It is important to demystify this word “practice”. The fact that it is used in very much the same way as one might use it in talking about any other field of human endeavor. The basic objective of any practice is to get better at something. Any sportsman, any musician, any artist knows that unless they train they cannot possibly attain their full potential. By the same token, however inherent the quality of Buddhahood may be, drawing it out into the light of our everyday lives requires a real personal commitment… Nichiren regarded Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the Mystic Law, the natural principle governing the workings of life in the universe, the law to which all Buddhas are enlightened and the true aspect of our own lives. He saw the practice of repeatedly invoking this law as the 'direct path to enlightenment.' The phrase can be literally translated as 'I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law.
Problems will not go away. How happy and successful we will be in life depends on how we see problems - as threat or as opportunity. The reality does not change. We should change our perception of the reality. Change in our perception 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 to acquire this difference of prospective. It is not easy. If we have a problem the immediate instinctive approach is to go to brain. That’s what we’ve always done. We believe this is where power lies. In the West we are accustomed or even trained to live our lives driven by the three primary engines our intellect (how we think) our emotions (how we feel) our persona (how we look and present ourselves) There is more than intellect There is a spiritual resource within you that is capable of lifting your life performance to a new level - your Buddha nature.
Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Physical action which bring physiological effects Moving considerable volumes of air into and out of the body lungs Stimulates the circulation Increases of body temperature Pleasant sound Driving force, the engine, without which the process of change cannot be achieved Chanting Twice a day Morning - to launch you into the day with the positive mind Evening - with the spirit of gratitude for the day we’ve had - good, bad or indifferent. If good - gratitude, if bad - regain the courage and confidence to tackle the chanllenges Recitation of two brief passages of the Lotus Sutra, which concern with the universality of the Buddhahood and the eternity of life. No set time to chant, no set period of chanting. Entirely up to the individual. The practice is immencly flexibale. Shape to be fit in with the demands of the modern life. The key element is the REGULARITY of the practice just as we need to refuel our bodies with meals - regular refreshments of our spiritual resources.
Chanting has been used for a zillion years as a means to connect with the “divine”. If you look for its meaning in one of those spiritually tuned books, you will find that chanting is the "harmonious vocalization of key words, names and phrases that are used in ritual to attune oneself, raise energy and become centered." Chanting is a means of preserving health and well-being. Even medical science has accepted this. Research shows that the use of sound can stabilize heart rate, reduce blood pressure, improve circulation, produce endorphins and aid the process of metabolism. Scientists too have accepted the health benefits of meditation, proof of which was seen as a cover story in Time magazine titled "Meditation works," detailing the scientific research that shows it can profoundly affect the body and actually reshape the brain. Says an expert, "When we chant, it cleanses the mind like water cleanses the body." Mantra helps us relax. A relaxed state of mind is a sign of good mental and physical health. Good for you Body It is rather simple. Chanting is actually the first step to meditation. It focuses on a simple phrase and melody and repeats it over and over. The repetition relaxes the mind, and the body thus becomes ready to meditate. Good for your Mind Psychologists, too, believe that chanting or meditating enhances a sense of well-being and helps the mind focus on a particular thought, which results in lowering stress levels. Chanting has a considerable effect on the mental health of a person as it helps in cutting down stress and gives rise to a feel good factor. But how much one actually benefits depends largely on one's own belief in this. Ruby William is a expert of alternative medicines & has great knowledge on Natural Colon Cleanser. More info: Colon Cleansing Products & Constipation. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ruby_William Benefits of Chanting Fact: A recent scientific study appeared in the British Medical Journal by Dr. Luciano Bernardi, University of Pavia, Italy, comparing the benefits of chanting the Rosary’s Ava Maria, and the Hindu’s Om-Mani-Padme-Hum. The measurable results of both chants are: a slowing of breathing rate to six (6) breaths per minute which synchronizes with our cardiovascular rhythm of six (6) per minute cycle. Normal breathing is twice as much. Less is better. The benefits of chanting recited by scientific research are an increase in oxygen, glucose, and a reduction in carbon dioxide. Consider that your learning requires an additional 10% oxygen to your brain’s already high requirement of 22% of all the body’s oxygen. The brain weighs only three-pounds and uses almost a quarter of our body’s total intake of oxygen. Glucose is the body’s blood sugar, its fuel, and must be increased for both physical and mental activity. Alertness, concentration and comprehension are improved by the removal of carbon dioxide. If all it takes is a BI (Behavioral Intelligence), strategy of two-minutes to get our mind-and-body in-sync you may want to get into the habit of chanting. H. Bernard Wechsler www.speedlearning.org
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 The time for thought is before you start, what you what to chant about and after you finish - when the mind is clear and you are deciding on the action you need to take 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 thought 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 They more likely to start chanting for personal reasons close to their daily life - sometimes outlandish, sometimes selfish (a better house, job, health, a happy and successful day) Many people chant for these desires every day of the week. They are the part of our shared humanity. 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 be changed and refined and added to, they grow dynamically jus as our life grows. Initial desires is like a seed that drive people to the greater self-knowledge. It is in this sense that the eartly desires lead to self-enlightenment Nichiren Buddhism teaches that renunciation, giving up things, of itself brings no benefits. It argues that desire is basic to all human life. And as long as there is life there will be the instinctive desire in the hearts of all men and woman to make the MOST of that life - to live to grow, to love and to have Nichiren saw with great clarity that little was to be gained from people spending huge amount of thought, time and energy seeking to extinguish a force that lay right at the very heart of their lives. On the contrary, the more is to be achieved by accepting it as a part of everyone’s humanity and use it as a powerful engine for the individual development. Let’s be clear, we are not talking about wholly rational process. It is in many ways beyond the reach of the intellect. There are many stories told of people who started chanting in this somewhat inconsequential way driven purely by personal desires more often than not that any strong believe in the value of the practice. They now look back and often laugh openly at this somewhat shallow beginning in the knowledge of how profoundly their lives and their concerns have been changed. They continue to chant for personal desires, but now with a far wider horizon that extend from their personal ongoing human revolution to increasing circles to taking family, friends, workplace and community and the global society. The ultimate goal of the Nichiren Buddhist is a world full of people and communities that live in peace one with another. We chant for it and work for it on the daily basis.
