The GohonzonLA Beach Cities RegionIntroduction to BuddhismJuly 2, 2007
The Gohonzon “A mind which presently is clouded by illusions originating from the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but once it is polished it will become clear, reflecting the enlightenment of immutable truth.”
Nichiren Daishonin Inscribes theDai-Gohonzon The great object of devotion was inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin atMount Minobu on October 12, 1279, which he referred to as the purpose of his advent. It’s the Dai-Gohonzon that represents his intent for the widespread propagation of the law. The Gohonzon is the embodiment of the law of nam-myoho-renge-kyo, expressing the life state of buddhahood which all people inherently posses. Go means “worthyof honor” and honzonmeans “an object fundamental respect” which we hold the highest esteem.
The Gohonzon is a graphic representation of the enlightened life condition of the universe, and the enlightened life condition of our own life which enables us to draw forth our innate Buddhahood. “I Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi ink, so believe in this gohonzon with your whole heart.” Nichiren expresses his realization that Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the origin and basis of his life in the form of the mandala he calls the Gohonzon.
The Gohonzon contains the enlightenment condition of Buddhahood, a state of perfect freedom. This supreme state of life is characterized by boundless wisdom, infinite compassion, and unswayed by any changing circumstances. The potential of human life in the buddha is limitless. The Gohonzon is described as a “cluster of blessings and perfectly endowed with everything we need for happiness.” A declaration on the Gohonzon reads: “Never in 2,230years since the passing of the Buddha has this great mandala appeared in the world.”
The Gohonzon Treasure Map of Life The diagram of the Gohonzon we use today in the SGI was inscribed by the High Priest Nichikan Shonin. Nichikan Shonin(1665-1726) was the 26th High Priest at the head temple Taisiki-ji. His legacy was restoring Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. 1683-He entered the priesthood. At age 18, he studied under Nichiei Shonin, the 24th Chief Priest. 1689-Enters the Hosokusa Danrin Seminary, for priests who wished to study Nicherin’s teachings. 1708-He was promoted to the head of Hosokusa Danrin Seminary. 1711-Was appointed chief instructor at Taiseki-ji. 1718-He retired lecturing on Nichiren’s teachings. 1723-Twenty-six High Priest again. He contributed to the promotion of the Daishonin’s teachings and collected funds for construction of the head temple until is death at the age of 61. Today, the Nichikan Gohonzon is 289 years old.
The Gohonzon - Treasure Map of Life Where do the Gohonzon and Buddahood manifest in our lives? The Gohonzon exists inside of a butsudan (an altar), but the life condition of Buddhahood, called Nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo exists within each one of us. It hasn’t any shape or color. However, it definitely does exist within each of us. Feelings of happiness, suffering, agony and joy, all emerge from within our lives. These changing conditions which we experience are defined in Buddhism by the Ten States of Life which are called The Ten Worlds.
We don’t know exactly where in our bodies that this buddhahood emerges from, but it does emerge from within our lives. This is called “Hossho-No-Entei” (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo deeply underlies life). We must chant to the Gohonzon with the strong conviction that buddhahood, as big as the universe, will emerge from the depths of our life. However, the Buddhahood that exists within us cannot be manifested without an external stimulus. This is why we chant to the Gohonzon, which exists outside. The Gohonzon in the Butsudan is the stimulus,while the buddha-nature inside is a cause. This is the relationship of cause and stimulus (or dependent origination). Unless we have the cause within us, no outside stimulus will be able to manifest this buddhahood within us. The life condition which appreciates the beauty of Mount Fuji exists within us, not on Mount Fuji. The purpose of doing Gongyo is to have the outside Gohonzon stimulate the one within.
The Gohonzon is a scroll written in Chinese Sanskirt. This graphic arrangement of the Gohonzon is based on the concept of “The Ceremony in the Air” or emergence of “The Treasure Tower.” Our lives are just like the Treasure Tower, but they may be closed and buried deep in the earth of delusion. Our challenge, therefore, is to bring the hidden Treasure Tower up from within the soil of our fundamental darkness and open it, establishing Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the center of our lives and illuminating our lower life-conditions-putting them in their proper places.
These forces of the universe, such as the sun and the moon, are also inscribed on the Gohonzon. These forces can be destructive as well as beneficial. The sun is essential to life and yet can burn and do great harm. When we chant to the Gohonzon, the forces of the universe function in a protective way becausewe are acting from our enlightened nature. Nichiren Daishonin wrote: Buddhism teaches that when the Buddha nature manifests itself from within, it will obtain protection from without. This is one of its fundamental principles. The functions of the Buddhist Gods on the Gohonzon is to protect the Buddha - “The Votary of the Lotus Sutra.”
