Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

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Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:42 pm

Pure Land can easily appear to be a practice of the future, where this life is just a waiting period until birth in the Pure Land.
In this line of thinking, Amitabha's Western Paradise is far off indeed, unknown on this side of death.

Please share your experiences with the benefits of Pure Land practice in your daily lives.
How has Amida touched you as the person you are right now?
Quotes from teachers and masters such as Shinran and Honen are welcome as well.

For myself, without Pure Land Buddhism, I would not be a Buddhist today. I meditated for about four years, anapanasati mostly. I came to Buddhism to seek relief from depression, and the basics of morality, meditation, and study helped immensely. It was like taking medicine to relieve my worst symptoms of suffering. But to continue with the analogy, I continued the same unhealthy habits that lead to the illness in the first place: doubting everything, fleeing pain and unpleasant people, clinging to harmful pleasures, having unhealthy relationships with others... So while no longer suicidally ill with mental suffering, I realized how much difficulty remains just to be alive: a frail fragile body, relying on an unreliable world full of fellow confused people, trying to discern the right practices for the endless ills the mind experiences, and so on.

So one evening, after sitting through meditation which had started becoming like a crucible where I'd burn alive with every suffering thought until I'd start to sweat or weep, I said the nembutsu in desperation. I'm not sure where I'd even heard about it. I may have just said "Amitabha!"
The response was instant. I'd tried praying to God or Jesus or even Chenrezig before, but it was calling into the dark. If there was a response, I didn't recognize it.
Nembutsu was like finally finding a trail in endless undergrowth. The feeling was one of being washed over with relief, concern from something distinctly outside my small sphere of suffering, and joy. There was warmth like stepping out into the sun. I've had several mystical experiences, and experiences are fleeting and generally pointless as far as redirecting my life, but this still seems to me like an important milestone. It was the day I turned towards the Pure Land.

Since then, I begun to learn what what "never being abandoned by Amida" means.
Depression is a hell of a thing that still haunts me sometimes. Last year, when I felt like I was dying (and looked like it according to my terrified husband), it was after a few weeks of lapsing in nembutsu. Then I heard "namu amida butsu" deep in my mind which had mostly become numb and thoughtless. It grew and grew, and I became aware of my surroundings again. Instead of going to the hospital, I returned to the cool shade of Amida's tree.
I've also repeatedly wandered among practices, which all were dead ends, and at each dead end was the nembutsu, sometimes to the point that it surprised me. "What? Here too?" It's amazing the lengths I've gone to to ignore Amida, but even this ungrateful and runaway son has not been forgotten.

In terms of benefits in daily life, there are many.

* An increase in our sensitivity to our faults, the ways we hurt others. Shinran described this as Amida's light compassionately illuminating our true situation. Think of the significance of this: while others are blind to their own faults, blaming others and seeking gratification whatever the cost, merely saying "Namu Amida Butsu" reveals the true anger or greed behind so much of our lives and actions, and in this way, we can be humbler and gentler towards others. Egotistic pride dressed up in religious robes has no foothold.

* Another is nembutsu embraces all manner of defilements. Instead of having to choose which antidote to apply to fear, boredom, sadness, greed, hatred, and hoping we can do so under their powerful sway in the moment, we merely say nembutsu and remember Amida and our true home. This for me is one of the most tangible ways to know Amida in this life.
33rd Vow wrote:If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, who have been touched by my light, should not feel peace and happiness in their bodies and minds surpassing those of humans and devas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
* Nembutsu forces us to consider the fearful matter of death which so many choose to ignore. We lay down recognizing we may never rise again, so we say nembutsu. Getting in the car, we consider how many die in auto accidents every day, so we say nembutsu. I have a fear of being shot to death, so I realize that at any moment, a stray bullet may fly from a neighbor's house or the street through the wall and kill me, as sometimes happens in the news. Then I say nembutsu.
Instead of becoming despondent and pessimistic about the unknown time and place of our death, we prepare and rejoice for rebirth in the Pure Land. It goes without saying that many of the concerns of gain/loss, pride/notoriety, hate/love, and so forth lose their strength when faced with an abiding awareness of death. We are spared much worry in this way, remaining unabashedly realistic about the fragility of living even one more day.

* If we have strong habits of grasping at our suffering, we grasp the nembutsu instead. When we can do this, we are a little freer. When we cannot do this, we are nonetheless not abandoned by Amida, as his continual presence in our lives attests to.

* Nembutsu is easy and can be said at any time, in any place, under any circumstances, by anyone of any capacity. Practices like this are rare and precious. Beings burdened with doubt and hate and forgetfulness and so on are the special object of Amida's attention. So knowing of our faults gives rise to feelings of gratitude for this attention and pocket-sized practice. Instead of diving into self-loathing or discouragement as we may have done while trying other paths in the past, we are embraced and deepen our practice life.

Master Shinran famously wrote of the ten benefits a nembutsu devotee receives in this very life. It's quite long, but here's a link: http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... butsu.html

I'll research other writings on this important subject in the coming days.

I could go on, but would like to hear what others have to say.
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Last edited by Monlam Tharchin on Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by joy&peace » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:45 pm

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:50 am

I've been thinking up some posts along the very same line (looks like I was a bit too slow, DOH!).

Hope you don't mind, but before I get started with sharing my own experiences, I kinda wanted to talk about some of the ancillary benefits of Pure Land practice. This will probably take a few posts, but I thought maybe adding a bit each day could stimulate some discussion.

Here is kind of a summary of where I'm coming from:

The main goal of Pure Land Buddhism is Supreme Perfect Awakening for the purpose of guiding others. Pure Land teaches that the easiest way to accomplish this for people without any particular ability in meditation or other rigorous spiritual practices is through rebirth in Amida's Pure Land of Sukhavati. According to the sutras, in that land one will born in the perfect conditions for pure practices, with guidance from Buddhas and Bodhisattva Mahasattvas, and the ability to travel to other lands to guide sentient beings and make offerings to other Buddhas. Some interpret this land to be the formless realm of Nirvana itself. Some schools say such rebirth can occur while one is still living in this body, while other schools state that it is a post mortem experience. All schools of Pure Land recognize a significant shift in perspective, while we are still alive, when one's faith is settled and/or one achieves/receives Recitation Samadhi - assuring one's eventual rebirth in the Pure Land.

This drastic shift in perspective leads to a completely different approach to life and many other benefits according to first hand accounts. Even before this drastic shift in perspective, there are many ancillary benefits of Pure Land practices for the average practitioner. While these benefits are not the primary goal of Pure Land Buddhism, I do feel that they are important. I'd like to talk about these benefits in more detail, quoting sutras, commentaries of masters, personal experience, as well as reports from psychologists and other scientists.
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:52 am

Common Benefits of Buddhism

First I'd like to talk about some benefits that are common to most forms of Buddhism. Some Pure Land schools present themselves as a break from traditional forms of Buddhism. I don't agree with this. I don't think they are a break, so much as a different presentation with different priorities. I think the Eightfold path still applies to these schools, they just don't treat it like such a checklist. I won't cover the entire Eightfold Path, but give enough to get a start.

Right View
The first step on the Eightfold Path is Right View. Every school of Pure Land recites the Amitabha (Shorter Sukhavati) Sutra, which covers almost all of the 37 limbs of Enlightenment. As far as I can tell, no Pure Land school out there denies the 4 noble truths, the 3 marks of existence, or the fact that our suffering is caused by our deluded minds being driven by the 3 poisons. The truth of dukkha is a major factor in Pure Land thought. We know that our current lives are marked by suffering and impermanence. Every form of Pure Land recognizes Samsara as the burning house. Rennyo has a very pretty poem about impermanence, called On White Ashes.

