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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
48 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2017 The Practice of Jodo Shinshu by Taitetsu Unno The nembutsu is the flowing call of the Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life, coming from the fathomless center of life itself, as well as our response to that call without any hesitation or calculation. Thus, it is not a petitionary act, a mindless, mechanical repetition, or a mantra with magical powers. This calling of nembutsu awakens us to a liberating power that sanctifies all life, because it comes from beyond the small-minded self that is always engaged in calculating life only in terms of gain or loss, winning or losing. Sooner or later we will respond to this call, if we are ever to know a sense of security and well-being. If I were to translate nembutsu into English, it would be the “Name- that-calls,” for it calls us to awaken to our fullest potential to become true, real, and sincere human beings. What is essential, then, is not the number of times voiced, nor even the purity of heart involved, but simply the deep hearing of the Name-that-calls to which we want to respond. The goal of deep hearing is to bring about a funda- mental change in one’s life, such that one realizes liberation and freedom in the midst of worldly entanglements, daily responsibilities, and constant agitations. This path is for everyone, especially laypeople, in our contemporary world, because the nembutsu path has no requirements except the recognition of an indisputable fact: the problems in our daily life can be ultimately transmuted into sources of self-knowledge and received wisdom. The process of deep hearing culminates with our birth in the Pure Land, but the Pure Land is not the ultimate goal. It is a mere way station from which we return to our world of samsara. Now endowed with wisdom and compas- sion, the welfare and salvation of all beings become the ultimate concerns. The return, however, is inseparable from the going, both made possible by the centrifugal force of boundless compassion. Such is the ultimate expansion and deepening of the bodhisattva ideal, which breaks through conventional notions of time and space. Fall 2002 forum | Koans: How We Work with Them, How They Work on Us Judy Roitman: Part of the tremendous power of koans is that the student’s per- sonal story is completely irrelevant. One of my teachers, Zen Master Su Bong, once said to me that to work with koans, you have to be a great actor. What he meant was not that you pretend but that you completely become the koan. So if someone is hanging from a tree branch by her teeth, it’s you hanging from