We usually refer to Myo as “mystic” as in The Mystic Law. One explanation of the word “mystic” from an English dictionary describes it as this: a person who seeks by contemplation and self surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect. And the explanation of “mystical” is: transcending human understanding. Therefore, “mystic”, by this definition, is the personification of that which is “mystical”. So it would seem that when we Nichiren Buddhists refer to the “mystic law” we are referring to the personification of that which is transcendental to our understanding but is becoming integrated into our very person. But is that actually what we believe? When we refer to the “mystic” law we really think in terms of the “mystical” law, something that is apart from ourselves. And we don’t think of ourselves as “mystics”. Why is that? Is it because this law can only be understood between Buddhas and we don’t think of ourselves as one? Perhaps.

Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, wrote his pamphlet in response to the growing unrest in what was to become the United States of America, a term which he himself coined. In it he argued practical points of governorship; why be governed by those who are so removed by distance and by culture. But more importantly, he argued from a new philosophical paradigm; why be governed by one who has declared that his right to govern comes from an invisible metaphysical deity whose very existence requires a suspension of disbelief. Moreover, why even think of yourself as a subject to this man as you are also men and therefore his equal. This was radical thinking. Revolutionary thinking. Up until this time, every man, everywhere, had always been a subject to someone. And George Washington wasn’t just the first elected president of the United Sates of America; he was the first elected president in the history of mankind.
But it takes a while for this type of thinking to actually become common sense. Common sense is an ever evolving condition, and as such, subject to change. But not always without some cost. In ancient Greece and through the Middle Ages, Ptolemy’s geocentric model for the universe seemed to make perfect sense. It was the prevailing common sense based on the best empirical facts and observation for that time. So much so that the Roman Catholic Church incorporated it into its doctrine, imbuing it with a moral “a priori”. This agenda made it very difficult to change common sense when new and improved set of observations presented a heliocentric model for how things worked. Even though a version of this model had existed in Vedic Sanskrit since the 7th century BCE, Copernicus published what were to become the quintessential bases of thought on the subject in 1543. But almost a hundred years later, the Church of Rome found Galileo guilty of heresy for following the position of Copernicus. And people of less stature than Galileo taking the same stance could easily find themselves burned to death as a heretic. So common sense doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s commonly used.
We who sit upon so many broad shoulders who came before us may at times forget how difficult it can be to work within a framework of time and try to advance new ideas for the benefit of our fellow humanity. I have often wondered why Daisaku Ikeda continually points to the works of Goethe, Kant, Spinosa, and Pascal, to name just a few pivotal personages of Judeo Christian thinking. What they have in common to some extent was the desire to clarify: to distill a thought so as to be better used by mankind. They all did what they could within the confines of society and government ruled by the Church. They all approached the process with a combination of scientific questioning and a religious imperative. They all asked the same three questions that are difficult to ponder; where did I come from, why am I here, and what happens after I die? They all reflected the same seeking mind as did Nichiren, revealing to Medieval Japan that it’s subjects could free themselves from the bonds of birth, old age, sickness, and death. This is the same action that we who practice Nichiren’s Buddhism take when we sit in front of our Gohonzon and contemplate our life. It’s an act of courage.
So why do we think of the “mystical” law as such, and so separate from ourselves? It could be as simple as the words we use. Sam Harris, author of “The End Of Faith” states “To know what a given belief is about, I must know what my words mean; to know what my words mean, my beliefs must be generally consistent. There is no escaping from the fact that there is a tight relationship between the words we use, the type of thoughts we think, and what we can believe to be true about the world.”
Myo in Chinese
“While I was thinking thus, a golden Buddha suddenly appeared in the hell of incessant suffering … As my agony subsided a little, I joined my hands together in prayer and asked him what kind of Buddha he was. The Buddha replied, I am the character myo…”
— Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 4, p. 309
The word that is pronounced Myo by Nichiren Buddhists is composed of two Chinese root characters. The character to the right is Shao. shao.gif The character to the left is Nu. Nu.gif
Nu by itself means “young girl,” “thou,” or “you.” Shao is something small that has been cut in half — something fine, something difficult to perceive.
Kumarajiva used these symbols to express “wonderful,” “excellent,” “subtle,” “fine,” and “mysterious.” It corresponds to the Sanskrit word Sad, meaning, “perfectly endowed” or “complete” round (Hokke) teaching (kyo).
Why is “mysterious” (mystic) a “young girl”? The answer lies in the nu character. The brush strokes that compose nu outline the image of the new moon. Look inside the brush strokes to see it.
The moon is at first a slender crescent that grows into full roundness, expressing the maturity of a young girl growing into a full (pregnant) woman.
The new moon is like a young girl. The full moon is a mature woman. The moon is by extension an expression of the cycle of birth and death, therefore “universal.” The new moon only partially illuminates the full moon meaning “all has not been revealed” and is therefore “mysterious.”
The moon illuminates the darkness as does hope (myo). Hope opens the doors that are “difficult to enter” in the Hoben Pon of the Lotus Sutra. The path illuminated by myo is medicine for all living things.
“Just as the moon is reflected in the water the moment it appears from behind the eastern mountains” (from the Major Writings, Vol. 3, p. 306), our world is illuminated by introducing all to Myo, the First Buddha of the Lotus Sutra.

Nichiren is constantly explaining Myo in terms of its relationship to Ho, as in that they are mutually co-dependent. Myo can be death, and Ho life. Myo contains the potential for life. Myo can be the potential for Buddhahood and Ho the manifestation of the other nine worlds which themselves contain Buddhahood, or Myo. Sad means perfectly endowed, wonderful, etc. So it is very hard to put into words something that is transcending of consciousness. So it would seem that there is a world of meaning in “myo” beyond our conception, or misconception, of the word “mystic”. The deepening of our own self realization that we are indeed “myo” the Buddha, the more we take the “mystic” out of the Mystic Law and the easier it is for us to think of Buddhahood as common sense.