Category: zen buddhism

The historical Buddha never claimed to be a …

The historical Buddha never claimed to be a god. Rather than a literal flesh and blood Buddha, the Higher Power in Buddhism is Amida Buddha, whose name means infinite light and boundless life. Namu-Amida-Butsu.

The historical Buddha never claimed to be a go…

The historical Buddha never claimed to be a god. Rather than a literal flesh and blood Buddha, the Higher Power in Buddhism is Amida Buddha, whose name means infinite light and boundless life. Namu-Amida-Butsu.

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.”

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

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…

Amida Buddha & Tibetan Buddhism

matthewsatori:

Deity yoga is a central practice of Tibetan Buddhism, with the term “deity” referring to enlightened beings. Amida Buddha is one of many such meditation deities utilized for the sake of realizing one’s Buddha-nature:

The purpose of Deity yoga is to bring the meditator to the realization that the yidam or meditation deity and the practitioner are in essence the same, that they are non-dual (advaya). According to John Powers. “Deity yoga is a technique for becoming progressively more familiar with the thoughts and deeds of a buddha, until the state of buddhahood is actualized through repeated practice.”[4]

According to Gyatrul Rinpoche, the point of this practice is to “understand your buddha nature, which is the very essence of your being” and is “intrinsically present” in all beings.[5] The fact that the deity is a reflection of qualities already inherent in the practitioner is what makes this practice different than mere deluded or wishful thinking.[6]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deity_yoga

Deity yoga, then, is a practice which helps us identify with a particular fully enlightened being or Buddha in order to realize our innate Buddha nature. Using visualisation, chanting, mantra recitation, and meditation, we focus upon a particular deity and in many practices visualize ourselves as that deity, non-dual with them…

The deity mirrors to us our true enlightened nature. As our practice deepens, and we reach an ever closer identification/relationship with the deity, delusion and obscuration are revealed as illusory, and the energies of deluded mind transform into their non-dual, naturally enlightened qualities. 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said, “In brief, the body of a Buddha is attained through meditating on it.”


http://www.rigdzindharma.org/deity-yoga-practice.html

While it’s common for Tibetans to seek rebirth into the Pure Land, this is seen as the lowest level of Pure Land practice. Like in Zen Buddhism, the purpose of Pure Land practice in deity yoga is to realize Amida Buddha as our True Self:

Thine own consciousness, shining, void, and inseparable from the Great Body of Radiance, hath no birth, nor death, and is the Immutable Light-Buddha Amitabha.
http://redzambala.com/tibetan-book-of-the-dead/tibetan-book-of-the-dead-part-2.html

This is the Dalai Lama blessing a statue of Amida Buddha:

image

Amitabha Mantra (A Mi De Wa Hrih)

While it’s common for Tibetans to seek rebirth into the Pure Land, this is seen as the lowest level of Pure Land practice. Like in Zen Buddhism, the purpose of Pure Land practice in deity yoga is to realize Amida Buddha as our True Self…

Amida Buddha & Tibetan Buddhism

matthewsatori:

Deity yoga is a central practice of Tibetan Buddhism, with the term “deity” referring to enlightened beings. Amida Buddha is one of many such meditation deities utilized for the sake of realizing one’s Buddha-nature:

The purpose of Deity yoga is to bring the meditator to the realization that the yidam or meditation deity and the practitioner are in essence the same, that they are non-dual (advaya). According to John Powers. “Deity yoga is a technique for becoming progressively more familiar with the thoughts and deeds of a buddha, until the state of buddhahood is actualized through repeated practice.”[4]

According to Gyatrul Rinpoche, the point of this practice is to “understand your buddha nature, which is the very essence of your being” and is “intrinsically present” in all beings.[5] The fact that the deity is a reflection of qualities already inherent in the practitioner is what makes this practice different than mere deluded or wishful thinking.[6]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deity_yoga

Deity yoga, then, is a practice which helps us identify with a particular fully enlightened being or Buddha in order to realize our innate Buddha nature. Using visualisation, chanting, mantra recitation, and meditation, we focus upon a particular deity and in many practices visualize ourselves as that deity, non-dual with them…

