C.S. Lewis and Shin

steveb1
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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by steveb1 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:33 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 1:14 am
Hi everyone - I have not been participating here for some time, but this thread has drawn my attention.

Since May this year I have been attending a Sunday service at Hongwanji Buddhist Mission which is Jodo Shinsu. I have read a little of the texts, including a primer on Shin from John Paraskevopoulos. The sangha here is very small, often there is only one other person apart from myself, and also the Venerable's family members who attend part of the service. The teacher is Ven. Watanabe who always gives a profound Dharma talk and also leads the service and chanting. I have developed deep affection and respect for Ven. Watanabe.

Myself, I am still wrestling with doubts. I can't follow most of the sutra chanting as it's in Japanese and even with the Roman script transliteration I often can't keep up. Part of the service is in Japanese, although Venerable also makes sure that part of the service is in English for the benefit of English speakers. But one of the doubts I am feeling is whether I can really 'click' with jodo shinshu. I get the idea of other power, but I don't feel as though it has really taken root yet - I hear what Steveb is saying, and can even imagine it, but I don't feel it at this point. But I am putting those doubts to one side - I'm not dismissing them, but simply continuing to turn up anyway.

I have also been committed to daily meditation practice, although in my case, being a working householder with no Zen sangha, it is very much a 'self-power' affair, i.e. persuading myself to get up early enough to sit zazen before work. It's very patchy, my discipline is highly erratic. But reading those comments about abandoning self-power is causing me to have doubts about this practice too!

The other element of the OP that interested me was the comments about C S Lewis. Most of my family are more or less active Christians, in fact as I write this, my wife, son, his wife, and baby son are all at Church. Myself, I am not drawn to Christian services or ceremonies, but I'm not atheist. I would like to live in a world where the different faith traditions are different facets of higher truth, not mutually exclusive competitors. There are various cross-cultural Buddhist-Christian dialogue movements (like Zen Catholicism) which I feel are very congenial to my outlook. Some of these cultural archetypes are very deeply established in the psyche, it is not always up to oneself to change or alter them.

Personally, I find the framework of Mahāyāna understanding to be superior to the Christian, but I also feel very uncomfortable criticizing Christianity, as it's under siege in the Western world and quite often the alternative turns out to be nihilism, materialism and dissolving into meaninglessness. Besides the aspect of Christian teaching on 'boundless love' seems very like 'Amida's boundless compassion' to me, although it's not something I would try and persuade either party to agree with.

Anyway, it is Sunday morning where I am, and am about to set off for the regular service and incense offering. I hope that I can really align and break through with this teaching that I am learning of.

:namaste:
Hi - I hope you continue in your path. As has been said on here and other places, there are many Dharma Gates. If you don't experience "perfect faith" or Shinjin, don't fret too much over it. If your karma has ripened, Shin teaches that eventually Shinjin will come. If not, keep on the Amida path, as Shin also teaches that the path itself even without receiving Shinjin will provide birth into an "adjacent" or "suburb" of the Pure Land. All is not lost if you don't receive Shinjin. But you may do so later on. And if you don't, you're still "bound for the promised land". Maybe you could just cast your karmic destiny onto Amida's shoulders as an act of hope and faith without expecting an immediate experience of Other Power...?

Shin eschews meditation as a means of achieving Bodhi, but allows it for it as a"secular" means of centering, mindfulness, calmness, insight and other such virtues, so if your meditation brings you those gifts, more power to you.

I agree that with the collapse of mainstream Christianity, inroads of "modernity", materialism, reductionism and secularism have invaded even traditional religions...and as you say, nihilism frequently rush in to fill the gap.
My own stance toward Christianity is that of Christ Myth theory. I doubt that Jesus existed as a historical person. However, I suspect that Buddhist cosmology has room for many spiritual "Helping Beings", and for all I know, the celestial, non-historical Jesus of Paul might be such a being. It's only the historical-Gospel Jesus whose existence I doubt.

You probably avoid criticising Christianity out of respect for your Christian friends and family. I try to avoid such conversations when possible and only "talk Shin" when people are curious about it. One can't really promote Shin or other Buddhist expressions to monotheists because there is no single high creator deity in Buddhism, and "Creation" is a perpetual, ever-changing set of conditions called "samsara". Immediately, therefore, there is an abyss between Buddhism and theistic religions that can't be bridged, although ecumenism does have the advantages and disadvantages of sharing differing views in a civilized manner.

Thank you for contributing your experiences and views to this thread.

Gassho

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by 明安 Myoan » Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:36 am

LastLegend wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:39 pm
Interesting.

Other powers! Nobody truly relies on themselves without the aid of Ancient or Past Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. Lotus Sutra!

Making great personal vows is also relying on other powers! Very crucial today!
tkp67 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 1:41 am
Faith can be a powerful skillful means if the basis of faith and object of devotion is Buddha. Doubt is the opposite of faith so that will make it harder.
Trust in Buddha to help eliminate doubt.
:good: :good:
(I enjoyed Sonam's and steveb1's posts as well!)

Wayfarer -- I'm happy to see your continued interest in Amitabha.
I found it helpful to read about Amitabha practices across traditions. In what ways is Amitabha said to benefit people, regardless of the manner in which they think of him?
The sense of Other-power can also be approached when scared, sad, sick, tired, angry, in a nightmare.

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by steveb1 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:13 am

明安 Myoan wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 2:36 am
LastLegend wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:39 pm
Interesting.

