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THE GATEWAY

Towering before you is a golden gate too heavy for even the strongest man to open. To enter you’ll need the key. Don’t bother looking around. The key is a sound. Intoning the phrase Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo three times will cause the gate to unlock. Suddenly you find that this imposing gate weighs no more than a feather. With only your small fifth finger you can easily swing it open. Walk through the Gateway, the second part of the Inner Chamber, and you'll find yourself standing inside EverLife’s Sanctuary… Therein you may venerate the Supreme Treasure of Everlasting Life, give thanks for the blessings you have received, and pray for everlasting joy to rain upon all beings.

Opening the Gateway:

The Key

The Sound of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo

The Meaning of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo

Perfect Enlightenment

 

The Key

Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the key into a world of illuminating proportions. It will open a secret vault that is hidden within your life. You can use this treasury to acquire wisdom, trade in your problems for sacks of joy, and enjoy blessings that bring you peace of mind. Nichiren advised that for mortal beings chanting it serves as an elixir to cure all causes of suffering.

 

The Sound of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo


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Audio File Contents: (1) To learn how to pronounce it listen to the phrase Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo as it is chanted slowly three times. This format is used to signal the beginning and end of a chanting session. (2) A chanting session is done in a continuous loop at a steady cadence and tone. Choose a rhythm that is comfortable for you and chant repeatedly until you feel satisfied. (3) The formal and prolonged expression of the phrase is Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. It is chanted here three times slowly. Pronounce the additional syllable “u” as “oo.” This prolonged format is intoned three times to signal the beginning of a silent prayer following the conclusion of a sutra recitation (see Changing Room) or is applied in cadence during a chanting session.

Audio File Run time: 43-seconds

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The Meaning of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo

Nam (pronounced Naahm) — contraction of Namu (ref: Naahm-oo), a Sino-Japanese transliteration of the Sanskrit word Namas. It means “Hail to…” or ”Praise be...” (the following). To date, people in India use the word Namas as a customary greeting. Literally, it denotes “I devote myself to...” Hence, married Hindu women wear a Namas mark (dot symbol) on their forehead — to signify devotion to their husbands. The mark of devotion expresses a voluntary commitment as in “I submit myself to...” or “I pay homage to...,” or “I take refuge in...” (the following). The vow’s implied self-effacement suggests the devotee’s highest possible regard for the venerated object or subject — a readiness to “bend, bow, or submit” oneself to the other. Herein, submission is an expression of humility, not inferiority, as indicated by the custom of bowing with two palms touching — a virtually universal gesture seen in Western religion as “praying hands.” For Eastern cultures the gesticular expression of Nam imparts that the devotee has decided to forego his ego-self in favor of becoming “one in body and mind” with the object of devotion. Hence, Nam erases the line between subject and object. It denotes that the devotee and the venerated are in essence mirror images of one another and as such constitute a single entity. Specific to the Lotus Sutra‘s title, the expression of Nam embodies the adoration and devotion a believer offers to Myoho-Renge-Kyo. With proper humility Nam connotes the mortal devotee and Myoho-Renge-Kyo to be one and interchangeable.

Myoho (pronounced M-yo-hoe) — equivalent of the Sanskrit word Saddharma. A literal translation of Myoho describes a “Mystic Truth” or “Wonderful Law” — terms that convey the profound inexplicable wonder of All Existence. The syllable Myo, whose root in Sanskrit is Sad (pronounced S-aah-d), reflects that which is wonderful and mystic, while Ho, derived from the Sanskrit for “Buddha’s Dharma,” means the Reality, Law, Cosmology or the Truth of All Existence. In addition, Myo means “Perfectly Endowed.” The “Endowment” refers to a gift that all mortals inherently possess. “Perfect” means that it exists universally, without exception, and that it is pure. The subject of this reference is the Gift of Life, wherein Life is defined as a pure universal essence. Furthermore, the syllable Ho is synonymous with True Reality — as seen from the Buddha’s enlightened view. It is synonymous with Life — all that it includes, the way it appears and how it evolves. Hence, the conjunction of Myo and Ho conveys that Life, while boundless and diverse, is fundamentally enlightened and that this enlightenment resides below the surface of mortality and human cognitive reality. Moreover, Myo represents its vehicle-seed — the power to resurrect Ho, the buddha-nature. “To revive” or “return to” that enlightened nature indicates that a mortal’s original state-of-being — characterized as fundamental illumination —  may be raised above mortal ground. From Myoho one may infer that the inherently enlightened essence of Life may be awakened and that the word Myoho itself may be characterized as its catalyst. Hence, the invocation of Myoho constitutes a way for all mortals to infuse their being and experience with the mystic force of Perfect Enlightenment. Any devotee who delights in this wonderful gift would experience the illumination of his body, mind and environment.

