Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
ieee23
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by ieee23 » Fri Jul 10, 2015 9:15 pm

It reminds me of how college students who don't want to study say they will study later when they are at the library, because the library is more conducive to studying. That kind of thinking isn't about optimizing studying, it is about avoiding it.

I've seen some Pure Land followers on the internet claim that is it no longer possible or much harder to get anywhere with meditation, sila, and looking at the harsh realities of life. I think that is the bigger con because it convinces people not to try. I see articles everyday documenting the many benefits and the kind of happiness meditation brings right here in this life. So far science hasn't found anything indicating that anyone is incapable of mediation ( barring commons sense based reasons like brain damage, medication, things like PTSD ).
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

Disciple
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Disciple » Sat Jul 11, 2015 8:58 am

ieee23 wrote:It reminds me of how college students who don't want to study say they will study later when they are at the library, because the library is more conducive to studying. That kind of thinking isn't about optimizing studying, it is about avoiding it.
Pure Land attracts practitioners from all different walks of life and capacities. From lazy underachievers all the way up to Chan monks doing intense meditation retreats in monasteries. Proclaiming all Pureland practitioners as weak willed people is a false generalization.
I've seen some Pure Land followers on the internet claim that is it no longer possible or much harder to get anywhere with meditation, sila, and looking at the harsh realities of life. I think that is the bigger con because it convinces people not to try. I see articles everyday documenting the many benefits and the kind of happiness meditation brings right here in this life. So far science hasn't found anything indicating that anyone is incapable of mediation ( barring commons sense based reasons like brain damage, medication, things like PTSD ).
The concept of kali yuga or mappo is widespread in all of Mahayana. Some Pure Land schools like the Japanese ones take it a step further and proclaim that no amount of sila or meditation can bring anyone to enlightenment in this age. Chinese traditions on the other hand beg to differ and lay great importance on sila and meditation while Pureland practice is seen more of as an insurance policy in case no realization is achieved in this lifetime. So it all depends on which viewpoint one wants to follow.

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ancientbuddhism
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by ancientbuddhism » Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:49 am

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Gintoki
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Gintoki » Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:16 pm

My main confusion about pure land buddhism is I don't understand how one is to take steps to be reborn in the pure land or choose for amitabha and pureland while living in accordance with this sutta:

"Those bhikkhus of mine, Ananda, who now or after I am gone, abide as an island unto themselves, as a refuge unto themselves, seeking no other refuge; having the Dhamma as their island and refuge, seeking no other refuge: it is they who will become the highest, [20] if they have the desire to learn."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html

Disciple
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Disciple » Sun Jul 19, 2015 6:00 am

Buddhafields and multiple Buddhas have always been an integral part of the Mahayana. If you don't want to accept those teachings then that is your prerogative. Theravada is a rich tradition that will lead to the cessation of your suffering in this lifetime. I love it myself as a Mahayanist and have gained much wisdom from the Pali Canon and great monks such as Ajahn Brahm and Bhikku Bodhi.

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tattoogunman
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by tattoogunman » Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:38 pm

It also speaks to the schisms (if that is the right word to use) that began to form within Buddhism after the Buddha died. Different people took what they wanted out of it and took it in a slightly different direction. That is why some schools allow females to be ordained and some do not for example. At their root core, they are all supposed to be basically the same (as I understand it). The biggest difference I see in many of them is the type of ceremonies and dress that are used, placing their focus on someone other than the "original" Buddha (i.e. Gotama), etc. They also reflect the country of origin in which they took root in - many local customs and beliefs sort of got absorbed into it.

A fool from HK
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by A fool from HK » Sat Aug 08, 2015 9:17 am

The dangerous point is that such school rely too much on faith instead of realizing the truth. The school even claim that it is possible to reborn in the pure land by just reciting the amitaba before dead.

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Vanda
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Vanda » Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:42 pm

Fool from HK wrote:
The school even claim that it is possible to reborn in the pure land by just reciting the amitaba before dead.
The Pure Land sounds like a wonderful paradise. How many times do I need to chant this before I know I will go there after I die?

