Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

hopefullotus
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Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by hopefullotus »

Hi! I'm totally new here and I have so many questions and thoughts. So I apologize if I'm repeating things others have said. I've been practicing for 10 years and have asked this question before and a territory leader told me that he believed there was a sign language/hand gesture equivalent of NMRK.

Does anyone here know what it is? Or where I can find resources? I'm a linguist and also did a year of Audiology. I imagine the practice of chanting should be as accessible as possible so I'm hoping there's something.

Thanks!
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Queequeg
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by Queequeg »

I see no one has offered an answer.

Its a good question. I quickly googled but nothing immediately came up.

In 1271, Nichiren Shonin was arrested and summarily sentenced to death. As he was awaiting the executioner's sword, legend tells us a bright orb shot across the sky, lighting the night as if it was day. The executioner and other samurai became terrified and ran off. An Imperial messenger intervened and with orders that he should not be killed and instead exiled.

Several close students were arrested with him. Nichiren wrote the following letter to one of them:
Tomorrow I am to leave for the province of Sado. In the cold tonight, I think of what it must be like for you in prison, and it pains me. Admirable Nichirō, because you have read the entirety of the Lotus Sutra with both the physical and spiritual aspects of your life, you will also be able to save your father and mother, your six kinds of relatives, and all living beings. Others read the Lotus Sutra with their mouths alone, in word alone, but they do not read it with their hearts. And even if they read it with their hearts, they do not read it with their actions. It is reading the sutra with both one’s body and mind that is truly praiseworthy! Since the sutra teaches that “the young sons of heavenly beings will wait on him and serve him. Swords and staves will not touch him and poison will have no power to harm him,” certainly nothing untoward will befall you. When you are released from prison, please come as quickly as you can. I am eager to see you, and to show you that I too am well.
The Daimoku is something to be "read with the body", meaning our mind, words and body.

That doesn't answer your question, but thought it was relevant to point out that reading daimoku would encompasses a physical expression even without the sign language. And actually, the posture with hands folded is a physical expression of Daimoku - our hands form a lotus calyx representing the unrealized potential for Buddhahood in our lives. Its a mudra - a form of sign language that has long been part of Buddhist practice.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
hopefullotus
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by hopefullotus »

Thanks for your reply! That's really helpful. Maybe then the idea is to strive for expressing daimoku in fullest/truest sense per the individual.

In that case, I may start to encourage fellow members to be more inclusive in their language. Hopefully this is well received. Obviously, chanting is an ideal and often perfectly doable - but only for people who can chant (with their mouths).

I did know about the term mudra, but only because I'm very geeky and looked up the ritual that Sailor Mars performs in Sailor Moon which involves nine syllables with nine corresponding mudras.

I didn't know that the hands folded was an expression of daimoku/lotus. That's neat!

Thank you again! :)
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anjali
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by anjali »

Although not an answer to your question, I came across this ASL signing for Nirvana that I very much liked:

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narhwal90
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by narhwal90 »

Heres a site with a number of mudras;

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/mudra-japan.shtml

Tamasaki's book on Shingon documents an alternative form of lotus mudra where the palms from both halves of a cup, with fingers extended and touching at the tips with thumbs parallel & pressed together, the effect is a hollow volume between the hands.
hopefullotus
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by hopefullotus »

Thanks for the video, anjali! I really like that as well. I'll pass that along.

And thank you for the site with the mudras, narhwal90! This is all very helpful.
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by anjali »

hopefullotus wrote: Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:49 pm Thanks for the video, anjali! I really like that as well. I'll pass that along.

And thank you for the site with the mudras, narhwal90! This is all very helpful.
Still haven't been able to find any signing for NMRK. Thinking about it a bit more, though, it occurred to me that someone could probably construct the chant from the Japanese Sign Language (which I know nothing about). At a minimum, you could spell it out,
In addition to signs and their grammar, JSL is augmented by yubimoji (指文字 "finger letters"), a form of fingerspelling, which was introduced from the United States in the early part of the twentieth century, but is used less often than in American Sign Language. Each yubimoji corresponds to a kana, as illustrated by the JSL syllabary.
If you connect with someone in that community, they may be able to help you. If you find out anything, please let us know.
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by Queequeg »

If there isn't one, one should just be made. Something that can be repeated without causing carpal tunnel syndrome.

The ASL for nirvana is far out, man.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
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明安 Myoan
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Isn't recitation done with the mind, not solely the mouth? So if the association is made, can't someone call to mind a visual representation (like the letters NMRK), or a subtle hand gesture like using a mala?

Just curious, from one chanting tradition to another :smile:
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anjali
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by anjali »

Queequeg wrote: Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:02 pm If there isn't one, one should just be made. Something that can be repeated without causing carpal tunnel syndrome.

