Thursday, February 4, 2021

Shunyata in Pure Land Buddhism - Michio Tokunaga - 073

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Shunyata in Pure Land Buddhism - Michio Tokunaga

From: https://www.nembutsu.info/tokusuny.htm 

(Résumé: The Ground / Reality / Dharmata / Suchness, as the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths, leaves enough room to be able to use any possible adapted skillful means / upaya on the Path, any valid conventional truths & methods & goals, as long as one doesn’t grasp at them, become attached to them, become slave to them -- otherwise they turn into poisons. In fact, we have no choice but to use conventional truths methods & goals to deprogram our mind, to get to the ultimate truth: the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now. Thus the Path is necessarily composed of more and more subtle adapted skillful means / antidotes, conventional truths & methods & goals <==> combined with more and more wisdom / emptiness. The only way for the Path to be more and more efficient, is for it to be more and more in accord with the View (the Union of the Two Truth) and with Fruition (Union of spontaneous activities for the benefit of sentient beings <==> and perfected wisdom / emptiness). This applies to all tolls used, all forms of Buddhism, including Pure Land Buddhism. In that sense, there is enough justification for their tools as long as there is no grasping.
One important point is that there are steps toward a final ultimate realisation / enlightenment. First, we need to understand impermanence / causality / dependent origination / karma (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless); then we need to understand the emptiness of inherent existence of everything (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely); then we need to realise that those two aspects / truths are not really separate, independent, in opposition, but more like inseparable, interdependent, in harmony, in Union. In that sense, after having realised emptiness, we need to come back to ordinary life / society, to form. If we stay stuck on emptiness, then we are missing the whole point.
So, some forms of Buddhism will put the emphasis on one of the two truths, other forms of Buddhism will put the emphasis on the other truth. But, ultimately, to be efficient, all forms of Buddhism need to take care of the Union of the Two Truths by using a Path composed of the Union of virtuous methods <==> with more & more wisdom / emptiness. One alone is totally inefficient because not in accord with Reality.)

Pure Land Buddhism has long been considered a minor development apart from the mainstream of Mahayana.
This view is based on the understanding that, 

  • in contrast to the fundamental Mahayana ideal of attaining the highest reality which is formless and which is known as 'emptiness' or shunyata, this reality in the Pure Land tradition is expressed as form, for example, as Amida Buddha, Pure Land and so forth.

  • Critics of the Pure Land tradition assert that in shunyata there is neither form nor human conception. Every form and all concepts are overcome or annihilated in the realization of the highest reality, while in the Pure Land tradition, the highest reality is grasped in forms and through concepts. 


[A. Critic of Shin / Pure Land Buddhism -- too much grasping at form, too theistic & dualistic for certain:] 

According to Hisamatsu Shin'ichi, one of the best known Zen thinkers of modern Japan, Buddhism is defined as follows:

In my opinion, Buddha in Buddhism must have a fundamentally atheistic character. According to the essential Buddhist way of thinking, the theistic Buddha expounded in Buddhist scriptures must be a provisional one secondary in importance to the Buddha having ultimate significance. [1]

'Theistic Buddha' here refers to Amida Buddha in the Pure Land tradition.
Hisamatsu suggests that Shin Buddhism descends to the plane of 'theism' deviating from the essential ideal of Buddhism.

Thus to Hisamatsu, Shin is not perfect as a school of Buddhism, especially in comparison with Zen, which is entirely 'atheistic'. He goes on:

If we consider Amida in Shin on the basis of theism, the agent of compassionate activities is restricted to Amida alone, and it goes without saying that we sentient beings cannot have compassion for others. In this case, Shin may be said to contradict the fundamental Buddhist ideal. [2]

Hisamatsu again compares Shin with Zen in his essay 'Zen as the Negation of Holiness':

Schleiermacher's absolute dependence also indicates the union between the sacred and man, and as such is suggestive of a disparate conjunction. Without a gap, a dependent relation cannot be established. For Schleiermacher, the feeling of freedom is absolutely negated.