Other powers! Nobody truly relies on themselves without the aid of Ancient or Past Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. Lotus Sutra!

Making great personal vows is also relying on other powers! Very crucial today!
tkp67 wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 1:41 am
Faith can be a powerful skillful means if the basis of faith and object of devotion is Buddha. Doubt is the opposite of faith so that will make it harder.
Trust in Buddha to help eliminate doubt.
:good: :good:
(I enjoyed Sonam's and steveb1's posts as well!)

Wayfarer -- I'm happy to see your continued interest in Amitabha.
I found it helpful to read about Amitabha practices across traditions. In what ways is Amitabha said to benefit people, regardless of the manner in which they think of him?
The sense of Other-power can also be approached when scared, sad, sick, tired, angry, in a nightmare.
Good words. I don't know where I would be without reliance on Other Power...
:)

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by SonamTashi » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:16 am

The Mantra Mongoose wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 7:35 pm
I want to thank everyone for the discussion, and thoughts. I'm going to bow out of the forum from now on thought. My teacher Josho Adrien Cirlea has asked me to do so, and out of deep respect I submit to his guidance as the Jodo shinshu priest I defer to on Dharma questions and teaching. Sonantashi, I would like to invite you to go to my teachers website Amidaji temple and peruse his teachings there as there are many entries refuting the postition you hold regarding the similarities of Honen/Shinran and the the immediate enlightenment of the shinshu believer. I would post the material myself but my teacher has asked me not to, so as not to start any debates.Thank you all for your time and energy in this forum, I am truly grateful to you all. Gassho, namu amida bustu.
Sorry if my post seemed a little too harsh. It wasn't my intent to offend anyone or start an argument. I just think there are more Shin perspectives than the ones that are commonly shared, and it seems to me that the different perspectives appeal to different people. It isn't that I doubt that the modern perspective will lead to the Pure Land and Buddhahood, in fact it seems fine as an example of skillful means, I just think that upon rebirth in Sukhavati, aspirants may be a little surprised if they think it is instant Buddhahood. However, I also think you could say the same of just about anyone because we have no idea what the Pure Land is like while we're in samsara.

I'm well aware of your teacher, I used to read his stuff all the time. Like I said, I personally just don't resonate with those presentations. But different strokes for different folks. I just wanted to give a different perspective for people who have trouble connecting with the more common one.
Last edited by SonamTashi on Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:52 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by SonamTashi » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:30 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 1:14 am

I can't follow most of the sutra chanting as it's in Japanese and even with the Roman script transliteration I often can't keep up. Part of the service is in Japanese, although Venerable also makes sure that part of the service is in English for the benefit of English speakers. But one of the doubts I am feeling is whether I can really 'click' with jodo shinshu. I get the idea of other power, but I don't feel as though it has really taken root yet - I hear what Steveb is saying, and can even imagine it, but I don't feel it at this point. But I am putting those doubts to one side - I'm not dismissing them, but simply continuing to turn up anyway.

I have also been committed to daily meditation practice, although in my case, being a working householder with no Zen sangha, it is very much a 'self-power' affair, i.e. persuading myself to get up early enough to sit zazen before work. It's very patchy, my discipline is highly erratic. But reading those comments about abandoning self-power is causing me to have doubts about this practice too!

:namaste:
Try finding some of the chants they use at your temple and chanting them on your own as best you can. Even if you can't keep the cadence or rhythm, just rolling the syllables over in your mouth will help you learn to keep up. Here are a few resources that might help you find some of the chants used at your temple:

https://www.nishihongwanji-la.org/teach ... s/juseige/ (this is Nishi Hongwanji, but I'm not sure it makes a huge difference as far as liturgy)

viewtopic.php?t=27120

http://bschawaii.org/shindharmanet/wp-c ... -texts.pdf

As for meditation practice, as steveb1 as long as you approach it in secular way then it is okay (basically just don't dedicate the merit from it for rebirth, otherwise you slip into the 20th vow rather than the 18th which Shin practice is based around).
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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:48 pm

Thank you for your kind advice. I will make it my business to learn some of the chants. I very much like many of the pledges and vows. As for meditation practice, I asked Venerable today about that. The advice was, so long as you practice from gratitude then it is OK. That is it, very simple. The mistake is to practice for some idea of gain, of getting something. That's actually the same for Sōtō as for Shinshu as far as I can see.

:namaste:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by Caoimhghín » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:11 pm

SonamTashi wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:16 am
The other major misinterpretation I see all the time is the idea that you attain Buddhahood immediately upon being reborn in the Pure Land.
There is another Pure Land practitioner I know of who is fond of quoting materials from Jōdo Shinshū websites offering general catecheses of teachings from that school.

They present the normative and mainstream view to be that Sukhāvatī equals Nirvāṇa full stop, that these two words refer to the same state. Did Venerable Shinran teach that? That is certainly what some groups teach that affiliate themselves with Jōdo Shinshū, if not the teaching of that school itself rather than a minority position within it.

If Ven Shinran did teach the equivalence of Sukhāvatī and Nirvāṇa, then the belief that beings "attain Buddhahood immediately upon being reborn in the Pure Land," would be something of a natural conclusion to a given premise.

