Category: philosophy

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.

Day 1,968

There’s still no god.

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.

Day 1,967

There’s still no god.

Day 1,966

There’s still no god.

Day 1,965

There’s still no god.

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

image

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…

Day 1,964

There’s still no god.