Amida Buddha is not a god, and the Pure Land is not a heaven. This is the difference between Buddhism and monotheism.
For a Buddhist can believe in the Primal Vow, and have faith that the Pure Land of Bliss exists, precisely because Amida Buddha was but a mortal who after many eons became a Buddha who awakened and is reborn in his Pure Land.
No one can say the same about God and heaven without sounding like he is babbling about a New Age cult or folk Christianity.
Though one American folk Christianity almost fits the bill: Mormonism when the Christology is overlooked for the esoterism inherent in Latter-Day Saint cosmology (premortal existence and the afterlife).
However, it takes a great leap of faith to see echoes of the Pure Land in the Three Glories of the Mormon Afterlife, namely the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom and the Telestial Kingdom.
Since Christianity is exclusive of other religions, the way I overcome the false dilemma of "serving two masters" is to consider LDS to be a materialist Christianity, as evidenced by the angel Moroni, the appearance of God and Jesus to Joseph Smith, and even the statue of Jesus Christ. In contrast, Pure Land Buddhism is a Buddhism that transcends materialism yet is like a diamond of the mind which reflects the spirit of Christianity.
Is not the Holy Ghost an echo of Buddha Nature? Cannot Buddha Nature cut through infinity to embrace the Holy Ghost?
Only those people of the LDS faith who are strict on the Christology would call this syncretism and object to it, due to their lack of insight about Pure Land Buddhism and possible rejection of religious pluralism.
For Christology is religiously exclusive to Christianity, and has rejected the metaphors and symbolism of Buddhism, while subtly accepting the syncretism from neo-Platonism and Roman mystical sources - especially the concept of an immortal soul, which is not what is meant by "immortal life".
Indeed, the immortal life as mentioned in the New Testament refers solely to the the state of being of the soul in the afterlife. For in this reality, the soul is mortal and begins at birth only to end at death until End of Days.
Then it arises and takes on a new body in the afterlife in one of the Three Glories.
In contrast, Pure Land Buddhism rejects the concept of immortality, and posits that each being's life is finite but rejects totally the concept of an immortal soul. For it is consciousness which lives on after death, yet this consciousness is not an immortal soul. The closest analogue in LDS cosmology is "intelligence."
Within context of Buddhism, immortality means the state of being which lasts for a very long but finite time. Even "forever" too is an exceeding long but finite period of time, too. Therefore, an immortal life is still a very long life which has an end in the indefinite future.
Thus, strict Christology is composed of magical thinking about time and is simplistic about premortal life and the afterlife.
Yet LDS Cosmology is merely the wire frame upon which the tenets of other religions may be placed until they fit right for each LDS member, no matter what their religious background is.
Although there is no Amida Buddha in LDS cosmology, the faint echoes of Buddhism do exist. Even so, this is a heterodox view which tries to synthesize LDS cosmology with Pure Land cosmology. Thus, it is neither Buddhist nor Christian yet both Buddhist and Christian. Overall, though, it would still take a leap of faith to view it as such.
"If you have faith, nothing shall be impossible" — Matthew 17:20
Originally posted on Jun 25, 2013 at 6:51 PM