Q:  What character should we look at when we chant?
RH (Reverend Hirota):  When we chant we should look at or focus on the
myo on the Gohonzon so that we don't lose our concentration. The
Soka Gakkai says if you have troubles you chant to overcome your troubles, but
that is not the purpose of
Namu-myoho-renge-kyo; that is not going to solve
your troubles. The Gakkai coined terms and phrases such as "toso," which
means "combative daimoku" or "daimoku war."
Daimoku is not something you
fight with or use to compete with.
Q:  During "tosos" people count the daimoku by hours or by number of daimoku, or by
lining up matchsticks in groups. What is the correct way to chant?
RH:  When we chant daimoku to Gohonzon, Gohonzon acts as a mirror. What is
reflected back to us is Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, that we are Namu-myoho-renge-kyo,
that Namu-myoho-renge-kyo --
Buddha nature -- exists within us. This
Namu-myoho-rennge-kyo is written down the center of Gohonzon, but it's just
characters. The real address or place where Namu-myoho-renge-kyo resides is within
our hearts. If we don't use a mirror we can't see our faces ourselves. Gohonzon is a
mirror that shows us the reflection of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo within us.
Q:  The Gakkai taught that you should not go to Gohonzon when you are angry or in a
bad mood, you should only go when you are calm.
RH:  When you are angry or in a bad mood and you chant, the chanting will lessen the
bad feelings that you have because you realize that the Buddha nature exists within you.
If there is someone that you hate or are angry with you will realize that Buddha nature is
also in that person. So when you are angry or in a bad mood chant, because what you
gain from it is the realization of your own Buddha nature and that of others.
Q:  So being in a bad mood is an opportunity to become
enlightened too?
RH:  You chant to become closer to the Buddha and your
Buddha nature. From the Soka Gakkai's approach you are
concentrating on the problem so that the problem will change.
But when you are chanting sincerely you realize that that is
foolish, that the reason you are chanting is to become closer to
the Buddha and to reveal your own Buddha nature. The best
way to chant is not to count time or count daimoku but to sit
in front of Gohonzon and chant until you realize that the
Buddha exists within you. That is how long you chant
daimoku, until you gain that understanding.
It is as if you had a jewel and you are polishing it; it's very important that you polish
your Buddha nature with daimoku. Even though chanting is not about how much time
you put into it or the number of daimoku you chant, if you chant three daimoku and
haven't understood the reason why we chant and you feel like you want to quit at three,
but instead you press on past that point of unwillingness and continue until you reach
the point where you do understand, then all the things that you had to go through to get
to the point of understanding were necessary. What we are striving for is to reach the
point of understanding that we are chanting to bring out the Buddha nature from within,
the Buddha nature that has always existed within each of us.
When I sit in front of Gohonzon I think, "Oh boy, I don't feel like doing Gongyo today.
But even though I don't feel like it I still should do it, I have to do it." So I start Gongyo
with this attitude and finally I reach a point where I'm thinking, "Boy, I'm glad I'm
doing Gongyo today! It's made such a difference." I transcended my reluctance and
reached an understanding of my purpose. It would be great if I could carry over this
feeling of joy in doing Gongyo to the next time I do Gongyo, but that is not what
happens with humans beings. We keep repeating our lack of enthusiasm and
unwillingness, and then have to struggle through it.
As humans we have to keep reminding ourselves to do Gongyo. Only sometimes do we
have the feeling that we want to do Gongyo, but it is never constant. Sometimes when I
sit in front of Gohonzon I think, "Boy, this is taking so long," and I look at my clock
and only five minutes have passed. Then there are times when I think only five minutes
have gone by and I look at my clock and it's thirty minutes which have passed. It's
important that you have the ability to keep doing Gongyo during the times that you
don't want to, when it seems like the clock is broken or hardly moving at all, as well as
during the times when you do want to and the time speeds by. That is what practice is.
It's training. It's hard and you have to discipline yourself to do it.
With Reverend Raido Hirota
Translated and edited by Udumbara Foundation staff.
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