The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin

 The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, also know as Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism is often touted in the media as the Buddhism of the stars, and almost denigrated as 'Buddhism Lite.' 

However, this is far from the case.  It is one school of what is known as the Pure Land form of Buddhism, which became prominent in China.

Pure Land schools of Buddhism offer would be followers simple methods that enable them to practice Buddhism, either meditation, chanting, or both.

 

The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin

The Buddha

The Buddha, Prince Siddhartha of the Shakya clan was born into a noble household, where he wanted for nothing. However, as he grew he realised that life outside the palace gates was one of struggling and suffering for most people, so Siddhartha left the palace and spent many years researching the nature of suffering. He tried lots of methods to discover enlightenment, such as meditation, fasting, learning from other religious people.

Buddhist scriptures tell that Siddhartha sat under a large fig tree and vowed he would not move until he discovered full and complete enlightenment. The tree became known as the Bodhi tree (tree of enlightenment) and may still be visited. A Bodhi tree grows on the spot where Siddhartha, also known as Shakyamuni, received enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, Northeast India. It's not the original tree, but it is a descendent of.

The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin

Nichiren Buddhism, founded by Nichiren Daishonin, 1222-1282 contains aspects of Pure Land Buddhism, and is a Japanese form of the teaching. It does not worship a person, or spiritual being, The Buddha, but rather one of his later teachings, The Lotus Sutra, a complex and all embracing sutra.

The Lotus flower lives in the swamp, and actually needs those murky conditions in order to produce the wonderful Lotus flower. Parallels can be drawn that it is our life experiences, challenges and suffering that will lead us to discover enlightenment.

Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism

As with all forms of Buddhism, there are splits and disagreements within each discipline; Nichiren Buddhism is no exception. After Nichiren died, splits within the philosophy led to the emergence of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism (Shoshu meaning true school). This branch of Nichiren Buddhism survived and in 1937 a convert to the religion founded a lay society called Soka Gakkai (for information on Soka Gakkai, click here to find the link).

Nichiren Buddhism holds that enlightenment is possible in this lifetime and for all people regardless of colour, gender, sexuality or any other trait that may see a person excluded by other religions. The only thing an individual needs to do is worship the lotus Sutra.

The Sutra does not need to be studied in depth, rather a person may reach enlightenment simply by reciting the name of the Sutra twice a day. Nichiren Buddhists focus on the Gohonzon (Honzon - object of worship; Go - worthy of respect). This is a diagram taken from the original drawn by Nichiren and whiich is said to embody all the terachings of The Lotus Sutra.

Chant a Simple Phrase to become Wealthy

 Several celebrities practice Nichiren Shoshu, which has often helped them turn their lives around and receive the success they deserve (one of the most famous being Tina Turner), thus the media's insistence that this is Buddhism of the stars.  It's funny how they never comment on how many celebrities are Christian.

The media also focus on the fact that Nichiren followers may chant for what they want in life, whether that's love, sex, money, success, new car, whatever, somehow suggesting that to want these things is shallow.

This is a somewhat Christian view of things, where access to Heaven comes at the expense of worldly goods.  Buddhism, however sees the material, physical world as part of the spiritual - people need both; they need food and money to survive in our society, just as much as prayer and enlightenment.  In fact, the Buddha looked for enlightenment in fasting, and found that he was mainly very hungry and unable to think correctly.

Nichiren chanting

When Nichiren followers chant the name of the Lotus Sutra while focussing on the Gohonzon, what they are really trying to do is raise their life state (see the ten worlds), so that they are less buffeted around by the more basic human instincts and life's trials and tribulations. The theory is that if your life state is high, you have much more reserve when bad things hit you, so you are able to survive bad patches unscathed.

A person may begin by chanting for wealth, but through the Buddhist practice, their outlook may change, they may realise that the thing they thought they needed isn't right, and they need something entirely different. Each person is individual and receiving worldy wishes is no different than receiving spiritual ones.

Nipponzan Myohoji

Nipponzan Myohoji is a monastic order who also worship the Lotus Sutra; the monks of this order are fervently committed to world peace. They have erected peace Stupas (pagodas) in several countries all over the world. One of their most important Stupas is to be found on a hill, called Vulture's Peak, outside Rajgir, India. This is the site where The Buddha delivered many of his most prominent teachings, including The Lotus Sutra.

During their practice, the monks walk around the Stupa banging their tabla drums and chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra. The site has become a place of pilgrimage for Nichiren followers.

Buddhism Isn't a Religion

 Well, it's not in the sense that it doesn't believe in an overarching deity looking down on us all and organising our lives for us.  Nor does it believe that there is a pre-ordained pattern for us to follow.  It does not worship a God or fate as such, however, it is a religion in the sense that it has scriptures, and a hierarchy which people follow, but many followers of Nichiren would also define themselves as having another religion also.

What Nichiren Buddhism does offer is a simple, easily practised method for improving your own life and the lives of others, and that can't be bad can it.

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Comments 10 comments

PWalker281 6 years ago

Thanks for this informative hub and increasing my understanding of this form of Buddhism. I remember it was very popular in the 80s, probably in part because of Tina Turner and Patrick Duffy.


Gurukee 6 years ago

you got the facts about Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism wrongly.


Georgina_writes profile image

Georgina_writes 6 years ago from Dartmoor Author

Thanks PWalker281 - I didn't realise Patrick Duffy practised too.

Gurukee - In what way. This is how it is taught in the UK, but I'd love to learn more, so I'd be interested if you'd contact me with more info.


hEiDivaChocolate! profile image

hEiDivaChocolate! 6 years ago from New York, NY

This is a great hub. I was surprised though that you didn't actually express the wonderful daimoku ("the name of the Lotus Sutra" as you put it), Nam~Myoho~Renge~Kyo. It's said that having someone say it out loud, at least once, plants the seed of great benefits for all. :)


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Georgina_writes 6 years ago from Dartmoor Author

hEiDivaChocolate

That's the way Hubpages works, sometimes tio get more info you have to click through to another hub, hence bringing your articles more views. Thanks for your positive comments.


Chanting Hub 6 years ago

I really enjoyed reading this hub. Very interesting on this particular tradition of Buddhism. Thanks for creating.


formosangirl profile image

formosangirl 4 years ago from Los Angeles

Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism split in the 90's. Soka Gakkai International is also Nichiren Daishonin-based Buddhism.


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charu7_2000 4 years ago

great loved it


Kanika 4 years ago

Thanks for putting up all this information. Loved it


Joseph Dean profile image

Joseph Dean 4 years ago from Macon, Georgia

Great read and your reference of Tina Turner made it all the better!!!

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