Trying to understanding their tradition...

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dolphin_color
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Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by dolphin_color » Mon Apr 29, 2019 1:30 am

I'm trying to understand the tradition of the center depicted in this video:



They're in Singapore. They clearly have tantric leanings and Tibetan influences. And they're in the Pure Land tradition... with an emphasis on Samantabhadhra / Amitabha? Could anyone shed some light on which tradition they're in and what they believe? Admittedly, I know little about the Mahayana, so it's understandable I'm confused a bit.

Sentient Light
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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by Sentient Light » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:36 pm

What do you see in here that's 'clearly' Tibetan in influence, exactly? Without knowing Chinese, I don't see anything in the video that immediately stands out as anything other than traditional Chinese Buddhism. Unfortunately, I don't have context as to what's specifically going on here, or what this chant is all about, but nothing stands out to me as weird or peculiar.

I'm not quite sure where you're pulling Samantabhadra from. I didn't hear the name (but that's not a name I easily recognize). I see a large statuary of Ksitigarbha, and the lead monk is wearing a very Ksitigarbha/Xuanzang-inspired hat, and I definitely heard "Jizang" recited in the beginning, but I don't think whatever liturgy this is is specific to Ksitigarbha, think that was probably just a ceremonial thing at the beginning of the service.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
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Wayfarer
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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:36 pm

You can visit their site here http://pureland.com.sg/about-us/ and click on Google Translate. The translation has some expressions that are hard to understand, but overall it conveys their approach, which seems eclectic:
The Center is mainly engaged in the Pursuit of Samantabhadra and return to the Pure Land. Our style of study is: the view is based, the name is the book, the general is the guide, the pure land is the return. At present, the center has long invited the Master of Navigation, Hui Qian Master, Self-opening Master, Master Ming Hai, the distinguished King of Luosong, Laze Zugur Rinpoche, its Meze Ren Kangbu, Ven Chodron and other methods.
Note the reference to the Rinpoche. If you click on their Youtube channel, there are videos of a Tibetan monastic giving talks.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

ItsRaining
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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by ItsRaining » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:28 am

Title of the video says they are doing 瑜伽焰口 - the feeding of the hungry ghosts. It’s a esoteric practices in Chinese Buddhism.

There site says: 本中心主修普贤菩萨行愿品,回归净土。我们的道风学风是:止观为基,持名为本,般若为导,净土为归。

This centre’s primary practices are the “Chapter of vows and practice of Samantabhadra (this is from the Avatamsaka Sutra” and Pureland. Our style of learning is: using Sangha Vipssyana as the basis, reciting the name as foundation, prajna as our director, and the Pureland as our the target of our practice.

如傑優婆塞
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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:39 am

These are my own observations...
a. What we''re all seeing in this video is known as the Chinese Mahāyāna's 'Yoga Rite of Flaming Mouths' (C: 瑜伽焰口 / yú jiā yàn kou) and a particular section on the Seven Precious Tathāgatas as the video title suggests. It's not easy to explain this rite as there's much commentary with several layers as to its historicity and origins, not to even mention its contexts yet but with scholars disagreeing & in summary, it's traced back to the Táng days of Amoghavajra and one practice manual of his that's based on a Sūtra text dealing with the Dharma of rescuing pretas from that realm whilst satiating them with temporal bestowal of food and drink, based on what Ānanda encountered with a nirmāṇakāya of Avalokiteśvara in the form of an ulkāmukha pretarājah or 'Flaming Mouth Hungry Ghost King'. Scholars have also opined that from the Yuán period onwards, the rite has been undergoing ongoing revisions that led to what we have today, with some suspecting Tibetan Buddhist influence from that period but disputed by others. In the Chinese tradition, this rite is normally done during the Ullambana period and throughout the seventh month although it's not limited to that time frame and has been done during other liturgical lunar calendar days. It's mostly done in the evenings to coincide with text prescriptions to benefit the pretas. It's a general rule of thumb that this complex 3-4 hour rite is only performed by the monastics but in rare cases taught to trusted laity (mainly close disciples and temple acolytes / staff) under guidance from monastic teachers. Otherwise, the laity who attend this long ceremony are merely spectators who can merely join in the recitation without performing the prescribed rites of mudras (some are secret), visualizations and other ritual implements plus there are parts where the Fourfold Assembly that includes the laity (a small number of them chosen from the Upāsaka and Upāsikā ranks) to perform the bowing prostration and recitation parts to the Three Jewels and accompany the ritual monastic team to the side altars as well as to help attendant monastics with mundane chores like refreshing offerings and tea, setting up the ritual platform and et al for the ritual team.

