looking up – foto by Smith
I bought a six dollar Buddhist chant in San Francisco in 1966 and have used it off and on but more often than not ever since. That was 44 years ago, so that’s about 14 cents a year so far. Not a bad deal as far as spiritual transactions go.
I’ve meandered a mite in my spiritual life.
I started off as we all do, a happy new-born pagan seeking life and love in the magic now.
But guilt soon crept in through being poor and different, and at the age of nine after a couple years of a small country church and reading way too much of the bible on my own I got down on my knees and prayed to God and Jesus to be saved and made clean and good and pure and whole. I did all this by the book as far as I could tell but I felt no answer, no burdens were lifted, and nothing seemed to change inside or out.
But still I felt I was technically a saved Christian because I had bent the knee and said the words so just in case I tried to do as good as possible as a pre-teen could, which meant essentially I lied, I cheated, I stole, and I thought about the naughty bits of females.
(I knew what a female breast looked like back then but hadn’t the foggiest idea what lay below the belt woman-wise. I even had one weird dream in which a relative was going to initiate me into the secrets of sex — she and I were in the barn and she was naked from the waist up but from her belly button down wore a wooden barrel because my mind had no vaginal images to supply.)
Eventually we moved back to the city and at the age of 14 I tried to convert a heathen friend to Christianity. He gave me Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” to read, and together they turned me atheist.
Atheist slowly downsized to agnostic, and in the mid-60′s with psychedelic drugs and books like The Tao of Physics, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Castenada’s Don Juan, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and especially Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception my agnosticism morphed more into a seeker of the mystic.
Later life left me skeptic, then realist, until finally I just learned to endure, — but a wisp of mysticism still overhung it all.
And yet no matter how far down or off I got or how wrong it eventually went, I always pop back positive whatever my current state and think some day some way it’ll be better if I just get back to work on it.
Your know, your basic endless cycle of yes no maybe do it again Zen when.
These days I’m more weary puppet not sure who’s pulling my strings but still have this sense that it’s going to get better down the line if I just get a little better at dancing on my end of the string.
If I had to choose a spiritual label, it’d be animist – everything has a spirit, be it human, animal, plant, rock, mountain, thunder, air – even machines, computers, ideas — and life seems to flow better when we respect the spirit of all, of each, of it.
And I still at least two days out of three use my Buddhist “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” chant. I say it as a form of thanks to the universe, to calm myself down when I get angry, to try and make things go better when creaking bad, to align myself with the flow, or just because it’s a cool sound and it makes me feel a wee bit better.
But I’m chanting to an aware, conscious universe, not a she’he’it god person dressed in robes and rules.
I don’t believe in Heaven, don’t believe in Hell — unless like the Gnostics and Mom who believed Hell is our current life on Earth.
Anyway after all these years I became curious again just what my Nam myoho renge kyo chant meant, so looked it up. If I’m parsing it right, it basically means more or less to devote oneself to correct action and attitude of the mystic law governing invisible life manifesting itself in tangible form via the Lotus flower lesson of birthing and seeding cause and effect simultaneously as we learn to rise unblemished from the muddy swamp around us as we each manifest our own Buddhahood within.
This of course is an extremely simplistic and perhaps incorrect summation of the online information listed below – but hey, I’m doing the best I can here.
So though I don’t pray or believe in a God Person, I do talk to a Conscious Universe and give thanks and ask for its help, direction and suggestions.
Even though my actual words and beliefs differ from the churches and temples and cults and witches and pagans around me, my actions may look awfully similar to anyone watching.
Guess I’m a non-believing believer, or a believing non-believer.
All I know is the universe is interactive, a belief reinforced by my own life experience and what I’ve learned of Quantum Mechanics. How you act helps decide how reality reacts. Sometimes a good attitude and a sense of humor and maybe a chant of thanks help the flow glow rather than growl.
But there ain’t no guarantees, because there are other times Life and the Universe and the All Around just plain ignores you or even decides to stomp the living it out of you.
Life’s a Quantum Wave of Possibility, and what you think and see and perceive and act and ask and expect can alter it in your favor, while what others see and hear and say can help collapse it all against you, so we’re all in a collaborative war to create this current heaven hell hologram of happenstance called life on Earth.
And we need to be doing a better job of it because things are getting sticky wicket icky and we need to start being nicer to ourselves, each other, and the planet.
~ ~ ~
(from the internet)
The invocation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo was established by Nichiren Daishonin on April 28, 1253. Having studied widely among all the Buddhist sutras, he had concluded that the Lotus Sutra contains the ultimate truth of Buddhism: that everyone without exception has the potential to attain Buddhahood. The title of the Lotus Sutra in its Japanese translation is Myoho-renge-kyo. But to Nichiren, Myoho-renge-kyo was far more than the title of a Buddhist text, it was the expression, in words, of the Law of life which all Buddhist teachings in one way or another seek to clarify. What follows is a brief and unavoidably limited explanation of some of the key concepts expressed by this phrase.
The word nam derives from Sanskrit. A close translation of its meaning is “to devote oneself.” Nichiren established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a means to enable all people to put their lives in harmony or rhythm with the law of life, or Dharma. In the original Sanskrit, nam indicates the elements of action and attitude, and refers therefore to the correct action one needs to take and the attitude one needs to develop in order to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.
Myoho literally means the Mystic Law, and expresses the relationship between the life inherent in the universe and the many different ways this life expresses itself. Myo refers to the very essence of life, which is “invisible” and beyond intellectual understanding. This essence always expresses itself in a tangible form (ho) that can be apprehended by the senses. Phenomena (ho) are changeable, but pervading all such phenomena is a constant reality known as myo.
Renge means lotus flower. The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time, and thus represents the simultaneity of cause and effect. The circumstances and quality of our individual lives are determined by the causes and effects, both good and bad, that we accumulate (through our thoughts, words and actions) at each moment. This is called our “karma.” The law of cause and effect explains that we each have personal responsibility for our own destiny. We create our destiny and we can change it. The most powerful cause we can make is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo; the effect of Buddhahood is simultaneously created in the depths of our life and will definitely manifest in time.
The lotus flower grows and blooms in a muddy pond, and yet remains pristine and free from any defilement, symbolizing the emergence of Buddhahood from within the life of an ordinary person.
Kyo literally means sutra, the voice or teaching of a Buddha. In this sense, it also means sound, rhythm or vibration. Also, the Chinese character for kyo originally meant the warp in a piece of woven cloth, symbolizing the continuity of life throughout past, present and future. In a broad sense, kyo conveys the concept that all things in the universe are a manifestation of the Mystic Law.
The definitions above come from the SGI-USA Buddhist Association for Peace, Culture, and Education at http://www.sgi-usa.org/buddhism/nam-myoho-renge-kyo.php
Beware of – foto by Smith