Questions from a newcomer

KiwiNFLFan
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Questions from a newcomer

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

I saw Rev. Kanjin Cederman's video on Nichiren Shu a while ago, and the other day I listened to a video of a British priest explaining the Lotus Sutra. I've never really taken a good look at Nichiren Shu before. I've been involved with SGI and have read a couple of books from Nichiren Shoshu.

It seems that Nichiren Shu is closest to standard Japanese Buddhism than either the SGI (which I feel is a kind of watered down Buddhism stripped of a lot of the rituals) or Nichiren Shoshu (who seem like fundamentalists). But I have a few questions.

Does Nichiren Shu teach that you can chant Odaimoku for material things the way SGI does?

What is the story with the Nichiren Shu Mandala Gohonzon? It's printed in a couple of service books I've seen, in contrast to the SGI/Shoshu practice of never photographing or reproducing it (except to enshrine in member's butsudans). I've heard somewhat disparagingly from either an SGI or Shoshu source that Mandala Gohonzon is given away like a souvenir to tourists visiting Mt Minobu. So is it conferred upon members like in SGI/Shoshu or is it simply purchased from a Buddhist supply store, the way pictures/statues of Amida Buddha enshrined in butsudans in Japan (and homes of Shin Buddhist practitioners in the West) are?

What is the Nichiren Shu view on attaining Buddhahood? Is it seen the same way as traditional Mahayana Buddhism? The impression I got from SGI is that attaining Buddhahood is simply a kind of lasting happiness. An SGI practitioner told me that even once you attain Buddhahood, you still keep being reborn (I'm guessing like a Bodhisattva, but in traditional Buddhism it seems like Buddhas have control over their rebirth or destiny).

What would you recommend for someone interested in Nichiren Shu living in a country where there are no temples?
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FiveSkandhas
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

Post by FiveSkandhas »

Hello and welcome, newcomer.

As nobody has answered your questions, I will take a stab at at least one. It is possible to buy a Nichiren-Shu Gohonzon in at least one shop selling general butsugu for home butsudan and such, without being asked for proof of faith or sect membership. I am fairly certain if it is possible in one such store, it would be possible in others.

Whether or not Nichiren-Shu doctrine allows for such behavior is another matter.

My limited understanding of the differences in doctrine between Nichiren-Shu and Nichiren Shoshu/SGI is that the most significant difference is as follows: in the former, the "True Buddha" is Shakyamuni while in the latter it is Nichiren Daishonin. If I am mistaken, one of the board scholars is invited to correct me. There are many more minor differences as well. Remember that before the current classification system, what is today Shoshu/SGI theory came from the Fuji lineage while Nichiren-Shu theory was not developed at Taisekiji but rather at centers like Minobusan and elsewhere. This caused a number of differences to pile up over the centuries. Significant examples included the role of Nikko Shonin and the Shoshu conception of the Daigohonzon, which is not accepted by Nichiren-Shu.
"One should cultivate contemplation in one’s foibles. The foibles are like fish, and contemplation is like fishing hooks. If there are no fish, then the fishing hooks have no use. The bigger the fish is, the better the result we will get. As long as the fishing hooks keep at it, all foibles will eventually be contained and controlled at will." -Zhiyi
narhwal90
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

Post by narhwal90 »

I'm curious about N.Shu doctrine on the gohonzon sale question too- if for no other reason that old Shu gohonzons come up regularly on ebay, some of them quite old.
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Minobu
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

Post by Minobu »

is this one of those you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube?
Something sacred turned into Ebay for profit?

I think someone should at least know how to do gongyo and chant before receiving a Gohonzon..

i'm using an image from an online source for i do not have a Gohonzon.

It feels really weird...you don't have the faith in it like you would a gohonzon that has had the opening of the eye ceremony done to "IT" ..

is that necessary?

Does the entity come to you where you chant anyway ?

I think so for i hear all those voices in my chanting...like once , i live in an apartment , and my wife came in the room last winter to see who was in there with me...lol...

so yeah lots of questions.

The Entity is the cause for all Buddhas to become Buddhas... It's the Entity of the Law from which Buddhas long before Lord Sakyamuni attained enlightenment have all attained enlightenment..

I recall QQ explaining how our minds produce only provisional concepts of Buddha...Thats why Buddha said i am always here ...cause the Entity has always been...

maybe all those major Buddhas that become father of all Samsaric realms are indeed an emanation of This Entity ...only when one becomes a Buddha can we dispel provisional awareness of Buddha.

back to topic....it is important that we understand slightly what we are doing and what we are making a commitment to..

