Buddhism in Japan
Buddhism in Japan has been practiced since its official introduction in 552 CE according to the Nihon Shoki from Baekje, Korea, by Buddhist monks. Buddhism has had a major influence on the development of Japanese society and remains an influential aspect of the culture to this day. In modern times, Japan's popular schools of Buddhism are Pure Land Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon Buddhism and Zen; as of 2008 34% of the Japanese identify as Buddhists and the number has been growing since the 1980s, in terms of membership in organized religion. However, in terms of practice, 75% practice some form of Buddhism. About 60% of the Japanese have a Butsudan in their homes; the arrival of Buddhism in China is a consequence of the first contacts between China and Central Asia, where Buddhism had spread from the Indian subcontinent. These contacts occurred with the opening of the Silk Road in the 2nd century BCE, following the travels of Zhang Qian between 138 and 126 BCE; these contacts culminated with the official introduction of Buddhism in China in 67 CE.
Historians agree that by the middle of the 1st century, the religion had penetrated to areas north of the Huai River in China. According to the Book of Liang, written in 635, five Buddhist monks from Gandhara traveled to Japan in 467. At the time, they referred to Japan as Fusang, the name of a mythological country to the extreme east beyond the sea: Fusang is located to the east of China, 20,000 li east of the state of Da Han. In former times, the people of Fusang knew nothing of the Buddhist religion, but in the second year of Da Ming of the Song Dynasty, five monks from Kipin travelled by ship to Fusang, they propagated Buddhist doctrine, circulated scriptures and drawings, advised the people to relinquish worldly attachments. As a result the customs of Fusang changed. Although there are records of Buddhist monks from China coming to Japan before the Asuka Period, the "official" introduction of Buddhism to Japan is dated to 552 in Nihon Shoki when King Seong of Baekje sent a mission to the Emperor Kinmei that included Buddhist monks or nuns together with an image of Buddha and a number of sutras to introduce Buddhism.
The powerful Soga clan played a key role in the early spread of Buddhism in the country. Initial uptake of the new faith was slow, Buddhism only started to spread some years when Empress Suiko encouraged the acceptance of Buddhism among all Japanese people. According to legend, in Japan in 552, there was an attempt to destroy a tooth relic, one of the first of Buddha’s to arrive in the country. On January 15, 593, Soga no Umako ordered relics of Buddha deposited inside the foundation stone under the pillar of a pagoda at Asuka-dera. In 607, in order to obtain copies of sutras, an imperial envoy was dispatched to Sui China; as time progressed and the number of Buddhist clergy increased, the offices of Sōjō and Sōzu were created. By 627, there were 46 Buddhist temples, 816 Buddhist priests, 569 Buddhist nuns in Japan; the initial period saw the six great Chinese schools, called Nanto Rokushū in Japanese were introduced to the Japanese archipelago: Ritsu Jōjitsu Kusha-shū Sanronshū Hossō Kegon These schools were centered around the ancient capitals of Asuka and Nara, where great temples such as the Asuka-dera and Tōdai-ji were erected respectively.
These were not exclusive schools, temples were apt to have scholars versed in several of the schools. It has been suggested that they can best be thought of as "study groups"; the Buddhism of these periods, known as the Asuka period and Nara period – was not a practical religion, being more the domain of learned priests whose official function was to pray for the peace and prosperity of the state and imperial house. This kind of Buddhism had little to offer to the illiterate and uneducated masses and led to the growth of "people’s priests" who were not ordained and had no formal Buddhist training, their practice was a combination of Buddhist and Daoist elements and the incorporation of shamanistic features of indigenous practices. Some of these figures became immensely popular and were a source of criticism towards the sophisticated academic and bureaucratic Buddhism of the capital; the Late Nara period saw the introduction of Tangmi to Japan from China by Kūkai and Saichō, who founded Shingon Buddhism and the Tendai school, respectively.
