Shodaigyo Practice

Video explaining Shodaigo
Click to watch video explaining Shodaigo Basic Practice

This last week I attended the four-day Enkyoji Buddhist Network 2017 Summer Retreat at the Seattle Choeizan Enkyoji Nichiren Buddhist Temple.

I’m not officially a member of this network. I chose to attend the retreat because I was interested in their efforts to promote propagation of Nichiren Shu Buddhism in America, something that no one else seems to be doing. Certainly no one is as focused on propagation as the Enkyoji Buddhist Network.

Before I continue I should note that the Enkyoji Buddhist Network is not a rogue group, but a recognized Nichiren Shu organization. Lots of information is available on their website

My new-found passion for propagation of Nichiren Shu Buddhism is one of the odd but telling things about my migration from Soka Gakkai to Nichiren Shu. In more than 25 years of Soka Gakkai membership I never felt comfortable saying more than “I’m a Buddhist.” I certainly didn’t want to do the sort of compulsory propagation encouraged in the late 1980s before Soka Gakkai’s split with Nichiren Shoshu. The lay-leader-led group meetings were never the sort of gatherings that I could invite, say, my boss to attend.

Now, however, I’m eager to tell people I’m a Nichiren Shu practitioner and invite people I meet in Sacramento to attend services at the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church. But I’m also aware that dropping someone who knows little or nothing about Buddhism into the church’s regular Sunday service – not to mention the monthly Kaji Kito service – would do little more than overawe that person.

This is why I was so excited to learn at the retreat that the  Enkyoji Buddhist Network, working with the Nichiren Shu propagation office in Japan, has developed a simple practice suitable for any level of practitioner.

This is an abbreviated Shodaigyo service. The original Shodaigyo service, which incorporates periods of silent sitting mediation with Odaimoku chanting, was designed by Bishop Nichijun Yukawa of the Nichiren Shu in the 1950s. (Here’s the traditional version of the service.)

From the brochure:

  • Practice this program for a minimum of two weeks, with at least one session a day. You can further deepen your practice by setting a specific time daily in the morning and/or evening.
  • Do not practice this program for a specific purpose such as quitting addictions or to acquire something. As this practice has been arranged in a very short format, attachments and distractions tend to arise easily if a specific goal is set.
  • Think of this practice as an exercise for general well-being in order to taste the preciousness of life. If your well-being increases, the total well being of this world also increases. This is a very important concept in Nichiren Shu Buddhism.
  • This program draws on more than 750-years of history in Nichiren Shu Buddhism as well as the 2500-year tradition of Buddhism as a whole. In the Enkyoji lineage of Nichiren Shu Buddhism, we believe that this traditional program will enrich your life on the way to attaining the Buddha’s enlightenment.

The tri-fold brochure is designed so that it can be used as the focus of the service with Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo on the center panel and the instructions for the 8 steps of the service arranged on either side.

Between Ryusho Jeffus Shonin’s 35-Day Practice Guide and Enkyoji Buddhist Network‘s Shodaigyo practice I’m ready to spread Nichiren Shu Buddhism everywhere I go.