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NICHIREN Buddhism Part 04

The Meaning of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and Buddhist Practice

The Buddhist Practice

What is Practice?
Practice:
actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it

To practice:
perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one's proficiency carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly

The basic objective of any practice is to get better at something The purpose of a Buddhist practice is to become better in building a happy life for yourself and those around you.
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Buddhists About Practice


Buddhists often say that more they practice, more fortunate and more in harmony they feel with themselves and the world.
Being at the right place in the right time Having relationships improved Anxieties diminished

When Buddhists know that hard times, stress or difficulties are coming, they deliberately intensify their practice to obtain a greater resilience, wisdom and self-confidence to be able to see their way through. People use the practice as an additional asset available to them.
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The Buddhist Practice is About Change


Buddhism says that problems are integral part of our lives. How happy and successful we will be depends on how we see problems - as threat or as opportunity. The reality does not change. We should change our perception of the reality. So, the Buddhist practice is about changing our perception. This change is not purely intellectual process. We cannot simply think our way into a radical new approach to life. We have to work at it, to train ourselves to acquire different prospective. This is true for any change. If I want to change my job, I cant only think of what I want, I need to apply myself to make it reality. Example - Do you remember what Samar said about the Charter for Compassion at TEDxSKE? Initially, everybody was enthusiastic about it - nice initiative! It was forgotten within days or weeks When we dont practice a philosophy (even if we understand, agree and like it) we forget about it in our everyday busy lives.
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Three Basic Elements of Practice


Nichiren Buddhism practice includes three inseparable elements 1. Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (daimoku) and reciting two chapter of the Lotus Sutra (gongyo) 2. Studying 3. Taking Action

Chanting - Intangible Benefits


Buddhists say that chanting has intangible benefits, which have tangible effects:
Leads to enlightenment / happiness: It creates a harmonic rhythm within the body and mind that emphasizes the Buddha nature inside you and brings it out Gives you wisdom, courage, compassion and life force Enables you to better understand yourself and world around you and be in harmony with both Boosts determination and self-confidence Enables you to grasp the mystic law of cause and effect. You are the cause of all events, good or bad.

Chanting is the act of the determination itself. It is the driving force, the engine, which supports the change we are looking for.

Chanting - Physiological Benefits


Scientific study comparing benefits of chanting Rosarys Ave Maria, and the Hindus Om-Mani-Padme-Hum (British Medical Journal by Dr. Luciano Bernardi, University of Pavia, Italy). Benefits were the same in both cases:
Slowing of breathing rate to six breaths per minute (leads to relaxation) Increase in oxygen (increase of volumes of air moved into and out of the lungs) Better blood glucose control (It is the bodys fuel necessary for physical and mental activity) Reduction in carbon dioxide (alertness, concentration and comprehension improved)

Other sources claim that chanting can


Stimulate the circulation Stabilize heart rate Reduce blood pressure Produce endorphins Aid the process of metabolism
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Gives pleasant feeling

Chanting - Where, When and How?


Nichiren Buddhists: Recite (gongyo) two brief passages of the Lotus Sutra, which concern with the universality of the Buddhahood and the eternity of life. Chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (daimoku) Twice a day plus whenever they feel doing it
Morning - to launch you into the day with the positive mind Evening - with the spirit of gratitude for the day weve had. If good - gratitude, if bad - regain the courage and confidence to tackle the challenges

No set time to chant, no set period of chanting. Entirely up to the individual. The practice is immensely flexible. Shape to be fit in with the demands of the modern life. The key element is the REGULARITY. Just as we need to refuel our bodies with meals, this is regular refreshment of our spiritual resources.

While Chanting
What do we think about when we chant?
Intention is to become one with the rhythm of chanting, listen to the sound, feel the vibration, enjoy the moment, give the sound your full attention

What do we chant for?


To tap in this potential of our lives, that will enable us to achieve a higher life condition - this is the dominant underlying desire You can chant for any goal you wish to achieve - short or long-term in your life or in the lives of those around you

People rarely start chanting because they want to save the planet, but for personal reasons - a better house, job, health, financial security, a happy and successful day, etc. The common experience is that the very process of chanting begins to broaden and deepen our view. Although these desires may remain, they begin to include our friends, neighbours, workplace, community, humanity.
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Study
Buddhists study wide range of things from the letters and other writings of Nichiren Daishonin itself, to commentaries of Buddhist scholars and accounts of the individual Buddhists on the way the practice has changed their lives. This is not an intellectual practice. The study is not about acquiring knowledge in the egocentric way, as an end in itself. Its about deeping ones understanding of the principals that form the practice. Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study there is no Buddhism- Nichiren

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Taking Action for Change


A daily struggle to fold Buddhist principles into the daily life. Live principles rather than perceive and understand them. Few things are more difficult to change than ingrained unconscious pattern of thought and behaviour. Not one way journey. One step forward, two steps back is a common experience. Buddhism is not a morality. It doesnt depend on a prescribed set of behaviour or practices. It relies on a power of this inner transformation, on people learning how to accept responsibility for their own lives and their own actions. This has a far reaching effect, not solely on the person in the center but on the whole society.

