Jump to content


The God Concept of Buddhism


  • Please log in to reply
29 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 14 August 2008 - 11:37 PM

The concept of Buddha, to an enlightened Buddhist, is no more the human personality of Gautama than the concept of Jehovah is identical with the spirit demon of Horeb to an enlightened Christian. Paucity of terminology, together with the sentimental retention of olden nomenclature, is often provocative of the failure to understand the true significance of the evolution of religious concepts. (1040.5)

Gradually the concept of God, as contrasted with the Absolute, began to appear in Buddhism. Its sources are back in the early days of this differentiation of the followers of the Lesser Road and the Greater Road. It was among the latter division of Buddhism that the dual conception of God and the Absolute finally matured. Step by step, century by century, the God concept has evolved until, with the teachings of Ryonin, Honen Shonin, and Shinran in Japan, this concept finally came to fruit in the belief in Amida Buddha. (1040.6)

Among these believers it is taught that the soul, upon experiencing death, may elect to enjoy a sojourn in Paradise prior to entering Nirvana, the ultimate of existence. It is proclaimed that this new salvation is attained by faith in the divine mercies and loving care of Amida, God of the Paradise in the west. In their philosophy, the Amidists hold to an Infinite Reality which is beyond all finite mortal comprehension; in their religion, they cling to faith in the all-merciful Amida, who so loves the world that he will not suffer one mortal who calls on his name in true faith and with a pure heart to fail in the attainment of the supernal happiness of Paradise. (1041.1)

The great strength of Buddhism is that its adherents are free to choose truth from all religions; such freedom of choice has seldom characterized a Urantian faith. In this respect the Shin sect of Japan has become one of the most progressive religious groups in the world; it has revived the ancient missionary spirit of Gautama's followers and has begun to send teachers to other peoples. This willingness to appropriate truth from any and all sources is indeed a commendable tendency to appear among religious believers during the first half of the twentieth century after Christ. (1041.2)

Buddhism itself is undergoing a twentieth-century renaissance. Through contact with Christianity the social aspects of Buddhism have been greatly enhanced. The desire to learn has been rekindled in the hearts of the monk priests of the brotherhood, and the spread of education throughout this faith will be certainly provocative of new advances in religious evolution. (1041.3)

At the time of this writing, much of Asia rests its hope in Buddhism. Will this noble faith, that has so valiantly carried on through the dark ages of the past, once again receive the truth of expanded cosmic realities even as the disciples of the great teacher in India once listened to his proclamation of new truth? Will this ancient faith respond once more to the invigorating stimulus of the presentation of new concepts of God and the Absolute for which it has so long searched? (1041.4)


The revelators refer to Shin Buddhism as one of the most progressive religious groups in the world. These words inspired me many years ago to take a closer look at Shin Buddhism, and for over 28 years now I have been studying both Pure Land and Shin Buddhism. It might prove meaningful to examine some concepts from the Urantia Book in relation and comparison to some ideas and ideals from Shin Buddhism.

#2 Bill Martin

Bill Martin

    Poster

  • Moderators
  • PipPip
  • 941 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Rio Dulce, Izabal, Guatemala
  • Interests:destiny interception, kindred spirits, Sailing my ketch, cooking, reading ( a book a day, if possible), helping fellow sojurners on the path of righteousness.I am most interested in building strong relationships with fellow kingdom builders knowing that we will be serving together, off and on, through time and into eternity.

Posted 15 August 2008 - 12:05 AM

This process of correlating UB teachings with the tenets of Asia's most advanced evolutionary religion is among the most important and valuable pursuits a UB student can make. But for these insights to have value, they must be shared.

I see this as a laudable endeavor , this can only bring forth spiritual fruit.

Good on You


Bill
Slowly but surely the Power of Love is overcoming the Love of Power

#3 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 15 August 2008 - 12:13 AM

Buddhism for the Common People

By rejecting the polytheism inherent in earlier Buddhism and focusing on a single buddha, sutra, or practice for salvation, the new sects [Jodo, Nichiren, and Shin] introduced the first monotheistic beliefs in Japan's religious history. (Kasahara, Kazuo, Editor. A History of Japanese Religion. Tokyo: Kosei Publishing Co.; 2001; c2001 p. 158.)


The following is a Shin Buddhist sermon I listened to in the main Shin Buddhist temple in Tokyo while living there and engaging in ongoing religious dialogue over several years:

1. Ishin 一心 (one mind/heart) is the reality of our finite minds becoming one with Amida's Mind.

2. Nenbutsu, 念仏, is composed of the two characters nen 念 and butsu 仏. The first character nen 念 is composed of the two characters ima 今, meaning "now" or "present", and shin 心, meaning "mind" and conveys the meaning of living every moment in the "now" or "present" with Amida's true and real mind.

The Nenbutsu is the practice of centering our minds in the Mind of Amida, or allowing ourselves to become aware of the presence of Amida's true and real Mind, which becomes our own mind, by transforming it into Amida's Mind. This is what the Urantia Book refers to as "temporal everlastingness" or "the everlasting now." (1295.1)

3. The teachings of the Buddha are not about changing the world, but about changing ourselves.

4. Amida gives us his Mind, and from his true and real Mind our "minds are given impulses" towards that which is true and real, but "we are still the master and have free will. We must choose to follow this inner leading."

