Tag Archives: Pure Land Teachings

Attending to the Dharma to Enter the Path -Ven. Yin-Shun ( How to HEAR/Listen to the Dharma)


Attending to the Dharma to Enter the Path

Ven. Master Yin-Shun

 

( How to HEAR/Listen to the Dharma)

After taking refuge, one should hear more of the true Dharma, for only by doing so can one enter into the Buddhist way. Some people think: “The Buddha Dharma should be practiced. What is the use of hearing the Dharma? In the assembly of Surangama, the honorable Ananda was always hearing, yet was unable to attain enlightenment, and he was incapable of avoiding Matangi’s enticement.” They do not know that the honorable Ananda’s problem was with “always hearing” was actually not a problem of hearing the Dharma. All the scriptures say that that if one wants to learn and practice th Buddha Dharma, hearing the Dharma is a must. If one does not hear any of it, how can one learn about emancipation from birth and death , about the most blissful land and Amitabha Buddha, about the way to self-realization, about the true Dharma of Buddhism? If one does not listen to or hear anything, one will not even know about taking refuge in the Three Treasures!

click here to read pages 29-46 /Attending to the Dharma to Enter the Path

Chapter 2 form The Way to Buddhahood by Ven. Master Yin-shun



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Let Us Part Ways- Original Letter to Elder Master Yin Kuang


Letter 8

~Let Us Part Ways~

(Original Letter to Elder Master Yin Kuang)

It took some ten years of Buddha Recitation for me to know something of its

wonderful meaning. I venture to think that the Pure Land method, as taught in such

writings as your Pure Land letters, is, in general, an expedient for ordinary people

of limited capacities. However, if people like ourselves, who are fully literate and accustomed

to exercising our minds, follow this method, we certainly cannot be reborn

in the Pure Land! According to my limited understanding, those who recite the Buddha’s

name seeking rebirth in the Pure Land should first understand “who is reciting

the Buddha’s name,” because only when we discover the real Master will Buddha

Recitation have meaning and rebirth be assured. This does not apply only to Buddha

Recitation. Anyone who recites sutras or recites mantras should also follow this path.

Nowadays, those who teach Buddha Recitation say that we should recite in a

mature way with an utterly focussed, “as if dead” mind in order to achieve rebirth

in the Pure Land. Do they not realize that if we are not clear as to “who is reciting

the Buddha’s name,” we cannot recite in a mature way with an “as if dead” mind?

Even if we were to recite one hundred thousand times each day, such recitation

would have no relationship to the issue of Birth and Death.

Some people even add that “ancient Masters generally concentrate on oral

recitation rather than meditation on the Buddha’s name.” I, on the contrary, would

say: “ the ancients practiced oral recitation only after they had achieved success in

meditation – those of limited capacities should not try to emulate them.” It is really

too bad that, these days, nine out of ten practitioners fail to understand this point.

I always do my utmost to caution people about this, but some laymen even think

that I have wrong views. Understanding the subtle meaning of the Dharma has sunk

to such depths that we can only lament and deplore the situation!

I am baring my heart to you today, and would beg you, Master, to certify my

understanding and expand on this truth. This is for the benefit of everyone, and

certainly not this writer alone.

Answer:

I cannot exhaust my praise nor commend you and your friends enough for the

thoughts behind your letter! You have very good intentions, wishing everyone to see

his Original Nature so as to achieve rebirth in the upper lotus grades. The Meditation

Sutra teaches:

Recite the Mahayana sutras, understand the Supreme Meaning, develop the

Bodhi Mind, counsel and exhort others to cultivate.

This must certainly be your intention.

Nevertheless, the Dharma should be adapted to the level of the listener. If

through failure to examine his level, you administer the wrong remedy, you will be

no different from an incompetent physician who kills his patients with the wrong

medicine. You should know that although the two Dharma methods, Pure Land

and Zen, have the same root and the same source, their methods of cultivation are

different.

