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e-book The Buddhism Primer : An Introduction to Buddhism

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When Shinran declared that the nembutsu was a manifestation of shinjin rather than simply a means of procuring spiritual benefits, he did not mean to suggest that the Name could no longer be regarded as having the power attributed to it by his Pure Land predecessors. The Sacred Name of Amida Buddha is the vehicle by which we are able to transcend the world of samsara and attain perfect enlightenment in the Pure Land. This capacity, seemingly incredible at first sight, is made possible by the fact that the power of the Absolute itself is fully invested in the Name and conferred to those who hear it, believe in it and invoke it with complete faith in its saving power.

To simply recite the nembutsu with no other motive than to attain blissful entry into Nirvana for oneself is doomed to failure because the incentive then appears to be solely one of self-gain uninformed by either gratitude to the Buddha or compassion for one's suffering fellow beings. As the nembutsu is not our good but that of the Buddha, it cannot possibly form the foundation for any meritorious act of our own. When viewed in this way, the number of recitations of nembutsu is not relevant as it is the quality of the faith behind them that is important. Some will feel impelled to say the nembutsu constantly, others again only seldom.

It should be noted, however, that invoking the Name, although a very important feature of Pure Land practice, is not the only way in which the nembutsu can be expressed. Chanting the sutras, worshipping and contemplating the Buddha, making offerings to Him etc. In any event, regardless of the form that nembutsu may take, it is always the working of Amida Buddha in us that is the true source of such practice and the ultimate guarantee of its efficacy. Mahayana Buddhists entertain a qualitative view of time that is envisaged in relation to the lifetime of Shakyamuni.

In other words, the spiritual, moral and physical conditions on earth are seen to progressively deteriorate in direct proportion to the time that has elapsed since the Buddha's entry into the Great Nirvana. A number of distinct ages, since that time, are seen to reflect the successive stages in humanity's increasing darkness, turmoil and spiritual incapacity.

The Pure Land tradition considers the present period as the mappo or the 'Decadent Age of the Dharma' where - to quote the Great Collection Sutra - "out of billions of sentient beings who seek to perform practices and cultivate the way A further quotation from this sutra will serve to clarify the matter further:. During the first five-hundred year period after the Buddha's parinirvana , my disciples will be resolute in acquiring wisdom.

During the second five-hundred year period, they will be resolute in cultivating meditation. During the third five-hundred year period, they will be resolute in listening to the teaching and sutra-recitation. During the fourth five-hundred year period, they will be resolute in constructing towers and temples, practicing meritorious conduct and performing repentance.

Introduction to cultures and religions for the study of AP Art History

During the fifth five-hundred year period, they will be resolute in conflict and strife, which will become widespread with the good dharma being diminished This is now the last dharma-age; it is the evil world of the five defilements. This one gate - the Pure Land way - is the only path that affords passage.

The 'five defilements' referred to above constitute the distinguishing characteristics of theimg age in which we currently live. They are i the impure or turbid age in which calamities occur incessantly ii impurity of the view that ignores the principle of cause and effect iii the impurity and defiling nature of evil passions iv the degeneration of the minds and bodies of sentient beings and v the shortening of the span of life of sentient beings as the result of prevailing evil passions and wrong views.

The famous Lotus Sutra also contains a description of the mappo which, in hindsight, has proven to be disturbingly prophetic:. At the horrible time of the end, men will be malevolent, false, evil and obtuse and they will imagine that they have reached perfection when it will be nothing of the sort. Under such conditions, the degree of spiritual attainment prevalent at the time of Shakyamuni, is no longer considered possible in this age which is so far removed from his immediate presence and influence.

Accordingly, the sutras exhort us to take refuge in Amida Buddha who compensates for our shortcomings by enabling us to reach Nirvana solely through the power of his Name, which contains all his merits and perfection. The traditional Pure Land sutras are replete with contemplative exercises aimed at gaining visions of Amida Buddha and his Pure Land - for example, the Sutra on the Contemplation of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life one of the canonical scriptures of the Pure Land tradition.

Attaining such beatific visions through these often arduous practices was considered a sign of one's assurance of eventual enlightenment. In times closer to that of Shakyamuni, when the faithful transmission of contemplative practices from disciple to student was still intact, it was possible for some to gain a vision of the Buddha in this very life through a form of meditation called the Amitabha-samadhi.


