am Myōhō Renge Kyō (南無妙法蓮華經, also Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō); (English: To Honour/devote oneself to the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Sutra) or Glory to the Sutra of the Lotus of the Supreme Law) is a mantra that is chanted as the central practice of all forms of Nichiren Buddhism. The mantra is referred to as daimoku (題目?) or, in honorific form, o-daimoku (お題目) and was first revealed by the Japanese Buddhist teacher Nichiren on the 28th day of the fourth lunar month of 1253 CE at Seichō-ji (also called Kiyosumi-dera) near Kominato in current-day Chiba, Japan. The practice of chanting the daimoku is called shōdai (唱題). The purpose of chanting daimoku is to attain perfect and complete awakening (enlightenment).
As Nichiren explained the mantra in his Ongi Kuden (御義口傳), a transcription of his lectures on the Lotus Sutra, Nam(u) (南無) is a transliteration into Japanese of the Sanskrit “namas“, and Myōhō Renge Kyō is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese title of the Lotus Sutra, in the translation by Kumārajīva (hence, Daimoku, which is a Japanese word meaning ‘title’).
Nam(u) is used in Buddhism as a prefix expressing the taking of refuge in a Buddha or similar object of veneration. In Nam(u) Myōhō Renge Kyō, it represents devotion or conviction in the Mystic Law of Life as expounded in the Lotus Sutra, not merely as one of many scriptures, but as the ultimate teaching of Buddhism, particularly with regard to Nichiren’s interpretation. The use of Nam vs. Namu is, amongst traditional Nichiren schools, a linguistic but not necessarily a dogmatic issue, since u is devoiced in many varieties of Japanese.
The Lotus Sutra is held by Nichiren Buddhists, as well as practitioners of the Chinese Tiantai (T’ien-t’ai) and corresponding Japanese Tendai sects, to be the culmination of Shakyamuni Buddha‘s 50 years of teaching. However, followers of Nichiren Buddhism consider Myōhō Renge Kyō to be the name of the ultimate law permeating the universe, and the human being is at one, fundamentally with this Law and can manifest realization, or Buddha Wisdom (attain Buddhahood), through Buddhist Practice.
Broken down, Nam(u) Myōhō Renge Kyō consists of:
- Nam(u) (南無) from the Sanskrit namas meaning ‘devotion to’
- Myō (妙) meaning ‘strange’, ‘mystery’, ‘miracle’, cleverness’
- Hō (法) meaning ‘law’, ‘principle’, ‘doctrine’
- Myōhō (妙法) meaning ‘supreme (marvelous) law of Buddha’
- Ren (蓮) meaning ‘lotus’
- Ge (華) meaning ‘flower’
- Kyō (経) meaning ‘sutra’ or ‘teaching’
The seven characters na-mu-myō-hō-ren-ge-kyō are written down the centre of the Gohonzon, the mandala venerated by most Nichiren Buddhists. (The veneration towards the mandala should be understood as the veneration for what it represents: the Buddha Nature inherent to our life).
Precise interpretations of Nam(u)-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō, how it is pronounced, and its position in Buddhist practice differ slightly among the numerous schools and sub-sects of Nichiren Buddhism, but “I take refuge in (devote or submit myself to) the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Flower Sutra” might serve as a universal translation.
Soka Gakkai teaching
In Soka Gakkai, the (O)daimoku is the first of the Three Great Secret Dharmas (Laws) (三大秘法) (J. sandai-hihō) revealed by Nichiren. The other two being the Gohonzon, and the Kaidan (Precept Platform).
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation” (cf. spiritual transformation). Its use and type varies according to the school and philosophy associated with the mantra.
In the context of the Vedas, the term mantra refers to the entire portion which contains the texts called Rig, Yajur or Sama, that is, the metrical part as opposed to the prose Brahmana commentary. With the transition from ritualistic Vedic traditions to mystical and egalitarian Hindu schools of Yoga, Vedanta, Tantra and Bhakti, the orthodox attitude of the elite nature of mantra knowledge gave way to spiritual interpretations of mantras as a translation of the human will or desire into a form of action.
For the authors of the Hindu scriptures of the Upanishads, the syllable Om, itself constituting a mantra, represents Brahman, the godhead, as well as the whole of creation. Kūkai suggests that all sounds are the voice of the Dharmakaya Buddha — i.e. as in Hindu Upanishadic and Yogic thought, these sounds are manifestations of ultimate reality, in the sense of sound symbolism postulating that the vocal sounds of the mantra have inherent meaning independent of the understanding of the person uttering them.