b. Let's also not forget that during and post 845 C.E Táng Persecution era, Buddhism in China became severely fragmented and several schools disappeared which included the Chinese Esoteric School of that time (note: the Chinese lineage survived in Japan today thanks to Kōbō-Daishi) but many of their practices, however have been passed on to the surviving and revived traditions like Chán, Pure Land & so forth. So, it's not unusual to see them practising remnant Esoteric rites but also common Mahayana esoteric practices, for instance seeing the Dharma Host donning on the Vairocana Crown in the video is not at all exclusive to either the Chinese nor Tibetan traditions but as and when the rite prescribes a role that the Host must step into.

c. Based on what I read about them, the organisation seems to be promoting Pure Land but again, they also have a side collaboration with other Buddhist traditions, in this case, one sample would be the Tibetan Buddhist clergy. It's not unusual at all these days as many Buddhist organisations are doing it and some (I will not name them) have done it to the extreme point of confusing the lineage and liturgy, not to mention the doctrinal aspects instead of respecting the boundaries of each. If one wants to lay down the foot, technically these are the 'mixed practices' category as none of these are associated with actual Pure Land based teaching & practice per se. But in the Chinese tradition, they are open enough to accommodate both the exclusive and mixed followers. Another point to note is that Chinese Pure Land as an established tradition does incorporate some level of Esoteric practices & rites for official liturgical purposes and also in its core practice, like the Dhāraṇī for Rebirth in the Pure Land (往生咒) for instance. Anything more than this (for instance, those that borrow from another tradition) that's incorporated with the main niàn fó practice will be regarded as a mixed / ancillary practice deal.

dolphin_color
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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by dolphin_color » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:53 am

Thanks for your input. A few things that seemed or are Tibetan here:

-The white straps that the monastic are wearing in the beginning have Tibetan characters on them.
-In the upper left corner, there is the bottom of a picture of Guru Rinpoche. It's hard to see in this video, I admit.
-The use of tantric hand mudras. I'm not sure if they are from the Tibetan tradition, or maybe from the Chinese tantric mudra system.
-There are vajra bells on the desk. I guess these could be also Chinese tantric in origin, but bells and mudras are definitely most often found in the Tibetan tradition.
-There's a Manjushri statue on the left that really seems to fit the Tibetan design.

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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:16 pm

-The white straps that the monastic are wearing in the beginning have Tibetan characters on them.
The Chinese Tradition inherited & utilises several Indic language scripts and Rañjanā or Siddhaṃ is used on the crown tassels. I do attend the annual Avataṃsaka Repentance services at the local Chán temple here and one of its practices is the '42 Avatamsaka Syllabary' which has all of its 42 Sanskrit syllables script in Rañjanā form alongside the Chinese character. In fact, in this temple's huge famed Thousand Armed and Eyed Guānyīn statue, it has three Rañjanā syllables on its backside of the statue's backrest. And there are temples that use Siddhaṃ. Personally, I prefer the Siddhaṃ.
-In the upper left corner, there is the bottom of a picture of Guru Rinpoche. It's hard to see in this video, I admit.
-There's a Manjushri statue on the left that really seems to fit the Tibetan design.
I didn't see the Guru Rinpoche statue but am not surprised as their website has pics of Tibetan Buddhist clergy with their own Saṃgha and may have been given as a gift. Many Chinese temples these days do not adhere to their own traditional iconography, especially those that are in collaboration or allow external influence. For instance, on Mount Wutái in China, the famed pilgrimage site dedicated to Mañjuśrī, I have seen certain Chinese temples that have Tibetan Buddhist iconography plus even their traditional butter lamps and water bowl offerings on the altar but when asked, they tell me that their root tradition is Chán. Or like in Shanghai's famed Jade Buddha Temple, where they have an exquisite jade reclining Buddha fashioned in the typical Myanmar Theravāda iconography but their root lineage is that of the dual Chán & Pure Land traditions.
-The use of tantric hand mudras. I'm not sure if they are from the Tibetan tradition, or maybe from the Chinese tantric mudra system.
The rite, as explained earlier is from the Chinese Esoteric tradition and legacy. Mudras aren't the exclusive domain of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
-There are vajra bells on the desk. I guess these could be also Chinese tantric in origin, but bells and mudras are definitely most often found in the Tibetan tradition.
This I will have to agree as many places are too lazy to source out the ones that's actually corresponding with the Chinese tradition and just purchase it from the local Dharma store that only carries the generic Tibetan Buddhist implements, which are more easily available. From my private research, they should look like the ones used in Shingon and then I discovered that some look like the Daoist ones that have a trident looking handle on top of the bell. Another reason is also the cost of these Dharma implements tend to be pricey but these days, many Chinese Buddhist websites do carry these items with competitive prices. There's a big debate over how much the Daoists have borrowed from Buddhist liturgy but that's another topic that's irrelevant here.