Having Right View helps us deal with the world as it is. It helps us not agonize when things don't go our way. We realize that a lasting peace cannot be found in that which is dependently originated, because it is impermanent. We also accept the Mahayana outlook that Buddhahood for the sake of helping to liberate sentient beings is the highest path (but more on that later).
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Serenity509 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 4:19 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote:Pure Land can easily appear to be a practice of the future, where this life is just a waiting period until birth in the Pure Land.
In this line of thinking, Amitabha's Western Paradise is far off indeed, unknown on this side of death.

Please share your experiences with the benefits of Pure Land practice in your daily lives.
How has Amida touched you as the person you are right now?
Quotes from teachers and masters such as Shinran and Honen are welcome as well.

For myself, without Pure Land Buddhism, I would not be a Buddhist today. I meditated for about four years, anapanasati mostly. I came to Buddhism to seek relief from depression, and the basics of morality, meditation, and study helped immensely. It was like taking medicine to relieve my worst symptoms of suffering. But to continue with the analogy, I continued the same unhealthy habits that lead to the illness in the first place: doubting everything, fleeing pain and unpleasant people, clinging to harmful pleasures, having unhealthy relationships with others... So while no longer suicidally ill with mental suffering, I realized how much difficulty remains just to be alive: a frail fragile body, relying on an unreliable world full of fellow confused people, trying to discern the right practices for the endless ills the mind experiences, and so on.

So one evening, after sitting through meditation which had started becoming like a crucible where I'd burn alive with every suffering thought until I'd start to sweat or weep, I said the nembutsu in desperation. I'm not sure where I'd even heard about it. I may have just said "Amitabha!"
The response was instant. I'd tried praying to God or Jesus or even Chenrezig before, but it was calling into the dark. If there was a response, I didn't recognize it.
Nembutsu was like finally finding a trail in endless undergrowth. The feeling was one of being washed over with relief, concern from something distinctly outside my small sphere of suffering, and joy. There was warmth like stepping out into the sun. I've had several mystical experiences, and experiences are fleeting and generally pointless as far as redirecting my life, but this still seems to me like an important milestone. It was the day I turned towards the Pure Land.

Since then, I begun to learn what what "never being abandoned by Amida" means.
Depression is a hell of a thing that still haunts me sometimes. Last year, when I felt like I was dying (and looked like it according to my terrified husband), it was after a few weeks of lapsing in nembutsu. Then I heard "namu amida butsu" deep in my mind which had mostly become numb and thoughtless. It grew and grew, and I became aware of my surroundings again. Instead of going to the hospital, I returned to the cool shade of Amida's tree.
I've also repeatedly wandered among practices, which all were dead ends, and at each dead end was the nembutsu, sometimes to the point that it surprised me. "What? Here too?" It's amazing the lengths I've gone to to ignore Amida, but even this ungrateful and runaway son has not been forgotten.

In terms of benefits in daily life, there are many.

* An increase in our sensitivity to our faults, the ways we hurt others. Shinran described this as Amida's light compassionately illuminating our true situation. Think of the significance of this: while others are blind to their own faults, blaming others and seeking gratification whatever the cost, merely saying "Namu Amida Butsu" reveals the true anger or greed behind so much of our lives and actions, and in this way, we can be humbler and gentler towards others. Egotistic pride dressed up in religious robes has no foothold.

* Another is nembutsu embraces all manner of defilements. Instead of having to choose which antidote to apply to fear, boredom, sadness, greed, hatred, and hoping we can do so under their powerful sway in the moment, we merely say nembutsu and remember Amida and our true home. This for me is one of the most tangible ways to know Amida in this life.
33rd Vow wrote:If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters, who have been touched by my light, should not feel peace and happiness in their bodies and minds surpassing those of humans and devas, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
* Nembutsu forces us to consider the fearful matter of death which so many choose to ignore. We lay down recognizing we may never rise again, so we say nembutsu. Getting in the car, we consider how many die in auto accidents every day, so we say nembutsu. I have a fear of being shot to death, so I realize that at any moment, a stray bullet may fly from a neighbor's house or the street through the wall and kill me, as sometimes happens in the news. Then I say nembutsu.
Instead of becoming despondent and pessimistic about the unknown time and place of our death, we prepare and rejoice for rebirth in the Pure Land. It goes without saying that many of the concerns of gain/loss, pride/notoriety, hate/love, and so forth lose their strength when faced with an abiding awareness of death. We are spared much worry in this way, remaining unabashedly realistic about the fragility of living even one more day.

* If we have strong habits of grasping at our suffering, we grasp the nembutsu instead. When we can do this, we are a little freer. When we cannot do this, we are nonetheless not abandoned by Amida, as his continual presence in our lives attests to.

* Nembutsu is easy and can be said at any time, in any place, under any circumstances, by anyone of any capacity. Practices like this are rare and precious. Beings burdened with doubt and hate and forgetfulness and so on are the special object of Amida's attention. So knowing of our faults gives rise to feelings of gratitude for this attention and pocket-sized practice. Instead of diving into self-loathing or discouragement as we may have done while trying other paths in the past, we are embraced and deepen our practice life.

Master Shinran famously wrote of the ten benefits a nembutsu devotee receives in this very life. It's quite long, but here's a link: http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... butsu.html

I'll research other writings on this important subject in the coming days.

I could go on, but would like to hear what others have to say.
:group:
Thank you for starting this thread. I will be following it but not commenting. It's exactly the thread I've been wanting to see. I hope that this thread will benefit people, potentially myself.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by DGA » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:41 am

Serenity509 wrote:There is one last thing I would please like to share: The most refreshing kind of Nembutsu is when you don't care if Amida is a literal Buddha or not. Ultimate Reality is compassionately accepting you just as you are, and your own nature is one and the same as Ultimate Reality. Think of that for a second and then say the Nembutsu again. It feels good, doesn't it? Whether Amida is a literal Buddha or not, I take refuge in Infinite Light.
What is the difference between Ultimate Reality as you define it here and literal Buddha? It seems to me that ultimate reality is, literally, Buddha.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:39 pm

Continuing with benefits shared with most forms of Buddhism...

Ethics (Sila - Right Action)

Some forms of Pure Land Buddhism (such as the Japanese schools) interpret the sutras in such a way that they embrace a "Come as You Are" (そのまま - Sonomama) doctrine. In these teachings, practices such as perfect adherence to precepts do not preclude one from being born in Amida's Pure Land of Sukhavati. Some have misinterpreted this doctrine as carte-blanch to commit whatever evils they wish, but these misinterpretations have always been criticized by the patriarchs of the "Come as You Are" schools. Shinran's famous quote summarizes
Shinran's letter quoted in the Tannisho wrote:“Do not take a liking to poison just because there is an antidote.”
In a letter to a follower Honen said:
Honen to Minister Motochika wrote:...it is said that for the person who believes in the Original Vow, it doesn’t matter at all whether one breaks the precepts or not. This also doesn’t deserve any answer. Something like this can be found nowhere except in heretical Buddhism. Aren’t those who talk such nonsense in these days basically devils, making a sham of the nembutsu? This is all I can say on the subject at present.
As a result, all Pure Land schools still encourage followers to embrace standard Buddhist ethics in whatever capacity they are able. The goal is genuine practice and finding a level of naturalness (jinen/shizen 自然) in the practice, but still being aware of the suffering of all sentient beings. Pure Land abides by Mahayana doctrine and praxis. The goal of rebirth in the Pure Land is Buddhahood to help sentient beings.