In Buddhism, the Jodo-Shinshu sect has points of similarity with dialectical theology. It, too, is a religion of a disparate conjunction. It absolutely negates the self by extinguishing it and by uniting it with Amida Buddha. This union, however, does not dissolve one into Amida Buddha. Rather, by 'entrusting oneself' to Amida Buddha, one enters into a relation of absolute dependence, a relation in which there is an absolute gap between the base and evil self on the one hand and Amida Buddha on the other; and nevertheless there is a union of the two. This union, as an element essential to holiness, has the gap as its prerequisite. No order of holiness is possible without this separation. Precisely because it is transcendent and separate from us, holiness can be revered, worshiped, trusted, and believed in.

Zen, however, negates this transcendent and objective holiness which is so radically separated from us just as it denies a Buddha existing apart from human beings. As such it is radically non-holy. Retrieving the holy Buddha, so far removed and separate from human beings, it realizes the Buddha within these human beings, a 'non-holy', a human Buddha. [3]

Here Hisamatsu admits the position of Shin Buddhism as a school of Mahayana on the one hand, but on the other criticizes Shin for its dichotomous division of existence, beings and Amida, and the dialectic interchange of the two in 'faith'.

Here, however, a serious question arises concerning his understanding of Shin and also of Buddhism in general.
He continues:

Searching neither for Buddhas or Gods outside of man, nor for paradise or Pure Lands in other dimensions,
Zen advances man as Buddha and actual existence as the Pure Land. [4]

  • It may be true that in the final realization of Zen, there is only one reality in which 'I' and 'the other', 'good' and 'bad', 'purity' and 'impurity', and 'holy' and 'non-holy' [opposites] are fused

  • But the fusion is possible only when there are such co-ordinate concepts. 

  • However strongly practicers may negate the dichotomy, 

  • it is a matter of course that they have to start with this dichotomy. They cannot help starting with this dichotomy because there is no non-dichotomous reality from the very beginning when viewed from the side of the practicer. If there were no dichotomy from the very beginning, there would be no need for Zen practice. In other words, it is this dichotomy which is the subject and the material of satori, the final goal of Zen. If satori is the negation of this dichotomy, Zen, too, should be called a dialectic religion, because negation is a kind of affirmation.


[B. Critic of Radical Zen: too much grasping at mere-emptiness for certain:] 

In Shinran's magnum opus Kyogyoshinsho, the view Hisamatsu puts forth is taken up and criticized:

The monks and laity of this latter age and the religious teachers of these times are floundering in concepts of 'self-nature' and 'mind-only', and they disparage the true realization of enlightenment in the Pure Land way. [5]

The meaning of the 'concepts of self-nature and mind-only' in this quotation is, in Hisamatsu's terminology, 'man as Buddha and actual existence as Pure Land'. Shinran's criticism of this way of thinking is based on the actual impossibility of overcoming the dichotomy as Zen insists.

Zen has been accepted widely in the West for its 'non-religious' character and 'atheistic' aspect in which 

  • all relative ways of thinking are criticized and discarded in order to go straight to the 'formless' reality with this present existence. 

  • 'The path of words has been cut out', 

  • 'Not establishing words' or 

  • 'Mind-to-mind transmission' which are frequently used by Zen practicers, 

  • all indicate the transcendence of this relative world and attainment of ultimate 'formless' reality. 

  • That is to say, they point to the futility of conceptual understanding, or 'silence'.

Unlike Zen, Shin is a form of Buddhism in which conceptual understanding is not only admitted but advanced, for it is not for elite monks but for ordinary people bound by a relative way of thinking in this secular world. The most important requirement for the devotees of Shin is to listen to the teaching in which the highest reality is described in forms like Amida, Amida's Vow, and the Pure Land. In other words, Shin is full of mythological descriptions. But the purpose of listening to the teaching is not to believe in such myths but to overcome conceptual understanding through making use of conceptual understanding.


