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BUDDHA AMITABHA

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Thanks for this, lots of good information here. Interestingly I went through a stage of using the Shin recitation of 'Namu Amida Bu' for a while and then the Tibetan 'Om Amideva Hrih'. According to Eric Isen they both have very different energetic effects on the body. I imagine the ultimate goal is largely the same though. 

 

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I've been curious for a while as to the exact relation between the mantra and the sutra-based chanting of Amitabha's name. I know there has been debate between Vajrayana and sutric Mahayanists about some of the claims made on the efficacy of Mahayana practice, e.g. I believe there was a brief episode of Chan being introduced to Tibet but in a debate the lamas poured cold water on Chan claims to sudden enlightenment. Do Vajrayana Buddhists see the sutra-based Pure Land Buddhists as mistaken somehow in their belief that faith in Amitabha and chanting his name is sufficient to be reborn in the Pure Land? Are the mantra, sadhana, phowa, etc. necessary to this end, or just more reliable, or...?  

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48 minutes ago, SirPalomides said:

I've been curious for a while as to the exact relation between the mantra and the sutra-based chanting of Amitabha's name. I know there has been debate between Vajrayana and sutric Mahayanists about some of the claims made on the efficacy of Mahayana practice, e.g. I believe there was a brief episode of Chan being introduced to Tibet but in a debate the lamas poured cold water on Chan claims to sudden enlightenment. Do Vajrayana Buddhists see the sutra-based Pure Land Buddhists as mistaken somehow in their belief that faith in Amitabha and chanting his name is sufficient to be reborn in the Pure Land? Are the mantra, sadhana, phowa, etc. necessary to this end, or just more reliable, or...?  

 

Often wondered the same. If they believe in the power of the vow, then why practice phowa? Like all things in Tibetan Buddhism, there seem to be many strands.

 

For instance some authors like Tulku Thondup seem to suggest recitation is sufficient. I remember Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche wrote about Amitabha recitation at one stage but I can't track it down now. 

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2 hours ago, SirPalomides said:

Do Vajrayana Buddhists see the sutra-based Pure Land Buddhists as mistaken somehow in their belief that faith in Amitabha and chanting his name is sufficient to be reborn in the Pure Land?

 

Goal of vajrayana is buddhahood in this lifetime not rebirth in pure lands. That's also hinting towards that vajrayana practitioners would generally consider their path much faster than pureland. Thus it's IMHO not about sufficiency but efficiency.

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3 hours ago, SirPalomides said:

I've been curious for a while as to the exact relation between the mantra and the sutra-based chanting of Amitabha's name. I know there has been debate between Vajrayana and sutric Mahayanists about some of the claims made on the efficacy of Mahayana practice, e.g. I believe there was a brief episode of Chan being introduced to Tibet but in a debate the lamas poured cold water on Chan claims to sudden enlightenment. Do Vajrayana Buddhists see the sutra-based Pure Land Buddhists as mistaken somehow in their belief that faith in Amitabha and chanting his name is sufficient to be reborn in the Pure Land? Are the mantra, sadhana, phowa, etc. necessary to this end, or just more reliable, or...?  

 

It is definitely sufficient to recite the 'Namo Amitabha Buddha' and have faith. Otherwise Buddha would lie and that is nonsense.

 

The difference is a difference between realizing the nature of Amitabha through sadhana practice and meeting Amitabha face to face through his name and faith.

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I've been prompted to take up Pure Land nembutsu again after reading comments here and on the Medicine Buddha thread. Did 1000 recitations yesterday and had pretty extreme purification symptoms for the rest of the day, headaches, dizziness etc. Did it again today and felt a lot better. 

 

Going try to stick with it. Not sure if it will replace entirely my Mani and Medicine Buddha practice, but I feel it's more a direct route to sukhavati than the mantras I was practicing previously. 

 

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17 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

I've been prompted to take up Pure Land nembutsu again after reading comments here and on the Medicine Buddha thread. Did 1000 recitations yesterday and had pretty extreme purification symptoms for the rest of the day, headaches, dizziness etc. Did it again today and felt a lot better. 

