Category Archives: Odaimoku

Myoho

Myoho is the translation of the Sanskrit term Saddharma. Myoho is often translated as “Wonderful Dharma” or sometimes as “Mystic Law”. As suggested by the translation itself, its meaning is broad and profound.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Wishing to See the Buddha

In the prose section of the Juryo (16th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra we find the phrase “lsshin Yok-ken butsu, Fuji Shaku Shin’myo” which means “sincerely wishing to see the Buddha, one does not hold back his life.” These final passages clearly show that our determination, understanding, devotion and refuge must all rise in a sincere and non-selfish manner, and through earnest faith and practice.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

The Good Son

In our decision to dedicate ourselves, we entrust our very life and take refuge within the enlightened world of the Lotus Sutra. Namu, therefore, signifies that as we take shelter in the Buddha, we are embracing every aspect of the Buddha’s compassion, wisdom and enlightened life. On the other hand, it also indicates that in order to achieve this, we choose, then strive, to live our lives in accordance with the spirit and teachings of the Buddha, as his good son, daughter and student.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Firm and Full Dedication

The word Namu … comes to signify a firm and full dedication of our lives, in both its physical and spiritual aspects. In other words, we express our faith in the Buddha and his teachings, particularly in the Lotus Sutra, and at the same time dedicate ourselves to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha in every possible way.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Namas

Namu or Namas assumes a variety of meanings and literally signifies devotion. Namas further signifies to return, restore or entrust one’s life, as well as to express one’s gratitude, a respectful greeting, reverence, to sincerely believe and to take refuge in.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Nourishing the Seed of Buddhahood

[T]he Lotus Sutra opens the seed of Buddhahood or potential enlightenment that each and everyone of us possess, and with the continued chanting of the Odaimoku, it gives that seed the nourishment it needs to sprout, grow and mature into a real living Buddha, transforming lives into that of an enlightened being, blessed with all the same wonderful and varied qualities, virtues and merits that Shakyamuni Buddha himself attained.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

The Very Nature of the Buddha’s Enlightenment

One must … be aware that by chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, one chants not only the of heart of the Lotus Sutra and the essence of all the Buddha’s teachings, but the very nature of his enlightenment itself.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

The Essence and Nature Behind the Buddha’s Teaching

Myoho Renge Kyo expounds two very special concepts, unique to its teachings:

  1. that all beings can become enlightened just as the Buddha, and
  2. that the Buddha’s enlightenment is not something that simply occurred historically under the Bodhi tree when he was 30 years old, but has always existed since the infinite past and is eternal.

The Lotus Sutra, therefore, represents not only the culmination and completion, but indeed, the very essence and nature behind all the Buddha’s teaching.

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

The Title

The Odaimoku, which literally means “the title,” is used in Japanese Buddhism to refer to the repeated recitation of a mantra. Other traditions also recite mantras, such as the Pure Land School or Shingon. The Odaimoku of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is derived from the Lotus Sutra, the essential mantra of Nichiren Shu, but is also adopted by the Japanese Tendai School, all Nichiren-­derived schools, groups and the so-called Nichiren-derived or inspired “new religions.”

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Odaimoku bookcover
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The Odaimoku, which literally means “the title,” is used in Japanese Buddhism in reference to the repeated recitation of a Buddhist mantra. The Odaimoku of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is derived from the title of the Lotus Sutra which over a millennium, continues to have great influence throughout all of Japanese Buddhism. The Lotus Sutra has also been an inspiration to great Buddhist thinkers and Masters in China, Tibet, Korea and Japan since ancient times, and was a subject of profound interest and research by the 13th Century Buddhist Master, Nichiren Shonin. This ingenious teacher not only wrote exhaustively about the Lotus Sutra, but actively promoted the recitation of both the Sutra and its title, the Odaimoku.

The Odaimoku is today, therefore, the essential mantra of Nichiren Shu Buddhist faith and practice. This book examines the meaning of each single word composing the Odaimoku, so that one might have a deeper understanding of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo and its implications on one’s life, cultivation of Buddhist practice and enlightenment. It is divided into the following four chapters for easy comprehension:

  1. Introduction to the Lotus Sutra and Odaimoku
  2. The Meaning of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
  3. Why do we chant the Odaimoku?
  4. How we chant the Odaimoku?

From the book dedication:

May the merit accumulated in the creation of this work adorn the pure land of Buddha, repay the profound debts of gratitude owed to the Three Treasures, our parents, teachers, and all those senior and more experienced, as well as help those who are suffering or in need. May all who see, read or hear this work bring forth their Bodhisattva heart, walk along the Path of the Buddha and obtain the blessed enlightenment of the Tathagata.

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

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