The Burr  
History and Genealogy Site

Dancing With The Tao

- Burr Cook

A bit of my philosophy: Some people believe that animals are not conscious like us. What a ridiculous notion. They believe that animals have no feelings and that everything they do is by instinct. Simple observation tells me otherwise. They are made from the same fabric as we are. They evolved from the same beginning. They are capable of enjoying life and fear death. The survival of a species depends on a fear of death. It is a product of evolution. The notion that evolution is only a theory is infantile. I’m sure that my dog loves me. I once became friends with a raccoon.  Lastly, I am sure that the earth itself is alive and the universe is God.   


During my 10+ years working at Honeywell Bull, I acquired a

reputation for being a person who could communicate well with

technical students from Oriental countries. Because of this

reputation I spent most of my time, with people from China,

Indonesia, Korea and Thailand. This experience required two

skills other than the technical. One was to communicate with

those with minimal English vocabulary other than technical

terms, and the second was to teach through an interpreter.

Since I spoke only English, and the interpreters generally

had little technical expertise, sometimes it would be

difficult to get the points across and knowing if they were



These groups were generally taught at sites like Boston,

Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle, Paris or Angers, France,

London, Helsinki and others. Since I was always away from

home during these encounters, I spent much more time with

these people than I would have otherwise. I took groups on

week end excursions to New York, Niagara Falls, Disney Land

and Universal Studios in Los Angeles and many other

interesting places.


I became interested in Buddhism when I met Ross, in

the 1960s, who introduced me to the writings of Herman Hesse,

and I became a Buddhist before I ever met any Orientals, but

the encounters with the Easterners allowed me to see the

influence that these ancient philosophies have had on at

least two thirds of today's world population.

When Buddhism came to China, from India, Confucian

thought, influenced by the Taoists, followers of Lao-Tzu, was

the most prevalent philosophy of the sages. When Buddhism

came along, with its rituals borrowed from ancient Hindusm,

and merged with the Confucian-Toaists it became something

more appealing to the masses. Without thinking about it as

religion, the Chinese people live these traditions in their

daily lives.


I consider myself a Taoist (pronounced dowist). Since Taoism,

although it has a text or liturgy, does not itself provide a

religious practice, I choose to practice Nichiren Shoshu

Buddhism. It is a beautiful practice providing a way to get

in touch with the Buddha's enlightenment through chanting

certain parts of the Lotus Sutra, written for that very

purpose. This practice in no way conflicts with my Taoist

philosophy. It seems to be possible to practice a religion without

adopting its philosophy.


During my tenure at Honeywell and later in my own business I

joined frequent flyer programs and I earned many free tickets

from American Airlines, United Airlines, USAir, Northwest,

Pan Am, TWA, Delta, South West, Eastern, Continental and

Republic Airlines. I generally used the free tickets to take

someone along on a trip.

In 1983 I had two free tickets from American Airlines, that

had to used before January first of 1984, which I used them

to take my grandson [Shad] on a tour of the West, leaving on

the day after Christmas, 1983, when Shad was about 11.

We flew from Rochester to Chicago and had a couple of hours

to kill at O'hare Airport, the busiest airport in the world.

So, I took Shad to the roof of the parking garage where you

can see the several runways, in all four directions. The

highway that enters the airport passes under a couple of

these runways and sometimes I have passed under planes that

were landing or taking off. Anyway, this is where Shad

learned to Identify the 707, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, DC8,
DC9, DC10, L1011, BAC111 and other smaller piston driven

aircraft. We left Chicago on my first ride on a 767, which

was Boeing's latest jumbo jet, next to the 747, and landed in early afternoon

at Sky Harbor in Phoenix.


From Phoenix we drove southwest, through a cloudburst, to

Gilla Bend where we stayed overnight. In the morning we drove

our rented Suburu south to Organ Pipe Cactus National

Monument, one of my favorite places. This was the rainy

season in Arizona. We encountered an occasional downpour, but

most of the time it was sunny and 60 to 70 degrees, which

seemed quite warm since leaving behind, in New York, some

brutally cold weather. We crossed into Mexico, on foot, at

Gringo Pass where we looked around at the poverty there and

were glad to get back to the USA with a few pesos we got in

change from buying a post card. We gave them a US dollar and

got back a pocket full of Mexican change.
organ pipe
Organ Pipe was especially beautiful on this trip. More

recently, I dropped into Organ Pipe with Butch and found

that, for some strange reason, the Organ Pipe Cacti are

dying. I was deeply moved, since this is the only place
organ pipe cactus cactus
where this beautiful plant can be found.

On each occasion that I visit this holy spot, I drive around

a 20 mile loop through the park. On this drive you get to see

the Sonoran Desert at it's best. Also, you can see a mountain
mountain hole
that has a natural hole in it through which you can see the

sun, if you go at the right time of day which is just before

sundown. In this sacred spot I thought about my belief in

the Tao and how it differs from traditional beliefs in a God.

