By Reverend Raidou Hirota
|Translated and edited by Udumbara Foundation volunteers
| Gohonzon is a piece of rice paper. The Law, however, is not paper. When you look at the
front of Gohonzon you see the characters of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, if you turn Gohonzon
over and view its backside, you don't see the written Law. The Law is neither the front nor
the back of Gohonzon; the Law is Myoho-renge-kyo. But you can't see it. You can't point
to it, or identify it and say there is Myoho-renge-kyo. Myoho-renge-kyo is a power that
exists. The most approximate physical entity that describes Myoho-renge-kyo is Gohonzon..
What is Gohonzon? The Hoben (second) and Juyro (sixteenth) chapters of the Lotus Sutra
are explained on the Gohonzon. Gohonzon is the mirror of your life. When you look at a
mirror you think you are looking at yourself, but it is only an image of your physical self that
you are looking at. You can't see inside yourself -- your thoughts, your spiritual aspect.
Gohonzon is the mirror of your heart--the mirror of your life. You need a mirror so that you
know what you look like in your heart.
It is believed that there are only 128 extant Gohonzons inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin.
Yet, there could be more since Daishonin conferred a Gohonzon to each of the five elder
priests (goroso) who were disciples of Nichiren Daishonin while he was alive, but who
abandoned the orthodox teaching after His death, each going his separate way and
establishing his own sect of Nichiren Buddhism. So the whereabouts of their Gohonzons is
You must realize that your life is also included in the universe. The Gohonzon is a small
scroll that represents ichinen sanzen (everything). At the center of Gohonzon is the Law of
Myoho-renge-kyo. It is this Law which governs everything including the protective forces of
Buddhism (shoten zenjin). Because Namu-myoho-renge-kyo encompasses everything,
including yourself, you are not searching for Buddha or a god outside yourself. You must
realize that you have Buddha-nature within you, and Buddha-nature is one of the elements
within ichinen sanzen.
The most significant aspect of Gohonzon is "Namu-myoho-renge-kyo-Nichiren"*.
Everything else is secondary. Please remember that the Gohonzon must be handled with the
same care you confer to yourself.
|This is NOT an official site of
the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai
*Namumyohorengekyo Nichiren - Nichiren wrote his signature beneath the 7 characters of the Law on the