Mahaya: Pure Land Buddhism and Zen
In the Vietnamese society, both pure land Buddhism and Zen are extremely popular. In this text, I look at the ideas as well as issues which the two concepts have in common and examine where they differ. Last but not least, I expound and examine which component the speaker thinks is better.
Zen and Pure Land Buddhism
It is important to note that both Zen and pure land Buddhism have some similar outlooks. To begin with, both schools of thought aim to bring suffering to its logical end. In doing away with suffering, they both seek to bring about nirvana. Another similarity of these two outlooks is their popularity in Vietnam. While it may be noted that the way of Zen is largely the Buddhist temple monastic way of life, it is also true that pure land practice is well ingrained in the monastery.
However, the speaker also brings out some distinct differences in the two. It is clear from reading the text that one of the differing aspects of the two schools of thought is the path that leads to the logical end of suffering. This is to say that both Zen as well as pure land have their own unique paths to end suffering. Next, the schools of thought differ in terms of practice. For Zen, self-discipline is relied upon greatly. This means therefore that one has to strive to reflect on the mind on a continuous basis. This is in sharp contrast to pure land where there is no well defined emphasis on self effort.
It is important to note that while the practice of pure land is primarily practiced through coming up with faith as regards Amitabha Buddha existence, Zen practice in anchored on awareness. The argument according to Zen is that mindfulness as well as awareness can be taken to be the chief supporting condition. It is also important to note that the idea of ultimate enlightment which is basically a Zen issue is considered by pure land Buddhism as inherently difficult to achieve in a single lifetime. Save for that, It should however be noted that all in all, the Zen ultimate enlightment idea is not objected to in its entirety by the pure land Buddhism.
Concerning what the speaker has to say as to which school of thought is better, he notes that while pure land Buddhism may prove workable for some individuals, Zen remains to be superior in principle. The speaker argues that it is very difficult for one to go wrong in practice if one takes time to understand Zen which has its sights trained on the Buddha mind, that is, the original mind.
It is important to note that the speaker recommends pure land as an intermediate level one can settle for and then with time advance to Zen. All this is with the worthy assistance of Amitabha Buddha.