During the Heian period the capital was shifted from Nara to Kyoto. Monasteries became centers of powers establishing armies of Sōhei, warrior-monks. Shinto and Buddhism became the dominant religions, maintaining a balance until the Meiji-restoration; the Kamakura period was a period of crisis in which the control of the country moved from the imperial aristocracy to the samurai. In 1185 the Kamakura shogunate was established at Kamakura; this period saw the introduction of the two schools that had the greatest impact on the country: the schools of Pure Land Buddhism, promulgated by evangelists such as Genshin and articulated by monks such as Hōnen, which emphasize salvation through faith in Amitābha and remain the largest Buddhist sect in Japan.
East Asian Yogācāra
East Asian Yogācāra refers to the traditions in East Asia which represent the Yogacara system of thought. The term Fǎxiàng itself was first applied to this tradition by the Huayan teacher Fazang, who used it to characterize Consciousness Only teachings as provisional, dealing with the phenomenal appearances of the dharmas. Chinese proponents preferred the title Wéishí, meaning "Consciousness Only"; this school may be called Wéishí Yújiāxíng Pài or Yǒu Zōng. Yin Shun introduced a threefold classification for Buddhist teachings which designates this school as Xūwàng Wéishí Xì. Like the parent Yogācāra school, the Faxiang school teaches that our understanding of reality comes from our own mind, rather than actual empirical experience; the mind projects it as reality itself. In keeping with Yogācāra tradition, the mind is divided into the Eight Consciousnesses and the Four Aspects of Cognition, which produce what we view as reality. Faxiang Buddhism maintained the Five Natures Doctrine which brought it into doctrinal conflict with the Tiantai school in China.
Translations of Indian Yogācāra texts were first introduced to China in the early fifth century. Among these was Guṇabhadra's translation of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra in four fascicles, which would become important in the early history of Chan Buddhism. During the sixth century CE, the Indian monk and translator Paramārtha propagated Yogācāra teachings in China, his translations include the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra, the Madhyāntavibhāga-kārikā, the Triṃśikā-vijñaptimātratā, the Mahāyānasaṃgraha. Paramārtha taught on the principles of Consciousness Only, developed a large following in southern China. Many monks and laypeople traveled long distances to hear his teachings those on the Mahāyānasaṃgraha. Although Yogācāra teachings had been propagated most look to Xuanzang as the most important founder of East Asian Yogācāra. At the age of 33, Xuanzang made a dangerous journey to India in order to study Buddhism there and to procure Buddhist texts for translation into Chinese; this journey was the subject of legend and fictionalized as the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, a major component of East Asian popular culture from Chinese opera to Japanese television.
Xuanzang spent over ten years in India studying under various Buddhist masters. These masters included Śīlabhadra, the abbot of the Nālandā Mahāvihāra, 106 years old. Xuanzang was tutored in the Yogācāra teachings by Śīlabhadra for several years at Nālandā. Upon his return from India, Xuanzang brought with him a wagon-load of Buddhist texts, including important Yogācāra works such as the Yogācārabhūmi-śastra. In total, Xuanzang had procured 657 Buddhist texts from India. Upon his return to China, he was given government support and many assistants for the purpose of translating these texts into Chinese; as an important contribution to East Asian Yogācāra, Xuanzang composed the treatise Cheng Weishi Lun, or "Discourse on the Establishment of Consciousness Only." This work is framed around Vasubandhu's Triṃśikā-vijñaptimātratā, or "Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only." Xuanzang upheld Dharmapala of Nalanda's commentary on this work as being the correct one, provided his own explanations of these as well as other views in the Cheng Weishi Lun.
This work was composed at the behest of Xuanzang's disciple Kuiji, became a central representation of East Asian Yogācāra. Xuanzang promoted devotional meditative practices toward Maitreya Bodhisattva. Xuanzang's disciple Kuiji wrote a number of important commentaries on the Yogācāra texts and further developed the influence of this doctrine in China, was recognized by adherents as the first true patriarch of the school. In time, Chinese Yogācāra was weakened due to competition with other Chinese Buddhist traditions such as Tiantai, Huayan and Pure Land Buddhism, it continued to exert an influence, Chinese Buddhists relied on its translations and concepts absorbing Yogācāra teachings into the other traditions. Yogācāra teachings and concepts remained popular in Chinese Buddhism, including visions of the bodhisattva Maitreya and teachings given from him in Tuṣita observed by advanced meditators. One such example is that of Hanshan Deqing during the Ming dynasty. In his autobiography, Hanshan describes the palace of Maitreya in Tuṣita, hearing a lecture given by Maitreya to a large group of his disciples.
