Why Chanting Changes How You Feel (in a Good Way)

(Photo above by Paul Voie / Pexels)

We all go through many situations each day. Sometimes, we react in ways that highlight our amazing personality, other times, not so much. We could spend hours supporting a friend in need but then that same day get into an argument with our partner and say hurtful words.

Despite how we feel about ourselves or a situation at any moment, we can tap into our Buddhability and remember our inherent worth.

Actually believing this is difficult. The 13th-century Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin says:

We ordinary people can see neither our own eyelashes, which are so close, nor the heavens in the distance. Likewise, we do not see that the Buddha exists in our own hearts.

“New Year’s Gosho,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1137

The Buddhist concept of the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds, offers insights into how we can not only believe in our Buddhability but tap into it anytime, anywhere.

What does “mutual possession” mean in simple terms?

The concept of the Ten Worlds explains that we can experience at any moment any of the 10 states of life that are a potential within us, ranging from the lowest world of hell to the highest world of Buddhahood (here’s the full list, if you’re curious).

Essentially, we can manifest any of these Ten Worlds at each given moment, the other nine remaining capable of developing but not visible.

This process is not linear or fixed. We jump around from one state of life to another from moment to moment based on various internal and external situations.

Here, “mutual possession” of these 10 states of life means that each world contains the potential for all ten. The point? Each state of life exists in the world of Buddhahood, and Buddhahood exists within each world.

This means that Buddhas remain ordinary people and still experience various life states. It also means that we can tap our Buddhability, no matter what state of life we’re in. No situation, no life, is irredeemable.

No situation, no life, is irredeemable.

So, how do we make this a reality in our daily lives?

We can instantly access our Buddhability by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Through chanting, we elevate our life condition and bring forth our Buddha nature. Rather than being controlled by our instincts, we can bring out the courage to face anything, and bring out the wisdom and compassion to create something meaningful right where we are.

We might tend to respond with anger in certain situations (asuras) or feel that we never have enough of whatever it is we want (hungry spirits).

But through our practice of Buddhism, we can make Buddhability our default. This means that, even though we still have worries (other nine worlds), our lives operate based on joy, wisdom, compassion and courage (Buddhahood).

We can bring forth our Buddhahood by chanting and doing gongyo every day, studying Buddhism, sharing it with others and making the happiness of ourselves and others the motivation for everything we do.

The mindset of a Buddha is that each challenge is an opportunity

Describing a Buddha as “one who embodies the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds,” the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda says:

The world of Buddhahood can also be described as a state of life where one willingly takes on even hellish suffering. This is the world of Hell contained in the world of Buddhahood. It is characterized by empathy and hardships deliberately taken on for the happiness and welfare of others, and arises from a sense of responsibility and compassion. Courageously taking on problems and sufferings for the sake of others strengthens the world of Buddhahood in our lives.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, pp. 30–31

Based on the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds, everything we go through becomes raw material for developing our Buddhability, and for encouraging and awakening others to their inherent power. By changing our default through continued Buddhist practice, we can come to use each experience, negative or positive, to create even more happiness.

Knowing that our Buddhability is always accessible or right around the corner helps us live with complete peace of mind, using everything to advance our happiness.

And as we tap into our Buddhability each day to elevate ourselves and support others to do the same, our environment will also transform, moving toward a society of mutual respect and that values each person.

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