Saturday, June 22, 2013

Best Posture to Adopt While Chanting Daimoku

An excess of formality runs counter to the true spirit of our Buddhist practice. Guidelines exist primarily so that we can correct ourselves, not criticize others. The following points, therefore, are essentially communicated by example, by those who have been practising for a longer time.

The Body

It is best to sit upright, with a straight back. Japanese people get used to kneeling from childhood but for Westerners, kneeling for long periods of time can be uncomfortable, resulting in cramp or ‘pins and needles,’ which disrupt concentration. For this reason, most SGI members sit in chairs to chant, making certain not to cross their legs or sit in any other unbalanced way. The Buddhist principle of zuiho bini, adapting to local customs whilst never departing from the spirit of the original teachings is clearly applicable here.

The Hands

We chant with hands joined, palms together, holding the juzu (prayer beads).

The Eyes

We chant with our eyes open. Praying with closed eyes is a tendency for which there may be several reasons, not all of them conscious: the wish to escape from concrete reality; to dream of an other-worldly paradise; the habit of praying to a supernatural or transcendent being; or quite simply the desire to sleep.
So where should we fix our gaze? The Gosho offers no advice on this matter. We can look at any part of the Gohonzon we wish. The central, vertical row of characters of the Gohonzon reads ‘Na-mu,myo-ho,ren-ge,kyo,Nichi-ren’. The character myo in the upper part of the Gohonzon, a little above the line of vision. It is best to keep our eyes open and look at the Gohonzon, when speaking to someone, it’s usually considered impolite not to look them directly in the eye. I believe that the same holds true when we’re in front of the Gohonzon, which we’re addressing with Gongyo or daimoku.

The Essence

Having given these guidelines, it’s important to remember that in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, it is our heart, our profound intention, rather than ritual or formality, that really counts. The real value of the silent prayers, for example, is what’s actually in our hearts and minds at that very moment, not the words we’re reading the liturgy book.

The best way to practise is joyfully and naturally, without too much tension or absent-mindedness. We strive to practice correctly according to the principle of body and the shadow- that ‘the practice is the body (the essential reality of our life) and daily life is the shadow’. If our practice is in disarray, then our daily life is, too. When we respect the Law of life, it in turn respects us – and we receive both protection and benefits. It is our ichinen, our profound determination, and not some external factor that determines the important things in our life.

Thus, by establishing our Buddhist practice correctly, we are making profound causes to bring about a constant improvement in our lives, both materially and spiritually, according to the principle of the oneness of self and environment.

Source: Q&A, answer by Dr Yamazaki, honorary chairman of SGI Europe, UKE Oct 1999


Anonymous said...

Can i chant even if i dont join my hands... if i am in a public area i cant really join hands and chant... or while driving...?????

shivani said...

Yes you can chant as long as it does not distract you especially while driving. In a public setting, use your discretion.

Suvangee Panigrahi said...

I have no gohonzon in my house.....where can I concentrate while chanting

shivani said...

Hi Suvangee, I know it can be difficult chanting to a blank wall. Just focus on listening to your daimoku as you chant. That will help you focus.