Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby OregonBuddhist » Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:21 pm

I suppose it's because Soka Gakkai is so popular. I doubt anyone would argue that Soka Gakkai is the most high profile Nichiren school. So, I suppose it only stands to reason that Nichiren Shoshu, the school that Soka Gakkai was originally a part of, would be the second-most-well-known Nichiren organization. It seems that, by contrast, Nichiren Shu is relatively obscure in the awareness of the general public.

I hesitate to ask this question because I don't want to get involved in any controversy. But ... I was wondering if anyone knows which organization is oldest, Nichiren Shu or Nichiren Shoshu. I've read that Nichiren Shu claims to go all the way back to Nichiren himself, or at least to his disciples. But then I've read that Nichiren Shoshu claims the same.

And while we're at it, what do those words mean? I think I read that "Nichiren Shoshu" means "The Orthodox School of Nichiren." So, does Nichiren Shu simply mean "The School of Nichiren"?

Thanks. And, again, I really am NOT trying to start any kind of controversy with this. Just trying to educate myself. Thanks.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby Queequeg » Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:31 pm

Hello OB,

The identities of Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu as we know them today have a lot to do with the religious corporations laws in Japan, particularly after the Meiji Restoration. These "sects", while indicative of some generally shared principals, are not absolute. Individual temples will from time to time change their sectarian affiliation as they see fit. Even temples within a sectarian affiliation may follow slightly different teachings or interpretations.

With that said, the head temples of both Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu, and many other Nichiren sects, can trace their history back to Nichiren. Some, like Kiyosumi-dera where Nichiren studied as a young monk have histories that go even further back (they were converted to Nichiren temples at some point in their history).

The sectarian affiliations are probably sufficient to make general conclusions about the ideas espoused at a particular temple, but are not definite.

Everyone claims they are the real deal - would anyone ever say "We teach counterfeit Buddhism!"

Hope that is helpful.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby OregonBuddhist » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:34 am

THanks for the response. Where Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu ever affiliated, then?

Does anyone know which of the two actually goes back to the days of Nichiren? The impression I get from Nichiren Shu is that it claims to go all the way back to Nichiren himself. But then I read that Nichiren Shoshu claims the same.

I hesitate to make this statement, because I don't want to get involved in any controversy. But it seems to me, from what I know, that Nichiren Shoshu is much more "evangelical" (having created the off-shoot of Soka Gakkai, even), and Nichiren Shu is not so evangelical. (By "evangelical," I mean, "advertising.) So, I suppose that I just get the impression that Nichiren Shu is more established and therefore may be the older one. But what do I know? Not much. That's why I ask. Thanks. :)
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby ric » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:08 pm

Mornin' Oregon Buddhist

Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu were never affiliated, despite the efforts during the Meiji Restoration and during the Showa period to force all Nichiren schools to join under one banner. Both Schools trace their origins back to Nichiren. The question is which of the disciples of Nichiren founded the branch school. Nichiren stated that "I, Nichiren, am not the founder of any school, nor am I a latter-day follower of any older school. (Blessings of the Lotus Sutra)

As was the practice of Japanese Budddhist teachers at the time, Nichiren named 6 main disciples. They were in order of beginning to practice under Nichiren, Nissho - 1253, Nichiro - 1254, Nikko - 1257, Niko - 1265, Nitcho - 1267, and Nichiji - 1270.

Nichiren's final days were at his lodging temple at Mt. Minobu near the current location of the Nichiren Shu head temple. After Nichiren's passing there arose a doctrinal dispute, primarily between Niko and Nikko. Nikko packed up his stuff and moved to Taisekiji, the location of the current Nichiren Shoshu head temple. Niko founded the Minobu school, Nissho founded the Hama Schoo, Nichiro founded the Ikegami school, all now part of Nichiren Shu (see previous post about how this happened), And Nikko founded the Fuji School, now Nichiren Shoshu, Nitcho initially joined him, but later went his own way. Nichiji left Japan, going to Mongolia. Apparently in Senka he founded a temple in Mongolia. Some of his relics were discovered by a tourist in 1936.

In that sense both Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu trace their origins back to Nichiren. Staying with your desire not to get into any controversy you could say both are correct. Looking at your desire to educate yourself I must add that a careful study of the lineage of each, however, will show there are some difficult questions in claiming an "unbroken" lineage in either school.

hope this helps

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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby Queequeg » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:31 pm

Hi OB,

If I may make a suggestion, put the claims of the respective sects aside for a moment.

