Friday, April 13, 2018

Abandon the idea that you can attain Buddhahood in this life


Question:
You said in one of your recent  posts that as long as you still harbor in your mind the smallest thought of personal merit or “maybe I can attain Buddhahood by myself” kind of thinking, you cannot see and enter the Dharma gate of birth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land. Please explain in more detail.

Answer:
People don't really understand what is meant by becoming a Buddha in this life, and in this very body. This is perhaps due to the bad influence of many fancy Buddhist magazines which talk about Enlightenment like it’s some kind of calmness or stillness of mind which can be attained by everybody. They use a language which makes Enlightenment seem a normal human experience if you are good, and meditate, and they also describe Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha, like a normal human being who proved that spiritual calmness can be attained by anybody.
Well, Shakyamuni was NOT a human being and Buddhahood is nothing comparable with any calmness or stillness of mind! This should be well understood. Also Buddhahood goes beyond any human or godly experience, and so we can say that Shakyamuni was NOT a human anymore after He attained perfect Enlightenment. His outer form remained human, but His mind went beyond any attainments of humans and gods. This is because Buddhahood or perfect Enlightenment is supreme in the universe. Nothing can compare with a Buddha or fully Enlightened One.

Buddhahood means, among many things, that you attain the Three Bodies (Aspects), that is, ultimate Dharmakaya beyond form, a glorious Sambhogakaya or transcendent body seen only by high level Bodhisattvas, that you can manifest a Pure Land if you want (perhaps not so great like Amida's but definitely a better realm than any samsaric realm), that you can know the thoughts of ALL beings in ALL worlds and thus are able to help each one of them according to their specific level of understanding. You can also see and hear them all, and you know all their past lives as well as the many possible ways of development in the never ending future. I repeat as  I am not sure it was well understood – I said ALL beings in ALL worlds! You know everything about ANY particular being in the six realms of all world systems from tiny insects to long living gods and you can go everywhere in an instant, without even moving yourself from your present location. This means that you can manifest as many Nirmanakayas or transformed/ accommodated bodies you want in all parts of the universe. Shinran Shonin said the same in Tannisho:

“Do those who speak of realizing Enlightenment while in this bodily existence manifest various accommodated bodies (Nirmanakayas), possess the Buddha’s thirty-two features and eighty marks, and preach the Dharma to benefit beings like Shakyamuni? It is this that is meant by realizing Enlightenment in this life.”

Buddhahood also means that you master ALL practices, Dharma gates and profound teachings, and are able to teach them all without effort. I don’t have the time now to describe the various other supernatural capacities of a Buddha, but I ask you to just contemplate the few mentioned above. Do you still think you can become like this in your present life? If yes, then you are gravely deluded about your real capacities, and thus you cannot yet accept Amida’s helping hand that is extended to you.

As Master Shan-tao said, shinjin or simple faith in Amida Buddha has two aspects which cannot be overlooked:

„First, to believe deeply and unwaveringly that we are actually ordinary beings of karmic evil subject to birth and death, ever sinking and ever transmigrating in samsara since innumerable kalpas ago without a chance to escape from it. Second, to believe deeply and unwaveringly that the Forty-eight Vows of Amida Buddha enfold sentient beings, enabling them to board His Vow-Power and attain birth in the Pure Land.”

This is why I said that when you are 100% convinced you cannot attain Buddhahood in this life, then you are ready for the Jodo Shinshu path. As long as you still harbor in your mind the smallest thought of personal merit or “maybe I can” kind of thinking, you cannot see and enter the Dharma gate of birth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land.

-          fragment from a letter to a friend -




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