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Yugyoji - the Dancing Nembutsu

Yugyoji -the Dancing Nembutsu

Ippen's Dream 7/24/96rtf

Harold Stewart on Ippen

Ippen Shonin promoted Dancing Nembutsu, which combines elements of Shinto dance with the main element of Pure Land Buddhism, the Nembutsu, the mantra consisting of the phrase "Namu Amida Butsu" (pronounced 'nah-moo uh-mee-dah boots'). In English, the Nembutsu is translated as "Homage to Amida Buddha".


This term has several meanings in the history of Buddhism, based on the various connotations of nen (meditating, thinking, pronouncing): meditating on the special features of the Buddha image, holding to the thought of the Buddha, and pronouncing the name of a Buddha. In Pure Land Buddhism from Shan-tao on, nembutsu has been considered to mean the saying of the Name. Honen emphasizes nembutsu as utterance of the Name to be the core of the Pure Land way. Thus nembutsu signifies the Name (myogo) as the manifestation of great compassion and the saying of this Name, Namu-amida-butsu. Shinran further teaches that the saying of the Name is none other than the Name (the call of Amida) working in persons and awakening shinjin in them. When they realize shinjin, it is expressed spontaneously as the nembutsu. Thus,

The practice of the nembutsu is to say it perhaps once, perhaps ten times, on hearing and realizing that birth into the Pure Land is attained by saying the Name fulfilled in the Primal Vow... There is no shinjin separate from nembutsu... There can be no nembutsu separate from shinjin. (Lamp for the Latter Ages)

"Saying the nembutsu" (shomyo) has in the past been rendered reciting, pronouncing, or uttering the nembutsu. "Saying the nembutsu," however, sounds most natural and ordinary, and thus is suited to the religious life of a Shin Buddhist. While there is nothing extraordinary about saying the nembutsu, the realization attached to it, involving one's whole being, evokes an entirely new universe of meaning.

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