Question: Is Nianfo (念佛) practice (of mindfulness of the name of Amitabha Buddha – ‘Amituofo’ [阿弥陀佛]) with the thought of reaching Pure Land craving or attachment? If craving or attachment to doing good is good, where do we draw the line between good and evil?
Answer: The thought of wanting to reach Pure Land is the second provision of ‘Aspiration’ (愿) or ‘Vow’, terms we reserve for having a noble spiritual direction. Craving or attachment refers to greed that leads to more worldly desires, suffering and remaining trapped in rebirth. Aspiration to reach Pure Land leads to liberation instead, also helping us to better help liberate all.
Anything leading to more of the Three Poisons of greed (worldly desires), hatred and delusion is considered evil, while Aspirations, which lead to the opposites (of generosity, compassion and wisdom) are good. The Buddha is not against all desires; only against those that lead to more worldly desires. He spoke of the need to be motivated by good or pure desire (spiritual Aspiration) to learn, practise and share the Dharma that leads to liberation. Without this, there will be no progress to enlightenment for anyone.
The Three Provisions For Rebirth In Pure Land