"Meditation" in Nichiren Traditions

"Meditation" in Nichiren Traditions

Postby Queequeg » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:37 pm

This is a new thread picking up on a subject brought up in the Four Noble Truths thread.
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Re: "Meditation" in Nichiren Traditions

Postby Queequeg » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:03 pm

To simplify this, there is one meditation in Nichiren Buddhism - faith 信 in the Dharma World of Buddhahood in our life and the life of all sentient and insentient beings, and their environments (ie. inanimate things like rocks are considered to have Buddhahood also).

See Kanjin No Honzon Sho - Object of Veneration for Observing the Mind

The full meaning of what that means gets, um, complicated.

We don't undertake other types of meditation because we view all practices as contained in this practice of faith. We view other practices as amplifications of discrete aspects of the practice of faith.

It helps to understand Zhiyi's mutuality logic, but that would be just a start.
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Re: "Meditation" in Nichiren Traditions

Postby rory » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:16 am

I have no problem doing Shikan: calming [Shi} and also contemplation [kan] on a passage of the Lotus Sutra as an auxiliary practice. Additionally while I chant Daimoku I do a visualization of Sacred Vulture Peak.
Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
The gist of these passages is that the Buddha's practice as the cause and His virtue as the effect are altogether contained in the five characters of "Myo-ho ren-ge kyo". If we uphold the five characters, the merits of those cause and effect are naturally transferred to us. (NOPPA D2, P146)
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Re: "Meditation" in Nichiren Traditions

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:13 am

"the other" practices could also be seen as having non Buddhahood related yet still worthwhile benefits. other than chanting daimoku and the sutra in Shindoku (two separate things?) or english my only experience is breath observation and when I was a teen qi (although I am now under the impression qi means "breath")....these things are good for your brain, and help you deal with stress, meditation should be like yoga or biking or working out, people should "just do it" for health if nothing else.
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Re: "Meditation" in Nichiren Traditions

Postby UniversalWorthy » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:35 pm

There are plenty of practices and visualizations and formulas for accumulating merit and wisdom and the development of bodhicitta. There is also the Samantabhadra Meditation Sutra epilogue of the Lotus Sutra which I sometimes use as a guide for visualization while chanting daimoku. There are plenty of repentance-based purification practices which could be employed by the Nichiren sect among others. It's troublesome that some practicioners of any sect would not see the benefit to a better understanding of the universal nature of various mahayana practices, to settle the three poisons and develop bodhicitta (the necessary gateway to buddhahood) I practice daimoku and sometimes I speak in what may be perceived as harsh words (as Nichiren often did) but do so with the intent of compassion. However, I do not fear, become hateful or shake because I want the suffering to end for all beings.
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Re: "Meditation" in Nichiren Traditions

Postby Queequeg » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:03 pm

The question of practices other than faith comes up for Nichiren practitioners. Its complicated.

The Daimoku is an expression of this teaching - but its significant that Nichiren did not view the connection between the meaning (faith in universal Buddhahood) and the expression (the Daimoku) as absolute. He acknowledged that his 5 or 7 Character Daimoku was the same as Never Disparaging's 24 Character practice - something along the lines of "I would not dare denigrate you, you will be a Buddha!" The idea that meaning and expression are not exclusive comes back to the Lotus Sutra itself - particularly in the concept of Upaya. Zhiyi explores this relationship further, particularly in his FaHua Hsuan I - Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra - which is a thesis explaining that the entire Lotus Sutra is found in its title, the Daimoku.

For Nichiren, in this world, at this time, under the present circumstances, the Lotus Sutra is expressed in the Daimoku. The actual cause and effect conditions are critical, just as the transcendent, absolute aspect of the Daimoku is equally critical - and when understood correctly, are the same Truth. (Notice the Threefold Inclusive Truth structure here.)

Nichiren also wrote about "reading with the body". The Lotus Sutra is not something to merely be chanted, but it is something that is meant to be lived. Nichiren viewed his life as the text of the Lotus Sutra itself. In this sense, all activities, when undertaken in the spirit of faith, become the reality of the Lotus Sutra. This would mean that anything we do is practice. Chanting the sutra is the Lotus Sutra. Shodaigyo is the Lotus Sutra. Breath counting meditation is the Lotus Sutra. Observations of the 18 sense fields is the Lotus Sutra. Threefold contemplation of reality is the Lotus Sutra. Going to Yoga class is the Lotus Sutra. Going to school, work, a football game is the Lotus Sutra. Shopping for a pair of prize shoes is the Lotus Sutra. Benching 350 lbs is the Lotus Sutra. Certainly, telling another even a single phrase of Buddhadharma is the Lotus Sutra. It goes without saying that insisting on interacting with all beings as though they were full blown Buddhas is the Lotus Sutra.

This might sound like a simplistic and naive practice - but anyone who has tried to undertake this practice, in its simplicity, will confirm the extreme difficulty. In practical effect, in order to really live this practice, I think, you actually do have to undertake a variety of practices like breathing meditation, contemplation of the foulness of the body, contemplation of the senses as senses, the conventionality and emptiness of dharmas, the compassionate vows of the Bodhisattvas, etc. etc. The distinction is that where some schools take one or another or even a series or groups of these practices as a primary practice that is believed to result in annuttara samyak sambodhi, Nichiren denies this; unless framed within the Buddha's own view and practice - a firm belief and understanding for the highest regard for your own life as well as the life of all other beings - the real meaning of the Universality of Buddhahood according to Nichiren - these practices are dead ends - ascetic practices divorced from the ultimate goal.

My sense is that Nichiren proscribed practices other than the Daimoku for the same reason exemplified in the Milk as Medicine parable from the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. There was too much confusion concerning these other practices so rather than try to explain their proper application within a Lotus Sutra context, he just proscribed them in favor of the single precept of faith. I don't think that proscription is meant to be permanent, but then, I could not venture to suggest that the time is appropriate for that proscription to be set aside. I think we all have to make decisions about how we live our lives for ourselves. No one can tell us. We have to be lights for ourselves.
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