...rebirth in the Pure Land makes it pointless to worry about attaining the state of No-Birth and No-Mark. So what need is there for a more "advanced" form of practice?
Perhaps, I am seeing this question on two levels:Level One:
When one takes up Pure Land practice, it should be according to the Buddha's intention, not our mundane ones. So when one takes up according to how the Buddha meant it to be, we get the Buddha results. When one complicates it with one's own mundane/samsaric reasons, then the end result is often muddled and when one don't see how they have muddled it up, often the Dharma Door is slandered as useless and pointless but upon a simple investigation would have yielded some answers on the 'failures'.
There are those who, visiting Buddhist temples and monasteries and seeing people engaged in Buddhas Recitation, also join in, without a specific goal. This action, while garnering merits and virtues for the future, is not in accordance with the Buddhas' true intention.
There are those who practice Buddha Recitation seeking escape from danger and calamities as well as health, happiness and tranquillity for their families and ever-growing success in their careers and business dealings. Such goals, although worthy, are not consonant with the Buddhas' true intention.
There are those who, faced with hardships and the frustration of their wishes, become despondent. They recite Amitabha Buddha's name, praying that they will be spared such adversity in their present and future lives, that they will be endowed with beauty and honor, and that everything will turn to their advantage and accord with their wishes. Such goals are of course worthy, but they are not consonant with the Buddhas' true intention.
There are those who realize that life on earth does not bring any lasting happiness; even the noble, rich powerful and influential are beset by worry and suffering. They hope that through the merits and virtues of Buddha Recitation, they will be reborn in the celestial realms, endowed with longevity and leisure, joy and freedom. Such a goal, although worthy, is not consonant with the Buddhas' true intention.
There are those who, having committed many transgressions, think that they cannot easily be saved in this life. They therefore recite the Buddha's name, praying that in their next life they will be reborn as a male, leave home to be a high-ranking monk, and become awakened to the Way. Such a goal, while exemplary, is still lacking in wisdom and faith, and is not consonant with the Buddhas' true intention
The intention of the Buddhas?
Buddha Sakyamuni clearly recognized that all conditioned dharmas are impermanent, and that all sentient beings have always possessed in full the virtues and wisdom of the Tathagatas (Buddhas). However, because of delusion about their Original Nature, they create evil karma and afflictions and revolve forever in the cycle of Birth and Death. Even if they were to be reborn in the Heavens, once their merits were exhausted, they would descend into the lower realms. For this reason, the real intention of Sakyamuni Buddha is that through the Pure Land method, sentient beings may realize an early escape from the sufferings of Birth and Death.The second level:
Throughout countless eons, all Buddhas have accumulated merits and wisdom. Anyone who recites their names will engender immeasurable virtues. Moreover, Buddha Amitabha has made this Vow: Any sentient being who singlemindedly recites His name and seeks rebirth in His Land will, at the final moment, be welcomed and guided to the Pure land, and attain non-retrogression. To exchange the immeasurable virtues accumulated through Buddha Recitation for the small merits and blessings of the realm of gods and men -- forfeiting liberation and rebirth in the Pure Land -- would be no different from an innocent child bartering an invaluable diamond for a piece of candy. That would be a great waste indeed!
Moreover, the power of Amitabha Buddha's Vows is so immense that no matter how heavy our karma may be, by reciting His name in all earnestness, we can, in this very lifetime, achieve rebirth in the Pure Land. To seek rebirth, for instance, as an enlightened, high-ranking monk is to lack wisdom and faith. It cannot ensure rebirth in the Pure Land in this very life or attainment of Bodhisattvahood at the stage of non-retrogression. Therefore, the real intention of the Buddhas is for sentient beings to practice Pure Land so that they can be liberated from Birth and Death -- and this liberation is to be achieved in one lifetime.
But why do we need to escape the cycle of Birth and Death? It is because, in the wasteland of Birth and Death, we truly undergo immense pain and suffering. If students of Buddhism do not sincerely meditate on this truth of suffering, they cannot achieve results despite all their scholarship, as they do not experience fear and seek liberation. The sutras say:
If the fearful mind does not come easily, the sincere mind cannot spring forth easily.