[C. Finding a Middle Way with an understanding of the Harmony / Union of the Two Truths] 

The above difference between Zen and Shin seems to be mainly due to the difference of the understanding of the highest reality of Mahayana, shunyata (Genuines Emptiness as the Ground). Is it appropriate to grasp shunyata in such a one-sided way as Hisamatsu does? Is shunyata simply an annihilation of form, the negation of all concepts (mere-emptiness)?

Nagao Gadjin's presentation of shunyata is quite different from Hisamatsu's:

Shunyata is not a mere nihilism (i.e. complete non-existence) which engulfs all entities in its universal darkness, abolishing all differences and particularities. (i.e. The Ground is not a cosmic mere emptiness, with no things, beings & activities in it.)
On the contrary, shunyata is the fountainhead from which the Buddha's compassionate activity flows out.
Shunyata (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely), the summit, is reached, but in the next moment, differentiation and discrimination [and conceptualisation … of all normal activities] occur again (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless), <==> not-withstanding the identity accomplished by shunyata (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely). [6] (i.e. Appearing but empty; empty but still appearing and relatively functional. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>).)

(i.e. Not getting stuck in the extreme of mere-emptiness, but realising that the Two Truths -- appearance & emptiness of inherent existence -- are inseparable, interdependent, co-dependent, in harmony, in ‘Union’. Returning to ordinary life with a new appreciation of life - more in accord with Reality as it is here & now, with bodhicitta.)


The tenth picture of the Ten Bulls Story:
Return to Society with Bodhicitta / Revival of Form / Coming back to Life

In this passage, Nagao puts more emphasis on the aspect of shunyata (the Ground) as the manifestation of itself in form (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless) in the region of conception than that of shunyata as a mere negation of conception (i.e. 2nd truth as mere-emptiness). 

The positive aspect of shunyata, expressed by Nagao as 'differentiation and discrimination' and 'all differences and particularities' (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless), is indispensable for understanding shunyata in its negative aspect (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely) as well. 

Both [truths in Union] make up shunyata (the Ground) and neither of the two can be omitted. 

(i.e. The Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Reality / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness ...
is the Inseparability / Interdependence / Harmony / Union of the Two Truths:
Union of conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearance (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless) <==> and emptiness of inherent existence (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely).)

Of the two, the positive aspect (1st truth - conventional truths, impure appearances with ignorance, pure appearances with wisdom), which could be called the 'revival' of form in the realm of human conception, is the basis for locating Pure Land Buddhism within Mahayana. 

(i.e. Pure Land, spontaneous Enlightened Activities, and Buddha-nature (pure body, speech & mind) express the perception & activity of enlightened beings, the true nature of Reality as it is here & now as pointed by concepts like: the Ground, Union of the Two Truths, Union of the three spheres, Union of opposites, Middle Way free from all extremes & middle, the equality / purity / perfection / divinity of everything here & now, the trikaya (inseparable three kayas).)

Thus, Amida Buddha, Pure Land and so forth can be found in
this revival of form in the realm of human conception.

(i.e. They -- Amida Buddha, Pure Land and so forth -- are samsara, all appearances, self-liberated / purified / transmuted into Nirvana here & now through the direct wisdom of directly perceiving / realising / abiding in the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, as pointed by concepts like the Union of the Two Truths, the Union of the three spheres, the Union of opposites, the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle. In that sense, with enlightenment, everything is perceived as already equal / pure / perfect / divine here & now -- beyond all dualities, beyond all conceptualisation & non-conceptualisation, discrimination & non-disctimination, action & non-action, thinking & non-thinking, samsara & nirvana.)

The true meaning of shunyata (of the Ground / Suchness / Dharmata / Reality / Buddha-nature / Genuine-emptiness ...) is completely revealed only when we take the 'revival' of form or of human conception into account. 

(i.e. The Ground is not mere-emptiness / mere-nothingness, or a Big Cosmic-something / Oneness, but the inconceivable Union of the inconceivable Two Truths free from all extremes & middle: The Union of conventional truths <==> and emptiness of inherent existence. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>).)

But it does not necessarily mean that any form or any concept is admissible. The 'revival' here means nothing other than the literal sense of the word, that is, a coming back to life (with a new vision & bodhicitta).

