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Record of the Orally Transmitted
Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin

- Ongi Kuden -

Introduction and Preface to the Ongi Kuden: Namu Myoho Renge Kyo [Devotion to the Lotus Sutra]

Namu derives from Sanskrit, and here [in Japan] it is rendered as kimyo , meaning ‘to devote one’s life.’  This means to devote one’s life to the Person and the Law.  Devotion to the Law means to devote one’s life to the Lotus Sutra.  Devotion to the Person means to devote one’s life to Shakyamuni.  Devotion of one’s life means both the physical law of life and the spiritual law of life.  The ultimate principle embodies the oneness of these two.  In addition, devotion, (ki) indicates dedicating our lives to the principle of the eternal and unchanging truth revealed in the theoretical teachings of the Lotus Sutra.  ‘Life’ (myo) means to base ourselves upon wisdom that functions in accord with changing circumstances as revealed in the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra.  Thus, to ‘devote one’s own life’ is the very meaning of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.  T'ien-t'ai states ‘The eternal and unchanging truth and wisdom that functions in accord with changing circumstances are at each moment both contained within life, which embodies and permeates all phenomena.’”

Additionally, ‘to devote’ expresses our physical aspect and ‘life’ our spiritual aspect. The supreme principle reveals that the physical and the spiritual are one and inseparable within the ultimate reality of life.  T'ien-t'ai states that because we devote our lives to the ultimate reality, our devotion is called the Buddha vehicle. Also, while  “ of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo derives from Sanskrit, Myoho Renge Kyo derives from the Chinese language.  Therefore Nam Myoho Renge Kyo comprises both Chinese and Sanskrit.  Moreover, in Sanskrit, one says Saddharma pundarika sutram which is rendered as  Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.  Sad translates as Myo, dharma as Ho, pundarika as Renge and sutram to Kyo.  These nine characters correspond to the nine honored ones and express the principle that the nine worlds inherently possess the Buddha nature.  Myo represents the nature of enlightenment, while ho, indicates darkness or delusion.  The oneness of delusion and enlightenment is called Myoho, the Mystic Law.  Renge represents the principles of cause and effect, and also indicates the simultaneity of cause and effect.  Kyo indicates the words and speech, sounds and voices of all sentient beings.  Chang-an states, ‘The voice does the Buddha’s work.’, and is therefore called kyoKyo also signifies that life spans the three existences of past, present and future.  All things are Myoho, all things are Renge, all things are KyoRenge means the Buddha’s body encompassed by the nine honored ones on the eight petalled lotus.  You should ponder this carefully.” (Gosho Zenshu p.708)

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