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Friday, July 8, 2016

Nichiren disparaged the Lotus Sutra? [Listen up Richard and Noel]

"Why do all the Buddhas in the entire universe throughout the past, present, and future protect especially the Lotus Sūtra? It is because the Lotus Sūtra is the parent, wet nurse, and master of Buddhas in the entire universe throughout the past, present, and future. They say that frogs feed, hearing the voice of their mothers; if they don’t hear the voice of their mothers, they will not feed and grow up. The Indian lizard called kṛkalāsa eats in the wind; it won't grow if there is no wind. A fish lives in the water, and a bird makes a nest in the tree. Likewise, Buddhas live in the Lotus Sūtra. As the moon's reflection resides in the water, Buddhas reside in the Lotus Sūtra. Therefore, you must remember that where there is no Lotus Sūtra, there are no Buddhas."

- Written on 24th October 1280, at Mt. Minobu by Nichiren


  1. As Nichiren wrote in a letter:

    "There are two ways of observing ichinen sanzen. One is in terms of principle, the second is in terms of the actual phenomena."

    "At the time of T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo and so on, it was [observed in] principle. Now it is [observed in] actual phenomena. Since [the latter form of] contemplation is superior, the great difficulties [accompanying it] are also superior.

    The former is ichinen sanzen of the provisional teaching [of the Lotus Sutra], and the latter is ichinen sanzen of the original teaching [of the Lotus Sutra]. They are as different as Heaven and Earth, and at the time of death, you should keep this in mind." (Toki Nyudo dono gohenji also known as Jibyo daisho gonjitsu imoku , Showa Teihon Authenticated copy extant.)

    Setting aside the detailed meaning of Ichinen Sanzen, the important thing to know is that it was the T’ien-t’ai concept based on the Lotus Sutra that all modes of existence including Buddhahood are present in and theoretically accessible to every moment of conscious awareness.

    Even more importantly, in the teaching and practice of Nichiren Buddhism we can experience the actual presence of Buddhahood in our lives through taking faith in the Lotus Sutra and the practice of chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.

    In this way, the teaching of Ichinen Sanzen becomes a reality and no longer a mere theory of how things are. In future articles in this series we will explore the detailed meaning of Ichinen Sanzen."

    Published by the Head Office of Nichiren-shu Buddhism & NOPPA.

    1. "The gosho “Conversation Between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man 聖愚問答抄” states:

      "Therefore, Myoho Renge Kyo enables us to obtain the present Buddha’s gate of insight into a single thought-moment. [It is the realisation of] the unity of mind, body, and environment throughout all the ten worlds which is the three thousand worlds." (Shogu mondo sho 聖愚問答抄, Showa Teihon 昭和定本 p. 370. Listed in the Rokuge.)

      It should not be thought, however, that Chih-i himself only viewed Ichinen Sanzen as a Theory. Rather, Ichinen Sanzen in his magnum opus, the Great Concentration and Insight (Jap. Maka Shikan 摩訶止観) is the view of reality attained by someone who has undergone a rigorous practice of meditation.

      It was intended to be a description of what can be discerned through meditative insight into the true essence of our own mind and heart. But nobody can satisfy their hunger by merely reading the menu, so the teaching of Ichinen Sanzen was intended to motivate people to practice the form of meditation known as concentration and insight meditation (Jap. Shikan 止観, Skt. Samatha Vipashyana) so they could realise the truth for themselves.

      Unfortunately, very few people have the ability, inclination, discipline, or freedom to practice tranquility and insight meditation properly. In the end, Ichinen Sanzen remained a mere theory that did not have any real impact on the lives of either the ordinary people of Nichiren’s day, who needed a simple method of liberation, or even the majority of monks, who were unable to fathom its true meaning.

      It was Nichiren’s conviction that the key insight of Ichinen Sanzen must be brought within the reach of all people – monastic or lay, male or female, educated or uneducated, good or evil.

      It was in order to share the Reality of Ichinen Sanzen in an accessible and practical way that Nichiren taught it could be experienced in its fullness by taking faith in the Lotus Sutra and chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.

      For this reason, Nichiren felt that he had surpassed the scholastic and esoteric version of T’ien-t’ai Buddhism 天台系佛教 by presenting a form of teaching and practice that was not only accessible but also potent enough to enable all people to realize the truth for themselves." NOPPA

    2. The Actuality of Ichinen Sanzen, however, is what happens when we no longer are just looking for the food court based on the image from the map, it is to actually sit down and eat lunch.

      In terms of Buddhist practice, Ichinen Sanzen teaches us that in Principle we can attain Buddhahood, but Ichinen Sanzen in Actuality is when Buddhahood actually manifests in our lives.

