Saturday, January 25, 2014

8 Steps for Beginning to Chant, or Refreshing your Practice

Chanting nam-myoho-renge-kyo transforms all sufferings into benefit, and crystalizes every desire into a blooming flower in our lives. 

We can change anything through chanting because we change ourselves. We call this "doing our Human Revolution" and when we change on the inside, because of the interconnectivity of all life, our environment HAS to change too. 

Connecting with they Mystic law, the Law of Cause and Effect has a deep impact on us. Intoning the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo means "I fuse my life with the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibration" or, as some say "I tune my life to the rhythm of all life." Saying these words is a great cause that can allow you to break through all suffering and create a life of happiness. 

"Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a Lion." What sickness could therefore be an obstacle? Nichiren Daishonin 

Ideally you will chant for the first time with another person who will be able to guide you in your practice. Use the SGI Portal Link to the right to find people in your area, or chant first with the person who referred you to this post. And you can start on your own as well: 

8 Steps for Beginning to Chant, or Refreshing Your Practice:

1. Make a list of what you really want in life. Take a fresh look at your desires and write them down.  Dream big. What do you really want? What do you want for yourself? What do you want for others? What do you want for the world? Make a list. Write it down and put the date on it. 

Many people began chanting with desires that later turned into other desires. So don't worry about your current desires, and whether they are the "right" desires to have. Chanting is progressive, both you and your desires will evolve. I know people who began a very rewarding practice chanting for things that were important at the time, but later changed into other desires. 

One of my friends chanted for a month to prove to his wife that this practice doesn't work. More than 40 years later he is still practicing. In Nichiren Buddhism your desires ARE enlightenment. It is okay to desire whatever you desire, whether it's money, the happiness of someone else, a relationship, a job, or peace of mind and contentment. With continued practice you will see that your dreams for yourself actually become tied to the dreams of happiness for all. 

Chant for what is really in your heart. Be true to yourself. 

2. Start a Journal. No, you don't HAVE to do this. But I think it helps! Writing in a journal helps you become aware of your progress and benefits.

3. Choose a place to chant comfortably and consistently. Find your "home" with your home, where you can feel comfortable chanting out loud, having adialogue with your life itself. Later you may receive your Gohonzon and enshrine it here, and for now you need a place to start. You don't have to kneel, sitting in a comfortable chair is fine

4. Choose a focus point on the wall. Some people chant to a blank wall; I chanted to a moon in a picture. Please do not print a photo of the Gohonzon from the internet, or use any kind of idol or or person to focus on. Choose a focal point slightly above eye level. 

5. You may wish to have a small table nearby for tea or your journal. 

6. Write the words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo 
on a piece of paper. 

The words are pronounced as follows: 

Nam ~    Nahm, rhymes with Mom, 
Myoho ~ meeyohoh,  
Renge ~  rain gay, 
Kyo ~     kee oh. 
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. 
Nahm Meeyohoh Rain Gay Kee Oh
(Phonetic spelling) 

7. Begin to chant. Hold your hands with the palms facing in and touching each other in front of your heart. Sit with your back as straight as possible (but be comfortable, as I already stated - this practice is not about formalities) and say Nam-myoho-renge-kyo over and over and over again. 

8. Go to a Soka Gakkai meeting as soon as you can. The SGI Portal to the right will help you locate a center near you, and you can call that center to connect to your local meeting house. 

When you're chanting:

You do not have to concentrate on anything at first. Just say the words. Breathe whenever you have to for as long as you like. See if you can chant for a few minutes, then a few minutes more. Chant for as long as you can!  

The rhythm should sound like a train moving, or horses running. There should be some energy to it. You can chant as fast or as slow as you wish. Your speed of chanting is up to you. 
If you want to hear how it sounds you can go to the top right corner of this blog and chant with me. I begin slowly and speed up with more energy. 

Can you get to the point where you don’t have to think about the words, but can actually think about what you want? It may take a little time. Naturally you will begin to chant for what is in your heart. 

Many religions and forms of practice do not encourage people to have their OWN desires. Most of us grew up in cultures where religions never talked of our own Happiness...but this practice is different. Please mull this over. Your desires are YOU. Your desires are inspired from the depths of your life, they are as beautiful and wonderful as you are. 

When you are finished chanting you can write in your journal, if you'd like.

Start by writing an assessment of your life right now. What’s going well, what you’d like to improve on... Then write how you felt before chanting and after chanting. In your journal set a goal for how much you want to chant every day.  When I started, chanted five minutes a day in the morning and five minutes in the evening. That was enough. I had a timer next to me and I’m sure there were times I stopped before I’d even reached five minutes! You will build up momentum! 

Commit to chant twice a day every day. Establishing a twice a day rhythm to your chanting is important. It gets the wheels of your life moving. 

Keep your goals in mind and you’ll remember your reasons for chanting! 

These words and this vibration go deep into the heart of your life itself. They summon forth your highest wisdom, vitality and sense of purpose. They also uproot the karma that is making you suffer, and give you the opportunity to change this karma forever. 

When you chant you are entering into a dialogue with your life itself. You are not chanting to any god or asking for favors. Instead, you are connecting with the rhythm of the universe itself. 

As Nichiren Daishonin says in the famous writing (Gosho) "On Attaining Buddhahood" :

"If you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since time beginning and to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime, you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings. This truth is Myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore enable you to grasp the mystic truth innate in all life...It is called the mystic truth because it explains the mutually inclusive relationship of life and all phenomena. 
"Life at each moment encompasses the body and mind and the self and environment of all sentient beings in the ten worlds, as well as all insentient beings in the three thousand realms, including plants, sky and earth, and even the most minute particles of dust. Life at each moment permeates the universe and is revealed in all phenomena. One awakened to this principle himself embodies this relationship. However, even though you chant and believe in Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the mystic law but some inferior teaching."
From Lectures on Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime by Daisaku Ikeda, 2007  

In other words, when you chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo you are accessing the mystic law which has always been within your life. 

You will still have challenges and problems in life when you chant...but eventually you will see them as the opportunities they are. Problems are the FUEL you need to catapult your life into a life of happiness and joy. You have begun a journey to uncover the true happiness that exists in your shining Buddha life. Congratulations!

It is crucial to a successful Nichiren Buddhist practice to join the family of fellow practitioners, your fellow Soka Gakkai (SGI) members. There are many ways to locate the Soka Gakkai practitioners in your area. You can click on the SGI-USA portal to the right. 

You can also do a search on Soka Gakkai followed by whatever country you live in. Then call the center closest to your home and ask to be connected to the nearest district. 

The correct form of this practice cannot be done alone. It must be done within the orbit of faith. Joining with fellow travelers is essential. Other Soka Gakkai members will be happy to help you learn to chant, overcome your problems, and reveal your brilliant, wonderful self!  
and go to to read Daisaku Ikeda's words. He is lighting the way for us all...and for YOU!
Websites that might be helpful include and They contain information that is very useful. 
You may want to scroll through the titles of other posts on this blog as well. 


  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Jamie your blog has touched my heart and soul repeatedly. And reading these comments engage my mind as well, a morsel I had come to rely to heavily upon at the expense of spirit and faith. You are among those whose name I recall in gratitude each time I chant. I am blessed to have found your blog. Elly

  2. Thank you so much! I am just starting, and was looking for a simple, practical, and cheerful guide to help me! I am really grateful

  3. Thank you its is really heart touching.