Well Nighthawk, my own thoughts, on the shared story...
I was born in a soldier's family and trained in the use of the bow and arrow, being on the one hand under obligation not to fail in carrying out at least in some measure the will of my ancestors, and on the other responsible for handing down something of glory to my posterity. And yet if, as a soldier, I abandon myself to the driving back of the enemy, all sorts of wicked and furious passions are likely to be stirred within me, and it becomes very hard to awaken any pious feeling in my heart. If, indeed, I should allow myself to keep thinking all the time about the transitoriness of life, and trying not to forget the truth about attaining birth by the Nembutsu, I should be in danger of being taken captive by my enemies, and thereby be eternally branded as a coward, straightway have all my patrimony confiscated, and so for a fool like me it is very hard to decide which of these courses to choose.
Such an intelligent man, capable of self analysis, yet having no parallel summoned courage and planned decisiveness to walk through one's previous analysis of one's life to preferring resignation to one's circumstances in life plus hoping to get a 'bargain' on top of it all in the second portion below. Oh and yes, the typical 'face value' thingy too, only a heroic one can get past this... to compound the existing conundrum...
Will you tell e how I may accomplish my cherished desire for my birth in the pure land, without on the other hand sacrificing the honor of my family as an archer? To this Honen made the following reply: " Amida's Original Vow says northing about whether a man is good or bad, nor does it discuss whether a man's religious practices are many or few. It makes no discrimination between the pure and the impure, and takes no account of time, space, or any other diverse circumstances in men's lives. It matters not how a man dies. The wicked man, just as he is, will attain birth if he calls on the sacred name. This is the wonderful thing about Amida's Original Vow. And so, though a man is the born in archer's family goes to war, and loses his life, if he only repeats the sacred name and relies upon Amida's Original Vow, there is not the slightest doubt whatever that Amida will come to welcome him to his paradise" Under these gentle instructions his doubts left him, and with a glad heart he exclaimed, "Tadatsuna's birth will verily take place today." Honen handed him a sacred scarf which he put on under his armor, and he finally set out for the castle at Hachioji where he abandoned himself to battle with the rioters. In the midst of the struggle his sword was broken, and he received a deep wound. Seeing it was quite hopeless, he flung down his sword, and clasping his hands, with a loud voice he called upon the sacred name, and gave himself over into the hands of the enemy. Purple clouds covered the battlefield and many smelled the delicious perfume, and people said that purple clouds also hung over the northern mountain. When Honen heard about it, "Good" sad he, "Amakasu has been born into the pure land."
This one, by one of my past fav artists, Amy Grant, in one of her hit albums, back in 1982, 'Age to Age' 'I Have Decided'
I used to sing this like a mantra back in church when I was a Protestant and realised how theologically defective this was when I was Catholic and now as a Buddhist... Chorus:
I have decided, I'm gonna live like a believer, Turn my back on the Deceiver, I'm gonna live what I believe
I have decided, Being good is just a fable, I just can't 'cause I'm not able, I'm gonna leave it to the Lord
There's a wealth of things that I profess, I said that I believed, But deep inside I never changed, I guess I'd been deceived
'Cause a voice inside kept telling me, That I'd change by and by, But the Spirit made it clear to me, That kind of life's a lie
So forget the game of being good, And your self-righteous pain, 'Cause the only good inside your heart, Is the good that Jesus brings'
And when the world begins to see you change, Don't expect them to applaud,
Just keep your eyes on him and tell yourself, I've become the work of GodFamiliar huh?
Now onto what the Sutra says...
The Larger Amitayus Sutra
The Buddha said to Maitreya,
"If here in this world you are upright in thought and will, and abstain from doing evil, then you will attain the utmost virtue, unsurpassed in all the lands throughout the ten quarters. Why is this so? Devas and humans in the Buddha-lands naturally do good and rarely commit evil, and so, it is easy to teach and train them.
Having become a Buddha in this world, I now dwell in the midst of the five evils, the five sufferings, and the five burnings. This is extremely painful for me.
I will teach multitudes of beings, making them abandon the five evils, avoid the five sufferings, and escape from the five burnings.
I will train their minds and lead them to practice the five good deeds, so that they may acquire merit and virtue and attain emancipation, long life, and Nirvana."
"In this world, you should extensively plant roots of virtue, be benevolent, give generously, abstain from breaking the precepts, be patient and diligent, teach people with sincerity and wisdom, do virtuous deeds, and practice good.
If you strictly observe the precepts of abstinence with upright thought and mindfulness even for a day and a night, the merit acquired will surpass that of practicing good in the land of Amitayus for a hundred years.
The reason is that in that Buddha-land of effortless spontaneity all the inhabitants do good without committing even a hair's breadth of evil.
If in this world you do good for ten days and nights, the merit acquired will surpass that of practicing good in the Buddha-land of other quarters for a thousand years. The reason is that in the Buddha-land of other quarters many practice good and very few commit evil. They are lands where everything is naturally provided as a result of one's merit and virtue, and so no evil is done.
But in this world much evil is committed, and few are provided for naturally; people must work hard to get what they want.
Since they intend to deceive each other, their minds are troubled, their bodies exhausted, and they drink bitterness and eat hardship.
In this way, they are preoccupied with their toil no have time for rest.
"Out of pity for you and other devas and humans, I have taken great pains in exhorting you to do good deeds. I have given you instructions appropriate to your capacities. You have, without fail, accepted my teachings and practiced them, and so have all entered on the Way as you wished.
From the DhammapadaThe man of little learning grows old like a bull. He grows only in bulk, but, his wisdom does not grow.
Those who in youth have not led the holy life, or have failed to acquire wealth, languish like old cranes in the pond without fish.
Those who in youth have not lead the holy life, or have failed to acquire wealth, lie sighing over the past, like worn out arrows (shot from) a bow.
If by renouncing a lesser happiness one may realize a greater happiness, let the wise man renounce the lesser, having regard for the greater.
How practical, wise and direct the Conqueror can be at times....whether or not I choose to pay heed...