The Writings of Nichiren

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tkp67
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The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

Hello,

The writings of Nichiren are a source of profound wisdom. I would like to share sections of the writing (and encourage others to do the same) for veneration the purpose of veneration of these works. I hope to remain mindful of not only Nichiren's many in body, one in mind doctrine within the writings as well as remain mindful of the diversity of practice embraced at Dharmawheel.

What better way to start than with a segment from On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime
Whether you chant the Buddha’s name,3 recite the sutra, or merely offer flowers and incense, all your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life. With this conviction you should strive in faith. The Vimalakīrti Sutra states that, when one seeks the Buddhas’ emancipation in the minds of ordinary beings, one finds that ordinary beings are the entities of enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana. It also states that, if the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.

It is the same with a Buddha and an ordinary being. When deluded, one is called an ordinary being, but when enlightened, one is called a Buddha. This is similar to a tarnished mirror that will shine like a jewel when polished. A mind now clouded by the illusions of the innate darkness of life is like a tarnished mirror, but when polished, it is sure to become like a clear mirror, reflecting the essential nature of phenomena and the true aspect of reality. Arouse deep faith, and diligently polish your mirror day and night. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/1
narhwal90
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by narhwal90 »

I like "The Doctrine of Three Thousand Realms" gosho;

https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-2/Content/180

in it Nichiren goes to some lengths detailing his view of practice, and some of his thought behind how ichinen sanzen relates to the Lotus Sutra & daimoku. There are quite a few hints as to other practices and meditations eg "threefold contemplations" of which there are many, this presumably relates to his Tendai antecedents. I should imagine this and others are the basis for the Shoshu/SGI practices, it seems to support the Shu shodaigyo at least- but I'm quite ignorant of other Shu practices. I find it helpful to understand a little more of what he was thinking of as the basis practice- makes the daimoku seem more relevant.

The footnotes introduce a couple other goshos along these lines.
tkp67
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

Thank You Rory. It was the ten realms and three thousand realm doctrine that attracted me to this practice when I first encountered it. It resonated with me on a very deep level. I am glad for the contribution.


The True Aspect of All Phenomena
QUESTION: The “Expedient Means” chapter in the first volume of the Lotus Sutra states, “The true aspect of all phenomena [can only be understood and shared between Buddhas. This reality consists of the appearance, nature . . . and] their consistency from beginning to end.” What does this passage mean?

Answer: It means that all beings and environments in the Ten Worlds, from hell, the lowest, to Buddhahood, the highest, are without exception manifestations of Myoho-renge-kyo. If there is an environment, living beings are bound to dwell there. A commentary states, “Living beings and their environments always manifest Myoho-renge-kyo.”1 Another says: “The true aspect invariably manifests in all phenomena, and all phenomena invariably manifest in the ten factors. The ten factors invariably manifest in the Ten Worlds, and the Ten Worlds invariably manifest in life and its environment.”2 And “Both the beings and the environment of the Avīchi hell exist entirely within the life of the highest sage [Buddha], and what is more, the life and the environment of Vairochana [Buddha] never transcend the lives of common mortals.”3 These explanations are precise and clear. Who could have doubts? Thus, the entire realm of phenomena is no different than the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo.

Even the two Buddhas, Shakyamuni and Many Treasures, in performing the functions of the benefit of the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo, manifested themselves as the two Buddhas, and seated together in the treasure tower, nodded in mutual agreement.
---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/40
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Caoimhghín
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by Caoimhghín »

Full disclosure: this post is based on another post I had made on a different web forum, but I felt like it might be valuable here, and deals with the gosho WND1:43, "On the Buddha's Prophecy."

I am not a Nichiren Buddhist, but I have immense respect for the tradition. Everything I say is as an outsider with fondness.

Foundationally, Venerable Nichiren taught Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō, which he knew through the Chinese characters 南無妙法蓮華經.

But what is 南無妙法蓮華經? A mere homage to a favourite sūtra? A string of characters? An acclamation of praise?

When we read his writings, we can start to begin to get an idea of what Ven Nichiren meant by 南無妙法蓮華經, this strange little phrase.

There is a bodhisattva in the Lotus Sūtra named 常不輕 (Cháng Bùqīng, Jōkufyō, Sadāparibhūta, 'Never Disparaging'). Unlike many other figures in the LS, little fantastical elaboration is given to him in the text, and the chapter (20 in the Kumārajīva recension, used in East Asia, and the basis of most English translations of the LS, and 19 in the Sanskritic Nepalese recension) is believed by some to have circulated as an independent text, much like the Tathāgatāyuṣpramāṇaparivarta ("Lifespan Exegesis" Ch 16/15), before being incorporated into the LS.

