Very true and relevant for my situation in practice right now, thank you for sharing.
Without this kind of brutal honesty, I think we'll only keep tricking ourselves into the same old pains.
plwk: isn't this precisely what the OP is saying? It's not that this foolish self is somehow a bad thing that we utterly reject in preference to Amida. Our tendency to put our little identities on a special pedestal demanding all our energy is so strong, so if that's all that saying we're evil/etc. were, it would be trying to wash out mud with muddy water. Same old nonsense.
My impression of this "evil self" is that for many beings, including myself, we are utterly confused and overwhelmed by the strength of our egocentric karma. Every goodness I try to cultivate ends up revealing some hope for personal advantage, and when things go badly or are difficult, energy and intention peter out. At that moment, the self-centeredness of my supposed good intentions becomes painfully clear. Habitual delusions seem to have a mind of their own.
For instance, while burning alive with lust, trying to tell myself of the disadvantages of lust or the undesirability of the body etc. has proven totally futile.
That's because Self-Power has already cultivated and grown this lustful desire, and is hard-pressed to suddenly abandon what its tenderly cared for. Admitting that this self is evil, or foolish, or the devil, prevents the mistake of relying on the same thing that gave rise to the lust to somehow be able to abandon it. Therefore, we rely on something else. Some call it the Tathagata, some the luminous mind, some Amida.
If we don't admit the harm of Self-Power, which we identify so closely with, then we cannot hope to put it in perspective and see that yes, what we desire so dearly, or our fondest hopes for others, are centered in a perspective with roots deep in ignorance, and can only ever lead to further harm or at least be ultimately ineffective.
As you say, to each his own. For me, trying to rely on an abstraction of my own Buddha-nature or luminous mind sounded beautiful, but in the inferno of lust or my temper, totally inaccessible.
Instead, Pure Land offers people of certain dispositions an alternative.
Also worth mentioning is that if we merely set down Self-Power without then letting ourselves be swept up by Other-Power, the resultant behaviors bear a remarkable resemblance to what we would've done in the first place! This is where I think a lot of Devil talk or self-loathing falls short: with no alternative, old habits reign supreme.
Such is the need for some, like myself, for an alternative that isn't in the realm of "self applying antidotes to self" and the like.
That is my understanding at least, and how I see Pure Land harmonizing with the sorts of things you quote instead of being in opposition.
Last edited by Monlam Tharchin
on Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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