Like many entities in a modern society, religious organizations seek and obtain state recognition. The purposes are varied, but in my, perhaps cynical view, it comes down to tax and limited liability benefits. Nichiren Shoshu is a sect of Nichiren Buddhism espousing certain views, but it is also a corporate entity recognized by the Japanese government enjoying tax benefits and limited liability protections. Nichiren Shu is the same. Both of these entities operate as corporations do to further their purpose - their purpose happens to be the promotion of certain religious functions. They own and operate temples, seminaries, universities, missionary organizations, etc. etc. They earn money through donations as well as the management of profitable assets like real estate.

I hope I'm not destroying some image you have of these organizations in pointing this out to you. Religion is a business, just like any other. It might be the second oldest business after prostitution. By no means are Nichiren organizations unique in this respect - Buddhism in Japan is BIG business. To illustrate, the oldest continuously operating for-profit corporation in the world (with a government charter) is a Japanese construction company closely tied to the Buddhist establishment that specializes in building temples. Over 800 years old.

Now, the specific claims. There were no sects when Nichiren died. He had six senior disciples and almost all existing Nichiren lineages can be traced to these six people. I say lineages, because lineage is not indicative of present sectarian associations. Moreover, these lineages crossed lines at numerous points through the last 700 years.

When Nichiren died, his six disciples all returned to their home regions to continue their shakubuku activities. These home regions are all around the Kanto region of Japan - basically the area around modern day Tokyo and the adjacent provinces. Even though you can cross the entire region by train in a few hours today, in the old days, it was several day's journey, and particularly after the fall of the Kamakura government when Japan descended into the warring states period, travel was not that easy. The result is that you end up having a lot of variation as temples developed autonomously in relative isolation taking on idiosyncratic traditions tied to the local communities. Similarly, you had a lot of variation as Nichiren's teachings themselves were interpreted through the lenses of particular individuals and groups.

Also, shortly after Nichiren passed away, missionaries went to Kyoto and within a few hundred years a large Nichiren community had developed made up of primarily merchants and other townsfolk. This actually became the center of the Nichiren community for many decades and the Nichiren community in Kanto in effect became satellites of the Kyoto community, dependent on them for financial support. With the money also came the people who were appointed to the leadership positions in Kanto.

The warring states period ended in a total war that, without going into detail, resulted in all of Japan reunited under the rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate with its capitol in Edo, now called Tokyo. In the process, many of the main Buddhist institutions were completely destroyed. The Tendai center of Hiezan was burned to the ground - they say that as many as 50,000 monks were killed - and Tendai has never recovered. Nichiren Buddhists in Kyoto were genocided. Very few institutions escaped unharmed. To compound the problems for religious institutions, they came under tight government control, such that competition for converts was basically outlawed. Whatever temple a family was associated with at the opening of the Edo period was the temple their descendants would be tied to for the next 350 years. The Tokugawa Shogunate rebuilt Buddhist institutions, but always on their terms - they controlled the money for construction of temples, for supporting monks, etc. The vitality was smothered out of Buddhism in Japan, except in one respect - within the restraints of government regulation, there was one way to make money...

By attracting pilgrims. One advantage that the Tokugawa unification had was that travel became safe again. People started traveling and much of the travel was done within the paradigm of religious pilgrimage which has a long history in Japan. It makes sense. Many of the religious sites are awe-inspiringly beautiful. Resort towns sprang up all over. Money flowed if you could attract pilgrims. To attract pilgrims, you had to have something special and worthwhile to get them to come out of their way for you. Unfortunately, this pressure, I think, was one of the main driving forces behind the evolution of Buddhism in Edo Japan - not actual religious teachings. Oh, also funeral rites which to this day are extremely lucrative. Many people joke that Buddhism is nothing but a funerary business anymore.

With the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1867, Japan went through another revolution, the Meiji Restoration. With the Meiji Restoration, there was also another backlash against Buddhism. The reasons are complex, some related to the state sponsorship of Japan's indigenous kami worship, some related to the rise of neo-confucianism, some related to a modernization impulse, some related to the oppressive practices of temples in the late Edo period under the Shogunate's sanction. A series of laws were enacted to reorganize and control Buddhist institutions, and this is when you see sects like Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu established under religious corporation laws.

