Consider this comparison between Christian and later Buddhist Thinking
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
A Korean “muga” (song), sung by a shaman (mudang) that in this case entirely reflects maháyanistic Buddhist thought sings:
“When you want to go to the world of Paradise,
If you take the narrow road,
It is the road to Hell,
If you take the wide road,
It is the road to Paradise.”
(Tr. B.C.A. Walraven)
This muga does not sing of nirvana; it rather sings the praises of the Blissful Land of the West (Sukhávati) also called Paradise, a concept belonging to the Pure Land tradition of East Asia.
The statement about the Dharma’s “wide road” towards final liberation seems to be based on the legend concerning Sidhártha’s literal path to enlightenment or awakening. The legend, or the history says that on his way to the bodhimanda, the seat made of grass under the Bodhitree, the Buddha-to-be “went at evening along the wide road towards the Bodhi-tree accompanied by divinities, who sang and honoured him with sweet flowers”. (Tr. E.J. Thomas, The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, p.71)
The Maháyana to which the above concept of the Sukhávati (Paradise) belongs is called “the wide road to perfection” since the traveller is allowed to choose from a wide range of practices. This stands in contrast to the earlier Buddhist teaching where solely the monastic is addressed and where “road” is preceded by “straight” (uju or ujju), not by “wide” (an all too liberal interpretation of mahá: “great” or even “much”)(1).
In this early dharma-interpretation the “straight road” starts with one philosophical realization and goes on to other philospophical-emotional-psychological awakenings until the road is completed. The Greater Discourse on the Cowherd, belonging to this earlier Pali or Small Vehicle collection has:
“How does a bhikkhu (monk) not know the road? Here a bikkhu does not understand the Noble Eightfold Path as it actually is.” (and so forth for each aspect of the Eightfold Path)
(Transl. bhikkhu Bodhi)
Hence the later maháyanistic “wide road” is one of these instances where we are aware how the cultivation-practice of Buddhism gradually opened up to the laity.
The Pure Land-practice, adopted by a majority of the Asian laity leads to “rebirth” in the above-mentioned Paradise where attaining the final goal consists of walking the straight road which in this “paradise” is effortless on account of the ideal conditions that prevail in paradises.
The Korean mudang either was a Pure Land Buddhist, or had at least an incling of its concepts and practice, whether or not she at the same time honoured a number of gods belonging to Korean folk religion.
(1) In Pali: ujumagga the straight (uju) road (magga) D i.235; Vin v.149; It 104; J i.344; vi.252; DhA ii.192.