Posts Tagged ‘Mantra’

Not Just Another Mantra

October 2, 2018

Pureland Buddhists are taught that the six syllables of the Nembutsu — Namo Amida Bu — are not a mantra. But the reality is that Namo Amida Bu is indeed a mantra. Not all mantras, however, are the same. In Buddhism alone, there are an abundance of practical mantras that bestow protection, heal, increase wealth, curry favor, confer magical powers (siddhi), control spirits, etc. The Nembutsu is not a mantra like this.

NABFor devotees of Amida Buddha, the Nembutsu is a supreme invocation. It is a heart-full calling out to that which is measureless and unconditional. It is an invocation of the highest truth — that which is beyond BEYOND. It is an impractical mantra. It does not grant earthly boons. It is purely religious in its purpose and for that reason it is ultimately valuable and supreme.

Which is not to say that Namo Amida Bu is the supreme — singular — mantra. It is not. Other traditions have different mantras connected to what theologian Paul Tillich would identify as their ultimate concern. Like the Nembutsu, these mantras are impractical — without practical worldly application. They are an activity of heart and spirit. They are prayer and invocation all tied up together.

Mantras, like all the practical concerns of life, are useful. The Nembutsu, Namo Amida Bu, is not useful or practical and in this sense it is certainly not a mantra.

Peace, Paul


December 27, 2008

It has been pouring down rain since Thursday evening. I guess this not surprising since the Hilo area is supposed to get around 300 inches of rain a year, and it is the rainy season right now!

The nice thing about the rain is that it keeps you indoors. I have used the time for retreat: meditating, reciting mantra, and studying Buddhist texts.

In the Lotus Sutra the Buddha’s compassion is compared to rain, falling equally on all beings. I think I will take this latest deluge as very heavy dose of compassion and a reminder to keep the Dharma at the heart of my life.

Peace, Paul