Author Topic: What is Gongyo?  (Read 1466 times)

Offline Burton

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What is Gongyo?
« on: February 19, 2019, 09:55:35 pm »
What is Gongyo?...

Gongyo is the respectful twice-daily reciting of the first part of the 2nd, Hoben (“Expedient Means) Chapter, and the entire 16th, Juryo (“Life Span”) Chapter of the Lotus Sutra.

It is usually conducted in front of a Gohonzon, the Great Object of Veneration (or a blank wall if one is not available.)  The traditional language for Gongyo is Sino-Japanese, however there is also at least one version that includes an English chant-text as well.

The practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism have been carrying-on this practice of Gongyo (in addition to chanting the Odaimoku - Namu Myoho Renge Kyo) since the time of Nichiren Shonin.

Why These Particular Chapters?...

Nichiren himself recommended this a number of times.  For example, in his letter to the wife of Hiki Daigaku Saburō Yoshimoto, written in 1264, he instructed:
"If you recite the “Life Span” and “Expedient Means” chapters, then the remaining chapters will naturally be included even though you do not recite them." 

Another interesting, modern-day indication can be found in Gene Reeve's "Translator's Introduction" to his excellent edition, "The Lotus Sutra, A Contemporary Translation of a Buddhist Classic":

"Traditionally, following Zhiyi, the sixth-century founder of the Chinese Tiantai School of Buddhism, the Dharma Flower Sutra was understood to be composed of two halves.

"The first, ending with chapter 14 and centered on chapter 2, the Skillful Means chapter, is called the opening half and has to do with the idea of the one vehicle of many skillful means.

"The second half, centered on chapter 16, the chapter on the length of the Buddha’s life, has to do with how the Buddha is both everlasting and embodied in a great many forms.

"This twofold division is still a useful one, as it provides a convenient way of understanding key teachings of the sutra and unifying diverse parts of the text."
[emphasis is mine]

Why Gongyo?...

The Lotus Sutra is the central scripture of Nichiren Buddhism.  As such it is worthy of our veneration.  Gongyo is a rite of veneration - the effective results of which, while subjectively experiential, are often said to include an increased amelioration of Karmic debts and a "quickening" of the state of Buddha-hood.

The Gohonzon - and thus, the Lotus Sutra - is well venerated by regularly chanting Gongyo and Odaimoku.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2019, 12:10:53 am by Burton »
"We ordinary people can see neither our own eyelashes, which are so close, nor the heavens in the distance. Likewise, we do not see that the Buddha exists in our own hearts."
~ Nichiren Shonin, New Year’s Gosho (precise year undetermined}


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