Part 1: Happiness; Chapter 3: The Practice for Transforming Our State of Life [3.19]
3.19 Faith Is a Lifelong Pursuit
President Ikeda responds to the concern of a Future Division member who said she feels guilty when she misses gongyo.
As long as we have faith in the Gohonzon, we are not going to suffer punishment or negative consequences from missing gongyo, so please put your mind at ease. Nichiren Daishonin says that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo even once is a source of limitless benefit. So imagine the immense benefit you will accumulate when you continue earnestly to do gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo morning and evening. It is something we do for our own sake; it is a right, not an obligation.
The Gohonzon will never demand that you chant to it. Having appreciation for being able to chant to the Gohonzon is the heart of faith. The more you exert yourselves in faith—in doing gongyo and chanting daimoku—the more you stand to gain.
Also, Nichiren Daishonin writes nothing about the specific amount of daimoku we should chant. It is entirely up to each individual’s awareness. Faith is a lifelong pursuit, so there’s no need to be unnecessarily nervous or anxious about how much you chant.
You don’t have to put unnecessary pressure on yourselves. Buddhism exists to free people, not to restrain them. Chanting every day, even a little bit, is important. For instance, the food you eat each day turns into energy that fuels your bodies. Your studies, too, become a valuable asset when you make steady efforts on a daily basis.
Our lives are created from what we do and how we live every day. For that reason, we should strive to live each day so as to continually improve ourselves. The driving force for this is our morning and evening gongyo.
Exerting ourselves in the practice of gongyo each day amounts to what we might call a “spiritual workout.” It purifies our lives, gets our “motors” running, and sets us on the right track. It gets our bodies and our minds moving and sets a good rhythm for the day.
It is important to have the spirit to sit down in front of the Gohonzon. The spirit to keep challenging yourself to pray before the Gohonzon every day, to chant daimoku, even if only little, is truly admirable.
From Discussions on Youth, published in Japanese in March 1999.
The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works under key themes.