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YprIu5sZSZs/U ... o1_500.gif

:ugeek:
Last edited by Vanda on Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
“Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted and carried out, lead to welfare and to happiness’ — then you should enter and remain in them.”
- Kalama Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya

A fool from HK
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by A fool from HK » Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:33 am

Vanda wrote:Fool from HK wrote:
The school even claim that it is possible to reborn in the pure land by just reciting the amitaba before dead.
The Pure Land sounds like a wonderful paradise. How many times do I need to chant this before I know I will go there after I die?

Image
I don't know. Maybe you can find the answer in the sister forum dharmawheel.net.

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Vanda
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Vanda » Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:38 pm

HK,

I'll check that out. Didn't even know there was a sister site. Thanks.
“Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted and carried out, lead to welfare and to happiness’ — then you should enter and remain in them.”
- Kalama Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya

A fool from HK
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by A fool from HK » Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:28 am

Ajahn Brahm talks about pure land:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWZ4umyhHA8" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

hosuswee
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by hosuswee » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:23 pm

Hi HK,

Yes, buddhist in Singapore were majority from Chinese Mahayana, years ago there is a very famous Venerable preaching about pureland in Singapore and gathered vast support. Many of his followers supported him and his buddhist organisations with great faith.

But some of this Venerable's teaching probably even differs from traditional pureland school and the idea behind his teaching now is reciting Ambitabha Buddha's name and you will gain Buddhahood (念佛成佛).

I personally feel that this is sad for Buddhism and even Mahayana Buddhist community..but I guess the Lord Buddha is just correct, dukha and anicca. BTW, this Venerable I mentioned now resides in Hong Kong.

Back to the title of this tread, I guess the idea of Sukhavati (pureland or the land of bliss) develops over time perhaps either from ancient great Venerable with divine eye who can see the Sukhavati and the Buddha there or the idea evolves from the concept of Suddavasa.

I guess in the Theravada's teaching, the only way to be born in a blissful place and gain enlightenment there is to gain the 3rd stage of enlightenment (anagami), then you will be born in Suddavasa. :anjali:

Dan74-new
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Dan74-new » Fri Apr 15, 2016 11:04 pm

It's kind of obvious isn't it, that if wants one's anti-Mahayana biases confirmed, a Theravada forum is a sensible place to go (though a few regulars might throw a spanner in the works). And similarly if one wants one's anti-Theravada biases confirmed, a Mahayana forum would be a sensible place to go.

But if one is actually interested in learning about a vehicle, it is best to go the people most knowledgeable about it.

It is not an open-and-shut case that Mahayana was a later development rather than originating from a different school, nor that everything in the Pali canon is directly from the Buddha's mouth or even accords with what Siddhartha Gautama taught. Again, given that the Buddha had arahat disciples, is it not conceivable that they continued and developed the Dhamma? Or does our Judeo-Christian bias that the Holy Scriptures are received and passed down unaltered, preclude such a possibility?

As for Pure Land, it is not that chanting a magic spell will take you to paradise. Chanting is a meditative concentration practice. The devotional aspect helps to develop sila and viriya. If you look into it carefully, you will see it at the very least as a very powerful purifying practice as the unceasing devotion and focus on Amitabha and his limitless compassion. The chanting can continue 24/7, in case of strong practitioners even during sleep. So concentration is maintained constantly! While it doesn't talk about vipassana a lot, insight can follow naturally in the presence of such concerted effort and constant concentration. Faith in Amidabha itself is a powerful drive for practice and those of us who don't know it, know first hand how hard it can be to maintain motivation to practice.

It may not be our cup of tea but we should not rush to dismiss it, IMO.


