"O" honorific, "NENJU"
thought beads is also called OJUZU or bead counter. In Jodo Shin we use the beads to
direct our thoughts on the Buddha rather as an aid in meditation. The Nenju is a string of
beads used in rituals and in other Buddhist meditations. The Catholic rosary and the
Muslim "worry beads" are thought to have been derived from this string of beads
from Buddhist India. Through the centuries, the symbolism of the Nenju has evolved to a
degree of considerable complexity. There are as many meanings of the size, number, shape
and material of the beads as there are Buddhist sects. In general, the use of the Nenju is
limited to the Mahayana schools of Buddhism and is most highly developed in the esoteric
schools. Jodo Shin has not developed a separate symbolism of their own.
Jodo Shin priests carry a Nenju of 108 beads.
This number does not count the 4 small Shitenno (four heavenly Kings said to dwell on the
four sides of Mt. Sumeru, the central mountain of any world system.) Also not included in
the count are the two large beads called Oyadama (Parent bead) and the auxiliary beads
hanging from the Oyadama. The 108 beads represent the 108 Bonno (afflicting passions) of
man that bind him to the world of Samsara, the Ocean of Birth-Death
of Jodoshinshu Hongwanji-Ha
Vista Buddhist Temple has developed its own Nenju
story and tradition. The VBT Nenju recycles the Queen Palm seeds into thought beads which
each member of the family can use daily and is reminded of the Buddha Dharma succinctly.
Each bead has a face, which no matter how it is turned shows you three different
appearances. These together are the different faces we wear in our everyday life
representing the Three Poisons of human existence: Greed, Anger and Stupidity (GAS).
The VBT Nenjus have 18 beads which have two
separator beads and a larger mother bead. The 18 beads are separated into two groups of
four and a group of ten.
The first group of four beads represent the Four
Noble Truths [1. The truth of suffering, 2. The truth of the cause of suffering, 3. The
truth of the extinction of suffering, 4. The truth of the path that leads to the
extinction of suffering.]
The second group of four beads represents the
Four Marks of Existence [1. Life is a Bumpy road, 2. Life is Impermanence,
3.Life is Interdependent, 4. Life is fundamentally Good. (BIIG)]
The combined groups of four represent the Eight
Fold Path [View, Mindfulness, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Thought, Meditation.]
The group of 10 beads represent the 10 evils
[Killing, Stealing, Adultery, Falsehood, Bad Talk, Double Tongued, Flattery, Greed, Anger,
Wrong Views] and/or the 10 preconditions of Dependent Co-arising [1. Ignorance, 2.
Disposition or Karma-formation, 3. Consciousness name-and-form or conditioned mental and
physical phenomena, 4. Six sense faculties, 5. Contact or feelings or sensation, 6.
Desire, 7. Clinging, 8. Process of becoming, 9. Rebirth, and 10. Sufferings of aging,
dying, lamentation, pain, etc.]
Added together the 18 beads represent Dharmakara
Bodhisattvas 18th Vow or the Primal Vow which states: If, when I attain
Buddhahood, sentient beings in the lands of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully
entrust themselves to me desire to be born into my land, and contemplate on my name even
as many as ten times, should not be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment.
Excluded, however, are those who commit the five gravest offenses and abuse the right
The mother bead represents Amida Buddha (Amitayus
or Amitabha), the Buddha of infinite Light and Life.
The smaller separator beads represent
Amidas companion Bodhisattvas of Wisdom (Mahasthamaprapta) and Compassion
The VBT Nenjus can be purchased as a kit or