The most basic form of Buddhist ethics is the 5 precepts. Even schools identified as "Come as You Are" still offer the 5 precepts to serious practitioners. These 5 precepts are: refraining from killing, refraining from stealing, refraining from sexual misconduct, refraining from lying (unskillful speech), and refraining from intoxicants. Upholding these 5 precepts can lead to a greater sense of harmony with those around the practitioner who is able to do so. Avoiding these behaviors will keep conflict with others to a minimum, leading to a greater sense of peace with one's life.
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Mon Oct 05, 2015 5:52 pm

Serenity wrote:I am so far happy with Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. The only problem I have with it is that I don't believe Amida is a literal Buddha or that the Pure Land is a literal place, but it's not really a problem since I haven't been pressured by BCA into believing these things literally anyway. I really appreciate that spiritual freedom.
Good to see you again, Serenity. I'd like to share a quote by Honen which responds to your post and also is a benefit of nembutsu in this life.
Master Honen wrote:I would say that one should recite nembutsu in whatever is the natural state one was born into. Since one is born into this world through the power of one’s residual karma, rectification is impossible. To illustrate, one born as a woman cannot become a man in this life even if she fervently desires to be a man. The wise should recite nembutsu as wise people do; the unlearned should recite nembutsu in their natural state; the compassionate should recite nembutsu with compassion; and one with aberrant views may recite nembutsu as a person with aberrant views. Each should recite nembutsu in his own manner. This is because Amida Buddha awakened his all-encompassing essential vow for all sentient beings in the ten directions.
Master Honen wrote:It is not taught that you should have tranquility of mind, remove all deterrents, and then recite nembutsu. Rather, you should recite nembutsu incessantly and rid yourself of your negative karma in that way.
In thinking of Amida in this or that way, a symbol or a person, these are all phantom thoughts in a phantom dream of life. As thoughts, they are unsatisfying, ever changing, and can't bring liberation.

So another benefit of nembutsu in this very life is we don't have to first establish tranquility of mind, remove doubt, build a house of correct views, and then say nembutsu in order to benefit. We just say nembutsu and entrust ourselves to Amida in the same breath. I think in this life, the pearl of nembutsu begins to clarify the muddy water of our minds and views.
The benefit here is that we can become free from cycles of doubt and seeking after religious opinions, which will always crumble in times of trouble.

Stepping out of the fray of confusion, we rest in the nembutsu, which is like the cool shade of Amida's tree, to use that metaphor a second time.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:57 pm

Nembutsu benefits for me are -

Immediate connection with the Buddha, consciously perceived

Awareness of the "sacramental" nature of the Nembutsu - the realization that, like the Catholic sacramental doctrine claims about the Eucharist, the Buddha is "fully present/fully delivered" in, by, and through Nembutsu.

A feeling of peaceful immersion in the infinite sea of perfection and grace that is Amida Buddha.

A sense of contact with the Buddha, that "it is no longer I, but the Buddha" who is primarily present in the recitation, because the Buddha himself issues the call to recite, and answers and/or echoes the call in the recitation.

Recitation serves as reminder that Amida is transcendent to all the samsaric "bombuhood", life, actions, feelings and thoughts that swarm around, but do not impede, the Nembutsu.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:16 pm

Split the other posts off into their own thread because it really is a completely separate topic.
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:22 pm

Compassion (Right Action)

One of the primary teachings in Buddhism of all flavors is compassion (metta). Pure Land practitioners are encouraged to recognize the compassion they receive in life, which makes them more willing to be compassionate to others (speaking from experience).

Having compassion for others has been shown to have many benefits, such as this top ten benefits of compassion Image or this article on the benefits of altruism

Learning to receive compassion can lead to being compassionate towards oneself. In psychology this may be termed "self-acceptance". In Pure Land thought, this is explained as realizing our foolish nature helps us realize that we are embraced by the Tathagata's compassion.

Honen quotes the Meditation Sutra...
Senchakushu Ch 7 wrote:It is said in the Meditation Sutra:
The Buddha of Immeasurable Life has the eighty-four thousand major marks of physical excellence, each one of which has the eighty-four thousand minor marks; each minor mark also has eighty-four thousand rays of light. Each ray of light shines throughout the ten directions of the universe. They all envelop the sentient beings who practice the Nembutsu and never abandon them.
Genshin is famous for saying:
Genshin wrote:“My eyes being hindered by blind passions,
    I cannot perceive the light that grasps me;
    Yet the great compassion, without tiring,
    Illuminates me always.”
Here's a relevant quote from Psychology Today Magazine:
Psychology Today Magazine wrote:Self-acceptance means you’ll stop being your own worst enemy. You’ll stop picking on yourself for things no one else even notices. You’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin and have an easier time being true to yourself. You’ll stop worrying so much about what other people think and have more control over the direction of your own life. Accepting also means accepting your limitations. That doesn’t mean you have to give up hope or stop striving to improve. But rather than focusing on things you can’t change, rather than setting impossibly high standards for yourself and setting yourself up to fail, concentrate on what you do well and on all you’ve done to get your self to this point. Even if all you are doing right now is reading self-help articles, that’s a big first step toward self-acceptance.
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Serenity509 » Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:06 pm

This is a thread on how the Nembutsu can help calm the mind:
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f= ... ind#p44642

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Oct 07, 2015 2:48 pm

Bodhicitta (goes along with Right Intention)

The distinguishing feature of Mahayana Buddhism is bodhicitta, the aspiration for Awakening for the benefit of all sentient beings. As mentioned, the goal of rebirth in the Pure Land is achieving Buddhahood to help all sentient beings; this requires bodhicitta. There have been many Mahayana masters who have extolled the benefits of cultivating bodhicitta. Shantideva gives one of the most extensive recommendations for bodhicitta in his Bodhisattvacharyavatara, which can be found on Alex Berzin's site here (it's a bit too long to quote directly). There have also been many modern masters who've expounded on these words, such as this video of the Dalai Lama
phpBB [video]


Some Pure Land schools say that generating Bodhicitta is a requirement for entry into the Pure Land. Other schools say that we "receive" Bodhicitta the moment our faith is settled (or the moment we "receive" a settled faith) because faith in Pure Land birth is faith in Buddhahood for the purpose of guiding sentient beings. One additional view is that Bodhicitta is developed in the Pure Land. This later view is due in part to reliance on the 18th Vow, rather than the 19th Vow (which requires activation of Bodhicitta), and also the following passage from the Contemplation Sutra:
The Contemplation Sutra - The Lowest birth in the Lowest Grade wrote: When the flower opens, Avalokiteśvara
and Mahāsthāmaprāpta teach him with voices of great compassion
the method of extinguishing evil karma through the realization of the suchness
of all dharmas. Hearing this, he rejoices and immediately awakens aspiration
for enlightenment (bodhicitta).
In other words, the 18th Vow doesn't require activating Bodhicitta and even the grave offenders born in the Lowest Level of the Lowest Grade of rebirth in Sukhavati are guaranteed awakening of Bodhicitta. Furthermore, there are a number of Vows in the Larger Sutra that guarantee certain stages along the Bodhisattva path be made available to residents of Sukhavati, some of these levels (such as 8th Bhumi) would require bodhicitta.

