Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

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DGA
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Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

Post by DGA » Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:45 am

The following is from the late Kalu Rinpoche's book, Gently Whispered, pp. 79-80. He is describing Pure Land practice as a means to liberation in the time after physical death, in the "bardo of possibility." For more details on this, go get the book and read it.
Development of such potential is the main idea behind the pure land practices, which foster the aspiration toward rebirth in a realm of pure bliss, of pure experience. The form given for expressing this motivation is devotion to an enlightened being named Buddha Amitabha. The virtue of devotion to Buddha Amitabha is that his pure land is directly accessible through faith, motivation, and aspiration. If the aspiration to attain the pure blissful experience of Dewachen is strong enough, then during the bardo state where there is no physical body as a hindrance, the process can happen instantaneously. Before the mind is required by karmic patterns to take a physical rebirth, the process can be started that will culminate in the experience of the realm of pure awareness. Through the development of faith, motivation, and aspiration to Buddha Amitabha in this life, one can short circuit all established patterns, allowing the mind to break through the individual's enmeshing karma.

With such an approach, one can attain a state equivalent to the realization of the first level of an accomplished bodhisattva. This incredible experience is described in the texts with such phrases as "taking birth in a flower in a beautiful realm of supreme bliss." The eloquent way in which it is presented in several texts has provided a basis for the aspiration and devotion that is the center focus of the pure land school. Practicing Amitabha meditation definitely establishes the tendencies which will allow the transformation to take place in the bardo of possibility. Practice of other yidams can also effect the same result. When the mind is no longer subject to the limitations of the physical embodiment, the complete instability of mental projections provides unusual potential for complete transformation, to the extent that liberation can come about in a very short period of time, even instantaneously, if one's practice is stable enough.
In other words: devotion to Amitabha is equally effective to other Dharma practices in preparing the mindstream for liberation in the time after death but before rebirth, and has the advantage of being accessible and relatively easy. This practice is truly excellent. I rejoice in the aspirations of those who are committed to Buddha Amitabha.

I'm sharing this teaching here with the intention of promoting this practice among those who may be curious about it. I found it inspiring when I read it first. Maybe you will to?

:cheers:

Motova
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Re: Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

Post by Motova » Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:55 am

Pure Land is my favourite Sutra tradition.

:bow:
To become a rain man one must master the ten virtues and sciences.

DGA
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Re: Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

Post by DGA » Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:35 am

Motova wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:55 am
Pure Land is my favourite Sutra tradition.

:bow:
It's an excellent path for many, many practitioners.

RESPECT!

Simon E.
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Re: Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

Post by Simon E. » Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:52 am

It seems clear to me (fwiw) that in the end the division into 'self power' or 'other power' represents a false dichotomy.
Back to fishin' folks... :namaste:

DGA
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Re: Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

Post by DGA » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:38 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:52 am
It seems clear to me (fwiw) that in the end the division into 'self power' or 'other power' represents a false dichotomy.
This is my understanding also.

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Meido
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Re: Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

Post by Meido » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:41 am

Thanks for posting that, DGA.
Simon E. wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:52 am
It seems clear to me (fwiw) that in the end the division into 'self power' or 'other power' represents a false dichotomy.
Yes. I was recently trying to say exactly that to someone who was describing approaches of "experience" vs. "faith." There is a limited use for that kind of talk. But I sometimes wonder if Western folks who fixate on this stuff are parroting old "faith" vs. "works" arguments from their Sunday school days.

Zen and Pure Land are often especially cast as antagonistic to one another in this way. I don't say they are the same, but in their fruition both must arrive at a radical, complete confidence in liberation. All valid paths must.

People who fixate on dichotomies of paths really are wasting their time, since the important question to concern oneself with is "do I have that confidence?"

~ Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

DGA
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Re: Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

Post by DGA » Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:49 am

Meido wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:41 am
Thanks for posting that, DGA.
Simon E. wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:52 am
It seems clear to me (fwiw) that in the end the division into 'self power' or 'other power' represents a false dichotomy.
Yes. I was recently trying to say exactly that to someone who was describing approaches of "experience" vs. "faith." There is a limited use for that kind of talk. But I sometimes wonder if Western folks who fixate on this stuff are parroting old "faith" vs. "works" arguments from their Sunday school days.

Zen and Pure Land are often especially cast as antagonistic to one another in this way. I don't say they are the same, but in their fruition both must arrive at a radical, complete confidence in liberation. All valid paths must.

People who fixate on dichotomies of paths really are wasting their time, since the important question to concern oneself with is "do I have that confidence?"

~ Meido
Thank you for these comments. Here's a follow-up question or two.

Is it possible to cultivate confidence in liberation without first cultivating confidence in a path? (one path)

If not, then what does it take to become confident in one's own path, be it Pure Land or Zen or any other Dharma path?

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Meido
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Re: Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

Post by Meido » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:57 pm

DGA wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:49 am
Is it possible to cultivate confidence in liberation without first cultivating confidence in a path? (one path)

If not, then what does it take to become confident in one's own path, be it Pure Land or Zen or any other Dharma path?
Regarding terms, I should probably clarify that I use "confidence" here in preference to "faith," but what I have in mind likely encompasses the meaning of both words.

