Kosho Uchiyama: The Heart of Nembutsu

The following is a poem written by the great 20th century teacher of Soto Zen, Kosho Uchiyama. Uchiyama Roshi was a great exponent and practitioner of Dogen Zen as taught by Kodo Sawaki, his teacher. Despite his grounding in Dogen and Soto Zen, Uchiyama Roshi also appreciated Shin Buddhism and Christianity and spoke on them in his dharma talks and poetry. The “Nembutsu” is the mantra Namu Amida Butsu, “Homage to Amitabha Buddha’, a Buddha Shin practitioners believe to have vowed to save all who chant his name. Uchiyama Sensei translated the Nembutsu as ” I practice (butsu) returning (namu) to the totality of heaven and earth (amida)”. Enjoy.

 

The Heart of Nembutsu

I eat food from the whole heaven and earth
I drink water from the whole heaven and earth
I live the life of the whole heaven and earth
Pulled by the gravity of the whole heaven and earth
I become pure and clear, one with the whole heaven and earth
The whole heaven and earth is where I return

– Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo

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