But this is further complicated by the fact that we have inconvenient Madhyamaka lines of inquiry that call into question the distinction between Nirvāṇa and Saṃsāra. I don't think there's a concensus afaik on whether Sukhāvatī is within the three realms or outside of it, furthermore is within Saṃsāra or outside of it, between Buddhisms, which makes the question even further unanswerable.

If Sukhāvatī is outside of the three realms, then what does its directional description of "in the West" mean in light of this?

Just some things that popped into my head while I was reading. Maybe it should be its own thread. I don't know.
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by tkp67 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:39 pm

This seems to attempt to create dialog that elimination of self could only be accomplished through a specific perspective.

My understanding was the accepted traditions here are recognized because they can be traced to the same point of dependant origin.

If this is the case what is the causation one evokes when they challenge the mechanisms involved of one path in comparison to another?

Of course this implies dependant origin to the same buddha. I am not making this assertion as fact. But I think one needs to understand this in order to evalutate a tradition properly.

An old cliche "the proof is on the pudding" comes to mind.

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:23 pm

steveb1 wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:07 pm

In Shin, Amitabha Buddha (Amida-Amitayus-Buddha) has a certain functional equivalence to Lewis’s salvific, compassionate, transcendent deity. Although he is not a god, Amitaba does correspond to certain aspects of the Western God-conception, inasmuch as Amida acts as a savior-redeemer who spiritually transforms the adherent, and whose grace providentially vivifies or sparks our hitherto-“dormant” Buddha Nature when we are born into the Pure Land.

Because the Buddha is not a creator deity, and because he does not miraculously intervene in Samsaric processes, He already differs greatly from Lewis’s God. He does “act”, he “takes responsibility” for sentient beings – but solely by “linking” to us internally through his gift of “perfect faith” or Shinjin.

Amitabha issues his “Call” and then compassionately echoes it within us.
We are not functional parts of this process. We are its recipients.
Since last visiting this thread, regular services have been suspended where I had been attending, due to issues with the local council. This has given me the opportunity to reflect further on my experiences with Jodo Shin-su.

I don't think that the resemblances with Christianity are superficial. I notice the modern Jodo Shin Su hymns are musically very like Protestant hymns and the recordings are accompanied by piano in the Western scale. Standing and singing a hymn (even in Japanese) can't help but feel very much like Church. The emphasis on 'salvation by faith alone' is functionally identical.

So, one of the conflicts I am experiencing is that my original rationale for studying Buddhism was its emphasis on learning by experience. I had the idea that through meditation, insight would arise which was liberative, that it would dissolve many of the samskaras and bad habits that weighed me down. But in practice, that wasn't what happened. So in some ways I've come full circle - back to a practice centred on faith rather than insight per se.

Anyway - I'm going to a service tomorrow, there is a visiting Pureland minister, John Paraskevopoulos, whose articles I have read - he co-authored the Primer on Jodo Shin Su.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by steveb1 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:02 pm

I'm glad that "faith-only" is working for you! I have an acquaintanceship with John Paraskevopoulos - in my view he's the very best.

:)

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:18 am

I met John today, and he gave a very good talk. I was pleased to find we have quite a few acquaintances in common. He's someone I could instantly relate to and I will stay in contact with him. He comes and gives talks at Hongwanji every so often. He quoted Edward Conze, which I really liked, and made the whole matter much clearer to me.

Also after today's service, I realise now what led me to seek out a Pureland sangha. In July 2017 I gave some talks at Metta Centre on the Bodhisattva way. One of the things that occured to me when I was preparing for these talks, was the kind of 'spiritual athleticism' of the Bodhisattva way. The six paramitas are somewhat daunting for a person like myself, who is basically a householder and someone who finds the most modest sadhana very challenging to observe. It easily leads to a feeling of that you are kidding yourself, thinking this is a way you could actually follow, without radically changing and uprooting everything about your life and all the dramas that that would entail. I remember thinking, this is where Christian principles are really applicable; they are especially focused on the 'less than perfect' which so clearly describes myself. So this is now starting to click. I really get the idea of 'abiding in certainty', and even though I'm not there yet, I feel it is a much more realistic aspiration than mastering the levels of dhyana.

Also John's talk focussed a lot on Buddha-nature which I also really relate to. The key is to always have an attitude of appreciation and gratitude, rather than any feeling of not having something, or trying to attain something. It is a gift, not an acquisition. What is needed, is a sense of appreciation for what has been given already, rather than a sense of lack. This understanding can turn your whole life around, I feel.

So I have decided to continue attendance at this service for the time being. Not every week but regularly.

:anjali:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by steveb1 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:32 pm

I just think that's fantastic. You've found a path and a home and you have a marvelous Dharma friend and teacher in John Paraskevopoulos, plus the advantage of seeing him personally. He writes the most amazing books and articles and has very sound pastoral advice for seekers.

For me, as well, Shin provides the answer to endless pondering over my Dharma future. I just "let go and let Amida" because I realize that there is nothing that I can do spiritually for my own salvation and Enlightenment. And yes, there is some similarity to Christianity here, in that we "move and live and have our being" in Amida Buddha, He is "the pioneer and perfector of our faith", and faith in Him alone (perfect faith, which He Himself grants to us) is our primary spiritual foundation and reality.

I'm very happy for you and the success you are meeting on the way to the Pure Land. Thanks for sharing.

