According to the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni’s final teaching, Buddhahood exists as the highest potential present in every human being. It is a state of perfect freedom, in which each person is awakened to the eternal and ultimate truth that is the reality of all things.
It is characterized by:
– boundless wisdom which functions in accordance with changing circumstances
– infinite compassion
– unshakeable happiness.
This state of life can be tapped and brought out to be lived in everyday life by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Cause & Effect is Impartial
In Buddhism, the law of cause and effect is an impartial law, which operates in the depths of our lives. It covers past, present and future existences and it operates whether we have an understanding of it or not.
Setting a Seed
The Lotus Flower ( renge) is the symbolic representation of the law of cause and effect in our lives. It is unique in the plant kingdom as it both seeds and blooms simultaneously. Like that, when you think or act today you have set a seed in your life which, without fail, will manifest as an effect in your future when the conditions are right.
Thus past actions have created causes, both good and bad, which are manifesting in your present life today. The causes you make today will manifest as effects sometime in the future. Not only will they manifest in your future but they will determine your future. We never fail to receive an effect for our actions, whether they be good or bad.
This means that each of us is fully responsible for the conditions of our lives and whether you are happy or unhappy is the reflection of the good and bad causes accumulated in your life.
Your Life’s in Your Hands
This is a philosophy of great empowerment. Since we have created our present circumstances, then we can consciously use this law in our favor and create good causes in the present to manifest as positive effects in the future.
The object of change lies deep within the life of each individual who practices. Through this process you will establish your ultimate purpose in life and work towards the perfection of self. In this manner you will gradually unfold your full potential and will be able to use all of your strengths and abilities in whatever arena you choose. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will enable you to shine in your own unique way as you overcome your weaknesses and unfold your abilities to become unshakably happy.
Human revolution in the life of first one individual then another will grow into the reformation of society and the world. As President Ikeda says, “A great inner revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of an entire society and, further, will cause a change in the destiny of humankind.” Buddhism Day by Day, p. 214
Karma is Action
The word karma just basically means action and action can be either bad or good. Actions taken over and over create the tendency to do the same thing again. It’s very like digging a rut in a dirt path. One person walking it disturbs it little but one after another walk it, ruts develop in the path that get deeper over time.
The Workings of Cause and Effect
According to the principle of cause and effect, actions taken in the past create the foundation for the conditions of our lives today. When we act, think, pray or speak we are setting a seed in the depths of our lives. This is called a latent effect. It has not yet become obvious. At some time in the future that latent effect will become manifest when the conditions are right for it to appear.
How Tendencies Appear
Karma also includes the tendencies that exist in each of our lives. They will surface when the appropriate conditions appear. Remember the Holocaust in World War 11? Some people were cowardly and would do anything to protect themselves. Others showed great courage and did what they could at great risk to themselves to help others. These different actions were all examples of internal tendencies which came out under the pressures existing at that time.
Our habits are examples of these tendencies. The person who overeats regularly, or another who always gives what he has to someone who needs it, are examples of karmic tendencies existing in the life of each person.
Past Interpretations of Karma
In past interpretations, karma has been thought of as a fixed, immutable condition that determined an individual’s station in life. It has been used to encourage disadvantaged people to accept their conditions in life as of their own making and to be satisfied with their lot. It also provided the basis for people, who were more fortunate, to believe in their entitlement.
How Nichiren Buddhism Views Karma
Nichiren Buddhism teaches that one of the purposes of Buddhism is to change karma. When you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in front of the Gohonzon and also work for the happiness of others you will find you have the power to alter any negative circumstances in your life, thus changing your karma. You literally have your future in your own hands and can transform it for the better at any time. This is a philosophy of great empowerment which you can prove to yourself.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the Law of the life of the universe, which is present in all things. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo also is the practice for attaining Enlightenment
Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of this branch of Buddhism, established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It was to enable each person to put his or her life in rhythm with the Dharma, or the law of Life. By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, each person has the potential to achieve Buddhahood in this lifetime.
Nam – means devotion or fusion of your life with the Law
Myoho – refers to the Mystic Law. It is mnystic because we don’t understand how the law works. It expresses how the life force, inherent in all things, manifests itself in the world of phenomena.