 

Going try to stick with it. Not sure if it will replace entirely my Mani and Medicine Buddha practice, but I feel it's more a direct route to sukhavati than the mantras I was practicing previously. 

 

 

I would be interested to hear any further observations you have.

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After doing the mani mantra as my main practice(basically it was as much as i could day and night) for several years, i felt guided to use nianfo as my main practice. I use the 4 syllable chant of Amituofo as i found that easiest to keep going with the least effort. It is also much easier to keep it in mind amidst the various noise and distractions the world will throw at you when you get serious about it. 

 

I have been seriously on the path for close to 20 years. After exploring just about every major spiritual discipline available I have come to the conclusion that there really is nothing else like this path. When you take a cold hard look at the possibility of making it all the way in this lifetime without the personal guidance of a fully enlightened guru, the possibility is remote even if you are very serious and dedicated. 

 

With the pureland path if you dont make it this lifetime you are guaranteed to go all the way in the next lifetime with full access to all teachings, buddhas, high bodhisatvas, and a perfect environment where all experience of suffering comes to a halt and even the lowest experience constant peace and bliss. 

 

It really got my attention when i read that many confirmed zen masters turned to the pureland path after they were fully awakened. 

 

I have now been using the amituofo mantra as my main practice for a couple years now. It has many benefits such as increased feelings of peace and bliss and a general smoothing of the ups and downs of life. A feeling of connection to Amitabha Buddha and his all embracing light. 

 

It is also a complete practice as it includes samatha(stopping) and vipassana(observing). Stopping means reciting the name without other thoughts. Vipassana is reflecting back as you recite, observing from where the name arises and where it falls. Same as where all other thoughts, sensations, body and world also arise and fall. 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Who.am.i said:

After doing the mani mantra as my main practice(basically it was as much as i could day and night) for several years, i felt guided to use nianfo as my main practice. I use the 4 syllable chant of Amituofo as i found that easiest to keep going with the least effort. It is also much easier to keep it in mind amidst the various noise and distractions the world will throw at you when you get serious about it. 

 

I have been seriously on the path for close to 20 years. After exploring just about every major spiritual discipline available I have come to the conclusion that there really is nothing else like this path. When you take a cold hard look at the possibility of making it all the way in this lifetime without the personal guidance of a fully enlightened guru, the possibility is remote even if you are very serious and dedicated. 

 

With the pureland path if you dont make it this lifetime you are guaranteed to go all the way in the next lifetime with full access to all teachings, buddhas, high bodhisatvas, and a perfect environment where all experience of suffering comes to a halt and even the lowest experience constant peace and bliss. 

 

It really got my attention when i read that many confirmed zen masters turned to the pureland path after they were fully awakened. 

 

I have now been using the amituofo mantra as my main practice for a couple years now. It has many benefits such as increased feelings of peace and bliss and a general smoothing of the ups and downs of life. A feeling of connection to Amitabha Buddha and his all embracing light. 

 

It is also a complete practice as it includes samatha(stopping) and vipassana(observing). Stopping means reciting the name without other thoughts. Vipassana is reflecting back as you recite, observing from where the name arises and where it falls. Same as where all other thoughts, sensations, body and world also arise and fall. 

 

 

 

Great synopsis. Have you found it to help you with worldly issues as well?

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Posted (edited)

Great synopsis. Have you found it to help you with worldly issues as well?

 

In general, I would say yes. Most issues seem to work themselves out with more ease. It does seem to bring up much karma to be resolved as well. For more stubborn problems i might use various prayers to Avalokitesvara and Amitabha. 

 

Namo Avalokitesvara, buddha of great loving kindness,

Your form is white as you are unstained by any defect,

Your crown is adorned with the fully enlightened one Amitabha buddha,

Your eyes of lovingkindness watches over all beings,

Avalokitesvara, to you i pray,

Please come and grant your blessings.

