Pure Land mystycism

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Hammerheart
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Pure Land mystycism

Post by Hammerheart »

Hello

Few months ago I've become interested in Pure Land teachings, which I began to study deeply. I've read both the Chinese and Japanese authors and I found their works truly illuminating, yet D.T. Suzuki's writings on Shin Buddhism, Anjin Ketsujo Sho, Naturalness by Kanamatsu Kenryo and Awakening the Faith in Mahayana were the works that inspired me the most. The problem is that I am mostly drawn to the mystic or perhaps non-dual aspect of Pure Land (especially kiho ittai) that doesn't really go well with orthodox teaching of the school, and I find myself a bit stranded. I've also read some of Gojun Shichiri and Saichi poems, both myokonins, which left me with impression that one should first and foremost develop his own, personal connection with Amida. Perhaps my Zen background also plays some role in all of that, but I am most certain that what I am looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light and I don't really feel that there is much emphasis on that aspect in Jodo Shu and Shinshu.
The point is I feel a bit mixed up because of my personal approach and I was wondering if anyone felt the same or could offer me any advice or insight. :crying:
GrapeLover
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by GrapeLover »

Hello,

Apologies for a pretty sparse response, but I don’t think what you’re inclined towards is out of step with orthodox Shin teaching at least, cf this interview: https://tricycle.org/magazine/buddha-in ... -and-life/

If you read Shinran’s actual writings then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. If part of your trouble is finding a community that openly holds such viewpoints as primary then I couldn’t be of much help there, but it’s not the case that your beliefs are out of line with Shinran (and therefore Jodo Shinshu), if that’s your concern. I don’t know enough about Jodo Shu on a doctrinal level to comment.
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by avatamsaka3 »

The problem is that I am mostly drawn to the mystic or perhaps non-dual aspect of Pure Land (especially kiho ittai) that doesn't really go well with orthodox teaching of the school
Can you explain why you feel they are incompatible? And which school? My understanding is that kiho ittai came from Jodo Shu.
looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light
I have no idea what this means. Is this a Pure Land idea? What does "mystical" mean to you?
AJP
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by AJP »

Hammerheart wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:27 pm Hello

Few months ago I've become interested in Pure Land teachings, which I began to study deeply. I've read both the Chinese and Japanese authors and I found their works truly illuminating, yet D.T. Suzuki's writings on Shin Buddhism, Anjin Ketsujo Sho, Naturalness by Kanamatsu Kenryo and Awakening the Faith in Mahayana were the works that inspired me the most. The problem is that I am mostly drawn to the mystic or perhaps non-dual aspect of Pure Land (especially kiho ittai) that doesn't really go well with orthodox teaching of the school, and I find myself a bit stranded. I've also read some of Gojun Shichiri and Saichi poems, both myokonins, which left me with impression that one should first and foremost develop his own, personal connection with Amida. Perhaps my Zen background also plays some role in all of that, but I am most certain that what I am looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light and I don't really feel that there is much emphasis on that aspect in Jodo Shu and Shinshu.
The point is I feel a bit mixed up because of my personal approach and I was wondering if anyone felt the same or could offer me any advice or insight. :crying:
Both traditions have to emphasize relationship.

Just say the Name so as to be born in the Pure Land - Shinran
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Hammerheart wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:27 pm Hello

Few months ago I've become interested in Pure Land teachings, which I began to study deeply. I've read both the Chinese and Japanese authors and I found their works truly illuminating, yet D.T. Suzuki's writings on Shin Buddhism, Anjin Ketsujo Sho, Naturalness by Kanamatsu Kenryo and Awakening the Faith in Mahayana were the works that inspired me the most. The problem is that I am mostly drawn to the mystic or perhaps non-dual aspect of Pure Land (especially kiho ittai) that doesn't really go well with orthodox teaching of the school, and I find myself a bit stranded. I've also read some of Gojun Shichiri and Saichi poems, both myokonins, which left me with impression that one should first and foremost develop his own, personal connection with Amida. Perhaps my Zen background also plays some role in all of that, but I am most certain that what I am looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light and I don't really feel that there is much emphasis on that aspect in Jodo Shu and Shinshu.
The point is I feel a bit mixed up because of my personal approach and I was wondering if anyone felt the same or could offer me any advice or insight. :crying:
Ippen Shonin would be right up your alley.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1225526.No_Abode

