Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Pure Land in the teaching of Jodo Shinshu

Chih-i (538-597), the founding master of the Tendai Buddhist school in China, advocated the idea that the Pure Land „exists in one’s mind”, which was later transmitted to Japan. This can be found in the Vimalakirti sutra, a teaching belonging to a diferent Dharma gate than that of the Pure Land, and in which it is said that if one’s mind is pure then the land appears pure by virtue of the purity of the mind. Essentially speaking, the Pure Land was understood by many Tendai masters of the past as existing only in one’s mind. Chih-i even spoke of Amida Buddha and his Pure Land as  elements of one’s consciousness to be realized in the mind.
Nowadays, many followers and so called teachers of our school take this idea and integrate it in various ways in their own interpretation of the Jodo Shinshu teaching without knowing or without wanting to accept that such ideas are against the Pure Land teaching advocated by our Founding Masters.

We need to understand very well that contrary to the theories of "mind only" or "pure land is pure mind", the Jodo Shinshu teaching recognizes the existence of many transcendental Buddhas who preside over many realms and that it is possible, by various methods, to be born in one of these after death. Various examples of such Buddhalands are, for example, Maitreya’s Tusita Heaven, Akyobhya’s land, the land of Tara Bodhisattva, Bhaisajyaguru (Yakushi) Buddha’s land and Amida’s land of the west which is the best land to be born into by those who wish to attain Buddhahood quickly. The real existence of such lands and especially of Amida Buddha’s Pure Land was naturally accepted by the masters of our school, like Nagarjuna, Shan-tao, Honen, Shinran and others who clearly instructed us to aspire to be born ONLY in Amida's land. They all embraced the idea of the Pure Land from the viewpoint of the next life (raisejodo), which means it is to be attained after physical death and of Amida as a real and living Buddha. Shinran himself lamented in the 3rd chapter of Kyogyoshinsho about those who embraced wrong views about Amida and his Pure Land:

„the monks and laity of this latter age and the religious teachers of these times are floundering in concepts of „self-nature” and „mind only”, and they disparage the true realization of Enlightenment in the Pure Land way”.

It is unfortunate that many nowadays false teachers continue to lead people into confusion with concepts that are not to be found in our school, due to their own lack of faith in Amida Buddha and of a sincere aspiration to be born in his Pure Land. 
How far they are from the words of faith spoken by Nagarjuna:

With reverence I bow my head to Amida, the Sage,
The Most Honored One, who is revered by humans and devas.
You dwell in the wonderful Land of Peace and Bliss,
Surrounded by innumerable children of the Buddhas.

2 comentarii:

Paul Roberts said...

Thank you, Adrian.

I think it is important to say that we have no objection to other Buddhists from other schools having other ideas about the nature of Amida Buddha and the Pure Land.

What we object to, in the strongest terms, is for these ideas to be presented by so-called Shin Buddhist teachers as part and parcel of Shin Dharma.

If someone thinks that Pure Land is Pure Mind, or Amida is something less than the greatest of all the transcendental Buddhas, he (or she) is entitled to that thought.

But he's not entitled to share his views, and label them "Shin Buddhism". That is immoral, unethical, and downright dishonest.

Let those who have such views align themselves with Buddhist schools that teach them legitimately - whether Tendai or something else - and leave the Shin Sangha to those of us who believe and accept the True Teaching of the Pure Land Way, as defined by Master Shinran.

Josho Adrian Cirlea said...

Paul defined our position very well.

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