Misconceptions about Honen

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Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:10 am

Thought this would be a good place to list some common misconceptions about Honen and his doctrine, with relevant quotes to address them.
Misconception about Honen wrote:* Honen taught we cannot experience Amida in this life and can only see him while dying.
According to the Jodo Shu Research Institute:
Nembutsu Samadhi wrote:From his exodus from Mt. Hiei (1175) through the lectures at Todaiji (1190) and the Gyakushu seppo sermons (1194), Honen's religious experience deepened, until in his later years, he experienced nembutsu samadhi (nembutsu zammai). Nembutsu samadhi is traditionally attained through concentrating one's mind on a visualized image of Amida Buddha and the Pure Land. In Honen's case, he focused on exclusive recitation of the nembutsu which led to an experience of seeing Amida Buddha and the Pure Land.

Honen wrote about this experience in the Sanmai-hottokuki which is found in a number of different versions (SHZ. 863-65). One is contained in the Daigobon Honen Shonin Denki, an older version of Honen's biography compiled about 30 years after Honen's death by his disciple Genchi. The other is contained in the biographical Genku Shonin Shinniki of roughly the same period. This text also is found as part of a larger transcription of Honen's sermons transcribed in Shinran's Saiho Shinnansho. Finally, there is a version found in Ryukan's Chionkoshiki. Additionally, Honen speaks of this experience in Chapter 16 of the Senchakushu which was thought to be written in 1198 when he was sixty-six.

According to the Sanmai-hottokuki, Honen experienced this samadhi and saw the Pure Land several times between 1198-1206. In the main body of the Sanmai-hottokuki, Honen himself speaks of his visualizing of the sun, water, ground and various physical aspects of the Pure Land as taught in the Meditation Sutra (Kuan wu-liang-shou ching). Traditional biographies support the idea that Honen's composition of the Senchakushu emerged from this personal religious experience. Since this period roughly corresponds to time when the Senchakushu is thought to have been written, it is entirely possible that such experiences influenced its composition (Takahashi, 187-207). In the last chapter of the Senchakushu, Honen states that the reason he relied on Shan-tao was because he was the teacher who attained nembutsu samadhi. Honen's subsequent assertion that Shan-tao was a manifestation of Amida Buddha is perhaps also understood in light of these visualization experiences. This final religious experience of Honen's life is, therefore, seen as the foundation for his seminal work, the Senchakushu, and also as the final fruit of his religious conversion at age forty-three in 1175.

References:

Takahashi Koji, "Senchakushu no seikaku ni tsuite: tokuni hi ronriteki ichimen o chushin to shite." in Jodokyo no shiso to bunka, Etani Festschrift (Kyoto: Dohosha, 1972).
Quotes from Senchakushu Chapter 16:
Senchakushu p135 wrote:It may further be asked, "The number of Pure Land Masters is great. For example, there are Chia-ts'ai of Hung-fa-ssu and Tripitaka Master Ts'u-min. Why do you never refer to these masters but rely on Shan-tao alone?" My reply is that although these masters did indeed treat the Pure Land as the central principle, nevertheless, they were still not able to achieve Samadhi. Master Shan-tao was a man who did indeed achieve Samadhi. Precisely because he attained such a realization of the Way, we rely on him.
Senchakushu p136 wrote:Furthermore, when he was compiling his commentary on the Meditation Sutra, he had profound experiences of spiritual portents, was often given teachings, and received divine guidance form the Holy Ones; and on the basis of this he accomplished the chapter division of the sutra.
By "accomplished the chapter division of the sutra" he means, saw the visions as described in the Meditation Sutra.
Senchakushu p140 wrote:Should one wish to seek his original mode of being, it is none other than that of [Amida] the Dharma king of the Forty-eight Vows himself. The solemn pronouncement of the Supremely Enlightened One over ten kalpas ago is evidence that we can rely on the Nembutsu. Should one follow him down to his earthly manifestation, one finds that it was the master of the single-minded practice of the Nembutsu [Shan-tao]. The words that he accordingly received in Samadhi leave no question about Rebirth. Although his forms differ in his original state and in his earthly manifestation, nevertheless expounds a single way of salvation.

Long ago I, a monk of miserable accomplishment, chanced to read this book by Shan-tao and came to understand its meaning in a rough and general manner. Thereupon, I definitively abandoned the other practices and took refuge in the Nembutsu. From then on, up to the present day, both as my own practice and as my teaching to others, I have concentrated on the Nembutsu alone. During that time, when on rare occasions, I was asked about a fitting heaven, I have always told them of the safe harbor of the Western Paradise. When occasionally I have been asked about religious practices, I have instructed the seekers in the special practice of the Nembutsu. Those who believed in my words have been many and those who refused them have been few. Hence, one should know that it is because the Pure Land teaching corresponds to the human capacity and the times, that it is now an opportune practice. The Nembutsu practice can be compared to the reflection of the moon in water: it freely rises up [to the moon] or [the moon] shines down [on the water].
In Chapter 25 of the Honen-shonin Gyojo-ezu (An Illustrated Biography of Honen-shonin), Honen quotes the Meditation sutra:
Chapter 25 of the Honen-shonin Gyojo-ezu (An Illustrated Biography of Honen-shonin) wrote:The Meditation Sutra states, "Each ray of light of Buddha Amitabha shines over the worlds of the ten quarters; those who practice reciting Nembutsu, embraced by that light, are never to be abandoned."
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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:08 am

The following misconceptions go hand in hand.
Misconception of Honen wrote:* One must constantly recite many nembutsu in order to be helped/saved by Amida. If the recitations are few, sporadic, or forgotten, then one's practice has been in vain and one will be abandoned by Amida.
An example of these ideas is found in the following passage by Harold Scott.
Some followers of Jodo Shu held that in order to ensure Rebirth it was necessary for the Nembutsu to be recited continually throughout one's lifetime and especially during one's last moments. ...
If one were cut short by sudden death or died unexpectedly in one's sleep, thus being prevented from reciting the Name, had all the Nembutsus previously recited gone for nothing, and was one therefore reborn in some inferior state? Besides, if we spend our time counting the number of repetitions of the Name, then we are really putting our faith not in the Name at all, but in the number of repetitions. In consequence, our Mind of Faith would be divided and distracted. On the contrary, if the repetition of the Nembutsu becomes automatic and continues even in our sleep, then we have merely established a samskara-skandha, or mental habit, which will stand as an obstacle between us and the reception of Pure Faith; for if our minds are occupied with such repetitions, how can we hear Amida's call? All these are examples of the Nembutsu of self-effort.
It should be made clear that indeed, Honen did recommend constant nembutsu:
Honen wrote:Surely don’t imagine that it would be all right to put off the practice of the nembutsu on the grounds that it can be done at any time. On the contrary, don’t let a single moment pass in which you are not practicing it.
source: http://jsri.jp/English/Honen/TEACHINGS/ ... iving.html
In several places, he recommends we set a goal at 10,000 recitations daily, as this amounts approximately to a slow but steady recitation, and to aim higher still for 20, 30, even to 60,000 daily if possible. His simple explanation for having a goal:
Honen wrote:Q: Even if we don’t fix the number of times for repeating the nembutsu as our daily practice, isn’t it OK to do it as often as one can?

