When we chant Honmon Happon shoken 本門八品所顕, Jōgyō shoden 上行所伝, Honnin-geshu no Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō 本因下種之南無妙法蓮華経, we can accumulate Kudoku 功徳—the merits of enlightenment of Primordial Buddha. Kudoku has two main functions: expiating your Zaishō 罪障 and bringing forth good results.
Zaishō is energy that produces unpleasant repercussions. Zai means “sins” that we have accumulated by wrongdoings from the past and Shō means “bad effects” caused by those sins. When people do evil, they accumulate Zaishō, which will cause a bad effect in the future. The effect might be as bad as what they’ve done or even worse. We accumulate Zaishō by every negative action, such as for example harassing, hating or speaking ill of someone. That bad energy will cause an equally negative thing to happen to us. Zaishō is energy that is accumulated in our soul and carried over into the future as the soul reincarnates. Sometimes you might think, “why am I having lots of terrible experiences while others are full of happiness?”. This is because your Zaishō that has been accumulating in your mind since long ago is much greater than that of others. Erasing Zaishō and preventing misfortunes is one of the functions of Kudoku.
The other function of Kudoku is producing good results – your prayer will be answered. This reward is called Goriyaku 御利益. There are two types of Goriyaku – the benefits that you receive in this life, and the benefit of attaining Buddhahood in the future (after death). The more Kushō-gyō 口唱行 (the practice of chanting Odaimoku) we perform, the more Kudoku we accumulate. Thanks to Kudoku, we live a happy and peaceful life in the present world (e.g. your prayers are answered, you can live your life avoiding misfortunes, and so on) and then attain Buddhahood when we die.
The rewards that we receive in a visible way in the present world are called Genshō no goriyaku 現証の御利益. As I explained above, Goriyaku means “one’s prayer is answered.” Genshō literally means “something clearly appears in a visible state.” For example, mental and physical disorders that doctors have already given up on are cured, schoolwork or business picks up, misfortunes and calamities are averted, and so on. By answering such prayers, Gohonzon (the object of worship) makes us feel how wonderful Odaimoku is and promote and improve our faith. Only HBS members can receive Genshō no Goriyaku, because HBS teaches the true teachings of Buddhism and members follow and practice them faithfully.
How wonderful Kushō-gyō is! It is so beneficial and easy to practice, but at the same time so profound. Therefore, HBS members have instructors who teach them about what the true Buddhism is and what HBS faith is, including the Odaimoku, Kushō-gyō, Nichiren Shōnin, etc. Those instructors are called Kyōmu 教務 (Buddhist priests in HBS including me!). Next, I’ll explain the role of Kyōmu and who they are.