Provenance of Pure Land Practice

Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:32 pm

futerko wrote:Certainly the need for popular appeal has much to do with this, as it has been in the past, but maybe with the changing context, and the tendency for "modern values" to appropriate whatever they come into contact with...


Modern values are the prevailing ideology of our present age. It is inevitable that changes will occur.

On the other hand, modern values are heavily based on industrialization, rationalism and certain social arrangements which might prove undone sooner rather than later.

The emotional appeal of Humanism will wear off when people realize progress is finite and that the world will always have many disagreeable and unpleasant elements.
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:37 pm

Indrajala wrote:There's no way to measure or clarify the efficacy of such a belief, whereas you can test a belief in the effectiveness of tantra for instance by practicing it and seeing for yourself the internal transformation over time (at least ideally). Yes, there is the belief in results being experienced in future lives, but that doesn't negate the possibility of readily discerning advancement towards liberation in the present lifetime.


Well in Japan there are myokonin, pure land living practitioners who also gained result from nenbutsu.. you must have heard of them, their experience and realization, haven't you?
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:39 pm

Matylda wrote:Well in Japan there are myokonin, pure land living practitioners who also gained result from nenbutsu.. you must have heard of them, their experience and realization, haven't you?


To be frank, I've never found the testimonies of Pure Land practitioners compelling, Japanese or otherwise.

That's just me of course. A personal opinion.
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby PorkChop » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:40 pm

Well they seem to be pretty sure the Buddha taught buddhanussati (mindfulness of the Buddha - nianfo) and stupa veneration with the goals of peace of mind and a better rebirth. There's just too much widespread textual & archaeological evidence to say otherwise. So whether or not the specifics of Pure Land doctrine are 100% accurate, the mechanics of the practice definitely seem to be present from early on.

Early on, there was only one Buddha present in the world any way, so the criticism that relying on one Buddha is deficient seems somewhat confusing. Even when you get to Mahayana, though there are countless Buddhas in the 10 directions, to venerate one Buddha is to venerate all Buddhas. Then again, at that point it's pretty much talking about Dharmakaya and not an individual being - which is definitely the case of Shinran's Pure Land. In other words, it's about learning to relax, let go, and entrust in reality-as-it-is and not so much deity worship.

I've never heard or read a single Pure Land teacher from the Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese traditions (would add Korea too but haven't read many Korean writings) that would advise mindlessly chirping the name of Amitabha/Amitayus/Amita/Omitou while thinking of something else. In fact this is pretty roundly criticized by each and every patriarch that I've ever come across. If repeated words of dubious translation was a useless practice, then wouldn't that also target Mantrayana?

Believing that there are no benefits that can be observed in this life is (imho) one of the major fallacies of most Pure Land critiques. There are plenty of stories of Pure Land people manifesting siddhis prior to the time of death, not that this is a major goal of the practice (or should be) - but it's probably one of the most well documented schools for such occurrences, regardless if you find these compelling or not. That is not to say that people becoming disillusioned at the time of death doesn't happen - it's largely responsible for Nichiren's crusade against Pure Land Buddhism. But if the aim of your Pure Land practice hinges on anything other than ultimate peace of mind, then you're probably doing it wrong.

The non-siddhi benefits to Pure Land practice are what I'm more interested in: humility, gratitude, and an easy going attitude. In Japan I've always been struck by the sheer sense of gratitude people feel for their lives. This is not to imply that they have a fascination with samsara, or that they have even particularly easy lives (often the people with the most gratitude have been beset by the greatest hardships), but they truly express a deep sense of gratitude for all the supporting causes and conditions supporting their lives. Few people exhibit this gratitude as purely as the Myokonin, DT Suzuki was fascinated by them.
Inagaki's Book on Myokonin wrote:Thus Seikuro, an old man of nearly seventy, was asked to travel a hundred li with Gyokutan. While walking along the toilsome road, Seikuro did not say a word of complaint. When asked if he was tired, he said, "No." Seeing that he looked very tired and weak, Gyokutan further asked him, "You say you are not tired, but you are walking with a limp, aren't you?" Seikuro replied, "It is true that I am physically tired, but not spiritually. As you see, I am an old man; I must look pitiable. Though my body is seventy years old, my heart is always Eighteen. Since lively Nembutsu gives me pleasure all the time, I never get tired."


