Huseng wrote:A lot of Japanese in the past believed it was literally out in the west somewhere. Some cults would forcibly put people into boats and cast them off to sea in the western direction wishing them well.
Yikes. Where did you find this?
Astus wrote: It is not like an anagami for two reasons. Anagamis are sravakas and not bodhisattvas. Those who are born in the Pure Land don't automatically possess any attainment beyond what they have already achieved before their birth, but they have to practise themselves there on the path of the bodhisattva in order to reach full liberation.
What is meant by being similar to a bodhisattva on the level of irreversibility (avaivartika) is that those born in the Pure Land will definitely attain buddhahood without any chance of falling back from the bodhisattva path.
I'll have to defer to your knowledge here -- but my impression is that, in some schools at least, the ariyan stages are incorporated into the bodhisattva path. The practitioner must pass through them regardless of vehicle...the difference is in aspiration (self-liberation vs enlightenment for the sake of all beings).
Shutoku wrote:Regarding "Finding Our True Home", I can honestly say it is the only book of TNH's I really did not like, and without question it is because of the complete ignoring of "other power".
I also found it to be one of his weaker books -- it seemed awkward and somewhat lacking in conviction. And perhaps it's for the reason you mention.
Regarding "the West" I"ve always taken it as symbolic of after death...the sun setting in the west and all.
I think one kind of has to interpret this way, i.e. symbolically. But what this tells me is there isn't really such a thing as a strictly "traditional" approach to Pure Land -- all workable interpretations are revisionist to some degree. The era in which these teachings could be taken 100% literally has passed. If we're going to invoke ancient masters such as Honen in order to dispute the validity of, say, TNH's interpretation, it is worth recalling that Honen's entire worldview was radically different from ours, in ways that we could not approximate today.