3x+

 

Namo Amituofo,  Buddha of infinite light and infinite life,

I bow to you,

Have mercy on me,

Please come and grant your blessings

3x+

You can modify the words to better suit you. Those prayers have helped me to resolve some tougher situations. At the end you can make it more specific like help me with such and such.

 

During more formal practice i usually start with making a vow to go to pureland before chanting

 

Namo Amitabha Buddha,

Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva,

Namo Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva,

I vow to take birth in sukhavati, the land of bliss,

Please grant your blessings so it is accomplished quickly without hindrance

 

Hope this helps

Edited by Who.am.i
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52 minutes ago, Who.am.i said:

Namo Amituofo,  Buddha of infinite light and infinite life,

I bow to you,

Have mercy on me,

Please come and grant your blessings

3x+

 

Yes helpful, thank you. Interesting. I was unaware of such prayers.

 

The one to Amitofo Buddha kind of reminds me a little bit of the Orthodox Jesus prayer.

 

"Lord Jesus Christ son of God have mercy on me.". 

 

I have more confidence in the Buddhist stuff but have you ever experimented with the prayers of other traditions and if so was your impressions of their effectiveness?

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I actually made that one up for myself with various influences. The jesus prayer being one of them.  I used the jesus prayer intensely for a period of time. My main practice for the first 10 years of my spiritual life was self inquiry via Ramana Maharshi. It helped get my mind quiet and to see the true nature of the mind. After that i realized its always there just being covered over by karmic impressions. The jesus payer had the same effect by turning the mind back upon itself and led to surrendering to a higher wiser power. Same as all mantras and such. I got into the mani mantra to eliminate karmic hindrances and that led in to the pureland path. In that prayer i usually say "i surrender to you" instead of bow. And i find it has better flow when i eliminate the have mercy on me. 

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I've been doing a lot of Zhunti mantra lately. I've noticed similar experiences to what you were describing. The mantra seems to be powerful in dealing with karma and and having an effect on my mind but it's also powerful so I found it necessary to mitigate it with other practices. 

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What do you think of the mantra HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE? 

 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Cheshire Cat said:

What do you think of the mantra HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE? 

 

 

 

 

I really like it. I feel that it has a big effect in my heart and chest area and I feel a lot of compassion and kindness when I do it similarly to the mani mantra.

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I've noticed something lately. From what I've read different mantras affect different chakras. I had read that Amitofu was supposed to work primarily on the crown chakra. I've also noticed that if I do primarily this mantra that I eventually begin to feel more skeptical and doubting. If it acts primarily on the crown chakra that relates most to spirituality then I wonder if these thoughts and feelings which are basically the opposite of spirituality are the gunk being cleaned out of that chakra. I'd also heard that Zhunti mantra primarily affected the heart chakra. I noticed that if I spend a lot of time doing that mantra that I feel a lot of emotional issues which relate to the heart chakra.

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Posted (edited)
On 07/05/2020 at 1:21 PM, dmattwads said:

 

I would be interested to hear any further observations you have.

 

Honestly I'm a bit torn. I like practicing the Mani and the Medicine Buddha mantras, I have got a lot of benefits (better health, a carefree life, and a job with double the salary). According to a reading from Eric Isen yesterday:

 

"Very powerful opening of the first chakra and stimulation of kundalini up the spine working on opening all the chakras to the very top and clearing the brain."

 

While I'm getting these life benefits, I feel like what happens after death is a blank spot. While some Vajrayana teachers have said that the Mani can lead to rebirth in the pure land, there doesn't seem to be any sutra passages that back that up (please correct me if I'm wrong, I last read the¬†KńĀraŠĻኳćavyŇęha sutra a long time ago).

 

Also, Medicine Buddha sutra suggests that he will aid practitioners in getting rebirth in sukhavati, but it seems to be for exceptional people only (again, correct me if I'm wrong).