Some of the temples in Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu trace their lineage back to Nichiren's time and immediately after. The fact is, many temples, and therefore the sects to which they belong, have plausible claims to direct connection to Nichiren Shonin.

However, a lot of stuff happened between the death of Nichiren and the establishment of these sects. I don't know if it is possible to look back through that fog and judge that one sect that has a relatively modern beginning is more legitimate than another solely on the continuity of a particular temple or lineage.

For me personally, the only thing possible is to look at the legacy Nichiren left behind in the form of his writings and find lineage in that. To the extent that the people who make up the clergy and leadership in these various institutions are sensitive and thinking human beings and can offer beneficial guidance in one's own practice, I think an argument could be made that they are upholding the lineage.

If you want a single, definitive answer that this temple, or this sect, or this teacher infallibly has the most legitimate claim to Nichiren's heritage, I can predict with absolute certainty, you will, sooner or later, be frustrated or let down. Your enlightenment is yours to work out.

BTW, to correct a minor matter - Nichiren Shoshu was not founded from within Nichiren Shoshu. This was a lay movement that was closely tied with Taisekiji for a while, but has its origin outside of the temple institution.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby Queequeg » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:37 pm

Hi Ric,

I have to correct some things you wrote.

ric wrote:Nichiren's final days were at his lodging temple at Mt. Minobu near the current location of the Nichiren Shu head temple.


Nichiren passed away at what is now Ikegami Honmonji, a temple in South Eastern Tokyo. They have a red stupa built on the site where Nichiren was cremated.

And Nikko founded the Fuji School, now Nichiren Shoshu.


Not all Fuji School temples belong to Nichiren Shoshu. Some are associated with Nichiren Shu. Several others are independent sects. It is a misconception that Fuji-ha = Nichiren Shoshu.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby OregonBuddhist » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:48 am

Wow. Thank you for the responses. It's so ironic. Nichiren Buddhism is extremely simple because at base it consists of chanting Nam(u) Myoho Renge Kyo. And yet it is also extremely complicated. The history is sort of overwhelming.

I found a comment somewhere that basically said "Nichiren Shu is much closer to mainstream Mahayana Buddhism than Nichiren Shoshu."

This was an interesting comment for me to read, because I've heard many comments of people saying that "Nichiren Buddhism isn't 'real' Buddhism." I think those comments are actually directed toward Soka Gakkai, and particularly at the famous Soka Gakkai practice of chanting for specific material outcomes.

So, I suppose that when I went to a Nichiren Shu temple, I had expected to find something very radically different from what I know about Mahayana Buddhism, something that, you know, "didn't seem like Buddhism." But what I found is that Nichiren Shu does indeed seem to teach all of the same things that I've learned from mainstream Mahayana Buddhism, with the only difference being the exclusive focus on the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren himself, and chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.

I suppose the earlier coment by Queequeg meant to read that Soka Gakkai does not originate from Nichiren Shoshu. I was under the impression that it did. So, I had drawn the -- perhaps incorrect -- conclusion that Soka Gakkai (perhaps the most controversial of all Nichiren sects) is perceived as radically unlike mainstream Mahayana, and because Soka Gakkai comes from Nichiren Shoshu it must then follow that Nichiren Shoshu is radically different as well. This led me to wonder why Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu (two organizations with almost identical names, at least by American sensibilities) would be so radically different from one another.

I suppose I need a better understanding of the connection between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai. Apparently, I was wrong to think that SGI originated with Nichiren Shoshu. I know that SGI is referred to as a "New Religion." And, as I had believed that SGI originated from Nichiren Shoshu, and SGI is a "New Religion," I suppose I had come to believe that Nichiren Shoshu must also be a "new religion" -- as opposed to Nichiren Shu, which claims to trace itself all the way back to Nichiren himself. For example, I've never heard Nichiren Shu referred to as a "New Religion." (Nor have I heard Nichiren Shoshu referred to as a "New Religion," but I had thought it was synonymous with Soka Gakkai, so that's the same difference, I guess.)

I mean, with almost identical names, it just seemed to me that Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu must be connected at some level.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not "chosing sides" on anything. I'm just looking for an education on a relatively obscure (at least by mainstream American and American Buddhist standards) topic. Thanks for the input, everyone.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby Queequeg » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:01 pm

Hi OB,

When I read over my looong response, I realized I didn't quite answer your question about which Shoshu or Shu is older - but I am happy to see you got the gist of my post, which is that you seemed to be asking the "wrong" question about the subject. Ric did answer that.

