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D.T.Suzuki and Pure Land Buddhism

D.T. Suzuki is more known in the West as an exponent of zen buddhism, but he also wrote much on Shin (i.e. Pure Land) Buddhism. His mum was a devote Pure Lander and you don't argue with mums......😀

Anyway, it is always good to learn just how other people, other cultures, see Reality, or God or whatever. In Japan, the heart of the Pure Land faith is Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Light.

Here is Suzuki seeking to explain just how Amida is known to the Japanese mind/heart:-

..[i]..we believe in Amida Buddha as our Oya-sama, or Oya-san, as it is sometimes called. It is the term used to express love and compassion. Oya means parent, but not either parent, rather both mother and father; not separate personalities, but both fatherly and motherly qualities united in one personality. The honorific san is the familiar form of sama. The latter, Oya-sama, is the standard form. In Christianity, God is addressed as the Father - "Our father who art in Heaven" - but Oya-sama is not in Heaven, nor is Oya-sama Father. It is incorrect to say "he" or "she," for no gender distinction is found. I don't like to say "it," so I don't know what to say. Oya-sama is a unique word, deeply endearing and at the same time rich with religious significance and warmth.[/i]

Obviously a far cry from some depictions of "God the Father" in Christianity, the stern judge who threatens such awful punishments towards those who believe him not!

From a Pure Land perspective, ALL are accepted, [i]just as they are[/i], which explains why, from that Pure Land perspective, an "act of faith" - or a choice to "believe" - is seen to be an act of self-power, if such act is considered to be decisive for "salvation"......if seen as initiating a transition from "lost" to "saved".....if seen as determining the attitude of the "divine" towards us in any way.........if seen as transforming such an attitude (of the Divine) from "wrath" to "love and acceptance".......etc etc etc. In fact, a refutation of "Born Again" Conservative Christianity.

As a Pure Land saint, Saichi, said:-

"O Saichi, will you tell us of Other Power?
Yes, but there is neither self-power nor Other Power.
What is, is the Graceful Acceptance only."


Much Japanese religiosity revolves around self-power (jiriki) and Other Power (tariki) and their inter-relationship. As I said, always interesting to see how the other half lives.....😀
The thing is, we tend to gravitate towards whatever "image" we have of Reality. All are only concepts, and yet they will have their price.

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