Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:33 pm

Insisting that Amida either exists or does not exist, when seen in light of the Lankavatara Sutra, is an unnecessary dualistic distinction. The One Mind in all things just is, no matter what name or form we ascribe to it.
We're just talking in circles at this point so I'll bow out :popcorn:
Last edited by Monlam Tharchin on Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Amitābha!
OM PADMO USHNISHA VIMALE HUM PHAT (Lotus Pinnacle of Amoghapasha)
OM HANU PHASHA BHARA HE YE SVAHA ("Just by Seeing" Mantra)
AH AAH SHA SA MA HA (Six Syllables of Clairvoyance Mantra)


The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have unobstructed vision in all directions.
Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva

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Malcolm
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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Malcolm » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:34 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:22 am

Insisting that Amida either exists or does not exist, when seen in light of the Lankavatara Sutra, is an unnecessary dualistic distinction. The One Mind in all things just is, no matter what name or form we ascribe to it.
There is no One Mind in the Lanka or any other sūtra.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Meido » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:58 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:22 am
Insisting that Amida either exists or does not exist, when seen in light of the Lankavatara Sutra, is an unnecessary dualistic distinction. The One Mind in all things just is, no matter what name or form we ascribe to it.
The part in bold is an unnecessary dualistic distinction.
Dharma Flower wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:45 am
I would rather seek the experience of this very place as the Lotus Land, and this very body as the Buddha, than worry about what might or might not happen after we die.
Recognizing one's nature, and entering a path of practice founded upon that, one naturally does not need to worry about death. One also does not need to worry about what other folks are practicing, since one will be able to grasp the general intent of all valid practices.

A good test for anyone may be found in the last sentence of this bit from Torei (Hakuin's student):
When by bitter interviews [with one's master] and painful training at last the principle is attained, then the Buddha-Dharma of the exoteric and the esoteric schools appears directly before the eyes. Looking at the Sutras after having smashed the many prison gates and broken free, it seems as if they were one’s own teachings.
~ Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Astus » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:09 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:34 am
This is from Master Chin Kung speaking on the Surangama Sutra
Master Chin Kung is a teacher of the Pure Land path that does not seek enlightenment in this life. He considers Mahasthamaprapta as the one to introduce single minded concentration. But it is not about gaining enlightenment in one life. Please see the below quotes from the book your quote is originally from:

"Without being born into the Pure Land and meeting Buddha Amitabha, we will only fulfill the second and third vows of severing all afflictions and mastering all methods but will find it difficult to attain Buddhahood.
In the Avatamsaka Sutra, both Manjusri Bodhisattva and Samantabhadra Bodhisattva had reached the level of equal enlightenment and vowed to be born into the Pure Land. I was surprisingly pleased to discover this when I gave talks on the Avatamsaka Sutra. I wondered why enlightened Bodhisattvas in the Avatamsaka World would want to be born into the Western Pure Land. Considering how wonderful their own world was, it seemed unnecessary for them to do so but after thinking about it, I realized that they had vowed to go there to be able to attain Buddhahood in a shorter time. If not for this, there would be no reason to go to the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha.
Suddenly, I realized that if we wanted to attain the perfect complete enlightenment, we needed to go to the Western Pure Land."

(p 57)

"It was the Avatamsaka Sutra that guided me to Pure Land Buddhism. I lectured on this sutra for seventeen years. Later, I only lectured on the “Chapter of Samantabhadra’s Conduct and Vows” from the Avatamsaka Sutra. During these seventeen years, I deeply comprehended the meaning of the Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva in guiding beings to the Western Pure Land. This Pure Land is the essence and the final destination of the Avatamsaka. From this experience, I realized that the ancient masters were right."
(p 95-96)

"most people do not realize the true value of Buddha Name Chanting. So, the Buddha had to teach all the sutras to guide sentient beings to the Pure Land.
Master Shandao told us that the only purpose for all Buddhas to manifest in the world is to tell us of the original vows of Buddha Amitabha."

(p 99)

Talking about himself:

"What about me? I am determined to go to the Pure Land. I will not remain in this world to continue to bear the suffering."
(p 109)

The closing words of the book:

"When we recite consistently without interruption, we will soon feel an increase in our wisdom, serenity, and purity of mind. Diligent practice of this method together with unwavering belief, vows, and living a moral life can ensure fulfillment of our wish to reach the Western Pure Land."
(p 136)
According to Master Chin Kung above, the Surangama Sutra teaches that we can attain Buddhahood, in this lifetime, from mindfully reciting the name of Amida Buddha.
Master Ching Kung definitely does not teach such a thing, nor does the Surangama Sutra state that.
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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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by thecowisflying » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:59 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:34 pm
Dharma Flower wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:22 am

Insisting that Amida either exists or does not exist, when seen in light of the Lankavatara Sutra, is an unnecessary dualistic distinction. The One Mind in all things just is, no matter what name or form we ascribe to it.
There is no One Mind in the Lanka or any other sūtra.
The One Mind is another way to say Pure mind or sometimes Tathagatagarbha, in that sense it is in the Lanka and various other texts.