Interestingly, the Pure Land school(s) that advocate the last view of Bodhicitta not being required still recite the Bodhisattva Vows daily and dedicate all their merit for the sake of all sentient beings.
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Serenity509 » Wed Oct 07, 2015 4:31 pm

Humanistic psychiatry is based on the idea of unconditional positive regard, that the best way to help heal the patient is to show unconditional acceptance and respect. Every time I say the Nembutsu, I am reminded of the unconditional acceptance that Amida has for me.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:21 pm

Traditional Benefits of Buddha Name recitation
(Right Mindfulness - Right Concentration)

Sutra benefits

The Mahanama Sutta (1) in volume 5 page 328 (PTS) of the Anguttara Nikaya says:
Anguttara Nikaya v 328 wrote:"Excellent, Mahanama, excellent! It is fitting for clansmen like you to approach the Tathagata and ask, 'For those of us living by means of various dwelling places [for the mind], by means of which dwelling place should we live?'

"One who is aroused to practice is one of conviction, not without conviction. One aroused to practice is one with persistence aroused, not lazy. One aroused to practice is one of established mindfulness, not muddled mindfulness. One aroused to practice is centered in concentration, not uncentered. One aroused to practice is discerning, not undiscerning.

"Established in these five qualities, you should further develop six qualities:

[1] "There is the case where you recollect the Tathagata: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened, blessed.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Of one who does this, Mahanama, it is said: 'Among those who are out of tune, the disciple of the noble ones dwells in tune; among those who are malicious, he dwells without malice; having attained the stream of Dhamma, he develops the recollection of the Buddha.'
The Mahanama Sutta (2) in volume 5 page 332 (PTS) of the Anguttara says all of the above, but in place of the last paragraph, it includes:
Anguttara Nikaya v 332 wrote:"Mahanama, you should develop this recollection of the Buddha while you are walking, while you are standing, while you are sitting, while you are lying down, while you are busy at work, while you are resting in your home crowded with children.
In the Sarakaani Sutta in volume 5 page 375 (PTS) of the Samyutta Nikaya it says:
Samyutta Nikaya v 375 wrote:"Mahaanaama, take the case of a man endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, declaring 'He is the Blessed One...,' the Dhamma... the Sangha... He is joyous and swift in wisdom, one who has gained release. By the destruction of the cankers he has by his own realization gained the cankerless heart's release, the release through wisdom, in this very life, and abides in it. The man is entirely released from the hell-state, from rebirth as an animal, he is free from the realm of hungry ghosts, fully freed from the downfall, the evil way, from states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha... the Dhamma... the Sangha... he is joyous and swift in wisdom but has not gained release. Having destroyed the five lower fetters, he is reborn spontaneously where he will attain Nibbaana without returning from that world. That man is entirely released from... states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha. But he is not joyous in wisdom and has not gained release. Yet by destroying three fetters[6] and weakening lust, hatred and delusion, he is a Once-returner, who will return once more to this world and put an end to suffering. That man is entirely freed from... states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha. But he is not joyous in wisdom and has not gained release. Yet by destroying three fetters he is a Stream-Winner, not subject to rebirth in states of woe, assured of enlightenment. That man is entirely freed... from states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is not even endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha. He is not joyous and swift in wisdom and has not gained release. But perhaps he has these things: the faculty of faith, of energy, of mindfulness, of concentration, of wisdom. And the things proclaimed by the Tathaagata are moderately approved by him with insight. That man does not go to the realm of hungry ghosts, to the downfall, to the evil way, to states of woe.

"Take the case of another man. He is not even endowed with unwavering devotion to the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha. He is not joyous and swift in wisdom and has not gained release. But he has just these things: the faculty of faith, of energy, of mindfulness, of concentration, of wisdom. Yet if he has merely faith, merely affection for the Tathaagata, that man, too, does not go to... states of woe.

"Why, Mahaanaama, if these great sal trees could distinguish what is well spoken from what is ill spoken, I would proclaim these great sal trees to be Stream-Winners... bound for enlightenment, how much more so then Sarakaani the Sakyan! Mahaanaama, Sarakaani the Sakyan fulfilled the training at the time of death.'
The Abhisanda Sutta in volume 4 page 245 (PTS) of the Anguttara Nikaya it says:
Anguttara Nikaya iv 245 wrote:"There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones has gone to the Buddha for refuge. This is the first reward of merit, reward of skillfulness, nourishment of happiness, celestial, resulting in happiness, leading to heaven, leading to what is desirable, pleasurable, & appealing; to welfare & to happiness.
The Amitabha Sutra says:
Amitabha Sutra wrote:“Śāriputra, if, among good men and good women, there are those who, having heard of Amitābha Buddha, single-mindedly uphold His name for one day, two days, three days, four days, five days, six days, or seven days, without being distracted, then upon their dying, Amitābha Buddha, together with a holy multitude, will appear before them. When these people die, their minds will not be demented and they will be reborn in Amitābha Buddha’s Land of Ultimate Bliss. Śāriputra, I see this benefit, so I speak these words. If there are sentient beings that hear what I say, they should resolve to be reborn in that land.

...

Śāriputra, if there are good men and good women who have heard and upheld this sūtra, and have heard Buddhas’ names, they are protected and remembered by all Buddhas. They will never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi. Therefore, Śāriputra, you all should believe and accept my words and other Buddhas’ words. If there are those who have resolved, are now resolving, or will resolve to be reborn in Amitābha Buddha’s land, they will never regress from their resolve to attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi, whether they have already been reborn, are now being reborn, or will be reborn in that land. Therefore, Śāriputra, if, among good men and good women, there are those who believe [my words], they should resolve to be reborn in that land.
The Amitayus (Larger Sukhavati) Sutra states:
Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Amitāyus Buddha wrote:hen such Bodhisattvas make offerings to Buddhas, they magically manifest themselves like flashes of lightning. They skillfully learn the way of fearlessness and fully understand that dharmas are illusory. They annihilate the webs of māras and liberate sentient beings from bondage and fetters. Transcending the ground of voice-hearers and Pratyekabuddhas, they attain the Three Samādhis: emptiness, no appearance, and no wish. By skillful means, they present the Three Vehicles. For those of middling or low capacity, they demonstrate parinirvāṇa. Knowing that [in true reality] there is neither action nor existence, neither arising nor ceasing, they realize the truth of equality and fully attain innumerable dhāranīs and hundreds and thousands of samādhis. As their faculties and wisdom remain in boundless silence, they delve into the store of the Bodhisattva Dharma and attain the Samādhi of Buddha Adornment. While they remain inside the profound Samādhi Door, they see Buddhas before them.

Then they promote and expound the Dharma in all the sūtras. In the instant of a thought, they visit everywhere in all Buddha Lands, rescuing those in extreme suffering, both those who do and those who do not find respite from suffering. As they explicate the true reality of dharmas, they acquire a Tathāgata’s eloquence. With mastery of the languages of the multitudes, they educate and transform them all. Having transcended the dharmas of the world, their minds abide in ways to deliver the world. With command of all things in the world, they are the unasked friends to multitudes of sentient beings, and they carry the heavy load of sentient beings [to the shore of nirvāṇa].

As such Bodhisattvas accept and uphold Tathāgatas’ profound Dharma store, they protect those of the Tathāgata character-type and help them to carry on this character-type. Exuding great compassion for sentient beings, they speak to them with lovingkindness to open their dharma-eye. As they block the three evil life-paths, they open the door to the good life-paths and, unasked, they teach the Dharma to the multitudes. Like a dutiful son who loves and respects his parents, they regard sentient beings as they do themselves. All their roots of goodness contribute to their crossing over to the shore of nirvāṇa, as they acquire the immeasurable merit, inconceivable wisdom, and holy knowledge of Buddhas.

