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Vajra Fist

Medicine Buddha

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1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

 

But the Pure Land is full of godlike pleasures and infinitely more comfortable than life on earth. Beautiful sights, sounds, and scents, food that magically materializes, etc. Far from a spartan retreat it's a psychedelic wonderland of bright colors, jewels, flowers. The absence of mountains, animals, etc. isn't because these things would be too pleasurable but because they are considered unpleasant, as either symptoms or causes of suffering.

 

If a life of an animal is a state of suffering then I don't see why you'd wish their existence. And if they did exist in form but were manifestations of the Buddha's will, I don't see how that would detract from your experience of them. If anything they would be more wonderful to look at. I don't understand where the mountain thing comes from. Mount Sumeru is supposed to be in the centre of the pure land.

 

But all this is probably just idle chat. It's my feeling that the pure land probably manifests differently to different beings within it, depending on their remaining karma, with the final ultimate state only able to be understood when you attain awakening. 

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Just now, Vajra Fist said:

 

If a life of an animal is a state of suffering then I don't see why you'd wish their existence.

 

 

True. That is a Buddhist teaching that I have always found hard to accept- yes, it is plain that many animals suffer, but it also seems plain to me that they have an inherent dignity and goodness, not simply as sentient beings but as they are- birds, fish, insects, mammals, etc. That animal species are not just a woeful, transitory condition of ignorance and suffering but  beautiful expressions of the creative power of the Dao/ Heaven/ Mind. (Yes, even the tapeworms and centipedes).

 

Just now, Vajra Fist said:

 

Mount Sumeru is supposed to be in the centre of the pure land.

 

In the sutric descriptions it is not. It is possible that Sumeru features in Vajrayana descriptions. The Longer Pure Land Sutra says, "In that land, there are no mountains, such as Mount Sumeru and the Encircling Adamantine Mountains." Interestingly, it then says: "But one can see those manifestations by the Buddha's power if one so wishes."

 

 

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Interesting exploration of the concept of suffering versus discomfort and pain.

 

I don't know that animals suffer.  This seems like an assumption.

It's clear that if one manifests in a body, there may be discomfort or pain... this does not to me imply one must suffer.

 

I lived in chronic debilitating and crippling pain for years.

Eventually there was still chronic pain, but suffering dissolved.

 

To me, suffering is a crisis of perception; a product solely of mind, a rejection of what is as it is.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

That animal species are not just a woeful, transitory condition of ignorance and suffering but  beautiful expressions of the creative power of the Dao/ Heaven/ Mind.

 

Thanks for sharing this. I wonder if they can be both? Otherwise why would there be different species? Why the power and perfect economy of movement in a cat, or the delicate beauty of a bird. I wonder if that beauty in form tells us more about the nature of the universe than the nature of that incarnation itself. 

1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

the sutric descriptions it is not.

 

Thanks for the correction. It's been a few years so I guess it's time to read it again.

 

1 hour ago, silent thunder said:

To me, suffering is a crisis of perception; a product solely of mind, a rejection of what is as it is.

 

 

That's a great point. I would think that is a perfect definition of what it means to suffer as a human. I would say though that animal's suffering seems to come from ignorance. If you've seen a cow's eyes at a slaughterhouse you'd know it. Panic but also incomprehension. Similar to how a dog looks after being seriously mistreated by an owner. Hurt, but also a hurt from not knowing why. 

Edited by Vajra Fist
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Does anyone know much about manjushri mantra? As I've had a lot more time to experiment with the lockdown I found that I really like this one. aside from making one smarter I wonder what other benefits come from it?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dmattwads said:

Does anyone know much about manjushri mantra? As I've had a lot more time to experiment with the lockdown I found that I really like this one. aside from making one smarter I wonder what other benefits come from it?

 

Is there any particular form of Manjushri that you are drawn to? 

The invocation of Manjushri is especially helpful for those who devote themselves to Dharma study - is this part of your practice? 

