The acceptability of "Nam"

Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Yuren » Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:07 am

The Nam/Namu discussion is one of the funniest and most ridiculous discussions in the history of Buddhism, I believe.

To begin, anyone looking into Nichiren's writings will be hard pressed to find any passages revealing his concerns for "de rigeur" when chanting.


However, the chanting itself is non-negotiable, or is it? Can one just say NMRK instead? Or think it? If not, why is the singing essential, does Nichiren ever address that?
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby nichirenista » Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:19 pm

Well, to my understanding, within the Nichiren tradition, the whole of the Buddha's 80,000 (?) sutras, and the entirety of the religion, can be encompassed in the formula Nam(u)-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. In other words, great significance is given to these words. These words are the root of the very practice itself. So it's kind of logical that people would take these words very seriously. Because other schools of Buddhism are structured differently, the controversy may be baffling. But I'm sure they are comparable controversies in other schools….
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Queequeg » Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:16 pm

Yuren wrote:The Nam/Namu discussion is one of the funniest and most ridiculous discussions in the history of Buddhism, I believe.


Yes. Yes it is. Its sad, really. I regret taking part in it, but people make an issue out of it, and so I feel compelled to point out how they have nothing but their own opinions to stand on.

There are many people who take up the Buddha Dharma, but for various reasons don't have a deeper understanding to see through this kind of facile nonsense. They become discouraged by people pretending to have superior knowledge (notice the people who make the biggest issue out of this don't actually know Japanese at all) and their sincere aspirations are undermined. The Buddha compared such people with meager understanding and whose motivation toward Buddha Dharma is primarily their faith (sraddha) to people with only one eye - their fellows should take extra effort to protect their one-eyed friend and make every effort so that they do not lose that one eye they have.

However, the chanting itself is non-negotiable, or is it? Can one just say NMRK instead? Or think it? If not, why is the singing essential, does Nichiren ever address that?


First, why did Zhiyi recognize the Lotus Sutra as the highest Buddhist teaching?

Lotus Sutra, Chapter 21:
Briefly stated, all the dharmas possessed by the Thus Come One, all the Thus Come One’s supernatural powers of self-mastery, the treasure house of all the Thus Come One’s secrets, all the Thus Come One’s profound affairs are entirely proclaimed, demonstrated, revealed, and preached in this scripture. For this reason, after the extinction of the Thus Come One, you all must single-mindedly receive and keep, read and recite, interpret and copy, and, as you preach, so practice it; whether in a place where scriptural rolls are lodged, or in a garden, or in a grove, or at the foot of a tree, or in a samgha cell, or in the home of a white-clad layman, or in a palace, or on mountains, or in valleys, or in open fields, there, in every case, is to be erected a stupa, to which offerings are to be made. What is the reason? Be it known that that place is a platform of the path; that the buddhas there have achieved annuttarasamyaksambodhi; that the buddhas there have turned the dharma wheel; that the buddhas there have achieved parinirvana.

Lotus Sutra, Hurvitz, p. 264-5.

The italicized part is, according to Zhiyi, the Four Phrase heart of the Lotus Sutra. This is why the Lotus Sutra is proclaimed in the Lotus School to be the supreme teaching of the Buddha.

That self-promotion is all well and good. But what is it about the Lotus that is supreme?

I think everyone is familiar with stories of masters who warn their disciples from becoming attached to signs. This is the first of two messages delivered in the Lotus Sutra - upaya, or Expedient Means. The Buddha says that his enlightenment is not taught in anything he expounded up until that point - not directly, anyway.

In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha explains that everything he taught in this world is an expedient means - preached in response to the needs and capacity of the people - his teachings up until the Lotus Sutra accord not with his mind, but with the minds of the people he is speaking to. All the various stories he tells about this Buddha or that, or this Bodhisattva or that, or this past life or that, are means to lead us to the point that we can glimpse the True Aspect for ourselves. The Buddha explains that his enlightenment is actually the True Aspect of Reality which is only shared between Buddhas. The profound irony is that this True Aspect is constantly revealed to us, but because of our petty attachments, we are trapped in prisons of our own confusion about what is actually going on.

