World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on 10th September every year. Suicidal thoughts can plague anyone regardless of age, gender or social status.
There is often a stigma surrounding suicide and seeking help. However, COVID-19 has certainly changed the landscape and emphasised the importance of mental wellness.
Suicide is preventable, and untreated mental conditions is one key reason behind suicide. Generally, incidents such as losing one’s job, illness, broken relationships, accidents or prolonged stressful conditions could potentially be an emotional blow to an individual, resulting in unfortunate ways of coping such as suicide.
We found this guidance by Reverend Shinga Takikawa to be especially encouraging, and hope it shines a light for everyone through these challenging times. Please remember, you are not alone!
The Benefits of Daimoku
New Believers' Guidance Meeting October 2005
Reverend Shinga Takikawa, Kaimyo Magazine Issue 22
We are very fortunate to encounter the Gohonzon and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. I believe every one of you is trying your best to chant the Daimoku. Sometimes believers ask what the significance of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is. The meaning of the Daimoku is very profound. Even I, as a priest, cannot fully explain its meaning. When we chant the Daimoku, we can receive the Gohonzon’s benefits like a baby who is nourished by his or her mother's milk. No baby doubts it. Although the baby does not know the nutrition in the milk, as time goes by he naturally grows. Likewise, pure faith is the key to receiving the Gohonzon’s benefits.
If we do not doubt and sincerely believe in the Gohonzon, we will obtain its benefits.
Nichiren Daishonin states in The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra: "How much more effective, then, is the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, which is the very heart of all the eighty thousand sacred teachings of Buddhism and the eye of countless Buddhas! How can you doubt that, by chanting it, you can escape from the four evil paths?"
In the history of Buddhism, Shakyamuni Buddha is the founder of Buddhism, who expounded 80,000 teachings. Nichiren Daishonin explained that the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the heart of the 80,000 teachings of Buddhism. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten directions and three existences of life are produced from the single law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. The three existences of life refer to the past, present and future lifetimes.
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, is like milk for all people. We are also from this law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
We humans cannot live without our hearts. Among all our internal organs, the heart is the most important organ to sustain life. Similarly, the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the heart of the 80,000 teachings of the Buddha.
The Gosho states that "the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra... is the eye of countless Buddhas." Without eyes, we cannot walk. There may be dangerous objects ahead or potholes on the ground. Without eyes, we may trip and fall.
The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra enables us to seek the correct direction and choose the right path in life. Although it is not possible to explain completely the significance of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, I will more or less explain. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the life of the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin and the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the virtue of the Buddha. We can reap the benefit of the attainment of enlightenment. It is also the Buddha's profound compassion and the source of all Buddhism.
We chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo - seven Chinese characters. Nam is ‘devotion’. The five characters of 'Myo-Ho-Renge-Kyo' signify the name of the Buddha. By chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, we are saying, "I devote my life to the Buddha named Myo Ho Renge Kyo". When we chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo with feeling to the Gohonzon, we devote ourselves to the Gohonzon, which is 'Myo Ho Renge Kyo’.
Sometimes we think that our life belongs to us. From the Buddhist viewpoint, this is incorrect. In fact, our life belongs to the Buddha, the Gohonzon. We are part of the Buddha's life. Since our life belongs to Gohonzon, we will return to Gohonzon. This is the meaning of ‘devotion’. 'Nam' means ‘devotion’; to devote our life to Gohonzon and to return to Gohonzon.
If our life belongs to us, it means we can control our life. Can we not die? However, nobody in this world can control his life. When the time comes, we have to die and return to the Gohonzon. Not only our life, but our house, money, clothing - everything that exists in this world - do not last forever.
The young will become old one day. Money spent will be gone; new clothing will become old one day. Nothing lasts forever; everything changes. One day when we die, our life will return to the universe. This is the universal law. Nothing belongs to us.
All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are produced from the single law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Not only that, everything comes from Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. If we understand this point, we can understand 'Nam', which means to return to the Gohonzon with devotion of one's life.
‘Myoho' means the ‘mystic law’. Myo’ represents our mind and "ho" our physical body. The mind and body are one and cannot be separated. The oneness of the mind and body is ‘myo ho’. If the mind and body are separate, it means that the person has died and does not exist anymore. To sustain life, the body and mind must be together.
In society, there are people who commit suicide because they feel hopeless and that everything is a suffering to them. When one commits suicide, his body and mind will be separated. Even if he dies, he will not find happiness.
When one takes his own life in order to escape from suffering, his body and mind are separated. Even in death, there is no happiness. We have to understand that because the body and mind are always together, we can have the strength to live and have the courage to face reality and the wisdom to overcome our problem and difficulties.
If there is mind but no body, how can we move? How can we throw a stone? Only when we have a body, can we take action. The body and mind are always together. Therefore, if we are determined to achieve something, we have to make an effort. Then one day, we will fulfil our aspirations. If we wish to enjoy good health, we have to put in effort to achieve it. If we are determined to overcome our poverty and enjoy life, we can do it. If we are determined to propagate Nam-Myoho-Renge Kyo for other people's happiness, we have to study Buddhism and speak to others about Buddhism so that they, too, can embrace Buddhism. One day we will achieve our shakubuku targets. In order to achieve all these, our body and mind must be one.