:)

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:37 am

This week's dharma talk was, I feel, very much directed at me (which is not a bad bet, as there's usually only one other attendee apart from myself). It was a talk about how many Westerners are attracted to Buddhism because of meditation. This is because meditation is said to 'relieve stress' or help cope with life. There was even some discussion of zazen, including the derivation of the word, and the principle of sitting still and counting the breath, along with the observation of the mind's ceaseless activities. There was a comment that this is a very difficult discipline to master. But it all built towards the conclusion, given in a quote from one of the Jodo Shin su sages, that all that is required, is complete faith in Amida and repetition of the nembutsu. No other practice is necessary or even (I strongly felt) encouraged.

I don't want to discuss this with Venerable, as another thing that is discouraged in Jodo Shin Su is debates of doctrine. And also, I'm mindful of that article from a few years back, 'most Buddhists don't meditate'. I'm sure, in Japan, the daily practice of meditation is only something done by monks. The 'everyday practice of meditation' is actually a cultural innovation in Buddhism, mostly arising from S.E. Asia, and also, I suppose, from Western Zen. But Asian Buddhist practice, as I understand it, is mostly centred on temple services and participation in the key liturgical events of the calendar. Not meditation, as such, especially not amongst laity.

This is a bit of a quandary for me. Basically it amounts to giving up Buddhism, as I had understood it. But hey, maybe that's what I ought to do! After all, by 'own effort' I have scarcely become a liberated yogi in this life. (Although I know there have been subtle but profound changes from meditation, even if I am still prone to worldly samskara.)

But I still don't feel that is right to abandon sitting practice. As my sig. says, 'only practice with no gaining idea'. This is something that is stressed again and again in Zen Mind Beginner's Mind. I really took that principle to heart. And so I never sit in zazen with the notion of attaining, getting or even improving. I try my best to sit 'for no reason', is one way of putting it. But I also feel as if it's important to do that! I don't think I can just let go of the practice in that way and just totally entrust myself to the simple repetition of nembutsu (which in any case is always part of the daily practice I do anyway.)

I suppose this is a koan.

For the time being, I will keep attending, but I will also keep sitting.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by Yuren » Wed Dec 11, 2019 3:49 am

steveb1 wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:51 am
Yes, good points. Shin and Pauline Christianity do claim to rely solely on Other Power (although Paul wavers on this in some texts, saying things like we will be rewarded for good deeds). It does seem to me that the Pauline system is a bit more complex than Shin, inasmuch as Paul's requires belief in a creator god (a point you mentioned), that this god covenanted first with Israel and then, via Christianity, with the whole world, that this god has a divine son who suffered, died, and rose to atone for human "sin"...and finally that one must invite this Jesus into one's heart after undergoing repenance.

In Shin it's simpler - our karma ripens, we heed Amida's Call even as he echoes it in us, we receive non-retrogression and Shinjin.

In any case, thank you for replying and contributing points on this aspect of compare-and-contrast between Shin and Christianity.

Is it though?
You rightly say Pauline Christianity needs many "contextual" beliefs that make sense of it, like the covenant with Israel etc.
But Shin, too, carries a massive "contextual" baggage that has to be accepted, including, but not limited to:
- rebirth
- Bodhisattvas
- transference of merit
- Nirvana
- buddhafields
- Dharmakara Bodhisattva who became Amida Buddha

etc.

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by steveb1 » Wed Dec 11, 2019 4:18 am

Yuren wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 3:49 am
steveb1 wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:51 am
Yes, good points. Shin and Pauline Christianity do claim to rely solely on Other Power (although Paul wavers on this in some texts, saying things like we will be rewarded for good deeds). It does seem to me that the Pauline system is a bit more complex than Shin, inasmuch as Paul's requires belief in a creator god (a point you mentioned), that this god covenanted first with Israel and then, via Christianity, with the whole world, that this god has a divine son who suffered, died, and rose to atone for human "sin"...and finally that one must invite this Jesus into one's heart after undergoing repenance.

In Shin it's simpler - our karma ripens, we heed Amida's Call even as he echoes it in us, we receive non-retrogression and Shinjin.

In any case, thank you for replying and contributing points on this aspect of compare-and-contrast between Shin and Christianity.

Is it though?
You rightly say Pauline Christianity needs many "contextual" beliefs that make sense of it, like the covenant with Israel etc.
But Shin, too, carries a massive "contextual" baggage that has to be accepted, including, but not limited to:
- rebirth
- Bodhisattvas
- transference of merit
- Nirvana
- buddhafields
- Dharmakara Bodhisattva who became Amida Buddha

etc.
Some nice thoughts there. I was mainly thinking of the "single moment of Shinjin" where the salvific process is immediate, unmediated and unconnected with doctrinal concerns. Shinran taught classes of people for whom the religious details of Shin were mostly unknown. But you're right, one could argue for a "single moment of being born again" in Christianity with little concentration on the doctrinal aspects. Thanks for giving me some new things to think about.

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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by SonamTashi » Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:43 am

Caoimhghín wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:11 pm
SonamTashi wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:16 am
The other major misinterpretation I see all the time is the idea that you attain Buddhahood immediately upon being reborn in the Pure Land.
There is another Pure Land practitioner I know of who is fond of quoting materials from Jōdo Shinshū websites offering general catecheses of teachings from that school.

They present the normative and mainstream view to be that Sukhāvatī equals Nirvāṇa full stop, that these two words refer to the same state. Did Venerable Shinran teach that? That is certainly what some groups teach that affiliate themselves with Jōdo Shinshū, if not the teaching of that school itself rather than a minority position within it.