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As this lineage of transmission now appears to have been broken, there are no longer any authentic teachers who can impart instruction in this form of meditation. Nevertheless, a number of Pure Land devotees today still resort to meditating on Amida with the aid of statues, paintings or mandalas in addition to those practices described in the sutras, as a way of expressing their joyful faith in the Buddha and his Dharma.

Chief among such expressions, however, is the nembutsu or the invocation of the Sacred Name of Amida which, in itself, is a contemplative participation in the Buddha's Infinite Light. The life of shinjin, as described in the previous chapter, is one of constant reflection on life and ourselves. This usually arises in an uncontrived manner as a natural consequence of being embraced by the Buddha's wisdom and compassion.

The Shin Buddhist does not sit and practice hours of arduous meditation with a view to gaining enlightenment by one's own efforts. As the Pure Land tradition considers human spiritual capacity to be weak and defiled in this 'Decadent Age of the Dharma' mappo , full enlightenment is not considered a possibility in this life where conditions for such attainment are viewed as extremely unfavourable.

Accordingly, complete trust in Amida through shinjin is all that is required to realize Nirvana in the Pure Land where our enlightenment will be perfected and complete. This fact being assured to those with faith, all that remains to be done in this life is to express one's profound gratitude to the Buddha through the nembutsu and by living the Buddhist life to the best of one's ability. One cannot, however, reach such a level of awareness without a certain degree of contemplative mindfulness of Amida Buddha as the supreme reality embracing all things.

This can be considered as a kind of 'spontaneous' meditation in which one engages without any real effort. Such activity is not practiced with a view to any gain or 'results' but simply as a natural expression of the life of deep faith which is really a manifestation of the working of Amida's mind within us. A bodhisattva is a being who seeks to attain enlightenment in order to work towards the liberation of all beings from samsara. By the unrelenting and tireless practice of the Buddhist virtues over many lifetimes, the bodhisattva is able to achieve buddhahood but elects not to pass into complete Nirvana until he is able to ferry across all beings with him, however long this may take.

To this end, the bodhisattva is able to employ all the transcendental powers of buddhahood to help and guide suffering beings by taking their suffering upon himself and transferring his karmic merit to them. The story of Dharmakara related earlier, is a classic example of the bodhisattva path.

The bodhisattva path begins with the intention and desire to attain Nirvana for the sake of all beings known as bodhicitta and the taking of specific vows pranidhana aimed at giving effect to this aspiration. The traditional form of practice for bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism is known as the six paramitas or spiritual perfections.

The Buddhism Primer : An Introduction to Buddhism

The first is dana which is the perfection of generosity and the readiness to give oneself up to the service of others - charity in the broadest sense. The second is shila which is the perfection of moral virtue and discipline. The third is kshanti which is the perfection of patience and forbearance. The fourth is virya which is the perfection of effort, vigour, heroism and strength.

The fifth is dhyana which is the perfection of contemplation. The sixth is prajna which is the perfection of wisdom - the culmination and synthesis of all the other paramitas. Although these practices give the appearance of solely comprising individual effort, no success in such endeavours is ultimately possible without the helping and guiding power of the Buddha. Mahayana Buddhism makes a distinction between two kinds of bodhisattvas. There is the earthly type which comprises people in the world whose good karma leads them to strive after enlightenment and to manifest compassion and altruism to all beings.

The transcendent type of bodhisattva has already attained buddhahood but has chosen not to enter complete Nirvana until all beings are saved. Such beings are in possession of perfect wisdom and, unlike the other type, are no longer subject to the imperfections and limitations of samsara. What is the role of bodhisattvas in Shin Buddhism?

From what has been said above, it is clear that people of shinjin fall into the first category of bodhisattvas insofar as they have aroused the aspiration of enlightenment which they expect to attain in the Pure Land in order to return as bodhisattvas of the transcendent type and help countless beings without hindrance. Until such time that they attain buddhahood after death, people of shinjin - despite their bodhicitta - still remain ordinary beings afflicted by the pain and uncertainties of human existence.

Although such people can practice the six paramitas in a spontaneous and uncalculating act of gratitude, they can only do so in a limited and imperfect way because of the residual karmic ignorance and passions that still afflict them. Only Amida Buddha has perfectly fulfilled all the paramitas, the merits of which he fully bestows on those who take complete refuge in his saving power; a power that no merely human effort can hope to emulate.

Shin Buddhism, like all Mahayana schools, depends entirely on the theory and practice of the bodhisattva path because Dharmakara could not have transcended his own karmic evil without developing the paramitas and reaching Buddhahood - thus fulfilling his vows. More immediate, however, is the fact that Shinran was able to demonstrate that shinjin is bodhicitta as it is, in fact, Amida's Mind:.

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The mind that aspires to attain Buddhahood Is the mind to save all sentient beings; The mind to save all sentient beings Is true and real shinjin, which is Amida's benefitting of others. Hymns of the Pure Land Masters 18, et. So it is that people of shinjin may spontaneously behave in ways redolent with the qualities of the paramitas. However, there can be no expectation of such qualities as proof of shinjin. In Shinran's teaching, the status of the devotee as a bodhisattva is not stressed as the awareness of oneself as a 'foolish being' Skt.

01-19-98 Introduction to Buddhism Lecture 1

In Shin Buddhism, the act of returning to this world to assist sentient beings in gaining enlightenment after having attained it for oneself is known as genso eko. Karma , which means, simply, "action" is fundamental to any understanding of Buddhism. In the Buddha's teaching, "the law of karma" is that all deliberate actions lead to results: good actions lead to pleasant results, bad actions to unpleasant results and so on.

Shin Buddhism considers the law of karma to be inexorable and universal and absolutely rejects belief in divination and petitionary prayer. Indeed, we have focussed almost entirely on the specific principles of Shin Buddhism but no school of Buddhism can be appreciated without a prior acquaintance with all of the basic ideas upon which Buddhism is founded. We urge readers to examine the following essentials because, when viewed in isolation from them, a skewed view of Shin Buddhism will result: the Four Noble Truths; the Three Signata, namely, anatman or 'non-self', anitya or 'impermanence' and dukkha or 'suffering'; and, finally, Nirvana, which - as we have seen earlier - in Shin Buddhism is synonymous with Amida Buddha and the Pure Land.

These are the teachings upon which Buddhism is grounded. After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened. He was not, nor did he claim to be. He was a man who taught a path to enlightenment from his own experience. Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, not in worship, nor to ask for favours.

A statue of the Buddha with hands rested gently in its lap and a compassionate smile reminds us to strive to develop peace and love within ourselves.

Bowing to the statue is an expression of gratitude for the teaching. One of the Buddhist teachings is that wealth does not guarantee happiness and also wealth is impermanent. The people of every country suffer whether rich or poor, but those who understand Buddhist teachings can find true happiness.

There are many different types of Buddhism, because the emphasis changes from country to country due to customs and culture. Buddhism is also a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions. Buddhism agrees with the moral teachings of other religions but Buddhism goes further by providing a long term purpose within our existence, through wisdom and true understanding. Real Buddhism is very tolerant and not concerned with labels like 'Christian', 'Moslem', 'Hindu' or 'Buddhist'; that is why there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism.

Introduction to Buddhism (article) | Khan Academy

That is why Buddhists do not preach and try to convert, only explain if an explanation is sought. Science is knowledge which can be made into a system, which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. The core of Buddhism fit into this definition, because the Four Noble truths see below can be tested and proven by anyone in fact the Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teaching rather than accept his word as true. Buddhism depends more on understanding than faith. The first truth is that life is suffering i.

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We also endure psychological suffering like loneliness frustration, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. This is an irrefutable fact that cannot be denied. It is realistic rather than pessimistic because pessimism is expecting things to be bad. The second truth is that suffering is caused by craving and aversion. Related Searches. A Philadelphia Primer. Although many School District of Philadelphia staff members, students, parents, community members and friends have Although many School District of Philadelphia staff members, students, parents, community members and friends have invested themselves in the educational process, virtually no institutional knowledge exists on how to radically transform present practices into system-wide exemplary programs.

Instead, the District View Product. This is an introduction to Central Utility Systems concepts, theories, components and some operations practices. In addition to introducing plant operators to the very basic level of knowledge needed to understand the plant, the best fit for this book may A Primer on Ethics. With an emphasis on character traits such as honesty, gratitude, and responsibility, A Primer on With an emphasis on character traits such as honesty, gratitude, and responsibility, A Primer on Ethics calls attention to the critical importance of character development and the role of well-formed conscience in making morally sound decisions.

An understanding of the This book provides various unique ways of viewing the body that can be useful to This book provides various unique ways of viewing the body that can be useful to regular people. The book is geared towards people who are interested in self improvement of the mind and body.