For regular yoga practitioners, the word “mantra” is more than familiar to them. Broken down to its simpler form, mantra can be split into man meaning “mind”, and tra meaning “vehicle”. Just as a vehicle needs to be directed on where to go, the mind is in need of an instrument. Mantras have become a necessary tool in meditation to calm the chaos that stirs within the mind. Meditating with mantras is like directly feeding your soul, the effects are immediate and powerful.
Mantras are sacred utterances, repeated again and again as powerful statements of intention for affirmation to the mind and body. Each sound invokes the power of the divine and instills divinity into the very words themselves. Not only does it calm the mind and help in practicing mindfulness, it is also used to induce a trance. This trance is an altered state of consciousness that helps improve the user’s psychological and spiritual states.
Though many powerful mantras exist, the most powerful manifestations can be felt through the chanting of the nam–myoho–renge–kyo mantra.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo
As all mantras have their uses and meanings, the nam-myoho-renge-kyo is described as a promise to embody Buddha and his nature in order to overcome one’s sufferings and difficulties, and to encourage the same in others. It translates to “I devote myself to the Lotus sutra”, though each word can be looked into a little closer.
‘Nam’ comes from the word namas which means “to be devoted” in Sanskrit. Nicheren began use of this word in chants in order to lead people toward lives following dharma.
‘Myo’ means brilliant and mystical.
‘Ho’ means law.
Together, myoho speaks of the mystic law, or rather the cosmic law, which refers to the mysteries of the universe that remain forever unknown to us by mere intellectual understanding.
‘Renge’ means lotus blossom.
And ‘Kyo’ means sutra, or the cosmic laws. These are the messages of Buddha, and refer not only to the message, but the sounds, the vibrations and the rhythm.
The lotus blossom is a common symbol in vedic and buddhist chants, as it symbolises purity and dignity. Just as the lotus flower stalks tall and blooms out of the murky waters, so should the chanters of the nam–myoho–renge–kyo come out of their sufferings in full bloom and purity.
Getting Started With Nicheren Chanting
Before we can get started on how to perform Nicheren chanting, the first question to be answered is “What is Nicheren?”.
Nicheren is the name of the 13th century monk who created the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. According to him and Buddhist tachings, all human beings have the ability to overcome any hardship they may face, no matter how difficult and trying it may be. This mantra was developed in order to give people a way in which they could act out this principle in their daily lives.
Nicheren believed the principle of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo governed the entire universe and its workings, and that by extension, enlightenment may only be reached through its repeated invocation.
As mentioned earlier, the words of the Buddha are not simple messages. It is also the sounds and vibrations. The subtle sounds used in mantras are sacred in and of itself. If one wishes to receive the full effects of this chant, they must perform it aloud. Nicheren had mentioned this while quoting an older Buddhist philosopher: “The voice does Buddha’s work.”
Wondering when it should be chanted and how many times? So powerful is this mantra, that if done correctly, even once in a lifetime according to Nicheren would be enough. That person would still receive unimaginable blessings. However, he says, that as often as prayer is needed, the nam–myoho–renge–kyo may be chanted. It is never too late to seek enlightenment. Nor is anyone excluded from the journey to enlightenment. The Buddha believed that this mantra sees no distinctions and everyone can enjoy its benefits.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Benefits
Though it has been emphasised throughout this piece how beneficial reciting the nam–myoho–renge–kyo can be, it is important to see how exactly it can benefit and change your life.
1) Unlocks your potential
By simply reciting this mantra, you accept responsibility for yourself and your actions. By praying the nam–myoho–renge–kyo, you are already taking your life into your own hands, steeling yourself against all the obstacles you will have to hurdle on your way to enlightenment.
2) Calms the mind
By entering an altered state of consciousness, the brain focuses on only the mantra, ridding itself of all thought and existing only in the present. This is reported to be a spiritually enlightening process.
3) Gives the speaker courage
Through the chanting of this mantra we summon Buddha’s nature into ourselves, which gives us an instant boost of courage, making it seem as if nothing is impossible to achieve.
4) Clears your mind for decision making
As the mantra calms your thoughts, and rids it of the negativity, your mind is decluttered of unnecessary baggage. This newfound freedom allows you to assert your energies toward focusing on important matters and maintain a clear head while making life altering decisions.
The ultimate goal of all humans is to reach a state of enlightenment. By reciting the nam–myoho–renge–kyo, the chanter embodies the Buddha himself, and as the Buddha is the ultimate enlightened being, the chanter also reaches a state of enlightenment.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Miracles
- Makes things easier- After a few months of chanting, meditators usually report that their life is suddenly becoming a lot smoother and easier and that their level of happiness has ridden.
- Acceptance of Death- Another interesting ‘miracle’ is the fact that once you start chanting and continue for a few months, you start to accept the fact that you and everything around you will die. This can sound scary now but once you start to chant the mantra, the acceptance of death comes easily.