Category: buddhism

Skillful Means in Mahayana Buddhism

matthewsatori:

I am amazed by the depth of insight in Mahayana Buddhism. When Carl Jung and Paul Tillich wrote about the power of mythological language to convey Ultimate Truth, they were only catching up to what the Mahayana has been teaching for over two thousand years.

In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha says his enlightenment is so far beyond our everyday understanding, that he can only communicate it through similes and parables, various forms of upaya or skillful means.

In reading the Pure Land sutras from this perspective, we can see Amida as a skillful device for Dharma-body and the Pure Land as the realm of Nirvana. In reciting the name, Namu-Amida-Butsu, we place our trust in Dharma-body, the source of all Buddhahood, to effortlessly carry us to Nirvana.

Seeing the Pure Land narratives as metaphorical or mythological doesn’t reject the reality of Amida Buddha. Instead, it’s a way of seeing Amida as more than a literal flesh and blood man who attained Buddhahood eons before the Big Bang, in a world galaxies away.

Shinran Shonin referred to Amida as Dharmakaya-as-upaya, making the point that Amida, the Pure Land, and the Nembutsu are a skillful device for Dharma-body to make itself known and complete its work of leading all beings to enlightenment:
http://dharmaechoes.blogspot.com/2009/10/amida-buddha-as-religious-symbol.html

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NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha says his enlightenment is so far beyond our everyday understanding, that he can only communicate it through similes and parables, various forms of upaya or skillful means.

From this perspective, we can see Amida as a skillful device (symbolic expression) for Dharma-body and the Pure Land as the realm of Nirvana. In reciting the name, Namu-Amida-Butsu, we place our trust in Dharma-body, the source of all Buddhahood, to effortlessly carry us to Nirvana.

A quality documentary on the Buddha’s life and…

A quality documentary on the Buddha’s life and teachings.

Buddhism is the only major religion which teac…

Buddhism is the only major religion which teaches life after death without an immortal soul or creator god. Nirvana is the transcendence, not continuity, of a self.

The Ultimate Truth of Amida Buddha in the Tann…

matthewsatori:

While Amida Buddha is expediently described in the sutras as appearing with form, he is the formless reality of Dharma-body itself in his ultimate nature:

Among
scriptures generally you will find a mixture of teachings, which are true and real (ultimate truth) and which are accommodating and tentative (relative truth). The master’s basic instruction was
for us to choose the real, abandoning those accommodating the desires of the
people, and select the real, rejecting the tentatively presented. Be very careful to
see such differences among the scriptures…   

Even though the size of Buddha in the Pure Land is described in the sutra,
it is the manifestation of Dharmakaya-as-compassion (relative truth), appearing for the sake of
human beings. When one attains supreme enlightenment and realizes
Dharmakaya-as-it-is (ultimate truth), how can size be discussed, since such shapes as long or
short, square or round, do not exist; and color is also transcended, whether it be
blue, yellow, red, white, or black?
http://cdn.preterhuman.net/texts/religion.occult.new_age/Pureland/Japanese%20Pureland/Shinran_Works/The%20Tannisho.pdf

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NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

Even though the size of Buddha in the Pure Land is described in the sutra, it is the manifestation of Dharmakaya-as-compassion (relative truth), appearing for the sake of human beings.
When one attains supreme enlightenment and realizes Dharmakaya-as-it-is (ultimate truth), how can size be discussed, since such shapes as long or short, square or round, do not exist; and color is also transcended, whether it be blue, yellow, red, white, or black?

Nagarjuna: The First Patriarch of Pure Land Bu…

matthewsatori:

Nagarjuna is venerated by all sects and schools of Mahayana Buddhism for his ancient commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings, so such so that he’s often referred to as the Second Buddha.

Nagarjuna is perhaps most well-known for his distinction between relative truth and Ultimate Truth, which he likened to a finger pointing at the moon:

The highest truth (paramarthasatya) is beyond words or description, i.e. beyond the reach of conceptual understanding and yet it was presented by the Buddha Shakyamuni as his teaching so that our conceptual understanding could grasp it. It is in this sense that the teaching is regarded as an ‘expedient means’ (upaya), often likened to a finger pointing to the moon. What is crucial about this metaphor is that the finger and the moon are mutually reflexive. Without the finger, the moon would not be known. Without the moon, there would be no need for the finger pointing to it. 
http://www.nembutsu.info/tokusuny.htm

Nagarjuna was also the first patriarch of Pure Land Buddhism, the first commentator to endorse Pure Land practice as the easy path to Buddhahood: 

The bodhisattva Nagarjuna emphasizes this core teaching of Pure Land Buddhism, saying in Chapter on the Easy Path, “Amitabha’s Fundamental Vow is as follows: If anyone invokes me, recites my name (Namu-Amida-Butsu), and takes Refuge in me, he will instantly enter the state of assurance (of future Buddhahood), and subsequently attain the highest perfect enlightenment. For that reason, you should always be mindful of him.”
https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/the-lifeline-of-pure-land-buddhism

From the perspective of two-truths doctrine, the stories of Amida in the Pure Land scriptures and even the recitation of his name are a relative truth, a symbolic expression for enabling us to realize the Ultimate Truth of Dharma-body:

Buddha exists in many forms, but all share the same “body of reality,” the same Dharmakaya, which is formless, omnipresent, all-pervading, indescribable, infinite–the everywhere-equal essence of all things, the one reality within-and-beyond all appearances.