The indwelling divine Mind of Amida influences and communicates with our finite mortal minds through our thoughts and is trying to spiritualize our thinking. As we become more willing to attune our mind to Amida's Mind, to willingly choose Amida's Will-Mind over our limited selfish mind, we are to just such an extent experiencing the Mind of Amida and becoming one with Amida; we are becoming Buddha's Faith Sons and Daughters and like the Buddha himself, and as Shinran says we are equal with the Tathāgata, but not in an arrogant or self-centered sense.

5. We must learn to surrender our self-will and to do Amida's will.

6. While we cannot attain perfect enlightenment in this life, we can progress on the path, and become more like Amida, for we are becoming Buddhas.

-- Rev. Myoshu, Dharma Talk at International Buddhist Association, Tsukuji Temple

Edited by Robert Reno, 15 August 2008 - 08:50 AM.


#4 Bill Martin

Bill Martin

    Poster

  • Moderators
  • PipPip
  • 941 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Rio Dulce, Izabal, Guatemala
  • Interests:destiny interception, kindred spirits, Sailing my ketch, cooking, reading ( a book a day, if possible), helping fellow sojurners on the path of righteousness.I am most interested in building strong relationships with fellow kingdom builders knowing that we will be serving together, off and on, through time and into eternity.

Posted 15 August 2008 - 06:51 AM

Dear Rob,


you wrote:

Shinran says we are equal with the Tathagata, but not in an arrogant or self-centered sense.
I don't understand this word Tathagata.


Bill
Slowly but surely the Power of Love is overcoming the Love of Power

#5 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 15 August 2008 - 08:57 AM

I don't understand this word Tathagata.


Hi Bill,

The term Tathāgata has several meanings; it is one of the names of Amida Buddha, and it means "suchness," "reality," or the "true and real." The word Amida means "eternal life" and "infinite light." The meaning of this statement by Shinran is similar to the following statement in the UB:

You as a personal creature have mind and will. The Adjuster as a prepersonal creature has premind and prewill. If you so fully conform to the Adjuster's mind that you see eye to eye, then your minds become one, and you receive the reinforcement of the Adjuster's mind. Subsequently, if your will orders and enforces the execution of the decisions of this new or combined mind, the Adjuster's prepersonal will attains to personality expression through your decision, and as far as that particular project is concerned, you and the Adjuster are one. Your mind has attained to divinity attunement, and the Adjuster's will has achieved personality expression. (1205.3)


Of course, from the Urantia Papers perspective, the Adjuster is the true and real Mind of Amida that is gifted to finite beings. Hence, Shin Buddhists teach to just say the Nenbutsu and be saved, and live a life a gratitude to Amida for this wonderful gift of salvation and compassion for one's fellows.

Edited by Robert Reno, 15 August 2008 - 09:08 AM.


#6 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 20 August 2008 - 10:57 AM

It is in response to this paternal affection that God sends the marvelous Adjusters to indwell the minds of men. God's love is universal; "whosoever will may come." He would "have all men be saved by coming into the knowledge of the truth." He is "not willing that any should perish." (39: 1)

The realization of religion never has been, and never will be, dependent on great learning or clever logic. It is spiritual insight, and that is just the reason why some of the world's greatest religious teachers, even the prophets, have sometimes possessed so little of the wisdom of the world. Religious faith is available alike to the learned and the unlearned. (1107: 5)

The door of eternal life is wide open to all; "whosoever will may come"; there are no restrictions or qualifications save the faith of the one who comes. (1567)



One of the reasons the revelators mentioned Honen and Shinran by name, I believe, is because they were the founders of a sect of Buddhism that rejected the common belief within the Buddhist institutions of their day that only the elite who could pass national examinations, or undergo rigorous purification practices could enter the inner sanctum of the temple gates.

Honen repudiated such teachings with the following statement:

If financing towers and statues are a condition for salvation, then hopeless are the poor; if wisdom and ability are a condition, hopeless are the foolish; if vast learning is a condition, hopeless the unschooled; if observation of precepts is a condition, hopeless are the disobedient. The list goes on; however, few are the rich, the wise, the learned, and the observant, while many the poor, the foolish, the unschooled, and the disobedient.... Thus Amida vowed vocal-nembutsu, a practice open to all. (Z, 2:198-99)


After all, to mortals the most important thing about eternal Paradise is the fact that this perfect abode of the Universal Father is the real and far-distant destiny of the immortal souls of the mortal and material sons of God, the ascending creatures of the evolutionary worlds of time and space. Every God-knowing mortal who has espoused the career of doing the Father's will has already embarked upon the long, long Paradise trail of divinity pursuit and perfection attainment. And when such an animal-origin being does stand, as countless numbers now do, before the Gods on Paradise, having ascended from the lowly spheres of space, such an achievement represents the reality of a spiritual transformation bordering on the limits of supremacy. (127.6)


He never fails
To reach the Lotus Land of Bliss
Who calls
If only once
The name of Amida.

A far, far distant land
Is Paradise,
I've heard them say;
But it can be reached
By those who want to go.

-- Kûya, in The Buddhist Tradition, Bary ed., p.318.

