QUESTION: I wanted to know how I could deal with the bad karma and delusions which cause me great pain in this life, whether or not there are practices or ways of chanting to receive benefits within this life.
SHORT ANSWER: Nembutsu brings measureless benefit here and hereafter.
LONGER ANSWER: There are two ways in which we suffer from karma. One is that the conditions of one's life may be adverse. The other is that one is attached to old wounds, defeats, blows to pride, rejections and so forth, cruelties that are not actually operational in the present but which one finds it hard to relinquish. The practice of nembutsu chanting brings relief in respect of both kinds.
In the case of adverse circumstances, turning one's mind to Amida brings one into a larger scheme of things. Present difficulties are seen as transient and relatively less huge - just blips in the cosmic scheme. The more deeply one takes refuge the less important one's poverty or oppression of circumstance appears. The more clearly one sees the bombu nature of oneself and others the more one experiences a fellow feeling for all of humanity. As in all schools of Buddhism, benefits derive from giving merit away and caring for others - love, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.
In the case of attachment to the past, the practice of nembutsu enables us to know that it is precisely to beings in the kind of state that we are in that grace comes. There is no particular need for us to shed our past. In fact, We have far more past humiliations than we think. Karma is fathomless and we have been battered in infinite ways. In the aeons of time the tears we have shed would fill oceans.
Thus nembutsu brings all kinds of benefit. It makes us part of a loving and compassionate community both here and beyond. When we turn to Amida we receive the Tathagata's infinite blessing. This is what Buddha has vowed, so we can rely upon it completely. In regard to the present we feel relief. In regard to the flow of time we feel confidence. In regard to the past, we make it our offering to the Buddhas - they know better than we what to do with it. In regard to the future we feel assured. All is completely assured. Namo Amida Bu