If these make any sense...my own analysis
... Then Ananda asked the Buddha,
“If, World-honored One, there is no Mount Sumeru in that land, what sustains the Heaven of the Four Kings and the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods?”
The Buddha said to Ananda,
“What sustains Yama, which is the third heaven of the world of desire, and other heavens up to the highest heaven of the world of form?”
Ananda answered, “The consequences of karma are inconceivable.”
The Buddha said to Ananda,
“Inconceivable indeed are the consequences of karma, and so are the worlds of the buddhas. By the power of meritorious deeds, sentient beings in that land dwell on the ground of karmic reward. That is why those heavens exist without Mount Sumeru.”
Firstly, if one have read the portion before this, one gets the idea on what Sukhavati is in comparison to Saha World's structures of the worlds of desire (the heavenly worlds section) & form using many examples from our world system to contrast on how much better Sukhavati is.
Secondly, Ananda is doing what many others in other Sutras have done: that he's asking for the sake of others to clear their doubts: that he posits that there will be those who will think that Sukhavati must have the same structure layout as our world system when all the Buddha is just doing is to compare and contrast both systems, hence Ananda's asking is based on our world's cosmology with Mt Sumeru mapped onto Sukhavati and if it's missing in Sukhavati, how can all the other heavenly abodes in the Desire Realm then be supported?
Thirdly, hence from the Buddha's teaching on karmic reward to look at the basis of both Sukhavati and the heavenly abodes in both the realms of desire and form.
a. The concept of and basis of impure karmic reward/retribution as found in our Saha World, all sentient beings from the hells to the heavens have their basis on this. The injunction on how sentient beings in our world generally focus/fear on the effect, hence a short sighted approach.
b. In Sukhavati however, its conception is from the realised pure vows of a Buddha, whilst the external forms of it may mimic that of the heavenly abodes of Saha World but its essence isn't. Again, the injunction that a Bodhisattva focuses on the cause for accomplishment of the Path and Fruit instead of fearing the effect, which takes a more holistic / all rounded approach.
c. Hence, with the greater understanding and practice of the latter Bodhisattvic approach, the self power generated by an aspirant and those who are already in Sukhavati are hence based on creating the right causes for Enlightenment, whilst tapping into the realised Other Power of Amitabha, one gets to experience what is similar or looks like that which is in the heavenly abodes in Saha but without the inevitable duhkha that comes with it in Sukhavati.
Part II, In page 57, verse 42:
42 Then the Buddha said to Ananda and Bodhisattva Maitreya,
“Have you seen that land filled with excellent and glorious manifestations, all spontaneously produced, from the ground to the Heaven of Pure Abode?”
Ananda replied, “Yes, I have.”
The Buddha asked, “Have you also heard the great voice of Amitayus expound the Dharma to all the worlds, guiding sentient beings to the Way of the Buddha?”
Ananda replied, “Yes, I have.”
The Buddha further asked, “Have you also seen the inhabitants of that land move freely, riding in seven-jeweled airborne palaces as large as a hundred thousand yojanas, to worship the buddhas of the lands in the ten directions?”
“Yes, I have,” replied Ananda.
“Have you also seen that some of the inhabitants are in the embryonic state of rebirth?”
If I may complete the above paras with this..
http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/purelan ... s/id3.html
Then the Bodhisattva Maitreya said to the Buddha,
"World-Honored One, for what reason are some of the inhabitants of that land in the embryonic state and the others born by transformation?"
The Buddha replied,
"Maitreya, if there are sentient beings who do various meritorious deeds aspiring for birth in that land while still entertaining doubt, such beings are unable to comprehend the Buddha-wisdom, inconceivable wisdom, ineffable wisdom, boundless Mahayana wisdom, and incomparable, unequaled, and unsurpassed supreme wisdom. Although they doubt these wisdoms, they still believe in retribution for evil and reward for virtue and so cultivate a stock of merits, aspiring for birth in that land. Such beings are born in a palace, where they dwell for five hundred years without being able to behold the Buddha, hear his exposition of the Dharma, or see the hosts of bodhisattvas and shravakas. For this reason, that type of birth in the Pure Land is called 'embryonic state.'
"If there are sentient beings who with resolute faith accept these kinds of wisdom, from the Buddha's wisdom to the supreme wisdom, do meritorious deeds and sincerely transfer the merit acquired (to that land), those beings will be born by transformation spontaneously. seated with legs crossed, in the seven-jewelled lotus-flowers, and instantly attain the same glorious forms, wisdom and virtue as those of other bodhisattvas there.
Once again, if one reads both together, I have seen at least two interpretations to this: The comparison of embryonic and transformational births. I recall dealing with this issue back on the now defunct E-Sangha Pure Land Forum...
a. One opinion is that this is on the provisional appearance of a 'stunted' kind of birth, here meaning that birth has taken place within Sukhavati but it's at the fringes of it, the aspirant is kept in an 'embryonic' state: created from the retribution of one's doubts, the passages seem to hint like it's kind of a waiting room for 'doubters', until that is resolved, as it says, for about 500 years max I guess, then they will get to start their journey of encountering Sukhavati & its Sages without hindrance like their transformational birth compatriots. Having said this, they do not 'suffer' like how we understand the common deprivation in our world, as they have the good karmic retribution of experiencing heavenly like conditions whilst in the 'waiting room' but not the full experience of Sukhavati yet. Also commonly known as 'border land', 'seven jewelled palaces' and so forth.
b. Some opined that it's outside of Sukhavati. I have a problem with this interpretation as there are no indications of it being external to Sukhavati and the higher understanding of 'birth' and Sukhavati.
c. See interesting Japanese interpretations here
and this excerpt here: page 278 onwards