 

The main purpose of the Manjushri sadhana is to resolve the four misconceptions (aka four distortions) of the path. By resolving these four misconceptions, it is believed that Manjushri will aid the practitioner in developing the four wisdoms. 

 

The first misconception is that transient phenomena (impermanence) is mistaken to be static, unchanging, solid, and permanent. 

 

The second misconception is that we look for satisfaction in things that are by nature without such a quality. 

 

The third misconception is thinking that impure things are pure, and pure things are impure. This gives rise to delusion. 

 

The fourth misconception is having the view that what we perceive as the material world have a concrete essence. 

 

The four wisdoms: 

Innate wisdom that we are born with (intuitive knowing) carried over from previous lives. 

Wisdom of hearing

Wisdom of contemplation (or thinking & reflecting)

Wisdom from meditation

 

In some traditions, empowerment or initiation is a prerequisite for undertaking the Manjushri sadhana.

Its quite a complex practice that involves taking refuge, generating the Four Great Wishes, appropriate visualizations, recitation of the seven limb prayer, and closing with the proper dedication. 

 

Without establishing the complete practice, the mere recitation of the mantra will lack efficacy. 

Some benefit may arise, but it might not penetrate deep enough to effect changes at the subtle level. 

 

Hope that helps a little. 

Edited by C T
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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, C T said:

 

Is there any particular form of Manjushri that you are drawn to? 

The invocation of Manjushri is especially helpful for those who devote themselves to Dharma study - is this part of your practice? 

 

The main purpose of the Manjushri sadhana is to resolve the four misconceptions (aka four distortions) of the path. By resolving these four misconceptions, it is believed that Manjushri will aid the practitioner in developing the four wisdoms. 

 

The first misconception is that transient phenomena (impermanence) is mistaken to be static, unchanging, solid, and permanent. 

 

The second misconception is that we look for satisfaction in things that are by nature without such a quality. 

 

The third misconception is thinking that impure things are pure, and pure things are impure. This gives rise to delusion. 

 

The fourth misconception is having the view that what we perceive as the material world have a concrete essence. 

 

The four wisdoms: 

Innate wisdom that we are born with (intuitive knowing) carried over from previous lives. 

Wisdom of hearing

Wisdom of contemplation (or thinking & reflecting)

Wisdom from meditation

 

In some traditions, empowerment or initiation is a prerequisite for undertaking the Manjushri sadhana.

Its quite a complex practice that involves taking refuge, generating the Four Great Wishes, appropriate visualizations, recitation of the seven limb prayer, and closing with the proper dedication. 

 

Without establishing the complete practice, the mere recitation of the mantra will lack efficacy. 

Some benefit may arise, but it might not penetrate deep enough to effect changes at the subtle level. 

 

Hope that helps a little. 

 

I only know of one manjushri mantra. Om A Ra Pa Ga Na Dhi.

 

And yes I study the Dharma extensively.

Edited by dmattwads

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, SirPalomides said:

Where I am, Amitabha's Pure Land doesn't sound that appealing. Everyone looking the same? No mountains or oceans? No penguins, giraffes, or octopus? Everything perfectly even and symmetrical? It almost sounds like a shopping mall or a Disney park to me. That is my visceral reaction to it. However, if I lived in a place of rampant violence, cruelty, or instability, racked by earthquakes or storms, or, say, I was in an oppressive job carrying backbreaking loads up and down hills, I bet I would find the Pure Land a lot more appealing and my views of nature might be less rosy. So this might have to do with personal circumstances and propensities than philosophical disagreement.

 

I think another way of looking at the Pure Lands/Abodes rather than from own personal desires and enjoyments, is to look at it like a school for Bodhisattvas and future Buddhas. In other words, you will learn skills and develop abilities that will ensure you to move on toward the road of full Buddhahood with no chance of regression. At that point you can then decide, depending on your "higher mind" desires whether you wish to manifest emanation bodies (nirmāṇakāyas) into the various realms to help other sentient beings, and enjoy your mountains, oceans, penguins, giraffes and octopuses. 

