Amida Buddhism: Faith & Nembutsu

Every community has at its core its discernment of the sacred. Amida Buddhism has a particular discernment of the sacred; the measureless, the spirit that is the unconditional friend of all, Amida Buddha. Amida Buddha comes into our lives and transforms us. We who are bombu are raised up by faith, guided by faith, equalized by faith.

The world measures and grades, dividing the legitimate from the illegitimate, the good from the bad, the certificated from the uncertificated. The most that worldly charity offers is access to privilege. Amida Buddha transcends such divisions. Before Amida we are all equal. In our discernment of the sacred, Amida accepts the bad, the excluded, the uncertificated, the displaced, even more readily than those who are already accomplished or privileged. Amida’s grace is not limited to those who cultivate the right mind state, pass the right exam, belong to the right lineage, or jump through the right hoops. We are an outpost of  Amida’s Pure Land. We, the misfits, fit here. We are trying to live a life that is genuine and sincere, while recognising that we are just ordinary, unenlightened beings. Therefore;

  • We who are not particularly brave in nature work for peace; for an end to cruelty, for mutual respect, for freedom.
  • We who are not particularly generous in nature go forth for the good of the many and for those troubled in spirit in the corners of the world.
  • We who are not particularly harmonious in nature try to live in goodwill together; building community and creating the infra-structure of a better world.

Our community also has at its heart the nembutsu, which is an expression of our gratitude for Amida Buddha’s compassion. We gather round the Amida as the bearer of light: the light of love, the light of compassion, the light of joy, the light of peace, the light that outshines sun, moon and stars, the unimpeded light, and the light of eternity. Buddhas discern such light and declare it.

We whose ability to discern the light is at best intermittent, nonetheless can remember the love of the awakened ones who are constantly working for the sake of all benighted beings adrift in the flood. In brief, through nembutsu, we resist oppression, we assist the afflicted and we demonstrate an alternative. Our vision is wholly religious, wholly grounded in faith, because we are not enlightened, not perfected, not so wise, not so competent as to be able to do all things by our own power.