H: It’s better to fix the number, otherwise you might get lazy.
source: http://jsri.jp/English/Honen/TEACHINGS/ ... iving.html
With such a high recommended number of nembutsu, we should then clearly understood the attitude of the practitioner in Honen's teaching:
Honen wrote:Even one repetition or two of the sacred name can be said to be the nembutsu of salvation by one's own power, if one does it with that thought in one’s mind. But a hundred or a thousand repetitions day and night for a hundred or a thousand days can be the nembutsu of salvation by Amida's power alone (tariki), as long as one does it with an entire trust in the merits of the great Vow, looking up in confidence to Amida with every repetition. And so the nembutsu of those who possess the Three Minds (sanjin) can by no means be called the nembutsu of salvation by one's own power - no matter how many times they call upon the sacred name and as long as they are really looking up to Amida and trusting to his saving power alone.
source: ibid
To further illustrate Honen's view towards Amida:
Honen wrote:We have been firmly fettered by the enemy of worldly passions such as greed and anger and have transmigrated in the cage of the delusive three realms. Upon seeing this, Amida Buddha, with deep sympathy like a compassionate mother, cuts our ties of transmigration with the sharp sword of his name, sets the cherished boat of the essential vow afloat on the waves of the ocean of anguish and leads us to the shore of the Pure Land. Upon reflection of this, our joy becomes too much for words; we can wring the tears of joy out of our sleeves, and our heart is overwhelmed in adoration of Amida Buddha.
source: Promise of Amida Buddha, p. 397
There is also the parable of the practitioner being like a boulder heavy with negative karma which is set on the swift boat of Amida's vow and carried effortlessly across the ocean of suffering. Again, as Honen states:
Honen wrote:This is is possible not by the mobility of the stone, but by the ability of the ship.
source: ibid, p. 120
Still another parable compares Amida to a strong man who carries an invalid with two lame legs up a mountain.

In light of this, to claim nembutsu in the Jodo-shu is a self-power practice relying on the merit or constancy of the practitioner is simply wrong.

Then we might ask why so many nembutsu are recommended. Honen quotes a parable by Shantao:
Shantao wrote:For instance, there may be a person who loses his wealth to a trickster, descends into vulgarity, and lives a life of hardship. One day his thoughts suddenly turn toward his parents and he wishes to race home. Nonetheless, he has no escape plan from his present state and continues to live in a land far from home. He thinks of his parents day and night and can hardly bear the pain of longing for his home. In time he formulates a plan and is able to return to his homeland, care for his parents, and enjoy a carefree and happy life.
This analogy holds true for nembutsu practitioners. Their good hearts have been distracted and injured by worldly passions, leading to a loss of the precious jewels of merit and wisdom. For many eons they have descended into the transmigration of the six delusive worlds and suffered physically and spiritually. Now, they have a favorable encounter that shows them there exists a compassionate father in Amida Buddha. They should pray in thanks for his benevolence and continue to desire birth in the Pure Land until the end of their lives.
For this reason, keep birth in the Pure Land in your heart and never include practices other than nembutsu.
source: ibid, p. 208
This is the reason from the standpoint of faith: one thinks constantly on Amida simply out of gratitude and therefore an enduring desire for birth in the Pure Land.

From the standpoint of reasoning, Honen again quotes Shantao in a letter:
Shantao wrote:The exclusive practitioners possess the rightly settled state of mind for birth in the Pure Lanbd without being disturbed by other miscellaneous karmic conditions. It is also because nembutsu is in accordance with both the essential vow of Amida Buddha and the teachings of Buddha Sakyamuni.
...
[If one engages in other practices or only intermittently recites nembutsu], their devotion to Amida Buddha is not continuous and their concentration on the Pure Land is interrupted.
source: ibid, p. 223
Further explanation of constant nembutsu can be found amply explained in Honen's Senchakushu.

What then is the interplay between faith and practice?
Honen wrote:If a person says he or she can be Born in the Pure Land by ten repetitions of the nembutsu, or even one, and then begins to get careless about practice, their faith will hinder their practice. On the other hand, if a person says, as Shan-tao did, that he or she unceasingly repeats the nembutsu, but in their heart has doubts about the certainty of ojo, then their practice will hinder his faith. So then, believe that you can attain ojo by one repetition, and yet go on practicing it your whole life long. If you think there is uncertainty as to the power of calling upon the nembutsu once, then it means that there is doubt about it every time you call upon the sacred name. Amida Buddha's Vow was to give Birth in the Pure Land to those who call upon his name even once, and so there is power in every repetition of the sacred name.
Finally then, is it the case then that if one's nembutsu are few in number or forgotten while dying that one's whole life of practice will have been in vain?
Honen wrote:Q. (5): Remembering to repeat nembutsu continually seems to be difficult. Although I hold a string of prayer beads in my hand, my thoughts wander. Under these circumstances, would my nembutsu not be the true practice for birth in the Pure Land? If it is not, would my attainment of this birth become uncertain?

Answer: The teaching of the continual recitation of nembutsu without cessation 334 means to do your best given your capacity. Reflect upon yourself and evaluate yourself mentally and physically as to what extent you can devote yourself to nembutsu. To think undesirable thoughts during nembutsu is a matter of habit for all common mortals. However, the wandering of your mind does not become a hindrance for birth in the Pure Land if you recite nembutsu with the aspiration for birth in the Pure Land. For example, there may be misunderstandings at times between parent and child, but as long as they do not think of disowning each other, these misunderstandings do not sever the relationship. One who wishes to attain birth in the Pure Land through nembutsu may, during recitation, stray toward the worldly passions of greed and anger. But if one maintains faith in the promise of Amida Buddha for birth in the Pure Land through nembutsu, one will certainly achieve birth in the Pure Land.
This can also be explained from the standpoint of "intimate karmic relations". That is, just like if a parent and child separated by great distance yet yearn to be reunited nothing will stop them, so too the practitioner who returns Amida's yearning is sure to hasten to the Pure Land.
Honen 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.
Therefore, if you hold a rosary, Amida Buddha will see it. If you think in your mind to recite the nembutsu, Amida Buddha will, in his mind, think of you.
source: http://www.jsri.jp/English/Honen/TEACHINGS/zendo.html
Finally, as Harold Scott was a Shin Buddhist, it is important to mention in passing that both Shinran and Rennyo advocated constant nembutsu, with the same spirit of gratitude as explained by Honen above:
Rennyo, Letter 10, fascicle 2 wrote:How, then, do we respond to the gracious, inestimable benevolence of
Amida’s great compassion? [The answer is that] by simply repeating the
nenbutsu, saying the Name of the Buddha—day and night, morning and
evening—we express our gratitude for Amida Tathāgata’s benevolence.
Shinran wrote:Only the Buddha, the World-honored one, is to be venerated and revered. For this reason we should constantly practice the nembutsu.
source: http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expos ... he-buddha/

