Contradicting sutras

Ricky
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Contradicting sutras

Post by Ricky » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:18 pm

From what I understand the 18th vow states that those who commit the five great sins and slander the teachings will not take birth in the pure land but in other sutras such as the contemplation sutra it is stated that they can. What is the reason for this contradiction and how to resolve it?

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:04 pm

Depends on the school, but some commentators say that the statement in the Larger Sutra is provisional. They may have been influenced by real concerns of their followers. In Japan; for example, famines were common and took a lot of lives. The practice of abandoning elders (parents) in remote places to die from exposure (ie Ubasute - 姥捨て) was coined at the time and the situation was severe enough that the practice must've warranted serious consideration. (I know Kodansha says the practice wasn't common, but there are various places in Japan named for the practice). If people were forced to make such tough choices due to famines & the like, then a path that offered them no hope was not much good.

The standard reason for the 5 grave offenses provision is that such people would automatically fall into Avici upon death, regardless of a Buddha's intervention. I think perhaps another reason the statement is seen as provisional because various Mahayana sutras show Buddhas & Bodhisattvas being able to rescue beings from Avici hell (just look at the Ksitigarbha Sutra & at least one of the sutras about Avalokitesvara). So even if beings had to go through Avici, they could still achieve Pure Land birth.

As far as why the sutras themselves are different, technically the section in the Visualization Sutra that supersedes the 5 grave offenses provision is itself a visualization (the 16th). The Visualization Sutra is often seen to be later, possibly even a Central Asian creation, and later sutras are sometimes said to be driven by realizations of later practitioners.
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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Ricky » Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:00 pm

Ok makes more sense now. Thanks.

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:27 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:04 pm
Depends on the school, but some commentators say that the statement in the Larger Sutra is provisional.
And this statement alone dispels something of some preconceived myths that may surround Buddhisms that base themselves around either a given particular sūtra or a given thematically related or unrelated set of "core" sūtrāṇi. Even in the larger Lotus tradition (Tiāntāi, Tendai & other regional stolons, Nichiren, etc.), the LS is divided between the provisional lotus & the essential lotus.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Admin_PC » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:43 pm

Well Lotus Buddhism there's the idea of discarding the trace/provisional (迹門 or 権経) and focusing on the source/true (本門 or 実経). This usage of the term "provisional" really isn't related to that discussion at all, though the discussion probably did influence Pure Land Buddhism in Japan - as most of those masters originally came from Tendai.

First, the Larger Sukhavati Sutra & Visualization have many statements that are provisional (ie "not required") in nature. In other words, they state what one should/shouldn't do in addition to what one must/mustn't do. The "wicked ways of the world" and the "various levels of birth" sections are good examples.

Second, the reason a "mustn't" statement is being referred to as "provisional" is more related to the debate over Icchantikas and whether or not someone could truly "burn their seed" for Buddhahood. In this case, whether or not committing the 5 grave offenses and/or disparaging the Dharma would essentially destroy any chance at liberation via the Pure Land. The Dharmakṣema translation of the 大般涅槃經 the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra, 40 fascicles was seen as definitive (especially the first 10 fascicles) and apparently put this debate to rest, saying that even the Icchantika can eventually find release into Nirvana. Other sutras like the Lankavatara Sutra also take the same stance, indicating that icchantikas will be saved through the liberational power of the Buddhas, who never abandon sentient beings. In east asia, only the Faxian-school accepted the idea that Icchantikas had burned their seed for Buddhahood.
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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Ricky » Sat Dec 09, 2017 6:42 am

Found some good info on here http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expos ... -passages/

If I read correctly Shinran states that those who commit the five grave offenses are able to attain birth but not those who've slandered the dharma. Those folks will have to suffer in Avici hell for innumerable eons.

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Zhen Li » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:24 pm