In shunyata, form dies and it comes back to life; this is what is meant here by 'revival'.
Form maintains its significance as shunyata only in that it has once died.

There is in Mahayana a noteworthy analysis of the highest truth (Gound) in two divisions -

  1. the 'mundane' truth (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless) and 

  2. the 'supramundane' truth (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely) - usually termed 'Two Truths'. 

  3. The relationship between the two (their inseparability / interdependence / harmony / Union) has been given in diverse ways but, in order to avoid confusion,
    the 'Two Truths' doctrine is discussed here only as
    Two [Inseparable, Interdependent] Aspects of [the Ground] shunyata

-

  1. One is the highest truth (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely), which is formless and beyond conceptual understanding, 

  2. and the other, the manifestation of the formless in the realm of human conception,
    that is, form (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless).

It was Nagarjuna who first presented the notion of [Harmony / Union of the] 'Two Truths' as an analysis of (the Ground) shunyata

  1. The highest truth (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely) (paramarthasatya) is beyond words or description, i.e. beyond the reach of conceptual understanding 

  2. and yet it was presented by the Buddha Shakyamuni as his teaching (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless) so that our conceptual understanding could grasp it. 

It is in this sense that the teaching is regarded as an 'expedient means' (upaya), often likened to a finger pointing to the moon. What is crucial about this metaphor is that the finger and the moon are mutually reflexive (Union of the Two Truths: Union conventional / relative <==> absolute). 

  1. Without the finger, the moon would not be known. 

  2. Without the moon, there would be no need for the finger pointing to it. 

  3. The one is involved (implies) in the other.
    The finger and the moon are inseparable (in Union).
    In this sense, the 'two truths' may be called the 'twofold truth'
    (i.e. the Inseparability / Interdependence / Harmony / Union of the Two Truths).

Kumarajiva, in his treatment of shunyata philosophy in translating Nagarjuna into Chinese, used the term chia-ming ("name only for a temporary use") for the mundane aspect of the truth (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless). 

  • 'Temporary' (impermanent) in this compound represents the negative aspect of the highest truth (the Ground). 

  • 'Negative' in this case means the non-substantial nature of beings from the viewpoint of the truth of shunyata. (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely)

  • 'Name' represents the positive aspect (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless) in which conceptual understanding 'revives' only after it is once negated. 

  • Even shunyata is a 'name only for a temporary use' so long as it is expressed in order for our conceptual understanding to grasp it. (i.e. Even the two truths are conventionally conventional truths <==> but ultimately empty of inherent existence. This is the Union of the Two Truths about the two truths themselves.)

It is chia-ming (1st aspect / truth) which is the very ground of Pure Land Buddhism
and which refers to the 'positive' phase of shunyata (of the Ground)
expressed in 'forms' (its displays / manifestations / appearances (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless)).


[D. T'AN-LUA (trained in San-lun Buddhism) and the two inseparable aspects of dharmata / Reality / Ground, or the inseparable dharmakaya & rupakaya - trikaya]

(See: Wikipedia - Tan-luan)

(See: T’an-luan (476–542): The founder of the Chinese Pure Land school.
💖 Initially, he studied four (Madhyamaka) Treatises — The Treatise on the Middle Way (Nagarjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā), The One-Hundred-Verse Treatise (Aryadeva’s Catuhsataka sastra karika nama), The Treatise on the Twelve Gates (of Nagarjuna), and The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā).
He further undertook the task of writing a commentary on the Great Collection Sutra, but his health failed and he traveled south to visit a Taoist teacher, T’ao Hung-ching, to master the secrets of immortality. After receiving a Taoist scripture about immortality, he returned north and at Lo-yang met Bodhiruchi, who was versed in the Pure Land teachings. Bodhiruchi taught him that one could attain everlasting life only through the Pure Land teachings, giving him a Pure Land scripture, the Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra. T’an-luan was so impressed by it that he discarded the Taoist text and devoted himself to the practice of the Pure Land teachings. He stressed the practice of the Pure Land teachings as the “easy-to-practice way” that enables all people to attain rebirth in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land, and rejected all other practices as the “difficult-to-practice way,” and wrote The Commentary on “The Treatise on the Pure Land,” The Hymn in Verse to Amida Buddha, and other works. He is revered as the first of the five patriarchs of the Chinese Pure Land school and also regarded as the founder of the Four Treatises (Ssu-lun) school, which was based upon the above four treatises.)