Mercy is simply justice tempered by that wisdom which grows out of perfection of knowledge and the full recognition of the natural weaknesses and environmental handicaps of finite creatures. "Our God is full of compassion, gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy." Therefore "whosoever calls upon the Lord shall be saved," "for he will abundantly pardon." "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting"; yes, "his mercy endures forever." "I am the Lord who executes loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight." "I do not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men," for I am "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort." (38.1)

"I am learning to prove all things and adhere to that which is good. Whatsoever I would that men should do to me, that I will do to my fellows. By this new faith I know that man may become the son of God, but it sometimes terrifies me when I stop to think that all men are my brothers, but it must be true. I do not see how I can rejoice in the fatherhood of God while I refuse to accept the brotherhood of man. Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. If that is true, then all men must be my brothers. (1454.4)


Edited by Robert Reno, 20 August 2008 - 03:34 PM.


#7 Bonita

Bonita

    Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,454 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:USA

Posted 21 August 2008 - 10:48 AM

"Your Buddha was much better than your Buddhism. Buddha was a great man, even a prophet to his people, but he was an orphan prophet; by that I mean that he early lost sight of his spiritual Father, the Father in heaven. His experience was tragic. He tried to live and teach as a messenger of God, but without God. Buddha guided his ship of salvation right up to the safe harbor, right up to the entrance to the haven of mortal salvation, and there, because of faulty charts of navigation, the good ship ran aground. There it has rested these many generations, motionless and almost hopelessly stranded. And thereon have many of your people remained all these years. They live within hailing distance of the safe waters of rest, but they refuse to enter because the noble craft of the good Buddha met the misfortune of grounding just outside the harbor. And the Buddhist peoples never will enter this harbor unless they abandon the philosophic craft of their prophet and seize upon his noble spirit. Had your people remained true to the spirit of Buddha, you would have long since entered your haven of spirit tranquillity, soul rest, and assurance of salvation.

"You see, Gonod, Buddha knew God in spirit but failed clearly to discover him in mind; the Jews discovered God in mind but largely failed to know him in spirit. Today, the Buddhists flounder about in a philosophy without God, while my people are piteously enslaved to the fear of a God without a saving philosophy of life and liberty. You have a philosophy without a God; the Jews have a God but are largely without a philosophy of living as related thereto. Buddha, failing to envision God as a spirit and as a Father, failed to provide in his teaching the moral energy and the spiritual driving power which a religion must possess if it is to change a race and exalt a nation." p1466:4-5 132:7.4-5


Edited by Bonita, 07 July 2009 - 09:45 PM.


#8 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 21 August 2008 - 12:41 PM

Beautifully expressed adelfo. The evolution of the God concept in Buddhism is a long and interesting history of how what in Buddhism is called the Pure Land tradition developed through China, Korea, and then eventually culminating in Japan with Honen and Shinran. When we are told that “Gradually the concept of God, as contrasted with the Absolute, began to appear in Buddhism, (1040.6)” they are talking about the concept of the “dharma-body as suchness” as the concept of the Absolute, and the concept of the “dharma-body as compassionate means” as the concept of God:

According to Shin Buddhism, dharma-body has two aspects: "dharma-body as suchness or dharma-nature" and "dharma-body as compassionate means." Dharma-body as suchness is formless and nameless, transcending the capacity of the ordinary mind to apprehend or speak about it; therefore, it manifests itself in the realm of form and name as dharma-body as compassionate means to liberate all sentient beings.... Shinran quotes the following passage from T'an-luan's Commentary on Vasubandhu's Treatise on the Pure Land in order to illuminate the relation between these two aspects of dharma-body :

All Buddhas and bodhisattvas have dharma-body of two dimensions: dharma-body as suchness and dharma-body as compassionate means. Dharma-body as compassionate means arises from dharma-body as suchness, and dharma-body as suchness emerges out of dharma-body as compassionate means. These two dimensions of dharma-body differ but are not separable; they are one but cannot be regarded as identical. (Hirota 1997b:177-178)

-- Hirota, Dennis (Head Translator), et al. (1997b) The Collected Works of Shinran: Introductions, Glossaries, and Reading Aids. Shin Buddhism Translation Series (SBTS),Vol. 2.


Buddhism has a rich history of thinking -- philosophizing -- about the idea of the Absolute, but it was in the lives of those like Honen and Shinran the experience of knowing God/Amida reached its highest realization:

Jesus employed the word God to designate theidea of Deity and the word Father to designate the experience of knowing God. When the word Father is employed to denote God, it should be understood in its largest possible meaning. The word God cannot be defined and therefore stands for the infinite concept of the Father, while the term Father, being capable of partial definition, may be employed to represent the human concept of the divine Father as he is associated with man during the course of mortal existence. (1856.5)


In the experience and subsequent teachings of Honen and Shinran Amida (also known as Oya-sama) became a personal savior of infinite mercy and compassion:

On a planet of sex creatures, in a world where the impulses of parental emotion are inherent in the hearts of its intelligent beings, the term Father becomes a very expressive and appropriate name for the eternal God. He is best known, most universally acknowledged, on your planet, Urantia, by the name God. The name he is given is of little importance; the significant thing is that you should know him and aspire to be like him. Your prophets of old truly called him "the everlasting God" and referred to him as the one who "inhabits eternity." (23.3)