I am not sure if it has ever been approached this way, but looking at the Sanskrit edition, it seems that the five offences only disqualifies the effect of the 19th vow, which is somewhat easier than the 18th which requires a pure mind/true faith/shinjin. In this case, could one not say that a slanderer/obstructor of the Dharma is indeed someone who cannot have a pure mind, but that a doer of the five grave offences, eventually, could develop it later in life?
My translation is as follows:
Vaidya, 227 wrote:“‘19. If, O Lord, having obtained awakening, those beings in immeasurable and innumerable buddha-lands who, having heard my name, would give rise to a thought of that buddha-land, and would dedicate [their] wholesome roots to arise [there], and [if] they would not arise in that buddha-land, even if they only repeat giving rise to that thought ten times, except for doers of the unpardonable sins and those beings who have acted in obstruction and in repudiation of True Dharma, then may I not fully awaken to highest and perfect full awakening.
“‘20. If, O Lord, having obtained awakening, those beings who would be reborn in that buddha-land all would not be bound to only one birth up until highest and perfect full awakening, with the exception of those with the distinguished vow of bodhisattva mahāsattvas, who have girt on the great armour, are fully awakened for sake of all worlds, are devoted to all worlds, are devoted to the final nirvana of all worlds, desiring to practice the bodhisattva practice in all worlds, desiring to serve all buddhas, obtaining the establishment in highest and perfect full awakening of beings as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges, and who, furthermore, are turned towards the higher practice, and who go forth in the practices of Samantabhadra, then may I not fully awaken to highest and perfect full awakening.

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Admin_PC » Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:33 am

Are there multiple Sanskrit editions? I know Mueller's Sanskrit translation has a different number of vows (46 iirc) from Luis O. Gomez's translation (47).

In the Gomez translation from Sanskrit:
- the 18th vow requires generating bodhicitta (the aspiration for supreme awakening for the sake of all sentient beings) and corresponds to the 19th vow from the Chinese version.
- the 19th vow combines dedicating merit & aspiring for birth. It seems like a combination of the 18th and 20th vows; or just expounds on the 20th vow, from the Chinese version.
- the 20th vow only mentions bodies bearing the 32 marks of those born in the Pure Land and corresponds to the 21st vow from the Chinese version.

The Contemplation Sutra (Amitayurdhyana Sutra) definitely seems to make the case that repentance makes a difference and can be a mitigating factor. I'm talking specifically the descriptions of the various births in the Low Rank. Recitation is taught as a form of repentance in most forms of Pure Land. Shantao talks about it at length. Honen details it in Aruhito no Shimesu Kotoba and A Letter to Nun Shonyobo, both found in Promise of Amida. Shinran talks about it in the Kyogyoshinsho: "In a single utterance of the Name of Amida Buddha, karmic evil that would involve one in eighty billion kalpas of birth-and-death is eliminated. Even a single utterance is thus; the person who practices the constant saying of the Name, is none other than the one who is always performing repentance." The idea seems to come from these passages in the Contemplation Sutra.
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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Ricky » Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:42 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:33 am

The Contemplation Sutra (Amitayurdhyana Sutra) definitely seems to make the case that repentance makes a difference and can be a mitigating factor. I'm talking specifically the descriptions of the various births in the Low Rank. Recitation is taught as a form of repentance in most forms of Pure Land. Shantao talks about it at length. Honen details it in Aruhito no Shimesu Kotoba and A Letter to Nun Shonyobo, both found in Promise of Amida. Shinran talks about it in the Kyogyoshinsho: "In a single utterance of the Name of Amida Buddha, karmic evil that would involve one in eighty billion kalpas of birth-and-death is eliminated. Even a single utterance is thus; the person who practices the constant saying of the Name, is none other than the one who is always performing repentance." The idea seems to come from these passages in the Contemplation Sutra.
Are there similar statements like this made in the two older pure land sutras? And would a slanderer of the Dharma be able to make it to the pure land if he repents? I wonder what Honen or Shandao would say about this since the slanderers aren't even mentioned in the lowest of the low grade. It sounds similar to blasphemy of the holy spirit in Christianity. Both seem doomed to hell no matter what.

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Admin_PC » Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:58 pm

Ricky wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:42 pm
Are there similar statements like this made in the two older pure land sutras? And would a slanderer of the Dharma be able to make it to the pure land if he repents? I wonder what Honen or Shandao would say about this since the slanderers aren't even mentioned in the lowest of the low grade. It sounds similar to blasphemy of the holy spirit in Christianity. Both seem doomed to hell no matter what.
Well, it is important to note that for Shantao & Honen, the Contemplation Sutra was not later. In fact, Shantao's commentary on that sutra was one of his main works. The idea that it is late is somewhat modern.

In regards to slandering the Dharma, Shinran discusses this very topic here:
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expos ... -passages/
Answer: Although he has only slandered the right dharma and has not committed other evil acts, he will definitely be unable to attain birth. How is this known? A sutra states that the person who has committed the five grave offenses falls into great Avici hell and fully undergoes their recompense for one kalpa. The person who slanders the right dharma falls into great Avici hell, and when that kalpa has run out, he passes on into the great Avici hell of another quarter. In this way he passes through a hundred thousand great Avici hells one after another. The Buddha does not indicate any time when it is possible for him to emerge. This is because slandering the right dharma is an evil act of extreme gravity.

