This is the Pure Land

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Tariki, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Nick,

    Took a quick peep at their web-site. Thanks. (As far as personal attendance is concerned, unfortunately I am based in the UK)

    :)
     
  2. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Tariki-san!

    I am sure the good Reverend would be willing to share ideas via e-mail.

    Yoroshiku onegai itashima~~~su!

    Nikku za pairotto yori
     
  3. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    right, I'm sneeped now.
     
  4. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Earl,

    Thanks. I never intended this thread to be any sort of expounding of Pure Land "doctrine", far less any attempt at "evangelisation"......:eek: In my mind it was to be much the same as the Thomas Merton thread, a "quiet place" for a few poems and quotes by devotees expressing their own experience and understanding of the path they found themselves on. Nor was it to be a blog of my own!

    As far as "versions of Christianity" are concerned, I think there is a wide gulf between the "realists" and "non-realists" (to use terms used between Christians in their own dialogue) Between those who understand "God" as a supreme Creator distinct and transcendant to "his" universe, and all words and concepts point to an equally distinct "reality" "beyond" "ourselves" (!!), and those who basically, (in Buddhist terms) understand more in terms of "emptiness", of the "utter negation of thought as revelatory of the real" (Madhyamika). Buddhism arose/evolved from the context of "Thou art formless, your only form is our knowledge of you" (Vedas) into the opening words of the Dhammapada............"All things are mind made....." , and we all know the opening words of the Bible, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Whether or not there can ever be any reconciliation of/between these positions I have no idea. Perhaps in terms of actual "religious" experience, yes, yet in terms of "belief" and doctrine, maybe never? Obviously, Pure Land is on the Buddhist "side", and it is because of this that I still identify with the Dharma rather than Christianity.

    I said I did not wish to turn this into some sort of blog, but I have been reflecting upon my decision to end meditation of any form, and of my wish to restart some form of practice. We are all unique, no ones personal experience can ever be a final guide for another. I know at the time a few words of Jack Kornfield became a "talking point" in my own mind, and did speak to me........

    The ideal of Enlightenment can foster self-impoverishment by encouraging meditators to unconsciously renounce and become detached from the complexity and passion of an embodied human existence.

    Obviously, my own rather rudimentary meditation bought no desperate fear of any such thing, yet the words pointed unmistakeable to certain "recognitions" concerned with my own relation to my practice and understanding. A lot of Pure Land teaching, at least as I understood it, spoke to this. Of the need for "deep hearing" (of the call of Infinite Compassion) from out of the full existential reality of being a human being. To live from out of what actually IS, not from "ought". At any one moment it should always be a case of being in touch with "what is", rather than assigning all our own concepts over the top of it. Well, I could waffle on. I'll just post another poem, by Cathy Song, about the chanting of the Shoshinge (The Pure Land Hymn of True Entrusting). For me it captures the twin existential reality of what I actually am, enfolded by Infinite Compassion.

    Every morning I come to Shoshinge.
    Every morning it is the same.

    Between my mind and the mind of compassion,
    Amida Buddha's wisdom and light,
    the hymn flutters like a veil.
    All is settled.
    All is well.

    I am the recipient of all that is settled.
    Of all that is well.
    I long to enter the veil,
    I give up my voice,
    coarse, thick phlegm stone of sleep,
    to meet the infinite
    bountifulness with breath
    moments of faith.

    Every morning it is the same,
    All is settled.
    All is well.
    I long to enter the veil.

    I open my mouth, a cave
    blackened with the smoke of desire.
    I open my throat to lift
    stone from breath and push
    what falls firm
    in the heavy tide of night.

    My sorrowing heart staggers into sunlight
    drunk with complaints,
    easily distracted,
    burdened and unsettled.
    It waits.

    Sing, practice, surrender!
    All is assured
    but my heart, blindfolded, attaches
    disappointments, pins grievances
    upon the veil like a child
    spinning in circles, left
    holding the donkey's tail.

