shaunc wrote:Just a few questions regarding nichiren shu.
1). Is it correct that they regard shakyumani Buddha as their main teacher & nichiren as a bodhisattva/arahat/saint.
2). Sitting meditation is also practised but only as a secondary practise to chanting nam myo ho renge kyo.
3). When reciting chapter 2 & 16 of the lotus sutra it is recited in English rather than Japanese.
Not a Nichiren Shu practitioner, but just offering some general comments -
In Nichiren's writings, the Shakyamuni Buddha he worships as parent, teacher and sovereign of the threefold world is the Triple Bodied Primordial Buddha revealed in full in the 16th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra. It is not the limited understanding of Shakyamuni Buddha who was born in Lumbini, attained awakening under the Pipal tree near Gaya, began turning the wheel at Sarnath, and entered Parinirvana at Kushinagar. The Shakyamuni we are talking about attained awakening in the infinitely remote past, is endowed with not only the eternal dharma body, but eternal sambhoga and nirmana bodies as well, and is always in the Saha world, teaching and converting beings.
Nichiren has the title Shonin (聖人) which has been translated as "saint". I recently re-read Bhiku Dharmamitra's translation of the Six Dharma Gates to the Sublime and in a footnote he explains his aversion to rendering 聖 as "saint", preferring the sanskrit term, "Arya" which has been translated to English as "Noble".Here is the footnote in full:
"I have preferred to reconstruct rather than translate the character used by Sino-Buddhist tradition to translate the Sanskrit arya
- 聖). Why? I find the two default English renderings and a more recent and slightly innovative rendering all to be untenable:
"The first default translation, "sage," merely implies worldly wisdom. Much of what has been written by the so-called "sages" of both Eastern and Western philosophical history is, in Buddhist terms, classic "wrong view." There is almost no possibility that any of the identified "sages" of those traditions ever succeeded in realizing "the path of seeing" wherein one directly perceives the emptiness of inherent existence of all phenomena. Hence, by definition, none of these sages could likely have been an arya
"The second default translation, "saint," has already been long assigned to states of extreme "holiness" as defined by Christian culture. Such "saints," although often noteworthy for consistently "selfless" behavior, are not particularly noted for the deep supramundane gnosis and wisdom which comes with the path of seeing defining an arya
"Recently, some have chosen "superior" as a translation. As a standard term of reference for senior clerics in Catholic monasteries and convents, it seems to fall far short of the transcendent connotations of arya
In primitive Buddhism, people who had attained at least the stage of "Stream Winner" (Skt. srotapanna) were apparently called "arya puggala" or "Noble Person". The character 人 in 聖人 (shonin) means "person", so shonin could literally be reconstructed in sanskrit as "arya puggala" or "Noble Person." Maybe it might be most appropriate to render Nichiren Shonin in English as "The Noble One Nichiren".
Nichiren is not considered and arhat in any sense of that term. Certainly not in the primitive Buddhism sense, meaning a person who has exhausted all karma and attained nirvana as described in the Tripitaka teachings.
Nichiren did however suggest he may be an avatar of Visistacaritra Bodhisattva (Jogyo Bosatsu; Superior Conduct Bodhisattva), one of the four leaders of the multitude of Bodhisattvas who emerge from beneath the Earth in the 15th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra. He also compared himself to Sadaparibhuta Bodhisattva (Fukyo Bosatsu, Never Disparaging Bodhisattva).