Within this parivarta (chapter), Śākyamunibuddha tells of this great bodhisattva, and his profound practice:
This bhikṣu, to all there were to see, whether bhikṣu, bhikṣuṇī, upāsaka, upāsikā, to all, obediently bowed in praise and said: 'I deeply revere you all, never daring to disparage any. Why is this? You all, each and every, tread the bodhisattva path, and will attain Buddhahood.'
(T262.50c14)

The practice of Sadāparibhūtabodhisattva is presented in the LS is a brief string of twenty-four characters:
我深敬汝等不敢輕慢所以者何汝等皆行菩薩道當得作佛
Venerable Nichiren directly commented on the fable of the practice of the Bodhisattva Never Disparaging. In his writing, 'On the Buddha's Prophecy', he says this of the 24 characters associated with Sadāparibhūtanāmabodhisattva's practice:
The twenty-four characters of Never Disparaging and the five characters of Nichiren are different in wording, but accord with the same principle. [...] Bodhisattva Never Disparaging was a practitioner at the initial stage of rejoicing; Nichiren is an ordinary practitioner at the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth.
(WND1:43)

So, I am not a Nichiren Buddhist for any variety of person reasons there is no need to get into here, but if I look at the above gosho (御書, 'honoured writing') and take it at face value, the ōdaimoku (お題目, '[practice of the] honoured title') of Ven Nichiren, whatever it be, is meant to be in accordance with the principle of the words of Sadāparibhūtabodhisattva:
I deeply revere you all, never daring to disparage any. Why is this? You all, each and every, tread the bodhisattva path, and will attain Buddhahood.
How to realize such a practice? Universal reverence. A difficult task, but a worthy one.
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)
tkp67
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

Welcome friend. Thank you for the kind addition.

Please let me expand on the definition of the daimoku for which I think you will appreciate and then to Nichiren's words regarding propagation which I think you also may appreciate.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo


The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings (Ongi kuden) says: Namu or nam is a Sanskrit word. Here it means to dedicate one’s life, that is, to the Person and to the Law. In terms of the Person, one dedicates one’s life to Shakyamuni Buddha; in terms of the Law, one dedicates one’s life to the Lotus Sutra. “Dedication” means dedication to the principle of eternal and unchanging truth of the theoretical teaching, and “life” means that one’s life dedicated to that principle bases itself on the wisdom of the truth of the essential teaching that functions in accordance with changing circumstances. In essence, one dedicates one’s life to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.


A commentary [by Dengyō] says, “That which accords with changing circumstances, that which is unchanging, these are tranquil and shining in a single moment of life.”

Again, “dedication” refers to the element of physical form as it pertains to us, while “life” refers to the element of mind as it pertains to us. But the ultimate teaching tells us that form and mind are not two things. As a commentary [The Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra,” volume one] says, “Because [the Lotus Sutra] leads us to the ultimate truth, it is called the Buddha vehicle.”

We may also note that the nam(u) of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a Sanskrit word, while myōhō, renge, and kyō are Chinese words.1 p.4Sanskrit and Chinese join in a single moment to form Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. If we express the title in Sanskrit, it will be Saddharma-pundarīka-sūtram. This is Myoho-renge-kyo in Sanskrit. Sad (the phonetic change of sat) means myō, or wonderful. Dharma means hō, Law or phenomena. Pundarīka means renge, or lotus blossom. Sūtram means kyō, or sutra. The nine characters [that represent the Sanskrit title] are the Buddha bodies of the nine honored ones. This expresses the idea that the nine worlds are inseparable from the Buddha world.

Myō stands for the Dharma nature or enlightenment, while hō represents darkness or ignorance. Together myōhō expresses the idea that ignorance and the Dharma nature are a single entity. Renge stands for the two elements of cause and effect. Cause and effect are also a single entity.

Kyō represents the words and voices of all living beings. A commentary [On “The Profound Meaning,” volume one] says, “The voice carries out the work of the Buddha, and this is called kyō, or sutra.” Kyō may also be defined as that which is constant and unchanging in the three existences of past, present, and future. The Dharma-realm is myōhō, the Wonderful Law; the Dharma-realm is renge, the lotus blossom; the Dharma-realm is kyō, the sutra.

Renge, the lotus blossom, is the Buddha bodies of the nine honored ones seated on the eight-petaled lotus. Think all this over very carefully.
---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/ott/TEXTS/1
Point Seven, on the robe, the seat, and the room in the passage “Medicine King, if there are good men and good women who, after the Thus Come One has entered extinction, wish to expound this Lotus Sutra for the four kinds of believers, how should they expound it? These good men and good women should enter the Thus Come One’s room, put on the Thus Come One’s robe, sit in the Thus Come One’s seat, and then for the sake of the four kinds of believers broadly expound this sutra.”