      Nichiren associated the teaching of Ichinen Sanzen in Principle with the first 14 Chapters of the Lotus Sutra 法華経前十四品, what the Grand Master Chih-i 智顗大師, the founder of the T’ien-t’ai school 天台宗之開祖, had termed the “Theoretical Section 迹門”.

      In the first 14 Chapters of the Lotus Sutra, the historical Sakyamuni Buddha 釋迦牟尼佛 teaches that all beings will be able to attain Buddhahood through the One Vehicle 一乘成佛. The One Vehicle is the way in which all the various methods and practices of Buddhism actually have one goal – the attainment of Buddhahood 成佛之道.

      So in Theory, or in Principle, all beings will be able to attain Buddhahood by following the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha. In addition, all the categories that Chih-i used to construct the concept of Ichinen Sanzen can be found in the first half of the Lotus Sutra. This will be seen later in this series.

      The Actuality of Ichinen Sanzen, however, is associated with the latter 14 Chapters of the Lotus Sutra 法華経後十四品 by Nichiren. Chih-i called this latter half of the Lotus Sutra the “Essential Teaching 本門”. In this half of the Lotus Sutra the Buddha reveals that His life as a Buddha has no quantifiable beginning or end and that, though He appears to pass away, He will in fact always be present as a guiding force leading people to their own attainment of Buddhahood.

      This means that not only are people theoretically capable of attaining Buddhahood, they are in fact in the process of becoming Buddhas and in fact Buddhahood is already a present reality at work in their lives.

      The latter half of the Lotus Sutra teaches that even a single moment of taking faith in and rejoicing in this teaching will enable us to realise that the life of the Buddha is always present in our lives empowering us with all the merits and virtues of Buddhahood from within. Ichinen Sanzen, the presence in our every moment of conscious awareness of the totality of life including Buddhahood, thus becomes a reality and not just a theory when our hearts are filled with trust and joy in this teaching and is expressed through the recitation of the great title (Odaimoku 御題目) of the Lotus Sutra: Namu Myoho Renge Kyo 南無妙法蓮華経, “Devotion to the Wonderful Dharma of the Lotus Flower Sutra”. NOPPA

    3. "Ji no Ichinen Sanzen 事の一念三千 (事之一念三千), the Actuality of the Three Thousand Worlds in a Single Thought-Moment, is the key principle of Nichiren Buddhism . Ji 事 means “Actuality” and no の/之 is a grammatical particle that means that the term or terms that follow belong to Ji 事 or Concrete Actuality. The word Ichinen 一念 means a Single Moment of Conscious Awareness.

      Sanzen 三千 literally means “Three Thousand,” in reference to the Three Thousand Worlds 三千世間. The Three Thousand “Worlds” do not literally refer to different worlds. These worlds are actually referring to various “modes of existence” and they encompass all the different ways in which we subjectively experience our world, the objective components of life, and the workings of the law of cause and effect. All of these will be enumerated and discussed later in this series.

      Ji no Ichinen Sanzen 事之一念三千 is the teaching of the actuality of all states or modes of existence, including Buddhahood, co-existing in every moment of conscious awareness. Ji no Ichinen Sanzen is a phrase used by Nichiren Shonin 日蓮聖人 in order to differentiate his understanding and practice of Ichinen Sanzen from what he saw as the more theoretical or abstract approach of the T’ien-t’ai school 天台宗.

      Nichiren 日蓮 called the earlier T’ien-t’ai teaching 天台教学 Ri no Ichinen Sanzen 理の一念三千 (理之一念三千). Ri 理 means “Principle.” So Ri no Ichinen Sanzen is the teaching that in Theory all modes of existence, including Buddhahood, can be discerned in every moment of conscious awareness.

      It is hard to discuss the difference between Ichinen Sanzen in Principle and in Actuality without first having a clear understanding of what Ichinen Sanzen itself means. But one thing can be pointed out from the very beginning: a conceptual explanation of Ichinen Sanzen is by its very nature Ichinen Sanzen in Principle.

      In other words, it is Ichinen Sanzen as a concept, an idea, an abstraction that awaits its application to the concrete circumstances of our daily lives. Now this is very helpful in that such an explanation can act as a kind of map showing us the highlights and landmarks that characterize our lives as interdependent transient beings.

