Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Many recitations of nembutsu - a question

Here is a question and my answer to it, posted on a Buddhist yahoo group:

I am wondering if anyone can provide any helpful tips on how to count Nembutsu repetitons each day. I read where Honen once said that "even 10,000 a day is good in the beginning"(I' m not sure in today's world if its possible even getting to 10,000!). I use an old mala of 108 beads (
I don't have proper nenju). Before I go out and buy counters or a more expensive juzu, nenju, I thought I should ask others about their own practice.
Peace to all,

Hy Bob,

I think that Amida created the nembutsu for simple people, who cannot follow difficult practices in order to attain Enlightenment. If Amida wants us to recite at least 10,000 nembutsu every day in order to be born in the Pure Land, then I think, the practice of nembutsu is a difficult practice (maybe for monks who have all the time in the world), not an easy one and Amida lied to us. Nembutsu means to rely on Amida for your Enlightenment in the Pure Land. I typed on Amida in bold so as to show that reliance is on Amida Buddha's power, not on that of the practitioner. I think the most important thing in reciting the nembutsu is the attitude which lies at the base of your recitation and this is faith, entrusting, relying on Amida Buddha. If we recite nembutsu while having true faith in Amida Buddha's saving power, we will be born in the Pure Land and attain Enlightenment there, no matter if we recite it once a day or 100 times. But if we recite the nembutsu relying on our power to recite the Name for 10,000 times, this might become like a heroic test for us and we tend to concentrate on our effort and forget the power of Amida who is the real power in saving us. In our effort to recite nembutsu 10,000 time a day we might strengthen our ego and not abandon it in Amida's saving power. Amida is the one who saves, not our power to recite nembutsu 10,000 times. Amida knows our power is limited and Honen knew this too. He was a monk all his life, but not all of his followers were monks, some of them were living lay life and were very busy with gaining their daily bread. When he talks about nembutsu recitation for many times, he is in fact makes reference to the entrusting in Amida that has to be a permanent awareness in our lives. Because what is nembutsu all about if not the expression of entrusting and faith. I like how Saichi (a Pure Land devotee in Japan) said about the nembutsu: “When someone is catching a cold he cannot abstain not to cough. I caught the cold of Buddha’s Dharma and I cannot stop coughing the nembutsu.” Saichi "caught" a lot the nembutsu but he was never worried if he recited it for 100 times or 10,000 times. He never count the nembutsu recitation. He just recited it when he could in his busy and hard life, relying on Amida and not on his power to reach a high number.
I hope this is helpful to you.
Namo Amida Butsu,
Josho Adrian Cirlea

ps: I also like to recite nembutsu many times and I use a nenju with 108 beads. I like to use the nenju , but not in order to know the number of recitation , but because this relaxes me and makes me not think about when I will finish the recitation. I simply finish my recitation session when all the 108 beads of the nenju are used. This also helps me to concentrate better on the recitation. But there are also times when I recite nembutsu without using a nenju. It simply comes on my lips naturally.

2 comentarii:

Andy said...

Thank you for this helpful article Reverend Josho.

As a follow up question I would like to ask the words which you use to chant the Nembutsu?

Josho Adrian Cirlea said...

Helloy Andy.I usually use the words NA MO A MI DA BU It is easy for me to recite nembutsu this way. I like to feel and hear the word A MI DA when I recite. I think it is more closer to me, than namandabu - the short way of recitation used by many japanese in my school.