Thank you for the response.
I had basically paraphrased to the other person what is mentioned on this page on the Tricycle website: "Most of our readers and contributors know Buddhism primarily in terms of the meditation traditions of Zen, Vipassana, or Vajrayana as they have been presented to a Western audience.... Meditation-oriented Buddhists often think of Nichiren Buddhists (if they think of them at all) with little real knowledge and even with condescension. "http://www.tricycle.com/buddhist-traditions/nichiren/understanding-nichiren-buddhism
I then mentioned that just because Nichiren Buddhism isn't focused on quiet, sitting meditations, doesn't mean it's "Not Buddhism." To which they responded, "Buddhism IS meditation." In other words, they were just sticking to their claim, refuting my counter argumenting, and holding to their belief that Nichiren Buddhism isn't Buddhism.
Now, I just got done with roughly three hours of Daimoku
.... I'm very content with my practice. But reading what you wrote, I can see where, shall we say, "Mainstream" Buddhists would consider that Nichiren Buddhism "isn't" Buddhism. It seems that the perception of the mainstream American Buddhists is that the Four Noble Truths are the sum total of Buddhism
. If a practice doesn't even address the Four Noble Truths, and doesn't even explicitly advocate quiet sitting meditations, then I can see where "mainstream" (that is, white, American, middle class) American Buddhists may not recognize it as Buddhism. I'm not saying I agree with their perspective. I'm just saying I can understand the angle from which they build their argument.
That much being said, the truth is, I sort of "don't care....." What I mean is, whatever this is, it works for me
. I hope it doesn't sound awful on my part, but that's pretty much all that matters for me at this point. The Four Noble Truths are very sophisticated and logical. I like them and respect them. But they don't "work" for me. In fact, they are sort of depressing for me. So, if Nichiren Buddhism "isn't really Buddhism," fine. I suppose I just wanted to know why some people say it isn't. (And, by the way, when people say it isn't really Buddhism, they mean that as an insult. They usually don't say, "Well, it doesn't seem like Buddhism, but if it works, it works." What they usually mean when they say it isn't really Buddhism is that it's an inauthentic path.)
(I probably shouldn't put this into writing. But the feeling I get sometimes is that Nichiren Buddhism, as well as Pure Land Buddhism, is just "too ethnic" for many mainstream Americans. I think the idea of -- gasp -- having to learn words in another language is just, well, too demanding, or something. Also, the emphasis on faith in both traditions is probably too reminiscent of Christianity for many Americans.)
OregonBuddhist wrote:Buddhism IS meditation.
I have no idea what that is supposed to mean - do they mean that as an exclusive definition? Buddhism teaches meditation, but it also teaches ethics and wisdom, to mention two broad categories of learning. If someone actually made this claim, I suspect they have not thought that statement through thoroughly, or else they have a very limited understanding of what is entailed in the rubric of "Buddhism".
Am I missing something? Or does Nichiren Buddhism just disregard the Four Noble Truths altogether? Are they considered part of the "provisional" teachings that are no longer necessary now that we have Namu-myoho-renge-kyo?
No, you are not missing anything, but yes, you are.
You have to understand that Nichiren Buddhism is based on Tientai/Tendai Buddhism. To understand why the Four Noble Truths are largely absent in Nichiren's teachings, you have to understand how they are viewed in Tientai/Tendai.
The short answer is that the Four Noble Truths, depending on the manner in which they are understood, can be "provisional" teachings. When understood in the integrated sense, they are more or less subsumed into Tientai teachings such as 一念三千 (Jp. ichinensanzen - En. Trichiliocosm in a Single Moment of Thought). Since they have no distinct meaning once subsumed into Ichinen Sanzen, there really is no point in studying them. Just study Ichinen Sanzen, and you will understand the Four Noble Truths from the Tientai (Integrated/Perfect) perspective. The gist of Tientai, and more, is contained in the Daimoku.
So, right, once you have the Daimoku, provisional teachings become superfluous.