Nichiren’s Buddhism and a proud “me”
A brief and humble treatise on my association with Buddhism and my pride of Hinduism
I am a member of a Japanese Buddhist organisation, Soka Gakkai International (known in India as Bharat Soka Gakkai) since last few years. The organisation follows the teachings of Buddha, as interpreted by a Japanese sage, Nichiren Diashonin who declared the Lotus Sutra as the only authentic teaching of Buddha. The basic premise of the teachings include chanting “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” in front of an object of devotion called the “Gohonzon” which is a manifestation of our inner pillar of strength. There are two different types of daily rituals, called “gongyo”, once in morning and again in evening. Gongyo is a prayer which includes chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and reciting two chapters of the Lotus Sutra. One is encouraged to wish for specific things for others and for self and with persistent efforts, Prayers and commitment, one is able to achieve goals rightfully.
The literal meaning of the word ‘Nam’ is ‘respect’ or ‘dedication’ – so the whole phrase Nam Myoho Renge Kyo has the simple meaning of ‘devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra’. The practice also includes motivating and mentoring other members and helping them achieve their objectives while getting themselves attuned with wisdom and compassion. So, in layman terms this practice is a more inclusive one and is in full consonance with our mentor or the sensei (sensei means teacher in Japanese) Dr Daisaku Ikeda, a renowned world peace activist. The overall objective of this Buddhist philosophy is bringing happiness in people’s lives hence paving a way towards forming a peaceful society. This overall objective, in bringing peace in the world, through individual and collective happiness, is called “Kosen-rufu”
Some people who become members of this practice initially get confused with “changing their religion”. I for one had always tried to think rationally, without the baggage of a religious past. For me the literal meaning of the word religion is “way of life”. Hence, once you are convinced of a new religious practice and you already have a great spiritual experience through your own religion, you are capable of reaching a high state of a liberated mind where you start thinking of a new world order where you are capable to help others in achieving their challenges. One friend whom I introduced into this practice said that he is a proud “Hindu” and he can’t leave his religion. I asked him the literal meaning of being a proud Hindu and he said, “Well, for me being a proud Hindu means doing all daily prayers and celebrating festivals” and I told him, “I guess Hinduism signifies seeing divine in everything, in people, in stones, in animals, in trees. This should make you feel proud. You are talking of rituals, which are man-made and a lot of times we do not understand the significance and symbolism of such rituals!”
Hence, if we consciously become aware of what we are and what are we seeking and consistently strive to be better human beings, that’s about it, we are automatically religious. In this context, changing the religion is not an issue. It is all about changing yourself and challenging your own inner capabilities. A pride in one’s religion is still rhetoric sounding; more important is a pride in one self and the immense capabilities which can transform a person from one level to another. Nichiren Buddhism offers this, to true seekers who wish to bring a beautiful change in people’s lives. The true reflection of a human being is to be just that, being human and that’s the only religion which we should all aspire to be proud of and Buddhism helps in manifesting that thought.
These are my personal views. Namaste and Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!