Pure Land and the way of no calculation

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by CobblersApprentice, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. As a spin off from the Faith and Belief thread, I said I would post an explanation of the Japanese word hakarai. Here it is, taken from "A Glossary of Pure Land Terms" from "The Collected Works of Shinran."


    Calculation [hakarai]

    Hakarai is the noun form of a verb meaning to deliberate, analyze, and determine a course of action. It further means to arrange or manage, to work out a problem, to bring a plan to conclusion. In Shinran’s more common usage, as a synonym for self-power, it refers to all acts of intellect and will aimed at achieving liberation. Specifically, it is the Shin practicer’s efforts to make themselves worthy of Amida’s compassion in their own eyes and their clinging to their judgments and designs, predicated on their own goodness, for attaining religious awakening.

    For Shinran, salvation lies rather in the complete entrusting of oneself to the Primal Vow, which works to bring about “the attainment of Buddhahood by the person of evil”. This working is Amida’s hakarai. Hakarai, then, possesses two opposed meanings, as a synonym for both self-power and Other Power, and its usage reflects the core of Shinran’s religious thought, where one’s calculative thinking and Amida’s working are experienced as mutually exclusive. Great compassion illumines everyone at all times, but any contrivance to attain enlightenment by cultivating one’s own virtues or capabilities – whether through moral action or religious practice – will blind one to it, making sincere trust (shinjin) impossible. Only when a person realises his or her true nature as a foolish being (bombu), all of whose acts and thoughts arise from blind passions, do they awaken to the great compassion that grasps them just as they are. To know oneself and to know Amida’s compassion are, in fact, inseparable aspects of the same realisation, and one awakens to them simultaneously. In this awakening, one’s own hakarai disappears and entrusting oneself to Amida’s Vow actually comes about for the first time. Thus Shinran states, “No working (practicer’s hakarai) is true working (Amida’s hakarai).”

    As true entrusting arises wholly from Other Power, the practicer is completely passive. Even seeking to know oneself as evil or to rid oneself of hakarai in order to accord with the Primal Vow is itself hakarai, and all such effort is futile and self-defeating. This is the paradox the Shin practicer faces. The admonition against hakarai does not mean, however, that one must renounce the aspiration for enlightenment and do nothing at all. It may be said that the desire for birth arises truly only with shinjin and that prior to realisation of shinjin it is overshadowed by attachment to this world. Nevertheless, aspiration even prior to realisation of shinjin leads one to listen to the teaching in earnest confrontation of the problem of emancipation. Such listening will at some point be transformed into hearing (mon), which Shinran explains:

    “To hear” means to hear the Primal Vow and be free of doubt (i.e., hakarai). Further, it indicates shinjin.

    This hearing, which is the realisation of shinjin, is not simply to receive the verbal teaching, but to experience with one’s entire being the very reality of the Primal Vow. When great compassion wakens one to its working, one is freed from the bonds of one’s own hakarai. Conversely, when one’s calculative thinking is made to fall away, all is seen to have been Amida’s working.


    Well, that's it for anyone interested. As a "get out clause", I am not here to defend any of this. I am offering information.

    Having said that, I have always reflected much on the assertion of the modern Pure Land writer Taitetsu Unno, who said that it is a "necessary step on the Pure Land path to recognise that what was once thought to be self power was in fact the working of Other Power".

    Thank you
     
    steveb1 and wil like this.
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Don't believe I've said welcome back..so welcome back.

    Your posts have been informative and intriguing.
     
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  3. Well, I've heard some euphemisms in my time......

    But seriously, thank you for the welcome. I live a very secular life and intend to have a humanist funeral. I also experience my own way of "seeing" and "being" as very simple. It's just that I tend to draw "inspiration" (if that's the right word) from very disparate sources, and I suppose I must concede that Pure Land Buddhism must come across as just a little exotic for a true blue upstanding Englishman like myself....:cool:

    That is just the way it has panned out. In the end, it is simple gratitude.

    Thanks anyway.
     
  4. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    As I've recently been reminded my days are numbered, I've also been glad to have found the bed I have made myself to be comfortable. But still enjoy the exploration. I like where I live, but I have yet to give up travel.
     
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  5. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    As a Jodo Shinshu/Shin Buddhist I fully accept the premise of sole reliance on Other Power - the one facet that separates Shin not only from other Buddhist schools, but from other Pure Land schools, including Honen's Jodo Shu.
     

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