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Ananda

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    • #3360
      Ananda
      Participant

      Hi Chris,

      You got it right. There isn’t a special mala necessary for reciting the nembutsu. I have a small wrist mala that I wear on my wrist and use throughout the day. I also have a 108 bead mala that I wear and use for more formal practice.  The longer mala is nothing to look at, a simple rosewood mala that I got when I was 18 or 19. It has been restrung many times. It has received the blessings of many great teachers. It holds tens of thousands of hours of practice and millions upon millions of repetitions of Nembutsu and other mantras.

      The mala you hold in your hand is only the outer mala. It is energized through constant use and becomes a tangible token of Amida’s presence. The inner mala, however, is the mantra chain of Nembutsu that connects your heart directly to Amida’s Heart of Boundless Awakening.

      I hope this helps.

      Namo Amida Bu!

    • #3189
      Ananda
      Participant

      Aloha Ken,

      Here is piece I wrote for folks in our Sangha who were taking on the One Million Nembutsu practice. It contains suggestions for using a mala. I hope it helps. Ananda

       

      Aloha All,

      Thank you for joining me on this one million Nembutsu pilgrimage. There are lot’s of different types of pilgrimages. Most are familiar with the exterior pilgrimages that involve travel to far flung destinations.

      Our year long pilgrimage is an inner pilgrimage towards the Buddha. We ill be traveling along the path of the Nembutsu. Like a physical pilgrimage, our journey will involve both hardship and periods of overwhelming joy. There will be times when you want to stop saying the Nembutsu and give up. At other times you will wish that the Nembutsu never ends.

      Like with any pilgrimage, it is good to start off prepared.  Of course, there is no preparing for the true pilgrimage, but at least you can try to ensure that you have enough clothes to wear and dependable guide.

      To start this pilgrimage, our supplies will be simple. You will want to have a mala (nenju) with 108 beads plus a “guru” bead where the threads come together in a knot on the mala. You might also want to have a smaller wrist mala of 27 beads. Four rounds of the smaller mala equals one full mala.

      When using the mala it is good to train yourself to always move to the next bead on the same syllable. Personally, I move on the “Na” or first syllable of the Nembutsu. You, however, may decide that you prefer moving with the “Bu” or last syllable. The main thing is to be consistent. This consistency will prevent you from zoning out and losing you count on the mala.

      When using the mala, you begin with one of the beads next to the “guru” bead. As you recite the Nembutsu, you move around the mala, one bead at a time, until you reach the bead on the other side of the “guru” bead from where you started. At this point you do not count the guru bead or cross the guru bead. Instead, you turn around and continue counting back down the mala. So you never actually make a full circuit of the mala. The need to stop and turn around will help jar you back into attention if I have drifted off into some reverie or train of thought.

      Other useful items to have on your pilgrimage: A method for counting your accumulated recitations. You could jot them down in a journal or on the calendar or as little hash marks in a notebook. I have found a mechanical counter the most useful. Mine can count up to 9999. I use it to track each time I count a full mala. When it roles back over to 0000 I know that I have recited 1 million malas.

      Sometimes, you will not have your counter with you so you will need another means for tracking the accumulation of recitations. As mentioned before, you can just make little notations in a notebook and add them to your totals later. Also, you can count them on your fingers. If you start with your finger tips you can count up to 16 on one hand. That is the four finger tips and the 3 sets of joints in the fingers. You count using the thumb on the same hand.

      You can also buy bead counters to go on your mala. I have never gotten in the habit of using them, but I know practitioners — especially in the Vajrayana — that have used these reliably.

      The main thing is to come up with a system that works for you and stick with it.

      Finally, you will want to choose a good “route” for your pilgrimage.  Where and when will say the Nembutsu each day? As we all know, habits can be our friend. So figure out your daily Nembutsu habit? This is very important. Getting to the end of your day, exhausted, and realizing that you have not recited a single Nembutsu can be dispiriting. After several days, it is downright defeating!

      I suggest that you try to have a few minutes at the beginning of your day and right before you go to bed. If possible, try to get a mala of Nembutsu in during the middle of your day.  If you plan to say the Nembutsu during your commute, don’t multi-task. Turn off the radio and just say the Nembutsu.

      I am really looking forward to making this pilgrimage with you. Do reach out to me with any questions or issues that arise.

      Namo Amida Bu!

      Ananda

    • #3183
      Ananda
      Participant

      Aloha Brian and Ken,

      I am glad this has been helpful in connecting with the Nembutsu. I wrote recently about the the Nembutsu is not Just Another Mantra, on personal blog. The more I recite the Nembutsu the more understand that it is simply a practice of relationship. Nembutsu may or may not quite the mind. Nembutsu may or may not make one’s life easier. Nembutsu will, however, bring Amida into one’s daily life.

      Namo Amida Bu!

      Ananda

    • #2786
      Ananda
      Participant

      Welcome and Aloha Michael! I have never been to Kanas City though I have traveled extensively across the continental US. Glad to you have joined the site. Namo Amida Bu!

    • #2699
      Ananda
      Participant

      What a timely message for those of us in Hawaii who are striving to recite a million Nembutsu this year. Namo Amida Bu!

