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‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Is Your Own Life!’

Houston. Photo by Joey Liao.

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.” 

—“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 3

In one of his earliest works, “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime”—written in 1255, just two years after declaring his teaching—Nichiren Daishonin outlines the profound significance of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the direct means to find true happiness in this lifetime. 

Nichiren teaches us to believe in the inseparability of the Mystic Law and our own lives. And he cautions, “Even though you chant … if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but an inferior teaching” (WND-1, 3). 

Here, “inferior” means incomplete. Compared to Lotus Sutra’s “pure and perfect teaching,”[1] which affirms that each person is a Buddha just as they are, some other teachings would have us believe we should look outside ourselves for salvation. Nichiren labels these beliefs inferior and incomplete. He points out that, no matter how much we chant, if we believe that the Mystic Law does not lie within us, we’ll, at best, experience inferior results from our practice. 

“You have to be resolved that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is your own life!”[2] second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda urged. Chanting with this resolve fuses our lives with the innermost essence of our being and the vast universe. By chanting and sharing this Buddhism with others, we can accomplish—individually and collectively—all we aspire to achieve. 

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. The Mystic Law Pervades Everything

[Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] constitutes in its fullest and most complete form the teaching of Buddhism that seeks enlightenment for all human beings.

The Mystic Law is the fundamental Law of the universe. Its universality transcends our individual selves. However, the Mystic Law also exists within our lives. It both resides within us and transcends us. Put another way, the Mystic Law is inherent in our lives because it is the all-embracing Law that pervades everything in the universe. (The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, revised edition, p. 95) 

2. Everything Starts With Us

Concerning yourself with what others are doing and complaining when they don’t live up to your expectations is looking for the Law outside yourself. Such thinking ultimately comes down to spiritual weakness. It results from not having a philosophy of independence, a philosophy that teaches that everything starts with us and what we do. That philosophy is none other than Buddhism. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 9, revised edition, p. 228)

3. Bring Forth Infinite Power From Our Finite Lives

[Nichiren Daishonin] is urging us to decide and believe that we ourselves are Myoho-renge-kyo. The Mystic Law is the good medicine for relieving the sufferings of all people, the wonderful treasure trove for realizing human happiness. We need to live our lives based on and dedicated to the Mystic Law. We need to imbue and strengthen our lives with this great Law. 

The Mystic Law is eternal. It is the wellspring of all things. When we perceive that our life is one with the Mystic Law, we experience the eternity of life, and boundless energy will well forth. Nothing can destroy this. No matter what happens, we enjoy a state of complete freedom. That is the life state of Buddhahood. Therein lies the profound significance of chanting Myoho-renge-kyo.  

When we believe in and become one with the Mystic Law, our impermanent self becomes eternal. Infinite power wells from our finite existence. As a result, we can break through any deadlock. That is the purpose of faith. 

Furthermore, this condition of being signifies renge, or the lotus flower. From the muddy swamp of suffering, proud human flowers emerge unsullied, blooming elegantly with fresh and delightful fragrance. 

[Second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda said the following about attaining Buddhahood: 

Attaining Buddhahood doesn’t mean simply becoming a Buddha or striving to become one. It means believing wholeheartedly in the Daishonin’s teaching that ordinary people can attain the ultimate state of Buddhahood just as they are and that all phenomena embody the true aspect. In other words, it means having profound confidence that we are Buddhas just as we are from the eternal past and that we will be into the infinite future.[3]

(The World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings, vol. 1, pp. 120–21)

July 14, 2023, World Tribune, p. 9


  1. In “On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings,” Nichiren Daishonin
    refers to the Lotus Sutra as “the pure and perfect teaching of the one Buddha vehicle” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 394). ↩︎
  2. The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1, revised edition, p. 97. ↩︎
  3. Translated from the Japanese. Josei Toda, Toda Josei zenshu, vol. 3 (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbun-sha, 1983), p. 175. ↩︎

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