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:08 am

I think the issue is a One Mind being in all things "no matter what name or form we ascribe to it", i.e. an overarching essence independent of marks. But all phenomena are empty of such svabhava.
Amitābha!
OM PADMO USHNISHA VIMALE HUM PHAT (Lotus Pinnacle of Amoghapasha)
OM HANU PHASHA BHARA HE YE SVAHA ("Just by Seeing" Mantra)
AH AAH SHA SA MA HA (Six Syllables of Clairvoyance Mantra)


The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have unobstructed vision in all directions.
Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by DGA » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:36 am

Meido wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:58 pm

A good test for anyone may be found in the last sentence of this bit from Torei (Hakuin's student):
When by bitter interviews [with one's master] and painful training at last the principle is attained, then the Buddha-Dharma of the exoteric and the esoteric schools appears directly before the eyes. Looking at the Sutras after having smashed the many prison gates and broken free, it seems as if they were one’s own teachings.
I've written, deleted, and written, and deleted a few posts in response to this remarkable quotation. What more needs to be said? I'll take it with me and keep my mouth shut.

This is an excellent teaching.

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Meido » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:48 am

Here's the full bit from Inexhaustible Lamp: Torei discussing vehicles and "schools," complete with a bit of Zen (or at least, Ekayana As Understood By Zen) triumphalism.

But yes, one of my favorites. I take it as an apt scolding, and it does tend to shut me up.
Nowadays there is much talk about the sublime and the profound, or conversely criticism of the Two Vehicles (Sravaka and Pratyeka), belittling their authority. [Students of] the partial, the round, the exoteric and the esoteric schools contend with each other, yet they have not even accomplished the confirmation of the Two Vehicles, let alone that of the Bodhisattva Vehicle. And as for the One Buddha Vehicle, how could they conceive of it even in their dreams? What use to them are the partial, round, exoteric and esoteric teachings?

None of this applies to our patriarchal school, which surpasses expedient means. When by bitter interviews [with one's master] and painful training at last the principle is attained, then the Buddha-Dharma of the exoteric and the esoteric schools appears directly before the eyes. Looking at the Sutras after having smashed the many prison gates and broken free, it seems as if they were one’s own teachings.
~ Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:29 am

Malcolm wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:34 pm
There is no One Mind in the Lanka or any other sūtra.
This is from D. T. Suzuki's translation of the Lankavatara Sutra, which I am currently reading:
It is like an image reflected in a mirror, it is seen there
but it is not real; the one Mind is seen as a duality by the
ignorant when it is reflected in the mirror constructed by
their habit-energy.
From not knowing that all that is seen is of mind-only,
there takes place discrimination and hence duality; but when
it is known that it is nothing but Mind, no discrimination
evolves.
http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/Suzuki_Stud ... vatara.pdf
According to the above passage, there is not only the One Mind, but there is also nothing but Mind.

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:36 am

Astus wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:09 pm
Master Chin Kung is a teacher of the Pure Land path that does not seek enlightenment in this life... Master Ching Kung definitely does not teach such a thing, nor does the Surangama Sutra state that.
The Surangama Sutra is one of the foundational texts of Ch'an Buddhism, and Master Chin Kung advocates the dual practice of Ch'an and Pure Land. Here is another one of Master Chin Kung's writings:
At the advanced level, i.e. for cultivators of high spiritual capacity, the Pure Land method, like other methods, reverts the ordinary, deluded mind to the Self-nature True Mind. In the process wisdom and Buddhahood are eventually attained.

The high-level form of Pure Land is practiced by those of deep spiritual capacities:
“When the mind is pure, the Buddha land is pure ……..to recite the Buddha’s name is to recite the Mind.” . . .

Faith means faith in Amitabha Buddha’s Vows to rescue all who recite His name, as well as faith in one’s own Self-Nature, which is intrinsically the same as His (to recite the Buddha’s name is to recite the Mind). Vows are the determination to be reborn in the Pure Land – in one’s pure mind – so as to be in the position to save oneself and others.