The second message is the Buddha's revelation that he is, in short, the True Aspect of Reality. The True Aspect is timeless, boundless, deathless, etc. etc. He is the teacher of the means to awakening and the embodiment of the awakening, both the subject and object - he teaches that we are all from the beginning, functions of the Buddha's body, just as he is. This should not be taken in the simplistic literal way - consider that all these statements are themselves subject to the caveat of Upaya. The True Aspect, the Buddha, can only be known directly, and is of course subject to all those caveats that make the the Buddha's body ultimately incomprehensible. The Mahaparinirvana expands on this.

I'm not concerned with other interpretations of Buddhism here. If people are interested to see what Zhiyi has to say about all that, his work is increasingly available in English. Basically, he declares that they are all marked by ignorance - essentially its the Master warning the disciple from being attached to signs. Instead, the Lotus Sutra teaches non-attachment to signs and instead urges a path that directly leads to the True Aspect. It begins with adhimukti of the True Aspect itself. Everything else is upaya.

The Daimoku is a pithy conclusion- a de minimis declaration of devotion to this teaching on the True Aspect of reality - a reduction of the Buddha's entire corpus of teachings into a short formula - just as E=mcsquared is a simple statement about a profound idea that can be explored voluminously. Its about as pared down as the Buddha's teaching on the True Aspect can be without becoming unintelligible. If we were to relinquish anymore of the sign, the Buddha's enlightenment would be lost and would need to be discovered and revealed again by another historical Buddha. Its not the only expression of this teaching, but a choice of another name would merely be a matter of alternative semantics - and thats more or less a variation on the Nam/Namu debate - idiotic and wholly missing the point.

This is what Nichiren wrote:

As a daily religious practice, one should recite the daimoku, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Those persons who are able to do so should further recite a verse or a phrase of the Lotus Sutra. As a supplementary practice, if one wishes, one may offer praise for Shakyamuni Buddha, Many Treasures Buddha, or the Buddhas of the ten directions, for all the various bodhisattvas or the persons of the two vehicles, the heavenly beings, the dragon deities, or the eight kinds of nonhuman beings [who protect Buddhism]. Since we live in an age when there are many uninformed people, there is no need for believers to attempt at once to practice the meditation on the three thousand realms in a single moment of life, though if there are persons who wish to do so, they should learn how to practice this type of meditation and carry it out.

On Reciting the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra

To accept, uphold, read, recite, take delight in, and protect all the eight volumes and twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra is called the comprehensive practice. To accept, uphold, and protect the “Expedient Means” chapter and the “Life Span” chapter is called the abbreviated practice. And simply to chant one four-phrase verse or the daimoku, and to protect those who do so, is called the essential practice. Hence, among these three kinds of practice, comprehensive, abbreviated, and essential, the daimoku is defined as the essential practice.

-the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra

As for the Lotus Sutra, one may recite the entire sutra of twenty-eight chapters in eight volumes every day; or one may recite only one volume, or one chapter, or one verse, or one phrase, or one word; or one may simply chant the daimoku, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, only once a day, or chant it only once in the course of a lifetime; or hear someone else chant it only once in a lifetime and rejoice in the hearing, or rejoice in hearing the voice of someone else rejoice in the hearing, and so on in this manner to the fiftieth hearer. And if one were to be at the end, even if one’s faith were weak and one’s sense of rejoicing diluted like the frailty of a child of two or three, or the inability of a cow or horse to distinguish before from after, the blessings one would gain would be a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million times greater than those gained by persons of keen faculties and superior wisdom who study other sutras, persons such as Shāriputra, Maudgalyāyana, Manjushrī, and Maitreya, who had committed to memory the entire texts of the various sutras…

First of all, when it comes to the Lotus Sutra, you should understand that, whether one recites all eight volumes, or only one volume, one chapter, one verse, one phrase, or simply the daimoku, or title, the blessings are the same. It is like the water of the great ocean, a single drop of which contains water from all the countless streams and rivers, or like the wish-granting jewel, which, though only a single jewel, can shower all kinds of treasures upon the wisher. And the same is true of a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, or a million such drops of water or such jewels. A single character of the Lotus Sutra is like such a drop of water or such a jewel, and the hundred million characters are like a hundred million such drops or jewels…