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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:07 am

Misconception about Honen wrote:* Honen gave free rein to his followers to commit any unskillful acts they wish because they are saved by the 18th Vow
On the contrary...
Honen-shonin Gyojo-ezu (An Illustrated Biography of Honen-shonin), Chapter 21 wrote:The virtuous man should recite Nembutsu (the name of Buddha Amitabha) just as he is, as should the bad man. We regard faithful people, who repeat Nembutsu with a mind as pure as the day they were born, as those who do not require external support in Nembutsu.

However, if the bad rectify their misdeeds, become good and recite Nembutsu, they will truly be in harmony with the heart of Buddha Amitabha. On the contrary, those who are unable to attune themselves to the heart of Buddha Amitabha and who are not able to be resolute in their faith in Ojo will most certainly not attain birth in the Pure Land.
Honen-shonin Gyojo-ezu (An Illustrated Biography of Honen-shonin), Chapter 21 wrote:Believing that even a person who commits the Ten Transgressions or the Five Grave Offenses will be born in the Pure Land, you nevertheless should strive not to commit even the most minor of offenses. Even an evil person can attain birth in the Pure Land; there is no doubt about Ojo for the virtuous.
Honen-shonin Gyojo-ezu (An Illustrated Biography of Honen-shonin), Chapter 32 wrote:By whatever residual causes, by whatever virtuous karma we have accumulated in a previous existence, we have been born in a world where the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni have spread, and we are able to hear of the way to emancipation from the delusive realms of transmigration. We have now had the good fortune of experiencing the precious encounter with the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. To continue life without embracing His teachings would be lamentable indeed.
In a letter to Minister Motochika:
Honen-shonin Gyojo-ezu (An Illustrated Biography of Honen-shonin) 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
From Honen's edict that was required of all that claimed to be his followers:
Shichikajo-kishomon - Seven Article Pledge wrote:1. Refrain from denigrating other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and from attacking Shingon and Tendai, for you are not versed in any of their teachings.

2. In your state of ignorance, refrain from indulging in disputes with men of wisdom or when encountering people with other religious practices.

3. Toward people of other persuasions or practices, refrain from saying, with your mind ignorant and biased, that they should abandon their practice. Refrain from wanton ridicule of them.

4. Refrain from saying that there is no observance of the clerical precepts in the nembutsu path, from avidly encouraging sexual indulgences, liquor, or meat eating, from occasionally calling those who adhere to the precepts men of indiscriminate practice, and from teaching that those who believe in Amida's original vow have no reason to be afraid when committing evil deeds (zoaku muge).

5. As an ignorant being who is unable to distinguish between right and wrong, you should refrain from deviations from the scriptural teachings, from what is not the teachings of your master, from arbitrarily putting forward your own doctrines, from needlessly seeking out disputes, from being laughed at by the wise, and from leading the ignorant astray.

6. In your state of ignorance, refrain from delighting so much in rhetoric, since you know nothing of the true teachings, from expounding various heresies (jaho), and from converting ignorant priests and lay people to the various heresies.

7. Refrain from expounding heresies which are not the Buddhist teachings, and from regarding them as true teachings. Refrain from the deception of calling them the teachings of your master.

November, the First Year of Genkyu (1204)
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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:41 pm

Misconception about Honen wrote:* Honen hated all other sutras aside from the 3 Pure Land sutras, thought them non-canonical, and wanted them burned.
Actually...
Honen-shonin Gyojo-ezu (An Illustrated Biography of Honen-shonin), Chapter 45 wrote:Other Buddhist teachings such as meditation on the noumenal aspects of reality, the cultivation of the mind for enlightenment (bodhicitta), the recitation of Mahayana texts, the sacred verses containing mystic truth (Shingon), and the practice of concentration and insight (shikan), should be revered. All of those teachings were designed to detach oneself from the delusive worlds of the transmigration of birth-and-death in order to realize enlightenment.
Promise of Amida - Commentary on the Three Sutras of Pure Land Buddhism wrote:The Flower Garland Sutra expounds upon the doctrine that there is no difference in substance between the mind of the Buddha and that of sentient beings. The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra explains that all forms of existence, in and of themselves, are not substantial [i.e., they do not exist intrinsically]. The Lotus Sutra teaches the concept that all phenomena are ultimate reality. The Nirvana Sutra propounds the theory that all sentient beings innately possess buddha nature. Would anyone doubt these doctrines? These are all teachings of Buddha Sakyamuni. Would it be possible to believe one and not another?
Promise of Amida - Essential Discourse on Birth in the Pure Land through Nembutsu wrote:...since Buddha Sakyamuni is the source of all sutras and commentaries on Buddhism, it should be possible to attain buddhahood through the practice of the Lotus Sutra or the Nirvana Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism. Manifold buddhas of the past, present, and future have attained buddhahood in this way, especially through the practice of the Lotus Sutra; numerous tathagatas residing in the ten directions have also realized enlightenment through the Lotus Sutra. Indeed, it is commendable to recite sutras such as the Lotus Sutra.
Promise of Amida - Dialog on the Essentials of Nembutsu wrote:Any event of significance is always accompanied by validation. The Lotus Sutra was confirmed by Buddha Prabhutaratna; the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra was validated by the four buddhas residing in the four quarters.
In Chapter XII of the Senchakushu Honen states that one should revere all practices mentioned by the Contemplation (Visualization) Sutra - of which reciting the Prajnaparamita Sutras, the Lotus Sutra, other Mahayana Sutras, as well as recitation of dharanis are all explicitly mentioned.
Traversing the Pure Land Path - p143 wrote:You shouldn’t think casually about not appreciating the excellent Lotus and Heart sutras. Even though you may believe in Amida Buddha, your faith is really one-sided if you despise the many buddhas or doubt Shakyamuni’s holy teachings. If your faith is not right, it is not in harmony with the mind of Amida Buddha, and it is certain his compassionate Vow [of rebirth in the Pure Land] has nothing to do with you.
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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:37 pm

Misconception about Honen wrote:* Honen's doctrine was too radical and thus he was a paraiah.
Honen's doctrine came almost verbatim from Shan-tao and his Commentary on the Meditation Sutra 観無量寿経疏 (Ch. Kuan wu-liang-shou ching shu). (Jp. Kammuryoju-kyo sho). Shan-tao was one of the most celebrated masters of China up to that point, his artwork had been used for propagation & as visualization aides and had been subsidized by the Chinese government. Shan-tao has prominent commentaries and a liturgy in the Taisho Canon. Honen's magnum opus: the Senchakushu, was largely made up of quotes from Shan-tao. Furthermore, many of Honen's doctrines can easily be established by the words of the sutras themselves, that is why Shan-tao, Honen, Shinran, and many others all leveraged many passages from the sutras themselves in justifying their doctrines.

