Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Metta Karuna Prayer

Oneness of Life and Light,Entrusting in your Great Compassion,
May you shed the foolishness in myself,
Transforming me into a conduit of Love.
May I be a medicine for the sick and weary,
Nursing their afflictions until they are cured;
May I become food and drink,
During time of famine,May I protect the helpless and the poor,
May I be a lamp,
For those who need your Light,
May I be a bed for those who need rest,and guide all seekers to the Other Shore.
May all find happiness through my actions,and let no one suffer because of me.
Whether they love or hate me,Whether they hurt or wrong me,May they all realize true entrusting,Through Other Power,and realize Supreme Nirvana.

Namu Amida Butsu

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Amida Who?

Before I proceed, I must state that in no way am I an expert on Buddhism, or anything for that matter. I am neither priest, monk, teacher, or role model for any aspiring Buddhist or seeker of truth. I am not affiliated with the Jodo Shu or Jodo Shinshu sects, though I owe a great debt to the founders and practioners of these great schools of Buddhism. I follow the path of Jodo Zen. My practice consists of the meditative chanting of the Nembutsu and the sutras, mindfulness of the Buddha, meditation, and the nourishment of my Buddha Nature. I believe that all beings can and DO attain Enlightenment, and that the attainment of Enlightenment or Awakening, and the manifestation of the Pure Land, can and does occur in this present life, in this Saha World. We CAN and DO change our Karma by our practice of Buddhism. Negative Karma can be changed, or "cut" by the manifestation of our own inherent Buddhahood. The ideas and opinions expressed in this BLOG are exactly that-my ideas and opinions. That being said, I pose this question: Who, or WHAT is Amida Buddha?

The sheer volume of Buddhist literature, both on the Internet and in print, is staggering. Every sect’s teaching, every Buddhist school of thought or opinion can be found quite easily. It would indeed take a lifetime to read every Buddhist sutra, essay, treatise, commentary, opinion, etc. It boggles my limited mind. It is commonly said in Buddhism that the Buddha left 84,000 teachings. 84,000 ways to Enlightenment. See what I mean?

If you research contemporary Pure Land Buddhism, you also meet a great diversity in thought and practice. As in Christianity, there are believers whose approach to faith swings from the most literal and "fundamentalist" interpretion of the Sutras to the most broad and esoteric. I am currently somewhere in the middle.

Amida...Amitabha...the Buddha of Infinite Boundless Light and Eternal Life....the Buddha whose Light reaches and illuminates all beings in the ten directions of the universe. Was, or IS Amida a real, historic person? Who can say with any certainty. My answer would be yes and no. Mahayana Buddhism teaches that the Buddha consists of three distinct yet unified bodies. The first body is the Darmakaya , or the Absolute. It is the source of everything including buddha activity, and is not different from the Void (Skt. shunyata, Emptiness.) It is not usually experienced except by fully realized beings. It is not normally "prayed to," though it is saluted or praised. Its nature is the subject of much discussion. The Second Body, the Sambhogakaya, or Bliss Body, can only be seen by beings of pure mind such as great realized beings. The Buddha Amida, as He exists in imagery in His Pure Land, is the Sambhogakaya. The third body, the Nirmanakaya, is the physical, human expression of Buddha. Shakyamuni is considered to be the Nirmanakaya. I believe Anmida was/is "real", in that I accept the belief that Amida is a personification of the Dharmakaya, the incomprehinsible reality of the universe. Because the Dharmakays is intangible, "empty," unformed and unborn, it cannot be grasped by our human minds. Descriptions of what the dharmakaya actually IS and IS NOT could fill volumes and still never touch the true nature of what "IT" actually is. I believe that the Dharmakaya is the Ultimate Reality of the universe, the True Nature encompasing all beings (whether sentient or insentient) and phenomonon. IT is incomprehensible love and compassion. The Dharmakaya, I believe, is both impersonal in that it is a force inhabiting EVERYTHING, and also personal, in that it can manifest it's self in any form out of boundless love and compassion (such as Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Saints and Messiahs), to bring all beings to spiritual enlightenment according to their culture and spiritual capacity.