This is a really wonderful Dharma book generally, and was recommended to me by Pureland friends.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by AJP »

AJP wrote: Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:20 am
Hammerheart wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:27 pm Hello

Few months ago I've become interested in Pure Land teachings, which I began to study deeply. I've read both the Chinese and Japanese authors and I found their works truly illuminating, yet D.T. Suzuki's writings on Shin Buddhism, Anjin Ketsujo Sho, Naturalness by Kanamatsu Kenryo and Awakening the Faith in Mahayana were the works that inspired me the most. The problem is that I am mostly drawn to the mystic or perhaps non-dual aspect of Pure Land (especially kiho ittai) that doesn't really go well with orthodox teaching of the school, and I find myself a bit stranded. I've also read some of Gojun Shichiri and Saichi poems, both myokonins, which left me with impression that one should first and foremost develop his own, personal connection with Amida. Perhaps my Zen background also plays some role in all of that, but I am most certain that what I am looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light and I don't really feel that there is much emphasis on that aspect in Jodo Shu and Shinshu.
The point is I feel a bit mixed up because of my personal approach and I was wondering if anyone felt the same or could offer me any advice or insight. :crying:
Both traditions have to emphasize relationship.

Just say the Name so as to be born in the Pure Land - Shinran
If you want to establish Other-Power Faith you need a living teacher who has it.

It's not easy you have to really work through your Karma, realise your own Ignorant State alongside awakening to the mind of Amida/Amitabha

The substance of which is Namu-Amida-Butsu
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

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Hammerheart wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:27 pmPerhaps my Zen background also plays some role in all of that, but I am most certain that what I am looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light and I don't really feel that there is much emphasis on that aspect in Jodo Shu and Shinshu.
You might consider schools beyond Jodoshu and Shinshu. It is the exclusive other-power aspect of those schools that makes them stand out, while practically everyone else has practices of the path of sages where realisation in this life is aimed at.

Some materials you might want to check out:

Pure Land Buddhism: Dialogs with Ancient Masters
Pure Land, Pure Mind
Pure Land of the Patriarchs
Taming the Monkey Mind: A Guide to Pure Land Practice
Mind-Seal of the Buddhas
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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明安 Myoan
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by 明安 Myoan »

In the Senchakushu, Honen Shonin says Amida's name contains all his virtues and merits, such as his light. Shantao says Amida's light shining on the nembutsu devotee is where his vow is most apparent.
There are also chapters in the Senchakushu that talk about Amida's light directly.

It's natural to feel sad about one's religion at times.
This can be the Profound Mind appearing in our life, realizing that we suffer and are confused.

For something like union with light, on the upper end, Honen and Shantao both attained absorption in nembutsu (Nembutsu-Samadhi) reciting upwards of 60,000 times a day. They were able to look upon the Pure Land while alive.
Honen suggested average people aim for 10,000 recitations a day, if possible, then 20, 30...

For everyday people, the influence of light becomes clearer over a period of years. It takes many forms.
There was no mystical experience that helped me because experiences are impermanent. If you tend towards doubt and sadness, this is doubly so.
This is why Honen suggests keeping up study and practice, over time.