Further, the right dharma is the Buddha-dharma. Such a foolish person has already slandered it; how can it be reasonable to think that he would aspire to be born in the Buddha-land? Suppose the person aspires for birth merely because he craves to be born into happiness; this is like seeking ice that is not water or fire without smoke. How can it be deemed reasonable that he attain it?

Question: What are the characteristics of slandering the right dharma?

Answer: Saying there is no Buddha, no Buddha-dharma, no bodhisattva, no bodhisattva-dharma. Deciding on such views, whether through understanding thus in one’s own mind or receiving the ideas from others, is called slandering the right dharma.

On the flip side, in Passages on the Pure Land way, he says:
Those who slander the dharma or who lack seeds of Buddhahood, when they turn about at heart, all go to the Pure Land.
The Shorter Sutra doesn't mention repentance. The Larger Sutra only discusses repentance in the context of those born in the womb due to doubt. Repentance itself is a theme that shows up in many other sutras, such as the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva sutra, the 10 vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, and the Repentance Sūtra in Response to Śāriputra. The Buddha was very clear that repentance can alter the recompense of unskillful actions. Pure Land doesn't toss out these other sutras, just sees them through the interpretive lens of Pure Land teachings. Anecdotally, there have been many practitioners who have repented earlier slandering of the Dharma and entered the Pure Land gate.

I don't think this is comparable to blasphemy in Christianity as it is not some higher being's forgiveness that one is seeking, but rather regret for one's unskillful actions. With slandering the Dharma, it's defined as a complete lack of faith, so how can the requirement of faith be met unless one undergoes a change of heart? If one does have that change of heart, expresses regret over earlier misdeeds, and establishes great faith/reliance on the BuddhaDharma, what Buddha or Bodhisattva would refuse them aide?
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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Malcolm » Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:16 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:58 pm


I don't think this is comparable to blasphemy in Christianity...
There is no real heresy in Buddhadharma, apart from Sanghabheda, splitting the Sangha — declaring one's own system to be better than that of Śākyamuni Buddhas. Sanghabheda is a misdeed that can only be done by a fully ordained bhiḳsu, for example, Devadatta.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Coëmgenu » Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:16 pm
Admin_PC wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:58 pm


I don't think this is comparable to blasphemy in Christianity...
There is no real heresy in Buddhadharma, apart from Sanghabheda, splitting the Sangha — declaring one's own system to be better than that of Śākyamuni Buddhas. Sanghabheda is a misdeed that can only be done by a fully ordained bhiḳsu, for example, Devadatta.
This, though, is really close to the technical definition of "heresy" in Christianity. A heretic is someone who knows the true faith, departs from it, and encourages others to join him. For instance, the Catholic Church considers Luther a heretic. Modern day Lutherans, though, are not considered heretics, because they were born into that system. They never apostatized to a deranged doctrine and encouraged others to do so with them, because they were born to it.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Malcolm » Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:24 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:21 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:16 pm
Admin_PC wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:58 pm


I don't think this is comparable to blasphemy in Christianity...
There is no real heresy in Buddhadharma, apart from Sanghabheda, splitting the Sangha — declaring one's own system to be better than that of Śākyamuni Buddhas. Sanghabheda is a misdeed that can only be done by a fully ordained bhiḳsu, for example, Devadatta.
This, though, is really close to the technical definition of "heresy" in Christianity. A heretic is someone who knows the true faith, departs from it, and encourages others to join him. For instance, the Catholic Church considers Luther a heretic. Modern day Lutherans, though, are not considered heretics, because they were born into that system. They never apostatized to a deranged doctrine and encouraged others to do so with them, because they were born to it.
Yes, the point is that only a fully ordained bhiḳsu can do this, no one else. In Christianity, it is as simple as a confirmed lay person rejecting the Catholic Church and becoming a Buddhist, for example.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Coëmgenu » Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:34 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:24 pm
Coëmgenu wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:21 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:16 pm


