This is perhaps the most basic question people would ask about this practice. If you are a Non-Buddhist, the action of chanting Mantra might be foreign to you. In some beliefs, the action of chanting Mantra is the basis of their belief that one is creating a good cause towards advocating the truths. The explanation below is taken directly from Soka Gakkai International (SGI)’s website, the foremost non-profit organization that is protecting this teaching, about the meaning of this mantra:
Nam comes from the Sanskrit namas, meaning to devote or dedicate oneself.
Myo can be translated as mystic or wonderful, and ho means law.
This law is called mystic because it is difficult to comprehend. What exactly makes it difficult to comprehend? It is the wonder of ordinary people, beset by delusion and suffering, awakening to the fundamental law in their own lives and realizing that they are inherently Buddhas able to solve their own problems and those of others.
Renge means lotus blossom.
The lotus flower is pure and fragrant, unsullied by the muddy water in which it grows. Similarly, the beauty and dignity of our humanity is brought forth amidst the sufferings of daily reality.
Further, unlike other plants, the lotus puts forth flowers and fruit at the same time. This illustrates the principle of the simultaneity of cause and effect; we do not have to wait to become someone perfect in the future, we can bring forth the power of the Mystic Law from within our lives at any time.
Kyo literally means sutra and here indicates the Mystic Law likened to a lotus flower, the fundamental law that permeates life and the universe, the eternal truth.
The title “Myoho Renge Kyo” is actually the title of the Lotus Sutra, which is expounded by Buddha Gautama (Shakyamuni Buddha) some 2,500 years ago. This is believed to be true, based on the Buddha of the latter day: Nichiren Daishonin that this is the teaching (out of the 8,000 teachings Shakyamuni Buddha has expounded before his passings) to be the only and correct teaching for the Latter Day of the Law. This has historical significance and factual proofs.
The essence of True Buddhism according to Nichiren Daishonin, who has continued this heritage of preaching the true law of Life and Death, is the conviction that:
- We have within us at each moment the ability to overcome any problem or difficulty that we may encounter in life; a capacity to transform any suffering.
- Our lives possess this power because they are inseparable from the fundamental law (Which is Myoho Renge Kyo) that underlies the workings of all life and the universe.
The fundamental teaching of the Lotus Sutra is that for all living beings, we have innate within us the life state of Buddhahood, which is the highest state of life. That is equal to that of Shakyamuni Buddha, Many Treasures Buddha, and Nichiren Daishonin himself.
To quote from Nichiren Daishonin’s Gosho (the writings of Nichiren Daishonin where he has encouraged his disciples to continue in faith, I will be inferring a lot from Goshos to provide you with the most accurate information):
The Lotus Sutra is the king of sutras, true and correct in both word and principle. Its words are the ultimate reality, and this reality is the Mystic Law (myōhō). It is called the Mystic Law because it reveals the principle of the mutually inclusive relationship of a single moment of life and all phenomena. That is why this sutra is the wisdom of all Buddhas. – (WND, On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime, p 3)
Based upon Nichiren Daishonin’s conviction:
The truth of all phenomena in life is Myoho Renge Kyo, and innate in our lives is Myoho Renge Kyo. In the eternality of life and death, this is the ultimate law of the Universe. This is the Sutra where all great teachings find inspiration from.
When one upholds the Lotus Sutra and chants the Daimoku, the Daishonin expounds the great benefits that:
Whether you chant the Buddha’s name (referring to Nam Myoho Renge Kyo), recite the sutra, or merely offer flowers and incense, all your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life. With this conviction you should strive in faith. – (WND, On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime, p 4)
It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being. When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure tobecome like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. -(WND, On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime, p 4)
I wish for you to put the teachings into practice, and chant earnestly for your happiness.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo