Among the many belief structures and frames of thought that I consider to be beneficial to the thinker and to their environment, I rank Nichiren Buddhism very highly. It’s not the hierarchical Buddhism that can give rise to the genocide currently being perpetrated in Myanmar/Burma on the Rohingya. And it’s a long way from the teachings of the Nazarene prophet too, which were co-opted and twisted out of shape by Rome to the extent that they permit wholesale planet destruction. Monotheism was adopted by Rome as a better choice, because unlike pantheism – where there can be a god in everything and you must respect your environment – it describes a clear and limited chain of command. One God, one holy person, one holy ruler. Everyone else is down the chain of command and that is the outwardly imposed supernatural law. It happens to chime very well with the needs of an overextended empire that needed arbitrary laws and thought-control to even have a chance of uniting such a hugely disparate populace without the aid of TV. And even though the teachings at the heart of it are beautiful, humanist and important, the dissemination was to do with empire, and now we are entrenched as a society. We are either feeling very much like we are part of it and taking some notional moral high ground, or we are identifying against it and being smug in our majority informed oppositional conformity.
If it’s your opinion and you’ve won it by work, whichever corner of the theism question you stand in you’re very welcome and we will have a good conversation and both come out of it well. Parrots bore me utterly though. Generally. And particularly on this old grindstone.
And yet I’m happy to subscribe to a faith that, initially, asks people to chant “Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo” for ages without really even knowing what it means.
Today I helped organise a youth event in Hammersmith. 6000 people across the UK gathered in three cities to connect with Nichiren Buddhism. The guy was a monk who came 700 years after the Shakyamuni Buddha. His teachings have catalysed a movement that calls itself a society, not a religion. With no priesthood and no real hierarchy it is seeking to encourage people to be the best version of themselves, while making everyone else the best version of themselves too. It’s like a benevolent form of The Borg. And I’ve been assimilated. Because I see nothing bad in it.
I’ve had to do loads of admin though. The people who practice are divided up into districts. Any faith structure is going to draw people who are starved of community. So as a new person in my district, who has so much community already and doesn’t need more, I was not attending meetings. They asked me to be “District Champion” by way of giving me a job title and making me do a bit of work, connect to a sense of achievement and thereby feel more involved in the district. I knew this but I still did it. It’s good for me.
I did it, mummy. I did it etc etc…
The event was lovely and I WAS proud to be part of it. We flooded out Hammersmith Apollo. I’m glad it went so well.
And yes, I chant “Nam myo ho renge Kyo” daily. I know what it means. To me. It’s easy to get a notional understanding of what it means intellectually. But what it means to me personally is more important. Because that’s why I do it. It’s to do with resonance. Sound. Connection. The more people that are chanting the same mantra simultaneously, the greater the chance we will be vibrating together energetically afterwards. I love to swim in the sea because I feel connected to the whole world. I love to chant because I know I will be aligning with people across the globe.
I hope this event will bring more young people to this practice. Gods we are starved of spirituality. We need things beyond our ken. so we can get beyond our Barbie. The Tarot week just gone helped me see that. This has cemented it.