Pure Land Buddhism & Smarta Hinduism

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Presto Kensho
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Pure Land Buddhism & Smarta Hinduism

Post by Presto Kensho » Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:09 pm

One can see all the celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism as symbolic (upaya) of the one Dharmakaya, similar to how Smarta Hindus see the various gods of Hinduism as symbolic of the one Brahman:
According to Smartism, supreme reality, Brahman, transcends all of the various forms of personal deity…The Smarta Tradition accepts two concepts of Brahman, which are the saguna Brahman – the Brahman with attributes, and nirguna Brahman – the Brahman without attributes.[42] The nirguna Brahman is the unchanging Reality, however, the saguna Brahman is posited as a means to realizing this nirguna Brahman.[43] The concept of the saguna Brahman is considered in this tradition to be a useful symbolism… A Smarta may choose any saguna deity (istadevata) such as Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Surya, Ganesha or any other, and this is viewed in Smarta Tradition as an interim step towards realizing the nirguna Brahman and its equivalence to one’s own Atman.[26]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smarta_tr ... na_Brahman
Shinran Shonin, like T’an-luan, saw Amida Buddha as a upaya-expression of the one Dharmakaya:
According to T’an-luan, all Buddhas, including Amida, have two bodies (aspects):

1. Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature (ultimate truth) and 2. Dharmakaya of Expediency (upaya, relative truth).

The first is the ultimate, unconditioned reality beyond form, which is equally shared by all Buddhas[2], while the second is the specific and particular manifestation of each Buddha for the sake of saving sentient beings.

The relation between the two is described as follows:

“From the Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature originates the Dharmakaya of Expediency; through the Dharmakaya of Expediency, the Dharmakaya of Dharma-nature is revealed. These two Dharmakayas are different, but inseparable; they are one but not the same.”…

“Unconditioned Dharmakaya is the body of Dharma-nature. Because Dharma-nature is Nirvanic, Dharmakaya is formless. Because it is formless, there is no form which it cannot manifest.”
http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania. ... a-and.html
The Dharmakaya and Nirvana are aspects of the same Ultimate Truth, and one could say that Nirvana is the ultimate experience of awakening to the Dharmakaya, or that Dharmakaya is the content of Nirvana.

Shinran, like T’an-luan and Shan-tao, understood the Pure Land as the realm of Nirvana. This is why Shinran described rebirth into the Pure Land as “the birth of non-birth,” just as the Buddha described Nirvana as “the unborn.”

Much like the Hindu scriptures distinguish between Brahman with attributes (relative truth) and Brahman without attributes (Ultimate Truth), the Tao Te Ching distinguishes between the nameless Tao and the Tao that can be named:
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
Rather than conflicting with each other, the named Tao and the nameless Tao spring from the same ultimate source. The Tao would be entirely unknowable to limited beings such as ourselves without the use of human language, however inadequate it might be.

Please compare the above quote from the Tao Te Ching to the following words of Shinran Shonin:
The Supreme Buddha is formless, and because of being formless is called Suchness. The Buddha, when appearing with form, is not called the Supreme Nirvana. In order to make us realize that the true Buddha is formless, it is expressly called Amida Buddha; so I have been taught. Amida Buddha is the medium (relative truth) through which we are made to realize Suchness (Ultimate Truth).
Amida Buddha and the formless Dharmakaya spring from the same source, but differ in name. Without the name and form of Amida Buddha, the Ultimate Truth of Dharma-body would be inaccessible to unenlightened beings like ourselves.

Presto Kensho
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Re: Pure Land Buddhism & Smarta Hinduism

Post by Presto Kensho » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:55 pm

The popular conception of the Pure Land as a Buddhist heaven, where we’ll someday meet our deceased relatives, has perhaps more to do with Chinese ancestor worship, with its emphasis on filial piety, than with Buddhism itself.

Shinran, like Tan-luan and Shandao, understood the Pure Land as the formless realm of Nirvana, rather than a heaven, and referred to it as “the birth of no-birth,” just as the Buddha described Nirvana as “the unborn.”

Buddhism was not immediately accepted in China, because the doctrines of non-self, rebirth, and Nirvana challenged traditional Chinese beliefs about the spirits of dead relatives, that good deeds should be done in their honor.

If there is no permanent, unchanging self, but instead a stream of consciousness from one lifetime to the next, what good is there in dedicating merit to one’s ancestors? The answer to this question might be unsettling for many.

Chinese folk religion therefore came to produce an image of the Pure Land as a Confucian-like and Taoist-like paradise, as an accommodation of Buddhism to traditional Chinese values and customs.

Shinran said that he never recited the Nembutsu out of filial piety. Nonetheless, Shinran had compassionate understanding for those who, however misguided, clung to the notion of a permanent self that will meet our deceased ancestors.

As the realm of Nirvana, the true Pure Land is inconceivable. The heaven-like language we use to describe it is a finger pointing to the moon, making the Ultimate Truth accessible to ordinary beings like ourselves:
Meaning itself is beyond debate of such matters as like against dislike, evil against virtue, falsity against truth. Hence, words may indeed have meaning, but the meaning is not the words. Consider, for example, a person instructing us by pointing to the moon with his finger. The person would say, ‘I am pointing to the moon with my finger in order to show it to you. Why do you look at my finger and not the moon?’ Similarly, words are the finger pointing to the meaning; they are not the meaning itself. Hence, do not rely upon words.
http://shinranworks.com/the-major-expos ... and-lands/

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Re: Pure Land Buddhism & Smarta Hinduism

Post by DNS » Wed Mar 25, 2020 8:29 pm

Sounds interesting, but this discussion is probably better suited for Dharma Paths which discusses all of the Dharma religions, comparing and contrasting them.
https://dharmapaths.com/

Presto Kensho
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Re: Pure Land Buddhism & Smarta Hinduism

Post by Presto Kensho » Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:14 am

DNS wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 8:29 pm
Sounds interesting, but this discussion is probably better suited for Dharma Paths which discusses all of the Dharma religions, comparing and contrasting them.
https://dharmapaths.com/
That's cool. Ty.

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