Shuck and Jive

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For Thanksgiving from the Buddha

Wisdom from the Buddha for Thanksgiving:

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.

From the Daily Buddha:

Earth, water, sun and air, all live in this food I prepare. I feel gratitude for my food and all those beings involved in bringing it to my table. I prepare the meal with love, understanding and compassion, knowing these feelings will nourish those I feed.

1 comment:

  1. [J]ust as the momentary successes--and even the sustained diligence--of a low-status person cannot propel him through customary boundaries into augumented prestige in the temporal world, so, in the realm of the spirit, is he reincarnated only in accordance with his lowly birth; the followers of exclusive-nembutsu, however, foolishly believe that they can attain salvation through the power of Amida Buddha, despite their meanness. On the one hand, such a view betrays the arrogance of these particular establishment monks who came from aristocratic origins, but, on the other hand, strict correlations between temporal and religious class were in general an unquestioned fact.[13]

    .... [O]nly an elite few who could pass the national entrance examination could pass through the pillars of Buddhism proper; others could become private monks and practice outside its gates but could not participate in the political and economic privilages of the institution.... For those who were not officially "in," the gates of temples, which housed abbot-landlords, did not invite free access.... The gears of the Buddhism machine repelled impurities. In short, a deep gulf divided the temples from everyday life. (Machida 1999: 9-10)

    In Hônen's case, however, the core of his values was the transcendence of death through untainted faith in rebirth in the Pure Land. By the transcendence of death we do not mean that Hônen attempted to transcend death; it was for him death and its absolute inevitability that transcended all else. He thus disregarded the intellectual framework, the horizon of the thought system of his contemporaries--that is, the estate system in both its secular and religious forms. In the Senchakushu, he sweeps away ropparamitsu (the six pâramitâs)--charity, the observance of precepts, perserverance, motivation, meditation, and wisdom--and instead sheds light on the darker, lower rungs of the ladder of salvation:

    If financing towers and statues are a condition for salvation, then hopeless are the poor; if wisdom and ability are a condition, hopeless are the foolish; if vast learning is a condition, hopeless the unschooled; if observation of precepts is a condition, hopeless are the disobedient. The list goes on; however, few are the rich, the wise, the learned, and the observant, while many the poor, the foolish, the unschooled, and the disobedient.... Thus Amida vowed vocal-nembutsu, a practice open to all. (Z, 2:198-99)

    The temples of the Old Buddhist establishment craved ties to court nobles and other aristocratics precisely because the temples hoped for generous donations of status and towers.[16] For Hônen to deny any causality between such generosity and salvation was a deliberate challenge, and the order of temples could not ignore it--nor the absolute valuation of nembutsu that launched it. (Machida 1999: 10)

    13. Martin Collcutt (Review of Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth-Century Japan by Neil McMullin, Journal of Japanese Studies 12 [1986]: 406) suggests that "ôbô-buppô" (mutual dependence rhetoric) was a one-sided rhetoric on the part of the church and not the state. His claim may be justified in the late medieval period, but in the early thirteen century the parity between them was still intact because they needed to defend their common political and economic interests.

    16. See Taira Masayuki, Nihon chûsei no shakai to bukkyô (Tokyo: Haniwa Shobo, 1992), 293.

    Z = Ôhashi Shunyû, ed. Hônen zenshû.

    [See Sue Hamilton's Early Buddhism: A New Approach, chapter two, The Indian Context, for example of purity maps.]

    (Machida, Soho. Renegade Monk: Hônen and Japanese Pure Land Buddhism. Berkeley: University of California Press; 1999; c1999 pp. 9-10.)