The deity mirrors to us our true enlightened nature. As our practice deepens, and we reach an ever closer identification/relationship with the deity, delusion and obscuration are revealed as illusory, and the energies of deluded mind transform into their non-dual, naturally enlightened qualities. 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said, “In brief, the body of a Buddha is attained through meditating on it.”


http://www.rigdzindharma.org/deity-yoga-practice.html

Like in Zen Buddhism, the purpose of Pure Land practice in deity yoga is to realize Amida Buddha as our True Self:

Thine own consciousness, shining, void, and inseparable from the Great Body of Radiance, hath no birth, nor death, and is the Immutable Light-Buddha Amitabha.
http://redzambala.com/tibetan-book-of-the-dead/tibetan-book-of-the-dead-part-2.html

This is the Dalai Lama blessing a statue of Amida Buddha:

image

Amitabha Mantra (A Mi De Wa Hrih)

Like in Zen Buddhism, the purpose of Pure Land practice in deity yoga is to realize Amida Buddha as our True Self…

I believe the Nembutsu is true because, if the…

I believe the Nembutsu is true because, if the Dharmakaya is real, then Amida is real. Amida Buddha is the personification of the Dharmakaya. In the words of Shinran, ‘The Nembutsu alone is true and real.’

Pure Land Buddhism & Smarta Hinduism

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:
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 and 2. Dharmakaya of Expediency (upaya).

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.”

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

Amida Buddha & The Historical Buddha

Upaya or skillful means is a teaching which might not be literally true, but which nonetheless helps someone come to a realization of the Ultimate Truth. Skillful means is also referred to as provisional truth:
https://www.thoughtco.com/upaya-skillful-or-expedient-means-450018

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

It doesn’t matter whether or not Amida Buddha is a historical being, if what he symbolizes (as a upaya) is the Ultimate Truth itself. What matters is that Dharma-body, that which Amida Buddha signifies, is a true reality.

However, the source of skillful means does matter, since only an enlightened being such as the historical Buddha is qualified to know which provisional teachings will lead others to the Ultimate Truth of enlightenment. 

Amida Buddha, as a symbol of the Dharmakaya, would be meaningless if there wasn’t the historical Shakyamuni in the first place, who experienced the Dharmakaya for himself, and then symbolized it as Amida Buddha.*

In the Nembutsu, the name of Amida Buddha, Namu-Amida-Butsu, we are led by Dharma-body to the Pure Land, the realm of Nirvana. The heaven-like language used to describe the Pure Land is also a upaya for Nirvana itself. 

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*If the historical Buddha didn’t teach about Amida Buddha, then what matters is that enlightened teachers who came after Shakyamuni taught about Amida.

The concept of upaya in the Lotus Sutra is little different from the Pali concept of Buddhist teaching as a provisional raft to the other shore of Nirvana.

Pure Land teaching is often associated with we…

Pure Land teaching is often associated with weak personality because of the stress on Other-Power, understood as an exterior power. However, confidence in Other-Power as the essence of life can be the basis for firm dedication and devotion, when one believes that reality, Amida Buddha, has embraced one’s life and Amida is understood as one’s true self.

Refuge in Amida Buddha

From the beginning of Buddhism, it’s been understood that one takes refuge in the Dharma-body of a Buddha, rather than in his gross physical form:

Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.087x.wlsh.html

He whose faith in the Tathagata is settled, rooted, established, solid, unshakeable by any ascetic or Brahmin, any deva or mara or Brahma or anyone in the world, can truly say: “I am a true son of Blessed Lord, born of his mouth, born of Dhamma, created by Dhamma, an heir of Dhamma.” Why is that? Because, Vasettha, this designates the Tathagata: “The Body of Dhamma”… 
http://www.palicanon.org/en/sutta-pitaka/transcribed-suttas/majjhima-nikaya/142-mn-88-bhitika-sutta-the-cloak.html#calibre_link-893

When Pure Land Buddhists, in the Nembutsu, take refuge in Amida Buddha, they are taking refuge in the Dharma-body, rather than in a literal historical person who attained Buddhahood galaxies away, eons before the Big Bang:
https://www.thoughtco.com/dharmakaya-449805

Shinran Shonin referred to Amida Buddha as “Dharmakaya-as-upaya,” making the point that Amida, the Pure Land, and the Nembutsu are a skillful device (upaya) for Ultimate Truth to make itself known and complete its work of leading all beings to enlightenment.

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NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU