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Why does Amitabha Buddha demand that people pray to him?

edited November 2010 in Philosophy
If Amitabha Buddha were truly compassionate there would be no condition to recite the nembutsu to be reborn in pure land, and yet it is so. Wouldn't this be lack of compassion for those who do not recite his name or am I somehow mistaken about pure land teachings? :rolleyes:

Comments

  • ShutokuShutoku Veteran
    edited November 2010
    1st, the nembutsu is not a prayer, and Amida does not demand we recite it. In Jodo Shinshu the Nembutsu is an expression of gratitude for being embraced by Amida Buddha.

    2nd lets look at the meaning of Namu Amida Butsu.
    "I take refuge in Amida Buddha".
    If I don't want to take refuge in Amida Buddha, but he insisted on have me be reborn in the Pure Land, that wouldn't be compassionate would it?

    3rd, suppose you are trapped in a room that is very unpleasant, and someone first creates a room next to it that is incredibly pleasant, tells you this beautiful room is there, and builds a doorway from your room into this beautiful room....and all you have to do is choose to walk through the doorway, is that not compassionate?
    Amida gives us the Nembutsu as a doorway to attain birth and enlightenment.


    Additionaly most people in Shin see Amida as a symbol of True reality...our true nature. The Pure Land is enlightenemnt. So the Nembutsu is a statement of enlightenment, "embraced by infinite light and infinite life"
    Our Buddha nature is there regardless of if we see it or not, just as we were breathing oxygen even before anyone discovered oxygen. When we see our true nature we are enlightened and that is the Pure Land. Nembutsu is like putting the name "oxygen" on what we have been breathing all along, and helps create the awareness of what we have been breathing.
    I hope that makes sense.
  • edited November 2010
    Shutoku wrote: »
    1st, the nembutsu is not a prayer, and Amida does not demand we recite it.

    In order to be accepted into pure land it is so :rolleyes: therefore by process of elimination it is demanded that it is recited else you are stuck in that horrible room.
    In Jodo Shinshu the Nembutsu is an expression of gratitude for being embraced by Amida Buddha.

    That is the same as a prayer.
    2nd lets look at the meaning of Namu Amida Butsu.
    "I take refuge in Amida Buddha".
    If I don't want to take refuge in Amida Buddha, but he insisted on have me be reborn in the Pure Land, that wouldn't be compassionate would it?

    It's the same type of faith based doctrine as "accept Jesus/Allah/Zeus/etc or go to hell".
    3rd, suppose you are trapped in a room that is very unpleasant, and someone first creates a room next to it that is incredibly pleasant, tells you this beautiful room is there, and builds a doorway from your room into this beautiful room....and all you have to do is choose to walk through the doorway, is that not compassionate?

    The converse, if someone creates a room and the house you are in is on fire. Do you drag them in the safe room screaming or let them die in the fire?
    Amida gives us the Nembutsu as a doorway to attain birth and enlightenment.

    It is an invocation. A prayer.

    Additionaly most people in Shin see Amida as a symbol of True reality...our true nature.

    Oh, now we're getting to the truth!
    The Pure Land is enlightenemnt. So the Nembutsu is a statement of enlightenment, "embraced by infinite light and infinite life"
    Our Buddha nature is there regardless of if we see it or not, just as we were breathing oxygen even before anyone discovered oxygen. When we see our true nature we are enlightened and that is the Pure Land. Nembutsu is like putting the name "oxygen" on what we have been breathing all along, and helps create the awareness of what we have been breathing.

    I don't know about that. Nirvana is peace between extremes. A heaven isn't release from Samsara it is a prison of another kind.
    I hope that makes sense.

    Perhaps I didn't fully understand. Can you clarify further?
  • ShutokuShutoku Veteran
    edited November 2010
    No there is no question you didn't understand, or choose not to. I'll try one more time.

    1. If you insist on using the word demand, I can't do much about that. Basically you are intent on putting a negative spin on the teaching....shrug.

