Real Vs. Unreal

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doublerepukken
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Real Vs. Unreal

Post by doublerepukken » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:49 pm

Hello All! Sorry for so many questions, lol, I am in between jobs and as such am dedicating my time to studying more in depthly and many questions are arising lol.

a person I have dharma discussions with keeps telling me that essentially any 'calculation' is not consistent with the Middle Way, its a bit confusing, but essentially he has been telling me things like we shouldn't say that the Pure Land is real or unreal, and that musing on that is 'calculation' or self-power; also those that say Amida isn't real or is a metaphor or what have you, are not slandering the Dharma(there is no Buddha, etc) in any sense, as its not our place to muse about who goes and does not go to the PL, or whether or not Amida is real which is also calculation (this one I can kind of get behind I guess).

However, as I understand it, Shinran thought of 'calculation' as how many nembutsu we say a day, doing good works/meditation etc to gain birth, not necessarily thinking about the PL itself... if that were the case, wouldn't the masters themselves be guilty of 'calculation'?

What did Shinran mean exactly by calculation, and self-effort? Also here is the exact comment of the person in regards to me posting an article stating that Amida is real and not a metaphor:

'To ponder, "exist or not to exist?",
is not the Middle Way of Namu Amida Butsu

To ponder, What happened before and what happens after, is not the Middle Way
Of Namu Amida Butsu

All pondering is based on self power practice.
Shinran called this, "calculation".
All calculation is based on the self by the self of what is or is not.
Namu Amida Butsu'
'
南無阿弥陀仏
なむ あみだ ぶつ
Namu Amida Butsu

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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:58 pm

Some make Pure Land into a Zen-like practice that few can understand or integrate into their life. I don't personally find it helpful or in the spirit of an everyday practice for everyone.
If this approach works for that person then so much the better.
That doesn't mean they should hold your relationship with Amida against you, especially when you have personally connected with Amida in prison.
Let that be your basis instead of second guessing it later.
Some people feel threatened by those who accept a buddha in a pure land that we connect to in life and go to at death.

Read Shinran, Honen etc. and say the nembutsu. That would be my input.
Sometimes internet discussions are an impediment.

:group:

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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by Admin_PC » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:19 am

Sounds like whoever you're talking with can't defend their views so they vilify people who disagree with them. This modern idea that there's no such thing as Amida and it's just a keyword for something inside ourselves is very modern and has nothing to do with classical teachings in Chan. The idea that one must remain agnostic towards Amida to be true Pure Land practitioners is absolutely ridiculous - it is quite literally selling the idea of lack of faith as true faith. Personally, I wouldn't recommend talking with people like that as their views can be corrosive.

We can gleam what calculation means to Shinran from the following passages:
Lamp for the Latter Ages wrote:Concerning jinen [in the phrase jinen honi]:

Ji means “of itself” – not through the practicer’s calculation. It signifies being made so.

Nen means “to be made so” – it is not through the practicer’s calculation; it is through the working of the Tathagata’s Vow.

Concerning honi:

Honi signifies being made so through the working of the Tathagata’s Vow. It is the working of the Vow where there is no room for calculation on the part of the practicer. Know, therefore, that in Other Power, no working is true working.

Jinen signifies being made so from the very beginning. Amida’s Vow is, from the very beginning, designed to bring each of us to entrust ourselves to it – saying “Namu-amida-butsu” – and to receive us into the Pure Land; none of this is through our calculation. Thus, there is no room for the practicer to be concerned about being good or bad. This is the meaning of jinen as I have been taught.
Lamp for the Latter Ages - 10 YOU MUST REALIZE THAT THE WISDOM OF BUDDHAS SURPASSES CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING wrote:In your question about the teaching, you state that at the point of the awakening of the one moment of shinjin we are grasped and protected by the heart of unhindered light, and hence the karmic cause for birth in the Pure Land is established in ordinary times. This is truly splendid. Yet, though what you state is splendid, I am afraid that it has become nothing but your own calculation. Once you have come simply to believe that it surpasses conceptual understanding, there should be no struggle to reason it out.