- Myo – the spiritual essence of life itself, which cannot be apprehended by the senses and is also beyond intellectual understanding.
- Ho– the physical world
All these forms change, are born, live and die. Within all of them, exists myo.
Renge – represents the Lotus Flower. The lotus flower is unique in the plant world because it seeds and roots at the same time. Like that, with every thought, word or action we make we set a seed, a cause in our lives That cause will manifest as an effect when the time is right in the future. This is called our ”karma.”
The law of cause and effect indicates that we each have responsibility for our own destiny. Since we created it, we have the power to change it through our Buddhist practice.
When you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, you have created a powerful cause for Buddhahood to manifest in your life. As the lotus flower remains pure even though rooted in a muddy pond, so Buddhahood remains free from defilement in the life of an ordinary person.
Kyo – Through sound. also awakening to the true understanding of the Law.
When you do the primary practice, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo over and over, also known as “daimoku,” you can manifest the life state of Buddhahood and will experience increased life force, wisdom, compassion and courage as well as establish a state of unshakeable happiness.
Listen to the Chant
The ten worlds are one of the basic concepts of Buddhism. They represent inner states of life within each of us, rather than actual physical places. Each of us experience these inner states throughout the day. They range from hell to Buddhahood.
The Six Lower Worlds
We experience the lower six worlds when we react to things which happen in our everyday lives.
1-The lowest is Hell, stuck, misery.
2 –The world of Hunger or unfulfilled desires or cravings
3-The world of Animality, the world of instincts where the strong prey on the weak, without morality or wisdom, law of the jungle
4-The world of Anger, excessive pride, arrogance, angry a a lot
5-The world of Humanity a neutral, calm state where desires and impulses are moderated with with reason
6-The world of Rapture, the temporary joy of achieving some desire or being released from suffering
The Four Higher Worlds
The four higher worlds are not reactive but proactive. You have to make an effort to do something to enter these worlds.
7 -The world of Learning – learning from others.
8 -The world of Realization – discovery from personal experience, the ah-ha experience
9-The world of Bodhisattva, compassion, working for the happiness of oneself and others.
10–The world of Buddhahood, a state of absolute happiness, perfect freedom and deep wisdom, enlightened to the true nature of life, working to relieve the suffering of people
Are We Really Separate from Our Environment?
In today’s world, we are trained to look at ourselves as separate from our environment. As we look at the world every day, our view would seem to confirm this. A person is a person and the environment is the environment.
The major Asian religions would disagree with this and their point of view is supported by science. Current scientists describe the quantum field as the field where everything is energy and fully interconnected. Buddhism would agree. One of the basic philosophical concepts in Buddhism is the interconnectedness of all things.
This means that life and its environment, although appearing on the surface as separate, are, at the basic level, two integral dimensions of a single reality, each in relationship with the other.
The Relationship Between Life and It’s Environment
Nichiren Daishonin, the 13th century monk who developed our practice describes this concept. “Environment is like the shadow, and life, the body. Without the body no shadow can exist and without life, no environment. In the same way, life is shaped by its environment.” Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, 644
You all know that when you visit someone’s home, that home reflects the person living in it. It reflects their tastes, whether they are neat or messy, organized or disorganized. As the home reflects the inner life of the person, so that home environment, in turn, influences the person who lives there.
Our Inner Lives Create Our Environment
This principle, that life and its environment are two aspects of one reality, is taken further in Buddhism. We are not born into a static environment outside of ourselves along with everyone else. Rather our inner lives uniquely customize and tailor our environment to fit us. Our parents, and the causes and conditions into which we are born reflect our karma, the results of our past actions. This principle extends to include all the circumstances of our lives.
As Bill Aiken, SGI-leader describes it. “We are all going around with our personal universe, one that extends from the inner depths of our lives outward to all the phenomena of our surroundings.”
To Change Your Environment, Change Yourself
When we understand that our inner life influences our environment, then the path to change our environment becomes quite clear. To influence the outer world, we must strengthen and improve our inner self. As we take on obstacles and challenges through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, we strengthen that inner self. As we change so will our environment.