Lotus Buddhism / What Is the Universal Law of Life?

What Is the Universal
Law of Life?

Safwan Darshams

The “Universal Law” is the cosmic power that moves the world, pulsating in all phenomena and in the lives of living beings. It is also called the “Wonderful Law” or the “Mystic Law of Life”.

The word “Law” implies the “Order” we perceive in nature, weaving all natural phenomena, and operating within all living entities.

In Buddhist terminology, the truth of the reality of life is called the “Dharma”, and the Dharma that was revealed in the Lotus Sutra is this “Wonderful Law of Life”.

Observing the magnificence of the universe, one is filled with the feeling of awe and wonder. This feeling is encoded in the Buddhist terminology by the word “MYO”. “Myo” means: Divine Wonder Beyond Comprehension.

How does the Universal Law relate to our own life?

Since birth, one’s life can be described as a follow of events and sequences of happenings and actions. All these patterns of changes in one’s life can be described as causes of actions leading to effects. This bond between causes and their effects is the way our life operates.

Actions can lead either to beneficial results and harmony - or to conflicts and suffering, but both manifest the impartial bond of causes leading to effects. This bond between Cause and Effect (operating within our life) is a power that decides on the quality and consequences we experience (or yet to be experienced some future time in our life).

The power of the Law of Cause and Effect operating within us - is impartial. It inwardly decides on the destiny of our motivations and actions, which we create and which are our responsibility. When we are awakened to the working of this power driving our life, the mind of wisdom emerges showing us the consequences of our intentions before they take place. In this way one can avoid foolish actions and can transform hardships and sufferings into enlightenment and harmony with life.

How did the Buddha’s insight arrive to perceive the Universal Law?

The Buddha started his teaching by focusing on:

  • the truth of Impermanence (everything changes, nothing stays the same).
  • the truth of Interconnectedness (nothing exists in separation or by itself).

The mentioned truths are not theoretical assumptions - but facts that each person experiences throughout one’s own life. Since birth, one’s life is an expression of continual changes and of interdependent relations with others and the environment.

Changes, however, do not occur at random. They occur through patterns (or certain ways of manifestations) linking causes of changes with their consequences and impact on others. The effects (resulting from causes) are not chaotic, and - obviously - there is Order in the world. This power that dictates the effects associated with occurring causes - is the Law that shapes reactions and quality of relationships. The Buddha called this power - in the Lotus Sutra - The Wonderful Law beyond explanation.

Because the Mystic Law penetrates the universe, as the primal energy of existence - it is also called: the “Cosmic Life-force”. The Buddha’s enlightenment was awakening to the existence of this power of this Law (Dharma) in his own life. This awakening is the state of enlightenment that one’s own life is a personal manifestation of the Universal Law of Life.

The Wonderful Law is the energy of Life that moves the world

According to the Lotus Sutra, this natural law of life operates both the physical and the spiritual aspects of the world. It is encoded in the sutra by the words Myoho Renge Kyo.

“Myo” is the spiritual nature of existence, the hidden essence (or the mental aspect of the Mind). This mental aspect manifests itself through physical expression, the body, referred to by the word “Ho”. Any living entity is an integration (or oneness) of the mental aspect (Myo) and its physical expression (Ho). Thus, any entity (or phenomenon) is MyoHo.

Renge is the mechanism of how life operates. It is the principle (or bond) linking causes of actions with their consequences (or effects). The link between cause and effect is unbreakable, and is beyond time or space.

As a metaphor for the concept of inseparability of cause and effect - the lotus flower (Renge) is taken as an indication, because its seeds (causes) exist simultaneously with the full flower (effect).

Kyo describes the consistency of the Law in all natural and psychological phenomena, the way it weaves all happenings in the physical and spiritual realms of life.

The Mystic-Wonderful Law and the concept of God

  • The concept of God (suggested to be the spiritual aspect of existence) is not different from the Buddhist concept of Myo: the spiritual essence of life. The difference is that God is said to exist before or independent of the physical aspect of the Universe. In Buddhism the spiritual aspect (Myo) is inseparable from its physical manifestation (Ho). Another difference relates to the “property of God as a person”, While in Buddhism, “Myo” does not have the property of person, it is a “power” of life: impersonal and genderless.
  • Separating the spiritual aspect from the physical aspect is the perspective of Dualism. Buddhism, on the other hand, is based on NonDualism. NonDualism regards the spiritual and physical as inseparable. Instead of the two words “God and Universe”, Buddhism suggests one word integrating and binding the two aspects: “Life”. Life (both body&mind) is “the divine nature of the Mystic Law”.

The following is a quote from a book written by Daisaku Ikeda:

Life An Enigma a Precious Jewel”. page 25

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In the innermost depths of all beings, there is the primal life-force and it causes living beings to live.
The same force supports inorganic matter and works it into
the harmonies and rhythms of the great cosmic existence.
In Buddhism it is called the Mystic Law.
When this cosmic force manifests itself in the physical world, it appears as the laws governing the inorganic world, which makes possible chemical compounds and control the physical pulsations of the universe.
In other words, the laws of physics, chemistry and astronomy are simply particular phenomenal manifestations of the Mystic Law of the cosmos.

Similarly, the cosmic life-force constructs the world of spirit, creates intelligence, gives birth to conscience, gives force to urges and instincts and thus creates all variations of mental and spiritual activity.

It is what is called God in other religions, but it is different from God in that it is perfectly immanent in the [physical] universe and in human life.

It is not a force outside the cosmos. It is the cosmos itself.

The true nature of the cosmos and of life is the fusion into entities of the physical law of life and the spiritual law of life.

This fusion is the process where life is created and made to spread out into the infinite.

The Mystic Law, then, is the primal power behind all of creation”.

What is NamMyohoRengeKyo?

Nam (Namu) is a Sanskrit word expressing the desire of the individual for devotion and harmony with the “truth of life” which is MyohoRengeKyo.

Nam-MyohoRengeKyo then expresses the fusion of subjective self (of the individual) - and the objective truth of life (being the Universal Law).

This fusion leads to the emergence of the mind of wisdom: experiencing inner harmony, clarity of thinking and empowerment. It opens (or reveals) the highest state of human nature.

NamMyohoRengeKyo is another name for awakening to one’s enlightened-nature called also Buddha-nature.

Literally, the phrase can be translated as: Devotion to the Wonderful Law of Life, and in essence - chanting this phrase can be understood as:

NamMyohoRengeKyo = I lead my life to confidence, wisdom, and happiness.