_/|\_

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daverupa
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by daverupa » Fri Apr 15, 2016 11:37 pm

Dan74-new wrote:It is neither clear that Mahayana was a later development rather than originating from a different school
False dichotomy; both are true. It arose within the monastic community, probably in the Avanti region of India, and probably needed books to function since that's how it appears that the first texts were used, and overall that means ca. 100 BCE at the earliest. The Buddha stopped teaching ca. 400 BCE.
nor that everything in the Pali canon is directly from the Buddha's mouth or even accords with what Siddhartha Gautama taught.
This "Pali Canon" is a disingenuous sort of approach; it's true that most of the Canon - just as with the Mahayana stuff - post-dates the early stuff, which is the NikAgamas, but the fact that these texts are mostly in accord is noteworthy, undergirding much scholastic discussion. Historical criticism has its limits, but it has its reach as well.
Again, given that the Buddha had arahat disciples, is it not conceivable that they continued and developed the Dhamma?
"Developed" is a wiggle word. There's ongoing clarification for ongoing modern audiences, and then there's the critical disjunctions of Mahayana doctrinal commitment that alienate its primary messages from the early texts.

Pure Land is even later than 200 CE, at a very great ideological remove from the historical Buddha's approach.
As for Pure Land... Do not rush to dismiss it.
It doesn't have to be dismissed as useless or without merit. It is simply not at all what the historical Buddha taught. Very simple stuff.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Aloka
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Aloka » Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:03 am

.

This is an excerpt from "Myth in Buddhism" an essay by Piya Tan:

1.8.1 The Mahāyāna myth. The post-Buddha Indian Buddhists responded with their own genius to the brahminical broadside on Buddhism in a number of ways. From our textual records and history, we can surmise that these responses are mainly philosophical, doctrinal, and ritual, each with their new myths. The main thread running through all these responses was that of making Buddhism more universalist and populist, even triumphalist.

Beginning around the 1st century BCE, we see the rise of the Perfection of Wisdom (prajñā,pāramitā) literature, a central concept of the newly emerged Mahāyāna. Although these texts often give inspiring accounts of meditation, their tone is predominantly philosophical, which are not easily comprehensible or practicable for the masses. Most of these great works, however, have come down to our times.

The new Mahāyāna mythology is rich and colourful with new Buddhas and paradises, the best known of which are clearly Amitābha Buddha and his Western Paradise of Sukhāvati. The earliest Mahāyāna texts often centred around meditation,
but the texts that follow are generally more ritualistic and apotropaic (magical). Many such texts deify the Buddha, so that he is endowed with omniscience and boundless powers, and inhabit various universes, besides ours.

The Mahāyāna mythology as a whole is unparallelled in the history of religion. However, if we look deeply into the threads that run through many of them, we could say that they reflect that their authors are struggling with the death of this historical Buddha. There is a general denial that such a great being as the Buddha could be mortal. This, anyway, is a common reaction of devout believers after the passing of their founders, who then are apotheosized.

The Mahāyāna authors are arguably great literati, living in urban monasteries, especially well versed in Buddhist texts and secular learning. Such urbanized settings, as a rule, are not home for the Buddhist contemplatives, who prefer to live in smaller groups in remote forests, or as eremites (solitary wanderers).
Lacking the detachment of the eremites, these post-Buddha coenobites (settled monastics) are understandably concerned with promoting, or at least preserving, their communities and teachings. They also have to present their followers and the public with a mythology that would continue to strengthen their faith and sustain, even increase, their patronage.

These settled monastics conceived the cults of cosmic Buddhas who are regarded as eternal beings, with whom they are capable of having communion through meditation, prayer, trance or dreams. These new Buddha-myths became very popular, and grew into numerous new schools and sects, as Buddhism spread into other cultures, and was in turn assimilated into local cultures.

http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... m-piya.pdf

:anjali:
Last edited by Aloka on Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

Dan74-new
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Dan74-new » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:06 am

This is just more unfounded speculation by someone with very little understanding of Mahayana. It does no justice to it at all.

_/|\_

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Aloka
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Aloka » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:25 am

Dan74-new wrote:This is just more unfounded speculation by someone with very little understanding of Mahayana. It does no justice to it at all.

I think its very likely that Piya Tan has more knowledge and experience of Buddhism in general than you or I have,
Dan74-new.(Were you originally "Dan74" ?)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piya_Tan


:anjali:

Dan74-new
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Dan74-new » Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:47 am

One and the same, Aloka.