Since the Dharmakaya is all beings, phenomenon, etc., It is something of a "collective, " the one in many and the many in one." The various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Saints, Messiahs, etc., are manifested by this great force of love and compassion. For our purposes, as Buddhists in this Saha World, Shakyamuni Buddha is the incarnation or emanitation of Amida, as previously mentioned, the Nirmanakaya, the third of the Three Bodies of the Buddha. The three bodies of Amida, unified, are for me, the Ultimate, the Personication of this great Universal Entity, this Universal Consciousness. Amida Buddha also represents our own innate Buddha Nature. Buddha Nature, let it be said, is not limited to humans, but exists within animals, plants, insects, bacteria and viruses, stars, planets, black holes, and so on and so on. The Buddha and the Pure Land are one....they are Enlightenment.

When we chant the Nembutsu, Namu Amida Butsu, we become one with Amida, our Buddha Nature. Our mind becomes Amida's Mind. We manifest our Buddha Nature in it's highest expression. Amida IS Enlightenment. WE, ourselves, become Amida Buddha-Enlightenment. As we unite ourselves more and more with Amida (Buddha Nature, Universal/Cosmic Buddha) there is a shift in our Ichinen, or our basic life Condition as taught in the Tendai Lotus School's Doctrine of Ichinen Sanzen. Our fundamental reality becomes Buddha, therefore transforming our environment into the Pure Land. Do you go to the heavenly Pure Land and become a Buddha when you die? I don't know. I believe that rebirth into the Pure Land is a "here and now" transormation of our consciousness and of our perception of the environment, based upon our own Satori (Awakening) and shift of our Ichinen to that of Buddha. There are those who would agree with me on this, and those who take a different point of view. Diversity in thought is what makes life so precious.
I try not to sit around and ruminate on all of the theoretical and esoteric aspects of this great philosophy, as I find it sets up "speed bumps" of confusion in my mind, and distracts me from the process of "realizing" Awakening.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Buddha Name Recitation Methods

Four Methods of Buddha Recitation

Buddha Recitation does not consist of oral recitation alone, but also includes contemplation and meditation. Therefore, within the Pure Land School, there are, in addition to Oral Recitation, three other methods, namely: Real Mark, Contemplation by Thought and Contemplation of an Image.

1. Real Mark [Self-Nature] Buddha Recitation

This entails penetrating the Mind's foremost meaning -- reciting our own original Buddha Nature. It is to contemplate the Real Mark Dharma Body of the Buddhas, resulting in attainment of True Thusness Samadhi.
This method is really a Zen practice; however, since the realm revealed by the meditational mind is the Pure Land, it also qualifies as a Pure Land practice. This method is not for those of limited or moderate capacities -- if the practitioner is not of the highest capacity, he cannot "become enlightened and enter" into it. For this reason, few Pure Land teachers promote it and the proponents of the method are found chiefly within the Zen tradition.

Incidentally, I would venture to say here that while we are still treading the path of Practice, not having reached the stage of Perfect Enlightenment, all Dharma methods are expedients; Buddha Recitation is an expedient and so is Zen. According to the Three Pure Land sutras, Buddha Sakyamuni provided the expedient teaching of the Western Pure Land, and urged sentient beings to recite Amitabha Buddha's name seeking rebirth there. With this method, they can escape Birth and Death, avail themselves of that wonderful, lofty realm to pursue cultivation, and swiftly attain Buddhahood. Diligent Buddha Recitation also leads to Awakening, as in Zen; however, the principal goal of the Pure Land School is rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, while the degree of Awakening achieved is a secondary consideration.

Thus, the goal of Real Mark Buddha Recitation falls within Pure Land teachings. However, from the standpoint of an expedient leading to rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, it does not truly qualify as a Pure Land method within the meaning of the Three Pure Land sutras taught by Buddha Sakyamuni. This is, perhaps, the reason why Pure Land Patriarchs merely referred to it to broaden the meaning of Buddha Recitation, but did not expound it widely.

