QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON NICHIREN SHOSHU BASICS OF PRACTICE
OCTOBER 2015, PP. 47-50
Question: WHY DO WE CHANT DAINMOKU?
The Correct Practice
Shodai (chanting Daimoku) means to chant the Daimoku of Nam- Myoho-Renge-Kyo while believing in the Object of Worship of the Essential Teaching, which the Daishonin revealed. This is the foremost and fundamental practice for us. The Daishonin states the following in “Artaining Enlightenment at the Initial Stage of Faith through the Lotus Sutra” (“Hokke shoshin jobutsusho”):
Thus, once we chant Myo-ho-Renge-Kyo, this sound calls forth and manifests the Buddha nature of all Buddhas; all phenomena; all bodhisattvas; all people in the world of learning; all guardian deities… (Gosho, 320)
Thus, through chanting sincerely to the correct Gohonzon, we are able to open up our Buddha nature (the life of Buddha) within our life and become happy. During our daily Gongyo, after we recite the sutra, we chant Daimoku. Reciting the sutra is called the “supporting practice” and chanting Daimoku is called the “primary practice.” Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin explains this with the following example:
When you do laundry, by adding aku (comparable to detergent) in the water, it helps to get rid of dirt. Also when we eat, adding seasoning like salt or vinegar, will make rice or noodles taste better. In this way, we recite the Hoben and Jigage chapters of the Lotus Sutra to help reveal the benefit of the Daimoku, which is the primary practice. (Six-Volume Writings, p.161, summary)
Of course, the recitation of the sutra is important, but shodai is the primary practice in Nichiren Shoshu. As well as doing Gongyo consistently, we should challenge ourselves to chant as much Daimoku as possible.
The Benefit of Chanting Daimoku
When we continue our practice of chanting Daimoku every day, we are able to accumulate tremendous benefit. The Daishonin states in his Gosho. “Questions and Answers between a Sage and a Foolish Man” (“Shogu mondo-sho”):
If we single-mindedly continue to chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, how can we not eradicate all our offenses or gain true happiness in the future? This is the truth, and it is of great significance. (Gosho, p. 406)
As the Daishonin states, due to the benefit of chanting Daimoku, our negative karma (the cause of unhappiness) will be cleansed and eradicated, and then we can grasp true happiness. But Shodai also contains countless benefits and significance other than the eradication of offenses. The Gohonzon will protect a person who continues to chant sincerely. When a problem arises, we can gain courage and wisdom to overcome it. We should continue to chant Daimoku every day without stopping.
We should never forget to live our lives with our faith and practice as the foundation. Our faith and practice must be strongly based on Gongyo and Shodai.
Unity at our Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
At the Head Temple Taisekiji, as well as other temples all over the world, the Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony is held every first Sunday of the month. This is a special Shodai-kai where the High Priest, priests worldwide, and Hokkeko members all gather to chant and pray for kosen-rufu.
Kosen-rufu means to shakubuku people from all over the world and propagate the Daishonin’s teachings. In order to achieve this, we need many people’s efforts. The Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony is a crucial force to achieve shakubuku through our unity. The Daishonin states in the Gosho “The True Entity of All Phenomena”:
Although I, Nichiren alone, at first chanted Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, two, three, then a hundred people gradually began to chant and propagate it. So shall it continue into the future. (Gosho, p. 666)
When we chant Daimoku, strongly praying for kosen-rufu and for many people to become happy, the opportunity to do shakubuku arises, and people who help us with our propagation efforts mystically appear. This will undoubtedly be a result of our prayer. High Priest Nichinyo Shonin states:
Shodai and shakubuku are one. Shodai is the source of all activities for shakubuku. (Dai-Nichiren, February 2012)
Please participate in the Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremonies and strive to practice serious Shodai with your chief priest and fellow Hokkeko members. Let us advance one more step in shakubuku with a cheerful spirit toward the achievement of kosen-rufu.
Nichiren Shoshu Monthly, Feb 2016, pp17-18.