Pure Land Buddhism & Smarta Hinduism

matthewsatori:

I see all the celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism as symbolic (upaya) of the one Dharmakaya, similar to how Smarta Hindus see the various gods of Hinduism as symbolic of the one Brahman:

According to Smartism, supreme reality, Brahman, transcends all of the various forms of personal deity…
The Smarta Tradition accepts two concepts of Brahman, which are the saguna Brahman – the Brahman with attributes, and nirguna Brahman – the Brahman without attributes.[42] The nirguna Brahman is the unchanging Reality, however, the saguna Brahman is posited as a means to realizing this nirguna Brahman.[43] The concept of the saguna Brahman is considered in this tradition to be a useful symbolism… A Smarta may choose any saguna deity (istadevata) such as Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Surya, Ganesha or any other, and this is viewed in Smarta Tradition as an interim step towards realizing the nirguna Brahman and its equivalence to one’s own Atman.[26]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smarta_tradition#Saguna_and_Nirguna_Brahman

Shinran Shonin, like T’an-luan, saw Amida Buddha as a upaya-symbol of the one Dharmakaya:

According to T’an-luan, all Buddhas, including Amida, have two bodies (aspects):

1. Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature (ultimate truth) and 2. Dharmakaya of Expediency (upaya, relative truth).

The first is the ultimate, unconditioned reality beyond form, which is equally shared by all Buddhas[2], while the second is the specific and particular manifestation of each Buddha for the sake of saving sentient beings.

The relation between the two is described as follows:

“From the Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature originates the Dharmakaya of Expediency; through the Dharmakaya of Expediency, the Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature is revealed. These two Dharmakayas are different, but inseparable; they are one but not the same.”…

“Unconditioned Dharmakaya is the body of Dharma-nature. Because Dharma-nature is Nirvanic, Dharmakaya is formless. Because it is formless, there is no form which it cannot manifest.”
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2014/08/master-tan-luan-on-amida-buddha-and.html

The Dharmakaya and Nirvana are aspects of the same Ultimate Truth, and one could say that Nirvana is the ultimate experience of awakening to the Dharmakaya, or that Dharmakaya is the content of Nirvana.

Shinran, like T’an-luan and Shan-tao, understood the Pure Land as the realm of Nirvana. This is why Shinran described rebirth into the Pure Land as “the birth of non-birth,” just as the Buddha described Nirvana as “the unborn.”

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NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

I see all the celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism as symbolic (upaya) of the one Dharmakaya, similar to how Smarta Hindus see the various gods of Hinduism as symbolic of the one Brahman…