2. Contemplation by Thought Recitation

This entails meditation on the features of Buddha Amitabha and His Land of Ultimate Bliss, in accordance with the Meditation Sutra. (The Sutra teaches a total of sixteen contemplations.) If this practice is perfected, the cultivator will always visualize the Pure Land before him. Whether his eyes are open or closed, his mind and thoughts are always coursing through the Pure Land. At the time of death, he is assured of rebirth there.
The virtues obtained through this method are immense and beyond imagination, but since the object of meditation is too profound and subtle, few practitioners can achieve it. This is because, in general, the method presents five difficulties: i) with dull capacities, one cannot easily succeed; ii) with a crude mind, one cannot easily succeed; iii) without knowing how to use expedients skillfully and flexibly during actual practice, one cannot easily succeed; iv) without the ability to remember images clearly, one cannot easily succeed; v) with low energy, one cannot easily succeed.

Very few can avoid all five pitfalls. Thus, upon reflection, this method also belongs to the category of difficult Dharma doors.

3. Contemplation of an Image Recitation

In this method, the practitioner faces a statue of Amitabha Buddha and impresses all the features of that statue in his memory -- contemplating to the point where, even in the absence of a statue, and whether his eyes are open or closed, he clearly sees the image of Amitabha Buddha.
This method is also difficult, because it requires a great deal of energy, a faithful memory and skillful use of expedients. There are cases of individuals who have practiced it in an inflexible way and have developed headaches difficult to cure. Moreover, upon examination, this method of seeking rebirth in the Pure Land is not mentioned in the sutras. It is merely a technique to assist in the practice of Buddha Recitation, so that the practitioner can harness his mind and achieve right thought. Still, if we practice this method in a pure, devoted frame of mind, we can obtain a response, eradicate our bad karma, develop virtue and wisdom, and, through an "illusory" statue of Amitabha Buddha, awaken to His True Marks and achieve rebirth in the Pure Land.

4. Oral Recitation

In this method, the practitioner recites, aloud or silently, either "Nam Mo Amitabha Buddha or "Amitabha Buddha." The short form (Amitabha Buddha) has the advantage of easily focusing the cultivator's mind, while the longer version facilitates development of a truly earnest, respectful mind conducive to a response.
This method, taught by Sakyamuni Buddha in the Shorter Amitabha Sutra, is the dominant form of Pure Land practice at the present time.

A brief examination of the four methods of Buddha Recitation shows that the Real Mark [No. 1] and Contemplation of an Image [No. 3] methods are not mentioned in the Three Pure Land sutras. They are referred to only in the Buddha Recitation Samadhi Sutra and a few other sutras or commentaries. Both of these methods are secondary expedients to expand on the true meaning of Buddha Recitation; they are not recognized methods traditionally taught by Pure Land Patriarchs.

The Real Mark method has the unique advantage of teaching the profound and exalted meaning of Buddha Recitation. However, it is too lofty to embrace people of all capacities and "strays" in the direction of Zen. The Contemplation of an Image method is merely a subsidiary technique and is not easy to practice. These two methods, therefore, are not recommended for Pure Land practitioners. Likewise, the Contemplation by Thought method [No. 2], although expounded by Buddha Sakyamuni and leading to immense virtue, is reserved for those of high capacities. In the present Dharma-Ending Age, few can practice it.

In conclusion, only Oral Recitation embraces people of all capacities, leads to swift results and is easy enough for anyone to practice. Oral Recitation, practiced earnestly and correctly, will bring a response; in this very life, we can immediately see the features of Amitabha Buddha and the adornments of the Western Pure Land and awaken to the Original Mind. Even if we cannot attain True Mark in this life, we will certainly attain it after rebirth in the Pure Land. For this reason, the Thirteenth Pure Land Patriarch, Master Yin Kuang, wrote the following words of praise:

Exclusively reciting the Name will bring attainment of True Mark,
Without contemplation we will still see the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Ancient masters have also commented:
Among Dharma methods, Pure Land is the short cut for attaining the Way.
Within Pure Land, Oral Recitation is the short cut.
Nowadays, this method is the most popular form of Buddha Recitation.
Ten Variants of Oral Recitation
As indicated above, Oral Recitation is the most common Pure Land method at the present time. However, this method has many variants, to accommodate the circumstances and capacities of the individual. A few of these variants are summarized below.