(See: Wikipedia - East Asian Madhyamaka refers to the Buddhist tradition in East Asia which represents the Indian Madhyamaka (Chung-kuan) system of thought. In Chinese Buddhism, these are often referred to as the Sānlùn ("Three Treatise") school, also known as the "emptiness school" (K'ung Tsung), although they may not have been an independent sect. 💖 The three principal texts of the school are the Middle Treatise (Zhong lun), the Twelve Gate Treatise (Shiermen lun), and the Hundred Treatise (Bai lun). They were first transmitted to China during the early 5th century by the Buddhist monk Kumārajīva (344−413) in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. The school and its texts were later transmitted to Korea and Japan. The leading thinkers of this tradition are Kumārajīva's disciple Sēngzhào (Seng-chao; 374−414), and the later Jízàng (Chi-tsang; 549−623). 💖 Their major doctrines include emptiness (k'ung), the middle way (chung-tao), the twofold truth (erh-t'i) and "the refutation of erroneous views as the illumination of right views" (p'o-hsieh-hsien-cheng).)

In the history of Pure Land Buddhism, it was T'an-luan (476-542 C.E.) in the Wei dynasty who developed the chia-ming ("name only for a temporary use") aspect of shunyata to its fullest as a means of clarifying the significance of the various features of Amida Buddha and the Pure Land. (i.e. Like trying to justify the Pure Land approach using Madhyamaka logic as he learned from his study of the four Madhyamaka Treatises.)

As noted above, such a conceptualized presentation is criticized for its attachment to 'form' by those who grasp shunyata in a one-sided way.

Trained in the San-lun school, a Chinese Madhyamika tradition, T'an-luan investigated the meaning of shunyata in Pure Land literature. His writing, Ojoronchu (Chin-t'u-lun-chu), a commentary on The Discourse on the Pure Land attributed to Vasubandhu, is a presentation of his view of shunyata on the basis of its chia-ming aspect.

The Discourse on the Pure Land is noted for Vasubandhu's worship of Amida and also for the analysis of Amida and the Pure Land as objects of contemplative practice, which finally leads the practicer to acquire prajna or non-discriminating wisdom. This means that through contemplation on the features of Amida and the Pure Land through conceptualized presentation of the highest reality in 'forms', the practicer reaches the realization of the 'formless' reality. That is, he acquires prajna.

In the Discourse, the attributes of Amida and the Pure Land are expressed as the 'twenty-nine adornments' which appear to be derived from the three Pure Land sutras. What is noteworthy in the description of the twenty-nine adornments is that a single characteristic is extracted from among them and spoken of as the 'virtue of purity'. This 'purity', the basis of the twenty-nine adornments, is, according to Mahayana terminology, none other than the formless highest reality. Thus, 'purity' as the basic attribute of the highest reality covers all the attributes of Amida and the Pure Land.

The Discourse also states:

The adornments of the Land of the Buddha of immeasurable life
are expressions of the wondrous state in which the highest reality manifests itself (SSZ 1, 273).

(i.e. They -- Amida Buddha, Pure Land and so forth -- are samsara, all appearances, self-liberated / purified / transmuted into Nirvana here & now through the direct wisdom of directly perceiving / realising / abiding in the inconceivable true nature of Reality as it is here & now, as pointed by concepts like the Union of the Two Truths, the Union of the three spheres, the Union of opposites, the Middle Way free from all extremes & middle. In that sense, with enlightenment, everything is perceived as already equal / pure / perfect / divine here & now -- beyond all dualities, beyond all conceptualisation & non-conceptualisation, discrimination & non-disctimination, action & non-action, thinking & non-thinking, samsara & nirvana.)