If Ven Shinran did teach the equivalence of Sukhāvatī and Nirvāṇa, then the belief that beings "attain Buddhahood immediately upon being reborn in the Pure Land," would be something of a natural conclusion to a given premise.

But this is further complicated by the fact that we have inconvenient Madhyamaka lines of inquiry that call into question the distinction between Nirvāṇa and Saṃsāra. I don't think there's a concensus afaik on whether Sukhāvatī is within the three realms or outside of it, furthermore is within Saṃsāra or outside of it, between Buddhisms, which makes the question even further unanswerable.

If Sukhāvatī is outside of the three realms, then what does its directional description of "in the West" mean in light of this?

Just some things that popped into my head while I was reading. Maybe it should be its own thread. I don't know.
I hope this thread necromancy isn't too egregious, as it is only a few months old, but I was reading on Josho Adrian Cirlea's site today and it made me remember this thread. The first part of what I'm about to write here is in reply to Caoimhghín, which is why I'm quoting him, but the rest of my comment will diverge from there.

So the idea that Shinran taught that Sukhavati and Nirvana are equivalent, seems quite widespread, but I've still never seen anywhere in Shinran's writings or the writings of the other patriarchs that said that. I really think it is a modernist reinterpretation of the tradition. From Josho Adrian Cirlea's blog posts, he is very clear that the Pure Land is a real place, but he does teach that those who rely on the 18th vow will immediately become Buddhas upon birth in the Pure Land, and it seems Shinran taught this as well:

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... en-in.html

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... -pure.html

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... uddha.html

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... -land.html

He is very clear that Sukhavati is a place to be born, not Nirvana (which isn't a place). He also provides quotes from Shinran that support the idea that anyone relying on the 18th vow will attain Buddhahood upon rebirth in the Pure Land, but I honestly think this is a misinterpretation of references to the 10th bhumi on Shinran's part. Here are a few examples:

"the moment your life ends you will in the next moment be born in that land, where you will enjoy the Dharma pleasure of non-action for eternally long kalpas."

This is a very vague quote in my opinion. If anyone knows what the Dharma pleasure of non-action is, and if it refers to full Buddhahood, then please fill me in. I have a suspicion it refers to the 10th Bhumi.

"At the end of your life you will enter the family of the Buddhas, that is, the Pure Land."

The reason I think this would be a misinterpretation if taken to refer to instant Buddhahood upon rebirth is that the family of the Buddhas are the bodhisattvas. They bodhisattvas are referred to as the heart sons and daughters of the Buddhas. I think this quote is probably a reference to the 5 Buddha families, specifically the Lotus family, because if you are a bodhisattva in Sukhavati you would certainly belong to the Lotus family, but that doesn't mean you are literally a Buddha. In fact, Amida vows that those in his land will reach the 10th stage.

Josho says (from the last link):

"Not all beings who are born in the Pure Land will immediately return to this world to help others. Those who have faith mixed with doubts will stay a period in the border land of the Pure Land. They are those born in the Pure Land through the 19th and the 20th Vows. But those who enter the Pure Land through the gate of the Primal Vow (18th Vow) will immediately become Buddhas and they will be able to quickly return to this world in various forms"

But Shinran says this: "My life has now reached the fullness of years. It is certain that I will go to birth in the Pure Land before you, so without fail I will await you there."

If one who relies on the 18th vow immediately attains Buddhahood and returns from that land, then why does Shinran say "without fail I will wait for you there?" This quote makes me think there is something more going on here than literally teaching that one immediately attains Buddhahood upon rebirth.

Furthermore, earlier I had made the point that the Pure Land practitioner is considered to be on the 10th Bhumi simply because Amida's vows state that one will immediately attain the state of the truly settled and the Stage of Becoming a Buddha after one more life upon reaching his land. It is not that they are actually in that state in this life. Shinran is quoted as saying:

"Since they dwell in the stage of non-retrogression until being born into the Pure Land, they are said to be in the stage of the truly settled.
Since true shinjin is awakened through the working of the two Honored Ones, Shakyamuni and Amida, it is when one is grasped that the settling of shinjin occurs. Thereafter the person abides in the stage of the truly settled until born into the Pure Land."

And I think this supports my point. The practitioner is considered to be in the stage of the truly settled because their rebirth is assured, and Amida vows that those born in his land will reach these stages. It is not that they are literally on those stages in this life. If they were, they would have the traits of a 10th stage bodhisattva, and the most important aspect of the dharma of Shinran and Honen is that the practitioner is a bombu.

As I said, I think the misinterpretation happening here with the idea that one attains Buddhahood immediately upon rebirth is that the 10th Bhumi is being mistaken for Buddhahood itself. The 10th bhumi is the stage of becoming a Buddha after one more life. It is also referred to as the Buddha Level, so it is a very easy mistake to make, but a 10th stage bodhisattva is not actually a fully enlightened Buddha. They're just on the final stage of the bodhisattva path. So it seems many are mistaking Amida's vow that one will attain the 10th bhumi as a vow claiming one will immediately attain Buddhahood. Furthermore, it can be said that those in the Pure Land are at the stage of Buddhahood after one more life, because Amida's vows state that the beings in his land do not have limited lifespans. Therefore Amida's vows don't actually even say that you immediately attain the state, along with the traits, of a 10th level bodhisattva. But you essentially are one, because you are assured that you will become a Buddha immediately after leaving the Pure Land. After leaving the Pure Land. Not upon rebirth in the Pure Land.

