What do the Zen and Pureland traditions have to teach each other?

I have spent a lot of time recently in discussion with Shin Buddhists mainly in Japan. Often Zen people feel as if Pureland is a poor relation. I certainly did. Since then I have learned that wisdom and compassion come in people not in doctrines. I have learned a lot about humility from my contact with Shin. I think that they also began to see Zen as more open and compassionate than they thought.

Any thoughts? 

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I think the thing which I appreciate most about Pureland is the way it reveals the radical non-judgmentalism of Buddha which allows deep honesty in looking into our bombu nature. The past few years, if not previously, I have time and again been faced by my human inconsistency and my endless capacity for psychological messiness. Yet even in despairing at myself, I keep finding that I dont actually have to pretend to be anything more. Nice if I can be, but actually honesty at such times is all that I can manage. I guess we are all poor relations in this respect.

I have many good friends who practice Zen. I like the spaciousness of silence and often find a meeting in the devotional. In some ways Pureland has made me more relaxed about meditation in a contrary sort of way. 

I absolutely agree. I have found an openness and honesty in the Shin Buddhists I have met which has been a great relief. 

Early training in the Theravada instilled in me the idea that you had to EARN enlightenment.

The Zen School, although more open in it's approach in some ways can have an awful attachment to rule and ritual behind which can often lurk a multitude of 'sins'.

I think the basic problem is one of spiritual hierarchy.

I think we are all together in this and there is no need for posturing or embarassment about 'faults'.

Bombu and Buddha can hang out togather!

Honesty is the bottom line and for that we need to stop being afraid to say who we are.

I think the worst harm we can do is to make people afraid or give them something to become.

The role of a monk/nun/teacher/therapist is to create a space where the truth is the most important thing.

To do that we need to be truthful ourselves rather than wise, clever or spiritual.

Sorry about the strong opinions but I feel that we might be in agreement here so......

Further thoughts;

I have noted at times a tendency on the part of Pureland Buddhists towards self denigration and a hopelessness with regard to ever coming to understanding.

This could I think lead to a vulnerability to manipulation by strong 'teachers'.

Equally the tendency for Zen 'teachers' to act enlightened because "everyone has Buddha Nature and I have realized that" can lead to the same thing.

It seems to me that the whole idea of spiritual hierarchy is unhelpful these days.

Wether we underestimate 'ourselves' or overestimate 'ourselves' the fault is in the idea of self itself. Without that idea there can be no hierarchy. Plainly then hierarchy only exists in the unenlightened mind.

So the de-bunking of hierarchy must be an important step in the falling away of ignorance.

To sum up;

any view of self is a problem.

We are simultaneously Buddha and Bombu.

Can we contain that paradox?


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