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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by SonamTashi » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:29 pm

This I will have to agree as many places are too lazy to source out the ones that's actually corresponding with the Chinese tradition and just purchase it from the local Dharma store that only carries the generic Tibetan Buddhist implements, which are more easily available. From my private research, they should look like the ones used in Shingon and then I discovered that some look like the Daoist ones that have a trident looking handle on top of the bell. Another reason is also the cost of these Dharma implements tend to be pricey but these days, many Chinese Buddhist websites do carry these items with competitive prices. There's a big debate over how much the Daoists have borrowed from Buddhist liturgy but that's another topic that's irrelevant here.
Wait, what do the Shingon/Chinese and Daoist ones look like? Do you have any pictures? I didn't know they were used outside of the Tibetan tradition.
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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:22 pm

This I will have to agree as many places are too lazy to source out the ones that's actually corresponding with the Chinese tradition and just purchase it from the local Dharma store that only carries the generic Tibetan Buddhist implements, which are more easily available. From my private research, they should look like the ones used in Shingon and then I discovered that some look like the Daoist ones that have a trident looking handle on top of the bell. Another reason is also the cost of these Dharma implements tend to be pricey but these days, many Chinese Buddhist websites do carry these items with competitive prices. There's a big debate over how much the Daoists have borrowed from Buddhist liturgy but that's another topic that's irrelevant here.
Wait, what do the Shingon/Chinese and Daoist ones look like? Do you have any pictures? I didn't know they were used outside of the Tibetan tradition.
Firstly, try your own search using these key words:
a. 真言宗法器 or 唐密真言宗法器 or 唐密法器 (Chances are you may get Chinese or Japanese based sites)
b. Some may use 密宗法器 but this will get one mixed results with Tibetan Buddhist implements, so it's a last resort.
c. For the Daoist type, 道家法器 but so far, I have never seen Daoists use a vajra in their rites but the bell is common and some even use the Tibetan Buddhist type!

Secondly...
a. Sample type for 真言宗 or 唐密真言宗法器 searches would be this
b. Sample Daoist type: here & here but this one is an anomaly as I have seen both traditions using it.

Now, the cost of the the implements can be quite high which are dependent on size, type, quality, design complexity (some are really ornate), metal composition and so forth. The Japanese ones are particularly legendary for their sky high prices. And also, in Shingon they have several types of ghanta and vajra for various purposes, so the above sample are of the most commonly seen or known on altars.

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SonamTashi
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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by SonamTashi » Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:02 pm

如傑優婆塞 wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:22 pm
This I will have to agree as many places are too lazy to source out the ones that's actually corresponding with the Chinese tradition and just purchase it from the local Dharma store that only carries the generic Tibetan Buddhist implements, which are more easily available. From my private research, they should look like the ones used in Shingon and then I discovered that some look like the Daoist ones that have a trident looking handle on top of the bell. Another reason is also the cost of these Dharma implements tend to be pricey but these days, many Chinese Buddhist websites do carry these items with competitive prices. There's a big debate over how much the Daoists have borrowed from Buddhist liturgy but that's another topic that's irrelevant here.
Wait, what do the Shingon/Chinese and Daoist ones look like? Do you have any pictures? I didn't know they were used outside of the Tibetan tradition.
Firstly, try your own search using these key words:
a. 真言宗法器 or 唐密真言宗法器 or 唐密法器 (Chances are you may get Chinese or Japanese based sites)
b. Some may use 密宗法器 but this will get one mixed results with Tibetan Buddhist implements, so it's a last resort.
c. For the Daoist type, 道家法器 but so far, I have never seen Daoists use a vajra in their rites but the bell is common and some even use the Tibetan Buddhist type!

Secondly...
a. Sample type for 真言宗 or 唐密真言宗法器 searches would be this
b. Sample Daoist type: here & here but this one is an anomaly as I have seen both traditions using it.

Now, the cost of the the implements can be quite high which are dependent on size, type, quality, design complexity (some are really ornate), metal composition and so forth. The Japanese ones are particularly legendary for their sky high prices. And also, in Shingon they have several types of ghanta and vajra for various purposes, so the above sample are of the most commonly seen or known on altars.
Thank you so much! I found some by searching things like "Shingon bell and vajra/daoist bell" and I got some results, mixed in with the Tibetan versions, but your suggestions brought up a lot more.
:bow: :buddha1: :bow: :anjali: :meditate:

dolphin_color
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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by dolphin_color » Wed May 01, 2019 2:48 am

I definitely learned a lot here. Thanks.

Sentient Light
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Re: Trying to understanding their tradition...

Post by Sentient Light » Wed May 01, 2019 7:26 pm

Thanks everyone for all the context here.

re: feeding the hungry ghosts... afaik, every Chinese and Vietnamese tradition does this. It is esoteric, but I don't think it connects to any Tibetan lineages. I think its history was covered thoroughly enough in this thread earlier though, but just mentioning this is actually common/universal practice in mainland Sinitic Buddhism.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

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