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I know that Gongyo is part of each day and evening. But, how much time should be spent chanting in addition to Gongyo?
I chant 1-2 hours a day. It will depend upon you. Build up by maybe doing 20-30 minutes consistently a every day. Once you establish a rhythm, you can start pushing yourself to go longer as long as you are not doing it out of sense of obligation or burden. No rules how much you should chant. Sometimes just best to chant until you feel better (about what you are chanting for or until you're ready to do the next thing) and time will just seem to rapidly pass by. Chant sonorously. Depends on your schedule. We all have different schedules but if 15 minutes that morning is all you can do then in a sense it's putting in 100% of your time. You can also chant, under your breath, anytime (or think it like a mantra) when you're in a public place or others around. But best to make that time of your day to be by yourself to chant with intensity and determination.
Thank you. I am glad I found a place like this, where people will answer a beginner's questions.
DAIMOKU : QUALITY OR QUANTITY ?
Kimura : One student has asked whether he has to chant for a certain number of hours before his prayer will be answered, or if he can chant very intensely for just a short time. In other words, which is more important, quantity or quality ?
Ikeda : The value – or if you like, quality – of a £100 note is worth more than a £10 note. Naturally, most people would prefer to have a £100 note, right ? Similarly, in faith, sincere, strong prayers are important. Of course, having lots of £100 notes is even better ! Likewise, with prayer, both quality and quantity count. We practice Buddhism so that we can become happy. So the main thing is that each of us is left with a sense of deep satisfaction after chanting daimoku. There are no hard-and-fast rules about having to chant a certain number of hours. Setting daimoku targets can be useful, but when you’re tired or sleepy and are just mumbling in a half-unconscious daze, then it’s better to stop and go to bed. After you’ve rested, you’ll be able to chant with concentration and energy again. This is much more valuable. We should be alert and earnest when we pray, not nodding off. As I said, the most important thing is that our daimoku be personally satisfying and refreshing, so that we can exclaim when we’ve finished, `Ah, that felt good!’ By reinforcing that feeling day after day, we naturally move in the most positive direction for our lives.
Ueda : I have heard countless experiences from our members about the power of daimoku.
Ikeda : Yes, and the Soka Gakkai is strong precisely because our members have such personal experiences.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE SKIP GONGYO ?
Kimura : One member wonders whether skipping a day of gongyo and daimoku will invalidate all his practice up to that time.
Ikeda : Skipping gongyo occasionally is certainly not going to erase all one’s previous efforts. There’s no need to worry about that. If you’re running late for school and don’t have time, there’s no need to be anxious about missing gongyo. In such cases, for example, if your mothers are practicing and are chanting for you, their prayers will protect you. More importantly, as long as you have sincere faith in the Gohonzon, the fortune you have accumulated will stay with you. You needn’t feel guilty when you miss a gongyo. Of course I’m not saying that it’s all right to neglect gongyo. If you fall into the mindset that you don’t have to do gongyo, your heart will gradually grow estranged from prayer. Nevertheless, because faith exists within daily life, there’s no need to take things so far as to make yourself late for school because of gongyo.
Ueda : Our attitude towards faith and the Gohonzon is most important, isn’t it ?
Ikeda : Even if you are very busy and don’t always have time for gongyo, it’s important that you don’t give up the practice of gongyo altogether. If you do, the flame of faith will go out in your heart. Please don’t cast aside your gongyo. Prayer fulfils us spiritually and heightens our spiritual conviction, so it is a definite plus for all of us.
Kimura : When we are really pressed for time, which should we give priority to, gongyo or daimoku ?
Ikeda : Those who don’t have time for gongyo, or find it difficult to do gongyo, should chant daimoku. To use the allegory of a meal, daimoku can be likened to the main course, and gongyo, the side dishes. Of course, having both is best, but daimoku comes first. Please chant – even it’s just one daimoku. Nichiren Daishonin states that even a single daimoku contains infinite benefit. If you can do at least a short gongyo (the portion from the `Hoben’ chapter and the jigage verse portion of the `Juryo’ chapter) along with some daimoku, then you will feel even greater satisfaction. Of course, it goes without saying that doing a full morning and evening gongyo is ideal.
(From discussions on youth, between SGI President Ikeda and Soka Gakkai high school division chiefs Hidenobu Kimua (young men’s chief) and Yoshiko Ueda (young women’s chief), representing the members of the high school division.)
Til you feel 'full'
I received guidance the view is to ask yourself how little daimoku can I chant to maintain the life-condition I desire, not how much daimoku to chant. Set a minimum and maintain that minimum and do not worry about a maximum goal.
I would love to maintain such a high life condition that even one hour of daimoku a day provides.
President Ikeda says
"Daimoku is the foundation of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. When we chant sonorous daimoku the sun rises in our hearts. We are filled with power. Compassion wells forth. Our lives are lit with joy. Our wisdom shines. All the Buddhas and Buddhist deities throughout the universe go to work on our behalf. Life becomes exhilarating."
I just read something from Vice President Tsuji that said what we feel towards the Gohonzon in our alter is what we feel towards the Gohonzon inside of us.
I believe that such faith that says, "I really want to honor my life and appreciate my life (how ever we are feeling about ourselves) then any daimoku we chant is the correct amount.