Needless to say, this statement signifies that the twenty-nine adornments are not an arbitrary mythological description of Amida and the Pure Land but expressions of the highest reality manifesting itself in form. In other words, only Buddhas can express their enlightenment in form.

(i.e. The approach seems like this: if one admire & makes prayers to Amida, and hopes for a rebirth in his Pure Land, then this will help him gain insights into the true nature of Reality, the equality / purity / perfection / divinity of everything here & now, and thus accomplish the intended fruition: he will meet Amida and be reborn in Pure Land -- not somewhere else but here & now.)

T'an-luan's intention in writing the Commentary on the Discourse is clearly known to be

an extension of this movement from formless (2nd truth as mere emptiness) to form (1st truth);

this is the basic thought presented in the following passage:

Because dharmata is stilled of (free from) attachments (naked, pristine), dharmakaya is formless (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely).
Because it is formless, it can express itself in any form (rupakaya) (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless).
Hence, the feature of the Buddha and the adornments of the Pure Land, which are precisely dharmakaya (i.e. in accord with the true nature of Reality as it is here & now: the self-arisen unalterable eternal pure Ground as pointed by the inconceivable Union of the Two Truths free of all extremes & middle) (SSZ 1, 337).

(i.e. the Union of the Ground <==> and its displays;
Union of dharmakaya <==> rupakaya);
Union of the Two truths: Union ultimate truth <==> conventional / relative truths.)

T'an-luan's usage of dharmakaya extends into the two aspects of dharmata (Ground], the formless reality.
(i.e. Union of the Ground <==> and its displays; = Union of the Two Truths; = Union of the two aspects of dharmata; = Union dharmakaya <==> rupakaya; = Union of the three kayas.)

  1. In one aspect, it is nothing but the formless dharmata (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely), 

  2. and in the other, it is an inevitable and spontaneous manifestation of the formless in form, the adornments of the Pure Land (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless). 

This view is also seen clearly in T'an-luan's interpretation of the twofold dharmakaya [Ground]:

Among Buddhas and bodhisattvas there are two aspects of dharmakaya

  • dharmakaya as suchness (as the Ground or as the) (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely) and 

  • dharmakaya as compassionate means. (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless)

  • Dharmakaya as compassionate means (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless)
    arises out of dharmakaya as suchness (as the Ground or as the) (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely), (and vice versa)

  • and dharmakaya as suchness (as the Ground or as the) (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely)
    emerges [into the realm of human comprehension] through dharmakaya as compassionate means. (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless) 

  • These two aspects of dharmakaya differs but are not separable; they are one but not identical (SSZ 1, 336-37).

  • (i.e. Union of the Ground <==> and its displays; = Union of the Two Truths; = Union of the two aspects of dharmata; = Union dharmakaya <==> rupakaya; = Union of the three kayas. The apparent opposites are more like inseparable, interdependent, co-defined, co-relative, co-dependent, co-emergent, co-evolving, co-ceasing / co-transcended, equal / pure / perfect / divine / non-dual / one -- in the non-dual sense of those terms using the tetralemma <==> tjus both empty of inherent existence.)

It goes without saying that Amida Buddha and the Pure Land are a manifestation of dharmakaya as suchness (as the Ground or as the) (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely) in the realm of human comprehension as dharmakaya as compassionate means (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless). The adornments of the Pure Land are, therefore, one with the formless dharmata.
(i.e. Union of the Ground <==> and its displays; = Union of the Two Truths; = Union of the two aspects of dharmata; = Union dharmakaya <==> rupakaya; = Union of the three kayas.)) 

In T'an-luan's (San-lun) terminology, the twofold dharmakaya [Ground]
is a synonym of the twofold reality, the [Union of the] 'two truths'.

