Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

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PureLandPancake
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Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby PureLandPancake » Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:07 pm

Hi, I am new to Shin Buddhism, but I am a bit confused by the concept of Amida Buddha. When I read the sutras & the writings of Master Shinran & Master Honen, it seems to me that Amida is a real sambhogakaya buddha that exists in the Western Pure Land. However, I have had some Shin Buddhists tell me that Amida is not a real Buddha and that the story is just a myth or a metaphor. I have a hard time having faith in a symbol or metaphor. I would love to have your opinion if you don't mind me asking!

Gasho, _/|\_

Alexander :sage:

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby K Tsomo » Sun Dec 25, 2016 11:34 pm

Yes, he is real.
I've seen him, but it is a secret and as such it is guarded and cannot be revealed even if you're buddhist.
You have to do the groundwork yourself with lots of dedication, devotion, trust in and love of the teacher/s.
With their blessings, the knowledge bestowed and the impulse of your purity and intuition, after accumulating merits, you will come to see him.
I don't give you hope, I am only confirming that he exists.

For more info, refer to 31 Day Pure Land Study Group! It is very good work. :twothumbsup:

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby DGA » Sun Dec 25, 2016 11:46 pm

Hi Alexander,

PureLandPancake wrote:Hi, I am new to Shin Buddhism, but I am a bit confused by the concept of Amida Buddha. When I read the sutras & the writings of Master Shinran & Master Honen, it seems to me that Amida is a real sambhogakaya buddha that exists in the Western Pure Land.


This is how I understand it.

However, I have had some Shin Buddhists tell me that Amida is not a real Buddha and that the story is just a myth or a metaphor.


In my opinion, that's their problem. I think you are better off relying on the guidance of authentic masters such as Shinran.

Enjoy your practice!

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby rory » Mon Dec 26, 2016 2:07 am

PureLandPancake wrote:Hi, I am new to Shin Buddhism, but I am a bit confused by the concept of Amida Buddha. When I read the sutras & the writings of Master Shinran & Master Honen, it seems to me that Amida is a real sambhogakaya buddha that exists in the Western Pure Land. However, I have had some Shin Buddhists tell me that Amida is not a real Buddha and that the story is just a myth or a metaphor. I have a hard time having faith in a symbol or metaphor. I would love to have your opinion if you don't mind me asking!

Gasho, _/|\_

Alexander :sage:


Hi PureLandPancake;
Years ago I had the exact same issues and I can explain: modern Jodo Shinshu does view Amida as a metaphor, (it didn't in the past but you're dealing with the modern institutional sect), Jodo Shu (the Japanese sect of Honen) officialy believes in a real Western Pure Land and sambhogakaya buddha so does Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean Pure Land.

Pure Land viewed from a Zen/Ch'an prospective makes Amida a metaphor. When I would go to a Chinese temple the clergy would have the high Ch'an view but the regular people have deep simple faith in Amida and Kannon-sama. Be like those people and you will benefit. That's what I do and I am pretty intellectual but reject the metaphor completely. And I have had only an immense benefit. Amida is real and he or Kannon-sama will help you.

If you cannot go to a Chinese/Vietnamese Pure Land temple or Jodo temple go to the Shinshu one and maintain your belief in Amida. I've done that before I found a proper Pure Land teacher.
gassho
Rory
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Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58

PureLandPancake
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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby PureLandPancake » Mon Dec 26, 2016 4:17 am

Thanks guys! Great answers :) :thumbsup:

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby yan kong » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:13 am

rory wrote:Pure Land viewed from a Zen/Ch'an prospective makes Amida a metaphor.


I have not had this experience in my interactions with Ch'an groups. They very much believe in the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
"Meditation is a spiritual exercise, not a therapeutic regime... Our intention is to enter Nirvana, not to make life in Samsara more tolerable." Chan Master Hsu Yun

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Kunzang » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:34 pm

Where does the idea that he is a "sambhogakaya buddha" come from?