Nichiren Shu is not a monolithic Nichiren group with some set orthodoxy across the whole. It is a federation of temples and practitioners with varying degrees of affiliation with the central administration of Nichiren Shu based at Minobu Kuonji and Ikegami Honmonji. There is a wide diversity of beliefs held within Nichiren Shu owing to the many different lineages that have been united under the Nichiren Shu umbrella. Nichiren did teach Mahayana. His critique is a nuanced, but I would say still falls within Mahayana (Mahayana is by no means a designation for a monolithic tradition either).

Nichiren Shoshu really has to be treated as its own phenomena. Basically, what sets them apart is this belief that Nichiren was the incarnation of the Eternal Buddha. This belief sends them out into orbits that leaves the rest of the Nichiren community scratching their heads in puzzlement (even anger). This includes other Fuji schools. However, shoshu is still Mahayana - they believe in a great vehicle - just their interpretation may not accord with others. This goes for Soka Gakkai also. Soka Gakkai International I think is still Mahayana simply because Mahayana is such a broad term, but I also understand people who say it is not. Semantics.

Good luck with your search. If you are interested in the history of Nichiren Buddhism, check this out -
http://nichirenscoffeehouse.net/Ryuei/NichirensBio.html this is a Nichiren Shu sympathetic history.http://www.geocities.ws/chris_holte/Buddhism/nichiren.html this is a Shoshu/SGI sympathetic history.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby OregonBuddhist » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:15 am

Queequeg wrote:Nichiren Shu is not a monolithic Nichiren group with some set orthodoxy across the whole. It is a federation of temples and practitioners with varying degrees of affiliation with the central administration of Nichiren Shu based at Minobu Kuonji and Ikegami Honmonji. There is a wide diversity of beliefs held within Nichiren Shu owing to the many different lineages that have been united under the Nichiren Shu umbrella. Nichiren did teach Mahayana. His critique is a nuanced, but I would say still falls within Mahayana (Mahayana is by no means a designation for a monolithic tradition either).


Thank you very much for the this description. This is very interesting. I come from a Catholic background, so it's inevitable that I would superimpose my background onto Nichiren Buddhism. I suppose I had thought of Nichiren Shu as having a Vatican-like central authority located somewhere near Mt. Fuji in Japan. Apparently, this isn't the case. By the way, this IS the case for Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu, correct?

Yes, I've read that Nichiren Shoshu is the only Nichiren group that teaches Nichiren was the Buddha reincarnated. Does Soka Gakkai teach this as well?

Thank you for the interesting links.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby Queequeg » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:45 pm

Hi OB,

Right, Nichiren Shu's central authority is not like the Vatican. What I have found is that there is a sense of affiliation across all creeds held together by a sense of openness to each other's views. I think many Nichiren groups that are not part of Nichiren Shu will participate in discussions about theory and practice with them - including members of Soka Gakkai. At least among the various Nichiren Shu associated groups, there will be joint ceremonies - Everyone can agree on the Daimoku (although not necessarily on Nam/Namu - lol).

Nichiren Shoshu is much more like the Vatican. They have the mothership Gohonzon through which humanity will be saved and they even have a concept similar to the Pope's infallibility associated with the Taisekiji Abbot. I'm being a little humorous about it. In any event don't want to go into too much detail because that stuff is tedious. There are plenty of sources all over the net to get educated on the idiosyncratic ideas of Nichiren Shoshu. Nichiren's Coffeehouse site is a good place to start. But, a word of advice - if you haven't been exposed to their ideas and don't need to recover from them, don't bother with it. The only reason it might be necessary to get acquainted with their views is if you are participating in online forums like this and come across people espousing their views. It would be an inoculation against getting confused by them.