Mr Tan may well have a great deal of knowledge and experience but in that short excerpt I don't see evidence that he is an authority on Mahayana. Take this, for example:
The Mahāyāna authors are arguably great literati, living in urban monasteries, especially well versed in Buddhist texts and secular learning. Such urbanized settings, as a rule, are not home for the Buddhist contemplatives, who prefer to live in smaller groups in remote forests, or as eremites (solitary wanderers).
He says 'arguably' which suggests that there are arguments that support this. Can you show me any evidence that this is anything other than Mr Tan's fantasy? In fact, from my scant reading of Mahayana history, Prof Williams argues that early Mahayana communities were either particularly devoted practitioners living alongside their fellow 'non-Mahayana' monks, or hardcore ascetics living in remote places, and the more inclusive push developed later.

I've just been perusing his informative and heavily referenced work "Transmission outside the scriptures? The evolution of Chán Buddhism as a religion in its own right" where after presenting his picture of historical and political development of Chan and its texts with various degrees of evidence, right at the end he asserts that Chan enlightenment is not bodhi and are 'worlds apart' again with hardly any support. I'm sorry I just don't see Mr Tan as a serious scholar of Mahayana, but really a polemicist with a clear agenda.

Have a look for yourself:
5.5.4 Why Chán masters are not awakened. In this study, I have always taken care to use the expression
―Chán enlightenment‖ (and avoided the term ―awakening‖) so that we do not confuse the Chán
or Zen idea with the early Indian notion of awakening (bodhi). Indeed, it is germane to speak of Chán
enlightenment—a fitting imagery reflecting the transmitting of the Chán lamp—as against early Indian
Buddhist awakening, which is a matter of self-effort. Whatever our terminology, the two should not be
misunderstood as referring to the same idea.

John McRae has noted the difficulty, even impossibility, of describing the nature of an exclusively
experiential state, what when one has not attained them. We can at best compare descriptions of bodhi, as
McRae carefully notes:

Nevertheless, even without assuming that we could access the actual experiences of real individuals,
291 it would be useful to compare the descriptions of bodhi in Indian philosophical texts
with those of enlightenment experiences in Chán texts. Where the former describe the ultimate in
terms of wisdom and transcendence, I suspect the Chinese texts tend to a greater emphasis on
realizations of the interdependence of all things. Or one might examine whether the rhetoric of
śūnyatā is used differently in Indian and Chinese texts, with the former being used to obliterate
worldly distinctions, and the latter being used in effect to reify them. (The ―originary enlightenment‖
theories of medieval Japanese Buddhism seem to fit this latter case.) (McRae 2003:150)


Mahāyāna enlightenment and Hīnayāna awakening are literally and spiritually worlds apart. The two
should not confound nor conflate the two. Any Chán priest who claims to be ―suddenly‖ enlightened and
place himself on the same level as the Buddha (indirectly claiming supreme awakening), could be said to
be guilty of an offence entailing defeat (pārājika), that is, automatically falling from the state of monkhood
or nunhood.292
I mean this is a this is a hodgepodge, not an argument, besides of course, the fact that we don't have to accept McRae's conclusions.

See, if tomorrow, a prominent academic publishes findings where (s)he argues that the Buddha never existed and it was all a clever fabrication by a bunch of clever renunciates, would the folks here pack up their cushions and altars and go back to church? I hope not.

_/|\_

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mikenz66
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Apr 16, 2016 8:05 am

Members,

This thread has been started in the "Early Buddhism" forum, which is for "Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts."

Unfortunately, there seems to be very little attempt to do any analysis on this thread so far. If noone has anything of real substance to contribute I'm inclined to move it to another forum.

:anjali:
Mike

Dan74-new
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Re: Origin of Amitabha Buddha?

Post by Dan74-new » Sat Apr 16, 2016 8:13 am

In case someone actually cares about such things, Mike, here's a few references I found in a quick google search:

https://purelandway.wordpress.com/category/pali-canon/

https://purelandway.wordpress.com/objec ... -land-faq/

http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/authenti ... amuni.html

I only had a cursory glance and there's at least a few decent points, so maybe worth discussing if someone is actually considering Pure Land. Otherwise, what's the point?

_/|\_

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