A profile here at Medium becomes a repository of one’s opinions about many things. This is the first prose article I have posted, though I have posted over 500 comments to articles posted by others concerning various topics. In the future, I plan on posting more articles, but I figured it would be useful for any reader to know that I am a man of faith. I have practiced the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin together with the organization known as the SGI since 1973. I was born in 1955. This practice has a profound philosophic basis, but ultimately I do it because Nichiren suggested it would benefit me. That was and continues to be the starting point of faith for me. The practice consists of chanting the phrase Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo ideally in front of a scroll called the Gohonzon. It is used as a focal point while chanting. The scroll is an expression of both the process and victory of attaining enlightenment in one’s present form. Fusing with this expression while chanting enables one to attain that same victory. Nichiren, emphasizing the nature of the Gohonzon’s power, writes: “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,” WND-1, 832). He also describes this process as not suppressing desire, but properly channeling it: “Today, when Nichiren and his followers recite the words Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, they are burning the firewood of earthly desires, summoning up the wisdom-fire of enlightenment.” For more about the Gohonzon click here: https://www.sgi-usa.org/study-resources/core-concepts/the-gohonzon/
There is plenty of material about this practice and the SGI online, but just for easy reference, I wanted to have this article and a couple of others I will post in the future which provide a very simple introduction of the practice for beginners and as a way to reveal my basic beliefs. The list of 11 main benefits shown below is based upon an article from the US organization newspaper, The World Tribune, from the 1970’s. I’m sorry but I could not find the citation for the original online, so if someone does, please send it my way. It was based upon a lecture given by the SGI 2nd President, Mr. Josei Toda.
ELEVEN MAIN BENEFITS OF PRACTICING THE
BUDDHISM OF NICHIREN DAISHONIN
The “Hiyu” chapter of the Lotus Sutra gives perhaps the most extensive and explicit description of the real benefits to be ultimately derived from the Buddhist practice recommended by Nichiren Daishonin. These are:
- WISDOM — Distinguished from simple knowledge and intelligence, wisdom involves a deeper clearer way of thinking and perceiving. Ideally, such wisdom can be applied to already acquired knowledge for more constructive purposes. Nonetheless, knowledge is not a prerequisite to real Buddhist wisdom. Wisdom, then, is the life condition that determines how people actually derive value from their knowledge.
- UNDERSTANDING THE ETERNITY OF LIFE — Our practice leads to a growing awareness of the law of cause and effect. We begin to view our lives as a series of effects from causes we made previously and, with deepening faith, learn to make causes that will improve our future. To comprehend that life is not a simple matter of moment-to-moment occurrences but rather encompasses past, present, and future enables us to steadily develop an awareness and conception of our mission in life.
- PERSISTENCE AND TOLERANCE — These traits generate a kind of stick-to-it-iveness and strength that is often a rare commodity. However, persistence for its own sake in the face of adversity is not a victory if it only leads to is an endless austerity; particularly if it is founded on a cynical or fatalistic attitude. It is vital that we achieved a degree of patience and tolerance with others and indeed ourselves. To move from a mere “I don’t like it but I’ll keep on plugging” to a deeper “I may be discouraged or confused at the moment, but with my Buddhist practice I can achieve joy and courage in this struggle right now and eventually overcome this obstacle.” That is why this is often called the hope-filled practice.
- SERENITY — Not to be confused with the placidity of an uneventful life, this describes the unfettered interaction of human life and experience. It is a state in which the mind does not wander, and confusion is kept at a minimum as we learn to deal with our circumstances and enjoy them for what they are; the calm knowledge that, though things are not perfect, they are all part of the beautiful process of life.
- GOOD SURROUNDINGS — One natural outcome of continuing practice is that negative influences, even influences from negative people, seem to evaporate.
- RECOGNITION OF THE PRIME POINT — Ultimately, practitioners develop minds that constantly seek the Gohonzon as the basis for understanding life. The fog lifts and they recognize the truth of all phenomena and every occurrence; they develop a correct view of life and lessen their fear of death.
- IMPROVED TEMPERAMENT — Buddhists tend to place less blame on their circumstances on the world or other people. This quelling of anger is coupled with the increasingly gentle, yet confident feeling that the solution to all problems lies well within a person’s grasp.
- FEELING OF MERCY — The act of sharing Buddhism with others, rather than a theoretical good, becomes a function of real concern. A merciful spirit and the ability to empathize with people is a great stride along the road to enlightenment.
- UNDERSTANDING OF TRUTH — The Daishonin’s followers gain a solid basis of belief in an ideology that proves itself valid. This contrasts with the pursuit of a philosophy that offers little but abstract theory or lovely words with no actual achievement in daily life to back it up. Nichiren’s Buddhism is practical, concrete, and clear.
- ENLIGHTENMENT — The condition of absolute happiness, where every moment of life can be fully appreciated; a life lived in perfect harmony with the law of the universe.
- STRENGTH OF PURPOSE — The Daishonin’s Buddhism allows practitioners to develop a life-condition that cannot be swayed even when facing seemingly insurmountable challenges.