Meditation services in the Nichiren Shu are called Shodaigyo. "Shodai" literally means chanting Odaimoku (The title of the Lotus Sutra) and "gyo" is practice. These services combine silent meditation with chanting. This is a very different practice from Sutra Chanting services (Daily Service). This service is usually a half hour on Wednesdays as it is a work/school night. During retreats Shodaigyo may be practiced in longer intervals.
Shodaigyo starts with the ringing of the bell. Our minds are already focusing and our bodies begin to relax. We bow in reverence and then sing a praise to the three treasures. We read a verse about the merits of the Odaimoku. This is followed by a short silent meditation to center us and void the mind of the days activities. After we are centered and calm we slowly begin to chant. The Odaimoku slowly becomes faster and more intense. At its peak we slow down quickly to a slow pace once again. The bell sounds and we finish our chanting. We sit silently to contemplate the Odaimoku and bring it into our lives. A dedication prayer is read by all, followed by the four Bodhisattva vows. We finish with a deep bow and the bell. At first when we first start practicing our minds do not want to calm down. Our mind fights the practice but through continued effort and practice we can calm our mind and become tranquil. We become more aware and mindful of our surroundings and situations. This can be very helpful in our daily life which so often throws us off of our center.
Go to Attendee List