Practice generally means reciting the Buddha’s name to the point where one’s Mind and that of Amitabha Buddha are in unison – i.e. to the point of singlemindness. Samadhi and wisdom are then achieved.
https://namo84000en.wordpress.com/2011/ ... chin-kung/

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:43 am

Meido wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:58 pm
Recognizing one's nature, and entering a path of practice founded upon that, one naturally does not need to worry about death.
Thank you for your response.

What I meant is that, if I were to believe that the Pure Land is a literal place billions of galaxies away, with lotus flowers the size of carriage wheels, clear ponds, jeweled trees, etc., then it might cause me to have a sense of anxiety over whether or not that belief is true and real.

I would rather seek the non-dual experience of Amida Buddha as our true nature, here and now, than worry about whether or not I will meet him as an external being after death.

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Meido » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:36 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:43 am
What I meant is that, if I were to believe that the Pure Land is a literal place billions of galaxies away, with lotus flowers the size of carriage wheels, clear ponds, jeweled trees, etc., then it might cause me to have a sense of anxiety over whether or not that belief is true and real.

I would rather seek the non-dual experience of Amida Buddha as our true nature, here and now, than worry about whether or not I will meet him as an external being after death.
My point is that if you recognize your nature, you will understand that these worries and anxieties were all unnecessary and a complete waste of time.

So why not focus on the steps prescribed by a teacher to accomplish that recognition (involving nembutsu or whatever other means your teacher judges appropriate for your conditions) and forget for now about the paths followed by others which (ideally) accord with their conditions?

If you are a Zen practitioner but have not yet entered the gate of seeing one's nature, we can say you are doing Buddhist practice perhaps, but it's not yet Zen at all. In that case, you will not able to understand what Zen practice is in the slightest...let alone discern how the practices of other paths do or do not approach the same essential point.

Apologies for my presumption, but from what you've written in the past it seems your interest is primarily as a practitioner. That being the case: if I were you I would forget the words "One Mind" and "non-dual," stop arguing theory, and just start doing nembutsu ceaselessly day and night as if my life depended on it, while cultivating a relationship with a good teacher. The point being: if you are at the stage where you have not yet recognized what Zen calls one's "nature," you don't have time or energy to waste here opining regarding the "correct" approach to Pure Land practice.

~ Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:53 pm

Meido wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:36 pm
The point being: if you are at the stage where you have not yet recognized what Zen calls one's "nature," you don't have time or energy to waste here opining regarding the "correct" approach to Pure Land practice.
Thank you for your response.

If the Buddha taught 84000 paths to enlightenment, then whatever "correct" approaches to Pure Land practice there might be depend on whatever works for the individual practitioner. It's a matter of one's personal inclinations, tempermanent, etc.

While I do not have a formal Zen teacher and I have not undertaken Zen training, I try to follow the advice of Master Hakuin for lay people, to recite the Nembutsu for realizing Amida as our true nature, as exemplified in this story:

Reflections on “The Old Woman’s Enlightenment”
https://www.lionsroar.com/the-hidden-lamp/

The old woman, though without formal training, saw into her true nature from the mindful recitation of the Nembutsu.
How shocking it must have been to the old woman to hear Hakuin’s words, “Your mind is the Pure Land and your body is Amida Buddha.” How could it be that her own mind, filled with all its delusory thoughts, was the Pure Land? How could her wrinkled, decaying body be Amida Buddha? Still, Hakuin had said, “Look into your own heart,” and with the trusting nature developed by her faith in Amida Buddha, that is what she did...

As is frequently the case with a profound breakthrough, it was while the old woman was simply doing her daily tasks that she experienced the actuality of what until then seemed but a promise. We must take note, however: she was just washing a pot, but she was completely absorbed in Hakuin’s statement.
https://www.lionsroar.com/the-hidden-lamp/

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Malcolm » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:07 pm

Dharma Flower wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:29 am
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:34 pm
There is no One Mind in the Lanka or any other sūtra.
This is from D. T. Suzuki's translation of the Lankavatara Sutra, which I am currently reading:
It is like an image reflected in a mirror, it is seen there
but it is not real; the one Mind is seen as a duality by the
ignorant when it is reflected in the mirror constructed by
their habit-energy.
From not knowing that all that is seen is of mind-only,
there takes place discrimination and hence duality; but when
it is known that it is nothing but Mind, no discrimination
evolves.
http://lirs.ru/do/lanka_eng/Suzuki_Stud ... vatara.pdf
According to the above passage, there is not only the One Mind, but there is also nothing but Mind.
Bad translation, unfortunately. You'd be better off with Red Pine's.