The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings says: The robe, the seat, and the room represent the three bodies of the Buddha, the Dharma body, the reward body, and the manifested body; the three truths, the truth of non-substantiality, the truth of temporary existence, and the truth of the Middle Way; and the three categories of action, actions of the body, mouth, and mind. Now Nichiren and his followers, who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, are fulfilling these three rules of preaching represented by the robe, the seat, and the room in each moment of their lives.

The robe is the robe that is “gentle and forbearing” (chapter p.85ten), as well as that which is referred to in the passage that says, “We . . . will put on the armor of perseverance” (chapter thirteen, Encouraging Devotion).

As for the seat, if one devotes oneself to the practice without begrudging one’s life, then it becomes the seat of “the emptiness of all phenomena” (chapter ten).

The room is so called because one dwells in “pity and compassion” (ibid.) when one expounds the teachings. It means to have the kind of concern that a mother has for her child. And are we not fulfilling these three rules of preaching in each moment of our lives?
---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/ott/PART-1/10


IMHO if the practice is authentic it should embody the selfless loving kindness indicative of a filial relationship

This is how I interpret these teachings and why they are so meaningful to me, YMMV
narhwal90
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by narhwal90 »

I first recognized Never Disparaging as someone to look more closely at in the 14 Slanders gosho ( https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/92 ). I find obscure goshos like this more illuminating and interesting than the oft quoted ones, even moreso with respect to the apparently endless conversation about theoretical vs essential chapters of the Lotus Sutra. I find Nichiren more engaging when he speaks of practice and advice and encouragement though it is clear to me I respond more to example than argument.

I've toyed with various perspectives when chanting; the translations of the words and the claims of what they signify have never done much for me; something like the "dead words" I was using in pointed dharma conversation with a Zen guy a while ago. What seems to work better for me is Nichiren's description of the gohonzon depicting representatives of the 10 Worlds in audience while Sakyamuni and Taho conduct the teaching, effectively summarized by the daimoku.
tkp67
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

Thank you for sharing that Gosho and agree about the benefits contained in some of the less often mentioned writings.

I have a open question to the community regarding goshos where Nichiren asks for them to remain secret. What is the proper respectful protocol for discussion of these goshos?

Thank You in Advance for thoughtful consideration in this regard.
narhwal90
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by narhwal90 »

Far as I'm concerned, his request was to the addressee of the message, so such goshos would be as open to scrutiny, discussion and study as with any other.
tkp67
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

narhwal90 wrote: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:01 pm Far as I'm concerned, his request was to the addressee of the message, so such goshos would be as open to scrutiny, discussion and study as with any other.

I did not attempt to consider it from that perspective. From my perspective the point is moot since these writings are openly available however I am concerned that if I incorrectly project my interpretation and it offends then I am undermining many in body, one of mind.

Those goshos seem to rarely discussed while they seem to hold a wealth of information.

Thanks again for the input
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Bois de Santal
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by Bois de Santal »

My take on it is that such ideas were open to being misunderstood and misinterpreted - both by his followers and his enemies. Back then communication and flow of information was a lot more restricted. Sharing such ideas without fully understanding risked doing more harm than good. And from the writings themselves it is pretty sure that most of his followers really lived amongst hicks from the sticks, not sophisticated Kyoto-ites. The reception Nichiren received after his first lecture in 1253 comes to mind.

The admonition is useful though - it asks us to think about the ideas before talking about them, so as to be sure we actually do understand them.
tkp67
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

Thank you that is very clarifying.

Since Bodhisattva never disparaging was mentioned I had a revelation about the purpose. It has always been a root understanding of my practice one that resonates with me but I don't think I understood the true magnitude in relation to the understanding the meaning of the writings of Nichiren and the lotus sutra and how the lotus sutra IS a mirror of the perfect mind of buddha.

The behavior of bodhisattva never disparaging is one based on compassion, equanimity and loving kindness. If those qualities aren't dominant in our mind when interpreting and/or practicing the lotus our engagement of impure self will not allow us to understand it as the buddha's mind but rather in accord to our own.

I have always used the basis of my practice as the bodhisattva never disparaging without a deep understanding why or how it served me but it seemed essential. It seems so much clearer now although it could be my mind searching to rationalize my path.

