Be Determined To Speak Out

The Lotus SutraIt may be amusing listening to the tittle tattle about people, at work or in the pub, but we should all remember that this is a real person we are discussing.

Particularly with Facebook, Twitter and the other social networks in mind, we are all likely to be held to account should we slander someone in public.

Nichiren Daishonin, in his writings to Soya Jiro Hyoe-no-jo Kyoshin, said this about speaking out in defence of slander of The Lotus Sutra …

To hope to attain Buddhahood without speaking out against slander is as futile as trying to find water in the midst of fire or fire in the midst of water.

No matter how sincerely one believes in the Lotus Sutra, if one is guilty of failing to rebuke slander of the Law, one will surely fall into hell, just a single crab leg will ruin a thousand pots of lacquer.

This is the meaning of the passage in the sutra, “Because the poison has penetrated deeply and their minds no longer function as before.”

Nichiren was referring specifically of The Lotus Sutra, but we should speak out against all manner of slander, the likes of which appear to be on the increase in modern life.

Exploring NMRK

Exploring NMRKAfter the initial question “do you chant?” we are then asked “what do you chant?” followed closely by “how long do you chant?” and almost certainly “what does it mean?”.

After a little practice, no pun intended, most people can master the phrase Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but explaining why we chant it, and what it means may take a little longer.

Here is how the SGI website describes the meaning of the individual parts …

Nichiren Daishonin established the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the way to awaken one’s Buddha nature and tap into the deepest levels of our existence, on which our own lives and that of the universe are one. He first taught the invocation of the phrase to a small group at Seicho-ji temple in Awa province, Japan, on April 28, 1253.

Myoho-renge-kyo is the name of the Lotus Sutra in Japanese pronunciation of classical Chinese characters, and so the literal meaning of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is “I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra.” As the following explanation shows, there are deeper levels of meaning attached to each element of the phrase.

Nam

Nam derives from the Sanskrit word namu, meaning “to devote oneself.” Nichiren established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a means to enable all people to put their lives in harmony or rhythm with the law of life, or Dharma. In the original Sanskrit, namu indicates the elements of action and attitude, and refers therefore to the correct action one needs to take and the attitude one needs to develop in order to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.

Myoho

Myoho literally means the Mystic Law–the underlying truth or principle which governs the mysterious workings of the universe and our life from moment to moment. Myo refers to the very essence of life, which is “invisible” and beyond intellectual understanding. This essence always expresses itself in a tangible form (ho) that can be apprehended by the senses. Phenomena (ho) are changeable, but pervading all such phenomena is a constant reality known as myo. Myo also means to open, to revive, and to be fully endowed with the qualities we need to develop our lives.

Renge

Renge means lotus flower. The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time, and thus represents the simultaneity of cause and effect. The circumstances and quality of our individual lives are determined by the causes and effects, both good and bad, that we accumulate (through our thoughts, words and actions) at each moment. This is called our “karma.” The law of cause and effect affirms that we each have personal responsibility for our own destiny. We create our destiny and we have the power to change it. The most powerful positive cause we can make is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo; the effect of Buddhahood is simultaneously created in the depths of our life and will definitely manifest in time.

The lotus flower grows and blooms in a muddy pond, and yet remains pristine and free from any defilement, symbolizing the emergence of Buddhahood from within the life of an ordinary person in the midst of the struggles of day-to-day existence.

Kyo

Kyo literally means sutra, the voice or teaching of a Buddha. In this sense, it also means sound, rhythm or vibration. In a broad sense, kyo conveys the concept that all things in the universe are a manifestation of the Mystic Law.

Further explanation of the meaning of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can be found here.

On Cultivating A State Of Mind

The Lotus SutraWe only have to watch the news on TV, listen to the radio, or even simply talk to the people around us, to be aware of the challenges and sadness that can accompany the process of living our daily lives.

Buddhism has at it’s very core, the ultimate goal of removing suffering and promoting a state of happiness in all those with whom it comes in contact. Many may think that this is an unachievable target, and that those who strive towards it are deluded.

But the principles and method for attaining such a state are encompassed by teachings contained in The Lotus Sutra. That is not to say that there is any magic bullet or instant fix to alleviate our suffering, but striving to do so is surely a task worth undertaking.

Daisaku Ikeda summarised it thus:

What is true joy in life?

This is a difficult question – and one that has occupied a great many thinkers and philosophers.

Joy can quickly give way to suffering. Joy is short and suffering long.

Also what passes for joy in society is superficial. It cannot compare with the joy derived from the Mystic Law.

The key then lies in cultivating a state of mind where we can declare without reservation that life is a joy.

