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Christianity or Pure Land?

Site-Wide Activity Forums Shrine Room Buddhist Q&A Christianity or Pure Land?

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    • #3167

      Hello all. In the same way Pure Land mirrors Zen, I think it mirrors Christianity well, which I believe attests to Pure Lands spiritual breadth and Western/Eastern accessibility. I’ve had a very rough time in my life recently and struggled with my pure land practice. After talking to many people who are Christians I decided to give it a shot. I have read the book of John, some psalms, and pray a lot. While I do believe I am communicating with something, I do not know if it is strictly Christian. I entered this new practice hoping for a more apparent faith – a revelation I lacked from Amida per se. And while Christianity had helped me open up to a wider spiritual perspective, the deeper I go the more I find myself yearning for Pure Land simplicity. I also do not enjoy the exclusivity Christianity has. While I enjoy the figure of Jesus and what he represents I am turned off by the religions larger esoteric knowledge.

      Both paths have helped me. I continue to pray and say the nembutsu. While I generally find Pure Land a better fit, I think I find something in Jesus I could only find in Him. Culturally, Christisnity is easier to practice as well. However, I do not like to make such huge claims on metaphysics, morality, and judgement which Christianity begets.

      I like Pure Lands view of bombo but I find it hard to really connect with Amida personally. I need help, we all do, and I know Amida can help me but I just don’t know how to reach out. If he is a celestial Buddha is he capable of intervening in our lives? And are is Bodhisattvas capable too, like Avalokiteshvara?

      I think I find good things in both practices, but worry it is a matter of “only one right answer” and I will have to pick Jesus or Amida over the other… I have looked up interpretations of Jesus as a buddha/Bodhisattva which helps in some ways


      Thank you

    • #3169
      Richard Ollier

      Hi Xavier,

      Thanks for posting this. It is so relevant to many of us.

      I’m no expert, and not in any position to pontificate, but my (very personal!) view and sincere advice (for what it’s worth) would be ‘Just love Jesus and Amida and any embodiment of goodness without worrying too much about what to “believe” or what they might “mean”.’ In my experience, if you practice like this, the difficulties just drop away. Concentrate on ‘just loving’ as your core practice (this is what nembutsu can be) rather than on thinking or believing etc. You can love Jesus and Amida and Kuan Yin etc whether or not they ‘exist’: it’s your loving their ‘otherness’ that will make them real in your life! Love is not either or but both.

      Love and Namo Amida Bu,


      • #3172

        Thank you. This did help. I read in a Pure Land story somewhere of a practioner who brought his statue of Amida outside to enjoy the breeze; that enlightenment knows no personification or non-personification.


        I got this pertinent article today from Tricycle and I think the last quote is the principle Amida’s vows rest on.

        “If it were not possible to free the heart from entanglement, I would not teach you to do so. Just because it is possible to free the heart, there arise the teachings of the dharma of liberation, offered open-handedly for the welfare of all beings.”

        I am also beginning to read Kant’s Religon, it helps to bring these concepts to practical and reasonable terms, such as with his version Summum Bonum. I think it is interesting his ideas are not incumbent on a legalistic God, and I think are equally applicable to enlightenment and Buddha nature.

    • #3170
      Johnathan Robertson

      Thank you Richard. Well said! Namo Amida Bu!

      • #3173

        Namo Amida Butsu indeed

    • #3186

      Jesus did say some wondrous things. Prayers of the Cosmos by Neil Douglas-Klotz is a lovely book with translations of key Jesus texts from the original Aramaic rather than from Greek translations. I know Jesus has been interpreted in the orthodox Christian faith in a deeply metaphysical way but I don’t get that in Jesus’ words myself, rather than in words about Jesus’ words. I certainly wonder if I’m on the right path or heading towards perdition myself. Some seem sure of the answer, others can’t say, a few tell me it doesn’t matter, it can all just dissolve away, and maybe it can. Namo/u Amida Bu/tsu… om amideva hrih… may the Lord make me truly thankful… the ‘what?’ (that’s Daishin Morgan of the OBC)

    • #3410

      As an ex-Christian who is now a Buddhist, I hope you get involved with a more liberal form of Christianity (maybe Episopalianism/Anglicanism). Conservative Christianity that says all non-Christians (and many who identify as Christians) are going to hell where they will be tortured forever. This is a horrible belief and should be rejected. They are also pretty restrictive when it comes to human sexuality. But if you can take the good from Christianity and leave the bad, then it’s up to you. I still like Pure Land Buddhism more, of course.

    • #3418

      Anything can go extreme, Pureland Buddhism included. It can be hard to see when I have gone extreme myself as I can’t easily stand back from myself and see it. Labels and storylines are sometimes useful but sometimes get in the way. Much of the time I am just grateful for a community to practice with in peace. I could surprise myself and find myself in many different brands of congregation, and sometimes do. But if I find my congregation is not as inclusive as I would like it to be I usually take notice. Whether I then move to a different congregation depends on many things but the most important for me is whether I speak my own truths and whether others in the congregation listen. And do I listen when they speak their truths? There will always be people around me who I disagree with on quite fundamental levels but I can’t always get away from them and turning my head to one side when I walk past them is not very comfortable and probably not very useful most of the time. Maybe I like some people more than others but I don’t think they are all in the same brand of congregation. Amida Mandala has a lovely congregation to me. A big part of what makes it so special to me is the willingness to listen. The Nembutsu circle is a very powerful part of the practice there. Listening to other people telling their truths without intervening to try and be helpful or explain how I’ve experienced the same thing but worse is a very powerful experience to me, and more powerful than having to be in a group of people who I am mostly in agreement with. What religious label I give myself is less important to me. When I think back on the different congregations which have been important to me over the years I don’t want to prioritise or privilege one above others. Each one was the one I wanted to be with at that time. Right now, it’s Amida Mandala for me and I hope to find myself walking in more or less the same direction as others in the congregation for a long time, but you never know what the next series of actions will lead to – well, I don’t, at any rate.

    • #3427

      Thank you for your comments. They are very interesting

      What a difficult question for me! Christianity or Pureland…I found the latter from the former and both are different ways of dancing the same music in my heart.

      Jesus was a revolutionary being. He was the first to say “Abba!”to call upon God.This term can be translated as “very dear father”or something like “Daddy”. This term ends with the separation or strong hierarchy between “the Father” and the son. This word is a sort of image to express a fusion of love, a communion with the Source…Well, I am only sharing my experience… Jesus is pointing towards the Whole, using an image language which was easily understood  by those who lived in that place, at that time  ….

      I feel that the same eyes that contemplate the most beloved father, the same heart that trembles for the love received, are those which melt in the presence of infinite Light and compassion…Different dancers dancing the same music.


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