The main tenet of Zen is to see one’s Original Nature, while the teachings of

Pure Land are Faith, Vows and Reciting the Buddha’s name to achieve rebirth in

the Pure Land. If most people today were of high capacities, your words would indeed

be extremely beneficial. However, on close examination, those of high capacities

are few and far between, while those of moderate and low capacities form the vast

majority. This being the case, failing to teach people to develop Faith and Vows

seeking rebirth in the Pure Land, while advising them to meditate on the Buddha’s

name [as a koan] is utterly detrimental.

This is because, while awakening to the Way through meditation on the

Buddha’s name would be a fortunate development, an utterly sincere Vow for

rebirth in the Pure Land would still be necessary.

Meanwhile, if meditation is unsuccessful and the mind constantly grasps at

the koan “who is reciting the Buddha’s name,” correspondence between the

practitioner and the Buddha will be extremely difficult to realize and the benefit of

the “welcoming and escorting” Vow will be lost.

Those who really know “who is reciting the Buddha’s name” are precisely those

who have already awakened and clearly seen their True Nature. Nowadays, how

many practitioners can meditate to the point of awakening to the Way (Great

Awakening)?

However, let us not speak about others. Even you and your friends have not

reached that level. How do I know? It is because if you had, you would never have

dared to make such statements as these in your letter: “the Pure Land method is an

expedient for ordinary people of limited capacities …; not knowing who is reciting

the Buddha’s name is not reciting in a mature way with an as-if-dead mind …;

reciting a hundred thousand times a day has no relationship to the issue of Birth

and Death …; the ancients practiced oral recitation only after they had achieved

success in meditation – those of limited capacities should not try to emulate them …”

In truth, while your intention is to benefit yourself and others equally, through

your words you have not only erred yourself, you have led others astray as well.

From now on, please desist from such talk. Otherwise, you will slam the door on and

bury the all-embracing method of the Buddhas to rescue sentient beings everywhere

– preventing this method from being known far and wide. Such a transgression is

tantamount to vilifying the Buddhas, the Dharma and the Sangha. You should be

careful indeed!

Since your understanding of the Dharma is not skillfully adapted to people’s

capacities, in that you attempt to bring a high-level Dharma to everyone, it is, in

the end, a one-sided (biased) attachment – and a great mistake! Not realizing this,

you think that you have correctly understood the subtle meaning of the Dharma

and therefore seek my certification. This monk, although lowly and not erudite,

would not dare to commend, acquiesce in and support such a request, which would

cause all of us to fall into the error of vilifying the Three Treasures!

If you do not believe the words of this old monk, let us part ways once and for all.

I would not dare try forcing others to abandon their own ideas and understanding

to follow my lowly thoughts. It is only because of your letter that I have reluctantly

offered some frank though limited views.\

I hope that you will reflect deeply on this letter.

Bodhidharma and Hui Neng


Bodhidharma was a great master from suthern India. He first arrived in China by sea in the Song Dynasty. Later, in the Liang Dyansaty, he crossed the Yangtze River and arived in Loyang, the capital of Bei Wei Dyansty. He went to the Shao Lin Monastery in Songshan. There is a lengend that he meditated and contemplated in front of a wall there for nine years. As a result, he became known as the “Brahmana (Holy One) who gazes at the wall.”

He taught the Mahayana way of meditation and did not emphasis on the studies of doctrines and sutras. He did not show much interest in Buddhist rituals or ceremonies. His emphasis was to practice meditation. His teachings were based on the Lankavatara Sutra, which emphasises on the “Direct exploration of the human mind, penetration of the truth and attainment of Buddhahood.”

However , this method is very deep and profound. It is not easy to practice. Only a few people, such as Venerable Hui Ke, managed to learn the method from him.

In the Tang Dynasty, Bodhidharma’s method of meditation had passed down to its fifth generation. It was mastered by Venerable Hong Ren of the Dong Shan Monastery in Huangmei. By that time, the meditatin method was reasonably well develooped.

