The Three Great Secret Laws
The following is study material for the weekly Soka Spirit chanting sessions being held at SGI-USA Buddhist centers across the country.
Nichiren Daishonin revealed Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the fundamental Law inherent in all life and the universe. The Three Great Secret Laws represent Nichiren’s expression of the Mystic Law in an accessible form that all people can easily practice, and through which they can activate the state of Buddhahood within their lives. They are:
1. The object of devotion of the essential teaching.
2. The daimoku of the essential teaching.
3. The sanctuary of the essential teaching.
The daimoku of the essential teaching indicates the invocation or chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith in the object of devotion; it includes chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for oneself and teaching it to others.
“Essential teaching” refers to the teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (not to the essential teaching, or the latter 14 chapters, of the Lotus Sutra). Nichiren established these three essential principles to enable people in the Latter Day of the Law to attain Buddhahood. They are called “secret,” because they are implicit in the text of “Life Span,” the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, and remained hidden or unknown until Nichiren revealed them.
1. The object of devotion of the essential teaching: the Gohonzon.
The Gohonzon is the object of devotion of the essential teaching, or Nichiren’s embodiment in the form of a mandala of the eternal Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which he fully realized and manifested in his life. All Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin himself for all humanity, as well as transcriptions thereof, equally embody the fundamental Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
2. The daimoku of the essential teaching: Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo chanted to the Gohonzon of the essential teaching is the daimoku [invocation] of the essential teaching. Rather than meditate on an abstract concept, we can directly activate our own enlightened potential by focusing on the Gohonzon while chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
3. The sanctuary of the essential teaching: our homes, our Buddhist centers.
The place where we chant to the Gohonzon of the essential teaching is the sanctuary of the essential teaching. “Sanctuary” is a translation of the Japanese word kaidan, literally “precepts platform,” which traditionally is a place where people took formal vows to observe the Buddhist precepts. The term precept in Buddhism implies preventing error and putting an end to evil. In Nichiren’s teaching, there is only one precept and that is chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for one’s own and others’ happiness to the Gohonzon with faith. Therefore, any place where the Gohonzon is enshrined and where one carries out such practice with a vow for the spread of the Mystic Law, or kosen-rufu, is the sanctuary of the essential teaching.