SonamTashi wrote: ↑Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:42 am
I had an interesting experience recently. So I've bounced around a bit between different Buddhist traditions (first Theravada, then Zen and Mahayana in general including a reading of the Lotus Sutra that I wasn't ready for yet and almost caused me to leave Buddhism behind (at some point I need to re-read that. I remember there was a line at the time that struck me the wrong way)). There was something about Pure Land that struck a chord with me right away. I've spent a while studying different Pure Land traditions--Chinese, Shin, Jodo Shu, Vietnamese and I've also had an interest in how Pure Land fits into Tibetan Buddhism. I'm still not sure where I fit in the Pure Land Buddhist landscape. As much as I like Shin and Jodo-Shu, I still think it is a good idea to do other practices, not for rebirth in the Pure Land, but to make as much progress in this life as possible before going to the Pure Land. This seems to be how it is usually viewed in mainland Pure Land,
Ever since I posted this I've wanted to clarify what I meant. It hasn't seemed to yet, but I could see what I wrote causing someone to think I'm taking a shot at single-practice, starting an argument, or it could end up misleading someone (which seems pretty common when it comes to dual practice--certain posts about Zen-Pure Land come to mind). At the risk of being a little off topic, I'll try to clarify what I meant.
I absolutely agree with Shandao, Honen and Shinran that faith, Amida's vows, and the nembutsu are all that is necessary for rebirth in the Pure Land. This seems to be the minimum necessary, and thus it applies well to beings of low-capacity (I don't mean this as an insult, just as the term is usually used in Buddhism), which is probably a higher percentage of sentient beings than in the past, so I think this method is particularly potent for sentient beings today. Because this is the Pure Land forum, I think this is important to emphasize.
But part of what I think is fascinating about Pure Land is that it is suitable for beings of all capacities. Part of the premise of single-practice and its view is that during Mappo beings are unable to benefit from high-capacity practices. I don't want to speak for Admin_PC, but he's mentioned before something about viewing the teaching of Mappo as being useful as a measuring stick to hold yourself up against, and not necessarily a statement on all sentient-beings today (this is in my own words and from my own memory. If I have this wrong, please correct me). This seems reasonable to me. In addition, the Pure Land sutras and nembutsu practice aren't the only sutras and practices that make this kind of claim. Off of my head I can think of at least two other similar claims: namely Lotus practices like Nichiren and other practices like Vajrayana. All of these schools make similar claims about being particularly useful in the Dharma Ending Age.
I don't want to analyze these claims in relation to one another, and I don't mean to start an argument about which one is better, or to claim that any of these are wrong. Rather, unless Sakyamuni either contradicted himself or lied about any of these practices, I think all of these practices are particularly useful for sentient beings today, and it is up to the sentient being to figure out which one (or other practices. I'm not trying to exclude Zen or any other school. I don't know if they make similar claims about Mappo) is a suitable fit for them. So I think people should be careful to determine what tradition/practice they have a close connection with and what level of capacity they are at. After that it is just practicing according to karmic conditions. This brings up another point: whether it is possible for a sentient being, especially one of low-capacity, to determine what their capacity is, or whether you would just fall prey to bias. So perhaps karmic conditions are the best way to tell (I'll get back to that).
In the context of this forum for example, if you determine you are a low-capacity practitioner with a connection to Amitabha, then single-practice Pure Land is probably the best fit. But because Pure Land is suitable for beings of all capacities, if you are a being of medium or high-capacity, then your practice might reflect that in some way. That doesn't mean you need to start doing dual-practice of any kind if you think you are a medium or high capacity practitioner. But it might mean that you should try to make as much progress towards enlightenment as possible before going to the Pure Land. What that would look like probably comes down to your karmic connections and conditions. Perhaps it is impossible for a being to determine their capacity without bias, so maybe it is best to just go with karmic connections and conditions, or perhaps karmic connections and conditions are the best way to determine capacity.
For me, I have a Nyingma center a 15 minute drive from me, and the next closest group to me is a Jodo Shinshu temple 2 hours away. I don't know what level-of capacity I am and I'm not sure I could determine it without bias, but my karmic conditions place me in a position to practice Tibetan Buddhism with a strong affiliation with Amitabha and a desire to go to his Pure Land.