Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:15 am

The Nembutsu is completely "beneficial" in this life. It is the living, "sacramental" token of Amida's action toward us in this life as embodied in his inconceivably transcendent gift of Shinjin.

We wait until death for immersion in the Pure Land where Amida's grace causes our Buddha Nature to blossom. But even before that, we are immersed, in this life, in Amida's grace. The Nembutsu is part and parcel of this immersion - and more importantly, it is our experience in this life of Amida's reality and activity in us, because as it is said, in saying the Nembutsu, the Buddha himself echoes in us his Call.

The Nembutsu is our prayer of gratitude, but we are only capable of saying it in perfect faith because Amida himself echoes the Call in us. This transcendent activity, manifest "immanently" ("here and now"), is our experiential perception of that "Raft from the Other Shore" which is Amida's saving, providential, unearned, grace-full gift.

Moreover, one common theme in Shin is that of a kind of "panenAmidism" where the Buddha's salvific and Enlightening work is enlivening every area and process of Samsara, ultimately to bring all of it into the sphere of Buddhahood. One could not ask for a more "this-world"- embracing spiritual cosmology than this one - which sees the Buddha's saving activity at work all through this blind, suffering universe that we inhabit. According to this principle, Amida, at least in his active grace, is indeed everywhere. And the Nembutsu brings this home to us every time we say it or pray it.

shaunc
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by shaunc » Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:31 am

I agree wholeheartedly. If nembutsu practice wasn't beneficial for this life I don't believe many people would bother with this form of Buddhism. But the fact remains that it is probably the most popular form of Buddhism in the world today.
Good luck and best wishes.
Shaun.

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:45 pm

Yeah, it's the most popular form of Buddhism today at least in Asia, as I understand...but you wouldn't guess it from the proliferation of all the non-Amidist book titles in the stores - there's a lot of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, etc., but hardly any Pure Land!

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Dharma Flower » Thu May 25, 2017 8:51 pm

A benefit of the Nembutsu that I can attest to is that it softens the heart. I am too often a hard-hearted person, and saying the Nembutsu helps to soften my heart. I cannot explain how or why.

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Thu May 25, 2017 9:35 pm

I am glad to hear how much the Nembutsu has enhanced your life. Thanks for sharing that.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Dharma Flower » Thu May 25, 2017 10:01 pm

steveb1 wrote:I am glad to hear how much the Nembutsu has enhanced your life. Thanks for sharing that.
Thank you for your response. The Nembutsu is like a reminder to have compassion on others, just as Amida has compassion on ourselves. Also, saying the Nembutsu in gratitude helps us to live gratefully with every aspect of our life.

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Thu May 25, 2017 11:42 pm

Yeah, the most compassionate and wise expression of Transcendent mercy is Amida Buddha. Of all the "saviors" we know of, His is the most universal, open, and pragmatic help from that "Raft from the Other Shore".

:)

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Dharma Flower » Fri May 26, 2017 1:02 am

steveb1 wrote:Yeah, the most compassionate and wise expression of Transcendent mercy is Amida Buddha. Of all the "saviors" we know of, His is the most universal, open, and pragmatic help from that "Raft from the Other Shore".

:)
By whatever name we call it, Mahayana Buddhism makes clear that the Ultimate Truth is boundless compassion. The boundless compassion within all things is one of the most important components of the classic treatise, The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana. I am so grateful to this boundless compassion, that all I can say is Namu-Amida-Butsu.

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Fri May 26, 2017 1:12 am

Yeah, the Nembutsu is the only response that we can make, and even then Amida helps us recite it with perfect faith. It's the perfect gift for us poor bombu who are not capable of perfect faith on our own. Amida supplies Shinjin without any self-power actions on our part.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Dharma Flower » Fri May 26, 2017 4:23 am

steveb1 wrote:Amida supplies Shinjin without any self-power actions on our part.
In countries like China and Vietnam, the combined practice of self-power and other-power is the norm. I used to think that Shinran intended for us to do all the evil deeds we want, but I learned the hard way that it's not the case:
It is deplorable that you have told people to abandon themselves to their hearts’ desires and to do anything they want. One must seek to cast off the evil of this world and to cease doing wretched deeds; this is what it means to reject the world and to live the Nembutsu.
http://shinranworks.com/letters/lamp-fo ... ages/16-2/

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Fri May 26, 2017 5:09 am

Good points. I think that this issue is called "the question of licensed evil" - i.e., "now that we are Saved, we can sin heartily because sin no longer spiritually dooms us". Shinran's response to this kind of thinking was, in words to the effect of, "Just because you know that there is an antidote, doesn't mean you go out and drink poison". Deliberate, sinful self-indulgence would be the exact opposite of the expression of gratitude that is so central to Shin, because it presumes upon Amida's merciful, free salvific gifts. It could easily signal that perhaps one has not received the gift of Shinjin after all.

shaunc
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by shaunc » Fri May 26, 2017 8:25 am

steveb1 wrote:Good points. I think that this issue is called "the question of licensed evil" - i.e., "now that we are Saved, we can sin heartily because sin no longer spiritually dooms us". Shinran's response to this kind of thinking was, in words to the effect of, "Just because you know that there is an antidote, doesn't mean you go out and drink poison". Deliberate, sinful self-indulgence would be the exact opposite of the expression of gratitude that is so central to Shin, because it presumes upon Amida's merciful, free salvific gifts. It could easily signal that perhaps one has not received the gift of Shinjin after all.

