Sensei often specifically says that it literally takes “courage” to chant daily without fail. For many years I felt that this was more of an effect of the translation from Japanese to English. However, after faithfully practicing Daimoku for an extended period of time, my experience with Gohonzon began to rapidly fill with clarity and insight. So much so that I felt startled and was all too quick to liken it to the feeling one would have watching a frightening film of the macabre.
Like the demons that would seem to oppose the practice of Daimoku and Gongyo1, the consistency and momentum of my Daimoku awoke these very demons. I realized I needed to harness the courage already existing within me, which was merely dormant, only waiting to be called upon with my own faith in Gohonzon. The Gohonzon which is etched upon my heart. Faith in my true unabridged self.
As though my Gohonzon would telepathically speak with me, it was how I became conscious of the facts regarding myself. As I chanted, I did not need to have a list of those things that I wanted to chant for as though they were blessings on guiding the weather to ensure my harvest of the crops I had sewn, as this was certainly the case in my entire life of practice, even at those times in my life in which I only chanted for nothing more than the escape of perilous situations that I had enclosed myself in. Though I forever adamantly swore that I would never come to Gohonzon for material things. I most certainly always did, foregoing what I was destined to go to Gohonzon for.
My history with Gohonzon goes back many years. And most of those years, I was without Gohonzon on the scroll as a mandala in my physical possession. I was only fourteen years of age when I received Gohonzon on the day of my birth on the Twenty-First of May.
It was not going to be in my handmade butsudan for long, however, as I would soon lose it to a robbery in which I failed to perform what I had been taught was necessary to prevent the loss of what was to me as taught and taken very literally, my “Life Force”.
This, of course, was many years ago and at that time my practice was with Nichiren Shoshu of America. At the time of the beginning of my practice, there was the matter of the Priesthood that we all had to go through and it was a priest that had presented me with my Gohonzon. A moment among few others that I will never forget.
And it was because of the primary obstacle that I was without this mandala representation of my true self for many, many years. Fear of having to face the priest to admit to having failed Gohonzon by not physically fighting for its safety at the time of its peril was unconscionable to me.
So for many years, numerous nights were spent lying in bed wondering where my Gohonzon may be. As though I had lost a child through the means of kidnapping, this was not that much different, as it was most certainly similar from a self-mortality standpoint. The best I could imagine was my beloved Gohonzon buried under garbage somewhere in a landfill. Or just burned up in a burning barrel somewhere.
On November 4th, 2013 I once again received my Gohonzon through my local SGI group of the Modesto Rising Sun, here in Modesto, California. And of course enshrined it immediately, commencing the practice of Daimoku and Gongyo every day.
It was somewhere since the early part of 2015 that I have consistently practiced Daimoku and Gongyo daily and from which this experience is shared within this article. It is upon this experience that I offer my perspective to the extent that I can best describe the highlights of my practice as it pertains to trust, faith, and basically feeling confident and safe wherever I may be at any time because I have and continue to develop an on-going extenuating experience of fusing with my Gohonzon.
The bottom line of my experience is an intense belief in myself. All the way to the point of questioning my practice and my sanity and not that it has not been advised by the more negative of my counselors, who at one time, could be just about anyone.
This belief in myself being a preexisting belief that is in all actuality, not a belief at all but a known fact that through means of my own fear and laziness combined, I will literally declare and make war against my self. In short – self-destruction. You know what I am talking about.
My war is incessantly justified by the great amount of heartbreak and other horrible things that have happened to the people that I have loved in my life, even those I never got to meet. And this entire war is merely a perspective of consciousness that I consciously stepped into as a safe haven. I suppose I could be classified conveniently as what would clinically be merely your garden variety co-dependent with some rather grandiose ideals to support the propagation of the cycle. A devoted votary of life.
Yet not so much the fool as I would have had to be, as at every single moment of life I was conscientiously making the decisions I made, even those that were no more than truly decisions to justify not pursuing my dreams. I believed in my own lies which were the falsehoods that I decisively made to sabotage myself so that not only would I not come to achieve my dreams in this lifetime, but that I would abandon them all together. Truly these are the demons that play at the gates of the Treasure Tower. But it is still all my responsibility to see or not see as it is after all, you see, just a little less painful here, with my back against the wall.
For all intents and purpose this war I wage with my true self could be categorized as fundamental darkness. A darkness that is self-imposed on my true self to dim the light of my infinite potential, going so far as to hide it from myself.
