Amitabha Buddha Vow 10 about selflessness: barrier to entry and feasibility?

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well wisher
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Amitabha Buddha Vow 10 about selflessness: barrier to entry and feasibility?

Post by well wisher » Sun Jul 28, 2019 1:21 pm

I have some concerns regarding Amitabha Buddha's Vow #10 regarding non-selfishness and non-convetness.
To me it feels like an barrier to entry, restrictions imposed on regular actions, and a form of mechanism for protecting the pureland.
Vow 10
Provided I become a Buddha, if the beings of that country of mine should have arise in their minds the idea of selfishness and covetous thoughts, even with regard to their own bodies, then may I not attain the enlightenment.
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If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should give rise to thoughts of self-attachment, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
To me, only vow #10 raises some worries when I first read it. The other vows in the set of 48 vows seems like wonderful blessings and rewards.
And when you analyze the undesirable traits of our current human Earth world / Saha world, some might argue that some degree selfishness is necessary for self-preservation and survival, because of many undesirable limitations set in this world . Examples: energy requirement to drink water and eat food (otherwise die of dehydration or famine), limited amounts of edible food with lots of poisonous/non-ediible varieties, time waiting requirement and space requirements to grow food or filter clean water, bacteria & fungal growth spoiling food, extra ....etc. That seems to be part of the reason why selfish hoarders for wealth exists on Earth, so I can imagine a lot of wealthy capitalists would deride someone who practices selfless-ness as being foolish and unrealistic.

But I understand that selflessness is an very important aspect towards the the general Bodhisattva practices, and to prevent downfalls. And there is a lot of reasons why selfish acts can lead to a hell-like world, especially if taken to extremes.
Such as when selfishness being taken further to the point of exploiting and hurting others with horrifying consequences (eg. theft / wars to take others' resources, monopolistic/cartel patent laws, labour abuse, income inequality ...etc).
So to prevent these downfalls, I imagine Sukavathi / Buddhist Western Paradise Pureland must not have these same drawbacks of our current Saha world / Earth, like limited space or resource quantity or time requirements?
What are the implications of the non-selflishness? Maybe no currency, no trading , no courts, nor any form of self-preservation restricting others are allowed (nor necessary) in the purelands? Would that be too restricting?

So to play it safe, for more compatibility & better chances to enter purelands in the afterlife: I suppose we should try to practice selfless as much and as feasibly possible in our current life? (Like sharing and charity) Is it even possible or feasible to imagine a world without any degree of selfishness? (Right now I can only imagine the life of an poverty monk/ascetic as being fully compatible with this vow #10).

Note: some extra reading materials I plan to read up after posting this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_egoism
viewtopic.php?t=6811 : 2 types of selflessness
viewtopic.php?t=30872 : Is idiot compassion a thing?

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Amitabha Buddha Vow 10 about selflessness: barrier to entry and feasibility?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:05 pm

1. Amitabha is referring to beings who have already taken rebirth in the Pure Land
2. Selfishness is relative, not absolute. Every time you breathe in and out, you are doing it to survive your life in this world.
Yet, you can also practice breathing as meditation. Right?
You can dedicate your breathing, and all of your actions (eating, sleeping, etc.)
and wish that whatever actions you perform, positive, negative, or otherwise, that they benefit all being.
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well wisher
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Re: Amitabha Buddha Vow 10 about selflessness: barrier to entry and feasibility?

Post by well wisher » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:17 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:05 pm
1. Amitabha is referring to beings who have already taken rebirth in the Pure Land
2. Selfishness is relative, not absolute. Every time you breathe in and out, you are doing it to survive your life in this world.
Yet, you can also practice breathing as meditation. Right?
You can dedicate your breathing, and all of your actions (eating, sleeping, etc.)
and wish that whatever actions you perform, positive, negative, or otherwise, that they benefit all being.
Great points there PadmaVonSamba. Guess I made the mistake of going overboard in over-scrutinization the topic of selflessness.
I suppose then not all actions that one may presume as "selfish" actions. may not necessarily be harmful nor should be prevented (like eating/sleeping as you mentioned).
The Middle-way balanced and practical approach comes to mind; maybe reasonable moderate levels of self-preservation does not really conflict with selflessness, as long as not gone overboard to extreme greed levels that goes into unavoidable conflicts with others.

