Saturday, February 24, 2018

Elements of genuine faith: 1) Accepting the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land

Without accepting the actual, literal existence of Amida Buddha there can be no true faith, no true salvation and no real birth in His Pure Land. If we have faith in someone, then it means we are sure beyond any doubt that he is reliable and that he will keep his promise. Also to believe in someone’s promise means that we accept his existence, too. Promises can be made by living persons, in our case by a living, existing Amida Buddha, not by material objects or fictional characters[1]. Thus, we must accept Amida as a living Buddha who can hear, see and save us by taking us to His Pure Land after death.

Honen Shonin said:

"Amida Buddha fulfilled the forty-eight vows and established the Pure Land. He always listens to a person who utters His name".[2]

„Amida Buddha never fails to hear you, regardless of time and circumstances”.[3]

He also said:

"When sentient beings constantly and reverently prostrate themselves before Amida Buddha with their body, Amida Buddha will see them. When they arouse themselves to practice and to always recite with their lips the name of Amida Buddha, Amida Buddha will hear them. When they constantly think of Amida Buddha in their hearts, Amida Buddha will think of them. In these three kinds of karmic acts, Amida Buddha and sentient beings are not separate from each other. Hence, they are called intimate karmic relations.
Therefore, if you hold a rosary, Amida Buddha will see it. If you think in your mind to recite the nembutsu, Amida Buddha will, in His mind, think of you."[4]

Amida Buddha is always in front of us, seeing us, hearing us. This is NOT a metaphor, but the truth. Amida Buddha is in three places in the same time: 1) in His ultimate Dharmakaya beyond form, 2) in His Pure Land in Sambhogakaya form, and 3) in an infinite number of transformed bodies (Nirmanakayas) all over the universe[5]. Thus, He is also there, in our room, in the bus or subway we take to work, in our temple or dojo. Everywhere we go, Amida Buddha is accompanying us.  Even if we don't actually see Amida Buddha's manifestations with our unenlightened eyes (although visions can happen), it does not mean Amida is not there with us, embracing us with His Light.
Shakyamuni Buddha said in the Contemplation Sutra:

“Amitayus, exercising supernatural powers at will, can freely manifest His various forms in the lands of the ten directions"[6]

“Buddha Amitayus possesses eighty-four thousand physical characteristics, each having eighty-four thousand secondary marks of excellence. Each secondary mark emits eighty-four thousand rays of light; each ray of light shines universally upon the lands of the ten directions, embracing and not forsaking those who are mindful of the Buddha..”[7]

Also, His Pure Land is a real, enlightened place where we'll actually be reborn after the death of this physical body. Amida Buddha wishes to save us all, but He doesn’t take us to His Pure Land by force, so if we do not wish to go there or we do not accept the existence of that enlightened realm or the existence of Amida, then we’ll not go there. Nobody can go to a place which he thinks it doesn’t exist and can’t be saved by someone whom he considers being an imaginary person. We must reflect on this and accept the existence of Amida Buddha and of His Pure Land.






[1] Read the chapters, "Those who deny the existence of Amida don't have shinjin" from Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Teachings, by Josho Adrian Cirlea, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 2012, p 186 and "The karmic consequence of denying the trancendent reality of Amida Buddha and His Pure Land" from The True Teaching on Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, by Josho Adrian Cirlea, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 2015, p. 109
[2] Words to a Believer (Aruhito-ni Shimesu-kotoba), http://www.jsri.jp/English/Honen/TEACHINGS/zendo.html
[3] Honen Shonin, Dialogue on One Hundred Forty-Five Topics, The Promise of Amida Buddha - Honen's Path to Bliss; English translation of the Genko edition of the works of Honen Shonin - Collected Teachings of Kurodani Shonin: The Japanese Anthology (Wago Toroku), translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2011, p.295
[4] The Demeanor for Birth in the Pure Land (Ojojodoyojin), http://www.jsri.jp/English/Honen/TEACHINGS/zendo.html
[5] Read the chapter “The doctrine of the Three Buddha-Bodies and Two Buddha-Bodies in relation with Amida Buddha and His Pure Land”, from The True Teaching on Amida Buddha and His Pure Land, by Josho Adrian Cirlea, Dharma Lion Publications, Craiova, 2015, p. 88
[6] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p.91
[7] The Three Pure Land Sutras - A Study and Translation from Chinese by Hisao Inagaki in collaboration with Harold Stewart, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Kyoto, 2003, p. 87

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