    2. perhaps you had better define what a prayer is. in my opinion expressing gratitude is not praying. You might want to read up on Shinran though (founder of Jodo shinshu) because he was something of a rebel in some ways, and so if you genuinely are interested in this, learning about Shinran's POV would be helpful to you.

    3. why not answer my question? In my example is it an act of compassion or not?


    and finally...maybe you don't understand what I mean by metaphor or symbol.
    Amida Buddha = Perfectly Awakened infinite Light and Life
    Nembutsu (shin interpretation) = Embraced by Perfectly Awakened infinite Light and Life
    Sukhavati = Utmost bliss i.e. end of suffering.

    For us in Shin, Sukhavati is Nirvana. You don't have to agree with this of course.

    However even if you were to take it all literally, noe where in any of the pure Land Sutras does Amida condem anyone who does not recite the Nembutsu to Hell. I"m afraid you are simply wrong in that comparison.

    I suspect you have an agenda though, so I'm not going to pursue this any further.
    If I am wrong and your question is genuine, I apologise for thinking otherwise and I hope I have helped. If I didn't help, well I gave it my best shot, and can do no more.
    So either way I have more productive things to do that pursue this further.
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited November 2010
    When I am grateful to you for teaching me or showing me something new, TFPW, am I praying to you?
  • edited November 2010
    Shutoku wrote: »
    No there is no question you didn't understand, or choose not to. I'll try one more time.

    1. If you insist on using the word demand, I can't do much about that. Basically you are intent on putting a negative spin on the teaching....shrug.

    I am not. I am merely taking the exact metaphor you used, and showing you that this metaphor is a double sided sword. Sincerely, try again. :o
    2. perhaps you had better define what a prayer is. in my opinion expressing gratitude is not praying.

    A higher deity requests favors or gratitude in the form of an invocation to perform an act for their worshipers that is not granted to someone who does not perform that favor or grant that gratitude.
    You might want to read up on Shinran though (founder of Jodo shinshu) because he was something of a rebel in some ways, and so if you genuinely are interested in this, learning about Shinran's POV would be helpful to you.

    Which books do you recommend?
    3. why not answer my question? In my example is it an act of compassion or not?

    It is not. Compassion from a Boddhisattva has no condition or expectation of a reward does it not?
    and finally...maybe you don't understand what I mean by metaphor or symbol.

    Probably, so it would help if you were direct and didn't use metaphors. I tend to deconstruct those conceptualizations because I find them harmful. :rolleyes:
    Amida Buddha = Perfectly Awakened infinite Light and Life

    I've heard of that. "The Buddha of Infinite Light"
    Nembutsu (shin interpretation) = Embraced by Perfectly Awakened infinite Light and Life

    I am aware of the meaning. I speak Japanese. :) I read many of the sutras by the Japanese Pure Land and Jodo Shinshu in their original language. They were beautiful and poetic, but I still did not grasp or understand the purpose of the invocation if not to bestow favoritism upon some people, but not others which kind of frightened me.
    Sukhavati = Utmost bliss i.e. end of suffering.


    For us in Shin, Sukhavati is Nirvana. You don't have to agree with this of course.

    No I know and understand that you mean it is Nirvana, and as I said, the problem is that Nirvana from what I understand it is something one needs to meditate and work for, and upon saying the Nembutsu with a pure heart is one thing, because I actually believe that the true sincere pure heart is essential regardless of the chant, but if a person who is sincere with a pure heart doesn't recite the nembutsu, then they are not granted access to pure land, and that's what I have a misunderstanding with.
    However even if you were to take it all literally, noe where in any of the pure Land Sutras does Amida condem anyone who does not recite the Nembutsu to Hell. I"m afraid you are simply wrong in that comparison.

    Just stuck in Samsara, which is a living hell countlessly drifting :crazy:
    I suspect you have an agenda though, so I'm not going to pursue this any further.
    If I am wrong and your question is genuine, I apologise for thinking otherwise and I hope I have helped. If I didn't help, well I gave it my best shot, and can do no more.
    So either way I have more productive things to do that pursue this further.

