God, The Universe, and Everything In Between

Last week’s blog post about the meaning and possible interpretations of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo generated some interesting discussions online, especially around one particular example: “I Am God”

I can very much relate to a certain level of resistance to a term that is inherently associated with a monotheistic concept, especially when used in the context of Buddhist practice and modern spirituality. I used to be just as opposed to the concept myself, but I wanted to explain in a bit more detail how I now think about God, and offer some more food for thought and discussion.

A Young Atheist

I have a very vivid memory from when I was a child, maybe about 6 or 7. I was attending Mass with my family, something that many Irish families often did as more of a social habit (or almost an obligation in a traditional Catholic society) than out of any real sense of devout religiosity.

In a Catholic Mass, there are prayers that are recited by rote, and cues for standing, kneeling or sitting at various points in the service. I remember looking around at this church filled with grown-ups, those smart big people who I was supposed to look up to and emulate – and I really couldn’t wrap my head around what they were doing. Why are they standing or kneeling at certain times? Who makes up those rules? Why are they giving such “thanks and praise” to some invisible man in the sky? Their tones are so dull, are they even really thinking about what they’re saying? If this guy really exists, why doesn’t he just show himself? And if he’s such a nice guy, why are we always begging him for “mercy and forgiveness”?

The whole concept of organised religion never sat right with me, and I think that was the day I decided, “nah, that’s not for me”. From then until the day I first started chanting nam myoho renge kyo some 25 years later, I just had no interest in religion or spirituality.

Even after I became a spiritual seeker through my introduction to nam myoho renge kyo, I still had a strong resistance to the word “God”, to the idea that some external force was calling the shots and passing judgement upon me.

I’ve now changed my view – not about that resistance to an external puppet-master, but certainly about the word and what it truly represents.

The True Meaning Of God

©HappyChanter I believe in God

Everything in the Universe is formed of energy, vibrating at different frequencies. Solid matter is formed of energy waves, and even your thoughts emit their own energy waves. We are all essentially made of the same stuff in an overarching field, parts of the same whole.

That field of All-That-Is energy is a creative force. The Universe thought itself into a physical existence (or, “God created the heavens and the earth”), just as you can create your own reality through your thoughts, which flow at a higher creative state the more you raise your own vibration through gratitude, compassion, love, and spiritual practices like chanting nam myoho renge kyo.

So, when I use the word “God” now, I don’t refer to the monotheistic idea of of the “old man in the sky”, which is somehow separate from us. Rather, I think of God as the divine creative energy that permeates everything around and within us. You could substitute the word “God” with “the Universe”, “Spirit”, “the Mystic Law”, “Allah”, “Source”, “the Law of Attraction”, “Brahma”, “Mother Nature”, or any one of many others that are all simply words, used by different peoples in different contexts, to (try to) describe that divine energy which we are all fundamentally connected to and part of.

When we practice, we are opening and strengthening our Connection to that energetic whole, through that divine aspect of ourselves, our Higher Self, our Soul, our Buddha Nature – again, many words describing the same thing. You can use whatever words resonate with you – I usually end up chopping and changing between them all! Whatever terms you prefer, Know that you are part of something greater, you are a conduit for the creative energy of the Universe, you are Spirit incarnate, and yes, in that sense, You Are indeed God.

Raise that beautiful divine head of yours high and own it, live it, love it 💖

©HappyChanter signature small

22 thoughts on “God, The Universe, and Everything In Between

  1. Helena

    Hi Jessica and all readers of this blog.
    I apologize in advance for the length of my comment and thank you in advance for taking the time to read it. Let me say for starters that I really appreciate how you write. I envy your way with words.
    Moving on to your blog entry, I completely resonate with your description of God and the many terms you use interchangeably. Would that more people shared this belief that you I and the other people who’ve commented, seem to share that there ar ‘many ways’ of connecting/communing to and with the same Creative Energy.
    I’m a decades long lapsed Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist. I left the practice for a variety of reasons one of them being my experience of the organization and the practice as being too rigid and dogmatic. I’ve never stopped appreciating the basic message and philosophy though and have continued to seek my path of connection with that Mystic Law/Divine Energy. And I’ve never stopped appreciating the experience and value of chanting  Nam myo ho renge Kyo. I’ve tried meditation, centering prayer and other ways of connecting but nothing has ever resonated in the way that Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo does.
    I found your blog today because of a conversation I had with my neighbor, who is also a very good friend, a bit over a week ago. She is a practicing Christian who belongs to a church that seems to accept and embrace this same understanding of the Creative Force that you’ve described in this entry. We were discussing the topic of religious intolerance and somehow it came up in our conversation that she has a niece who is a practicing Nicheron Shoshu Buddhist. It seems to have been a synchronous thing that this came up. Since then I’ve been thinking again about chanting but very trepidatious about seeking out the local organization. So today I googled Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo and found your blog and here I am excited to have found you and other likeminded people. I think it’s time to start chanting again. I’ve signed up for your newsletter and plan to be a frequent visitor of this site.