1. Reflecting the Name Recitation

With this technique, the ear catches the sound as the mouth recites, examining each individual word and each individual phrase, to make sure they are clear and distinct, phrase after phrase. There are two ways of hearing, with the ears or with the mind. Although the ears "hear deep inside," the sounds do not reside anywhere. The practitioner gradually forgets everything inside and out -- even body, mind, realm, time and space -- with only the Buddha's name remaining.
This technique of "reflecting the name," makes it easy for the cultivator to filter out deluded thoughts and swiftly achieve one-pointedness of mind. The Surangama Sutra expresses this very idea when it states, in the words of the Bodhisattva Manjusri:

This common method of concentrating the mind on its sense of hearing, turning it inward ... is most feasible and wise. (Wai-tao, tr. "The Surangama Sutra," in D. Goddard, ea., A Buddhist Bible, p. 260.)

2. Counting Rosary Beads Recitation

In this method, as the mouth recites, the hand fingers the rosary. At first, thoughts are tied to the rosary beads, but later on they gradually move away from the beads, leading to the state of one-pointedness of mind. This technique increases the power of recitation in the same way that a cane enables a mountain climber with weak legs to ascend higher and higher.
With this technique, we should write down the number of recitations per session or per day. This has the advantage of forcing us to keep an exact count, eliminating the affliction of laziness. However, we should take care not to be too ambitious, attempting to achieve too much too soon, or our recitation will not be clear and distinct. The ancients, while reciting the Buddha's name over and over, did so in a clear, distinct manner thanks to two factors: "correct understanding" and "correct concentration of mind." Elder Master Ou-I, the Ninth Patriarch of Pure Land once taught:

There is no better or loftier way to reach the state of one-pointedness of mind. At first the practitioner should finger the rosary, keeping an exact count, while reciting the Buddha's name over and over in a clear, distinct manner, 30,000, 50,000 up to 100,000 times each day, maintaining that number without fail, determined to remain constant throughout his life. Such recitation will, in time, become second nature -- not reciting being reciting. At that time, recording or not recording no longer matters. If such recitation, accompanied by earnest Faith and Vows, did not lead to rebirth in the Pure Land, the Buddhas of the Three Periods (past, present and future) would all be guilty of false speech. Once we are reborn in the Pure Land, all Dharma methods will appear before our eyes.
If at the outset we seek too high a goal, are over-confident and eager to show that we are not attached to forms and marks, preferring to study according to the free and perfect method, we reveal a lack of stability and depth in our Faith and Vows as well as perfunctoriness in our Practice. Even if we were to lecture exhaustively on the Twelve Divisions of the Dharma [all the teachings of Buddha Sakyamuni] and become enlightened to the 1,700 Zen koans, these would merely be activities on the fringes of life and death.

This advice is indeed a compass for the Pure Land practitioner.

3. Breath-by-Breath Recitation

This technique consists of reciting silently or softly, with each breath, inhaling or exhaling, accompanied by one recitation of the Buddha's name. Since life is linked to breath, if we take advantage of breath while practicing Buddha Recitation, we will not be apart from Buddha Amitabha in life and at the time of death, when breath has stopped, we will be immediately reborn in the Pure Land. The practitioner should remember, however that once he has mastered this technique, he should recite aloud as well as silently. In this way, the power of recitation will be strengthened and the will to be reborn in the Pure Land more easily developed. Otherwise, his resolve will not be earnest and he might "stray" into the practice of the "Five Meditations to calm the mind" of the Theravada tradition.