Exclusive recitation of Nembutsu; without a meditative focus, was not even original to Japan at that point. Surely, it was a break from the Tendai focus of meditative Nembutsu, but he was not the first to break from this tradition. Kuya was the first notable Nembutsu-Hijiri (wandering ascetic practicing Nembutsu) who came from Tendai. He practiced vocalized Nembutsu and Nembutsu Odori (1). Kuya did not preach meditative Nembutsu.

Kakuban (1095-1143) was a famous Shingon monk before Honen that stressed veneration of Amida & recitation of his name over the meditative Nembutsu of Tendai. His doctrines were based around the Esoteric Shingon texts and equating Amida with Vairocana, but his practice was very similar to the "just as we are" Nembutsu practice of Honen.

Eikan (1033-1111) and Chingai (1092-1152) of the Sanron school also taught the vocalized Nembutsu of Shan-Tao (2). Eikan wrote the Ten Causes of Birth in the Pure Land (Ojo ju-in) based heavily on the words of Shan-tao, though his nembutsu was still somewhat syncretic. Chingai's main doctrinal difference from Honen was that he stressed the generation of Bodhicitta (Bodaishin 菩提心) over the Primal Vow of Amida (Hongan 本願).

In fact, the lack of stress on Bodhicitta is the only major criticism given by Myoe - one of Honen's 2 harshest critics. Myoe's criticisms, which weren't published until after Honen's death, were taken up by Shinran and were the entire reason for his magnum opus the Kyogyoshinsho. In the Kyogyoshinsho, Shinran quotes numerous sutras in establishing the case for a received Bodhicitta from the power of the Buddha's vows in the form of the diamond-like mind of faith (Shinjin) and carried out through the "going and coming back" (Genso Eko 還相回向) of the practitioner once achieving birth in the Pure Land. In this way, the Other Power focus of Pure Land was maintained, while also keeping Pure Land teachings within the locus of the Mahayana focus on leading sentient beings towards liberation. Note: Even today, all Japanese Pure Land Buddhists dedicate their merit for generation of Bodhicitta and birth in the Pure Land. The mind of Dedicating Merit towards Birth in the Pure Land (for oneself and others) is one of the 3 Minds stressed in Honen's doctrine. The dedication of merit towards the generation of Bodhicitta is easily proved with the closing verse of any Pure Land service (whether daily service or formal):
So Eko-ge 総回向偈(そうえこうげ) - The Gatha for Dedication of Merit wrote:So Eko-ge 総回向偈(そうえこうげ)
Transference of merit. Passage for praying all merit of the service may be transferred equally to everyone.

願 以 此 功 徳 平 等 施 一 切
がーん に しー くー どーく びょー どー せー いーっ さーい
GAN NI SHI KU DOKU BYO DO SE I- SSAI
同 発 菩 提 心 往 生 安 楽 国
どー ほつ ぼー だーい しーん おー じょー あーん らーっ こーく
DO HOTS BO DAI SHIN O JO A N RA- KKOKU

May any merit accrued be dedicated to all beings in the Dharma Realm.
May we all awaken the Bodhi-Mind and be born together in the Pure Land.
Another one of Honen's major detractors was Jokei of the Hosso School. Jokei released the Kofuku-ji Petition, a 9-point criticism of the doctrines of Honen. Honen did his best to address many of the criticisms, by releasing the Shichikajo-kishomon (Seven Article Pledge) and addressing some of them in the Senchakushu. Some of the points were not addressed, such as "The error of denying worship to the sacred kami". To be perfectly honest, denying worship to non-Buddhist gods does not seem an appropo criticism of a Buddhist school. Some of the charges were baseless, such as "The error of obstructing the practices of other Buddhists" - as Honen never advocated what he was accused of. For what it's worth, Jokei also believed in the workings of Other Power and so his criticisms regarding precepts were largely based around his own agenda for trying to improve the discipline of his own sect.

Finally, the people who embraced Honen's teachings were not merely renegade monks and the ignorant. In the Ohara debate, Honen was able to defend his doctrine against Jokei and others. In the end, he attracted to his following a large number of Tendai & Shingon monks, including Kenjin the famous Tendai scholar and eventual Chief Priest (zasu) of Mount Hiei (6), as well ass Myohen of the Sanron School (7). It would be a blatant misrepresentation to say that these converts were ignorant of Buddhist doctrine or wished ill-will towards the country.


References:

1. "Nembutsu Odori" by Elisabeth Moriarty from the Nanzan University website.
2. Traversing the Pure Land Path: A Lifetime of Encounters with Honen Shonin p22.
3. "Kofukuji Petition" from the Jodo Shu Research Institute website.
4. "Shichikajo-kishomon (Seven Article Pledge)" from the Jodo Shu Research Institute website.
5. "Jokei and Rhetoric of 'Other-Power' and 'Easy Practice' in Medieval Japanese Buddhism" by James L Ford from the Nanzan University website.
6. Traversing the Pure Land Path: A Lifetime of Encounters with Honen Shonin p15.
7. Traversing the Pure Land Path: A Lifetime of Encounters with Honen Shonin p20.
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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:48 pm

Misconception about Honen wrote:* Honen's doctrine did nothing but condemn this world and offered no way of dealing with it
This might be redundant to mention, but just for completeness we already devoted a whole thread to this misguided idea:
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=20894

