Merits of Chanting Odaimoku


I, Nichiren, sincerely keep the most profound Lotus Sutra among other sutras which have been preached, are being preached, and will be preached. I also chant Odaimoku, gist of the sutra, by myself and teach others to chant it. Mugwort grass grows straight amidst the hemp field. Trees do not grow straight, but by cutting it straight, it becomes useful. If you chant the sutra as it states, your mind will be straightened. Be aware that it is hard for us to chant Odaimoku unless the spirit of the Eternal Buddha enters into our bodies.

(Background : March 5, 1276, 54 years old, at Minobu, Showa Teihon, p. 1166)

Explanatory note

“To live honestly” is fundamental in Nichiren Daishonin’s life and in his religion. Honest means for him not only to be honest in a moral sense but also to be faithful to the spirit of the Buddha Sakyamuni. In other words, it is to be honest to the essential spirit of the Buddha.

Chapter ten of the Lotus Sutra states that the sutra is the most profound among others, so that it is hard to understand and difficult to practice. Accepting this truth, Nichiren Daishonin simplified the difficulty by chanting Odaimoku from the depth of his heart and persuaded others to do the same.

The merits of Odaimoku are like the creeping mugwort grass growing straight in hemp field, or a crooked tree can be cut straight into useful objects. If we earnestly recite Odaimoku, our wavering hearts will unknowingly become right, because we cannot recite it without the spirit of the Eternal Buddha entering our bodies and influencing our life.

When we recite Odaimoku with our whole heart, we are overwhelmed with a mysterious force dwelling within us. It is a refreshing power that only those who have experienced it could understand.

Religion is not necessarily in the realm of reason, but it is in the realm of experience. We can not tell the exact taste of a banana to a person who has never tasted it, even though we may explain its shape, color, and texture. Similarly, Odaimoku is not a theory of life but a way of life. Happiness and sorrow are like the front and back of a single sheet of paper. Many people in the depth of sorrow have found comfort in the recitation of Odaimoku. Others in the depth of suffering, not knowing where to turn, have found their spirits refreshed with the teaching of the Lotus Sutra.

We can never go astray with the sincere recitation of Odaimoku because through this practice we are accepting the teaching of the Buddha with our hearts and bodies.

Rev. Igarashi

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