...

As a long lifespan is hard to obtain,
Even harder is to encounter a Buddha appearing in the world.
It is difficult for people to have faith and wisdom.
Those who energetically seek to hear the Dharma
And do not forget the Dharma they have heard
Will face that Buddha and receive great benefits.
Therefore, my good kinfolk and friends,
You should resolve
To hear the Dharma
Even if the world is in flames.
Then you will definitely attain Buddha bodhi
To rescue all those in the flow of birth and death.

...

As one toils painfully, it is like a huge fire burning one’s body. In its midst, if one can control one’s mind and harness one’s body only to do good, not evil, one will achieve liberation, acquire merit, transcend the world, and attain nirvāṇa.

...

As one toils painfully, it is like a huge fire burning one’s body. In its midst, if one can control one’s mind and harness one’s body to think the right thoughts, to act according to one’s words with utmost sincerity, to keep one’s words in accord with one’s mind, and to do good, not evil, one will achieve liberation, acquire merit, transcend the world, and attain nirvāṇa.

...

The Buddha told Maitreya Bodhisattva, “If there is a person who, having heard that Buddha’s name, is joyful and exuberant even for a single thought, know that he has acquired great benefits and unsurpassed merits. Therefore, Maitreya, even if there is an enormous fire filling this entire Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, one regardless should cross the fire to hear this sūtra, delight and believe in it, accept and uphold it, read and recite it, and train accordingly. Why? Because there are many Bodhisattvas who wish to hear this sūtra but do not have access. If sentient beings have heard this sūtra, they will never regress from their resolve to attain the unsurpassed bodhi. Therefore, they should deeply believe in this sūtra, accept and uphold it, recite and pronounce it, and carry out its teachings. For the sake of sentient beings, I have pronounced this sūtra and enabled them to see Amitāyus Buddha and everything in His land, so that they can resolve to do what should be done and not allow doubts to arise after my parinirvāṇa.
The Vizualization Sutra says
Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Visualization of Amitāyus Buddha wrote:The Buddha told Ānanda, “This sūtra is called Visualization of the Land of Ultimate Bliss, Amitāyus Buddha, Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, and Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva. It is also called Annihilating Karma Hindrances and Being Reborn before Buddhas. All of you should accept and uphold it, never forgetting or losing it. Those who train in this samādhi will, in their present life, succeed in seeing Amitāyus Buddha and the two Great Ones. If, among good men and good women, there are those who hear the names of that Buddha and the two Bodhisattvas, their sins which would entail innumerable kalpas of birth and death will all be expunged. Even more will their benefits be if they remember and think of them. Know that, if a person thinks of that Buddha, this person is a puṇḍarīka flower among men. Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived will be his beneficent friends, and he will be reborn in Buddha family, to be seated in a bodhimaṇḍa.”
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:32 pm

Traditional Benefits
(Right Mindfulness - Right Concentration)


Benefits According to Shan-Tao
Shan-Tao in the Commentary on the Meditation Sutra wrote:The Buddha extends his great compassion toward those who are suffering most. Amida Buddha pities and cherishes especially those who are bound by delusion. Therefore he welcomes such people to his Pure Land. If he will not save one who is actually drowning, why should he save one who is relaxing on the river bank? (T. 1753, 37:248b; JZ. 2:6)
Master Shan-Tao wrote:Sentient beings who recite Amitabha’s name can immediately clear the offenses of many kalpas. When they die, Amitabha and the sacred assembly will appear naturally to welcome them. This cannot be impeded by any negative karma. Therefore [recitation] is known as an augmentative cause.
Shan-tao's Commentary on the Meditation Sutra wrote:When sentient beings constantly and reverently prostrate themselves before Amida Buddha with their body, Amida Buddha will see them. When they arouse themselves to practice and to always recite with their lips the name of Amida Buddha, Amida Buddha will hear them. When they constantly think of Amida Buddha in their hearts, Amida Buddha will think them. In these three kinds of karmic acts, Amida Buddha and sentient beings are not separate from each other. Hence, they are called intimate karmic relations.(SHZ. 559)
Shan-tao's Commentary on the Meditation Sutra wrote:"When sentient beings desire to see Amida Buddha, he, in response to their desire, will appear before their very eyes. Hence, this is called close karmic relations."(T. 1753, 37:268a)
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:33 pm

Traditional Benefits
(Right Mindfulness - Right Concentration)


Benefits According to Honen
Honen's Words to a Believer (Aruhito-ni Shimesu-kotoba) wrote:Amida Buddha fulfilled the forty-eight vows and established the Pure Land. He always listens to a person who utters his name day and night. Therefore, the one and only vow one should depend on is that made by Amida Buddha. The saving light of Amida Buddha never fails to shine on the nembutsu practitioner. His coming to welcome the practitioner at the time of death is sure to happen. (SHZ. 588)
Summary of Honen's thought in the Senchakushu wrote:"If sentient beings should hear the name of Amida Buddha, and dance for joy, should think of him even once, then they can be sure of attaining the great benefit of acquiring unsurpassable merit." (T. 360, 279a)

...

The nembutsu was chosen by Amida Buddha and that Amida's rays of light embrace the sentient beings who practice the nembutsu and never abandon them. (T. 365, 343b) This idea is explained in Chapter Seven (of the Senchakushu).
Rev. Harper Havelock Coates and Rev. Ryugaku Ishizuka, tr. Honen, the Buddhist saint: his life and teaching, p. 636 wrote:At the hour of the serpent (10 a.m.), on the same day, his disciples brought him an image of Amida, three feet high, and as they put it on the right side of his bed, asked him if he could see it. With his finger pointing to the sky he said, "There is another Buddha here besides this one. Do you not see him?" Then he went on to say, "As a result of the merit of repeating the sacred name, I have, for over ten years past continually been gazing on the glory of the Pure Land, and the very forms of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but I have kept it secret and said nothing about it. Now, however, as I draw near the end, I disclose it to you." The disciples then took a piece of cord made of five-colored strands, fastened it to the hand of the Buddha's image, and told Honen to take hold of it. Declining, he said, "This is the ceremony for most men, but hardly necessary for me."
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:33 pm

Traditional Benefits
(Right Mindfulness - Right Concentration)


Benefits According to Shinran
Kyogyoshinsho Chapter on Practice wrote: [Summarizing Shan-Tao's Q & A]
Question: What virtues and benefits in the present life accrue from saying Amida’s Name and worshiping and contemplating the Buddha?

Answer: If one utters a single voicing of “Amida Buddha,” one immediately eradicates the grave karmic evil that will bind one to eighty billion kalpas of birth-and-death. Worshiping and thinking on Amida and performing the other acts bring about the same result. It is declared in the Sutra of the Ten Ways of Attaining Birth:

When sentient beings think on Amida Buddha and aspire for birth, the Buddha immediately sends the twenty-five bodhisattvas to protect them; whether those beings are walking or sitting, standing or lying down, whether it is day or night, at all times and in all places, evil spirits and evil deities are given no chance to obstruct them.

Further, it is declared in the Contemplation Sutra:

When practicers say Amida’s Name, worship and think on the Buddha, and aspire to be born in the Buddha’s land, the Buddha immediately sends innumerable manifestation-bodies of Buddhas, of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, and of Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta to protect them. Together with the twenty-five bodhisattvas mentioned before, they surround the practicers a hundredfold, a thousandfold, and never part from them, whether they are walking, standing, sitting, or lying, at all times and in all places, whether it is day or night.

Now, since there are these excellent benefits, entrust yourself! May all practicers, accepting Amida’s sincere mind, seek birth in the Pure Land!