We do this commitment thing in Gojukai ceremony...does Nichiren Shu do Gojukai ceremony ?
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

Post by narhwal90 »

Don't know about those things, but it is interesting to see how old some of the gohonzons are.. for instance, right now there are at least three N.Shu gohonzons from the 1600's AD, which is pretty cool. I suppose such things might have difficuty with authentication and so on but presumably that could be handled.

FWIW, gohonzons have been given, conferred, bought, sold, and stolen and forged (both piously and otherwise) for centuries, perhaps back to Nichiren's era for all I know. The Mandala Workshop books mention many cases.
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FiveSkandhas
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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narhwal90 wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 8:10 pm FWIW, gohonzons have been given, conferred, bought, sold, and stolen and forged (both piously and otherwise) for centuries, perhaps back to Nichiren's era for all I know.
I even recall once reading the tale of the "flying Gohonzon," which allegedly escaped destruction from fire by miraculously flying through the air to a safe new location.
"One should cultivate contemplation in one’s foibles. The foibles are like fish, and contemplation is like fishing hooks. If there are no fish, then the fishing hooks have no use. The bigger the fish is, the better the result we will get. As long as the fishing hooks keep at it, all foibles will eventually be contained and controlled at will." -Zhiyi
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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I believe the Mandala Workshop addresses that story to some extent, I will look into the books... :)
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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FiveSkandhas wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 9:08 pm
narhwal90 wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 8:10 pm FWIW, gohonzons have been given, conferred, bought, sold, and stolen and forged (both piously and otherwise) for centuries, perhaps back to Nichiren's era for all I know.
I even recall once reading the tale of the "flying Gohonzon," which allegedly escaped destruction from fire by miraculously flying through the air to a safe new location.
Found the citation. Volume 3 of the Mandala Workshop texts, paraphrased below. The gohonzon in question is named the "Tobi-Mandala", allegedly inscribed jointly by Nichiren and Nikko (though apparently not possible because Nichiren is known to not have inscribed any gohonzons in 1268 when this gohonzon was created).

Its current location is Horyuzan Butsugen-ji, Sendai- which was established by Nikko's lineage in 1305. There is apparently some evidence that all the gohonzons in that location are imitations though disagreements on the point exist.

In 1647 the area experienced a fire, destroying some 1500 houses. There is an associated oral tradition suggesting the gohonzon in question was found in a tree. Modern forensic analysis suggests the gohonzon is actually a reproduction of a Nikko original dated to 1268, apparently the calligraphy used in the Tobi mandala is inconsistent with that used in 1268.
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FiveSkandhas
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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narhwal90 wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 10:26 pm
FiveSkandhas wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 9:08 pm
narhwal90 wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 8:10 pm FWIW, gohonzons have been given, conferred, bought, sold, and stolen and forged (both piously and otherwise) for centuries, perhaps back to Nichiren's era for all I know.
I even recall once reading the tale of the "flying Gohonzon," which allegedly escaped destruction from fire by miraculously flying through the air to a safe new location.
Found the citation. Volume 3 of the Mandala Workshop texts, paraphrased below. The gohonzon in question is named the "Tobi-Mandala", allegedly inscribed jointly by Nichiren and Nikko (though apparently not possible because Nichiren is known to not have inscribed any gohonzons in 1268 when this gohonzon was created).

Its current location is Horyuzan Butsugen-ji, Sendai- which was established by Nikko's lineage in 1305. There is apparently some evidence that all the gohonzons in that location are imitations though disagreements on the point exist.

In 1647 the area experienced a fire, destroying some 1500 houses. There is an associated oral tradition suggesting the gohonzon in question was found in a tree. Modern forensic analysis suggests the gohonzon is actually a reproduction of a Nikko original dated to 1268, apparently the calligraphy used in the Tobi mandala is inconsistent with that used in 1268.
Thanks for that, very interesting.

I love the depth of obscure knowledge swimming around DharmaWheel...
:cheers:
"One should cultivate contemplation in one’s foibles. The foibles are like fish, and contemplation is like fishing hooks. If there are no fish, then the fishing hooks have no use. The bigger the fish is, the better the result we will get. As long as the fishing hooks keep at it, all foibles will eventually be contained and controlled at will." -Zhiyi
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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https://nichirenmandala.weebly.com/

Well worth the money as a Nichiren practitioner, learn something about the who/what/when/why of gohonzons.
KiwiNFLFan
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

i'm using an image from an online source for i do not have a Gohonzon.
Do you mean that you have printed out an image of a mandala Gohonzon? Is this acceptable? What about displaying an image of a Gohonzon on a tablet/phone while chanting?

I'm in New Zealand, and the only Nichiren school that has a presence here is SGI. There is a Nichiren Shoshu temple in Australia, but the closest Nichiren Shu temple is in Singapore. So I'm not likely to get an actual Gohonzon conferred by a priest anytime soon.

