Gongyo Is a Grand and Noble Rite
The following is an excerpt of SGI President Ikeda’s timeless guidance on gongyo, given at a youth division training session on Feb. 19, 1990, in Calabasas, Calif. The full text appears in My Dear Friends in America, third edition, pp. 37–43.
Each human life is a microcosm of the universe.
Nichiren Buddhism teaches that our existence is identical to the universe as a whole, and the universe as a whole is identical to our existence. Each individual human life is a microcosm.
The practice of gongyo is a grand and noble rite to achieve the vital communication of the microcosm of each person’s existence with the universe, based on the Gohonzon.
The correspondence of each part of our bodies to parts of the universe is proof that our existence is a microcosm. Our heads are round like the heavens above us, and our eyes are like the sun and the moon. We close them and open them, like day and night. Our hair shines like the sparkling stars. Our eyebrows are like the seven stars of the Big Dipper. Our breath is the wind, and the quiet breathing from our nostrils is like the still air of the valleys and dales. There are some 360 joints in the human body, and they stand for the days of the year. The 12 major joints signify the 12 months.
The warm, front side of our body—our abdomen and stomach—is spring and summer. The cold, hard back is fall and winter. Our blood vessels and arteries are streams and rivers. When we suffer a cerebral hemorrhage, it is as if a dam or dike has burst. Our bones are stones, and our skin and muscle are like the earth. Our body hair is a forest.
Buddhist scriptures discuss in detail these correspondences, including each of the internal organs, teaching that our body is indeed a universe in miniature.
“The Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon as a visual representation of the Mystic Law for the people of the world.”
Nichiren Daishonin discovered and awoke to the great Law of all existence that underlies all the partial laws governing spiritual and physical phenomena, and it was he who revealed that Law to humanity as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This Mystic Law applies equally to the universe as a whole and to each and every individual human existence. The universe and the individual are one in this Mystic Law.
Under certain circumstances, an invisible law takes form as a visible existence. The individual human existence, for example, emerges out of its state of fusion with the rest of the universe by taking shape in the womb and being born into the world.
A ship can be regarded as a tangible representation of the law of buoyancy, just as an airplane represents the laws of aerodynamics, and a radio or television program represents the law of electromagnetic waves. All of these objects give shape to invisible laws.
The fundamental Law of the universe and individual existence is also invisible. The Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon as a visual representation of that Mystic Law for the people of the world. The Lotus Sutra and other Buddhist scriptures are the instruction manuals for the Gohonzon.
Gongyo “transforms your fate, breaks through any apparent dead end and converts sufferings into happiness.”
Josei Toda, my teacher and the second Soka Gakkai president, explained the Gohonzon in an easily comprehensible way as a “machine to produce happiness.”
When we carry out gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo before the Gohonzon, our individual existence is perfectly harmonized with the universe. Both the universe and our individual existence are the concrete manifestations of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, as is the Gohonzon. That is why when we do gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith in the Gohonzon, our existence and the universe mesh as perfectly as two gears and, with an initial creak, begin to work together.
The single life-moment of the individual becomes one with the three thousand factors and realms of the universe, and begins to produce great value. This is the concrete practice of “three thousand realms in a single moment of life.”
Through this practice, we can acquire wisdom and good fortune, and glow with the energy to overcome any obstacle throughout the four seasons, 365 days a year; we can enter the way to eternal happiness and attain eternity, joy, true self and purity.
Gongyo is a practice that calls forth and activates the infinite power that the microcosm inherently possesses.
It transforms your fate, breaks through any apparent dead end and converts sufferings into happiness. It creates a transformation, a revolution of the microcosm. It is a diagram in miniature of kosen-rufu in our lives.
The kosen-rufu that is our aim is a movement to transform the universe, the Earth and human society into a world of peace, comfort and harmony in accord with the rhythm of the Mystic Law.
To attain Buddhahood in this life, we must never retreat in our practice.
If we don’t do gongyo, the rhythm of our lives will be thrown off kilter, just as a machine that isn’t oiled will rust. Gongyo and chanting are like starting the automobile’s engine every day and driving in the direction of happiness and truth. By doing so day after day, you will gradually attain perfect unity with the universe and the Law. That state is the state of the Buddha.
Once that has happened, you can enjoy yourself with complete freedom for all eternity. Your existence will be a diamond that will never perish throughout the three existences.
To attain Buddhahood in this life, the Daishonin warns us with firm concern that we must never retreat in our practice. Even though we may experience a period of sadness or depression, the principle that “earthly desires are enlightenment” teaches us that great sufferings are bound to be transformed into equally great joy, progress and value. There is nothing to fear, since the Gohonzon possesses the infinite power of the Law and the Buddha.
The full effect of the Mystic Law is manifested through doing gongyo and taking action for kosen-rufu.
The Gohonzon is the concrete manifestation of the very existence of Nichiren, who taught kosen-rufu. Because of that, if you only do gongyo and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and don’t take any other action for the sake of kosen-rufu or improving your own life, the Gohonzon will not have its true, full effect.
If, however, you take actions to achieve kosen-rufu, they will serve as that extra push for your own life and help you leap to higher and higher states of mind in your gongyo and chanting, as well.
Moreover, it is only natural that the energy you acquire through the practice of gongyo for yourself will be channeled back into your activities for others, for kosen-rufu.
The fact is that the practice of gongyo and your actions in service of kosen-rufu will become one, and together they will unlock the infinite power of the Mystic Law in your life. WT