My reason for following the Buddhist path as best I can in my daily life is not about accumulating good merit/karma and minimising the effects of bad merits/karma although they are both obvious side benefits.
Since finding the pureland path it's more a way of showing my appreciation to Amitabha buddha.
I started on the Buddhist path more than 20 years ago in the theravada tradition of the thai Forrest monks and back then upholding precepts and trying to stay on the noble 8fold path was really hard work.
Since coming to pureland Buddhism, I still meditate in the way that the thai monks taught me but I use the word Amida rather than buddho.
I'm also not aiming for enlightenment in this life, I'm just aiming to be a bit better than I was yesterday and like most bonbus in samsara there are varying degrees of success.
Namu Amida Butsu.

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Fri May 26, 2017 8:44 am

Looks like you've "been around" much more than I have. I never had any formal training in meditation other than a few meetings in a local neighborhood house which practiced Tibetan meditation, associated with Trungpa. Even with that trifling exposure, I was a complete failure in meditation. That is one pragmatic personal aspect of Shin for me - not only does it not require meditation, it insists that self-power practices like meditation don't work for us bombus, who rely solely on Amida's grace and sheer gift of Shinjin. Monk Dharmakara did my meditation "for me" and in constructing his Pure Land became Amida Buddha...and he bestows on me the fruits of his kalpas-long work in providing the perfect realm for us, in which our Buddha Nature finally blossoms. That's what makes Shin "the easy Path" - I don't need to worry about meditating for Enlightenment because Amida has already taken vouchsafed it for me.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Dharma Flower » Fri May 26, 2017 10:12 am

shaunc wrote: My reason for following the Buddhist path as best I can in my daily life is not about accumulating good merit/karma and minimising the effects of bad merits/karma although they are both obvious side benefits.
Since finding the pureland path it's more a way of showing my appreciation to Amitabha buddha.
What you are saying is what's so great about Buddhism: Whatever motivates you to practice the Buddha's teachings is the right motivation. It is beautiful indeed.

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Fri May 26, 2017 9:02 pm

"Amen!" to that!

:)

shaunc
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by shaunc » Fri May 26, 2017 11:10 pm

steveb1 wrote:Looks like you've "been around" much more than I have. I never had any formal training in meditation other than a few meetings in a local neighborhood house which practiced Tibetan meditation, associated with Trungpa. Even with that trifling exposure, I was a complete failure in meditation. That is one pragmatic personal aspect of Shin for me - not only does it not require meditation, it insists that self-power practices like meditation don't work for us bombus, who rely solely on Amida's grace and sheer gift of Shinjin. Monk Dharmakara did my meditation "for me" and in constructing his Pure Land became Amida Buddha...and he bestows on me the fruits of his kalpas-long work in providing the perfect realm for us, in which our Buddha Nature finally blossoms. That's what makes Shin "the easy Path" - I don't need to worry about meditating for Enlightenment because Amida has already taken vouchsafed it for me.

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Fri May 26, 2017 11:19 pm

shaunc, sorry, but your citation of my post is being displayed, but no comment or Reply of yours is showing up.

Just FYI.

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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat May 27, 2017 12:51 am

What I love so much about Honen is his teaching that whatever motivates you to say the Nembutsu is the right motivation, "One with aberrant views may recite Nembutsu as a person with aberrant views. Each should recite Nembutsu in his own manner. This is because Amida Buddha awakened his all-encompassing essential vow for all sentient beings in the ten directions."

If you recite the Nembutsu to be reborn into the Pure Land after death, then recite the Nembutsu to be reborn into the Pure Land after death. If you recite the Nembutsu to, like in the Vimalakirti Sutra, live in the Pure Land here and now, then recite the Nembutsu to live in the Pure Land here and now.

In the words of Honen, "I would say one should recite the Nembutsu in whatever the natural state one was born into."

shaunc
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by shaunc » Sat May 27, 2017 2:02 am

Sorry. What I posted got lost somehow. When I was trying to say is that meditation isn't completely against the teachings of shin Buddhism. It all depends on your motivation for meditating. I meditate on a fairly regular basis and believe that it helps me with deep listening and self reflection. I'm not aiming for enlightenment. Many people are regular mediators and don't do it for a spiritual or religious reason, they may do it as a relaxation technique or they could be a sportsman/woman who does it to help them stay focused on the task at hand.
The 18th vow of Amida has saved us and I believe that we can if we wish use any tool at our disposal to try to be a better person and show our gratitude to Amida.

steveb1
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Re: Benefits of Nembutsu In This Very Life

Post by steveb1 » Sat May 27, 2017 3:10 am

Darn fine points, I'm glad you covered that. Yeah, Shin does not eschew self-effort practices, as long as they are done only for "secular" advancement like relaxation, centeredness, mindfulness - and not for salvation and/or Enlightenment ... just as you said.

I have read that because "everybody" identifies Buddhism with meditative/contemplative practices, that some Shin sanghas use meditation as a lure for interested parties. Of course, that carries with it the danger of misunderstanding Shin as a meditative tradition. Hopefully, such sanghas immediately tell seekers that Shin meditation is only used for the secular stuff mentioned above, and not as a path to Buddahood and or Enlightenment.

Thanks again for catching that.

:)

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