 

I read this from Honen today:

 

"Nembutsu is the practice taught in the essential vow of Amida Buddha. Other religious practices, such as observing the precepts, reciting a sutra, chanting dharani, and meditation on the noumenal aspects of reality, are not prescribed in the essential vow. For this reason, one who aspires for birth in the Pure Land must recite nembutsu first. It is acceptable for one to further perform other practices in addition to nembutsu, if one wishes. But, undoubtedly, nembutsu taught in the essential vow is sufficient in itself for birth in the Pure Land.

 

"Master Shan-tao taught that those who only observe practices other than nembutsu while desiring birth in the Pure Land will not achieve birth in the Pure Land. The sole practice of nembutsu is the karmic cause for the certain attainment of birth in the Pure Land."

 

Annoyingly, Eric told me that while I can practice the nembutsu with Medicine Buddha, there appears to be an energetic conflict when I practice all three. 

 

Also, replacing my all mantra practices with nembutsu doesn't seem to be as effective:

 

"Pretty good. Lot of purification of spinal nadis. Nowhere near the benefits of what you are doing now."

 

It would be easy to say that take everything Eric says with a pinch of salt. He's not a Buddhist and he's been wrong before. But I think he's spot on with the bit about purification of spinal nadis. When I practiced the 1000 recitations I had a really bad tension headache that came from my upper back and shoulders - ie. the spine. 

 

That said, Eric might only be seeing the short term effect from nembutsu practice. When he looks at my practice now, he's looking at something I've been practicing for year or two, so I might be further along.

 

I might have created a false dichotomy, but I feel like I'm faced with two choices:

 

1) a practice that generates a ton of merit, which translates into spiritual growth and material benefits, but does not guarantee me liberation from samsara.

 

2) a practice that might not offer so many life benefits in the short term, but offers peace of mind that comes from a guaranteed path to buddhahood.

 

I'm veering towards the second. It might be the harder path, but I think it's the better path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Vajra Fist
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Posted (edited)

Im just curious and have a question for mantra practitioners - Where does related visualization practices fit into your routine? 

 

Haven't seen it mentioned, unless it was somehow missed. 

Edited by C T

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31 minutes ago, C T said:

Im just curious and have a question for mantra practitioners - Where does related visualization practices fit into your routine? 

 

Haven't seen it mentioned, unless it was somehow missed. 

 

When I practice the Mani mantra I use a prayer wheel and perform the visualisation meditation outlined in the book 'Wheel of Great Compassion'. 

 

That is, visualising rays of light emanating from the wheel and purifying the karma in each of the six realms (hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, demi-gods, gods). 

 

The goal is to aim for one mala for each of the six realms, and cycle through them one by one. But I tend to recite slower, so it's often less than that. It's very similar to tonglen. 

 

Since we're on the topic of Amitabha, there's a fantastic guided visualisation by Tulku Thondup that comes with his book Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth. It's an hour long but is really great stuff. It's free on SoundCloud (he also has shorter meditations on Tara)

 

https://m.soundcloud.com/user-424344282/sets/tulku-thondup

 

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8 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

When I practice the Mani mantra I use a prayer wheel and perform the visualisation meditation outlined in the book 'Wheel of Great Compassion'. 

 

That is, visualising rays of light emanating from the wheel and purifying the karma in each of the six realms (hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, demi-gods, gods). 

 

The goal is to aim for one mala for each of the six realms, and cycle through them one by one. But I tend to recite slower, so it's often less than that. It's very similar to tonglen. 

 

Since we're on the topic of Amitabha, there's a fantastic guided visualisation by Tulku Thondup that comes with his book Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth. It's an hour long but is really great stuff. It's free on SoundCloud (he also has shorter meditations on Tara)

 

https://m.soundcloud.com/user-424344282/sets/tulku-thondup

 

Thank you, @Vajra Fist. It sounds like your practice has reached a fairly stable phase. 

 

Another question, if I may... At any point, do you visualize yourself as Chenrezig? 

If not, Do you perhaps generate aspirational prayers to invoke Chenrezig at the start of the session, followed by visualizing a fully adorned, iridescent, rainbow-coloured Chenrezig, first seated on a thousand-petalled ivory-colored translucent lotus within the heart space, then as your aspirations gain fervour, you become aware of Chenrezig, still seated on the lotus, rising up along the central channel to the crown area? 

