Nichiren Meditation

Nichiren is a unique type of Japanese Buddhism that uses chanting. Started in Japan in the 13th Century, it has grown popular with celebrities such as Orlando Bloom and Tina Turner. Considered as a mild cult by some for its strict rejection of other traditions, it is nevertheless often recommended to people who are suffering from acute mental stress.

Most of Buddhism treats desires as a cause of suffering: you can never truly be satisfied, and true happiness comes from within.

Some traditions teach that desires can become skilful, being useful to help others. However, a monks owning just a simple wooden bowl is the usual Buddhist image of materialism.

However, Nichiren Buddhism is completely different. It invites people to chant a special mantra, which is said to grant people whatever they desire. Far from being a corrupting influence, the faith that builds up from such a successful practice is said to be able to change people fundamentally – from lost, desirous individuals, to faithful believers who wish to help others. No one is said to be without the ability to be altered.

Below are some simple instructions for starting Nichiren Buddhism. Meeting in person is important, as is the study of Buddhist texts. You can read more about the fascinating story of Nichiren Buddhism here, and at the book at the bottom of this article.

Meditation Practice

Set aside some time in the morning and in the evening to chant. Some people say to meditate for as long as feels right. 3-5 minutes is usually considered a minimum, however 10-15 minutes per session is generally considered a good and solid practice.

Sit in a comfortable chair, and face a blank wall. Alternatively, you might kneel, Japanese style, on a cushion.

Draw a small pencil dot on the wall to place your attention. Keep your eyes open whilst meditating.

Think of what it is you wish to receive in your life, before you start. It may be something like a way to fix a car, find a job, discover a friend, or anything you wish! Remember there are no limits, and many people are too frugal with their wishes. (Conversely, be patient with your timeframe.) Some people write down their wish on a small piece of paper before they begin.

Start by chanting slowly “nam myoho renge kyo” three times. Place an emphasis on each of the six syllables, such as NAM-MYO-HO-RENG-GAY-KYO.

Then, settle into a comfortable, sing-song rhythm. During this time, let your awareness rest on the sound of your voice, or more generally on your life.

Once you have completed, chant “nam myoho renge kyo” slowly again three times to finish.

Some people may receive a flash of inspiration about their wishes. Take a look at the object of your meditation over the weeks that you practice, and see if things change for the better with your practice, versus doing no practice at all.

Visit a Nichiren center for more developed practices and teachings if you enjoy this.

Further Reading

The book we most recommend to learn more about Nichiren is The Buddha in Daily Life.