And Vow #18 seems to negate the per-supposed barrier to entry that I had imagined, maybe I was just being overly paranoid.
Provided I become a Buddha, if the beings of the ten quarters who after having heard my name, and thus awakened their highest faith and aspiration of re-birth in that country of mine, even they have recollected such a thought for ten times only, they are destinated to be born there, with the exception of those who have committed the five deadly sins (Anantarya), and who have blasphemed the orthodox Law (Dharma), otherwise may I not attain the enlightenment.
I still think its better to live life as close as feasibly possible towards compatibility to the Buddhas' pure lands. Clearly I still have lots of work to do in reducing my own levels of selfishness, so the dedication of merits towards all sentient beings like you mentioned may be good practices for me (I have already try to dedicate merits for all sentient beings to be liberated away from Samsara & sufferings of the life & death cycles in the unsatisfying conditioned 6 realms of non-pureland existence, at least sometimes).
And I like to imagine the scenarios to increase the chances for rebirth to the pure lands. Perhaps no mandatory food/water/breathing requirements to live in the purelands, to avoid the death by starvation conditions that is so prevalent in our unsatisfactory conditioned human / Saha world right now.
But I suppose one cannot fully find out until the afterlife?

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Re: Amitabha Buddha Vow 10 about selflessness: barrier to entry and feasibility?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:28 am

Greetings, well wisher!

Amitabha's vows in the Longer Sutra describe his beneficient activity in terms of "beings in my land," "beings in the lands of the ten quarters," "bodhisattvas in my land," and "sentient beings in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters".

We are beings in the lands of the ten quarters. This is Shakyamuni's buddha-land, so we're also beings in the immeasurable buddha-lands of the ten quarters.

You have the vows of birth, 18-20, which include all levels of Buddhist cultivation. The 32nd vow presents a special benefit which those who have undertaken bodhisattva vows can sense. The 33rd and 34th vows are worth looking at as well.

The Contemplation Sutra says:
Amitāyus Buddha has 84,000 excellent marks; each mark includes 84,000 excellent characteristics; each characteristic emits 84,000 beams of light. Each beam universally illuminates all worlds in the ten directions, attracting and accepting sentient beings that think of Buddhas, never abandoning them.
...
Know that, if a person thinks of that Buddha, this person is a puṇḍarīka flower among men. Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived will be his beneficent friends, and he will be reborn in Buddha family, to be seated in a bodhimanda.
These benefits come from thinking of Amitabha. There aren't requirements of knowledge, insight, or virtue. Masters Shantao and Yinguang instead stress sincerity in their teachings.

Further, Master Honen teaches that nembutsu itself nurtures the Three Minds, which enable one to take birth in Sukhavati, as well as enjoy the benefits of Amitabha's vows that apply to us in this Saha world.

A succinct description of Amitabha, his activity, and his land can be found in the Shorter Sutra.

I like Padma's answer too :thumbsup:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Amitabha Buddha Vow 10 about selflessness: barrier to entry and feasibility?

Post by well wisher » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:49 pm

明安 Myoan wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:28 am
Greetings, well wisher!

Amitabha's vows in the Longer Sutra describe his beneficient activity in terms of "beings in my land," "beings in the lands of the ten quarters," "bodhisattvas in my land," and "sentient beings in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters".

We are beings in the lands of the ten quarters. This is Shakyamuni's buddha-land, so we're also beings in the immeasurable buddha-lands of the ten quarters.

You have the vows of birth, 18-20, which include all levels of Buddhist cultivation. The 32nd vow presents a special benefit which those who have undertaken bodhisattva vows can sense. The 33rd and 34th vows are worth looking at as well.