The Tao, in my belief, doesn't care at all whether or not I

believe in it. The Tao watches over everything and every one

with the same amount of compassion. The Tao is the mystic

force within the universe that controls every movement within

the most minute of particles as well as galaxies. The Tao is

what we return to when we die. It matters not what happens in

this life time, in the Taoist's mind, as we will return to

live another life and another and another until we obtain

nirvana and become content to join the Tao forever. During

all of these life times we will become every kind of plant

and animal life many times over.  When it seems like there is no

fairness in this life I remember that all is fair when spread

over many lifetimes.
We will sometime become that

person that we hate the most, that person that we want to put

to death. The next fly that you swat could be me or yourself.

This is why I try to show reverence for all living things and

try to use no more than needed. I have always searched out

these spots where I can feel completely at peace and one with

the Tao who can't be swayed into giving me preferential

treatment by talking to it in my closet or reciting certain

passages from the holy books. However, (The English books say

not to begin a sentence with the word however. However, there

are always exceptions.) when I meditate or chant the Lotus

Sutra, I can feel the warmth of the Tao. I enjoy feeling It's

influence on an extremely hot or cold day, reminding me of my

frailty in the face of the Tao.


I remember talking to Shad about Taoism on this trip. I

wonder if he remembers. He must have been 10 or eleven years

old. about the same age that Steph was on our earlier tour

of the nation by car.


After leaving Organ Pipe we drove north through Why, Ajo, the
lower Sonoran Desert
lower Sonoran Desert, and crossed over some lava ranges

called The Sauceda Mts., Sand Tank Mts., Maracopa Range,

Sierra Estrella Mts. and the Big Horn Mts. and stopped for

the night at the Best Western Motel in Wickenburg, Arizona. I have

stayed at this motel, also, with Chuck Lyons, with Vivian and

several times all by myself. The restaurant connected serves

the best breakfast anyone could ask for.


In the morning we drove north on US 89, over a mountain

range, climbing from the warm Sonoran Desert through a snow

covered mountain pass in the Prescott National Forest and

then down again to Prescott, Arizona. Leaving Prescott behind

we took US 89 Alt. through Jerome, a ghost town that was once

a thriving silver mining town. After looking around Jerome,

on the side of Mingus Mountain overlooking the high desert

area between there and Sedona. In Sedona, we stopped for

lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, the Oaxaca.

which is on the second floor and through a large picture

window you can view the red rocks surrounding the town. We
Sedona Arizona
climbed out of Sedona winding up through Oak Creek Canyon

with many Hairpin turns continuing on 89A to Flagstaff which

is about 7000 feet above sea level and gets a fair amount of

snow in winter. After visiting Walnut Creek Canyon with it's

Indian cliff dwellings, some well preserved and we could go

inside, we drove through a snow covered forest to the
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon. This was a unique experience as the

upper walls of the canyon were spotted with snow,
Shad Cook
yet you could look

down at the canyon floor which looked hot in the afternoon sun.
snow on Canyon
We lingered until late afternoon and then cut through a corner

of the painted desert then over the San Francisco Mountains

and back to Flagstaff after dark. We checked into the Pony

Soldier Motel, went to a Mexican restaurant for enchaladas, then

slept soundly for the rest of the night.


The next morning we drove East on I-40 to Winslow where we

had a cowboy breakfast at a desert lunch counter. Shad was at

such an age that he required huge portions of food and we had

little trouble around those parts. We then headed south on 87

through the Coconino National Forest and Payson Arizona and

shortly thereafter turned southeast on a back road in the

Tonto National Forest. This route took us to Tonto Basin and

the Roosevelt Dam. From there we took a dirt road for over 30

miles on the Apache Trail to Apache Jct. near Phoenix and

stayed overnight in Carefree. Carefree was surrounded by huge

rocks and looked like you might run into the Flintstones

anyplace in town where all of the business establishments

were built around that theme.


The next morning we took a breakfast flight from Phoenix to

Chicago and on to Rochester and home by afternoon as we

lost three hours that day. We still have photos of the trip

including the Pear Cactus which was in bloom throughout the
Pear Cactus
upper Sonoran Desert. More pictures of this trip 