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2 hours ago, C T said:

Thank you, @Vajra Fist. It sounds like your practice has reached a fairly stable phase. 

 

Another question, if I may... At any point, do you visualize yourself as Chenrezig? 

If not, Do you perhaps generate aspirational prayers to invoke Chenrezig at the start of the session, followed by visualizing a fully adorned, iridescent, rainbow-coloured Chenrezig, first seated on a thousand-petalled ivory-colored translucent lotus within the heart space, then as your aspirations gain fervour, you become aware of Chenrezig, still seated on the lotus, rising up along the central channel to the crown area? 

 

I don't. I'm sure that's probably the most correct way of practicing though. Do you practice in this way?

 

I've always struggled with deity visualisations, it seems to require a certain stability of mind perhaps from a foundation of mindfulness meditation. Sometimes I see Medicine Buddha during the mantra practice buy it's only a vague outline, like a shape underwater beneath a disturbed surface. 

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11 minutes ago, Vajra Fist said:

 

I don't. I'm sure that's probably the most correct way of practicing though. Do you practice in this way?

 

I've always struggled with deity visualisations, it seems to require a certain stability of mind perhaps from a foundation of mindfulness meditation. Sometimes I see Medicine Buddha during the mantra practice buy it's only a vague outline, like a shape underwater beneath a disturbed surface. 

 

Not necessarily the most correct because how the visualization is effected is contingent upon one's stage on the path. 

Since Chenrezig practice is non-tantric and does not require empowerment (the earliest mention of the mantra of Chenrezig is found in the Karandavyuha sutra, which isn't a tantric text), its practice forms are quite flexible. There's absolutely nothing wrong with your current practice. For those who've taken tantric vows, however, they would be performing the visualizations differently, thats all. 

 

Berzin Archives is a reliable resource, and if you're interested to gain a deeper view of tantric visualizations, Alex Berzin expounds it extensively here https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-studies/vajrayana/tantra-theory/visualization-practice-in-tantra

 

Also this, for perspective: https://buddhaweekly.com/tantra-helps-stop-ordinary-perception-the-fast-path-to-enlightenment-but-how-do-modern-buddhists-relate-to-deities/

 

According to Vajrayana, that vagueness you mentioned is due to the layers of mental coverings. As your practice progresses, its said these coverings form 'scabs' and eventually peel off. One reliable yardstick to measure how much progress has been made is the increasing clarity and refinement that arises with the visualizations, and to what extent does that clarity persists in the mindstream is also a factor. A beginner might only be able to hold a fuzzy image of Chenrezig for a couple of minutes at a time, whereas a more mature practitioner might be able to capture in his mind's eye all the intricacies and subtle details of a Chenrezig thangka for a lengthy period without being distracted. Such stability is crucial because it prepares the mind for what arises at the onset of the dying bardo. So, in essence, no matter which deity practice one does, its best to stick unwaveringly to one for the whole of one's life and really drive it deep so that it appears to you in waking states and in dream states, and finally, it will appear resolutely at the point of transition from this life into the intermediate bardo, which, according to Vajrayana, is what crowns one's practice. That is the very moment where liberation can happen. This is clearly explained in all the Bardo Thodol texts and commentaries. Excellent resource for the various texts here - https://www.lotsawahouse.org/topics/dying-bardos/

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, C T said:

Since Chenrezig practice is non-tantric and does not require empowerment

 

What do you conceptualize as tantra?

 

For me it's simply anything that skillfully accesses blessings of the enlightened mind-stream(s) and arouses the practitioner's body-mind to facilitate particular functions pertaining to awareness development. In this view all praying to Buddhas, visualization of Buddhas and their Pure Lands, related mantras, chanting names of the Buddhas, and so forth are indivorceably tantric practices even before the helpful attunements given by possible empowerments.

Edited by virtue

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