Guest Author - Linda J. Paul
As I mentioned in the previous article about Nichiren and Soka Gakkai International, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a service at my local Unitarian Universalist church that was hosted by the SGI. To find out more about who Nichiren was and what his teachings are based upon, follow the link at the end of this article.
Basically his teachings can be broken down to a chant. The words are Nam-myoto-renge-kyo. Nichiren felt that this chant could provide the strength and wisdom for everyone to work toward attaining Buddhahood in their lifetime. Buddhahood is a constant state of happiness and enlightenment.
To get a better understanding of the meaning of the chant, it helps to look at the meaning of each word individually.
This word derives from Sanskrit. It basically means “to devote oneself.” Nam refers to the correct action one needs to take and the attitude one needs to develop in order to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.
Myoho translates to Mystic Law, Myo refers to the essence of life, which cannot be seen, and is beyond intellectual understanding. This essence of life weaves it’s way through and around everything that exists. We “see” this essence in tangible form in everything around us. This ability to comprehend the essence of Myo with our senses is called “ho." Ho is changeable, but Myo is a constant force that never changes.
The world renge means lotus flower. The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time. This ability to do both at once represents the simultaneity of cause and effect. Our lives are influenced greatly by cause and effect, both good and bad. What we do with our thoughts, words and actions depends on how much good and how much bad energy we draw into our lives. This is called our karma. We create our own destiny every day, and we are responsible for our actions and their consequences. But, we can change our actions and thus change our consequences. Chanting Nam-myoto-renge-kyo causes the effect of Buddhahood being created simultaneously in our lives.
Kyo means sutra, or the voice or teaching of a Buddha. It means the sound, rhythm or vibration of each word of the sutra. Kyo is about the continuity of life, the past, the present and the future.
Soka Gakkai International members believe that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is also known as Daimoku, helps them to reveal their Buddhahood. This is experienced through joy, vitality, courage, wisdom and compassion.
Most SGI members chant to a Gohonzon. A Gohonzon is an object of devotion in Nichiren Buddhism. The Gohonzon contains a scroll on which are inscribed Chinese and Sanskrit letters which embody the universal law that permeates life and the universe in the form of a mandala. The scroll represents the life state of Buddahood which all people possess.
When an SGI member chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to a Gohonzon, the sacredness of the meaning of the Mandala, and the practitioner’s faith along with the words of the chant, act together to help attain Buddhahood in one’s life.
But, a Gohonzon is not mandatory to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The most important element in achieving Buddhahood is the strength of one’s faith.
I have been chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for about a week now in the morning and at night. I only say it a few times while focusing on those things I wish to bring into my life.
Interestingly enough, I received three job offers this week that would allow me to do the kind of work I would love to do, my husband found a job after six months of being unemployed, and I found a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk. Hmmmmmm.