What Namu Amida Butsu Means
Richard St. Clair
I felt an inner prompting of Amida Buddha leading me to write
this, so here goes.
Namu Amida Butsu, the Nembutsu, means something very personal
It means that Amida Buddha fulfilled His 48 vows FOR ME
Not just for me as a member of the zillions of members in the
bombu-at-large group, but ME PERSONALLY.
I feel that I was in Amida Buddha's sights, myriads of kalpas
ago when He was Dharmakara Bodhisattva and working to fulfill
the 48 Vows.
I feel that Dharmakara knew me personally and part of His
mission was to save me personally. I feel that He knew EVERY
living being personally the same way as He did me. But He KNEW
That's the immensity of Dharmakara's visionary scope. As a
condition of becoming Amida Buddha, He needed to fulfill the
salvation, the karmic destiny of ALL suffering beings
EVERYWHERE. That includes me, specifically.
Why do I think Dharmakara/Amida was/is thinking of me
specifically? Because He had to work out the karma of every
living being stuck in samsara in order to vouchsafe their
passage to Buddhahood. He had to understand and develop a
pathway to salvation that understood the unique karmic profile
of each living, suffering being, each of whom has had a vastly
different karmic history from the next.
For some beings, they are in the human realm. For some, they
are in the animal realm. For some, they are in the heavenly
abodes. For some, they are in the realm of the fighting
spirits. For some they are in the realm of hungry ghosts, and
for some they are in the hell realms. And Amida knows and
guides beings from the lower realms to the human realm where
their karma can ripen and become aware of Amida Buddha's Other
Power, however many births and fits and starts that may take.
As Dharmakara Bodhisattva, Amida Buddha knew me and understood
me, even when I was in the hell realms, or the animal realm,
or the fighting spirit realm, etc etc. And while I needed to
work out my karma in order to be born in this human realm, the
most precious birth imaginable, Amida has left me bread crumbs
along the way, hints, transcendental "messages" if you will,
sometimes difficult karmic situations with painful
circumstances, leading me to where I could become aware of Him
and His path to salvation through the Nembutsu.
So when I say the Nembutsu, I do not merely say "I take refuge
in Amida Buddha." I say THANK YOU, AMIDA BUDDHA for saving ME,
PERSONALLY, a karmically burdened being ensconced in deep
suffering from the inconceivable past.
The entire karmic merit of Amida Buddha is bequeathed to every
being who accepts Amida's gift of SHINJIN. This is the Other
Power that saves us, that brings us to the brink of Buddhahood
as we approach this life's end and are about to pass over to
the Pure Land of Serene Sustenance where we then WILL become
fully enlightened Buddhas ourselves.
This is the Other Power that Master Shinran calls the Medicine
of Amida Buddha, the power that subtly transforms us in this
bombu existence, melting the ice of our blind passions into
greater and greater awareness of what lies ahead,
enlightenment and Buddhahood in the Pure Land, and which
transforms our faith-mind consciousness into deepening
understanding of the Dharma that saves, opening our hearts and
minds ever and ever more to the incredible miracle of Amida
Buddha's Primal Vow and softening the hard and sharp edges of
our ego-driven delusion-obsessed hearts and minds.
I feel so small when I say "Thank You, Amida Buddha." And this
is not fake humility. It is a recognition of the vastness of
Amida Buddha's Other Power and inconceivable wisdom and great
compassion that saves us all.
So, THANK YOU, AMIDA BUDDHA
NAMU AMIDA BUTSU
Rick St. Clair