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Nembutsu: Buddha Remembrance and the Pure Land

In this note I will introduce four tenets of Pure Land Buddhism:
  1. the importance of the Nembutsu,
  2. Buddha Remembrance,
  3. Birth in the Pure Land and
  4. what happens after Enlightenment in the Pure Land
For further study of the Pure Land, I will add a link to a previous post on the Pure Land. The Importance of Nembutsu Nembutsu is the Buddha's name (Namu Amida Butsu). By chanting the Nembutsu during the Pure Land devotee's life, merit is accumulated. This accumulation of merit is known as karma. At life's end, the devotee is received by Amida Buddha with one's karma in the Pure Land of Bliss. Chanting the Buddha's name is known as Buddha Remembrance. Buddha Remembrance Originally, one is enlightened but unaware of it all. For Buddha Nature is one's original nature, yet mental and behavior negativities obscure one's awareness like clouds covering the sun. Through chanting the Nembutsu, one becomes aware of Buddha Nature. This inspires one to follow the Buddha's teachings faithfully. This is the essence of Buddha Remembrance. Birth in the Pure Land of Bliss Thus does Buddha Remembrance through uttering the Nembutsu help assure one's birth in the Pure Land of Bliss. For the Pure Land offers postponement from karmic transmigration. Once born there, one hears Amida Buddha expound the Dharma, and is enlightened. After Enlightenment After enlightenment, one has the choice to become a Buddha and enter nirvana or return to any of the six realms as bodhisattvas to help all living beings in samsara. Thus is one's devotion to Amida Buddha shown by chanting the Nembutsu. Reference: True emptiness is unknowable:


Steve said...

"The Nembutsu, for its practicers, is not a practice or a good act. Since it is not performed out of one's own designs, it is not a practice. Since it is not good done through one's own calculation, it is not a good act. Because it arises wholly from Other Power and is free of self-power, for the practicer, it is not a practice or a good act." -- Shinran Shonin, Tannisho 8

Steve said...

At the root of the previous words of Shinran is the belief that always Amida is calling to each of us yet few of us listen to Him.

Through study of Shinran's works, the devotee comes to realize gratitude to Amida, and through meditation on the Nembutsu, her heartmind hears Amida calling to her, and she replies by uttering the Name-that-calls.

In essence then, the Jodo Shinshu practicer does not practice, nor does he act on hearing Amida's call.

Rather, when she says the Nembutsu with sincere heart, it is Amida calling through her.

Indeed, it is the inconceivable working of Amida Nyorai through the devotee that he acts.

Yet both the non-practice and the non-action attributed to Amida only refers to acts which promote loving-kindness.

Only the wise are able to determine which acts are motivated by Amida's subtle calling to the heartmind.