Pure Land = Nirvana?

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doublerepukken
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Pure Land = Nirvana?

Post by doublerepukken » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:04 am

Hello all,

I have been reading from several resources (though I may be misinterpreting them)that Shinran himself actually equated rebirth in the Pure Land of Amida with Nirvana itself... I was under the impression that Sukhavati was a stepping stone rather than enlightenment in and of itself... am I misinterpreting Shinran?

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Re: Pure Land = Nirvana?

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:48 am

In a nutshell, Shinran is quoting Shantao in the Kyogyoshinsho when he writes (in the Chapter on True Buddha and Land and again in the Chapter on Transformed Buddha-Bodies and Lands):
"The land of bliss is the realm of nirvana, the uncreated"

Traditionally (especially in Tendai/Tientai), there were 4 levels/understandings/types to the Pure Land - 四土.
http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.co ... s_of_lands
(1) 凡聖同居土 The Land of Sages and Common Mortals, also referred to as the Land of Enlightened and Unenlightened Beings. Here ordinary people of the six paths, or the six lower of the Ten Worlds, live together with the sages of the four noble worlds, or the four higher of the Ten Worlds.

(2) 方便有宗土 The Land of Transition, which is inhabited by voice-hearers, cause-awakened ones, and bodhisattvas in the lower stages of practice.

(3) 実報無障土 The Land of Actual Reward, a realm inhabited by bodhisattvas in the higher stages of practice.

(4) 常寂光土 The Land of Eternally Tranquil Light, or simply the Land of Tranquil Light, where a Buddha lives. This Buddha land is free from impermanence and impurity.

Shinran talks somewhat of these 4, but really breaks them down into 2 categories (following Shantao):
方便化土 - (Hoben Kedo) Transformed land (of compassionate means)
真実報土 - (Shinjitsu Hodo) The truly fulfilled land


Basically, Shinran says that once one's faith is diamond-like, then one does not go to the transformed land, but to the truly fulfilled land, which is equated with the land of eternally tranquil light and thus Nirvana. It's more a matter of degrees than a singular description as the Pure Land encompasses both.

He goes into the details & differences between the two in the 2 chapters mentioned above:
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expos ... -and-land/
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expos ... and-lands/

If you can read Japanese, they go into even more detail here:
http://ci.nii.ac.jp/lognavi?name=nels&l ... yUFpyiFnTQ

Sorry if I'm not explaining it well.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Re: Pure Land = Nirvana?

Post by doublerepukken » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:21 am

Admin_PC wrote:
Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:48 am
In a nutshell, Shinran is quoting Shantao in the Kyogyoshinsho when he writes (in the Chapter on True Buddha and Land and again in the Chapter on Transformed Buddha-Bodies and Lands):
"The land of bliss is the realm of nirvana, the uncreated"

Traditionally (especially in Tendai/Tientai), there were 4 levels/understandings/types to the Pure Land - 四土.
http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.co ... s_of_lands
(1) 凡聖同居土 The Land of Sages and Common Mortals, also referred to as the Land of Enlightened and Unenlightened Beings. Here ordinary people of the six paths, or the six lower of the Ten Worlds, live together with the sages of the four noble worlds, or the four higher of the Ten Worlds.

(2) 方便有宗土 The Land of Transition, which is inhabited by voice-hearers, cause-awakened ones, and bodhisattvas in the lower stages of practice.

(3) 実報無障土 The Land of Actual Reward, a realm inhabited by bodhisattvas in the higher stages of practice.

(4) 常寂光土 The Land of Eternally Tranquil Light, or simply the Land of Tranquil Light, where a Buddha lives. This Buddha land is free from impermanence and impurity.

Shinran talks somewhat of these 4, but really breaks them down into 2 categories (following Shantao):
方便化土 - (Hoben Kedo) Transformed land (of compassionate means)
真実報土 - (Shinjitsu Hodo) The truly fulfilled land


Basically, Shinran says that once one's faith is diamond-like, then one does not go to the transformed land, but to the truly fulfilled land, which is equated with the land of eternally tranquil light and thus Nirvana. It's more a matter of degrees than a singular description as the Pure Land encompasses both.

