Showing posts with label AMIDA BUDDHA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AMIDA BUDDHA. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Those who deny the existence of Amida don’t have shinjin (faith) – some simple explanations

Check my new book on the topic
of modern divergences
- click here for the Portughese version - 

Unfortunately, there are many false teachers in the international Jodo Shinshu community who support wrong interpretations of the nembutsu Dharma - the so called modern and progressive interpretations - but which are in evident contradiction with the teaching of the sutras and the sacred texts. One of the most widely distributed is the theory that Amida is a symbol, a metaphor or a fictional character.

Such interpretations prove the absence of the genuine shinjin from the hearts of those who support them. It is simply impossible to have the experience of faith in Amida and in the same time to consider him a fictional character or a metaphor. On the contrary, such a shinjin is false or fictional like how fictional the object of faith is. I have never heard or read in the sacred texts about such presentations of Amida Buddha. Not Shakyamuni, nor Shinran Shonin or other masters of our tradition ever spoke in like that about Amida and His Pure Land. This is why I always say that those who present Amida as a fictional character, metaphor, symbol or something similar to these terms, don’t have the experience of faith and salvation.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The reason for the western location of the Pure Land and its wonderful description in the sutras

Question: „Why the Pure Land of Amida Buddha is called „the Western Pure Land” or „the Pure Land of the West”? Why the „west” is so much emphasized in many of the sacred writings related with Amida? And also why the Pure Land is described in such a fantastic way in the sutras?”

Answer: In order to show that Amida’s Pure Land is not a metaphor, but a real place in which people can actually aspire to be born after death, the land is given a direction and is described in great details in the sutras.
Some say that the direction „west” and the marvelous descriptions of the Pure Land are a proof for its non-existence or for its existence  as a symbol or metaphor only.

But the truth is that by making the effort to describe in many words the wonders of the Pure Land and by pointing to a direction where to face the Pure Land when worshipping Amida, Shakyamuni Buddha wants to emphasize its actual existence as a place where sentient beings should aspire to be born without worry and doubt.
It is like I speak to you about a beautiful park which I would like you to visit. If I tell you, „its there, in the west of the town” and I start describing it to you, then you will have no doubt about its existence and you will wish to see it. Its the same with the expression „Pure Land of the West”.

The exaltation with which Shakyamuni describes the Pure Land of Amida in the Smaller Amida Sutra (Amida-kyo) without even being asked to do it[1], or the radiant light that emanated from his body when he delivered the Larger Sutra in which he expounded the story of Amida and his 48th vows[2], are both an indication that his words were true and his listeners should accept Amida as a living Buddha and his Pure Land as a real place.

[1] The Smaller Amida Sutra (Amida-kyo) is a sutra spontaneously delivered, not in response to a question, which is a proof of the importance of the teaching about Amida Buddha. In this discourse, Shakyamuni begins every description with great enthusiam, repeating the name of his main listener, Shariputra, telling him the wonders of the Pure Land and the uniqueness of Amida Buddha among all Buddhas.
[2] It is recorded in the Larger Sutra on Amida Buddha that when Shakyamuni was about to deliver it“all the senses of the World-Honored One radiated joy, his entire body appeared serene and glorious, and his august countenance looked most majestic.” After Ananda asks him which is the reason of these wonderful manifestations, Shakyamuni reveals to him the true goal of his coming to this world, by presenting the story of Amida Buddha, the 48th Vows and encouraging sentient beings to aspire for birth in the Pure Land. In the same sutra, the whole gathering listening to the discourse, including Ananda, had a vision with Amida Buddha and his Pure Land, which is another proof that Shakyamuni speaks about real things, not symbols or fictions.