NMRK friends
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

T’ien-t’ai commented on this, saying that “no worldly affairs of life or work are ever contrary to the true reality.”9 A person of wisdom is not one who practices Buddhism apart from worldly affairs but, rather, one who thoroughly understands the principles by which the world is governed.
https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/169

The Kalpa of Decrease
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever.
---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/86

Happiness in This World
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

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Then he declares the Lotus Sutra to be the supreme teaching by revealing that all the Buddhas derive their enlightenment from it. Because the Lotus Sutra is the source of all Buddhas, he explains, the act of making offerings to the Lotus Sutra brings the same benefit as making offerings to all the Buddhas throughout the universe. He also says that the Lotus Sutra, ultimately the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, possesses the power to change poison into medicine and is capable of transforming past offenses into sources of benefit and good fortune.
---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd- ... 27#para-15

The Drum at the Gate of Thunder
tkp67
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

The third section describes the Gohonzon, the object of devotion, by classifying the entire body of the Buddhist teachings into three categories: preparation, revelation, and transmission. In terms of the Daishonin’s teachings, preparation includes all the teachings of all Buddhas throughout time and space; revelation is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the Law implied in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter; and transmission, the teachings of all Buddhas seen in the light of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The Daishonin asserts that Shakyamuni’s is the Buddhism of the harvest, meaning that he expounded his enlightenment as an effect only, without revealing the cause. The Daishonin’s teaching, however, is called the Buddhism of sowing, for it teaches the cause for attaining enlightenment directly, thus guiding people compassionately in their quest for the ultimate state of life.
---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd- ... 9#para-148

The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind Established in the Fifth Five-Hundred-Year Periodafter the Thus Come One’s Passing

The Lotus Sutra, wherein the Buddha honestly discarded expedient means, says that one can “gain entrance through faith alone.”3 And the Nirvana Sutra, which the Buddha preached in the grove of sal trees on the last day of his life, states, “Although there are innumerable practices that lead to enlightenment, if one teaches faith, then that includes all those practices.”
---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd- ... /14#para-6

The Daimokuof the Lotus Sutra
tkp67
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

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Question: You have told us about the sources of this doctrine. Now what is meant by the observation of the mind?

Answer: The observation of the mind means to observe one’s own mind and to find the Ten Worlds within it. This is what is called observing the mind. For example, though we can see the six sense organs of other people, we cannot see our own. Only when we look into a clear mirror do we see, for the first time, that we are endowed with all six sense organs. Similarly, various sutras make reference here and there to the six paths and the four noble worlds [that constitute the Ten Worlds], but only in the clear mirror of the Lotus Sutra and of the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight can one see one’s own Ten Worlds, hundred worlds and thousand factors, and three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind Established in the Fifth Five-Hundred-Year Periodafter the Thus Come One’s Passing

---> https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd- ... 9#para-148
tkp67
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

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The mighty warrior General Li Kuang, whose mother had been devoured by a tiger, shot an arrow at the stone he believed was the tiger. The arrow penetrated the stone all the way up to its feathers. But once he realized it was only a stone, he was unable to pierce it again. Later he came to be known as General Stone Tiger.
--- https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/128

General Stone Tiger
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by jake »

tkp67 wrote: Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:48 pm
The mighty warrior General Li Kuang, whose mother had been devoured by a tiger, shot an arrow at the stone he believed was the tiger. The arrow penetrated the stone all the way up to its feathers. But once he realized it was only a stone, he was unable to pierce it again. Later he came to be known as General Stone Tiger.
--- https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/128

General Stone Tiger
I dont get this one. What does it mean? A phantom city thing?
tkp67
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Re: The Writings of Nichiren

Post by tkp67 »

jake wrote: Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:00 pm
tkp67 wrote: Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:48 pm
The mighty warrior General Li Kuang, whose mother had been devoured by a tiger, shot an arrow at the stone he believed was the tiger. The arrow penetrated the stone all the way up to its feathers. But once he realized it was only a stone, he was unable to pierce it again. Later he came to be known as General Stone Tiger.
--- https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/128

General Stone Tiger
I dont get this one. What does it mean? A phantom city thing?
How it related to my understanding was by illustrating how absolute belief (lack of doubt) can accomplish the impossible.

I see it as a means to suggest the mind abandons doubt in regards to enlightenment and engage absolute faith. One of the most important message in all of Nichiren Buddhism is that the door to the lotus is entered through faith. I understand this might trigger theist associations in some minds but there are pragmatic ways to understand how belief plants subliminal seeds in the subconscious allowing manifestations.

The necessity for confidence in light of oppression or opposition might be seen more pragmatically and even if it is self confidence in one's own abilities the application in unknown circumstances reliance of belief is required until outcome is realized.

People have married many of facets of the human condition to specific beliefs and this seems to undermine the perception of their potency.
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