He goes into the details & differences between the two in the 2 chapters mentioned above:
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expos ... -and-land/
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expos ... and-lands/

If you can read Japanese, they go into even more detail here:
http://ci.nii.ac.jp/lognavi?name=nels&l ... yUFpyiFnTQ

Sorry if I'm not explaining it well.

Lol you're good though I must admit I'm a little more confused. So, is he saying that depending on the strength of ones faith, one needs to spend less time in the pure land to reach enlightenment? Like if your faith is diamond strong when you die the moment you enter the pure land you're liberated?

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Re: Pure Land = Nirvana?

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:11 pm

Pretty much. It's fairly in line with the sutras, especially the Visualization Sutra (where one becomes an Arhat immediately upon being born from the lotus in the highest birth in the middle grade). The only caveat is that in the sutras, one is an 8th (or higher) bhumi Bodhisattva, just waiting for one's final birth to manifest the various acts of the life of a Supreme Nirmanakaya Buddha. I don't think Shinran's saying one is a full Buddha at that point, either - such a high level Bodhisattva already manifests many awakened qualities and is no longer bound to the round of painful rebirths in Samsara.
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Re: Pure Land = Nirvana?

Post by doublerepukken » Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:08 pm

OK, I kind of get it but am still a tad confused. So you can be reborn as an 8 bhumi in the pure land but you're not actually a full Buddha? I guess my confusion is this teaching diverts a lot from what I read on Honen

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Re: Pure Land = Nirvana?

Post by Admin_PC » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:00 am

Yeah, doctrinally it doesn't fit that one would be a Samyaksam Buddha without manifesting the however many milestones in the life of a supreme Nirmanakaya Buddha. The idea of calling someone who has passed "Hotoke" (Japanese for "Buddha") is more of a Japanese thing and not really supported by the sutras or necessarily endorsed by any of the Pure Land schools as official doctrine.

Shinran did teach that one would be able to immediately start doing work to rescue sentient beings. At the same time he puts Pure Land practitioners who have secured their birth (via Diamond-like faith) to be on the level of high ranking Bodhisattvas. I would say that sometimes Shinran's words on the topic are more poetic than literal. In the following passage, he does not say people born in the Pure Land are Buddhas, but those who will become Buddhas in the following life:
Passages on the Pure Land Way wrote:Second is Amida’s directing of virtue for our return to this world. This is the benefit we receive, the state of benefiting and guiding others. It arises from the Vow of necessary attainment of the rank next to Buddhahood, also known as “the Vow for the attainment of Buddhahood after one lifetime.” It may further be called “the Vow of directing virtue for our return to this world.” The passage declaring the fulfillment of this Vow in the Larger Sutra states:

The bodhisattvas of that land all fulfill the attainment of Buddhahood after one lifetime, except those who, for the sake of sentient beings, have established their own original vows and, thus adorning themselves with the virtues of universal vows, seek to bring all to emancipation.

With these sacred words we know clearly that this is the working of the universal Vow of great love and great compassion; it is the vast and inconceivable benefit. Through it one enters the thick forests of blind passion to guide beings, compassionately leading them in accord with the virtue of Samantabhadra.

Hence, whether with regard to the aspect for going forth to the Pure Land or to the aspect for return to this world, there is nothing whatever that has not been fulfilled through the Tathagata’s directing of virtue to beings out of the pure Vow-mind. Reflect on this.
Honen taught on the 9 grades. Some of his students followed Zhiyi's teaching that only those born in the highest grade could immediately come back to rescue beings in this world. Honen also wrote multiple commentaries on the Genshin's Ojoyosho, which talks a lot about the career of the Bodhisattvas born in the Pure Land.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
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Re: Pure Land = Nirvana?

Post by doublerepukken » Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:29 pm

Awesome I think I am getting it now. Thanks a ton :twothumbsup:

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