    • #2658
      Ananda
      Participant

      What fun. Do play it. It is meant to emphasize how difficult it is to be born as a human.

    • #2655
      Ananda
      Participant

      Aloha Vajrapala,

      I like the image of the thousand armed Avalokitesvara as well! However, I worry that if we — as individuals  — are not willing to act as one of Quan Yin’s hands, this image of Avalokitesvara may be nothing more than religious idealism.

      Namo Amida Bu!

    • #2630
      Ananda
      Participant

      Good Luck with your talk at First Unitarian! Namo Amida Bu!

    • #2617
      Ananda
      Participant

      Thank you for sharing this wonder insight. Yes! Nembutsu as call and response. Sometimes we are so self-obsessed we need to call out. At other times we awaken to reality of Amida’s continuous presence and influence (call) and the Nembutsu arises spontaneously.

      I, of course, agree that Amida Shu offers a good vehicle for Westerners to enter into pureland practice. Unfortunately, we are a small organization and there are no organized Amida Shu groups in the LA area at the moment. You can check out Satya’s virtual service online if the times work for you. In the meantime, keep saying the Nembutsu and take advantage of the many resources that are available through this site.

      Namo Amida Bu!

    • #2612
      Ananda
      Participant

      All the pureland temples here in Hawaii are just as you describe. Some even have pipe organs! The Soto Zen temple service is a little less protestant, but not much. I am friends with several of the younger Buddhist priests here. They are all aware that their temples need to make some significant changes if they are going to survive much longer.

      It is not really our practice, but there is a Pureland tradition associated with a sub-sect of Rinzai Zen. In this tradition you say the Nembutsu while continuously enquiring, “who/what is chanting.”

      As you are probably know, Suzuki Roshi was raised in the Pureland tradition and actually practiced the Nembutsu quite intensively in a Zen monastic environment. As I recall, his initial Kensho was associated with the Nembutsu.

      Having said that, the training and approach to practice are quite different — at least initially — in Zen and Pureland. The former is more introverted and the latter is more extroverted. Personally, I think that Pureland is a more appropriate practice for us who lead lay lives and have families, jobs, and worldly responsibilities.

      It is great connecting with you here. Namo Amida Bu!

      Ananda

       

       

    • #2603
      Ananda
      Participant

      Aloha Avihinsa,

      There are lots of great resources on this site to delve into. Satya does a great job at make this an accessible virtual temple. Since you are on the West coast, you might want to check out the the Amida Hawaii site as well. We are a pretty “luddite” sangha by today’s standards. But we are only a few time zones away.

      I used to live outside of LA in Claremont and then later in Westwood. There is a lot of Buddhism in that area. In addition to studying with my Zen teacher, I was able to practice with quite a few other good Buddhist teachers in the area. I spent a lot of time at the now closed Bodhi Tree bookstore. Vegetarian lunch at Hsi Lai temple was also another wonderful and regular activity.

      Glad to have you here. Namo Amida Bu!

      Ananda

    • #2585
      Ananda
      Participant

      Aloha All,

      A good question.

      The nice thing about our tradition is that we recognize that each of us must work out the path of our own salvation. For some that may mean having an interpersonal relationships with Amida. I certainly know many practitioners like this. For others, the relationship may be more impersonal — formless as Ramakrishna might say. There is no one path. That is why the Buddha gave 84,000 teachings. We each hear the Dharma in the way that is right for us.

      Namo Amida Bu!

    • #2584
      Ananda
      Participant

      Aloha Ian,

      The BPF is not very active here. Over the years I have tried to connect with them without much luck.

      Yes, how we are in the world is very important. It is often little and unexpected kindnesses that have big impacts on those around us. However, it is also necessary to be audacious. Dharmakara’s vow is audacious. And we are practicing in the tradition that claims Dhamakara fulfilled his/her vow and is now known as Amida.

      We know in hearts what needs to be done to continue Shakyamuni’s work or transforming the world. We need to commit ourselves to addressing the big problems in our community and in the world. We may fail or fall short — at least in this lifetime — but we must try.

      Namo Amida Bu!

      Ananda

    • #2572
      Ananda
      Participant

      @trijov Wonderful practice! I like the idea of going through the day saying thank you to the things we encounter in our lives: water in the tap, the air we breath, the clothes we wear, the  house we inhabit, the car we drive, the people we work with, the clerks in stores, etc!!!

      Namo Amida Bu!

    • #2570
      Ananda
      Participant

      Kaspa, I agree that it can be important to clarify our terms or reframe out understand of concept. I suspect many people associate gratitude with the theist idea of being grateful to a creator god. Which is fine. But from a Buddhist perspective, I think you are right, it is more of an appreciation of all the things that are present in our lives. The things that we received, but essentially did nothing to create. The fact that there is clean water — an essential for life — running so easily and freely through the plumbing in our houses, is a miracle. Yet at most, we turned on the tap and perhaps paid a water bill to get access to this life sustaining liquid. Even the actions that we did take are dependent so many other “non-me” elements that we can barely claim ownership. In the end, gratitude or appreciation is recognition of our inter-relatedness and dependence on others (non-self). It is a ongoing contemplation of the emptiness of self, which is very Buddhist. Namo Amida Bu!

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