From a certain standpoint, nothing is as vulnerable and fragile as a human being. Nor, perhaps, is there anything potentially as base or cruel. On the other hand, there is no limit to how strong or noble a person can become through cultivating the heart. One’s spirit has no color, shape or dimension, but given the proper conditioning it can expand boundlessly.
Without opposition there is no growth. It is hard to argue with that logic. A state in which we are free from problems or constraints is not happiness. Happiness is transcending all opposition and obstacles and continuing to grow.
The invocation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo was established by Nichiren Daishonin on April 28, 1253. Having studied widely among all the Buddhist sutras, he had concluded that the Lotus Sutra contains the ultimate truth of Buddhism: that everyone without exception has the potential to attain Buddhahood. The title of the Lotus Sutra in its Japanese translation is Myoho-renge-kyo. But to Nichiren, Myoho-renge-kyo was far more than the title of a Buddhist text, it was the expression, in words, of the Law of life which all Buddhist teachings in one way or another seek to clarify. What follows is a brief and unavoidably limited explanation of some of the key concepts expressed by this phrase.
The word nam derives from Sanskrit. A close translation of its meaning is “to devote oneself.” Nichiren established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a means to enable all people to put their lives in harmony or rhythm with the law of life, or Dharma. In the original Sanskrit, nam indicates the elements of action and attitude, and refers therefore to the correct action one needs to take and the attitude one needs to develop in order to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.
Myoho literally means the Mystic Law, and expresses the relationship between the life inherent in the universe and the many different ways this life expresses itself. Myo refers to the very essence of life, which is “invisible” and beyond intellectual understanding. This essence always expresses itself in a tangible form (ho) that can be apprehended by the senses. Phenomena (ho) are changeable, but pervading all such phenomena is a constant reality known as myo.
Renge means lotus flower. The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time, and thus represents the simultaneity of cause and effect. The circumstances and quality of our individual lives are determined by the causes and effects, both good and bad, that we accumulate (through our thoughts, words and actions) at each moment. This is called our “karma.” The law of cause and effect explains that we each have personal responsibility for our own destiny. We create our destiny and we can change it. The most powerful cause we can make is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo; the effect of Buddhahood is simultaneously created in the depths of our life and will definitely manifest in time.
The lotus flower grows and blooms in a muddy pond, and yet remains pristine and free from any defilement, symbolizing the emergence of Buddhahood from within the life of an ordinary person.
Kyo literally means sutra, the voice or teaching of a Buddha. In this sense, it also means sound, rhythm or vibration. Also, the Chinese character for kyo originally meant the warp in a piece of woven cloth, symbolizing the continuity of life throughout past, present and future. In a broad sense, kyo conveys the concept that all things in the universe are a manifestation of the Mystic Law.
No matter how long the cold, bleak days of winter may continue, winter always turns to spring. This is the law of the universe and the law of life. As long as we hold on to hope, spring is sure to come.
“The courage not to bow to pressure, the courage to stand alone, the courage to maintain one’s determination, the courage to look deep into one’s heart and confront one’s own cowardice and arrogance, the courage to challenge difficulties—those who possess this kind of courage are true victors.”
One way that Buddhism explains life is through a concept known as the “the ten worlds.” These are ten states or conditions of life that we experience within ourselves and are then manifested throughout all aspects of our lives. Each of us possesses the potential for all ten, and we shift from one to another at any moment, according to our interaction with the environment. That is, at each moment, one of the ten worlds is being manifested and the other nine are dormant.
In the face of rejection, you must learn to be courageous. It is important to believe in yourself. Be like the sun, which shines on serenely even though not all the heavenly bodies reflect back its light and even though some of its brilliance seems to radiate only into empty space. While those who reject your friendship may sometimes fade out of your life, the more you shine your light, the more brilliant your life will become.