The Siddhartha Story

Religious Thoughts

If I had to name one thing, the thing having the most impact on religious thought, I would have to say the alphabet. Prior to this, dating at least back 6000 years or so, pictography was used to record things of significance. An actual picture was needed. It was only possible to record undated events. The birth or death of an individual could be recorded, but not the fact that it was a good or kind person.
This came a little later with what is called Ideography.
Symbols started to have meanings other than what was
pictured, so a picture of a pipe, to the Native Americans,
came to mean peace, where as, a circle, originally meant "the
sun" but later came to mean heat or light. This early
development of writing took place simultaneously in virtually
all parts of the world.
A more sophisticated form of Ideographics was employed in
Egypt and Mesopotamia from at least 5000 years ago.
Phonetic Representation was first introduced into Western
Civilization about 3500 years ago and has changed very little
from then until now, from the Greek Alphabet to Latin and to
modern English.
I was recently astounded to find out that the names of the
original Greek characters, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, etc.,
actually come from Semitic origins, Aleph, Beth, Gimel,
Daleth, ect., all of which are Hebrew words. It appears that
the secrets of the origin of our Phonetic Alphabet (the
origin of the word alphabet comes from alpha and beta)
involves the Jews. They, the Jews, tell us that it was a gift
from God, one of the earliest examples of this remarkable,
Hebrew, script is found on the Moabite Stone.
Simultaneous with the development of Phonetic Alphabets in
the west, "Syllabaries and Multi-Syllabaries" were being
developed in the East. In China, for instance, ancient as
well as modern writing uses a Multi-Syllabic Alphabet with 40
to 50 thousands of symbols.
During the Vedic period a written language, who's structure
differed from the spoken languages in use at the time, came
to the Middle and Near East, delivered by the Aryans of
India. This language was called Sanskrit and writings are
found dating back 3500 or more years. This language was
Secular in its origins and was first used for poetic and
philosophical writings, however, the earliest writings of the
Hindu faith are recorded in it. The Hindu religion is the
oldest known organized religion.
Our earliest knowledge of religion, prior to the emergence of
an alphabet, comes to us though the work of several sciences
including Archaeology, Anthropology and Paleontology. This
study is not precise and many conclusions are later found to
be different from originally thought.
What exactly is religion? Experts don't agree. Some say it is
a belief in God or a Higher Power, some that it is the idea
of the Soul or of life after death, some that it is a belief
in a spirit world, and still some say it is any superstition
such as belief in ghosts and communication with the dead. I
prefer to define it as a lifestyle of morality.
The first ancient religions that we know of involved multiple
deities. These date back at least 10,000 years. The stone age
man (about 500,000 to 10,000 B.C.) as far as is known, always
had some kind of spiritual belief system, even before there
were any spoken words. Man at that time had the same number
of brain cells as we do and had the capacity for deep
thought. It was in those early days of the Homosapien that
man first saw some kind of power was being loosed on them by
the sun (Sol) and that they were but tiny specks compared to
its mighty powers. The idea of a soul or spirit separate from
our bodies, most likely, came about when observing that the
dead could be observed in decay yet the deceased still
appeared in dreams. Dreams were early thought to be like a
walk in the spirit world.
The worship of society itself is a part of my belief system.
Even though it is disguised by myths and symbols, society is
an abiding reality: it has full control over people and they
depend on it and pay it their reverence. The forces of History
are real.

Shamans seem to exist in all aboriginal groups. These are
people who can heal, generally by going into a trance,
through drumming or psychotropic plants.
In order to write a treatise on Taoism I would have to define
the Chinese word Tao. This is like trying to define God, as
it can not be done in a few words. The Tao was first
described by LaoTzu (or LaoTsu), about 600 BC, and merged
with the teachings of Confucious and later influenced by
Shakyamini Buddha, to become Taoism in China and
Shinto-ism in Japan.
Neither Confucious nor LaoTsu wanted their names to be
attached to their teachings and did not believe in writing down
their teachings for that reason. Confucious was very careful
to stay away from the supernatural, knowing that those kinds
of things are normally attributed to religious leaders after
their death, by those who, although well meaning, cause the
true meaning of the teaching to be lost and followers spend
their time in awe of the teacher rather than the teaching.
Confucious taught a Protocol for all types of encounters between people. This influence is seen today in most oriental
countries. People are very polite. They bow and humble
themselves in the presence of family, friend, or stranger.
LaoTsu, as the story goes, was immaculately conceived. His
mother was mortal, but his father was a shooting star. His
mother carried him in her womb for 60 years at which time he
was born, an old man with white hair, in the year 604 B.C.,
in the province of Honan, China.
At the end of his life he road on the back of a water buffalo
into the desert beyond the Great Wall. This was an unknown
territory inhabited by barbarian bands, but a good place to
die if one wishes not to impose on anyone.
A gate warden, Yin Hsi, had a dream of his coming through and
when he arrived, begged him to write down his teachings, or
at least define "what is the Tao?". The result is that we
have the most sacred of religious writings in existence, "The
Tao Teh Ching", containing 81 verses and less than 5000
words, which are profound beyond words, describing what he
starts out saying that words can not describe, the sacred,
unshakable, "mystic law" that governs all things physical and
Sometimes without realizing it, Chinese, to this day are profoundly effected by LaoTzu's Quietism, so profound in its simplicity, it has come to be, wrongly, referred to as mysticism.

horizontal rule

Taoist concepts, beliefs and practices:

From the following web site:

This site offers a course on the subject of Taoism (Daoism)

Tao is the first-cause of the universe. It is a force that flows through all life.

