How to start a practice at home

Easter Sunday shrineOur practice is simple

As Pureland Buddhists we say the nembutsu: Namo Amida Bu. This is all that is necessary.

The nembutsu is how we call out to Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Light. We take refuge in the Buddha and we receive the gifts of grace, wisdom and consolation.

Many of us also find it helpful to practice with others whenever we can, and to do informal and formal practice at home.

Informal practice

This helps us remember the Buddha as we go about our daily lives. Here are a few ideas:

• Learn one of the blessings we say before meals as a way of reminding yourself to be grateful for the food you receive (p28 of our Nien Fo book).
• Say ‘Namo Amida Bu’ out loud or silently during the day when you remember to.
• Carry a mala (Buddhist beads) with you and use them to recite nembutsu.
• Remember the Buddha when walking in nature or at difficult moments.
• Remember to be grateful.

Formal practice

Focused periods of practice help us to deepen our refuge with the Buddha.

Find a space in your home where you can make a small shrine, e.g. the top of a bookshelf or a corner of your bedroom. Here you can place a Buddha statue or an image of a Buddha and maybe a candle, incense, water offering bowls or flowers.

A daily practice can be as simple as lighting an incense stick and bowing to the Buddha. Try not to over-complicate it or feel overwhelmed by all the options.

Most of the practice we do is in the service book of Amida Shu, the Nien Fo Book – there is an audio recording here so you can hear the chants and tunes of the liturgy.

You might want to start with one of the following or combine two or more together – maybe first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Experiment and find out what suits you. You can read what others do as their daily practice at our virtual temple here.

• Make an offering to the Buddha by lighting incense or by pouring water from a jug into a small bowl on the shrine
• Ten minutes of nembutsu chanting (any from the bottom of the list of audio recordings)
• Read the Summary of Faith and Practice (p1 of the Nien Fo Book)
• Recite the Refuges and Precepts (p11 of the Nien Fo Book)
• Ten minutes of silent sitting
• Practice Nei Quan and Chih Quan
• Perform five prostrations with or without the prostrations chant 
• Recite another text from the Nien Fo Book

Further resources

“…the nembutsu is a window, through which the whole Universe of Buddha’s teachings can be seen in all its depth…”

There are several resources from Dharmavidya on our Amida Shu site on this page – ‘About Amida Shu Practice‘.

Dharmavidya has also written a booklet called How to Practice and a booklet called Why Chant?

Amida Shu offers an excellent Introduction to Pureland online course suitable for beginners – material is sent out via emails and you then reply to questions and send it to your tutor. Find out more or register here (it’s £30 for 15 lessons and you can pay by instalments if you need to – a reduced fee may be available as we’d like it to be accessible to everyone, do enquire).

You can continue to explore Amida Shu Buddhism here – and by reading Dharmavidya’s books ‘The Feeling Buddha’, ‘Who Loves Dies Well’ etc. and ‘Just As You Are: Buddhism for Foolish Beings’ by Kaspalita Thompson and Satya Robyn.

If you have any questions or would like to talk more about your practice or any aspects of the Dharma, do request a sanzen (a 1:1) with your local Amida Shu Priest.

“Faith and practice cannot be differentiated.”

Enjoy your daily practice. Namo Amida Bu.

—————

Bodhisattva Vow

Innumerable are sentient beings: we vow to save them all
Innumerable are deluded passions: we vow to transform them all
Immeasurable are the Dharma teachings: we vow to master them all
Infinite is the Buddha’s way: we vow to fulfil it completely

Samantabhadra’s Vow Prayer

With body, speech and mind, humbly I prostrate,
And make offerings both set out and imagined.
I confess my wrong deeds from all time,
And rejoice in the virtues of all.
Please stay until samsara ceases,
And turn the wheel of Dharma for us.
I dedicate all virtues to great enlightenment.

Five Refuges

I take refuge in Amida, the Unimpeded Light
Namo Amitabhaya
I take refuge in Buddha, the one who shows me the way in this life
Namo Buddhaya
I take refuge in the Dharma, the way of understanding and love
Namo Dharmaya
I take refuge in the sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness
Namo Sanghaya
I take refuge in the Pure Land, the perfect field of merit
Namo Buddha-kshetraya

Celebration of Amida’s Vows

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.

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