    If you insist, but I it's too bad. I had more questions about the texts I read specifically.
  • edited November 2010
    When I am grateful to you for teaching me or showing me something new, TFPW, am I praying to you?

    Obviously not because I'm not a Buddha bestowing upon you the ability to be free from Samsara with only a sincere heartfelt expression of appreciation.... :crazy:
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    edited November 2010

    A higher deity requests favors or gratitude in the form of an invocation to perform an act for their worshipers that is not granted to someone who does not perform that favor or grant that gratitude.
    Except that Amida is not a higher deity that really "requests" anything. That can be seen as the "lower level" of truth. I think the second level of truth would be to understand Amida as being all beings with Buddha-nature.

    I am aware of the meaning. I speak Japanese. :) I read many of the sutras by the Japanese Pure Land and Jodo Shinshu in their original language. They were beautiful and poetic, but I still did not grasp or understand the purpose of the invocation if not to bestow favoritism upon some people, but not others which kind of frightened me.
    The concept of nembutsu was to counter what was seen as elitism in other branches of Buddhism - the need to be a monastic or meditate or donate a lot, etc. Most everyday people do not have the means to do these things.

    Any practice can be seen as "favoritism upon some people, but not others." It just depends on who is doing the practice and who is not. Your bias is so obvious.

    No I know and understand that you mean it is Nirvana, and as I said, the problem is that Nirvana from what I understand it is something one needs to meditate and work for, and upon saying the Nembutsu with a pure heart is one thing, because I actually believe that the true sincere pure heart is essential regardless of the chant, but if a person who is sincere with a pure heart doesn't recite the nembutsu, then they are not granted access to pure land, and that's what I have a misunderstanding with.
    Well, if a person doesn't meditate or practice whatever you think is better, they won't have a chance to be Enlightened. Same thing.

    Just stuck in Samsara, which is a living hell countlessly drifting :crazy:
    AFAIK, most Shin buddhists see their school as one path amongst many, so it's not like they're saying "PURE LAND OR GTFO"
    johnathan
  • edited November 2010
    Being reborn in Amithaba's Pure Land is the main goal for those who practice in this Buddhist school. Pure Land is usually understood (on a basic level- let's say so), as a "place" where you can practice in a perfect serrounding and make a rapid progress. This is just a different way to the same goal as other schools of Buddhism have :)
    Let me quote Master Hsing Yun:
    "Pure Land practice is fundamentally based on the practitioner's vow to be reborn in Amithaba Buddha's pure land. (...) The mere act of vowing and repeating Amitabha Buddha's name is enough to cleanse the mind and bring about the cessation of mental defilements. (...) The power of Amitabha Buddha's enlightneded being itself is so great that he can bring about a cessation in anyone who calls on him."

    Namo Amituofo _/|\_
  • edited November 2010
    Except that Amida is not a higher deity that really "requests" anything. That can be seen as the "lower level" of truth. I think the second level of truth would be to understand Amida as being all beings with Buddha-nature.

    What'chu mean by lower level of truth? :hrm:

    The concept of nembutsu was to counter what was seen as elitism in other branches of Buddhism - the need to be a monastic or meditate or donate a lot, etc. Most everyday people do not have the means to do these things.

    This was ages ago when the idea of Tendai and Shingon were secluded to only the elite aristocrats some time in the Nara period, but not now. It's available to everyone. :o

    This doesn't change that faith-based ideal which doesn't seem to answer my initial question.
    Any practice can be seen as "favoritism upon some people, but not others." It just depends on who is doing the practice and who is not. Your bias is so obvious.

    What bias? :skeptical I am asking questions with the idea that false views will be corrected. If it is a faith-based system, it is completely different from a works-based system in which it doesn't matter what faith you are, but pure land adherents have not to my experience been pluralists.

