Lazy_eye wrote:Ch'an is surely quite a difficult path, with many hazards and opportunities for regression. But after reading the QA posted by Rev. Dodatsu in another thread, I'm not convinced that Pure Land is as easy as people make it out to be. Even in Jodo Shinshu, it is quite possible that faith will not develop and the practitioner will find himself/herself in an undesirable situation:Dr. Inagaki Hisao wrote:Ordinary Shin Buddhists who occasionally say the Nembutsu, chant sutras and attend Dharma meetings will either go to the Transformed Land or continue their samsaric existence under the influence of their karma. Such Shin Buddhists rarely attain birth in the Pure Land.
Meanwhile, those who are more earnest in their practice but lack shinjin will at least reach the non-retrogression stage, but not the Pure Land.
At least, birth in the Transformed Land is still better than being stuck in the cycle of birth-and-death (samsara). Being born in samsara doesn't guarantee that you will be able to attain enlightenment, as Tan-luan points out in the following:
The Commentary on Vasubandhu's Treatise on the Pure Land states:
Reverently contemplating the Commentary on the Ten Bodhisattva Stages of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, I find it stated that there are two paths by which bodhisattvas seek the stage of non-retrogression - the path of difficult practice and the path of easy practice.
With the path of difficult practice, it is seeking non-retrogression in this world of five defilements at a time when there is no Buddha that is difficult. This difficulty appears in many ways; I will indicate what is meant by roughly listing several of them.
* The apparent good practiced in non-buddhist ways is confused with the dharma of the bodhisattva.
* The sravaka's concentration on self-benefit diverts a bodhisattva's practice of great compassion.
* Evildoers lacking self-reflection subvert the excellent merits of others.
* The results of good acts undertaken with inverted thinking nullify the bodhisattva's pure practice for enlightenment.
* The path of difficult practice is based solely on self-power and lacks the support of Other Power.
Such problems as these, which may be seen everywhere, are examples of the difficulty. Thus the path of difficult practice may be compared in its hardship to journeying overland on foot.
In the path of easy practice, one aspires to be born in the Pure Land with solely one's entrusting oneself to the Buddha as the cause, and allowing oneself to be carried by the power of the Buddha's Vow, quickly attains birth in the land of purity. Supported by the Buddha's power, one immediately enters the group of the truly settled of the Mahayana. The stage of the truly settled is none other than the stage of non-retrogression. Thus the path of easy practice may be compared in its comfort to being carried over waterways in a ship.
The only "problem" in the Transformed Land is that one is not able to hear the Dharma, not able to make offerings. However, once there is "repentance" one is able to be born in the Fulfilled Land.