How Do I Develop a Consistent Practice?
This Q&A series addresses frequently asked questions about Nichiren Buddhism.
Q: I have a hard time chanting and doing gongyo every day. How do I develop a consistent practice?
A: Each effort you make to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon awakens your Buddha nature. The more consistent you become, the more powerfully your Buddha nature functions in your life.
A large part of a consistent practice is doing gongyo and chanting every morning and evening. This provides both stability and the momentum for winning in all areas of life. Regularly attending meetings and studying Buddhism—even if only five minutes a day—are also vital aspects of Buddhist practice.
Without a consistent practice, it’s difficult to experience the full benefits of faith in Nichiren Buddhism. The motivation for developing consistency may differ, but here are some tips that may help.
Develop a strong support system. Chanting with friends, attending meetings and studying help to develop and maintain a consistent daily practice.
Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Even a feeble person will not stumble if those supporting him are strong, but a person of considerable strength, when alone, may fall down on an uneven path” (“Three Tripitaka Masters Pray for Rain,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 598).
The SGI organization offers many opportunities for members to gain support and inspiration to break through all limitations.
Set concrete goals. When we set clear, detailed goals that we want to achieve, we naturally become more serious and focused in our prayer.
Just start something. In the beginning of one’s practice, simply chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times or a few minutes every day may be a good start. SGI President Ikeda says: “The important thing is that you do something, that you start something. Nothing comes from nothing. Zero remains forever zero. But one step can lead to infinite growth. One can become two, three and even tens of thousands” (Discussions on Youth, new edition, p. 409).
It helps to think of our personal goals and decide: I will chant this much every day to achieve this goal.
Keep redetermining to accomplish what you set out to do. President Ikeda also says: “When you challenge something even for three days, you’ll achieve three days’ worth of growth. You should feel good about yourself for having persevered in something for three days. There’s no need to feel bad about stopping after a few days; just keep starting over again. If you repeat that pattern 10 times, that makes a whole month!” (July 5, 2013, World Tribune, p. 3).
Rather than looking back with regret about what wasn’t accomplished, Buddhist practice encourages us to keep challenging our limitations from this moment forward, with the spirit to never give up.
Most important is to establish a strong daily practice of chanting and doing gongyo. Just like a sapling that grows into a mighty tree, our day-today growth may not be visible, but over time we’ll be able to develop a towering and indestructible state of happiness.