The Japanese word "Gongyo" literally means "assiduous practice." Generally speaking it means to recite Buddhist sutras in front of an object of worship.
In the practice of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism it means reciting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and part of the second chapter "Hoben" and the entire sixteenth "Juryo" chapter of the Lotus Sutra in front of the Gohonzon.
This is the fundamental practice, which is performed every morning and evening.
Gongyo are a series of prayers that include the recitation of 2nd and 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra along with chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, is conducted twice daily. All five prayers are offered in the morning, and the second, third and fifth prayers are recited in the evening.
The sutra book uses the Hepburn system of romanization:
a as in car
e as in ten
i as in machine
o as in horn
u as in rule
y as in yet
ai as in Thailand
ui as in Louie
g as in get
j as in joy
ts as in bets
h as in hello
As a general rule, there is one Chinese character for each beat, with the following exceptions:
shigi (one beat)
shari-hotsu (two beats)
hara-mitsu (two beats)
shaka-muni-butsu (three beats)
Along with correct pronunciation and steady rhythm, it is also important to maintain a stable tone, neither raising nor lowering one's pitch unnecessarily.
THE SUTRA RECITATION
The SGI-USA offers the following guidelines on how to perform sutra recitation both for personal practice and at SGI-USA activities. These guidelines should also serve as the standard for teaching new members.
Face the Gohonzon, ring the bell, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times.
Recite the essential portions of the " Expedient Means " chapter (part A).
Ring the bell and recite the verse section of the " Life Span " chapter (part C).
Ring the bell as you begin chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo continuously (daimoku) for as long as you wish.
To end daimoku, ring the bell, then chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times.
In the morning, offer all five silent prayers, each segment separated by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times.
In the evening, offer the second, third and fifth silent prayers, each segment separated by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times.
In both the morning and the evening, after the fifth silent prayer, ring the bell and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times to conclude.
SGI Revises Gongyo Format
Representative leaders from SGI countries aroundd the world, in consultation with the Soka Gakkai leadership, reached a consensus establishing the following standrds for all SGI organizations concerning the format of sutra recitation.
Sutra Recitation for New Members: The ability to recite portions of the Lotus Sutra is one of the criteris for new membership in the SGI-USA. For this purpose, sutra recitation shall mean reciting the essential portions of the " Expedient Means " chapter (part A), and the verse (jigage) section of the " Life Span " chapter (part C) of the Lotus Sutra, plus the offing of silent prayers and chanting of daimoku.
Personal Practice: SGI General Director Eiichi Wada confirmed the understanding that " A-and-C " gongyo is the SGI standard for the personal practice of reciting the Lotus Sutra, and that SGI members are free to conduct their personal practice in a way that is most confortable.
Sutra Recitation at SGI Activities: When sutra recitation is conducted during a meeting, it shall consist of the recitation of the portion of the " Expedient Means " chapter (part A) and the verse section of the " Life Span " chapter (part C)., plus the chanting of daimoku and offering of silent prayers. This will also help make the best use of time and show consideration for non-members who may be participating.
HEAR THE RECITATION OF THE HOBEN AND JURYO CHAPTERS
THE 2ND CHAPTER. (HOBEN) PROSE FORM
Myoho renge kyo -- The wonderful Law of the Lotus Sutra
Ho ben pon dai ni: Skillful Ways
Ni Ji Se Son -- There the World Honored One
Ju San Mai -- Quietly came up
An Jo Ni Ki -- From his samadhi
Go Shari Hotsu -- And said to Shariputra:
Sho Bu' Chi E -- The wisdom of the Buddhas
Jin Jin Mu Ryo -- Is profound and cannot be measured
Go Chi E Mon -- Its gate is hard to understand
Nange Nan Nyu -- And difficult to enter.
Is Sai Sho Mon -- No Shravaka-Disciple
Hyaku Shi Butsu -- Or Self-taught buddha
Sho Fu No Chi -- Can understand it.
Sho I Sha Ga -- Why is that? (because!)