Moving on from that topic, I also made a point in my initial comments that Shinran did not set out to create a school separate from Honen's. It actually appears Josho agrees with me, so I'm not sure what Mongoose meant when they said "there are many entries refuting the postition you hold regarding the similarities of Honen/Shinran." Josho says:

"I especially chose this quote to show that any presentation of Amida Buddha as being a metaphor, a myth, a symbol of one’s own Enlightened nature or one’s own heart and mind, etc, is not in accord with the Pure Land teaching of Honen and his Dharma heir, Shinran Shonin."

Pure Land teaching. Singular. He also refers to Shinran as Honen's dharma heir, in other words Josho is saying that Shinran's teachings are an extension of Honen's. This was my original point as well. Therefore, Shinran's teachings have to be taken in light of, and resolved with Honen's teachings.

But I have to admit, none of this is why I originally remembered this thread (I went down a bit of a rabbit hole reading more and more posts, which brought me to the topics I've written about). What I originally intended to discuss was why I personally can't accept Josho as a teacher (and to be very clear, I am only speaking personally, I'm not saying anyone else should avoid him; but I do think that if you are going to accept him as a teacher, you should be aware of certain things he has said). I actually agree with him on a lot: I recognize the validity of many of his critiques of Shin Modernism, especially the idea that the Pure Land is an upaya, or "just" mind-only, or that Amida is a metaphor. When he confines his critiques to Shin Modernism, I think this is fine, and perhaps even necessary. But, quite frankly, he goes too far, reaching outside of Shin Buddhism itself, and he has even engaged in straight up libel. This is especially what I'm referring to:

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... .html#more

I just can't support someone who goes so far as to call Thich Nhat Hanh a false teacher, especially as TNH is dealing with the aftermath of a stroke. I mean, this is just straight up bizarre, uncompassionate, and also totally ignorant of what Thich Nhat Hanh and his lineage teach. The quote he's disparaging in this blog post is very much taken out of context. Thich Nhat Hanh has done a lot to attract Christians and Westerners to the dharma. But if you ever actually get far into his organizations, you will see that it is just upaya, i.e. he is only saying things like this to attract people to the dharma. It is a very compassionate act. I also don't understand why Josho posted this in the category DIVERGENCES FROM THE JODO SHINSHU TEACHING. TNH is not a Jodo Shinshu teacher at all, so it is completely irrelevant to the category it is placed in. At the end of the day, while I agree with a lot of what Josho says, I couldn't personally accept him as a teacher because of how exclusionary and reactionary he is.
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steveb1
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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by steveb1 » Mon Mar 09, 2020 6:40 am

SonamTashi wrote:
Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:43 am
Caoimhghín wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:11 pm
SonamTashi wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:16 am
The other major misinterpretation I see all the time is the idea that you attain Buddhahood immediately upon being reborn in the Pure Land.
There is another Pure Land practitioner I know of who is fond of quoting materials from Jōdo Shinshū websites offering general catecheses of teachings from that school.

They present the normative and mainstream view to be that Sukhāvatī equals Nirvāṇa full stop, that these two words refer to the same state. Did Venerable Shinran teach that? That is certainly what some groups teach that affiliate themselves with Jōdo Shinshū, if not the teaching of that school itself rather than a minority position within it.

If Ven Shinran did teach the equivalence of Sukhāvatī and Nirvāṇa, then the belief that beings "attain Buddhahood immediately upon being reborn in the Pure Land," would be something of a natural conclusion to a given premise.

But this is further complicated by the fact that we have inconvenient Madhyamaka lines of inquiry that call into question the distinction between Nirvāṇa and Saṃsāra. I don't think there's a concensus afaik on whether Sukhāvatī is within the three realms or outside of it, furthermore is within Saṃsāra or outside of it, between Buddhisms, which makes the question even further unanswerable.

If Sukhāvatī is outside of the three realms, then what does its directional description of "in the West" mean in light of this?

Just some things that popped into my head while I was reading. Maybe it should be its own thread. I don't know.
I hope this thread necromancy isn't too egregious, as it is only a few months old, but I was reading on Josho Adrian Cirlea's site today and it made me remember this thread. The first part of what I'm about to write here is in reply to Caoimhghín, which is why I'm quoting him, but the rest of my comment will diverge from there.

So the idea that Shinran taught that Sukhavati and Nirvana are equivalent, seems quite widespread, but I've still never seen anywhere in Shinran's writings or the writings of the other patriarchs that said that. I really think it is a modernist reinterpretation of the tradition. From Josho Adrian Cirlea's blog posts, he is very clear that the Pure Land is a real place, but he does teach that those who rely on the 18th vow will immediately become Buddhas upon birth in the Pure Land, and it seems Shinran taught this as well:

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... en-in.html

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... -pure.html

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... uddha.html

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... -land.html

He is very clear that Sukhavati is a place to be born, not Nirvana (which isn't a place). He also provides quotes from Shinran that support the idea that anyone relying on the 18th vow will attain Buddhahood upon rebirth in the Pure Land, but I honestly think this is a misinterpretation of references to the 10th bhumi on Shinran's part. Here are a few examples:

"the moment your life ends you will in the next moment be born in that land, where you will enjoy the Dharma pleasure of non-action for eternally long kalpas."