During every day I would be in need of validation and always find myself seeking this validation outside of my self. Seeking it from those, compared to the knowledge I have of my self, they would be having practically none. And yet, I would still seek them out to validate me in some way. Just like a drug fix, it would band-aid the true suffering that I had induced upon myself, but would never last long.
Just as notorious and strengthening to the fight against myself, there would be the negative validation that would provide me with the artillery that I needed for negative self-talk. The unsolicited invalidation did not help me achieve my goals, as I am not speaking of constructive criticism here per se, but rather as is often said, haters going to hate. There always seems there always is just enough of that external hate pelting one's self-esteem to overcome anything that may pose as a positive when it comes to actualizing one's own life. More weapons for me to add to an arsenal toolbox specifically allotted for this war of fundamental darkness upon myself. And yet again, still it is my decision every time and the darkest the decision, the easier the decision. For it is a coward's decision.
Enter consistent Daimoku. My continual practice from its origin in 2015 began to work on fundamental darkness directly through an even exchange of my courage to listen to the truth during my Daimoku within the Treasure Tower. And then after, to ponder it.
As though I was thick in the negotiations of a multitude of treaties, I was so anxious to alleviate my own suffering as I would find the element within my true self, referred to as “limitless” elusive.
Short term goals and an assessment of my self in terms of statements such as “Well, at least I am this good.”. An actual statement I made early on to myself that was still, by far, much better than any statements I had actuality made to myself previously for an extremely long time.
It made no difference what it was that I came to Gohonzon with, as it quickly fell away right after the commencement of my Daimoku after Gongyo. For it was at this time that I felt within the first few enumerations of Daimoku that it was coming from a deeper place within my heart. As I can only describe this unique phenomenon as “The Treasure Tower”. For it was at this time that everything would come further and further into focus. Everything about me and my life. Clarity as I have never seen it under any other circumstances throughout my entire life.
Yet it was and still is extremely difficult to hold on to that clarity which I have during these times within the Treasure Tower. And yet, at the same time it becomes ever easier every day that I continue in my practice as every day I have these few moments of clarity within the Treasure Tower. Even though it is quite difficult to maintain in memory the consciousness that feels abundantly fresh, yet foreign.
I feel as though it is through devotional thought and acceptance of the Mystic Law and it's literal interpretation of the true essence of the Lotus Sutra that being one of simply – Karma; that in these states of consciousness that I have every day, I see vividly that I am responsible for everything outside of my heart. The ultimate validation, as it were, that I am so great in my infinite potential that I need not seek Gohonzon outside of myself. Gohonzon in and of itself is my validation simply because it is my own heart.
Faith, for much of my life, I saw to be nothing more than training wheels. But with the linear motion of life as I walk through it, shielded and armed with my Gohonzon, what was once thought by my self – that faith would no longer be necessary to have once one no longer needed to “believe”. Because they would have first-hand accounts of the power of the Mystic Law, therefore they could know it's power. What faith would one need?
Perhaps some could actually cast their faith aside as training wheels, but as Sensi says it takes courage to wield the power of the Mystic Law. To face one's true self. To only rely on one's self. Via the infinite potential in a single moment of life, why would any sentient being not be able to, at any moment wield the Mystic Law infinitely according to the judgment that would be most beautiful and wise as of Gohonzon etched upon their heart? It is in my practice that every day I see that this is, in fact, true through the clarity that I nurture through Gohonzon. As I watch myself grow under the caring and faithful guidance of Gohonzon, etched upon my heart.
I need faith. But less every day as I just watch everything that I see vividly during my time in the Treasure Tower come to my life as though it were some kind of wonderfully beautiful magic. As though my Daimoku gave me the touch of the Mystic Law. Everything I touch has the infinite potential of the Mystic Law through my touch. All from a simple voluntary decision to act from my heart. With consistent Daimoku I do it without thinking about it. Down to the trillions of atoms I expel when I exhale every single breath. Seemingly countless causes are more and more guided by the Mystic Law each and every new day.
As it becomes more and more visible every day through tangible and intangible benefits that appear in my life, everything looks different when looked at from a perspective that nothing in the universe is in its proper place every moment. All like a grand and magical classroom this life seems to become and the positive and negative begin to blur.
In my Daimoku, of course, it is variable on my experience depending on a multitude of factors, however, by making reverent time for it – reserved time, in which I have no worry or need of distraction I chant. It is in this way that I can feel assured that I may experience the clarity of that phenomena called the Treasure Tower.
To be happy with myself consistently. To be patient with myself. To believe in myself. To meet each day as a day that I can go as far as I want to go in that day. Faith and courage.
1Inclusive of faith, practice, and study