Further, the Sutra of Immeasurable Life states:

If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters say my Name even ten times but do not attain birth, may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.

The Buddha is now actually there in the Pure Land, and has attained Buddhahood. Know that the momentous Primal Vow is not in vain, and that when sentient beings say the Name, they unfailingly attain birth.

Further, the Amida Sutra states:

If sentient beings hear someone preach the teaching of Amida Buddha, they should hold steadfast to the Name. For one day, or two days, up to seven days, they should single-heartedly say the Name of the Buddha and not be disturbed by other thoughts. When their lives are about to end, Amida Buddha will appear before them with all the saintly host. At the time of death, their minds will not be inverted, and they will immediately attain birth in the Pure Land.

Sakyamuni Buddha said to Sariputra, “Seeing these benefits, I say: If a sentient being hears this teaching, he or she should awaken aspiration and desire to be born in that land!”

Following this the sutra states:

The Buddhas of the eastern quarter, countless as the sands of the Ganges, as well as the countless Buddhas of each of the other quarters – south, west, north, zenith, and nadir – each in their own lands, extending their tongues and covering all the great triple-thousandfold worlds, preach these true and sincere words: “All you sentient beings should accept this sutra of all Buddhas’ protection!”

Why is it called [the sutra of] “protection”? It is taught that if sentient beings say Amida’s Name and think on the Buddha, for seven days, or one day, down to one voicing – even to ten voicings or a single utterance – they will unfailingly attain birth. [The Buddhas] give witness to this; hence the words, “sutra of all Buddhas’ protection.”

Following this is the statement:

The person who, saying the Name of the Buddha, attains birth, is constantly protected by the Buddhas throughout the six directions, countless as the sands of the Ganges; hence the words, “sutra of all Buddhas’ protection.”

Now, since we have this supreme Vow, you should entrust yourself to it. Why do not all disciples of the Buddha endeavor in their hearts to go forth [to the Pure Land]?

Further he states:

Concerning the “universal Vow,” it is as set forth in the Larger Sutra. The attainment of birth of all foolish beings, whether good or evil, is always, without exception, by being carried by the karmic power of Amida Buddha’s great Vow and accepting it as the decisive cause.

Further he states:

Namu means “to take refuge.” It further signifies aspiring for birth and directing virtue. Amida-butsu is the practice. Because of this import, one necessarily attains birth.

Further he states:

Concerning the expression, Each living thing being grasped by Amida, a manifestation of the decisive cause of birth: it is declared among the Forty-eight Vows taught in the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life, “If, when I attain Buddhahood, the sentient beings of the ten quarters, aspiring to be born in my land, saying my Name even down to ten times, and being carried by the power of my Vow, were not to be born there, then may I not attain the supreme enlightenment.” This means that practicers who aspire to be born are grasped by the power of the Vow and brought to attainment of birth when their lives end. Hence the expression, Each living thing being grasped by Amida, a manifestation of the decisive cause of birth.

Further he states:

The Buddhas desire to bring all foolish beings, whether good or evil, to turn about at heart, express this in practice, and so attain birth. This is the witness to birth through the nembutsu, a manifestation of the decisive cause of birth in the Pure Land.

Further he states:

The dharma-gates, each distinct, number eighty-four thousand,
But the keen blade for severing ignorance, its effects, and the karmic causes of suffering,
Is the Name of Amida:
In a single utterance, one’s karmic evil is completely swept away.

Gone are countless traces of past karma and the designing thoughts arising from them;
Even without being instructed, we turn and enter the gate of suchness.

Gaining freedom from long kalpas of suffering in this Saha world
Is above all the benevolence of Sakyamuni, the true teacher; Using various skillful means, carefully devised,
He selected the gate of Amida’s universal Vow and enabled us to enter it.
Shinran's Hymns on Benefits in the Present wrote:Amida Tathagata came forth and guided beings,
Teaching the “Chapter on Life-span”
In the Sutra of Golden Splendor
In order to end calamities and ensure long life.

Out of compassionate concern for the people of the land,
Master Saicho of Mount Hiei said that
One should utter “Namu-amida-butsu”
As a spell for eliminating the seven calamities.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
Which surpasses all virtues,
Our heavy obstructions of evil – past, present, and future –
Are all unfailingly transformed, becoming light.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
The benefits we gain in the present are boundless;
The karmic evil of our transmigration in birth-and-death disappears,
And determinate karma and untimely death are eliminated.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
Brahma and Indra venerate us;
All the benevolent gods of the heavens
Protect us constantly, day and night.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
The four great deva-kings together
Protect us constantly, day and night,
And let no evil spirits come near.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
The earth-goddess called Firmness
Reveres and protects us constantly, day and night,
Accompanying us always just as shadows do things.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
Nanda, Upananda, and the other great nagas,
Along with the countless naga-gods, revere
And protect us constantly, day and night.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
Yama, the king of the dead, reveres us,
And the officers who judge the beings of the five courses of existence
All protect us constantly, day and night.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
We are protected by the great king of maras
Residing in the sixth heaven;
This he vowed to do in the presence of Sakyamuni Buddha.

The gods of the heavens and earth
Are all to be called good,
For together they protect
The person of the nembutsu.

Shinjin that is the inconceivable working of the power of the Vow
Is none other than the mind aspiring for great enlightenment;
The evil spirits that abound in heaven and earth
All hold in awe the person who has attained it.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta,
Together with bodhisattvas countless as the Ganges’ sands or as particles,
Accompany us just as shadows do things.

Countless Amida Buddhas reside
In the light of the Buddha of Unhindered Light;
Each one of these transformed Buddhas protects
The person of true and real shinjin.

When we say “Namu-amida-butsu,”
The countless Buddhas throughout the ten quarters,
Surrounding us a hundredfold, a thousandfold,
Rejoice in and protect us.
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Oct 08, 2015 3:34 pm

Traditional Benefits
(Right Mindfulness - Right Concentration)


Benefits According to Other Masters:
Master Lianchi (蓮池大師), in his Notes and Commentary on the Amitabha Sutra (阿彌陀經疏鈔) wrote:"Amitabha positions himself constantly above the heads of those who recite his name and protects them day and night. He does not let their enemies approach them easily. Reciters enjoy peace and security in the present life. When they die, they are reborn as a matter of course in the Pure Land."
Hsuan Hua, Buddha Root Farm, p. 41. wrote: The real mark is apart from marks; it is not attached to any distinguishing characteristics. It has left all dharmas behind, and swept away all marks. This is the investigation of the dhyana [Zen] Dharma-door. Those who truly practice dhyana truly chant the Buddha's name as well. Those who can really recite the Buddha's name are, in fact, investigating dhyana. Dhyana practice and Buddha Recitation both help you to stop your idle thoughts and sweep away your personal desires and random thoughts, so that your original face can appear. This is called real mark recitation.
Hsuan Hua, A General Explanation of the Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra, p. 42. wrote: This [Pure Land] Dharma-door fights poison with poison. False thinking is like poison, and unless you counter it with poison, you will never cure it. Reciting the Buddha's name is fighting false thinking with false thinking. It is like sending out an army to defeat an army, to fight a battle to end all battles. If you have a good defense, other countries won't attack. Constant recitation drives out false thinking so that you may attain the Buddha-recitation samadhi.
Hsuan Hua, A General Explanation of the Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra, p. 110. wrote: As we recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha," we each create and adorn our own Land of Ultimate Bliss. We each accomplish our own Land of Ultimate Bliss which is certainly not hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhalands from here. Although it is far away, it doesn't go beyond one thought. It's not hundreds of thousands of millions of Buddhalands from here, it's right in our hearts. The Land of Ultimate Bliss is the original true heart, the true mind, of every one of us. If you obtain this heart, you will be born in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. If you don't understand your own original true heart, you will not. The Land of Ultimate Bliss is within our hearts, not outside ... Amitabha Buddha and living beings do not discriminate between this and that, for the Land of Ultimate Bliss is not so far away. In one thought, turn the light within. Know that you are the Buddha, and your original Buddhahood is just the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
The Teaching of the Buddha. Tokyo: Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai wrote: Amida Buddha is not far from anyone. His Land of Purity is described as being far away to the west but it is, also, within the minds of those who earnestly wish to be born there... To those who have faith, He offers the opportunity to become one with Him. As this Buddha is the all-inclusive body of equality, whoever thinks of Buddha, Buddha thinks of him and enters his mind freely.