The ASL for nirvana is far out, man.
For what it's worth, there is a nice Tricycle article on the life of that deaf Zen priest, Oshin Liam Jennings, who is signing Nirvana: This Buddhist Life – Oshin Liam Jennings.

Also, in my searches on "dharma for the deaf" I came across this aggregating page: Resources for religious interpreting: Buddhism.

That signing for Nirvana is constructed from combining ASL signings for cycle and untie. Nice. I showed this signing to a friend yesterday, and we both just loved it. No words and captures the essence. How cool is that.

On another note. Maybe there could be a seperate thread on "Buddhadharma for the deaf" for folks to discuss and collect such resourses here on DW. It may be a really small community, but could be a nice way to reach out to a non-traditional Buddhist community. :shrug: I wonder if we have any deaf members here?
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by Queequeg »

Mönlam Tharchin wrote: Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:12 pm Isn't recitation done with the mind, not solely the mouth? So if the association is made, can't someone call to mind a visual representation (like the letters NMRK), or a subtle hand gesture like using a mala?

Just curious, from one chanting tradition to another :smile:
That's a good question.

Like the quote above - the ideal is to recite with mind, mouth and body, though reciting with the body goes beyond the sorts of "symbolic" gestures like mudra and means going out and actually honoring beings as Buddhas, even when doing so gets dangerous.

That said, the minimum practice is reciting the daimoku, even without understanding. At the most basic level, its compared to the stage of Hearing The Buddha's Name in Zhiyi's Six Identities system. Wisdom at this stage is non-existent, and a person expressing Dharma is compared to an insect carving the letter A in a piece of wood. And yet that is enough to irreversibly bring a person to full blown awakening. Give that mindless recitation enough time it will develop into Buddhahood.

In a broader sense, I think with chanting practices there has been that debate about what one needs to do beyond just recitation. In Nichiren tradition, the entire continuum is contemplated as being part of the path. Even a Mynah bird would benefit profoundly just by repeating.

In practice, I have seen mere chanting have profound effects on people, even people with significant mental retardation who I don't think could formulate any ideas beyond the most rudimentary things about what they are chanting. I think there is something to the reason why chanting was recommended as one of the meditators tools a remedy for lethargic, unfocused minds.

I am sure I don't need to tell you about the ease of chanting practice :)
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by Queequeg »

anjali wrote: Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:40 pm
Queequeg wrote: Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:02 pm If there isn't one, one should just be made. Something that can be repeated without causing carpal tunnel syndrome.

The ASL for nirvana is far out, man.
For what it's worth, there is a nice Tricycle article on the life of that deaf Zen priest, Oshin Liam Jennings, who is signing Nirvana: This Buddhist Life – Oshin Liam Jennings.

Also, in my searches on "dharma for the deaf" I came across this aggregating page: Resources for religious interpreting: Buddhism.

That signing for Nirvana is constructed from combining ASL signings for cycle and untie. Nice. I showed this signing to a friend yesterday, and we both just loved it. No words and captures the essence. How cool is that.

On another note. Maybe there could be a seperate thread on "Buddhadharma for the deaf" for folks to discuss and collect such resourses here on DW. It may be a really small community, but could be a nice way to reach out to a non-traditional Buddhist community. :shrug: I wonder if we have any deaf members here?
That's a good idea!

And thanks for the references.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by dude »

Mönlam Tharchin wrote: Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:12 pm Isn't recitation done with the mind, not solely the mouth? So if the association is made, can't someone call to mind a visual representation (like the letters NMRK), or a subtle hand gesture like using a mala?

Just curious, from one chanting tradition to another :smile:
Of course. Even acts such as offering incense to the gohonzon or bowing before it produce fortune and implant roots of goodness.
A mute person, for example, could still carry out worship by directing his thoughts toward praise of the gohonzon. Those who can speak gain when their minds are so directed. The important thing, as Nichiren's writings make clear, is the mind of faith.
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by Queequeg »

dude wrote: Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:54 pm
Mönlam Tharchin wrote: Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:12 pm Isn't recitation done with the mind, not solely the mouth? So if the association is made, can't someone call to mind a visual representation (like the letters NMRK), or a subtle hand gesture like using a mala?

Just curious, from one chanting tradition to another :smile:
Of course. Even acts such as offering incense to the gohonzon or bowing before it produce fortune and implant roots of goodness.
A mute person, for example, could still carry out worship by directing his thoughts toward praise of the gohonzon. Those who can speak gain when their minds are so directed. The important thing, as Nichiren's writings make clear, is the mind of faith.
Yes - and it should be emphasized that the mind of faith is minimal.

