I spent last week in retreat with my Buddhist family, celebrating Shakyamuni's enlightenment at Amida Mandala Temple in Malvern, England. Something very special happens when we meet like this, grounded in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, reaching out to the loving power of Amitaba Buddha who fills us with Love in return. The whole building was glowing with peace and happiness and everyone who participated was profoundly moved and excited by it.
In the various services and ceremonies that took place I experienced a new sense of connection with the subtle energies that emerge as a result of chanting and worship. My spiritual practices have been pointing me towards the concept of religious calling, which, for obvious reasons, captured my heart and mind, producing an enriching emotional process.
The question that arose was 'when saying nembutsu is it me that calls Amida, or, is it him that calls to me?' In the literature that found its way into my reading material recently, I came across a rather intellectual and compelling study of the metaphysical aspects of saying the name which offered me a fresh perspective on the practice that makes up the biggest part of my spiritual life.
By declaring his compassionate vows the Buddha overcame the physical and temporal limits of the universe and reached to the heart of the complexed self delusion before it crystalized in the primordial psyche, producing the dream like mental state that manifests as space-time. In this way Amida exists in a dimension that is removed from, yet parallel to Samsara, he is present in the beginning and will be present at the end. When my karma aligns me sufficiently with Amida he calls from the Pureland and the conditions in my life align with him, enabling me to respond by saying Nembutsu.
This deep, abstract philosophical perspective, resonated beautifully with my own contemplations around Nembutsu, the pinnacle of religious meaning and ultimate vehicle of faith. It seems to bring me a bit nearer to understanding how it is that the name is enough, that I don't need to strive in vain for virtuous perfection, and that an informed surrender to my innate ignorance and foolishness is the most pure channel for Nembutsu.
Enlightenment is constant exposure to the radiant darkness and the radiant darkness is born out of self! Through acceptance of the potency therein, we are reborn to a consistent resolve which converts ignorance into compassion! Amida transports us to the Pureland in the midst of our complex involvement in Samsara and in doing so reaches many other beings around us. Once again, one way or another we are all saved!
In the Christian prophecy, ''...it is already done.'' This seems like a tantalising parallel to the legend of the universal vow which puts us in touch with the power that prevails beyond the pain. Namo Amida Bu( :
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