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Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

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Daimoku - Title
Lotus Sutra title in Sanskrit - Saddharmapundarikasutra = Sutra of the Wonderful Law of Lotus Flower Translated in Classic Chinese - Miao-fa Lien-hua Ching Buddhism and Sutras propagated to Japan through Korea, kept its Classic Chinese writing, was pronounced according to Japanese phonetics - Myoho Renge Kyo The word Nam added by Nichiren, which means to devote ones life to Literal translation of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo - I devote my life to the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Sutra Nichiren describes it as the Universal Law of Life that expresses the relationship between human life and the entire Universe Each character contains a Universe of thoughts, Chinese is very concise language with each pictogram carrying many meanings.
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Other Meanings
I devote myself to bring out the best of me and those who are around me I devote myself to sending the energy to:
transform darkness (Ho) into light (Myo), sickness into health, worry into joy, etc. by means of "Renge" - the Absolute Law of Cause and Effect using "Kyo" which is sound, vibration, the energy, frequency of the ultimate reality.

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NAM
Nam (shortened from Namu) comes from Sanskrit word namas commonly translated as to devote oneself to. It has very wide range of meanings, some of them:
To summon up To awaken To draw force To make great effort

Why is knowing about these different meanings helpful? They express differences in our approach or in our state of mind when we are chanting at different times. Facing the crisis, we may think of summoning up or making great effort rather then just awakening.

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MyoHo
MyoHo describes a relationship between the very essence of life and millions of physical forms in which this life force manifest. The LAW is the relation between Myo and Ho. Myo is the name given to the mystic nature of life and Ho - to its manifestations
Myo - unseen or spiritual element Ho - tangible physical manifestation that we can perceive with our senses

In Buddhism, all things, all phenomena have a Myo aspect and a Ho aspect - different but inseparable.

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Examples of MyoHo
Music: Ho - written notes and sound (vibrations), Myo - effect of music on our hearts 10 worlds: Myo - World of Buddhahood, Ho - 9 Worlds Myo - death (existence between lives), Ho - life Myo - enlightenment, Ho - fundamental darkness Myo - our mind and spiritual aspect, Ho - our physical aspect

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Three Fundamental Principles or Aspects of Life


The truth of temporary existence physical and material KETAI (KE). All physical forms are temporary and all follow the same cycle: birth, growth, decline and death The truth of non-substantiality KUTAI (KU) - all phenomena have their invisible aspect - KU. The truth of the Middle Way CHUTAI (CHU). This is the force or energy, which bides and harmonises KETAI and KUTAI. Nichiren calls CHU - the Universal Law or Myoho Renge Kyo. An example: Let say a coin on the picture has visible side A (Ke) and invisible side B (Ku). They are inseparable. If we see the side A we know that there is a side B. Both sides A and B are a coin, but we cannot say that side A is a coin, or that side B is a coin Our side Ku is invisible, but it is CHU is our life - the eternal life force that goes from one existence to another and bides and harmonises our physical and spiritual aspects.
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Oneness of Mind and Body


All of us have our side Ke (physical aspect) and side KU (invisible aspect). Side Ku is manifested through visible elements - expression of our face, the way we talk, we smile, we react to external stimuli, etc. CHU - our life entity, our essential SELF, which has continuity. Separation between physical and spiritual aspects of life do not exist. Our mind and our body are two different aspects of life that cant be separated. Buddhism calls this principle Oneness of mind and body = Two, but not two = Shiki shin funi As they are inseparable everything that hits our mind, hits our body, and vice versa. The society or religions tend to privilege KE or KU. This attitude brings suffering. It is if one one of two horses, which bring forward our carriage, would be stronger that the other. Then we would go in circle. Both aspects are important and have to be harmonized and treated equally. CHU (Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) has a role to harmonize both. 20

CHU

KE
KU

Renge
Renge means Lotus Flower. It has a particular meaning in Buddhism It is a plant with beautiful flower that grows and flourishes most strongly in muddy environments
It is taken to symbolise a great potential locked up in every human life. A promise that we can build strong, positive and flourishing lives however difficult are circumstances and environment we find ourselves

Lotus flower carries blossoms and seeds at the same time, simultaneously
Symbolise one of the fundamental and most important principles in Buddhism - simultaneity of cause and effect. It argues that every cause we make plants a balancing effects in our lives, which sooner or later will be manifested.

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Kyo
Kyo - many meanings (again) Literal translation is Sutra or teaching of the Buddha It also means - vibration or sound In Chinese Kyo originally meant the warp or thread that links all together, symbolizing the continuity of life throughout past, present and future.

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Conclusion
The practice (study, chanting and action) is necessary to keep staying on track When we do not advance, we retrocede. We cant achieve a point and stay there for all our lives. If we dont go forward, we will fall back. Nichiren said that chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like a roar of a lion. It is a manifestation of the determination. Nichiren was in many ways a modernist and this practice was fashioned specifically for the ordinary people no matter where and when they are inhabit. It is needed in busy everyday lives in order to grab peoples attention to enable them to understand that in the very midst of life difficulties it is possible to have lives of unlimited optimism and resilience, and yes, great happiness too. It is a method of achieving a happier life for ourselves and people around us.
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