In the Lotus Sutra its comparable to the joy a person who hears the Saddharma feels 50 degrees removed from the Buddha feels.

“O Ajita! After the Tathāgata’s parinirvāṇa, suppose those monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen and other wise ones, whether old or young, having rejoiced in hearing this sutra, take leave of the Dharma assembly and go to other places—either dwelling in monasteries or tranquil places, cities, towns, villages, or forests—and teach what they have heard to their parents, relatives, good friends, and acquaintances according to the various capacities of these people. Having heard the teaching, they will rejoice and go on to teach it to others. These people having heard it will also joyfully teach it to others in turn, and so it continues in this way until it reaches the fiftieth person.

“O Ajita! I will now explain about the merit which this fiftieth son or daughter of a virtuous family acquires from joyful acceptance. You should listen attentively!

“Suppose that in the four hundreds of myriads of koṭis of incalculable worlds, there are sentient beings in the six transmigratory states and of the four modes of birth—born from an egg, born from the womb, from moisture, or born spontaneously—either with or without form, either with or without consciousness, either unconscious or not unconscious, having no legs, two, four, or many legs; and that, among the number of such beings, there is a person who seeks to acquire merit and gives pleasurable things to these beings, according to their desire. He gives each of those sentient beings gold, silver, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, agate, coral, amber, and other treasures such as would fill this continent of Jambudvīpa, as well as elephant carts, horse carts, and palaces and towers made out of the seven treasures. Having performed such acts of giving for a full eighty years, this great donor thinks:

I have already given these sentient beings such pleasurable things as they wished. Yet now these sentient beings are old and feeble. They are over eighty years old, with white hair and wrinkles, and they will die before long. I should now instruct them by means of the Buddha-Dharma.

“He immediately gathers these sentient beings together, inspires them by proclaiming the Dharma, and gladdens them by revealing its benefits. In an instant they all successively attain the first stage of the śrāvakas called stream-winner (srota-āpanna), the second stage called once-returner (sakṛdāgāmin) the third stage called non-returner (anāgāmin), and finally the stage of the arhat, free from corruption, entering profound meditations, gaining complete mastery of all, and attaining the eight liberations.

“What do you think about this? Has this great donor acquired abundant merit or not?”

Maitreya addressed the Buddha, saying: “O Bhagavat! The donor’s merit is extremely great, immeasurable and limitless. Even if this donor had only given all those pleasurable things to sentient beings, the merit would have been immeasurable. How much greater is this donor’s merit after having caused them to attain arhatship!”

The Buddha addressed Maitreya, saying: “I will now clarify this for you. This person has given all these pleasurable things to the sentient beings in the six states of existence in four hundreds of myriads of koṭis of incalculable worlds, and enabled them to attain arhatship. The merit he has attained cannot be compared with that of even the fiftieth person who, after hearing even a single verse of the Lotus Sutra, received it with joy. It would be even less than a hundredth, a thousandth, a hundred thousandth of a myriad of a koṭi of that person’s merit.

“O Ajita! In this way the merit attained by even the fiftieth person who rejoiced in hearing this Lotus Sutra is immeasurable, limitless, and incalculable. How much more so is the merit of the first person who heard it in the assembly and rejoiced in it! His merit is even greater, it is immeasurable, limitless, and incalculable, and is not to be apprehended through metaphor.


The faintest positive disposition to the Saddharma is of incalculable benefit because its with that subtle turn of the mind that the course to Annuttarasamyaksambodhi is irreversibly entered.

Nichiren writes in Shishin Gohon sho:
Ching-hsi writes, “‘To produce even a single moment of belief and understanding’ represents the beginning in the practice of the essential teaching.” Of these various stages, the four stages of faith are intended for those living in the Buddha’s lifetime, and the five stages of practice, for those living after his passing. Among these, the first of the four stages of faith is that of producing even a single moment of belief and understanding, and the first of the five stages of practice is that of rejoicing on hearing the Lotus Sutra. These two stages together are the treasure chest of the hundred worlds and thousand factors and of three thousand realms in a single moment of life; they are the gate from which all Buddhas of the ten directions and the three existences emerge...

Question: If a person simply chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with no understanding of its meaning, are the benefits of understanding thereby included?

Answer: When a baby drinks milk, it has no understanding of its taste, and yet its body is naturally nourished. Who ever took the wonderful medicines of Jīvaka knowing of what they were compounded? Water has no intent, and yet it can put out fire. Fire consumes things, and yet how can we say that it does so consciously? This is the explanation of both Nāgārjuna and T’ien-t’ai, and I am restating it here.

Question: Why do you say that all teachings are contained within the daimoku?