4. Continuously Linked Recitation

With this technique, the practitioner recites softly, each word following the one immediately before, each phrase closely following the previous phrase ...
During this practice, through discretion and patience, there are no empty time frames and therefore "sundry thoughts" cannot intrude. The cultivator's feelings and thoughts are intense, his mind and mouth move boldly forward reciting the Buddha's name; the power of right thought embraces everything, temporarily subduing ignorance and delusive thought. Thus, the light of transcendental samadhi breaks through and shines forth.

From early times, Pure Land practitioners would avail themselves of this method when their emotions and thoughts wandered or were in a state of confusion.

5. Enlightened, Illuminating Recitation

With this technique, the practitioner on the one hand recites the Buddha's name and on the other, "returns the light" and illumines his True Nature. He thus enters into the realm of ultimate transcendental emptiness; what remains is only the consciousness that his body-mind and the True Mind of the Buddha have become one -- all-illuminating and all-encompassing. At that time, meditation rooms, cushions, gongs and all else have disappeared. Even the illusory, "composite body" is nowhere to be found.
With this practice, even while our present "retribution body" is not yet dead, silent illumination is attained. Uttering the Buddha's name, the practitioner immediately achieves the state of samadhi. There is no swifter method for common mortals to enter the realm of the saints.

Unfortunately, we cannot understand or practice this method unless we are of the highest capacity. Therefore, its scope is rather modest and limited.

6. Bowing to the Buddha Recitation

This technique consists of making bows as we recite the Buddha's name. Either we recite once before each bow or we bow as we recite, regardless of the number of recitations. The bowing should be supple yet deliberate, complementing recitation, bowing and reciting perfectly synchronized. If we add a sincere and earnest mind, body, speech and mind are gathered together. Except for the words Amitabha Buddha, there is not the slightest deluded thought.[43]
This method has the ability to destroy the karma of drowsiness. Its benefits are very great, because the practitioner engages in recitation with his body, speech and mind. A lay practitioner of old used to follow this method, and each day and night, he would bow and recite an average of one thousand times.

However, this practice is the particular domain of those with strong mind-power. Lacking this quality, it is difficult to persevere, because with extended bowing, the body easily grows weary, leading to discouragement. Therefore, this method is normally used in conjunction with other methods and is not practiced in exclusivity.

7. Decimal Recording Recitation

This is the inscription technique of Buddha Recitation, taking each ten utterances of the Buddha's name as a unit. Individuals with short breath spans can divide the ten utterances into two subunits (five utterances each) or three smaller subunits (two three-utterance units and one four-utterance unit). One rosary bead is fingered after each group of ten utterances is completed.
With this practice, the mind must not only recite, it must also remember the number of utterances. In this way, if we are not diligent we must become so; otherwise, it will be impossible to avoid mistakes.

This technique, in general, is an excellent expedient forcing the cultivator to concentrate his mind and is very effective with those subject to many errant thoughts. Elder Master Yin Kuang used to recommend it to Pure Land practitioners.

8. Lotus Blossom Recitation

As he recites, the practitioner contemplates the four colors of the lotus blossom (blue, yellow, red and white), one color after another without interruption. With his first utterance of the Buddha's name, he visualizes a huge, blue lotus blossom before his eyes, emitting a blue light. With the second utterance, he visualizes a yellow lotus blossom, emitting a yellow light. The third and fourth utterances are accompanied, respectively, by visualization of red and white lotus flowers, each color emitting its own light. He then repeats the visualization in the same sequence. As the flowers appear, he imagines a vague, lingering touch of pure, soft lotus fragrance.
Ancient masters devised this method because many practitioners in the T'ien T'ai School, despite using all available techniques, found it difficult to stem their errant thoughts. This method uses various forms and colors to focus mind and thought. These forms and colors take the marks of lotus blossoms in the Seven-Jewel Pond of the Pure Land ("one utterance of the Buddha's name, one jeweled lotus blossom"), because the lotus blossoms appearing in the Pure Land are inseparable from the lotus blossoms created by the virtues of the reciting mind. At the time of death, the mind-consciousness of the practitioner relies on these jeweled lotus blossoms to achieve rebirth in the Western Pure Land.