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:09 pm

This is the view of two particular scholars, Charles Eliot and Joseph Walsner, they
point to the similarities between the Maháyána Buddha, Amitábha, and the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda. He writes that both Ahura Mazda and Amitábha are deities residing in a paradise of light. In both cults, the practitioner is led to this paradise of light after reciting the name of the deity. Finally, Eliot remarks on the homophony between the names of Amitábha’s paradise (Sukhávatí) and the name of Ahura Mazda’s abode (Saukavastan). He summarizes his findings as follows:

Thus all the chief features of Amitábha’s paradise are Persian: only his method of instituting it by making a vow is Buddhist. It is true that Indian imagination had conceived numerous paradises, and that the early Buddhist legend tells of the Tushita heaven. But Sukhávatí is not like these abodes of bliss. It appeared suddenly in the history of Buddhism as something exotic, grafted adroitly on the parent trunk but sometimes overgrowing it.


Almost a century later, the hypothesis of a Persian origin for Buddhas such as Amitábha and Kṣitigarbha has yet to be either confirmed or refuted as there remains so little evidence for a cult of either of these Buddhas in India.
(Walser 20-21, Nāgārjuna in Context)


So basically there is no archaeological record handy. Amitābha steps into history fully formed, seemingly unattached to history, take from that what you will. India is one of the later places where Amitābha-veneration becomes widespread, but that doesn't really mean anything in regards to if he is "real" or not.

Is Buddha a real Buddha? Who knows? :shrug:
"My pure land is not destroyed,
yet the multitude sees it as consumed in fire,
with anxiety, fear, and other sufferings
filling it everywhere."
(Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra XVI)

All these dharmāḥ are the status of dharma, the standing of dharma, the suchness of dharma; the dharma neither departs from things-as-they-are, nor differs from things-as-they-are; it is the truth, reality, without distortion.(SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶(Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasya Mantra)

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Admin_PC » Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:33 pm

Kunzang wrote:Where does the idea that he is a "sambhogakaya buddha" come from?
It is the official doctrinal standpoint of East Asian Pure Land, basically since the beginning.
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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Admin_PC » Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:41 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:This is the view of two particular scholars, Charles Eliot and Joseph Walsner, they
point to the similarities between the Maháyána Buddha, Amitábha, and the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda. He writes that both Ahura Mazda and Amitábha are deities residing in a paradise of light. In both cults, the practitioner is led to this paradise of light after reciting the name of the deity. Finally, Eliot remarks on the homophony between the names of Amitábha’s paradise (Sukhávatí) and the name of Ahura Mazda’s abode (Saukavastan). He summarizes his findings as follows:

Thus all the chief features of Amitábha’s paradise are Persian: only his method of instituting it by making a vow is Buddhist. It is true that Indian imagination had conceived numerous paradises, and that the early Buddhist legend tells of the Tushita heaven. But Sukhávatí is not like these abodes of bliss. It appeared suddenly in the history of Buddhism as something exotic, grafted adroitly on the parent trunk but sometimes overgrowing it.


Almost a century later, the hypothesis of a Persian origin for Buddhas such as Amitábha and Kṣitigarbha has yet to be either confirmed or refuted as there remains so little evidence for a cult of either of these Buddhas in India.
(Walser 20-21, Nāgārjuna in Context)


So basically there is no archaeological record handy. Amitābha steps into history fully formed, seemingly unattached to history, take from that what you will. India is one of the later places where Amitābha-veneration becomes widespread, but that doesn't really mean anything in regards to if he is "real" or not.

Is Buddha a real Buddha? Who knows? :shrug:
What a bunch of crap. Statue of Amitabha was found in Govindnagar, Pakistan dating to the later half of the 2nd century (Kushan empire). Persian origin is a flimsy theory dating at least as far back as Max Mueller. The theory absolutely reeks of colonialism. Check out Nattier's article on the Indian Roots of Pure Land Buddhism. India was not "one of the later places where Amitābha-veneration becomes widespread" - it is absolutely the first place Amitabha veneration happened. Nagarjuna wrote about praising Amitabha and by traditional accounts aspired for birth in Sukhavati.

EDIT: Light is a common theme in the Vedas (as is Amrita - immortality), deva translates literally to "shining one", "light" appears in the Nikayas/Agamas as a metaphor for wisdom, Dipankara translates to "Lamp bearer", every Buddha with the suffix "prabha" mentioned in the Mahasanghika Mahavastu is referring to "light", 290 sutras in the Mahayana canon were not merely borrowed from Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrian Avestas and the Hindu Vedas share similar verses.

In answer to the OP:
Yes, Amitabha/Amitayus is a real Buddha. I agree with what the others have said regarding Shin.
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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Kunzang » Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:06 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Kunzang wrote:Where does the idea that he is a "sambhogakaya buddha" come from?
It is the official doctrinal standpoint of East Asian Pure Land, basically since the beginning.


