I guess the one thing that doesn't sit well with me as that in the information I have read; there is no encouragement to try and better ourselves and maintain some sense of ethics. Maybe I am wrong of which I hope I am, but I find it hard to swallow that all I have to do is have faith and I can still be a bad person and receive salvation. Thanks and look forward to hearing from you!
You want encouragement to be good?
Not so you go to the Pure Land, but because it will benefit other beings if you are good.
Sadly you will often fail to be good. Isn't it wonderful that even then you are within Amida's grasp?
If we offer a meal to a homeless, addicted person, it doesn't mean he or she should willfully continue to be homeless and addicted to get free meals, or that we wouldn't encourage them to get clean, and turn their lives around. It simply means that regardless of why they are homeless and addicted, we want to help them out and give them a good meal.
I love the Tannisho! I strongly encourage you to study it in depth.
Even a good person attains birth in the Pure Land, so it goes without saying that an evil person will.
Though it is so, people commonly say, "Even an evil person attains birth, so it goes without saying that a good person will." This statement may seem well founded at first, but it runs counter to the intent of the Primal Vow, which is Other Power. This is because people who rely on doing good through their self-power fail to entrust themselves wholeheartedly to Other Power and therefore not in accord with Amida's Primal Vow, but when they overturn the mind of self-power and entrust themselves to Other Power, they will attain birth in the true and fulfilled land.
It is impossible for us, who are possessed of blind passions, to free ourselves from birth-and-death through any practice whatever. Sorrowing at this, Amida made the Vow, the essential intent of which is the evil person's attainment of Buddhahood. Hence, evil persons who entrust themselves to Other Power are precisely the ones who possess the true cause of birth.
Accordingly he said, "Even the good person is born in the Pure Land, so without question is the person who is evil"
The Master once asked, "Yuien-bo, do you accept all that I say?"
"Yes I do," I answered.
"Then will you not deviate from whatever I tell you?" he repeated.
I humbly affirmed this. Thereupon he said, "Now, I want you to kill a thousand people. If you do, you will definitely attain birth."
I responded, "Though you instruct me thus, I'm afraid it is not in my power to kill even one person."
"Then why did you say that you would follow whatever I told you?"
He continued, "By this you should realize that if we could always act as we wished, then when I told you to kill a thousand people in order to attain birth, you should have immediately done so. But since you lack the karmic cause inducing you to kill even a single person, you do not kill. It is not that you do not kill because your heart is good. In the same way, a person may not wish to harm anyone and yet end up killing a hundred or a thousand people."
Thus he spoke of how we believe that if our hearts are good, then it is good for birth, and if our hearts are evil, it is bad for birth, failing to realize that it is by the inconceivable working of the Vow that we are saved.
There was, in those days, a person who had fallen into wrong views. He asserted that since the Vow was made to serve the person who had committed evil, one should purposely do evil as an act for attaining birth. As rumors of misdeeds gradually spread, Shinran wrote in a letter, "Do not take a liking to poison just because there is an antidote." This was in order to put an end to that wrong understanding. It by no means implies that evil can obstruct one's attainment of birth.
He also said, "If it were only by observing precepts and upholding rules that we should entrust ourselves to the Primal Vow, how could we ever gain freedom from birth-and-death?" Even such wretched beings as ourselves, on encountering the Primal Vow, come indeed to "presume" upon it. But even so, how could we commit evil acts without any karmic cause in ourselves?
The Master further stated:
For those who make their living drawing nets or fishing in the seas and rivers, and those who sustain their lives hunting beasts or taking fowl in the fields and mountains, and those who pass their lives conducting trade or cultivating fields and paddies, it is all the same. If the karmic cause so prompts us, we will commit any kind of act.
These days, however, one finds people making a show of themselves as "seekers for the afterlife," posting notices at nembutsu practice halls saying that those who have committed such and such acts may not enter, as though only good persons should say the nembutsu. Are not people who do this indeed "outwardly expressing signs of wisdom, goodness, or diligence, while inwardly embracing falsity"?
Even the evil we commit while "presuming" upon the Vow occurs through the prompting of past karma. Thus, Other Power lies in entrusting ourselves wholly to the Primal Vow while leaving both good and evil to karmic recompense. The Essentials of Faith Alone states:
Do you know the power Amida possesses, when you say that because you are a being of karmic evil you cannot be saved?
Since you have a heart that presumes upon the Primal Vow, the mind of entrusting yourself to Other Power becomes all the more firmly settled.
If you entrusted yourself to the Primal Vow only after completely ridding yourself of karmic evil and blind passions, then there would be no presuming upon the Vow. But to rid yourself of blind passions is to become a Buddha, and for one who is already a Buddha, the Vow that arose from the five kalpas of profound thought would be to no purpose.
People who admonish others against presuming upon the Primal Vow themselves appear to be possessed of blind passions and defilements. Does not this condition itself imply presuming upon the Vow? What kind of evil is meant by "presuming upon the Vow" and what kind is not? Rather, is not this entire line of argument the product of immature thinking?