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Pure Land Notes. Journal of the Pure Land Buddhist Fellowship. Web version. namandabuPLN web header.gif
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The Tannisho Today
Rev Tairyu Furukawa March 1996
On Meditation
Vaughan Evans May 1995
From Blood to Rocks
Geoff Carpenter March 1996
Tokudo
Rev John Paraskevopoulos March 1996
The Meaning of Kikyoshiki
Hongwangi International CentreSeptember 1996
The Shin Buddhist Way
Rev Jack Austin September 1996
A Sutra of Healing and Protection
Tricycle Publications March 1996
Rules for Being Human
Unknown September 1996
Reliance
September 1996 Sallea Ungar
The Importance of Self Effort
Joren MacDonald September 1997
Self Power and Other Power Play Together
David Brazier
September 1997
Faith in What?
Sep 1997 Ajahn Sumedho (summerised by Max Flisher) Sep 1997
The Myokonin
Friedrich Fenzl September 1997
Seiza
Toshio Murakami September 1997
 
 

 

SELF POWER & OTHER POWER PLAY TOGETHER
David Brazier


The Buddha taught an Eightfold Path in which both samadhi and action, vision and livelihood, effort and impulse, have their place. We may conceptualise what we do as doing or as non-doing; it does not matter. We can say that ideas of practice, meditation, charity, study and training are self-power while reciting the name and visualising the Pure Land are other power - but what is the difference really? The Buddha Way cannot be so easily divided against itself.


The essential thing is to allow ourselves to be helped and to allow ourselves to feel grateful and to allow ourselves to be moved. All will reaches its consununation in willingness, but it may take a little will sometimes to get to that point. I remember years ago I used to play chess. There are two ways to play chess - calculation and intuition. Sometimes you calculate: if I move this piece, he will probably move that one and then I could do this.. or I could do that.. and so on. It works, up to a point. After one has been putting a lot of energy into calculating moves for a time, you may suddenly realise that you have seen a perfect move without any calculation at all. Intuition has suddenly unaccountably come into play. It feels quite different. For a little while one plays with a certain confidence (or faith). One calculates less and allows the game to play itself, as it were. Then disaster. It all falls apart. The intuitive source, whatever it may be, deserts. At that point there is nothing for it but to go back to working it all out from scratch again. Then, when we have begun to forget about it, the intuitive genius mysteriously creeps up on us again.


Calculation and intuition thus each feed each other. If one never made the effort involved in calculation and thought that good play would somehow just happen to you, you would be sure to be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are not willing to slip into the flow when it starts to burgeon, you will never make the best play. Calculation is a bit like self power. Intuition is other power. 0 course, we can be clever with words and say, what is the 'self in self-power? and we would be right to do so in a way, because none of the power that we call self is really our own. But as a makeshift, these terms work. They help guide our lives. Used in this light, non-dogmatic sense, they are useful. I think this is how the Buddha used words. I do not think that he was a scholar playing with clever definitions. He spoke the language of ordinary folk. So at this ordinary level, self power and other power dance together and we must accept the grace that comes and accept its absences too. Namo Amida Buddha.

This article first appeared, with the Author's permission, in PLN 10, September 1997. Republished here in agreement with the compiler/editor of the inaugurate hard copy Journal. The Author, any person or any organisation credited, quoted or connected with this article are cordially invited to contact me with any comments, amendments, fresh contributions or complaints. email me

 

 

 
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