Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Gohonzon - Ya Gotta Want It!

For many of us practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism it takes courage and tactfulness to not only shakabuku, but often to simply practice our regular, daily routine of Diamoku and Gongyo. Especially for those living in rural areas where other practitioners are far and few between.

From our consistent daily recital of the expedient means excerpt of the Lotus Sutra, combined with our Diamoku, we are empowered with the naturally skilled ability of  elegance in our social interactions, so that we, as votaries of the Lotus Sutra are able to protect not just the Lotus Sutra, but ourselves as well. Persecution for this practice is more than prevalent. And of this fact, we are all very aware.

When these things happen to us, we take solace in the fact that like Nichiren Daishonin, we are courageous and loyal votaries of the Mystic Law. Nicheren Daishonin minced no words in his opening of a letter to Shijo Kingo in September of 1272, while serving an exile on Sado Island.

“People hate me and ceaselessly plot in secret to do me injury. I will leave aside the various persecutions that I suffered earlier and merely mention that last year, on the twelfth day of the ninth month, I incurred the wrath of the Government authorities and, on the night of the same day, was to have been beheaded. Somehow or other, I lived to see the morning and came instead to this island province of Sado, where I have been residing ever since. I have been abandoned by the world, abandoned by the law of the Buddha, and the heavenly Gods show me no pity. I am one that has been cast aside by both secular and Buddhist realms.”

In our practice, we are inspired by the Mystic Law, to share its wondrous power, if for no other reason than the ever increasing compassion and love that we feel for others. How we long to share with others. How we long to sooth[1] their incessant suffering. But of course we must be mindful of their current perceptions of us and everything else, as we certainly do not want them to have a bad impression of the Mystic Law or our practice of it.

Nothing compares, however, to the immense joy and excitement of a new shakabuku experience [2]. And as the shakabuku relationship progresses, we often get caught up in their own excitement and desire we share with them to have their own Gohonzon to chant to.

As Nichiren Daishonin said, “To accept is easy; to continue is difficult but Buddhahood lies in continuing faith.”

We must remember that correct practice brings hardships that are hard to see as benefits transforming our fundamental darkness and that persecutions are not exclusively limited to just ourselves.

These things occur from the cyclic chanting of the Mystic Law as well as the recitation of Gongyo, independent of one possessing a Gohonzon. Our practice shows us that these are indeed benefits. Yet for the new practitioner, these benefits are tests of one’s steadfastness and will – loyalty to the Mystic Law.

When we see the new practitioner suffer these things and remain diligent in the face of the three obstacles and four demons, we yearn to allow their practice to come full circle with the Gohonzon.

Yet we must always be mindful of the inherent[3] power of the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin from a space of true enlightenment making this scroll, which for us in a very realistic and practical sense, is directly from him and his place of enlightenment making the Gohonzon  literally – sacred.

Several components[4] have traditionally been expected to be in place previous to receiving the Gohonzon, such as the alter, butsudan and their various accoutrements. Also a preliminary understanding of the humanistic principles of Nichiren Buddhim, earnest effort of learning Gongyo, and daily chanting of Daiamoku, as well as at times - a participation in meetings in accord to their ability to attend.

Further, there needs to be a sincere acknowledgement of the great responsibility which accompanies the possession of the Gohonzon; an emphatic understanding that the Gohonzon is in a very literal sense, a person’s life force, which deserves the same consideration and protection one would afford their very own life[5].

Time will tell that all of these elements are in place and through your own devotion to the Mystic Law you will know when the time is right, naturally, through your own Diamoku. But with this practice, we must always be alert to the ever present temptation to push the river, so to speak.

To receive the Gohonzon, under any circumstance - is a lifetime commitment. We must be ever so careful to not allow our deep love and compassion to ease other’s suffering cause us to push us or them too hastily, for the karmic effects of one who may abandon the Gohonzon at any time in their lives could be very grave indeed for all of those involved.


1. Sooth not Soothe - Sooth defined - A. truth, reality, or fact. B.Soothing, soft, or sweet. C.true or real.
2.  See Kosen Rufu - The Waterfall That Nurtures the Universe.
3. Inherent Defined from Webster's - (existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute.)
4. Components Defined by Websters first entry: (a constiutent part; element; ingredient.)
5. See Coming Home.


  1. Fabulous article! We also have a responsibility to those whom we shakabuku. We must strive to mentor and help them grow into the practice.

  2. Thank you very much. I totally agree.