 

Another point, that I think warrants mention, is that you do not enter the Pure Abodes unless you are already enlightened, or able to -- on your death bed -- to enter a perfected samadhi that allows your mindstream to align perfectly with Amitabha's pure abode with enough mental power/Shen. I personally believe that is the case, and it's not just a question of doing the mantra/dharani enough times or accumulating some number. It's about complete transformation. The same goes for entering the Maitreya's inner court in Tushita. 

Edited by anshino23
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19 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

 

I only know of one manjushri mantra. Om A Ra Pa Ga Na Dhi.

 

And yes I study the Dharma extensively.

 

Its not that each manifestation has a different mantra - its that Manjushri manifests in different forms, each serving certain specific functions. Even the individual syllables of the mantra denote specific activities. If you know the meanings, then thats very good. 

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4 minutes ago, anshino23 said:

Another point, that I think warrants mention, is that you do not enter the Pure Abodes unless you are already enlightened, or able to -- on your death bed -- to enter a perfected samadhi that allows your mindstream to align perfectly with Amitabha's pure abode with enough mental power/Shen.

 

This is one classical view of Pure Land, especially when Pure Land practice is within the context of a larger comprehensive system like Chan or Vajrayana, but it is one that is fiercely rejected in the tradition of Shandao, best known today in the Jodo and Jodo Shin Shu sects of Japan. Shandao's teaching has also seen a revival among Chinese Buddhists in the past few decades (the Chinese lineage did not survive persecutions of the late Tang dynasty and the key texts were preserved only in Japan). From their  perspective it is unrealistic to expect that we can become enlightened or single-minded enough to merit rebirth in the Pure Land- we have to depend on Amitabha's merits.

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6 minutes ago, anshino23 said:

 

I think another way of looking at the Pure Lands/Abodes rather than from own personal desires and enjoyments, is to look at it like a school for Bodhisattvas and future Buddhas. In other words, you will learn skills and develop abilities that will ensure you to move on toward the road of full Buddhahood with no chance of regression. At that point you can then decide, depending on your "higher mind" desires whether you wish to manifest emanation bodies (nirmāṇakāyas) into the various realms to help other sentient beings, and enjoy your mountains, oceans, penguins, giraffes and octopuses. 

 

Another point, that I think warrants mention, is that you do not enter the Pure Abodes unless you are already enlightened, or able to -- on your death bed -- to enter a perfected samadhi that allows your mindstream to align perfectly with Amitabha's pure abode with enough mental power/Shen. I personally believe that is the case, and it's not just a question of doing the mantra/dharani enough times or accumulating some number. It's about complete transformation. The same goes for entering the Maitreya's inner court in Tushita. 

 

If one has the good fortune of forming a strong bond/affinity with a realised guru then he or she can, thru Phowa, effectively liberate one's mindstream thats 'stuck' on the samsaric continuum and transfer that most subtle consciousness to said pure land, bypassing the bardo. This can be done even if there's distance between both. Powerful gurus have that psychic connection with their close students and disciples, and they will know when one is on the verge of dying. Even if they did not, it is said that the deceased will 'travel' to the guru after passing away, and if the deceased is 'aware' of the reason for being there, then it will remain in wait for the guru to effect the transference of consciousness, otherwise, if there is no awareness, it will not linger and just continue on into the bardo of becoming. 

 

But you are right - the entry point is when death occurs. This is my understanding. 

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I think in my experimentation this week with various mantras and chanting that the medicine Buddha seems to be digging up the most problematic karma.

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Posted (edited)

 

1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

 

This is one classical view of Pure Land, especially when Pure Land practice is within the context of a larger comprehensive system like Chan or Vajrayana, but it is one that is fiercely rejected in the tradition of Shandao, best known today in the Jodo and Jodo Shin Shu sects of Japan. Shandao's teaching has also seen a revival among Chinese Buddhists in the past few decades (the Chinese lineage did not survive persecutions of the late Tang dynasty and the key texts were preserved only in Japan). From their  perspective it is unrealistic to expect that we can become enlightened or single-minded enough to merit rebirth in the Pure Land- we have to depend on Amitabha's merits.

