Do you recommend that I chant directly to a wall? It’s a bit awkward with no Gohonzon at the moment, but I thought I’d ask your advice.
Before acquiring a Gohonzon (upon your conversion), you can chant Odaimoku anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to face a wall when you chant. However, please recite this very, important formula before chanting. It is called Honmon Happon shoken, Jōgyō shoden, Honningeshu no Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō.
Honmon Happon Shoken literally means “revealed in Honmon Happon (in chapter 15 to 22 of the Lotus Sutra).” Jōgyō shoden expresses that which is handed down from Jōgyō (Superior Practice) Bodhisattva (The Great Master Nichiren) to us. Honningeshu no implies, “that which is able to sow the seed of Buddhahood.” Reciting this formula means that we will be chanting the “correct” or “genuine” Odaimoku. This was revealed in the Honmon Happon teachings of the Lotus Sutra and it was handed down from the Primordial Buddha to Jōgyō Bodhisattva, who was ordered to save people in the Mappo period on behalf of the Buddha. When you chant Odaimoku preceded by the recitation of Honmon Happon shoken…, it proves that you received and chant the genuine Odaimoku which HBS has correctly inherited from Nichiren Shonin.
The problem is that it is so difficult for novices to see the benefit of chanting without a Gohonzon because they easily lose sight of what they are doing and what they are chanting without looking at the mandala of Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō. However, I remember that a friend of mine was saved by reciting Odaiomku without both a Gohonzon and the recitation of Honmon Happon shoken…. One time when she went on a business trip to Hong Kong, she suddenly had a heart attack and fell down on the floor at a hotel. She thought she was going to die because she couldn’t breathe at all. She also could not reach her medicine. However, at the last moment, she suddenly remembered that one time I was discussing the power of Odaimoku. In that moment, she started chanting the Odaimoku in her mind. Miraculously, she was able to catch her breath and couldn’t help admiring the power of Odaimoku. This means that she was saved because she chanted the genuine Odaimoku, which was inherited to HBS from Nichiren Shonin.
Is it ok to make offerings and chant at my current Butsudan (family Buddhist altar from other Buddhist sects) before becoming a member of HBS and receiving a Gohonzon?
No, it is not. If you haven’t received an HBS Gohonzon yet, it is pointless to make offerings or chant Odaimoku to your empty Butsudan. You should make offerings only to the altar in which an HBS Gohonzon is enshrined and only when you plan to chant in front of the altar.
Questioned by a non-HBS-member American man
Answered by Ryosetsu Ikemoto
Edited by Brandon Colbert (Member of Myōshōji Temple)