And where did the people who wrote the official doctrinal standpoints of East Asian Pure Land get the idea?

Is there a short bibliography of books in English language where one can find the official doctrinal standpoints of East Asian Pure Land?

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Admin_PC » Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:12 pm

Kunzang wrote:And where did the people who wrote the official doctrinal standpoints of East Asian Pure Land get the idea?
Likely from Bodhiruci and other missionary translators from the Indian cultural area.
Kunzang wrote:Is there a short bibliography of books in English language where one can find the official doctrinal standpoints of East Asian Pure Land?
The Taisho canon. The writings of Tan-Luan, Tao-Cho, Shan-Tao, Honen, Shinran.

EDIT: It can also be gleaned from the descriptions in the Visualization Sutra.
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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Kunzang » Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:59 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Kunzang wrote:And where did the people who wrote the official doctrinal standpoints of East Asian Pure Land get the idea?
Likely from Bodhiruci and other missionary translators from the Indian cultural area.
Kunzang wrote:Is there a short bibliography of books in English language where one can find the official doctrinal standpoints of East Asian Pure Land?
The Taisho canon. The writings of Tan-Luan, Tao-Cho, Shan-Tao, Honen, Shinran.

EDIT: It can also be gleaned from the descriptions in the Visualization Sutra.


How is the Taisho canon or the writings of Tan-Luan, Tao-Cho, Shan-Tao, Honen, Shinran a short bibliography of books in English?

I'll reread the Visualization Sutra.

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Admin_PC » Mon Dec 26, 2016 11:15 pm

Kunzang wrote:How is the Taisho canon or the writings of Tan-Luan, Tao-Cho, Shan-Tao, Honen, Shinran a short bibliography of books in English?
Tan-Luan's Commentary on Vasubandhu's Sukhāvatīvyūhopadeśa
Tao-cho's Collection of Passages on the Land of Peace and Bliss (An-lo chi)
Shan-tao's Commentary on the Meditation Sutra (Kammuryoju-kyo-sho)
Honen's Commentary on the Sutra of Immeasurable Life (Muryoju-kyo-shaku)3 and the Gyakushuseppo ("Pre-emptive Funeral" Sermons)
Shinran's Kyogyoshinsho
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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Kunzang » Mon Dec 26, 2016 11:33 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Kunzang wrote:How is the Taisho canon or the writings of Tan-Luan, Tao-Cho, Shan-Tao, Honen, Shinran a short bibliography of books in English?
Tan-Luan's Commentary on Vasubandhu's Sukhāvatīvyūhopadeśa
Tao-cho's Collection of Passages on the Land of Peace and Bliss (An-lo chi)
Shan-tao's Commentary on the Meditation Sutra (Kammuryoju-kyo-sho)
Honen's Commentary on the Sutra of Immeasurable Life (Muryoju-kyo-shaku)3 and the Gyakushuseppo ("Pre-emptive Funeral" Sermons)
Shinran's Kyogyoshinsho


Thank you. I've been meaning to do more reading in East Asian Buddhism. This looks like a good list to start since I've always had a fondness for Amitabha. :namaste:

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Admin_PC » Mon Dec 26, 2016 11:41 pm

Kunzang wrote:
Admin_PC wrote:
Kunzang wrote:How is the Taisho canon or the writings of Tan-Luan, Tao-Cho, Shan-Tao, Honen, Shinran a short bibliography of books in English?
Tan-Luan's Commentary on Vasubandhu's Sukhāvatīvyūhopadeśa
Tao-cho's Collection of Passages on the Land of Peace and Bliss (An-lo chi)
Shan-tao's Commentary on the Meditation Sutra (Kammuryoju-kyo-sho)
Honen's Commentary on the Sutra of Immeasurable Life (Muryoju-kyo-shaku)3 and the Gyakushuseppo ("Pre-emptive Funeral" Sermons)
Shinran's Kyogyoshinsho


Thank you. I've been meaning to do more reading in East Asian Buddhism. This looks like a good list to start since I've always had a fondness for Amitabha. :namaste:

The 3rd one is hard to find. The book advertizing it on amazon is really just a hit piece on Japanese Buddhism and doesn't even contain a translation of the commentary. You can find tons of quotes of it in other works, like the Kyogyoshinsho, those 2 works from Honen (plus his Senchakushu), and in Fujiwara's "The Way to Nirvana".
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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Dharma Flower » Tue Dec 27, 2016 4:33 am

Even in the Pali scriptures, the Buddha teaches that there are intelligent beings in other world systems and that other Buddhas came before him. Why would it be difficult, then, for Buddhists to accept that Amida is a real Buddha from another world?

