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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 8:35 am 
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Am I correct in my belief that Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu are the only Nichiren denominations that say "nam" (as opposed to "namu") when they chant daimoku? Thanks.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:51 pm 
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Though I am not 100% sure, but I think you are right, that these are the only sects of Nichiren Buddhism that use the pronunciation "nam" - though they would write "namu" because there is no character "m" in the Japanese language. The 無 from 南無妙法蓮華経 is transcribed "mu" and not "m". Only because both sects recite the daimoku very fast it sounds like they were saying nam instead of namu. When these sects were established in the West the term "南無" was transliterated as "nam" instead of "namu" to transfer the specific style of chanting. Seen from a broader perspective the "namu" is a Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese transliteration "namo" of the sanskrit "namo", so it doesn't really make sense to pronounce "南無" and "nam".
So to answer your question you uploaded on Youtube: Nichiren probably never pronounced the "南無" as "nam" unless he propagated the recitation of as many daimoku as possible (and I am not sure if he did). If he did it would be possible that he recited the daimoku very fast to reach a high number of daily recitations without paying attention to the proper (?) pronunciation. On the other hand Nichiren - as a Tendai monk - was certainly familiar with Sanskrit and pronounced the "南無" closer to the Sanskrit as "namu" or even "namo".

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:00 pm 
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Honmon Butsuryu (HBS) also chants Nam.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:38 am 
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Really, I didn't know that about HBS. Nichiren Shonin himself talks about the 7 syllable title. We chant 'Namu' too.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:48 pm 
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Tatsuo wrote:
Though I am not 100% sure, but I think you are right, that these are the only sects of Nichiren Buddhism that use the pronunciation "nam" - though they would write "namu" because there is no character "m" in the Japanese language. The 無 from 南無妙法蓮華経 is transcribed "mu" and not "m". Only because both sects recite the daimoku very fast it sounds like they were saying nam instead of namu. When these sects were established in the West the term "南無" was transliterated as "nam" instead of "namu" to transfer the specific style of chanting. Seen from a broader perspective the "namu" is a Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese transliteration "namo" of the sanskrit "namo", so it doesn't really make sense to pronounce "南無" and "nam".
So to answer your question you uploaded on Youtube: Nichiren probably never pronounced the "南無" as "nam" unless he propagated the recitation of as many daimoku as possible (and I am not sure if he did). If he did it would be possible that he recited the daimoku very fast to reach a high number of daily recitations without paying attention to the proper (?) pronunciation. On the other hand Nichiren - as a Tendai monk - was certainly familiar with Sanskrit and pronounced the "南無" closer to the Sanskrit as "namu" or even "namo".


Very interesting. Thank you. So, in other words, the truth is that even when we HEAR "nam," the "U" is still there. It's still "namu," just so fast that you can't hear it?

Thank you to everyone else who responded as well. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:08 am 
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My personal observation is that the Nam/Namu issue is not simple. Basically, though, I think it can be said as a general rule, the schools derived from Nikko Shonin, also known as the Fuji School, say Nam. This includes Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai, but also the Nikko faction of Nichiren Shu based at Kitayama Honmonji. HBS, iirc, is a Nikko sect.

I don't know about the Nikko factions based in Kyoto, like Hokke Shu.

I recently visited Ikegami Honmonji and witnessed a ceremony in the Founder's Hall. They are mainstream Nichiren Shu. The priest in that sitting said both Nam and Namu. While chanting Daimoku he said Namu, but when reciting praises of Nichiren Shonin and his accomplishments, he said Nam.

Also, I don't think Namu became Nam because it is recited quickly. I attended a ceremony at Kitayama Honmonji and although the Daimoku was chanted at a deliberate pace, we still said Nam. I was told the Nikko schools say Nam because Nikko taught it that way, which he learned from Nichiren.

In Nichiren's writings, Nichiren wrote reference to the 5 or 7 character Daimoku. He did not mention anything about 7 Syllables. It should be noted that whether its Nam or Namu, the Daimoku is still six beats. To me, the Nam makes more sense because saying Namu makes one of the beats two eighth notes instead of just a single quarter note (in a 6/8 time? can't remember my musical notation anymore).

I don't know if there is a connection, but many Buddhist chants are six beats. This seems to be significant. Zhiyi mentions Avalokitsvara's six beat mantra in Cessation and Contemplation.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:21 am 
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Gassho all;
apologies for my error: it is indeed 7 characters, not syllables. I shouldn't post late at night. My school is Jumon ryu, Kempon Hokke Shu founded around 1282, 100 years after Nichiren's death by an independent Tendai monk, Gemmyo, later Nichiju Shonin.
We're taught to chant 'Namu' fully and I do. The musicality argument doesn't move me as we'd then all turn into pure land types who collapse everything into 'namandabu'.
rory

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:09 am 
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Rory,

Is it really necessary to suggest that if you say Nam that is the same as contracting the Nembutsu? I don't know the full implications of what you mean by that comparison, but its dismissive in the least.