Nichiren Daishonin states: “Never seek this Gohonzon outside of yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo.” If you truly feel so gracious, happy and overwhelmed,your heart will be filled with joy. This is what we call “the palace of the ninth consciousness,” “enlightenment” or “attaining enlightenment as a common mortal.”
Everything in our life will become joyful. Sick people will become healthy, poor people will become wealthy, and families will be harmonious. You are happy when awake, happy when you are asleep and even happy when you are dead. Faith is the key to strengthening our efforts, our wisdom and good fortune.
President Ikeda states: Because life is long, you should not be impatient. What matters most is that you embrace the Gohonzon throughout your life. It is vitally important to continually challenge yourself to chant even a little more daimoku and to pray before the Gohonzon for the fulfillment of all your desires.
The Gohonzon Nichikan Gohonzon Nikken Gohonzon Internet Gohonzon Soka Gakkai Intent
President Ikeda states: “Our task is to establish a firm inner world, a robust sense of self that will not be swayed or shaken by the most trying circumstances or pressing adversity. Only when efforts to reform society have as their point of departure the reformation of the inner-life will they lead us with certainty to a world of lasting peace and true human security.
Banner of Propagation • GOHONZON “banner of propagation” for all man-kind • Object of devotion (prayer) for world peace • Equal dignity and nobility of all people • Comprised of a community of believers, not separation
Banner of Propagation • Nikken Gohonzon • Against the spirit of Nichiren • Promotes the power of the priesthood • Dislikes the president of our organization and excommunicated the SGI (lay believers) organization devoted to spreading the Law
Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin: “ The True Aspect of All Phenomena” “There should be no discrimination among those who propagate the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo in the Latter Day of the law, be they men or women. Were they not Bodhisattvas of the Earth, they could not chant the daimoku”
Significance of Gohonzon • INTERNET GOHONZON • Gohonzons copied and distributed through the internet • SOKA GAKKAI • Only organization sharing the spirit and mind of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism
President Ikeda states: “A Votary of the Lotus Sutra is one who fights dauntlessly against great persecution and practices the correct teaching. And a courageous practioner of the correct teaching is also a courageous seeker of the way.”
Nichiren Daishonin states in “The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra”: “Therefore, when you chant the daimoku of this sutra, you should be aware that it is a more joyful thing than for one who was born blind to gain sight and see one’s father and mother, and a rarer thing than for a man who has been seized by a powerful enemy to be released and reunited with his wife and children.”
CARE OF THE GOHONZON THE ALTAR
SELECTION AND PLACEMENT • GET THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU • KEEP IT IN A SAFE PLACE • KEEP IT CLEAN • TRY TO HAVE A DEDICATED SPOT • THIS WILL BE YOUR CHANTING SPACE
OFFERINGS • CANDLES • INCENSE • WATER • GREENS • FRUIT/FOOD • BELL • DAIMOKU
INCENSE • SPREADS FRAGRANCE • CAN BE STICK, POWDER SMOKELESS
CANDLES • PROVIDE LIGHT • EXTINGUISHES DARKNESS AND MAKES ALL THINGS VISIBLE, AS DOES THE LAW • CAN BE WAX, ELECTRIC OR OIL
WATER • OFFER FRESH IN AM • EMPTY IN PM • OK TO CONSUME!
FRUIT • KEEP IT FRESH • REPRESENTS THE OFFERINGS MADE TO NICHIREN BY HIS DISCIPLES • OTHER FOODS OK • PLEASE CONSUME
OTHER ITEMS • LIST OF DETERMINATIONS AND/OR PEOPLE WE CHANT FOR • SMALL GIFTS
BELL • RING APPROPRIATLY • PLEASING SOUNDS
GREENS • REPRESENT ETERNAL UNCHANGING TRUTH • EVERGREEN DOES NOT CHANGE COLOR WITH THE SEASONS SIMILAR TO OUR FAITH WHICH REMAINS STEADFAST THROUGH LIFES CHANGES
DON’T • PLACE PHOTOS NEXT TO GOHONZON • PHOTOGRAPH THE GOHONZON • HANG OR PLACE THINGS ON TOP OF THE ALTAR • USE THE ALTAR FOR YOUR WORK DESK, CARD TABLE, ETC.
GUIDLINES • USE COMMON SENSE • YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE ALL OR ANY OF THE ACCESSORIES • GOHONZON IS MOST IMPORTANT • ACCESSORIES ARE “CHANGEABLE FORMALITIES”
CHANT AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME • THE ALTAR AND OFFERINGS DON’T MEAN MUCH IF WE DON’T DO THIS • ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY • CHANT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO, IT’S UP TO YOU
GET BENEFIT • PLEASE SHOW TONS OF ACTUAL PROOF OF THIS PRACTICE IN YOUR LIVES • CONSULT FRIENDS IN FAITH WHENEVER YOU HAVE QUESTIONS • THE GREATEST OFFERING IS CHANTING NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO