What's an emanation?

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What's an emanation?

Post by DGA » Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:59 pm

Here's a discussion from one of the sub-forums that I find interesting. There's a question in it that seems better suited to the general Mahayana board. Here's part of the original discussion.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=26459&start=20#p409932

In the Lotus Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni emanates a great many other Buddhas, filling space. Does this emanation of Buddhas account for all the Buddhas of past, present, and future? That is, are Amitabha, Medicine Buddha, and all the others emanations of Shakyamuni?

If not, then is Buddha Shakyamuni one Buddha among many others, coequal to, say, Amitabha, Medicine Buddha, and the others?

Most fundamentally, what is an emanation in this context?

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:49 pm

Most fundamentally, what is an emanation in this context?
That's my question too. It seems the conversation could potentially get very muddled unless we specify which of the Three Bodies we have in mind with the term "emanation".

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:27 pm

DGA wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:59 pm
Most fundamentally, what is an emanation in this context?
I think the most useful thing to do with regards to trying to find an answer to this would be to narrow it down to the word in its source language and treat it contextually, assuming that many diverse words tend to be covered by 'emanation/emanate'.

Unfortunately, I have no Sanskrit, but I think the correspondence in Sanskrit to the 分身 would be a compound like *vibhaktikāya. Unfortunately, a google search finds nothing. Inverting the words, however, one finds *kāyavibhakti attested to in numerous contexts on the Internet, particularly so if hyphenated as 'kāya-vibhakti'.

There is even a Yogācāra 'something' called kāya-vibhakti-jñāna, but I have no clue what it is.

Finding the specific Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit context would be next, perhaps? But I would have no clue what to consult for that.
並畢竟空。並如來藏。並實相。非三 而三三而不三。非合非散而合而散。非非合非非散。不可一異而一異。
All three truths are ultimately empty, all are tathāgatagarbha, all are true aspect. Not three, they are three; three, they are not three. Neither combined nor separated, neither uncombined nor unseparated. Neither same nor different, yet in a sense same, and in a sense different.

夫三諦者。 天然之性徳也。 中諦者。 統一切法。 眞諦者。 泯一切法。 俗諦者。 立一切法。
The three truths. Heaven-sent natural characteristics. The middle truth unifies all dharmāḥ. The ultimate truth demolishes all dharmāḥ. The conventional truth establishes all dharmāḥ.

摩訶止観始終心要Móhēzhǐguān, Shǐzhōngxīnyào.

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by DGA » Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:25 pm

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:49 pm
Most fundamentally, what is an emanation in this context?
That's my question too. It seems the conversation could potentially get very muddled unless we specify which of the Three Bodies we have in mind with the term "emanation".
Yes. There are a number of divergent perspectives on the trikaya here at DW, and some muddled thinking on that topic too, and this has consequences for discussion on other topics.

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by DGA » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:28 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:27 pm
DGA wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:59 pm
Most fundamentally, what is an emanation in this context?
I think the most useful thing to do with regards to trying to find an answer to this would be to narrow it down to the word in its source language and treat it contextually, assuming that many diverse words tend to be covered by 'emanation/emanate'.
Yes. I'm poor in classical languages and philology, which makes me badly equipped to answer questions like this... which is why I tend to put them to the board and hope for the best.

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by DGA » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:16 am

Malcolm made this point in a different thread that, coincidentally, gives the context I was looking for regarding the emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha in the Lotus Sutra.
Malcolm wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:59 pm
there is canonical basis for bodhisattvas having exponentially more emanations from the first bhumi one ward which increase by powers of ten, thus a tenth stage bodhisattva can have 100,000,000,000,000,000,000, i.e. one hundred septillion emanations.

And every Buddha has an emanation in every world in a given billion-world universe (1000 to the third power).
viewtopic.php?f=39&t=26678&start=40#p410268

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by rory » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:02 am

If you follow or understand Tiantai (the Lotus Sutra School, Tendai): all buddhas come from the Dharmakaya what Huayen calls "the One Mind."

