Pointing to the next painting Sulochana explained them the various paths of yogic meditation which Siddhartha tried under various hermit and sages. Sulochana further told them that all these attempts of Siddhartha to find the truth went in vain as they could not provide him a satisfactory answer which could guide him the way to liberate oneself from the suffering of ageing, sickness and death. Ultimately, he abandoned all these practices and set off in search of a tranquil place where he could devote himself to the practice of austerity.
Sulochana pointed to the other painting that how Siddhartha embarked on ascetic practice according to which one could attain spiritual freedom by physically weakening oneself. In one picture he was shown to be very weak because of starving himself with long fasting. In the other, lying on the bed of thorns, sleeping on the bones of the corpses and eating filth. These were the common ascetic practices being followed by various followers and were believed to be very effective in attaining the so-called mystic super powers. But Siddhartha’s path was and aim both were somewhat different.
He wasn’t in search of some super powers or magic. What his soul was yearning for and for what he had renounced everything was not all these mere things but a much bigger ambition. The ambition to experience and attain the ultimate key to happiness.
He had become cruelly emaciated looking no less than a skeleton. He looked very shabby with long hair and beard but his eyes gleamed with unusual lucidity still nothing could give him solace as his questions were still rendered unanswered and enlightenment still felt a far cry. So he ultimately left his ascetic practice also.
But he was not born to give up and surrender. He had an unfathomable, endless reservoir of perseverance which would not let him accept the defeat and continue to zeal with yet more courage and faith. You already know what followed after this which lead him to meditate under the Bodhi tree and attain Nirvana.”
She continued, “Study and learning are two very integral parts of this practice. As of today I shall teach you the correct way of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.” Drishti and Sunaina were quite excited to be about to the chanting.
You have to follow few instructions religiously. In order to practise you should secure a settled place in your house where you will practise Nam-Myo-ho-Renge-Kyo till you get your altar and Gohonzon, you may sit facing a plain wall in a well lit place with lots of natural light. If you can, sit on the floor or a small carpet or mat crossed leg with your back upright without any support. Breathe steadily with your eyes open constantly fixing them on this part of the Gohonzon Which represents Myo. The Queen pointed towards the Chinese character representing the Myo if you have one. Till the time you don’t have the Gohonzon you may focus on a point on the wall. The main objective is to maintain the sense of reverence and dignity towards Gohonzon. The main driving force is always going to be your faith and commitment through which you do the chanting with good physical posture.
Initially you may find it difficult to focus as your mind may wonder like an unbridled horse here and there but its constant practice it will learn to settle down and your concentration span will slowly increase with time. It may be few seconds on the day one, few minutes the next day and few hours after sometime. Once you will have experience of true favour of chanting you will start finding all the pleasures of life meek in front of it, at that time you will not have to compel your mind to do the chanting but you will be attracted to do again and again by yourself. Perpetual effort is required till you reach such a stage.
While chanting, your eyes will remain ajar, constantly gazing at one point. Your voice should be very energetic, creating a positive vibe around yourself. Each chant will be better than the previous one by itself in terms of positivity, as if you are brimming with joy. Initially, you may have to make a conscious effort to cut all the negativities of your mind and your environment which try to distract you from chanting till you reach the state that you don’t have to do it and it is automatically achieved. Gradually, you will start feeling a burst of joy from inside as if a horse is galloping through the heavens. The constance in these positive feelings will leave you unimaginably invigorated and revitalised both mentally and physically.
The Lotus Sutra consists of 28 chapters out of which some part of two chapters comprise the Gongyo, which is supposed to be the gist of his preachings. The final essence of the teachings of Buddha was Myoho-Renge-Kyo to which Daishonin added Nam to make it Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
Drishti and Sunaina were listening to all the instructions very sincerely. Sunaina asked Sulochana, “Rani Maa, how many times should we do Gongyo and Daimoku each day?” Drishti asked her, “Does it have to be the same every day?” Sulochana replied, “Let me answer Drishti’s question first. Performing morning Gongyo and Daimoku are like charging our engines for the whole day to come.”Sulochana looked at Sunaina and said, “Gongyo should be done twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. The preferred time of morning Gongyo is before 12 noon and that of evening anytime between 3 PM and 12 midnight.
Drishti asked Sulochana, “Rani Maa! don’t we have to light candles and incense sticks?” Sulochana replied “My child, you may make use of prayer beads, candles and incense sticks, you don’t have to refrain from them if your heart desires. However they are not the mandatory part of the practice. It is equally okay to perform your practice without them.“ Both of them had few more questions but at the same time they couldn’t wait more to do the chanting. Sulochana understood this and said to them, “I know that you have many questions but let’s leave these questions for tomorrow and let’s do some chanting.“