In a moment I saw that dignified monks were standing in line before the throne. A bhikṣu, holding a sutra in his hands, came down from behind the throne and handed the sutra to me, saying, "Master is going to talk about this sutra, he asked me to give it to you." I received it with joy but when I opened it I saw that it was written in gold Sanskrit letters which I could not read. I put it inside my robe and asked, "Who is the Master?" The bhiksu replied, "Maitreya." Hanshan recalls the teaching given as the following: Maitreya said, "Discrimination is consciousness. Nondiscrimination is wisdom. Clinging to consciousness will bring disgrace but clinging to wisdom will bring purity. Disgrace leads to birth and death but purity leads to Nirvana." I listened to him. His v
Menstruation known as a period or monthly, is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. The first period begins between twelve and fifteen years of age, a point in time known as menarche. However, periods may start as young as eight years old and still be considered normal; the average age of the first period is later in the developing world, earlier in the developed world. The typical length of time between the first day of one period and the first day of the next is 21 to 45 days in young women, 21 to 31 days in adults. Bleeding lasts around 2 to 7 days. Menstruation stops occurring after menopause, which occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. Periods stop during pregnancy and do not resume during the initial months of breastfeeding. Up to 80% of women report having some symptoms prior to menstruation. Common signs and symptoms include acne, tender breasts, feeling tired and mood changes; these may interfere with normal life, therefore qualifying as premenstrual syndrome, in 20 to 30% of women.
In 3 to 8%, symptoms are severe. A lack of periods, known as amenorrhea, is when periods do not occur by age 15 or have not occurred in 90 days. Other problems with the menstrual cycle include painful periods and abnormal bleeding such as bleeding between periods or heavy bleeding. Menstruation in other animals occur in primates; the menstrual cycle occurs due to the fall of hormones. This cycle results in the thickening of the lining of the uterus, the growth of an egg; the egg is released from an ovary around day fourteen in the cycle. If pregnancy does not occur, the lining is released in; the first menstrual period occurs after the onset of pubertal growth, is called menarche. The average age of menarche is 12 to 15. However, it may start as early as eight; the average age of the first period is later in the developing world, earlier in the developed world. The average age of menarche has changed little in the United States since the 1950s. Menstruation is the most visible phase of the menstrual cycle and its beginning is used as the marker between cycles.
The first day of menstrual bleeding is the date used for the last menstrual period. The typical length of time between the first day of one period and the first day of the next is 21 to 45 days in young women, 21 to 31 days in adults. Perimenopause is when fertility in a female declines, menstruation occurs less in the years leading up to the final menstrual period, when a female stops menstruating and is no longer fertile; the medical definition of menopause is one year without a period and occurs between 45 and 55 in Western countries. During pregnancy and for some time after childbirth, menstruation does not occur; the average length of postpartum amenorrhoea is longer. In most women, various physical changes are brought about by fluctuations in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle; this includes muscle contractions of the uterus that can accompany menstruation. Some may notice water retention, changes in sex drive, breast tenderness, or nausea. Breast swelling and discomfort may be caused by water retention during menstruation.
Such sensations are mild, some females notice few physical changes associated with menstruation. A healthy diet, reduced consumption of salt and alcohol, regular exercise may be effective for women in controlling some symptoms. Severe symptoms that disrupt daily activities and functioning may be diagnosed as premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Symptoms before menstruation are known as premenstrual molimina. Many women experience painful cramps known as dysmenorrhea, during menstruation. Pain results from muscle contractions. Spiral arteries in the secretory endometrium constrict, resulting in ischemia to the secretory endometrium; this allows the uterine lining to slough off. The myometrium contracts spasmodically in order to push the menstrual fluid through the cervix and out of the vagina; the contractions are mediated by a release of prostaglandins. Painful menstrual cramps that result from an excess of prostaglandin release are referred to as primary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea begins within a year or two of menarche with the onset of ovulatory cycles.