But to return to your question. As I said before, though no chapter of the Lotus Sutra is negligible, among the entire twenty-eight chapters,the “Expedient Means” chapter and the “Life Span” chapter are particularly outstanding. The remaining chapters are all in a sense the branches and leaves of these two chapters. Therefore, for your regular recitation, I recommend that you practice reading the prose sections of the “Expedient Means” and “Life Span” chapters. In addition, it might be well if you wrote out separate copies of these sections. The remaining twenty-six chapters are like the shadow that follows one’s body or the value inherent in a jewel. If you recite the “Life Span” and “Expedient Means” chapters, then the remaining chapters will naturally be included even though you do not recite them. It is true that the “Medicine King” and “Devadatta” chapters deal specifically with women’s attainment of Buddhahood or rebirth in the pure land. But the “Devadatta” chapter is a branch and leaf of the “Expedient Means” chapter, and the “Medicine King” chapter is a branch and leaf of the “Expedient Means” and the “LifeSpan” chapters. Therefore, you should regularly recite these two chapters, the “Expedient Means” and “Life Span” chapters. As for the remaining chapters, you may turn to them from time to time when you have a moment of leisure.

Expedient Means and Life Span Chapters

We speak of upholding the Lotus Sutra. But although there is only one sutra, the manner in which we uphold it may vary from one period to the next. There may be times when a person literally rends his flesh and offers it to his teacher, and in this way attains Buddhahood. Or at other times a person may offer his body as a couch to his teacher, or as so much firewood. At yet other times a person may bear the blows of sticks and staves for the sake of the sutra, or may practice religious austerities or observe various precepts. And there may be times when, even though a person does the things described above, he still does not attain Buddhahood. It depends upon the time and is not something fixed.
Therefore, the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai declared, “The method chosen should be that which accords with the time.” And the Great Teacher Chang-an said, “You should let your choices be fitting and never adhere solely to one or the other.”

Letter to Horen
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Masaru » Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:16 am

Yuren wrote:The Nam/Namu discussion is one of the funniest and most ridiculous discussions in the history of Buddhism, I believe.


Just to be sure, did you mean the discussion within the Nichiren Buddhist community or the discussion taking place within this particular thread?
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Masaru » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:44 am

Masaru wrote:
Yuren wrote:The Nam/Namu discussion is one of the funniest and most ridiculous discussions in the history of Buddhism, I believe.


Just to be sure, did you mean the discussion within the Nichiren Buddhist community or the discussion taking place within this particular thread?


And by taking place I mean had taken place, as Queequeg's comments are quite profound.
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Yuren » Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:20 pm

nichirenista wrote:other schools of Buddhism are structured differently, the controversy may be baffling. But I'm sure they are comparable controversies in other schools….


Yeah, you're right.

I remember a Soto Zen teacher discussing the minutiae of physical posture at length. The question was very specific: is left foot on right tigh correct in half-lotus, or right foot on left tigh. He wasn't discussing this as a mere practical issue. He was actually looking into Dogen's writings to find clues as to what is the correct way to sit in half-lotus. It was a question of dogmatics, of core doctrine, not of anatomy. Another example I can think of is the controversies in Pure Land circles. How many times one has to say the name of Amida? One or ten or more? I suspect there is something about Tendai's background that made them ask these question. The phenomenal expression of practice acquired absolute importance.

Queequeg wrote:The Daimoku is a pithy conclusion- a de minimis declaration of devotion to this teaching on the True Aspect of reality - a reduction of the Buddha's entire corpus of teachings into a short formula - just as E=mc squared is a simple statement about a profound idea that can be explored voluminously. Its about as pared down as the Buddha's teaching on the True Aspect can be without becoming unintelligible. If we were to relinquish anymore of the sign, the Buddha's enlightenment would be lost and would need to be discovered and revealed again by another historical Buddha. Its not the only expression of this teaching, but a choice of another name would merely be a matter of alternative semantics - and thats more or less a variation on the Nam/Namu debate - idiotic and wholly missing the point.