    Well, if a person doesn't meditate or practice whatever you think is better, they won't have a chance to be Enlightened. Same thing.

    Not really I'm a pluralist.
    AFAIK, most Shin buddhists see their school as one path amongst many, so it's not like they're saying "PURE LAND OR GTFO"

    Well it's one thing to say Pure Land or GTFO and to say Pure Land or countless kalpas in Samsara or periods in hells. :rolleyes: I make a differentiation.
  • edited November 2010
    The "advanced ideas" forum probably isnt the best place for passive aggressive polemical threads toward Pure Land Buddhism.
  • edited November 2010
    Being reborn in Amithaba's Pure Land is the main goal for those who practice in this Buddhist school. Pure Land is usually understood (on a basic level- let's say so), as a "place" where you can practice in a perfect serrounding and make a rapid progress. This is just a different way to the same goal as other schools of Buddhism have :)

    That is more direct, but how does one do this? Is it just saying the words? Or like I said in purifying the heart?
    Let me quote Master Hsing Yun:
    "Pure Land practice is fundamentally based on the practitioner's vow to be reborn in Amithaba Buddha's pure land. (...) The mere act of vowing and repeating Amitabha Buddha's name is enough to cleanse the mind and bring about the cessation of mental defilements. (...) The power of Amitabha Buddha's enlightneded being itself is so great that he can bring about a cessation in anyone who calls on him."

    Namo Amituofo _/|\_

    So I have heard. Specifics?
  • edited November 2010
    The "advanced ideas" forum probably isnt the best place for passive aggressive polemical threads toward Pure Land Buddhism.

    Is every question I ask somehow a "passive aggressive polemical thread" ? This has got to stop. I ask questions because I want to learn. :o Otherwise I wouldn't ask any questions at all and just say nothing. Unless I understand others I can't profess to understand how others feel and think. It makes no difference to claim to know something when I don't so I ask. :)
  • edited November 2010
    Is every question I ask somehow a "passive aggressive polemical thread" ? This has got to stop. I ask questions because I want to learn. :o Otherwise I wouldn't ask any questions at all and just say nothing. Unless I understand others I can't profess to understand how others feel and think. It makes no difference to claim to know something when I don't so I ask. :)

    No but when you phrase a question the way you did at the start of this thread it gets the conversation off to a bad start.
    It should be in the beginners forum anyways.
  • edited November 2010
    No but when you phrase a question the way you did at the start of this thread it gets the conversation off to a bad start.
    It should be in the beginners forum anyways.

    But I'm not quite a beginner, and people new to Buddhism might not know what I am talking about. So it was advanced.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I would suppose that by praying to amitabha you are drawn into his mandala.

    Its like if you start hanging out with people who play the guitar and you get interested. By thinking about amitabha you are drawn into the qualities that amitabha manifests and you will be attracted to such causing future rebirth in the Pure land.

    I'm not a Pureland buddhist but Pure land is also a concept in Tibetan.

    I really hope you are sincerely wanting to know how we think rather than trolling :confused: I enjoy the activity and attention too, however.
  • edited November 2010
    Jeffrey wrote: »
    I would suppose that by praying to amitabha you are drawn into his mandala.

    So it's a form or type of hypnotic suggestion so to greater awaken these feelings?
    Its like if you start hanging out with people who play the guitar and you get interested. By thinking about amitabha you are drawn into the qualities that amitabha manifests and you will be attracted to such causing future rebirth in the Pure land.

    That actually makes a lot of sense, (way more than what I was told) and I can't see anything inherently wrong with it.
    I'm not a Pureland buddhist but Pure land is also a concept in Tibetan.

    And you're Tibetan Buddhist?
    I really hope you are sincerely wanting to know how we think rather than trolling :confused: I enjoy the activity and attention too, however.