Treatments that target the mechanism of pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and hormonal contraceptives. NSAIDs inhibit prostaglandin production. With long-term treatment, hormonal birth control reduces the amount of uterine fluid/tissue expelled from the uterus, thus resulting in shorter, less painful menstruation. These drugs are more effective than treatments that do not target the source of the pain. Risk factors for primary dysmenorrhea include: early age at menarche, long or heavy menstrual periods, a family history of dysmenorrhea. Regular physical activity may limit the severity of uterine cramps. For many women, primary dysmenorrhea subsides in late second generation. Pregnancy has been demonstrated to lessen the severity of dysmenorrhea, when menstruation resumes. However, dysmenorrhea can continue until menopause. 5–15% of women with dysmenorrhea experience symptoms severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Secondary dysmenorrhea is the diagnosis given when menstruation pain is a secondary cause to another disorder.
Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions and spiritual practices based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana. Most Buddhist traditions share the goal of overcoming suffering and the cycle of death and rebirth, either by the attainment of Nirvana or through the path of Buddhahood. Buddhist schools vary in their interpretation of the path to liberation, the relative importance and canonicity assigned to the various Buddhist texts, their specific teachings and practices. Observed practices include taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, observance of moral precepts, monasticism and the cultivation of the Paramitas.
Theravada Buddhism has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia such as Myanmar and Thailand. Mahayana, which includes the traditions of Pure Land, Nichiren Buddhism and Tiantai, is found throughout East Asia. Vajrayana, a body of teachings attributed to Indian adepts, may be viewed as a separate branch or as an aspect of Mahayana Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism, which preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth-century India, is practiced in the countries of the Himalayan region and Kalmykia. Buddhism is an Indian religion attributed to the teachings of the Buddha born Siddhārtha Gautama, known as the Tathāgata and Sakyamuni. Early texts have his personal name as "Gautama" or "Gotama" without any mention of "Siddhārtha," which appears to have been a kind of honorific title when it does appear; the details of Buddha's life are mentioned in many Early Buddhist Texts but are inconsistent, his social background and life details are difficult to prove, the precise dates uncertain. The evidence of the early texts suggests that he was born as Siddhārtha Gautama in Lumbini and grew up in Kapilavasthu, a town in the plains region of the modern Nepal-India border, that he spent his life in what is now modern Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Some hagiographic legends state that his father was a king named Suddhodana, his mother was Queen Maya, he was born in Lumbini gardens. However, scholars such as Richard Gombrich consider this a dubious claim because a combination of evidence suggests he was born in the Shakyas community – one that gave him the title Shakyamuni, the Shakya community was governed by a small oligarchy or republic-like council where there were no ranks but where seniority mattered instead; some of the stories about Buddha, his life, his teachings, claims about the society he grew up in may have been invented and interpolated at a time into the Buddhist texts. According to the Buddhist sutras, Gautama was moved by the innate suffering of humanity and its endless repetition due to rebirth, he set out on a quest to end this repeated suffering. Early Buddhist canonical texts and early biographies of Gautama state that Gautama first studied under Vedic teachers, namely Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, learning meditation and ancient philosophies the concept of "nothingness, emptiness" from the former, "what is neither seen nor unseen" from the latter.
