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Gosho Study

‘On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime’

Key highlights from the Gosho

Photo by Allen Zaki.


Written to Toki Jonin in 1255, just two years after Nichiren Daishonin first began to teach about Nam myoho-renge-kyo, this letter discusses the profound significance of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the direct way to attain Buddhahood. To end the sufferings of birth and death and achieve Buddhahood, he writes, we must perceive “the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings” (WND-1, 3). That mystic truth is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

In this work, Nichiren teaches us the fundamentals of a correct practice: consistent chanting and deep faith that our lives are the Mystic Law, both of which will surely lead us to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.


“Nevertheless, even though you chant and believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but an inferior teaching.” (WND-1, 3)


Nichiren taught the easily accessible practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a way for all people to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. We can chant whenever and wherever we want. But one thing we should never forget: We are Myoho-renge-kyo; we are Buddhas. Therefore, Nichiren warns, “Even though you chant and believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but an inferior teaching” (WND-1, 3).

What does it mean to think the Law is “outside yourself”? One sign would be if we blame others or our circumstances for our unhappiness. Even if we chant, if we do not believe that the power of the Mystic Law is within us, we cannot fundamentally solve our problems. As Nichiren writes elsewhere in this letter, “You must summon up deep faith that Myoho-renge-kyo is your life itself.” Chanting with this conviction allows us to reveal our unlimited potential and move everything in the direction of happiness.


“[The Vimalakirti Sutra] also states that, if the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.

“It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being. When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha.” (WND-1, 4)


When we change, our environment changes. From beginning to end, Nichiren Buddhism is a practice for transforming the realities of our lives. As this passage makes clear, a change in our hearts or minds can transform any circumstance. No matter the difficulty, no matter the suffering, by changing ourselves we can open a path to happiness as surely as the sun will rise again tomorrow.

Nichiren takes this principle a step further, saying that the only difference between ordinary people and Buddhas is the state of their minds. Delusion is being unable to believe that we have the Buddha nature within us, which leads us to seek causes for happiness or unhappiness outside of ourselves. Enlightenment is believing in the unlimited potential we each have within. The way to move from delusion to enlightenment is to chant with the faith that our lives at each moment are the Mystic Law.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the driving force to move everything in the direction of happiness, so when we chant every day we are building a foundation for our lives one step at a time.

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