Oya has no equivalent in English. It means either a father or a mother and also both of them as parents. Grammatically it has no gender, no number. It is neither 'he' nor 'she' it is either and both. It is difficult to find the proper pronoun for it. It is the one whose heart is wholly occupied with looking after its own children's welfare. It is probably more motherly than fatherly in that it is not the mighty master or head of a family who reproves, chastens and punishes, but all-embracing love. This word, oyo, is used as the title to Amida as Savior by the Shinshu followers. Their conception of Amida as Savior is that of the oyo, not that of a mighty god who gives the sentence of everlasting damnation. See V. 2. (Kanamatsu 1955: 70)


Of course, Kanamatsu is referring to the traditional Christian concept of God and not the Urantia Book's enlarged revelation of the nature of the Universal Father.

Edited by Robert Reno, 21 August 2008 - 12:52 PM.


#9 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 21 August 2008 - 01:14 PM

During the times of Honen and Shinran Buddhism as an institutional religion had become a religion for the elite. To pursue enlightenment, one had to abandon the secular life altogether and enter the temple system to become a monk. The entire temple system and its officiating monks were intimately bound up with the secular government, being supported by the wealthy patrons who bought their indulgences and prayers to the Buddha for both earthly and heavenly benefits.

Honen abandoned this corrupt temple system, and declared himself neither monk nor layman, and entered a life of preaching the way of salvation through faith in Amida’s saving grace to the common people, the laborers, those who had no hope of achieving enlightenment in the traditional Buddhism of his day and age. Shinran, like his teacher Honen, abandoned the temple system and became a disciple of Honen. While both were highly educated, they taught a gospel of grace and salvation readily available to the common uneducated person; the butchers, laborers, prostitutes, and beggars in the streets and villages of the countryside. These ignorant and uneducated people, when upon hearing the good news of salvation through reciting the Nenbutsu, became spiritually transformed individuals, living lives of wisdom and compassion, full of gratitude for the gift of salvation in rebirth in the Pure Land. They were called myokonin, meaning “wonderfully excellent person” who has achieved a personal relationship with Oya-sama, bringing about a dialogue between them. They lived as though they were having a direct relationship and personal experience with Amida Buddha in their lives. One such Myokonin was Shoma, who has many stories about him in the common Shin Buddhist literature:

Shoma once visited a Buddhist temple in the countryside, and as soon as he entered the main hall where Amida was enshrined, he proceeded to stretch himself out before the shrine and made himself comfortable. Asked by an astonished friend why he was so lacking in respect for Amida he said, "I am back in my parent's home, and you who make this kind of remark must be only a step-child." This is an attitude of mind which reminds us of a child sound asleep in its mother's breast. He was so happy in the embrace of the Great Compassionate One that the world of social formalities vanished altogether out of his mind. "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Amida's Boundless Love for us and our absolute confidence in his Love are often compared to the relation between mother and child. (Kanamatsu 1955: 91-92)


Edited by Robert Reno, 21 August 2008 - 01:19 PM.


#10 Bonita

Bonita

    Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,454 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:USA

Posted 21 August 2008 - 05:34 PM

94:3.5 The karma principle of causality continuity is, again, very close to the truth of the repercussional synthesis of all time-space actions in the Deity presence of the Supreme; but this postulate never provided for the co-ordinate personal attainment of Deity by the individual religionist, only for the ultimate engulfment of all personality by the Universal Oversoul.

Edited by Bonita, 07 July 2009 - 09:48 PM.


#11 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 22 August 2008 - 10:04 AM

Hi adelfo,

The idea of the Creator Son's nature and role being similar to Amida is an interesting one. I have often reflected on their close similarities in many descriptions within the Shin Buddhist literature when it speaks of Amida's compassionate concern for sentient beings and his role as savior. The idea of Amida qua Jesus and Jesus qua Amida has been put forth in some comparative documents utilizing process thought as the framework. Once, while at a regular gathering of some of world's leading Shin Buddhist scholars in Japan, I asked if it would be acceptable to refer to Amida as the First Source and Center, to which I received an affirmative reply.

You asked:

Do you suppose by bodhisattvas, Hirota means all those with faith striving for nirvana?


Yes, the meaning of the term bodhisattva is "one who undertakes the path to enlightenment; one who strives to attain wisdom of the Buddha." In Shin Buddhism there is an interesting extension of this concept of undertaking the path to enlightenment. Shin Buddhists teach there are two phases to the path to enlightenment; the first phase is termed oso eko, meaning "to go to the Pure Land." But it is far more pregnant with meaning that just going to the Pure Land. Oso means the aspect of going forth, while eko is a term in Buddhism that implies the concept of merit transference or Amida’s directing his grace towards sentient beings in both the Buddha worlds he has prepared for us (i.e., the Pure Land) and the vast host of unseen spiritual beings that aid us in this adventure of becoming Buddhas, and in his indwelling true and real Mind which becomes one with us in a process of spiritual transformation. Amida directs his virtue to sentient beings so they can become enlightened. It is also described as eko no shingyo, which means the transference to sentient beings of "joyful Faith" sent by Amida that becomes "true entrusting" in our human experience. The second phase is termed oso genso, with genso meaning the aspect of returning or "going and returning" to the finite worlds to lead others in the path to Paradise. Since all beings are in this world in the oso eko phase of this eternal journey, they are called dobo, which means brother-disciple or dogyo meaning "fellow companion" and "fellow aspirant."

