On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime - The Practice of Chanting Daimoku is the key to Inner Change

It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being. When deeded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin-1, p4)

Although the original is no longer extant and the precise date and name of the recipient are unknown, this letter is traditionally held to have been written around 1255 and addressed to Toki Jonin.

The title, “On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime”, refers to an ordinary person becoming enlightened during the curse of his or her present existence.

In this writing, Nichiren Daishonin revealed that the practice of chanting daimoku is the key to attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime and explained the significance of chanting daimoku in terms of both theory and practice.


Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is a religion that is based on the transformative principles of life. And the key to attaining Buddhahood - the ultimate transformation of our life-state - lies in our inner transformation, that is, a change in our heart or mind.

Generally, it is thought that an “ordinary being” and “Buddha” are completely separate and removed from one another. But the Daishonin overturned this common concept by revealing that there is no chasm whatsoever between the two and revealed that the difference between “delusion” and “enlightenment” in the minds of ordinary people.

How then, can we transform delusion into enlightenment?

What makes this transformation possible is the practice of chanting the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Here in this passage, the Daishonin used the metaphor of a mirror to explain this point in simple terms.

The Daishonin likened the suffering life state of an ordinary being shrouded by the innate darkness of life, which is he fundamental root cause of delusion, to “a tarnished mirror”. On the other hand, he likened the enlightened life state that is awakened to the true aspect of reality to “a clear mirror”.

A “tarnished mirror” will not reflect anything, but by polishing it, it will become a clear mirror that reflects everything clearly. Likewise, by chanting the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with sincere faith, our lives will be polished, thereby wiping away the dust of innate darkness and manifest the Buddhahood with which we are originally endowed.

The practice of chanting daimoku, which is the practice for polishing our lives, may be seen as having two aspects. In this passage, the Daishonin elucidated the first aspect when he said “arouse deep faith” while the second aspect is articulated through the phrase, “diligently polish your mirror day and night”.

Through this, the Daishonin taught us the importance of summoning the “courageous fighting spirit” to battle our inner darkness, the fundamental delusion that hinders the attainment of enlightenment and to continue making steadfast efforts to maintain “continuing faith” for attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime.

SGI President Ikeda said, “Sonorously chanting the daimoku of the Mystic Law and courageously engaging ourselves in Gakkai activities on a daily basis is the greatest way of polishing our lives. Our lives will be polished into a clear mirror that correctly reflects the view of life, the society, the world and the universe without any distortions in one’s life. The brilliance of the wisdom of value creation will shine forth, enabling you to correctly discern all phenomena in the most appropriate manner and thereby remain undefeated no matter what happens.”

Let us base our lives in the practice of chanting daimoku, which is the key to polishing and changing our lives, and construct an indestructible life state of absolute happiness.

(Translated and adapted from the January 2012 issue of The Daibyakurenge, the Soka Gakkai’s monthly study journal.)