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Friday, May 30, 2014

Helping Alex with his term paper

<< Hey there! I found out that you are an expert in Buddhism religion, so I am just curious if you can help me out with my project... >>

I got several books and doing my ISP on them, but still didn't get or got a little information for such questions as:

1) What are the basic beliefs, concepts?
2) How do they worship / celebrate?
3) Importnat feasts. Why?
4) Important Sites or Locations?
5) Hierarchy
6) Morals, etc.
7) What's your view on gays, abortion, etc.
8) Divisions...
9) WorldViews.
10) Prayers? Symbols? Rituals?

I would be very glad if you could help me to answer those...

Thanks in advance,


I am far from an expert on Buddhism although I know a bit about Nichiren Lotus Sutra Buddhism. You have been led astray about my abilities. I am not interested in doing your paper for you but I will answer the questions above for your sake.

1) What are the basic beliefs, concepts?

The basic belief of Buddhism is that the through the Buddhist faith, practice and study one can overcome the Four Sufferings: Birth, Old Age, Illness and Death and transform them into the four virtues of true self, purity, eternity, and joy. My faith practice and study centers around the Law of Namu Myoho renge kyo or Adoration to the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Flower Sutra)\ and the Master of Teachings Lord Shaky [Shakyamuni] of the Original Doctrine which are both found within the Lotus Sutra.

2) How do they worship/celebrate?

That depends on the sect of Buddhism. Most Buddhist sects advocate at least twice daily religeous practice in the morning and the evening, either meditational [contemplational], devotional or both. Most Buddhist sects celebrate the birth, enlightenment (Nirvana), and the passing away of Shakyamuni Buddha on December 8th. This is known as Wesak day. They also celebrate New Years Day. We of the Kempon Hokke and most Japanese Nichiren sects also celebrate the days of the birth [Feb 16th], passing [Oct 13th], and enlightenment [Sept. 12th] of Nichiren Daishonin, the messenger of the Buddha.

We chant Namu Myoho renge kyo with faith in the the Great Object of Worship or Gohonzon which is the life and land of the eternal Buddha at the moment of transmission of Namu Myoho renge kyo to the masses of beings.We also chant the second and sixteenth chapters of the Lotus Sutra in the morning and the evening in a service called Gongyo which means assiduous practice. We chant these chapters in ancient Chinese with a Japanese pronunciation. I presently chant one half to one hour of Namu Myoho renge kyo a day and Gongyo which takes around five to fifteen minutes. I have done this for more than 30 years. Sometimes I chant a lot more and occassionally a lot less. We also celebrate the 28th of every month and many in our Sangha (group)  chant one hour together on this day. This is in memory of the first day that our founder Nichiren Daishonin chanted Namu Myoho renge kyo on April 28th 1253. Our daily worship of the Law and Eternal Buddha is really a celebration, so in a sense, we celebrate every day.

3) Important feasts. Why?

I love to eat so every meal to me is an important feast.

4) Important Sites or Locations?

Their are four "holy places" in India for most Buddhists:

Bodh-gaya: Where the historical Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.

Lumbini Gardens: The birthplace of the Buddha

Deer Park: The site of the Buddha's first sermon after attaining enlightenment.

Kusinara: Where the Buddha passed away.

Our sect also considers Ryojusen (Eagle or Vulture Mountain) in India and Mount Minobu in Japan to be sacred places: Ryojusen is where the Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra and Minobu is where Nichiren Daishonin is buried. In a sense, wherever one chants Namu Myoho renge kyo is a holy or sacred place, so our homes are most holy and sacred places.

5) Hierarchy

This really depends on the sect of Buddhism. In our Buddhism there is no hierarchy because every one who chants Namu Myoho renge kyo with faith in the Gohonzon, Lotus Sutra, and the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha is a Bodhisattva of the Earth, an exalted being in his or her's own right. The leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth is Bodhisattva Jogyo who was born as Nichiren Daishonin in 13th century Japan. Our teachers are Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin because of their deep faith and understanding of the Lotus Sutra and their behavior as human beings.

6) Morals, etc.

There are two major schools of Buddhism, Hinayana (lesser vehicle) and Mahayana (greater vehicle). The Hinayanists (or Theravadins) stress morals or behavioral rules and regulations. For Hinayana monks there are 250 rules, and for nuns there are 500. For laymen there are less rules but still many. Rule in Buddhism are known as precepts. For example, do not eat after 12 noon, do not drink alcoholic beverages, do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not sleep on a raised platform, etc. Most Mayahanists, especially the monks, follow ten precepts:

  1. Not to kill or encourage others to kill.
  2. Not to steal or encourage others to steal.
  3. Not to engage in licentious acts or encourage others to do so. A monk is expected to abstain from sexual conduct entirely.
  4. Not to use false words and speech, or encourage others to do so.
  5. Not to trade or sell alcoholic beverages or encourage others to do so.
  6. Not to broadcast the misdeeds or faults of the Buddhist assembly, nor encourage others to do so.
  7. Not to praise oneself and speak ill of others, or encourage others to do so.
  8. Not to be stingy, or encourage others to do so.
  9. Not to harbor anger or encourage others to be angry.
  10. Not to speak ill of the Buddha, the Dharma or the Sangha (lit. the Triple Jewel)) or encourage others to do so.