Dharmakaya Buddha is utterly abstract and in fact inconceivable, so buddha takes on particular forms to communicate with living beings by coming within their range of perception. For most people, this is the only way that buddha can become comprehensible and of practical use. The particular embodiments of buddha, known as Nirmanakaya, are supreme examples of compassionate skill-in-means (upaya).
http://amtb.co.uk/pure-land-buddhism/

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Nagarjuna is perhaps most well-known for his distinction between relative truth and Ultimate Truth, which he likened to a finger pointing at the moon…

matthewsatori: This is the Tibetan Buddhist nu…

matthewsatori:

This is the Tibetan Buddhist nun, Thubten Chodron, blessing me with a relic of the historical Buddha. 

She studied under the Dalai Lama and co-authored a book with him about Buddhism.  

I don’t know if getting blessed by the Buddha’s bones had any spiritual effect, but it was a humbling experience.

Edicts of Ashoka – Dhamma Wiki

Edicts of Ashoka – Dhamma Wiki:

The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 272 to 231 BC. 

These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Pakistan and northern India, and represent the first tangible evidence of Buddhism

The edicts describe in detail the first wide expansion of Buddhism through the sponsorship of one of the most powerful kings of Indian history. According to the edicts, the extent of Buddhist proselytism during this period reached as far as the Mediterranean, and many Buddhist monuments were created…

The inscriptions revolve around a few repetitive themes: Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism, the description of his efforts to spread Buddhism, his moral and religious precepts, and his social and animal welfare programs.

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Historical Evidence for the Buddha

matthewsatori:

Gautama the Buddha was not a mythical figure but an actual, historical personality who introduced the religion known today as Buddhism. Evidence to prove the existence of this great religious Teacher are to be found in the following facts:

The testimonies of those who knew Him personally. These testimonies were recorded in the rock-inscriptions, pillars and pagodas made in His honour. These testimonies and monuments to His memory were created by kings and others who were near enough to His time to be able to verify the story of His life.

The discovery of places and the remains of buildings that were mentioned in the narrative of His time.

The Sangha, the holy order which He founded, has had an unbroken existence to the present day. The Sangha possessed the facts of His life and Teachings which have been transmitted from generation to generation in various parts of the world.

The fact that in the very year of His death, and at various times subsequently, conventions and councils of the Sangha were held for the verification of the actual Teachings of the Founder. These verified Teachings have been passed on from teacher to pupil from His time to the present day.

After His passing away, His body was cremated and the bodily relics were divided among eight kingdoms in India. Each king built a pagoda to contain his portion of the relics. The portion given to King Ajatasatthu was enshrined by him in a pagoda at Rajagriha. Less than two centuries later, Emperor Asoka took the relics and distributed them throughout his empire. The inscriptions enshrined in this and other pagodas confirmed that those were the relics of Gautama the Buddha.

‘The Mahavansa’, the best and authentic ancient history known to us gives detailed particulars of life as well as details of the life of Emperor Asoka and all other sovereigns related to Buddhist history. Indian history has also given a prominent place to the Buddha’s life, activities, Buddhist traditions and customs.

The records which we can find in the Buddhist countries where people received Buddhism a few hundred years after the Buddha’s passing away such as Sri Lanka, Burma, China, Tibet, Nepal, Korea, Mongolia, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos show unbroken historical, cultural, religious, literary and traditional evidence that there was religious Teacher in India known as Gautama the Buddha.

The Tripitaka, an unbroken record of His 45 years of Teaching is more than sufficient to prove that the Buddha really lived in the world.

The accuracy and authenticity of the Buddhist texts is supported by the fact that they provide information for historians to write Indian history during the 5thand 6th century B.C. The texts, which represent the earliest reliable written records in India, provide a profound insight into the socio-economic, cultural and political environment and conditions during the Buddha’s lifetime as well as into the lives of His contemporaries, such as King Bimbisara.
Source: http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/17.htm

The historical evidence for the Buddha is arguably superior to the evidence for Christianity:

The historical evidence for the Buddha is arguably superior to the evidence for Christianity…

Temple Attendance in Buddhism

I visit a Buddhist temple about twice a month. In Japan, most Buddhists only visit temples on special occasions like holidays, weddings, and funerals. It’s common for Japanese Buddhists to have butsudans for home practice: 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butsudan

While Jodo Shinshu is the largest sect in Japan, Shinran never intended on founding an official, distinct sect of Buddhism. In the words of Shinran, he never had a single disciple, since Amida Buddha was always the focus.

The only required Jodo Shinshu practice is recitation of the Nembutsu, in gratitude for our future rebirth into the Pure Land, the realm of Nirvana. Jodo Shinshu Buddhists first met in each other’s homes, rather than in temples.

matthewsatori: One’s own relationship with A…

matthewsatori:

One’s own relationship with Amida Buddha is between that person and The Buddha of Infinite Life and Light. 

NO ONE ELSE can ultimately decide whether or not your faith relationship with Amida Buddha is valid. 

ONLY Amida can confirm or deny the validity of your Shinjin (sincere trust in Amida Buddha).