Since I set out on this journey, launching this blog and telling more and more people about nam myoho renge kyo, people have often asked me how exactly this chanting practice has impacted upon my life? How does it work? What exactly does it do for you? There is no easy answer to the bigger questions; in fact, my attempts to understand the cosmic mechanisms at play will make up the main focus of this blog. But for now I’d like to answer the first question at least, by telling you the story of the very first change that manifested in my life, and in myself, after I started chanting. There are two threads to this story which will come together, so bear with me…
First, some background. Two years before I came across nam myoho renge kyo, a rift occurred within my family. I won’t name any names or go into any detail about what exactly happened – none of that matters any more or has any bearing on the eventual outcome. All that you need to know is that I, personally, was very angry with one person in particular, let’s call him John. I blamed John for the divisions within the family and the impact this rift had had on all of us. We used to be very close, but I hadn’t seen or spoken to him at all in over a year, and every time I even thought about him a dark feeling of rage and bitterness would rise within me and spoil my whole mood.
Separately to this, over the previous couple of months I had been feeling a bit down. A lot, actually. I hesitate to use the word “depression” as it was relatively mild and I don’t want to compare my experience with the extreme depths of despair suffered by so many people, including some of my own friends and family. Nevertheless, I was indeed feeling pretty bad. As time went on, the smiley face I wore felt more and more alien every day. I couldn’t do much more than collapse on the couch alone after work each day. I avoided chats and phone calls, as I didn’t have the energy for conversation after keeping it together in work all day. I really didn’t have the energy for much at all really, other than staring blankly at the TV or sometimes just the wall.
It is important to note at this point that my depression was in no way related to the John situation. That feud had been ongoing for a couple of years at this stage so it really wasn’t in the forefront of my mind at all. Rather, the glumness I was struggling with, as in all cases of mental health issues, was very much internal.
So now we’re up to mid-December 2012, in Amsterdam, where I had been living for the last couple of years. A very close friend had started hanging out with these Buddhist people and chanting this strange mantra. To be honest, it all sounded a bit weird to me, but I could see that he was happy and confident after coming through some struggles of his own, so I was glad to see that he really seemed to be improving. Despite that, however, I resisted his attempts to encourage me to try this chanting practice, even when I started sinking into my own melancholy. I chose instead to go for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to address my problems. I went for an initial assessment with a therapist, who agreed that CBT could help me, and we scheduled my first session for just after the Christmas holidays. I remember my friend protesting at the time, “Jessicaaa! Don’t waste your money on this therapy nonsense! All you need to do is start chanting, I promise!” But I was adamant that while I was happy that this weird chanting stuff was working for him, I would prefer to take the science-based therapy path, thank you very much.
On the 16th December, a Sunday, I woke up in tears. I couldn’t even tell you why. I just felt so full of inexplicable sorrow and despair. When I wasn’t crying my eyes out, I just lay there staring at the ceiling. A couple of times I tried to get out of bed but my body and soul just felt so heavy, I didn’t have the strength. I would then start crying again. This cycle went on until about 5pm when I finally managed to drag myself all the way to the couch in the next room. I was sad, desperate, full of misery I couldn’t explain or understand, and frustrated that I couldn’t seem to pick myself up and out of this funk.
Finally, I said “fuck it”. What have I got to lose? I’ll try anything to stop feeling this hopeless. So, feeling like a complete idiot, I stared at the blank wall in front of me and started repeating nam myoho renge kyo, nam myoho renge kyo, nam myoho renge kyo… It’s kinda easy to get into the rhythm of it once you start, but still you feel like a bit of a crazy-person saying these incomprehensible words out loud to a blank wall for the first time.
Nevertheless, I kept going for about 20 minutes. And nothing happened. It wasn’t like there was a bolt of lightning from the ceiling and suddenly I found myself smiling. Nope, I still felt pretty shit, although with perhaps a tiny glimmer of hope now that I was actually taking some concrete action – even if I was super-sceptical about this weirdness having any effect at all. That’s part of the beauty of this practice – you don’t have to believe it to give it a go. You can try it and just see if anything happens. Now that I had taken that first step, I decided to trust my friend and keep going for a few days.
Two days later, on 18th December, a Tuesday evening, I had chanted for a little while at home and was just sitting on the couch musing away about nothing in particular. Suddenly this thought drifted across my mind…
“maybe I should visit John while I’m home for Christmas next week”
I noticed the thought happening, and then did a bit of a double take. I tried it again, more consciously this time…
“maybe I should visit John while I’m home for Christmas next week”
Yep, there it was. In this moment, I was actually considering seeing and talking to this person I had been so angry with for so long. There was no reaction to the mere thought of him, like before. The familiar rage and bitterness didn’t rise within me. The anger I had felt towards him was, simply, gone. Dissolved. For the first time, I actually thought that it might be possible to see him, have a calm conversation without letting my emotions get the better of me, and perhaps even find a way to move forward beyond this rift we had been struggling with for so long.
