The meetings are informal and the concepts are worldly.

When you first step into Rodney Mitchell's Ahwatukee Foothills home, there is the smell of incense and a sense of calm. People are gathered in groups spread around his living room, quietly talking about this and that as they wait for the meeting to start.

On one side of the room is an alter of sorts that contains a scroll, written in Chinese and Sanskrit, which is later explained to be the Gohonzon. It will be what the people here focus their attention on to start the meeting.

What happens next is unique.

The chanting begins and it is loud and powerful. "Nam myoho renge kyo. Nam myoho renge kyo." And over and over for several minutes.

The words roughly translate to "devotion to the mystic law of cause and effect that flows through the universe."

"It is the cornerstone of our practice," Mitchell said.

What is being practiced here is Nichiren Buddhism, a branch which focuses on the words in the Lotus Sutra, one of the primary texts in Buddhist society.

After chanting the group reads selected parts from the Lotus Sutra collectively, some have it memorized while others follow along.

Meetings like this happen in 190 different countries worldwide. The Nichiren branch has 12 million followers.

The concept behind Nichiren Buddhism, Mitchell said, is that by chanting, a person can alter their karma, or the causes and effects experienced in everyday life.

"Chanting is a way of raising your life condition to bring out the most positive elements of your environment or change the negatives of it into something positive," he said. "We don't ignore things we have problems with. We embrace them and try to change them."

What sets Nichiren Buddhism apart is the notion that everyone is equal when it comes to enlightenment, a central concept in the practice.

"The idea is that you can achieve enlightenment on your own by chanting it," Mitchell said.

Another way to look at it is through the times when we feel like we are being tested. Whether it is by stop-and-go traffic on the freeway on Friday afternoon, or running into someone you dread talking to, or fearing rejection before you even step into an interview for a new job, all these things can create negativity. Mitchell said that chanting while focusing on something we want to overcome and can help in obtaining those goals.

For the rest of the meeting, people share their stories about how Nichiren Buddhism has affected their life. One of those is former Arizona Cardinal Josh Scobey. When he talks, his passion exudes through his words.

"I've chanted for 25 years and it's a tool that makes me prevail, it makes me the best I can be," he said. "This is my life."

Others speak of how chanting "Nam myoho renge kyo" has helped them deal with car accidents, illnesses and even death.

"Each person achieves absolute happiness by overcoming obstacles in their life," Mitchell said. "Doing this is doing something deep spiritually."

To find out more about Nichiren Buddhism, visit the Soka Gakkai International Web site,

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