This Buddhist mantra is from the Nichiren Buddhist tradition. Additionally, this potent rendition is what is known as “daimoku.”
Daimoku is the constant repetition of a Nichiren Buddhism mantra for a period of time. Therefore, the practice of chanting the daimoku is called shodai.
Daimoku can last from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the mental and physical capacities of the practitioner. The main purpose of chanting daimoku is to attain a perfect and complete awakening.
This soothing mantra was initially revealed to a larger audience, by the Japanese Buddhist teacher Nichiren on the 28th day of the 4th lunar month of 1253 at Seicho-ji (also called Kiyosumi-dera) near Kominato in the current-day part of the city of Kamogawa, Japan.
The Meaning of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Mantra – Lotus Sutra Chant For Happiness
As Nichiren explained this Buddhist mantra in his Ongi Kuden (orally transmitted Buddhist teachings), a transcription of his lectures about the Lotus Sutra, Namu is a transliteration into Japanese of the Sanskrit „namas,” and Myoho Renge Kyo is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese title of the Lotus Sutra, in the translation by Kumarajiva (hence, Daimoku, which is a Japanese word meaning ”title”).
Nam – Devotion to/I take refuge within and derives from the Sanskrit word ”namu,” which literally translates as “to devote oneself.”
Myoho – the mystic law of cause and effect. Myo also refers to the very true essence of life, which is “invisible” and beyond intellectual comprehending.
Renge – this word is symbolizing the lotus flower, which simultaneously blooms and seeds. Also, the lotus flower is fragrant and pure, unsullied by the muddy water in which it grows.
Kyo – as expressed through the power of sound and vibration. This word also means ”sutra,” the voice or teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha.
The Lotus Sutra is held by Nichiren Buddhists, as well as practitioners of the Chinese Tiantai and corresponding Japanese Tendai sects, to be the culmination of Gautama Shakyamuni Buddha’s fifty years of teaching.
However, followers of Nichiren Buddhism consider this Sutra to be the name of the ultimate law permeating the universe, fundamentally with this law (dharma) and can manifest realization, or Buddha Wisdom (attain Buddhahood), through Buddhist Practice.
Nichiren Daishonin taught that the act of praising the Lotus Sutra would enable the qualities and characteristics of the Buddha, the reservoir, inherent in our lives to emerge.
The 7 characters na-mu-myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo are written down the center of the gohonzon, the mandala venerated by most Nichiren Buddhists (a Japanese Buddhist movement in the Mahayana tradition). The veneration towards the mandala is comprehended by those who believe in it as the veneration for a deeper representation, which they believe to be the Buddha Nature inherent to their own lives.
“I, Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi ink, so believe in the Gohonzon with your whole heart. The Buddha’s will is the Lotus Sutra, but the soul of Nichiren is nothing other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” – quote from On the Three Great Secret Laws.
The precise interpretation of this ancient mantra, how it is pronounced, and its position in Buddhist practice differ slightly among the numerous different schools and sub-sects of Nichiren Buddhism, however, „I take refuge in (devote or submit myself to) the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Flower Sutra” may serve as a universal translation.
Benefits Of Reciting This Mantra
This chant is not a mystical or magical phrase that brings forth supernatural power, but it is the supreme principle that those who live normal and conscious lives and make regular efforts will duly triumph.
Image credit – Shutterstock