Category: zen

Is the Pure Land a Buddhist heaven?

matthewsatori:

The popular conception of the Pure Land as a Buddhist heaven, where we’ll someday meet our deceased relatives, has perhaps more to do with Chinese ancestor worship, with its emphasis on filial piety, than with Buddhism itself.  

Shinran, like Tan-luan and Shandao, understood the Pure Land as the formless realm of Nirvana, rather than a heaven, and therefore referred to it as “the birth of no-birth,” just as the Buddha described Nirvana as “the unborn.”

Buddhism was not immediately accepted in China, because the doctrines of non-self, rebirth, and Nirvana challenged traditional Chinese beliefs about the spirits of dead relatives, that good deeds should be done in their honor. 

If there is no permanent, unchanging self, but instead a stream of consciousness from one lifetime to the next, what good is there in dedicating merit to one’s ancestors? The answer to this question might be unsettling for many.

Chinese folk religion therefore came to produce an image of the Pure Land as a Confucian-like and Taoist-like paradise, as an accommodation of Buddhism to traditional Chinese values and customs. 

Shinran said that he never recited the Nembutsu out of filial piety. Nonetheless, Shinran had compassionate understanding for those who, however misguided, clung to the notion of a permanent self that will meet our deceased ancestors.

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves:

Meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expositions/chapter-on-transformed-buddha-bodies-and-lands/

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves…

Amida Buddha & The Awakening Of Faith

The Awakening of Faith by Asvaghosha is one of the earliest endorsements of the Pure Land path as the easy path to Buddhahood. Here are some relevant passages.

Any corporeal aspects [such as the marks of the Buddha] that are visible are magic-like products of Suchness manifested in accordance with the mentality of men in defilement. It is not, however, that these corporeal aspects which result from the suprarational functions of wisdom are of the nature of nonemptiness [i.e., substantial]; for wisdom has no aspects that can be perceived.
http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Translations/Awakening_of_faith.html

On the relative level, Amida is a flesh and blood Buddha from eons ago, galaxies away. On the level of ultimate truth or Suchness, Amida is formless and beginningless.

He should know that the Tathagatas have an excellent expedient means by which they can protect his faith: that is, through the strength of wholehearted meditation on the Buddha, he will in fulfillment of his wishes be able to be born in the Buddha-land beyond, to see the Buddha always, and to be forever separated from the evil states of existence… 
If he meditates on the Dharmakaya, the Suchness of the Buddha, and with diligence keeps practicing the meditation, he will be able to be born there in the end because he abides in the correct samadhi.
http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Translations/Awakening_of_faith.html

On the level of relative truth or expedient means, the Pure Land is a corporeal paradise. On the level of ultimate truth, the Pure Land is the formless realm of Nirvana.

Entrusting the name of Amida Buddha, Namu-Amida-Butsu, we are reborn into the Pure Land and become one with the Ineffable Reality of Suchness. 

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

The Pure Land of bliss is the realm of Nirvana…

The Pure Land of bliss is the realm of Nirvana, the uncreated;
I fear it is hard to be reborn there by doing various good acts
according to our diverse conditions.
Hence, the Tathagata (Buddha) selected the essential Dharma,
Instructing beings to recite Amida’s Name (Namu-Amida-Butsu)
with singleness, again singleness.

The land of bliss is the realm of Nirvana, th…

The land of bliss is the realm of Nirvana,
the uncreated;
I fear it is hard to be born there by doing various good acts
according to our diverse conditions.
Hence, the Tathagata selected the essential Dharma,
Instructing beings to recite Amida’s Name
with singleness, again singleness.

Why I’m Not a Zen Buddhist

matthewsatori:

I would like to share why I prefer Jodo Shinshu over Zen Buddhism, even though I have a sincere appreciation for both traditions. While Zen is more popular in the West, Jodo Shinshu is the largest Buddhist tradition in Japan.