"The Tao surrounds everyone and therefore everyone must listen to find enlightenment."
Each believer's goal is to harmonize themselves with the Tao.

Taoism has provided an alternative to the Confucian tradition in China. The two traditions have coexisted in the country, region, and generally within the same individual.

The priesthood views the many gods as manifestations of the one Dao, "which could not be represented as an image or a particular thing." The concept of a personified deity is foreign to them, as is the concept of the creation of the universe. Thus, they do not pray as Christians do; there is no God to hear the prayers or to act upon them. They seek answers to life's problems through inner meditation and outer observation.

In contrast with the beliefs and practices of the priesthood, most of the laity have "believed that spirits pervaded nature...The gods in heaven acted like and were treated like the officials in the world of men; worshipping the gods was a kind of rehearsal of attitudes toward secular authorities. On the other hand, the demons and ghosts of hell acted like and were treated like the bullies, outlaws, and threatening strangers in the real world; they were bribed by the people and were ritually arrested by the martial forces of the spirit officials."
Time is cyclical, not linear as in Western thinking.

Taoists strongly promote health and vitality.

Five main organs and orifices of the body correspond to the five parts of the sky: water, fire, wood, metal and earth.

Each person must nurture the Ch'i (air, breath) that has been given to them.

Development of virtue is one's chief task. The Three Jewels to be sought are compassion, moderation and humility.

Taoists follow the art of "wu wei," which is to let nature take its course. For example, one should allow a river to flow towards the sea unimpeded; do not erect a dam which would interfere with its natural flow.

One should plan in advance and consider carefully each action before making it.

A Taoists is kind to other individuals, in part because such an action tends to be reciprocated.

Taoists believe that "people are compassionate by nature...left to their own devices [they] will show  this compassion without expecting a reward."


What is Buddhism?os Angeles, CANichiren Shoshu
Myohoji Temple
Los Angeles, CA

Buddhism is a religion that was established by Shakyamuni Buddha who lived in India nearly 3,000 years ago. He observed people suffering as a result of the inevitable cycles of birth, old age, sickness, and death. In searching for the means to alleviate that suffering, he realized, through his religious practices, that life is impermanent and subject to change, yet at the core of existence is something eternal and immutable—the eternal Law of life, the Law of causality. He clarified this eternity of life, and explained the reasons for the individual circumstances of our day-to-day lives.
Shakyamuni Buddha attained this enlightenment after many years of meditation and study. Then, for the next forty-two years, he expounded to his followers the teachings they should practice, so that they could realize for themselves the same enlightenment and liberation that he had gained. The most devoted followers became monks or nuns and were expected to abstain entirely from sex, intoxicants, and all harmful, abrasive, or frivolous conduct. In addition, the Buddha and his following avoided all luxuries of attire, accommodation, and diet. Like their teacher, the monks and nuns possessed only a robe and begging bowl. They moved constantly from place to place, so that they would not become attached even to such rudimentary shelter as a certain tree or cave. In the afternoon or evening, they would listen to sermons by the Buddha and then put the teachings into practice through meditation. These sermons were also attended by lay followers of the Buddha, interested and sometimes hostile followers of other religious persuasions, and the merely curious. Because of this diverse group of followers, Shakyamuni Buddha realized the necessity of presenting his teachings according to the capacity of the listeners. There were many different sutras that now have been classified according to their level of profundity. After forty-two years, Shakyamuni revealed that up to that point, he had preached only provisional teachings and was now ready to reveal the truth. This truth was the Lotus Sutra, which he expounded during the final eight years of his life.

Nichiren Daishonin is the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, the age in which we now live. He made his advent in this world more than 790 years ago in Japan. Through his study of Shakyamuni’s teachings, he determined the Lotus Sutra to be the only correct teaching for the Latter Day of the Law, a period of time beginning 2,000 years after Shakyamuni’s death. He revealed that all human beings have the potential to attain the enlightened state of Buddhahood in their present lifetime. He was able to reveal that all of life’s phenomena are manifestations of the eternal true entity of life, the Buddha nature.

Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism
The Second and Sixteenth chapters of The Lotus Sutra as
spoken in an archaic Chinese dialect, and containing some
romantic words from the original Sanskrit that were not
easily translated to Chinese, is chanted twice a day by
Nichiren Shoshu Buddhists in modern day Japan. The
translation of The Lotus Sutra to Chinese was done by T'ien-t'ai
(538-597) and it was introduced into Japan by Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1287), thought to be a Buddha. The sutras, such as the "Lotus Sutra", are the words of the original and universally accepted Buddha, Sidhartha Gautoma (born Between 500 and 600 B.C.), who was named, after his enlightenment, Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni was the name of an area between India and Napal, and Buddha meant "enlightened one" or "holy one".
The words are not important when chanted along with morning
prayers. Even those who are very familiar with modern
dialects of oriental languages will not understand the words
as chanted. Translations are available in many languages
including English and the serious student of Nichiren Shoshu
Buddhism will be familiar with the philosophy therein.
When chanting, the rhythm is of prime importance. Each
syllable is one beat except in multi syllable words. The word
in that case is one beat. To be sure of pronunciation and beat
one must first chant along with someone, or a group, that has
had training in gongyo.

Tales from the Lotus Sutra 

The Parable of the Excellent Physician
and His Sick Children

This month we will discuss the final parable from our series of Tales
from the Lotus Sutra, entitled Parable of the "Excellent Physician and
His Sick Children". This tale appears in the sixteenth, or Juryo ("The
Life Span of the Tathagata") chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
There was once a skilled physician long ago in a land far away who
had many children. One day, while the doctor was on a long and
distant journey, his children mistakenly ate some bad food or drank
poison. The physician returned home to find them writhing on the
ground in agony. When the children saw their father, the very skilled
physician, they called out, "Help us!"

The father immediately prepared and gave the sick children a
wonderfully flavored, sweet smelling and beautifully colored
medicine. However, a problem did occur in the process of getting the
children to take the medicine. Some of the children who had only
fallen ill to a lesser level of poisoning, drank the medicine and were
soon cured. Of the children who were more gravely poisoned, the
effects of the toxin were more severe and had consequently effected
their reasoning. The father could not persuade them to take the
wonderful medicine that he had prepared.

Even though the children were still suffering in pain, they refused to
take the elixir that would cure them. So, the father devised a plan to
coax them into taking the medicine. He said to the children, "One
thing I want all of you to know. I am getting to be an old man and I
may not have much longer left to live. So, I will leave this medicine
with its wonderful color, fragrance and taste here for you now. I
hope that you will take the medicine, because if you drink it, you will
have nothing to worry about. This medicine will cure your illness."
The father then departed on a long journey. While the father was
away, he sent his servant back home who told the children, "Your
father has died!"

"No!" The children cried out in astonishment as they heard the news
of the death of their father. Greatly saddened about their father's
passing, the gravely poisoned children who had lost their reasoning
due to the effects of the toxin slowly started to regain their senses.
Finally realizing that their dear deceased father had lovingly
prepared and left medicine for them, they took the medicine and
were cured of their illness. Upon taking the medicine, the father
suddenly returned home and the family was again joyfully united.
The children had been saved from certain death.

The father in this parable who is also a famous and skilled physician
is the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, Nichiren Daishonin.
The children in this tale who drank the poison, refused to take the
medicine and therefore remained scrawling in agony are all of us, the
people who were born into the age of the Latter Day of the Law.
The father, who saved the children who were suffering from the
effects of drinking poison, had prepared a wonderfully flavored,
sweet smelling and beautifully colored elixir to cure them of
poisoning. This wonderful medicine is none other than the Dai-
Gohonzon (and subsequently our own individual Gohonzons that we
have enshrined in our homes) to which we join our hands in prayer
every morning and evening as we recite the Lotus Sutra and chant
the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.

The actual action of drinking the medicine comes about because one
has faith that the medicine will work. Therefore, through belief in
the Gohonzon people are able to chant Daimoku and do daily morning
and evening Gongyo that then leads them to happiness. However, the
children in this parable who were heavily poisoned and lost their
senses refused to take the medicine. They are the people who have
slandered the Law and have turned their backs on the true and
correct teachings of Buddhism. They staunchly refuse to listen to and
embrace the words of the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.
At this point in the parable, the father deploys a method to entice
the children into taking their medicine. The father promptly
departed on a long journey, but (as a ploy to entice the children to
take the vitally necessary medicine) soon sends his servant as a
messenger back home to tell the children of his (feigned) death.
The action of the father's using a servant as his messenger appears
written in the Lotus Sutra as the phrase "Ken shi gen jo", or
"dispatching a servant who returned to report [the death of the

The servant depicted in this passage that has been asked by the True
Buddha of Mappo, is each successive High Priest in Nichiren
Shoshu.When the father was about to depart on his long journey, he
told the children who had been heavily poisoned, "So, I will leave
this medicine with its wonderful color, fragrance and taste here for
you now. I hope that you will take the medicine. Because if you drink
it, you will have nothing to worry about. This medicine will cure your