This hardly needs to be said, but: Honen was not a fatalist.
Let's take a brief look at historical events in Japan during the life of Honen 1133-1212 (1):
1134 - Floods, famine, and a tuberculosis outbreak
1141 - Honen's father, Uruma no Tokikuni (a local magistrate), killed by Sada-akira and Honen is sent to Bodai-ji, his uncle's temple.
1146 (alt 1148) - Great fire of Kyoto. Imperial palace burns down.
1156 - Hogen Rebellion, relatively small skirmish. Minamoto clan defeated. End of Insei era.
1159~1160 - Heiji Rebellion, civil war between armies numbering in the thousands.
1177 - Another great fire in Kyoto, palace reduced to cinders. Shishigatani incident, monk Saiko tortured & executed.
1180-1185 Genpei War. Total casualties upwards of 50,000. Full list of battles here.
1180 - Capital moved to Kobe for 6 months before being returned to Kyoto.
1181 - Nationwide famine. By 1182, the capital is almost a ghost town with so many fleeing to the countryside & mountains for food.
1183 - Minamoto no Yoshinaka invades Kyoto (life is detailed in the Tale of Heike), army of 5,000 takes on army of 40,000 and wins.
1185 - Battle of Dan-no-ura, naval battle with hundreds of ships. End of Heian Era.
1192 - Establishment of Kamakura Shogunate government. Rise of military (samurai) power.

Long life was not common during these years.
Bodies were piled feet high along the major roads along the capitol.
Death was the reality of most folks and they didn't know how it was going to come.
Honen gave people a method for coping with this bleak reality.

1. A Raft from the Other Shore by Sho-on Hattori, timeline in Appendix
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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:52 pm

Worth noting that in comparison these days, especially in the US, most people actively refuse to consider death and find even mentioning it as nihilistic or negative.
There is a widespread deliberate blindness to this most basic fact of life.

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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:39 am

Misconception wrote:Honen teaches that we should recite nembutsu in order to achieve birth through elimination of bad karma.
I understand "bad karma" to mean unfortunate results of our past unskillful actions, even extending into past lives.

It is stated in the Meditation Sutra:
Because they have uttered the Name of that buddha [Amitabha], they will be released from the sins they committed during five billion kalpas of birth and death.
And Honen wrote:
Senchakushu, p. 101 wrote:Without the medicinal ghee of the Nembutsu Samadhi, it would be extremely difficult to cure the sickness of deep and grievous crimes such as the five deadly sins.
Is having little or no evil karma then a requirement for birth? Honen quotes Shantao in the Senchakushu:
Commentary on the Meditation Sutra wrote:Sentient beings who utter the nembutsu are rid of the accumulated sins of many kalpas. When they are at the point of death, the Buddha together with the holy assemby will come in person to welcome them. The evil karma cannot obstruct their coming.
As stated in previous messages in this thread, it is extremely difficult to be born in the Pure Land through one's own good roots. Is it then the power of the devotee's practice which eliminates this bad karma?
Dialogue on the 12 Issues wrote:Q. (2): The light of wisdom can save one who has negative karma by removing the darkness of worldly passions, yet an ignorant one such as I who has accumulated so much undesirable karma cannot eliminate them. How can I get rid of my negative karma?

Answer: Only implicit faith, without any doubt in the words of Amida Buddha, will lead you, by his power, to achieve birth in the Pure Land. As the previous metaphor illustrated, once aboard the ocean liner, both the blind and sighted move forward together. One may possess the eye of wisdom, but without reciting nembutsu, it will not be in accord with the power of the essential vow. Even an utterly dim-witted ignoramus can rely on the power of the essential vow through the vocal nembutsu.
Amida Buddha always casts his light upon those who practice nembutsu and will not abandon them. The nembutsu devotee will not encounter any undesirable conditions and, at the time of death, will abide in the rightly settled state of mind and surely attain birth in the Pure Land. So do not assume that wisdom or the lack of it determines your capacity for birth in the Pure Land. It is determined solely by the depth of your faith.
The reduction of negative karma is then a benefit of the Vow and Amida's working, something which can be enjoyed in this life by the devotee. This and other benefits are described in this thread: http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=20894

One can also read chapters 5 (Benefits of the Nembutsu) and 7 (The light of Amida envelops the nembutsu practitioners) in Honen's Senchakushu for further quotations.

So the reduction of negative karma is not a program of self-improvement but a benefit enjoyed by the devotee thanks to a karmic connection with Amida.

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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by thecowisflying » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:35 am

I wish people in China actually read some stuff about Japanese Pureland instead of seeing a couple arguments against it by a select few people and then consider it a deviant cult.
The virtuous man should recite Nembutsu (the name of Buddha Amitabha) just as he is, as should the bad man. We regard faithful people, who repeat Nembutsu with a mind as pure as the day they were born, as those who do not require external support in Nembutsu.

However, if the bad rectify their misdeeds, become good and recite Nembutsu, they will truly be in harmony with the heart of Buddha Amitabha. On the contrary, those who are unable to attune themselves to the heart of Buddha Amitabha and who are not able to be resolute in their faith in Ojo will most certainly not attain birth in the Pure Land.
...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
Where is these quote from? Did monks like Honen write in Chinese or Japanese?

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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by DGA » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:37 pm

thecowisflying wrote:I wish people in China actually read some stuff about Japanese Pureland instead of seeing a couple arguments against it by a select few people and then consider it a deviant cult.
I agree, and would go further. I wish everyone would learn how to appreciate each other's Dharma practice, and rejoice in their roots of merit. There's a lot to admire in Chinese Buddhism. Similarly for Japanese traditions, including the Pure Land schools. There is much to respect and appreciate in Korean Buddhism. When we denigrate the Dharma traditions and practices of others, we are the ones who lose the most.

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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:40 pm

I got those quotes from various books that say they come from the Honen-shonin Gyojoezu 法然上人 行状絵図 - The Illustrated Biography of Honen. It's made up of various sayings heard by followers, from personal letters, and passages from his writings. It's written in Japanese, I have a copy of the full thing in Japanese (which is actually available for free download). Right now as far as I know, there are 2 versions of this work available in English that are greatly abridged (shortened) - "Traversing the Pure Land Path" and "Honen the Buddhist Saint". Other passages are translated in works like "Promise of Amida" and "Teachings of Honen".

Your first quote comes from Chapter 21.

Your second quote is in a letter to Minister Motochika, which appears to be from Chapter 47. It's the only reference I can find to Motochika 通親 aka Tsuchimikado Motochika aka Minamoto no Michichika aka the Minister of War of Japan.

These things are also pretty well covered by the 7 Article Pledge (Shichikajo-kishomon) which all of Honen's direct disciples had to agree to in order to stay part of the movement. It was signed by Honen himself and 163 disciples.
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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:08 pm

Misconception of Honen wrote:* Honen, by stressing exclusive orientation to Amida Buddha, disregards Shakyamuni Buddha in a practical sense.
On one hand, this one is quite easy to disprove: Shakyamuni and the teachings he passed on feature quite squarely in the doctrines of all Pure Land patriarchs, including Shan-tao, Honen, and Shinran. On the other hand, it is quite difficult to do so in an exhaustive sense.

