People beginning to practice Nichiren Buddhism generally start by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (also known as "daimoku") for a few minutes, morning and evening if possible.
Buddhism is practical, and beginners are often encouraged to try chanting for a certain period of time, to get a feel for the practice and see what changes they notice, such as increased hope or energy, or improved relations with others. It is helpful to have support from a friend, or a local SGI group, in order to find answers to questions that arise.
How long to chant for is a matter of personal choice. When people first start to practice often they begin by chanting for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. The most important thing is to try to make this a regular part of one's daily routine, if possible, morning and evening. Continuing is a constant challenge but one that reaps positive rewards. Often when facing obstacles, people will chant in a fully focused way in order to see themselves and their situation clearly.
Chanting has been likened to charging a battery, so the more highly charged it is, the more energy one has to expend. It is important to remember however that chanting is not magic. It fills us with hope, strength and energy so that we can take the right action to resolve our problems. It is natural to chant for people we know who are suffering from illness or other problems in life.
STUDY AND SGI MEETINGS
Daily study is also vital to getting the most out of one's Buddhist practice. The study material available on this website provides a good beginning. People starting to practice are encouraged to join local SGI meetings in order to ask questions and receive support and encouragement from others who have more experience of applying Buddhism to the challenges of daily life.
The SGI Directory provides lists of national level websites from which local contacts can be established, as well as a list of SGI centers around the world which can be visited.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda on chanting daimoku:
"Being human, it's quite natural for our minds to wander, for all sorts of thoughts and memories to surface. [. . .] There is no set form or pattern for how we should pray. Buddhism emphasizes being natural. Therefore, simply chant earnestly without pretense or artifice, just as you are. In time, as your faith develops, you'll naturally find it easier to focus your mind when you chant.
"It's natural for prayers to center on your own desires and dreams. [. . .] By chanting very naturally, without affectation or reservation, for what you seek most of all, you'll gradually come to develop a higher and more expansive life-condition. Of course, it's perfectly fine as well to chant with the resolve to become a bigger-hearted person or for the welfare of your friends and for kosen-rufu-the happiness and flourishing of all humankind."