Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism
“Prayer is the courage to persevere.”
Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism is based on a determination, a vow to follow through on a course of action, to realize without fail all of our goals and dreams.
Through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, we as Nichiren Buddhists develop the energy and life force to become the kind of people who can make their prayers come true.
Prayer in any form naturally expresses the tendency to wish for things to go well—for a better future and for the happiness of family, friends and humanity. But because it can often be extremely challenging to realize such wishes, it is easy to turn to a higher power for assistance.
But rather than beseeching an external power, in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we bring forth the highest power from within our own lives. This power is the Mystic Law, the Law of life and the universe. Our prayer expresses our belief in the limitless strength and wisdom we each inherently possess, grounded in the conviction that our lives are expressions of this fundamental Law.
SGI President Ikeda states: “Prayer is the courage to persevere. It is the struggle to overcome our own weakness and lack of confidence in ourselves. It is the act of impressing in the very depths of our being the conviction that we can change the situation without fail. Prayer is the way to destroy all fear. It is the way to banish sorrow, the way to light a torch of hope. It is the revolution that rewrites the scenario of our destiny” (Dec. 3, 2004, World Tribune, p. 8).
Through consistently chanting and making efforts to overcome the roadblocks of life and fulfill our dreams, while helping others do the same, we bring forth the wisdom and life force to create the life we envision along with true inner happiness and freedom, essentially uncovering our infinite potential. This is the goal of Buddhist practice.
This boundless life state, called Buddhahood or enlightenment, is embodied in the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin. Though an external object, the Gohonzon functions as a clear mirror through which we can recognize and reveal our inherent Buddhahood. Nichiren taught that whether we reveal our Buddhahood relies solely upon the depth of our own conviction, or faith. He won over life-threatening persecutions and challenges, proving, through his own example as an ordinary person, that all people can surmount any obstacle and achieve enlightenment. He embodied in the Gohonzon his dauntless spirit to awaken all people to this truth.
By chanting in front of the Gohonzon and seeking to share this winning spirit, we ourselves come to embody the same state of life as Nichiren.
SGI President Ikeda explains: “The Buddha does not exist in some far distant place separated from our lives. And people are not servants of gods or deities. Our lives are originally endowed with the supremely noble state of Buddhahood; they are entities of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It thus follows that our lives themselves are the object of fundamental respect. And the Gohonzon, the mandala inscribed by Nichiren, serves as a clear mirror to re ect and draw forth the Nam-myoho-renge-kyo within” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 19, pp. 243–44).
When we strive to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon with the same vow as Nichiren to spread Buddhism for the happiness of our family, friends and humanity, regardless of difficulties, we will fully enjoy the great life condition of Buddhahood. Those who live this way amid the realities of daily life are what we call Buddhas.