This article comes from the Buddhist point of view, and is strictly for Buddhists only.
- ‘Can True Buddhists Ever Be Converted?’ There was a discussion on this recently, with its general summary at http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2014/01/can-true-buddhists-be-converted When it comes to Pure Land practitioners, the key to remain staunch or unshakeable firmness in our goal to reach Pure Land, is by constantly clearing our doubts to fortify our Faith and Aspiration, as expressed and verified through regular Practice for deepening our connection to Amituofo. The more sincerely we practise Nianfo with Right Understanding, the more will these Three Provisions strengthen. We must nurture them as much as we can – until we step onto Pure Land. Sincere continual learning and Practice is thus most important.
- There are systematic ways to fortify our Faith in the Pure Land teachings. One of the ways is to learn the remarkably illuminating teachings in the ‘Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land’ via the next run of ‘The Faith Factor’ course: http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2013/12/the-faith-factor-strengthening-faith-through-the-treatise-on-ten-doubts-about-pure-land-run-4 This is an ideal course as a follow-up to the ‘Understanding Amituofo Via The Amitabha Sutra’ course, although newcomers can join in too. We will be using a definitive re-translation with a new book given to all participants. (Details of the coming ‘Understanding Amituofo’ course are at http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2013/12/understanding-amituofo-via-the-amitabha-sutra-13th-run)
- A key reason why any Buddhist renounces the Dharma is due to lack of Faith, in turn due to lack of understanding. For example, a shaky Pure Land Buddhist might mistaken the heaven described by another religion to be equivalent to Pure Land and yet ‘easier’ to reach – although this is not true at all, as Amituofo’s Pure Land transcends all worldly heavens in its attributes, while even limited heavens need more than mere faith to reach, requiring much personal good karma. Ironically, Pure Land is ‘easier’ to reach due to the great compassionate vows and guidance of Amituofo. (Once the Three Provisions are given up, so has one renounced the goal of reaching Pure Land. There should be no uncertainty about wanting to reach Pure Land at all.)
- It is also crucial, especially for Pure Land practitioners, to totally purge the mind, even of the possibility that there is an ‘alternative’ being who can help us, e.g. an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient creator deity, since such a being does not exist, according to the Buddha. Why this is so is explained in the article ‘Are Buddhas Omnipotent, Omnibenevolent & Omniscient?’ at http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2013/11/are-buddhas-omnipotent-omnibenevolent-omniscient Understanding this helps us see clearly that refuge in Amituofo is the best.
- A true conversion is not just a physical ritual undertaken, but a spiritual change of heart and mind. If we are uncertain about the nature of our refuge, we might give it up suddenly under the ‘right’ (wrong) karmic conditions. Again, sincere continual learning and practice is thus most important. As the Ninth Patriarch of the Pure Land Tradition Great Master Ou Yi taught, even 10,000 cows cannot tug one with true Faith away from Amituofo and the goal of reaching Pure Land! This is how unshakeable our Three Provisions must be – to the extent that even if we are ‘forced’ to undergo ‘conversion’ involuntarily, perhaps due to physical disability and inability to communicate, it should have absolutely no effect in turning us away from Amituofo and Pure Land.