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.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Honen Shonin on Amida Buddha

Honen Shonin (1133-1212)

In the Dialogue on One Hundred Forty-Five Topics, Honen Shonin said:

„Although there is one Amida Buddha, his teachings have different interpretations. The Shingon school teaches that Amida Buddha resides in one’s own heart; they do not admit his existence outside of one’s heart. The Pure Land school, however, teaches that Bodhisattva Dharmakara realized Buddhahood and became Amida Buddha and now resides in the west[1]. These two viwepoints reflect great differences between the two schools”.

The words of Master Honen are very clear for those who have a sincere wish to understand who Amida really is and repent for spreading wrong views.
I especially chose this quote to show that any presentation of Amida Buddha as being a metaphor, a myth, a symbol of one’s own Enlightened nature or one’s own heart and mind, etc, is not in accord with the Pure Land teaching of Honen and his Dharma heir, Shinran Shonin. The right view that a follower of our school should have about Amida Buddha and teach it to others is the one presented by Shakyamuni in the Larger Sutra: Amida is a real and living Buddha who resides in his Pure Land of the west (a manifestation of his vows to save all beings).  Because Amida is not something inside our heart or mind His Pure Land too, is not inside us, not „here and now” and not „our own pure mind”as some might say.

Because Amida is a real and living Buddha outside of us, His Pure Land too, is a real place outside us, unenlightened beings, who can never have a pure mind and heart. In our own heart and mind there is nothing else than illusion so we cannot say that Amida Buddha or his Pure Land is to be sought there.

There are great differences in interpreting Amida between our Pure Land school and other Buddhist schools based on personal power. But if we consider ourselves disciples of Honen and Shinran Shonin we should discard the latter and take refuge in the living Amida Buddha of the western Pure Land.
Only upon birth in the Pure Land, when we become Buddhas, we’ll understand fully the ultimate nature of all things and the Pure Land.

[1] The Pure Land of Amida Buddha is sometimes called the Pure Land of the west. See my article „The reason for the western location of the Pure Land and its wonderful description in the sutras”.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Amida is a real Buddha (video teaching by Paul Roberts)

Here is a video teaching by my Dharma friend, Paul Roberts, on Amida Buddha and his Pure Land in accordance with the Larger Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life (Bussetsu Muryoju kyo). It is a useful guide on what Amida is and what is not, very much needed in these times when so many divergences from the Jodo Shinshu teaching appear. I praise Paul's initiative to start a series of Dharma talks on youtube and I highly reccomend him as a genuine teacher of the Dharma.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Amida as the eternal Buddha and the Buddha described in the Larger Sutra


“….how can Amida Buddha be the primordial (eternal) Buddha if he is Dharmakara who practiced aeons ago and had a starting point of existence in an other world? Is Dharmakara a manifestation of Primordial Buddha as Amida, like Saka Nyorai (Shakyamuni) is a manifestation of Amida in this world? I am a bit confused...”

My answer:
Dharmakara becoming Amida Buddha is the description in terms of cause and effect of the salvation work of Amida as eternal Buddha. It is how the eternal and supreme Buddha or Dharma body of Dharma nature, indescribable and beyond any form, becomes Dharma body of compassionate means with form and Name.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Shinran – a manifestation of Amida Buddha and Avalokitesvara

Shinran Shonin

Before I enter this topic, lets think a little to Shakyamuni, the Founder of Buddhism.
Did he become a Buddha during his life on this earth that we all know from history, or had he attained Buddhahood countless lifetimes ago, in the incomprehensibly remote past? Or was he the manifestation of Amida Buddha?

The answer depends on which sutras you chose to read. In many sutras the first situation is presented, in others the second is taken as a profound truth (for example, the Lotus Sutra,  - Life Span chapter), and the Pure Land sutras are interpreted by Shinran Shonin as to clearly show the third situation in which the true reason for the appearance of Shakyamuni in the world was to teach the Dharma about Amida Buddha’s salvation. To me, the third is the one I chose[1].

