This came up in an earlier thread but it was a bit of a tangent so I would like to raise it again here.
Buddha name recitation, on the surface, sounds like the simplest of methods, except that it should be supported by 信心/shinjin. Otherwise, isn't it just a method for calming the mind, no different than counting breaths or even repeating some nonsense syllables? It's 信心 which makes the difference.
But how does one develop this? I'd be interested in hearing how both the Chinese and Japanese Pure Land schools approach this question.
Since, as I understand it, in Jodo Shinshu the nembutsu is seen more as an expression of gratitude, I might also ask: how does gratitude come about? I am asking this as someone who is neither very grateful nor devout by nature.
On a related note, what is the link between Other Power and sunyata? Could Amitabha be seen as a personification of sunyata -- or to ask it differently, would contemplation of Amitabha be a way to develop realization of sunyata? Again I would be interested in responses from across the traditions.
I will say this and some might disagree with me. Namo Amitabha is a super mantra that has tremendous powers to change the person from inside out. This is how mantras work. So I will say that Namo Amitabha is Tantra. By reciting Buddha name gives the powers to get rid of karma, and over time the Mind will be Pure due to that.
Practitioners can reach Concentration which is comparable to Concentration of Chan, Tantra, and others. In other words, practitioners can reach enlightenment through practicing Pure Land. They can go and come as they please, no longer bound by death. When they want to go to Pure Land, they can any time. If they want to stay on earth for a little bit, they can.
Consider Conduct/Concentration/Wisdom and you will see that Pure Land is also meditation. Tantra is meditation. Chan is meditation. Others are meditation also because all lead to Concentration.
As for all forms of Buddhism, you have to practice to experience for yourself especialy with Pure Land you will definitely experience it through practice. There is no other way around it besides practice. Thinking will not give you the experience or the answer.