In this context, upaya, which was originally 'the teaching' in the sense of finger pointing to the moon, greatly changes its meaning. The original Chinese for 'dharmakaya as compassionate means' is fang-pien fa-shien (Jap. hoben-hosshin), of which fan-pien is upaya

Upaya is here used to refer to the emergence of the formless reality [Gound] in human comprehension as form [conventional reality]; this is the work of dharmata as compassionate means. (i.e. this is the 3rd qualities of the Ground: its compassionate energy / dynamism / the result of the fact that one truth implies the other, that although everything is empty of inherent existence <==> appearances spontaneously emerge from emptiness or the Ground or the Union of the Two Truths.)

Dharmata does not remain inactive (static) in the realm beyond human conception (Enlightenment).
(i.e. The Ground is not static / separate from its displays / manifestations / appearances, from its dynamism. Dharmakaya is not static / separate from the sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya. This is the concept of trikaya; or the inseparability of body, speech & mind -- pure or impure --; or the inseparability of the three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.)

Further, T'an-luan carefully developed the chia-ming aspect of dharmata. In line with 'dharmakaya as compassionate means', an outflow of the highest reality as various features of Amida and the Pure Land,
he also discusses the issue of man's 'birth' in the Pure Land.
This 'birth' is apt to be considered substantial and contradictory to the Buddhist idea of anatman, or 'no-self':

The 'birth' to which Bodhisattva Vasubandhu aspires refers to being born through causal conditions. Hence it is provisionally termed 'birth'. This does not mean that there are real beings or that being born or dying is real, as ordinary people imagine (SSZ 1, 283).

(i.e. The three stages of becoming -- origination / beginning / birth / before / past, duration / middle / life / change / during / present, cessation / ending / death / after / future -- are said to be valid conventional / relative truths (1st truth -- not complete non-existence, but conventional / relative existence) <==> but, ultimately, they are empty of inherent existence (2nd truth - not really existent). Appearing but empty, empty but still appearing. One aspect / truth implies the other (<==>). Meaning everything is not permanent / continuous / eternal, not impermanent / discontinuous / annihilated, not both together, not neither. From one moment to the next, or from one rebirth to the next, of from samsara to nirvana, the individual before during and after, is not different / separate / multiple / dual, not identical / united / one / non-dual, not both together, not neither; not existent, not non-existent, not both together, not neither. Meaning the true nature of any thing, being or action, is beyond all conceptual elaborations, beyond all extremes & middle, beyond all conditioning / karma.

So, the individual, the Pure Land, the three Jewels, samsara & nirvana … are all ultimately empty of inherent existence (2nd truth - absence - ultimate truth - emptiness of inherent existence - meaning not really existent on its own / separately / independently / universally / absolutely) <==> because conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances, conventional truths & methods & goals (1st truth - presence - relative / conventional tools truths methods goals - conventionally dependently co-arisen relatively functional impermanent appearances - meaning: not completely non-existent / meaningless / useless). One aspect / truth implies the other (<=>). We can use them as possible temporary imperfect impermanent adapted skillful means, but never grasping them, never becoming attached to them, never becoming slaves to them, never thinking they are existing inherently / separately / universally / absolutely.)

(See also: http://www.nembutsu.info/tokumaha.htm )

The 'provisionally termed "birth"' in this translation is, needless to say, the 'birth' under 'name only for temporary use' (U2T: conventionally existent, but not ultimately existing) because it is involved in the realm of dharmakaya. T'an-luan uses this concept of chia-ming to refer also to aspirants for 'birth' in the Pure Land, calling them 'persons of "name only for a temporary use" (U2T: conventionally existent, but not ultimately existing). What evokes our attention concerning the aspirants of 'birth' in the Pure Land is that he uses the concept of chia-ming for beings both in this world and in the Pure Land, i.e. 'a person in name only for temporary use in the Pure Land' (U2T: conventionally existent, but not ultimately existing). This means that he presented the concept of chia-ming as something which covers the two worlds - the human and the Buddha's - and that in becoming a person of chia-ming in this world, one becomes a person of the Pure Land.