Even Philip Kapleau noted some of these differences of Pure Land practitioners:
Philip Kapleau wrote:When I was in Japan, I would see a Zen person and a Pure Land person walking side by side. The Zen man would be walking from his tanden or hara (four fingers below the navel). He would be erect without being tight, would be walking, not from the shoulders and the head but from the hips. And there are other things that one would notice about the Zen person. The Pure Land sect, on the other hand, puts a great emphasis on faith, and so the Pure Land person has more of a humble attitude. In Pure Land, usually, there is no sitting meditation as we know it. And so the kind of person it creates is different. I'm not saying that the Zen person is superior. The kind of humility that many Pure Land people have is something that Zen people would do well to acquire because—let's be honest—many Zen people have a certain arrogance. There is a difference in the way people will manifest the kind of training that they have received, for better or worse.
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:41 pm

Indrajala wrote:Modern scholarship has revealed some bitter historical (i.e., secular) truths about the development of Buddhism that need to be recognized and addressed.


But since it is revealed already, then tell me what is to be addressed? Since it is just fact which was found by scholars or historians if they were sincere in their work, then one can only accept facts. But still it will not change the core of teachings in each tradition. Or?
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:46 pm

Indrajala wrote:To be frank, I've never found the testimonies of Pure Land practitioners compelling, Japanese or otherwise.

That's just me of course. A personal opinion.


Ah is that so? I understand.. but if I may ask, you are Komadai graduate, right? You will find in their library texts of myokonin, modern and past... Hokuriku region was famous for an outstanding numer of myokonin... there is many writtings and teachings of myokonin in Japanese.. for you it will be very little effort to find out. Of course if you wish. If you have just opinion as you wrote before then I undesrtand it, and will not try to convince you to pure land, Shinran or myokonin :)
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:21 pm

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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby TheSpirit » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:22 pm

To dismiss Pure Land sounds like a silly notion to me. There is literally no concrete evidence archaeological or not to really back up any of Shakuson's teaching really. For all we know, Samsara might not even be real...but of course we won't know that until we die...same with Pure Land...... I personally see it quite silly indeed to dismiss Pure Land on that basis. How I see is that if the practice (be it Pure Land or Zazen or any other path) somehow brings good and positiveness into the practitioner's life or ..in Buddhist term...to create affinity and fruitful result in future times...I see it is a very worthy investment even if one doesn't born in the land of Amida after death.
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:31 pm

This is nice page:
http://www.geocities.co.jp/Suzakicojp/m ... glish.html

peoms by myokonin are often considered as satori testimonies, or expressing very deep religious experience, or realization.. they are far beyond folk believes and hopes for pure land.. they manifest deep wisdom of realization...
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:37 pm

PorkChop wrote:Well they seem to be pretty sure the Buddha taught buddhanussati (mindfulness of the Buddha - nianfo) and stupa veneration with the goals of peace of mind and a better rebirth.


That's a bit speculative actually.

I tend to think stupa worship was a part the culture of Greater Magadha, but whether the Buddha really advocated it or not is uncertain. The Jataka stories about the benefits of stupa worship would indicate later people promoting the practice because it actually wasn't an inherent part of the original teachings. Clearly Buddhists came to place a lot of emphasis on the practice.

That being said I like stupas myself and regularly pay my respects whenever I have the chance, like here at Boudhanath in Kathmandu.



There's just too much widespread textual & archaeological evidence to say otherwise.


