commonalities and divergences between traditions...

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Re: commonalities and divergences between traditions...

Postby Huifeng » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:52 am

Buddha-ksetras are an integral part of much of early Mahayana Buddhism, in sutra and sastra.
No way does it run against the other basic principles of Mahayana Buddhism.

The Pureland School in East Asia is based on a number of interpretations of this,
be it in China or Japan, or elsewhere. In particular the ksetra of Amitabha.

It may help to make a distinction between Mahayana buddha-ksetra teachings both
generally and specifically, and the Pureland School of East Asia. There are divergences.
Refuting the later does not entail refutation of the former, or vice versa.

~~ Huifeng

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Re: commonalities and divergences between traditions...

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:54 pm

Astus wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:Can you explain me then why do we have to do anything at all if such rebirth depends on merit transference, Astus? Why is it only transferred to those who do this or that recitation instead of everyone, not mattering what they do? What does the doctrine says about it?

This requires understanding what merit transference is, which is quite simple actually. One receives another's merit when one rejoices in another's merit. The same is true of demerit of course. So the name "transference" is a bit misleading because there is no "merit energy" transferred from one person to another, but what happens is the identification with another's deeds. That is the reason why no buddha can just simply save the beings but beings must save themselves. That is why one has to create a connection between himself and a buddha. It is explained with the following analogy in the Shurangama Sutra:

"Those Buddhas taught me the Buddha-recitation Samadhi: Suppose there are two people, one of whom always remembers the other, while the other has entirely forgotten about the first one. Even if these two people were to meet or see each other, it would be the same as not meeting or seeing each other. On the other hand, if two people develop intense memories for one another, then in life after life, they will be together like an object and its shadow, and they will never be separated. The Tathagatas of the ten directions are tenderly mindful of living beings just like a mother remembering her son. But if the son runs away, of what use is the mother's concern? However, if the son remembers his mother in the same way that the mother remembers her son, then in life after life mother and son will never be far apart. If living beings remember the Buddha and are mindful of the Buddha, they will certainly see the Buddha now and in the future. Being close to the Buddha, even without the aid of expedients, their hearts will open of themselves."

Much better. :)
That reminds me of Padmasambhava quote that goes more or less like this “"I am present in front of anyone who has faith in me , just as the moon casts its reflection, effortlessly, in any vessel filled with water."
Somehow like the rays of the sun, so is the compassion of Buddhas. It's there for every sentient being, but we need to get out of the shade to recognize it.
I just wonder about what it takes for one to leave the shade.
To be honest, PL Buddhism seems a tad optimistic. It reminds me of people always claiming that Vajrayana can bring Buddhahood in a single lifetime.
Indeed, but only to exceptional practitioners, not the average one!
What I ponder are the risks of failing. In Vajrayana, if we don't attain Buddhahood in a single lifetime, there's no problem. We've worked a lot accumulating merit and wisdom. It's a complex system that deals with the path in several fronts.
In Pure Land, what's the price of failure? I don't see (I admit my ignorance about PL) how reciting a certain text often can help one to get a good rebirth if one fails to attain rebirth in a Pure Land, especially if it was an evil one (that seems to be one of Huseng's points) doing it. If it was in Vajrayana, such person would have to perform tremendous purification practices, a la Milarepa, for instance. He went through hell with his teachers because of his previous actions. I doubt just reciting a text would cut it for him.
Can you address this point now, please?

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Re: commonalities and divergences between traditions...

Postby Astus » Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:31 pm


There is no failure on the Pure Land path. Those who have faith and determination in the vow of Amita Buddha are guaranteed to attain birth in the Land of Peace and Bliss. This is the general understanding of this teaching, some may add other requirements. If one is not born in the Pure Land, well, it's just like with anyone else. However, the practices of buddha-remembrance, prostrations, visualisations, recitations, etc. are all beneficial on other levels too. Also, the Pure Land path is for all kinds of practitioners from low to superb. That is why I consider it the apex of the Mahayana teaching that can universally liberate everybody.
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: commonalities and divergences between traditions...

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:17 pm

I see.
OK, thanks Astus! You pretty much informed me about what I wanted to know. :anjali:

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Re: commonalities and divergences between traditions...

Postby Kai » Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:24 pm

Huseng wrote:I am least interested in any kind of Pure Land practice or thought for the simple reason it strikes me as escapism and inappropriate for serious bodhisattva aspirants.

It offers a great alternative for ex theists especially from Christianity. It is also sufficiently pragmatic and simple for practitioners in a time where Buddhism was in a decline and greatly affected by false teachers and teachings. It offers a quick path to liberation without doing meditation in this life (Although reciting can be meditating as well), hence its a complete and realistic path in which no one, in the modern times, has to worry about finding a forest or cave to live in isolation.

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Re: commonalities and divergences between traditions...

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:28 pm

Huseng wrote:I am least interested in any kind of Pure Land practice or thought for the simple reason it strikes me as escapism and inappropriate for serious bodhisattva aspirants.

The point is that with Pure Land recitation, you go beyond the duality of
what interests you and doesn't interest you.
All those things we cling to, being the clever intellectuals that we are,
all that identity and security that comes from having a handle on everything,
it's all liberated.

No self-respecting smart person with even an ounce of pride would do it.
Chanting "Namo Amitabha" is totally stupid.
That's why it is so great.
That's why it is a good path for serious bodhisattva aspirants.
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