Takamaro Shigaraki (信楽 峻麿, 1926 - 2014): Namu Amida Bu(tsu)!
When we earnestly call the Buddha’s Name with a fullness of heart while listening to the Dharma, our lives gradually become directed toward the Buddha. However, as our recitation of the nembutsu deepens, there is an eventual reversal in the direction of that nembutsu. When we say the nembutsu, we are directing ourselves toward the Buddha as we call out the Buddha’s Name and think on the Buddha. However, at the same time, we also awaken to a movement in the opposite direction. That is, we hear the voice of the Buddha that is directing itself to us, as it names itself and calls out to us. Here, a transcendent religious experience takes place, which we awaken to at the deepest level of our consciousness.
Normally, we are always trying to cram ourselves full of things. We are constantly filling ourselves with self-attachment and ego, and so we are unable to see or hear anything truly. However, when our selves gradually become emptied, then the eyes of our mind will open and we will finally be able to hear things for the first time. And we are able to hear other persons’ voices of distress and pain as well.
When we come to know keenly and fully that the current state of our existence is false, then we will become able to hear what we had not been able to hear up until now. We will be able to see what up until now we had not been able to see. Within this structure, finally, we become able to hear the voice of the Buddha within the nembutsu. This is how saying the nembutsu works in Shin Buddhism.
Notes: Nembutsu is the recitation of ‘Namu Amida Butsu (literally, ‘Hail to Amitabha Buddha’), the final syllable of Butsu often being dropped; Shin Buddhism is a branch of Pure Land Buddhism in which Amitabha is called upon for salvation; Takamaro Shigaraki was a Japanese Buddhist philosopher and Shin Buddhist priest and former president of Ryukoku University, Tokyo, Japan. The above quotation is taken from Shigaraki's wonderful book 'Heart of the Shin Buddhist Path,' published by Wisdom Publications. A very important work on the subject of Shin Buddhism.
For more on this subject, click here: Shin Buddhism