Though long-standing and consistent attention to the Gohonzon is valuable, many a long-time practitioner will still be suffering the issues, maladies and self doubt that they had when they first broached the practice and received their original Gohonzon. Why? Because they still fall victim to the two most prominent misconceptions regarding Nichiren Buddhism and it's essential practice.
One being that they chant "for" expected outcomes of situations as the baseline of their entire practice and two, that they mistakenly believe that the quantity of their daimoku outweighs it's quality. With both of these falsehoods being equal, they have foregone the essential practice of venerating the Lotus Sutra beyond Sansho.
As Nichiren Buddhists, each one of us are leaders. Yet, only in the sense that we lead others to the Mystic Law by way of veneration of the Lotus Sutra.
We do without doing. We provide a contrast between ourselves and others independent of our life condition. It is not a matter of what we have. It is a matter of who we are in a single moment. Not where or what we are. Others cannot help but see our tranquility and wisdom and are naturally compelled to find out how we "obtained this". Our purpose is to show them that they too already possess these qualities and may awaken them immediately and easily through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo - availing themselves to the Mystic Law.
Though, of course helpful and positive for growth, the accoutrements offered by SGI and/or the Priesthood are secondary to the essential practice and often times provide for a distraction, if not a complete misunderstanding of effective and spiritually productive daimoku.
Veneration of the Lotus Sutra must be the first and foremost fundamental function of our daily practice. Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo with all of your heart and soul does not constitute the ability to fit twenty utterances of the Mystic Law into a sixty second time span or recite Gongyo so fast that to anyone else, your chanting would be no more than rapid-fire gibberish. This dilutes ones very practice and detracts from the inherent benefits that your practice can provide. Many times to a particularly dangerous karmic degree, since most practitioners have never been given ample opportunity to recognize the immense and universal power of the Mystic Law.
The Mystic Law is the sharpest double-edged sword in the universe. When wielded with anger and violence, it will produce the same. When used to deceive, intimidate and manipulate the needy and unwary, there is nothing more effective.
When used to purify one's self and balance the ten worlds of Ichinen Sanzen, existing within each and every one of us, Kosen-Rufu begins to reach out across humanity like the first rays of the morning sun, enveloping all those around us with love and compassion whether they opt in or not.
When we become lackadaisical and begin confusing president Ikeda's words or the words of others, including Nichiren Daishonin himself as the essential practice, it is exactly at this point that the purity of the Mystic Law becomes tainted by narcissism and ego.
One must fully realize that the Mystic Law as Daimoku, the Gohonzon and One's true self as fully described by the Lotus Sutra is not a Magic 8 Ball, Quija Board or other spiritualist party game for anyone's mere amusement. All aspects of practice outside of the utterance and inherent vow of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo are only useful as guideposts to lead us back to the one - The Mystic Law - Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.
Nowhere is the misuse of the Mystic Law more detrimentally dangerous than in the atmospheres of Nichiren Buddhist gatherings.
Manipulation of the fourteen slanders or purposeful misinterpretation of the Goshos to impede upon the practice and/or lifestyles of others is all to prevalent throughout the world and as unavoidable as what they truly are - the three obstacles and four demons, in part and in whole, brought about by those that practice correctly by paying efficient homage to the essence of the Lotus Sutra.
These obstacles and demons dissuade and discourage practitioners to continue their veneration of the Lotus Sutra by playing upon their naturally occurring vulnerabilities that arise as a direct result of the very awakening of their inherent Buddha nature.
By berating or as many manipulators of the Mystic Law conveniently call "correcting" practitioners in the arena of discussions, tosos and study groups is a great way to ensure that the practitioner will be hesitant to return and is mostly used in a targeted fashion by those that seek dominant leadership or choose to view their existing leadership position as a place of power. Therefore, when they feel threatened by another practitioner because they perceive that this individual may possess more charisma in the group than they do, you can be certain that the narcissistic practitioner will attempt to glorify themselves via pointing out secondary habits of their intended victim's practice, thought, ideology and even their very morality.
Purposely withholding meeting dates and times, agendas and study information from select individuals is also another method used by manipulators of the Mystic Law in an attempt to eliminate their perceived opposition from the group.
Threatening another with confiscation of their Gohonzon or the denial of one receiving their Gohonzon and disparaging their innate Buddhahood is nothing more than using the Mystic Law as a means of extortion against another practitioner. These are signs that must be recognized and reckoned with for the continuing growth and good welfare of the group.
Nichiren Buddhism is surrendering one's true self to the very essence of the Lotus Sutra, thereby practicing letting one's true self be transformed by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo - the Mystic Law. From doing so, one will naturally seek further knowledge, guidance and others to share their path with. To say that one is not a Nichiren Buddhist because they believe in other religions, philosophies or ideals is a manipulation of the Mystic Law, more for the purposes of gratifying one's own egoic self in some way and can produce nothing more than severely tragic karmic consequences.
As votaries of the Lotus Sutra, we inherently see the limitless potential and Buddha nature in all others. We also realize the importance of the essential practice as a foothold to stay attached to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism. We realize that as Nichiren Buddhists, it is our foremost and primary responsibility to uphold and protect the Mystic Law.
To fault others is an indication of inefficient or nonexistent essential practice.
To compassionately correct, with encouragement and unconditional love, one on one, is a naturally occurring symptom of an awakening Buddha Nature within and without us.
Most important above all else is that we maintain a consistently sincere essential practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and surrendering our true selves to the essence of the Lotus Sutra. As it is in this way we have the most powerful sword in the universe so that we can best wield the Mystic Law - Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.
Copyright 2014 by Robert W. Stanford