There is no real heresy in Buddhadharma, apart from Sanghabheda, splitting the Sangha — declaring one's own system to be better than that of Śākyamuni Buddhas. Sanghabheda is a misdeed that can only be done by a fully ordained bhiḳsu, for example, Devadatta.
This, though, is really close to the technical definition of "heresy" in Christianity. A heretic is someone who knows the true faith, departs from it, and encourages others to join him. For instance, the Catholic Church considers Luther a heretic. Modern day Lutherans, though, are not considered heretics, because they were born into that system. They never apostatized to a deranged doctrine and encouraged others to do so with them, because they were born to it.
Yes, the point is that only a fully ordained bhiḳsu can do this, no one else. In Christianity, it is as simple as a confirmed lay person rejecting the Catholic Church and becoming a Buddhist, for example.
Well, because specifically Roman Christianity is a top-down system, one has an account of various "official" definitions for terms like "heretic". A Catholic who becomes a Buddhist can only be officially declared a "heretic" by the Catholic Church if they can be fully proven to have had a complete and perfect understanding of the Catholic faith. Terms like "complete" and "perfect", needless to be said, are endlessly problematic, and as such, almost all apostates from Catholicism are not declared heretics, nor would they be if they were popular enough to warrant attention from the Holy See.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Malcolm » Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:28 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:34 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:24 pm
Coëmgenu wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:21 pm


This, though, is really close to the technical definition of "heresy" in Christianity. A heretic is someone who knows the true faith, departs from it, and encourages others to join him. For instance, the Catholic Church considers Luther a heretic. Modern day Lutherans, though, are not considered heretics, because they were born into that system. They never apostatized to a deranged doctrine and encouraged others to do so with them, because they were born to it.
Yes, the point is that only a fully ordained bhiḳsu can do this, no one else. In Christianity, it is as simple as a confirmed lay person rejecting the Catholic Church and becoming a Buddhist, for example.
Well, because specifically Roman Christianity is a top-down system, one has an account of various "official" definitions for terms like "heretic". A Catholic who becomes a Buddhist can only be officially declared a "heretic" by the Catholic Church if they can be fully proven to have had a complete and perfect understanding of the Catholic faith. Terms like "complete" and "perfect", needless to be said, are endlessly problematic, and as such, almost all apostates from Catholicism are not declared heretics, nor would they be if they were popular enough to warrant attention from the Holy See.
They will be denied communion, which is effectively declaring them heretics. Hell, Church used to deny communion to people who married outside the Church.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Coëmgenu » Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:58 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:28 pm
Coëmgenu wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:34 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:24 pm


Yes, the point is that only a fully ordained bhiḳsu can do this, no one else. In Christianity, it is as simple as a confirmed lay person rejecting the Catholic Church and becoming a Buddhist, for example.
Well, because specifically Roman Christianity is a top-down system, one has an account of various "official" definitions for terms like "heretic". A Catholic who becomes a Buddhist can only be officially declared a "heretic" by the Catholic Church if they can be fully proven to have had a complete and perfect understanding of the Catholic faith. Terms like "complete" and "perfect", needless to be said, are endlessly problematic, and as such, almost all apostates from Catholicism are not declared heretics, nor would they be if they were popular enough to warrant attention from the Holy See.
They will be denied communion, which is effectively declaring them heretics. Hell, Church used to deny communion to people who married outside the Church.
In the case of specifically Roman Catholicism, I will have to concede certainly any efforts to redeem it. Receiving communion from that particular source is rather important in that tradition.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Coëmgenu » Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:18 pm

One can look at it this way: an apostate leaves "the religion", a heretic takes the congregation with him.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Ricky » Sun Dec 24, 2017 7:29 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:58 pm
Ricky wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:42 pm
Are there similar statements like this made in the two older pure land sutras? And would a slanderer of the Dharma be able to make it to the pure land if he repents? I wonder what Honen or Shandao would say about this since the slanderers aren't even mentioned in the lowest of the low grade. It sounds similar to blasphemy of the holy spirit in Christianity. Both seem doomed to hell no matter what.
Well, it is important to note that for Shantao & Honen, the Contemplation Sutra was not later. In fact, Shantao's commentary on that sutra was one of his main works. The idea that it is late is somewhat modern.

In regards to slandering the Dharma, Shinran discusses this very topic here:
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expos ... -passages/
Answer: Although he has only slandered the right dharma and has not committed other evil acts, he will definitely be unable to attain birth. How is this known? A sutra states that the person who has committed the five grave offenses falls into great Avici hell and fully undergoes their recompense for one kalpa. The person who slanders the right dharma falls into great Avici hell, and when that kalpa has run out, he passes on into the great Avici hell of another quarter. In this way he passes through a hundred thousand great Avici hells one after another. The Buddha does not indicate any time when it is possible for him to emerge. This is because slandering the right dharma is an evil act of extreme gravity.