This means that when a person thinks of Buddha, he has Buddha's mind in all its pure and happy and peaceful perfection. In other words, his mind is a Buddha-mind.
[quote="Kenneth K. Tanaka, "Where is the Pure Land?" in Pacific World, Fall 1987."]From the ultimate standpoint, the Pure Land is not to be taken as an existent place in the way ordinary beings are predisposed to understand it. The admonition against such a view of the Pure Land is found in the following passage: "A foolish person in hearing birth in the Pure Land understands it as birth and in hearing non-birthunderstands it as nonbirth. He thus fails to realize the identity of birth and non-birth and of non-birth and birth" ... Having said that, however, the Pure Land proponents acknowledge that the capacity of ordinary, unenlightened people is such that they have no choice but to regard the Pure Land as optically existent ... The objective presentation of the Pure Land accords with the emotional and intellectual make-up of ordinary beings whose capacity affords only a literal understanding of the sutra description ... Only through their relationship with the Pure Land of form can the ultimate reality be realized.

But the question remains as to how beings are able to realize enlightenment through grasping at forms of Pure Land, which strikes as being antithetical to the fundamental Buddhist practice. T'ao-Ch'o [a Pure Land Patriarch] argues: "Although this is grasping onto form, such grasping does not constitute binding attachment. In addition, the form of the Pure Land being discussed here is identical to form without defilements, form that is true form ... It is like lighting fire on top of ice. As the fire intensifies, the ice melts. When the ice melts, then the fire goes out ..." According to this explanation, an ordinary being is able to engage the ultimate realm without that person fully understanding the ultimate nature. This process skillfully uses the form (rooted in truth) to transcend form in order to enter the formless. When the formless is attained, the previous attachment to form disappears ... [/quote]
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Oct 09, 2015 5:06 pm

Stories of Pure Land practitioners

Pristine Pure Land school
This school's site hosts a number of Recitation stories and most of them might be a bit hard to swallow for
someone not well established in Pure Land Buddhism. Here is an example of an experience that I think most
can relate to:
Recorded in English by Jasmine Min-Hwa Lin, Boston, U.S.A., on Feb. 22, 2013 wrote:“I went to a hardware store two weeks before Thanksgiving to look for something,” Loren said. “When I
raised my hands to reach the item, suddenly my back felt so painful. I left quickly and drove home. The pain
was so great that I had to lean forward against the steering wheel from time to time. I suffered from the pain
all morning and didn’t know what to do. Later I decided to chant the music in your office. I browsed the web,
found the music and started chanting. My daughters (one was 6 and the other 4) chanted with me. I felt the
pain lessen after a few minutes. Half an hour later, the pain was gone and I was fine.” After hearing his
story, I told him, “Good for you! Amituofo helped relieve your pain.”
Here are some of the more miraculous accounts:
http://www.purelandbuddhism.org/Account ... 20Card.htm
http://www.purelandbuddhism.org/Account ... merica.htm
http://www.purelandbuddhism.org/Account ... tation.htm
http://www.purelandbuddhism.org/Account ... 20Name.htm
http://www.purelandbuddhism.org/Account ... Ghosts.htm
http://www.purelandbuddhism.org/Account ... tation.htm
http://www.purelandbuddhism.org/Account ... tation.htm

Saichi & Myokonin
In Shin Buddhism, there is the concept of Myokonin or "wonderfully good people".
For more about them, see Alfred Bloom's summary here:
http://shindharmanet.com/course/c19/
Also:
http://www.threewheels.co.uk/index.php? ... view&id=14
Alfred Bloom's course Chapter 19 wrote:Myokonin tend to
have no social status. They appear in villages, in market places, in a variety of occupations. Since Pure
Land Buddhism, including Shinshu, was persecuted in the post Kamakura period in Japan, they tended to adopt
a passive attitude. This tendency gained strength from the idea of being a defiled person of the last age,
inferior and low in potential. The attitudes which they expressed were Arigatai — thankfulness, Mottainai —
unworthiness, and katejikenai — gratitude. Such attitudes, under social or political stress, were generally
non-resistant and harmless.

Most characteristic of the myokonin is their attitude of absolute acceptance despite any evil or danger, and
their ability within such difficult, threatening circumstances, to express joy and gratitude. Such was
possible because of the unification in their person of the Shinshu experience of faith — the simultaneity
and spontaneity of gratitude and repentance. Theirs was an inner trans-ethical conversion that realized the
unity of Buddha and being (Ki-ho-ittai). The awareness of this transforming, permeating sense of oneness and
interdependence as expressed in the Nembutsu is indicated in their free and uninhibited life attitude — an
attitude that goes beyond social compliance and social ethic, that roots in Nature — Jinen. There develops
in these myokonin an inner autonomy resulting from the self-denial which opens them to the relation with the
absolute dharma. The theological bases of their religious outlook consist of the principles of the Unity of
Buddha and Beings (Bonbutsuittai, Kihoittai) and the concept of Jinenhoni, naturalness, stressed by Shinran
(truth becoming so by itself). The subtle non-dual-duality of their Shin consciousness is succinctly
expressed by Saichi:
“How wretched!
What is it that makes up my heart?
It is no other than my own filled with infinitude of guilt,
Into which the two syllables na-mu have come,
And by these syllables infinitude of guilt is borne,
It is Amida who bears infinitude of guilt.
The oneness of the ki and the ho –
‘Namu-amida-butsu!’”
In more emotional terms, Saichi exclaims:
“My joy!
How beyond thought!
Self and Amida and the Namu-Amida-Butsu.
How fine!
The whole world and vastness of space is Buddha!
And I am in it –
‘Namu-amida-butsu!’”
“My heart and Oya-sama –
We have just one heart
Of Namu-amida-butsu”
As you can see, Myokonin experience benefits in this life due to their faith in Amida.

Venerable Heng Sure
Dharma Master Heng Sure of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery relates some interesting stories from his own experiences:
phpBB [video]

(On a side note: his story about kung fu movies is exactly how I heard Buddha Name Recitation the first time.)

Venerable Hsuan Hua
Venerable Heng Sure's teacher was Dharma Master Hsuan Hua.
Here is a story related by one of Ven Hsuan Hua's disciples, here referring to Ven Hsuan Hua as "Shi Fu":
Buddha Root Farm wrote: Disciple: This is a story I’ve already told everyone at Gold Mountain Monastery, but there are so many new
people that I’d like to tell it again.
There was an eighty-year old lady. When Shi Fu was in Hong Kong, he had a temple built on top of a mountain
and you had to walk up eight hundred steps to get there. I wasn’t clear about the details last time and Shi
Fu had to tell me, so I know them now.
This eighty-year-old lady was deaf, yet every day she would go to Shi Fu’s Dharma lecture. She insisted on
going even though she couldn’t hear. After a while, one day when everyone was chanting, all of a sudden she
could hear them. On the night before this, she had had a dream in which three fat children ran into her
stomach, and from then on she had to eat every hour. She had to go down in the middle of the Sutra lectures
and cook something for herself and go back to the lecture. This went on for about a week and then she
decided to tell Shi Fu.

