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Ōbaku: Who is Reciting?

Perhaps most obvious to the Japanese was Ōbaku followers' use of nembutsu.

Also their use of the "nembutsu kōan" entails the practice of reciting the name of Amitabha while holding in one's mind the kōan, "Who is reciting?"

While foreign to the Japanese (despite this "dual practice" being introduced in Japan as early as the late 13th century), this was very common in Ming period Ch'an, for there was no sectarian divide between Pure Land Buddhists and Ch'an practitioners.

Ōbaku monasteries and temples came to be governed by a doctrine known as Ōbaku shingi, which both imported Chinese practices such as the recitation (dharani) of nembutsu and "sought to preserve the Chinese character of the group."

The Ōbaku also chanted sutras derived from the Pure Land Buddhism sect set to Chinese music.

"The followers of Hakuin Ekaku (1687—1769) tried to purge the elements of Ōbaku Zen they found objectionable. They suppressed the Pure Land practice of reciting Amida Buddha's name, deemphasized the Vinaya, and replaced sutra study with a more narrow focus on traditional koan collections." — T. Griffith Foulk in Kenneth Kraft's book "Zen: Tradition and Transition".

Thus today the sect follows the practice promoted by the Ōtōkan lineage now in charge.

Therefore nobody at the Ōbaku School is reciting the Nembutsu.

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