Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
santa100
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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by santa100 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:02 am

mikenz66 wrote:There's a whole range of people who practice the various forms of Buddhism. I don't think it's useful to generalise. Some "native" Theravada people I know who obviously have a very good long-term practice, but I doubt they've read many suttas, or have much idea which concepts are from sutta, abhidhamma, commentaries, or more recent sources. Their information comes from monks and Thai Dhamma books.

And, of course, that's also the case for most of the Westerner Buddhist I know (outside of forums such as this, or course). Their information mostly comes from books and talks from teachers.
There's a specific reason I raised 2 quetions for you earlier. The first question is to prove the point that it's not a minority/majority of learned versus un-learned practitioner. Rather it's an "approach" kind of thing. For the canonization of the Platform sutra was obviously not a decision made by common lay folks but from the monastic ranks themselves. The second question is to prove the point that it's not a western/non-western thing either. For DharmaWheel is considered a sister forum to our DW, a "forum just like this" in your word, with mostly westerners, and yet throughout the ~ 260 posts in one single thread over there, they still completely brushed aside all my effort to bring back to referencing the sutras instead of the various work of their masters. And I didn't even reference the Pali Canon, I was using their own sutras! So much for the Four Dharma Reliances their own masters tried to teach them. And you can even see the evidence in this very own thread. I consistently mentioned the 3 principal Pure Land sutras. And what do we see as a response? Shinran, Shinran, and more Shinran. Anyway, I think I have presented plenty of info. but maybe youre right in questioning the usefulness of it. So I think I've done my part for this thread and will stop here.

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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:23 am

Hmm OK I have absolutely no idea about Mahayana sutras so its all way over my head. I was more relating to the Theravada where the emphasis on suttas rathet than commentary just isnt an issue outside a small group. The Thai monks like Ajahn Chah serm to use lots of Commentatial concepts for example. And as i said, actually reading suttas is a minority thing.

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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by Mkoll » Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:36 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hmm OK I have absolutely no idea about Mahayana sutras so its all way over my head. I was more relating to the Theravada where the emphasis on suttas rathet than commentary just isnt an issue outside a small group. The Thai monks like Ajahn Chah serm to use lots of Commentatial concepts for example. And as i said, actually reading suttas is a minority thing.

Mike
Ajahn Chah's talks are very light on commentarial concepts. Really, they're very light on complicated concepts altogether. He is constantly emphasizing the basics, sila-samadhi-panna, and referring them to our practice in our lived experience. He doesn't look to highly upon people who take an exclusively scholarly approach, as is evident in some of his talks
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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mikenz66
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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:29 am

Mkoll wrote: Ajahn Chah's talks are very light on commentarial concepts. Really, they're very light on complicated concepts altogether. He is constantly emphasizing the basics, sila-samadhi-panna, and referring them to our practice in our lived experience. He doesn't look to highly upon people who take an exclusively scholarly approach, as is evident in some of his talks
I'm not so sure about that. Some talks to get quite technical, with citta, cetasika, sankhara, and so on...
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Ajahn ... ration.htm
Ajahn Chah wrote: In Buddhism, the primary reason we study the Dhamma (the truth) is to find the way to transcend suffering and attain peace. Whether you study physical or mental phenomena, the citta (mind or consciousness) or cetasika (mental factors), it is only when you make liberation from suffering your ultimate goal, rather than anything else, that you will be practicing in the correct way. This is because suffering and its causes already exist right here and now.

As you contemplate the cause of suffering, you should understand that when that which we call the mind is still, it's in a state of normality. As soon as it moves, it becomes sankhara (that which is fashioned or concocted). When attraction arises in the mind, it is sankhara; when aversion arises, it is sankhara. If there is desire to go here and there, it is sankhara. As long as you are not mindful of these sankharas, you will tend to chase after them and be conditioned by them. Whenever the mind moves, it becomes sammuti-sankhara - enmeshed in the conditioned world - at that moment. And it is these sankharas - these movements of the mind - which the Buddha taught us to contemplate.

