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Buddhism after the Appearance of Mahayanism

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					Buddhism after the Appearance of Mahayanism
• Multi-Buddhas theory • Multi-World systems
– ―universes are as numerous as the sands of Ganges‖ – Some of the world systems are Buddha fields (lands) in which a Tatagata lives and teaches the Dharma – Each Buddha land is a ―pure land‖—a pure world formed by jewels, gems, diamond bodies,…as opposed to ―impure‖ worlds formed by organic matters.

Better-Known Buddha Lands
• Abhirati, Land of Light in the East, presided by the Buddha Aksobhya, which means ―immovable‖ or ―imperturbable‖ • This pure land and the Buddha Aksobhya are not popular in East Asia, but are relatively popular in Tantrism • In art, he is represented in blue, holding a diamond in his right hand; his left hand is in the earth-witness gesture, with a blue elephant for his mount.

The Buddha Aksobhya

• Sukhavati, Land of Utmost Bliss in the West, presided by the Buddha Amitabha (Amitayus), which means ―immeasurable light/life span‖ • Story about this Buddha:
– Found in the Longer/Larger Sutra (one of the three major Pure Land Sutras)

• Amitabha song 1 • Amitabha song 2

Three Pure Land Sutras
• The Shorter/Smaller Sutra on Amitayus, The Longer/Larger Sutra on Amitayus, The Sutra on Contemplation of Amitayus • Amitayus (The Buddha of Infinite life) or Amitabha (The Buddha of Immeasurable Light) – O-mi-t’o fo, Wu-liangshou fo (Chinese) – Amida (Japanese) • Pure Land (Sukhavati):the Land of Utmost Bliss

Amitayu

Amitabha

A New Form of Buddhism?
• Early Mahayanists and Hinayanists saw problems of a new movement in Buddhist communities: the emergence of the Pure Land and the Amitabha cult
– It is an aberration from the Buddha’s original intention, because it no longer follows the Buddha’s path: self-reliance, strict ethical, mental, and spiritual disciplines – Rather, is stresses the worship of the Buddha Amitabha and the reliance on his saving grace— putting one’s faith in a powerful ―other‖.

Self-power vs. Other’s Power
• What caused the shift from ―self-discipline‖ to reliance on ―other’s‖ saving grace, and from reliance on ―austerity/effort‖ to reliance on ―faith‖? • The ―Three Stages/Periods Dharma‖ theory:
– The Period of the True Dharma (Zhengfa), 500 years – The Period of the Outer-Semblance (Xiangfa) of the Dharma, 1,000 years – The Period of the Decay of the Dharma (Mofa), 10,000 years

The Shorter/Smaller Sutra


Chinese translation was done by Kumarajiva (344413)  Great translator of Buddhist scriptures from Kucha  Arrived in China in 401  Translated 74 scriptures in 384 fascicles in total, including:
 



the Diamond Sutra the Lotus Sutra the Amitabha Sutra

 Major


Discourse--four parts:

Shakyamuni describes the land of Utmost Bliss and its presiding buddha, the Buddha Amitabha (Amitayus) He names some of the buddhas in other worlds who confirm the truth of his message as they praise the virtue of Amitayus He explains the nature of the trust and commitment required for rebirth in the Land of Utmost Bliss He explains how difficult it is to attain buddhahood and preach the message of the sutra







 Narrative structure--several voices:  Ananda (narrator)  an audience of thousands of monks, arhats, bodhisattvas….  Shariputra (a stand-in for the sutra’s readers or audiences)  Shakyamuni  Amitayus himself and the inhabitants of his Land

Pure Land according to the Smaller (Shorter) Sutra
• Dwellers – suffer no pain, but enjoy pleasures of various kinds – exquisite flowers offered to numerous buddhas – dwell in a stage of Nonretrogression • Nature scene: – seven-jeweled ponds with water of eight excellent qualities – beautiful, fragrant, and pure lotus in the ponds – Heavenly flowers rain down from the “sky”

A World of Gold and Gems
• Constructions: – Seven rows of balustrades, decorative nets, and trees – all made of four kinds of jewels – Pavilion adorned with seven jewels (gold, silver, beryl, crystal, sapphire, rosy pearls, and cornelian)

sapphire

cornelian

A World of Harmonious Music and Sounds
• Heavenly music • Sounds sung by
– Rare and beautiful birds of various colors
• white geese, peacocks, parrots

• Sound generated by soft breezes wafting through the jeweled trees and nets • People are spontaneously mindful of the Buddha when hearing the sounds

“Pure Land of the West,” anonymous, Tang Dynasty (618-905), from the Dunhuang Caves

“Pure Land of the West”, Anonymous, Tang Dynasty, from the Dunhuang Caves

Rebirth in Amitayus’ land
• A different type of rebirth – Suffer no more, enjoy endless bliss – Enjoy immeasurable life span – This birth/rebirth gives one a better chance to enter nirvana

Faith and Rebirth
• To attain rebirth in this Pure Land, one must
– accept this sutra – cultivate faith in Amitayus and His Pure Land – accept the notion of the Pure Land with trust and without question – aspire to the rebirth in Amitayus’ land of ultimate bliss. – hold fast to Amitayus’ name after hearing it

• The state of deliverance – at death, Amitayus will appear with other holy ones – aspirant’s mind will not fall into confusion – aspirant will be born in Amitayus’ land


				
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