    Thanks for being here and for doing what you do!

    • robbie

      Helena

      Ive been chanting Nam(u) Myoho Renge Kyo for over 50 years, more than 40 of which has been as an independent practitioner.

      I read the Lotus Sutra (myohorengekyo) for guidance and encouragement.

      I currently consider myself to be a “Mystic Buddhist Pantheist” (search pantheist if not familiar).

      For the past two years, Ive been chanting between 2 and 5 (!) hours per day/night, outside to the stars at night and to the sky during the day.

      Best wishes to you on your journey!

      Robbie

      • Helena

        Robbie,
        Thank you so much for reading and replying to my comment. It’s very helpful to hear from someone who made the trek from being part of the organization to being an ‘independent practitioner’. Chanting to the stars and sky seems right. Did you ever own the scroll members of the organization were supposed to chant to? I have mine tucked away in a safe place but feel that if I’m going to be chanting but don’t plan to chant to it that I should return it.
        I like your description of yourself as a Mystic Buddhist Pantheist. If you ever felt so inclined I’d be interested to hear about how you arrived at that term for yourself.
        Thanks again, Helena

        • robbie

          Helena
          you asked “Did you ever own the scroll members of the organization were supposed to chant to?”. I do have a full-sized (40 inches wide x 50 inches high) copy of a Nichiren inscribed mandala on my altar (search “prayer gohonzon” (images) to see what it looks like). I chanted to it for many years, but now i chant mostly outside as I explained. My reason for the change was the realization a couple years ago that Nichiren himself chanted to the universe, and called out to the Buddhist and local (Japanese) deities for protection at various times. Nichiren was a mystic for sure, and one translation of “Myo Ho” is “mystic law”. At age 7, I realized I was/am Buddhist. If you looked it up, Pantheism summarizes my view of the universe and is fairly consistent with the view of quantum physics (see my post on this blog from 2/21/20). In my practice, I chant the full 7 character version like Nichiren did (“Na Mu”), I chant slowly and extend/emphasize the character “myo” (meoooooooh), and sometimes alternate that with prayers in English. Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra (“myohorengekyo”) explains how prayers to Quan Yin (look her up; she/he goes by many names, such as Regarder of the Cries of the World) are always answered, so I sometimes address her directly. If you have belief in other deities/helpers/protectors (eg a guardian angel etc), you can combine chanting with prayers to them as well.

          Robbie

          • Helena

            Hi Robbie,
            Thanks for sharing some of your story. I love that you knew at 7 that you were a Buddhist. I didn’t come upon Buddhism until I was a young adult when a friend brought me to a meeting of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhists. I always really connected with the philosophy as it was explained. In particular i connected with the part of the explanation of NMRK “devotion to the Mystic Law…”. Pantheism is a term I’ve understood for some time. Despite growing up in a culturally Christian household and making an effort for about 14 years during my adulthood to be a Christian in the Episcopalian denomination, I’ve never felt that it was a the best fit for me or me for it. Buddhism and Pantheism just seem more right to me. I’m a believer in our innate goodness and that we are in possession of a Buddha nature. And am a nature lover and tree hugger too.
            I love what you said about finding out that Nichiren chanted to the Universe which was why you changed to chanting to the sky and stars. I don’t remember if you said that you sit outside and chant to the sky or stars or if you sit inside where you can see them through a window but it feels strange to not be focusing my vision on something meaningful when I chant, at least when I’m sitting and chanting.
            I’ve heard of Kwan Yin but that’s about it so I’ll have to look her up and find and read your 2/21 post as well.
            Thank you again for sharing some of your story with me.
            Be well,
            Helena

  2. Diya

    Perfectly articulated. I am so grateful I found your blog.