    It's actually a long story... :-/ but I was told a LOT of lies about Mahayana teachings of which I actually had to personally reconstruct by reading Mahayana sutras. I want to know I'm not letting lies live in my mind. :)
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2010
    So it's a form or type of hypnotic suggestion so to greater awaken these feelings
    Mandala principle is used to explain how reality works. There is a value at the center of the mandala and as you get further from the mandala... well its kind of like a sangha. There are people that come 1 every 2 months. There are people that live with the teacher (sometimes). There are people outside the sangha but who are curious.

    All part of the mandala. Conservativism and Liberalism is a mandala. Me and You are mandalas. When there is uncertainty whether you belong or not which is the boundary a lot of emotional energy gets stirred up.

    Like a group of friends who always meet together and they get frustrated when one stops showing up consistently. Sort of unclear if they are part of the group or not.

    A mandala is like the guitar thing. Which made sense to you I think.

    I am not sure it is hypnotic though it may operate on both the conscious and unconscious level.

    Because many are distant from the center of a mandala is why when we meet others outside of buddhism we try to be kind and respectful because it may be the only chance they had in their life to contact the mandala of awakening. :(
    And you're Tibetan Buddhist?
    I am taking a course taught by a Lama in England. I do get to ask questions in emails or phone but I am nervous on phone. I can't think fast enough in person.
  • edited November 2010
    Jeffrey wrote: »
    Mandala principle is used to explain how reality works. There is a value at the center of the mandala and as you get further from the mandala... well its kind of like a sangha.

    Hmmm....? How so, I don't understand? :confused:
    There are people that come 1 every 2 months. There are people that live with the teacher (sometimes). There are people outside the sangha but who are curious.

    Ah a literal community?
    All part of the mandala. Conservativism and Liberalism is a mandala. Me and You are mandalas. When there is uncertainty whether you belong or not which is the boundary a lot of emotional energy gets stirred up.

    A continuity from the whole spectrum, you mean?
    Like a group of friends who always meet together and they get frustrated when one stops showing up consistently. Sort of unclear if they are part of the group or not.

    Understandable....but people can and will have different perspectives.
    A mandala is like the guitar thing. Which made sense to you I think.

    Yes, it did.
    I am not sure it is hypnotic though it may operate on both the conscious and unconscious level.

    That's what I mean, it's a type of suggestion that works on the subconscious.
    That is why when we meet others outside of buddhism we try to be kind and respectful because it may be the only chance they had in their life to contact the mandala of awakening. :(

    That's really sweet, and remember like the Mandala of sand it just takes a smooth sweeping motion and it's all gone. :o Any person is part of a larger whole because all of the causes and conditions that came together. Is the mandala a metaphorical expression of that reality?
    I am taking a course taught by a Lama in England. I do get to ask questions in emails or phone but I am nervous on phone. I can't think fast enough in person.

    Ah I am a person who is also shy so I relate. :rolleyes:
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I think mandala is a way to understand the emotional and other matters of experience. It is like a way of explain interconnectivity and dependent origination.

    I haven't hit that unit in my course but I have heard it used in context in some dharma talks.
  • edited November 2010
    Jeffrey wrote: »
    I think mandala is a way to understand the emotional and other matters of experience. It is like a way of explain interconnectivity and dependent origination.

    I haven't hit that unit in my course but I have heard it used in context in some dharma talks.

    Can you update me too when you have a good idea so I can understand a little better?
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2010
    I am in a very unmotivated time in my practice. For a long time I was suffering from anxiety, depression, and psychosis. My meds and awareness practice have helped that but it is hard for me to get motivated now that I am feeling better.

    I did get through 5 chapters of Jon Kabat Zinn's Mindfulness course last month and I do walking meditation every day. I think I'll do some now.

    But if we are still on the forum I'll try to explain it more information. One thing that makes me curious is that its next in line to the teaching on sensititivity (response). Sensitivity is what dukkha turns into when it is perfected but you can still call it that now. It is like an emotional response. So I wonder if the two: mandala and sensitivity are related.
    [Deleted User]
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