The Contemplation Sutra says:
Amitāyus Buddha has 84,000 excellent marks; each mark includes 84,000 excellent characteristics; each characteristic emits 84,000 beams of light. Each beam universally illuminates all worlds in the ten directions, attracting and accepting sentient beings that think of Buddhas, never abandoning them.
...
Know that, if a person thinks of that Buddha, this person is a puṇḍarīka flower among men. Bodhisattvas Avalokiteśvara and Great Might Arrived will be his beneficent friends, and he will be reborn in Buddha family, to be seated in a bodhimanda.
These benefits come from thinking of Amitabha. There aren't requirements of knowledge, insight, or virtue. Masters Shantao and Yinguang instead stress sincerity in their teachings.

Further, Master Honen teaches that nembutsu itself nurtures the Three Minds, which enable one to take birth in Sukhavati, as well as enjoy the benefits of Amitabha's vows that apply to us in this Saha world.

A succinct description of Amitabha, his activity, and his land can be found in the Shorter Sutra.

I like Padma's answer too :thumbsup:
Greeting to you as well Myoan! Thank you very much as well for sharing these insightful reading resources and material, I will try to read more of it when time permits.

Your statement about " This is Shakyamuni's buddha-land" reminds me of the Lotus Sutra teachings.
But I am still skeptical about it because on the surface level, there is still a lot of suffering involved for a lot of people and sentient beings in this Saha world, including myself worrying about starving / not having enough money to survive, still getting mostly no-responses to my online job applications ... etc...
And Vow #1 state there should not be any animal/ghost/hell states in the pureland . But clearly animal beings are still here on this world, and some may argue us humans are part of the animal kingdom.
Ideally it this world was a truly a Buddha's pure-land in its entirety, there will be no undesirable conditions/suffering /injustice still involved ; or at least to greatly reduced/controllable level.
Maybe the full set of the 48 vows only applies to the inner sanctum of the pure land? Or maybe only those who have taken formally & sincerely taken a Bodhisattva vow can experience the benefits of the 48-vows set to a greater degree? By formally, I am thinking similiar to the precept-taking ceremony done in temples / dharma centres.
If so, I have not actually done that yet, and maybe I should do so in the future.
In the past, I had only privately made a vow for the total erasure of all 6 realms of existence within the Samsaric cycle of life and death; which several on the internet forum warned this is not a good or proper Bodhisattav vow ; probably too nihilistic, so I have renounced this vow.
For now my own personal vow I have kept is to aspire to reborn in Sukhavati's inner sanctum, or any Buddha's pureland where I can learn directly from a fully enlightened living Buddha, right after this human life, so I may learn the proper ways and methods and powers / tools to help liberate other fellow sentient beings away from Samara.

But I totally agree about the benefits of concentrated effort on nembutsu. It really helps takes away the daily worries away!To me it feels similar to the sublime peace experience during concentrated meditation sessions (like on breath). Maybe we of the beings in the ten-quarters can only have a small taste of the full benefits of the 48 benefits only during certain beneficial actions (like only during nembutsu / meditation/ bodhisattav-like activities)?
Or maybe Samsara & Nirvana comes from the mind, like several others have suggested on this forum.
But currently i am more inclined to believe that Sukhavati & Shakyamuni's pureland (i.e. Vultures peak pureland] is currently on a totally different meta-physical plane rather than on Earth, that one can only go to fully in the afterlife.

Wishing all sentient beings swift liberation away from Samsaric & Undesirable cycles of life and death,
Well Wisher
Namo Amitofo - Namo Shakyamuni

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Re: Amitabha Buddha Vow 10 about selflessness: barrier to entry and feasibility?

Post by 明安 Myoan » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:51 pm

Hi, WW. Amitabha's vows are not universal to all buddha-lands but to Sukhavati. Vows that refer to "in my land" are that way. The Shorter Sutra is only about five or six pages, and describes that land and Amitabha's activity. The Longer is much longer :) It also describes the process of Dharmakara becoming Amitabha and his land in detail.

Some of your questions and concerns may be answered in there.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Amitabha Buddha Vow 10 about selflessness: barrier to entry and feasibility?

