The phrase NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO is taken from the title of the greatest teaching of the first historically recorded Buddha, known as Siddhartha Gautama or Shakyamuni Buddha, who lived in India around 500 years before Christ was born. This teaching, called the Lotus Sutra, declares that all living beings, regardless of gender or intelligence (that means everyone – including you and me!), have the potential to attain Buddhahood. In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha teaches that inside each one of us a universal truth known as the Buddha nature. Basing our lives on this Buddha nature enables us to enjoy absolute happiness and to act with boundless compassion. Such a state of happiness is called enlightenment. It’s simply waking up to the true nature of life, realising that all things are connected, and that there is such a close relationship between each of us and our surroundings that when we change ourselves, we change the world.


In the 13th Century, a Japanese priest called Nichiren (1222-1282) realised that the message of the Lotus Sutra was summed up by its title, NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO, which can be translated as the teaching of the lotus flower of the wonderful law. Nichiren declared that all of the benefits of the wisdom contained in the Lotus Sutra can be realized by chanting this title NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO. Since the time of Nichiren many, many millions of people have followed his advice, chanting NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO regularly as a means of improving their health, happiness, wisdom and compassion. The goal of chanting NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO is to manifest the enlightenment of the Buddha in our own lives. We can then realise our own creative potential as individuals and, in so doing, create thriving and peaceful families, work places and communities. Eventually this gradual transformation of individuals will create peace and prosperity in societies throughout the world.



Nam means devotion and respect. So, the whole phrase has the simple meaning of ‘devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra’.


Myoho relates to Mystic Law, the essential Universal Law and its manifestations.There are two main relationships: one between life and death, and the other between our most enlightened, or Buddha, state and all our other nine conditions or states of life.


Renge literally means “lotus flower.” The reason why the lotus is such an important symbol of Buddhism is that it blooms and seeds at the same time. ‘Renge’ signifies the process of cause and effect at work deep within the life of each person.



Kyo means sutra or teachings. It is the vibration of our voice which is so important in our Buddhist practice. ‘Kyo’ is the interconnectedness of all phenomena; and how our prayer or the sound of our chanting can affect people and situations out of our immediate sphere. This is why we do not chant in silence.

How do you chant? Don’t worry, it’s simple, really.

Try to find somewhere where you won’t be disturbed for a little while, or have to worry about disturbing others. Sit on an upright chair, facing a blank spot on a wall – so there are no distractions.. Keep your eyes open, and your back as straight as you can – but don’t be uncomfortable. Hold your hands together, so as to keep them still – you may wish to hold them as in prayer – again, don’t be uncomfortable. Set yourself a time for how long you will chant, and stick to it. Remember, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s 2 minutes, 10 or twenty, the point is to set a time and stick to it. Just be determined to keep chanting till the time is up – at first, you might find that this takes quite a lot of determination! Repeat the phrase NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO over and over rythmically, until the time limit you have set is up. For a guide to how to pronounce the words, click here. When you first begin to chant you will probably want to chant quite slowly but this will naturally speed up as you become more familiar with it. If you would like to hear what it sounds like when people are chanting a little faster click here for an audio file.

What should you think about when you chant?
There is no special recommendation – just whatever comes. Just keep steadily chanting, try not to get so lost in your thoughts that you stop! Before you begin to chant, you might like to take a moment to fix a thought in your mind – something you want to change or achieve. This can be anything you like, from the smallest to the biggest thing you can imagine. Often, when people start to chant, they want to set a specific goal, and see if chanting helps them achieve it – “I want to buy a new car by next Tuesday” – for example! Don’t be afraid to test the practice in this way – nothing says that your aims have to be “spiritual” or noble – just chant for whatever is important to you – to improve your material circumstances, your relationships, whatever. Don’t expect miracles overnight – a situation that’s taken years to build up might take a while to change. However, be prepared to be surprised by how quickly you can make a difference to some things! The whole point is to be guided by your own wisdom – right now you may not believe you have any, but chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo will help you realise that you do, and that you can trust the decisions you come to when chanting. To sum up: a number of possible subjects might act as the focus for your thoughts whilst chanting – a particular problem to be resolved; a difficult decision to make; or the best course of action to follow in a given situation. Likewise, you could be focused on emotional situations, and look for ways of coping with them; or thinking of the well- being of another individual. Or your thoughts might be on personal wishes and wants, goals or determinations.
How long you should chant for?
This is up to each person but as a guide people are often recommended to chant for about 15 minutes morning or evening (though of course you are free to chant less or more as you wish). It is however a good idea to try to get into a regular rhythm of chanting a little in the morning and evening rather than chanting a lot one day and none the next. Once again, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s 2 minutes, 10 or twenty, the point is to set a time limit and stick to it. Just keep on chanting till the time is up.


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