The same thing applies to many important figures in the Buddhist history after Shakyamuni’s passing.
Some Masters have a visible life in which they are born, do this or that, meet with the Dharma, practice it and one day attain the most important thing –supreme Enlightenment, or in the case of Shinran Shonin, he receives shinjin, which is  faith in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow.
This is the visible life, but an invisible one or hidden truth about them might be revealed by their own words or actions on various occasions or by the testimonies of their closest disciples who had revelatory dreams or visions about these Masters.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Does the Pure Land really exist?

Here are the words of Zuio Inagaki Sensei:
Question: Does the Pure Land really exist?

Answer: Yes it does. 

In our world of experience, everything we feel and perceive with our senses is ephemeral, ­ only momentarily existent and deceptive. As the Buddha admonished:
"All conditioned things are impermanent." (sarva­samskaaraa anityaah)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

About Amida Buddha and His Pure Land

I try to explain here again in easy terms who is Amida Buddha and how we should understand the Pure Land.
First of all, what is a Buddha or more exactly what a Buddha is not?
A Buddha is not somebody like us, although at some point in His history He was. In a well known dialogue a brahman called Dona asks Shakyamuni Buddha who He is:

“Sir, are you a god?”
“No, brahman.”
“Are you an angel?”
“No, brahman.”
“Are you a yakkha?
“No, brahman.”
“Are you a human being?”
“No, brahman.”

“When asked, ‘Are you a god?’ you answer, ‘No, brahman…’ When asked, ‘Are you an angel?’ you answer, ‘No, brahman..’ When asked, ‘Are you a yakkha?’ you answer, ‘No, brahman…’ When asked, ‘Are you a human being?’ you answer, ‘No, brahman…’ Then what sort of being are you?”

“Brahman, the defilements by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a god: those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palm tree stump, no longer subject to future arising. The defilements by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be an angel… a yakkha… a human being: those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palm tree stump, no longer subject to future arising.

“Just as a blue or red or white lotus born in water, grows in water and stands up above the water untouched by it, so too I, who was born in the world and grew up in the world, have transcended the world, and I live untouched by the world. Remember me, brahman, as a Buddha.”

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pure Land is NOT here and now

updated: December 13th 2011
“1. I sometimes think the central theme of Buddhism is that it all comes from Avidya (ignorance) and this makes us view the world as samsara rather than Nirvana. I wish to know what some Buddhists mean when they say there is no distinction between the two.
Also, related to this and bringing it back to Jodo Shinshu: Is the Pure Land here and now, or not? Or is it to be reached after death when we become Buddhas? Personally, I think it has to be here and now or it is nowhere. For me this is what I thought was the essence of Shinran's teaching, and why I was attracted to it.”

2. As far as the nembutsu is concerned does it have a particular form? Or rather is it a door through which ignorance is cleared and we realize we have always been in the Pure Land?”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Some discussions on the nature of Amida Buddha

I share with you here, a few passages from my discussions with some Jodo Shinshu practitioners about the nature of Amida Buddha. Please read the previous two articles in the category "Amida Buddha" from this blog, for a better understanding.

Anonymous: "The way a Buddha is seen in Mahayana definitely looks like a 'supernatural being' to someone outside of the Dharma without the knowledge necessary to differentiate the idea of a Buddha from a god and that may cause more problems of understanding than solving them for these people."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Amida as a Sambhogakaya Buddha

On the true shinbuddhism yahoo group, Paul Roberts posted the following article after he quoted
So, please first read my article and then, read this one.
I will soon post more articles on this topic, “the nature of Amida Buddha” at the section Amida Buddha of this blog, in order to fight against many of “modern” divergences from the true teaching of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism as presented in the sutras and commentaries of our Masters - which anyone can find in the Jodo Shinshu (Shin) traditional canon.

"…………I think this is a subject of extreme importance, because today the most lamentable divergence in the Sangha is false teachers declaring that Amida Buddha is only a symbol.

It is also critical to recognize that there are essentially two different means of talking about Buddhism that correspond to the two essentially different paths of self-power and Other-power.

NEW poems by Gansen John Welch