Post by SonamTashi » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:19 pm

Each Buddha has different vows for their Pure Lands. Shakyamuni vowed to establish his Pure Land in the Saha World, within the world of suffering, so that even the beings who are suffering have access to the Buddhist teachings. Amitabha vowed to establish a Pure Land that was free of suffering, but that has a lower bar for entry than many others. Amitabha's and Shakyamuni's vows are similar in that they both vowed to help beings who were still relatively low on the Buddhist path, but without Shakyamuni's Pure Land (and presumably other, similar Pure Lands), where the dharma is taught within the world of suffering, beings like us would not be able to access Sukhavati.

The tenth vow isn't a vow establishing a cause of rebirth in Sukhavati--that's what the 18th-20th vows are for. The tenth vow, among others, establishes the conditions of Sukhavati itself.

In order for karmas to ripen, you need both the causes and conditions for them to arise. The 18th vow allows beings of the Saha world to take their negative karma, the causes of suffering, with them to Sukhavati, but the 10th vow and other vows establish that once you are reborn there, the conditions for those negative karmas to ripen will not be present. Therefore, sentient beings within Sukhavati are guaranteed not to experience suffering, despite containing the causes for suffering within themselves, because the conditions within Sukhavati do not allow for those causes to bear fruit, like seeds that do not grow because they are deprived of water or sunlight.

So you do not need to eradicate all selfishness to be reborn there. The 10th vow simply means Sukhavati does not support the conditions for selfishness to arise.
:bow: :buddha1: :bow: :anjali: :meditate:

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Re: Amitabha Buddha Vow 10 about selflessness: barrier to entry and feasibility?

Post by well wisher » Tue Jul 30, 2019 5:03 pm

SonamTashi wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:19 pm
Each Buddha has different vows for their Pure Lands. Shakyamuni vowed to establish his Pure Land in the Saha World, within the world of suffering, so that even the beings who are suffering have access to the Buddhist teachings. Amitabha vowed to establish a Pure Land that was free of suffering, but that has a lower bar for entry than many others. Amitabha's and Shakyamuni's vows are similar in that they both vowed to help beings who were still relatively low on the Buddhist path, but without Shakyamuni's Pure Land (and presumably other, similar Pure Lands), where the dharma is taught within the world of suffering, beings like us would not be able to access Sukhavati.

The tenth vow isn't a vow establishing a cause of rebirth in Sukhavati--that's what the 18th-20th vows are for. The tenth vow, among others, establishes the conditions of Sukhavati itself.

In order for karmas to ripen, you need both the causes and conditions for them to arise. The 18th vow allows beings of the Saha world to take their negative karma, the causes of suffering, with them to Sukhavati, but the 10th vow and other vows establish that once you are reborn there, the conditions for those negative karmas to ripen will not be present. Therefore, sentient beings within Sukhavati are guaranteed not to experience suffering, despite containing the causes for suffering within themselves, because the conditions within Sukhavati do not allow for those causes to bear fruit, like seeds that do not grow because they are deprived of water or sunlight.

So you do not need to eradicate all selfishness to be reborn there. The 10th vow simply means Sukhavati does not support the conditions for selfishness to arise.
Great, thank you SonamTashi, really comforting to hear & confirm that the 10th vow does constitute the requirement for entry, only the 18th vow.
I think in our current Saha / Earth world, a bit selfishness in the form reasonable "self preservation" is necessary & unavoidable to survive, such as reasons already explained above. The realm of the 5 types of afflictions/Skandhas.
Not practical to become overly stringent & picky towards extreme asceticism, I suppose!

In the meantime on this world, just waiting for Shakyamuni to pass the torch fully to Maitreya ;)
明安 Myoan wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:51 pm
Hi, WW. Amitabha's vows are not universal to all buddha-lands but to Sukhavati. Vows that refer to "in my land" are that way. The Shorter Sutra is only about five or six pages, and describes that land and Amitabha's activity. The Longer is much longer :) It also describes the process of Dharmakara becoming Amitabha and his land in detail.

Some of your questions and concerns may be answered in there.
Yes, appreciate the extra reading resources. In a wonderful world such as Sukhavati, the longer the better!

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