nembutsu by any other name

Discuss and learn about the traditional Mahayana scriptures, without assuming that any one school ‘owns’ the only correct interpretation.
Post Reply
User avatar
Leo Rivers
Posts: 436
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:52 am
Contact:

nembutsu by any other name

Post by Leo Rivers »

Greetings.

Is chanting the name of any Buddha, (a form of "calling the Buddha") nembutsu?

Because the Pureland devotional practice of Amitabha 1st displaced Akshobhya and then eclipsed Maitreya as a devotion of choice way back in India and furthermore because 'chanting the name of [a Buddha]' has spread through-out the world where it usually "assumed" to refer to Amitabha, by default connotation, I want to ask as to this understandable commandeering of the term, was 'nembutsu' the common use of a term that really only denotes chanting the name of "a Buddha"?

So, what's at the bottom of this?

PS: AND is the word for "a practice of devotion to a Buddha" that may or not contain" name recitation, or does it solely refer to reciting a Buddha name? Thanks

:namaste:
User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 3803
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: nembutsu by any other name

Post by Aemilius »

This has been discussed before in various places. The general conclusion has been that the Buddha-anusmriti and the Six, Eight or Ten anusmriti practices have preceded nembutsu practice. For example, Wisdom Library says:

"Buddhānusmṛti (बुद्धानुस्मृति) refers to the “recollection of the Buddha” and represents one of the Anusmṛti (eight recollections), according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter 36.—

How does one recollect the Buddha? Answer.—

The ten names (adhivacana),
The miracles of his birth,
Physical marks and superhuman power,
The five pure aggregates (anāsrava-skandha).


Buddhānusmṛti (बुद्धानुस्मृति) refers to the “recollection of the Buddha”, according to the Gaganagañjaparipṛcchā: the eighth chapter of the Mahāsaṃnipāta (a collection of Mahāyāna Buddhist Sūtras).—Accordingly, “What then, son of good family, is the recollection of the Buddha (buddhānusmṛti), which is authorized by the Lord for Bodhisattvas?”.

[These eight are:]

while recollecting the Buddha from the perspective of morality, he never gives up unsullied morality;
while recollecting the Buddha in the perspective concentration, he is changeless concerning the realm of the dharma being always same;
while recollecting the Buddha from the perspective of insight, he is free from thought-constructions since there is no activity in all dharmas;
while recollecting the Buddha from the perspective of liberation, he does not stay in the secondary-thought;
while recollection the Buddha from the perspective of the vision of the knowledge of liberation, he is not attached to any knowledge;
while recollecting the Buddha from the perspective of power, he is not moving concerning the knowledge which is equanimous in all three times;
while recollecting the Buddha from the perspective of fearlessness, he does not stay with any defilement;
while recollecting the Buddha from the perspective of all qualities of the Buddha, he does not have any false discrimination in the sameness of the realm of the dharma."

https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/buddhanusmriti
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
User avatar
Leo Rivers
Posts: 436
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:52 am
Contact:

Re: nembutsu by any other name

Post by Leo Rivers »

:applause: where else but Dharmawheel could a guy ask a question like I did and get an answer this rigorous and detailed! Only a king in Gandhara could pop a question on the Dharma and hear Vasubandhu clear his throat! Or Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus who could be there too, maybe!

Thank you. Aemilius :D
User avatar
Aemilius
Posts: 3803
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: nembutsu by any other name

Post by Aemilius »

In Julian F. Pas's "Visions of Sukhavati, Shan-tao's Commentary on the Kuan wu-liang-shou-Fo ching" the author writes his views concerning the emergence of Pureland Buddhism. His views have some interest. Here is a 20 page excerpt from the book:
https://sunypress.edu/content/download/ ... xcerpt.pdf

Actually Shan-tao's commentary is not included in the book. Probably the publisher decided that the book is already too long (452 p.) even without it, and therefore left it out.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
User avatar
curtstein
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:34 pm

Re: nembutsu by any other name

Post by curtstein »

In Korean Buddhism 念佛 (yeom bul / 기도) is used as a general term for any kind of chanting, as well as for the more specific practice of chanting the name of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. And in Korea one is as likely (or possibly even more likely) to find people chanting the name of Avalokitesvara (Kwan Seum Bosal) or Ksitigarbha (Jijang Bosal) as one is to find people chanting "Namu Amita Bul". For good measure, Koreans also chant to the "Seven Stars" (chil-song) the "Mountain God" (sahn-shin) , and other traditional (pre-Buddhist) Gods. Oh, and the practice of chanting the name of Maitreya is still alive and well. There's even a youtube video of this with a nun leading a group of lay people chanting Maitreya's name in Sino-Korean for 2 solid hours.

The Chogye Order even has a "Board of Chanting" (Yŏmbul Wiwŏn) which disseminates recorded versions of the chanting liturgy to encourage more uniformity. Korean monks and nuns often develop their own distinctive chanting styles, and different regions or even individual temples can have a distinctive chanting "dialect". There's a fascinating paper on Korean Buddhist chanting that talks more about this heterogeneity (and along the way also sheds light on the way that Korean Buddhists use the term 念佛):
Mills, Simon and Park, Sung-Hee (2022) 'Everyday Temple Chant in South Korean Chogye Sect Buddhism: An Analytical Study of the Personal Styles Cultivated by Monks.', Analytical Approaches to World Music Journal, 10 (1). pp. 1-68.

You can download it from here:
https://dro.dur.ac.uk/36137/
Post Reply

Return to “Sūtra Studies”