Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

User avatar
sth9784
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:57 am
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by sth9784 » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:03 pm

Are there any documented accounts of interesting (for lack of a better word) phenomena occurring during the recitation of Nembutsu? I know such things are not to be sought after, but as is well known in Japanese Pure Land traditions, Master Honen reportedly experienced Nembutsu Samadhi during his recitation of Nembutsu, so after recently reading an article that mentioned his Samadhi, I could not help but wonder if such things still occur. By mentioning Master Honen's Samadhi, I do not intend to limit my inquiry to just Samadhi, but as I said above, any interesting, or auspicious phenomena. I only use the account of his attaining Samadhi as an example of what I am asking about because I know of nothing else to use.

For instance, one day, I had an appointment, but before I left I recited 1000 Nembutsu. I took a bus to that appointment, and as I was sitting on the bus, I could hear 'Namu Amida Butsu', just as if I were doing a non-vocal Nembutsu with no difference, but I had no conscious volition of doing so, it was something like background noise (again for lack of a better word) in my mind. It is nothing spectacular, but it was just an interesting experience. It lasted for about 5-10 minutes, and then it passed. Please do not misinterpret this sharing of my experience as any sort of boasting, but just as an interesting experience, and by no means do I intend to say that it was some 'spiritual' attainment, or anything like that.

I do not have a local Sanga I can turn to, so if anyone on here has had some sort of experience that they would like to share that would be most welcome too, but I can understand not wanting to share such things.

I am aware of auspicious signs occurring after the death of Nembutsu devotees, but I can not seem to recall anything about events occurring during recitation.

As always, any answers would be greatly appreciated.
Crom!

User avatar
Losal Samten
Posts: 1407
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:05 pm

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Losal Samten » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:14 pm

Light used to emanate from Shantao's mouth during his recitation, and Shaokang had buddha images appear from his mouth when he led a nianfo group practice.
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨཱོཾ་མ་ཏྲི་མུ་ཡེ་སལེ་འདུ།།

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1668
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:23 pm

This chapter from Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith may provide some information.
The sorts of signs and realms we might see while reciting Amitabha's name seem to be more openly discussed in forms of Pure Land outside Japan. Not sure of the reasons for that.

I too have had experiences related to nembutsu. I'd be happy to chat over PM with you more sometime, especially as a fellow Honen fan :smile:

Sentient Light
Posts: 167
Joined: Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:40 pm
Location: Fairfax, Virginia

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Sentient Light » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:26 pm

Visions of Amitabha Buddha and the bodhisattvas are very commonly reported within Vietnamese Buddhism. I remember as a child, my mother watching the Vietnamese television channel that ran out of California, and they were showing this VHS recording from a temple in Viet Nam. It was grainy footage, but the camera swung up from the temple courtyard to the sky, and hanging over the temple was the gigantic likeness of Quan Am / Guanyin perfectly sculpted in the clouds, half of her painted pink by the setting sun. This is one of my clearest memories from childhood, because of how inexplicable it was. I have to say it was probably in the late 80s or early 90s, so CGI wasn't really a thing back then and I don't know how something like that could be faked... especially by very poor Vietnamese villagers.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Địa tạng vương Bồ tát :bow:

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1668
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:06 pm

Just to add, one can easily find many accounts from Pure Land practitioners online about golden light, heavenly fragrances and music, nembutsu being chanted beyond one's own (like the first post here), presences of devas, visions of lotuses... This page of Pure Land testimonials for instance.

As the BWF link says, there are really very many beautiful signs and realms that may be seen by nembutsu/nianfo devotees. So long as one remains firm in the aspiration to go to the Pure Land (versus only seeking more signs), they can strengthen our faith rather than being any kind of impediment. :smile:

Marting, I'm not sure what your objective is in this thread. Mahayana Buddhists very often have experiences of buddhas and bodhisattvas when they take up the practice of a specific one. This is considered a positive thing, a sign of karmic affinity strengthening our bonds to the Dharma, rather than something to puzzle and sow doubt over.
Last edited by Monlam Tharchin on Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Kunga Lhadzom
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:01 am

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:07 pm

Well...this has nothing to do with Nenbutsu..but once when I was at a casino playing video blackjack for at least 10 hours straight....when i tried to go to sleep that night all I could see when i closed my eyes, were the cards , in detail, flipping over, and the sound it makes..I wasn't dreaming...I just couldn't get the images and sounds out of my head !
So I guess SOMETHING will happen with intense repetition .....