This is the purpose of our Buddhist Practice.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

If The Cap Fits …

Nichiren DaishoninWith an increasing feeling of dismay, I see the gap between the have’s and have not’s of this world continually growing.

The very concept of fairness in our societies seems to have been completely forgotten.

With that in mind, I can think of a whole bunch of people who would do well to listen to the following advice …

If you wish to attain Buddhahood, you have only to lower the banner of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra.

Worldly fame and profit are mere baubles of your present existence, and arrogance and prejudice are ties that will fetter you in a next one.

~ Nichiren Daishonin

Connectivity Is Infinite

Connectivity Is InfiniteIn the true reality of life as viewed from the enlightened state of a Buddha, one who has broken free of all delusion, all things are equal, transcending distinctions and differences between subject and object, self and others, mind and body, the spiritual and the material.

In its true aspect, life is infinitely expansive and eternal, without beginning or end. Life is dynamic; it is wisdom and compassion; it embodies the principle of the indivisibility of life and death; it is a universal law.

The cosmos is not so big that life cannot embrace it, nor the smallest particle of matter so small that life cannot be contained within it.

More On Mindfulness

BreatheWhen we are feeling down, or simply the challenges of everyday life are coming at us too fast, it is all too easy to concentrate on ourselves, forgetting about those around us.

To stop this happening takes mindfulness and courage, as noted by Sensei in Daily Encouragement.

Buddhism is not about leading a self-centred existence. If we do not base our lives on the Law, we are not practicing Buddhism.

The German writer Friedrich von Schiller writes, “The brave man thinks upon himself the last.”

This is analogous to the spirit of not begrudging one’s life taught in the Lotus Sutra.

This means treasuring the Law more highly than one’s life.

The Law and kosen-rufu are central.

The old adage that ‘No Man is an island’ is very true. It is our family, friends and those we meet each day in our communities, who make our lives meaningful, and it is The Law that shows us the way we are to conduct ourselves and how we should relate to them.

To help with increasing our mindfulness, consciously focus on a simple task each day. Be that taking a shower, doing the dishes, going upstairs, even breathing, anything will do, but concentrate on every aspect of your feelings, your surroundings, everything, and you will find that even the simplest task takes on a whole new meaning.

Exalted Forms Of Existence

Forms Of Renewable EnergyWhen we practice gongyo and chant daimoku before the Gohonzon, the good and evil capacities of our lives begin to function as the exalted form of fundamental existence.

Lives that are full of the pain of Hell, lives that are in the world of Hunger, lives warped by the world of Anger – such lives too begin to move in the direction of creating their own personal happiness and value.

Lives being pulled toward misfortune and unhappiness are redirected and pulled in the opposite direction, toward fortune and happiness, when we make the Mystic Law our base.

Chant daimoku with all your heart, chant whenever you feel downcast, whenever you feel listless or lacking in focus.

Chanting daimoku connects us directly to chi, the Universal energy, the ultimate renewable green energy, so chant and raise your life-state, your life-energy and put your life back on track.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Nature’s Images

I’ve been out cycling with the boys all morning, surrounded by the beautiful nature of The New Forest, just wonderful. So here is a snippet of wisdom from Nichiren Daishonin, about letting go of worldly desires, and a couple of images from the ride …

New Forest Panorama

Now, if you wish to attain Buddhahood, you have only to lower the banner of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra. Worldly fame and profit are mere baubles of your present existence, and arrogance and prejudice are ties that will fetter you in a next one.

~ Nichiren Daishonin

The Boys At Avon Beach

An Adventure Every Day

Exploring LifeEvery day can be an adventure into the unknown. If we allow ourselves to go with the flow of events, we can find ourselves in new situations, with new challenges.

Making assumptions about where life will take us, to expect the mundane, the ordinary, the usual, may mean that we walk straight past the very opportunity we need to take our lives in a completely different and exciting direction.

The belief taught in the Lotus Sutra provides no easy answers, no escape route from the difficulties of human life. In fact it firmly rejects such easy answers, and instead implores us to take up the two tools for exploring life.

The use of those tools, belief and understanding, allows us to continually challenge, and work to perfect, ourselves. When combined with the practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, they also provide us with the wisdom, courage and compassion and the energy to do just that.

What A Joy

Cultivating The MindWhat is true joy in life? This is a difficult question to answer, and one that has occupied the time of a great many thinkers and philosophers.

Joy is transitory and can quickly give way to suffering. Joy is often short and suffering often long.

Also, what passes for joy in society is superficial. It cannot compare with the joy derived from the Mystic Law. The key therefore, lies in cultivating a state of mind where we can declare without reservation, that life itself is a joy.

This is the purpose of our Buddhist practice.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

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