Doesn't this sound very similar to the ascension plan and the subsequent finaliter career upon attaining the Father on Paradise?

Huston Smith wonderfully sums up this view when he says:

The core of the Mahayana teachings are "that the universe is at heart a veritable factory for Buddha-making. Because the universe is unthinkably old and because liberation has always been possible in it, liberation has been attained innumerable times during its countless eons, most recently by the Buddha of and for the present age, Siddhartha Gautama. The efforts and enlightenments of all these Buddhas, not to mention the incredible efforts of countless bodhisattvas, have together produced nothing short of an infinite treasury of merit, a storehouse of salvific energy personified by Buddhas and bodhisattvas who dwell in innumerable ethereal realms. From these luminous, heavenly beings, faithful Buddhists can request and receive, not just some help or help that matches their own efforts, but unlimited help. It is a Cosmic Resource that is not of human making, but from which mortals need only ask in order to receive. (Smith, Huston and Novak Philip. Buddhism: A Concise Introduction. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers; 2003; c2003 pp. 188-189. )


Indeed, we know from reading the Urantia Book the universe is a veritable factory of finaliter-making ;-)

Edited by Robert Reno, 22 August 2008 - 10:25 AM.


#12 Nigel Nunn

Nigel Nunn

    Poster

  • Administrators
  • PipPip
  • 1,118 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Australia

Posted 22 August 2008 - 03:12 PM

Dear Robert and adelfo,

Thank you both for setting side by side some highlights of these two grand frames for thought! More and more the Urantia papers seem nicely tuned and timed to serve as map for those of us on the road, whichever culture gave us birth. Like a dictionary, that we might have words to share our experience of this adventure beyond words.

What features of our frame (that borne by the Urantia papers) might strike a chord with those Buddhists who have found their higher self?

Nigel

#13 Bonita

Bonita

    Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,454 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:USA

Posted 22 August 2008 - 09:14 PM

The divine nature may be perceived only with the eyes of the mind. But the mind that really discerns God, hears the indwelling Adjuster, is the pure mind. "Without holiness no man may see the Lord." All such inner and spiritual communion is termed spiritual insight. Such religious experiences result from the impress made upon the mind of man by the combined operations of the Adjuster and the Spirit of Truth as they function amid and upon the ideas, ideals, insights, and spirit strivings of the evolving sons of God. 101:1.3

To see God--by faith--means to acquire true spiritual insight. And spiritual insight enhances Adjuster guidance, and these in the end augment God-consciousness. And when you know the Father, you are confirmed in the assurance of divine sonship, and you can increasingly love each of your brothers in the flesh, not only as a brother--with brotherly love--but also as a father--with fatherly affection.1574:06

Edited by Bonita, 07 July 2009 - 09:50 PM.


#14 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 24 August 2008 - 12:25 PM

Honen and Shinran lived lives of humility and faith, and carried the message of salvation to the common and downtrodden, whom they called their fellow travelers on the path to the Pure Land. When Honen, and later Shinran, abandoned the temple system they went out into the byways and villages and sought out the sinners and those considered untouchable, and delivered the good news of salvation through faith in Amida. This reminded me so much of Jesus’ words,

I have come to proclaim joy to the socially downtrodden and spiritual liberty to the moral captives. Need I remind you that they who are whole need not a physician, but rather those who are sick? I have come, not to call the righteous, but sinners. (1541)


Ever his exhortation to the apostles was: "Go seek for the sinners; find the downhearted and comfort the anxious." (1543.2)


In Shinran’s time the simple ignorant folk, many who could not read or write the Chinese script used within the temple system, so he would go out into the byways and villages, and compose what was called wasans (hyms) in the common Japenese script, and then teach them to the local villagers:

Although my eyes filled with blind passion
Cannot see the light that embraces me,
Great compassion ceaselessly
Illuminates my darkness.


These hyms (poetry) became a common way for Shin followers to express the spiritual experiences:

Although the voice that calls
NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU is mine,
It is the voice of Oya-sama calling me,
“Come as you are!”


-- Jutaro Oshima, early Shin Buddhist immigrant to Hawaii

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.


-- Micah 6:8

Edited by Robert Reno, 24 August 2008 - 08:40 PM.


#15 Bonita

Bonita

    Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,454 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:USA

Posted 25 August 2008 - 08:39 AM

1:0.4 This magnificent and universal injunction to strive for the attainment of the perfection of divinity is the first duty, and should be the highest ambition, of all the struggling creature creation of the God of perfection. This possibility of the attainment of divine perfection is the final and certain destiny of all man`s eternal spiritual progress.

Edited by Bonita, 07 July 2009 - 10:03 PM.


#16 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 25 August 2008 - 10:59 AM

That is perfect. This is perfect. Perfect comes from perfect.
Take perfect from perfect, the remainder is perfect.
May peace and peace and peace be everywhere. Sanskrit Prayer

God's creation is perfect simply because it is. There is nothing more to add, nothing to take away; it is complete in and of itself. God created all of us in perfection but we are slow to realize the peace it brings.