If we want to talk about what the Buddha himself really taught, let me defer to Johannes Bronkhorst in Buddhist Teaching in India:

    "It is not easy to get a clear picture of the Buddha's original teaching. Certainly, its aim was to stop suffering and rebirth. To achieve this, the Buddha taught a path in which consciousness played a major role. This is clear from the awareness practices and from the four stages of meditation. In the highest stage of meditation, it is somehow possible, with the help of wisdom (prajñā), to bring about a decisive transformation. Once this happens, the goal is attained."



His view is rather compelling in my estimation.


So whether or not the specifics of Pure Land doctrine are 100% accurate, the mechanics of the practice definitely seem to be present from early on.


I don't disagree with this. I just don't find such a practice compelling.

I more favor the ideas found in the Vimalakīrti Sūtra where our awful world here and now is actually a better training ground for bodhisattvas than some celestial heaven-like realm elsewhere.


Early on, there was only one Buddha present in the world any way, so the criticism that relying on one Buddha is deficient seems somewhat confusing.



I'm saying that relying on a cosmic buddha for your post-mortem salvation sounds unwise.

Just sayin'.



I've never heard or read a single Pure Land teacher from the Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese traditions (would add Korea too but haven't read many Korean writings) that would advise mindlessly chirping the name of Amitabha/Amitayus/Amita/Omitou while thinking of something else.


No, but they still say you get your salvation after you drop dead, not in the present life.




If repeated words of dubious translation was a useless practice, then wouldn't that also target Mantrayana?


I tend to think a mantra confers minimal benefits if one is unaware of the actual meaning. Unlike many previous Buddhists in the past, I don't think Sanskrit is the language of the gods and thus provides untold unseen benefits when uttered.



But if the aim of your Pure Land practice hinges on anything other than ultimate peace of mind, then you're probably doing it wrong.



The aim of Pure Land practice is rebirth in the pure land and then maybe after that you get your ultimate peace of mind.

For most people the result is only verifiable post-mortem.



The non-siddhi benefits to Pure Land practice are what I'm more interested in: humility, gratitude, and an easy going attitude.


Great, but secular humanism could bring the same affectionate emotions and attitude. That's not liberation though.
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:39 pm

TheSpirit wrote:For all we know, Samsara might not even be real..


Plenty of children remember their past lives and the details can be verified as accurate quite often.

This is quite different from the religious experiences of Pure Land Buddhists.
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:46 pm

By the way I am not pure land person.. my family backgraound is entirely soto zen and rinzai by connections and friendships... but I had many many pure land friends so I could see amazing quality of this tradition.. finally one great practitioner of zen, who had some wisdom told me years ago about his research of Shinran and how deeply enlightened his teachings are... I started to revere then Shinran because so wise person told me, and later had some chance to read his teachings, and indeed he was most amazing. So I do not care about historical evidance, since those teachings spring from deep human experience...

Actaully most teachings could be watered down by folk believes unpolluted by reason, but it concerns every tradition and even every religion... isn't it so?
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:01 pm

Dear Rev. Indrajala,

Is there any religious or spiritual experience which could be scietifically prooved, like more or less successful investigation of the memory of the kids concerning their past lives? No... the religous evidence or proove is based only on notions and ways prescribed by those traditions themselves so from the factual point of view is invalid, since does not provide any objective tool... in this way one can question entire buddhist tradition and each particular buddhist tradition with its claims of realization etc., right?

We can only accept or reject what teachers say, but in fact it is matter of individual believe which is based on karmic propencities, of course according to Lord Buddha teachings :) which again we can accept or reject...

To use reason and evidence in religious pursuits will always result in some strange outcome, both have little to do with each other...
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby TheSpirit » Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:07 pm

Indrajala wrote:
TheSpirit wrote:For all we know, Samsara might not even be real..


Plenty of children remember their past lives and the details can be verified as accurate quite often.

