Beginning Your Practice of True Buddhism
The practice of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism allows us to change our karma so we can establish an unshakably joyful life condition. It is through the practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo to the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws of Nichiren Shoshu that we are able to change poison into medicine, shed our illusions, and fundamentally transform our lives.
The journey of faith in Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism begins by chanting “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo“ to the Dai-Gohonzon – the True Object of Worship – for this time period called the Latter Day of the Law. The Dai-Gohonzon was inscribed by the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin for the enlightenment of all humanity. The Dai-Gohonzon is the very life of the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin Chanting “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo“ to the Gohonzon, with the Dai-Gohonzon as the source, allows one to eradicate their negative karma, awaken their inherent Buddha nature and personally experience the true benefit of enlightenment.
Those beginning their Buddhist practice receive Gojukai, the ceremony in which people accept the precepts of Nichiren Shoshu and become disciples of the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin. Shortly thereafter – once the new member has shown sincere efoort to practice consistently, he/she can request to receive a Gohonzon to enshrine in their home. The Gohonzon is presented to us throught the compassionate virtue of the High Preist for our enlightenment. Please treat the Gohonzon with the deepest reverence and respect. The Gohonzon is never allowed to be photographed, videotaped, photocopied or duplicated. Only the High Priest of Nichiren Shoshu may transcribe the Gohonzon.
Steps to Receive Gojukai & Gohonzon
1. Chant Consistently
Once you’ve made the decision to practice true Buddhism, it is most important to do Gongyo and chant Daimoku consistently.
Daily practice consists of Gongyo (reciting the Liturgy, Gongyo book) and Daimoku (chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo as much as possible). Choose an area in your home that is specifically set aside for this purpose. Purchase the Liturgy of Nichiren Shoshu (Gongyo) book and Juzu (prayer beads). You will also need a bag or cloth to wrap these items to keep them clean and protect
them from damage.
Gongyo is performed twice each day – morning and evening. It is sometimes difficult to discipline ourselves to do Gongyo consistently. It is easier if you set aside time each morning, before leaving for work or beginning your day, and when you arrive home in the evening, before starting anything else. By practicing this way, your life will steadily improve, day by day, and you will experience great joy in your daily life.
Chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo as much as possible following Gongyo. Of course, you may also chant Diamoku any time during the day, as often as you like, at your home or at the temple.
Your sponsor, the person who introduced you to Nichiren Shoshu, should be able to help you learn how to pronounce the words. There are also instructions in the front of your Gongyo book. It is easier to learn in a group setting. There are local meetings where Gongyo lessons are held. Please ask about these and other meetings to attend that will help you learn more about this practice.
Nichiren Shoshu True Buddhism is based on faith, practice and study. To receive the most benefit, it is important to be consistent, and in order to understand Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, you need the correct materials for study.
Complete the subscription form for the Nichiren Shoshu Monthly, choosing a 3 month, 6 month, or 1 year subscription before receiving Gojukai and Gohonzon. Vital information about Nichiren Shoshu and guidance from our High Priest is provided on a monthly basis in this magazine. There are other important books available for purchase at the temple bookstore, such as Basics of Practice and Nichiren Shoshu Ceremonies.
3. Receive Gojukai
When you are ready to make the commitment to accept faith, let your sponsor know. They will request an application form for membership in Nichiren Shoshu. Gokuyo (offering) should be included with your application and submitted on the day you receive Gojukai. Then, decide which Sunday works best for you. On the Sunday you accept faith (Gojukai) arrive at the Temple early to meet with your sponsor and make sure you have all your paperwork signed and approved. It is best to sit in the front row with your sponsor.
The ceremony will begin. This ceremony forms an eternal bond between you and the Gohonzon and formally initiates you into Nichiren Shoshu. Gojukai is received only once in a lifetime. First, someone will read the explanation of the Gojukai Ceremony. Then you will be asked to stand in front of the chief priest to receive Gojukai – the ceremony to accept the precept. You should have your Juzu Beads in your hands.
The following 3 questions will be asked (after each question, answer “I do”):
- Do you faithfully swear to practice the true teachings of Nichiren Daishonin throughout your life?
- Do you faithfully swear to protect the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws throughout your life?
- Do you faithfully swear to keep the precept of Nichiren Shoshu throughout your life?
By answering “I do” to each question, you show your determination to protect and uphold the Gohonzon.
While everyone continuously chants, the priest will touch the top of your head with a special Joju Gohonzon.
4. Prepare An Altar
Purchase a Butsudan (altar), to enshrine the Gohonzon, and also Butsugu (candlesticks, incense burner and incense, vases for greens, and water cup), in preparation to receive the Gohonzon. Your sponsor or Kanji (board member), will assist you in choosing the correct placement for your altar in your home. It should be in a safe, quiet place where you can do Gongyo and chant undisturbed.
5. Receive Gohonzon
When you are ready to make the commitment to receive the Gohonzon, let your sponsor know. He or she will request an application form to receive the Gohonzon. (You must be practicing correctly for your application to be accepted). Gokuyo (offering) should be included with your application and submitted on the day you receive the Gohonzon. Then, decide which Sunday works best for you.
On the Sunday you receive the True Object of Worship (Gohonzon), arrive at the Temple early to meet with your sponsor and make sure you have all your paperwork signed and approved. It is best to sit close to the front with your sponsor.
The ceremony will begin. You will be asked to stand in front of the chief priest to receive the Gohonzon. You should have your Juzu beads in your hand, your gongyo book open and a fukusa (cloth for wrapping beads) layed on top of the Gongyo book. If you don’t have a fukusa you can omit it. It is not recommended to use a handkerchief that was used for a different purpose previously.
The priest will place the Gohonzon in your sutra book, which you will be holding open in your hands.
Arrangements should have been made in advance for your sponsor or Kanji Board Member to enshrine your Gohonzon at your home as soon after the ceremony as possible. The final step is to continue your Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist practice throughout your life, and receive abundant benefit, happiness, and growth each day. Share this practice with your friends and relatives (shakubuku) so that they, too, can begin to change their lives for the better. Start saving to attend tozan (pilgrimage to the Head Temple) as soon as possible.
If you have any question about the care of the Gohonzon or would like to learn more about Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism please contact the temple to learn more!