My connection to Soka Gakkai is fading. I was a member for a long time but have not had any direct connection with them in years, so I don't know what they are up to these days. However, I get the sense that they are lost. Following the schism with Shoshu, a huge pillar of their "theology" was kicked out from under them. They used to have a strong central authority, but I feel like they have become unfocused. They tried to compensate by ramping up the Mentor Disciple thing, and in Japan by throwing their energy into politics through the Komeito party. The M&D thing has fallen flat except for the people already in the choir, especially with the Mentor having lost his faculties and absent from the public for the last few years. Bottom line, their central authority is weakening - example 1 is SGI-USA and their floundering around trying to enunciate a consistent creed for the last 10 years. The authoritarian tendency however was still there when I quit. Authoritarianism with a creed could be about strictness and discipline. Authoritarianism without a creed is just despotism. But they don't want to be despots, and so it just adds to their confusion and lack of focus. They can't decide who they are or what they want to do. They're having a serious identity crisis. Who knows what's going on now.

Blech. More than I wanted to state about that subject.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby OregonBuddhist » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:39 pm

Thank you for all of the informative posts. I'm really impressed.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby BullToro » Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:55 pm

Queequeg wrote:Hi OB,

Right, Nichiren Shu's central authority is not like the Vatican. What I have found is that there is a sense of affiliation across all creeds held together by a sense of openness to each other's views. I think many Nichiren groups that are not part of Nichiren Shu will participate in discussions about theory and practice with them - including members of Soka Gakkai. At least among the various Nichiren Shu associated groups, there will be joint ceremonies - Everyone can agree on the Daimoku (although not necessarily on Nam/Namu - lol).

Nichiren Shoshu is much more like the Vatican. They have the mothership Gohonzon through which humanity will be saved and they even have a concept similar to the Pope's infallibility associated with the Taisekiji Abbot. I'm being a little humorous about it. In any event don't want to go into too much detail because that stuff is tedious. There are plenty of sources all over the net to get educated on the idiosyncratic ideas of Nichiren Shoshu. Nichiren's Coffeehouse site is a good place to start. But, a word of advice - if you haven't been exposed to their ideas and don't need to recover from them, don't bother with it. The only reason it might be necessary to get acquainted with their views is if you are participating in online forums like this and come across people espousing their views. It would be an inoculation against getting confused by them.

My connection to Soka Gakkai is fading. I was a member for a long time but have not had any direct connection with them in years, so I don't know what they are up to these days. However, I get the sense that they are lost. Following the schism with Shoshu, a huge pillar of their "theology" was kicked out from under them. They used to have a strong central authority, but I feel like they have become unfocused. They tried to compensate by ramping up the Mentor Disciple thing, and in Japan by throwing their energy into politics through the Komeito party. The M&D thing has fallen flat except for the people already in the choir, especially with the Mentor having lost his faculties and absent from the public for the last few years. Bottom line, their central authority is weakening - example 1 is SGI-USA and their floundering around trying to enunciate a consistent creed for the last 10 years. The authoritarian tendency however was still there when I quit. Authoritarianism with a creed could be about strictness and discipline. Authoritarianism without a creed is just despotism. But they don't want to be despots, and so it just adds to their confusion and lack of focus. They can't decide who they are or what they want to do. They're having a serious identity crisis. Who knows what's going on now.

Blech. More than I wanted to state about that subject.


Yes as a practicing member in the SGI your statements appear terribly biased.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby Jikan » Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:11 pm

BullToro wrote:Yes as a practicing member in the SGI your statements appear terribly biased.


Care to elaborate or rebut with specifics?
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby OregonBuddhist » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:40 am

Something recently occurred to me in this question of "Who is more traditional of the two?" ... If Nichiren himself never taught that he was the reincarnation of Buddha and therefore the "True Buddha of the Age," but Nichiren Shoshu teaches that he was, and Nichiren Shu teaches that he was not, then it follows that Nichiren Shu is the more traditional of the two.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby Queequeg » Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:03 pm

OregonBuddhist wrote:Something recently occurred to me in this question of "Who is more traditional of the two?" ... If Nichiren himself never taught that he was the reincarnation of Buddha and therefore the "True Buddha of the Age," but Nichiren Shoshu teaches that he was, and Nichiren Shu teaches that he was not, then it follows that Nichiren Shu is the more traditional of the two.


Well the question is, who is right about what Nichiren taught...

Nichiren Shoshu and its offshoots (for instance, Shoshinkai) and Soka Gakkai (as far as I can tell they still subscribe to Shoshu ideas) take some passages in Nichiren's writings and interpret what they say Nichiren actually meant. "He said this, but he actually meant THIS." That's why I suggested if you used Soka Gakkai materials, avoid their commentary and footnotes to primary texts like Nichiren's writings. Ikeda's commentary assumes that Nichiren was the True Buddha.