This is quite different from the religious experiences of Pure Land Buddhists.



That would be an interesting story to read, children recalling their past lives. If you don't mind sharing some specific one.

Probably most people can say the same about Pure Land and their experience. Obviously it is not going to be in the same nature as children recalling their past lives because It is Pure Land experience which is not the same matter as recalling past lives so I can see why it would be different.

There was a lady that I know which had been a close friend, teacher/mentor to me who also the first one to truly introduced Buddhism to me, she practiced Pure Land. One thing I want to say first is that I believe the practice is very much like Zazen as she said when reciting the name of Buddha she is calm and focus...very much like meditation. She is wiser and a lot calmer than most people I know so I believe that is the fruit of her Pure Land practice. She also tells story of somewhat supernatural experience with people passing away reciting Namu Amida Butsu. On one occasion is a family member of her who was a devoted Pure Land Buddhist. She did die from brain tumor but on her death bed she was chanting Namu Amida Butsu and she was calm and even smile as she passing away. Right before she passes away, there were strings of pleasant scented smoke-like cloud that moves around and hovers around the room and no she said it is not incense. Given that the string of cloud can be anything but with the given circumstances and the peaceful state her relative was before passing away. It makes me think it is not anything ominous.

I think it is hard to anchor alot religion or or most religious belief with scientific evidence or archaeological evidence since religion deals with the unseen...supernatural world as oppose to science and archaeology which deal with the physical materialistic world. I think to truly knows if it works or not, one have to practice and experience it......
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby PorkChop » Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:41 pm

Indrajala wrote:That's a bit speculative actually.

Well, then don't get hung up on stupa worship then, buddhanussati is the crux of the practice and it appears in some of the earliest strata of the Sutta Nipata - which is some of the earliest strata of all Buddhist literature. I'm not talking about Jataka tales here, but Sutta Nipata and tons of references throughout the other 4 Nikayas as well. Regardless of what Bronkhorst says, if you start denying the paths of the Sotapanna, the Sakadgamin, the Anagamin - or the tales of Buddhist householders like Mahanama & Anathapindika, then you're really at risk of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Indrajala wrote:I don't disagree with this. I just don't find such a practice compelling.

That's perfectly fine that it's not your dharma door. What's being debated is the accusation that it's a pointless/useless practice with no benefits.

Indrajala wrote:I more favor the ideas found in the Vimalakīrti Sūtra where our awful world here and now is actually a better training ground for bodhisattvas than some celestial heaven-like realm elsewhere.


I find the Vimalakīrti Sūtra very interesting too...
Brahma Sikhin replied, "The fact that you see such a buddha-field as this as if it were so impure, reverend Sariputra, is a sure sign that there are highs and lows in your mind and that your positive thought in regard to the buddha-gnosis is not pure either. Reverend Sariputra, those whose minds are impartial toward all living beings and whose positive thoughts toward the buddha-gnosis are pure see this buddha-field as perfectly pure."

This is totally consistent with the non-Japanese schools of Pure Land thought, such as the Chinese & Vietnamese schools - especially those that maintain a close relation with the Chan/Thien school (ie no Buddha outside the mind, a Pure Mind is the Pure Land). For the Japanese schools, the writings of the Myokonin often express this self-same idea.
Matylda's link wrote:浅原才市 
Saichi Asahara

臨終まつことなし 今が臨終
なむあみだぶつ

No need to wait to die; Now is the moment.

....

死ぬること まよいなり
死なんは 浄土なり
これが楽しみ
なむあみだぶつ
Going to die is delusion.
Willing to die is pure land.
This is the happiness.
(Namuamidabutsu)

...

世界をおがむ なむあみだぶつ
世界がほとけ なむあみだぶつ

To appreciate the world, Namuamidabutsu
This world is the world of the Buddha, Namuamidabutsu.


In other words, it's a mistake to keep asserting the view that all Pure Land schools only posit postmortem realization of the Pure Land.