Nembutsu recitation is the main practice in Jodo Shinshu, as an expression of gratitude to Amida Buddha, the boundless wisdom and compassion otherwise known as Dharma-body, for our future rebirth into the Pure Land.

In Zen practice, the primary goal is experiencing kensho. Kensho, however, is not the ultimate truth in Buddhism. Kensho is, instead, a momentary glimpse into the ultimate truth, of seeing into one’s Buddha-nature.

In Buddhism, the ultimate truth is Nirvana. Only Zen masters, however, are said to enter Nirvana at death. In Jodo Shinshu, the Pure Land is seen as the realm of Nirvana, and it’s open to all people, whether priest or layperson.

I like to quote Zen masters on Amida Buddha, because of Zen’s emphasis on the non-dual relationship between Amida and ourselves. Shinran’s Kyogyoshinsho, however, also presents a non-dual understanding of Amida Buddha:

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/

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

In Buddhism, the ultimate truth is Nirvana. Only Zen masters, however, are said to enter Nirvana at death. In Jodo Shinshu, the Pure Land is seen as the realm of Nirvana, and it’s open to all people, whether priest or layperson.

Why I’m Not a Zen Buddhist

matthewsatori:

I would like to share why I prefer Jodo Shinshu over Zen Buddhism, even though I have a sincere appreciation for both traditions. While Zen is more popular in the West, Jodo Shinshu is the largest Buddhist tradition in Japan.

Nembutsu recitation is the main practice in Jodo Shinshu, as an expression of gratitude to Amida Buddha, the boundless wisdom and compassion otherwise known as Dharma-body, for our future rebirth into the Pure Land.

In Zen practice, the primary goal is experiencing kensho. Kensho, however, is not the ultimate truth in Buddhism. Kensho is, instead, a momentary glimpse into the ultimate truth, of seeing into one’s Buddha-nature.

In Buddhism, the ultimate truth is Nirvana. Only Zen masters, however, are said to enter Nirvana at death. In Jodo Shinshu, the Pure Land is seen as the realm of Nirvana, and it’s open to all people, whether priest or layperson.

I like to quote Zen masters on Amida Buddha, because of Zen’s emphasis on the non-dual relationship between Amida and ourselves. Shinran’s Kyogyoshinsho, however, also presents a non-dual understanding of Amida Buddha:

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/

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

In Buddhism, the ultimate truth is Nirvana. Only Zen masters, however, are said to enter Nirvana at death. In Jodo Shinshu, the Pure Land is seen as the realm of Nirvana, and it’s open to all people, whether priest or layperson.

Why I’m Not a Zen Buddhist

I would like to share why I prefer Jodo Shinshu over Zen Buddhism, even though I have a sincere appreciation for both traditions. While Zen is more popular in the West, Jodo Shinshu is the largest Buddhist tradition in Japan.

Nembutsu recitation is the primary practice in Jodo Shinshu, as an expression of gratitude to Amida Buddha, the boundless wisdom and compassion otherwise known as Dharma-body, for our future rebirth into the Pure Land.

In Zen practice, the primary goal is experiencing kensho. Kensho, however, is not the ultimate truth in Buddhism. Kensho is, instead, a momentary glimpse into the ultimate truth, of seeing into one’s Buddha-nature.

In Buddhism, the ultimate truth is Nirvana. Only Zen masters, however, are said to enter Nirvana at death. In Jodo Shinshu, the Pure Land is seen as the realm of Nirvana, and it’s open to all people, whether priest or layperson.

I like to quote Zen masters on Amida Buddha, because of Zen’s emphasis on the non-dual relationship between Amida and ourselves. Shinran’s Kyogyoshinsho, however, also presents a non-dual understanding of Amida Buddha:

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/

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

Is the Pure Land a Buddhist heaven?

matthewsatori:

The popular conception of the Pure Land as a Buddhist heaven, where we’ll someday meet our deceased relatives, has perhaps more to do with Chinese ancestor worship, with its emphasis on filial piety, than with Buddhism itself.  