The phrase "So, I will leave this medicine with its wonderful color,
fragrance and taste here for you now." is written in the Lotus Sutra
as "Kon ru zai shi", or in a more direct, word by word translation:
"Now I will stop and put it (the medicine) here." Therefore, as one
recalls the passage Ken shi gen jo, one incidentally also keeps in mind
the sentence Kon ru zai shi, or "The father promptly departed on a
long journey, but soon sent his servant as a messenger back home to
tell the children of his (feigned) death." and "So, I will leave this
medicine with its wonderful color, fragrance and taste here for you

Taking a closer look at this phrase "So, I will leave this medicine with
its wonderful color, fragrance and taste here for you now." , the word
"now" signifies the current age of Mappo, or the Latter Day of the
Law. "I will leave this medicine with its wonderful color, fragrance
and taste here" means that Nichiren Daishonin left the Dai-Gohonzon,
the Great Object of Worship, at the Head Temple, Taisekiji in Japan so
that all humanity in their sincere and correct faith of True Buddhism
would be able to eradicate their evil karma accumulated since the
infinite past and obtain the great benefit of enlightenment in this

Let us conclude this last article in the series Tales from the Lotus
Sutra. Watch for our next installment of other Buddhist parables
when we will present a new series of Tales from the Sutras.

1995 Nichiren Shoshu Monthly

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Nam Myoho Renge Kyo)

Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō (南無妙法蓮華經, also transliterated Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō; literally translated as
Devotion to the Law of the Lotus Flower Scripture and exegetically translated as Devotion to the Mystic Law of
cause and effect that exists throughout all the sounds and vibrations of the universe) is a mantra that is chanted
as the central practice of all forms of Nichiren Buddhism. The mantra is referred to as Daimoku (題目, or the
Great Invocation) and was first revealed by the Japanese Buddhist teacher Nichiren on the 28th day of the fourth
lunar month of 1253 ce at Kiyosumi-dera (also, Seichōji) near Kominato in current-day Chiba, Japan. The
practice of chanting the daimoku is called shōdai (唱題). The purpose of chanting daimoku is to attain perfect
and complete awakening, and have actual proof of this practice to oneself and others of the validity of the
Lotus Sutra.

The phrase is somewhat difficult to render into English because each word or set of words contains a complex
set of symbolism and connotation, and without an understanding of the semiotic significance of the words, the
full meaning is lost.


As Nichiren explained the mantra in his "Ongi Kuden" (御義口傳), a transcription of his lectures on the Lotus Sutra,
Namu or Nam (南無) derives from the Sanskrit namas, whereas Myōhō Renge Kyō is the Japanese pronunciation
of the Chinese title of the Lotus Sutra in the translation by Kumarajiva (hence, daimoku).

Nam(u) is used in Buddhism as a prefix expressing the taking of refuge in a Buddha or similar object of veneration.
In Nam(u) Myōhō Renge Kyō, it represents devoting or conviction in the Mystic Law of Life as expounded in the
Lotus Sutra, not merely as one of many scriptures, but as the ultimate teaching of Buddhism, particularly with
regard to Nichiren Daishonin's interpretation.

The Lotus Sutra is held by Nichiren Buddhists, as well as practitioners of the Chinese Tiantai (also, T'ien T'ai)
and corresponding Japanese Tendai sects, to be the culmination of Shakyamuni Buddha's 50 years of teaching.
These schools view the phrase Myōhō Renge Kyō as the distillation of the entire sutra—for them, all the sutra's
teachings are summarized in its title. By extension, followers of Nichiren Buddhism also consider Myōhō Renge
Kyō to be the name of the ultimate law permeating the universe.

Broken down, Myōhō Renge Kyō consists of Myōhō (妙法), "Sublime" or "Mystic" Law, the Dharma underlying
all phenomena - with Myo representing the unseen aspects of life and HO representing the parts of life which is
manifest...for example, thoughts vs speech...; Renge (蓮華), the Lotus Flower, which blooms and bears seeds
at the same time and therefore signifies the simultaneity of cause and effect, the "natural" law that governs karma;
and Kyō (經, "thread passing all the way through a bolt of cloth", but also "scripture"), meaning a teaching of the
Buddha. Kyō also connotes sound"vibrations", such as that of voices, and some Nichiren Buddhists cite this as
the reason that they pray using Nam(u)-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō as an invocation.

The seven characters na-mu-myō-hō-ren-ge-kyō are written down the centre of the Gohonzon, the mandala
venerated by most Nichiren Buddhists.

