Which is more important for chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo: quality or quantity?

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The following is from Discussions on Youth, new edition, pp. 303–05, in which the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda discusses the significance of the quantity and quality of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

One student asks whether he has to chant [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] for a certain number of hours before his prayer will be answered. Or can he chant intensely for a short time? In other words, which is more important, quantity or quality?

Daisaku Ikeda: The value—or, if you like, the quality—of a $100 bill is more than a $10 bill. Naturally, most people would prefer a $100 bill, right? Similarly, in faith, sincere, strong prayers are important. Of course, having lots of $100 bills is even better! Likewise, in chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, both quantity and quality count.

Everything you do in the realm of Buddhist faith and practice is for your own happiness. The main thing is that you feel deep satisfaction after chanting. There are no hard-and-fast rules about having to chant a certain number of hours.

Setting chanting targets can be helpful, but when you’re tired or sleepy and are just mumbling along in a half-conscious daze, it’s better to stop and go to bed. After you’ve rested, you can chant with concentration and energy again.

This is much more valuable. We should be alert and earnest when we pray, not nodding off.

As I said, most important is that our chanting be satisfying and refreshing, so that we can exclaim when we’ve finished, “Ah, that felt good!” By reinforcing that feeling day after day, our lives naturally move in the most positive direction.

When we are pressed for time, which should we give priority to: reciting the sutra morning and evening or chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo?

Those who don’t have time or find it difficult to recite the sutra morning and evening should just chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. To use the allegory of a meal, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can be likened to the main course and the morning and evening sutra recitation to the side dishes. Of course, having both is best. But chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo comes first. Please chant—even if you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo only once. Nichiren Daishonin states that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo just once contains infinite benefit.

And if you can recite the sutra, along with chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, then you will feel even greater satisfaction. Of course, it goes without saying that reciting the sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo morning and evening is ideal.

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