The stuggle to fold Buddhist principals into the daily life. Live principles rather than percieve and understand them. This is a daily struggle. Few things are more difficult to change than ingrained unconscious pattern of thought and behaviour - to be driven by selfishness, or anger or lack of concern for the others. The Buddhist practice drive in a transfromation towards the fundamental respect for one’s own life and out of that it grows back for the lives of all the others. It is not one way jorney. One step forward, two steps back is a common experience. It is important to emphasise that Buddhism is not a morality. It doesn’t depend on its moral force, on a prescribed set of behaviour or practices. It relies rather 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 potential for far reaching effect, not solely on the person in the center but on the whole of society he or she enhabits. So the process begings with the individual, it all begins with th epersonal determination to change one’s own life, but the effect of the change we make of our thinking and therefore of oour behaviour extend beyond our own life. Indeed, since Buddhism draws no distinction between the individual and the world around him, the influence spreads out in ever widing and never ending series of ripples. Since the chanting of the phrase Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is central to this process, what does this phrase mean? And where does it come from?
Myoho Renge Kyo - title of the Lotus Sutra in classical Chinese “ The Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra”, “Sutra of the Wonderful Law of Lotus Flower” NAM (ancient Sanscrit) - the words of the commitment - To devote one’s life to Literal translation “I devote my life to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra” Deep meaning in the words of this mantra The title given to every Sutra is seem to be immensely important and it is considered to embody the entire teaching that it contains 5 charcters of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo combines a universe of thoughts Nichiren describes it as the Universal Law of Life that expresses the relationship between human life and the entire Universe Shakyamuni says in Lotus Sutra that this Law only can be understood and shared between Buddhas. It is not an exclusivity concept since Lotus Sutra teaches the universality of the Buddhahood. It is simply saying that words and explanations can only take you so far along the path. You have to practice Buddhism and experience its power and potential on your life before you truly begin to understand it. You have to bite the strawberry before you begin to understand what it tastes like. We don’t have to be surprise when we find some of the concept illusive and difficult to grasp when we first time encounter this practice. Buddhism is daily life and since daily life is immensly complex Buddhism will inevitably reflect this complexity. From my point of view I found it difficult. One thing is to understand concepts and value them. It is quite another to commit to the practice of chanting. A strange mantra. I started chanting for two main reasons. People I met who were practicing were to be admired in many ways To understand a true value of Buddhism I had to allow it to my life. You don’t have to understand theoretically what this phrase means in order to get benefits. The understanding will come as your practice grows. You don’t have to think of all the meaning when you chant. It is not and intellectual process. Nor you have to expect arising any feelings. You chant in a steady rythm, relaxing, freeing your mind of any concerns., listening to your voice, feeling the vibration of the body. The key thing is to enjoy the moment for what it is. If you think of other valuable things you could be doing while you are chanting, that it’s probably better that you go off and do them.
The Meaning of Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo and Buddhist Practice
NICHIREN Buddhism Part 04 The Meaning ofNam Myoho Renge Kyoand 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 ones 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. 3
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. 4
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 can’t 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 don’t practice a philosophy (even if we understand, agree and like it) we forget about it in our everyday busy lives. 5
Three Basic Elements of Practice• Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (daimoku) and reciting two chapter of the Lotus Sutra (gongyo)• Study• Taking Action 6
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.• Chanting is the driving force, the engine, which supports the change we are looking for 7
Chanting - Physiological Benefits• Scientific study comparing benefits of chanting Rosary’s Ave Maria, and the Hindu’s 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 body’s 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• Gives pleasant feeling 8
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 and 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 we’ve 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. daimoku gongyo 9
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. 10
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. It’s about deeping one’s 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 11
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 doesn’t 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. 12
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 one’s 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. 15
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. 16
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. 17
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. 18
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 19
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. 20
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 • CHU - our life entity, our essential SELF, which has continuity. • Separation between physical and spiritual aspects ofKE KU life do not exist. Our mind and our body are two different aspects of life that can’t 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. 21
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. 22
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. 23
The Roar of a LionNichiren says that Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like the roar of a lion. Chanting is a manifestation of our strong determination. 24
Conclusion• The practice is necessary to keep staying “on track”• When we do not advance, we retrocede. We can’t achieve a point and stay there for all our lives. If we don’t go forward, we will fall back.• 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 people’s 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. 25