Socially Engaged Buddhism (with reference to Australian society)

by Phuong Thi Thu Ngo | 2012 | 44,050 words

In this essay, the concept of socially engaged Buddhism will be discussed with exclusive focus on Australia. The term Socially Engaged Buddhism refers to an active involvement by Buddhist members in society and its problems, practitioners in this nascent movement seek to actualize traditional ideals of wisdom and compassion. Also dealt with are the...

Reciting the Buddha’s name (Pure Land)

After attaining enlightenment of prince “Siddhartha Gautama”, who became the Buddha, the Awakened One, turned his newly omniscient eye to view the world and see if there were beings around of sharp faculties and advanced religious practice that would be able to comprehend the fullness of his vision. When he had found such people, he went to them, preached to them, trained them, and led them to ovoid from the world of defilement and suffering into the peace Nirvana. Sadly, however, the world has changed and grown turbid since that time. Human lifespan has shortened, so that people who wish to practice do not have sufficient time to achieve enlightenment. Violence is rampant, virtuous teachers are scarce, and the chance of avoid has all but disappeared. Traditional means of Buddhist practice-meditation, moral conduct, philosophical reflection, and so onno longer provide a realistic hope for the vast majority of suffering beings at the Dharma ending age.

Even though, hope still remains for those trapped in the burning house of samsara which is meaning that world of fully suffering. Long ago, in an age separated from our own by countless eons, a monk named Dharmakara made a series of vows before a fully enlightenment Buddha named Lokesvararaja. He would do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to achieve a level of enlightenment so perfect that this pure karma would create a Buddha-land of utmost purity. Beings who dwelt in it would want nothing; their every need for food, clothing, and long life would be fulfilled simply by willing it. The Buddha that Dharmakara would become would be ever-present, along with celestial Boddhisattvas who would assist him, to provide training and instruction to all the inhabitants of this land. They could dwell in it for a time without limit, so that all would be assured of attaining buddhahood themselves. Best of all, being would not need to achieve perfect purity themselves before they could enter this land. In fact, all they would have to do is think of this Buddha, and call out his name, and he would come to meet them at the time of their deaths and escort them to this Pure Land. They needed only faith in him to attain rebirth there[1] . Which is one of the three significant elements were emphases by Amitabha Buddha to adopt them in his pure land that were Faith, Vows, and Practice, known as the essential conditions for rebirth in the Pure Land-in the Pure Mind. This approach is presented as the easiest, most expedient way for the majority of people in this day and age.

After the passage of an unimaginable span of time, Dharmakara achieved his goal. He became a Buddha named Amitabha (Immeasurable Light), or Amitayus (Immeasurable Light) and in so doing, satisfied all of the conditions of his vows. He indeed created a Pure Land, called Sukhavati, the land of Ultimate Bliss or Pureland[2] .

Pure land is belonging to Mahayana schools approach that employ, inter alias, the techniques of meditation/visualization (of pure land, Amitabha Buddha…) and of oral recitation of the Buddha’s name, to realize the paramitas.

That is, when a practitioner is busy visualizing the Buddha or reciting the Buddha’s name, one cannot commit transgressions or violate the Buddhist precepts. Therefore, one has effectively fulfilled the paramita of Discipline. Likewise, reciting the Buddha’s name with a completely focused Mind is nothing less than fulfilling the paramita of Concentration. Once concentration is achieved, the practitioner’s Mind becomes empty and still, leading to the emergence of one’s innate wisdom-the Wisdom of the Buddhas.

Thus, a Buddha Recitation practitioner, by dint of his own effect, effectively attains Buddhahood. This is a simple, straight-forward alternative to strict monastic ascetism (Theravada school), deep and extensive study of the Buddhist Canon (Sutra Studies School), esoteric yogic practices, ceremonies and services (Tantric school) or intensive meditation under the personal instruction of highly competent mentors (Zen).

According to Pure Land doctrine, however, most practitioners in this Degenerate Age find the “self–power,” self-help approach too difficult and arduous; therefore, in the Pure Land teachings, the Buddha and Sages compassionately emphasized the additional element of “other power.” This involves reliance on the Vows of Amitabha Buddha, made countless eons ago, to welcome and escort all sentient beings to his Land of Ultimate Bliss-an ideal training ground, an ideal environment. Once this “Land” is reached and training completed, the practitioners will naturally discover that “training is no training” and that the training ground, the Pure Land, is Mind-Only. Rebirth at the time of death is rebirth within our own Mind.

Therefore it can be practiced at anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances, with no special training or guidance. It’s also adaptable to all level of practitioners of intellectual and spiritual development.[3]

In this method, the ever-wandering mind is not only focused on many wholesome activities (bowing, reciting, circumambulation, etc.), it also has a single transcendental focus: Amitabha Buddha. A concentrated mind, free of greed, anger and delusion, is a pure mind. The Easy Path involves reliance on the power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, in particular Buddha Amitabha ("otherpower") in addition to one's own cultivation ("self-power"). Moreover, Pure Land draws upon Amitabha Buddha's Vow to rescue all sentient beings. Reciting His name tunes the practitioner in to that Vow, to that compassion.

To purify one mind cannot be achieved by study or verbalization alone. It can be attained only through determined practice. The goal espoused by all Buddhist schools is for the practitioners to achieved Buddhahood, i.e., to become an Enlightened Being. Thus, to practice Buddhism is to cultivate enlightenment, to attain wisdom.

Although there are many paths to reach this goal, they all involve severing greed, anger, aversion, desire and delusion, thus perfecting the qualities of the mind.

Overall, Buddhism has many paths that have been discussing as above but still many paths have not yet mention. In order to help all living beings the Lord Buddha compassionately show us so many ways to suite our karmic that we usually heard “Everyone have different karmas” so its tell us that each of us do not be afraid that we are not fit in the Buddha teachings, we all have our own choice to choose the ways as we like to practice to bring mind peace. But we do afraid that we do not have enough the merit will leading us not be able to see or hear the Buddha’s Dharma and we are not really have much times to put into practices in order to relief our bad past karmas and unwholesome roots. Therefore, we try to cultivating as like the fires it’s burning on our head. So we are not waste times and let times gone the way its waste.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

http://www.quangminh.org.au/index.comparision-of-zen-buddhism-and-pure-land-buddhism

[2]:

Heine. S &Prebish C. Buddhism in the Modern World. Adaptation of an Ancience Tradion. Oxford University express. 2003. P.125-126

[3]:

Pure Land Buddhism. Dialoges with Ancient Masters by Patriach Chih I and Master Ju. Translated by Master Thich Thien Tam. New York, third Edition: 1992

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