This is a very vague quote in my opinion. If anyone knows what the Dharma pleasure of non-action is, and if it refers to full Buddhahood, then please fill me in. I have a suspicion it refers to the 10th Bhumi.

"At the end of your life you will enter the family of the Buddhas, that is, the Pure Land."

The reason I think this would be a misinterpretation if taken to refer to instant Buddhahood upon rebirth is that the family of the Buddhas are the bodhisattvas. They bodhisattvas are referred to as the heart sons and daughters of the Buddhas. I think this quote is probably a reference to the 5 Buddha families, specifically the Lotus family, because if you are a bodhisattva in Sukhavati you would certainly belong to the Lotus family, but that doesn't mean you are literally a Buddha. In fact, Amida vows that those in his land will reach the 10th stage.

Josho says (from the last link):

"Not all beings who are born in the Pure Land will immediately return to this world to help others. Those who have faith mixed with doubts will stay a period in the border land of the Pure Land. They are those born in the Pure Land through the 19th and the 20th Vows. But those who enter the Pure Land through the gate of the Primal Vow (18th Vow) will immediately become Buddhas and they will be able to quickly return to this world in various forms"

But Shinran says this: "My life has now reached the fullness of years. It is certain that I will go to birth in the Pure Land before you, so without fail I will await you there."

If one who relies on the 18th vow immediately attains Buddhahood and returns from that land, then why does Shinran say "without fail I will wait for you there?" This quote makes me think there is something more going on here than literally teaching that one immediately attains Buddhahood upon rebirth.

Furthermore, earlier I had made the point that the Pure Land practitioner is considered to be on the 10th Bhumi simply because Amida's vows state that one will immediately attain the state of the truly settled and the Stage of Becoming a Buddha after one more life upon reaching his land. It is not that they are actually in that state in this life. Shinran is quoted as saying:

"Since they dwell in the stage of non-retrogression until being born into the Pure Land, they are said to be in the stage of the truly settled.
Since true shinjin is awakened through the working of the two Honored Ones, Shakyamuni and Amida, it is when one is grasped that the settling of shinjin occurs. Thereafter the person abides in the stage of the truly settled until born into the Pure Land."

And I think this supports my point. The practitioner is considered to be in the stage of the truly settled because their rebirth is assured, and Amida vows that those born in his land will reach these stages. It is not that they are literally on those stages in this life. If they were, they would have the traits of a 10th stage bodhisattva, and the most important aspect of the dharma of Shinran and Honen is that the practitioner is a bombu.

As I said, I think the misinterpretation happening here with the idea that one attains Buddhahood immediately upon rebirth is that the 10th Bhumi is being mistaken for Buddhahood itself. The 10th bhumi is the stage of becoming a Buddha after one more life. It is also referred to as the Buddha Level, so it is a very easy mistake to make, but a 10th stage bodhisattva is not actually a fully enlightened Buddha. They're just on the final stage of the bodhisattva path. So it seems many are mistaking Amida's vow that one will attain the 10th bhumi as a vow claiming one will immediately attain Buddhahood. Furthermore, it can be said that those in the Pure Land are at the stage of Buddhahood after one more life, because Amida's vows state that the beings in his land do not have limited lifespans. Therefore Amida's vows don't actually even say that you immediately attain the state, along with the traits, of a 10th level bodhisattva. But you essentially are one, because you are assured that you will become a Buddha immediately after leaving the Pure Land. After leaving the Pure Land. Not upon rebirth in the Pure Land.

Moving on from that topic, I also made a point in my initial comments that Shinran did not set out to create a school separate from Honen's. It actually appears Josho agrees with me, so I'm not sure what Mongoose meant when they said "there are many entries refuting the postition you hold regarding the similarities of Honen/Shinran." Josho says:

"I especially chose this quote to show that any presentation of Amida Buddha as being a metaphor, a myth, a symbol of one’s own Enlightened nature or one’s own heart and mind, etc, is not in accord with the Pure Land teaching of Honen and his Dharma heir, Shinran Shonin."

Pure Land teaching. Singular. He also refers to Shinran as Honen's dharma heir, in other words Josho is saying that Shinran's teachings are an extension of Honen's. This was my original point as well. Therefore, Shinran's teachings have to be taken in light of, and resolved with Honen's teachings.

But I have to admit, none of this is why I originally remembered this thread (I went down a bit of a rabbit hole reading more and more posts, which brought me to the topics I've written about). What I originally intended to discuss was why I personally can't accept Josho as a teacher (and to be very clear, I am only speaking personally, I'm not saying anyone else should avoid him; but I do think that if you are going to accept him as a teacher, you should be aware of certain things he has said). I actually agree with him on a lot: I recognize the validity of many of his critiques of Shin Modernism, especially the idea that the Pure Land is an upaya, or "just" mind-only, or that Amida is a metaphor. When he confines his critiques to Shin Modernism, I think this is fine, and perhaps even necessary. But, quite frankly, he goes too far, reaching outside of Shin Buddhism itself, and he has even engaged in straight up libel. This is especially what I'm referring to:

