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Hi, I just wanted feedback from others on this. Does it really matter what Buddha image you have on your shrine table? Mine I think is historical Buddha, not Amitabha as the mudra is earth touching, though I think some Amitabha statues are earth touching depending upon the sculptor I suppose! Anyhoo, my way of thinking is to pay respect to one Buddha image is to pay respect to them all as with out Gautama we would not have known about Amitabha, your views?
“Shariputra, just as I now praise the inconceivable merit and virtue of all Buddhas, all those Buddhas equally praise My inconceivable merit and virtue saying these words, ‘Shakyamuni Buddha can complete extremely rare and difficult deeds.
In the Saha Land, in the evil time of the five turbidities, in the midst of the kalpa turbidity, the view turbidity, the affliction turbidity, the living beings turbidity, and the life turbidity, He can attain anuttara samyak sambodhi and for the sake of living beings, speak this Dharma which in the whole world is hard to believe.’
PARABLE 019: DEATH OF HONEN, FOUNDER OF JAPANESE PURE LAND
"At the hour of the serpent (10 a.m.), on the day of his death, his disciples brought him an image of Amida, three feet high, and as they put it on the right side of his bed, asked him if he could see it. With his finger pointing to the sky he said, 'There is another Buddha here besides this one. Do you not see Him?'
Then he went on to say, 'As a result of the merit of repeating the Sacred Name, I have, for over ten years past, continually been gazing on the glory of the Pure Land, and the very forms of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but I have kept it secret and said nothing about it. Now, however, as I draw near the end, I disclose it to you.'
The disciples then took a piece of cord made of five-colored strands, fastened it to the hand of the Buddha's image, and asked Honen to take hold of it."
(Honen, the Buddhist Saint: His Life and Teaching, p.636.)
Note: It is an ancient practice in northern India (and later China and Japan) to exhort a dying person to face west, holding onto a thread attached to the finger of an Amitabha Buddha statue. This practice, which stems from a samadhi ("light") in the Avatamsaka Sutra, is meant to remind the dying of their vow to be reborn in the Pure Land.
"To exhort the dying to remembrance of Buddha, / And show them icons for them to behold,/ Causing them to take refuge in the Buddha,/ Is how this light can be made." (T. Cleary, Flower Ornament Sutra/Avatamsaka Sutra, v.I p.350)
gingercatni wrote:Hi, I just wanted feedback from others on this. Does it really matter what Buddha image you have on your shrine table? Mine I think is historical Buddha, not Amitabha as the mudra is earth touching, though I think some Amitabha statues are earth touching depending upon the sculptor I suppose! Anyhoo, my way of thinking is to pay respect to one Buddha image is to pay respect to them all as with out Gautama we would not have known about Amitabha, your views?
You're correct when you say that honoring one Buddha is honoring all, and that intention counts for everything. If you have a respectful attitude toward the image on your altar, then you are definitely on the right track. I'm speaking generally here, not from the POV of any particular Mahayana school; your teacher may advise you differently.
The image should correspond to your practice in some way. If you are practicing nembutsu, it would certainly help to have an Amitabha image too. (Ever try circumambulating nembutsu?)
thanks to plwk for the excellent quotations as well
My teacher came over for a visit one day. Now, my shrine should properly have a Shakyamuni rupa, but I'm a sucker for Japanese esthetics, so instead it has a copy of the Kamakura Buddha, which is Amitahba. So I apologized to my teacher for having the wrong Buddha on the shrine. Her eyes got big and she asked me incredulously, "The WRONG Buddha? What is this wrong Buddha?".
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
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