Indrajala wrote:I tend to think a mantra confers minimal benefits if one is unaware of the actual meaning.

I guess this may be true for some mantra/dharani, but what Pure Land Buddhists are you interacting with that have no idea that the modified transliterations of नमोऽमिताभाय Namo Amitābhāya refer to the Buddha of Infinite Light? There are at least 2 other alternatives to the 6 character nembutsu, namely the 9 character nembutsu (南無不可思議光如來 - Homage to the Tathagata of Inconceivable Light) and the 10 character nembutsu (歸命盡十方無礙光如來 - Homage to the Tathagata of Unimpeded Light Pervading the Ten Quarters), which are both a bit better at preserving the meaning.

Indrajala wrote:Great, but secular humanism could bring the same affectionate emotions and attitude. That's not liberation though.

I really don't see how secular humanism can teach the same levels of humility; not when the name itself implies some sort of human exceptional-ism. I also don't see how it can bring anywhere near the levels of peace of mind or the quenching of greed, aversion, and ignorance - which is what Pure Land practice leads to experientially, regardless of whether it is openly stressed by the doctrine. Please show me the official secular humanism doctrine that stresses equanimity (ie easy going attitude). Can you really be so closed-minded as to deny that many of the quotes from those Myokonin (and other Pure Land practitioners) display the 7 factors of enlightenment?
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Matylda » Wed Oct 16, 2013 7:54 pm

PorkChop wrote:In other words, it's a mistake to keep asserting the view that all Pure Land schools only posit postmortem realization of the Pure Land.


It is exactly what I meant... there were many great pure land people who showed genuine realization before the died.. and many showed signs of amazing achievment at the moment of death as well... the popular wish to be reborn in western paradise is understandable among general population, but those who gave their life to nenbutsu had also realizations in physical body..
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby rory » Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:44 am

I'm sorry but I went to a Shinshu church and practiced primarily Pure Land as my main practice for over 10 years, and I stopped it as yes, in Japanese Pure Land Jodo and Shinshu, people make no effort whatsoever to practice Shakyamuni's teachings, and they don't practice nembutsu until they achieve samadhi either. I shocked the Pure Land priests I was acquainted with when I told them I routinely did 1,000 nembutsu nightly and had achieved small samadhi (via Tendai gyo). In Japanese Budddhism historically the goal was to attain in this life the Pure Land Samadhi, Genshin despaired that he had never attained it and it was only Honen and Shinran who radically changed the meaning of Pure Land practice. After them it became; 'I'm incapable' and let yourself go to Amida's compassion. Even at a Chinese Fo Guang temple which taught Ch'an and Pure Land most people (who were quite educated) would say "I'm incapable' and then chant nien-fo, counting on Amida to do the heavy lifting. Really they liked samsara.

Frankly people are naturally lazy (I am too) and we need to make an effort, study, examine our mind, think about suffering and leaving samsara, do various practices and see the results in our own life. After many years I now make a vow to be born in Mt. Potalaka but that's a part of my practice, I'm reading and studying Yogacara thought, applying it to my own mind, meditate, chant the Heart Sutra, mantras, etc. Really in this age, we are educated, have access to cheap scholarly texts, sutras, there is no reason to say 'I'm incapable.'

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Dharani of Amoghapasa Avalokitesvara:

Om amogha-padma-pasa-krodhakarsaya praveshaya maha-pashupati-yama-varuna-kuvera
brahma-vesa-dhara padma-kula-samayan hum hum

heart mantra: Om amogha vijaya hum phat
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby Indrajala » Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:00 am

That's perfectly fine that it's not your dharma door. What's being debated is the accusation that it's a pointless/useless practice with no benefits.


I've been saying that depending on a cosmic buddha for your post-mortem salvation while neglecting the core elements of Buddhadharma is simply unwise.