You also write that there are people who say, “My aspiration to transcend this world is great, but slight is the karmic cause for my birth in the Pure Land.” This is impossible to accept. The aspiration to transcend this world and the karmic cause for birth in the Pure Land are one and the same. I consider these words to be, in their entirety, needless calculation. If you realize that the wisdom of the Buddhas surpasses conceptual understanding, there should not, in addition, be any calculating. You simply should not fall into doubts over the different things that people say. Simply give yourself up to Tathagata’s Vow; avoid calculating in any way.

Respectfully.

Fifth month, 5th day

Shinran

To Joshin-bo:

Other Power means to be free of any form of calculation.
Lamp for the Latter Ages wrote:In no way is birth accomplished through the calculating of foolish beings; neither can it be the object of the calculation of the eminently wise. Even holy masters of the Mahayana and the Hinayana entrust themselves utterly to the power of the Vow to attain birth, without calculating in any way.
The Tannisho wrote:The nembutsu, for its practicers, is not a practice or a good act. Since it is not preformed out of one’s own designs, it is not a practice. Since it is not good done through one’s own calculation, it is not a good act. Because it arises wholly from Other Power and is free of self-power, for the practicer, it is not a practice or a good act.

...

Through the inconceivable working of the Vow, Amida Buddha devised the Name. To begin with, then, it is through Amida’s design that we come to say the nembutsu with the belief that, saved by the inconceivable working of the Tathagata’s great Vow of great Compassion, we will part from birth-and-death. This being realized, our calculation is not in the least involved, and so, in accord with the Primal Vow, we will be born in the true fulfilled land.

That is, when we entrust ourselves to the inconceivable working of the Vow, taking it as essential, the inconceivable working of the Name is also included; the inconceivable working of the Vow and that of the Name are one, with no distinction whatever.

Next, people who discriminate good and evil acts and consider them aids or hindrances to birth, interposing their own calculation, do not entrust themselves to the inconceivable working of the Vow and, striving to do acts that result in birth with their own designs, they make the nembutsu they say their own practice. People with such an attitude do not entrust themselves to the inconceivable working of the Name either. Even though they lack the mind of entrusting, they will be born in the borderland, and land of sloth, the castle of doubt, or the womb palace, and in the end will attain birth in the fulfilled land by virtue of the “Vow that beings ultimately attain birth.” This is the inconceivable power of the Name. Since it is also none other than the inconceivable working of the Vow, the two are wholly one.

...

If shinjin has become settled, birth will be brought about by Amida’s design, so there must be no calculating on our part. Even when we are evil, if we revere the power of the Vow all the more deeply, gentleheartedness and forbearance will surely arise in us through its spontaneous working (jinen). With everything we do, as far as birth is concerned, we should constantly and fervently call to mind Amida’s immense benevolence without any thought of being wise. Then the nembutsu will indeed emerge; this is jinen. Our not calculating is called jinen. It is itself Other Power.
NOTES ON THE INSCRIPTIONS OF SACRED SCROLLS wrote:Their attainment of nonretrogression coming about of itself: Of itself (ji) means that the calculation of sentient beings is not involved at all; it being made to become so, one is brought to attainment of the stage of nonretrogression. Of itself expresses jinen.
A collection of letters wrote:Next, concerning “thought” and “no-thought,” these terms do not occur in the teachings of Other Power. They are spoken of in the Path of Sages. They occur only in the teachings of the Path of Sages, which is based on self-power. The nembutsu selected in the Primal Vow of Amida Tathagata has nothing to do either with “thought” or with “no-thought.” Whoever may say these terms, you must never employ them. They seem to have incorrectly heard and applied to the Pure Land path what is spoken of in the Path of Sages. Never under any circumstances use these terms. Further, “joy” means to rejoice that, since one has realized the shinjin that is Other Power, one’s birth is definitely settled. I have heard that nembutsu of “thought” and “no-thought” is being discussed among people of the nembutsu throughout the province of Hitachi, and I have already stated that this is an error. In short, the meaning of Other Power is that the practicer’s calculation is not involved; hence, it is neither a matter of “thought” nor of “no-thought.” It appears, however, that hearing this incorrectly, some have been speaking of “thought” and “no-thought.” Since the selected Primal Vow of Amida has no room for the practicer’s calculation, it is wholly Other Power. It should never be said that once-calling alone is right. You say that one directs the nembutsu said beyond the one utterance to the sentient beings throughout the world. It is not wrong to direct [the nembutsu] to the sentient beings throughout the ten quarters in order to respond to the benevolence of the Tathagatas Sakyamuni and Amida. But though it is so, those attaining birth through saying the nembutsu two or three times must not be said to be in error. Please read Essentials of Faith Alone carefully. It should be understood that since it is the Vow of birth through the nembutsu, birth through just one or ten utterances is not in error.
Letters of the Tradition wrote:According to Shin Buddhism, there are two kinds of people who seek birth in the Pure Land: those of Other Power and those of self-power. This has been taught by the Indian masters and Pure Land teachers.

