Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Amida as the eternal Buddha and the Buddha described in the Larger Sutra

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 Question:

“….how can Amida Buddha be the primordial (eternal) Buddha if he is Dharmakara who practiced aeons ago and had a starting point of existence in an other world? Is Dharmakara a manifestation of Primordial Buddha as Amida, like Saka Nyorai (Shakyamuni) is a manifestation of Amida in this world? I am a bit confused...”

My answer:
Dharmakara becoming Amida Buddha is the description in terms of cause and effect of the salvation work of Amida as eternal Buddha. It is how the eternal and supreme Buddha or Dharma body of Dharma nature, indescribable and beyond any form, becomes Dharma body of compassionate means with form and Name.

In its ultimate sense or Dharmakaya sense, Amida Buddha is the eternal Buddha nature, in Sambhogakaya terms he is the result of Dharmakara vows and practices, that is Amida Buddha as described in the Larger Sutra and in Nirmanakaya terms it is said by Shinran that he emanated Shakyamuni Buddha to expound his method of salvation. Please read mz article, The relation between the doctrine of the "two Buddha Bodies" and the "three Buddha bodies" (Trikaya) of Amida Buddha, in which I explain all this in more detail. 

In order to be born in the Pure Land and attain supreme Enlightenment there we should entrust to Amida as described in the Larger Sutra, that is, as the Buddha who has a form and Name, fulfilled the 48th Vows when he was Dharmakara Bodhisattva and who now resides in the Pure Land.

This is my answer but I wish to go a little further.
We cannot directly worship and entrust to Amida in his aspect of eternal Buddha which is beyond any form. Shakyamuni encouraged us in the Larger Sutra to take refuge and have faith in Amida as the Buddha who made the Primal Vow and so who has a form and a Name. He didn’t tell us to have faith in the ultimate nature of Amida Buddha. One cannot have faith in the Dharmakaya. In Dharmakaya one can only live when he becomes a Buddha because in that state there is a transcendence of subject and object.
This is what those who deny the reality of Amida in his Sambhogakaya or transcendental form and of the Pure Land do not understand.
Only in Amida Buddha with a form and Name, that is, in Amida as described in the Larger Sutra one can have true faith. Shinran Shonin also talked about Amida in ultimate terms but he encouraged people to entrust to Amida as described in the Larger Sutra whose story told there he fully accepted. 

Thus, to call the story of Amida in the Larger Sutra or the existence of the Pure Land to be fictional, symbolic or mythical is equal to not have faith (shinjin) in Amida and to deny others the chance of receiving it.   

 

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