 

Great post. In the Shin tradition it is almost like you're imposing conditions on your own salvation when none or very few exist. The requirements for rebirth in the smaller sutra are really quite low. It is as simple as just one wish.

 

"Shariputra, if there are men who have already made, are now making, or shall make, prayer with the desire to be born in the land of Buddha Amitayus, they never fail to attain Anuttara-samyaksambodhi, and have been born, are now being born, or shall be born in that country"

Edited by Vajra Fist
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14 minutes ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

 

Great post. In the Shin tradition it is almost like you're imposing conditions on your own salvation when none or very few exist. The requirements for rebirth in the smaller sutra are really quite low. It is as simple as just one wish.

 

It kind of makes me think of Calvinism, except imagine the Calvinist god is not an evil sadistic bastard.

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3 hours ago, dmattwads said:

I think in my experimentation this week with various mantras and chanting that the medicine Buddha seems to be digging up the most problematic karma.

 

I'm going to contrast this against my previous post. Medicine Buddha seems to be dredging up some crappy karma.

 Amitofu makes me feel better.

It makes me think of what Bill Brodie said about finding one practice that you like and one that you hate. He says the one you hate is making you progress and the one you like keeps you from being too discouraged.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, dmattwads said:

I think in my experimentation this week with various mantras and chanting that the medicine Buddha seems to be digging up the most problematic karma.

well, you've already stated the best way to handle that. Let it go through without attachment.  It has to be done sooner or later.  It is just a matter of how much you handle at a time, eh?

Edited by moment

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4 minutes ago, moment said:

well, you've already stated the best way to handle that. Let it go through without attachment.  It has to be done sooner or later.  It is just a matter of how much you handle at a time, eh?

 

That is indeed the process 😌

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55 minutes ago, dmattwads said:

 

That is indeed the process 😌

 

Indeed! I wish you the best!

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Just tracked down some of the readings I asked Eric Isen to do when I first started Medicine Buddha around three years ago. The first one says it would "strengthen the immune system significantly."

 

He added in a follow up: "Activation of Qi and the first chakra. Purificaion of all the bodily meridians emanating from the spine. Health of the body improved."

 

The third reading was over the interaction between the Mani and prayer wheel practice and the Medicine Buddha mantra.

 

The mani ------------- "Very effective. Mainly cleansing at this point in time. Cleansing all the chakras and meridians and also the physical brain. Extremely beneficial for you."

 

 Is there any energetic conflict between the two mantras? ———————"Not at all. In fact the two really enhance each other. In fact practicing both stimulates the Qi to move as golden light up the spinal meridians into the higher chakras in the brain area. Very, very good."

 

Interestingly I asked him about the interaction between the mani & Medicine Buddha, and the Japanese pure land nembutsu. 

 

"No conflict in fact enhancement of your growth process. You could notice some emotional activity that might be a little rough for a short time due to cleansing of stress deposits in some of the meridians near the heart chakra. Ultimately that will be a good thing as it will be a cleansing of inner energetic blockages."

 

Although it's a different pure land mantra you're using @dmattwads and we're probably wired differently and getting different energetic effects from the practice, the purification reactions you're getting at the moment could be due to the particular interaction of the medicine Buddha mantra and the Amitofu recitation. 

 

- NB these readings are highly specific to my own energetic make up and you might get different results, or find that two practices that are compatible for me might not be for you. 

 

Also something that I found interesting with Medicine Buddha mantra is the melody you recite it to can have a different energetic effect. There are several versions on YouTube but I found this one has the most wholesome effect on me:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

Just tracked down some of the readings I asked Eric Isen to do when I first started Medicine Buddha around three years ago. The first one says it would "strengthen the immune system significantly."

 

He added in a follow up: "Activation of Qi and the first chakra. Purificaion of all the bodily meridians emanating from the spine. Health of the body improved."

