With respect to general practice, what can a new member anticipate as a result of practicing Gongyo and chanting Daimoku? How will I know that this practice has value, works, and brings benefit?

Gongyo and Shodai (chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo) to the Gohonzon are the most basic, important practices in Nichiren Shoshu. Gongyo is a solemn ceremony and is the source of profound benefits.
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the fundamental Law by which all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three existences of past, present, and future attained enlightenment.
Thus, tremendous benefits are contained within Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the Daimoku. It is a matter of principle and good reason that, when you steadily and sincerely perform Gongyo and chant Daimoku, you will attain tremendous benefits. The Distinctions of Benefits (Funbetsu kudoku; seventeenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra expounds that if you chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo:

  1. You will enjoy a life condition in which you can establish and support the temples in which the Gohonzon is enshrined.
  2. You will be able to correctly understand Buddhism and explain it to people. You will also gain good friends in true Buddhism.
  3. Your words and deeds will become correct and pure.
  4. You will have peace of mind and your thoughts will become profound. You will develop patience, and anger will disappear.
  5. You will be uninfluenced by the evils in your environment and be able to continuously perform good deeds.
  6. Your senses will become sharp, your intellect will become clear, and your wisdom will deepen.
  7. You will be able to correctly make use of the good teachings and positive knowledge and gain the power to resolve difficult problems.
(Hokekyo, p. 535 [summarized])

Moreover, Nichiren Daishonin states the following in his Gosho, “Reply to Kyo'o”:

Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is like the roar of a lion, and those who believe in this Gohonzon, will not be assailed by illness and harm, will be protected by the guardian deities, and will be free from fear in any situation. Also, one can enjoy a life condition of absolute freedom.
(Gosho, p. 1124; cf. MW-l, p. 119 [summarized])

Also, the Daishonin refers to benefit in the “Orally Transmitted Teachings,” (“Ongi kuden”) as follows:

Kudoku (benefit) means the effect of the purification of the six sense organs. Nichiren and his followers who chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo purify their six senses. Great virtue (toku) awaits those who believe in Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Benefit (ku) means happiness, or the eradication of evil, and great virtue (toku) means to create good. Kudokumeans to attain Buddhahood in one’s present form, and to purify the six sense organs.
(Gosho, p. 1775)

If you believe in the Gohonzon and practice this true Buddhism, you can eradicate the evil karma that you have brought with you from your past lives, and attain Buddhahood by purifying your six senses.
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