The Importance of Doing Gongyo

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Lecture in Praise of Nichiren Daishonin

Oko Lecture

 

The Importance of Doing Gongyo

This month, my sermon will focus on Gongyo, since it is the most fundamental practice of our faith.

The essential basis of our faith and practice lies in the five morning and three evening prayers that we recite during Gongyo each day. The ultimate objective of the true Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin is the attainment of enlightenment in our present form (sokushin jobutsu). The performance of the five and three prayers in Gongyo is absolutely indispensable.

What is meant by enlightenment, which is the objective of our faith? In Nichiren Shoshu, the principle of enlightenment in our present form (sokushin jobutsu) affirms that we can achieve Buddhahood in this lifetime. This is an extremely important issue. Approximately 30 years ago, our Honorable Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin presented the following guidance at a Training Meeting on Practice and Study, which was attended by young trainee priests. I will quote him here, since he touched upon truly significant issues that pertain to today’s topic. He stated:

What is the nature of enlightenment—in particular, what is enlightenment in our present form (sokushin jobutsu)? This is extremely important, since it is the fundamental basis of Nichiren Shoshu. It is the essential core of all teachings….The Daishonin states in the Gosho, “On the Four Stages of Faith and the Five Stages of Practice” (“Shishin gohon-sho”):

Furthermore, if our wisdom is deficient, then we must substitute our faith for such wisdom.

As he explains through this passage, since we do not possess wisdom, we must substitute it with faith. By upholding sincere faith, as we worship with our palms pressed together in prayer and chant Daimoku with great devotion, we are able to achieve the fusion of reality and wisdom (kyochi myogo) with the Gohonzon. The attainment of enlightenment in our present form in the Latter Day of

the Law corresponds to the fusion of reality and wisdom. Without it, enlightenment in our present form cannot be achieved in the Latter Day of the Law….What then, is the fusion of reality and wisdom? It is to become a single entity with the Gohonzon through faith.

Therefore, as I explained at the beginning of the course, our daily Gongyo is extremely significant. We must sincerely understand how important it is and how it is the essential source of all things. This is why I am always strict in my directions concerning Gongyo. If we distance ourselves from this prime point, we will lose sight of true Buddhism, Nichiren Shoshu, and the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. Thus, the fusion of reality and wisdom in the Latter Day of the Law is none other than to chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo to the Gohonzon with sincere devotion and without any distractions.

(Dai-Nichiren, Vol. 427, p. 22)

These directions are truly significant and profound. The most essential point in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is the achievement of enlightenment. The life condition of the True Buddha is characterized by the fusion of reality and wisdom and the oneness of the person and the Law. It is manifested as the object of worship of the observation of the mind, which enables all mankind to attain enlightenment. Therefore, the Buddha constantly is guiding the people. The Honorable Retired High Priest describes the way to open forth the life condition of enlightenment in one’s present form through the fusion of reality and wisdom. In concrete terms, the fusion of reality and wisdom and the attainment of enlightenment in one’s present form signify our fusion with the Gohonzon of the oneness of the person and the Law, inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin. We must understand that the significance of correctly doing Gongyo rests upon this point. In other words, this passage discusses the mystic benefits of the daily manifestation of the life condition of enlightenment in our present form through our consistent practice of Gongyo.

 

(Note: This article can be read in its entirety in the November, 2011 edition of the Nichiren Shoshu Monthly magazine. For more information, please contact your local temple.)