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Saved By Grace Through Faith Alone... In The Amida Buddha


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How many times have you heard the line that Christianity (of a certain type) is the only religion where a person is saved by grace through faith-- and that all others are works based??

 

I think that pretty much all religions are a combination of grace and works-- even traditional Protestants of most types say that there are punishments for disobedience or make you fear that you're not a "real Christian" if you don't do certain things.

 

Nonetheless, this "grace alone" idea is central to a certain type of Pure Land Buddhism taught by Shinran (1173-1262).  Coming well before the Protestant Reformation and its new interpretations of Paul, Shinran taught that salvation came through a single recitation of the nembutsu prayer (cf. Protestant "sinner's prayer") wherein one trusted in salvation by faith in the grace of the Buddha.  In an interesting parallel to Protestant concerns, some feared that people would fall into the “trap” of considering that their profession of faith had some meritorious value instead of recognizing it only as an expression of gratitude for being saved by the Amida Buddha.  

 

"Salvation comes from gratefully accepting Amida’s saving grace, not by any good works.  Even a person’s faith comes from grace, for the all-pervading power of Amida can be found within one, prompting the Buddha-nature to overcome arrogance and sin.” http://www.amazon.com/An-Introduction-Buddhism-Teachings-Practices/dp/0521313333 

 

For an online source, see Encyclopedia Brittanica http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/83184/Buddhism/68728/Pure-Land 

 

Basing his doctrines on the 18th vow, Shinran discouraged any attempt to accumulate merit, for he felt that this stood in the way of absolute faith and dependence on Amida. Furthermore, he rejected Hōnen’s practice of continual invocation of Amida, believing that the nembutsu need be said only once in order to attain salvation and that repetition of it should be regarded as praise of Amida and not as affecting one’s salvation. Thus, Shinran established the total ascendancy of the doctrine of grace. He also founded what would become the Shin school, the largest single Buddhist school in contemporary Japan. Throughout its history the Shin school has actively promoted music, dance, and drama and, since the late 19th century, has engaged in extensive educational and social welfare programs.

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