Gongyo Translated – The Expedient Means Chapter

The Lotus SutraDuring Gongyo, apart from chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, we also recite two chapters from the Lotus Sutra, Chapter 2 Expedient Means (Hoben) and Chapter 16 The Life Span of the Thus Come One (Juryo). Both chapters are recited in Chinese, so unless you are fluent, the meaning may be lost. I believe that it is important to understand what I am reciting. So the following is an English translation in order that the true meaning can be understood.

The Chinese phonetic recital is in italics, with the English translation below.

Niji seson. Ju sanmai. Anjo ni ki. Go shari-hotsu. Sho-but chi-e. Jinjin muryo. Go chi-e mon. Nange nannyu. Issai shomon. Hyaku-shi-butsu. Sho fu no chi.

At that time the World-Honoured One calmly arose from his samadhi and addressed Shariputra, saying: “The wisdom of the Buddhas is infinitely profound and immeasurable. The door to this wisdom is difficult to understand and difficult to enter. Not one of the voice-hearers or pratyekabuddhas is able to comprehend it.

Sho-i sha ga. Butsu zo shingon. Hyaku sen man noku. Mushu sho butsu. Jin gyo sho-butsu. Muryo doho. Yumyo shojin. Myosho fu mon. Joju jinjin. Mi-zo-u ho. Zui gi sho setsu. Ishu nange

What is the reason for this? A Buddha has personally attended a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million, a countless number of Buddhas and has fully carried out an immeasurable number of religious practices. He has exerted himself bravely and vigorously, and his name is universally known. He has realized the Law that is profound and never known before, and preaches it in accordance with what is appropriate, yet his intention is difficult to understand.

Shari-hotsu. Go ju jo-butsu irai. Shuju innen. Shuju hiyu. Ko en gonkyo. Mu shu hoben. Indo shujo. Ryo ri sho jaku

Shariputra, ever since I attained Buddhahood I have through various causes and various similes widely expounded my teachings and have used countless expedient means to guide living beings and cause them to renounce attachments.

Sho-i sha ga. Nyorai hoben. Chiken hara-mitsu. Kai i gu-soku

Why is this? Because the Thus Come One is fully possessed by both expedient means and the paramita of wisdom.

Shari-hotsu. Nyorai chiken. Kodai jinnon. Muryo muge. Riki. Mu-sho-i. Zenjo. Gedas. Sanmai. Jin nyu musai. Joju issai. Mi-zo-u ho

Shariputra, the wisdom of the Thus Come One is expansive and profound. He has immeasurable [mercy], unlimited [eloquence], power, fearlessness, concentration, emancipation, and samadhis, and has deeply entered the boundless and awakened to the Law never before attained.

Shari-hotsu. Nyorai no. Shuju fun-betsu. Gyo ses sho ho. Gonji nyunan. Ekka shushin. Shari-hotsu. Shu yo gon shi. Muryo muhen. Mi-zo-u ho. Bus shitsu joju

Shariputra, the Thus Come One knows how to make various kinds of distinctions and to expound the teachings skilfully. His words are soft and gentle and delight the hearts of the assembly. “Shariputra, to sum it up: the Buddha has fully realized the Law that is limitless, boundless, never attained before.

Shi shari-hotsu. Fu shu bu setsu. Sho-i sha ga. Bus sho joju. Dai ichi ke-u. Nange shi ho

But stop, Shariputra, I will say no more. Why? Because what the Buddha has achieved is the rarest and most difficult-to-understand Law.

Yui butsu yo butsu. Nai no kujin. Shoho jisso. Sho-i shoho. Nyo ze so. Nyo ze sho. Nyo ze tai. Nyo ze riki. Nyo ze sa. Nyo ze in. Nyo ze en. Nyo ze ka. Nyo ze ho. Nyo ze honmak kukyo to

The true entity of all phenomena can only be understood and shared between Buddhas. This reality consists of the appearance, nature, entity, power, influence, inherent cause, relation, latent effect, manifest effect, and their consistency from beginning to end.

I hope the translation serves to demystify Gongyo and help explain why the chapter is recited.

30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. allan felipe escol
    May 26, 2011 @ 05:54:43

    tnx vry much of the translation of the hoben and juryo chapter… tke care


  2. RHalloway
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 06:00:12

    I recently began to attend a SGI center in my hometown. Since I’m basically new, it has been a bit difficult to do Gonyo. I wanted to be able to understand the meaning, because I was sure that it would help me. I know this is an old post, but it’s new to me 🙂


  3. Rod
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 14:03:38

    so glad I stumbled upon this, no one ever really explained it; broken down like this in my group


  4. Anirudh
    Oct 28, 2013 @ 16:04:00

    good job bro..
    but apart from literal translation, is there a way to truly de-mystify the essence of the teachings preached there-under?
    thanks in advance.