A corollary to the precepts are the Four Bodhisattva [those who delay their attainment of Supreme Enlightenment for the sake of others] vows:

  • However innumerable are sentient beings, I vow to save them all.
  • However inexhaustible are defilements [sins], I vow to extinguish them all
  • However immeasurable are the dharmas, I vow to master them all.
  • However unattainable is the Way, I vow to attain it.

  • In Nichiren Daishonin's Lotus Sutra Buddhism, there is only one precept which is known as the diamond precept: Chant Namu Myoho renge kyo with faith in the Three Treasures [The Law, Buddha and Sangha] and Three Great Secret Laws [Namu Myoho renge kyo, the Gohonzon, and the place where the Lotus Sutra is practiced]. We only practice this precept because those on the path to Supreme and Perfect Enlightenment always function to benefit oneself and others.

    7) What's your view on gays, abortion, etc.?

    There are no teachings which specifically address the issue of homosexuality or heterosexuality in the Mahayana, except in the monastic setting. The Buddha taught that abortion was wrong. Common sense and the Middle Way should prevail in all matters. Therefore, safe contraception is a far more preferable practice than abortion.

    8) Divisions...

    Hinayana(Theravadin) and Mahayana have been briefly discussed above. I would also like to add that today, most people in South East Asia practice Hinayana and most people in Japan, China, Korea and the rest of the world practice Mahayana. There is also a division called Vajrayana which is practiced in Northern India, Tibet, and Japan which involves magical practices. Vajrayana incorporates yoga, indigenous nature religions, and the teachings of the great Buddhist teacher Nagarjuna. I am partial to the Mahayana as it is universally accessible to all people and a correct practice definitely leads to Enlightenment.

    The other division that you should know is the division of the Hinayana teachings called the Tripitaka (three baskets): 1). Sutra-pitaka = the discourses of the Buddha; 2). Vinaya-pitaka = the origins of the sangha (group of believers) and the rules of discipline regulating monks and nuns; 3). Abhidharma-pitaka = the discourses on the Buddha's teachings by the latter day saints and sages.

    9) World Views.

    That depends on the sect and the individual. We believe, in our sect, that all people have the potential to attain Buddhahood so all people are equal no matter what sins they may have committed. Through the redemptive power of the Buddhist faith and practice, all people can attain Enlightenment and become Buddhas, even in this lifetime. Our sect also believes that the major cause of the people's suffering is misleading religions and philosophies, so we have a duty to establish the Right Law (Namu Myoho renge kyo).

    10) Prayers? Symbols? Rituals?

    This too depends on the sect of Buddhism. There are basically four categories of "prayers". Three are meditations or contemplations: Vipasaana or meditation on the so-called three marks of existenc: Impermanence; suffering; and egolessness of all phenomena both mental and physical. This leads to the insight of "emptiness". Such insight is said to lead to the prevention of arising of passions; Shamatha is meditation for calming the mind and the technique is described as single pointedness. The Lotus Sutra meditation is known as will power consciousness (desiring to see the Buddha we do not begrudge our life). The last category is conventional prayer for the health and happiness of oneself and others both alive and deceased. Repentance, is a subcategory of conventional Buddhist prayer. Chanting Namu Myoho renge kyo encompasses all the various types of meditation and prayers and even surpasses the meditation of Great Concentration and Insight taught by Tientai the Great of China

    Symbols: Many sects of Buddhism, even many Zen practitioners have various objects of worship, including Buddhas, Bodhisattvas (other compassionate beings), Deities etc. Our sect has the great object of worship known as the Gohonzon which is the actuality of the Master of Teachings Lord Shakyamuni of the Original Doctrine or the Original Eternal Buddha at the moment of transmission of Namu Myoho renge kyo to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth [us].

    The Tibetian Buddhists have hundreds of rituals. We have the rituals of making offerings to the Gohonzon such as water, flowers or evergreens, fruit and incense and the ringing of a bell (offering of divine music). We also have prayer beads not unlike rosaries.