:namaste:
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1668
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:09 pm

Kunga, Amitabha is not a slot machine.

Really, if people want to talk about Pure Land Buddhism or nembutsu, it would make sense to at least gain a basic understanding first. Otherwise, one isn't really saying much of anything :shrug:

User avatar
Kunga Lhadzom
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:01 am

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:13 pm

Not criticizing. ..I just thought it was interesting how the mind gets visions and sounds after intense repetitive activity...
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

User avatar
Kunga Lhadzom
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:01 am

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:30 pm

sth9784 wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:03 pm
As always, any answers would be greatly appreciated.
I hesitated to respond to this post, because I'm not a Purelander, but I thought of my experience with these visions after intense repetition. ....i thought it was somewhat valid....as the OP said ANY ANSWERS....

I guess i took it too literal....lol...sorry :heart:

:meditate:
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

Motova
Posts: 970
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:05 pm

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Motova » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:34 pm

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:07 pm
Well...this has nothing to do with Nenbutsu..but once when I was at a casino playing video blackjack for at least 10 hours straight....when i tried to go to sleep that night all I could see when i closed my eyes, were the cards , in detail, flipping over, and the sound it makes..I wasn't dreaming...I just couldn't get the images and sounds out of my head !
So I guess SOMETHING will happen with intense repetition .....

:namaste:
This has happened to me with video games, especially Star Craft. :shrug:
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:58 pm
The four means of converting beings to the Dharma are generosity (which itself as four aspects: giving material gifts, conferring fearlessness, loving kindness and teaching Dharma), pleasant speech, conduct and setting an example.

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1668
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:38 pm

Mod Note: Post edited to remove quote of content violating ToS
Kunga Lhadzom wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:30 pm
sth9784 wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:03 pm
As always, any answers would be greatly appreciated.
I hesitated to respond to this post, because I'm not a Purelander, but I thought of my experience with these visions after intense repetition. ....i thought it was somewhat valid....as the OP said ANY ANSWERS....

I guess i took it too literal....lol...sorry :heart:
Apologies for coming off a bit brusque. Both on DW and on Reddit, people often misunderstand and mischaracterize Pure Land Buddhism, so I've grown a bit impatient with certain kinds of replies, even if yours was not intended as such. :namaste:

Of course one can make a merely mental habit or impression from repetitive exposure. But mantras or repeating a Buddha's name are not the same as saying "Coca Cola" over and over and wanting a coke. That's because A) mantras or nianfo are not isolated but are Dharma methods in a Dharma context to form a connection with a buddha/bodhisattva, and B) one is encouraged to recite nembutsu with faith, vows, and aspiration.

These three factors are absent in bouncing one's knee or looking at slot machines. Bodhicitta is absent, too.
Last edited by Monlam Tharchin on Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1668
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:49 pm

The BWF link in my earlier post answers your question both about what signs/realms pertaining to the Pure Land are and how practitioners should guide their response to them.

:focus:

marting
Posts: 145
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:37 am

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by marting » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:53 pm

Thank you, Monlam.

User avatar
Kunga Lhadzom
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:01 am

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Kunga Lhadzom » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:44 pm

:heart: :namaste: :heart:
The Universe flowing through my veins...stars falling from my eyes......rocks rolling in my head...lemon juice dripping down my chin....

https://drunklotus.blog

vikas113
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:04 pm

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by vikas113 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:55 pm

Here is my experience. I was chanting 'Namo Amitabha Buddha' in a completely closed room with curtains and door closed. Usually, whenever we close the door of my room along with curtains the room smells pretty bad after opening the doors. But this time when my wife knocked on the door and came inside she said that she could smell some fragrance in the room. I was really shocked as I didn't notice any fragrance. My wife doesn't know that I chant 'Namo Amitabha Buddha', I usually keep my practice secret from her as she doesn't believe in Buddhism so as to avoid any slandering of dhamma from her side.

