If one is sincerely & properly practicing the Nembutsu, the practice of sila should also be naturally forthcoming, no? ... one's obscurations and obstacles becomes purified, hence, sila is no longer an issue for us but a natural consequence and response to the gift of Amida?
I have not seen such a connections stated anywhere, especially not Honen. Could you point to some sources here?
Firstly, I did qualify this as my own analysis. In it, I did not only include Honen but also that of Shan Dao. Like how Honen has stretched and innovated much stuff from Shan Dao, so is what my analysis is doing likewise.
Secondly, look at this passage here...On one hand, the person who relies too much on their own personal strength fails to be open to Amida Buddha's help, and on the other hand, the person who completely despairs of their own capacity fails to help him or herself. According to Honen, it is the person who believes in their own strength and who also puts their whole heart into their religious practices that will receive the help of Amida Buddha. As for Other power, he explained that it consisted in the earnest asking of Amida Buddha's help. Honen's Conceptions of Other Power (tariki) and Self Power (jiriki)
So, the first part on the 'natural' part here that I had in mind is that the practice of nian fo/nembutsu once aligned with the Buddha's intent and mind bears forth the fruit of virtue/sila without contriving another idea of having to 'practicing sila' that is oft criticised as tainted with the ideas of self and grasping.
The second part: 'purification'
a. here, the context of 'purification' is within the scope of experiencing results of practicing the proper and true nian fo/nembutsu, one of which in this discussion, one's ability to practice sila is no longer a contrived one, especially after a period of time.
b. once one dwells in this practice with the corresponding fruit by the manifestation of the self & other power as above, it is not that one becomes perfect already, far from it, for all sentient beings have varying stages of causes and conditions to be purified, still far off from the perfection of the Noble Ones but still better than none, given the kind of conditions that this Saha World has until the end of one's lifespan here. It's a kind of like a stop gap measure, like whilst waiting for the train to come, you get hungry, one can eat a little snack first rather than starving fully before finally going home to feast on the actual dinner.
c. hence with all of that in mind, by dwelling within the 'true mandala' of nian fo / nembutsu practice, the type that utilises and activates both self and other power, as envisaged within the Threefold Sutras, isn't one already expressing a 'natural' way of responding to what Amida has offered to us, a chance of showing some kind of gratitude of encountering this precious Dharma Door?
I'm also wary of equating other-power with no-self. From the point of view of the Path of Sages, it is neither a practice nor a realisation of emptiness. And from the Pure Land side, if other-power were a way to attain insight into no-self, one would not need to be born in the Pure Land.
There is no one here equating self power with no self. Now, departing from the Japanese model, going into the Chinese analysis, I shall answer this typical ancient question threefold.
Firstly, coming back to self power. The context of 'self power' is as what I have already explained to the OP in earlier postings. One engages in right effort within the scope of the Buddha's mind and intent when it comes to faith, vows and practice in this Dharma Door as envisaged within the Threefold Sutras. Outside of which, it is merely mundane efforts leading to worldly blessings and attainments but still within the three burning realms and outside of the aspiration & attainment of anuttara samyak sambodhi.
Secondly, even Great Bodhisattvas manifest themselves in Sukhavati despite their great attainments, for instance as mentioned in texts like Samantabhadra, Avalokitesvara and so forth. Ones who are known to us in the Saha World that comes to mind immediately are personalities like Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and etc who encouraged all to seek birth in Sukhavati to complete their Path & Stages 'there', understanding that this route does not preclude anyone of the highest capacities.
There are plenty of resources which have posited on why these types also can and must choose the Sukhavati route which I will not reproduce them for fear of tedium here. I was just reading on Master Zhanran Yuanzhao
recently who is such a case in point, who was such a brilliant Vinaya Master & learned one, who himself had denigrated the Pure Land earlier yet later on became its most vigorous defender. However high the attainments that they have gained, yet it is not the anuttara samyak sambodhi of a Buddha and the Sukhavati offers a more realistic and if not a 'safer bet' for the completion of the Path & Fruit, away from the travails and uncertainty plus the fivefold turbidities of Sahaloka. So it does not stop anyone of these Great Ones from gaining some measure of self mastery in this present time but they realise that it can be continued further in a more viable Sukhavati.
Thirdly, these Sages who have shown us the path to Sukhavati also take birth there in order to encourage and show us who are no where near the Noble Ones, who are mere bonpu / fanfu / prthagjana, that there is another path route and alternative to accomplish the Path & Stages of Buddhahood via Amitabha & Sukhavati. Compared to the other model of slogging it through with tons of uncertainty in many aspects, why not do it where causes & conditions are set for anuttara samyak sambodhi? If one cares enough about the part of 'sentient beings are innumerable, I vow to rescue them' and cannot bear to see anymore delay for them in samsara, then this is the most viable route to fulfil that. So, it's not that attainments are totally impossible in Sahaloka but that there is a better if not a surest way to it in Sukhavati that's all. How dare I a mere delusive one ever say that there are no sages walking amongst us? Yet, the Noble Ones show us that yes, one can do it within Sahaloka but to bear in mind that only the heroic ones will survive to the end. However, there is the choice of Sukhavati. Besides, no where in the Threefold texts that bars one from practicing or attaining any levels of the Path & Stages whilst enroute to Sukhavati...