 

The third reading was over the interaction between the Mani and prayer wheel practice and the Medicine Buddha mantra.

 

The mani ------------- "Very effective. Mainly cleansing at this point in time. Cleansing all the chakras and meridians and also the physical brain. Extremely beneficial for you."

 

 Is there any energetic conflict between the two mantras? ———————"Not at all. In fact the two really enhance each other. In fact practicing both stimulates the Qi to move as golden light up the spinal meridians into the higher chakras in the brain area. Very, very good."

 

Interestingly I asked him about the interaction between the mani & Medicine Buddha, and the Japanese pure land nembutsu. 

 

"No conflict in fact enhancement of your growth process. You could notice some emotional activity that might be a little rough for a short time due to cleansing of stress deposits in some of the meridians near the heart chakra. Ultimately that will be a good thing as it will be a cleansing of inner energetic blockages."

 

Although it's a different pure land mantra you're using @dmattwads and we're probably wired differently and getting different energetic effects from the practice, the purification reactions you're getting at the moment could be due to the particular interaction of the medicine Buddha mantra and the Amitofu recitation. 

 

- NB these readings are highly specific to my own energetic make up and you might get different results, or find that two practices that are compatible for me might not be for you. 

 

Also something that I found interesting with Medicine Buddha mantra is the melody you recite it to can have a different energetic effect. There are several versions on YouTube but I found this one has the most wholesome effect on me:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was great! Do you know how these mantras interact with regular breath meditation? That seems to have become a little more challenging during all of this.

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No conflicts for me, as far as I remember. But could be different for you. Or maybe it's just a sign of purification, difficult to tell

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7 minutes ago, Vajra Fist said:

No conflicts for me, as far as I remember. But could be different for you. Or maybe it's just a sign of purification, difficult to tell

 

For some reason I notice I tend to be very reactive to most practices. Not sure why.

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This is a great thread, thanks all! Personally I've practiced the Nembutsu (the Namu Amida Butsu variant) and Zhunti mantra consistently over the past few years.

For me, I've noticed that with both Zhunti and the Mani mantra the effect of occasionally "everyday things becoming challenging / life becoming harder". It always passes, and I feel all the better for it afterwards, and things seem to go more smoothly afterwards. The net effect feels positive. I've also noticed the wish-fulfilling effect with Zhunti recitation, especially with regard to professional obstacles. 

 

The Nembutsu (again, just for me) is very soothing, and doesn't seem to shift my life in the obvious ways as the Zhunti mantra does. It really does feel like taking refuge in the "cool shade of Amida's tree", as I saw referenced somewhere. 

 

For me the effects of all of them are more pronounced when I keep the following tips in mind: relax the chest, don't "resist", and let the feelings of joy naturally spring forth (but not forcing it). 

 

I haven't tried the Medicine Buddha mantra yet, but I'm now inspired to - thanks!

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55 minutes ago, nyerstudent said:

This is a great thread, thanks all! Personally I've practiced the Nembutsu (the Namu Amida Butsu variant) and Zhunti mantra consistently over the past few years.

For me, I've noticed that with both Zhunti and the Mani mantra the effect of occasionally "everyday things becoming challenging / life becoming harder". It always passes, and I feel all the better for it afterwards, and things seem to go more smoothly afterwards. The net effect feels positive. I've also noticed the wish-fulfilling effect with Zhunti recitation, especially with regard to professional obstacles. 

 

The Nembutsu (again, just for me) is very soothing, and doesn't seem to shift my life in the obvious ways as the Zhunti mantra does. It really does feel like taking refuge in the "cool shade of Amida's tree", as I saw referenced somewhere. 

 

For me the effects of all of them are more pronounced when I keep the following tips in mind: relax the chest, don't "resist", and let the feelings of joy naturally spring forth (but not forcing it). 

 

I haven't tried the Medicine Buddha mantra yet, but I'm now inspired to - thanks!

 

That's a very interesting description. I think I would describe my personal experiences with both of these mantras as being very similar to what you described.

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