“This is vulgar,” A. pronounced loudly into my ear. “This is vulgarity itself.” We were standing under an arch in the gymnasium of a public school in Manhattan in June 1971. Fifteen clean-cut, energetic young men were waving their arms about vigorously, leading the audience in a song called “Have a Gohonzon,“* set to the Jewish song “Havah Nagila”:

Have a Gohonzon,
Have a Gohonzon
Have a Gohonzon,
Chant for awhile.
You’ll find your life will be
Full of vitality,
Watching your benefits
Grow in a pile …

*Gohonzon: In Japanese, honzon indicates an object of worship. Go is an honorific prefix. Nichiren Daishonin embodied “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo,” as a mandala (Sanskrit for an object or altar on which buddhas and bodhisattvas are represented). The Gohonzon may 

be either a paper scroll or wood block with Chinese characters.

The audience, a black-and-white cross section of New York City’s diverse ethnic and economic population packed the room; they sang and clapped with ferocious enthusiasm.

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