Pure Land

It would seem to me that there is a contradiction if the Pure Land is considered as an actual place, a location one goes to.
If one can go the Pure Land through faith, but not yet having removed the defilements or their seeds, upon reaching the Pure Land it would no longer be pure, based on the presence of one who is impure. How could it be Sukhavati if there are those there who are creating suffering for themselves and others due to the three poisons, regardless of any support for Amitabha. It seems the only way to keep this from being contradictory, is that Amitabha would have to grant complete liberation to those faithful enough to attain the Pure Land.
The other resolution would be the position of Ryogi and certain Ch'an masters who held the Pure Land to be metaphorical, something to be realized rather than a place to be reborn. In this way, this world becomes a Pure Land that is as pure as one's own mindstream.


Gregory Hamilton Schmidt's picture

Pure Land as a Place

Honen appears to have clearly regarded the Pure Land as a physical location.
Given the specific wording below, "reborn" and "there" do not appear to be metaphorical.

As is well known, Honen interpreted the nembutsu of the Sutra on the Buddha of Limitless Life's eighteenth vow, the "original vow", as invocational nembutsu, that is, as calling upon the name of Amida Buddha with the utterance, "namw Amida Butsu". Moreover, Honen interpreted this nembutsu as sufficient by itself for achieving salvation through rebirth into Amida Buddha's pure buddha-land. This interpretation and its logic are revealed most clearly in the third chapter of the Senchaku shu, entitled "Passages Showing that Amida Tathagata Made Nembutsu, and No Other Works, the Practice of the Rebirth Original Vow". Honen opens this chapter with the citation of three proof texts, the first of which is the "rebirth original vow", the eighteenth vow of the Siitra on the Buddha of Limitless Life:

"When I become a Buddha, if there should be sentient beings anywhere in the ten regions of the universe having sincere and deep faith and aspiration to be reborn into my buddha-land and who, by making even ten reflections fon me], are not reborn there, then I will not accept perfect enlightenment (Ohashi 1971, 101)."
-from JIABS 10/2 1987