The five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo are not merely the text of the sutra, nor its meaning. They are nothing other than the intent of the Lotus Sutra.
written by Nichiren Daishonin in 13th century Japan
Nichiren Shoshu Buddhists recite the sutra, called Gongyo, everyday. The sutra refers to the Lotus Sutra, specifically a portion of the 2nd (Hoben) chapter and the entire 16th (Juryo) chapter .
Why, out of all the chapters of the Lotus Sutra, do we recite these particular chapters? Nichiren Daishonin tells us the reason in His Gosho, Recitation of the Hoben and Juryo Chapters:
Even though none of the chapters of the Lotus Sutra is negligible, out of all the twenty-eight chapters, the Hoben and Juryo chapters are particularly superior and praiseworthy.
The remaining chapters are all like the branches and leaves [of these two chapters]. Therefore, for your regular practice, you should learn and recite the prose sections of the Hoben and Juryo chapters.
The Hoben chapter is the core of the Shakumon (Theoretical) Teaching of the Lotus Sutra, and the Juryo chapter is the core of the Honmon (Essential) Teaching. Nichiren Daishonin Himself recited these chapters daily.
Using metaphors from everyday life, Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin explained how the recitation of these two chapters functions as a supplementary practice:
The supplementary practice is the recitation of both the Hoben and Juryo chapters. This practice manifests the exceedingly deep merit of the primary practice, as lye aids clear water or salt and vinegar augment the flavor of rice or noodles. This is why it is called the supplementary practice.
Visit our Buddhist Temple
Our next Introduction to Buddhism meeting will be Sunday, August 7th. Our Chief Priest will lecture on Karma. Learn how this Buddhist practice can change your Karma, change your life. The meeting starts at 2:00 pm.
If you have decided to become a Buddhist or are interested in learning how to become a Buddhist, after Sunday’s meeting (about 3:30 pm) our Chief Priest will be performing the Acceptance of the Precept Ceremony, the ceremony where you become a Buddhist.
Excerpted: Basic Terminology of Nichiren Shoshu, Lotus Sutra of the Text, Meaning and Intent, p.74; Nichiren Shoshu Basics of Practice, chapter 5.