    • Jessica

      Thank you, Diya, I’m grateful to have you here! 🙂

  3. Disa

    It took me a long time to get clean and sober because the Big Book of AA uses the word God often. Also in the meetings it was used in so much of the material. I used it for a reason not to stay clean. When someone told me to just switch the word with one that made sense to me, it changed my life. I started silently saying
    ” Universe” when God showed up in the readings. As a seeker, I did land in Buddhism because I liked that there wasn’t a singular, all powerful God. Recently I was introduced to Nichren Buddhism and I enjoy the chanting and the ability to connect with others to chant with

    • Jessica

      Thank you so much for sharing, Disa, and congratulations on your sobriety! Yes I always struggled with that concept of an all-seeing, all-knowing “God” raining judgement down upon us from the sky. I’m much more comfortable with the word itself now as just another way of describing the Universal Energy around and within us. I’m so glad you were able to make that substitution to make AA work for you. I hope you’re seeing positive benefits from your new chanting practice. Lots of love to you xx

  4. robbie lopaka maui

    great post!

    have you considered that (according to scientists lol) so called “dark matter” and “dark energy” (called dark because we cant “see” it) comprise approx. 97% of the universe?

    when I’m out chanting to the stars at night, I’m actually also chanting to the “void”. in my view, the entire “thing” Is god. he/she/it seems to love attention and conversation, and send me some great messages

    try t sometime, keep it going until you experience “circular breathing”, similar to playing a wind instrument like a bagpipe or digeridoo. at that point, one is breathing “god” in and out. I’m actually addicted to it lol

    robbie

    • Jessica

      Thanks for the comment Robbie, I’m so glad you liked this post. I love this so much: “he/she/it seems to love attention and conversation” – it is so true! I love to notice synchronicities in life, and I always think of them as friendly little “nudges” from the Universe, loving reminders that “we’re here, we’re with you”. Your approach sounds fantastic, I will definitely keep it in mind and give it a try 🙂

  5. Patrick Funk

    Glad this blog is still alive I’m silently chanting and reciting gongyo as well as other breath meditation and thought to Check in with this site. The “many forms” manifest for the “Law” or God is a critical need now for life cohesion and even survival on a small planet. The Tribal aspect of even “Reverence” in its many shapes can override life to life connections if insistence of absolutist agreement by creed closes our eyes to life dignity. Chanting Works

    • Jessica

      Thank you so much Patrick, I’m so glad there are still readers like you to engage with and keep going with the blog! I fully agree with you, an understanding that all “tribes” actually “revere” the same thing will go a long way in bridging gaps between creeds and cultures, and connecting us on a human level as embodiments of the same universal energy. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo xx

  6. Sharondz Ng

    Dear Jessica,
    You’re truly outstanding ! A truly amazing and inspiring article of “God, The Universe, and Everything In Between” when I read your article in every sentence I will say ” YES” and I couldn’t agree more. m
    I really appreciate your time and effort for sharing! Keep up the hard work! You’re doing a great job to the world.

    • Jessica

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment Sharondz, I’m so glad this article resonated so deeply with you! I very much appreciate your kind words, I love sharing and discussing all the workings of the Universe, and am truly happy if it helps anyone in any way 🙂

      • Wayne

        Hi Jessica, have you heard of Margaret Blaine, she is based in the US and does vlogs on Chanting Daimoku and the practice. She has written a couple of books, I can imagine you both have a lot in common.
        She is such s lovely lady I have had a video chat with her !
        I can just imagine you guys doing a podcast or video together, I’m sure it would benefit us all

        • Jessica

          Thank you so much for the recommendation Wayne! I am not actually familiar with Margaret but her website looks fantastic, I will have a proper look and reach out to her for sure 🙂

          • Wayne

            She does lots of interesting YouTube videos too
            Maybe having a connection like this will keep the momentum going for you both

  7. Bernadette

    Jessica. That is beautifully explained.

    • Jessica

      Thank you Bernadette! 🙂

  8. Wayne

    I love this ! So well written and explained! Also very important in how we relate to others with different faiths! Thank you for this Jessica and I love the fact that this blog is alive

    • Jessica

      Thank you so much for the kind words Wayne, I’m so glad this post resonates with you! I resolved to knuckle down with the blog for 2020 and it’s always very reassuring to hear that readers like you are enjoying it 🙂

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