If the Pure Land cultivator should discover that he has an affinity with this technique, he should apply it and quickly enter the Wonderful Lotus Blossom Buddha Recitation Samadhi.

9. Recitation Amidst Light

This method was specially designed for certain practitioners who, as soon as they close their eyes to recite, suddenly see filthy forms and marks (ugly grimacing faces, for example), or dark forms and colors swirling around.
With this technique, the practitioner, while reciting the Buddha's name, visualizes himself seated in the middle of an immense, brilliant zone of light. Within that zone of light, when his mind has quieted down, the practitioner feels bright and refreshed. At that time, not only have deluded thoughts been annihilated, filthy, evil forms have also disappeared. After that, right thought is reinforced and samadhi is, in time, achieved.

Although this is a special expedient to destroy evil deluded marks, even the practitioner who is not in this predicament can apply this method to clear his mind and enter deeply into the Buddha Recitation Samadhi.

10. "Contemplation of the Buddha" Recitation

The methods of contemplation taught in the Meditation Sutra are very important and lead to immense virtue, but they are not a popular expedient for sentient beings in the Dharma-Ending Age. Nevertheless, since the ancient masters did not wish to see the special benefits of the meditation method go unused, they selected the easiest of the Sixteen Contemplations (Contemplation of Amitabha Buddha) and combined it with Oral Recitation to form the Contemplation of the Buddha-Oral Recitation technique. (Recitation is predominant, with contemplation of the Buddha occupying a subsidiary position.)
Each day, after reciting the Buddha's name, the practitioner reserves a special period of time for concentrating his mind and contemplating the Embellishments and Light of Amitabha Buddha. This method is derived from Contemplation Number Thirteen in the Meditation Sutra, in which Buddha Amitabha is visualized as some sixteen feet tall and of golden hue, standing at the edge of the Seven-Jewel Pond. If the practitioner cannot yet visualize the Seven-Jewel Pond, he can picture Amitabha Buddha standing before his eyes in a zone of light, in open space, the left hand held at chest level and forming the auspicious mudra, the right arm extending downward in the position of "welcoming and guiding."

To be successful in this meditation, it is necessary, at the outset, to visualize the body of Amitabha Buddha in general, then concentrate on the urna (white mark between the eyebrows). This mark is empty and transparent, like a white gem with eight facets ... The urna is the basic mark among the thirty-two auspicious marks of the Buddhas. When this visualization is successful, thanks to the affinity thus created between Amitabha Buddha and the practitioner, other marks will appear clearly, one after another. However, to ensure success, the practitioner should read through the Meditation Sutra memorizing the thirty-two auspicious marks of Buddha Amitabha before commencing his practice.

With this method, Buddha Recitation should be primary, because if the practitioner does not succeed at visualization, he can still fall back on recitation to ensure rebirth in the Pure Land. In truth, however, recitation aids visualization and visualization complements recitation, so that these two aspects work in parallel, leading the practitioner toward the desired goal.

Although this technique is somewhat more difficult than the others, if it can be accomplished successfully, immeasurable benefits are achieved. It is therefore described here at the very end, to foster diligent practice.

As stated earlier, these ten variants of Oral Recitation are also the ten basic techniques to combat the various mental hindrances faced by Buddha Recitation practitioners. Pure Land books discuss several dozen variants. However, they are merely techniques using, inter alia, a loud voice or a low voice at busy moments or at times of leisure. They cannot as such qualify as methods of recitation. For this reason, the author has singled out these ten basic variants of Oral Recitation to combat the obstructions of drowsiness and mind-scattering. They are the methods best suited to the majority of today's practitioners. The cultivator can try them out and select the one that fits his particular case.

Buddhism of Wisdom & Faith: Pure Land Principles and Practice
Dharma Master Thich Thien Tam
Translated and edited by the Van Hien Study Group
Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Images of Buddha

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you.
As the wheel follows the ox that draws
the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shaddow, unshakable.

