The Gohonzon embodies the law of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo in the form of an object of worship (mandala). It is a visual expression of the fundamental Law to which Nichiren became enlightened, the fundamental order that permeates our life and the universe.
In Japanese, “go” means “worthy of honor,” and “honzon” signifies “fundamental object of respect.” The Gohonzon is a parchment upon which are handwritten Chinese and Sanskrit characters, the use of both languages symbolizing the mandala’s universality. Together these characters represent life in its highest form. The symbols, people, and deities that are represented on the Gohonzon show that the law of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is endowed with all of life’s functions, and that the entirety of the universe’s phenomena reside within our own life. Nichiren symbolically describes in the Gohonzon the life state of Buddhahood that all human beings possess.
The practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism consists primarily of the morning and evening chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo accompanied by the recitation of extracts of two chapters of the Lotus Sutra, facing a Gohonzon enshrined in a Buddhist altar. The Gohonzon acts as a stimulus to activate the Buddhahood that is latent in every human being. It has no other function beyond revealing our Buddhahood. It is the strength of our faith that activates our power to act with wisdom and compassion.