      It is like going into a huge shopping mall wherein there are many different kinds of stores and in order to find what we are looking for, say, the location of the food court, we consult a map at the mall’s entrance which shows us where we are, the layout of the mall, and the location of the various stores. But if we are hungry we must leave the map and follow the directions to the food court." NOPPA

    4. TYPO

      Read from the last comment to the first which is the original sequence of the article which came out as last to the first or you can choose to read it from first to last as it still makes sense

  2. Ichinen sanzen is a jewel found only in the Lotus Sutra. Myoho-renge-kyo is the title of each chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Reading Nichiren's writings like a book, and not according to the programmed study the SGI promotes, I realized early on that The Lotus Sutra was the primary source of everything- it explains life and all of its functions; it explains all life phenomena throughout the universe. I also realized that the prime point of Nichiren's propagating the daimoku was the limited capacity for wisdom possessed by all living beings in the Latter Day of the Law. Nichiren taught that chanting Namu-myoho-renge-kyo "with a mind of faith in the Lotus Sutra"is the essential practice. After pondering all of these points, I concluded that the most important aspect of this practice was the focus of
    "my mind" when I chanted daimoku. By the end of my second year with NSA, I fully rejected all of the *guidance* from leaders regarding *focus* of the mind when chanting. Why? Because all of this guidance entailed sharing the *means* for fulfilling ones desires. Chanting with the image of what a member wanted to attain to achieve "the mind is a skilled painter" guidance, was bolstered with *chant for victory in all NSA activities*--. I compared these strategies to Nichiren's guidance on *prayer* , and again noted that prayer must be based on" FAITH in The Lotus Sutra", and those who practice and uphold the Lotus Sutra, are certain to have their prayers answered.

    Trying to keep this brief and interesting, the point I want to make is that Nichiren himself taught and exemplified correct practice. His practice was 180 degrees from anything taught in sectarian Buddhism, although the worst transgressions are SGI/NST and possibly Nichiren Shu.

    I recognized a paradoxical relationship between having a Latter Day deluded mind that could not directly grasp the Lotus Sutra, and trying to focus my mind while chanting. Therefore, I adopted the practice of reading the Gosho as I chanted daimoku-- every translated Gosho available, page by page as I would read any book. Kneeling in front of my altar where initially the Nikken no-honzon was enshrined, I faced "gohonzon" while chanting the sutra; then would chant 2-3 hours of daimoku, while reading the Gosho. Thus, my mind was focused on *reliable true words* of the foremost votary of the Lotus Sutra. It amazed me to note how passages of the Gosho prompted thoughts of my own life concerns and issues. From my earliest experiences practicing this way, I felt that Nichiren was speaking directly to me. I also noticed that as I went about my daily life, my thoughts, emotions and responses to *problems* were changing, and that I had multiple passages of Nichiren's writings in my mind-- with which to filter and sort out my issues. Choosing to follow these passages, meant I was upholding the Lotus Sutra. Experiencing warships and obstacles meant I was definitely upholding the Lotus Sutra. Overcoming them-- learning forbearance led to strong, firm faith in the Lotus Sutra, and the truly agonizing ordeals that made me so grateful I had formed a bond with Nichiren-- knew exactly where to go and what to do :-)

    I am not claiming *my practice* is THE only correct way-- BTW


  3. From my frame of reference, my own practice and study, it is unimaginable that a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra could neglect to note that the WHOLE sutra-- (which you will encounter all through Nichiren's writings) and SHAKYAMUNI Buddha-- to whom Nichiren referred thousands of times-- ALWAYS granting him the highest degree of reverence a human being can display; it astounds me, literally, totally amazes me to encounter practitioners with a single minded view of the daimoku that displaces the primacy of the Lotus Sutra and Shakyamuni.

    I now believe that the way Nichiren's teachings are propagated and taught in the various Nichiren sects is the reason for the confusion, or what i would call the misperception of the prime point of Nichiren's teachings. Oddly enough each of these sects tends to emphasize the *inherent wisdom* of all living beings and insist it is evoked and fully operational from the very first daimoku one chants. I disagree. Furthermore, I find the guidance on *prayer* imparted by SGI leaders, especially, to be nothing more than streamlined strategies to obtain rewards from the devil king! I say this because the focus of the mind that is taught is NOT based on FAITH in the LOTUS SUTRA, but on erroneous concepts that *one's desires* are foremost-- even the desire to be *shari hotsu*--. Taken to the extreme, those who chant mechanical daimoku focused on their *own stuff* will take on the appearance and display the behaviors of one who is *high*-- including mood swings , irritability, devious strategies for continuing to get their *fix*. They become the filial children of the devil king-- believing they are *enlightened*.

    In my humble opinion--


    1. Nichren Daishonin encouraged Shijo to think seven times before saying anything. I suggest you do the same thing. I find a lot of what's being stated on this site incredulous and deceptive.

    2. Then I suggest you point them out to me and we can discuss them.

  4. sgi/nst/shu = "nichiren said this but really meant that...........".

    nichiren - "there are two main reasons people make mistakes in their buddhist practice, 1. they are ignorant of the teachings, and 2. they follow a bad leader".

    the sgi/nst/shu are foolish people.