Much more than what has hence been commonly referred to as merely the title of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren Daishonin, himself, declared that this initial proclamation was the first turning of the wheel of the Mystic Law.
The chant of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was never intended for the sole benefit of the self, but rather as a vow to surrender one's true self to the primal, non-intellectual concept that all things, sentient and non-sentient are specifically inter-connected.
Nor was it ever intended to be a spinning wheel to turn straw into gold or an incantation of some magic spell to fulfill one's earthly desires, but it was intended to serve as an effective and expedient method for any sentient being to harmonize themselves with the rhythm of the universe and thereby transform their full karma through personal actualization.
Yet, not just their own karma. Not just their own enlightenment, but the enlightenment of the entire universe and everything it contains.
The interconnected building blocks of the entire universe was fully spelled out by T'ien T'ai's (538-597) writing entitled, Great Concentration and Insight:
"Life at each moment is endowed with the ten worlds. At the same time, each of the ten worlds is endowed with all the others, so that an entity of life actually possesses one hundred worlds. Each of the worlds in turn possesses thirty realms of existance.Which means that within the one hundred worlds there are three thousand realms. The three thousand realms of existance are all possessed by a single entity of life."
This was an original teaching, yet, in my opinion, somewhat incomplete. Nichiren Daishonin's exhaustive study of T'ien T'ai philosophy further expanded the theory and application of this ideal, known as Ichinen Sanzen.
These three thousand realms are further divided into three realms of reference. Simply put - one thousand realms for you, one thousand realms for everyone else in the universe (including you as well), and one thousand realms for everything else in the universe (including you, yet again).
For every single cause in the universe, be it action, thought or deed, there is an effect. Be it simultaneous (manifest) or eventual (latent).
All things in the universe are effected by the causes of all other things and likewise, all things in the universe make causes as well as all things which contain the three thousand realms, only distinguished in terms of sentience (life as we perceive it).
The three thousand realms, as we interact with them, consciously or otherwise, are specifically diagrammed by T'ien T'ai's teachings as the ten worlds, the ten factors and the five components. The latter of which is actually one of three additional realms of existence that specifically describe the entire karmic process of a sentient being. All of this together explains the actual karmic mechanism that makes manifestation of a sentient being possible on this plane of consciousness (what you and I would call reality). A manifestation that collectively, all sentient beings throughout the universe have collectively constructed to enable this eternal manifestation.
The ten worlds are like a ten-digit phone number in that they are easy to memorize for mindfulness of the true reality of life as the Buddha we all are. A measurement that we may observe throughout our practice of venerating the Lotus Sutra through Daimoku and Gongyo.
The Ten Worlds of Embodiment
1. The World of Hell
Grief, despair and suffering. When lacking sufficient support of the other worlds it can lead to suicide or at the very least, self destructive tendencies. Yet, when even partially in balance with the rest of the ten worlds, it provides emotional and/or physical experiential opportunities for being able to demonstrate sincere and earnest empathy. And among so many other things, can break self-destructive cycles and habits when the resulting pain and suffering is learned from by the true self, thereby being able to forgo repetition (similar to not putting one's hand into a flame twice).
2. The World of HungerPrimal desires necessary for our very existence and physical manifestation. Earthly desires for love, procreation, nutrients and water. Yet drugs and alcohol are examples of how this world can also affect the true self. Hunger for adrenaline stimulation and other emotionally charged motivations are also created here.
3. The World of AnimalityThe world of fight and flight. Competition, self preservation and protection. As all worlds, this too can go very wrong, very quickly.
4. The World of AngerEgo manifestation, defensiveness, fame addiction, besting another, sense of self importance beyond practicality, Jealousy, envy and narcissistic rage.
5. The World of HumanityLove and compassion, empathy, gullibility and emotional tangents regarding the actions of others. Infatuations, self deception regarding other's intentions in relationships of all types.
6. The World of RaptureClimaxing sexually, achieving a goal, long awaited material benefits, financial windfalls. Drug and alcohol addictions, high states of excitement and euphoria, pain relief and emotional fulfillment of a transitory nature.
7. The World of LearningAbscribing to the Lotus Sutra with earnest effort or the teachings of the Buddha. Also applies just as effectively to other doctrines, teachings or disciplines that are pure in intent to assist a sentient being to transcend the materialistic plane of consciousness, even if for very brief moments at a time. Anything that has the effect of unifying the ten worlds together via the realization of oneness with the entire universe. The active seeking of positive self-transformation and improvement beyond the material or egoic. The desire to integrate the ego into the true self appropriately for the benefit of oneself as well as others.
8. The World of RealizationAccepting knowledge (wisdom) from the collective consciousness of the universe without the necessity of intellectual understanding.
9. The World of BodhisattvaTrue, pure and unadulterated selflessness. Dedication and devotion to all other life in spite of one's own primal manifestation.
10. The World of BuddhahoodIndependent of one's own physical manifestation, yet accepting of it at the same time.
Each one of these ten worlds are further defined by the ten factors of life. Each of these worlds individually possess these ten factor as recited three times in our Gongyo as the second chapter excerpt of the Lotus Sutra entitled, Expedient Means:
"Sho-i shoho. Nyo ze so. Nyo ze sho. Nyo ze tai. Nyo ze riki. Nyo ze sa. Nyo ze in. Nyo ze en. Nyo ze ka. Nyo ze ho. Nyo ze honmak kukyo to."
