himalayanspirit wrote:But then, why do the Pure Land sutras keep tempting the inquisitive Bodhisattvas about the delights they will find in Pure Land? Music, food, precious stones etc etc are all explained in detail.
This can be interpreted in a number of ways.
I personally see it as metaphorical. This is how things appear to an enlightened being. Take into consideration the following passage from the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra.
Then the venerable Sariputra said to the Brahma Sikhin, "As for me, O Brahma, I see this great earth, with its highs and lows, its thorns, its precipices, its peaks, and its abysses, as if it were entirely filled with ordure."
Brahma Sikhin replied, "The fact that you see such a buddha-field as this as if it were so impure, reverend Sariputra, is a sure sign that there are highs and lows in your mind and that your positive thought in regard to the buddha-gnosis is not pure either. Reverend Sariputra, those whose minds are impartial toward all living beings and whose positive thoughts toward the buddha-gnosis are pure see this buddha-field as perfectly pure."
Thereupon the Lord touched the ground of this billion-world-galactic universe with his big toe, and suddenly it was transformed into a huge mass of precious jewels, a magnificent array of many hundreds of thousands of clusters of precious gems, until it resembled the universe of the Tathagata Ratnavyuha, called Anantagunaratnavyuha. Everyone in the entire assembly was filled with wonder, each perceiving himself seated on a throne of jeweled lotuses.
Then, the Buddha said to the venerable Sariputra, "Sariputra, do you see this splendor of the virtues of the buddha-field?"
Sariputra replied, "I see it, Lord! Here before me is a display of splendor such as I never before heard of or beheld!"
The Buddha said, "Sariputra, this buddha-field is always thus pure, but the Tathagata makes it appear to be spoiled by many faults, in order to bring about the maturity of the inferior living beings. For example, Sariputra, the gods of the Trayastrimsa heaven all take their food from a single precious vessel, yet the nectar which nourishes each one differs according to the differences of the merits each has accumulated. Just so, Sariputra, living beings born in the same buddha-field see the splendor of the virtues of the buddha-fields of the Buddhas according to their own degrees of purity."
Link:http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/F ... akirti.htm
In other words, the descriptions of the Pure Land is from the perspective of an enlightened being. More specifically, it is a Mahāyāna vision of enlightenment. Sariputra in this context, while an advanced arhat, still has not obtained true prajñā, and thus sees impurity where an enlightened mind would not perceive it. There is a lack of penetration into emptiness and thus reified sensations of purity and impurity, as well as reified objects which arouse such feelings, are in effect causing him to be disturbed.
That being said, if you don't really perceive things as a pure buddha-field, then don't pretend you do. I find shit and industrial pollution impure and unappealing and don't pretend otherwise.
In modern Chinese Buddhism, particularly coming out of Taiwan, there are ideas about "creating a Pure Land on earth" which basically amounts to utopianism. They seek to create a world free from hunger, war, conflict and poverty. I think they are noble for it and commend them, but I think they forget all about suffering. They don't really mention the horrors of samsara and suffering to the laity so much. They stress volunteering, hard work and morality rather than understanding suffering and recognizing the existence of it both subtle and superficial.
Foguangshan in Taiwan has a Disneyland style Pure Land cave. It is all rather gaudy in my opinion and a misdirection of resources. Here's a photo of all the devotees getting into the Pure Land:
They also got arhats hanging out in the Pure Land:
This kind of strategy has proved quite effective. You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar as the saying goes. You don't talk about suffering or the lower realms, and then sell people an idea of a Pure Land utopia complete with cheerful youth groups and free food.
The way I understand it is that Samsara is bad because we have so many desires and attachment here. Then why is Pure Land any difference? Is there anything like "complete satisfaction" (besides Nirvana) in Buddhism to begin with? Aren't all things impermanent?
Some Pure Land advocates suggest the Pure Land is a training ground where retrogression is not possible and attainment of Buddhahood is guaranteed.
I don't take well to such thinking. I think the training ground of Bodhisattvas is in this shitty world of ours. It is woe of our fellow sentient beings that fosters compassion. Living in paradise you have no reason to cultivate compassion. This is why it is often said the buddhadharma falls on deaf ears in the case of gods in celestial paradises.