Renge (pronounced Ren-gay)— literally, Lotus Flower, metaphor for Life. The seedpod of the Lotus, Ren, embodies the causes that give rise to everything in existence. The petals of the Lotus blossom, Ge, are symbolic of the effects that give substance to all that exists. Thus, Renge embodies the universality of cause and effect. Traditionally, Buddhism teaches that destiny is forged through cause and effect. Accordingly, the gain of good fortune (i.e., healthy mind and body, positive circumstances and harmonious relationships) is due to good acts, while experiences of suffering are retribution for negative acts. The Lotus Sutra‘s use of the word Renge specifically refers to a mythic White Lotus Flower (Skt Pundarika). It embodies the notion that the cause of enlightenment is everpresent in each moment. This Lotus is an Eternal Lotus — the symbol of Everlasting Life, which at once possesses an eternity of causes and effects. From the perspective of the Lotus Sutra, the Lotus blossom and seedpod depict that a single instant of Life is the repository (seedpod) of an eternity of past causes and future effects. It sees each mortal moment as a field of eternal scope. That the Lotus Flower grows in a swamp represents a mortal and immortal intersection within a single Reality of existence.

Kyo (pronounced K-yo) — translated from the Sanskrit for Sutra. Generally, the word sutra means a “teaching” or a “revelation” — alluding specifically to sermons or theses that the Buddha elucidated. Each sutra is indicative of some portion of the whole truth regarding the Buddha’s delineation of the True Reality of All Existence. In the colorful prose of the Sanskrit language, the word sutra literally means “never-ending thread” or “ever-continuous string.” While each sutra constitutes a kind of “vibration” that expresses its message like a piece of music, that every sutra ends with Kyo concatenates all the sutras into one perpetual Dharma. The syllables Renge-Kyo that join to form the words Lotus Sutra together impart that this sutra is the ever-continuing vibration of the Eternal Lotus (i.e., Everlasting Life). Hence, Renge-Kyo declares this pinnacle sutra to be the nexus of the whole Dharma — a perpetually vibrating string of “Everlasting Life.”

Joining the first half of the epithet, Nam-Myoho (i.e., Devotion to the Perfectly Endowed Reality), with the second half, Renge-Kyo (i.e., Everlasting Life), completes the title as follows: “Devotion to the Perfectly Endowed Reality of Everlasting Life.” Thus, the title of the Lotus Sutra imparts that the eternal seed of Life — the same seed that gives rise to mortal existence — is omnipresent, infinite, ever-changing, and of everlasting scope. In declaring that an Eternal Reality resonates within every fiber of mortality, the Lotus Sutra contends that every speck of Nature epitomizes indivisible, indestructible Perfect Enlightenment that simultaneously extends across the universe while it is self-contained within each instant and phenomenon in it.

The insertion of Nam before the “Perfectly Endowed Reality of Everlasting Life,” gives it a personal connotation. Without the particular meaning provided by each human who declares it the definition of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo remains incomplete. One who experiences a distinct cosmic illumination flooding his mind and body might regard the chant in this way: “I Am One With the Wonderful Cosmology of Everlasting Life;” for one who suffers hardships yet is appreciative of the profound blessings inherent in being alive, the chant might mean: “Praise Be the Bearer of the Gift of Everlasting Life For He Has Found Good Fortune;” for one who determines to share his sense of fulfillment with other beings, the phrase could be: “I Declare To All That I Feel the Everlasting Reality of Life Rising Through Me.”

Repeated chanting of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo will invite the spiritual emergence of Life’s inherent endowment. By honoring the Perfectly Endowed Reality of Everlasting Life one causes Perfect Enlightenment to manifest. The revival of one’s greater identity will release the pure luminosity inherent in one’s ultimate self, awaken all of one’s senses, produce oneness and a compassionate shared identity with other mortal beings, and resonate harmoniously with all phenomena in the universe.

 

Perfect Enlightenment

As you head through the Gateway a tranquil light envelopes you. It is so subtle that your eyes cannot see it. Nevertheless, you can feel that it has always been here and you have always known that some day you’ll find it again.

While the pursuit of Perfect Enlightenment is most admirable, the attempt to attain it by using mental calisthenics is futile. It is as preposterous an endeavor as a mortal being trying to achieve physical immortality. However, as the Buddha desired nothing less than universal Perfect Enlightenment for all, he revealed in the Lotus Sutra that the essence of Eternal Life was accessible to all the living.

During the development phase of Buddhism, Sakyamuni’s sage disciples pursued the paths of Learning (hearing and memorizing), Realization (meditating and gaining insights) and Selflessness (teaching and serving others) as the means to enlightenment. However, these followers understood well that the enlightenment these practices would confer on them was a limited one in comparison to Sakyamuni’s Buddhahood — the state of Perfect Enlightenment. Imagine how surprised they were when near the end of his sojourn here on earth, Sakyamuni pointedly said that his most fervent desire was for all human beings to “abide in Perfect Enlightenment.” How could that be? His audience wondered.

The Lotus Sutra defined Perfect Enlightenment as the fundamental state of Life. Accordingly, the eternal identity of Life is also the ultimate identity of the Buddha. As Life is both the root and fiber of all that exists, there is an enlightened force behind all activities that take place on the biological plane of existence. While intangible and subcognitive, this mysterious undercurrent of Life flows in and out of every entity that manifests in the universe. In that respect, Life as defined herein at once encompasses all of existence and manifests in each aspect of existence.

Everything is alive. Life is in everything; it flows through everything; it is everything. From an absolute vantage, Life is intrinsically an everlasting constant, yet from our mortal perspective its myriad expressions are forever changing. Hence, while the nature of mortal existence is a relative and temporary condition, the immortal entity of Life that is at the core of mortality transcends all conditional terms, such as those described by time, form, space or thoughts.

 

Proceed into the Sanctuary.

 

 

 

 

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