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Q: Why should I do gongyo every day?

Yvonne Ng

A: We do certain things every day for our physical well-being, such as eating, sleeping and maintaining our personal hygiene. Similarly, we also need a daily practice for our spiritual well-being.

Our twice daily practice of gongyo raises our life condition so that we can reveal our most positive qualities to effectively tackle life’s challenges, while improving ourselves and our interactions with others. SGI President Ikeda explains:

Buddhism aims to make people free in the most profound sense; its purpose is not to restrict or constrain. Doing gongyo is a right, not an obligation. Because Buddhism entails practice, tenacious efforts are required, but these are all for your own sake. If you want to have great benefits or to develop a profound state of life, you should exert yourself accordingly. (My Dear Friends in America, third edition, p. 75)

The way we “free” ourselves is by transforming our karma and the tendencies that cause us to suffer. And we can do so by doing gongyo and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo every day.

Chanting is the primary practice that helps us bring forth the courage, compassion, wisdom and vitality to take the best action.

Gongyo—which includes reciting portions of the “Expedient Means” and “Life Span of the Thus Come One” chapters of the Lotus Sutra—is the supporting practice that increases and accelerates our primary practice. In reciting gongyo, we reaffirm the Lotus Sutra’s core concepts: that each person inherently possesses Buddhahood; and that this Buddha nature exists eternally within us.

Because our daily lives can be filled with tumultuous challenges, by chanting and doing gongyo every day, we strengthen our Buddhahood and harmonize our lives with the rhythm of life and the universe. President Ikeda explains:

In our morning and evening practice of gongyo and chanting [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo], the microcosm of our lives joins with the macrocosm of the universe in a melodious chorus. The sound of the Mystic Law, the sound of voices chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, is the symphony of the universe. (The Heart of the Lotus Sutra, p. 326)

We conclude gongyo, saying: “Mai ji sa ze nen. I ga ryo shujo. Toku nyu mu jo do. Soku joju busshin.” This is translated as: “At all times I think to myself: How can I cause living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 273). This expresses the eternal vow of the Buddha to help all people establish unshakable happiness in their lives.

By doing gongyo and taking action in accord with this vow, we are doing the work of the Buddha, helping expand the number of those empowered to fundamentally change their lives, thereby transforming the destiny of all humanity.

Excerpts From Nichiren’s Writings in Volume 15

One Youth. Infinite Hope.