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Quantity or Quality?

LAURA HAMM


The following is from Discussions on Youth, new edition, pp. 303–05, in which SGI President Ikeda discusses the significance of the quantity and quality of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

One student asks whether he has to chant [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] for a certain number of hours before his prayer will be answered. Or can he chant intensely for a short time? In other words, which is more important, quantity or quality?

The value—or, if you like, the quality—of a hundred-dollar bill is more than a 10-dollar bill. Naturally, most people would prefer a 100-dollar bill, right? Similarly, in faith, sincere, strong prayers are important. Of course, having lots of 100-dollar bills is even better! Likewise, in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, both quantity and quality count.

Everything you do in the realm of Buddhist faith and practice is for your own happiness. The main thing is that you feel deep satisfaction after chanting. There are no hard-and-fast rules about having to chant a certain number of hours. Setting chanting targets can be helpful, but when you’re tired or sleepy and are just mumbling along in a half-conscious daze, it’s better to stop and go to bed. After you’ve rested, you can chant with concentration and energy again.

Everything you do in the realm of Buddhist faith and practice is for your own happiness. The main thing is that you feel deep satisfaction after chanting.

This is much more valuable. We should be alert and earnest when we pray, not nodding off.

As I said, most important is that our chanting be satisfying and refreshing, so that we can exclaim when we’ve finished, “Ah, that felt good!” By reinforcing that feeling day after day, our lives naturally move in the most positive direction.

I have heard countless experiences from members of the power of chanting.

Yes, and the SGI is strong precisely because its members have such personal experiences.

One member writes wondering whether skipping the morning and evening sutra recitation and chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for one day will invalidate all his practice up to that time.

Skipping the daily sutra recitation occasionally is certainly not going to erase all your previous efforts. There’s no need to worry about that. If you’re running late for school and don’t have time, there’s no need to be anxious about missing the morning sutra recitation. In such cases, for example, if your mothers are practicing and are chanting for you, their prayers will reach you and protect you. More important, as long as you have sincere faith in the Gohonzon, the fortune you have accumulated will stay with you.

You need not feel guilty if you miss the sutra recitation. Of course, I’m not saying that it’s all right to neglect your Buddhist practice. If you fall into the mind-set that you don’t have to do it, your heart will gradually grow estranged from prayer. Nevertheless, because faith exists in daily life, there’s no need to take things to extremes, such as making yourself late for school because of the morning sutra recitation.

Our attitude toward faith and the Gohonzon is most important, isn’t it?

Even if you are busy and don’t always have time for your daily sutra recitation, it’s important that you don’t give up doing it altogether. If you do, the flame of your faith will go out. Please don’t cast aside the morning and evening sutra recitation.

Prayer enriches the spirit and heightens our sense of conviction, so it is a definite plus for all of us.

When we are pressed for time, which should we give priority to, reciting the sutra morning and evening or chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo?

Those who don’t have time or find it difficult to recite the sutra morning and evening should just chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. To use the allegory of a meal, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can be likened to the main course and the morning and evening sutra recitation to the side dishes. Of course, having both is best. But chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo comes first. Please chant—even if you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo only once. Nichiren Daishonin states that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo just once contains infinite benefit.

And if you can recite the sutra, along with chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, then you will feel even greater satisfaction. Of course, it goes without saying that reciting the sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo morning and evening is ideal. WT