As we go about our daily lives, in every single moment, we make causes in the things that we think, say and do. Buddhism teaches the existence of a law of cause and effect, which explains that when we make a cause, the anticipated effect of that cause is stored deep in our lives, and when the right circumstances appear then we experience the effect. This concept of cause and effect is at the heart of Buddhism, and the characters for ‘renge’ in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo mean the simultaneity of the internal cause and the internal effect. This means that, through chanting, we have made the cause for our Buddhahood, and the effect of it exists simultaneously with that cause. By chanting we are directly causing our Buddhahood to appear.
‘Renge’ literally means ‘lotus flower’, which is a beautiful plant that floats on the surface of water and its beauty is nourished through its roots in the mud. This is a metaphor for our lives. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo uses the `mud` in our lives to enable us to reveal our highest life-state.
But the Lotus flower is significant for a second reason. It is a plant that flowers and seeds at the same time. It beautifully illustrates the profound working of life where the effect is simultaneous with the cause.
An example of the way Buddhism views cause and effect might be of a young person going home to spend a weekend with their parents. They have a blazing row before the end of the weekend and the young person leaves. In Western society we tend to see the blazing row as the cause and the young person leaving the effect. But Buddhism focuses attention on the internal cause and effect. So it may be that the internal cause turns out to be that the young person disrespects their parents, at quite a deep level, perhaps without realising it. The effect, which is simultaneous with this cause is the state of hell, and it is this that is triggering the arguing. This example could equally be the other way round, with the parents doing the disrespecting. It is the internal cause and effect, which a person who chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can change, replacing their internal feelings with respect.
Through the simultaneity of cause and effect we can cause our Buddhahood to appear. To help us gain a clearer understanding of what Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is we need to appreciate the nine consciousnesses. The nine consciousnesses can be thought of as different layers of consciousness, which are constantly operating together to create our lives. And as we progress through explanations of these consciousnesses the significance of the principle of the simultaneity of cause and effect should become apparent.