Self-power is the effort to attain birth, whether by invoking the names of Buddhas other than Amida and practicing good acts other than the nembutsu, in accordance with your particular circumstances and opportunities; or by endeavoring to make yourself worthy through mending the confusion in your acts, words, and thoughts, confident of your own powers and guided by your own calculation.

Other Power is the entrusting of yourself to the Eighteenth among Amida Tathagata’s Vows, the Primal Vow of birth through the nembutsu, which Amida selected and adopted from among all other practices. Since this is the Vow of Tathagata, Honen said: “In Other Power, no working is true working.” “Working” [that is negated] is a term connoting calculation. Since the calculation of the person seeking birth is self-power, it is “working.” Other Power is entrusting ourselves to the Primal Vow and our birth becoming firmly settled; hence it is altogether without one’s own working. Thus, on the one hand, you should not be anxious that Tathagata will not receive you because you do wrong. A foolish being is by nature possessed of blind passions, so you must recognize yourself as a being of karmic evil. On the other hand, you should not think that you deserve to attain birth because you are good. You cannot be born into the true and real fulfilled land through such self-power calculation. I have been taught that with shinjin of self-power a person can attain birth only in the realm of indolence, the borderland, the womb-palace, or the city of doubt.

Through the fulfillment of the Eighteenth Primal Vow, Bodhisattva Dharmakara has become Amida Tathagata, and the benefit that surpasses conceptual understanding has come to transcend all bounds; to express this, Bodhisattva Vasubandhu uses the words, “Tathagata of unhindered light filling the ten quarters.” Truly know, therefore, that without any differentiation between people good and bad, and regardless of one’s having a heart of blind passions, all beings are certain to attain birth. Describing the manner of entrusting in the nembutsu of the Primal Vow, Genshin, Master of Eshin-in, states in his Essentials for Attaining Birth: “It makes no difference whether you are walking, standing still, sitting, or reclining, nor is there a choice to be made among times, places, or other circumstances.” He affirms beyond question that the person who has attained true shinjin has been grasped by the compassionate light. And so, Sakyamuni has taught, at the very moment that we, possessed of ignorance and blind passions, are born into the Pure Land of peace, we attain the supreme fruit of Buddhahood.

