Meaning of nembutsu in English:


(also nenbutsu, nembutzu)

Pronunciation /nɛmˈbʊtsuː/


  • 1In some forms of Japanese Buddhism: an invocation of Amida (Amitabha) chanted to achieve self-purification and spiritual awakening in this life (satori) and rebirth into Amida's Pure Land after death, to express gratitude to Amida on realization of enlightenment, or to cancel bad karma.

    The ultimate goal of rebirth into the Pure Land is perfect enlightenment, or Buddhahood: compare "Amida", "Jōdo".

  • 2In extended use: the action, practice, or doctrine of reciting the nembutsu; Pure Land Buddhism.


  • Of or relating to the recitation of the nembutsu; belonging to the school of Pure Land Buddhism.


Late 19th century. From Japanese nembutsu from a Middle Chinese compound from a base meaning ‘to think about, repeat from memory’ + the first syllable of Sanskrit buddha, after Sanskrit buddhānusmṛti, lit. ‘Buddha-contemplation’, ‘Buddha-recitation’.