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Chanting: Our Basic Attitude

Practical points for reconfirming our attitude in front of the Gohonzon.

Take a moment to think about the way you chant in front of the Gohonzon. What is your basic attitude, your posture, the tone and rhythm of your voice? While taking into account each person’s health and circumstances, in essence, it is important to chant to the Gohonzon as though greeting the Buddha. With the aim of developing an enjoyable and fulfilling daily practice of gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, let’s keep in mind some practical points for reconfirming our attitude in front of the Gohonzon.

  VOICE

The Voice carries out the work of the Buddha.
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 4

Whether speaking, singing or chanting, the voice, in essence, reflects the state of our bodies and minds, even the power of our lives

Nichiren Daishonin explains this, stating: “The mind represents the spiritual aspect, and the voice, the physical aspect. The spiritual aspect manifests itself in the physical. A person can know another’s mind by listening to the voice. This is because the physical aspect reveals the spiritual aspect” (“Opening the Eyes of Images,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 86).

Regarding the voice, SGI President Ikeda says, “When we chant with unhesitant faith, our voices, just as they are, become the voice of the Buddha who is always here expounding the unsurpassed Law” (The Heart of the Lotus Sutra, p. 341). Chanting with a clear, resonant and confident voice leads to our fulfillment and victory.

POSTURE

Sit upright and ponder the true aspect.
The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 390

As singing coaches know, posture is key to the quality of the voice. Standing or sitting in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel so confident, can positively affect the brain and have an impact on our chances for victory.

When talking with someone we respect, we are more likely to sit upright, attentively and with our eyes open. The same applies when we view chanting as having a conversation with the Buddha.

A scene in The Human Revolution describes President Ikeda meeting with a group of members. He begins by doing gongyo with them. The novel continues: “He faced the Gohonzon and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, his posture upright, his voice resounding, full of life and refreshing . . . So this was the correct way to do gongyo, [the members] thought: palms joined neatly together, eyes fixed upon the Gohonzon, each word of the sutra clearly pronounced” (pp. 1513–14).

UNITY

The lion’s roar (shishi ku) is the preaching of the Buddha . . . The first shi [which means “teacher”] of the word shishi, or “lion,” is the Wonderful Law that is passed on by the teacher. The second shi [which means “child”] is the Wonderful Law as it is received by the disciples. The “roar” is the sound of the teacher and the disciples chanting in unison.
The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 111

When chanting with others, how we feel or even act can be enhanced by harmoniously chanting with others.

Regarding this, President Ikeda recounts the following: “Once, when I led a group of members in chanting three times, their voices
weren’t in unison. It also meant that they weren’t united in spirit as they prepared to undertake a new challenge. If they lacked unity, they wouldn’t be able to display their full potential nor achieve real results . . . Our resolve is reflected in our voices. Our voice can sweep away obstacles and limitations” (March 9, 2012, World Tribune, p. 3).

RHYTHM

I am praying . . . as earnestly as thought to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground.
“Rebuking Slander of the Law,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishinon, vol. 1, p. 444

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo motivates us to take action with strength
and energy. It is the source for advancing our lives.

President Ikeda explains: “A person’s attitude in doing gongyo reveals itself in how that person lives. A person whose gongyo is weak will lack vital energy and will lapse inevitably into a feeble way of living. If you do gongyo only as if it were a chore or out of a sense of obligation, it will be hard for you to feel joy in your faith. Therefore, let’s encourage one another to do a refreshing and rhythmical gongyo, like a mythical white flying horse galloping through the sky. Together let’s aim to do a superb, powerful gongyo each day, one that will move the entire universe and is infused with our earnest prayers” (The Human Revolution, p. 1790).

Chanting Posture Tips

• Upright posture (without overstraining yourself)
• Palms together, positioned just below the mouth
• When sitting in a chair, both feet slightly apart on the floor
• Eyes open and focused on the Gohonzon

(p. 8)