The "not making mirror by polishing bricks" is part of a Zen kōan... i.e. part of the Zen traditions advocating "sudden awakening".
This is markedly different from "sudden faith into future awakening by the power of another" (in this case, of Amida buddha). This has little to do with the 'faith' in Amida, and it's regrettable a teacher, in particular one who is so prone to criticise the 'arrangements' other teachers in his own tradition make, would try to hijack and misrepresent it.
The kōan calls for looking at the nature of reality indeed here & now, without accumulating preparatory practices "first" (in the kōan, the targeted practice is... meditation!).
Nanyue thus prevents Mazu from falling into merit (Bodhidharma killed that one early on, with emperor Liang), from copying (how would one find one's zen "true self" by imitating others?), from long roundabout ways... He does so while remembering the sixth patriarch, Hui Neng, and his "no shining mirror, where could dust collect?" (No soul, where could defilements accumulate in order to prevent awakening?).
Nanyue's injunction doesn't arise from some anguish about not having time to accumulate merit or doubt about our limited power... but from the confidence in everyone's immediate, present Buddha-nature (i.e. from the confidence that no defilement, no past, no karma can inherently take your Buddha-nature away or block it). The point is very much about self-power: you can open the hand and let the grasped fall. No need for preparation, just open your hand. Nobody can open their hand for you, you have to open your own hand, and let the defilements crash on the floor of reality.
This is the very opposite of Pure Land teachings, and therefore there's a contradiction in using this kōan to push faith in other-power.
The Pure Land school believes that we're too degenerate, our teachers are too degenerate, what was transmitted to us is too altered and tainted and rotten to be truly helpful. So faith appears as the last refuge in these later days of dharma (mappo)...
But the Zen kōan takes a very different angle: your Buddha-nature cannot be corrupted, and you just have to open your hand to let what you were grasping fall, in the same way you just have to let go of mental fabrications to awaken.
This is very different from the mental fabrication (from Zen's perspective) of mappo, the classic of samsaric search for the "golden old days" and the criticism of current days as "degenerate".
Each tradition might be respectable... but they're not particularly compatible.
The original poster would agree with the latter: from his perspective, Zen is a dangerous path that's probably degenerate, and that we're too degenerate ourselves to achieve Awakening with anyway. He argues that we'd better put our faith in Amida than have the arrogance of believing we could awaken through our own efforts and practice. I won't argue with him on this, in particular when he prevents comments on his posts, but... I'll reject that the kōan he quoted from supports his point.
by Jōshō Adrian Cirlea:
Some people say that the Nembutsu of faith is too much related with death and afterlife and that they prefer something (a practice or teaching) for the "here and now”. The world of spiritual seekers is filled with such ideas of "here and now" being a supreme goal, that we must learn to live in the "here and now", and not think about death or after death. But this separation is only a delusion. In truth, death is not separated from the "here and now” as breath which comes out might not be followed by the breath which comes in. In the "here and now” we can lose everything; in the "here and now” we and our loved ones can stop breathing, in the "here and now” we may suddenly find ourselves in the afterlife, losing this human form, the chance of listening the Amida Dharma and receive faith.
Like in the good movie, "Groundhog day” , the minds of unenlightened people dwell constantly in an ever repeating "here and now”. Unfortunately, they like this "here and now" so much that they even create spiritual ideologies to keep them focused on it. Being extremely attached to the "here and now”, they refuse to speak about death and rebirth, or the aspiration to be born in Amida’s Pure Land, calling it a reminiscent of folk religion or a distraction from the "here and now". Unfortunately, they will also die one day, in the exact moment they dream about ‚"here and now" and will be born again, in another "here and now" - the same here and now, but painted differently. How sad this is…
I know that the Buddhas always live in the here and now, because they transcended life and death, as well as any limitations of time and space, but are those practitioners whose mouths are filled with "here and now", really living in the here and now of the Buddhas? It is important to understand that unenlightened beings never dwell in the "here and now”, but only dream in the "here and now”. They move, they live, they die and are born again in the "here and now” dream and slavery of saṃsāra. Without rebirth in the enlightened realm of Amida Buddha, ordinary beings cannot hope for true awakening.
Children should not behave like adults. Similarly, unenlightened beings should not imitate the speech and actions of Buddhas or Enlightened Masters of the past. Until we actually transcend birth and death and attain Buddhahood, we should not speak too much about "here and now" and forget death.
Again, I urge all my Dharma friends to realize that there is NO time for the so called spiritual evolution. All we have is this fragile moment, this short break before death and another uncertain rebirth. In this moment we either accept Amida’s helping hand or refuse it and waste our human life so hard to obtain.
There's no time, no time! There's no time for your so called "spiritual evolution"!
All you really have is this fragile moment between life and the next uncertain rebirth, so please, don't rely on the "achievements" or "virtues" of your deluded ego!
As you cannot make a mirror by polishing a brick, you also cannot transform yourself into a Buddha!
Understanding the two types of impermanence, of your body and your so called "spiritual realisations", don't lose your time in vain, and entrust to Amida.
Only by being born in His Pure Land after death you can safely get out of saṃsāra and be able to benefit all sentient beings.
Fragment from my book, The Four Profound Thoughts Which Turn the Mind Towards Amida Dharma, which you can download for free at this link, http://amida-ji-retreat-temple-romania.blogspot.com/2017/11/my-new-book-four-profound-thoughts.html
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