M
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Dharma Flower » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:10 am

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:07 pm
Bad translation, unfortunately. You'd be better off with Red Pine's.
The Lankavatara was the favorite sutra of Bodhidharma, who brought Ch'an Buddhism to China. From Bodhidharma's time to the present, the "One Mind" has been a common term in Ch'an/Zen.

Here are the One-Mind Precepts of Bodhidharma, as translated by Jakusho Kwong Roshi:
In the instruction, to receive is to transmit; to transmit is to awaken; and to awaken the Buddha Mind is called true Jukai. Each precept is a vignette of the one-mind that is always with us.
1. Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the everlasting Dharma, not raising the view of extinction is called “not killing.”
Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the ungraspable Dharma, not arousing the thought of gain is called “not stealing.”
Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the Dharma of nonattachment, not raising the view of attachment is called “not being greedy.”
Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the inexplicable Dharma, not expounding a word is called “not lying.
Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the intrinsically pure Dharma, not arousing ignorance is called “not being intoxicated.”
Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the faultless Dharma, not talking about sins and mistakes is called “not talking about others’ faults and errors.”
Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the Dharma of equality, not talking about self and others is called “not elevating oneself and putting down others.”
Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the genuine, all pervading Dharma, not clinging to a single thing is called “not being stingy.”
Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the Dharma of no-self, not contriving a reality of self is called “not being angry.”
Self-nature is inconceivably wondrous; in the Dharma of oneness, not raising a distinction between Buddhas and beings is called “not slandering the Three Treasures.”
http://www.jakkoan.net/precepts/Precepts.htm

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by shaunc » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:28 am

Meido wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:36 pm
Dharma Flower wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:43 am
What I meant is that, if I were to believe that the Pure Land is a literal place billions of galaxies away, with lotus flowers the size of carriage wheels, clear ponds, jeweled trees, etc., then it might cause me to have a sense of anxiety over whether or not that belief is true and real.

I would rather seek the non-dual experience of Amida Buddha as our true nature, here and now, than worry about whether or not I will meet him as an external being after death.
My point is that if you recognize your nature, you will understand that these worries and anxieties were all unnecessary and a complete waste of time.

So why not focus on the steps prescribed by a teacher to accomplish that recognition (involving nembutsu or whatever other means your teacher judges appropriate for your conditions) and forget for now about the paths followed by others which (ideally) accord with their conditions?

If you are a Zen practitioner but have not yet entered the gate of seeing one's nature, we can say you are doing Buddhist practice perhaps, but it's not yet Zen at all. In that case, you will not able to understand what Zen practice is in the slightest...let alone discern how the practices of other paths do or do not approach the same essential point.

Apologies for my presumption, but from what you've written in the past it seems your interest is primarily as a practitioner. That being the case: if I were you I would forget the words "One Mind" and "non-dual," stop arguing theory, and just start doing nembutsu ceaselessly day and night as if my life depended on it, while cultivating a relationship with a good teacher. The point being: if you are at the stage where you have not yet recognized what Zen calls one's "nature," you don't have time or energy to waste here opining regarding the "correct" approach to Pure Land practice.

~ Meido
:good: great advice.

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by DGA » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:38 am

Meido wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:48 am
Here's the full bit from Inexhaustible Lamp: Torei discussing vehicles and "schools," complete with a bit of Zen (or at least, Ekayana As Understood By Zen) triumphalism.

But yes, one of my favorites. I take it as an apt scolding, and it does tend to shut me up.
Nowadays there is much talk about the sublime and the profound, or conversely criticism of the Two Vehicles (Sravaka and Pratyeka), belittling their authority. [Students of] the partial, the round, the exoteric and the esoteric schools contend with each other, yet they have not even accomplished the confirmation of the Two Vehicles, let alone that of the Bodhisattva Vehicle. And as for the One Buddha Vehicle, how could they conceive of it even in their dreams? What use to them are the partial, round, exoteric and esoteric teachings?

None of this applies to our patriarchal school, which surpasses expedient means. When by bitter interviews [with one's master] and painful training at last the principle is attained, then the Buddha-Dharma of the exoteric and the esoteric schools appears directly before the eyes. Looking at the Sutras after having smashed the many prison gates and broken free, it seems as if they were one’s own teachings.
~ Meido
Thank you for this. It describes in close detail many of the engagements some of us (myself included) have been involved with at DharmaWheel. Surely, this is no coincidence. I'll reflect on this passage.

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by coffeebeans » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:16 am

Meido wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:36 pm
My point is that if you recognize your nature, you will understand that these worries and anxieties were all unnecessary and a complete waste of time.