Here we find that the crucial point of T'an-luan's presentation is how to become a person of chia-ming. T'an-luan's Commentary does not talk about it apart from the 'five contemplative practices' as developed in the Discourse. But for ordinary illusion-filled persons in this world, it is still extremely difficult to become a bodhisattva performing the contemplative practices.

In this respect, we have to wait for Shinran's presentation of the true significance of the attainment of 'birth' in the Pure Land which includes the notion of chia-ming of 'dharmakaya as compassionate means' in its most profound sense of shunyata.


Footnotes

1 Hisamatsu Shin'ichi, 'Mushinron' (Atheism) in Hisamatsu Shin'ichi Chosakushu (Tokyo 1972)Volume II, pp.78-79.

2 Hisamatsu, 'Mushinron', p.83

3 Hisamatsu Shin'ichi, 'Zen as the Negation of Holiness' in Franck ed., The Buddha Eye (New York 1982), p.173.

4 Hisamatsu, 'Zen as the Negation of Holiness' p.174.

5 Yoshifumi Ueda, ed. The True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way, Vol.II (Kyoto 1985), p.201.

6 Gadjin Nagao, 'Ascent and Descent: Two Directional Activity in Buddhist Thought', Presidential Address for the 6th Conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Tokyo, 1983.

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Quotes

“Vast emptiness, nothing holy.”
― Bodhidharma

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Still practicing ~ Patrul Rinpoche

You know the relative to be a lie, yet still you practise the two accumulations.

You realize that in the absolute there is nothing to be meditated on, yet still you practise meditation.

You see the relative and absolute as one, yet still you diligently practise.

Peerless teacher, at your feet I bow.


– Patrul Rinpoche

from the book "Words of My Perfect Teacher"

https://www.facebook.com/.../a.11564614.../1427824170896594/ 

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The Huayan patriarch Chengguan writes:

“The great path originates in the mind,

The mind-dharma originates in nonabiding.

In the essence of the nonabiding mind,

𝗡𝘂𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗱𝗮𝗿𝗸.

Nature and characteristics are quiescent,

And subsume all meritorious functions.”


Jr. Robert E. Buswell translation

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=4097610156917035&id=1777650852246322 

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"Dharmata does not remain inactive in the realm beyond human conception."

-- From: Shunyata in Pure Land Buddhism - Michio Tokunaga

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What the Buddha taught ~ Nagarjuna

Just as a grammarian first has students

Read a model of the alphabet,

Buddha taught students

The doctrine that they could bear.

(i.e. Using adapted skillful means)


To some he taught doctrines

To turn them away from ill-deeds.

To some, for the sake of achieving merit.


To some, doctrines based on duality (or Buddha-nature & Pure Land).

To some, doctrines based on non-duality (or Emptiness).


To some, what is profound and frightening to the fearful –

Having an essence of emptiness and compassion –

The means of achieving unsurpassed enlightenment.

(i.e. The Middle Way free of all extremes & middle; Union of opposites; ex. Union duality <==> non-duality; Union Buddha-nature <==> Genuine-emptiness)


– Nagarjuna

Precious Garland (stanzas 394-396)

quoted in the book "Tsong-kha-pa's Final Exposition of Wisdom"

translated by Jeffrey Hopkins

Via: Just Dharma Quotes

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A Talk To Western Buddhists

To study Buddhism and then use it as a weapon in order to criticize others' theories or ideologies is wrong. The very purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticize others. Rather, we must criticize ourselves. How much am I doing about my anger? About my attachment, about my hatred, about my pride, my jealousy? These are the things which we must check in daily life with the knowledge of the Buddhist teachings.


As Buddhists, while we practice our own teaching, we must respect other faiths, Christianity, Judaism and so forth (like different styles of Buddhism, different adapted skillful means). We must recognize and appreciate their contributions over many past centuries to human society, and at this time we must strive to make common effort to serve humankind.


Sectarian feelings and criticism of other teachings or other sects is very bad, poisonous, and should be avoided.


-- HH Dalai Lama

A Talk to Western Buddhists, p. 87

Via: https://www.facebook.com/michael.gregory.9212/posts/3741141835965439 

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