The Daimoku of the Honmon Teaching

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The invocation of the Daimoku of True Buddhism means to exert ourselves in the practice of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo with faith in the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism.

On April 28, 1253, the founder Nichiren Daishonin stood at the top of a hill at Mt. Seicho and solemnly chanted the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to the entire universe for the first time.

This Daimoku of “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo” is more than just the title of the Lotus Sutra; it is the essence of the Lotus Sutra. Moreover, it is the Daimoku of the Buddhism of Sowing of the True Cause, the original enlightenment of the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin.

The Daishonin states in the Gosho, “Soya Nyudo Dono Moto Gohenji”:

We have already entered into the age of Mappo. The appearance of those who had relationships with Shakyamuni Buddha during his lifetime have gradually declined. Those with the two capacities matching the provisional teaching and the true teaching have ceased to exist. Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, it is the time for Bodhisattva Fukyo to emerge and teach the Lotus Sutra to the people in Mappo, who all have a relationship with him. Our contemporary scholars, however, are propagating Hinayana Buddhism or Provisional Mahayana teachings. Even if there were scholars who taught the One Vehicle of the Lotus Sutra, they would have no idea why they were propagating the five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo and implanting the seed of Buddhahood.

(Gosho, p.778)

Those followers of Shakyamuni who heard the Lotus Sutra directly from him had received the seed of Buddhahood (hon’i uzen) in the infinitely remote past of Kuon ganjo. They were able to accumulate good causes through their practice of Buddhism, and as a result, all attained enlightenment either during Shakyamuni’s lifetime in India or in the next two millennia after his passing, during the Former (Shobo) and the Middle Days (Zobo) of the Law. In contrast, those born during the age of Mappo are the people of honmi uzen. They have never received the original seed of Buddhahood in their past existences. No matter how sincerely they believe in the teachings of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism of the Harvest, they do not possess the fundamental seed to begin with. It is therefore impossible for it to germinate and grow. These individuals must first receive the seed of Buddhahood. Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha in Mappo, alone revealed the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the original seed of Buddhahood of Kuon ganjo. He plants this seed directly into the lives of all living beings.

The Daimoku chanted by the Daishonin is the Mystic Law of His inner enlightenment originally inherent in His life from Kuon ganjo (time without beginning). It is the seed of Buddhahood with which He alone is endowed and which He directly sows into the lives of the people of Mappo. Furthermore, it is the Daimoku of Actual Ichinen sanzen, the entity of the Gohonzon of True Buddhism. The attainment of Buddhahood for us, the people in Mappo, is assured when we believe in the Gohonzon of True Buddhism. This Gohonzon is the very entity of the life of the Daishonin, and the entity of the Law to which He is eternally enlightened. When we chant the Daimoku of “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo” we are able to achieve kyochi myogo, the harmonious fusion of ourselves with the Gohonzon.

The Daimoku of Faith and Practice

There are two aspects to this “Daimoku of True Buddhism.” One is the “Daimoku of faith” and the other is the “Daimoku of practice. “Letter to Horen” (Horen Sho) reads:

Practicing the teachings of the sutra without faith is like one without hands trying to enter a jeweled mountain and pick up its treasures, or like one without feet trying to make a thousand-mile journey.

(Gosho, p. 814, Summary)

The Daishonin teaches us that we can attain Buddhahood only when the conditions of both faith and practice are fulfilled.

The Twenty-sixth High Priest, Nichikan Shonin, teaches:

The Daimoku of True Buddhism includes the two aspects of faith and practice. In other words, both single-mindedly believing in the Gohonzon of True Buddhism and chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is called the Daimoku of True Buddhism.

(“Six Volume Writings,” pp.70-71)

Moreover, the Gosho, “On the True Cause” (Honnin-myo sho) reads:

If one earnestly and steadfastly chants Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo with unwavering faith, the body of the common mortal, just as it is, becomes the Buddha’s-body. This is known as naturally attaining Buddhahood and all the attributes of the Buddha eternally endowed with the Three Properties without discarding one’s present form.

(Gosho, p. 1679, Summary)

As the Daishonin expounds, both aspects of Daimoku – faith which means to have pure, undivided faith in the Daimoku and practice which means to actually carry out the invocation of Daimoku with faith in the Gohonzon – are essential.

Daimoku for Ourselves and for Others

The Daimoku of practice mentioned here does not refer merely to the chanting of Daimoku carried out as one’s own practice. The Daishonin teaches in “On the Three Great Secret Laws” (Sandai hiho sho):

There are two meanings to the Daimoku. There is the Daimoku of the Former (Shobo) and the Middle Days (Zobo) of the Law, and the Daimoku of the Latter Day of the Law (Mappo). During the age of the Former Day of the Law, Bodhisattvas Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu secretly chanted Daimoku, yet they stopped short of revealing it. Nan-yueh and T’ien-t’ai of the Middle Day of the Law, both chanted Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, but also did not widely spread the five characters to others. They kept it secret among themselves. This, then is called the theoretical practice of Daimoku. Now in the Latter Day of the Law, the Daimoku invoked by Nichiren has never before been revealed; it is the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo which encompasses the two practices of jigyo and keta, for oneself and for others.

(Gosho, pp. 1594-1595, Summary)

The two thousand years after Shakyamuni entered nirvana constituted the ages of the Former (Shobo) and the Middle Days (Zobo) of the Law. During this time it was only necessary to practice the Daimoku in theory, chanting solely for one’s own attainment of Buddhahood. In contrast, the practice most valid for this age of Mappo (the Latter Day) is the practice of jigyo and keta. We do not merely chant for our own individual attainment of Buddhahood. We must also teach others, widely sharing the teachings, and chanting together. We must also attain Buddhahood together.

(Note: This chapter can be read in its entirety in the book: The Doctrines and Practice of Nichiren Shoshu.

For more information, please contact your local temple.)