Finding these teachings to be insufficient to attain his goal, he turned to the practice of asceticism. This too fell short of attaining his goal, he turned to the practice of dhyana, which he had discovered in his youth, he famously sat in meditation under a Ficus religiosa tree now called the Bodhi Tree in the town of Bodh Gaya in the Gangetic plains region of South Asia. He gained insight into the workings of karma and his former lives, attained enlightenment, certainty about the Middle Way as the right path of spiritual practice to end suffering from rebirths in Saṃsāra; as a enlightened Buddha, he attracted followers and founded a Sangha. Now, as the Buddha, he spent the rest of his life teaching the Dharma he had discovered, died at the age of 80 in Kushinagar, India. Buddha's teachings were propagated by his followers, which in the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE became over 18 Buddhist sub-schools of thought, each with its own basket of texts containing different interpretations and authentic teachings of the Buddha.
The Four Truths express the basic orientation of Buddhism: we crave and cling to impermanent states and things, dukkha, "incapable of satisfying" and painful. This keeps us caught in saṃsāra, the endless cycle of repeated rebirth and dying again, but there is a way to liberation from this endless cycle to the state of nirvana, namely following the Noble Eightfold Path. The truth of dukkha is the basic insight that life in this mundane world, with its clinging and craving to impermanent states and things is dukkha, unsatisfactory. Dukkha can be translated as "incapable of satisfying," "the unsatisfactory nature and the general insecurity of all conditioned phenomena". Dukkha is most translated as "suffering," but this is inaccurate, since it refers not to episodic suffering, but to the intrinsically unsat
Jōdo Shinshū known as Shin Buddhism or True Pure Land Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism. It was founded by the former Tendai Japanese monk Shinran. Shin Buddhism is considered the most practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan. Shinran lived during the late Heian to early Kamakura period, a time of turmoil for Japan when the emperor was stripped of political power by the shōguns. Shinran's family had a high rank at the Imperial court in Kyoto, but given the times, many aristocratic families were sending sons off to be Buddhist monks instead of having them participate in the Imperial government; when Shinran was nine, he was sent by his uncle to Mount Hiei, where he was ordained as a śrāmaṇera in the Tendai sect. Over time, Shinran became disillusioned with how Buddhism was practiced, foreseeing a decline in the potency and practicality of the teachings espoused. Shinran left his role as a dosō at Mount Hiei and undertook a 100-day retreat at Rokkaku-dō in Kyoto, where he had a dream on the 95th day.
In this dream, Prince Shōtoku appeared to him. Following the retreat, in 1201, Shinran left Mount Hiei to study under Hōnen for the next six years. Hōnen another ex-Tendai monk, left the tradition in 1175 to found his own sect, the Jōdo-shū or "Pure Land School". From that time on, Shinran considered himself after exile, a devout disciple of Hōnen rather than a founder establishing his own, distinct Pure Land school. During this period, Hōnen taught the new nembutsu-only practice to many people in Kyoto society and amassed a substantial following but came under increasing criticism by the Buddhist establishment there. Among his strongest critics was the monk Myōe and the temples of Enryaku-ji and Kōfuku-ji; the latter continued to criticize Hōnen and his followers after they pledged to behave with good conduct and to not slander other Buddhists. In 1207, Hōnen's critics at Kōfuku-ji persuaded Emperor Toba II to forbid Hōnen and his teachings after two of Imperial ladies-in-waiting converted to his practices.
Hōnen and his followers, among them Shinran, were forced into exile and four of Hōnen's disciples were executed. Shinran was given a lay name, Yoshizane Fujii, by the authorities but called himself Gutoku "Stubble-headed One" instead and moved to Echigo Province, it was during this exile that Shinran cultivated a deeper understanding of his own beliefs based on Hōnen's Pure Land teachings. In 1210 he married the daughter of an Echigo aristocrat. Shinran and Eshinni had several children, his eldest son, was alleged to have started a heretical sect of Pure Land Buddhism through claims that he received special teachings from his father. Zenran demanded control of local monto, but after writing a stern letter of warning, Shinran disowned him in 1256 ending Zenran's legitimacy. In 1211 the nembutsu ban was lifted and Shinran was pardoned. Shinran never saw Hōnen following their exile. In the year of Hōnen's death, Shinran set out for the Kantō region, where he established a substantial following and began committing his ideas to writing.
