Sunday, July 24, 2011

Honen Shonin on Amida Buddha

Honen Shonin (1133-1212)

In the Dialogue on One Hundred Forty-Five Topics, Honen Shonin said:

„Although there is one Amida Buddha, his teachings have different interpretations. The Shingon school teaches that Amida Buddha resides in one’s own heart; they do not admit his existence outside of one’s heart. The Pure Land school, however, teaches that Bodhisattva Dharmakara realized Buddhahood and became Amida Buddha and now resides in the west[1]. These two viwepoints reflect great differences between the two schools”.

The words of Master Honen are very clear for those who have a sincere wish to understand who Amida really is and repent for spreading wrong views.
I especially chose this quote to show that any presentation of Amida Buddha as being a metaphor, a myth, a symbol of one’s own Enlightened nature or one’s own heart and mind, etc, is not in accord with the Pure Land teaching of Honen and his Dharma heir, Shinran Shonin. The right view that a follower of our school should have about Amida Buddha and teach it to others is the one presented by Shakyamuni in the Larger Sutra: Amida is a real and living Buddha who resides in his Pure Land of the west (a manifestation of his vows to save all beings).  Because Amida is not something inside our heart or mind His Pure Land too, is not inside us, not „here and now” and not „our own pure mind”as some might say.

Because Amida is a real and living Buddha outside of us, His Pure Land too, is a real place outside us, unenlightened beings, who can never have a pure mind and heart. In our own heart and mind there is nothing else than illusion so we cannot say that Amida Buddha or his Pure Land is to be sought there.

There are great differences in interpreting Amida between our Pure Land school and other Buddhist schools based on personal power. But if we consider ourselves disciples of Honen and Shinran Shonin we should discard the latter and take refuge in the living Amida Buddha of the western Pure Land.
Only upon birth in the Pure Land, when we become Buddhas, we’ll understand fully the ultimate nature of all things and the Pure Land.



[1] The Pure Land of Amida Buddha is sometimes called the Pure Land of the west. See my article „The reason for the western location of the Pure Land and its wonderful description in the sutras”.

4 comentarii:

Paul Roberts said...

Outstanding, Adrian! Thank you!

Gassho,

Paul

Robert Ionescu said...

Namo Amida Butsu

Anonymous said...

The Pure Land tradition existed for centuries before Honen.

Instead of turning Honen into a fetish, why don't you try to understand the tradition first. This worship of Amida as a god wasn't the only way long before Honen or his adoring Romanian fan showed up.

Josho Adrian Cirlea said...

Dear Anonymous,

First of all, I worship Amida as a Buddha, not as a god. Second, there are many traditions and understandings of Pure Land, but I follow only that explained by Honen, Shinran and Rennyo. If you don’t like it, don’t read about it. Chose your own path. End of story.... and end to our conversation.