plwk wrote:Yeah Astus, but until then Pure Land will still have to deal with the common challenge of what the Ven Master said on those 'What?? I just got rid of a god and you're giving me another one?' lol Perhaps, if Pure Land was presented more from the perspective of the overall Mahayana teaching of the Bodhisattva Path and Supreme Buddhahood as another alternative rather than a stand alone one as if it's another purported 'god salvation, get to heaven' thingy, perhaps that mindset can be remedied?
Man this post sounds exactly like what was going through my head reading Thich Thein Tam's Pure Land books/translations.
In the books, TTT tries to explain the value of the practice with some quotes from Shakyamuni Buddha in the Avatamsaka Sutra (a Mahayana sutra from 200CE) and some quotes by Nagarjuna (that actually seem kinda unrelated to be honest). Unfortunately TTT's explanations are based on the assumption that we know anything about either of those 2, or Amitabha Buddha (still not quite clear where he comes from, I thought Dharmakaya referred to the Buddha's form following Mahaparinirvana). In fact, I would say that TTT's explanations are geared towards someone who is already at least a Mahayana Buddhist, not a noob like me.
When you're not raised in a certain tradition, you tend to put more importance on the logic of a tradition when trying to integrate into a new tradition. When you're not already a Buddhist, or raised in a Buddhist culture, taking the plunge like that is very difficult. If trying to attract non-Buddhist converts, Pure Land folks would do better to explain the power of mantra recitation & approach it from that viewpoint instead of just tossing out new deities for worship.
What's almost amusing is that I started reciting Medicine Buddha mantra at the advice of the Lam Rim group to help with some very painful infections I've been getting. I'm actually tossing around the idea of making my mantra practice of the Medicine Buddha into a long-term Pure Land practice. Reading the Medicine Buddha sutra makes a lot more sense to me (than anything in the TTT book):
"If these sentient beings should hear the name of
the World-Honored Medicine Buddha, single-mindedly
recite and hold fast to it without harboring doubts, then
it will be impossible for them to sink onto the Evil
O, Ananda! These extremely profound practices of
the Buddhas are difficult to believe in, difficult to under-
stand. Yet you are now able to accept them. You should
realize that this is all due to the awesome power of the
Of course reading the above passages comes AFTER I've had the explanations of the power of positive visualization, the evidence dating back to the Nikaya sutras that Shakyamuni Buddha taught protection mantras, the single-pointedness of the mind created by mantra chanting, & the understanding that the faith rests just as much in my own mind's ability to actualize a single-pointed thought as anything else. If the Pure Land books had started with those ideas, I would've been much more on board. Instead, the books had some unconvincing sutra-based arguments, some anecdotes of supposed magic things happening for anonymous Pure Land chanters, and an attitude of "this is how it is, I'm right, and don't question it". I probably wasn't the target audience for the books.