Whenever the mind moves, it is aniccam (impermanent), dukkham (suffering) and anatta (not self). The Buddha taught us to observe and contemplate this. He taught us to contemplate sankharas which condition the mind. Contemplate them in light of the teaching of paticcasamuppada (Dependent Origination): avijja (ignorance) conditions sankhara (karmic formations); sankhara conditions vinnana (consciousness); vinnana conditions nama (mentality) and rupa (materiality); and so on.
Later he talks about insight into the difference between the knowing and the object:
Ajahn Chah wrote: When I paid no attention to the sounds there was silence, I couldn’t hear anything. But if I wanted I could hear them and without feeling disturbed. It was as if inside my mind there were two different objects placed side by side, but not connected to one another. I could see that the mind and the object were separate and distinct, just like this water kettle and the spittoon here. As a result I understood that when the mind is calm in samadhi, if you direct your attention towards sounds, you can hear them, but if you remain with the mind, in its emptiness, it remains quiet. If a sound arises into consciousness and you watch what happens, you see that the knowing and the mind-object are quite separate.
Compare Mahasi Sayadaw's Progress of Insight:
Thus, when seeing a visual object with the eye, the meditator knows how to distinguish each single factor involved: “The eye is one; the visual object is another; seeing is another, and knowing it is another.” The same manner applies in the case of the other sense functions.
http://aimwell.org/progress.html#1.Anal ... odyandMind
Or Chapter XVIII of the Visuddhimagga:
33. And just as when sound occurs having as its support a drum that is beaten
by the stick, then the drum is one and the sound another, the drum and the
sound are not mixed up together, the drum is void of the sound and the sound is
void of the drum, so too, when mentality occurs having as its support the
materiality called the physical basis, the door and the object, then the materiality
is one and the mentality is another, the mentality and materiality are not mixed
up together, the mentality is void of the materiality and the materiality is void of
the mentality; yet the mentality occurs due to the materiality as the sound occurs
due to the drum.
Later he specifically mentions Abhidhamma...
Ajahn Chah wrote:Studying the Abhidhamma can be beneficial, but you have to do it without getting attached to the books. The correct way to study is to make it clear in the mind that you are studying for the realization of truth and to transcend suffering. These days there are many different teachers of vipassana and many different methods to choose from, but actually, the practice of vipassana isn’t such an easy thing to do. You can’t go and do it just like that, it has to develop out of a strong foundation in sila. Try it out. Moral discipline, training rules and guidelines for behavior are a necessary part of the practice – if your actions and speech are untrained and undisciplined, it’s like skipping over part of magga and you won’t meet with success. Some people say you don’t need to practice samatha, you can go straight into vipassana, but people who speak like that tend to be lazy and want to get results without expending any effort. They say that keeping sila isn’t important to the practice, but really, practicing sila in itself is already quite difficult and not something you can do casually. If you were to skip the sila, then of course the whole practice would seem comfortable and convenient. It would be nice if whenever the practice involved a bit of difficulty you could just skip over it – everybody likes to avoid the difficult bits.
This talk was apparently given to a visiting scholar-monk, so perhaps that's why it's heavier on terminology than some others. It uses many Commentarial concepts, and is not negative about Abhidhamma, only about study as an end in itself.

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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by Mkoll » Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:57 pm

The only concept I see in your quotes that might be commentarial is sammuti-samkhara, and that concept is easily drawn out from the suttas themselves. The rest of the concepts are found in the suttas or Abhidhamma. When he talks about the knowing being one thing and the object another or about his samadhi experiences, he is speaking from his own direct insight and experience, not from what he's read in a book or hammered out by reasoning. You'll notice that he relates all the concepts he uses back to the practice and to his own experience.

