Dave: “Mark, the Shakyamuni you are worshipping is not the Gautama from India. It is a fictional Shakyamuni, symbolically created by the authors of the Lotus Sutra, who were trying to enlighten people to their own Eternal Buddha nature.”
Mark: Lets just throw out one of the bodies of the Three Bodied Tathagata [the Manifestation Body]. Good. Now, that fits nicely with your reshaping of the Nichiren faith.
Dave: The reality these authors knew for themselves from their own enlightenment. The Shakyamuni of the Lotus Sutra is a story of how a person can attain buddhahood and how he realized that the Buddhahood he attained, was not just a recent occurance (under the bodhi tree), but that Eternal Buddhahood is within all beings.
Mark: If Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin never taught you this [through Myoho renge kyo], you would be a wandering mendicant.
Dave: i know you think this connection to Shakamuni is important and it is important, but if interpreted the wrong way you miss the real point.
Mark: We interpret our connection to Shakyamuni Buddha exactly as Nichiren Daishonin. Nichiren didn’t revere a disembodied Buddha like Dainichi or Buddha-nature. He revered The Three Bodied Tathagata Shakyamuni, as do we.
Dave: Gautama was a regular person who dicovered how to have the experience of enligtenment. Worshipping him was never his teaching anymore then worshipping Nichiren, was Nichiren’s teaching. Both taught the law.
Mark: Kobo too called Shakyamuni Buddha [of the Juryo Chapter of the Lotus Sutra] an ordinary person: “In his Precious Key to the Secret Treasury he [Kobo] claims that the Shakyamuni Buddha of the ‘Life Span’ chapter of the Lotus Sutra is an ordinary person,…” — The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra
Dave: In the context of Nichiren dealing with a country of weirdos who worshipped imaginary, fictional buddhas, he pointed back to Shakayamuni a real historical person. he had to break the bad habit of worshipping imaginary beings who would forver be greater then the common mountain folk.
Mark: All of Nichiren’s tears in gratitude for Shakyamuni Buddha, just a teaching device, not real tears, crocodile tears? You are cold Dave…and reading too much into a simple religion based largely on gratitude. Shakyamuni Buddha was Nichiren Daishonin’s teacher [and yours], more important than either sovereign or parent, according to Nichiren. The true votaries of the Lotus Sutra are uncommon mountain folk.
Dave: Scouring the gosho for ways to try to refute this is pointless. Nichiren either did not know the Lotus Sutra wasn’t direct from Shakyamuni or wasn’t saying. I believe he had a good idea about it though, based on various statements he made.
Mark: No teachings of the Buddha were directly from Shakyamuni Buddha. Those who put the Lotus Sutra into words were more Enlightened and better at the game of telephone than the others. They were more faithful, disciplined, and had better memories. That is one reason the present day votaries too experience hatred and jealousy. The best among us, Nichiren Daishonin, remembered the teachings he received from Shakyamuni Buddha in the remote past and again at the Ceremony in the Air on Vulture peak. But of course, if we are to believe you, unlike real tears, Nichiren was lying or merely using a teaching device. Thankfully, it is a free country and you are entitled to believe your mind as the source [of Myoho renge kyo]. We believe it was the Buddha’s mind. We thank Shakyamuni Buddha and you thank yourself. Whose view is superior and whose inferior? Whose view is based on reality and whose on wishful thinking? Whose is based on ego and whose view is based on egolessness? Whose is based on gratitude and whose is based in the World of Anger? Whose view is based on the Sutra and writings of Nichiren Daishonin and whose is not?
Dave: Were it really the case that the historical Buddha was what Nichiren worshipped, then why inscribe a gohonzon, using Ichinen Sanzen as a basis? Ichinen Sanzen was not taught by Gautama and does not appear in the Lotus Sutra, except when interpreted in the light of Ichinen Sanzen. Gautama had taught dependant origination, but did not go further.
Nichiren had his own awakening. So did Tientai. They both knew the Sutra does not teach Ichinen Sanzen directly. Instead they used Ichinen Sanzen as a way to interpret the core of the Lotus Sutra.
Mark: You confuse theoretical and actual Ichinen Sanzen. Actual Ichinen Sanzen is the Buddha himself, the Three Bodied Tathagata specifically, and those who realize their relationship to him generally. The Three Bodied Tathagata, one of whose bodies is the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, is best represented by Gohonzon. Gohonzon itself is Actual Ichinen Sanzen. Since Gohonzon too exists within, no external Gohonzon is actually necessary and there are other ways to represent the Eternal Buddha and the Ceremony In the Air.