Monday, December 18, 2006

Very concise post on metta, Buddism, and other faiths

I recently stumbled across a blog by a Nichiren Shu minister. After getting up, I read a little. It's very good. Of course, you only have your evaluation of my subjective preferences to know what exactly that means, so here's a sample of a recent posting...
Does one need to be a Buddhist to go beyond the affect of loving-kindness to direct insight into the true nature of phenomena? Apparently not according to Buddhism because the private-buddhas and bodhisattvas are not necessarily Buddhist when they do so. However, I do believe that the method the Buddha described in terms of right concentration and right mindfulness (and the eightfold path in general) do need to be followed whether one does them as a self-conscious practice or just happens to follow through on that way of living, whether one calls them Buddhism or not. I think the eightfold path is like the law of gravity - that is the way spiritual maturity works. The Buddha taught it clearly and explicitly, but that does not mean a Calvinist or an Orthodox Jew or a Sufi or a secular humanist or whoever might not follow such a procedure either knowing or not-knowing that the Buddha taught it. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Digha Nikaya the Buddha specifically states that only those who follow the eightfold path will become liberated. To me, this is not sectarianism but merely the stating of a scientific principle. Gravity works whether you've heard of Newton or not.

Rev. Ryuei's Blah Blah Blaaaggghhh

It's well worth reading the whole thing. Just mind the bandwidth - if the site is down try again later. Oh yeah, this post on the Ten Vows of Universal Worthy/Virtue (from the Flower Garland Sutra?) is really good too. Click and read, my friends, click and read. If you liked those, here are a few others I fished out, especially if you have little experience with Nichiren Buddhism or it has come only through groups like SGI (no offense to that organization, by the way):

  • Objectless Meditation and Odaimoku-Answering the objection(s) that only silent practice focusing on increasing concentration can lead to a nonconceptual awareness, and that this is the sum of enlightenment.
  • Other-power, self-power, and the Death of God in the Poseidon Adventure-recognition that the seeming dichotomy between Zen as self-power and Shin as other-power is simplistic and misleading and how Nichiren Buddhism fits into this scheme.
  • Four Stages of Faith and Five Stages of Practice, and a note on Sudden Enlightenment/Gradual Practice-dispelling the notion that Nichiren Buddhism doesn't include elements of Buddhism such as the Eighfold Path or the Six Paramitas and clarifies them in terms of Nicheren's views on the Lotus Sutra.
  • Ethics and the Ten Worlds-similar theme as above, but applying the precepts to the notion of the Ten Worlds popularized by Nichiren Buddhism.
  • Odaimoku as our Primary Practice-interesting as it relays some interesting views on the meaning and purpose of the Odaimoku that may surprise those who have heard of the phrase being practically idolized and enshrined in linguistic innerancy.
  • The Real Gohonzon-as above, if your view of Nichiren Buddhism comes from pamphlets or superficial teachings, you might be surprised to read this piece, in particular the references to Shin and Zen.
  • Reexamining the Four Admontions-on a roll here, addressing another aspect of Nichiren Buddhism that other Buddhist bristle at, is the condemnation of other traditions (particularly those in Japan); again, a more nuanced view that gives a historical perspective and also highlights that what is being criticized isn't typical of all the people in the other traditions at all times.
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