The Dhammapada

In my study of Buddhism over the years, I've read that every occurance in out lives, every person we meet and interact with, is an oppurtunity to learn the Dharma. This morning, I've had a great learning moment, a chance to encounter the reality of the Dharma as it opperates in my life.

This past week, I've been feigning illness to avoid "hanging out" with a certain young man that I just really don't care to assiciate with. It's not that he's a bad person, or that he has any really negative characteristics. He likes me, and wants intimacy and romance with the least friendship and constant contact. For my part, I'm simply not interested. It doesn't make be "bad," it's something I don't want in my life at the moment. It just doesn't feel right. So, in my delusional reasoning, I chose to be "kind" to him by lying to him and avoiding telling him the truth. Avoidance seems to be a recurring theme in my life.

So...gues what? I woke up sick this morning, with the same symptoms I'd been faking all week. Coincidence? I don't think so. I am experiencing the reality that I had created with my own words. It's not that I'm being punished by the Buddha....I'm not being disciplined or chastised at all. I'm simiply experiencing the concrete effect that I created the cause for....Karma.

This struck a chord with me this morning, and I searched through some of the Buddhist scriptures, and found the above teaching delivered by the Buddha.

There is a concept in Buddhism which states that our mind and bodies are one, and that our environment is a direct manifestation of what's going on inwardly and spiritually. We are always so careless with the words we casually throw about all day. Western thought simply doesn't grasp this as a common fact. So...what did I learn? I saw evidence of a truth I professed and believed theoreticly. I was able to internalize see the true workings of Karma in my life.

So, as I go about my day, I am going to strive to be more conscious of the reality I am second by second creating. I can choose to speak blessings or curses into my reality. It's our experience the bounty of the universe, whether we recognize the divinely simple truth inherent in our own lives or not.

Namu Amida Butsu

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Namu Amida Butsu!

Welcome to my Buddhism page glorifying the beautiflul and most compassionate Lord, Amida Buddha! Amida is the great fount of love which holds the cosmos together. He is absolute, unconditional love. Amida doesn't care if you're straight or gay, black, white or whatever. Amida's salvation is open to all beings....all it takes is simply opening your heart to Him! In Christianity, God/Jesus loves you an will "save" you only if you "fit." Amida accepts and loves you no matter who or what you are. Amida never gets angry or jealous...He doesn't punish you or keep track of how good or "bad" you are.

I first encountered Amida when i was 18. A good friend of mine had become a Nichiren Buddhist. I was visiting my sister in California, and she had a book about Buddhism called "The Teaching of the Buddha." I read it, and was captivated, yet confused. Who was this Buddha called Amida? Shakyamuni buddha I'd heard about, and the Nichiren Buddhists claimed that Nichiren was the absolute, Universal, Eternal Buddha. But here was a Buddha new to me....a Buddha who lived in a beautiful Pure Land, a Buddha who out of incomprehensible compassion, hade made 48 vows not to enter Nirvana until ALL beings in the universe had been saved from Samsara, the endless cycle of birth and death. All you had to become a Buddha was to say His name, and upon your death, you'd be born into the Pure land and instantly become a Buddha yourself. I uttered the Nembutsu for the first time....Namu Amida Butsu.

Needless to say, I became a Nichiren Buddhist along with most of my friends./ We were all young and seeking. I practiced the buddhism of this sect until about 1999, when I finally became fed ulp with the Nichiren Shoshu/Soka Gakai feud, and the warped theology of the sect, namely that Nichiren was the Universal Buddha. I'll never forget how I felt when I first started chanting the BVuddha's name. It was like warm, nourishing sunlight illuminating a dark, dreary tomb. I felt compassion, serrenity, and a calmness I'd never known. Finally, everything seemed right. I knew that this...THIS was Buddhism!

I have just begun chanting again. My life took a terrible turn about 8 years ago. It's taken me that long to come back from the living death I was trapped in. I feel alive again...I have hope. Every day I wake up in the light and love of my Amida, bathed in his boundless compassion.