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Cult or Culture (part 1)

March 20, 2012

 I first heard the words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo in 1980. I was in my late teens, out walking my dog, when a cheerful woman approached, and asked, “Do you know about Nam Myoho Renge Kyo?” Being too old for young and too young for adulthood and always trying to do things I was not permitted to do –  I was hoping this Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was a new nightclub I could get into, with my fake ID and eagerly replied, “No. Where is it?”

The cheerful woman explained that Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was not a place – it was the Buddhist chant that makes you happy! That sounded so bizarre to me, especially since a mental health facility had recently opened in the neighborhood and many of the facility’s residents had permission to walk through the neighborhood. Many more of the residents did not have permission, but managed to kind ways to do so anyway. So, figuring this cheerful woman was one of my new neighbors, I thought it best to be polite and not challenge her.

She handed me a gold colored pamphlet that explained, in detail, what the words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo meant. The translation: devotion to the mystic law of cause and effect teaching.  I was intrigued. I had been raised by a mother who although was a Christian, her beliefs always boiled down to cause and effect. She taught me at an early age that there is a law that governs everything in the universe, that there is no power greater than the power within myself and that I will always get exactly what I give. I know pretty trippy for a Christian, right? But that was Mom, none of that savior on cross dying for my sins business.Instead her philosophy was more of the Jesus is a real cool dude who taught some real cool lessons, did some far out stuff and and said we could do the same things and even greater things if we paid attention.Plus, he was big on speaking truth to power, pissed a lot of people off and befriended everyone and continued to be their friends even when they were not always so friendly to him.

As I skimmed over the pamphlet, both my dog and the high school classmate walking with me, grew particularly impatient and wanted to continue walking, but for some reason I had to listen to this woman. We talked for a few more moments. I thanked her for the pamphlet. We said our farewells…. TO BE CONTINUED

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