If you want an example of a teacher that who uses a lot of commentarial concepts, check out Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw. His system is based on the Vism. To say Ajahn Chah uses a lot of commentarial concepts or is technical really doesn't make sense when you compare his talks to those whose teachings actually do use a lot of commentarial concepts and are technical.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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mikenz66
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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 9:10 pm

Mkoll wrote:The only concept I see in your quotes that might be commentarial is sammuti-samkhara, and that concept is easily drawn out from the suttas themselves.
Of course, that's how they would probably have developed in the Commentaries... :tongue:
Mkoll wrote: The rest of the concepts are found in the suttas or Abhidhamma. When he talks about the knowing being one thing and the object another or about his samadhi experiences, he is speaking from his own direct insight and experience, not from what he's read in a book or hammered out by reasoning. You'll notice that he relates all the concepts he uses back to the practice and to his own experience.
Of course, good teachers do that! He's a great practitioner, and explain things very simply.

You seem to be trying to draw up some sort of dichotomy between the texts and experience. It's not a one-or-the-other thing, is it? Ajahn Chah wasn't just an uneducated monk who happened to have a few insights, he did pass his Pali exams... :reading:

Anyway, I think we are losing sight of my point that Ajahn Chah makes no distinction between layers of sutta/abdhidhamma/commentary, and that appears to be the norm in Theravada in Asia.

Hence my comment above that, though the Mahayana schools mention their "Commentators" by name, whereas the early Theravada commentators are anonymous, they both make use of concepts beyond the sutta-vinaya.


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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by Mkoll » Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:22 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Mkoll wrote:The only concept I see in your quotes that might be commentarial is sammuti-samkhara, and that concept is easily drawn out from the suttas themselves.
Of course, that's how they would probably have developed in the Commentaries... :tongue:
Mkoll wrote: The rest of the concepts are found in the suttas or Abhidhamma. When he talks about the knowing being one thing and the object another or about his samadhi experiences, he is speaking from his own direct insight and experience, not from what he's read in a book or hammered out by reasoning. You'll notice that he relates all the concepts he uses back to the practice and to his own experience.
Of course, good teachers do that! He's a great practitioner, and explain things very simply.

You seem to be trying to draw up some sort of dichotomy between the texts and experience. It's not a one-or-the-other thing, is it?
The texts are the texts, and one's experience is one's experience. They are not necessarily opposed, but they aren't the same thing either.
Mkoll wrote:Ajahn Chah wasn't just an uneducated monk who happened to have a few insights, he did pass his Pali exams... :reading:
I wasn't suggesting anything of the sort.
Mkoll wrote:Anyway, I think we are losing sight of my point that Ajahn Chah makes no distinction between layers of sutta/abdhidhamma/commentary, and that appears to be the norm in Theravada in Asia.

Hence my comment above that, though the Mahayana schools mention their "Commentators" by name, whereas the early Theravada commentators are anonymous, they both make use of concepts beyond the sutta-vinaya.
I'd agree with that.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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mikenz66
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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 1:09 am

Mkoll wrote:
mikenz66 wrote: You seem to be trying to draw up some sort of dichotomy between the texts and experience. It's not a one-or-the-other thing, is it?
The texts are the texts, and one's experience is one's experience. They are not necessarily opposed, but they aren't the same thing either.
But surely we need the background knowledge of the texts to moderate the interpretation of our experience. Otherwise, why would anyone study them?
mikenz66 wrote:Anyway, I think we are losing sight of my point that Ajahn Chah makes no distinction between layers of sutta/abdhidhamma/commentary, and that appears to be the norm in Theravada in Asia.

Hence my comment above that, though the Mahayana schools mention their "Commentators" by name, whereas the early Theravada commentators are anonymous, they both make use of concepts beyond the sutta-vinaya.
[quote="Mkoll"I'd agree with that.[/quote]
Peace at last!



