'm about to start,
I just want to point out that I posted one of his videos on one of the more traditional Chan subreddits, because I was thoroughly impressed by his ability to orate in English and Vietnamese back-to-back so effortlessly, and a CTTB student posted some information, saying Yong Hua is not a legitimate student of Hsuan Hua, as he claims to be.

We ended up finding a few announcements in Vietnamese from CTTB acknowledging Yong Hua, saying that he had been a novice training with them, and entered into a sexual relationship with a student during a retreat. She came forward after-the-fact, feeling guilty. He refused to admit any wrongdoing--the tone of the letter made it sound to me like it was a 'voluntary' relationship (as much as that can exist with a power dynamic, anyway), and I don't think the woman came forward because she felt abused.. it sounded more like they'd actually fallen for one another during the retreat, and she felt guilty about it, and I think his refusal to acknowledge wrong-doing had to do with his sense that he had legitimate feelings for her.

Anyway, he was disrobed. Later, he adopted the name Yong Hua, and with some patronage, established a temple. He is not associated with CTTB; he is not a lineage holder; he is not even a real monastic. He is however fairly educated in Buddhism.. so while I don't think there's anything that's necessarily going to be outright wrong in his material, I would take it with a supreme grain of salt.
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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Admin_PC posted an excellent link to a Buddhist bookstore in another thread.

https://bcabookstore.mybigcommerce.com/books/
Sentient Light wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:45 pmYong Hua is not a legitimate student of Hsuan Hua, as he claims to be.
If this is true, that's a problem. He shouldn't lie.
entered into a sexual relationship with a student during a retreat.
Sexual relationships between consenting adults are fine with me.

Thanks for the info.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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tonysharp wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:00 pm
Sentient Light wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:45 pmYong Hua is not a legitimate student of Hsuan Hua, as he claims to be.
If this is true, that's a problem. He shouldn't lie.
entered into a sexual relationship with a student during a retreat.
Sexual relationships between consenting adults are fine with me.

Thanks for the info.
Even when one is supposed to be a monk and participating in a retreat in an authoritative role? If this were outside of a religious context, I probably wouldn't have much of an issue with it, but keep in mind that he was a novice at the time this happened and had taken vows, had to be defrocked, and then started impersonating a monastic and claiming he was a lineage holder.

EDIT: Here is the announcement from CTTB/DRBA: http://www.dharmasite.net/Announcement_9_1999.htm

The Vietnamese title establishes that Guo Der (his dharma name as a novice) is currently known as Thích Vĩnh Hóa / Yong Hua.
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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Sentient Light wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:58 pm
tonysharp wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:00 pm
Sentient Light wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:45 pmentered into a sexual relationship with a student during a retreat.
Sexual relationships between consenting adults are fine with me.
Even when one is supposed to be a monk and participating in a retreat in an authoritative role?
Doesn't bother me.
started impersonating a monastic and claiming he was a lineage holder.
This kind of bothers me, but I don't feel a strong need to shun him just yet.
“I, Shinran, do not have a single disciple of my own. The reason is that if I could induce others to call the nenbutsu through my own influence, then they might well be called my disciples. But it is utterly absurd to call them my disciples when they repeat the nenbutsu through the influence of Amida Buddha.”
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

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Sorry to resurrect this thread, but I've come across Yonghua's youtube videos before and always got a strange feeling that something was off. I even googled several variations of "master yonghua fraud" and "is master yonghua legit" and absolutely nothing came up. It was pure chance I found this thread. I'm somewhat relieved to read that letter about the real story, just in terms of putting the pieces together. This should really be publicized more, since he mentions Master Hua frequently in his talks, sits next to Master Hua's photo, and seems quite convinced that he is teaching the highest most authentic Mahayana Dharma. I even recall one talk where he slightly disparaged CTTB, implying that his temple taught a deeper Dharma. Not to mention that Yonghua himself is ordaining people!
Someone with no background in Buddhism could really get taken for a ride (his understanding of Theravada, or as he insists on calling it, Hinayana, is another can of worms...). Someone could also really hurt themselves if they take to heart his videos advising the "real" chan training of sitting in full lotus with no cushion and just pushing through the pain. Just writing this post so that maybe it will come up in future google results and help prevent any aspiring practitioners from taking a left turn.
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Re: Published books with Pure Land practice instruction?

Post by pael »

SonamTashi wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:22 pm
In regards to The Daily Practices of Western Pure Land Buddhism, I do not believe there are any previews online. I could perhaps take some pictures, as long as it isn't enough to infringe on copyrights. Is there anything in particular you are looking for?
How many pages?
May all beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering
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