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7 Ways Daimoku Can Revitalize Our Lives

Insights on prayer based on the Gosho “King Rinda.”

Photo by Diego Ferrari / Pexels

The neighing of the white horses is the sound of our voices chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. When Brahma, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, the four heavenly kings, and the others hear this sound, how could they fail to take on a healthy color and shine with a brilliant light? How could they fail to guard and protect us? We should be firmly convinced of this![1]

—Nichiren Daishonin

How much do we believe in the power of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo? In his letter “King Rinda,” Nichiren Daishonin elucidates the immeasurable power that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has to “liberate all people from suffering on the most profound level.”[2] He uses the story of King Rinda and the white horses to explain, in an accessible way, how chanting daimoku can revitalize the life of an individual as well as society. 

Nichiren wrote this letter in August 1279, when the people of Japan were  filled with anxiety and turmoil over the impending second Mongol invasion. He is thought to have addressed this letter to Soya Doso. He and his father were dedicated followers of Nichiren in Shimosa Province.

In this letter, Nichiren emphasizes the great mission that he and his followers share in chanting and propagating the Mystic Law—the source of fundamental life force—during a trying time for the people of Japan.

In Ikeda Sensei’s lecture on this writing, he reminds us of the immense power of prayer in Nichiren Buddhism, writing: 

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith, even if just a single recitation, has infinitely vast and immeasurable power to revitalize our lives. … There is no doubt that our lives will be filled with limitless and inexhaustible good fortune and blessings.[3]

The World Tribune highlights several points from Sensei’s lecture on “King Rinda” and how chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can revitalize our lives and lead to a prosperous and peaceful society. 

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

Ikeda Sensei’s Guidance 

1. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate teaching to dispel ignorance.

By centering our lives on the Gohonzon and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is the life of the Daishonin and the eye of all Buddhas, we can call forth the Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that exists within us and manifest the fundamental power of the Mystic Law. …

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate teaching that enables us to dispel the darkness of ignorance, bring forth the same boundless, wise and compassionate life state of Buddhahood as the Daishonin, and develop indestructible happiness, while helping others do the same. Nichiren established this essential teaching for all people’s enlightenment in the form of faith in and practice of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.[4]

2. Our daimoku moves the protective forces into action.

Our vibrant voices chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo give power and strength not only to the main tutelary gods of Buddhism, Brahma and Shakra, but to all heavenly deities—the benevolent forces of the universe—activating and strengthening their protective functions. Chanting also moves all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three existences into action, and the functions of harmony and value creation will flourish in our communities and throughout the land.

We must remember the words “The voice does the Buddha’s work.”[5] Had the neighing of the white horses been weak and hesitant, King Rinda would probably not have regained his powers to the extent he did. Similarly, when it comes to chanting, it’s important that we constantly strive to strengthen our faith and deepen our practice. Our conviction in faith and persistence in practice are the cornerstones of chanting.[6]

3. It’s important to chant honestly, ‘just as we are.’

The image of the neighing of the white horses, though just a metaphor, has something deeply significant to say about how we should chant. In other words, our chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo should be light, refreshing and vibrant, like a noble steed galloping freely across the vast open plains.

It’s also important that we chant honestly and openly, just as we are. All of us face times of worry, anguish or sadness in our lives. When we do, we can feel free to go straight to the Gohonzon with our suffering and chant about it wholeheartedly, just like a child seeking its mother’s warm embrace.

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, often said that there’s no need for us to stand on ceremony when chanting about our problems; we just need to chant honestly to the Gohonzon, to truly look at what is in our hearts. The practice of chanting, he said, is the practice of manifesting the same life state as the Daishonin within us, so we should chant with the resolve to embody his state of life.[7]

4. The depth of our faith determines the efficacy of our prayers.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the only way to truly polish our lives at the deepest level. … Chanting is a process of polishing and forging our lives, which is why our faith is so important.

Consequently, the benefit of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is absolutely not dependent on the amount we chant. What matters is that we chant to our own heart’s content, the amount that feels right and satisfying for us. Nowhere in his writings does the Daishonin say we should chant a specific quantity. The efficacy of our prayers is influenced by the strength and depth of our faith and by our determination and attitude.[8]

5. Chanting is our fundamental practice for inner transformation.

Faith that ignores the importance of self-transformation; faith that lacks clear focus and determination, merely waiting for salvation from some external source; faith that abandons all striving and challenge out of fear and a desire to escape reality; faith that expects benefits to magically appear without making any personal effort—such faith is completely contrary to that which is taught in Nichiren Buddhism.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is our fundamental Buddhist practice for carrying out our human revolution, or inner transformation. To chant with a strong vow or commitment—thereby deepening our own determination and conviction, activating the protective functions of the universe and achieving absolute victory—is the essence of chanting in Nichiren Buddhism.[9]

6. The united prayer of mentor and disciple can break through all negative karma.

Even when the very survival of the country and its people is in question, those who confidently chant and propagate the Mystic Law can tap the fundamental life force of the universe in their own lives and stand up as agents of positive change in such a time of peril. …

Our mission as practitioners of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is to employ this great beneficial medicine of the Mystic Law to win a decisive victory in the battle against the ever-intensifying maladies caused by the three poisons. As the Daishonin writes, “In the final analysis, unless we succeed in demonstrating that this teaching is supreme, these disasters will continue unabated.”[10]

The more troubled and confused the times, the more powerful the unity of the oneness of mentor and disciple becomes. When mentor and disciple are united in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, it becomes the most powerful means for overcoming negative karma, dispelling the dark clouds looming over society and achieving the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.” Chanting is the fundamental force for transforming karma. No matter how heavy the chains of karma, we can break free of them through the mystic function of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which brings forth the inherent power of our life.[11]

7. What matters is that we continue chanting through everything.

[I]f we’ve done something we regret, we can chant with a determination never to repeat the same mistake, making our prayer the first step toward a new and better future. When we face a decisive challenge, we can chant strongly and courageously with the firm resolve to win. When battling the three obstacles and the four devils, we can chant with the heart of a lion king, filled with confidence that we’ll vanquish those negative functions. When we’re faced with the opportunity to transform our karma, we can infuse our prayer with an unwavering resolve not to be defeated. When we’re happy about something, we can chant with a deep spirit of appreciation and gratitude. What matters is that we continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo throughout all, “regarding both suffering and joy as facts of life,”[12] as the Daishonin teaches.[13]

November 10, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 6–7


  1. “King Rinda,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 989–90. ↩︎
  2. The Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, p. 127. ↩︎
  3. Ibid. ↩︎
  4. Ibid., p. 130. ↩︎
  5. See The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 4. ↩︎
  6. The Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, p. 133. ↩︎
  7. Ibid., p. 134. ↩︎
  8. Ibid., pp. 134–35. ↩︎
  9. Ibid., p. 135. ↩︎
  10. “The Treatment of Illness,” WND-1, 1114. ↩︎
  11. The Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, pp. 138–39. ↩︎
  12. See “Happiness in This World,” WND-1, 681. ↩︎
  13. The Teachings for Victory, vol. 2, p. 134. ↩︎

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