Carl Sagan eloquently explained the high probability of intelligent life on other planets:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWu5GXh0gyQ&t=52s

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Dharma Flower » Tue Dec 27, 2016 6:48 am

I hope that, in our dealings with others, we come off as compassionate and understanding, even when we need to share a truth that others may not want at first to hear. This is something Rev. Cirlea wrote that I think expresses the attitude we should have with those who disagree with us:

Then, I was very much dissapointed (not the first time) by Thomas Moser Sensei who, during the cofee break which followed that Japanese woman's presentation, he asked me, "so, do you still believe that Amida is a real person?". I said, "yes, but He is a real Enlightened person", with an emphasis on the word, ENLIGHTENED. So, Amida is not any person in the worldly sense, but an Enlightened Person. Then, after a few exchanges on the reality of Amida I asked him directly, something like, "Sensei, please tell me, what do you really believe? You are a Jodo Shinshu priest, so in what things do you actually believe if you do not rely on the Jodo Shinshu texts? If you do not have faith in how Shakyamuni described Amida Buddha in the Larger Sutra, then in what do you actually believe?" He said he will think about it and finished the discussion...
Anyway, he is a person I respect and love, and so we both agreed that we remain friends no matter how much we differ in our understanding of the Dharma. I find this to be extremely important.
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2016/08/short-dharma-meeting-in-vienna-and.html

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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby Ambrosius80 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:45 pm

A Buddha is said to have three different bodies. One is called Nirmanakaya, meaning that the Buddha has a physical, tangible body. Amitabha has not had this body for eons, unlike the Buddha of our time, Shakyamuni did over 2500 years ago.

A Sambhogakaya is the second body of a Buddha. It is a celestial, "otherworldly" body that is the result of immeasurable accumulation of good karma, result of a lifetime of teachibg the Dharma as a Buddha. Amitabha can be said to possess one, as he is said to reside in the western pure land beyond space and time as a noncorporeal entity.

Finally, there is Dharmakaya, the subtle and incomprehensible body. It is the Dharma itself, residing everywhere and including everything. All Buddhas including Amitabha possess one. This is why it is said that even animals, trees and waters remind us of the Dharma in the western pure land. Those are Dharmakaya.

Chinese patriarchs encouraged to view the pure lands in two ways. The first is the pure land of the mind. When you purify the mind of distractions, the world becomes the pure land and Amitabha is our own Buddha Nature. The other is the pure land we go after death. It is essentially like the place exposed in the sutras. These views are still accepted by nearly all pure land schools and teachers as far as I know.
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Re: Is Amida Buddha a real buddha?

Postby AlexanderS » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:23 pm

Ambrosius80 wrote:A Buddha is said to have three different bodies. One is called Nirmanakaya, meaning that the Buddha has a physical, tangible body. Amitabha has not had this body for eons, unlike the Buddha of our time, Shakyamuni did over 2500 years ago.

A Sambhogakaya is the second body of a Buddha. It is a celestial, "otherworldly" body that is the result of immeasurable accumulation of good karma, result of a lifetime of teachibg the Dharma as a Buddha. Amitabha can be said to possess one, as he is said to reside in the western pure land beyond space and time as a noncorporeal entity.

Finally, there is Dharmakaya, the subtle and incomprehensible body. It is the Dharma itself, residing everywhere and including everything. All Buddhas including Amitabha possess one. This is why it is said that even animals, trees and waters remind us of the Dharma in the western pure land. Those are Dharmakaya.

Chinese patriarchs encouraged to view the pure lands in two ways. The first is the pure land of the mind. When you purify the mind of distractions, the world becomes the pure land and Amitabha is our own Buddha Nature. The other is the pure land we go after death. It is essentially like the place exposed in the sutras. These views are still accepted by nearly all pure land schools and teachers as far as I know.


I was under the impression that Padmasambhava is the Nirmanakaya of Amithaba. Shamarpa too.


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