This development was, without exaggeration, miraculous. This shift in my internal attitude came as a complete surprise, especially considering that this feud was not related to my current depression. It wasn’t something I had been thinking about much at all lately, so it wasn’t a conscious decision I made. I simply noticed the thought, noticed my reaction to it (or lack thereof), and was simply blown away by the growing sense of peace I was now starting to recognise within my mind.
The next week, I did visit John, we did have a calm and open conversation, and that did indeed prove to be the first step towards resolving the issues between us and amongst the wider family. There is no doubt in my mind that it was the chanting practice that brought about this profound change in my inner state and enabled this reconciliation.
I kept up the chanting practice, and noticed that, not only was my attitude towards this one person much improved, my whole mood was changing. I felt progressively lighter, happier, the smile on my face became more natural again. When I returned to Amsterdam and attended my first formal session with the CBT therapist, she was clearly surprised to see the bounce in my step and smile on my face when I arrived. I explained what I had done and we talked through how I was now feeling, and she affirmed that my issues seemed to be resolved and there was no need to proceed with further treatment.
That’s how it all started. I first started chanting nam myoho renge kyo in a desperate attempt to lift myself out of the depressive funk I had found myself in. Not only did it wholly succeed in doing this, but it unexpectedly helped me to open my heart and mind to the possibility of repairing my relationship with John, a problem I was obviously unhappy about on a subconscious level at least, even if I wasn’t consciously dwelling on it.
And that was just the beginning…
Since then, it has led to a more mindful and peaceful attitude towards life. Through the energetic mechanisms we will explore in future posts, it has also led to perfect jobs / homes / windfalls landing in my lap at the perfect moment. Most importantly, chanting nam myoho renge kyo leads to happiness. It helps you maintain a subtle but strong undercurrent of joy and tranquillity in your daily life. It strengthens your emotional and spiritual core so that nothing can knock you down. It connects you, with your inner Self, and with something… bigger.
How it works, how it brings such happiness into the lives of those who chant, is somewhat mysterious, beyond the reaches of conventional science and the limited knowledge of our human selves. Sometimes, though, a hint of the bigger picture can be glimpsed in insights and peeks through the door of inner spiritual wisdom to which we all have access. The key to that door is nam myoho renge kyo, and it is those insights and peeks I am attempting to flesh out in this new blogging vocation.
For now though, this story should at least explain to you why I started chant, and why I enthusiastically continue today as a Happy Chanter.
Do you want a bigger dose of delight in your life? Let me assure you that giving into the weirdness and doing this crazy-person chant was the best thing I ever did for myself, and I am nothing but #grateful that this practice found its way into my life. No matter how awful or awesome your life is right now, you can raise yourself up even higher and achieve, well, anything. Why not go ahead and check out the About NMRK pages and start chanting nam myoho renge kyo today. It’s at least worth a try… right?
18 thoughts on “What Has Chanting Ever Done For Me?”
Do you do gongyo also?
Hi Rahul, no I don’t do gongyo – well, very very rarely. The practice of chanting NMRK is all that is really needed in my opinion, although when I do gongyo I prefer to recite the English translation of the words to really embrace the meaning behind it.
Today 23 April 2020 i get my gohonzon from Tokyo at 29 Febrery in my House bevor the Covid19 coming to Spain and now i have strong feeling to record nam mioho renge with my voice. Guitarr and violin Covid19DEAth new Earth in compasiv death remember and the enlightment from motter Earth
Hi Valentin, congratulations on getting your gohonzon! Recording NMRK with guitar and violin sounds like a lovely idea 🙂
Do you still chant? I’m curious if it has continued to help you as of now 2019? I just started and looking for more reassurance on this topic of chanting nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Also, did you get pressured to become apart of SGI? Or are you separate from them.
