Japanese Pure Land vs the rest of East Asia

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KiwiNFLFan
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Japanese Pure Land vs the rest of East Asia

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

How does Japanese Pure Land Buddhism (both Jodo Shu and Jodo Shinshu) differ from Pure Land Buddhism in the rest of East Asia (China, Vietnam, Korea)? I know that in Japan, Pure Land developed into separate schools, but what about the rest of East Asia? My foray into Buddhism in Korea didn't get very far due to the fact my Korean was bad and there was very little available in English. I did hear Amitabha recitation at a temple, but there don't seem to be separate Pure Land denominations. I know little about Vietnamese Buddhism, but I heard that they have Pure Land Buddhism.

What about the Sinosphere? I met some monks from Donglin Temple in Jiangxi Province when they visited my local Chinese temple here in New Zealand. One of the laypeople accompanying them said that they only practice Nianfo. I know there are groups like Ven. Chin Kung's Amitabha Society and this group in Taiwan that follow Master Shandao.

I'm guessing the common thread is that all these groups focus on Amitabha and recite Nianfo. But are the non-Japanese groups as exclusive as Japanese Pure Land (only Nembutsu)? Do Chinese or Vietnamese Pure Land followers practice meditation or keep precepts? Jodo Shinshu at least considers these to be self-power practices, and one should abandon self-power and trust in the other-power of Amitabha Buddha. Is this self-power/other-power dichotomy found in other East Asian Pure Land schools?

Also, Jodo Shinshu followers only pray to Amitabha - they don't pray to Avalokiteshvara, Kshitigarbha or other Bodhisattvas. I'm not sure about Jodo Shu. Do Chinese or Vietnamese Pure Land Buddhists engage in such exclusivity, or is this just Japanese?
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Japanese Pure Land vs the rest of East Asia

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Jodi Shinshu teachings insist that any practices (meditation, meritorious good deeds, etc) outside of reciting the name is completely pointless, as they are all self-power rather than other power attempts at liberation. This view is held to the point of really discouraging or even condemning all other practices.

Pure Land practice in Chinese-speaking countries ( and Vietnam) is focused on reciting the name, of course. But meditation, engaging in positive actions, studying other sutras, accumulating merit, and so on, are regarded as contributing to one’s spiritual development, and are not regarded as contradictory to Pure Land practice, as they would be in the Jodo Shinshu view.

In Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism, the practice involves visualizing Amitabha, among with Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani attending, with a brief description of the Pure Land (Sukhavati, which in Tibetan is Dewachen) all combined in an abbreviated form: name + pure land + Sanskrit seed syllables,”OM” and “HRI”. So, in that practice, the chant is actually a mantra, OM AMI DEWA HRI . There’s a bit more to it as a practice, visualized offerings, and so on.
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Sentient Light
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Re: Japanese Pure Land vs the rest of East Asia

Post by Sentient Light »

I highly recommend Charles Jones's Chinese Pure Land Buddhism: A Tradition of Practice for an in-depth look at this. He does a great job of showing the position and diversity of Pure Land practices in the rest of East Asia, and also showing a gradual move closer to the Japanese interpretations in the recent centuries.
Do Chinese or Vietnamese Pure Land followers practice meditation or keep precepts?
Yes to both.
Is this self-power/other-power dichotomy found in other East Asian Pure Land schools?
It exists, but it's not really seen as a dualistic way, but rather as a dialectical: other-power is the natural result of self-power; self-power is empowered by other-power.
Also, Jodo Shinshu followers only pray to Amitabha - they don't pray to Avalokiteshvara, Kshitigarbha or other Bodhisattvas. I'm not sure about Jodo Shu. Do Chinese or Vietnamese Pure Land Buddhists engage in such exclusivity, or is this just Japanese?
That is definitely just Japanese. Some Vietnamese Pure Land Buddhists might even focus their niem phat practice primarily on Avalokitesvrara instead of Amitabha.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:
Jingtoo2
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Re: Japanese Pure Land vs the rest of East Asia

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:good:
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明安 Myoan
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Re: Japanese Pure Land vs the rest of East Asia

Post by 明安 Myoan »

In Jodo Shu, Kannon and Seishi come to help and protect the nembutsu practitioner in daily life and at death. They accompany Amida Buddha. They're often present on a Jodo Shu altar.
Some view Honen Shonin as an emanation of Seishi. And Zendo (Shantao) is sometimes viewed as an emanation of Kannon, both in Mainland and Jodo Shu schools.

