The word 'Nembutsu' is Japanese and is made up of Nen and Butsu. Nen means ‘mindfulness’. Butsu means ‘Buddha’. So nembutsu is mindfulness of Buddha. However, it has come to mean not merely a mental act but also a verbal one. Thus all formulae of refuge in Buddhism are forms of nembutsu. However, nembutsu has come to mean especially mindfulness of the Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of all acceptance, and this implies a very wide and generic approach to spirituality.

Consequently, the uttering of nembutsu is an exceedingly widespread practice in East Asia. When I was in Vietnam, people could see by my clothes that I was some sort of religious practitioner and one could see by their gestures that they were asking what I was. When I said “Namo Adida Phat” which is the Vietnamese form of nembutsu, all was immediately understood with smiles all round. They knew I was Buddhist. Similarly, if I meet Tibetan Buddhists and they ask what is my practice and I say “Om Ami Dewa Hrih”, or say that I am a devotee of Amitabha, they know exactly what I mean and we are friends straight away. In the West we tend to be much more concerned about sectarian differences because of our unfortunate history. It is nice to let all that go and just enjoy the variety of ways there are of practising. The form of words (Namu Amida Butsu in Japan, Namo Omito Fo in China, and so on) vary from place to place, but the spirit is the same. In English, we generally say Namo Amida Bu, but there are many variants.

Buddhism tells us that that mind is conditioned by its objects and the best object is Buddha so saying the nembutsu in one form or another is very healthy. It is also a community unifier. In our sanghas we say Namo Amida Bu as a way of saying “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “Thank you”, “Gosh”, “Never mind” and so on. It means that in all the little triumphs and disasters of daily life the Buddha is present. Thus, just as fine rain eventually saturates an overcoat, our fearful minds are gradually permeated with a beneficent influence and bit by bit, unconsciously to ourselves, a transformation occurs. When life ends we shall be naturally inclined toward going home to the Buddha Land.

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Lovely summary, thank you. The soft rain soaking into one's coat is a beautiful metaphor.

Funny, but it seems exactly that sense of simple, accepting generosity that I notice a curiously entrenched resistance to. As if my mind were doggedly determined that the religious life amounted something more - what? Sectarian? Meritocratic? Authorised, maybe.

A sweet relief to just set those heavy ideas down... except like a dream, they have an odd way of getting back in ones's hand... to be set down, again.

I think that's one part of what nembutsu as 'deep listening' means to me. Just hearing, then hearing again, what you know in your bones, but keep forgetting. 

Namo Amida Bu

Thanks, Mat. Nice. Yes. The 'nen' of nembutsu, of course, means 'remember' !

I like reminders like this. It's so easy to get caught up in absolute specifics and then, unknowingly, start to exclude other beings. I've just started readying, Spirit and the Politics of Disablement' by Sharon V. Betcher, who is a Christian theologian and also happens to be disabled. It's already clear from where I am in the book how disabled people (and that is all of us at some time) can be excluded through insistence on particular formulae. The above description of Nembutsu is nice and open and inclusive (at least, if read in that spirit) and seems to me to offer a way into Sangha. Certainly, from my experience leading singing in mixed settings, it is possible to really include people (including those who cannot form syllables and words) if the practice is open ended enough and imaginative enough.

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Posted by JAESUNG KIM on August 6, 2017 at 6:58 0 Comments

2017 여름 불교심리치료 및 상담 워크숍 3회 내용

THREE PSYCHOTHERAPY & COUNSELLING WORKSHOPS

 

WORKSHOP 1: SNOW UPON A SILVER PLATE [ 銀盌盛雪]: PRINCIPLES OF BUDDHIST PSYCHOLOGY & THEIR PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC APPLICATION

In this workshop we shall introduce and review important aspects of Buddhist psychology including the conditioned and unconditioned mind, object relatedness, skandha process, the unity of path and goal, bodhichitta,…

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Great Intentions.

Posted by Adam Dunsby on August 3, 2017 at 22:42 0 Comments

  • The power of intentions is a topic that comes up regularly for me and always provides me with food for thought. In a recent service I was struck by the gravity of the Bodhisattva vows that we sing as part of our liturgy. ”Innumerable…

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Posted by Adam Dunsby on July 18, 2017 at 22:41 1 Comment

We just had a study group meeting at Amida Mandala Temple. Only three of us but a very rich hour. Predictably we came round to the issue of ‘is one Nembutsu enough?’ My understanding: In a sense it is, because when we call Amida we become one with his vow and the Pure Land and thus we are saved. In another sense we have to keep calling him so that he can keep saving us. As if we’re all lost in a thick fog and Amida is a few steps ahead of us illuminating the way, we have to keep him in sight…

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SIMPOSIUM AT OASIS

Posted by David Brazier on July 11, 2017 at 15:30 0 Comments

On 8th July we had a meeting of six teachers at Oasis together with many visitors.

Pictures: Here

Each of the teachers gave a presentation on what they considered most significant in their practice. Then there was an extended lunch period for socialising and, finally a sessions of questions and answers.…

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