Question One: Are the Mind-Only Pure Land and the Self-Nature Amitabha the
same as or different from the Western Pure Land and Amitabha in the Pure Land?
Answer: It is because the Mind-Only Pure Land exists that we are reborn in the
Pure Land of the West. If the mind is not pure, it is impossible to achieve rebirth
in the Pure Land.
Even when those who have committed cardinal transgressions
achieve rebirth through ten recitations, such rebirth is due to their reciting the
Buddha’s name (NAMU-AMIDA-BUTSU) with a pure mind, thus eliciting a response from Amitabha Buddha.
Ordinary people generally think that if the Pure Land is Mind-Only, then it does
not exist. This is the understanding of demons and externalists. Such a deluded
view, which appears correct but is in reality wrong, affects more than half of all
people and causes practitioners to forfeit true benefits.
It is precisely because of the Self-Nature Amitabha that the practitioner must
recite the name of Buddha Amitabha of the West seeking rebirth in the Pure Land
– so as to achieve the Self-Nature Amitabha through gradual cultivation.
merely grasps at the Buddha Amitabha of the West, he cannot achieve immediate
escape from Birth and Death – not even if he is truly awakened, much less if (like
most people who ask this question) he is pretentious and just indulges in empty
talk without engaging in practice.
Thus, the answer to your question [are the Mind-Only Pure Land and the
Self-Nature Amitabha the same as or different from the Western Pure Land and
Amitabha in the Pure Land?] is that they are one yet two before Buddhahood is
attained, two yet one after Buddhahood is attained.
In the above words of Zen Master Yin Kuang, the ultimate purpose of reciting Amida Buddha’s name is to realize Amida as our own Buddha-nature, the true self.