In The Letters (Fascicle 2, Letter 4), Master Rennyo referred to the nembutsu: “Simply reciting ‘Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu’ whether sleeping or waking, we should respond to our unfathomable debt of gratitude to Amida Buddha.” What kind of nembutsu was he referring to here?
In the Webinar held on 2/28, Takamori-sensei clarified that it is not only after salvation that we chant the nembutsu to show our gratitude to Amida Buddha.
A Misunderstanding of the “Nembutsu of Gratitude”
Iku Hirota, Osaka
I had thought all along that the nembutsu advocated by Master Rennyo in The Letters was entirely for those people who have already been saved by Amida Buddha. In other words, I thought that those people who have not yet been saved have nothing to do with this nembutsu. However, I realized that I was completely wrong.
I learned that our debt of gratitude to Amida Buddha is for guiding us to the point where we are granted absolute happiness, which he does through the workings of both his “Nurturing Light” and his “Embracing Light.” The “Nurturing Light” is the working that pushes and pulls us towards attaining the settlement of true faith. This power is actually working on all people.
The “Embracing Light” is the power of Amida Buddha to save us into absolute happiness in an ichinen, or a split-second. We have neither the power to move forward to attain absolute happiness nor the determination to attain it in the first place. Yet although we lack the slightest bit of truth, the desire to listen to Buddhism is made to arise within us—and this happens through the working of the Nurturing Light of Amida Buddha.
Therefore, it is completely wrong to think that “since we have not been saved yet, we do not need to recite the nembutsu.” Thanks to the Nurturing Light and the Embracing Light, we are pushed towards absolute happiness and then saved. Therefore, even though we have not yet been saved by Amida Buddha, we are already the recipients of his immense benevolence.
There is Not a Single Moment When We Are Not Recipients of Amida’s Benevolence.
Hiroaki Kondo, Toyama
Master Rennyo teaches us to “recite the nembutsu to repay our infinite debt to Amida Buddha.” But the reason why we do not recite the nembutsu despite this is that we think, “We do not need to recite the nembutsu,” or, “We should not recite the nembutsu.” Put in another way, we do not understand how much we owe Amida Buddha.
We assume it is only when we are saved by Amida Buddha that we become recipients of his benevolence, having no idea that the very desire to listen to Buddhism is made to arise by Amida Buddha. We have been indebted to Amida Buddha from the very start. The idea that we might not need to recite the nembutsu stems from the conceited self-power mind that believes we can attain absolute happiness or move along the horizontal line towards salvation by ourselves.
Having been made aware that I have always been indebted to Amida Buddha, I will move forward on the path of listening to Buddhism while reciting the nembutsu.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #64 | 2016, UnfathomableGratitude for Amida Buddha’s “Nurturing Light” & “Embracing Light”
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