Why do we have to chant? Why not just meditate or think positively?

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo reveals our Buddha nature. It directly connects our lives to the fundamental rhythm of the universe that we refer to as the Mystic Law.

Nichiren Daishonin teaches: "If you wish to free yourself from the sufferings of birth and death you have endured since time without beginning and to attain without fail unsurpassed enlightenment in this lifetime, you must perceive the mystic truth that is originally inherent in all living beings. This truth is Myoho-rengekyo. Chanting Myoho-renge-kyo will therefore enable you to grasp the mystic truth innate in all life" ("On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime," The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 3).

This passage expresses the main difference between chanting and the internalized disciplines of meditation or positive thinking. Although meditation and positive thinking are helpful for many people, these practices are centered on the mind—calming it and training it—and cannot express the fundamental nature of our lives, the enlightened, highest condition of our lives as a whole.

Nichiren Buddhism teaches that the Buddhahood inside us far transcends the power of our minds. It is the power of life itself that we tap into to transform our entire lives.

Our thinking does become more positive as a result of chanting, but this is because chanting draws out Buddhahood from the depths of our lives, which naturally changes our ways of thinking. The emergence of Buddhahood becomes the positive basis of every aspect of our lives, both mental and physical.