    I fling my worries upon the veil,
    a tangled web of fetters.
    Cluttered heart!
    So disordely and rude!

    Every morning I come to Shoshinge.
    Every morning it is the same.
     
  5. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Although I have said that this thread is not here to expound Pure Land doctrine/teaching as such, I think it would be appropriate to create a "peg" on which the various poems and quotes can be hung, or seen in context by those unfamiliar with either Buddhism or the Pure Land variety.

    Drawing here and there upon the words of Taitetsu Unno.............

    A distinction is drawn between the path of the Sages where one "perfects wisdom and achieves enlightenment", and the path of Pure Land where one "returns to the foolish self to be saved by Amida". Whereas the path of the Sages is more often associated with the monastery, some priviledged space, or the meditation cushion, the "training ground" for Pure Landers is all of life, as lived and experienced each day. Yet the goal is the same, to awaken to the true self as a manifestation of dharma or "reality-as-is". Such a realization comes via the power of compassion. Illuminated by such a light we are made to see our essential finitude, imperfection and mortality - affirming ones basic reality is the crucial factor in the transformative process. Such a transformation is based on the Mahayana teaching of the non-duality of samsara (this world of birth-and-death) and nirvana, delusion and enlightenment. This is not a simple identity, for it involves a dialectical tension between the two poles, between limited karmic beings and unbounded compassion. As we walk on, hopefully the "tension" eases, the rubble turns to gold!

    Anyway, such is the "setting".............

    You, as you are, you're just right.
    Your face, body, name, surname,
    For you, they are just right.

    Whether poor or rich,
    Your parents, your children,
    your daughter-in-law, your
    grandchildren,
    They are, all for you, just right.

    Happiness, unhappiness, joy and even sorrow.
    For you, they are just right.

    The life that you have tread is neither good nor bad,
    For you, it is just right.

    Whether you go to hell or to the Pure Land,
    Wherever you go is just right.

    Nothing to boast about, nothing to feel bad about,
    Nothing above, nothing below.

    Even the day and month that you die,
    Even they are just right.

    Life in which you walk together with Amida,
    There's no way that it can't be just right.

    When you receive your life as just right,
    Then a deep and profound trust begins to open up.
     
  6. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    see, I like the ideals, and I love ur poetry, and I'm not trying to be offensive, here...but... to be saved by Amida... it just seems so...wrong... all those years of meditating, perfecting the self, understanding the self, the world, its creatures, etc, only to have it suggested that none of this is neccessary, and all we have to do is rely on Amida, and suddenly, all is well... yeah, its a nice idea... but how practical, and how buddhist is it..?

    Asanga said, once, when asked about worship, and yes, I'm paraphrasing- "...if there is no-one to praise, and no-one to worship, then what is the point of ceremonial worship?.."

    if all things are empty of inherent existence, then there is no Amida, beyond the Amida which lives in ur mind, as a concept...

    surely to awaken to the self would be enough? to see reality as-it-is, yes, this is perhaps the goal, but then- to offer prayers to a god who isnt a god, to give up self to a being that doesn't exist..? maybe its just too subtle for me... I'm still interested though to hear more...

    gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
     
  7. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Francis,

    Ultimately I not concerned about "how Buddhist it is". I would leave that to the experts. I suppose "Buddhism" can be defined in such a way as to exclude any part of the Pure Land teachings. So be it!

    The Pure Land teachings have a long lineage, which includes such as Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu, who both incorporated certain Pure Land practices in their own lives. It continues to evolve into the twenty-first century.

    I see no particular reason why the transformation of the mind, or the awakening to the true self, should necessarily be restricted to those who practice long and hard upon the meditation cushion. What final reason can be given that a genuine "enlightenment" cannot evolve from the dojo of life itself? Life as lived and experienced each day presents its own koan! And those who reflect upon such a koan (or indeed, say the nembutsu) as the children cry and the wife nags are perhaps more able to "solve" it than a pupil secluded in a monastery......

