Question: If we look at being reborn in Pure Land from the perspective of the 12 links of dependent origination, which should we eliminate?
Answer: Please see http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/snapshot05.htm for a summary of the 12 links. These are the key links we can more readily work at – Link 8 (Craving), which leads to Link 9 (Grasping), which leads to Link 10 (Becoming/Existence). To be reborn in Pure Land, none of the above links need to be broken (while they should be weakened).
When any of the 12 links are broken, there would be no more rebirth [Link 11 (Rebirth)]. The difference between rebirth in Pure Land and rebirth elsewhere is that it does not lead to the next stage [Link (Ageing & Death)]. Instead, it leads to the breaking of the 12 links – the end of rebirth – within that very lifetime in Pureland.
The chain of links is usually broken (which implies liberation) at Link 8 (Craving), while Link 1 (Ignorance) is weakened – as Craving arises from Ignorance. There is a subtle form of Craving at work, in the form of an unenlightened aspiration, which helps direct rebirth in Pure Land. If there is no Craving at all, there would be no urge or need to be reborn in Pure Land – the purpose of which is to rid Craving and Ignorance completely there.
We need to note that it is relatively difficult to rid Craving and Ignorance completely in this life (unless one is an accomplished practitioner), which is why we seek birth in Pure Land – where it is relatively much easier – as there are enlightened teachers to teach us the Dharma there, while nothing in the environment spurs the arising of Craving or the increase of Ignorance. As such, in Pure Land, Craving and Ignorance can only decrease till they become non-existent.