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A View Of Chanting.................

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Posted by Glenn on July 19, 2002 12:07:31 UTC


Of course we study and practice the teachings and follow Nichiren Daishonin, not blind faith, to understand the essence of his Buddhism. But, when one do practice one should follow the original set forth by the Daishonin otherwise you are making your own practice and deviating the correct path.For study purposes, of course, there is an english translation of it.But the profound meaning of lies in the practice of chanting the Mystic Law- "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo", the Daimoku.

In many writings, Nichiren Daishonin says that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the essence of his teachings. He emphasizes the importance of having faith in the power of the Mystic Law when we chant: yet, he doesn't address the specific details of exactly how to chant. (This may be because the Daishonin felt the need to establish first and foremost, for all people, the act itself of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.) What he does indicate, however, is the frame of mind we should have when chanting daimoku(imvocation of the Mystic Law). He writes in "On the Treasure Tower": "You, yourself, are a true Buddha who possesses the three enlightened properties. You should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with this conviction" (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1). Also, in "Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life," he writes: "Shakyamuni who attained enlightenment countless eons ago, the Lotus Sutra which leads all people to Buddhahood, and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate from each other. Therefore to chant Myoho-renge-kyo with this realization is to inherit the ultimate law of life and death" (MW-1).

Based on this conviction that we are the Buddha, we should then hold in our hearts a profound prayer when chanting. Prayer in Buddhism is not an act of supplication or begging. We are not asking the Gohonzon or the Mystic Law or some Buddha to grant our wishes. Such an attitude places us in a subservient position, relying on powers outside ourselves for an answer. Buddhist prayers are an expression of our own innermost determination that "I will make this happen." When we chant to the Gohonzon we pray to engage the power of the Mystic Law within us to help us fulfill our determination.

President Ikeda writes about this determination or the concept of having a pledge in our prayers in The New Human Revolution. Shinichi Yamamoto says to some members in Brazil:

"Of course, there are many ways of praying. Some people may pray that every thing just falls into their laps without having to make any effort. But a religion that encourages such prayer will lead people to ruin.

"Prayer in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism means to chant daimoku based on a pledge or vow. At its very core this vow is to attain kosen-rufu(World Peace). It means chanting resolutely with the determination: 'I will attain kosen-rufu in Brazil. Therefore, I will show magnificent actual proof in my work, Please enable me to bring forth my greatest potential.' This is what our prayer should be like.

"It is also important that we establish clear and concrete goals for what we hope to achieve each day and then pray and challenge ourselves to achieve each of them. This earnest determination gives rise to wisdom and resourcefulness, thereby leading to success. In short, to win in life we need determination and prayer, effort and ingenuity. It is misguided to dream of getting rich quick, expecting to encounter a rare stroke of luck or some shrewd moneymaking scheme. This is not faith. It is mere fantasy."

Such a profound determination and clear prayer differs from strategizing while praying. When chanting, we don't want to get caught up in random thoughts, ideas and plans. If our minds are full of such things, our prayers may get left behind; the act of chanting becomes secondary, and our daimoku becomes half- instead of wholehearted. So, it is only natural that we are most satisfied when we put our whole heart and determination (ichinen) into each daimoku we chant. As the Daishonin says, "There is no greater happiness for human beings than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" (MW-1,).

Of course, nothing we put into our practice of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism is ever wasted. On one level, the very act of chanting, regardless of our state of mind, is always beneficial for our lives.

In this respect, Late Josei Toda, the second president of the Soka Gakkai. once said:

Since we are human, it is only natural that various thoughts will occur to us while we are chanting daimoku But if we chant earnestly, then gradually we will become able to focus entirely on the Gohonzon. If we chant with an earnest frame of mind, our various worries about our daily lives will be resolved.

In the final analysis, each of us must find our own spiritual voice, our own way of chanting that refreshes our minds and revitalizes our lives.

President Ikeda once explained that we first develop a relationship with the Gohonzon through our eyes. In Buddhism, there is the concept of the three types of learning, or three disciplines (sangaku), which are: precepts (kai), meditation (jo) and wisdom (e). Here, however, meditation is not the passive contemplation of our minds as espoused by other philosophies. Rather, meditation here means the true observation of our minds through chanting daimoku while focused on the Buddha's life or the Mystic Law embodied in the form of the Gohonzon. This process is a cause for our minds to manifest the wisdom of the Buddha.

Practically speaking, it may be advisable to focus on the upper-central part of the Gohonzon (the characters myo and ho). Interestingly, when we focus our vision while chanting, our minds naturally tend to stop wandering. In other words, by fixing our gaze on the Gohonzon, it gets easier to achieve concentration in chanting.

Another factor to consider is the importance of chanting sonorously. President Ikeda suggests that we should chant rhythmically like the dynamic stride of a galloping horse. Having a good rhythm in chanting is vital because the Mystic Law embodies the most natural rhythm of the universe.

Also, regarding the sound of daimoku, President Ikeda has said: "[It] can even cause others to respond with joy when they hear it.... Let us always strive to chant such invigorating and refreshing daimoku that draws forth this response in others."

Another key to tapping the power of our daimoku is to have the confidence that everything will work out. This is the "power of faith" that Buddhism always stresses. Such confidence, however, is not merely having the irresponsible attitude that "because I chant, no matter what I do, everything will work out." Rather, chanting with confidence is a conscious effort to overcome our tendency to doubt or worry, in order to make our prayers more effective. Confidence, in many respects, is synonymous with and an expression of our faith.

By chanting concerted daimoku to the Gohonzon, the purest life force aligns with the very core of our lives, melting away whatever negative effects we may otherwise have to experience due to our karma. "Various sins are just like dewdrops," wrote the Daishonin. ' The 'sun of wisdom' (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) is capable of dissolving them all" (Gosho Zenshu, p. 786).

Such daimoku, from the heart, solidifies as the basis of our existence the condition of Buddhahood, which is described by the Daishonin as "the unchanging reality which reigns over all life's functions" (MW-1). When Buddhahood is firmly established at the core of our lives, we gain self-control without being defeated by the five poisons: greed, anger, stupidity, arrogance and doubt.

President Ikeda often says that faith means to have hope for the future. The ability to visualize a positive future for ourselves is another important tool in chanting daimoku. Our optimistic and hope-filled visions of the future constitute and fuel our heartfelt prayers to the Gohonzon.

Ultimately, it is important that we chant daimoku with our entire being. This is indicated by a phrase from the verse portion of the "Life Span" chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which reads, "single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha." (LS 16, 230). For us, this translates into an earnest desire to reveal our own Buddha nature each time we chant. As Nichiren Daishonin writes, "I, Nichiren, have called forth Buddhahood from within my life by living this sentence" (MW-2, 236).

All in all, chanting daimoku is an opportunity to strengthen our inherent Buddhahood; it is a time to enrich and strengthen our lives at the very core. Fundamentally, it's the time to tap into this ultimate power, not strategize. It's the time to tap wisdom, courage and compassion. After chanting, we can then dash into the reality of our daily lives and act with this wisdom, courage and compassion to reach our goals.

The Daishonin writes: "Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. Then you will experience boundless joy from the Law. Strengthen your faith more than ever" (MW- I). The Daishonin here encourages us to enjoy the act of chanting itself. When we have this as one of our ultimate goals, we can come to receive the maximum results from chanting daimoku.

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