In 1224 he wrote his most significant book, the Kyogyoshinsho, which contained excerpts from the Three Pure Land sutras and the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra along with his own commentaries and the writings of the Jodo Shinshu Patriarchs Shinran drew inspiration from. In 1234, at the age of sixty, Shinran left Kantō for Kyoto, where he dedicated the rest of his years to writing, it was during this time he wrote the Wasan, a collection of verses summarizing his teachings for his followers to recite. Shinran's daughter, came to Kyoto with Shinran, cared for him in his final years and his mausoleum became Hongan-ji, "Temple of the Original Vow". Kakushinni was instrumental in preserving Shinran's teachings after his death, the letters she received and saved from her mother, provide critical biographical information regarding Shinran's earlier life; these letters are preserved in the Nishi Hongan temple in Kyoto. Shinran died at the age of 90 in 1263. Following Shinran's death, the lay Shin monto spread through the Kantō and the northeastern seaboard.
Shinran's descendants maintained themselves as caretakers of Shinran's gravesite and as Shin teachers, although they continued to be ordained in the Tendai School. Some of Shinran's disciples founded their own schools of Shin Buddhism, such as the Bukko-ji and Kosho-ji, in Kyoto. Early Shin Buddhism did not flourish until the time of Rennyo, 8th in descent from Shinran. Through his charisma and proselytizing, Shin Buddhism was able to amass a greater following and grow in strength. In the 16th-century, during the Sengoku period the political power of Honganji led to several conflicts between it and the warlord Oda Nobunaga, culminating in a ten-year conflict over the location of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji, which Nobunaga coveted because of its strategic value. So strong did the sect become that in 1602, through mandate of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main temple Hongan-ji in Kyoto was broken off into two sects to curb its power; these two sects, the Nishi Honganji and the Higashi Honganji, exist separately to this day.
During the time of Shinran, followers would gather in informal meeting houses called dojo, had an informal liturgical structure. However, as time went on, this lack of cohesion and structure caused Jōdo Shinshū to lose its identity
The Amitāyurdhyāna Sūtra is a Mahayana sutra in Pure Land Buddhism, a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism. It is one of the three principle Pure Land sutras along with the Infinite Life Sutra and the Amitabha Sutra. Amitāyus is another name for the Buddha Amitābha, the preeminent figure in Pure Land Buddhism, this sūtra focuses on meditations involving complex visualization; this is reflected in the name of the sūtra, which translates to the "Amitāyus Meditation Sūtra." It is considered by modern scholarship to be apocryphal, a composition written in Chinese. No Sanskrit original has been discovered and the Sanskrit name and Sanskrit versions would thus be reverse translations. According to Paul Williams, a more accurate Sanskrit title for this text would be Amitāyurbuddhānusmṛti Sūtra, meaning "Amitāyus Buddha-mindfulness Sūtra." The text begins with a story where a prince named Ajatashatru was enticed by the villain Devadatta to murder his father, King Bimbisara, in order to ascend the throne. Ajatashatru kills his father, nearly kills his mother, Queen Vaidehi, but after advice from his other ministers, he relented and threw his mother in prison.
Lamenting her fate, Queen Vaidehi prays to Gautama Buddha for help, he is able to visit her. Vaidehi expresses. Shakyamuni smiles, emitting light from his mouth, goes on to tell Vaidehi how to be reborn in the Pure Land; the Buddha tells her that although she is in prison, she could still obtain liberation through the practices of Amitābha. The Buddha goes on how one could obtain rebirth in his land of Sukhavati; this tale references historical incidents of the Haryanka dynasty of Magadha and the religious tension between Gautama Buddha and his brother-in-law, Devadatta. Shakyamuni explains the importance of performing certain meritorious acts in order to be reborn in the Pure Land, he goes on to teach Vaidehi how to visualize the Pure Land, to further her efforts in attaining rebirth there. Shakyamuni describes thirteen "contemplations," or mental visualization exercises, that are to be followed in order. By contemplating various aspects of the Pure Land and attempting to visualize them in detail, the aspirant draws closer to the Pure Land.