Some of the lines they point to are Nichiren's statements "I am the pillar of Japan" and "I am the parent, teacher and sovereign of Japan". Nichiren also described the place where he was nearly executed and his hermitage at Mt. Minobu, in fact anywhere he was, as the Buddha's Pure Land. They in turn discount Nichiren's actual statements surmising that he is the Bodhisattva Visistacaritra/Jogyo/Superior Practices as him being humble.

Nichiren does say some extraordinary things - like he is the Votary of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha's Messenger, even that the Buddha functions through him. These are not as outrageous when understood through the prism of Ichinen Sanzen. According to that teaching, we all possess the Buddha Nature, we are all living in the Buddha's DharmaRealm, and therefore are functions of the Buddha, even when we act in ignorant ways. In fact, it is our ignorance that is necessary for the Buddha's appearance. Without ignorance, there is no enlightenment... And the even more extraordinary implications of Ichinen Sanzen - without enlightenment, there is no ignorance!

As best I can gather, Shoshu's interpretation comes from an obtuse version of Ichinen Sanzen.

For the record, no one, other than Nichiren Shoshu and their associated groups, thinks this. But, can we know for sure that Nichrien Shoshu is "wrong"? Does that make them less "traditional"? They can trace their lineage as far back as anyone else.

The rest of the Nichiren community is hardly monolithic in their views. There are divisions based on the relative validity of the first half and second half of the Lotus Sutra; the relative superiority of the Chapter and Two Halves, the relative superiority of the Daimoku, whether believers should associate with non-believers and to what extent... Is one faction really more "traditional" because they subscribe to one or the other of these doctrinal distinctions? Is a group that places emphasis on the historical Shakyamuni Buddha more traditional? Maybe, according to some people, especially other Buddhists who also emphasize the historical Buddha. But then these people are arguably ignoring one of Nichiren's major criticisms and they are arguably Nichiren Buddhist in name only. The point is, labeling one group "more traditional" doesn't stand up to analysis - like all labels, it loses meaning in the details.

So what do you do when you can't tell who around you is telling you the Truth?

It comes back to one of the Buddha's last instructions - Be a light unto yourself and work out your enlightenment as quickly as possible.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby OregonBuddhist » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:09 am

Queequeg wrote:For the record, no one, other than Nichiren Shoshu and their associated groups, thinks this. But, can we know for sure that Nichrien Shoshu is "wrong"? Does that make them less "traditional"? They can trace their lineage as far back as anyone else.


Thanks for another response. I, personally, am hardly in a position to know who is right, wrong, older, younger, etc. That's why I ask. I suppose my real question is something you address here: that Nichiren Shoshu traces their lineage back as far as anyone. And, by the way ... I recently came across a paper I was given at a Nichiren Shu temple, and it says that Nichiren Shoshu developed out of Nichiren Shu. My point being, even Nichiren Shu presents Nichiren Shoshu as part of their lineage -- a lineage that they (Nichiren Shu) claim goes all the way back to Nichiren himself.

I suppose I just wonder where the following happened: 1. Where did Nichiren Shoshu come up with the interpretation that Nichiren himself was the Buddha of the Age? 2. When did the "intolerance" start? (I've heard that Soka Gakkai doesn't want Nichiren Shoshu members around, and vice versa. I've heard that each group says they are the only real Nichiren Buddhists. And, I've heard that Nichiren Shu welcomes all.... Please correct me if what I've heard is wrong. Thanks.)
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby OregonBuddhist » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:22 am

I think that at base my question actually centers on the issue of tolerance/intolerance. I should clarify that I personally have never encountered any intolerance from any SGI or Nichiren Shoshu member. In fact, I've felt the opposite -- support from members of both groups.

But there IS talk about SGI and Nichiren Shoshu being intolerant of one another, and of other Buddhist groups (including other Nichiren groups). There IS the perception that each groups says "we are the only ones who are right."

