Juzu Beads and 108 desires — By Alan Billups

In the practice of Nichiren Buddhism, we hold juzu beads in our hands while reciting Gongyo and chanting Diamoku.
Juzu Beads and 108 desires — By Alan Billups

The following is a description of the symbolism of why Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist use the prayer beads known as Juzu. The significance of the 108 primary beads complete the relationship between those things or objects we perceive though our senses and the typical response we have to these phenomena known as desires. The number 108 can be found by the following formula.

6 senses of Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin and the mind

x 3 aspects of time (past, present, and future)

= 18 x 2 characteristics of one’s heart (pure or impure). Good or evil based on one’s karma. = 36 x 3 preferences a person may ( like, dislike or be indifferent) have to something he perceives through the 6 senses. = 108 potential conditions of one’s desires. As practices his heart and desires become pure by purifying the 6 sense organs. Nichiren Daishonin states “Regard purification of the 6 sense organs as benefit. I, Nichiren and my disciples can receive this benefit by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.” By this process we develop the correct perception through the action of the Daimoku ( one meaning of Daimoku is concentration- Dai and eyes or vision- moku), focusing one’s eyes or perception on the objective truths of life (Gonhozon) – shoho jisso ( all phenomena reveal the true aspect of life). Nam ( subjective mind and body) – the 6 senses or the 5 components used to practice- fusion to Myoho Renge Kyo , which is everything we see as a common mortal viewed from impurity in the 9 worlds, and viewed from purity as a Buddha in the 10th world. Palms together over the heart symbolizes the fusion of Kyo and Chi. Objective truth (Law) and subjective wisdom ( faith in the Gohonzon)-Buddha as self. The 2 large beads at each end are the parent beads that symbolize this, being the father on the left (Myo)- the Law and the mother on the right (Ho)- wisdom of the Buddha. Our 10 fingers together symbolize the mutual possession of the 10 worlds, which fuse together and manifest simultaneously in the life of a Buddha. As opposed to a common mortal who manifest one world at a time (ie. Hell, anger, rupture, learning ect.) On the Gohozon all 10 worlds are represented for this reason all at once.

The 4 smaller beads are the leaders of the Bodhisattvas. Covering the 4 Bodhisatvas and the 108 beads representing desires with our hands in prayer symbolize the principle – Bonno soku Bodai, which is portrayed as the deity Aizen on the middle left side of the Gohonzon. This can mean earthly desires transform into enlightenment. Aizen is often seen with 6 arms which serve as a means of encouraging the believer by offering benefits ( desires) to support one’s path of faith.

The Fugen sutra states, “you do not need to extinguish your earthly desires and throw away your 5 desires. Only when you are able to purify your senses, will your offenses from your past lives disappear.”

The long tassels mean our chanting is spreading to the world- Kosen Rufu. The 3 groups of 10 beads equal 3000 realms at this moment of life. The 5 balls and the pot shaded beads keep our benefits. The priest have 4 long extended balls which symbolize their status as teachers to share their benefit. ‪#‎The‬ beads receive the eye opening ceremony in front of the Dai Gohonzon by the High Priest so that they become the entity (body and mind) of the Buddha in our life to practice to the Gohonzon.


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