Hi Heather, thanks so much for your comment 🙂 I’m delighted to hear you’ve started chanting, how are you getting on with it? Yes, I do still chant regularly and it really helps with every aspect of life, both with external circumstances and internal state of mind. I am not an SGI member, although I was first introduced to the practice through them. I wouldn’t say I was ever “pressured” to join, but “encouraged” – but in the end, for me, there are too many rules and restrictions in any religious organisation so I prefer to practice independently. I encourage others to do whatever suits them best – some people like to have the structure and community that an organisation like SGI offers, but if you prefer to do your own thing, that’s okay too! 🙂
Thank you so much for your reply. I too would prefer to practice independently. I did notice internal peaceful and calm results after chanting myself. I have been asked to join SGI but I prefer not to. Therefore my last question is how did you receive your Gohonzon? And do you chant to one or without one?
That’s wonderful you’re already seeing such positive effects from the practice, hope you stick with it 🙂
I never received a gohonzon and I don’t use one for my practice – I love the symbolism of the lotus flower so I prefer to chant to a picture of that instead. “The lotus flower seeds and blooms at the same time, representing the simultaneity of cause and effect – once a person has made a cause, the effect has already taken place (but might not manifest until later). The lotus flower also blooms in a swampy waters, representing the potential for any person to attain enlightenment in the “swamp” of human suffering.”
I do think the gohonzon is beautiful though, and if you really do want to use one, you could always just search for an image online and print it out yourself to display wherever you do your chanting. I know that some would say that it’s somehow inappropriate to print a gohonzon directly from the internet but I don’t see any issue with it.
You write wonderfully. Your words relate to readers as coming straight from heart—pure, without any masks. Yes— I have also felt the psychological changes and a feeling of positivism all around. Yet to see any dramatic events in life— but whatever has happened is more than sufficient to keep me going—- and your words are highly reassuring and inspiring.
Thank you Alok! The psychological changes can certainly be dramatic enough in their own right – in any case, keeping a consistent practice is enough to lead a happy and peaceful life 🙂
Great post Jess . I’m with you on the chanting or Mantras as us yogi’s call it . All the same principle really . You are completely right . This works at a vibrational level ,working on our internal subtle energy body . I’m a big fan of mantras and also feel the powerful effect . Just one question for you . Do you know the meaning of your mantra ? I did a level one course in Japa meditation but struggled as our instructor gave very vague meanings of the mantras / chants and I struggled with this as personally I really needed to know what I was saying . I talked to my yoga teacher on my teacher training course about this struggle I have and she understood . Any yoga mantra we use we have the translation and his seems to make me more settled with what I am repeating . Just wondering what is your experience with this situation ?? I’m so happy you found this to be so powerful and helpful . The mind just loves repetition , it calms the sympathetic nervous system and calms the body which I believe is the unconscious mind . Delighted for you Jess . My personal favourite is “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo ” . Namaste Xx
Thanks Edel! Yep indeed, I’d like to expand my explorations some day to include other mantras as I think you’re totally right that they all operate at the vibrational level. For now though, nam-myoho-renge-kyo has worked wonders for me so that’s my focus for now! As for the meaning, well I’m sure you know yourself that each individual word or character is drenched with symbolism so it’s not always easy to provide a concise translation, although it basically comes down to something like “I devote myself to the Mystic Law of cause and effect”. I have provided a deeper explanation of the meaning of the phrase and of each word here: https://happychanter.com/index.php/about-nmrk/meaning-of-nmrk/. I agree that it definitely helps to have an understanding of what it is you are saying with a practice like this. I certainly wanted to understand what it was all about before I even started, especially coming from a bit of a cynical position! Although now with more experience I would say that this is mainly about satisfying your intellectual curiosity – I do believe that the mantra can have a powerful effect whether you know the meaning or not. I’ll be expanding more on all this in my next post so do keep an eye out! Thanks again for the lovely message 🙂 namaste xx
I like that you wrote that you initially saw it as “this weird chanting stuff”, that’s exactly how i feel about it now, but then again, part of me finds this really fascinating… and I can see how this could work in terms of vibration/attraction. Better then happy affirmations which tend to have a lot of unconscious resistance. I’m considering to give it a try for 3 days (if anything it’s a good ‘not taking yourself to serious’ practice :), do you have a good YouTube link that I can chant along with? (hahaha part of me is resisting so hard right now “seriously Ingrid…you’re going to CHANT? *cringe*”)
I’m looking forward to read your posts that go deeper into the ‘how it works’!
Thanks so much Ingrid, haha yeah I totally get the *cringe* thing! It’s still definitely worth a try though, it’s one of those things that you just have to see for yourself, no matter how silly or embarrassing it seems. I’d love to hear how you get on with it! You should have a look at the About NMRK pages if you want to know more about the meaning and the practice itself, and there is an audio recording here to chant along with: https://happychanter.com/index.php/about-nmrk/chanting-nmrk/
Happy Chanting! 🙂