    As far as the "easy path" is concerned.............this only describes the simplicity of the path, not its level of difficulty to realize. "Deep hearing is a real challenge and can be a hard struggle, especially for the arrogant, because the call must become embodied in a person. Embodying means living the nembutsu from which flows the spontaneous saying of namu-amida-butsu. The actual process thus may not be so simple, as we are reminded in the Pure Land saying: "Although the path is easy, few are there to take it." (Unno)

    The point is it is open to all, of whatever intellectual capacity. Amida can be a "person" up in the sky and the Pure Land a place to the West. Amida can be the personification of infinite compassion and the Pure Land is the here and now - samsara - transformed by the eye of wisdom. Or again, Amida as the ultimate reality, called suchness or thusness, which is inherent in all that exists and is beyond our perception and comprehension...........Amida then comes to represent suchness in a perceptable and conceivable form.........tranquil Nivana and everlasting activities of salvation are in perfect harmony within the "personality" of Amida. Upaya, skillful means.

    Each can "practice" around the kitchen sink according to their own understanding and capacity. What matters is the depth of "hearing", of the namu (the foolish self) surrounded by the amida-butsu (infinite compassion), which often seems to bypass the intellect in any case. Eventually one transmutes into the other. Namu-Amida-Butsu!

    O Saichi, will you tell us of Other Power?
    Yes, but there is neither other-power nor self-power.
    What is, is the graceful acceptance only.


    Anyway, all the best to you on your own chosen path.
    Derek
    :)
     
  8. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Hi,

    Of course in the time of Siddhartha there was no Pure Land Buddhism. Nor any school of Buddhism. Nor anything called Buddhism.

    Also, I think it is beneficial that authority is not bound up in any one person, book or institution. This I think is a strong and healthy barrier to fundamentalism and to antagonism in general. I believe that authority lies within the individual.

    s.
     
  9. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Agreed! We certainly need some strong barriers against fundamentalism, whatever the variety.

    Just as another comment, the founder of Shin Buddhism, Shinran, in effect turned history upside down. He understood all reality as the expression of the "Vow mind", as the manifestation of "suchness", as everlasting activities of salvation, Upaya. From this viewpoint, the historical Buddha - and his own teachings - become just one expression within time of the "primal will" that all sentient beings come to realize their enlightenment. Pure Land teachings may or may not be deemed to be derived from him - to a certain extent, from such a perspective, this becomes irrelevant. I'd like to add that I am not particulary arguing for Shinran's point of view, merely attempting to explain it. (How's that for keeing your head down? :D ) Yet reflecting upon it, the perspective of Shinran can be understood as some sort of guard against fundamentalism, in as much as any expression of spirituality can be understood as being within the orbit of the "divine will" that all be "saved"..........or so it seems to me....:)
     
  10. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Well, getting back to the theme of this thread.

    One of the finest books on Pure Land I have read is that by Hiroyuki Itsuki, "Tariki - Embracing Despair, Discovering Peace" The book is very existential, very patchy and "bitty" in parts, yet its conversational style and autobiographical ring seem ideally suited to the themes discussed. Just as a taster, here is a section where Itsuki reminisces concerning his fathers sigh, heard often late at night. His father was constantly seeking to "better himself" and worked tirelessly to do so, yet, as Itsuki relates in another section, circumstances beyond his control destroyed all his hopes..............

    Now that I am in my late sixties, I have come to feel that human existence has a kind of indescribable sadness and pity to it.

    There are times in life when we climb to the heights, aiming for the peak. There are also times when, after crossing the peak, we head slowly back down to the valley, our shoulders hunched against the cold autumn wind at our backs. But whichever direction we are heading in, it is human nature to sigh. All people, all around the world and at all times, live a life of sighs.