Butsu Zo Shin Gon -- the [present] Buddhas attended on many
Hyaku Sen Man Noku -- hundreds of thousands of billions
Mu Shu Sho Butsu -- Of [past] Buddhas,
Jin Gyo Sho Butsu -- And practiced the many teachings
Mu Ryo Do Ho -- Of those Buddhas bravely and energetically
Yu Myo Sho Jin -- To their far-flung fame till they attained
Myo Sho Fu Mon -- The profound Law
Jo Ju Jin Jin -- Which you've never heard before,
Mi Zo U Ho -- And also because they are exposing
Zui Gi Sho Setsu -- The Law according to the capacities
I Shu Nan Ge -- Of all living beings a way that the intention is hard to understand
Shari Hotsu -- Shariputra!
Go Ju Jo Butsu I Rai -- Since I became Buddha, I also
Shu Ju In Nen -- Have been stating various teachings
Shu Ju Hi Yu -- With different stories of previous lives,
Ko En Gon Kuyo -- Various parables, and various similes.
Mu Shu Ho Ben -- I have been leading all living beings
In Do Shu Jo -- With countless expedients
Ryo Ri Sho Jaku -- In order to save them from materialism,
Sho I Sha Ga -- Because I have the power
Nyo Rai Ho Ben -- To employ skills,
Chi Ken Hara Mitsu -- And the power to perform
Kai I Gu Soku -- The Paramita (reached goal of wisdom) of insight
Shari Hotsu -- Shariputra!
Nyo Rai Chi Ken -- The insight of the Tathagatas
Ko Dai Jin Non -- Is wide and deep.
Mu Ryo Mu Ge -- They have all the [states of mind
Riki Mu Sho I -- Towards] countless [living beings],
Zen Jo Ge Da's' San Mai -- unchecked [intelligence], powers,
Jin Nyu Mu Sai -- Fearlessness, dhyana-concentrations,
Jo Ju Is Sai -- Liberations and samadhis. They entered
Mi Zo U Ho -- Deep into no limits, and attained the Law which you've never heard before
Shari Hotsu -- Shariputra!
Nyo Rai Nyo Shu Ju Fun Betsu -- The Tathagatas divide the Law
Gyo Ses Sho Ho -- Into various teachings, and state
Gon Ji Nyu Nan -- Those teachings so gently and skillfully
Ek Ka Shu Shin -- That living beings are delighted.
Shari Hotsu -- Shariputra!
Shu Yo Gon Shi -- In short, the Buddhas attained
Mu Ryo Mu Hen -- The countless teachings
Mi Zo U Ho -- Which you've never heard before
Bus Shitsu Jo Ju -- No more
Shi -- Will I say
Shari Hotsu -- Shariputra
Fu Shu Bu Setsu -- Because the Law
Sho I Sha Ga -- attained by the Buddhas
Bus Sho Jo Ju -- Is the highest Truth.
Dai Ichi Ke U -- Rare [to hear] and hard
Nan Ge Shi Ho -- To understand.
Yui Butsu Yo Butsu -- Only the Buddhas attained
Nai No Ku Jin -- The highest Truth, that is
Sho Ho Jis So -- The Reality of All Things
Sho I Sho Ho -- In regards to:
Nyo Ze So -- Their appearances (form? shape? size? ) as such,
Nyo Ze Sho -- Their natures (essence) as such,
Nyo Ze Tai -- Their embodiments (present incarnation) as such,
Nyo Ze Riki -- Their powers (potentiality also possibilities) as such,
Nyo Ze Sa -- Their activities (function or role) as such,
Nyo Ze In -- Their primary causes (obvious cause) as such,
Nyo Ze En -- Their environmental causes (process) as such,
Nyo Ze Ka -- Their effects (latent or hidden effect) as such,
Nyo Ze Ho -- Their requital (final outcome or return) as such,
Nyo Ze Hon Ma' Ku Kyo To -- And the combination of these [factors] as such (over and over again)
back to Section A
To Beginning of Part A
THE 16TH CHAPTER. (JURYO) VERSE FORM (JIGAGE)
Myo ho renge kyo - The Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law - 16th Chapter.
nyo rai ju ryo hon, dai ju roku - the duration of Life of the Tathagata (Many Treasures).