Thank you adelfo for sharing this Sanskrit poem. It makes a perfect contrast to highlight a very important aspect of both the Urantia Book’s teachings and a similar concept within the Pure Land and Shin Buddhist traditions. It has to do with the relative levels of reality and the realities of imperfection:

The creature repercussion to finite-reality promulgation resulted in the appearance of perfect beings on the order of the eternal inhabitants of Havona and of perfected evolutionary ascenders from the seven superuniverses. But to attain perfection as an evolutionary (time-creative) experience implies something other-than-perfection as a point of departure. Thus arises imperfection in the evolutionary creations. And this is the origin of potential evil. Misadaptation, disharmony, and conflict, all these things are inherent in evolutionary growth, from physical universes to personal creatures. (1159.3)


The acid test for any religious philosophy consists in whether or not it distinguishes between the realities of the material and the spiritual worlds while at the same moment recognizing their unification in intellectual striving and in social serving. A sound religious philosophy does not confound the things of God with the things of Caesar. Neither does it recognize the aesthetic cult of pure wonder as a substitute for religion. (1114.3)


One of the most salient features of first Pure Land Buddhism, and then Shin Buddhism as taught by Honen and Shinran was that they took finitude, imperfection, and the natural evil state of human beings seriously. While the elite monks were withdrawing from the real world of war, famine, commerce, and the struggles of the common persons daily life to indulge themselves in monastic contemplative mysticism and in a cult of aesthetic wonder, Honen and Shinran went out and preached a gospel of salvation to the average person, the ignorant, the foolish, and the evil whom they both considered themselves to be, Shinran literally taking the name Gutoku (愚禿) Shinran, with Gutoku meaning "bald headed ignorant one." Shinran assumed this name to make plain he was neither monk nor laymen, but was a fellow nembutsu follower and one of "humble status of mortal dependence," which like Jesus when he was called "Good Teacher," spontaneously replied, "Why do you call me good? None is good but God." (2092)

Honen, though experienced in these practices himself, explictly negated them saying, "Do not follow the recent trend of contemplation. So you haven't seen the Buddha--well, the statues that Unkei and Kokei sculpt are more vivid. You haven't seen the magnificence of the Pure Land--yet hardly ever is the sight as splendid as the flowers of cherries, plums, peaches, and pears." (HSZ, 494)

That the nembutsu is a capacity open to all is stated in Honen's last work, the Ichimai kishomon:

The nembutsu I have taught is not the contemplative practice that has been discussed and proclaimed by the accomplished sages of China and Japan. Neither is it to recite the nembutsu after having grasped its meaning through scholarly study. It is simply to utter namu Amida butsu, realizing that if you .... simply say the nembutsu with wholeness of heart, free of any pretensions to wisdom ... you are certain to attain birth in the Land of Bliss.


This recognition of the reality of imperfection gave rise to the common saying, "Not yet, but already!" which carried the meaning that while in finite animal form there was no escaping the realities of being human, and the imperfections it entails, in the one-thought-moment of shinjin-realization and the consequent spiritual transformation, they were already in the spiritual sense able to taste and live as though they were born into the Pure Land. And they then went forth with faith and gratitude and lived as though they were in the presence of Amida Buddha.

James grasped the thrilling truth that Jesus wanted his children on earth to live as though they were already citizens of the completed heavenly kingdom. (1582.6)


Within the Buddhist tradition this aesthetic cult of pure wonder was often born of the doctrine of "no-mind" and "non-discrimination" between good and evil, with the assumption that there was no substantial difference between good and evil, and hence, they were one. This is a form of monistic idealism bordering on pantheism. It often led to such reactions to the harsh realities of life as the following poem composed by the Japanese poet Saisei Muroo in 1937 while invading Manchuria with the Japanese colonial army. While there he witnessed all kinds of things; rape, murder, and worse, and he wrote poems about them. Here is one poem called "Hawthorn Berries":

Liike the curtain before a stage, a ragged cloth is
Hanging,
Framing one tatami six-by-three, her living room.
All day long she has slept deep, her face a sickly
pale.
She wants to smile, but no more smile is left in her.
She wants to week, but even sorrow is lost in her.
All day long she has worked hard—the work of
Prostitution.
Here I am, without a word to say to her,
And not one thing to give.
Splashing sugar on my hawthorn berries,
I just gorge myself and stain my lips with the nectar.


-- Saisei Muroo, In The Evil Person: Essays on Shin Buddhism. Maida, 1989.

Of course, the word "prostitute" is a euphemism for rape, for as the Japanese colonial armies moved through Manchuria they took themselves "comfort women" by force from the Korean and Chinese villages and then forced them into prostitution.