    Being able to appreciate the weight of that sigh handed down from father to son is actually very important in living a better life. It is, I think, the foundation that allows us to live our lives with courage.

    In that sense, although I may have learned nothing from my father the educator, although I may have no interest in the classical authors he so fondly read, I am sustained by him, because he has given me his sigh.

    And I also recall my mother's face as she looked at my father; although supporting him in everything, revealed in some corner of her expression was the gaze of someone watching a weak, pitiful figure. I can recall her watching him vigorously wielding the sword in kendo, his shoulders square and taut, with an expression that seemed to say, "You don't have to prove anything to me."

    My mother died at forty-two and my father in his mid-fifties. The early deaths of both my parents impressed upon me the fact that we all die; our lives are not very long, and they are filled with disappointment, despair, and disillusion.

    I can think of no actual words of my parents that have sustained me over the years, but their early deaths awakened me to the presence of death in life, to the fate of all human beings, and for that I am, I think, very fortunate.

    I have read many books, I have sampled difficult philosophies. I have engaged the great thinkers of the past. But I have gained more from my father's sigh, his wasted later years, and my mother's unexpected death, than from any of these.
     
  11. Ciel

    Ciel in essence

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    Reading tentatively the first few posts on this thread with sensitivity.

    Watching progression ........ as the ego of despair devours it's self in it's own egoic existence of pure nihilism.

    It encourages me to take bucket and mop to clean windows.

    Clean clear light floods the room, dancing Elan Vital, singing air streams of vibrancy and colour painting over monotones in illumination of splendour.

    Embracing Life I Live.

    - c -
     
  12. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Sorry, I just can't resist!

    The body is the Bodhi-tree
    The mind is like a clear mirror standing.
    Take care to wipe it all the time,
    Allow no grain of dust to cling to it.


    ...............and the winner is......

    The Bodhi is not like a tree,
    The clear mirror is nowhere standing.
    Fundamentally not one thing exists:
    Where then is a grain of dust to cling?


    (As one poor window cleaner to another, of course!)

    :)
     
  13. Ciel

    Ciel in essence

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    Then Tariki, you understand.............

    There are no winners.

    There are no losers.

    There is - thank God - the choice of perception.

    Embracing Life I Live in Joy.

    Living mindless for too long

    I now nurture appreciation

    In the passion of existence

    Where both the silence

    And the exuberant exultation

    Are as one.

    - c -
     
  14. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    Ciel,

    It does seem easy to by-pass the shadow, not to recognise the darkness and the "passions". In Pure Land the defiled "I" is revealed by the working of Infinite Compassion. The defiled I is an essential part of oneself, "both the Pure I and the defiled I are necessary for a person to attain wholeness. When both are brought to full awareness, we have an awakened authentic human being" (Unno)

    Just a little more on "self-power" and "other-power", more to illuminate my own mind, which often appears as a very tangled web of conflict. The reliance on "Other Power" (Tariki) does not mean that no effort is required to progress on the path of awakening. Again from Unno........

    Self-cultivation is the driving force in a persons attempt to live the highest ethical life..................it is at the core of the quest for authenticity as a human being. In all such strivings inevitably one is made aware of human finitude, of our reality as a karmic being - limited, imperfect, mortal. This experiential process is at the heart of Shin (Pure Land) Buddhism

    The point is that such "strivings" are made in the total dojo (training ground) of lay life, as lived and experienced each moment, each day. Once again I see no particular reason why any form of genuine insight should be restricted to those spending "time on the cushion".

    Therefore self-power, contrasted with Other Power, should not be thought of as negating self-reliance. But as Unno again states, it is in the realm of the religious quest that self-power becomes a problem.

    Self-power becomes manifest whenever one is conscious of "doing good". Unaware of the hidden, ego-centered agenda, a person becomes self-righteous, passing judgements on others as good or bad.