Yet, it is very rare that people of this corrupt world of the five defilements embrace the teaching of the one Buddha, Sakyamuni, alone, and for this reason al the Buddhas throughout the ten quarters, countless as the sands of the Ganges, have become witnesses to the attainment of birth through the nembutsu that embodies Amida’s Primal Vow; this Master Shan-tao has written in his commentary. He explains that Sakyamuni, Amida, and the Buddhas of the ten quarters, all with the same mind, are no more apart from sentient beings of the nembutsu than shadows from things. Hence it is that Sakyamuni rejoices in persons of shinjin, saying, “They are my true companions.” Persons of shinjin are the true disciples of the Buddha; they are the ones who abide in right-mindedness. Since they have been grasped never to be abandoned, they are said to have attained the diamondlike mind. They are called “the best among the best,” “excellent persons” “wondrous, excellent persons,” “the very finest persons,” “rare persons.” Such people have become established in the stage of the truly settled and are declared, therefore, to be the equal of Maitreya Buddha. This means that since they have realized true shinjin, they will necessarily be born in the true and real fulfilled land. You should know that this shinjin is bestowed through the compassionate means of Sakyamuni, Amida, and all the Buddhas in the quarters. Therefore you should not disparage the teachings of other Buddhas or the people who perform good acts other than nembutsu. Neither should you despise those who scorn and slander people of nembutsu; rather, you should have compassion and care for them. This was Honen’s teaching.
The Chapter on Realization in the Kyogyoshinsho will leave no doubt as to whether or not Shinran thought the Pure Land was a place to be born.

Do you see how ludicrous it is to maintain that complete agnosticism regarding Amida is a requirement of the Pure Land path? Or how silly it is to maintain that Shinran held Shakyamuni to be a real person, but Amida something more abstract?
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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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:40 am

:good:

I forgot to add that it's obvious to me that learning and studying the Dharma are wonderful if you have the chance.
I don't understand the anti-study rhetoric I see sometimes :shrug:
Relying on the words of our teachers and the sutras, seeking to understand and appreciate them, can hardly be called self-power, can it?

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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by doublerepukken » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:00 am

Admin_PC wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:19 am
Sounds like whoever you're talking with can't defend their views so they vilify people who disagree with them. This modern idea that there's no such thing as Amida and it's just a keyword for something inside ourselves is very modern and has nothing to do with classical teachings in Chan. The idea that one must remain agnostic towards Amida to be true Pure Land practitioners is absolutely ridiculous - it is quite literally selling the idea of lack of faith as true faith. Personally, I wouldn't recommend talking with people like that as their views can be corrosive.

...

Do you see how ludicrous it is to maintain that complete agnosticism regarding Amida is a requirement of the Pure Land path? Or how silly it is to maintain that Shinran held Shakyamuni to be a real person, but Amida something more abstract?
Admin_PC,

lol, yes, I can. Thank you for those sources. As a relative novice, I lacked the confidence to tell them I thought that was wrong and just simply said I would re-investigate. But I do see (and always believed) that Shinran wanted us to believe the PL and Amida were 'real', I felt like that was obviously a given.

'Calculation' to me is somewhat confusing; in my understanding, it consists of performing any of the self-power practices for either attaining birth or liberation, or thinking that there is anything we ourselves can do for our own liberation. Does it also apply to saying what we should and should not believe as Shin Buddhists?

For instance, if someone states they do not believe Amida is real and the Pure Land is not real also, is it correct to point them to the scriptures and tell them their wrong/debate, or is it better simply to let it go? From my understanding, not believing that Amida is real constitutes slandering the Dharma, and indicates a lack of faith hence no birth (or maybe rebirth in the borderland?), but would engaging someone in a doctrinal debate count as 'calculation'?

I am really just confused about what calculation is and isn't now lol

Gassho
南無阿弥陀仏
なむ あみだ ぶつ
Namu Amida Butsu

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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by Admin_PC » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:13 am

