More specifically, I am refering to the Soka Gakkai movement of Nichiren Buddhism. In one excerpt from the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, it, in essence, states that every time one says "nam-myoho renge kyo" that is the equivalent to reading the Lotus Sutra one time.

That doesn't really make any sense to me, so, why is that? I have a photo below of the direct excerpt:

The Exerpt


3 Answers 3


Prior to Nichiren's time, reading the Lotus Sutra in its entirety was said to result in benefit, or good effects, in this life and the next. As part of Nichiren's efforts toward his goal of "saving all people" as he put it, he said that reciting the title (prefaced by the Sanskrit word Nam) was enough to gain the same benefit. It is in this context that Nichiren wrote. Here is a quote from the same letter (gosho), The One Essential Phrase, where he provides a rationale. As can be seen, he refers to earlier writers in support of his teaching.

The spirit within one’s body of five or six feet may appear in just one’s face, which is only a foot long, and the spirit within one’s face may appear in just one’s eyes, which are only an inch across. Included within the two characters representing Japan is all that is within the country’s sixty-six provinces: the people and the animals, the rice paddies and the other fields, those of high and low status, the nobles and the commoners, the seven kinds of treasures and all the other precious gems. Similarly, included within the title, or daimoku, of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the entire sutra consisting of all eight volumes, twenty-eight chapters, and 69,384 characters, without the omission of a single character. Concerning this, Po Chü-i[1] stated that the title is to the sutra as the eyes are to the Buddha. In the eighth volume of his Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra,” Miao-lo states, “When for the sake of brevity one mentions only the daimoku, or title, the entire sutra is by implication included therein.” By this he means that, although for the sake of brevity only the title of the sutra is spoken, the entire sutra is contained in the title alone. Everything has its essential point, and the heart of the Lotus Sutra is its title, or the daimoku, of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Truly, if you chant this in the morning and evening, you are correctly reading the entire Lotus Sutra.

And another, similar, quote from a different letter, Expedient Means and “Life Span” Chapters -

First of all, when it comes to the Lotus Sutra, you should understand that, whether one recites all eight volumes, or only one volume, one chapter, one verse, one phrase, or simply the daimoku, or title, the blessings are the same. It is like the water of the great ocean, a single drop of which contains water from all the countless streams and rivers, or like the wish-granting jewel, which, though only a single jewel, can shower all kinds of treasures upon the wisher. And the same is true of a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, or a million such drops of water or such jewels. A single character of the Lotus Sutra is like such a drop of water or such a jewel, and the hundred million characters[6] are like a hundred million such drops or jewels.

(the quotes were added in response to a request in the comments.)

  • Welcome to the site. Can you add any detail or a reference for your last sentence, "he elsewhere clarifies this"?
    – ChrisW
    Apr 9, 2016 at 12:34

It says that starting and ending your day with a dedication to the lotus suttra is the equivalent of reading it, it still takes a whole day...


All sects dilute Buddha's message that only your efforts and that too in right directions can help you. This recitation or chanting has sounds which can calm you. Or the very fact that chanting helps you concentrate which helps in bringing you closer to meditative state. But is this the goal of Buddha's teachings? Buddha talked about only one goal i.e. liberation. One needs to be careful about different sects. No doubt they benefit you psychologically. But then your priorities should be clear.

  • I don't think that it is just that the sound of chanting calmes someone, because otherwise people would just listen to music or do something like that; I don't think there wouldn't be an entire sect founded on that Apr 8, 2016 at 12:39
  • well there is psychlogical healing too by listening to motivational talks, narrating your own experiences etc. These are known as group therapy in modern psychology. Psychatrists are far better in this. But they are expensive. Whole point is sects are supposed to help people attain Nirvana not provide psychological help. Modern psychology is quite well developed science. Many sects have heads who are not enlightened. It is a blind leading blinds situation. Apr 8, 2016 at 12:46
  • Regardind sounds there is whole science of enlightenment using chanting called japa yoga in India. Infact in all major religion chanting is a well established method. Apr 8, 2016 at 12:54
  • That's in teresting; I had never heard about the japa yoga before. Regarding how sects are supposed to help people attain Nirvana, how may a sect go about doing that? I know that often times Nichiren buddhism is a bit different regarding what it advocates, and so I'm guessing that the virsion of nirvana that I'm thinking of is different. Apr 9, 2016 at 12:03
  • If you want to follow a sect no problem but make sure its head is an enlightened one. It is easy to figure out. If the head talks about anything like social work or inculcating virtues he or she is not enlightened. Enlightened people in general use few words and even fewer sentences to communicate the mystery. Most of heads of sects talk a lot and mostly shallow stuff. But please try not to get influenced by these sects. Focus on Buddha's preaching and take help in understanding Buddha from sect members. Apr 10, 2016 at 15:07

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