I do not know if they are mutually exclusive. I myself have gravitated more towards zazen practice over the last year or so, with some guidance from a rinzai zen master, after having practised a certain amount of the pureland approach. This may at first appear to be a counterintuitive move as it implies going from an 'easier' to a 'harder' approach. I can only say that it appears to have been the result of a type of progression which has occurred to me personally and not something i particularly planned for,
True Zazen is all-inclusive. There is no focus on any object in true Zazen. Continuity/oneness are what lies behind the delusion of separation. My power and other power are both delusions. It does not matter from which angle one approaches the truth - the goal is the same; to disappear into reality.
"Uniting Zen and Pureland
The essence of Zen is big mind and big heart. The essence of Pureland is that there is nowhere where the Light does not shine. These two are sides of a coin. Nothing is outside of the compass of one's spiritual life. There is nowhere where one's spiritual life is not supported."
From Dharmavidya on Facebook
This quote sounds spot on - if i may say so!!!!
It seems to me that we will run into the sand over and over if we seek any final and perfect marriage of these 'two' positions, because - and I know there are others here who know far more than I do about both Pureland and Zen - they are surely less hard-and-fast positions than two complex groupings that favour one or another way of talking about reality? Each way of talking favours certain priorities, and so each can usefully be framed as a 'position' from which to hold heated arguments other positions. (There's plenty of that in Honen's writing, isn't there?) Each of way of speaking may narrow into rigid certainties, or open out into truth.
We hear often how all such systems of thought give out at that point. The analogy that means the most to me - rather than the 'different paths up the same mountain' or 'different figers, same hand' - is that of desire-paths in a meadow, that slowly peter as you walk them, losing themselves in the unmapped space of the field.
More personally, my background was in a Zen-oriented Tibetan school before I came here. It was a great relief to find a new way of speaking in Pureland, that befriended the awkward facts of my experience (of myself, of others), and stopped framing practice in terms of attainment (however subtle). But after that relief, came the slowly resurgent recognition of the great value of what I had already been taught, and a need to honour that. So it has been a delight to see this 'boundary' relatavised in recent Amida letters.
Good morning Monday chanters.
Namo Amida Bu, Om Amidewa Hrih, Amitabha.
Yes good morning! I have found a value in each, and learnt over many years that trying to match one system to another fails in places. The are both helpful models of the spiritual path, each talking about experience in different ways, both illuminating and each with their own shadow...
For me shadow simply acknowledges that we are dealing here with people, and people will find more than one possibility in any set of concepts, forms, customs.
Teachings of any kind are mediated through human language and experience - that is what is so refreshing about the term bombu, for me. It allows for the universality of human fallibility, vulnerability.
Meanwhile I may taste emtiness, but here I am again annoyed with my dog for...being a dog. After the ectasy, the laundry. (And Monday.)
For shadow writ large we have only to look to militarised Zen, to Bhuddism's various brands of institutionalised misogyny and racism, to Purelanders' fanatical exclusivism...
Just as we are. Thats a hard one.
Truth: a word, often used to silence.
Silence: it comes in all colours. Like words.
Thanks Mat and Di,
I think I dislike the word power (self or other) in relation to the spiritual search - power to do, accomplish, achieve etc. or power to save, enlighten etc. Dogen Zenji said practice is enlightenment. To me this is almost the same as saying we are bombu. Nothings going to change. The mind doesn't get it - ever. But that doesn't mean It cannot be known.
I really think that there is no hierarchy in spiritual practice. Even very different methods or descriptions are only fingers pointing at the Truth - they may or may not be what a person needs at a particular time.
I say this as a Zen priest.
For me Zazen is literally doing nothing - which is as close as I can get to surrendering. I am at that time having faith in my own enlightenment - wether I can feel it or not. At times when I can't then it is only a helpful concept. Just as Bombu is or Amida for that matter.
To place absolute faith in Amida (who from our point of view is only a concept) seems to me equally valid as a way of surrender. They are both an aknowledgement that I cannot achieve enlightenment. From the Zen perspective we are all already enlightened. From the pure land point of view we are eternally Bombu. From the point of view of the infinite; both, neither, either, all at once and none.