Shi Fu would get up very early in the morning and take supplies to an island where he was building a temple,
and he would return in the evening for the Sutra lecture. The elderly lady got ready to meet him as he was
coming up the steps. She told him her dream. Shi Fu told her to light a stick of incense at midnight. She
went back and lit incense at midnight and then she saw Weitou Bodhisattva take the children by the ear and
drag them away. Shi Fu later told her the Bodhisattva was taking them to jail. Afterwards she was cured of
her hunger ailment.

The reason she had it in the first place was because in her past life her friend had had that ailment and
she had not believed it. She had accused her friend of making it up. That was why she had received this
retribution in this life. When she herself had the ailment, a lot of people said she was faking it. Those
people will receive a similar retribution in the future.
Venerable Jing Kong (Chin Kung)
Here are some stories from Buddhist Master Jingkong of the Amitabha Society:
phpBB [video]


Stories from Vietnamese teachers
There are tons of Buddha Name Recitation benefits and Pure Land birth stories in Vietnamese, unfortunately I don't speak it. Fortunately, there are a number of letters hosted by the Dharma Flower Temple discussing Philosophical conversations with followers regarding the benefits of Buddha Name Recitation. Here is a link to one of the best stories regarding benefits of Pure Land practice in dealing with daily life struggles (it's a bit too long to quote directly):
http://www.dharmaflowertemple.com/index ... &Itemid=62

Jodo Shu stories
The Jodo Shu North America website has a few stories on their website:
http://english.jodoshuna.org/resources/ ... teachings/
...including the following story:
CALMNESS THROUGH NEMBUTSU, Dr. William R. LaFleur wrote:Excerpt II from “Concentration and Understanding” A Bukkyo University Los Angeles Extension Lecture

In his extremely helpful essay, “The Historical Development of Nembutsu,” Dr. Atone points out that Shan-tao
in China and Honen in Japan insisted on the importance of vocalizing the Nembutsu. He writes of the
“milestone” achieved when these two figures achieved a “transformation of Nembutsu from mental to vocal.* I
think this is very important. Although I surely am no expert on these things, if I understand correctly,
Shan-tao and Honen were pointing out something they had come to realize, namely that beneficial meditation
will not just go on in the mind; to tap into the emotional resources for calmness there within the body, it
needs bodily articulation. In Nembutsu the mind is joined as one with the vocal chords, the tongue and the
lips. And even when Buddhists referred to the “mind of Buddha,” they say that “mind” in full body – as in
the much admired Buddhist sculptures that show Buddhas and bodhisattvas seated in perfect tranquility. And,
to state something obvious, we humans cannot sit unless we are embodied beings. And saying “Namu Amida
Butsu” is something we do with our mouths because we who are en-bodied are also, if we can say so, “en-
mouthed.”

Some contemporary philosophers, by the way, are finally starting to realize this. Some of them now regularly
point out that we humans not only have bodies, but are bodies. And to say this is not to descend into
materialism; it is, rather, to fill out the details of what the spirituality of human beings will be like.
Dogen and Honen would, in spite of minor differences they had, agree on this point.
Most of my own experience is this has been through the practice of meditation in the zen tradition. But I
think it is not fundamentally different from the Nembutsu practice and, as Shan-tao and Honen insisted many
centuries ago, the Nembutsu provides for far more people a more accessible venue for bringing a peaceful
heart and consciousness where there before had been only a writhing soul and psyche of insatiable desires.
Nembutsu turns on within us the emotion of calmness.

I witnessed this with my own eyes many decades ago while traveling alone in Japan. I was staying alone in a
Japanese inn in Kyushu and having breakfast in my room. In an adjacent house there was a middle-aged woman
sitting before a small altar and chanting the Nembutsu: Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu…again and again
and again. She did this in an audible but not bothersome way for a couple hours and, since she herself was
sitting by an open window and allowing herself to be visible, I did not feel I was being intrusive by simply
noticing her in her chanting and that in her face and bodily posture there was a perceptible peace and
tranquility. And I thought to myself: Ah, this is the Nembutsu! This is how it so powerfully transforms a
person’s mind, a very ordinary person’s mind, into a Buddha-mind (busshin) right in the middle of an
ordinary mundane morning.

*Joji Atone, “Historical Development of Nembutsu” in Bukkyo University – Los Angeles, ed., Teachings of
Honen (Los Angeles, 2007) p. 119.
Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith
The book Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith is one of many books on the Pure Land that includes some interesting
stories regarding results that practitioners experience. Here is a general guide:
Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith Chapter 7 wrote:Thus, in summary, all the seeds
of the ten Dharma Realms are found in the minds of sentient beings. If wholesome seeds manifest themselves,
practitioners view the realms of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, human and celestial beings; if evil karma is
manifested, they witness scenes from the wretched three Evil Paths. If the cultivator has followed
externalist ways in lives past, he usually sees his body emitting electric waves, or his soul leaving the
body to roam, meeting demons, ghosts and the like, to discuss politics and the rise and fall of countries
and empires. On the other hand, when the practitioner's mind is pure, he will know in his dreams about
events that will occur three or four days, or seven or eight months, hence. In general, those who have
cultivated in previous lives will immediately see auspicious realms when reciting the Buddha's name. Those
with heavy karma, lacking merit and virtue, will usually see evil realms when they begin Buddha Recitation.
In time, these evil omens will disappear and gradually be replaced with auspicious omens.

If the practitioner's efforts have reached a high enough level, there are times during his waking hours when
all deluded feelings suddenly cease for a while, body and mind being at ease and free. At other times, the
practitioner may recite for four or five hours but feel that the time was very short, perhaps two or three
minutes. Or else, at times during recitation, wholesome omens will appear. At other times, unconsciously,
his mind experiences great contentment and bliss. Sometimes, he realizes for a split second that mind and
realm are both empty. At other times, just by hearing or seeing something once, he becomes awakened to the
truth of suffering, emptiness, impermanence and No-Self, completely severing the marks of self and others.
These occurrences are too numerous to be fully described!

A layman was once reciting the Buddha's name while seated in the dark. Suddenly, he saw two types of
flowers, red ones and white ones, springing up all over the floor, reaching as high as the edge of his bed;
meanwhile, other flowers were dropping like rain from the sky. Another layman, while kneeling down to recite
the Buddha's name, suddenly saw a red lotus flower appear before the altar, its bud gradually opening up and
disappearing after a few minutes.

There was yet another layman who, during recitation, would suddenly see everything around him disappear. In
front of his eyes would appear the scene of an immense ocean, calm and still, with no wind or waves
whatsoever; countless huge, multicolored lotus blossoms would spring up on the ocean surface. Afterward, the
ocean scene would disappear, to be replaced by scenes of mountains, with verdant herbs and flowers,
luxuriant century-old trees, and, by and by, a temple complex, sumptuous and magnificent. Then the temple
and mountains would disappear, to be replaced by scenes of jewelled nets coming together then drawing apart,
drawing apart then coming together again. There are, in general, many such scenes, which the author has
heard fellow-cultivators describe and which he has recounted here as examples.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

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