This is totally consistent with the non-Japanese schools of Pure Land thought, such as the Chinese & Vietnamese schools - especially those that maintain a close relation with the Chan/Thien school (ie no Buddha outside the mind, a Pure Mind is the Pure Land).


Pure Land philosophy generally concerns seeking rebirth in another pure land, realizing the pure land in one's own mind or transforming our present world into a pure land.

It is the first type that I see as problematic when the rest of Buddhadharma is neglected.




In other words, it's a mistake to keep asserting the view that all Pure Land schools only posit postmortem realization of the Pure Land.


I'm aware of the other ideas in Pure Land philosophy as noted above.


I really don't see how secular humanism can teach the same levels of humility; not when the name itself implies some sort of human exceptional-ism.


Nevertheless, humility does not bring about liberation. It merely makes you appealing to some people. The idea of striving for humility is actually a form of distorted pride.

"I'm proud I'm so humble now!"

"I'm working hard to better myself by becoming humble."

The goal of Buddhadharma isn't to make you an agreeable, more humble individual. It is about identifying suffering and eliminating it. If your personality changes and you demonstrate a lack of self-absorption and pride, then that's probably for the best, though it is a side-effect, not the primary aim itself.

It might not be seen like this in a lot of places however. In a lot of Asian communities humility is associated with unwavering obedience to authority and subsequently praised as a sign of spiritual maturity, whereas it is just subversion of one's person to the interests of the powers that be. I don't roll like that personally.


Can you really be so closed-minded as to deny that many of the quotes from those Myokonin (and other Pure Land practitioners) display the 7 factors of enlightenment?


You don't need to be enlightened to write good exegesis or compelling religious literature.
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby PorkChop » Thu Oct 17, 2013 6:11 am

rory wrote:I'm sorry but I went to a Shinshu church and practiced primarily Pure Land as my main practice for over 10 years, and I stopped it as yes, in Japanese Pure Land Jodo and Shinshu, people make no effort whatsoever to practice Shakyamuni's teachings, and they don't practice nembutsu until they achieve samadhi either. I shocked the Pure Land priests I was acquainted with when I told them I routinely did 1,000 nembutsu nightly and had achieved small samadhi (via Tendai gyo). In Japanese Budddhism historically the goal was to attain in this life the Pure Land Samadhi, Genshin despaired that he had never attained it and it was only Honen and Shinran who radically changed the meaning of Pure Land practice. After them it became; 'I'm incapable' and let yourself go to Amida's compassion. Even at a Chinese Fo Guang temple which taught Ch'an and Pure Land most people (who were quite educated) would say "I'm incapable' and then chant nien-fo, counting on Amida to do the heavy lifting. Really they liked samsara.

Frankly people are naturally lazy (I am too) and we need to make an effort, study, examine our mind, think about suffering and leaving samsara, do various practices and see the results in our own life. After many years I now make a vow to be born in Mt. Potalaka but that's a part of my practice, I'm reading and studying Yogacara thought, applying it to my own mind, meditate, chant the Heart Sutra, mantras, etc. Really in this age, we are educated, have access to cheap scholarly texts, sutras, there is no reason to say 'I'm incapable.'

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Pretty bold thing to say of Jodo Shu, of which you admittedly have limited experience (Jodo Shu != Jodo Shin Shu).
In Japan, Jodo Shu monks hosted an online 24-hour nembutsu marathon last month...
Honen's starting recommendation is 10,000 daily recitations:
Honen on Practice wrote:Daily Recitation
Q: How many repetitions of the nembutsu should one regard as a day's practice?

Honen: Well, the number of nembutsu repetitions may begin with ten thousand, and then go on to twenty, thirty, fifty, sixty or even a hundred thousand. Everyone should in their own heart and according to their own will determine the number within these limits.

Q: Even if we don’t fix the number of times for repeating the nembutsu as our daily practice, isn’t it OK to do it as often as one can?

