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Monday, June 4, 2018

On doctrines and dogmas

Cris Roman wrote on Buddha Jones:

"When I hugged Mr. Williams and left the NSA HQ for the last time in 1983, I determined to follow the guidance of a very wise priest (who, naturally, was deported from the U.S. by NSA) by the name of Shoubo Sakata. He said to me, "You know, Cris... when the Daishonin lived and established the greatness of his teaching and his life in Japan, he was all alone. It was all about what he did by himself and that is how it is for each of us." We discussed how lovely it would be a truly grass roots Nichiren Sangha naturally evolved throughout the world and then ruefully realized it would probably not happen in our lifetimes.

Over the years, when I have yearned, more than anything else I have ever wanted, for people to chant with and a group to cherish the Gosho with, I have periodically gone back to Sakata and asked, "How about if I go here or there? (meaning anywhere from the Hokkeko to the Danto to the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood [as a would-be acolyte] to Nichiren Shu to just about anywhere I could think of for human spiritual closeness)." And always his answer has been the same -- "the Daishonin did it on his own and why would you want to jump from the frying pan into the fire?"

Finally, I have realized that any religious organization, by dint of its existence and need for survival, must possess a dogma and the lack of dogma attached to the practice of Daimoku to the Gohonzon is what makes the Daishonin's teaching so totally and universally practicable.

And so, finally in my mature years, I realize that my sangha is contained within the entropy of the relationships I have built with a number of Nichiren believers, both lay and priestly, both organizationally attached and not, over the years. Still, the notion of a Nichiren Sangha gathering, as proposed by Brooke, does resonate. Count me in. But, for now, I count my blessings and appreciate my fortune at being able to travel almost anywhere in this land and find those with whom I can chant.

I used to think Nichiren's protestations about the rarity of being able to embrace the Lotus Sutra and "easy to begin, but difficult to continue" were simply encouragement meant to inspire us in the quest to spread a religion that would certainly envelop the world within my life. Now I realize they were true and, in that realization, celebrate every day my appreciation at being one of very few in the vanguard of practicing a spiritual teaching which, like so many universal truths, may take centuries, if not millenia to establish itself in global mainstream consciousness."


Nichiren uses the word "doctrine" [or "doctrines"] to mean dogmas. They are all infallible truth principles. What the various sects teach as doctrine may or may not be dogmas: Those doctrines which are universally true are dogmas of the Nichiren faith; those doctrines which are false are not dogmas of the Nichiren faith and must be discarded. There are more than 600 references to "doctrines" in the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin and more than 350 references to "doctrine". Read them for yourselves. Without doctrine there are no principles and no religion. There are important doctrines such as Namu Myoho renge kyo, Shakyamuni Buddha of the 16th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Gohonzon, and shoju versus shakubuku. Then there are minor doctrines such as flowers or evergreens, butsudan or no butsudan, how much to chant, what to chant (besides the Daimoku), etc. Only we embrace every doctrine of Nichiren without altering [adding or subtracting] so much as a dot.

Just chanting the Daimoku is a tremendous source of good fortune. How much more a correct faith in the Three Treasures and Three Great Secret Laws.

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