Both Tiantai and Tendai do not regard time as linear so there are no prior or after Buddhas they all exist now. Tendai and Shingon regard Vairocana, Dainichi Nyorai, as the Cosmic Buddha all Buddhas as well as the universe itself are manifestations of this cosmic buddha. ( J.Stone "Original Enlightenment" p. 7,8,19)

gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by DGA » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:56 pm

rory wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:02 am
If you follow or understand Tiantai (the Lotus Sutra School, Tendai): all buddhas come from the Dharmakaya what Huayen calls "the One Mind."

Both Tiantai and Tendai do not regard time as linear so there are no prior or after Buddhas they all exist now. Tendai and Shingon regard Vairocana, Dainichi Nyorai, as the Cosmic Buddha all Buddhas as well as the universe itself are manifestations of this cosmic buddha. ( J.Stone "Original Enlightenment" p. 7,8,19)

gassho
Rory
That view is not unique to Tientai/Tendai or Shingon. That's normative Mahayana. And it doesn't correspond from the view in the thread I linked in the OP, which describes all Buddhas not named Shakyamuni as emanations of Shakyamuni.

In other words, if you are correct, and I think you are, then the view described in that thread contradicts both Zhiyi and the Lotus Sutra as representative of Indian Mahayana.

Here's the discussion I'm referring to, for the sake of continuity.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=26459&start=20#p409932

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by Sentient Light » Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:27 pm

DGA wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:56 pm

That view is not unique to Tientai/Tendai or Shingon. That's normative Mahayana. And it doesn't correspond from the view in the thread I linked in the OP, which describes all Buddhas not named Shakyamuni as emanations of Shakyamuni.

In other words, if you are correct, and I think you are, then the view described in that thread contradicts both Zhiyi and the Lotus Sutra as representative of Indian Mahayana.

Here's the discussion I'm referring to, for the sake of continuity.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=26459&start=20#p409932
My understanding of the Lotus Sutra is that it is Sakyamuni speaking as the Eternal Buddha, the Dharmakaya, so within this specific context (or skillful means), Sakyamuni is the referrent for the Dharmakaya. But other traditions may give the name of the Dharmakaya to other Buddhas: Amitabha in Pure Land and Shingon; Vairocana in many other traditions; Samantabhadra in some Tibetan traditions, and so forth. This is possible because all Buddhas are, ultimately, manifestations of the Dharmakaya and because to worship one Buddha is to worship all Buddhas.

Effectively, I think that any Sambhogakaya, or even Nirmanakaya, can stand in for the Dharmakaya and be worshipped as such, imbuing all of the benefits of this. But the Lotus Sutra, I don't think, is meant to be taken that Sakyamuni specifically is the Dharmakaya to the exclusion of all other Buddhas.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by Minobu » Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:54 pm

i think everyone seems to now have a handle on Dharmakaya...thats all down to this site...and malcolm was a big part of it......just saying. :soapbox:

an emanation for me is like a movie theatre...different images on the screen which make you think and feel differently at different times....but it all comes from film and the projector.

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by Seeker12 » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:42 pm

Sentient Light wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:27 pm
DGA wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:56 pm

That view is not unique to Tientai/Tendai or Shingon. That's normative Mahayana. And it doesn't correspond from the view in the thread I linked in the OP, which describes all Buddhas not named Shakyamuni as emanations of Shakyamuni.

In other words, if you are correct, and I think you are, then the view described in that thread contradicts both Zhiyi and the Lotus Sutra as representative of Indian Mahayana.

Here's the discussion I'm referring to, for the sake of continuity.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=26459&start=20#p409932
My understanding of the Lotus Sutra is that it is Sakyamuni speaking as the Eternal Buddha, the Dharmakaya, so within this specific context (or skillful means), Sakyamuni is the referrent for the Dharmakaya. But other traditions may give the name of the Dharmakaya to other Buddhas: Amitabha in Pure Land and Shingon; Vairocana in many other traditions; Samantabhadra in some Tibetan traditions, and so forth. This is possible because all Buddhas are, ultimately, manifestations of the Dharmakaya and because to worship one Buddha is to worship all Buddhas.