According to this Nichiren Shu site, there are five different ways of presenting the Gohonzon, which is the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha:
  1. A statue of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha
  2. A statue of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha flanked by the Four Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
  3. Statues of Shakyamuni Buddha and Prabhutaratna Tathagata (Jpn. Taho Nyorai) flanking the Stupa of Treasures inscribed with the Odaimoku (this is the one used most often in the main halls of temples).
  4. An inscription of the Odaimoku alone.
  5. The Mandala depicting the Odaimoku illuminating the Ten Worlds. (i.e the standard Gohonzon that Shoshu/SGI use exclusively)
I do have a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, but He is seated, not standing, like the depiction of the Eternal Buddha. Would no. 4 be the best bet? I can do Chinese/Japanese calligraphy, or I could ask my Chinese friend who is skilled in calligraphy to write it for me.
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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A do-it-yourself gohonzon as MInobu does is one of the methods independent practitioners use. I've heard of a local independent who came into SGI having done it as well; in this case they had found a gohonzon image online, printed it and hung it on a wall. Back in the 80's Nichiren Shoshu around here the argument against was concern over the correctness of hte image eg errors and so on. OTOH given the errors and variations seen in original Nichiren gohonzon (smudges, fingerprints, mis-strokes, corrections), not to mention the variations in style seen in many authorized derivations and copies, the argument seems weak at best.

Use of statuary as honzon varies with the school. I wouldn't be suprised if there are some folks who use some kind of odaimoku image and statuary together. Whatever keeps you chanting seems like a good choice to me.

lol, in the old Shoshu days I asked about painting one's own, the reaction was fear and loathing.. :) The argument against was that one's own life condition would be clouded, obscured with delusion etc so any gohonzon you create would exhibit that too and thus be misleading. That to one side, over the years the various schools developed methods and norms for composing and reproducing gohonzon images; forms, sizes, composition rules etc, so I'd propose there is some artistic merit if nothing else from using an official gohonzon or image of one.

I have a seated Sakyamuni statue behind an incense burner down in the dining room, I light it occasionally. The statue brings back memories and I like the wide varieties of incense.
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Minobu
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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KiwiNFLFan wrote: Tue Nov 10, 2020 1:04 pm
i'm using an image from an online source for i do not have a Gohonzon.
Do you mean that you have printed out an image of a mandala Gohonzon? Is this acceptable? What about displaying an image of a Gohonzon on a tablet/phone while chanting?

I'm in New Zealand, and the only Nichiren school that has a presence here is SGI. There is a Nichiren Shoshu temple in Australia, but the closest Nichiren Shu temple is in Singapore. So I'm not likely to get an actual Gohonzon conferred by a priest anytime soon.

According to this Nichiren Shu site, there are five different ways of presenting the Gohonzon, which is the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha:
  1. A statue of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha
  2. A statue of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha flanked by the Four Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
  3. Statues of Shakyamuni Buddha and Prabhutaratna Tathagata (Jpn. Taho Nyorai) flanking the Stupa of Treasures inscribed with the Odaimoku (this is the one used most often in the main halls of temples).
  4. An inscription of the Odaimoku alone.
  5. The Mandala depicting the Odaimoku illuminating the Ten Worlds. (i.e the standard Gohonzon that Shoshu/SGI use exclusively)
I do have a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, but He is seated, not standing, like the depiction of the Eternal Buddha. Would no. 4 be the best bet? I can do Chinese/Japanese calligraphy, or I could ask my Chinese friend who is skilled in calligraphy to write it for me.
I use my iMac screen,and don’t print it off. No alter I lite a candle and offer this tree bark. Which is cool

Anyway I have gone through two Gohonzon one Nittatsu Shonin and a Nikken Shonin

I’ve slandered beyond what I can reveal publicly. Too embarrassed still.

I deal with it for I know it is all too real.
I know Gohonzon and know it is What it is.

So it’s something to just jerk that reality inside me.

It’s all weird and not recommended.

It’s a screen image of the Shutei Gohonzon which Nichiren kept at His bedside till passing away.

So no alter just an iMac on top my printer for eye height.
It is a reflection of me and my practice and my anger results
markatex
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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KiwiNFLFan wrote: Sun Nov 08, 2020 11:14 am But I have a few questions.

Does Nichiren Shu teach that you can chant Odaimoku for material things the way SGI does?
Yes, to an extent, but not nearly to the degree that SGI does. Most Buddhists have practices for lay people that include chanting or praying for "worldly" things like having an easy childbirth or doing well on an exam, etc. SGI takes it to an extreme, IMO.
What is the story with the Nichiren Shu Mandala Gohonzon? It's printed in a couple of service books I've seen, in contrast to the SGI/Shoshu practice of never photographing or reproducing it (except to enshrine in member's butsudans).