http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... .html#more

I just can't support someone who goes so far as to call Thich Nhat Hanh a false teacher, especially as TNH is dealing with the aftermath of a stroke. I mean, this is just straight up bizarre, uncompassionate, and also totally ignorant of what Thich Nhat Hanh and his lineage teach. The quote he's disparaging in this blog post is very much taken out of context. Thich Nhat Hanh has done a lot to attract Christians and Westerners to the dharma. But if you ever actually get far into his organizations, you will see that it is just upaya, i.e. he is only saying things like this to attract people to the dharma. It is a very compassionate act. I also don't understand why Josho posted this in the category DIVERGENCES FROM THE JODO SHINSHU TEACHING. TNH is not a Jodo Shinshu teacher at all, so it is completely irrelevant to the category it is placed in. At the end of the day, while I agree with a lot of what Josho says, I couldn't personally accept him as a teacher because of how exclusionary and reactionary he is.
Thank you for the exacting thinking and information. And although I admire much of Josho's work, he is "just impossible" when he indulges in doctrinal and political rants, which is the main reason I no longer watch his blog and his Facebook page.

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The Mantra Mongoose
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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by The Mantra Mongoose » Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:35 pm

Hey SonamTashi, I wanted to make a quick comment on your last post since you brought my opinion up. My personal opinion of Jodo Shinsu ,and Josho Adrian Cirlia has changed and primary because of your posting along with Myoan. So i want to personally thank you, i truly believe your 100% correct concerning the relationship between Nirvana and birth in the pureland. I spoke in haste and made a major generalization about a subject i was far to new to be talking about, also out of a personal devotion to a teacher i clearly didn't know well enough. In my practice after talking with Myoan privately mouths back and really reading primary sources has placed me in the Jodo Shu school following a stricter reading of Honin, along with separating myself from Josho even though i still have great respect for all he's done to further the teachings of the Pure land Sutras. I hope i'm not necroing anything by posting this i really wanted to post this publicly rather then send anything privately so that all could see that your posting which again i'm truly grateful for will be further validated. Not that i believe my posting has any weight what so ever in a community that i'm still very new to just felt that i needed to make things right lol. thanks again, to all of the people on this, and the Pure land board who have helped me grow you all have my heart felt thanks. :twothumbsup:
"Only repeat the name of Amida with all your heart. Whether walking or standing, sitting or lying, never cease the practice of it even for a moment. This is the very work which unfailingly issues in salvation." - Master Hōnen

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SonamTashi
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Re: C.S. Lewis and Shin

Post by SonamTashi » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:37 pm

The Mantra Mongoose wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:35 pm
Hey SonamTashi, I wanted to make a quick comment on your last post since you brought my opinion up. My personal opinion of Jodo Shinsu ,and Josho Adrian Cirlia has changed and primary because of your posting along with Myoan. So i want to personally thank you, i truly believe your 100% correct concerning the relationship between Nirvana and birth in the pureland. I spoke in haste and made a major generalization about a subject i was far to new to be talking about, also out of a personal devotion to a teacher i clearly didn't know well enough. In my practice after talking with Myoan privately mouths back and really reading primary sources has placed me in the Jodo Shu school following a stricter reading of Honin, along with separating myself from Josho even though i still have great respect for all he's done to further the teachings of the Pure land Sutras. I hope i'm not necroing anything by posting this i really wanted to post this publicly rather then send anything privately so that all could see that your posting which again i'm truly grateful for will be further validated. Not that i believe my posting has any weight what so ever in a community that i'm still very new to just felt that i needed to make things right lol. thanks again, to all of the people on this, and the Pure land board who have helped me grow you all have my heart felt thanks. :twothumbsup:
I'm glad what I wrote helped; I was worried I was stepping on some toes.
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Tatsuo
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Pure Land and Christianity - similarities and differences

Post by Tatsuo » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:52 am

shaunc wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 1:21 am
Tatsuo wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:26 am
Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:26 am
It reminds me so much of the Christian faith I thought I had left, that it makes me wonder if I should have left it.
Interesting thought. It would be great to talk about this in another thread. I see huge differences between Pure Land Buddhism and Christianity, though. The only uniting topic is that faith determines one's life after death.
Also we're not promised a hell for misdeeds and not reciting the name.
The question of similarities and differences between Christianity and Pure Land / Jodo Buddhism came up in this thread.

I think shaunc has a point, but there are more important differences. Pure Land Buddhism does not consider itself to be the only option for humans besides hell but also Amida Buddha is motivated purely by compassion while the Judeo-Christian god is also motived by jealousy and hatetowards other paths and believers. It is unthinkable for Amida to kill, ordering to kill and waging war, inflicting pain and suffering or condemning people to eternal suffering when not following him - all of which is ascribed to the Judeo-Christian god by the bible.

The Pure Land is also quite different from the Christian heaven, which is a place to worship the holy trinity and to experience bliss. While also being a place of bliss, the Pure Land is mainly a place for Bodhisattva practice to ultimately reach enlightenment, at least when it comes to Jodo Shu. The Pure Land is more of a means to an end while the Christian heaven is the final goal. Apart from worshipping and being in a blissful state there is nothing else for the saints to do since all other humans are condemned to irreversible and eternal suffering. According to one of the most important Christian theologians Thomas Aquinas, the saints know the fate of the condemned. However, they do not only feel no pity for them but even indirectly rejoice in their suffering (here). On the other hand, in Pure Land Buddhism we speak of 'genso eko', returning to the world to safe suffering beings and Jizo Bodhisattva plays a significant role for relieving the suffering of the beings in hell.

I hope we can have a respectful discussion about this topic.

南無阿弥陀佛

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