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Gosho Study

We Are as Powerful as the Universe

Los Angeles. Photo by Allen Zaki.

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 Real Aspect of the Gohonzon,”
The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 832

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good fortune,” Walt Whitman sings.[1] Our lives themselves, he declares, are sources of “good fortune,” of joy and unlimited possibility. 

Nichiren Daishonin likewise encouraged his disciple Nichimyo to regard the Gohonzon as expressing her tremendous potential. He says she can bring forth that potential by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

He addressed “The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon” to her in August 1277, explaining the significance of the Gohonzon, the object of devotion. Faith, he taught, is vital to unlocking the power of the Gohonzon, or Buddhahood, within. 

Religions at the time, including Buddhism, regarded salvation as something external powers, such as gods or Buddhas, granted. Thus, Nichiren’s teaching was revolutionary. 

Yet sometimes, we struggle to feel we have all we need to be happy. That’s when our real work begins. 

As Ikeda Sensei says: “We must realize that we are not powerless, not merely lumps of physical matter, not slaves to our genes. We need to awaken to the fact that we are much more, that we possess within us enormous, limitless potential. Human beings are one with the universe, and the power we each possess is equal to all the power of the universe—this is the message of the Lotus Sutra.”[2]

Chanting to the Gohonzon, studying Buddhism and sharing it with others enables us to traverse the “open road” of infinite potential and joy that lies within. 

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Ikeda Sensei’s Encouragement

1. Awakening to the Gohonzon Within 

In Nichiren Daishonin’s day—and, in many cases, even today—we find the following deeply rooted view: “We are but small, insignificant beings and the ultimate reality and eternal value lies somewhere outside of us, somewhere far away.” Such a way of thinking is inextricably connected with belief in some otherworldly, supernatural power.

Nichiren Buddhism, however, rejects this idea completely. It teaches the true reality of life in which the eternal and ultimate Law is revealed in the physical beings of ordinary people living right here and now. 

The term Buddha, after all, means “enlightened one.” To what did the Buddha become enlightened? To that which should form the true basis of our life—namely, the Law and the true essence of our being. He awoke to the universal Law permeating all phenomena, which had previously been obscured by fundamental darkness.He awoke to the greatness of each individual’s life that is one and indivisible with that Law. 

“The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people”—the real significance here is that the Gohonzon Nichiren inscribed is the means by which we can awaken to and call forth the Gohonzon (the Buddhahood) within us. The physical Gohonzon we chant to is the very same Gohonzon that is in our heart; and it is by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the happiness of ourselves and others that we can clearly awaken to the Gohonzon within us. (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 4, pp. 9–10) 

2. ‘Confidently Tap the Wisdom and Strength That Reside Within You’

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda once responded to a question about the meaning of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo from a young woman who had recently started practicing. 

“That’s a good question,” he said with a smile, adding: “When you get right down to it, you could say that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the life of Nichiren Daishonin, and your life as his disciple is also Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Please live with self-confidence, pride and optimism.”

When we look at the Gohonzon, we find “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Nichiren” inscribed down the center, with the names of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, the gods of the sun and the moon and other figures on either side. These symbolize functions and power we inherently possess within our lives. When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, we can tap that vast, limitless power that embraces the entire universe. Therefore, we will never fail to become happy. We can fulfill all of our prayers and shine radiantly in our own unique way. There is no need to compare ourselves to others. 

No matter what happens, steadfastly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and confidently tap the wisdom and strength that reside within you, and patiently continue making steady efforts. (Nov. 13, 2020, World Tribune, pp. 2–3)

May 12, 2023, World Tribune, p. 9


  1. Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road,” Leaves of Grass: Comprehensive Reader’s Edition (New York: New York UP, 1965), p. 149. ↩︎
  2. The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 3, p. 28. ↩︎

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