The thirteen contemplations are described in order as follows: Contemplation of the setting sun Contemplation of an expanse of water Contemplation of the ground in the pure land Contemplation of trees in the pure land Contemplation of ponds in the pure land Contemplation of various objects in the pure land Contemplation of the lotus-throne of the Buddha Contemplation of the image of Amitābha Contemplation of Amitābha himself Contemplation of Avalokiteśvara Contemplation of Mahasthamaprapta Contemplation of the aspirants to the pure land Contemplation of Amitābha and the two bodhisattvas In the final part of the sutra, Gautama Buddha discusses the nine levels into which those born into the Pure Land are categorized. The levels are ranked from highest to lowest as follows: The highest level of the highest grade The middle level of the highest grade The lowest level of the highest grade The highest level of the middle grade The middle level of the middle grade The lowest level of the middle grade The highest level of the lowest grade The middle level of the lowest grade The lowest level of the lowest gradeAccording to the Buddha, all nine grades of human beings can achieve rebirth into the Pure Land if they contemplate Amitābha or at least call on his name.
This is similar to the 48 vows made by Amitābha, according to the Infinite Life Sutra, which includes the Primal Vow. The sutra ends with a short section describing the benefits gained by those who listened to these words of the Buddha. Vaidehi experienced "great awakening with clarity of mind and reached the insight into the non-arising of all dharmas," while her five hundred female attendants and "innumerable devas" awakened aspiration for the highest enlightenment. Shakyamuni names the sutra, mentions benefits connected with the name of Amitabha Buddha, exhorts all to hold the words of the sutra in their minds. Shakyamuni returns through the air to Vulture Peak. Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra Pure Land Buddhism Sukhavati Amitābha Jōdo-shū Jōdo Shinshū Sutra Chinese Buddhism Muller, Charles. "East Asian Apocryphal Scriptures: Their Origin and Role in the Development of Sinitic Buddhism". Bulletin of Toyo Gakuen University. 6: 63–76. Hisao Inagaki, Harold Stewart: The Three Pure Land Sutras, Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research 2003.
ISBN 1-886439-18-4 PDF retrieved 2013/07/28 Pas, Julian F.. Shan-tao's Interpretation of the Meditative Vision of Buddha Amitāyus, History of Religions 14, 96-116 – via JSTOR Takakusu, J. Friedrich Max Müller, ed.: Amitayurdhyana Sutra. In: The Sacred Books of the East, Volume XLIX: Buddhist Mahāyāna Texts, Part II. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894 ISBN 1-60206-381-8 Internet Archive Tanaka, Kenneth K. 1990. The Dawn of Chinese Pure Land Buddhist Doctrine: Jìngyǐng Huìyuán's Commentary on the Visualization Sūtra. Albany: State University of New York Press; the Contemplation Sutra, translated into English by J. Takakusu English translation of the Contemplation Sutra The Taima Mandala Image of the Pure Land from a medieval Japanese scroll, based on the descriptions found in the Contemplation Sutra; this site offers explanations in English of the various motifs of the scroll
Risshū Ritsu school, is one of the six schools of Nara Buddhism in Japan, noted for its use of the Vinaya textual framework of the Dharmaguptaka, one of the early schools of Buddhism. The Ritsu school was founded in Japan by the blind Chinese priest Jianzhen, better known by his Japanese name Ganjin. Ganjin traveled to Japan at the request of Japanese priests, established the Tōshōdai-ji in Nara. During the Kamakura period, the Ritsu sect was divided into schools at Tōshōdai-ji, Kaidan-in, Saidai-ji, Sennyū-ji. However, during the Meiji period, the Ritsu sect was incorporated within the Shingon sect by decree of the Japanese government. Today only Tōshōdai-ji, which resisted the government measures, retains its identity as a Ritsu temple. Buddhism in Japan Dharmaguptaka Schools of Buddhism Vinaya Bunyiu Nanjio. A short history of the twelve Japanese Buddhist sects, Tokyo: Bukkyo-sho-ei-yaku-shupan-sha, pp. 20–31