So yeah there are signs. Keep practicing the dhamma and we are sure to be born in the pureland of Amitabha.

Namo Buddha! :bow: :bow: :bow:

Jingang
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:25 pm

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Jingang » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:14 pm

Motova wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:34 pm
Kunga Lhadzom wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:07 pm
Well...this has nothing to do with Nenbutsu..but once when I was at a casino playing video blackjack for at least 10 hours straight....when i tried to go to sleep that night all I could see when i closed my eyes, were the cards , in detail, flipping over, and the sound it makes..I wasn't dreaming...I just couldn't get the images and sounds out of my head !
So I guess SOMETHING will happen with intense repetition .....

:namaste:
This has happened to me with video games, especially Star Craft. :shrug:
I think this is a wonderful example. Whatever you think of again and again, you mind becomes that. Especially at death, when your conscious is no longer limited by physical form. If you occupy your mind with killing or thoughts of condescension, that will determine your rebirth. If you think of the Buddha again and again, then at death you will surely be reborn in a Buddha field.

User avatar
sth9784
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:57 am
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by sth9784 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:22 pm

I was not expecting so many responses in such a short time, so I am not sure where to start.
Kunga Lhadzom wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:30 pm
I hesitated to respond to this post, because I'm not a Purelander, but I thought of my experience with these visions after intense repetition. ....i thought it was somewhat valid....as the OP said ANY ANSWERS....

I guess i took it too literal....lol...sorry :heart:

:meditate:
I know exactly what you mean by the experience of the slot machine, and that is actually what I thought occurred with myself because of the repetitions at that time. There have been times I have had to stare at a computer screen for hours, and there was a stationary graphic on it. When I would stop, I could see the graphic so clearly when I closed my eyes. I do not take your comment as belittling, or anything like that, as I first said my experience was nothing spectacular, but I was at a loss as to give an example.
Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:23 pm
This chapter from Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith may provide some information.
The sorts of signs and realms we might see while reciting Amitabha's name seem to be more openly discussed in forms of Pure Land outside Japan. Not sure of the reasons for that.
I have seen this book linked, and lauded several times, so I am definitely going to have to make the time to read it. I greatly appreciate the link. It is such a shame that there is only so much time in a day.
Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:06 pm
Just to add, one can easily find many accounts from Pure Land practitioners online about golden light, heavenly fragrances and music, nembutsu being chanted beyond one's own (like the first post here), presences of devas, visions of lotuses... This page of Pure Land testimonials for instance.
This is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for, thank you.

Finally, I am much appreciative to all who have shared their experiences. As I said in my original post, I have no local Sangha, so I always enjoy hearing of the experiences of practitioners of similar traditions.
Crom!

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1668
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:35 am

Jingang wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:14 pm
I think this is a wonderful example. Whatever you think of again and again, you mind becomes that. Especially at death, when your conscious is no longer limited by physical form. If you occupy your mind with killing or thoughts of condescension, that will determine your rebirth. If you think of the Buddha again and again, then at death you will surely be reborn in a Buddha field.
An important corollary for the benefit of others.

According to most Pure Land schools, nembutsu/nianfo is like a teacher-student or mother-child relationship between the devotee and Amitabha.
That is, one doesn't arrive in Sukhavati due to one's good karma or the merit of one's practice (self-power), but through the power of Amitabha's vows (other-power) joining with the devotee's faith and aspiration to go to his land.
So while purifying our hearts with concentration on nembutsu is a benefit, it's not the primary role of nembutsu.

At the moment of death, one's state of mind bears heavily on the next rebirth. But here too is a special benefit of nembutsu.
In "A Letter to Nun Shonyo-bo", Master Honen explained how although we usually think we must first recite nembutsu, calm the mind to see Amida, then attain birth, this is incorrect:
The arrival of Amida Buddha at the time of death is to establish the rightly settled state of mind for birth in the Pure Land. Unfortunately, some people think that if they establish the rightly settled mind first, and then recite nembutsu, Amida Buddha will come for them. Actually, this indicates a lack of belief in either the essential vow or in the teachings of the sutras. The Sutra in Praise of the Pure Land states, "Amida Buddha brings compassion to the nembutsu devotee and offers him tranquility of the heart." Due to his merit accumulated from reciting nembutsu throughout his daily life, the nembutsu devotee abides in the rightly settled state of mind for birth in the Pure Land at the time of Amida Buddha's arrival.
Amitabha is the reason nembutsu can be more than a concentration method.
Nembutsu is also different in function than a mantra.

