Monday, August 2, 2010

The effect is simmilar to the cause – difference between the Path of self power and the Pure Land Path



“Amida's mind is full of true compassion
And His light completely encloses the whole universe.

Making it possible for those attached to forms to attain birth in His land with ease."
Master Shan-tao, Ojoraisan



The effect is similar to the cause, so when the cause and origin of your practice is your unenlightened personality, the effect is delusion. Similarly, when the cause and origin of your practice is Amida Buddha, the effect is always Enlightenment and Buddhahood.
This should be very well understood.

When one relies on one's own power, various obstructions may appear. These are:

  1. internal obstructions caused by one's own mental states and attachments,  and 
  2. external obstructions caused by Maras[1] and various spirits who try to hinder the practitioner from attaining liberation from birth and death

Due to these two kinds of obstructions, false spiritual achievements may occur. They are so intense that in the mind of the practitioner, and others around him, these may seem to be genuine.
Supernatural powers and visions can also appear to deviate him from the right path. We cannot really imagine how easy it is to fall under the seduction of these false powers and achievements!

The Path of Sages or the path of personal power and the Pure Land path are two separate Dharma gates into the supreme Buddhahood. They should never be thought upon in the same way. What one path requires, the other doesn't, and vice-versa.

In Zen Buddhism for example, it is often talked about “killing the Buddha”, which means that if during meditation a Buddha image appears into your mind, this may be false and an obstruction to genuine spiritual realization. Why is that? Because on the Zen path you rely on Emptiness or ultimate nature of things, that is, on Dharmakaya beyond form. Then, what appears into your mind can be misleading and it may suggest an attachment to forms. Also, because on any of the methods of the Path of Sages you rely on your own effort to meditate, various demons and Maras can take the form of false Buddhas in order to misguide you. Thus, when such visions appear you have to treat them as fabrications of mind, and simply let them go.

On the contrary, on the Pure Land path, we accept forms and we are guided by Amida Buddha in His transcendental (Sambhogakaya) manifestation. We do not rely directly on the ultimate Buddha nature, but take an indirect road to Buddhahood through the nembutsu of faith and birth in the Pure Land.
In our case, as we rely exclusively on Amida Buddha and all spiritual realizations comes only from Him, we are not in any danger of being misguided or influenced by internal or external obstructions. Also, if a vision appears, this is genuine too, as the effect is similar to the cause. Because we rely on Amida (the cause) and not on ourselves, the result (effect) is a manifestation of Amida, not of our own unenlightened mind. Thus, what can be an obstruction on the Path of Sages is a help on the Pure Land path.

Please do not have any fear if you entered the Pure Land gate of faith in Amida Buddha. You are secured from the very moment you made your first step into this path. Nothing can harm you, nothing can make you retrogress, and nothing can stop you from attaining birth in the Pure Land of Amida and then, ultimate Buddhahood there. If shinjin (faith) has been received into your heart, all these will come naturally.

The goal of both Dharma gates is the same: supreme Buddhahood and Nirvana[2] and both were preached by Shakyamuni Buddha. When followers of the path of personal power and those of Pure Land path become Buddhas, they awake to the same ultimate Buddha nature which is beyond any form and color, but until then, they should not misinterpret the meaning and characteristic of these two separate Dharma gates.

The Pure Land path of exclusive reliance on Amida Buddha should not be judged based on the criteria of the Path of personal power. More than this, it should not be changed or preached in such a way as to accommodate it with the Path of Sages. I find it very sad that nowadays, some try to transform the simple, faith oriented Jodo Shinshu, into a more Zen like teaching to make it  acceptable for the so called modern reader who has no taste for beliefs related with transcendental Buddhas.

A Pure Land follower should never ask guidance in matters of his own attainment of Buddhahood from Masters and teachers who follow the Zen path, Theravada methods or any method that imply in one way or another some sort of reliance on personal power, as this will cause great confusion in his mind[3]. Mixing the two separate Dharma gates at the level we are now as unenlightened beings is extremely dangerous and an obstruction on the Buddhist path. Only a Buddha who has transcended all methods and is completely free from delusion can play with various practices and understand them fully, but unenlightened beings cannot and should not imitate the behavior of the Buddhas until they have not become Buddhas themselves.

At the level we are now we cannot truly understand the “Oneness of all things”, no matter how much we read and talk about this, so we should stay humble and embrace the dual vision of the one who saves, that is Amida Buddha, and those to be saved and have faith in Him. This is all we need now as ordinary people caught in the suffering of birth and death.



[1] Mara is a celestial demon who plays with practitioners minds, distracting their attention and offering
them false sensations of spiritual fulfillment, thus stopping them from attaining true freedom or Buddhahood. He also tried to stop Shakyamuni to become a Buddha. 
[2] However, according to Shinran Shonin and Jodo Shinshu school, only the Pure Land Path is now available and effective in this last Dharma age when te capacities of beings are extremely low.
[3] Also practicing various meditation methods like Zazen, Vipasana, etc, with the goal of attaining Enlightenment annihilates the effects of Pure Land path. 


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