2. One Session of The Fine Dharm
Enactment of the One Session of the Fine Dharma (Myoko Ichiza)
The Myoko Ichiza is recited at the temple, at a parishioner's home, and during various ceremonial services. What are the significances and the objectives of reciting the Myoko Ichiza?
The Myoko Ichiza, authored by Nissen Shonin in 1878, is a ceremonial bible of HBS. Its contents are as follows:
o. Summary Formula of Penitence (Sosange Mon)
o. Invocation of the Buddha and the Saints (Kanjo Mon).
o. Transfer of Merits (Eko Mon)
o. Gratitude for the Buddha's Teachings/Vows (Zuiki Mon)
o. Chapters of the Lotus Sutra (Hondai)
The above are the main six formulas. Added to them are the following:
o. The Supernatural Powers of the Tathagata
o. Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho
o. A Verse from the Lotus Sutra (Nichigachige)
o. Homage Formula to the Buddha and the Saints (Namukuon No Mon)
o. Recitation of the Sacred Formula in slow rhythm.
Homage Formula to the Buddha and the Saints.
This formula was established in 1878, 20 years after the establishment of Hommon Butsuryu Shu (HBS) in 1858. It is presumed that the ceremonial practices of Hommon Hokkeshu Sect were followed in the interim period, however, unlike the Hokke Shu Sect's core of reciting sutras, HBS mainly chanted the Odaimoku. It is believed that the Formulas of Penitence, Invocation of the Buddha and Saints, Gratitude for the Buddha's Teaching, and Vow, were recited at ceremonial sessions even before 1878.
There are two basic (verbal) practices in Buddhism. One is the main practice of chanting the Odaimoku, and the other, a subsidiary practice of reciting sutras. What, then, is HBS's main practice? Needless to say, it is the chanting of the Odaimoku. Therefore, the Myoko Ichiza that starts with a Penance is a subsidiary practice.
What are the motivation and objective of reciting the Myoko Ichiza?
Nissen Shonin stated:“The formulas of the One Session of the Fine Dharma is to support the Odaimoku, to understand the Chinese characters as rendered into Japanese, and to prepare the practitioners with a knowledge and understanding that the chanting is equivalent to eradicating sins".
The Myoko Ichiza is recited to show gratitude to the Odaimoku that was entrusted to Jyogyo Bodhisattva by the Buddha. Therefore, when chanting the Myoko Ichiza, one should be very aware of its meaning.
For example, reciting the Formulas of “Mushiirai" and “Nyorai Metsugo" is equivalent to a warm‐up exercise before an athlete engages in the main event. It should be understood that reciting the Myoko Ichiza alone without the Odaimoku would yield no results (benefits and merits).
A prayer session 40 to 50 minutes long (equivalent to burning one incense stick) commences with the reciting of Mushiirai and Nyorai Metsugo formulas;the chanting the Odaimoku, then, reciting of the Namukuon formula, and ends by repeating, once again, the Mushiirai formula. However, if only 10 minutes can be spared, recite only the Mushiirai formula and the Odaimoku.
Composition of Myoko Ichiza:
The Myoko Ichiza that Nissen Shonin composed is an original ritual (ceremonial) system of HBS, but it also follows the basic Buddhist teachings of “Repentance" (Sange); Invocation of the Buddha (Kanjo); Merit transference (Eko); The joy which follows the act of hearing or seeing something good (Zuiki), and Vow (Hotsugan). An ordinary person can recite them without guidance from a priest.
We first recite the Formula of Penitence by facing the Gohonzon to atone for the various sins that we have accumulated from our past life. This is Penetance (Sange).
Next, we recite a portion of the most important teachings of Great Master Nichiren Shonin's teaching, the Treatise Revealing the Spiritual Contemplation and the Object of Worship (Kajin Honzon Sho) requesting the attendance of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the Guardian Kings of Heaven. It is then followed by reciting the Formulas of Namukuonhonji and Namutomon. This is to request Nichiren Shonin, Nichiryu Shonin, and other Great Masters to watch over them (Kanjo Mon).
Then, the “Transfer of Merits Formula" is recited. This is to request that the power of virtuous merits be transferred to our ancestors so that their spiritual soul is rescued;and that one's merits of chanting the Odaimoku be shared with other practitioners to improve the faith together. It can also be transferred to other non‐believers to awaken them to the religion.
Thereafter, the Formula of Gratitude for the Buddha Teachings (Zuiki Mon) is recited. This is to express gratitude for being able to encounter this religion and attain its merits.
Lastly, the “Formula of Vow" (Hotsugan Mon) is recited. This is to request that various people be converted into the HBS religion so they can become Bodhisattvas.
As stated before, the Myoko Ichiza is easy to understand.
If one can understand the meaning of the various “Formulas of the One Session of the Fine Congregation" they can comprehend the basic teachings of HBS.
Reciting Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho, Jinriki Hon, and Namukuon No Mon,
Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho:
The Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho was written by Nichiren Shonin in May 1273, at the age of 52, for his disciples and his believers. The parishioners that uphold the Odaimoku, entrusted to Jyogyo Bodhisattva, and practice the teachings of the Buddha in its true form are the sincere persons of the period of the last Dharma. It is a teaching that encourages its practitioners to carry out its teachings despite any suffering or hardship that they may encounter.
Nissen Shohin proclaimed that the most important documents of Great Master Nichiren are the following three manuscripts:
a).The Treatise Revealing the Spiritual Contemplation and the Object of Worship (Kanjin Honzon Sho).
b).The Four Types of Teachings and Five Types of Practices (Shishin Gohon Sho).
c). The True Way of Practicing the Teachings of the Buddha (Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho).
The recitation of Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho is included in Oko services. Nissen Shonin stated:“Among various types of teachings, there is a way to practice the true teachings of the Buddha. That is the Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho. Unless one constantly reads and understands this teaching, it is difficult to spread it to help others". (HBS Important Writings 4. HBS Document 817).
The formula of the divine or Supernatural power of Tathagata (Nyorai Jinriki Hon):
The Formula of the Divine or Supernatural Power of Tathagata is Chapter 21 of the Lotus Sutra. This chapter elucidated that the Eternal Buddha's enlightenment wrapped in the Odaimoku was entrusted to Jyogyo Bodhisattva, and is included in the “Three Thousand Realms in One Mind" (Ji no Ichinen Sanzen). It means that all phenomena in this world (sanzen) are included in one thought (ichinen). Later, Jyogyo Bodhisattva, in the name of Great Master Nichiren, appeared in this world of the Last Dharma to spread the Odaimoku that is attached to the Divine or Supernatural Power of the Tathagata.
In that manner, Chapter 21 is the most important teaching among the 28 Chapters of the Lotus Sutra. Thus, it is important to know that this formula contains the enlightenment of the Buddha's teachings and we should recite it with gratitude.
The recitation of the Jinriki Hon is the utmost spreading of the Odaimoku. This formula is not recited during ordinary Oko services. The most important thing is the chanting of the Odaimoku.
Homage Formula to the Buddha and the Saints (Namukuon no Mon):
This formula was authored by Nichizo Shonin, a disciple of Nichiren Shonin. It is recited at the end of a ceremonial service. Nissen Shonin, after making two or three amendments to it, included it in the Myoko Ichiza. This passage asks that the merits of the Odaimoku be passed on to our ancestors and teachers and they be protected by the various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Guardian Kings of Heaven.