Contrast this with the perception of Buddhism itself as being a TOLERANT religion, and it just leads to the conclusion that any Buddhist group that isn't tolerant must be a little on the not-so-traditional side of things.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby Queequeg » Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:47 pm

Hi OB,

I'd be curious to see how Nichiren Shu makes that claim that Nichiren Shoshu came from them. That simply does not stand up unless they are really claiming the schism between Nikko and Niko as the genesis of Nichiren Shoshu. That would be a silly claim that premises there was such a thing as Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu at that time. Moreover, the entire argument would devolve to who controlled a particular piece of real estate at a certain time. I suppose Shu could argue that they are more primary because they encompass a majority of temples. Its a spin on history and I suppose if they need that story to define who they are, that's their issue. The lineage of Nichiren Shoshu temples broke with the lineage of Nichiren Shu within a decade after Nichiren's death. One lineage was not the dominant and the other an off shoot. These lineages were started by people who had a direct, personal relationship with Nichiren. They were people who basically had very different ideas about who their teacher, Nichiren, was. If you're really interested in this stuff, follow up those links I posted.

You bring up an interesting question with regard to tolerance/intolerance.

I'm not sure that these categories are neatly applicable to a Buddhist context.

In Buddhism, there are Right Views and there are Wrong Views. This is one of the historical Buddha's most basic teachings. Right Views are/lead to enlightenment, Wrong Views are/perpetuate suffering. To the extent that Buddhism is a movement with the goal of spreading enlightenment, there is an intrinsic intolerance for Wrong Views. The question is how does one go about getting people to accept Right Views and abandon Wrong Views.

Nichiren taught a method of practice he called "Shakubuku" an aggressive method whereby one seeks to suppress "wrong views" and actively promote "right views". This, probably more than anything, has contributed to the argumentative nature of Nichiren Buddhism as a whole. An alternative method, which Nichiren deemed inappropriate for his time and circumstances, is called "Shoju" whereby one passively seeks to ameliorate "wrong views" by encouraging "right views". Most groups these days publicly endorse Shoju as the appropriate practice.

Shakubuku/Shoju is how I would analyze the conduct you observe.
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby OregonBuddhist » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:18 pm

Thanks. I was merely attempting to layout how it was that I -- within my own frame of reference -- had assumed that Nichiren Shoshu may not be as "old school" as Nichiren Shu. It's a good point that Nichiren Buddhism may be "argumentative." I notice that there is even a reminder at the top of this forum (the Nichiren sub-forum) that Nichiren Buddhists aren't supposed to try to convert others. I do think that this "argumentativeness" is a part of Nichiren Buddhism. It seems that this argumentativeness is less present in Nichiren Shu Buddhism, though, which made me think it may be more established.

I think another reason I had thought that Nichiren Shu may be older and more established is that Nichiren Shoshu shortened "Namu" to "Nam," making for a mantra that rolls off the tongue more easily. To my knowledge, Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai are the only schools that say "nam" as opposed to "namu." It seems they are the more aggressive in the "shakabuku," and "shakabuku" itself seems uncharacteristic to Buddhism, at least by what I know of Buddhism.

At any rate, I think the question has long since been answered: Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu are about the same age, and neither can claim more legitimacy than the other. I was merely attempting to demonstrate how it was that I, at one time, had thought otherwise. :)

(By the way, the only thing I saw was a graph, an outline, something of a "Family Tree of Nichiren Groups." It showed Nichiren, then the disciples, then the schools that arose. "Nichiren Shu" had a long line, and then it depicted Nichiren Shoshu as an outgrowth, and then various other groups as outgrowths of Nichiren Shoshu, such as Soka Gakkai. In other words, it was a graph/family tree, not an article per se.)
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Re: Relation between Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu

Postby Queequeg » Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:39 pm

OregonBuddhist wrote:I think another reason I had thought that Nichiren Shu may be older and more established is that Nichiren Shoshu shortened "Namu" to "Nam," making for a mantra that rolls off the tongue more easily. To my knowledge, Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai are the only schools that say "nam" as opposed to "namu." It seems they are the more aggressive in the "shakabuku," and "shakabuku" itself seems uncharacteristic to Buddhism, at least by what I know of Buddhism.


Lineages tracing to Nikko Shonin, one of the six senior disciples identified by Nichiren to lead the sangha after his death say Nam rather than Namu. There are Nikko Lineage sub-groups who are part of Nichiren Shu and they chant "Nam". This distinction gets play with people who want to have distinctions. Its as silly as arguing whether the Queen's English is more authentic than the English of a West Virginia coal miner, a Boston Brahmin or a Kiwi sheep rancher.
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