Ji ga toku bu'rai -- Since I became a Buddha
Sho kyo sho ko shu -- It is many hundreds of thousands
Mu ryo hyaku sen man -- Of billions of trillions
Oku sai a so gi -- Of asankhyas of aeons (many many years).
Jo sep po kyo ke -- For the past countless aeons
Mu shu oku shu jo -- I have been stating the Dharma
Ryo nyu o butsu do -- To hundreds of millions of beings
Ni rai mu ryo ko -- To lead them into the Way to Buddhahood
I do shu jo ko -- In order to save [perverted] people,
Ho ben gen ne han -- I expediently show my Nirvana to them
Ni jitsu fu metsu do -- But In reality I never pass away.
Jo ju shi sep po -- I always live here and preach the Law.
Ga jo ju o shi -- Although I always live here
I sho jin zu riki -- With perverted people
Ryo ten do shu jo -- I disappear from their eyes
Sui gon ni fu ken -- By my supernatural powers
Shu ken ga metsu do -- When they see me seemingly pass away,
Ko ku yo shari -- they make offerings to my relics
Gen kai e ren bo -- they adore and admire me,
Ni sho katsu go shin -- they become devout, upright and gentle,
Shu jo ki shin buku -- And wish to see me
Shichi jiki I nyu nan -- With all their hearts
Is shin yok ken butsu -- Even at the cost of their lives.
Fu ji shaku shin myo -- So I reappear on Mt. Sacred Vulture peak
Ji ga gyu shu so -- With all my people (community/sangha)
Ku shutsu ryo ju sen -- And say to them:
Ga ji go shu jo -- I always live here.
Jo zai shi fu metsu -- I'll never be extinct.
I ho ben rik ko -- But I show my extinction expediently
Gen u metsu fu metsu -- Although I never pass away.
Yo koku u shu jo -- I also state the highest Law
Ku gyo shin gyo sha -- To the living beings of other worlds
Ga bu o hi chu -- If they respect me, they believe me,
I setsu mu jo ho -- And wish to see me.
Nyo to fu mon shi -- But you've never heard this;
Tan ni ga metsu do -- So you thought that I passed away
Ga ken sho shu jo -- I see [perverted] people sinking
Mo tsu zai o ku kai -- In a sea of sufferings.
Ko fu I gen shin -- Therefore, I disappear from their eyes
Ryo go sho katsu go -- And cause them to admire me.
In go shin ren bo -- Whey they adore me,
Nai shitsu I sep po -- I reappear and expound the Law to them.
Jin zu riki nyo ze -- I can do this by my supernatural powers.
O a so gi ko -- For countless aeons
jo zai ryo ju sen -- I lived on Mt. Sacred Eagle
Gyu yo sho ju sho -- And in all other delay.
Shu jo ken ko jin -- [Perverted] people think:
Dai ka sho sho ji -- 'This world is in a great fire.
Ga shi do an non -- The end is coming.'
Ten nin jo ju man -- but really this world of mine is peaceful.
On rin sho do kaku -- It is filled with gods and good people.
Shu ju ho sho gon -- Its gardens, forests, and palaces
Ho ju ta ke ka -- Are adorned with treasures;
Shu ju sho yu raku -- Gem trees have fruits and flowers;
Sho ten gyaku ten ku -- Living beings are enjoying themselves;
Jo sas shu gi gaku -- And the gods are beating heavenly drums,
U man da ra ke -- Pouring music and mandarava blossoms
San butsu gyu dai shu -- On the Buddha and all assembled beings.
Ga jo do fu ki -- My land is pure and indestructible.
Ni shu ken sho jin -- But [perverted] people think:
U fu sho ku no -- ‘It is full of sorrow, fear and pain,
Nyo ze shitsu ju man -- and will soon burn away.'
Ze sho zai shu jo -- Because of their evil karmas,
I aku go In nen -- these sinful people cannot hear even the names
Ka a so gi ko -- Of the Three Treasures
Fu mon san bo myo -- For countless aeons
Sho u shu ku doku -- To those who have accumulated merits
Nyu was shichi jiki sha -- Who are gentle and upright,
Sok kai ken ga shin -- And see me living here,
Zai shi ni sep po -- stating the Dharma,
Waku ji I shi shu -- I say: ‘The duration
Setsu butsu ju mu ryo -- Of my life is immeasurable.'