Precise interpretations of Nam(u)-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō, how it is pronounced, and its position in Buddhist practice
differ slightly among the numerous schools and sub-sects of Nichiren Buddhism, but "I take refuge in
(devote or submit myself to) the Lotus Sutra (i.e., the teaching of the Sublime (or Mystic) Law of the universe)"
might serve as a universal translation.Soka Gakkai, a lay-Buddhist organization derived from the Nichiren Shoshu
school, pronounces it primarily Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō and has used "Devotion to the Mystic Law of the
Lotus Sutra" as a translation. It is typically taught in Soka Gakkai to mean "Devotion to the Mystic Law of
Cause and Effect through Sound."

Though Myōhō Renge Kyō has numerous English renderings, such as "The Scripture of the Lotus of the Perfect
Truth", it is most commonly referred to as, simply, the Lotus Sutra.

Gongyo :

The Liturgy of the Buddhism
of Nichiren Daishonin

(Excerpts from the "Expedient Means" (Hoben), chapter two.)

Myo ho ren ge kyo. Ho-ben-pon. Dai Ni.

Ni ji se son. Ju san mai. An jo ni ki. Go shari-hotsu. Sho but chi e. Jin jin mur-yo. Go chi e mon. Nan-ge

nan-nyu. Is-sai sho-mon. Hyaku-shi-butsu. Sho fu no chi. Sho-i sha ga. Butsu zo shingon. Hyaku sen man

noku. Mu shu sho butsu. Jin gyo sho-butsu. Mur-yo do-ho. Yum yo sho jin. Myo sho fu Mon. Jo ju jin jin.

Mi-zo-u ho. Zui gi sho setsu. Is-hu nan-ge. Shari-hotsu. Go ju jo-butsu ir-ai. Shu-ju in-nen. Shu-ju hi-yu. Ko

en gon-kyo. Mu shu ho-ben. In-do shu-jo. Ryo ri sho jaku. Sho-i sha ga. Nyo-rai ho-ben. Chi-ken

hara-mitsu. Kai i gu-soku. Shari-hotsu. Nyo-rai chi-ken. Ko-dai jin-non. Mur-yo mu-ge. Riki. Mu-sho-i.

Zen-jo. Ge-das. San-mai. Jin nyu mu-sai. Jo-ju is-sai. Mi-zo-u ho. Shari-hotsu. Nyorai no. Shuju fun-betsu.

Gyo ses^sho ho. Gonji nyunan. Ekka shushin. Shari-hotsu. Shu yo gon shi. Muryo muhen. Mi-zo-u ho.

Bus^shitsu joju. Shi shari-hotsu. Fu shu bu setsu.^Sho-i sha ga. Bus^sho joju. Dai ichi ke-u. Nange shi

ho. Yui butsu yo butsu. Nai no kujin. Shoho jisso. Sho-i shoho. Nyo ze so. Nyo ze sho. Nyo ze tai.

Nyo ze riki. Nyo ze sa. Nyo ze in. Nyo ze en. Nyo ze ka. Nyo ze ho. Nyo ze honmak^kukyo to.


(The verse section of the "Life Span of the Thus Come One" (Juryo), chapter sixteen.)

Myo ho ren ge kyo. Nyorai ju-ryo-hon. Dai ju-roku.

Ji ga toku bur^rai. Sho kyo sho kosshu. Muryo hyaku sen man. Oku sai asogi. Jo seppo kyoke Mushu

oku shujo. Ryo nyu o butsu-do. Nirai muryo ko. I do shujo ko. Hoben gen nehan. Ni jitsu fu metsu-do.

Jo ju shi seppo. Ga jo ju o shi. I sho jin-zu-riki. Ryo tendo shujo. Sui gon ni fu ken. Shu ken ga

metsu-do. Ko kuyo shari. Gen kai e renbo. Ni sho katsu-go shin. Shujo ki shin-buku. Shichi-jiki i

nyunan. Isshin yok^ken butsu. Fu ji shaku shinmyo. Ji ga gyu shuso. Ku shutsu ryojusen. Ga ji go

shujo. Jo zai shi fu-metsu. I hoben-rik^ko. Gen u metsu fu-metsu. Yo-koku u shujo. Kugyo shingyo

sha. Ga bu o hi chu. I setsu mujo ho. Nyoto fu mon shi. Tan ni ga metsu-do. Ga ken sho shujo.

Motsu-zai o kukai. Ko fu i gen shin. Ryo go sho katsu-go. In go shin renbo. Nai shutsu i seppo. Jin-zu

riki nyo ze. O asogi ko. Jo zai ryo jusen. Gyu yo sho jusho. Shujo ken ko jin. Dai ka sho sho ji. Ga shi

do annon. Tennin jo juman. Onrin sho do-kaku. Shuju ho Shogon. Hoju ta keka. Shujo sho yu-raku.

