At the time Gongyo--the practice of reciting the sutra--was
established there were no loud speakers or microphones for the
leaders of Gongyo to speak into so that everyone could hear and
follow. That is why a standard rhythm had to be established, so
that whether there were one hundred or one thousand people
reciting the sutra together their voices would be synchronized by
a common rhythm from beginning to end. Today, however,
people think that doing Gongyo rapidly like a bullet is
better.When this is the case it is not clear what one is saying
when Gongyo is not recited rhythmically or pronounced correctly.
And as it turns out, even though people are doing Gongyo
together they are not always in the same place. They may begin
together but they don't always end together. While one person
may go fast, another may go more slowly.
When I was a young acolyte and was trying to learn
Gongyo on my own I used a metronome to help me keep
a consistent rhythm from beginning to end. When we
learned it as a class a drum was beat at a regular tempo
for the same purpose. This was so all of us would read
Gongyo the same. No one was high, no one was low, no
one was fast, no one was slow. The easy parts, the hard
parts--all had the same sound and the same rhythm. We
learned to match the sound of the sutra with the
established rhythm.
Back when Gongyo was first established they didn't
have metronomes, so it was the sound of the
rainfall--the consistent tat - tat - tat - tat of the falling
rain that they followed. It also wasn't the words so much
as the rhythm that they learned. In our case, once we
learned the rhythm the sounds came. We matched the
sounds to the rhythm.
This is NOT an official site of
the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai
By Reverend Raido Hirota
Translated and edited by Udumbara Foundation staff.
Abstract rain and flower
There is no such thing as fast Gongyo. The aim of the Soka Gakkai is to read Gongyo fast in
order to do lots of
Daimoku. Then, ironically, they go ahead and do fast Daimoku too. When
you recite
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo fast it sounds like Nabey-o-horay, Nabey-o-horay or
something similar, which is not what it should sound like. As long as you are not hearing
impaired, a newcomer to the religion, a child or don't have a speech impediment you must
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo clearly. It is important that others hear the correct
pronunciation. If you are chanting so fast that it sounds like you are invoking a magical
incantation, you must stop even if it satisfies you. In your mind you may think you are
pronouncing Daimoku correctly. But you don't hear yourself, and therefore you cannot
distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. Others who hear you will know the
difference. It is important that you pronounce Daimoku correctly, not only for yourself, but for
children, for people from other countries, and for those hearing it for the first time, as well.
Doing a fast Gongyo is like trying to get it over with. That is not Gongyo. You must do
Gongyo sincerely. When you do Gongyo slowly, or at a reasonable pace, you feel your own
Buddha nature. When you do Gongyo slowly, you feel the peace of mind and joy of the sutra.
It's important to put your heart into Gongyo.
Inherent in the rhythm of Gongyo is the spirit of all that Gongyo is supposed to be. If you
don't do Gongyo at a reasonable pace, pronouncing every word, you cannot feel your own
Buddha nature; you just can't.
The words and the meaning of the words are not what we focused on; it was the sound. We
learned Gongyo like a three-year-old child who cannot read. A teacher pronounced it and we
repeated it, that's how we learned the correct rhythm. There is a Buddhist precept that states
that the
Lotus Sutra is to be read rhythmically. Both Taisekiji and the Soka Gakkai have
ignored this precept. It is important that everyone does Gongyo in the same rhythm from
beginning to end.