Ku nai ken bus sha -- To those who see me after a long time,
I setsu butsu nan chi -- I say: ‘It's hard to see a Buddha.'
Ga chi riki nyo ze -- This I can do by the power of my wisdom.
Eko sho mu ryo -- The light of my wisdom knows no limit.
Ju myo mu shu ko -- The duration of my life is forever
Ku shu go sho toku -- I obtained this by ages of practices.
Nyo to u chi sha -- All of you, wise men!
Mot to shi sho gi -- Have no doubts about this!
To dan ryo yo jin -- Remove your doubts, have no more!
Butsu go jip pu ko -- Because the Buddha's words are true, not false.
Nyo I zen ho ben -- The doctor, sent a man skillfully
I ji o shi ko -- To tell his perverted sons
Jitsu zai ni gon shi -- Of his death so he could to cure them,
Mu no sek ko mo -- Was not accused of falsehood through living
Ga yaku I se bu -- Likewise, I am the parent of this world.
Ku sho ku gen sha -- I save all living beings from suffering.
I bon bu ten do -- Because they are perverted, I say
Jitsu zai ni gon metsu -- That I pass away, even though I do not.
I jo ken ga ko -- If they always see me,
Ni sho kyo shi shin -- They will become arrogant and no morals
Ho itsu jaku go yaku -- And cling to the five human desires
Da o aku do chu -- Till they fall into evil paths (Hell, Hunger and Animality).
Ga jo chi shu jo -- I know all living beings,
Gyo do fu gyo do -- Who practice the Way and who do not.
Zui o sho ka do -- Therefore I expound various teachings
I ses shu ju ho -- According to the abilities of all.
Mai ji sa ze nen -- I am always thinking:
I ga ryo shu jo -- 'How can I cause all living beings
Toku nyu mu jo do -- To enter into the highest Way
Soku jo ju bus shin -- So they can quickly become Buddhas?
The silent prayers are intended to express our shared sense of gratitude and resolve as believers in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and members of Soka Gakkai International. The wording of these prayers is meant as a guideline to help us express this inner sense of gratitude and determination. Therefore, it is not the specific wording of the silent prayers, but rather what we have in our minds while performing the prayers that is most important.
First Silent Prayer
Appreciation for life's protective forces - (shoten zenjin)
I offer appreciation to the shoten zenjin, the functions in life and in the environment that serve to protect us night and day. I pray that their protective power be further strengthened and enhanced through my practice of the Law. (Chant daimoku three times.)
Second Silent Prayer
Appreciation for the Dai-Gohonzon
I offer my deepest praise and most sincere gratitude to the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, which was bestowed upon the entire world. (Chant daimoku three times.)
Third Silent Prayer
Appreciation for the three teachers
I offer my deepest praise and most sincere gratitude to Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. (Chant daimoku three times.)
I offer my deepest praise and most sincere gratitude to Nikko Shonin, the Great Leader of the Propagation of True Buddhism. (Chant daimoku three times.)
I offer sincere gratitude to Nichimoku Shonin, the High Priest of Kosen-rufu. (Chant daimoku three times.)
Fourth Silent Prayer
For the attainment of kosen-rufu
I pray that the great desire for kosen-rufu be fulfilled, and that the Soka Gakkai International develop eternally in this endeavor. (Chant daimoku three times.)
I pray to expiate my negative karma caused by my slander of the Law in this life and in the past and to fulfill my wishes in the present and the future. (Offer additional prayers here. Chant daimoku three times.)
Fifth Silent Prayer
Appreciation for the first and second presidents of Soka Gakkai and prayer for the deceased
I offer gratitude to the first president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, and the second president, Josei Toda, for their selfless dedication to the propagation of the Law. (Chant daimoku three times.)
I pray for my deceased relatives and for all those who have passed away, particularly for these individuals:
(Sound bell continuously while offering prayers. Chant daimoku three times.)
I pray for peace throughout the universe and the happiness of all humanity.
(Sound the bell, and chant daimoku three times to conclude gongyo.)