Effectively, I think that any Sambhogakaya, or even Nirmanakaya, can stand in for the Dharmakaya and be worshipped as such, imbuing all of the benefits of this. But the Lotus Sutra, I don't think, is meant to be taken that Sakyamuni specifically is the Dharmakaya to the exclusion of all other Buddhas.
:good:
Better than if there were thousands of meaningless words is
one meaningful word that on hearing brings peace. Dhp

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by DGA » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:48 pm

Sentient Light wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:27 pm
DGA wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:56 pm

That view is not unique to Tientai/Tendai or Shingon. That's normative Mahayana. And it doesn't correspond from the view in the thread I linked in the OP, which describes all Buddhas not named Shakyamuni as emanations of Shakyamuni.

In other words, if you are correct, and I think you are, then the view described in that thread contradicts both Zhiyi and the Lotus Sutra as representative of Indian Mahayana.

Here's the discussion I'm referring to, for the sake of continuity.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=26459&start=20#p409932
My understanding of the Lotus Sutra is that it is Sakyamuni speaking as the Eternal Buddha, the Dharmakaya, so within this specific context (or skillful means), Sakyamuni is the referrent for the Dharmakaya. But other traditions may give the name of the Dharmakaya to other Buddhas: Amitabha in Pure Land and Shingon; Vairocana in many other traditions; Samantabhadra in some Tibetan traditions, and so forth. This is possible because all Buddhas are, ultimately, manifestations of the Dharmakaya and because to worship one Buddha is to worship all Buddhas.

Effectively, I think that any Sambhogakaya, or even Nirmanakaya, can stand in for the Dharmakaya and be worshipped as such, imbuing all of the benefits of this. But the Lotus Sutra, I don't think, is meant to be taken that Sakyamuni specifically is the Dharmakaya to the exclusion of all other Buddhas.
This is my understanding also.

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by DGA » Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:53 pm

Minobu wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:54 pm
i think everyone seems to now have a handle on Dharmakaya...thats all down to this site...and malcolm was a big part of it......just saying. :soapbox:

an emanation for me is like a movie theatre...different images on the screen which make you think and feel differently at different times....but it all comes from film and the projector.
I doubt there's an absolute consensus on this point.

If past is prologue, I'm confident that there are one or two members here at DW who will eventually come by to lay down the "Law," so to speak.

That's fine. We're discussing religion. People can and do believe whatever they want, and why not? Take a look at this thread for an object lesson in this principle (read to the end for the best part):

https://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=23055

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by Minobu » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:48 am

DGA wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:53 pm
Minobu wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:54 pm
i think everyone seems to now have a handle on Dharmakaya...thats all down to this site...and malcolm was a big part of it......just saying. :soapbox:

an emanation for me is like a movie theatre...different images on the screen which make you think and feel differently at different times....but it all comes from film and the projector.
I doubt there's an absolute consensus on this point.

If past is prologue, I'm confident that there are one or two members here at DW who will eventually come by to lay down the "Law," so to speak.

That's fine. We're discussing religion. People can and do believe whatever they want, and why not? Take a look at this thread for an object lesson in this principle (read to the end for the best part):

https://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=23055
it was a feel good moment for me is all...
a few things i have been grappling with seemed to pop up all over the place with others ...
meh...buzz kill...? not really...but really that thread you posted is a can of worms...i'm not into that head space right now.

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:19 am

So back to the idea of emanations, I've been thinking about nirmanakaya lately. Here's where I am so far. Please help if something's amiss because I want to understand.

The easiest metaphor that I've come across is dharmakaya is like the moon which by its nature radiates light. The light is the sambhogakaya, perceived only by bodhisattvas at a certain high bhumi of attainment. I don't really know what the sambhogakaya is.
The rest of us see nirmanakaya.

The enlightened mind of countless buddhas is expressed to unawakened beings in ways they can conceptualize, because they do not directly see the dharmakaya of their own minds. This mediation is a nirmankaya, a reflection of the moon on a puddle. It shows the qualities of its source, but is not the source itself. It's manifested deliberately as one appearance among others, because that's where deluded beings will be reached. Like a prayer wheel built at such a date by such a person. But without the moon, there is no reflection (no buddha, no appearance of a buddha in beings' minds, i.e. nirmanakaya). Without a puddle to shine in, there is no reflection either (no deluded minds of beings, no buddha in deluded beings' minds).