    Also, "Do you believe in afterlife, hell, heaven?" and "What kind of music you are listening to?" , btw do you have some kind of miracles as we do in catholic religion? >>

    Hi Alex. Yes I believe in an afterlife. This is a very complex topic to explain and ultimately it is a matter of faith. Let us begin with the Three Buddha Bodies or the Three bodies of the eternal Buddha: The Historical Buddha, Shakyamuni of India, was the earthly manifestation of the Eternal Buddha and represents self. We too have a temporary existence that represents self. This is the Manifestation-body of the Buddha or generally our manifest existence. The other Buddhas of the universe manifest here and in other quarters and represent not-self. Generally, other people are not we ourselves so, utilizing ourselves as a reference point, all other people represent not-self. This is the Reward-body (all the "branch" body Buddhas who make up the Reward Body of the Buddha) or generally, all other beings besides our selves. These two, both self (Shakyamuni as a manifest historical personage or we as a temporary existences) and not-self (all the other Buddhas in the universe, those beings rewarded for their efforts in the Buddhist practice, and more generally, everyone other than we ourselves),  make up the teaching of duality: The Buddha Shakyamuni is different from the other Buddhas of the universe and is the Original Teacher of all Buddhas since the infinite past. He is also different than we and we are different than he (self versus not-self). No-self is the Law Body of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni and is omnipresent, exists eternally and is one with the Law of Myoho renge kyo. It represents no-self or the void and is the body that integrates the manifest Buddha and the other Buddhas of the universe [or ourselves and others].The Law-body of the Buddha is the teaching of non-duality. This is the teaching that there is no fundamental difference between Buddha Shakyamuni, the other Buddhas of the universe, us, atoms, specks of dust, plants, and animals, etc. it is the fundamental reality that underlies all phenomena both material and physical, something akin to string theory in physics. Restated: All phenomena or beings are in essence Buddha Shakyamuni, are eternal, omnipresent and one with the Law of Myoho renge kyo. The dual (self and not self) and the non-dual (no-self) are sometimes referred to as two but not two and one but not one. Actually (no longer as potential),  those who chant Namu Myoho renge kyo with absolute faith in the Law and Eternal Buddha are one with the Eternal Buddha, his life and land, behavior and function.

    Now, as far as an afterlife, "our" karma or that which and whom we are as a temporary existence, was created, through "our" thoughts words and deeds since the infinite past. It has manifested as Mark and Alex (selves or temporary existences). Upon death, karma, being like energy, is neither created nor destroyed and is transformed via the process of death. We will never again manifest exactly as Mark or Alex but as other selves or temporary existences. At the moment of death we again return to the original state of no-self, become one with the, Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni and Law, yet, we still have created the karma to effect suchness or being when the time and conditions are ripe. If we made bad causes through our thoughts, words, and deeds, a being such as centipede, a person born without eyes or ears, or another unfortunate birth will ensue.

    Making the causes to follow the path of Buddha and helping others to do the same, ensures a fortunate birth. Chanting Namu Myoho renge kyo with faith in the Gohonzon is the highest cause we can make to ensure "our" birth as a Bodhisattva or Buddha.

    Hell and Heaven are realms of being whether referring to self, not-self or no-self. They are eternally abiding realms within all beings both sentient and insentient. Pain is Hell and pleasure is Heaven. Actually there are ten eternally abiding realms: Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Tranquility (or Humanity), Rapture, Learning, Self Realization, Bodhisattva and Buddha. These are the ten realms that exist both in ourselves and our surroundings. Yet, there are one or several realms that we gravitate to depending on our karma. For example, though a person resides principally in the realm of Humanity, if he is accidently bumped on the street and punches the person who bumped him, he is at that moment in the realm of animality. A cat and dog, on the other hand, though predominantly in the realm of Animality can manifest Bodhisattva or the realm of compassion by acting selflessly to save its babies from a fire, for example. The more selfless one's actions, the more one becomes one with the no-self or Eternal Buddha which is one with the Law. The most selfless action we can take is to teach other to chant Namu Myoho renge kyo and take faith in the Master of Teachings Lord Shakyamuni of the Original Doctrine which is the Gohonzon as mentioned in our previos correspondence.

    The greatest miracle in Buddhism is that a common mortal can become a Buddha. Benefits do occur however and may be inconspicuous or conspicuous and depend on the merits both ceded to us by the Law and the Buddha and created by us through our fath and practice. It is is proportional to the depths of our faith and practice.

    I listen to Rock or Blues mostly. I like the Rolling Stones, Van Halen, Metallica, the Allman Brothers, Blue Oyster Cult, Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, B.B.King, The Eagles etc....

    Hope you are well.

    I would be happy to help anyone out who desires to know anything about Buddhism, even a word or a phrase

    1 comment:

    1. off subject: gotta laugh; sgi in on another campaign to contact people who have for one reason or the other, left the sgi.

      beware of evil spiritual friends.