Shodaigyo Meditation

Nichiren School

1. Prostration:

This is the full prostration before the Gohonzon, wherein one begins in gassho, touches ones head to the floor and lifts ones hands above the head palms up.

2. Meditation on the Throne of Enlightenment:

(Leader) Know this,
The place where the stupa is erected is the place of enlightenment.
Here the Buddhas attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.
Here the Buddhas turned the Wheel of the Dharma.
Here the Buddhas entered into Parinirvana.

3. Refuge in the Three Treasures:

(L) With our whole hearts,
(T) We bow to the Eternal Buddha emanating the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten directions.
(L) With our whole hearts,
(T) We bow to the Eternal Dharma establishing the teachings of the Buddhas of the worlds of the ten directions.
(L) With our whole hearts,
(T) We bow to the Great Bodhisattva Nichiren, who manifested himself in this Saha-world as the appearance of Superior Practice Bodhisattva.

4. Meditation for Harmony of Body and Mind:

This meditation is a form of tranquility and insight meditation which is common to all schools of Buddhism and it is actually very simple. Just sit down in a comfortable and stable posture, whether that is sitting up straight in a chair, in the half-lotus, or even full lotus posture. Your eyes should be open or semi-closed with your gaze resting on a spot two hand breadths in front of you. Your open left hand should rest lightly on your open right hand with your thumbtips touching as if to form a small moon. Hold this small moon against your abdomen just below the belly button. If the thumbtips break apart or the hands slip down into the lap or your posture begins to deteriorate, then that should help alert you to the fact that you are either getting distracted or drowsy and so should return to the subject of meditation. Then, simply follow the breath. Just stay with your breath. You might even want to just rest your awareness at a point just below the navel and observe the breath as it fills and then recedes away from that spot. Let your thoughts and feelings do what they want, treat them like passing clouds or leaves floating by in a stream and just stay with your breathing at that point below the navel. If you get caught up in thinking or daydreaming, just catch yourself and return to the breathing. That catching and returning is mindfulness as well. This silent meditation can be done for 5 minutes, 10 minutes or even longer as desired. If you have trouble simply following the breath, you can either count your breaths from 1 - 10 or silently recite the Odaimoku with each breath. Perhaps Namu on the in breath and Myoho Renge Kyo on the out breath, or some other combination that works for you.

5. Chanting Odaimoku with the Taiko Drum:

In the Nichiren Shu, we typically do not beat the drum for Namu, and we use one beat for each of the five characters of Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo. Of course, as the drumming gets faster, Namu also receives a beat as well. At that faster tempo, Namu may begin to sound like Nam. The way this works is to start off very slowly and gradually increase the tempo, like a train building up steam. Then the beat will slow again and perhaps rise again depending on how many cycles one wishes to do. This chanting will end by going from the fast tempo back to the slow tempo and then come to a close. The last three rounds of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo should be slightly more prolonged. On the first of the last three, Na and Mu should both receive a beat. On the second to last, Namu receives a beat. On the last, Na and Mu both receive a beat.

6. Meditation after Odaimoku:

This period of silent meditation is similar to the first one, except that in this case one should definately key a mental recitation of the Odaimoku to the breath and focus on that. Essentially, one is to abide in the energy and merit of having chanted Odaimku and gradually ground that energy by silently sitting with it.

7. Prayer:

In returning the compassionate favor of the Buddha, we respectfully assign the merit condensed in our reciting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, the heart of Wonderful Dharma of the Lotus Flower Sutra, to enhancing the virtue of respecting and loving justice, to bestowing peace, prosperity, happiness and welfare on all sentient beings, and to transforming this world into a pure land where all children of the Buddha may enjoy eternal bliss.

May we sincerely repent of the wrong conduct we have commited until now, and be successful in accumulating merit.

May we be serene, healthy, advanced in knowledge, rich in happiness and virtue, and industrious in our vocation.

May we evermore endeavor progressively to develop our Buddha-nature into Buddhahood.

May the spirits of our ancestors be seated on precious lotus flowers and attain supreme enlightenment.

May the whole Dharma-world be blessed with the great compassion of the Buddha.

May this deed of merit extend to all beings and together may we attain Buddhahood.

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo!

8. The Four Great Bodhisattva Vows:

(L) Sentient beings are innumerable,
(T) I vow to save them all.

(L) Defilements are inexhaustible,
(T) I vow to quench them all.

(L) The teachings are immeasurable,
(T) I vow to study them all.

(L) The way of the Buddha is unexcelled,
(T) I vow to attain the path sublime.

9. Dedication:

(L) From this body
(T) From this body

(L) Unti I attain Buddhahood
(T) Until I attain Buddhahood

(L) I will strive to uphold
(T) I will strive to uphold

(L) Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
(T) Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

(L) Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
(T) Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

(L) Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
(T) Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

10. Prostration:

As before.

Designed by Bishop Nichijun Yukawa of the Nichiren Shu in the 1950's.
Adapted by Ryuei Michael McCormick in 2000.

Zen & the Lotus Sutra Ryuei

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La Pratica dello Shodaigyo Italiano

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