Who's Who on the Gohonzon?

by Rev. Ryuei Michael McCormick

This Great Mandala is #81 in the GohonzonShu...

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo!

Devotion to the
Wonderful Dharma
of the Lotus Flower

The most common Gohonzon issued by Nichiren Shu to its members (made of silk)

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Devotion to the Wonderful Dharma of the Lotus Flower Teaching

Lotus Seeds: The Essence of Nichiren Shu Buddhism gives the following basic explanation of the Odaimoku, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo:

"In Sino-Japanese, the name of the Lotus Sutra is Myoho Renge Kyo. These five characters are themselves an expression of the essential core of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha taught in the Lotus Sutra. Because the Odaimoku embodies the essence of the Lotus Sutra, the five characters Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo are the key to unlocking the Buddha-nature which resides within all life. When the word Namu, meaning 'devotion,' is added to the title, it becomes Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, or 'Devotion to the Wonderful Truth of the Lotus Flower Teaching.' According to Nichiren, by simply chanting 'Namu Myoho Renge Kyo we are expressing our faith in the Eternal Buddha and opening our lives to all the qualities and merits of Buddhahood.

"For a clearer understanding of what Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is all about, let us take a closer look at each of the words which compose it.

"Namu comes from the Sanskrit word Namas, which means 'I devote myself to' or 'I take refuge in.' This affirms that when all other self-oriented methods of attaining happiness have failed, we come to recognize that true happiness is only found in the True Dharma.

"Myoho means 'True Dharma' or 'Wonderful Dharma.' It refers to the dynamic and interdependent true nature of life, in which everything exists through mutual support and transformation. In fact, the Buddha-nature is another name for life's inherent potential to recognize this true nature. Renge means 'Lotus Flower.' This illustrates the workings of the Wonderful Dharma by symbolizing the unity of cause and effect -- in this case aspiration and realization -- because the lotus produces flowers and seeds simultaneously. It also symbolizes the blossoming of the purity of Buddhahood from out of the muddy water of ordinary life, just as the pure white lotus flower blooms from the depths of muddy swamps. Kyo means 'Sutra,' which is what the Buddhist scriptures are called. Sutra means 'a thread of discourse.' In this context it refers to all the teachings of the Buddha which culminate in the Lotus Sutra. In a larger sense, because all phenomena manifest the Buddha's teachings, all phenomena can be considered the Buddha's teachings and actual manifestations of the truth of the Lotus Sutra.

"The recitation of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, is therefore the verbal expression of our heartfelt wish to attain Buddhahood. It is also a statement of our firm faith that Buddhahood is the true nature of our lives which can be realized anew in every moment. In this way we plant the seed of awakening within our lives and within the lives of others. The more we nourish this seed through our practice, the more our life will embody our ideals." (pp. 81-82)

Senchu Murano explains:

"The Myoho Renge Kyo is not only the title of the Lotus Sutra but also the name of the Dharma itself. It is the core of the Lotus Sutra, the symbol of Nichiren Buddhism, the seed of Buddhahood to be sown in the minds of those who must be saved. We can say that the Purified Saha-world is the Palace of Sakyamuni Buddha because he is the Great King of the Dharma, and that the Myoho Renge Kyo is the Royal Standard hoisted on the roof of the Palace of the Great King of the Dharma." (Manual of Nichiren Buddhism pp.57-58)

Senchu Murano also writes:

"The Daimoku is the symbol of the Purified Saha-world of the Original Sakyamuni Buddha, the Royal Standard of the Palace of the Great King of the Dharma. Where there is the Daimoku, there is the Buddha. Even when the Emperor is in the field, the presence of the Imperial Standard indicates the whereabouts of the Emperor. Even when the Great Mandala is not fully inscribed or not written at all, the existence of the Daimoku represents the Buddha. Hence, Ippen Shudai no Gohonzon or the 'Gohonzon of the Daimoku Only' can be lawfully established." (Ibid, p. 59)

Copyright by Ryuei Michael McCormick. 2002.

Lotus World by Rev. Ryuei
NewLotus World: an Illustrated Guide to the GohonzonNew
This portion of Nichiren's Coffeehouse was converted into a book to celebrate their 25th anniversary by the Nichiren Buddhist Temple of San Jose and the Rev. Ryuei Michael McCormick in 2005. Ryuei updated the text and it was illustrated by Matt Miller and Rika Williams. It is now the most comprehensive guidebook to Nichiren's Lotus Sutra Mandala in the English language and includes a framable 8.5x11 Pictoral Gohonzon of the Great Mandala of the Nichiren School!

If you have any questions, please Email Ryuei. To order this gem of a book, mail your check or money order for $20 (incl. shipping) to the Nichiren Buddhist Temple of San Jose.

Nichiren Buddhist Temple of San Jose
3570 Mona Way
San Jose, CA 95130

Table of Contents: The Odaimoku | The Buddhas | Four Bodhisattvas | Provisional Bodhisattvas | Esoteric Deities | The Shravaka Disciples | Vedic Deities | Four Heavenly Kings | More Devas... | Shinto Deities | Lineage Chart | Vedic Cosmology | Bibliography

Last Page | Ryuei.net | GohonzonShu | Next Page

More Articles by Ryuei
Odaimoku as Hua-t'ou
What is the Gohonzon?
Life of Nichiren Shonin
History of the Hokke-shu
Building the Treasure Tower
The Sole Efficacy of Odaimoku
Nam or Namu? Does it really matter?
Map of the Shutei Mandala
1. Dai Jikoku Tenno
2. Namu Muhengyo Bosatsu
3. Namu Jogyo Bosatsu
4. Namu Taho Nyorai
5. Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
6. Namu Shakyamuni Buddha
7. Namu Jyogyo Bosatsu
8. Namu Anryugyo Bosatsu
9. Dai Bishamon Tenno
10. Fudo Myo-o
11. Dai Nittenno (Sun)
12. Dairokuten Ma-o (Mara)
13. Dai Bontenno (Brahma)
14. Namu Sharihotsu Sonja
15. Namu Yaku-o Bosatsu
16. Namu Monjushiri Bosatsu
17. Namu Fugen Bosatsu
18. Namu Miroku Bosatsu
19. Namu Dai Kasho Sonja
20. Shakudaijannin Dai-o (Indra)
21. Dai Gattenji (Moon)
22. Myojo Tenji (Stars)
23. Aizen Myo-o
24. Daibadatta
25. Ashura King
26. Wheel Turning King
27. King Ajatashatru
28. Naga-raja (Dragon King)
29. Kishimojin (Demon Mother)
30. Jurasetsunyo
31. Namu Tendai Daishi
32. Namu Ryuju Bosatsu
33. Namu Myoraku Daishi
34. Namu Dengyo Daishi
35. Dai Komoko Tenno
36. "This Great Mandara was
for the first time revealed in the
Jambudvipa 2,220 and some years
after the extinction of the Buddha."

37. Tensho Daijin
38. The signature of Nichiren
39. Hachiman Dai Bosatsu
40. Dai Zocho Tenno
41. The 3rd month of the 3rd year
of Koan, Kanoe-tatsu

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