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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:47 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:There a areas of DharmaWheel were sūtrāṇi and other related Buddhavacana are of utmost importance. Not all Mahāyāna is Lamaism.
I just recently learned that Lamaism is considered an extremely offensive term. I was not aware of that when I used it. I retract my usage of that word.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by gingercatni » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:45 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm possibly going to offend some people here and I apologise in advance. I have been practicing Pureland for years though I've started to return to the school where it all began Theravada. When I started with Theravada I felt it was just a little beyond my understanding and not knowing the difference in schools and teachings I moved to Pureland. This I feel was a mistake. Mahayana is so diverse, something I've struggled with was the countless Bodhisattva's and rituals it to be frank is distracting.

The Buddha said when he was dying " "What more does the community of bhikkhus expect from me, Ananda? I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back."

There is nothing held back to be revealed later. So my view is perhaps Pureland is more of an attributed teaching rather than direct from the historical Buddha. In many Mahayana sutras such as the Lotus sutra, the Buddha quotes the name of the sutra over and over, but of course this would have been a discourse originally not a sutra, it would have been a sutra later. There is a lot of scriptures in Mahayana which I feel diverge so far from the Pali texts (which I'm enjoying reconnecting with btw!) that I feel Mahayana are missing out. The way the Buddha communicates in the Pali scriptures in comparison to the Mahayana scriptures is completely different. The Buddha is more human in Theravada and more god/avatar like in the Mahayana scriptures.

I freely admit I was one of those Buddhists caught up in Pureland as it seemed easier, however coming back to Theravada I wonder why anyone would practice anything else? The teachings are there in the Dhamma, the way to practice is so basic and meditation is something to look forward to doing rather than dreading that it's going to eat into TV time! I don't want to say anything else as well I don't want to be responsible for starting arguments here! :anjali:

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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by LuisR » Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:41 am

Do followers of Pure Land meditate a lot or does practices consist of mostly chanting?

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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by gingercatni » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:17 pm

LuisR wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:41 am
Do followers of Pure Land meditate a lot or does practices consist of mostly chanting?
Pureland practice consists of a short service in reverence to Amitabha Buddha, the recitation of the shorter pureland sutra followed by chanting Namo Amitabha Buddha.

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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:01 pm

gingercatni wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:17 pm
LuisR wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:41 am
Do followers of Pure Land meditate a lot or does practices consist of mostly chanting?
Pureland practice consists of a short service in reverence to Amitabha Buddha, the recitation of the shorter pureland sutra followed by chanting Namo Amitabha Buddha.
Along with meditation, observation of the precepts, and cultivation of the 6 perfections.

You are thinking of Jōdo Shinshū, which advocates a single-practice of strictly chanting, and has no vinaya or saṁgha.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

LuisR
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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by LuisR » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:51 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:01 pm
gingercatni wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:17 pm
LuisR wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:41 am
Do followers of Pure Land meditate a lot or does practices consist of mostly chanting?
Pureland practice consists of a short service in reverence to Amitabha Buddha, the recitation of the shorter pureland sutra followed by chanting Namo Amitabha Buddha.
Along with meditation, observation of the precepts, and cultivation of the 6 perfections.

You are thinking of Jōdo Shinshū, which advocates a single-practice of strictly chanting, and has no vinaya or saṁgha.
Jodo Shinshu...Is that what Sokka Gakkai is based on?

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Re: Pure Land Buddhism and the Pali Canon

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Aug 24, 2018 12:03 am

LuisR wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:51 pm
Coëmgenu wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:01 pm
gingercatni wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:17 pm


Pureland practice consists of a short service in reverence to Amitabha Buddha, the recitation of the shorter pureland sutra followed by chanting Namo Amitabha Buddha.
Along with meditation, observation of the precepts, and cultivation of the 6 perfections.

You are thinking of Jōdo Shinshū, which advocates a single-practice of strictly chanting, and has no vinaya or saṁgha.
Jodo Shinshu...Is that what Sokka Gakkai is based on?
SGI is a lay Buddhist association that used to be associated with the head temple of the Nichiren-Shoshu sect. They had a schism in 1991 when the temple excommunicated the head of SGI. Since then, SGI has continued to propagate it's version of Nichiren Buddhism without affiliation with any other major Nichiren sect or association.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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