How many times is “Namu/namo Amida Butsu” supposed to be repeated? It seems like, years back, we repeated it three times. Now, it’s one time? What are the reasons for the number of times it is recited?
The tradition of repeating the Nembutsu (Namo Amida Butsu) three times seems to be an American tradition coming sometime in the 1920s or 1930s. No one knows exactly when nor why. In Japan, the tradition has been that saying the Nembutsu should be natural and spontaneous. But in America, it is not spontaneous, so it was thought that the ministers would “force” the habit to have the members repeat after the minister; if once was good, then, three times was better.