    Again, one can become prideful in the ability to know oneself, including the claim to fully recognise the limitation, imperfection, and fallibility of oneself through the power of rational self-reflection alone.

    Self-power is the effort.......or endeavour, to make yourself worthy through amending the confusion in your acts, words and thoughts, confident of your own powers and guided by your own calculation. (Shinran)

    Other-Power should not be understood as a relative term used in simple contrast with "self" to denote a different origin of practice, for Other Power refers to Great Compassion that transcends the duality of self and other.......Other Power works constantly to bring every sentient being to the realization of True Entrusting (shinjin/faith), but those who cling to their own efforts and virtues - possessed of the self-attachment termed the "mind of self-power" - block its working. Where the mind of self-power is made to disappear, however, the realization of True Entrusting that is Other Power comes about. The disappearance of the mind of self-power and the realization of trust/faith/shinjin that is Other Power.............are aspects of a single religious awakening. In the realization of Shinjin the practicer becomes free of the mind of self-power, and this very freedom from self-attachment and calculation is Other Power. In Shinran's words, "Other Power means to be free of any form of calculation," it "means that no working is true working." (drawn from a Glossary of Shin Buddhist Terms, volume 2 of the Collected works of Shinran)

    ..........what is, is the graceful acceptance only.......
     
  15. Tariki

    Tariki New Member

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    A few more reflections.................

    I have long pondered the words associated with the Theravada path, "Buddha's can only point the way, each has to walk the path themselves". Words that call for self-reliance, and often contrasted with the "easy" Pure Land path. But to ask, in the light of anicca (no-self) - the central pillar of the dharma - just who it is that is doing the walking seems a very pertinent question. This is not just playing around with words. For me it is to begin to recognise that in many respects the "religious quest" often becomes - in practice and experience - the realization that we are striving to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Such striving can only result in exhaustion! D T Suzuki has said well...........Other-Power is all important, but this truth is known only by those who have striven by means of self-power to attempt the impossible.

    And it was Theravadin who observed that "at the moment of emancipation, effort falls away, having reached the end of its scope". Knowing the "scope" of self-power.........and reaching its "end".

    "Grace, if thou repent, thou shalt not lack. Yet who shall give ye that grace to begin?" (John Donne)

    :)
     
  16. Ciel

    Ciel in essence

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    Tariki,

    You see it is all so wordy.

    Strange purity.

    So complex.

    When the very thing it expounds.......

    Is simplicity in authenticity.


    After washing floors

    I dance in the enlightenment of clean clear space.

    - c -
     
  17. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Hi Tariki.

    Is the following post in line with what you are describing?

    Oh, and welcome back :)
     
  18. Lunitik

    Lunitik Interfaith Forums

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    You must put everything you have into trying, totally committed to this goal of enlightenment. This is the only way to see that you cannot do anything about it, but if you can think of another way you should do it because any possibility will give you hope.

    Finally, when you absolutely give up, when you can see there is no further possibility, when you realize you are powerless... then, then existence itself seems to come to help, fills you, possesses you, and does it all for you.

    While you still endeavor, it waits patiently, there is no hurry for it.
     
  19. Lunitik

    Lunitik Interfaith Forums

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    Essential is to be willing to let go of yourself, yet you are still there in the seeking. Many say this world is maya, no, it is you - this notion is the illusion. Eventually the seeker sees he was the sought, only then is the search over, only then do you attain to truth.

    The contrast is perfectly good, but eventually you must see that the objective world has no truth, you have to look back towards yourself eventually - who are you?

    "Seeker, do not follow any path, for all paths lead there, truth is here"
     
  20. Lunitik

    Lunitik Interfaith Forums

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    Even choosing Buddhism, who is Buddhist?

    These are just ideas, you will have to find out by going directly.

    Was Buddha a Buddhist? He has arrived by rejecting Brahminism absolutely, by seeking his own way, not by following anyone.

    The boat must be left at the shore once you cross the river.
     

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