Queequeg wrote: Masaru wrote:
Not if you're a charmer
All you need is Sandaihiho - Three Great Hidden Dharmas - 1. Gohonzon (Object of Veneration/Devotion), 2. Daimoku (August Title of the Sutra), and 3. Kaidan (Precept Platform).
Depending on your interpretation of Nichiren, this can mean different things. I'll give my take. Sectarians rooting for their home teams will reproach me.
1. In Nichiren's mature thought, the Gohonzon is:
The Treasure Tower suspended in the air over the Saha world. The Title of the Lotus Sutra 妙法蓮華経 (Myoho Renge Kyo) appears in the middle of the tower, flanked by the Tathagatas Shakyamuni (right) and Prabhutaratna (left), attended by the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas who emerged from the Earth, Bodhisattvas Visistacaritra, Anantacaritra, Visuddhacaritra, and Supratisthitacaritra. Manjusri, Maitreya, and other bodhisattvas are seated below. Bodhisattvas who are attendants of Trace Buddhas are on the ground. Buddhas of the Ten Directions are also on the ground.
When Nichiren inscribed his Jukkaimandara (10 Worlds Mandalas) he also included Zhiyi (Tendai Daishi) and Saicho (Dengyo Daishi) also seated on the ground along with various protective deities like the Dragon King's Daughter, Kishimojin and her ten daughters. Fudo Myo'o and Aizen Myo'o flank the entire assembly, and the four corners of the mandala are guarded by the Four Heavenly Kings.
Like many mandalas, Nichiren's mandala is filled with symbolism. In the whole, it is an exposition on the Three Thousand in the Single moment of Mind (一念三千) The tower suspended in the air indicates that the Trikaya Root Buddha (本佛), ie. Shakyamuni, is unconditioned, timeless, unarisen, non-perishing, eternal, as are all the other beings suspended in the air. The beings on the ground symbolize the Buddha's functions in the conditioned realm, his Upaya (skillful means) ("Sometimes I speak of myself, sometimes of others..."). Fudo represents the "Nirvana is Samsara" and Aizen represents "Earthly Desires are Enlightenment"). If you understand how Zhiyi derived Three Thousand in the Single Moment of Mind, the symbolism on the Gohonzon is apparent.
If you can "read" Nichiren's Mandala, you don't need any other texts. With that said, the fact is, you need teachers, texts, etc. to explain it to you.
2. Daimoku - This literally means the "August Title", and in Nichiren's case, specifically refers to the title of the Lotus Sutra. However, when we say "Daimoku", it also includes "南無" ("Nam/Namu" - there are other threads to debate what's right). Appending this to the Daimoku turns this into a statement of devotion or dedication or homage. Nichiren's basic practice is chanting this formula "Nammyohorengekyo". Whether you understand what "Myohorengekyo" means or not, chanting it puts you on the orientation of "Right View".
When chanted before the Gohonzon, this becomes the actualization of Enlightened Activity. It can also include Contemplation of Ichinen Sanzen, and any number of other practices that are Opened to Reveal the True... Heck, if you've really penetrated this wisdom, you could make Christmas Midnight Mass into Enlightened Activity, or even Roasting the Condemned in Avici; the enlightenment of a Dung Beetle, rolling up little balls of excrement and happily slurping it down... Mahasiddhas will be able to relate to this Beyond Good and Evil stuff.
3. Kaidan - Literally, this means the platform on which monks/nuns take the precepts. However, because in Nichiren Buddhism which builds upon Saicho's Bodhisattva Precepts of Sudden and Perfect Enlightenment, anywhere the Lotus Sutra is practiced becomes the precept platform. In particular, when one chants the Daimoku in front of the Gohonzon, that place is the Kaidan.
So, at the minimum, in terms of material objects, you need the Gohonzon - Nichiren's Mandala. The Daimoku and Kaidan come into being through the words and actions of the practitioner.
More comprehensively, you need teachers, and books, and fellow practitioners, and beings to teach, (as well as beings to persecute you) to fully practice. All of these are of course included in a broad sense in the Sandaihiho - which in the broadest sense encompasses all the Dharmadhatu (the Three Thousand). Taking this expansive interpretation, we end up with the Lotus Sutra being all life, and practice being all life. Living IS the Lotus Sutra, is the Buddha, is Threefold Inclusive Ultimate Reality, is True Aspect.
After all that, you come back out of the looking glass - where ever you go, there you are.
On more practical levels - maybe you consider its OK for you as a layman to arm yourself and protect the True Dharma... but only to defend a True Monk... Walking Dead style, or The Road http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/
Do we really need to open up this Mahaparinirvana Sutra can of ethical worms? Last time we talked about this, our friend Dave had a meltdown.