This form of philosophy of "non-discrimination between good and evil" represents one extreme of philosophy that leads to an aesthetic indifference to suffering; the other extreme sometimes seen within Shin Buddhist philosophy is the idea that finite persons are totally depraved, not capable of any good whatsoever, which also leads to a form of fatalism such as that expressed by Maida when he comments on Saisei’s poem, stating "dealing with a prostitute's reality it teaches us that all we can do is to accept the reality of our existence," and the "realization that one is an evil person is the realization that one does not have any ability to do good." (Maida 1989: 29, 56)

In the truly Buddhistic sense of the middle way, Jesus taught, "My disciples must not only cease to do evil but learn to do well; you must not only be cleansed from all conscious sin, but you must refuse to harbor even the feelings of guilt. If you confess your sins, they are forgiven; therefore must you maintain a conscience void of offense." (1736.4)

But this philosophy does not represent the actual response that Honen himself took when he encountered a prostitute on his travels:

The Prostitute Finds Birth

When Honen arrived at the port of Muro on his way into exile on Shikoku in the spring of 1207, a small boat drew near carrying a women of the night. She said to Honen, "I heard that this was your boat, and I have come to meet you. There are many ways of getting on in the world, but what terrible acts could have been committed in a former life of mine to bring me into such a miserable life as this? What can a women who carries a load of karma like mine do to escape and be saved in the world to come?" (Watts et al. 2005: 50)

Honen compassionately replied, "Your guilt in living such a life is surely great and the penalties seem incalculable. If you can find another means of livelihood, give this up at once. But if you can't, or if you are not yet ready to sacrifice your very life for the true way, begin just as you are and call on the sacred name. It is for just such deluded folk as you that Amida Buddha made that wonderfully comprehensive Original Vow (hongan). So put your full trust in it without the smallest reservation. If you rely upon the Original Vow and repeat the nenbutsu, your ojo is absolutely certain." (Watts et al. 2005: 51)

Thus kindly taught, the women began to weep out of joy. Later, Honen said of her, "She is a women of strong faith. She is sure to attain ojo." A year later when he was returning to the capital after his exile, Honen called at this place again and inquired about her. He found out that from the time he had instructed her, she had retired to a village near the mountains and had been devoting herself to the practice of the nenbutsu. A short time after, as death drew near, it was with great composure that she safely accomplished her ojo. On being told this, Honen said, "Yes, it is just as I had expected." (Watts et al. 2005: 51) (Watts, Jonathan and Tomatsu Yoshiharu, eds. Traversing the Pure Land Path: A Lifetime of Encounters with Honen Shonin. Tokyo: Jodo Shu Press; 2005; c2005 pp. 50-51.)


My wife, herself Korean, born and raised in a Japan, was deeply touched by the response of Jesus to the plight of the two prostitutes, and did not fail to note the very different response to "good and evil" in the two teachings:

When in Rome, Ganid observed that Jesus refused to accompany them to the public baths. Several times afterward the young man sought to induce Jesus further to express himself in regard to the relations of the sexes. Though he would answer the lad's questions, he never seemed disposed to discuss these subjects at great length. One evening as they strolled about Corinth out near where the wall of the citadel ran down to the sea, they were accosted by two public women. Ganid had imbibed the idea, and rightly, that Jesus was a man of high ideals, and that he abhorred everything which partook of uncleanness or savored of evil; accordingly he spoke sharply to these women and rudely motioned them away. When Jesus saw this, he said to Ganid: "You mean well, but you should not presume thus to speak to the children of God, even though they chance to be his erring children. Who are we that we should sit in judgment on these women? Do you happen to know all of the circumstances which led them to resort to such methods of obtaining a livelihood? Stop here with me while we talk about these matters." The courtesans were astonished at what he said even more than was Ganid. (1472.5)

As they stood there in the moonlight, Jesus went on to say: "There lives within every human mind a divine spirit, the gift of the Father in heaven. This good spirit ever strives to lead us to God, to help us to find God and to know God; but also within mortals there are many natural physical tendencies which the Creator put there to serve the well-being of the individual and the race. Now, oftentimes, men and women become confused in their efforts to understand themselves and to grapple with the manifold difficulties of making a living in a world so largely dominated by selfishness and sin. I perceive, Ganid, that neither of these women is willfully wicked. I can tell by their faces that they have experienced much sorrow; they have suffered much at the hands of an apparently cruel fate; they have not intentionally chosen this sort of life; they have, in discouragement bordering on despair, surrendered to the pressure of the hour and accepted this distasteful means of obtaining a livelihood as the best way out of a situation that to them appeared hopeless. Ganid, some people are really wicked at heart; they deliberately choose to do mean things, but, tell me, as you look into these now tear-stained faces, do you see anything bad or wicked?" And as Jesus paused for his reply, Ganid's voice choked up as he stammered out his answer: "No, Teacher, I do not. And I apologize for my rudeness to them--I crave their forgiveness." Then said Jesus: "And I bespeak for them that they have forgiven you as I speak for my Father in heaven that he has forgiven them. Now all of you come with me to a friend's house where we will seek refreshment and plan for the new and better life ahead." Up to this time the amazed women had not uttered a word; they looked at each other and silently followed as the men led the way. (1472.6)


Edited by Robert Reno, 25 August 2008 - 02:30 PM.


#17 Bonita

Bonita

    Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,454 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:USA

Posted 25 August 2008 - 05:13 PM

196:3.1 Personal, spiritual religious experience is an efficient solvent for most mortal difficulties; it is an effective sorter, evaluator, and adjuster of all human problems. religion does not remove or destroy human troubles, but it does dissolve, absorb, illuminate, and transcend them. True religion unifies the personality for effective adjustment to all mortal requirements. Religious faith—the positive leading of the indwelling divine presence—unfailingly enables the God-knowing man to bridge that gulf existing between the intellectual logic which recognizes the Universal First Cause as It and those positive affirmations of the soul which aver this First Cause is He, the heavenly Father of Jesus` gospel, the personal God of human salvation.