So generally in Jodo Shu, Kannon and Seishi come with Amida Buddha, with nembutsu, rather than being called on individually. The Contemplation Sutra explains how they protect us.

In Mainland traditions, you'll likely see other buddhas and bodhisattvas called on as well, like Shakyamuni, Medicine Buddha, and Maitreya. Kannon is very popular. Yinguang, who advocates continuous nembutsu like Zendo, suggests calling on Kannon when in dire situations, because of her speediness in responding.

You can explore differences between Jodo Shu and Mainland traditions by investigating Zendo's teachings, which Honen relied on.
The Senchakushu covers them in detail, such as the Two Gateways, Three Minds, Four Modes of Practice, and Five Right Practices.
It is in this context that exclusive nembutsu has its root and its meaning.

An example of a similarity across traditions is Zendo's Sincere Mind teaching, which is like Yinguang's teaching to be utterly sincere when praying to Amida Buddha. Yinguang called it the great secret.
An example of a difference is Zendo's Profound Mind, which stresses our nature as deluded beings in a difficult world. Shin calls this bompu nature. Mainland schools rather stress our buddha-potential and common identity with Amida Buddha, even seeing this world as Amida Buddha's pure land.

These different starting point leads to different approaches to practice in general.

Honen defined nembutsu as reciting "Namu Amida Butsu" while believing in birth in Amida Buddha's Pure Land.
He said that doing so over time leads to the development of the Three Minds and Four Modes of Practice, "the intimate karmic relationship" with Amida Buddha, like parent and child. Nembutsu can also be the basis for supportive practices and activities, and vice versa, for example in the Four Modes of Practice teaching.
The Parable of the White Path explains Zendo's approach in general.

In Mainland schools, nianfo is typically part of a broader cultivation of merit and wisdom. Nianfo may be taught: with visualization, without, with insight or not, with concentration or not, with a koan or not... Thich Thien Tam's "Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith" has a chapter explaining several niano practices.

Two important similarities: Honen teaches that nembutsu contains all of Amida Buddha's merit and wisdom, that it both purifies negative karma and bestows immeasurable merit.
This is in line with Mainland teachings, such as Lianchi's explanation of Buddha-remembrance and the Six Paramitas.

And in Jodo Shu as well as Mainland schools, is the expression of bodhicitta: one seeks to be born in Amida Buddha's land in order to save all sentient beings. Honen says we should aim for the highest grade of birth, so we can return to this world immediately and save the masses.

I hope that provided some food for thought. There are several free ebooks online about Chinese and Vietnamese Pure Land, if you'd like further reading, such as:
* Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
* Taming the Monkey Mind
* Dialogues with Ancient Masters
* Pure Land Zen, Zen Pure Land
* Pure Land Pure Mind
* Treatise on 10 Doubts
* The 12 Lights of Amida Buddha

Also, Hsuan Hua and Ou'i wrote commentaries on the Amitabha Sutra.

At some point, everyone tells you to recite Amida Buddha's name in whatever condition you're in, and to keep doing it for a long time :smile:
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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Queequeg
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Re: Japanese Pure Land vs the rest of East Asia

Post by Queequeg »

One point - not all Japanese Pure Land practice is exclusivist in the manner of Jodo and Jodoshinshu.

In Tendaishu practices directed to Amitabha/Amitayus Buddha are along the same lines as in mainland East Asian Buddhism in that they are some among many traditionally Mahayana practices. These schools are skeptical of the exclusive reliance on Other-Power. Amitabha oriented nembutsu practices are among the purification practices taught in Maka Shikan, for instance, and recitation of Pure Land sutras and nembutsu are some of the practices for the deceased.

Shingon has Pure Land teachings and practices, some influenced by the exclusivist interpretations, but as I understand its interpreted in an esoteric way. I don't know the full story, but my understanding is that strains of Pure Land have had an uneasy relationship with the more traditional, exclusive orientation to Vajrayana.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
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