Soten gyaku tenku. Jo sas^shu gi-gaku. U mandara ke. San butsu gyu daishu. Ga jodo fu ki. Ni shu

ken sho jin. Ufu sho kuno. Nyo ze shitsu juman. Ze sho zai shujo. I aku-go innen. Ka asogi ko. Fu mon

sanbo myo. Sho u shu ku-doku. Nyuwa shichi-jiki sha. Sokkai ken gashin. Zai shi ni seppo. Waku-ji i

shi shu. Setsu butsu-ju muryo. Ku nai ken bussha. I setsu butsu nan chi. Ga chi-riki nyo ze. Eko sho

muryo. Jumyo mushu ko. Ku shugo sho toku. Nyoto u chi sha. Mot^to shi sho gi. To dan ryo yo jin.

Butsu-go jip^puko. Nyo i zen hoben. I ji o shi ko. Jitsu zai ni gon shi. Mu no sek^komo. Ga yaku i se

bu. Ku sho kugen sha. I bonbu tendo. Jitsu zai ni gon metsu. I joken ga ko. Ni sho kyoshi shin. Ho-itsu

jaku go-yoku. Da o aku-do chu. Ga jo chi shujo. Gyo do fu gyo do. Zui o sho ka do. I ses^shuju ho.

Mai ji sa ze nen. I ga ryo shujo. Toku nyu mu-jo do. Soku joju busshin.

Pronunciation Guide

The sutra book uses the Hepburn system of romanization:

Vowels: a as in father
  e as in ten
  i as in machine
  o as in open
  u as in rule
  ai as in Thailand
  ui as in Louie
Consonants: g as in get
  j as in joy
  h as in hello
  ts as in bets
  y as in yet


As a general rule, there is one Chinese character for each beat, with the following exceptions:

shari-hotsu (two beats)
hara-mitsu (two beats)


Along with correct pronunciation and steady rhythm, it is also important to maintain a stable tone, neither raising nor lowering one's pitch unnecessarily.


In the morning:
Face the Gohonzon, sound the bell, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times (group chants in unison) to begin gongyo. Then, out of respect for the protective forces, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times again (group chants in unison). Then offer the first silent prayer.

In the evening:
Face the Gohonzon, sound the bell, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times (group chants in unison). Sound the bell again and proceed with the "Recitation of the Sutra" below.

First Silent Prayer
Appreciation for Life's Protective Forces (shoten zenjin)

I offer appreciation to the functions in life and the environment (shoten zenjin) that serve to protect us, and pray that these protective powers be further strengthened and enhanced through my practice of the Law.

Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times. Then sound the bell and proceed with the "Recitation of the Sutra" below.

Recitation of the Sutra

Recite the "Expedient Means" chapter excerpt (pages 1-5). When completed, sound the bell. Recite the excerpt from the verse section of the "Life Span of the Thus Come One" chapter (pages 6-17). When completed, sound the bell as you begin chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Continue chanting for as long as you wish.

When completed, sound the bell and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times. Then offer the second, third and fourth silent prayers below.

Second Silent Prayer Appreciation for the Gohonzon

I offer profound appreciation and pray to repay my debt of gratitude to the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, which was bestowed upon the entire world; to Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law; and to Nikko Shonin. I offer appreciation and pray to repay my debt of gratitude for Nichimoku Shonin.

Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times.

Third Silent
Prayer For the Attainment of Kosen-rufu

I pray that the great desire for kosen-rufu be fulfilled, and that the Soka Gakkai International develop in this endeavor for countless generations to come. I offer appreciation and pray to repay my debt of gratitude for the three founding presidents -- Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda and Daisaku Ikeda -- as eternal models of selfless dedication to the propagation of the Law.

Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times.

Fourth Silent
Prayer Personal Prayers and Prayer for the Deceased

I pray to bring forth Buddhahood from within my life, change my karma, and fulfill my wishes in the present and the future.
(Offer additional prayers here.)

(Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times.)

I pray for my deceased relatives and for all those who have passed away, particularly for these individuals:
(Sound the bell continuously while offering prayers.)

Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times.

I pray for peace throughout the world and the happiness of all humanity.

Sound the bell and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times to conclude (group chants in unison).

The Story of Siddhartha

My Latest Paperbacks for sale on Amazon

p3 p4


Click here to go to Burr's paperbacks
Books by Burr for Kindle
Books for Barnes and Noble Nook
Books for the Kobo
Books to read on Apple Products
Go here to see other formats

I Have No Genealogical Data That is Not Published Here.
Therefore I Generally Don't Answer Inquiries.
Questions or suggestions regarding this web site should be directed to webmaster.
Also, please report any bad links/pointers/URLs to the webmaster.

This site is always seeking genealogy or history pointer exchanges.
If you have a site that fits into any of the subjects of this site and you
want a link here please contact webmaster.
The Super Information Highwayman, being an history buff,
would like to include any
local (upstate NY) history data or family
genealogy files that you would like to share. Please contact  webmaster.

Including historical data on this site is free if relevant.