H: It’s better to fix the number, otherwise you might get lazy.

Is that lazy?
Is it encouraging one to be lazy?
Are you working harder than that?

You've admitted in the past that you never really got Jodo Shin Shu. Regardless of your 10 year experience, attempting to speak as an authority for the entire organization is also pretty bold. The fallacy of this assertion becomes clear when one reads the accounts of the various Jodo Shin Shu Myokonin throughout the years. If anybody thinks Shinran said "don't recite the nembutsu" has totally missed the point. His actual statement was "when people recite, they don't necessarily have faith. when they have faith, they invariably recite". Yes, he did come to some conclusions that the faith involved in his recitations were more important than the actual number. To his defense, the Amitabha, Amitayus, and Visualization sutras actually put a higher priority on faith over number of repetitions or samadhi through repetition.

I don't think you quite get what is going on at FGS either.
FGS temples frequently hold 7 day Amitabha retreats:
http://www.fgs.org.tw/english/orgainzat ... tives.html (under Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Practice)
http://www.orlandobuddhism.org/2012/11/ ... a-retreat/
Actually, most Chinese & Vietnamese Mahayana temples frequently hold such week-long Amitabha retreats.
Sounds like an awful lot of work for people to be doing if they're just letting someone else do the heavy lifting...
Furthermore, FGS's founder's from the Linzi Chan (Rinzai Zen) school too, so not an exclusive Pure Land school limited to Pure Land practices.

Chinese Pure Landers tend to fall into more general Mahayana, so many Pure Land practitioners also study Yogacara, Madhyamaka, the Lotus, the Avatamsaka, the Shurangama, the Lankavatara, the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana, and the Prajna Paramitas (especially the Heart Sutra). Certainly we're encouraged to study any and all of the above at the Vietnamese temple. Hsuan Hua was a staunch advocate of the Pure Land, as well as the Shurangama, and he was from the Ch'an school. Ven Chin Kung is another Linzi Chan master who advocates Pure Land, he was originally an expert in the Avatamsaka sutra but came to appreciate the Pure Land.

Care to source any of your Genshin info?
Sure doesn't sound like much of a failure to me...

Mido kanpakuki zenchushaku 御堂関白記全注釈. Ed. Yamanaka Yutaka 山中裕,4 vols. Tokyo: Koka Shoten, 1994. wrote:Genshin was given the title Gon Shosozu 権小僧都(a prestigious imperially appointed monastic position, sometimes translated as Provisional Lesser Vicar) in 1004.


Kansai Digital Archives wrote:Monk Genshin is said to have been born in Kashiba. Kashiba lies at the foot of Mt. Njio. According to legend, while watching a setting sun over the mountain, he attained the perception of Buddha Amida welcoming people to the Pure Land as Buddhism salvation. He is known as the author of Ojoyoshu, a compilation of writing on Buddhist teachings composed of three volumes. His name as the founder of Pure Land faith appears in most textbooks of Japanese history.


Hisao Inagaki's Amida Net wrote:Genshin 源信 A Tendai monk and a great exponent of Pure Land thought; 942-1017; popularly called Eshin Sozu 恵心僧都 because he lived in Eshin-in 恵心院 at Yokawa 横川 on Mt. Hiei. He lost his father when young, and went up to Mt. Hiei to study Buddhism under Ryogen 良源. At the age of 15, he was appointed special lecturer on the Lotus Sutra (Hokke hako 法華八講); his intelligence and eloquence surprised all the audience. He could have enjoyed great reputation, but spent a secluded life in Yokawa, practicing the Pure Land way and writing discourses. His masterpiece, Collection of Essential Passages Concerning Birth (Ojoyoshu 往生要集), is a collection of the important passages pertaining to the matter of birth in the Pure Land. This is an encyclopedic work drawing from many sutras and commentaries from India and China. When he completed this work he sent a copy to China in 986; the monks there were very surprised, and praised him as the "little Sakyamuni of Japan." This work laid the foundation for Japanese Pure Land teaching. He is thus looked upon as the sixth patriarch in the tradition of the Jodoshin school. He is also known as the founder of the Eshin school of Tendai, which is based on the "original state of enlightenment" (hongaku 本覚) teaching, meaning that everybody, even the most wicked person, is originally enlightened. This is an alternative view to what has been called "entering upon enlightenment for the first time," (shikaku 始覚), in the sense of working one's way up to enlightenment from the beginning.