I was not trying to convince you or anyone that Nam is preferable to Namu. Nam is what I say and I explained why it appeals to me. I did not mention this in this thread - I have tried Namu, but the extra syllable did not sit well with me; that was where I was coming from. I do not intend that my reasons for preferring one pronunciation over the other should be compelling to others. I shared that detail in the spirit of discussion; it may not find resonance with some, but it may find resonance with others. If you don't find my reason compelling, well... Tatha - it is what it is.

In considering this subject, I have not found any compelling basis for insisting that the Daimoku should be said one way or another - some of which I mentioned before in my observation of practice at various temples in Japan.

I have been told that Nam is what Nichiren Shonin said. I have also heard people insist that Namu is correct. Whether one says "Nam" or "Namu", it usually comes back to, "This is what I was taught." Do any of us alive know what Nichiren actually chanted? No, all we have is hearsay. We do the best with the resources we have to determine the the proper practice for ourselves, and this ultimately includes our own preferences and capabilities. Even if we did know what the Founder said, would it really make a difference about people's preferences? Are we really going to insist that ♫♩♩♩♩♩ is the proper rhythmic phrase for the recitation of the Daimoku over ♩♩♩♩♩♩ just because our teachers tell us its right? What basis do they have for that other than the tradition they received? Did any of these teachers speak with Nichiren, let alone Shakyamuni, and receive instruction that one pronunciation is correct and all others are wrong and ineffective? Nichiren Shonin stated that his Daimoku was the same as the 24 character Daimoku of Fukyo Bosatsu; this suggests that the particular pronunciation of the Buddha's teaching is nothing more than a matter of convention.

Not to beat this subject further, if we carry this concern about proper pronunciation to its conclusion, everyone who can't pronounce the Daimoku with medieval Japanese pronunciation is doing it wrong. That is ridiculous. The last thing we need in the Nichiren community is yet another criteria to run an orthodoxy prosecution.

Some people say toe-may-toe, others say toe-mah-toe. A ripe garden grown, vine ripened tomato tastes great no matter what you call it. People who want schism, will find reason for schism. I want reconciliation and fellowship. Some matters are worth the energy of debate. Conventions of verbal expressions of teachings and what we do as our personal practice does not seem to be one of them. At least to me.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:56 am 
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@ Queequeg:
I think you are right, that it is ok to say both. What matters is the title of the Lotus Sutra, right? And "namu/nam" is not part of the title (though I think, that maybe Nichiren considers "namu/nam" as part of the title). I think, that "namu" is the more accurate pronunciation of the daimoku, because all syllables are uttered as they are written. And "namu" is closer to Sanskrit than "nam" since it is intended as a transliteration of the Sanskrit term "namo".* I don't intend to take any side for or against a certain sect of Nichiren Buddhism.

*The Kanji 南無 are used as phonetic transcription and have no meaning (or rather their meaning ("south" and "nothing") is irrelevant).

@ rory:
"Namandabu" is only recited by Jōdo Shinshū and not all Pure Land Buddhists. That is because the function of the nenbutsu is meant as gratitude to Amida Buddha. Therefore the entrusting heart and feeling of gratitude is much more important than pronouncing the name of Amida Buddha correctly.

@ OregonBuddhist:
Yes. The daimoku is always written "namu", so the "u" is always there.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:48 am 
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Gassho everyone;

I have a Tendai background and practiced pure land (which I heartily repent) so my allusion wasn't a shot or being mean, it's just my frame of reference. Nam is just the shortened form of Namu, when you chant quickly like 'don't is for 'doesn't it is no more important than that.

The important thing is to practice Daimoku with genuine feeling and meditating that the Eternal Buddha is there guiding you.

rory

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:30 pm 
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WHy do you "repent" in practicing Pure Land?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:58 am 
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Because as the Lotus Sutra says it was a provisional path, no longer needed. The Eternal Buddha preaches the Lotus Sutra in this world & the replica Buddhas preach it on their worlds, including Amida.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:43 am 
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So, it's a theological issue. Not a personal issue. In other words, it's not like you had a traumatic experience with members of the Pure Land denomination?

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 4:32 am 
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Entirely theological. All the people I've encountered have been extremely nice.
gassho
Rory

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 6:38 am 
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What made you change your mind? You seemed to be very convinced about the Pure Land path for quite some time. If this is too personal and/or too off topic feel free to ignore me ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:43 am 
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There is a good article about the namu/nam-issue from the perspective of a Nichiren-shu priest. :anjali:

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:46 pm 
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How many repetitions should be made?


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:49 pm 
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Maninder wrote:
How many repetitions should be made?


As many as necessary.

Maybe 1. Maybe quadrillions of quadrillions of infinities. But it can't be less than 1.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:56 pm 
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Queequeg wrote:
Maninder wrote:
How many repetitions should be made?


As many as necessary.

Maybe 1. Maybe quadrillions of quadrillions of infinities. But it can't be less than 1.


Like in a day?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:03 am 
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Maninder wrote:
Queequeg wrote:
Maninder wrote:
How many repetitions should be made?


As many as necessary.

Maybe 1. Maybe quadrillions of quadrillions of infinities. But it can't be less than 1.


Like in a day?


Sure.


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