Prayers in Nichiren Buddhism

Q:    To whom do I pray when I chant NamMyohoRengeKyo to the Gohonzon?

A:    Chanting NamMyohoRengeKyo is a prayer - or personal desire - to experience the Life energy of Buddhahood: wisdom, compassion and courage. The Life of Buddhahood exists within us and in all living beings.  The Life of Buddhahood is represented by the Gohonzon.  The Gohonzon is like a mirror for our inner life of enlightenment.  Chanting to the Gohonzon then becomes our desire or prayer – to experience our highest condition of Buddhahood: “Prayer is a solemn means by which you can raise your life condition” (Ikeda, DOY-2, 141)

Q:    What is the essence of Buddhist prayer?

A:     A prayer expresses our mind of Appreciation to the Gohonzon and also our Desires (or aim) to achieve a goal.

Q:    Why does prayer entail appreciation to the Gohonzon?

A:    Buddhist prayers start with expressing appreciation to the greatness of the Universe.  As individuals, we are praying to the Life of Buddhahood, represented by the Gohonzon, to align the microcosm of our individual life with the life force of the macrocosm, the entire universe.

We are fusing our life with the ultimate Law of the universe (cf., DOY-2, 22). “Prayer is an expression of our reverence for the universe, our awe towards forces that are greater than ourselves” (DOY-2, 127).

For example, “A cellular phone is of no use without base stations that transmit the radio waves from one point to another. In the same way, the Gohonzon is a ‘base station’ that makes it possible for us to communicate with the universe” (DOY-2, 140).  Appreciation to the Life of Buddhahood leads to valuing our own existence within the greatness of the universe. 

Q:  What is the attitude to pray for our desires to be fulfilled?

A: When we pray to the Gohonzon, we are not beseeching any god or Buddha to grant us our wishes. Rather, prayer to the Gohonzon is made with a clear determination to take complete responsibility for our life. Our prayer (or inner desire) is infused with the conviction that we are the scriptwriters of our own lives.

Prayer in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism means to chant NamMyohoRengeKyo based on a pledge or vow.... It means chanting resolutely with the determination: ...I will show magnificent actual proof in my work. Please enable me somehow to bring forth my greatest potential” (Ikeda, NHR-1, 304-05).

When we chant NamMyohoRengeKyo, we are praying to the Gohonzon to manifest our highest life condition of Buddhahood. It is like filling our vehicle with fuel.  The destiny and the way we use our life must be based on clear and concrete goals. Praying for what one hopes to achieve each day, for both self and others, and challenging oneself to make them a reality - forms the foundation of prayer.

Prayers are the means for overcoming hardships and transforming our tendencies, or our history of actions (karma) - and the way we think, speak and behave.  Self-correction is achieved through determined prayers:

[We] must pray sincerely to apologize for and eradicate our past offences with a deep sense of gratitude to the Gohonzon for enabling us to expiate our negative karma” (Ikeda, NHR-10, 266). Therefore, our prayers should be filled with apology, gratitude and determination.


Guidance on Prayers

SGI Silent Prayers

                                                          Rarely Asked Questions