For starters, let's look at the liturgies of the various schools - as these are the most common ways of passing along doctrine.

Shan-tao's Ojoraisan Liturgy
The Sunset Service is the first of the 6 periods that appear in the Ojoraisan Liturgy. After performing prostrations to Amida and conducting repentence, the second section begins:
Ojoraisan Liturgy wrote:I take refuge in Shakyamuni and all the other Buddhas, their Dharmas, and Sanghas. I bow to them in worship, aspiring to be born in the Land of the Buddha of Infinite Life by transferring the merits of this act towards it.
Shakyamuni is referenced by name 6 times in the various periods of the Ojoraisan Liturgy.

Liturgy of Honen's Jodo Shu (including Single Sheet Covenant):
Honen references Shakyamuni twice in the Single Sheet Covenant, the one page summary of Honen's doctrine. The most reverential of the two references is the following passage:
Single Sheet Covenant wrote:If I further expound on any thought other than this, I would be excluded from the compassionate mercy of the Two Honored Ones and be at odds with the essential vow of Amida Buddha.
Shakyamuni is the first Buddha called to by name in the Shi Bu Jo, a hymn in the Jodo Shu Daily service.

Liturgy of Jodo Shinshu and Shinran's Hymns:
In the Shoshinge; the hymn that serves as a summary of Shinran's doctrine as well as a daily liturgy, there is a passage that very clearly implores followers to trust in Shakyamuni's words of truth.

Doctrine
The deeper we look into the doctrines of these masters, the more we can see a huge reliance on Shakyamuni. It is, after all, Shakyamuni who teaches us of Amida in the Pure Land Sutras (a fact they firmly believed in). None of these masters stops with these 3 sutras either, they all referenced other sutras in establishing their doctrines. In the Senchakushu, Honen references no less than 17 separate sutras. In the Kyogyoshinsho, Shinran references no less than 35 separate sutras. For men who supposedly disregarded Shakyamuni, they sure trusted his words very much.

Teachings to Followers
Finally, in teaching students, each of these masters defers to Shakyamuni as an authority. Honen references Shakyamuni in literally hundreds of his letters to followers (290+ total references to Shakyamuni in Promise of Amida: Honen's Path to Bliss). In the Kyogyoshinsho, the Chapter on Shinjin, Shinran quotes Shan-tao in saying that "Sakyamuni Tathagata is truly our compassionate father and mother."

Probably the most significant example; which was used by all 3 masters in teaching their followers as well as used by countless teachers since, is Shan-Tao's parable of the 2 Rivers and the White Path. In it, Shakyamuni is the voice urging the traveler to embark upon the narrow white path between the rivers of water (craving) and fire (aversion), while being chased by a pack of wild beasts (the 5 skandhas & worldly distractions). On the far shore is Amida and the Pure Land. This image has been used for over a thousand years to spread the Pure Land teachings and is still widely in use today:
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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Tue May 09, 2017 5:56 pm

Misconception about Honen wrote:Honen taught that this life is hopeless, that there is no hope of enlightenment here and now, that this is not a fruitful field of endeavor.
The saddest thing about this strawman is that it completely misses the point of Honen's teaching. Honen's teaching was for those who'd already learned that they were incapable of other practices. Honen's teaching is about coping with one's reality, one's day-to-day life here, in this world. In fact, Honen's disciple & founder of Chinzei Branch of Jodo Shu - Bencho taught that we must first try other practices before we really find faith in the Pure Land method. Honen's own turning towards the Pure Land method was after years of struggle while training on Mount Hiei and after traveling around to learn from various other teachers. Honen never went out of his way to discourage followers of other schools from doing other practices (the Ohara Debate is proof of this). Instead, he merely warned Pure Land followers about mixing practices and distracting themselves from the main Pure Land goal of awakening the 3 minds of faith and achieving Ojo. Furthermore, this strawman completely misses the point that the ultimate goal of Pure Land is the complete perfect awakening of Buddhahood, achieving Ojo merely means achieving non-retrogression towards this goal - it's hardly a distraction from the goal. It's telling that the people who craft these strawmen have (throughout history) attempted to legitimize their arguments with "fake Honen quotes" of things the master never actually said.
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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Dharma Flower » Thu May 25, 2017 8:54 pm

The only thing I don't understand about Jodo Shu is the practice of counting so many recitations of the Nembutsu. I don't know if Jodo Shu actually requires counting the repetitions or not. I have a great deal of respect for Honen and Jodo Shu.

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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Dharma Flower » Thu May 25, 2017 8:58 pm

Admin_PC wrote: Exclusive recitation of Nembutsu; without a meditative focus, was not even original to Japan at that point.
Please forgive my ignorance. If one is seated with nenju beads, reciting the Nembutsu, is this different from meditation?

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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Thu May 25, 2017 9:07 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:
Admin_PC wrote:Exclusive recitation of Nembutsu; without a meditative focus, was not even original to Japan at that point.
Please forgive my ignorance. If one is seated with nenju beads, reciting the Nembutsu, is this different from meditation?
What I'm referring to in that quote are the meditative exercises that some do while reciting Nembutsu. These include the Tendai method of focusing on the blue, yellow, red, and white lotus flowers from the Shorter Sukhavati Sutra, the various visualizations from the Visualization Sutra, or the very rigorous concentration from the Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra. Reciting Nembutsu/Nianfo without any of these additional meditative exercises was not unique to Japan, let alone to Honen by the Kamakura period.
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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Dharma Flower » Thu May 25, 2017 9:09 pm

Admin_PC wrote:What I'm referring to in that quote are the meditative exercises that some do while reciting Nembutsu. These include the Tendai method of focusing on the blue, yellow, red, and white lotus flowers from the Shorter Sukhavati Sutra, the various visualizations from the Visualization Sutra, or the very rigorous concentration from the Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra. Reciting Nembutsu/Nianfo without any of these additional meditative exercises was not unique to Japan, let alone to Honen by the Kamakura period.
Please forgive me for saying this, but those practices seem boring. I am thankful that a holy man like Honen taught the Nembutsu for fools like myself.

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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Dharma Flower » Thu May 25, 2017 9:17 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Misconception about Honen wrote:Honen taught that this life is hopeless, that there is no hope of enlightenment here and now, that this is not a fruitful field of endeavor.
Since Honen attained the Pure Land samadhi, how do we know that he didn't also attain enlightenment during his lifetime?

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Re: Misconceptions about Honen

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:34 pm

Misconception about Honen wrote:Honen taught that birth in the Pure Land is somehow abandoning people suffering here on earth.
In fact, Honen had direct students who vowed to return to help sentient beings right away:
I, Rensei, on the 13th of the fifth month of 1203, do make this vow here in this place called Toba, right in front of the picture of Amida which represents his coming down to welcome those into the highest rank of the highest class. It would be such an eternal delight to be Born into the Land of Bliss [the Pure Land], even in the lowest rank of the lowest class. But according to the great Master T'ien-tai's interpretation, no one born into any but the highest of the nine ranks can come back to this vile world. In this way, I myself want to have the joy of welcoming every karmically connected sentient being to that land. But in order to be able to include the estranged as well, I have determined to attain Birth into the highest rank of all. Otherwise, I will decline to accept Birth into any rank whatsoever.
As we can see, the provision about only the highest rank of the highest class returning comes from Master T'ien-tai's interpretation.

Honen was a big fan of Genshin:
http://www.jsri.jp/English/Honen/LIFE/T ... yoshu.html
He wrote 3 commentaries on Genshin's Ojoyoshu:
http://www.jsri.jp/English/Honen/WRITINGS/ojoyocom.html
As we can see from the Ojoyoshu:
Ojoyoshu - Volume 3 Chapter 3 wrote:Then again the various beings of The Pure Land have all the five mysterious communications
whose marvelous nature cannot be comprehended. They live a life of freedom according to their
heart’s desire. If, for example, they wish to look across the universe without taking a step they
can do so. If they wish to hear the voice of anyone in the universe they can do so without moving
from their seats. Not only this, but they can hear also the things of the infinite past as if they were
happening today. They know the inmost thoughts of the beings of the Six Realms as if they were
reflected in a mirror. They can go and come freely as if all the lands of the Buddha in all the ten
directions lay beneath their feet.
Ojoyoshu - Volume 3 Chapter 5 wrote:If as a result of a special vow one is born into another world, this will be free and
unrestricted annihilation (of evil) but not the annihilation of the rewards of good works.

...

In a poem by Nagarjuna we read: “If one has been born into the Pure Land, he shall never again
fall into hell or Realm of Hungry Spirits. Therefore I, too, with no confidence in myself, will put
my trust in Amida with singleness of heart and seek after the Pure Land.”
Ojoyoshu - Volume 3 Chapter 6 wrote:...if they are born
into the Pure Land they are endowed with a superior wisdom and their clear power of mysterious
communication reaches unto those who were formerly their benefactors and to those who were
their acquaintances through many lives and generations, they can attract them freely. Endowed
with a heavenly eye, they can see where they live, and with their heavenly ear they can hear their
voice. Their wisdom of destiny enables them to remember the favors (of their former
benefactors) and with their insight into others’ hearts they understand their hearts. Their
mysterious powers of communication enable them to go where they are, and by changing their
form they can adapt themselves to their needs and in various ways teach them and lead them in
the way of salvation. And again it is explained in the Byodokyo where we read: “Those who are
born in the Pure Land of the West know for themselves where they lived in their previous lives,
what was their state and by what causes they are now born into the Pure Land. Since they know
everything about the present state of every being that goes and come to and from the Eight
Directions and up and down, they understand what the various heavenly beings, birds, beasts and
insects think in their minds and the language which they speak. They all know in what year of
what Kalpa these shall be born into this Land (the Pure Land) and obtain the fruits of a Sravaka
or walk in the way of a Bodhisattva.

Again we read in the vow of Fugen94 in the Kegonkyo95: “Oh that at the end of my life I might
overcome all my various obstacles and look upon Amida Buddha and obtain birth into his world
of happiness!” I wish I could obtain birth into this land and fulfill this great vow to make all
things perfect, and to bestow benefit upon all beings without exception. Since such a one knows
even the beings who have no relation to him, how much more should he care for those who are
united with him. In a verse of Nagarjuna we read: “The pure and glorious light in a single
moment illumines widely the meeting place of all the Buddhas and brings benefits to all beings.”
Ojoyoshu - Volume 3 Chapter 9 wrote:It is said that they make offerings three
times a day to the various Buddhas. While believers are still in this present world, seeing and
hearing through the scriptures about the various virtues of the Buddha lands of the Ten
Directions, they beget a heart of longing and they say sadly to each other: “When shall we be
able to see the pure lands of the Ten Directions and meet with the various Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas?” But if one should by chance obtain birth into this Pure Land one can, either on
one’s own strength or through the strength received from the Buddha, go in the morning and
return in the evening or go and come in a moment to and from all the Buddha lands which lie in
the Ten Directions. There one may serve the various Buddhas, live with the great teachers and
continually hear about the true law. Such a one obtains entrance into the perfect enlightenment.
Moreover, such a one can enter the various mundane spheres, engage in the various Buddhist
ceremonies and practice works of benevolence. Is not this real joy? (From the heart of the
Amidakyo, Byodokakukyo and Sokwankyo).
Ojoyoshu - Volume 3 Chapter 10 wrote:The Pleasures of Making Progress in the Way of Buddha are as follows: In this present world it
is hard to practice the way and obtain the fruit. The reason is that the one who suffers is always
sad and the one who obtains pleasures is always captivated by them. Therefore whether It be
pleasure or pain, both are far removed from the way of deliverance. Whether one is prosperous
or in misfortune, both are alike bound to the wheel of change. Even the few whose mind is
converted and who practice good works find it difficult to succeed. Evil passions break out from
within and evil circumstances pull one from without. Some are double minded and some return
to the Three Evil Ways. It is just like the moonlight on the water which trembles with every
ripple. It is like the soldier who runs away from the enemy’s sword, or like little fish, few of
which ever reach maturity. Or again, it is like the fruit of the orchard tree which seldom ripens
before it falls. That Mokuren backslid though he tried for sixty Kalpas was due to this fact. Only
Shaka Nyorai was able to pile up merit and virtue through hard and painful works for numberless
Kalpas. He sought after the way of the Bodhisattva and never ceased for even a moment.
Looking around in the Three Thousand Great Thousand Worlds, there is not to be found a
particle as small as a poppy seed for which this Bodhisattva did not sacrifice his body. All this he
did in order to save living beings. Thus disciplining himself he was able to achieve the way of
understanding. All other beings who attempted to establish themselves failed in practicing the
discipline. With them it was like a baby elephant being killed by swords and arrows because of
its weakness.