This is the reason why Sakyamuni Buddha, when preaching the Four Noble Truths to the five monks led by Kaundinya, taught them first the Truth of Suffering. According to this truth, if we meditate on the suffering of the human condition, we will have a clearer idea as to why we must swiftly escape the cycle of Birth and Death.
Every Dharma Door has the goal of achieving the Final Goal and so it is quite pointless to compare one with another Dharma Door's standard of how that goal is to be gained. Words like 'advance' or 'simple' is perceived by sentient's capacity, affinities plus their respective causes and conditions rather than the Dharma Door per se. If that Dharma Door works for you, fine.
http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf32.htm#points Question IV:
The purpose of Buddha Recitation is to sever the mind of delusion, put an end to afflictions and reach the state of No-Thought (No Recitation). This being the case, we need only keep the mind pure, and we will progress gradually toward the realm of No-Thought. Where is the need to expend time and effort in Buddha Recitation?Answer:
The aim of the Pure Land method is the Buddha Recitation Samadhi, achieving, in totality, our Self-Nature Amitabha -- the realm of the "Ever-Silent Illuminating Pure Land." However, the most urgent and immediate aim is rebirth in the Pure Land. This ensures an end to transmigration, and then, through the excellent environment of the Land of Bliss, progress in cultivation and swift attainment of Buddhahood. For this reason, Pure Land cultivators should recite the name of Amitabha Buddha. This is the principal approach of Pure Land; it does not consist of rapidly reaching the realm of No-Thought and becoming enlightened to our Original Nature, as in Zen.
However, while working toward that goal, the practitioner should recite until he reaches the state of one-pointedness of mind. Thus, although he does not seek the realm of "No-Thought," that realm will nevertheless appear naturally. Moreover, it will appear that much sooner, thanks to the virtues accumulated through Buddha Recitation, which help to erase bad karma swiftly. Here we can see a new ray of light, a new vista: to achieve "No-Thought" swiftly, to become enlightened to the Original Nature speedily, we should recite the Buddha's name all the more.
Probing deeper, if we have the roots and the temperament of Mahayana followers, we should understand that the ultimate goal of Buddha Recitation is to achieve Buddhahood. If we understand that goal to be merely the elimination of deluded thoughts, we have already strayed into the "Five Meditations to calm the mind" approach of the Theravada tradition.
Why is it that the goal of Buddha Recitation is to become a Buddha? It is because as soon as we begin reciting, the past, present and future have lost their distinctions, marks exist but they have been left behind, form is emptiness, thought is the same as No-Thought, the realm of the Original Nature "apart from thought" of the Tathagata has been penetrated. This state is Buddhahood. What else could it be?
If we were to think that to recite is to remain attached to the "conditioned" (mundane dharmas subject to Birth and Death), then, when Buddha Sakyamuni displayed such concrete marks as eating a meal, donning a robe, conversing, preaching the Dharma, walking, standing, lying down, or sitting up, was He not attached to the conditioned and therefore not a Tathagata?
Moreover, if we were to think that reciting the Buddha's name is not yet No-Thought, then, when high-ranking Zen masters are meditating on a koan, preaching the Dharma, or, at times, reciting sutras, genuflecting, seeking repentance, or circumambulating, (all actions having marks), are they therefore not practicing Zen?
We should know that the essence of the "unconditioned" is to "practice all conditioned dharmas without seeing the mark of practice." The same is true of No-Thought. It does not mean that entirely eliminating all actions and words is the unconditioned, the No-Thought! Because they fail to understand this truth, some persons who are attached to the teaching of Emptiness think: Buddha Recitation is like a moving vehicle carrying an added heavy load, impure gold with traces of lead, rice mixed with sand, not light, pure and unmixed. How wrong can they be!
However, reciting to the point of "not reciting," is the sphere of those of the highest capacities. I merely raise the issue to reply to a point of doubt. As far as most of us are concerned, making the effort to recite the Buddha's name in an accomplished manner is already a very worthwhile thing!