What is the difference of Shingon and Pureland?


What is the difference of Shingon and Pureland?

I have studied Shingon in the past- in Japanese language
Now I have stumbled upon a Pureland Chinese Guru and find it difficult to chant now in Chinese language.

Can you help me understand both of these lineage’s.

My Answer

Hello Lynn,

Thank you for your question.

Shingon and Pure Land are very different in their beliefs.

Shingon is an esoteric school of Buddhism also called tantric Buddhism or the Diamond vehicle.

It is characterized by several rituals, some of them reserved to the priesthood. It is a sect where lay people and priests do very different rituals. According to the doctrine, some of the rituals done by the priests (also called monks) could be dangerous to the non-initiate because it is mixed with some shamanism and magic rituals. For this reason, many teachings (called Mikkyō) can only be transmitted from a teacher to student.

Even in Tibetan Buddhism, very similar to Shingon Buddhism, Bon, the animist and shamanic native religion of Tibet, influenced Buddhism in some ways.

In Japanese period movies, Shingon priests are often depicted as sorcerers because they are reputed to have some arcane knowledge.

Pureland Buddhism, on the other hand, is a completely different form of Buddhism.

First, it is from the larger school of Buddhism called Mahāyāna Buddhism. The main characteristic of Pure Land Buddhism is the central role Amida Nyorai takes.

Believers hope to be reborn in Amida’s Pure Land of the Western Realm.

To learn more about Pure Land Buddhism, please visit my pages of Jodo Shu and Jodo Shinshu.

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