The purpose of Buddhism is to enable each and every person to eliminate suffering from their lives. This is not about dogma but about profound philosophy and seeking and finding real answers to some of life's most important questions.
How can we change ourselves from deep within to become ever wiser, stronger, happier and more compassionate? How can we change the suffering of others? What can we do to have the most positive impact on others? How can we, as a species, become less hurtful and destructive to each other and to the other species sharing the planet with us? How do we find common ground between our spiritual selves and our ever-growing understanding of the natural world? What is life? What is the meaning of life? These are the kinds of questions answered by Buddhist philosophy.
As Nichiren Buddhists, we practice a form of mantra meditation. Mantra meditation is a kind of meditation that uses a phrase (mantra) to aid our focus. Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a form of mantra meditation similar to our own but using mantras associated with Hinduism as opposed to Buddhist philosophy. The mantra we use is Namu myoho renge kyo.
The form of meditation used in Zen, more akin to Mindfulness Meditation, involves the stopping or slowing of discursive thought in order to allow your deeper nature to come to the forefront, to harmonize your mind with your true self. (They use the term "void" where we use "true self.") Mantra meditation follows a similar premise, but rather than stopping thought, we instead use the mantra to redirect our thoughts onto our true nature and shut out incompatible thoughts. Our method is more of a realigning of attention. Zen meditation attempts to accomplish the same thing, however, they are more focused on settling the mind, whereas we're more focused on redirecting the mind. Mantra meditation is both stopping discursive thought and redirecting attention at the same time, in other words, using two tools to accomplish our goal.
The method of mantra meditation is considered an advancement in Buddhist practice, and, as would be expected, performs better in many ways when comparative tests are performed between Mindfulness Meditation and Mantra Meditation.
The positive effects of meditation, including mantra meditation, have been studied and documented. Even though meditation in general has been shown to have great positive influence, what a person meditates on is also of significant importance. What we say, especially to ourselves, think and believe has a significant influence on how we feel, who we are, and what we do. Repeating any positive phrase will have a positive impact on us, but the more powerfully positive the phrase, the more we believe what we're saying, the more mental energy we expend on it, and the more we stand by it, the more influence it will have over us. Given that what we think and believe affects our actions, the philosophy by which people live is also of significant importance. In this web site, we hope to convince you indisputably of these facts.
That, however, is only a small part of our quest here. We hope to drive home the serious importance of changing the way you think -- your life -- and thereby the lives of others, with the hope that it will inspire within you a powerful seeking mind to constantly search for ever-better, ever-more-effective methods of positively impacting life.
Meditation. You've heard of it. Maybe you've done it. It makes you feel more relaxed. So what? Here's the what. With the best philosophy in hand, and the best method of meditation at your side, you can literally impact everything in the universe. You can think of it like taking your fist and punching a dent in the wall of the universe, because you can quite literally dent the fabric of the universe with your own life force. In fact, you're already swinging at the universe with your life without even realizing it, so why not find out what you're doing, how to control it, and how to do it in the most powerful and positive way we humans have yet discovered?
Maybe you've practiced sitting quietly thinking about your day, believing that you were practicing a form of meditation. Or maybe you've even done some mind control, learned to focus yourself. That's all good, and it's good for you. But there is more to be learned about it than that. When you combine the most powerful and meaningful phrase on which to meditate, Namu myoho renge kyo, with the deepest philosophy, the practice becomes something altogether different.
Nichiren Buddhism is a form of Mahayana Buddhism named after the priest Nichiren, who devoted his life to the enlightenment and happiness of the entire universe. His basic story is similar in a couple of respects to the historical Buddha credited with the original teachings of Buddhism. Concerned with the suffering of the people all around him, he dedicated years of his life to seeking a way to eliminate their suffering. Once discovered, he made a bold vow to teach this philosophy to others, even under threat of losing his own life in the process. Due to his strong determination to eliminate the suffering of others, Nichiren became a Buddha. After all, that is what a Buddha is -- a person who carries out a determination to eliminate suffering from people's lives. Today, the members of NBAA are following in Nichiren's path; the path of every Buddha. That is, we're committed to finding and using ways to eliminate others' sufferings.
Chanting Namu myoho renge kyo is more than just trying to force a change in the way you think. It is a method of developing your inner spirit. It is at once a form of meditation as well as a determination and a cause (in terms of cause and effect, or karma) to alleviate your suffering, increase your happiness, and impact the lives of others in an extremely profound way.
Because religion has such a significant influence on all of our lives -- the practitioner and those they interact with as well -- by changing the way people believe, we can have a significant impact on the happiness of the world, and also its destiny.