So my struggle with this has been like a deity as inseparable from its mantra, or a stupa or picture of a buddha being a nirmanakaya. It's easy to see how Shakyamuni himself, a living person who teaches, is a nirmanakaya. A mantra or painting is less clear to me.

So going from the puddle simile, "om mani peme hung" contains the intention of buddhas to enlighten beings. In that way, it isn't merely some words which refer to a secret meaning, but a craft, a product of enlightened mind itself. And since beings have buddha-nature, the same qualities signaled by the nirmanakaya, they respond. Further, since buddhas' have unsurpassed skillful means, a craft nirmanakaya or mantra is effective to bring beings closer to awakening by virtue of any interaction with it, whether they have thoughts/feelings about it or not. It's because of our nature as dharmakaya that nirmanakaya or emanations do anything at all.

I guess this is spitballing. Any resources or insight would be most appreciated :smile:

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by DGA » Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:32 am

I'm bringing up this topic again because, as it turns out, this theme is consequential for how some practitioners approach their practice, and how certain practices are understood. To give an example from a DW thread a few years ago, here are portions of some posts that show how one particular interpretation of the emanations of Buddha Shakyamuni in the Lotus Sutra can lead a practitioner to reject one practice and embrace another (full text at the link):

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=9389
rory wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:48 am
I have a Tendai background and practiced pure land (which I heartily repent) so my allusion wasn't a shot or being mean, it's just my frame of reference.
rory wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:54 am
When I read in the Lotus Sutra that Amida was a replica Buddha preaching the Lotus Sutra in Sukhavati and we should abandon provisional paths, it entirely resonated and I abandoned the practice.
I leave it to you to determine if the Lotus Sutra actually makes such a claim about Amitabha (I don't think it does, but you can see for yourself). What interests me in these posts is that a specific narrative about what a Buddha is and does, based on a related narrative about one sutra, could lead a Dharma practitioner to sincerely repent of having done serious Dharma practice.

I don't wish to condemn or commend this kind of action. I'm just marking it as extraordinary and remarkable, because it seems to me that it is.

This is why I think it's worthwhile for Dharma practitioners to have some clarity on what the word "Buddha" means, and how the three kayas work: your understanding of these matters can impact your practice dramatically.

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by Malcolm » Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:02 am

DGA wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:32 am
I'm bringing up this topic again because, as it turns out, this theme is consequential for how some practitioners approach their practice, and how certain practices are understood. To give an example from a DW thread a few years ago, here are portions of some posts that show how one particular interpretation of the emanations of Buddha Shakyamuni in the Lotus Sutra can lead a practitioner to reject one practice and embrace another (full text at the link):

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=9389
rory wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:48 am
I have a Tendai background and practiced pure land (which I heartily repent) so my allusion wasn't a shot or being mean, it's just my frame of reference.
rory wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:54 am
When I read in the Lotus Sutra that Amida was a replica Buddha preaching the Lotus Sutra in Sukhavati and we should abandon provisional paths, it entirely resonated and I abandoned the practice.
I leave it to you to determine if the Lotus Sutra actually makes such a claim about Amitabha (I don't think it does, but you can see for yourself). What interests me in these posts is that a specific narrative about what a Buddha is and does, based on a related narrative about one sutra, could lead a Dharma practitioner to sincerely repent of having done serious Dharma practice.

I don't wish to condemn or commend this kind of action. I'm just marking it as extraordinary and remarkable, because it seems to me that it is.

This is why I think it's worthwhile for Dharma practitioners to have some clarity on what the word "Buddha" means, and how the three kayas work: your understanding of these matters can impact your practice dramatically.


Yes, regretting engaging in any Dharma practice seems rather strange, if not fanatical.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


The knowledge imparted through the guru’s instructions that formerly was unknown (avidyā) is vidyā.


