Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind, The ［観心本尊抄］ ( Kanjin-no-honzon-shō): The abbreviated title of one of Nichiren’s five or ten major writings, The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind Established in the Fifth Five-Hundred-Year Period after the Thus Come One’s Passing. It explains the object of devotion in Nichiren’s teaching, or the Gohonzon. It was written at Ichinosawa on Sado Island, Japan, dated the twenty-fifth day of the fourth month, 1273, and addressed to Toki Jōnin, one of Nichiren’s influential followers who lived in Shimōsa Province. In the previous year, Nichiren wrote The Opening of the Eyes, which identifies the object of devotion in his teaching in terms of the “Person,” describing himself as being endowed with the Buddha’s three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent, or as the person to lead people in the Latter Day of the Law to Buddhahood with wisdom and compassion. In contrast, The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind reveals the object of devotion in terms of the “Law”—as the embodiment of the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—and describes the practice for attaining Buddhahood. This writing can be divided into four parts. The first establishes that the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life is revealed only in the fifth volume of T’ien-t’ai’s work Great Concentration and Insight. The second discusses the Ten Worlds, especially Buddhahood, inherent in the lives of all people and the meaning of observation of the mind, defining it as “to observe one’s own mind and find the Ten Worlds within it.” Nichiren describes the way to achieve this as follows: “Shakyamuni’s practices and the virtues he consequently attained are all contained within the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. If we believe in these five characters, we will naturally be granted the same benefits as he was” (365). In this passage, “believe in these five characters” means to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with faith in the Gohonzon. This is known as the principle that embracing the Gohonzon is in itself observing one’s own mind, i.e., attaining enlightenment.
The third section explains the Gohonzon from the standpoint of the “fivefold view of revelation,” an analysis of the Buddhist teachings. The final revelation in the above view is described as follows: “The essential teaching of Shakyamuni’s lifetime and that revealed at the beginning of the Latter Day are both pure and perfect [in that both lead directly to Buddhahood]. Shakyamuni’s, however, is the Buddhism of the harvest, and this is the Buddhism of sowing. The core of his teaching is one chapter and two halves, and the core of mine is the five characters of the daimoku alone” (370). In this passage, “the five characters of the daimoku” means the essence of the Lotus Sutra, or the Gohonzon of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This section identifies who will spread the teaching and concludes, “At this time the countless Bodhisattvas of the Earth will appear and establish in this country [Japan] the object of devotion, foremost in Jambudvīpa, that depicts Shakyamuni Buddha of the essential teaching attending [the eternal Buddha] ” (376). The fourth section concludes the treatise by stating, “Showing profound compassion for those unable to comprehend the gem of the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life, the Buddha [who made his advent in the Latter Day of the Law] wrapped it within the five characters [of Myoho-renge-kyo], with which he then adorned the necks of the ignorant people of the latter age” (376). See also Gohonzon; oneness of the Person and the Law.