Johnny's recommendation of Ippen is good too.
Ippen gave me a better idea of what "continuous" practice means.
It includes your down times, doubts, and obstacles.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by rory »

Astus wrote: Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:54 am
Hammerheart wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:27 pmPerhaps my Zen background also plays some role in all of that, but I am most certain that what I am looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light and I don't really feel that there is much emphasis on that aspect in Jodo Shu and Shinshu.
You might consider schools beyond Jodoshu and Shinshu. It is the exclusive other-power aspect of those schools that makes them stand out, while practically everyone else has practices of the path of sages where realisation in this life is aimed at.
As Astus mentioned, you might want to investigate multi-practice schools. I practice Tendai with a focus on Pure Land and practice meditation (shikan) among other practices. If you have a Tendai sensei you could also have the opportunity to learn esoteric practices. Both Japanese Zen schools, Rinzai and Soto, split off from Tendai as well as the Pure Land schools, Jodo Shu and Jodo Shinshu, so this might interest you.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/
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Hammerheart
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by Hammerheart »

Thank you for all the replies!
Astus wrote: Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:54 am
Hammerheart wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:27 pmPerhaps my Zen background also plays some role in all of that, but I am most certain that what I am looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light and I don't really feel that there is much emphasis on that aspect in Jodo Shu and Shinshu.
You might consider schools beyond Jodoshu and Shinshu. It is the exclusive other-power aspect of those schools that makes them stand out, while practically everyone else has practices of the path of sages where realisation in this life is aimed at.

Some materials you might want to check out:

Pure Land Buddhism: Dialogs with Ancient Masters
Pure Land, Pure Mind
Pure Land of the Patriarchs
Taming the Monkey Mind: A Guide to Pure Land Practice
Mind-Seal of the Buddhas
I've actually read most of this books, and they are all good, but somehow I feel that I am missing something. I'd say that I wholeheartedly agree with Shin position on faith and absolute Other-Power, but I also cherish "Zen-ish" and Huayan understandings of the doctrine. Rev. Gyomay Kubose, a Shin reformist, has also inspired me a bit, same goes for Ikkyu's "Amida stripped bare".
GrapeLover wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:10 pm Hello,

Apologies for a pretty sparse response, but I don’t think what you’re inclined towards is out of step with orthodox Shin teaching at least, cf this interview: https://tricycle.org/magazine/buddha-in ... -and-life/

If you read Shinran’s actual writings then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. If part of your trouble is finding a community that openly holds such viewpoints as primary then I couldn’t be of much help there, but it’s not the case that your beliefs are out of line with Shinran (and therefore Jodo Shinshu), if that’s your concern. I don’t know enough about Jodo Shu on a doctrinal level to comment.
Thank you, I really like the Tricycle's Pure Land columns, as they seem to convey the Shinshu message in more lively manner. I've also read some of the Shinran, although I still struggle to finish Kyogyoshinsho :). Finding a community is not really a problem, since there are no Pure Land communities of any kind in my country, so it's purely personal manner.
dolphin_color wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:36 pm
The problem is that I am mostly drawn to the mystic or perhaps non-dual aspect of Pure Land (especially kiho ittai) that doesn't really go well with orthodox teaching of the school
Can you explain why you feel they are incompatible? And which school? My understanding is that kiho ittai came from Jodo Shu.
looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light
I have no idea what this means. Is this a Pure Land idea? What does "mystical" mean to you?
You are right that Kiho ittai originated in Jodo Shu writings, and it was later absorbed into Shinshu, but I don't find much of it in the writings of the masters. My impression is that both Jodo Shu and Shinshu put more emphasis on the bombu-ness and wretchedness of the man than on the assuring side of Amida's compassion. I understand the importance of realizing one's limits, but I just feel that it's overly emphasised and I don't find it helpful at all. On the other hand in text such as Anjin Ketsujo Sho I found great consolation, yet it doesn't seem to be a "mainstream" text of the tradition.

