rory wrote:Tatsuo; the one thought of Amitabha isn't just any stray thought your mind has to achieve total concentration. Many people in Chinese Pure Land cautionary narratives have been distracted on their deathbed after a lifetime as pious Pure Landers & back to samsara. Honen also belongs to this school.
Honen never said, that you need perfect conditions at the time of death to achieve birth in the Pure Land, just the act of reciting the name of Amida Buddha is enough: "Whether or not you meet a virtuous teacher, whether or not you are in control of circumstances at the end of your life, the recitation of Nenbutsu makes Ojo possible." (Honen Shonin’s Dialogue on One Hundred Forty-Five Topics
And there are very few followers who even believe in a real Sukhavati in Jodo Shinshu - to them it's all a metaphor.
It is not true, that the minority of Jodo Shinshu followers believe the Pure Land is real. Almost all followers of Pure Land Buddhism in Asia and most followers in the West see the Pure Land as a place just as real as this world. How did you come to the conclusion, that most followers see the Pure Land as a metaphor?
I've been on both sides & just found a real passivity in Pure Land: "I am sinful; I can't do anything; I can't learn." Or you call on Kannon sama to help because we are helpless. Well we're educated, literate, we can read the sutras, learn and be responsible for our behavior.
Reading the Sutras is not understanding the Sutras, just as learning about Buddhism is not the same as realizing Buddhahood. Otherwise all scholars of Buddhology would be perfectly enlightened and helping living beings. You don't become a Buddha just by trying not to break the precepts, reading some Sutras and maybe take meditation classes. I think the Pure Land tradition is realistic about the capabilities of humans. Many people in the West think, that achieving Buddhahood is an easy thing to do and can be done just by reading books, meditating 20 minutes each day and going on retreats twice a year, while breaking the precepts (e.g. drinking alcohol), being proud of one's own Buddhist practice and choosing only those practices/teachings, that are suitable for the modern, educated, urban, middle class liberal - and most Western Buddhist practice even less than that. Don't get me wrong - it's ok to be modern, educated, urban, middle class and liberal - I guess 90% of the users in this forum belong to just that category - but I think we need to be more humble about our capabilities.