So why not focus on the steps prescribed by a teacher to accomplish that recognition (involving nembutsu or whatever other means your teacher judges appropriate for your conditions) and forget for now about the paths followed by others which (ideally) accord with their conditions?

If you are a Zen practitioner but have not yet entered the gate of seeing one's nature, we can say you are doing Buddhist practice perhaps, but it's not yet Zen at all. In that case, you will not able to understand what Zen practice is in the slightest...let alone discern how the practices of other paths do or do not approach the same essential point.

Apologies for my presumption, but from what you've written in the past it seems your interest is primarily as a practitioner. That being the case: if I were you I would forget the words "One Mind" and "non-dual," stop arguing theory, and just start doing nembutsu ceaselessly day and night as if my life depended on it, while cultivating a relationship with a good teacher. The point being: if you are at the stage where you have not yet recognized what Zen calls one's "nature," you don't have time or energy to waste here opining regarding the "correct" approach to Pure Land practice.

~ Meido
Thoroughly enjoyed reading that. :cheers:

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Dharma Flower » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:51 am

It's also worth mentioning that, at least in Japan, very few lay people who identify as Zen Buddhist undertake formal Zen training:
Funerals continue to play an important role as a point of contact between the monks and the laity. Statistics published by the Sōtō school state that 80 percent of Sōtō laymen visit their temple only for reasons having to do with funerals and death, while only 17 percent visit for spiritual reasons and a mere 3 percent visit a Zen priest at a time of personal trouble or crisis.[43]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sōtō
The reason why I mention this is to show that one need not undertake Zen training to identify as Zen Buddhist or to practice Pure Land practice from the traditional Ch'an/Zen understanding of such practice.

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Re: Pure Land teachings from a Zen perspective

Post by Astus » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:58 am

Dharma Flower wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:36 am
Master Chin Kung advocates the dual practice of Ch'an and Pure Land.
Dual practice means cultivating the mind in this life and vowing to be born in the Pure Land in the next life. The level of one's cultivation now defines the rank one can gain in the Pure Land. Here are the four possibilities of Zen-PL practice connection from Yongming with the explanation of Zongben:

  • "First: Zen without Pure Land. Nine out of ten people take the wrong road here. If objects appear before them [as they meditate], they immediately follow them off.

This choice means that people only [strive to] illuminate reality-nature, and do not make vows to be born in the Pure Land. But as long as they flow along in this world “Endurance,” there is the danger of falling back [into delusion] …
  • Second: Pure Land without Zen. Of ten thousand who practice [Pure Land Buddhism], ten thousand go [to the Pure Land]. They just get to see Amitabha Buddha: what worry is there that they won’t be enlightened?

This choice means that they have not yet illuminated reality-nature, but they just vow to be born in the Pure Land. Because they are riding upon the power of Buddha, they are sure to be free from doubt.
  • Third: Both Zen and Pure Land. This is like putting horns on a tiger [adding to its already formidable powers]. In this life these people will be teachers, and in lives to come they will be buddhas and patriarchs.

Since they profoundly comprehend the Buddha Dharma, they can be teachers to devas and humans. Moreover, they take vows to go to the Pure Land and ascend quickly to the stage from which there is no falling back …
  • Fourth: Neither Zen or Pure Land. This brings the torments of hell for ten thousand eons, with no one to rely on.

They do not understand the principles of Buddha, nor do they make vows to be born in the Pure Land. They sink down [into the sea of suffering] for eternal ages with no way to get out."

(Pure Land, Pure Mind, p 68-69)

As you quoted:

"These three factors are the cornerstones of Pure Land Buddhism. If they are present, rebirth in the Pure Land is achieved.
Faith means faith in Amitabha Buddha’s Vows to rescue all who recite His name, as well as faith in one’s own Self-Nature, which is intrinsically the same as His (to recite the Buddha’s name is to recite the Mind).
Vows are the determination to be reborn in the Pure Land – in one’s pure mind – so as to be in the position to save oneself and others.
Practice generally means reciting the Buddha’s name to the point where one’s Mind and that of Amitabha Buddha are in unison – i.e. to the point of singlemindness. Samadhi and wisdom are then achieved."


These three elements clarify the requirements of practice very well. Based on faith and vows one can gain birth, without them there is no birth in the Pure Land. The aim of practice, the way the mind is cultivated, is through developing one-pointed concentration, and that is called union. This type of buddha-remembrance samadhi is a high level of samatha/calming practice. Although it might be called a Zen practice, it is Zen only in the common sense of dhyana, not the Zen of Bodhidharma. The practice that matches the Zen of the patriarchs is the real mark buddha remembrance. You can read more about the four methods here.
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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