Shinran, like Tan-luan and Shandao, understood the Pure Land as the formless realm of Nirvana, rather than a heaven, and therefore referred to it as “the birth of no-birth,” just as the Buddha described Nirvana as “the unborn.”

Buddhism was not immediately accepted in China, because the doctrines of non-self, rebirth, and Nirvana challenged traditional Chinese beliefs about the spirits of dead relatives, that good deeds should be done in their honor. 

If there is no permanent, unchanging self, but instead a stream of consciousness from one lifetime to the next, what good is there in dedicating merit to one’s ancestors? The answer to this question might be unsettling for many.

Chinese folk religion therefore came to produce an image of the Pure Land as a Confucian-like and Taoist-like paradise, as an accommodation of Buddhism to traditional Chinese values and customs. 

Shinran said that he never recited the Nembutsu out of filial piety. Nonetheless, Shinran had compassionate understanding for those who, however misguided, clung to the notion of a permanent self that will meet our deceased ancestors.

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves:

Meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expositions/chapter-on-transformed-buddha-bodies-and-lands/

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves…

Is the Pure Land a Buddhist heaven?

matthewsatori:

The popular conception of the Pure Land as a Buddhist heaven, where we’ll someday meet our deceased relatives, has perhaps more to do with Chinese ancestor worship, with its emphasis on filial piety, than with Buddhism itself.  

Shinran, like Tan-luan and Shandao, understood the Pure Land as the formless realm of Nirvana, rather than a heaven, and therefore referred to it as “the birth of no-birth,” just as the Buddha described Nirvana as “the unborn.”

Buddhism was not immediately accepted in China, because the doctrines of non-self, rebirth, and Nirvana challenged traditional Chinese beliefs about the spirits of dead relatives, that good deeds should be done in their honor. 

If there is no permanent, unchanging self, but instead a stream of consciousness from one lifetime to the next, what good is there in dedicating merit to one’s ancestors? The answer to this question might be unsettling for many.

Chinese folk religion therefore came to produce an image of the Pure Land as a Confucian-like and Taoist-like paradise, as an accommodation of Buddhism to traditional Chinese values and customs. 

Shinran said that he never recited the Nembutsu out of filial piety. Nonetheless, Shinran had compassionate understanding for those who, however misguided, clung to the notion of a permanent self that will meet our deceased ancestors.

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves:

Meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expositions/chapter-on-transformed-buddha-bodies-and-lands/

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves…

Is the Pure Land a Buddhist heaven?

matthewsatori:

matthewsatori:

The popular conception of the Pure Land as a Buddhist heaven, where we’ll someday meet our deceased relatives, has perhaps more to do with Chinese ancestor worship, with its emphasis on filial piety, than with Buddhism itself.  

Shinran, like Tan-luan and Shandao, understood the Pure Land as the formless realm of Nirvana, rather than a heaven, and therefore referred to it as “the birth of no-birth,” just as the Buddha described Nirvana as “the unborn.”

Buddhism was not immediately accepted in China, because the doctrines of non-self, rebirth, and Nirvana challenged traditional Chinese beliefs about the spirits of dead relatives, that good deeds should be done in their honor. 

If there is no permanent, unchanging self, but instead a stream of consciousness from one lifetime to the next, what good is there in dedicating merit to one’s ancestors? The answer to this question might be unsettling for many.

Chinese folk religion therefore came to produce an image of the Pure Land as a Confucian-like and Taoist-like paradise, as an accommodation of Buddhism to traditional Chinese values and customs. 

Shinran said that he never recited the Nembutsu out of filial piety. Nonetheless, Shinran had compassionate understanding for those who, however misguided, clung to the notion of a permanent self that will meet our deceased ancestors.

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves:

Meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expositions/chapter-on-transformed-buddha-bodies-and-lands/

image

NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves…