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Re: [shinlist] Re: Pure Land

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  • Ame-Tsuchi
    Haha, upon re-reading my essay I did notice something else relevent: The Land of Bliss is found everywhere. On a vegetable leaf. On a blade of grass. On a
    Message 1 of 11 , Dec 17, 2004
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      Haha, upon re-reading my essay I did notice something else relevent:

      "The Land of Bliss is found everywhere. On a vegetable leaf. On a
      blade of grass. On a sardine. Without saying whether a thing is good
      or bad, if you sense the working of Amida in and on each thing, this
      is the truth freed of good and bad of things. All good and bad are the
      products of one's thoughts. Namu-amida-butsu."

      Unno cites this as the words of myokonin Ichitaro in "Shin Buddhism:
      Bits of Rubble Turn into Gold," page 148.

      In gasshō,
      Erik
    • Marty Davis
      Thanks for your scholarly reply. I am a little puzzled why you refer to Thay s view as Syncretic - Mahayana, I thought, teaches that all beings are already
      Message 2 of 11 , Dec 17, 2004
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        Thanks for your scholarly reply. I am a little puzzled why you refer
        to Thay's view as "Syncretic" - Mahayana, I thought, teaches that all
        beings are already enlightened and only have to remove the
        obscurations of samsara to realize it. Buddha became enlightened
        apparently without awareness of prior knowledge of reality, so why is
        it not possible for us to "attain" the Pure Land in this lifetime?
        This is the doctrine that I rejected in Christianity; i.e. That the
        kingdom of heaven is a future destination. Jesus clearly taught that
        the kingdom was an inner reality (The kingdom is within you - Luke
        17:20) In my understanding (which, I grant you, may be wishful
        thinking) If the Pure Land is a "place" that you "get to" after
        death, then what is the point of wishing for the well-being of
        others? Should we not be wishing them a speedy departure, so that
        they may quickly attain rebirth either to attain Shinjin or
        to "arrive" in the Pure Land???

        I enjoy this discussion. Thanks

        Peace

        --- In shinlist@yahoogroups.com, Ame-Tsuchi <tariki@g...> wrote:
        > That is perhaps a valid application of syncretic Chinese Pure Land
        > thought, but it is quite foreign to Shin. Because of the practicer's
        > heavy karmic evil and the degeneration of the Dharma in the defiled
        > age, it is impossible to attain true awakening without first
        attaining
        > Shinjin (and thus acquiring a Buddha-nature) then experiencing death
        > (severing the karmic bonds of prior existences, undergoing
        > transformation in the Pure Land) and rebirth.
        >
        > There is a similar understanding in the Ch'an-Pure Land Ōbaku
        sect: In
        > Forrest Smith's edition of a series of letters written by the
        Chinese
        > patriarch Yin Kuang (1861 â€" 1940) there is a revealing
        footnote
        that
        > sums up the entire Chinese Pure Land-Ch'an enterprise: "As the
        > Virmalakirti Sutra states: 'When the mind is pure, the Buddha land
        is
        > pure.' Rebirth in the Pure Land is, ultimately, rebirth in our pure
        > mind."
        >
        > Hanh, practicing Vietnamese Zen, most likely inherited the common
        > syncretic practices of China in his own practice. It is of note that
        > Baroni, in her book on Ōbaku could not find information as to
        why
        the
        > nembutsu and Pure Land sutras were recited during services, possibly
        > because such practices were so common as to not need justification.
        > The important thing to note is that most of these syncretic
        practices
        > use Pure Land in a pre-Shin idiom. Even in Hōnen's Jodo school
        did
        > people engage in some activities of the "Path of Sages," although in
        > the ultimate context of more pure Pure Land tradition. It wasn't
        until
        > Shinran that tariki, jiriki, and shinjin became important ideas.
        >
        > I attempt to fumble with this topic in an essay of mine, "Shin and
        > Zen: Irreconcilable?
        > A Comparative Study in Shin Theology," available on my web site.
        > http://www.ame-tsuchi.com
        >
        > I'm not saying that Hanh is "wrong" or anything, but being that this
        > is a Shin list I felt that perhaps some further observations were
        > necessary.
        >
        > In gasshō,
        > Erik
      • Ame-Tsuchi
        I use the term syncretic because Oubaku fuses together seemingly divergent practices. Despite the numerous paths spoken of in the Lotus Sutra, the Kamakura era
        Message 3 of 11 , Dec 17, 2004
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          I use the term syncretic because Oubaku fuses together seemingly
          divergent practices. Despite the numerous paths spoken of in the Lotus
          Sutra, the Kamakura era schools all developed the idea of sole
          practice: zazen, nembutsu, and daimoku. Although, of course, one could
          differentiate between Rinzai zazen and Soutou shikantaza; the Joudo
          nembutsu-as-religious-act and the Shin
          nembutsu-as-expression-of-gratitude; and the Nichiren understanding of
          the daimoku compared to the Soka Gakkai practice of it. This is all
          set apart from the enmitsuzenkai mixed practices of the Tendai school
          and most other schools of the time. It is of note that Hounen's
          nembutsu sort of falls in the middle, because it is carried along with
          other practices. Shinran is the one that truly made it sole practice,
          even though it's conceived of as a "practice" in Shin.

