Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Zen & Pure Land

Zen & Pure Land are the 2 most important Mahayana schools of Buddhism surviving in China today. Patriaches & masters from both schools often share a very close relationship with each other. Although many Zen masters extol the Pure Land after attaining enlightenment, but what many do not know is, before they reached that stage, they did not recite & meditate on koans at the same time, something which modern Buddhists tend to do.

We shoud know that Zen & Pure Land are 2 different schools & each has its own distinct method of practice. In the past, there was a Zen Master named Hanshan who taught people to try the dual practice of Buddha Recitation and Zen, taking the name of Amitabha Buddha as a Huatou or Koan, where you ask yourself "who is reciting Amitabha?" during Buddha Recitation. One who can practice recitation and then observe where Amitabha comes from and where He goes will, over a period of time, come to understand what Amitabha represents. This will allow his Panna or innate wisdom to flow forth. The method of meditating on "who is reciting Amitabha?" suggested by Hanshan may appear like a combination of both, but in reality it is a Zen method rather than a Pure Land method. It is a skillful means to teach those practitioners who are still unsure of which to follow. When I say this Hanshan is surely going to whack me with a stick!

While many scholars are correct to note that for the past few hundred yrs Chinese Buddhists have practice Zen & Pure Land together, but it is also precisely bcos of this that so few practitioners attain enlightenment in this era! Why? Distraction. If a person sometimes meditate on Koans, sometimes recite Amitabha, his time & effort is divided & cannot produce result. I can tell you for sure that those who did attain enlightenment by practicing Zen, they did not dilute their meditation with recitation; and for those who were reborn in the Pure Land through recitation, they certainly did not meditate on Koans as well!

"All wisdom comes from devotion", do not doubt the practicality of this great saying.


Anonymous said...

Hanshan is dead, so i am happily whack you with my stick.

Just adding a bit to my brother's comment here, if anyone is sincerely practising either zen or pureland or both, please consider chanting Mahakaruna Dharani aswell (please read the sutra of Mahakaruna Dharani). The benefit is certain, even if you want to become enlightenned or Buddha real soon or in this life, by the power of this Dharani and your sincerity, your wish will certainly be fulfilled.

Anonymous said...

One is cultivate to make strong good attachment to the phantom city.
One is the courageously to let go into the wood without map.
- not easy to meet


hoangkybactien said...

In names there are two. In essence they are inseparable.

Ch'an and Pureland are just like algebra and geometry. On the surface, geometry seems to deal more with shapes, whereas algebra seems to deal more with numbers. But in essence, one cannot exists without the other!