Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 3: The Practice for Transforming Our State of Life [3.16]
3.16 Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Freely
President Ikeda responds to a question from an Italian member about whether quantity or quality is more important in chanting daimoku.
A 100,000-lira note is worth more than a 10,000-lira note. It goes without saying that it is preferable to have the note with the greater value. In the case of daimoku, the important thing is to chant earnestly and with strong conviction. Of course, it would be even better to have lots of 100,000-lira notes! The bottom line is that both quality and quantity matter in chanting.
The principle of “responsive communion” is very important in Nichiren Buddhism. To use an analogy, when talking on the phone, if the connection is good, we’ll be heard even if we speak softly, but if it’s bad, then sometimes the other person won’t be able to hear us even if we shout. In order for our prayers to be effective, we need to express them honestly and directly to the Gohonzon.
The Daishonin states: “What is called faith is nothing unusual” (WND-1, 1036). In other words, we can just be ourselves. He continues:
“Faith means putting one’s trust in the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions, and the heavenly gods and benevolent deities, and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a woman cherishes her husband, as a man lays down his life for his wife, as parents refuse to abandon their children, or as a child refuses to leave its mother.” (WND-1, 1036)
We should be honest and unpretentious when we chant to the Gohonzon. If we are suffering or feeling sad, then we should take that suffering to the Gohonzon without hiding it, expressing in our prayers what is in our hearts.
It is the Daishonin’s wish that we all become happy. By coming in contact with and connecting with the life of the Daishonin [by chanting to the Gohonzon], therefore, we are certain to attain happiness. It is inconceivable that the Daishonin would fail to protect those who are striving as his emissaries to realize kosen-rufu.
Essentially, we practice the Daishonin’s Buddhism for our own happiness and well-being. In chanting daimoku, too, the main thing is that we ourselves feel happy and satisfied. It’s not a matter of formality; there are no rules specifying how long we have to chant and so on. While it is often helpful to set ourselves a target for the amount of daimoku we want to chant, when we’re too tired or sleepy, or we find ourselves dozing off in front of the Gohonzon and just chanting out of force of habit, then it is far more valu¬able to get some rest and chant properly another time, when we’re refreshed in body and mind.
The most important thing is that we are filled with a satisfying sense of revitalization after chanting. When we continue chanting in this way each day, we will naturally come to experience a life in which all our desires are fulfilled.
From a question-and-answer session during a North Italy representative leaders meeting, Italy, July 3, 1992.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.