doublerepukken wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:00 am
'Calculation' to me is somewhat confusing; in my understanding, it consists of performing any of the self-power practices for either attaining birth or liberation, or thinking that there is anything we ourselves can do for our own liberation. Does it also apply to saying what we should and should not believe as Shin Buddhists?
"Calculation" would only apply in the sense of beliefs in regards to believing anything other than Amida and the Vow are responsible for one's birth in the Pure Land.
doublerepukken wrote:For instance, if someone states they do not believe Amida is real and the Pure Land is not real also, is it correct to point them to the scriptures and tell them their wrong/debate, or is it better simply to let it go?
I would say let it go in so far as not trying to change someone else's mind. As long as the correct words of the Buddhas, the sutras, and the masters are shared, that should be enough.
doublerepukken wrote:From my understanding, not believing that Amida is real constitutes slandering the Dharma, and indicates a lack of faith hence no birth (or maybe rebirth in the borderland?), but would engaging someone in a doctrinal debate count as 'calculation'?
Honen warned against engaging people in debates. Shinran has this wonderful anecdote in the "Lamp for the Latter Ages (6)":
You have been explaining to people that one attains birth through the Tathagata’s working; it is in no way otherwise. What I have been saying to all of you from many years past has not changed. Simply achieve your birth, firmly avoiding all scholarly debate. I recall hearing the late Master Honen say, “Persons of the Pure Land tradition attain birth in the Pure Land by becoming their foolish selves.” Moreover, I remember him smile and say, as he watched humble people of no intellectual pretensions coming to visit him, “Without doubt their birth is settled.” And I heard him say after a visit by a man brilliant in letters and debating, “I really wonder about his birth.” To this day these things come to mind.
doublerepukken wrote:I am really just confused about what calculation is and isn't now lol
"Calculation" is another way of saying "over-thinking things". In this sense, it means the idea that one can affect one's birth in the Pure Land through one's own actions, rather than entrusting oneself completely to the vow.
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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by doublerepukken » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:44 am

Admin_PC wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:13 am
doublerepukken wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:00 am
'Calculation' to me is somewhat confusing; in my understanding, it consists of performing any of the self-power practices for either attaining birth or liberation, or thinking that there is anything we ourselves can do for our own liberation. Does it also apply to saying what we should and should not believe as Shin Buddhists?
"Calculation" would only apply in the sense of beliefs in regards to believing anything other than Amida and the Vow are responsible for one's birth in the Pure Land.
doublerepukken wrote:For instance, if someone states they do not believe Amida is real and the Pure Land is not real also, is it correct to point them to the scriptures and tell them their wrong/debate, or is it better simply to let it go?
I would say let it go in so far as not trying to change someone else's mind. As long as the correct words of the Buddhas, the sutras, and the masters are shared, that should be enough.
doublerepukken wrote:From my understanding, not believing that Amida is real constitutes slandering the Dharma, and indicates a lack of faith hence no birth (or maybe rebirth in the borderland?), but would engaging someone in a doctrinal debate count as 'calculation'?
Honen warned against engaging people in debates. Shinran has this wonderful anecdote in the "Lamp for the Latter Ages (6)":
You have been explaining to people that one attains birth through the Tathagata’s working; it is in no way otherwise. What I have been saying to all of you from many years past has not changed. Simply achieve your birth, firmly avoiding all scholarly debate. I recall hearing the late Master Honen say, “Persons of the Pure Land tradition attain birth in the Pure Land by becoming their foolish selves.” Moreover, I remember him smile and say, as he watched humble people of no intellectual pretensions coming to visit him, “Without doubt their birth is settled.” And I heard him say after a visit by a man brilliant in letters and debating, “I really wonder about his birth.” To this day these things come to mind.
doublerepukken wrote:I am really just confused about what calculation is and isn't now lol
"Calculation" is another way of saying "over-thinking things". In this sense, it means the idea that one can affect one's birth in the Pure Land through one's own actions, rather than entrusting oneself completely to the vow.
Awesome, that completely cleared it up for me. Thanks Admin_PC, defining terms is a big thing with me.

Gassho
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なむ あみだ ぶつ
Namu Amida Butsu

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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by Empty Desire » Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:34 am

Calculation is like planning your next day of work or project or a Wedding.

So are calculating our Birth in the Pure Land like this or Entrusting with Faith to the Working of the Original Vow?

The Substance of which is the Nembutsu.

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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by vikas113 » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:37 pm

Sorry English is not my first language also the post is somewhat difficul to understand about what you are exactly saying. I guess it is about the unreal and real view of amida buddha and his pureland.

