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Nembutsu (Jap.; Chin., nien-fo). The foremost religious practice in the Pure Land Schools of Buddhism. Nembutsu literally means ‘Mindfulness of the Buddha’. It was thus originally a meditational practice with the Buddha and his innumerable merits ‘kept in mind’, i.e. as an object of contemplation. In the earliest period of Pure Land development it was interpreted as a form of meditation in which the Buddha Amida (Jap.; Chin., O-mi-tʾo; Skt., Amitābha/Amitāyus) and his transcendent Pure Land are visualized. In China and Japan it was reinterpreted to mean invoking the name of the Buddha in the form Namu Amida Butsu (Jap.; Chin., Na-mo O-mi-to fo), ‘I take refuge in the Buddha Amida’. This interpretation was most forcefully enunciated by Shan-tao in China, and by Honen in Japan.

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