What does religion teach human beings? It teaches to bow in veneration. Bowing in veneration is the rite and deportment for honoring others. Bowing in veneration is not a mechanical gesture, but one that requires seeing in others the Sacred One worthy of veneration. The first thing religion provides is the entity, the esteemed object to be commonly venerated by all people. They are, for instance, the various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in Buddhism or God in Christianity. This is then applied to societal life, and reverence towards others is taught. First parents are revered, then teachers, elders and leaders. We then venerate those who we meet every day and those who are far away. We are ultimately to venerate the bad or ignoble no matter how egregious they may be.
Harmony in the family and between couples begins with mutual respect and veneration. The security of a nation starts from respect and veneration between the government and the people. Peace in society starts from mutual trust and veneration between the young and the old. As such, all peace and happiness begins with mutual veneration. More than anything else, mutual veneration sustains the human race and enables it to flourish. This is called tangyo-raihai. Anything that claims the name of religion but fails to teach veneration towards others is not a religion capable of emancipating the modern times.
With our body that bows in veneration, our mouth utters admiration towards others, stating the reason for reverence. Veneration expressed by our bodies cannot be sustained at all times and at all places, yet the oral practice of commendation can be done anywhere, whether in sleep or awake, sitting down or as we walk, whether those who are the subject of our reverence are present or not. The sutra expounds on this as, "... always spoke thus."
The praise in Tathagata Shakyamuni's Era of Final Dharma is the five and seven characters of Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo. In the past infinite, boundless, inconceivable and asamkhyeya kalpas, during the Era of Semblance Dharma of Tathagata Majestic Voice King, the praise consisted of the twenty-four [kanji] characters, "I deeply revere you. I dare not slight or despise you. For you will all go about and practice the Bodhisattva way and are to become Buddhas." These twenty-four characters explicitly elucidate the reason for not slighting or holding others in contempt but rather to deeply revere them. The quintessential practice of the Lotus Sutra is taught to be represented by these twenty-four characters. The five and seven characters of Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo and the twenty-four characters may be different in length, yet are identical in spirit.
The chanting of the five and seven syllables of Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo through one's mouth is an act that believes in the Buddha-nature in the hearts and minds of others that is to be honored; that prays, encourages and exhorts the rapid manifestation of this Buddha-nature to become the ultimate perfected Sacred One. The chanting of Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo through the mouth is the easiest of all practices and yet the most vital among all modes of religious practice.