In his great treatise, Kyo Gyo Shin Sho (Teaching, Practice,
Faith and Realization of the Pure Land Way), Master Shinran
talks about the Nembutsu, "Namu Amida Butsu", as the GREAT
In the largest sense, the Nembutsu represents Amida Buddha's
Great Practice on our behalf through the power of His Primal Vow
to save all suffering beings EVERYWHERE.
Now in True Shin Buddhism we only have one practice that we as
bombu (spiritual idiots) "do", and that is Listening Deeply. We
open our minds and hearts to the Dharma, we aspire to
Buddhahood, and we interact with a true teacher who is a person
The Primal Vow says,
If, when I attain Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of
the ten quarters who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves
to me, desire to be born in my land, and call my Name, even ten
times, should not be born there, may I not attain perfect
Enlightenment. Excluded, however, are those who commit the five
gravest offenses and abuse the right Dharma.
All that is required according to the Primal Vow is ENTRUSTING
our entire karmic destiny to Amida Buddha to be born in Amida's
Pure Land as a Buddha ourselves.
Namu Amida Butsu has two parts: "Namu" means "I take refuge",
and "Amida Butsu" means "in Amida Buddha."
That is one great meaning of the Nembutsu. It is the BASIC
For the person who is seeking salvation, the Nembutsu means
"Save me, Amida Buddha." It means that the seeker is opening
her/himself to Amida's saving Light and Compassion. It is the
seeker responding to Amida's Call and opening him/herself to
Amida Buddha's Other Power.
Another meaning is, "Namu" represents me, the person who is
saved, and "Amida Butsu" represents that which saves me, i.e.
the Other Power of Amida Buddha. Once I am saved, my bombu
"self" and Amida Buddha are as one. I am, as Master Shinran
said, like Bodhisattva Maitreya, in the stage next to
Buddhahood, for when I die I will become a Buddha just as
Maitreya's next birth will be as a Buddha.
But there is another meaning of Namu Amida Butsu. When one
receives Shinjin, one feels tremendous gratitude for being saved
by Amida and granted the assurance of being reborn in His Pure
Land as a fully enlightened Buddha.
Thus, for the person of Shinjin, Namu Amida Butsu means THANK
YOU, AMIDA BUDDHA. It is the Nembutsu of Gratitude.
Finally, the Nembutsu is itself THE NAME OF THE BUDDHA. When we
say that we are "Saying the Name" we are saying "Namu Amida
Butsu," which means that Amida Buddha has fulfilled His Primal
Vow on our part and has already assured our salvation. We only
need to forsake all doubts and take refuge in Amida's Primal Vow
of Other Power and be saved. This comes about through Listening
Deeply with a true teacher.
Or as Master Shinran said, "Just say the Nembutsu and be saved
by Amida. Nothing else is involved."
It all comes down to that. Listening Deeply, and Saying the
Name. Listening Deeply and Saying the Name.
Or as my mentor Paul Roberts often says, "Before SHINJIN, Listen
Deeply; After SHINJIN, Listen Deeply."
Namu Amida Butsu
Thank You, Amida Buddha!