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Gosho Study

‘The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon’

Photo by Bob Nardi.


This letter details the figures represented on the Gohonzon and their significance. It was written in 1277, when Nichiren was living at Mount Minobu. Details are unknown about the recipient, Nichinyo, but it is thought that she was an educated person with strong faith. She deeply appreciated having received the Gohonzon and sent Nichiren various offerings. This letter was his response. After explaining the makeup of the Gohonzon, Nichiren tells her that by making offerings to this object of devotion, she will accumulate immeasurable benefits. He concludes by telling her that faith in the Gohonzon is the key to attaining Buddhahood.


“How wondrous it is that, around two hundred years and more into the Latter Day of the Law, I was the first to reveal as the banner of propagation of the Lotus Sutra this great mandala that even those such as [the learned Indian Buddhist monks] Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu [and the Great Teachers of China] T’ien-t’ai and Miao-lo were unable to express.” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 831)


Nichiren was the first to reveal the Gohonzon. Over the more than two thousand years after the Buddha’s death, not one of the previous great Buddhist teachers could do so. In that sense, it truly is wondrous what Nichiren did.

Because he risked his life for the Law and revealed his own Buddhahood, today we have the object of devotion we call the Gohonzon. By chanting for ourselves and others to the Gohonzon Nichiren inscribed, we connect to the life state of the Buddha and thereby bring forth our own Buddhahood.

Nichiren also called the Gohonzon “the banner of propagation,” an emblem of his desire to bring the Mystic Law to all people. As SGI members who have inherited Nichiren’s spirit, we are spreading his teaching and philosophy from one person to another, steadily building a world of peace and happiness for all. Basing ourselves on faith in the Gohonzon, let us proudly raise this banner of humanism and expand our network of hope.


“Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The body is the palace of the ninth consciousness,[1] the unchanging reality that reigns over all of life’s functions.” (WND-1, 832)


People today, just asin Nichiren’s time, often belittle their true worth. We may believe, for instance, that we are small and insignificant, unworthy, incapable, and that something greater, more powerful, exists outside of ourselves. To shatter these misguided beliefs Nichiren urges us in this passage to awaken to the sublime nature of our own lives. The Gohonzon is great. And because the Gohonzon is within us, we’re great too.

When we believe that we and others are Buddhas and chant with that conviction, then the real power of the Gohonzon begins to work in our lives. We can build within us “the palace of the ninth consciousness,” which is just another way of describing our Buddha nature, a fortress of happiness that nothing can destroy.

Just after this passage, Nichiren adds, “This Gohonzon also is found only in the two characters for faith” (WND-1, 832). He thus reemphasizes the Lotus Sutra’s message that we can “gain entrance” to this palace “through faith alone” (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 110).


“What is most important is that, by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo alone, you can attain Buddhahood. It will no doubt depend on the strength of your faith. To have faith is the basis of Buddhism.” (WND- 1, 832)


The purpose of striving in Buddhist faith and practice is to open the life state of Buddhahood inherent in our lives—a deep and solid sense of fulfillment and happiness not dependent on anything but ourselves. Nichiren assures us that by believing in and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for ourselves and others, we can attain Buddhahood. But, he adds, it all depends on the strength of our faith. “I can definitely accomplish this.” “I will definitely beat this obstacle”—we need this kind of conviction if we are to tap into our unlimited power.

It’s not always easy to see that we are the Buddha, especially when we’re mired in troubles and self- doubts. That is precisely why faith is so important. Believe in and chant to the Gohonzon. Believe in the mentor’s guidance and strive in Buddhist practice. Conviction comes from repeating these actions day after day. With the deep prayer and determination that “I will open the way forward in everything,” we can definitely bring forth immeasurable benefits.


  1. The ninth, or amala-consciousness is the Buddha nature, or the fundamental purifying force, that is free from all karmic impediments. Here Nichiren Daishonin is associating it with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. ↩︎

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