This is a question which often popped in my mind when I had just begun practicing Nichiren Diashonin’s Buddhism. Should I chant for 5 minutes a day or should I chant 50? There was no clear answer to this question. However, as I soon came to realize as true, it was one’s heart and desire that was important while chanting.
Am I chanting with an open heart or am I doing it unwillingly? That is the key question to ask oneself. Thankfully, I have now realized that asking “how much” is like asking how much should one breathe, or how much should one love others, or work for the betterment of humanity every day.
There is no logical limit I can put to the amount of Diamoku one should chant in a day because all of life is Diamoku and Diamoku contains all life in it. I feel that the more I chant, the more great my life will become because I will steadily get closer to the true greatness of life itself. This is a fact, which can only be understood through one’s heart, one’s conviction. Most of us, including me are not yet wise enough to grasp the profound meaning of the Diamoku. Just as a baby grows larger by drinking milk, without realizing its value, we too can shine with the brilliance of a Buddha by chanting earnestly with faith in the Gohonzon.
Coming down to simpler explanations, one should chant as much Diamoku as one feels capable and comfortable of doing, every single day. One should chant with the spirit of improving oneself and working for the benefit for all. As Nichiren says, “Suffer what is to suffer, enjoy what is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life and continue chanting Nam myoho renge kyo no matter what happens.”
As faith increases in the Gohonzon and in the power of the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra, one automatically begins to chant and pray more.
One should chant Diamoku till the point one begins to feel immense joy and courage welling up from within. When one begins to feel the desire to help humanity overcome pain and suffering. As a matter of fact, the direr the situation, the more you should chant.
How much should I chant in a day? Chant till you can feel Diamoku reaching your fundamental darknesses, doubts, fears, anxieties and illnesses, illuminating you from within, transforming your karma forever. Chant till your face begins to glow and eyes sparkle like that of a Buddha. Chant till you can begin all difficult tasks with an easy, joyous determination and the will to win. Chant till you begin to feel like you’re a person of unlimited potential and courage, who can accomplish any task by fighting like a lion. You are born to win and you will win.
The Mystic Law is the fundamental power of the Universe and all the elements of this universe – me, you, your family, SGI members, all of humanity, birds and beasts, all life itself, your horrible bosses, your unloving spouse or girlfriend, or other terrible life conditions, illnesses, good health and the environment you are in right now – these are all entities of the one great Law. Have faith in this great Law and you are sure to overcome all limitations and breakthrough into the bright future that lies ahead of you. If you do not have enough faith, challenge hard to increase it and beat all devilish forces. By diligent and continuous chanting, you can beat all negative karma; you can develop the courage and wisdom to transform the deadliest poison to the sweetest medicine. What then do you have to fear? Absolutely nothing! Joyfully advance along this great path and you will one day grow into a vast tree whose branches spread far and wide, giving shelter to all.
As Nichiren Daishonin says, you can “gain entry to the unsurpassed way through faith alone.” One’s faith should be smooth, continuous and eternal like a stream of water, and not instantaneous and temporary, like fire. As Nichiren beautifully says, “Strengthen your faith day by day, month by month. Should you slacken in your resolve even a little bit, devils will take advantage.”