QUESTION: I have been at an event this weekend led by a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. The teacher taught about the four immeasurables, loving kindness, compassion and tonglen meditation. Today she is teaching about lojong mind training. I found some of the meditations very moving. Are these helpful auxiliary practises for Pureland Buddhists or should we solely concentrate on the Nembutal like Honen and Shinran?
SHORT ANSWER: Yes, they can be helpful.
LONG ANSWER: Each school of Buddhism centres its teaching on a particular perspective upon the Dharma, but these are like windows that all look into the one big Dharma room. If one's school is Pureland, then "the nembutsu is a window through which the whole universe of Buddha's teaching can be perceived in all its depth". If one were Zen, then zazen would be the window. If one were Nichiren then the Lotus Sutra would be one's window, and so on. First choose your window! Having chosen nembutsu, then other practices become auxilliary to that. Tonglen is about exchanging self and other and all the mind training of the Tibetan system is about enhancing one's capacity for compassion. In Pureland we do not see such enhanced capacity as itself being a road to enlightenment, we see it as the expression of faith in the world. If one has faith then one wants to be involved in Buddha's Great Work, so all manner of enhanced capacities can be useful.