Towering before you is a golden gate too heavy for even the
strongest man to open. To enter youll need the key. Dont 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 EverLifes 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 Sound of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
Meaning of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo
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
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
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 vows implied self-effacement
suggests the devotees 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
Sutras 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
Buddhas 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 Buddhas
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 mortals 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 Sutras 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
Buddhas 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
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 Lifes inherent endowment. By honoring the Perfectly Endowed Reality of
Everlasting Life one causes Perfect Enlightenment to manifest. The revival of ones
greater identity will release the pure luminosity inherent in ones ultimate self,
awaken all of ones senses, produce oneness and a compassionate shared identity with
other mortal beings, and resonate harmoniously with all phenomena in the universe.
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 youll 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, Sakyamunis 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 Sakyamunis
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.