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JREF Editor
15 Mar 2002
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Nenbutsu, commonly transliterated as nembutsu, is the invocation "namu amida butsu" (南無阿弥陀仏, "I take my refuge in the Buddha Amitābha) chanted in the hope of rebirth into Amida's Pure Land. While nowadays strictly of invocational nature (称名念仏 shōmyō nembutsu), there once were contemplative nembutsu (観念念仏 kannen nembutsu), the practice of envisioning the characteristics of a Buddha, and meditative nembutsu (憶念 okunen or 理觀 rikan), the meditation on Buddha-nature or the spiritual qualities of a Buddha. Nembutsu were not only directed to Amitābha but to other Buddhas as well and not always with the aim of Pure Land rebirth, but to cancel bad karma or to attain immediate enlightenment.

The invocation of Amida became a common practice in China after the introduction of Buddhism there in the 1st century CE. The devotion of Pure...

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