Nevertheless, such understanding of what a mantra may symbolize or how it may function differs throughout the various traditions and also depends on the context in which it is written or sounded. In some instances there are multiple layers of symbolism associated with each sound, many of which are specific to particular schools of thought. For an example of such see the syllable: Om which is central to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
While Hindu tantra eventually came to see the letters as well as the sounds as representatives of the divine, the shift toward writing occurred when Buddhism traveled to China. Although China lacked a unifying, ecclesiastic language like Sanskrit, China achieved its cultural unity through a written language with characters that were flexible in pronunciation but more precise in meaning. The Chinese prized written language much more highly than did the Indian Buddhist missionaries, and the writing of mantras became a spiritual practice in its own right. So that whereas Brahmins had been very strict on correct pronunciation, the Chinese, and indeed other Far-Eastern Buddhists were less concerned with this than correctly writing something down. The practice of writing mantras, and copying texts as a spiritual practice, became very refined in Japan, and the writing in the Siddham script in which the Sanskrit of many Buddhist Sutras were written is only really seen in Japan nowadays. However, written mantra-repetition in Hindu practices, with Sanskrit in any number of scripts, is well-known to many sects in India as well.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (Daimoku) è il nome della Legge mistica che regola la vita nell’universo. Quando invochiamo questo mantra, armonizziamo le nostre vite al ritmo perfetto dell’universo, accrescendo il nostro stato vitale, la saggezza, la compassione e la buona fortuna per affrontare le sfide della vita e per ottenere l’Illuminazione.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (Daimoku) is the mystical Law which controls the life in the universe. Chanting this mantra, you can harmonize your lives to the perfect rhytm of the universe, enhancing your condition, wisdom, compassion and luck in order to effort the challenges of life and reach the Enlightment.
Nam Myoho Range Kyo
Millions of people have revolutionized their lives through this dynamic Buddhist practice. It is a living, dynamic Buddhism.
The ultimate teaching of all Buddhas, of the past, present and future, is Nam Myoho Range Kyo. This teaching is the core and heart of all wisdom in the universe. It enables the ordinary human being to look within in order to seek the wisdom and inspiration to solve all life’s problems.
The teaching is based on chanting Nam Myoho Range Kyo to the Mystical Mandala, or Gohonzon, inscribed by the Buddha, Nichiren Dai Shonin in his highest state of enlightenment. Chanting to The Gohonzon, enables us to polish our life and see the Buddha state within.
As we develop our practice, all life around us seeks to support and nurture us, and our lives change for the better with meaningful coincidences. We begin to understand that we are part of an interconnected web of meaningful, enfolding and compassionate existence. Obstacles become fuel for growth and transformation, and all illnesses can be overcome. This teaching is about life, existence, reality, and compassion. It is the culmination of the lineage of wisdom and teachings, begun by Shakymuni Buddha 2,500 years ago.
The ultimate reality is a loving compassionate reality made of the light of consciousness from which all the universe manifests as a creative field of essence.
As Practitioners of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, we have direct access through our chanting to the Gohonzon to this vibrant dynamic field of potentiality and illumination
This gateway is known in many ways, through various esoteric path ways. We need to respect all cultures and all paths which are based on this compassionate view of Humanity and the Universe.
The Buddhism of Nam Myo Renge Kyo is esoteric, and gives us direct access, without any intermediary, to the ocean of universal enlightenment. Our aim is to focus solely on the Dai Gohonzon and chant for World Peace and Unity. We are each privileged to establish our unique connection with the Mystic Law
Nichiren Daishonin states—The sutra says: “Rely on the Law and not upon persons. Rely on the meaning [of the teaching] and not upon the words. Rely on wisdom and not upon discriminative thinking. Rely on sutras that are complete and final and not on those that are not complete and not final.” The meaning of this passage is that one should rely not upon the words of the bodhisattvas and teachers, but should heed that which was established by the Buddha
We must seek and stay with the truth and not follow dogmatic Leaders and Hierarchies. Rely on the words of the Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin himself and seek the most perfect understanding and interpretations of these teachings, which align with modern thought and contemporary science. All the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin are based on literary (written), theoretical (scientific) and actual proof.