Recollection of the Buddha is an old form of meditation.
Back in the day, they built stupas to house the relics. Things that remained after the Buddha’s cremation– or things that remained of the Buddha’s disciple’s bodies after their cremation– were honored as sacred memories of the Buddha’s Dhamma.
Monument building and pilgrimage is a very physical form of Buddhanusmrti, or “recollection of the Buddha”. These stupas and holy spots were sites for pilgrimage. Followers of Buddhism had physical places on the earth they could travel to and recollect the Buddha, very deeply, in front of a monument that honored the Buddha’s wonderful presence.
Standing in a place, surrounded by icons and images of the Buddha and his teaching, would certainly help one to enter into Buddhanusmrti. It is easier to recollect the Buddha with visible reminders. A towering stupa would certainly help to guide the senses toward the awesome Buddha.
These sacred places were proto-temples. The cult of Buddha had not developed into what we would recognize as “Buddhism”. Yet, even at this very early point, we find multiple attestation for the practice of recollecting the qualities of Buddha, his Dharma and his Sangha.
Well, Pure Land Buddhism is an evolution of this very early practice.
Theravadins are fond of calling their Buddhism, “historical”. Yet, ultimately, the whole darn thing is up in the air. There isn’t any evidence to completely satisfy the western mind’s inquiry into the roots of Buddhism. I am American.
The texts were compiled hundreds of years after the Buddha’s death– and despite various claims, there isn’t compelling evidence to suggest that the texts were written in the Buddha’s own language.
Five hundred years (or so) and at least one language away from the source, the teaching would have undergone translation– and, unfortunately, things are ALWAYS lost in translation.
So, boldly claiming that you possess the *actual* teaching, word-for-word, of Sakyamuni Buddha, you are in the realm of faith, of conviction– and I won’t play this game with you.
The urge to orthodoxy leads to ugly places.
In the end, you must reach your own Buddha-Nature, you must reside on the island of your impermanent self and strive on with diligence and mindfulness. You must do it yourself! But, who are YOU? You are infinite Buddha. Tathagatagarbha.
The Dharma-Ending-Age is the era in which people have forgotten mindfulness, they have forgotten their own Buddha-nature– it is the era in which people tend to rely on outside authority from priests, texts, and methods.
Buddha taught us to look boldly at this present moment. In the present moment we have many versions of the Buddha’s teaching and many reasons to respect them all. We have a wide range of meditative practices, cultivated all throughout the East, flooding into the West. All of them carry the mark of human imagination– they are the result of thousands of years of ‘telephone gaming’ (when you sit in a circle and pass a message around by whispering it into the ear of a person to your side– the message is distorted, often losing all of the original meaning). Those that claim historicity must do so with great, great, faith in human memory.
And yes, people are capable of great feats of memory– despite this capability, people are also capable of transforming and manipulating words for their own benefit, or for what they perceive to be the benefit of others. For this reason, we should accept nothing as historical. Nothing as objective. This is why Buddha urged us, upon his death, to strive on.
There is good reason to be skeptical of anything that is born of contact between the sense-minds and their respective objects.
- Eye / Sight
- Nose / Smell
- Ear / Sound
- Tongue / Taste
- Skin / Contact
- Intellect / Thought
Therefore, we keep watch. We watch for clinging and craving and the resultant ego delusion (which give birth to greed, hatred and all delusions).
The sense minds are not ‘evil’.
The sense objects are not ‘evil’.
‘Evil’ is, ‘Human, all too Human.’ Evil is a bad idea. Good is a good idea. Mind is mind-made.
Having nowhere to rest in the whole realm, we abandon objectivity and find foundation where there is no foundation. In other words, we confront and defeat fear, thereby there is nothing that may perturb our secure state of peace.
The Diamond Sutra teaches this.
I repeat it for you, in this strange way, in this strange new context (on the internet) because I love you. We are caught in a funny mind-game. It has turned into a nightmare for many. We must help each other up, help each other remember– helping each other is a wonderful practice.
Compassion is the true expression of Wisdom. Displays of intellectual prowess are unimpressive.
Wise compassion is truly beneficial. Foolish compassion is not even really compassion, we do not even have to address it. Abandon foolishness in general!