Author: The Boatman Bodhisattva

Other-Power in Pure Land Buddhism

matthewsatori:

Westerners often get confused by the concept of Other-Power in Pure Land Buddhism, our absolute trust in Amida Buddha, rather than in our own efforts, to attain Buddhahood. They see it as too similar to a theistic god. 

It helps to look at the concepts of non-self and dependent origination. The notion of myself as a separate self is just a delusion of the ego, since our continued existence is dependent on innumerable causes and conditions:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prat%C4%ABtyasamutp%C4%81da

If the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice is the realization of non-self, otherwise known as Nirvana, how can we attain it through self-power? This is where the Other-Power of Amida, the Buddha-nature in all things, comes into play:
http://www.georgegatenby.id.au/jw55.htm

Rather than a theistic god who stands above us, the relationship between Amida Buddha and the individual who calls on his name is non-duality. This is because our Buddha-nature is inseparable from Amida’s. 

The only difference between Amida’s Buddha-nature and our own is that Amida’s is radiant and pure, while ours is obscured by the ego. Reciting the Nembutsu is an expression of non-duality between Amida and ourselves. 

Reciting the Nembutsu, Namu-Amida-Butsu, is also the spontaneous expression of gratitude for Amida’s profound gift of assuring our future Buddhahood, which Amida has provided due to no merit of our own. 

At the end of this life, when freed of all human limitations, we will immediately attain Buddhahood in the Pure Land, the realm of Nirvana, for the sake of all other beings. This is the unsurpassed intent of Amida’s boundless compassion.

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NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

Rather than a theistic god who stands above us, the relationship between Amida Buddha and the individual who calls on his name is non-duality. This is because our Buddha-nature is inseparable from Amida’s.

The only difference between Amida’s Buddha-nature and our own is that Amida’s is radiant and pure, while ours is obscured by the ego. Reciting the Nembutsu is an expression of non-duality between Amida and ourselves.

“The great Buddhist practice is to say the Name of the Tathagata of unhindered light…”

“The great Buddhist practice is to say the Name of the Tathagata of unhindered light (Namu-Amida-Butsu). This practice, embodying all good acts and possessing all roots of virtue, is perfect and most rapid in bringing about birth (into the Pure Land, the realm of Nirvana). It is the treasure ocean of virtues that is Suchness or true reality (Dharma-body). For this reason, it is called great practice.”

Shinran Shonin 

The Nembutsu alone is true and real

matthewsatori:

In the words of Shinran Shonin, “The Nembutsu alone is true and real.” This is because all material things are impermanent and subject to decay.

Amida Buddha, as Dharma-body itself, unfailingly causes the Buddhahood of all who call on his name, Namu-Amida-Butsu. How can we ever repay this boundless compassion?

With humble hearts, we seek to live in gratitude, showing compassion on others in gratitude for the unconditional compassion Amida has shown on ourselves.

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Shinshu & Zen: Mutually Exclusive?

matthewsatori:

In the future, I might return to the Jodo Shinshu temple, but with a Zen interpretation of the teachings. This is with the understanding of the Nembutsu as awakening the Buddha-nature within, rather than petitioning an external being.

As D. T. Suzuki and Rev. Koshin Ogui have shown, Zen and Jodo Shinshu need not be mutually exclusive. Many Zen masters have, at least for lay people, recommended the Nembutsu as a meditation device.  

“If you’re a Buddhist, the Buddha has the same place in your heart that Jesus might for a Christian…”

“If you’re a Buddhist, the Buddha has the same place in your heart that Jesus might for a Christian or Allah for a Muslim. The difference is that, rather than a theistic god standing above us, the Buddha is a real man who teaches us how to attain the same enlightenment as himself.”

Is Amida Buddha a god?

matthewsatori:

Pure Land Buddhism offers a way to enlightenment for people who can’t handle the subtleties of meditation, endure long rituals, or just live especially good lives.

The essential practice in Pure Land Buddhism is the chanting of the name of Amitabha Buddha with total concentration, trusting that one will be reborn in the Pure Land, a place where it is much easier for a being to work towards enlightenment…

Amitabha Buddha is treated as if he were God? On the surface, yes. But perhaps chanting Amitabha Buddha’s name is not praying to an external deity, but really a way of calling out one’s own essential Buddha nature… 

The Pure Land appears to be a supernatural place? On the surface, yes. But perhaps the Pure Land is really a poetic metaphor for a higher state of consciousness. 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/subdivisions/pureland_1.shtml

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NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

Amitabha Buddha is treated as if he were God? On the surface, yes. But perhaps chanting Amitabha Buddha’s name is not praying to an external deity, but really a way of calling out one’s own essential Buddha nature…

Our True Nature is Infinite Light

matthewsatori:

The next passage gives two explanations of the name “Amitabha” – as “infinite light” and as “infinite life”. The literal translation of “Amitabha” is “infinite”… 

Infinite light extends through space in all directions; infinite life extends through time and reaches through past, present, and future. The dimensions of space and time interpenetrating are the body of the universe. This body as a whole is the body and land of Amitabha, and this body as a whole is the name of Amitabha. 

