Dharmavidya Explains Daily Practice:
I have been asked, "What practice should one do daily as a follower of Amida-shu?" The simple answer to this is: say the nembutsu.
Many people do, however, like to have a routine. The important first thing is to realise is that any such routine or ritual is what we call “auxiliary practice.”
In Buddhism, there is no magic in ritual. Shakyamuni taught us to do rituals in a good spirit and not to think that they have magic power.
Ritual is celebratory.
When Ananda asked Shakyamuni Buddha what .guidelines to follow, Shakyamuni told him to do what works. So, with that caveat..
Create a Practice Space
You might like to establish a particular place and routine for practice. This might have a rupa (an object, picture or calligraphy symbolising the Buddha or the Dharma) as a centrepiece. It is nice, but not essential, if you can have a representation of Amida Buddha.
You might have a table on which you can put associated items and offerings. There are many traditions in Buddhism to do with offerings.
The important thing from an Amida-shu perspective is that one regard whatever offerings one makes as nembutsu - as acts of refuge in Amida Buddha or in all the Buddhas, in a spirit of gratitude. Whatever ways we enact the nembutsu, there is the possibility of feelings arising. The practice is touching, and this is as it should be.
Create a Routine
Routines vary from person to person and may include:
Walking nembutsu: walking while chanting.
Nei Quan: reflecting upon the past 24 hours, using the following questions:
What have I received or been supported by?
What have I done in return?
What troubles has my existence occasioned for others?
Chih Quan: offering the fruits of the practice and receiving the Buddha's blessing, grace, and peace. Sitting in that tranquil abiding.
Recitations such as the Summary of Faith and Practice, Tan Butsu Ge, Verses in Praise of the Buddha and performance of prostrations.
Most of our gatherings end with the following verse:
The original and sacred vows
are the unique and essential grace
by which to enter the Pure Land.
Therefore, with body, speech, and mind
we are devoted to the teachings
that all may attain the state of bliss.
Namo Amida Bu
A practitioner with fifteen minutes for practice each morning might go to their practice place, bow, light a candle, say half a mala of nembutsu, pause in silence for three minutes, say the closing verse, bow, and then go to work. If they have a little longer, they might additionally, read Summary of Faith and Practice. When they have longer, at the weekend, perhaps, they might additionally do nei quan and chih quan.
Through the day, the person may say the nembutsu whenever he or she remembers - while walking along the street, paused in a queue, meeting another practitioner, when something goes well or badly - in fact, when anything happens.
One can have short practice sessions in the morning and/or in the evening. Please, however, do not make this into a chore. If you miss a few days (or weeks), don't worry; just say, Namo Amida Bu. Buddha loves us just as we are.
"Each person who chants becomes a vehicle for Amida's compassionate work in the world, whether they are aware of it or not." David Brazier, Amida Trust. [From "Why Chant," by David Brazier, Amida Trust, 2009 p. 1]
Click here to open the 39-page online booklet, "Why Chant," by Dharmavidya
Click here to request a free PDF of Dharmavidya's 19-page booklet entitled "How to Practise"