This may be vaguely off topic...
Can I ask what it is specifically about Pure Land that you find appealing?
I'm asking, so obviously your response can't be evangelising! Feel free to waffle at great length if you so wish, my understanding of Pure Land Buddhism is slight.
(Actually this does fit under the title of the thread, so maybe not so off topic?)
No need to worry about going off topic (well, at least from my own point of view - the moderators may think differently!) My favorite threads always seem to be those that end up reading more like a Monty Python script than anything else. I remember way back, on another forum, a thread entitled "What do you think of Christianity?" (it was a Buddhist forum) that drifted into an in-depth discussion of Kami-Kazi pilots in World War 2!
I think I have already answered you in part, by my words in my previous post......
My identification is with the honesty and the admission of failure, yet all embraced by Infinite Compassion. It is this dual perspective, its existential reality, that draws me to the Pure Land! Darkness "illuminates" light, light illuminates darkness.
Perhaps to illuminate my own words, and to expand upon them, I would really need to tell my auto-biography. Each of us is a unique individual, and possibly what would draw one towards a particular expression of the Universal would repel another - as Jung has said (to name drop again!) "there is absolutely no truth that does not spell salvation to one person and damnation to another. All universalisms get stuck in this terrible dilemma.") My own path weaved through Fundamentalist Christianity, Atheism and then a very liberal Christianity, then Theravada Buddhism (when I began meditating following a two year bout of severe depression) - and these are only the main sign-posts. Yet there came a point where the questions posed by my own "individuality" seemed to demand another course. I remember at one time posting on the Buddhist forum that I had a growing disatisfaction with certain Theravada teachings, basically because in my eyes it was fundamentally monastic in origin and therefore, at heart, had very little to say to lay people and the lives they lived from day to day. Someone responded at that time, telling me a lot about the Theravada teachings for lay people, and advising me to look them up. I only found out later that this poster was in fact a "Pure Lander", and I found this deeply moving, that he had seen my questions not as an opportunity to "push" his own choice and preference, but had answered instead according to what he understood to be my own need. Anyway, gradually I learned more and more concerning the Pure Land path and found that, being fundamentally lay based and also totally egalitarian (I've always had a hang up concerning so called "masters" and the "need" for them in Buddhism) it spoke to me.
I suppose for me the Pure Land way combines certain Christian teachings concerning the efficacy of "grace" and "other power" with all that I have found illuminating in the Dharma. It also explicitly teaches a "universal" salvation with no "double destiny". Again, it understands enlightenment in such a way as to be illuminated itself by the experience of many Christian mystics such as Meister Eckhart and St John of the Cross.............I suppose this appeals to my own heart-felt desire for unity and peace between the Faiths.
To become even more personal, about four years ago I identified the need for "trust" in my life. The words of Shinran where he spoke of "self-power" practices as being obstructions to true surrender seemd to make a great deal of sense. As an experiment - and with a great deal of trepidation -I ceased meditation, and began to say the nembutsu. The rest is silence! (I would just say that now I find that my reading is often a "meditation" in itself - some sort of "compensation mechanism". Often a word, or a short phrase, will initiate a long period of contemplation where the intent of the words sinks in and finds its rest within)
Anyway, I hope this has been some sort of answer. As you intimated, I have no wish to evangelise (I'll soon be posting another quote on the Thomas Merton thread concerning his
views on that!).
And speaking of quotes - as if I ever need any encouragement! - here are the words of the Japanese Pure Land author Hiroyuki Itsuki, drawn from his book "Tariki" subtitled "Embracing Despair, Discovering Peace"....
The Other Power derives from the true and full acceptance of the reality that is within us and surrounds us. It is not a philosophy of passivity or iresponsibility, but one of radical spiritual activity, of personal, existential revolution. Its essence is the spontaneous wondrous force that gives us the will to act, to "do what man can do and then wait for heaven's will." Importantly, Other Power is a power that flows from the fundamental realization that, in the lives we live, we are already enlightened. This enlightenment does not come easily. It is born of the unwelcome understanding that, despite our protestations, we are insignificant, imperfect beings, born to a hell of suffering that defines human existence. But in this hell, we sometimes excounter small joys, friendship, the kind acts of strangers, and the miracle of love. We experience moments when we are filled with courage, when the world sparkles with hopes and dreams. There are even times when we are deeply grateful to have been born. These moments are paradise. But paradise is not another realm; it is here, in the very midst of the hell of this world. Other Power, a power that transcends theological distinctions, avails us of these moments. In the endless uncertainties of contemporary life, Other Power confers upon us a flexibility of spirit, an energy to feel joy, and the respite of peace.
Just to add another word or two. I have always had a deep mistrust of any "religion" that seems to deny the reality of this world - the only world I have ever known - with some other perceived to be "better". Often I have spoken of the "betrayal" of this world. Once again, for me, the Pure Land way looks without rose tinted glasses at this very world and my own experienced reality within it, yet also sees within it the seeds of the "Pure Land", the potential for transformation............rather than transcendence.
P.S Anyway, I do seem to have "waffled at great length"!