At first I didn't like a book I have about Pure land (Shin) Buddhism. But I've come to enjoy "River of Fire, River of Water" by Taitetsu Unno. Here's some passages about embracing the valley of life
The ideal of monastic Buddhism is transcendence of mundane existence, as if one were ascending to the mountaintop. In contrast, the praxis of Pure Land Buddhism takes place by descending into the valley, the shadow of the mountains.
We find a similar contrast in Chinese civilization. Like monastic Buddhism the Confucian ideal may be symbolized by the soaring mountain peaks , manifesting the highest achievement of the literati.
And like the Pure Land, Taoism is found in the valley and lowlands, a haven for those who do not fit into conventional society for whatever reason. But it is in this valley that life and creativity flourish. In the words of Tao-te-ching:
The Valley Spirit never dies.
It is named the Mysterious Female.
And the Doorway of the mysterious Female
Is the base from which Heaven and Earth spring.
It is there within us all the while;
Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.
...In Japan, traditional Buddhist monasticism -- whether Tendai, Shingon, or Zen -- aims at the transcendence of earthly passions. Its basic precepts consist of renouncing all family ties, maintaining celibacy, mastering rigorous disciplines, avoiding contact with the opposite sex, and engaging in elaborate rituals.
In contrast, Pure Land is the trans-descendence into the opposite world, the self-awakening to the immersion in the swamp of anger, jealousy, insecurity, fear, addiction, arrogance, hypocrisy.
...Shin Buddhism comes alive for those who live in the valley and in the shadows. It challenges people to discover the ultimate meaning of life in the abysss of the darkness of ignorance.
...Pure Land Buddhism might suggest an otherworldly orientation, but its primary focus is on the here and now. Not the here and now grasped by the controlling ego-self, but the here and now cherished as a gift of life itself to be lived creatively and gratefully, granted us by boundless compassion.
The bountifulness of great compassion makes possible our liberation from the iron cage of our own making.