I think that for some paths entrance into a basic confidence and entrance into the path are simultaneous. For example, in Zen real confidence/faith arises with kensho. That is the point at which one enters the path and recognizes what the path is founded upon, there arises a real faith in that path as leading to liberation, one can exclaim "the Patriarchs haven't deceived me!", and so on.

But a deeper - or perhaps, more mature - confidence is what I was mostly referring to in my previous post. In Zen, it can be said that this comes with subsequent practice; it has been compared to the manner in which clothes gradually take on the smell of incense until they are permeated, or the way that a person walking in fog becomes saturated and suddenly realizes "I'm soaked." In other words, a moment when one arrives at a deep, visceral faith: a profound acceptance that, well, everything is actually ok. In other words, one realizes the "gift of fearlessness" (se mu-i): regarding this or future existences, there is no longer worry about the conditions, or one's liberation. Even if one should arise in a hellish realm, there is a profound resolve to just try to help the beings there.

This deep confidence may be described as a relaxing, or the untying of knots. I think it is not a stretch to describe it in terms of a complete entrusting. To describe it in Pure Land terms of totally and without reserve entrusting oneself to Amida's vow thus seems to me no problem.

To your questions, then, I suppose that a degree of confidence in any path really only comes with some dissolving of self-referential fixation, i.e. insight. This may be considered a strength of paths taking such seeing as an entrance. Since I have no experience of the Pure Land path, I couldn't say at what point in that path an initial confidence - or a more profound, mature one - arises. But in terms of the ways that a more mature and complete confidence, faith, or fearlessness are described, I see no substantive differences, and so have come to believe that both (all) valid paths, rightly followed, must arrive at that place.

~ Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

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Zhen Li
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Re: Kalu Rinpoche on Pure Land Practice

Post by Zhen Li » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:16 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:57 pm
DGA wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:49 am
Is it possible to cultivate confidence in liberation without first cultivating confidence in a path? (one path)

If not, then what does it take to become confident in one's own path, be it Pure Land or Zen or any other Dharma path?
Regarding terms, I should probably clarify that I use "confidence" here in preference to "faith," but what I have in mind likely encompasses the meaning of both words.

I think that for some paths entrance into a basic confidence and entrance into the path are simultaneous. For example, in Zen real confidence/faith arises with kensho. That is the point at which one enters the path and recognizes what the path is founded upon, there arises a real faith in that path as leading to liberation, one can exclaim "the Patriarchs haven't deceived me!", and so on.

But a deeper - or perhaps, more mature - confidence is what I was mostly referring to in my previous post. In Zen, it can be said that this comes with subsequent practice; it has been compared to the manner in which clothes gradually take on the smell of incense until they are permeated, or the way that a person walking in fog becomes saturated and suddenly realizes "I'm soaked." In other words, a moment when one arrives at a deep, visceral faith: a profound acceptance that, well, everything is actually ok. In other words, one realizes the "gift of fearlessness" (se mu-i): regarding this or future existences, there is no longer worry about the conditions, or one's liberation. Even if one should arise in a hellish realm, there is a profound resolve to just try to help the beings there.

This deep confidence may be described as a relaxing, or the untying of knots. I think it is not a stretch to describe it in terms of a complete entrusting. To describe it in Pure Land terms of totally and without reserve entrusting oneself to Amida's vow thus seems to me no problem.

To your questions, then, I suppose that a degree of confidence in any path really only comes with some dissolving of self-referential fixation, i.e. insight. This may be considered a strength of paths taking such seeing as an entrance. Since I have no experience of the Pure Land path, I couldn't say at what point in that path an initial confidence - or a more profound, mature one - arises. But in terms of the ways that a more mature and complete confidence, faith, or fearlessness are described, I see no substantive differences, and so have come to believe that both (all) valid paths, rightly followed, must arrive at that place.

~ Meido
The term used in Sanskrit for shinjin is prasannacittā, mind/thought/aspiration of faith but also purity, clarity. Recalling Amitābha Buddha, having heard his name, with prasannacittā is what fulfills vow 18 in the Sanskrit edition, and aspiring to be reborn in Sukhāvatī, dedicating one's roots of merits to that birth, even if one only does that ten times, is what fulfills vow 19.

In the Chinese, it is aspiration to be born in Sukhāvatī and recollection of Amitābha even ten times, which fulfils 18.

For a normal practice (self-power), in order to "short circuit all established patterns" while being reborn, as Kalu Rinpoche puts it, it takes more than that. It takes upholding precepts purely, meditation, etc. The difference with Pureland practice is the power of Amitābha Buddha's vows—that's why it is so much easier, just ten times.

As for faith... I think this is something that is a pre-requisite. That's the prasannacittā. This can take a lot of work and study to develop. Reciting Amitābha Buddha's name continuously can do this also. Also, I think that faith and resulting gratitude are such that one will not just rest on one's laurels after one is confident in one's birth. Your practice now continues in the Pure Land, so I personally would say it should simply take the form of any other Mahāyāna practice, the only difference is that one knows one isn't going to lose one's place when one dies and one doesn't have to engage in practices for other kinds of births.

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