To "receive Gohonzon" means that as a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism, you attain the scroll that you will use to focus on while doing your daily chanting. This guide assumes that you already have your basic altar set up in a designated place in your home for your wooden, silk or paper Gohonzon. Acquiring the actual physical Gohonzon and enshrining it in your altar is the main part of this process.
The Time of Enshrinment
Ensure that the altar is clean and free of any clutter or dust before hanging up the Gohonzon. Do this before your daily morning practise of chanting or reciting the sutra.
Hang the Gohonzon in or on the altar, ensuring that it is straight. A Gohonzon made of paper may curl when it is first hung up. Do not attempt to flatten it out or roll it backwards to correct this. Allow the metal rods affixed to each end of the scroll to naturally straighten it through gravity.
Place your offering of fresh water and your food offering (optional) on the altar at this time. Light the incense and candles.
Ring the bell three times, place your palms together in prayer and chant the sutra "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" three times. The remaining details of your complete practice, including additional chants, prayers, or meditation, are entirely at the discretion of the individual.
Begin your evening practice by lighting the incense and candles if you have chosen to use them. Ring the bell three times, chant the sutra, and continue your daily ritual. Remove the offerings of fruit at water at the end of your practice.
Items you will need
1 Gohonzon scroll
1 bell (handheld or hanging)
1 small cup or bowl, filled with fresh water
Candles or incense (actual color and amount are optional)
food offering (optional)
Where you decide to set up your altar in your home is one of the important aspects of receiving the Gohonzon. The guidance of your local Buddhist community or of a more experienced practitioner can be very useful for advice when choosing an appropriate location. Remember to always approach every step of this process with appreciation, sanctity, and humility. Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, cautions in his writings; "Never seek the Gohonzon outside of yourself." Even though you chant to a physical scroll, it is important to remember that the Gohonzon is an abstract entity that exists within.
It is recommended that you have studied the basic tenants of Nichiren Buddhism and have the support of other members of your household before you begin to construct your altar and receive your Gohonzon. Acquiring a Gohonzon is easier if you can go through your respective sec or temple, but if you are a practitioner of independent Nichiren Buddhism this can be much more challenging.
- buddha altar image by deegray from Fotolia.com