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Switch to Forum Live View Curious about Pure Land?
10 years ago  ::  Dec 28, 2007 - 1:04PM #1
Gerald_ford
Posts: 34
Hello,

The board has been rather quiet lately, so let me post some helpful resources to understanding what Pure Land Buddhism is.  Pure Land Buddhism is a vast branch of Buddhism that covers China, Korea, Vietnam and Japan among other places.  All branches of Pure Land devote themselves to Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life, who is discussed in a handful of Buddhist sutras:

* The Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life
* The Smaller Sutra of Immeasurable Life
* The Contemplation of Amida Sutra

...and is mentioned in a handful of others.  The Larger Sutra stated among other things that if a person recited Amida's name, even as little as 10 times, they would be reborn in the Pure Land where they can practice Buddhism more readily.  This is particularly popular among the masses who did not have access to the more esoteric teachings found in Zen/Chan, or in the really esoteric stuff like Vajrayana Buddhism.

A good website on Pure Land Buddhism can be found at http://www.jodo.org, which is the main website for the Jodo Shu sect in Japan, but it's teachings can apply to other sects as well.

A good explanation of Pure Land Buddhism, it's history and what it means to Buddhists can also be found here on YMBA.

Another interesting text on the subject is the Japanese text, the Tannisho.  It records conversations by Shinran, founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect, and his disciple Yui-En.

Enjoy and take care!

Namo Amida Butsu
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9 years ago  ::  Nov 13, 2008 - 4:36PM #2
ebthoreau
Posts: 83
Personally, my practice centers mostly around Zen. I practice zazen 1-2 times a day ... okay, maybe not every day. But, I try to. Anyway, I've visited a Vietnamese Buddhist temple a couple times and subsequently learned that Vietnamese Buddhism is a combination of Zen/Pure Land. That intrigued me, so I started reading about Pure Land on the internet. As a result, I can see how it might be a good way to supplement my sitting practice. Here's my question: How many times should I chant Amitabha each day? I have a mala with 108 beads: would 1 mala be sufficient? Also, I prefer the Sanskrit version Namo Amitabha Buddha. Can I use it, rather than the Japanese Namo Amida Butsu?
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9 years ago  ::  Nov 30, 2008 - 5:06PM #3
HongYangShi
Posts: 14
[QUOTE=ebthoreau;893100]Personally, my practice centers mostly around Zen. I practice zazen 1-2 times a day ... okay, maybe not every day. But, I try to. Anyway, I've visited a Vietnamese Buddhist temple a couple times and subsequently learned that Vietnamese Buddhism is a combination of Zen/Pure Land. That intrigued me, so I started reading about Pure Land on the internet. As a result, I can see how it might be a good way to supplement my sitting practice. Here's my question: How many times should I chant Amitabha each day? I have a mala with 108 beads: would 1 mala be sufficient? Also, I prefer the Sanskrit version Namo Amitabha Buddha. Can I use it, rather than the Japanese Namo Amida Butsu?[/QUOTE]

You may recite in odd numbers of 3, 7, 21, 49, 108 rounds using however many beads you have; since you have 108 beads you may recite 108 times at least 3 times or the multiples suggested and at the end you may want to recite the "huixiang" or literally return to face verse.  Tranfer the merit to your family, friends and all the 6 realms.

Pure Land Rebirth Wish  (wang shen zhou)  {this translation mine based upon the chinese-sanskrit}

Bow to Infinite Uplifting! A Buddha also! Imortal existence! Immortal mind existence!
Imortal respect receiving! Imortal respect received!
Desire like a spark! Verse writer, so it is!

Ascend to the Land Verse (deng di ji)

Four Births ascend the Precious Land
Three existences committing to transform in the Lotus Pool
Rivers and Sands, Hungry Ghosts confirms 3 worthies
10 thousand types of living beings ascend the 10th land.

Return to Face Verse (huixiang ji)

Also this serous pure merit and virtue is returned to face protects dharma, dragons and heavens
3 borders prison annoys departed souls wisely; Stand guard Sangha protectors truly rule
Praying for blessings, keep peace, calm and good austerity highest enlightenment
Universally wish that dharma borders, the wronged and our relatives; Together enter the vast original nature

I wish you success in your practice.

Ven. Hong Yang
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9 years ago  ::  Mar 19, 2009 - 10:03AM #4
Gerald_ford
Posts: 34

Nov 13, 2008 -- 4:36PM, ebthoreau wrote:

Personally, my practice centers mostly around Zen. I practice zazen 1-2 times a day ... okay, maybe not every day. But, I try to. Anyway, I've visited a Vietnamese Buddhist temple a couple times and subsequently learned that Vietnamese Buddhism is a combination of Zen/Pure Land. That intrigued me, so I started reading about Pure Land on the internet. As a result, I can see how it might be a good way to supplement my sitting practice. Here's my question: How many times should I chant Amitabha each day? I have a mala with 108 beads: would 1 mala be sufficient? Also, I prefer the Sanskrit version Namo Amitabha Buddha. Can I use it, rather than the Japanese Namo Amida Butsu?



Hello,


Apologies for the late reply.  Variations on when and how to recite Amitabha's name exist, so you'll get different answers.  My background is Japanese Pure Land which says in essence, you can't chant it enough.  Reciting Amitabha's name even once sincerely will grant one rebirth in the Pure Land (what exactly that entails is another subject itself), but the more you recite, the more the benefit.  In the Contemplation Sutra above, it's stated that with each recitation, vast stores of bad karma are extinguished.


But how can that happen?  Karma's not something you can collect and "spend" so to speak, so I suppose that the meaning is that as one comes to closer alignment with Amitabha Buddha, the old karma has no way to come to fruition and that one is led along to a better path by virtue of Amitahba's Power.  This is what we call "Other Power" in Japanese Pure Land Buddhism.


That wouldn't obviate other practices either.  Honen, who started the Pure Land movement in Japan, had taught that what matters for a Pure Land Buddhist is to make the recitation fo the name the central pillar for rebirth, while other practices supplement.  This includes things like meditation, reciting sutras, etc. Japanese Pure Land is pretty minimalist compared to other Pure Land groups, hence the difference in reply here, but if one's focused on rebirth in the Pure Land, it all works out.


Speaking of the Zen/Nembutus issue, I found a good article here recently.  It's a bit long, but read the whole thing from start to finish.  I think it will help.  It's from a Jodo Shinshu perspective specifically, hence terms like "Shinjin" and such, so it differs from other Pure Land sources, but the teaches are still pretty applicable to the question.


As for Sanskrit vs. other languages, that's not such a big deal.  The text just says "recite Amitabha's name", so if that's what you're doing, great.

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