Nichiren Daishonin states in 'Reply to Kyo'o', "Believe in this mandala with all your heart. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle?"
Although we may be suffering from sickness, if we have the courage to overcome it, we will definitely improve our health and cure our sickness. Even if we were to die unfortunately from sickness, as long as we had chanted Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, we would eradicate the cause of our sickness in this life so that we will not suffer from the same sickness in future.
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo makes our mind strong and with the strength, we can cure our sickness and improve in health. But if we do not chant, our mind will become weaker day by day and we will notice our sickness will deteriorate fast and the condition will worsen. Please remember that ‘myoho’ represents the oneness of the body and mind.
Chanting 'myo ho renge kyo’ purifies our life condition and our health will continue to improve.
‘Myoho' can also be interpreted as the ‘self’ and ‘environment’. Life and environment are one. Chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge- Kyo to the Gohonzon will purify our life condition and change our environment. So even if we are suffering, we have no right to blame our environment. If the environment is unfavourable to us, it is because our Daimoku is insufficient and our negative karma is not eradicated.
'Myoho’ is the oneness of the mind and body. It is also the oneness of the self and the environment. To change the environment, we have to change ourselves first. When we change ourselves, the environment will become favourable.
'Renge’ is the law of cause and effect. Good causes will bring good effects whereas bad causes will result in bad effects. Whatever we have done in the past will manifest as effects when the time comes. We have the cause to be born as human. It is no coincidence that we are here in this world. Dogs, cats, snakes, insects and ants all have their own causes to be born in those forms of life. We eat to sustain our lives. We also have the basic desire to procreate, that is, to have children and descendants. Similarly, animals eat to sustain their lives and have offsprings. That is a basic instinct.
Human beings are different in that we know how to enjoy life. We build houses and enjoy the finer things of life such as listening to music, painting and watching musicals. Animals don't do these things. Only humans have the wisdom and know how to enjoy life. Animals don't. They only have instincts. We have the power of wisdom to distinguish the good from the bad, the dos and don'ts in life. Humans can control their desires and know how to avoid creating negative karma and accumulate good fortune.
Ultimately, only humans can embrace faith in True Buddhism and devote themselves to the practice of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to Gohonzon. With the power of wisdom, we choose the correct religion and believe in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism, chant Nam-Mycho-Renge-Kyo, elevate our life condition and change our lives.
The Three Virtues of the Lotus Flower
The three virtues of the lotus flower are:
1. Virtue of being unsoiled by dirt or mud. The lotus flower is beautiful even though it grows in the muddy pond. Our earth is like the muddy pond defiled by desires and the evil mind. However, we also possess the beautiful flower of Buddha nature. We can attain enlightenment in this saha world which is full of sufferings.
2. Virtue of the undying seed. Even if the lotus seed is buried in the seed without water, it can stay alive for a thousand or two thousand years. It will not die or rot. Once we form a relationship with Nichiren Daishonin, it will continue for a thousand or two thousand years. In our future lifetime, we will encounter Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhsim again and continue to practise and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
3. Simultaneity of cause and effect. When we embrace the Gohonzon and the True Law and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge- Kyo, we will certainly attain enlightenment.
'Kyo' expresses the Buddha's words and words from the sutras. 'Kyo' represents 'Myo Ho Renge’. It is the same in human relationships. If we don't speak, nobody knows what we are thinking or what we want. In a restaurant, if we don't place our order, no food will come. By the same principle, if there are no words, the Buddha's teachings cannot be expressed. My explanation may be superficial.
To sum it up, 'Nam' means devotion, the oneness of body and “myoho' is mind or self and environment, ‘renge’ refers to the law of cause and effect while 'kyo' describes 'Myo Ho Renge’.
With this understanding, we should put our hearts and feelings in the Gohonzon when we chant the daimoku. ‘Myoho Renge Kyo’ is possessed by Nichiren Daishonin and the Gohonzon is the life and soul of the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin.
The Daishonin states in ‘Repaying Debts of Gratitude’: "If Nichiren's compassion is truly great and encompassing, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo will spread for ten thousand years and more, for all eternity, for it has the beneficial power to open the blind eyes of every living being in the country of Japan, and it blocks off the road that leads to the hell of incessant suffering."
Here, it does not refer to Japan alone but all living beings of the whole universe. As long as they sincerely chant the Daimoku, they will obtain the boundless benefits of the Gohonzon, which has the power to block the path to the hell of incessant suffering. I hope all of you will strengthen your faith in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and sincerely chant the Daimoku so that you will definitely enjoy the Gohonzon's benefits and overcome all your difficulties.
Interested to find out more? Kaimyo-in believers may access further resources via your Kaimyo Powerbank account:
- Original article as published on Kaimyo Magazine： “The Benefits of Daimoku”, Reverend Shinga Takikawa, Kaimyo Magazine Issue 22
- “An Outline of the Zukurui and Other Chapters”, Oko Lecture January 2009, Kaimyo Magazine Issue 40
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