Therefore Nagarjuna says: “It is as if a man poured a sho of hot water upon a sheet
of ice forty ri in extent. When he pours it on it melts a little hole in the ice, but the next morning
there is a little bump of ice in its place. Just like that it is when in this world the ignorant man
seeks to reform his heart and save himself from suffering. Because in this world there is so much
anger, covetousness and rebellion he rouses the passions in himself and so falls again into the
evil way. (Summary.) But the beings in this Pure Land do not backslide because they have
abundant favorable causes surrounding them. They make progress in the Buddha Way. These
favorable causes are the following: I. They are ever sustained by the power of the mercy of
Amida Buddha; 2. The light of Amida Buddha constantly shines upon them so that the mind of
right understanding is ever increasing; 3. The water, birds, trees, tinkling of bells by the breezes
and other sounds constantly remind them of the Nembutsu, the Law and the Priesthood and so
develop their hearts; 4· The various Bodhisattvas are their friends and so there are no evil
external circumstances and all doubts within are removed; 5. Their lives are as long as the eternal
Kalpas and equal to that of a Buddha so that they are not interrupted by birth and death and thus
are enabled naturally to calm their minds and achieve the Way of the Buddha. We read in a poem
of the Kegonkyo: “If a being looks but once upon a Buddha he will without fail be purified from
all evil.” If it is true that but one glance will have this effect, then how much greater must be the
effect when one constantly beholds the Buddha! Even the effects of evil deeds committed
throughout countless hundred millions of Kalpas would pass away like a spring snow or dew
drops and frost in the sunshine. Thus, because of the various favorable circumstances, the hearts
of the beings in the Pure Land are in no way like our hearts. In their going and coming, in their
advancing and in their resting they are not at all troubled in their minds. All these beings obtain
hearts of great love and mercy. It is natural for them to make progress in the Way of Buddha and
to understand the doctrine of Non-Birth and Non-Death. Ultimately and without fail they obtain
the position of an Isshofusho105 Bodhisattva or suddenly able to bear witness as a sublime
Bodhisattva. And they attain Buddhahood and are able for the sake of living beings to reveal
themselves in eight forms, or in accordance with circumstances they can go to the land of
sublimity and purity and there turn the wheel of the marvellous Law and so save various beings.
That today I desire the Pure Land and wish to have all beings obtain the same and that I am
going throughout the Ten Directions to draw living beings unto myself, is just like Amida
Nyorai’s great vow of mercy. Is not such grace joy? Truly the affairs of this life are in the
interval of a dream. Why then not fling away everything and seek after the paradise of the Pure
Land? May all believers beware of being idle. (Taken largely from the Sokwankyo and Tendai
no Jugi and so forth).

In a poem by Nagarjuna we read: “In Amida’s infinite and accommodating realm there is no bad
purpose or foolish wisdom. There is no illumination in evil causes but only natural progress in
the Buddha Way. If one once obtains birth he will be unmoved and he will attain full
enlightenment. Therefore I accept Amida Buddha and worship him. If I should tell about his
virtues, his goodness is as wide, great and limitless as the waters of the great ocean. Oh that I
might obtain the Good Root and purity and that I might together with other beings obtain birth in
that land! May we together with all beings be born into the Pleasant Land of Peace!”
The idea that those born in the Pure Land somehow don't help sentient beings in this world isn't supported by the sutras.
Larger Sukhavati Sutra wrote:22. After I become a Buddha, if Bodhisattvas from other Buddha Lands who are reborn in my land should eventually fail to be in the holy position of waiting to attain Buddhahood in their next life, I would not attain the perfect enlightenment. Excepted are Bodhisattvas who choose not to be in that position because of their original vows. For the sake of delivering all sentient beings, they don their armor of great vows and develop their roots of virtue. They visit Buddha Lands, train in the Bodhisattva Way, and make offerings to Buddha-Tathāgatas [in worlds] in the ten directions. They develop and transform as many sentient beings as the sands of the Ganges, setting them on the Way to the unsurpassed bodhi. Transcending the regular course through the Bodhisattva Grounds, they currently cultivate the virtues of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.
Bodhisattvas from the Pure Land are free to help beings in other realms if they so wish as Bodhisattvas.

The whole point of Pure Land is attaining the state of avinivartanīya:
Rulu's definition wrote:avinivartanīya (阿鞞跋致). The spiritual level from which a Bodhisattva will never regress (不退). Bodhisattvas with the first six or more of the ten faithful minds will never regress from faith; Bodhisattvas at the seventh and higher levels of abiding will never abandon the Mahāyāna; Bodhisattvas on the first and higher Bodhisattva grounds will never lose their spiritual realization; Bodhisattvas on the eighth and higher Bodhisattva grounds will never lose their mindfulness, and their progress will be effortless (see stages of the Bodhisattva Way).
Thus we can see, this is significant progress along the Bodhisattva path. It means one will never fall back into states of woe and will definitely continue on towards complete perfect awakening. This is guaranteed as per the following sutras:
The Shorter Sukhavati Sutra wrote:“Furthermore, Śāriputra, sentient beings reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss are at the spiritual level of avinivartanīya. Many among them are in the holy position of waiting to attain Buddhahood in their next life. Their numbers are so large that they are unknowable by calculation, and can be reckoned only in terms of measureless, limitless asaṁkhyeyas. Śāriputra, sentient beings that have heard [of that land] should resolve to be reborn in that land. Why? To be in the same place together with people of superior virtues. Śāriputra, no one with the condition of few roots of goodness and a meager store of merits can be reborn in that land.
furthermore
The Shorter Sukhavati Sutra wrote:“Śāriputra, what is your opinion? Why is this sūtra called a sūtra protected and remembered by all Buddhas? 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.
For the low rebirth in the low rank, according to the Visualization Sutra:
Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of Visualization of Amitāyus Buddha wrote:When the lotus flower opens, Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived, with tones of great compassion, will expound to him the true reality of dharmas and the Dharma for expunging sins. Having heard the teachings, he will be delighted and immediately activate the bodhi mind. This is called a low rebirth in the low rank.

and finally, the initial provision from Vow 22 of the Larger Sukhavati Sutra as quoted above.

Vowing to be reborn in the Saha world based solely on one's karma, without achieving avinivartanīya is considered a crap shoot in regards to staying on the path towards complete perfect awakening. Whatever the circumstances of one's birth after the Pure Land, one will definitely continue towards complete perfect awakening:
Rulu's definition wrote: anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi (阿耨多羅三藐三菩提). The unsurpassed, equally perfect enlightenment (無上正等正覺). Anuttara means unsurpassed; samyak is derived from the stem samyañc, which means same or identical; saṁbodhi means perfect enlightenment. Equally means that the perfect enlightenment of all Buddhas is the same. The third epithet of a Buddha is Samyak-Saṁbuddha, the Equally, Perfectly Enlightened One.
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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