Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

(Periodically I post this passage about chanting for the first time. If you're new to the practice we welcome you with open arms. If you're strengthening your own practice I congratulate you. And if you are forwarding the post to someone who wants to try chanting, that is awesome. This blog can be sent to anyone who speaks any language. See the translation button in the upper right?)

Here you will learn how to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

First of all 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. Chanting is progressive, both you and your desires will evolve. I know people who began a very rewarding practice chanting for things others might consider wrong or strange. 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. 

Click "Read more" below to see the rest of this post:

I suggest having some sort of journal to write in. Writing in a journal helps you become aware of your progress and benefits.

Choose a place to chant comfortably. You’ll want to sit in a comfortable chair. 

Where would you feel most at ease chanting out loud? 

Before you receive your own Gohonzon (scroll that was inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin that signifies our highest life condition possible) It is helpful to have something on the wall to focus on.  Rest your eyes on something slightly above eye level. It can be anything. 

When I first started chanting in my little two room apartment in San Francisco, I sat on the mattress on the floor and gazed up at the moon in a poster of Mono Lake. I think that's better than staring at a blank wall.  

Choose something soothing to rest your eyes on. 

I have a table nearby for my tea, and other things I like to have close when I chant. You may want to put a low table up as an altar, with fruit and candles and incense, but you don’t need that to begin. 

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

The words are pronounced as follows: 

Nahm, rhymes with Mom, 
meeyohoh, with three long vowels, 
rain gay, 
key oh. 
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. 
Nahm Meeyohoh Rain Gay Key Oh
(Phonetic spelling) 

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. 

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. 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. 

See how it makes you feel. 

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, I could only chant 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. 

Let me know if I can help you. Email me with questions at 

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