One of the first things that you will hear at our Buddhist gatherings is the mantra “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”. Namu – deep respect; Myoho – workings of the Universe; Renge – white lotus emerging; Kyo – sutra, a thread upon which jewels of wisdom are strung.
It is an expression of respect to the teachings but also has a deeper meaning. The words of the mantra represent a set of mind images. These images help us focus our intent on spiritual connection. It brings awareness to the moment and calms and quiets the mind.
The Mantra dates back to the 13th Century in Japan when it was first taught by the Buddhist Monk Nichiren. At that time, most common people were illiterate and there were few books available to spread the Dharma. The Mantra came from an experience Nichiren had as he was standing on top of a mountain at dawn, facing the rising sun. As the sun rose above the horizon, this mantra rose up within him for the first time. He voiced it loudly from the peak of that mountain. This is a wonderful image. These words came with enlightenment and they were intended for all of us.
As an individual practice, chanting the mantra has a very special energy, but it is even stronger with a group. This mantra has been chanted for hundreds of years and by millions of people. When we chant these words we join the collective energies of those spiritual practitioners. This is the power of the Sangha, people practicing a spiritual path together.