Edited by Bonita, 07 July 2009 - 10:11 PM.


#18 Bill Urantia

Bill Urantia

    Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 107 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Chicopee, MA
  • Interests:Keeping the wolves from the sheep

Posted 25 August 2008 - 06:03 PM

Adelfo,

James grasped the thrilling truth that Jesus wanted his children on earth to live as though they were already citizens of the completed heavenly kingdom. (1582.6)


True religion is a personal experience.

You say:

It's my opinion that in order for an evolutionary religion to establish itself, it must maintain a delicate balance between its support for a transcendent reality and exhibiting too much contempt for the world it inhabits. If a faith becomes too other worldly, it runs the risk of self extinction.


Who wants an established religion? It cannot be evolutionary if it becomes static. Rob has shown that Buddhism is still dynamic and progressing.

Bill,
Faith son
Read the Urantia Papers. Read them again.

#19 Guest_Robert Reno_*

Guest_Robert Reno_*
  • Guests

Posted 25 August 2008 - 06:43 PM

It's my opinion that in order for an evolutionary religion to establish itself, it must maintain a delicate balance between its support for a transcendent reality and exhibiting too much contempt for the world it inhabits. If a faith becomes too other worldly, it runs the risk of self extinction.


Within Buddhism in general, to recognize finitude and imperfection does not mean one holds such reality in "contempt"; certainly this was not the viewpoint within Shin Buddhism; they did not abandon the world, but rather lived dynamically within it. This would be projecting a Western Judeo-Christian viewpoint upon Shin Buddhism. As was noted above, there have been extreme views, but these by their very definition were viewed as extreme -- i.e., unbalanced. Imperfection is considered within Shin Buddhism to be a natural state, similar to the Urantia Book's teachings regarding our status as finite mortals of animal origin. This fact is recognized, not held in "contempt." In fact, there was a certain great freedom from the artificial ideal of perfection and enlightenment via monastic discipline, which only the few could pursue, and the good news of salvation by faith through Amida's grace. Hence, Honen's words:

If financing towers and statues are a condition for salvation, then hopeless are the poor; if wisdom and ability are a condition, hopeless are the foolish; if vast learning is a condition, hopeless the unschooled; if observation of precepts is a condition, hopeless are the disobedient. The list goes on; however, few are the rich, the wise, the learned, and the observant, while many the poor, the foolish, the unschooled, and the disobedient.... Thus Amida vowed vocal-nembutsu, a practice open to all. (Z, 2:198-99)


The living truth was that even the most humble bombu (animal passion dominated person) could by a simple act of living faith be transformed here and now, and enter upon the living path of becoming like the Buddha, relatively here and perfectly in the Pure Land, was a truth that set the average person free to become a dynamo of spiritual wisdom and compassion and service to one's fellows. Kukai traveled around the country side providing service by building bridges and such, while he would dance and sing the good news of salvation by faith through grace in Amida’s gift of the true and real Mind.

The entire teaching of Shin Buddhism is really rather natural; they were simply recognizing that, "The flesh, the inherent nature derived from the animal-origin races, does not naturally bear the fruits of the divine Spirit." (382.1) They then went on to teach that by faith, spiritual transformation, the animal nature can be brought under the control of the true and real Mind for those who spontaneously and naturally live in sincere wholehearted faith and devotion and gratitude to Amida Buddha. This is the unfolding of the true self, oppossed to the bombu of selfish animal origin passions easily given to anger, greed, and self-delusion.

On this Wednesday afternoon, in the course of his address, Jesus first told his followers the story of the white lily which rears its pure and snowy head high into the sunshine while its roots are grounded in the slime and muck of the darkened soil beneath. "Likewise," said he, "mortal man, while he has his roots of origin and being in the animal soil of human nature, can by faith raise his spiritual nature up into the sunlight of heavenly truth and actually bear the noble fruits of the spirit." (1737.5)


Edited by Robert Reno, 25 August 2008 - 07:55 PM.


#20 Bonita

Bonita

    Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 3,454 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:USA

Posted 25 August 2008 - 06:53 PM

89:4.1 Sacrifice as a part of religious devotions, like many other worshipful rituals, did not have a simple and single origin. The tendency to bow down before power and to prostrate oneself in worshipful adoration in the presence of mystery is foreshadowed in the fawning of the dog before its master. It is but one step from the impulse of worship to the act of sacrifice. Primitive man gauged the value of his sacrifice by the pain which he suffered. When the idea of sacrifice first attached itself to religious ceremonial, no offering was contemplated which was not productive of pain. The first sacrifices were such acts as plucking hair, cutting the flesh, mutilations, knocking out teeth, and cutting off fingers. As civilization advanced, these crude concepts of sacrifice were elevated to the level of the rituals of self-abnegation, asceticism, fasting, deprivation, and the later Christian doctrine of sanctification through sorrow, suffering, and the mortification of the flesh.

Edited by Bonita, 07 July 2009 - 10:13 PM.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users