Further, the right dharma is the Buddha-dharma. Such a foolish person has already slandered it; how can it be reasonable to think that he would aspire to be born in the Buddha-land? Suppose the person aspires for birth merely because he craves to be born into happiness; this is like seeking ice that is not water or fire without smoke. How can it be deemed reasonable that he attain it?

Question: What are the characteristics of slandering the right dharma?

Answer: Saying there is no Buddha, no Buddha-dharma, no bodhisattva, no bodhisattva-dharma. Deciding on such views, whether through understanding thus in one’s own mind or receiving the ideas from others, is called slandering the right dharma.

On the flip side, in Passages on the Pure Land way, he says:
Those who slander the dharma or who lack seeds of Buddhahood, when they turn about at heart, all go to the Pure Land.
The Shorter Sutra doesn't mention repentance. The Larger Sutra only discusses repentance in the context of those born in the womb due to doubt. Repentance itself is a theme that shows up in many other sutras, such as the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva sutra, the 10 vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, and the Repentance Sūtra in Response to Śāriputra. The Buddha was very clear that repentance can alter the recompense of unskillful actions. Pure Land doesn't toss out these other sutras, just sees them through the interpretive lens of Pure Land teachings. Anecdotally, there have been many practitioners who have repented earlier slandering of the Dharma and entered the Pure Land gate.

I don't think this is comparable to blasphemy in Christianity as it is not some higher being's forgiveness that one is seeking, but rather regret for one's unskillful actions. With slandering the Dharma, it's defined as a complete lack of faith, so how can the requirement of faith be met unless one undergoes a change of heart? If one does have that change of heart, expresses regret over earlier misdeeds, and establishes great faith/reliance on the BuddhaDharma, what Buddha or Bodhisattva would refuse them aide?
Well said. I think you are correct.

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Zhen Li
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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Zhen Li » Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:12 pm

Admin_PC wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:33 am
Are there multiple Sanskrit editions? I know Mueller's Sanskrit translation has a different number of vows (46 iirc) from Luis O. Gomez's translation (47).

In the Gomez translation from Sanskrit:
- the 18th vow requires generating bodhicitta (the aspiration for supreme awakening for the sake of all sentient beings) and corresponds to the 19th vow from the Chinese version.
- the 19th vow combines dedicating merit & aspiring for birth. It seems like a combination of the 18th and 20th vows; or just expounds on the 20th vow, from the Chinese version.
- the 20th vow only mentions bodies bearing the 32 marks of those born in the Pure Land and corresponds to the 21st vow from the Chinese version.

The Contemplation Sutra (Amitayurdhyana Sutra) definitely seems to make the case that repentance makes a difference and can be a mitigating factor. I'm talking specifically the descriptions of the various births in the Low Rank. Recitation is taught as a form of repentance in most forms of Pure Land. Shantao talks about it at length. Honen details it in Aruhito no Shimesu Kotoba and A Letter to Nun Shonyobo, both found in Promise of Amida. Shinran talks about it in the Kyogyoshinsho: "In a single utterance of the Name of Amida Buddha, karmic evil that would involve one in eighty billion kalpas of birth-and-death is eliminated. Even a single utterance is thus; the person who practices the constant saying of the Name, is none other than the one who is always performing repentance." The idea seems to come from these passages in the Contemplation Sutra.
Oops, I seem to have quoted the wrong vows, but yes, the Sanskrit recension that Müller is using is, as far as I can tell, the same as whatever Nepalese manuscript Vaidya was using. There are different manuscripts certainly, but I don't think the 46 and 47 difference is a major one—it may be a division of a vow into more than one section. The only significant differences in vows are when we start comparing Zhi Qian, Lokaksema, Bodhiruci and Sanghavarman's translations. There was a very good article that did thus, but after searching for half an hour I can't seem to find it now.

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Re: Contradicting sutras

Post by Admin_PC » Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:44 pm

Zhen Li wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:12 pm
Oops, I seem to have quoted the wrong vows, but yes, the Sanskrit recension that Müller is using is, as far as I can tell, the same as whatever Nepalese manuscript Vaidya was using. There are different manuscripts certainly, but I don't think the 46 and 47 difference is a major one—it may be a division of a vow into more than one section. The only significant differences in vows are when we start comparing Zhi Qian, Lokaksema, Bodhiruci and Sanghavarman's translations. There was a very good article that did thus, but after searching for half an hour I can't seem to find it now.
Would love to see that article if you find it. Gomez does do a bit of a survey in his book.
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