User avatar
SonamTashi
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:30 pm

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by SonamTashi » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:42 am

I had an interesting experience recently. So I've bounced around a bit between different Buddhist traditions (first Theravada, then Zen and Mahayana in general including a reading of the Lotus Sutra that I wasn't ready for yet and almost caused me to leave Buddhism behind (at some point I need to re-read that. I remember there was a line at the time that struck me the wrong way)). There was something about Pure Land that struck a chord with me right away. I've spent a while studying different Pure Land traditions--Chinese, Shin, Jodo Shu, Vietnamese and I've also had an interest in how Pure Land fits into Tibetan Buddhism. I'm still not sure where I fit in the Pure Land Buddhist landscape. As much as I like Shin and Jodo-Shu, I still think it is a good idea to do other practices, not for rebirth in the Pure Land, but to make as much progress in this life as possible before going to the Pure Land. This seems to be how it is usually viewed in mainland Pure Land, and the combination of Tibetan Buddhism and nembutsu seems to work well for me. Anyways, at this point I practice with a Nyingma group, and I try to balance nembutsu with my Tibetan practice. So that kind of gives some background to what I was doing when I had this experience.

At the beginning of my practice I usually offer several things to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in general and Amitabha specifically. This includes flowers, water, incense, sometimes rice, and a candle. After making offerings I usually work my way through my ngondro and then follow that up with nembutsu practice at the end.

I didn't have a good candle at the time, but I had this one that had burned out. I could get it to light for half a second, but when I pulled the lighter away it would go out. I decided that was the best I could do at the moment and offered what little light I could get from the candle to Amitabha Buddha. It immediately went out. I sat down and started my practice, but then I noticed something: the candle had originally gone out, but, without trying to light it again, it had somehow started up again. Not only that, but it kept burning. It burned until the end of my practice, then I put it out. I never got it to light again after that. I don't know what happened, but it seemed like an awfully large coincidence that I offered this dead candle to the Buddha of Infinite Light, and it somehow just kept burning. I also have this Amitabha bookmark. I don't know if it is just the material and if it was made to do this, but at the top where it says "Namo Amitabha," the color has gone from gold to purple. I don't know if it was made to do that or if it means anything, but purple is often considered an auspicious color in Pure Land Buddhism.
Formerly known as emceecombs

Also known as:

Kenyo

Josh

Amituofo :anjali:

User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1520
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Japan

Re: Interesting phenomena occurring during Nembutsu

Post by Zhen Li » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:34 am

While unrelated to nembutsu, I did have an experience with a sublime odour once when reading the Aṣṭasāhasrikā. The Buddhist reading group of which I am a part was reading the Aṣṭasāhasrikā sometime last year, and it was the day we were going to discuss chapter 3. Chapter 3 contains the line,
Conze, The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines, M89 wrote:Sakra: How does one know that Gods, or other supernatural beings, have come to that place to hear, etc., the perfection of wisdom? The Lord: When one perceives somewhere a sublime radiance or smells a superhuman odour not smelled before, then one should know for certain that a God, or other supernatural being, has come, has come near.
Before our discussion we always do chanting and meditation. During the meditation I smelled a divine smell that was more subtle and beautiful than any normal scent. This certainly hardened my faith.

As regards nembutsu, one habit I have gotten into is occasionally playing some kind of ambient music in the background while I am reciting. Once, I was doing this and the ambient music included the soft sound of lapping water. This, along with the recitation, by itself was able to conjure in my mind the image of beholding the Buddha from the lotus in Sukhavati. Now, whenever I even imagine to myself the sound of softly lapping water, I also can see Sukhavati as clear as day. Perhaps it is a crutch, but I have found it immensely gratifying to feel as one is in the presence of the Tathagata.

Post Reply

Return to “Pure Land”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Dorje Shedrub, smcj, WeiHan and 24 guests