—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by DGA » Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:37 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:02 am
DGA wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:32 am
I'm bringing up this topic again because, as it turns out, this theme is consequential for how some practitioners approach their practice, and how certain practices are understood. To give an example from a DW thread a few years ago, here are portions of some posts that show how one particular interpretation of the emanations of Buddha Shakyamuni in the Lotus Sutra can lead a practitioner to reject one practice and embrace another (full text at the link):

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=9389
rory wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:48 am
I have a Tendai background and practiced pure land (which I heartily repent) so my allusion wasn't a shot or being mean, it's just my frame of reference.
rory wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:54 am
When I read in the Lotus Sutra that Amida was a replica Buddha preaching the Lotus Sutra in Sukhavati and we should abandon provisional paths, it entirely resonated and I abandoned the practice.
I leave it to you to determine if the Lotus Sutra actually makes such a claim about Amitabha (I don't think it does, but you can see for yourself). What interests me in these posts is that a specific narrative about what a Buddha is and does, based on a related narrative about one sutra, could lead a Dharma practitioner to sincerely repent of having done serious Dharma practice.

I don't wish to condemn or commend this kind of action. I'm just marking it as extraordinary and remarkable, because it seems to me that it is.

This is why I think it's worthwhile for Dharma practitioners to have some clarity on what the word "Buddha" means, and how the three kayas work: your understanding of these matters can impact your practice dramatically.


Yes, regretting engaging in any Dharma practice seems rather strange, if not fanatical.
It's certainly extraordinary. I don't want to judge what other practitioners do; I'm just trying to describe something that I've observed and I don't really have a frame of reference for and can't relate to.

I was saying elsewhere that it's worthwhile to ask questions or make comments when you read something at DharmaWheel that you don't understand or disagree with, because people read these forums. Sometimes people who are new to the Dharma read these forums. It would be a shame if narratives that should be questioned appear to be accepted without any kind of scrutiny.

I'm of the view that any narrative at all should be open to scrutiny.

With that said... being an ask-hole has caused me some headaches. Example: There's an internet-famous Zen teacher out there who used to threaten me with legal action because I didn't kiss his ass adequately. I didn't take his threat seriously because he couldn't spell my name right. Samsara.

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by SunWuKong » Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:53 am

Is this reading of the Lotus Sutra in translation? Or in the original text? There are passages that seem to conflict with what the larger Buddhist Canon finds to be, well, canonical. I've seem some translations of sutras that are perfectly understandable in one translation, but utterly incomprehensible in others. I'm just curious. And taking all this with a grain of salt.
"Cast off body and mind" (身心脱落 shēn xīn tuō luò)

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Re: What's an emanation?

Post by sillyrabbit » Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:24 pm

DGA wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:32 am
I'm bringing up this topic again because, as it turns out, this theme is consequential for how some practitioners approach their practice, and how certain practices are understood. To give an example from a DW thread a few years ago, here are portions of some posts that show how one particular interpretation of the emanations of Buddha Shakyamuni in the Lotus Sutra can lead a practitioner to reject one practice and embrace another (full text at the link):

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=9389
rory wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:48 am
I have a Tendai background and practiced pure land (which I heartily repent) so my allusion wasn't a shot or being mean, it's just my frame of reference.
rory wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:54 am
When I read in the Lotus Sutra that Amida was a replica Buddha preaching the Lotus Sutra in Sukhavati and we should abandon provisional paths, it entirely resonated and I abandoned the practice.
I leave it to you to determine if the Lotus Sutra actually makes such a claim about Amitabha (I don't think it does, but you can see for yourself). What interests me in these posts is that a specific narrative about what a Buddha is and does, based on a related narrative about one sutra, could lead a Dharma practitioner to sincerely repent of having done serious Dharma practice.

I don't wish to condemn or commend this kind of action. I'm just marking it as extraordinary and remarkable, because it seems to me that it is.

This is why I think it's worthwhile for Dharma practitioners to have some clarity on what the word "Buddha" means, and how the three kayas work: your understanding of these matters can impact your practice dramatically.
I thought this was more about what you think about dharma practices being meritorious. In similar situations, I would frame it as "the merit from earlier practices lead to greater capacity for practicing at a deeper level with this one" or something like that.

Plus, I think Nichiren thought has influence on how a lot of people think about applying the Lotus Sutra, even if they are not Nichiren Buddhists. He said that those of us who practice Pure Land are headed to Avici hell, for example. I think this contributes to the idea that emanations are like prophets, sweeping in when things seem headed for disaster, to tell us about the new ways.
Namo Amitabha Buddha
:hug:

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