When it comes to mystical union, I'd say that it isn't really an orthodox Pure Land idea, but more of the idea coming from reading more non-dual inclined writers of Jodo Shinshu whom I mentioned. It also stems from my deep personal interest in the similar ideas of other religious traditions, articulated by Christian, Muslim and Hindu mystics. "Mystical" for me would mean feeling that Kiho Ittai is true and having no doubt about it. It's probably related to Shinjin, which itself in Shinshu understanding is bestowed as a grace from Amida himself. From what I understood, Shinjin is a tricky gift, as it only appears when one eschews his own self-power and wholly submits to the Other. This reminds me of multiple Zen stories, where a monk chases after enlightenment for a long time, but the moment he surrenders and least expects it, boom, there he finds it. So it also made to consider the similarities between the Shinjin and Satori.
rory wrote: Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:05 am
Astus wrote: Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:54 am
Hammerheart wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:27 pmPerhaps my Zen background also plays some role in all of that, but I am most certain that what I am looking for is some sort of mystical union with Infinite Light and I don't really feel that there is much emphasis on that aspect in Jodo Shu and Shinshu.
You might consider schools beyond Jodoshu and Shinshu. It is the exclusive other-power aspect of those schools that makes them stand out, while practically everyone else has practices of the path of sages where realisation in this life is aimed at.
As Astus mentioned, you might want to investigate multi-practice schools. I practice Tendai with a focus on Pure Land and practice meditation (shikan) among other practices. If you have a Tendai sensei you could also have the opportunity to learn esoteric practices. Both Japanese Zen schools, Rinzai and Soto, split off from Tendai as well as the Pure Land schools, Jodo Shu and Jodo Shinshu, so this might interest you.
gassho
Rory
Thanks Rory, but I think that I am settled with a Pure Land School, even if I don't find myself agreeing with everything that is said there. Besides, there is no Tendai School in my country as well :(. But I'll read about Tendai!
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Hammerheart
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by Hammerheart »

A short afterthought...

I let my mind settle down a little bit and came to a sense of clarity. It seems to me that I fell in a hole of my own making. I try to desperately cling to the idea of ''achieving'' some state of assurance with my own reasoning and self-power, so I miss an entire point of Pure Land teaching by far. My issues seem to primely originate in not exhausting the self-power, and so I go around thinking ''huh, perhaps through Buddha-remembrance I'll achieve enlightenment'', repeating the same mistakes yet again. When I became aware of that, I thought ''well, perhaps I should just lock myself in the room and chant Buddha's Name ten or twenty thousand times a day and finally the assurance of Birth will be settled then'', but again, I fall in the trap, thinking that I have anything to say in this matter. I think that such binds make Pure Land Buddhism truly magnificent, as they perfectly expose how ridden with self-deception and constant ''trying'' I am; even when I say ''I entrust myself to the Buddha of Infinite Light'', there is a feeling that it's not 100% honest on my side; that somehow I try to get something extra out of it, not realizing that the only thing I can do is to thank Buddha for his benevolence to embrace such a confused and bungling person as myself. The rest is up to Him.

Huh, I feel much better now :anjali:
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rory
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by rory »

I'm glad you feel better. One thing that I do know that will help you is to find a teacher, whether Jodo Shu or Jodo Shinshu. I know from experience as 22 years ago a Jodo Shu monk was my teacher ( we were in different cities and I telephoned and we wrote letters) he helped me to understand and shared some wonderful practices, later I moved to Ireland and I had a Jodo Shinshu priest who I emailed with. He also would listen to my difficulties and advise me with his wisdom. I understand all you are going through...

An experienced teacher is what you need: there is Rev. Taijun Kasahara of Rinkaian Temple, Jodo Shu who is reaching out over the internet :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RcP8jVrkJ8 and depending where you are write to a Shinshu priest in the nearest temple. I wrote to one in another country.

Presently my Tendai teacher also teaches students via the internet all over the world! It's wonderful. So there is no reason to feel you are on your own or struggle on your own.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/
Fortyeightvows
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Re: Pure Land mysticism

Post by Fortyeightvows »

AJP wrote: Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:03 amIf you want to establish Other-Power Faith you need a living teacher who has it.
Is there an agreement among purelanders that this is true ?
Who teaches this ?
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Re: Pure Land mysticism

Post by AJP »

Fortyeightvows wrote: Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:41 pm
AJP wrote: Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:03 amIf you want to establish Other-Power Faith you need a living teacher who has it.
Is there an agreement among purelanders that this is true ?
Who teaches this ?
Where I trained that’s how it was explicitly stated.

May be viewed differently elsewhere.

