Nembutsu May Be Our Form of ‘Grateful Dead’

In the 1960s, a rock band was formed taking the name of Grateful Dead. Its original name was Warlocks, but there was already a group by this name. Not to be confused with the other group, one of the original founders, Jerry Garcia, by chance while on a wild ride of drugs, came upon an Egyptian prayer, aptly named Grateful Dead. From there, the group is now known as the Grateful Dead.


But the term “grateful dead” has various folklore tales associated with this term. It is illustrated in many cultures throughout the world. As an Egyptian prayer, it is based on the principle of reciprocation, which is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. This prayer is a calling of blessings by others for the deceased person. Those who call the name help the deceased into a happy afterlife.


In other cultures, the tale tells of a traveler who comes across a corpse. He asks why this person had not been buried and the reply was that the deceased had debts and therefore an honored proper burial was denied. This traveler pays the debts, while in another version is that the traveler pays for the burial.


This traveler then goes on his way and acquires debts of his own. During his journey, this traveler meets another fellow traveler, who in turn helps him. However, there is a condition that comes with this help and it is to divide among others half of whatever he attains. The fellow traveler then reveals himself, and this fellow traveler is the grateful spirit of the deceased. Thus is the meaning of grateful dead.