himalayanspirit wrote:I have another question for my fellow Pure Land practitioners.
When I first began learning about Buddhism, I used to consider it a very rational religion without mythological bull***, ritualistic practices and believes and practices that are in direct contradiction to modern science. However, as I read further I began finding Buddhism (especially Mahayana) to be approaching the same quality as that of any other Pagan or Abrahamic religion.
First off, it sounds like your first impressions of Buddhism were what are now considered to be "Protestant Buddhism". The first stages of Western contact with Buddhism occurred in a period of Western thought and ideals, post Enlightenment Europe, in which there was a movement away from the so-called superstition of the Catholic church, it's priestly ways, rituals - and towards an ideal of pure intellect and rational thought, free from priests, superstition, rite and ritual, etc. During this period, there was a huge amount of projection from these scholars of these ideals onto Buddhism. Witness the way that Pali Buddhism in particular was described by these people. They believed that any form of Buddhism that did not conform to their post-Enlightenment ideals was somehow corrupt and decayed, etc.
Don't worry. Pretty much anybody who first comes into contact with Buddhism outside of Asia (and many in Asia nowadays due to the back influence of this movement) had to encounter Buddhism through this lens. It's only once one really gets into it, knows the languages and history, etc. that one can start to see through this Western projection of Buddhism.
My doubt is very basic.
In Buddhism we have to eliminate all kinds of discriminative thoughts and the most important thing that needs to be controlled (if not destroyed) is attachment (and desire). 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.
In general, much of Buddhism involves teachings to overcome desire.
However, I believe that you have made a mistake in assessing that the Pureland sutras are about "tempting the inquisitve bodhisattvas ...". Though the Purelands are described in this way, it is not to attract then with their sensual beauty or pleasures. The real attracting feature is that there are Buddhas there, who teach the Dharma, and a great Samgha community to practice with. This sort of "desire" is known as "chanda", and it is fundamentally quite different from sensual desire (raga, trsna, etc.) in Buddhist thought.
There are several different types of Pureland sutra, from Amitabha's Pureland, to that of Aksobhya, and others. Many of these texts explicitly say that if one is only attracted to the sensual beauty of the Pureland, it is impossible for them to be reborn there
Rather, these beautiful scenes are the karmic results of the inner mental purity of the people who live there.
This begs another question, if the authors of Pure Land sutras have anyway included objects of all other sense desires, then why have they left sex in Pure Land? Like how the Quran assures Muslims that they will find virgins in heaven if they practice the religion diligently. If we find tasty food, awesome sights with various colors, various comforts, and all other delights in Pure Land, then why do we not get beautiful girls as well?
Again, the various objects are not described in terms of being pleasurable sense objects that one should seek.
They are described in terms of their ability to teach the Dharma, eg. wind chimes that teach the Dharma, etc.
By constantly imagining about the various delights in the fictional Pure Land, wouldn't the attachment and desire of the Bodhisattva grow rather than get eliminated?
Yes, if one merely perceives them as being pleasurable sensual objects, that will be an obstacle.
So that is why they are not taught in this manner.
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?
"Complete satisfaction" to most people would be to totally satisfy all desires, ie. don't change the desires, but try to fulfill them.
In Buddhist terms, when one has no desires, there are not any desires left unfulfilled, and one has complete satisfaction.
Likewise, nirvana is not the attainment of some supra-sensory desirable object, but the absence of any seeking for any object.