Here is what I understand after reading mahayana and theravada sutras.

Buddhas never lie. The sun could rise from the west but a Buddha can never lie.
Amitabha Buddha is a real Buddha just like our Sakyamuni Buddha. His Pureland Sukhavati is also real and is located in the western direction from our Earth,
Anybody saying that there is no Amitabha Buddha and Sukhavati pureland would be not speaking rightly and should refrain from doing so.

Our Buddha talked about various Purelands like Medicine Buddha and his pureland in the east, Ratnaketu Buddha and his pureland, Ashokbya Buddha and his pureland Abhirati etc. So all these Buddhas and their purelands are indeed real.

Those who cultivate meritious deeds by practicing percepts or Amitabha recitation with the intention of rebirth in Amitabha Pureland will definately gain rebirth after the end of this life. There should be no doubts in it. Doubts would cause our rebirth at the border of the Sukhavati pureland where we would be enclosed in a palace of 7 treasures for 500 years unable to see Amitabha Tathagatha for 500 years as mentioned in the larger sutra.

So dear dhamma friends please avoid any confusion about real or unreal view about Amitabha Buddha and his pureland.

I hope what I assumed while answering this was correct and I didn't offended anyone,

All the Practitioners here are future Buddhas and I sincerely bow to them and dare not to slander them.

May all beings be born in Sukhavati! Namo Amitabha Buddha! Namo Sakyamuni Buddha! :bow: :bow: :bow:

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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by Shutoku » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:21 am

vikas113 wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:37 pm
His Pureland Sukhavati is also real and is located in the western direction from our Earth,
How exactly does one find the "western direction from our Earth"?
If you are looking from space, looking at North America, west would be one way. Looking at The middle east west would be the opposite direction as those looking towards North America. as the Earth turns then everything would be reversed.
On the earth if you face west at noon, by midnight facing west would be pointing the opposite direction in space.
There is no such thing as "West" in space.
"Western direction" cannot actually refer to a physical direction. However the sun sets in the west, and so west is sometimes symbolic of death.

As for calculation. We are foolish beings filled with blind passions. Reciting Nembutsu in order to gain merit, please Amida, overcome bad karma, or any other contrived reason is with calculation.
Amida's compassion is infinite, and more powerful than any effort we can muster. Reciting Nembutsu out of deep gratitude for being grasped, never to be abandoned, has no calculation.

Debate on if Amida and Sukhavati are literally real or symbolic is a waste of time I think. Disparaging one point of view for another only causes division within a Sangha. I think it is far better is to simply say the name in gratitude and be saved by Amida, no matter what form or no-form Amida actually takes.

Namu Amida Butsu _/|\_
Namo Amida Butsu

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Re: Real Vs. Unreal

Post by steveb1 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:06 am

Admin_PC wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:19 am

Sounds like whoever you're talking with can't defend their views so they vilify people who disagree with them. This modern idea that there's no such thing as Amida and it's just a keyword for something inside ourselves is very modern and has nothing to do with classical teachings in Chan. The idea that one must remain agnostic towards Amida to be true Pure Land practitioners is absolutely ridiculous - it is quite literally selling the idea of lack of faith as true faith. Personally, I wouldn't recommend talking with people like that as their views can be corrosive.

... <snipped>

Do you see how ludicrous it is to maintain that complete agnosticism regarding Amida is a requirement of the Pure Land path? Or how silly it is to maintain that Shinran held Shakyamuni to be a real person, but Amida something more abstract?
Much gratitude for your wonderful, clear, detailed and heartfelt reply. The quotations were apt and applicable to the central issue of Amida's reality - probably the worst facet of "modernism" in the sangha.

It is a wearisome thing to find "Shin Buddhist" teachers who tell their students that Amida is a mere symbol of our own future Enlightenment, or an emblem that denotes "the power of the Dharma", etc.

Gassho.

:)

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