Chan Master Hui Neng

Lu Hui Neng from Lingnan came to the Dong Shan Monastery. There he worked and practiced at the same time. He was illiterate and had not studied the doctrines. However, he practised meditation and contemplated whole heartedly. During one examination, he created the following poem:

There is no true Bodhi tree,

Nor is there a true mirror stand

Since all is empty in nature,

Where is there for dust to land?

This poem gained the praise of Venerable Hong Ren. He felt that Hui Neng has mastered the principle of Bodhidharma’s teaching. After Hui Neng returned to the south, he resided at the Nab Hua Monastery in Caoxi Shan and propagated the meditation method of Bodhidharma and the method of “Sudden Enlightenment”. From then on, the School of Chan became popular. It became the most powerful and most influential school in Chinese Buddhism. Hui Neng gained the title of the Sixth Patriarch. He is regarded as a great Master who exerted the most significant influence on Chinese Buddhism and culture.

Source: From Selected Translations of Miao Yun Part 4 ( Revised Edition) Venerable Yin-shun
see Hwa Tsang Buddhist Monastery for more information on Miao Yun publications.

Remembering Buddha



Remembering Buddha


The Pure Land teaching began with the World Honored One Shakyamuni Buddha, and has been disseminated through the generations of sage worthies.
They have divided the one gate of buddha-remembrance into four types: buddha-remembrance through reciting the name [of Amitabha Buddha], buddha-remembrance through contemplating the image [of Amitabha  Buddha],  buddha-remembrance  through contemplating the concept [of Buddha], and reality-aspect (real mark) buddha-remembrance.
Though there are differences among the four types, ultimately  they  all  go  back  to  reality-aspect buddha-remembrance. Moreover, the first three types can be grouped as two:  contemplating the concept, and reciting the name.   [Buddha-remembrance through] contemplating the concept is explained in detail in the Sixteen Contemplations Sutra (Meditation Sutra).Here I will discuss reciting the name. The Amitabha Sutrasays:

If a person recites the name of Amitabha Buddha singlemindedly for [a period of from] one or two up to seven days without allowing anything to confuse the mind, at the end of that person’s life Amitabha Buddha and a multitude of holy ones will appear before him. As the person dies, his mind will not be deluded, and he will attain rebirth in Amitabha Buddha’s land of ultimate bliss.

This is the great [scriptural] source from which for myriad  generations  has  come  [the  practice  of] buddha-remembrance by reciting the name, the wondrous teaching personally communicated from the golden mouth [of Buddha]. An ancient worthy said:

As they contemplate the subtleties of the inner truth of phenomena, the minds of sentient beings are mixed [with other concerns than truth]. Since they practice contemplation with mixed minds, the contemplative state of mind is hard to achieve.  The Great Sage [Buddha] took pity on them, and encouraged them to concentrate on the recitation of the buddha-name. Because it is easy to invoke the buddha-name, there starts  to  be  some  continuity  [to  their buddha-remembrance].

This teaches that the work of buddha-remembrance through reciting the name is most essential for being born in the Pure Land. If by reciting the name one arrives at the reality-aspect, then this has the same efficacy as subtle contemplation. Beings of the highest caliber must not doubt this.
All you children of Buddha here today, [I tell you this]: in the gate of repentance, everyone must repent — even the sages of the vehicles of the disciples [sravakas] and the solitary [pratyeka] buddhas, even the great beings of complete  mind  [bodhisattvas],  even  those  of enlightenment equal to the buddhas, all must still repent. Since they all must equally repent, don’t they all have to be born in the Pure Land? How much the more so for those at the stage of ordinary mortals and those in the stages of study!
To all of you here today, disciples and others, whatever plane of existence you are in, I respectfully offer [this teaching] to you: all of you must wholeheartedly invoke the buddha-name, and seek birth in the Pure Land. I hope that Buddha’s compassion will extend down specially to you, and gather you in and save you.