Answer: Chang-an writes: “Hence [T’ien-t’ai’s explanation of the title in] the preface conveys the profound meaning of the sutra. The profound meaning indicates the heart of the text, and the heart of the text encompasses the whole of the theoretical and essential teachings.” And Miao-lo writes, “On the basis of the heart of the text of the Lotus Sutra, one can evaluate all the other various teachings of the Buddha.”

Though muddy water has no mind, it can catch the moon’s reflection and so naturally becomes clear. When plants and trees receive the rainfall, they can hardly be aware of what they are doing, and yet do they not proceed to put forth blossoms? The five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo do not represent the sutra text, nor are they its meaning. They are nothing other than the intent of the entire sutra. So, even though the beginners in Buddhist practice may not understand their significance, by practicing these five characters, they will naturally conform to the sutra’s intent.

Question: When your disciples, without any understanding, simply recite with their mouths the words Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, what level of attainment do they reach?

Answer: Not only do they go beyond the highest level of the four flavors and three teachings, as well as that attained by practitioners of the perfect teaching set forth in the sutras that precede the Lotus Sutra, but they surpass by a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million times the founders of the True Word and various other schools of Buddhism, such as Shan-wu-wei, Chih-yen, Tz’u-en, Chi-tsang, Tao-hsüan, Bodhidharma, and Shan-tao.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
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明安 Myoan
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by 明安 Myoan »

dude wrote: Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:54 pm
Mönlam Tharchin wrote: Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:12 pm Isn't recitation done with the mind, not solely the mouth? So if the association is made, can't someone call to mind a visual representation (like the letters NMRK), or a subtle hand gesture like using a mala?

Just curious, from one chanting tradition to another :smile:
Of course. Even acts such as offering incense to the gohonzon or bowing before it produce fortune and implant roots of goodness.
A mute person, for example, could still carry out worship by directing his thoughts toward praise of the gohonzon. Those who can speak gain when their minds are so directed. The important thing, as Nichiren's writings make clear, is the mind of faith.
Thanks, dude! I love learning about the Dharma across traditions. I appreciate the importance of the mind of faith. :cheers:
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by dude »

Indeed, so do I
hopefullotus
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by hopefullotus »

Wow! This is so amazing to see such an active and diligent discussion. Thank you for all the contributions.

I am totally in favor of there being a general Buddhism for the Deaf thread or something and I'm sure there are deaf practitioners on here from various sects.

I did also get some more clarification today that some Deaf members who can speak or formulate sounds do chant to the best of their ability and those that don't can recite it in their minds. As dude said, even offering incense is beneficial.

I did toy around this morning with signing the letter from top (around the crown of the head starting with N) to bottom (K produced around stomach height) - I used N M H R G K because then it keeps a rhythm similar to chanting (think syllables). That was a fun experiment!
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by diajoh »

I chanted with deaf members years ago in England. They chanted by using the letters N, M,R and K. They got into a rhythm just like hearing/speaking members did. No, it isn't the five or seven characters, but it isn't Japanese,either.
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by Shotenzenjin »

big hello Deaf/blind here i have a karmic affinity towards nichiren shoshu

im fluent in american sign language

you can chant the entire Daimoku in ASL simply by using three signs one of which all who chant it know already

the first is the compound sign promise+focus which means devoted or devotion

then the sign for magic that is also the sign for mystical

then the sign of holding your hands together in prayer to represent the lotus flower and the mystical law,

in Nichiren Shoshu basics of practice we have this


"THE SYMBOLISM OF JOINING THE HANDS IN PRAYER
Based on the principles discussed above, Nichiren Shoshu describes the meaning of joining our hands in prayer in the following way: Our whole-hearted faith is represented by the eight petals of the lotus flower. This is also called the “lotus of the heart” or the “white lotus” and it depicts our Buddha nature. In joining our hands in prayer, the eight petals are represented by our eight fingers, and the remaining two thumbs symbolize the father and the mother or the principles of “reality and wisdom” and “practicing for spiritual stability and wisdom.” It has been said that the ten digits portray the concept of three-thousand realms inherent in the ten worlds, and joining the fingers and palms signifies the mutual possession of the ten worlds. Bringing the joined hands in front of the chest represents the white lotus of our hearts (our faith)."


here is the two ASL signs

https://www.handspeak.com/word/search/index.php?id=7298

and mystical is the sign also for magic

https://www.signingsavvy.com/search/magic

what people were signing in England would of been British sign language an entirely different language.

hope this post finds all well

--LotusLover
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Queequeg
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Re: Is there a sign language equivalent to NMRK?

Post by Queequeg »

That's awesome. Thank you.

Its hard to get the hands moving as fluently as the models. LOL
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
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