    • Anupadin
      Oct 29, 2013 @ 14:47:55

      Apart from the fact that they were written such a long time ago, when live was arguably much simpler, I don’t find any real mystery in the teachings of Shakyamuni, less in the teachings of Nichiren. They seem to me, to be a huge amount of common sense wrapped in the blanket of wisdom, courage and compassion. If you want a plain, simple, no frills explanation of much of Nichiren Buddhism, read The Buddha, Geoff and Me, there are links to it everywhere in TSFE. Welcome to the blog, I wish you good fortune on your own path. Namaste ~ Anupadin


      • Anirudh
        Nov 13, 2013 @ 17:20:25

        thanks for replying..but i meant to ask the contextual meaning of the 2nd n 16th chapters….
        never mind..
        thanks for the book recommendation…
        btw osho on buddha, pillars of consciousness is a fab book too…

      • Anupadin
        Nov 13, 2013 @ 20:11:53

        I’ll be sure to check it out, thanks for the recommendation. Namaste ~ Anupadin

  5. anirudh
    May 30, 2014 @ 19:04:06

    hi Anupadin..the recitation of the chapters is not in Japanese. its in Chinese. 🙂


    • Anupadin
      May 31, 2014 @ 06:44:48

      Hi Anirudh, you are right, it is Chinese. Thank you for pointing out the error. Namaste ~ Anupadin


      • anirudh
        Aug 19, 2016 @ 20:16:57

        im so sorry!! I came to know this few weeks back.
        you were correct originally.
        the characters are in classical Chinese, but pronounced as per classical Japanese, ie Japanese phonetics.
        for eg. the five characters are pronounced in classical Chinese as “Miao-fa Lien-hua Ching” and recited in classical Japanese as “Myoho-renge-kyo.”

  6. Melissa
    Jan 13, 2016 @ 02:08:52

    Thank you very much. I got such a run around about what the chant means, what words were on the Gohonzon. No one wanted to tell me anything. In order to have faith in something you have to know what you’re saying and reading.
    Again, many thanks.


  7. Faria Anzum
    Aug 19, 2016 @ 17:05:31

    Thanks for sharing


  8. Paul
    Nov 03, 2016 @ 12:34:45

    Please give the source of the translation of the Chapter from Chinese to English.


  9. Nancy DeLuca
    Jun 28, 2017 @ 01:26:40

    Thank you for the translation. I have joined the Soka Gakkai and am a little sketchy with the expedient means excerpts. At the center it is recited so fast I think some of it gets lost. I have a pronounciation disc which is helpful …I recite at my own pace and try to be as correct as possible.


  10. Mick McCloskey
    Aug 03, 2017 @ 12:10:30

    This is extremely helpful; I agree that a realization of what our chanting makes Gongyo come alive!! Thank you brother Buddhist.


  11. Mick McCloskey
    Aug 08, 2017 @ 00:09:14

    Thank you Sensei…this translation makes Gongyo come alive!! I am coming up on a year practicing and studying my faith and my life is better beyond compare…thank you SGI!!!


  12. Mick McCloskey
    Aug 08, 2017 @ 00:16:48

    “If we knew one another’s secrets the comfort we would find.” To me this means that we are not as different from each other as we think. Buddhism is inclusive not exclusive – we are all just people…


  13. Mick McCloskey
    Aug 14, 2017 @ 20:54:17

    Wisdom beyond belief..


  14. jo
    Dec 19, 2018 @ 12:37:50

    Thank you so much to everybody for your advice. I need to ask this: can I just read aloud the English translation of the Gongyo instead of chanting it in Sino-Japanese? I feel that it is of utmost importance to understand whatever I recite or chant because then, I can better absorb the message of the Gongyo.


    • Anupadin
      Dec 19, 2018 @ 22:07:28

      I’m not sure how the idea would sit with other Nichiren Buddhists, but I’m sure that Siddhartha Gautama would be fine with you chanting in English. Remember, there are no do’s or don’ts in Buddhism, you simply have to take responsibility for your thoughts, words and deeds.


  15. jo
    Dec 20, 2018 @ 11:58:52

    That was a wonderful response from you. Thank you! I agree…the Buddha would have no problems understanding any language. It is the heart that He would focus on. Thank you!


  16. heigou888
    May 31, 2019 @ 15:01:37

    Recitation is in the Japanese pronunciation of the original Chinese characters, not in Chinese. For example Nam Myoho Renge-Kyo pronounced in the Chinese (what a Chinese person would say looking at the characters in the sutra) is Namu Miaofa Lianhua Jing.


  17. Pat
    Aug 19, 2021 @ 11:31:24


    What does it mean?

    P 15


  18. Adels
    May 15, 2022 @ 15:01:07

    Nichiren Buddhism is from Japan. The sutras recited are in Japanese, not Chinese. Otherwise thank you very much for this translation. I too like to know what I am reciting. It helps make it more meaningful.


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