What is the Gohonzon?
The Gohonzon is a paper scroll on which are printed Chinese and Sanskrit characters that depict life in the state of Buddhahood. ‘Go’ means honourable; ‘honzon’ means object of devotion. Nichiren Daishonin explains that the Gohonzon is ‘the object of devotion for observing the mind.’ He clarifies what this means by comparing the Gohonzon to a mirror. Just as we cannot see our face without a mirror, he explains, neither can we see our inherent Buddhahood without the Gohonzon.
Nichiren Daishonin’s sole desire was to enable people to experience the freedom and joy of Buddhahood. He therefore inscribed the Gohonzon for individuals who believed in his teachings. When a significant number for his followers demonstrated the strength of their faith, the Daishonin realized the time had come to inscribe a Gohonzon for all people in perpetuity. So, on the twelfth day of the tenth lunar month, 1279, he inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon (‘dai’ means great) and bestowed it upon the entire world.
What does the inscription on the Gohonzon signify?
The writing on the Gohonzon is composed mainly of Chinese ideograms, which express very profound ideas in a very concise and economical way. The largest characters, written down the centre from top to bottom, are ‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nichiren.’ This signifies the fusion of the universal law of live and Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha who realized and expressed this law. The Gohonzon is therefore equivalent to Nichiren Daishonin’s life. Since the universal law of life is also inherent in each one of us: when we chant to the Gohonzon, our own Buddhahood is awakened and emerges.
Each element of life is revealed in relation to the bold central characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, indicating that all aspects of life can be transformed into positive value.
To be continued
Source: Gohonzon by James Rourke UKE 2000