Full text: https://www.academia.edu/6642828/Treati ... _1861_1947_
Translator's Introduction wrote:Master Yinguang (印光, 1861–1947) is one of the four most influential Buddhist monks in modern Chinese history, along with the modernizer and reformer Taixu 太虛 (1890–1947), the monastic precepts master Hongyi 弘一 (1880–1942), and the meditation master Xuyun 虛 雲 (1840–1959).
During a period when some who were aligned with the Chan school attacked Pure Land Buddhist teachings as vulgar, shallow, and suited only to the needs of the uneducated, superstitious classes, Yinguang worked to define the tradition and its practices on a solid theoretical basis. His classical education, erudition, wide knowledge of Buddhist scriptures, and simple devotion earned him a following throughout the Chinese Buddhist world. Upon his death, he was widely acclaimed as the thirteenth patriarch (zu 祖) of the Pure Land school.
The arguments presented in this treatise, which takes the form of a debate between Yinguang and an unnamed Chan monk, occur in the context of two separate and competing streams of Pure Land thought. The first, called “Consciousness-only Pure Land” (weishi jingtu 惟/唯識凈土) or “Mind-only Pure Land” (惟/唯心凈土), took its cue from the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa-sūtra, which teaches that the land in which a buddha dwells is innately pure; any apparent impurity in it arises from the deluded mind of the observer.
The point of this, as critics of “superstitious and vulgar” practitioners of Pure Land Buddhism never failed to point out, is that the Pure Land cannot be localized at all, nor ought it to be conceived of as a place outside this impure world. Rather, purification of one’s mind through meditative practice brings about the purification of this present world. Purity is ultimately in the mind of the beholder
Yinguang represented the other side of this debate. In postulating a pure land that was outside of the present impure world, which could be localized to the west of the present world, and which could not be reduced to a psychological state or fable, he belonged to the tradition referred to as “Western Pure Land” (xifang jingtu 西方凈土) or “otherdirection Pure Land” (tafang jingtu 他方凈土). In this capacity, he strove against his unnamed adversary’s strategy (a venerable one in Chinese Buddhist history) of defining Pure Land practice in Chan terms, and of dismissing a literalist interpretation of the Pure Land as ignorant and dualistic.
In fighting this view, Yinguang refers to scriptures that describe even the most realized bodhisattvas seeking rebirth in Amitābha Buddha’s Pure Land in the West, reinterprets Yongming Yanshou’s (永明延壽, 904–975) famous fourfold relation of Chan and Pure Land, and even quotes famous Chan masters and patriarchs to show that they were not quite as anti–Pure Land as they might have sometimes appeared to be. In the course of the debate, he gradually wears down his opponent, and in the end the Chan follower submits to Yinguang as his teacher and vows to seek rebirth himself in the Pure Land.