Most Nichiren schools have no prohibition on taking photos of the Gohonzon. As far as I know, it's strictly an SGI/Nichiren Shoshu thing. I suspect it has something to do with Nichiren Shoshu's belief in the Dai-Gohonzon, which possesses some sort of mystical power, I guess. That is also something that is peculiar to them. I have no idea how SGI deals with the Dai-Gohonzon issue these days.
I've heard somewhat disparagingly from either an SGI or Shoshu source that Mandala Gohonzon is given away like a souvenir to tourists visiting Mt Minobu.
It's printed on the back of pilgrim's jackets, which is what I suspect they are referring to. Actual Mandala Gohonzons are not handed out to tourists, however.
So is it conferred upon members like in SGI/Shoshu or is it simply purchased from a Buddhist supply store, the way pictures/statues of Amida Buddha enshrined in butsudans in Japan (and homes of Shin Buddhist practitioners in the West) are?
It's conferred after a priest performs the Eye Opening ceremony. It's possible to just buy one, but without an Eye Opening ceremony, it's just an object of art (Independent Nichiren practitioners will probably scoff at that).
What is the Nichiren Shu view on attaining Buddhahood? Is it seen the same way as traditional Mahayana Buddhism?
Yes.
The impression I got from SGI is that attaining Buddhahood is simply a kind of lasting happiness.
That's my impression, too. It's very idiosyncratic, to say the least. As are many of their teachings.
What would you recommend for someone interested in Nichiren Shu living in a country where there are no temples?
Many priests will work with you online. I'd suggest contacting one of them, probably the one closest to you (however far away that might be).
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

Hi markatex,

Thanks for your answers.
I suspect it has something to do with Nichiren Shoshu's belief in the Dai-Gohonzon, which possesses some sort of mystical power, I guess.
So Shoshu teaches that the Dai-Gohonzon has some sort of power that the regular Gohonzon don't?
I have no idea how SGI deals with the Dai-Gohonzon issue these days.
Can't say I heard it mentioned during my time with SGI. I heard that the SGI liturgy was changed a few years back, and along with removing the prose section of Chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra, the silent prayer referencing the Dai-Gohonzon was also removed.
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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KiwiNFLFan wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 3:43 am Hi markatex,

Thanks for your answers.
I suspect it has something to do with Nichiren Shoshu's belief in the Dai-Gohonzon, which possesses some sort of mystical power, I guess.
So Shoshu teaches that the Dai-Gohonzon has some sort of power that the regular Gohonzon don't?
I have no idea how SGI deals with the Dai-Gohonzon issue these days.
Can't say I heard it mentioned during my time with SGI. I heard that the SGI liturgy was changed a few years back, and along with removing the prose section of Chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra, the silent prayer referencing the Dai-Gohonzon was also removed.
what do you mean removing the prose section...

i recite the whole three pieces at least three times a day in full...to get full effect...
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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what do you mean removing the prose section...

i recite the whole three pieces at least three times a day in full...to get full effect...
Yes, but you are an independent Nichiren Buddhist, right? So your practice is up to you.

I said that the SGI removed the prose section from Chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra. They now only chant the verse section at the end of Chapter 16.
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

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Thats true, happened some time ago actually. There is no prohibition against reciting from older gongyo books or studying the Lotus Sutra itself, should one wish to.

Chanting for something achievable ie the car or similar, is an expedient to help with practice early on. After gaining some experience in the practice the focus of chanting changes; usually people change focus and chant for others; for health, prosperity and so on. I have been in a number of "daimoku meetings" where the stated focus was chanting for another member's health. I have also often heard the recommendation to chant for things that are useful for others; chant for the house so we can keep having meetings there, chant for the car so as to help drive members to meetings. The transition from chanting for one's own things to chanting for things that are used to help others is often discussed in SGI meetings.
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

Post by markatex »

KiwiNFLFan wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 3:43 amSo Shoshu teaches that the Dai-Gohonzon has some sort of power that the regular Gohonzon don't?
I don't fully understand, but I don't think that's quite it. I think they believe that the Dai-Gohonzon "powers" other Gohonzons. It ties into the idea that Nichiren is somehow spiritually embodied in the Gohonzon. You could get a better answer from them, I'm sure.
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Re: Questions from a newcomer

Post by markatex »

In Nichiren Shu, we typically only chant the verse section of Chapter 16 (called "Jigage," or "Verses of Eternity"). The full chapter is chanted on "special occasions."
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