 In his late years, he was conferred with the title of shosozu 少僧都 (minor second grade) but remained in obscurity, dedicating himself to the exploration of Buddhist truth. He left more than thirty works, including A Discourse Determining the Essentials of the One-Vehicle Teaching (Ichijo yoketsu 一乗要決), A Collection of Important Passages Briefly Discussing Contemplation of the Mind (Kanjin ryakuyoshu 観心略要集), the Mahayana versus Abhidharmakosa (Daijo-tai-Kusha 大乗対倶舎), and the Invocation on the Twenty-five Samadhis (Nijugo sanmai kisho 二十五三昧起請).


Genshin was likely the basis for a popular character in the Genji Monogatari (Tale of Genji), so he was probably doing something right.
Further reading:
The Influence of the Ojdydshu in Late Tenth- and Early Eleventh-Century Japan by Sarah Horton
Ryogen and Mount Hiei: Japanese Tendai in the Tenth Century By Paul Groner
Studies in Japanese Buddhism By August Karl Reischauer => check out page 103 for an understanding of why Genshin might've downplayed his attainments...
"Kechien" as Religious Praxis in Medieval Japan By Chieko Nakano => chapter starting on page 57 explains why Genshin played up his bombu (kechien) nature...

The truth of the matter is that the faith aspect & realizing one's own limitations is a way of letting go, very similar to the letting go of self that one does in Zen/Ch'an practice. If you think you can gut your way to Enlightenment, to infinite virtue, to infinite wisdom, to infinite compassion, more power to you. But that's not what this school's about and it never really was about that. It's about learning to let go of samsara through realizing one's defilements, practicing reliance, & learning appreciation for what one has been gifted, not through direct renunciation. Admitting to one's bombu nature leads to a certain amount of self-acceptance that is truly necessary for enacting real change.

Stating that Pure Land folks are ignoring the teachings of Shakyamuni is just ridiculous.
Shakyamuni had many teachings, not just on anapanassati (breath meditation), or physical renunciation.
All schools of Pure Land, except for Jodo Shin Shu are enthusiastic about encouraging precepts.
That is not to say that Jodo Shin Shu encourages anti-nomian behavior though; it just more about realizing one's own defiled nature in order to let go.

If Pure Land's not your dharma door, no biggie, there are 84,000 other ones out there. Continually passing judgement on a school that you never really seem to have gotten all that well is just coming off polemical. I understand if you don't like the 35th vow, but it was a mile-marker an ongoing process of changing the minds of a misogynistic culture. Just look at the Mahīśāsakas if you want an example of what these schools originally thought of women; funny enough, they're related to the Dharmaguptakas - the last remaining lineage of Bhikkshunis.
Last edited by PorkChop on Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What has Chinese Buddhism lost?

Postby PorkChop » Thu Oct 17, 2013 6:21 am

Indrajala wrote:Nevertheless, humility does not bring about liberation. It merely makes you appealing to some people.


Maybe we have different definitions of suffering, or how to go about liberation, because to me the correlation is pretty straight forward:
Liberation = liberation from suffering...
Suffering = not getting what you want...
Having the humility to admit that you don't have that level of control and can't always change things = letting go of the grasping that leads to suffering...

While I agree with you that the "distorted pride" is something to be wary of; to me, that's a sign of not having actually gone through the introspective process of actually observing ones motivations and realizing the underlying drivers...
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