Astus wrote:Angulimala could attain enlightenment even though he was a serial killer - you have no objections here I guess.
Sure, but he was a disciple of Shakyamuni and did not wait to be reborn in a Pure Land post-mortem. He received teachings directly from the Buddha and did not put his faith in being reborn in somewhere else where conditions would be more pleasant (such as somewhere where people would not treat him as the murderer that he was).
It could happen because of the Buddha's work and that Angulimala changed his mind. Attaining birth in the Pure Land is possible because of Amita Buddha's work and because one changes his mind. This turning from samsara toward the Pure Land is the essential component called faith.
If I'm not mistaken, the Pure Land is still samsara, no?
In concept it is no different from the story of the dog ascetic. It is not about being taken out of samsara, it is not a theistic salvation like what many mistakes it for, but it is about harmonising the mind with the conditions brought to reality by Amita Buddha. So the metaphor of meeting one's parent after many years.
I don't trust the scriptures enough to put my money so to speak on such a gamble. If I can't verify it or find it reasonable (for example I find Shakyamuni's teachings verifiable in many instances and reasonable, or for that matter Nagarjuna or Asanga), then I'm reluctant to pursue something purely on faith.
It's never been the idea that Pure Land is for the morally wicked people - this is again mistaking it for Christian salvation.
Tell that to Shinran who probably never heard of Christianity.
The big thing here is that it is available for prthagjanas, non-enlightened beings. The morality part comes in only as a secondary aspect, saying that non-enlightened beings don't have the perfect moral conduct as aryas do. Therefore some Pure Land teachers said it's not a big problem if one cannot abide by the precepts in every situation.
There are three trainings: ethics (in Chinese literally precepts), samadhi and wisdom. They form a tripod. There is no wisdom without samadhi and no samadhi without ethics/precepts. Anyone who tells you otherwise is suspect.
Like what Honen says here:
Q: Is it a sin to drink sake (Japanese rice wine)?
A: Definitely you shouldn’t drink, but, you know, it’s the way of the world.
I think Daoxuan's sentiments that precepts are fundamentally about the intention behind certain actions rather than the letter of the law is more suitable. Honen sounds like he is bending to peer pressure rather than elucidating the point that in all actions it is intention that counts.
Morally base people usually don't care at all about religion so it's not a common thing if somebody truly considers enlightenment. Because it shouldn't be forgot that the Pure Land is a way to enlightenment, to buddhahood, and nothing else.
I still stand by my original assertion that our shitty Saha world here is the optimal place to attain enlightenment as the Vimalakirti-sutra outlines.
On the other hand, the later Chan thinkers who spoke of cultivating the Pure Land within make some sense to me. I just don't like this idea of putting your liberation on the line and waiting until you drop dead in the hopes of having someone else save you from suffering.