May be cases where Faith has spontaneously arisen also.
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by Shaku Kenshin »

Hammerheart wrote: Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:38 pm You are right that Kiho ittai originated in Jodo Shu writings, and it was later absorbed into Shinshu, but I don't find much of it in the writings of the masters.
I think to avoid confusion, it is important to point out that kiho ittai is a concept that was stressed by Shoku, the founder of the Seizan branch of Jodoshu. This branch is comparatively small nowadays and when people just say Jodoshu, they usually mean the much much bigger Chinzei branch of Jodoshu, which was started by Bencho, whose interpretation of Honen's teachings differs quite a bit from those of Shoku and Shinran. As far as I now, non-dual concepts don't play a prominent role in his thought.
The idea of kiho ittai was later incorporated into Shinshu thought through the Anjin ketsujo sho, which is a text that is now believed to have been written by a scholar of the Seizan branch. Btw, Ippen's teachers also belonged to the Seizan branch.

You might want to also check out the teachings of the Yuzu nenbutsu shu. Also, Shinzei, the founder of the Shinzei branch of Tendai Buddhism, which focuses on Pure Land practice, shows in his Shoshin hogo an understanding of nenbutsu, which is very similar to kiho ittai.

But if you search for a teacher and you are outside of Japan, your best chance is probably to find a Shinshu teacher who emphasises the non-dual aspects of Shinrans teachings.
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by Jingtoo2 »

明安 Myoan wrote: Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:29 pm In the Senchakushu, Honen Shonin says Amida's name contains all his virtues and merits, such as his light. Shantao says Amida's light shining on the nembutsu devotee is where his vow is most apparent.
There are also chapters in the Senchakushu that talk about Amida's light directly.

It's natural to feel sad about one's religion at times.
This can be the Profound Mind appearing in our life, realizing that we suffer and are confused.

For something like union with light, on the upper end, Honen and Shantao both attained absorption in nembutsu (Nembutsu-Samadhi) reciting upwards of 60,000 times a day. They were able to look upon the Pure Land while alive.
Honen suggested average people aim for 10,000 recitations a day, if possible, then 20, 30...

For everyday people, the influence of light becomes clearer over a period of years. It takes many forms.
There was no mystical experience that helped me because experiences are impermanent. If you tend towards doubt and sadness, this is doubly so.
This is why Honen suggests keeping up study and practice, over time.

Johnny's recommendation of Ippen is good too.
Ippen gave me a better idea of what "continuous" practice means.
It includes your down times, doubts, and obstacles.
This is an excellent post. The important thing is to start, and continue. Doubts are normal, most people will experience them from time to time. Remember the Great Vow and walk on!
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FiveSkandhas
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by FiveSkandhas »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:56 am
Ippen Shonin would be right up your alley.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1225526.No_Abode

This is a really wonderful Dharma book generally, and was recommended to me by Pureland friends.
:good:

When I came across this book in the early 2000s it completely revolutionized my view of pure land and it's scope.

The book "Horizontal Escape" is also highly recommend. It gives a rare (in English) view of the Pure Land tradition from a Vietnamese perspective. I was shocked to see it priced at $847 USD... :shock:
Only one copy left, for the wealthy Dharma Wheel member I suppose, although it would please me to see it reprinted at an affordable price:



After you have read "no abode", if you are interested in the later history of his sect (The Ji-shu) from a drier and more scholarly perspective, I recommend this one as well:

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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Thanks, that's good info! The record of Ippen really is one of the best Dharma books I've read.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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明安 Myoan
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by 明安 Myoan »

"Horizontal Escape" and "Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith" are different editions of the same work.
BWF is available for much less than $800 :)
There's also this legally free version online, from YMBA.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen
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Re: Pure Land mystycism

Post by FiveSkandhas »

明安 Myoan wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:51 pm "Horizontal Escape" and "Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith" are different editions of the same work.
BWF is available for much less than $800 :)
There's also this legally free version online, from YMBA.
:twothumbsup: :thumbsup: :thanks:
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