Thus, the name of Amitabha is the inherently enlightened true nature of sentient beings, and reciting the name of Amitabha (Namu-Amida-Butsu) reveals this enlightenment…

We must realize that there is no name of Amitabha apart from the mind of infinite light and infinite life that is before us now at this moment, and there is no way for us to penetrate the mind of infinite light and infinite life that is before us now at this moment apart from (reciting) the name of Amitabha.
http://www.ymba.org/books/mind-seal-buddhas/explanation-text/main-portion/description-wonders-amitabha

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NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

Thus, the name of Amitabha is the inherently enlightened true nature of sentient beings, and reciting the name of Amitabha (Namu-Amida-Butsu) reveals this enlightenment…

The Pure Land is the Pure Mind

matthewsatori:

“Therefore, Jeweled Accumulation, if the Bodhisattva wishes to acquire a pure land, he must purify his mind. When the mind is pure, the Buddha land will be pure.”… 

The Buddha then pressed his toe against the earth, and immediately the thousand-millionfold world was adorned with hundreds and thousands of rare jewels, till it resembled Jeweled Adornment Buddha’s Jeweled Adornment Land of Immeasurable Blessings. All the members of the great assembly sighed in wonder at what they had never seen before, and all saw that hey themselves were seated on jeweled lotuses.

The Buddha said to Shariputra, “Now do you see the marvelous purity of this Buddha land?”

Shariputra replied, “Indeed I do, World-Honored One. Somehing I have never seen before, and never even heard of-now all he marvelous purity of the Buddha land is visible before me!”

The Buddha said to Shariputra, “My Buddha land has always been pure like this. But because I wish to save those persons who are lowly and inferior, I make it seem an impure land full of defilements, that is all. It is like the case of heavenly beings. All ate their food from the same precious vessel, but the food looks different for each one, depending upon the merits and virtues hat each possesses. It is the same in this case, Shariputra. If a person’s mind is pure, then he will see the wonderful blessings that adorn this land.”
http://lirs.ru/lib/sutra/The_Vimalakirti_Sutra,Watson,1997.html

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NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

The Buddha said to Shariputra, “My Buddha land has always been pure like this. But because I wish to save those persons who are lowly and inferior, I make it seem an impure land full of defilements, that is all… If a person’s mind is pure, then he will see the wonderful blessings that adorn this land.”

There is no Buddha apart from the mind…

matthewsatori:

The Buddha’s last words were to seek no external refuge. In reciting the Name, NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU, this is not a petitionary prayer to some external deity. It is instead the means to awakening the Buddha-nature within: 

Buddhist authors in late-medieval China and Vietnam frequently describe Pure Land Buddhism’s practice of reciting the Buddha’s name in terms of three levels:

Mundane, regular level: reciting the Buddha’s name to achieve rebirth in the Pure Land.
Middle-level: reciting the Buddha’s name to “bring out” the Buddha within the practitioner.
High-level: reciting the Buddha’s name with the understanding that there is no Buddha outside the mind.

The point is that the “ultimate” teaching of Pure Land Buddhism has nothing to do with an external refuge, but that the Pure Land is the mind itself.
https://klingonbuddhist.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/a-look-at-chinese-pure-land-buddhism/

Please compare the above passages to these words from Shinran Shonin:

67 The Commentary on the Treatise states:
To aspire to be born in the Pure Land of happiness is necessarily to awaken the mind aspiring for supreme enlightenment.

68 Further, it states:
This mind attains Buddhahood means that the mind becomes Buddha; this mind is itself Buddha means that there is no Buddha apart from the mind

69 The [Master of] Kuang-ming temple states:
This mind attains Buddhahood. This mind is itself Buddha. There is no Buddha apart from this mind.
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expositions/chapter-on-shinjin/

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NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

We find our inner self when NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU is pronounced once and for all…

matthewsatori:

We find our inner self when NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU is pronounced once and for all. My conclusion is that Amida is our inmost self, and when that inmost self is found, we are born in the Pure Land. – D. T. Suzuki

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