          I tried to illustrate in the other discussion that I've been
          participating in on this list that "Pure Land in the next life" is not
          the goal of Shin; rather, it is "Shinjin in this life." The Pure Land
          necessarily comes after Shinjin, but both are only steps on the total
          path of the Mahayana – as such, the Pure Land cannot be a permanent
          stay. Indeed, there are those who conceive of the Pure Land experience
          after death as being something totally instantaneous and achieved
          without any real conscious effort. I don't know how one can really
          speculate about such a thing, though. It is not the Pure Land that is
          attainment: it is Shinjin that is gifted to us by Amida's compassion
          through our total renunciation of self effort brought about by joyous
          gratitude in the nembutsu that is the focus of Shin. Statements like
          "Pure Land in this life" stem from ideas that the Pure Land is somehow
          Nirvana, and that Nirvana is divorced from this life, Samsara. But the
          Pure Land cannot be Nirvana in the Mahayana scheme of things; it must
          simply a temporary stop at the greatest monastery in existence to
          prepare one for Bodhisattvahood after rebirth.

          Understanding the essential reason for pursing the Shin path lies in
          appreciating Shinran's conception of mappou: that this age is
          degenerate by having been so cut off from the Buddha's teachings (in
          terms of authentic communication and in terms of the passage of time)
          so that all beings are hopelessly enveloped in egotism. All acts, even
          with the best intention, are actually done out of a desire for
          self-reward – not the selfless mind of a compassionate Bodhisattva. As
          such, only total renunciation of all self effort can result in any
          sort of spiritual progression, for all acts are tainted by egotism.
          The only progression that can occur in this life is shinjin; however,
          as seen in the other discussion shinjin manifests in many positive
          ways. Full bodhisattvahood, however, cannot be attained until after
          death because in the Shin understanding only after death can the
          karmic bonds of the past be suffered. The degenerate age isn't just
          the result of lots of people living bad lives, it's more like the
          collective karma of all human existence has be so terribly ruined that
          only the Primal Vow of one who has already attained is able to save
          us. The Buddha (and the Buddhas before him) was able to reach
          attainment because the cosmic karmic conditions of the time were
          adequate enough to allow such an event to take place.

          In Buddhist eschatology there is Maitreya, the future Buddha, but I
          have little understanding of this concept, yet alone how Shinran
          conceives of it.

          It is of note that in Shin, because of the collective karmic
          defilements of the age, humans have apparently somehow "lost" their
          Buddha-nature. That is why Shinjin is so important, because it
          represents the re-attainment of that nature. But unlike Zen, where
          actualization of that nature takes place and grows deeper in this
          life, in Shin the full realization of Buddha-nature is delayed until
          after death and subsequent rebirth.

          I think the idea of "wishing them a speedy departure" is addressed in
          the other discussion, and I ask that you please reference what has to
          be said there as it is quite relevant to this one. In mentioning
          Hakuin's conception of post-satori practice one should consider that
          he himself after his first satori thought it to be the end of his
          path. Indeed, he had been reprimanded in the past by a teacher when he
          had said that his goal was to attain enlightenment, instead of
          understanding that it must truly be to liberate all beings if one is
          to proceed to the farthest shore. Hakuin later realized that this was
          the stance of the Two Vehicles, and it was through further practice
          that he came to develop into Bodhisattvahood through a life of
          compassionate teaching and self-sacrifice.

          However, in Shin such a progression isn't possible in this life. This
          is what marks Shin as a radically different school in the entire
          Mahayana tradition, and which leads some to accuse it of being
          non-Buddhist. Understanding mappou is critical in understanding the
          meaning of the Shin endeavor, for without mappou one could simply
          practice the Path of Sages. But Shinran denies that any path involving
          such practices could be salvifically efficacious.

          This is, essentially, something a person must either choose to accept
          or reject. I had accepted it at one point in my life, but as I
          reflected upon my practice I came to think that perhaps it is wrong to
          accuse a whole system of being worthless simply because of my own
          failure and lack of dedication. I will be honest in stating that I
          currently practice Soutou Zen, and I find that practice rewarding and
          meaningful. Perhaps it will not result in full attainment in this
          life, but as in the Bodhisattva vows I vow to attain the unattainable.
          At the same time, though, I do feel a strong resonance with Shin and
          with many of the things that Shinran has to say. I have made a great
          effort to understand Shinran's thought, and I find it to be very
          profound. In my previously mentioned essay I explore some areas where
          Shin and Zen might be able to connect, although perhaps they cannot
          exist in perfect harmony. But I can't help but feel that Shin and Zen
          express some sort of dualism-destroying paradox such as understanding
          that Samsara is Nirvana, and Nirvana Samsara.

          In gasshou,
          Erik
        • Shin02143@aol.com
          In a message dated 12/17/04 2:16:01 PM, mask100@aol.com writes:
          Message 4 of 11 , Dec 18, 2004
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            In a message dated 12/17/04 2:16:01 PM, mask100@... writes:

            << The more we practice, the more clearly we see that Buddha Amitabha (Amida)
            and the Pure Land are creations of our own minds." >>

            Hmm. Thay said that? It has a cast of self-power to it, but that's
            Thich's path, Pure Land Zen, as I recall. Not to say that Thay doesn't have
            good things to say, he does.

            gassho,
            Rick
            (Egen)
          • Shin02143@aol.com
            In a message dated 12/17/04 4:05:54 PM, tariki@gmail.com writes:
            Message 5 of 11 , Dec 18, 2004
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              In a message dated 12/17/04 4:05:54 PM, tariki@... writes:

              << I'm not saying that Hanh is "wrong" or anything, but being that this

              is a Shin list I felt that perhaps some further observations were

              necessary.


              In gasshx,

              Erik >>

              I agree, Erik. Thay is a wonderful human being who means a lot to
              many many people. That is fine. But his path is not my path.

              gassho,
              Rick
              (Egen)
            • jnapier
              I have noticed, that in certain rebuttals, people are using quotes from various authorities on Buddhism as facts. I think it s fair to say, that with a 2500
              Message 6 of 11 , Dec 18, 2004
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                I have noticed, that in certain rebuttals, people are using quotes from various authorities on Buddhism as facts.

                I think it’s fair to say, that with a 2500 year old religion, quite a few divergent interpretations have come about.

                In some ways the opinions by people here carry just as much weight, with me, as the so called experts.

                 

                 

                Tenzo

                www.openview.org

                 

                 


                From: Shin02143@... [mailto:Shin02143@...]
                Sent: Saturday, December 18, 2004 10:17 AM
                To: shinlist@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [shinlist] Re: Pure Land

                 


                In a message dated 12/17/04 2:16:01 PM, mask100@... writes:

                << The more we practice, the more clearly we see that Buddha Amitabha (Amida)
                and the Pure Land are creations of our own minds." >>

                Hmm. Thay said that? It has a cast of self-power to it, but that's
                Thich's path, Pure Land Zen, as I recall. Not to say that Thay doesn't have
                good things to say, he does.

                gassho,
                Rick
                (Egen)

              • Shin02143@aol.com
                In a message dated 12/18/04 5:23:29 PM, jnapier@rcn.com writes:
                Message 7 of 11 , Dec 18, 2004
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                  In a message dated 12/18/04 5:23:29 PM, jnapier@... writes:

                  << I think it's fair to say, that with a 2500 year old religion, quite a few
                  divergent interpretations have come about.

                  In some ways the opinions by people here carry just as much weight, with me,
                  as the so called experts. >>

                  Quite so, Tenzo. I am always interested in what Shin "non-experts" have
                  to say about Shin. So often, the "experts" hand out pre-digested
                  doctrine and slogans that have, in my opinion, simply worn out
                  over time. Shin should be self-renewing, not simply self-perpetuating.

                  gassho,
                  Rick
                  (Egen)
                • Ame-Tsuchi
                  ... This seems to be the message behind do not mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. What matters is that the meaning manifests as
                  Message 8 of 11 , Dec 18, 2004
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                    > In some ways the opinions by people here carry just as much weight, with me,
                    > as the so called experts.

                    This seems to be the message behind "do not mistake the finger
                    pointing at the moon for the moon itself." What matters is that the
                    meaning manifests as truth in our experience: it doesn't matter who
                    has said it. Some texts derive their value from the fact that their
                    wisdom has proven to be true in experience throughout the ages. But
                    some texts are revered simply for being old. While the first case is
                    useful when we come to exchange ideas, serving as a general Buddhist
                    and Shin lexicon, the second case is dangerous and threatens the
                    integrity of the traditions we discuss.

                    I don't know if you are addressing me specifically, but I know that I
                    make extensive use of quotes and have a feeling that perhaps you are
                    addressing me. If this is not the case, I apologize. If it is the
                    case, I ask that you please be specific for I will not be offended.

                    I cite texts because these are the texts Shinran himself relies upon
                    in systematizing Shin. As such, many questions can be answered simply
                    by returning to what Shinran himself used. I quote people to give them
                    credit. Perhaps others, being familiar with the individual, will be
                    able to gauge how credible that person has been in his or her life's
                    experience. Also, many teachers are known for a specific method or
                    approach in their understanding. Knowing that, one can better infer
                    the context of a piece of thought and better understand the nuance of
                    the idea being put forth. Understanding that people's conception of
                    truth varies, we can come to see that sometimes the same statement
                    made by different people acquires different meanings. As we've seen,
                    "Pure Land" means something different to Shinran and to Thich Nhat
                    Hanh.

                    Of course, simply because something has been said or written doesn't
                    make it true. But I hope that you will not criticize me for appealing
                    to the understandings that Shin is rooted in, and also in conveying
                    the thoughts of modern interpreters who have been able to look at Shin
                    in new ways (but as to whether they sacrifice the integrity of what
                    Shin "is" is your own call).

                    I would say that we must not only consider modern interpretation
                    without bias, but also consider the older sayings without bias. Just
                    because they're old doesn't mean that they're irrelevant! I try to use
                    quotes for their meaning, not for some age-connected sense of
                    authority. I apologize if I have failed to do this. Please let me know
                    if I have done this and I will strive to correct my ignorance.

                    In gasshou,
                    Erik
                  • jnapier
                    _____ From: Ame-Tsuchi [mailto:tariki@gmail.com] Sent: Saturday, December 18, 2004 11:10 PM To: shinlist@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [shinlist] Re: Pure Land
                    Message 9 of 11 , Dec 19, 2004
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                      From: Ame-Tsuchi [mailto:tariki@...]
                      Sent: Saturday, December 18, 2004 11:10 PM
                      To: shinlist@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: Re: [shinlist] Re: Pure Land

                       

                      • > In some ways the opinions by people here carry just as much weight, with me,
                        > as the so called experts.



                        I don't know if you are addressing me specifically, but I know that I
                        make extensive use of quotes and have a feeling that perhaps you are
                        addressing me. If this is not the case, I apologize. If it is the
                        case, I ask that you please be specific for I will not be offended.


                      Nyaaaaa, just kicking over stones.

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