We recited this three times to signify the three manifestations of the ten factors in three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
The Ten Factors:
1. Nyo ze so - Appearance
All of the things that can be observed of a sentient being by another sentient being - color, sound, action, etc.
2. Nyo ze sho - Nature
What cannot be oberved of a sentient being by another sentient being - thought, feelings, workings of the conscious and sub-conscious mind.
3. Nyo ze tai - Entity
Life itself, manifesting on this material plane of consciousness. Life manifesting as each of the ten worlds.
4. Nyo ze riki - Power
Life's ability to make causes; to take action. Each of the ten worlds possess it's own individual power to make causes derived from intention borne of the specific characteristics of that world.
5. Nyo ze sa - InfluenceThe actual action that is created by the power that cooresponds to the actual characteristics of an individual world.
6. Nyo ze in - Internal CauseCauses created by each of the ten worlds which have a latent resulting effect. I.E. - A variable time gap between the actual manifestation of the cause and the resulting effect. The effect, being in itself, a reaction to the original cause, which was, as well, an effect of yet a previous cause. In essence, all causes are also effects and vice-versa.
7. Nyo ze en - Relation
Environmental phenomena that facilitates the manifestation of the actual karmic process - cause and effect - both simultaneous and latent.
8. Nyo ze ka - Latent Effect
The result of the seventh factor - Nyo ze en - Relation as an effect which in turn simultaneously constitutes another cause, hence all causes are effects and all effects are causes without exception. This, however is an effect that has yet to manifest itself and may be considered dormant. But it will manifest without fail.
9. Nyo ze ho - Manifest Effect
The end result as an effect created by a cause once it has become manifest.
10. Nyo ze - honmak kukyo to - Consistancy From Beginning To End
This is a factor that describes the nature of the other nine factors, in that they occur in the order listed, yet simoultaneously as the characteristic nature of each of the ten worlds defined.
The ten worlds are applied to three distinct descriptions of the universe (the three realms of existance).
Though overall, every one of the ten worlds contain within them the other nine, which makes a total of one hundred for all ten, the thirtky realms per world are further divided amongst three descriptions (realms not of the three thousand referenced).
The three descriptions (realms) of the universe's existance:
1. The Five Components of Life as an Individual Sentient Being.
2. The Realm of Living Beings - All sentient beings throughout the universe (including the one mentioned in the five components).
3. The Realm of The Environment - Everything else in the universe.
The Five Components of Life Describe the Individual Sentient Being:
1. Shiki - Form
The physical manifestation of a sentient being as they may be perceived by another sentient being as well as the external five senses, to be thought of as the perceptual gateway to the mind. The mind considered to be yet another sense, yet not perceivable by other sentient beings.
2. Ju - Perception
The process of interpreting outside stimuli in the mind as is observed by any of the five other senses.
3. So - Conception
The process of thought based on external stimuli perceived via the external five senses.
4. Gyo - Volition
The will and ability to take action upon that which has been perceieved by the external five senses.
5. Shiki - Consciousness
The discernment of dualities - pleasure and pain - good and evil. Facilitates and manifests the other four components of life.
What I have just described is T'ien Tai's blueprint as it applies to any sentient being in the entire universe. This being in accordance to the Lotus Sutra as it's essence has been extrapolated by T'ien Tai and Nichiren Daishonin.
Sentient beings include all life, including life that may exist throughout the cosmos.
As I have said previously, regarding the three realms of existence - you, every other sentient being and finally, everything else are all permanently connected through the ten worlds of Ichinen Sanzen. Each world containing the other nine, for a total of one hundred worlds. Each world existing within ten realms - that is one thousand realms for you, one thousand realms for all other sentient beings, including you and one thousand realms for everything else throughout the universe, including you, yet again, for a grand total of three thousand realms in a single moment of life. That moment being this moment. A moment which has not beginning nor end. One eternal moment.
All of these worlds, realms, factors and components are manifest right now, as they always have been and always will be.
At this very moment, all ten worlds, each containing the other nine are within your very being, just as they continuously are in every other being.
Each world is inherently dependent upon the other nine, none of which can ever be destroyed or damaged.
This is what is meant by "mutual possession". It is the realization that all sentient beings are inherently Buddha in their very nature and are in one eternal moment enlightened. The actualization of this enlightenment is foregone for many however, that do not surrender themselves to oneness.
Often, we as Nichiren Buddhists, are taught that the first four worlds are unnecessary, undesirable and best conquered or avoided. Much in the same way we are often taught that fundamental darkness equates to the Christian definition of "sin" and should be perceived as something within us to be abolished rather than transformed.
However, with the advent of the Mystic Law, as provided for us by Nichiren Daishonin via Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, the Gohonzon and his teaching to honor the Lotus Sutra as the King of all Sutras, we have been provided an immensely powerful gift to provide balance to the ten worlds within us, correspondingly bringing us into harmonious rhythm with the universe that simultaneously exists inside and outside of us.
When we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo purely for the purpose of venerating the Lotus Sutra and not with a concentrated request to fulfill earthly desires, thereby over-feeding the lower four worlds, all ten worlds within us begin to modulate and appropriately support each other so that our inherent Buddha nature begins to manifest throughout the three thousand realms that constitute the very essence of life itself.
But you really don't need to know that even one of these worlds exist. To achieve true and pure enlightenment, chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.