Thank you for your most excellent explanation of Nichiren's understanding of the Title. It does make sense. If I love a woman, I don't need to recall every single detail of her body or her personality every time. I just think of her name, and all is encompassed. The question I still have though is the chanting. Why the chanting? I'm not asking "Why NMRK", but why chant it. Is that essential? Can't one just utter it, or just repeat it mentally, in silence? Does Nichiren ever discuss this?
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Queequeg » Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:34 am

Yuren wrote:If I love a woman, I don't need to recall every single detail of her body or her personality every time. I just think of her name, and all is encompassed.


From Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene ii:

Jul. ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.


Would Nichiren agree with that?

The question I still have though is the chanting. Why the chanting? I'm not asking "Why NMRK", but why chant it. Is that essential? Can't one just utter it, or just repeat it mentally, in silence? Does Nichiren ever discuss this?


I think the approach of your question will not yield the answer you're looking for. I think you have to start with the ideal of practice, and then work backwards to determine at which point is the ideal no longer expressed? According to Nichiren, the most exalted practice is to read the sutra with your body:

Tomorrow I am to leave for the province of Sado. In the cold tonight, I think of what it must be like for you in prison, and it pains me. Admirable Nichirō, because you have read the entirety of the Lotus Sutra with both the physical and spiritual aspects of your life, you will also be able to save your father and mother, your six kinds of relatives, and all living beings. Others read the Lotus Sutra with their mouths alone, in word alone, but they do not read it with their hearts. And even if they read it with their hearts, they do not read it with their actions. It is reading the sutra with both one’s body and mind that is truly praiseworthy!

Letter to Nichiro

Working backwards, as in the quote I included in a previous post, even rejoicing at the rejoicing of a person who hears the Lotus Sutra removed by fifty people (meaning, rejoicing at a person rejoicing at a person rejoicing at a person rejoicing at a person rejoicing.... at a person rejoicing on hearing the Lotus Sutra) brings immeasurable benefit beyond even the practices of people like Sariputra.

The meaning seems to be, the slightest good will toward the Lotus Sutra brings immeasurable benefit. Chanting is an easy daily practice. Is it essential? Not according to the Nichiren quote above. In full candor, the Expedient Means and Life Span Chapters is a disputed writing. Its reasoning though seems to me solidly grounded in the Lotus Sutra.

Maybe.
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby illarraza » Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:04 am

From the forum topic Nichiren Resources, slightly edited:

There is everything to this controversy. Only Namu Myoho renge kyo is correct because Namu Myoho renge kyo is the personal name of the Supreme Law. Neither Nam Myoho renge kyo, Namo Miao Fa Lien Hua Ching, Namas Saddharma pundarika sutra nor Devotion to the Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Wonderful Dharma is the name of the Supreme Law.

Even were Nichiren to have written the Daimoku in brail, it is written Namu Myoho renge kyo. Nichiren never wrote Nam Myoho renge kyo, not once in thirty years, not on his Gohonzons nor in his writings.

“And when the two characters for Namu are prefixed to Myoho-renge-kyo, or the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, we have the formula Namu-myoho-renge-kyo.” -- The Opening of the Eyes

"The jewels of this jeweled vehicle are the seven precious substances which adorn the great cart. The seven jewels are precisely the seven orifices in one's head, and these seven orifices are precisely the [seven characters] na-mu-myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo, the essential Dharma for the Final Dharma Age." -- Mounting This Jeweled Vehicle, They Directly Arrive at the Place of Enlightenment

Were believers to chant together and some are chanting Namu Myoho renge kyo while others are chanting Nam Myoho renge kyo, what a discordant mess it would be. Some practitioners chanting Namu Myoho renge kyo and others chanting Nam Myoho renge kyo is one of the principle causes of Nichiren faith disunity. One may spout all the theoretical reasons in the world why Nam Myoho renge kyo is equally correct but reality and actuality trumps them all.

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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby illarraza » Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:33 am

Nichiren on discarding even a single character of the Lotus Sutra:

"A single character of the Lotus Sutra is like the great earth, which gives rise to all things. A single character is like the great ocean, which contains the water from all rivers. A single character is like the sun and moon, which illuminate all four continents.

“Now the Latter Day of the Law, is the time when the seven characters of Namu Myoho renge kyo-the heart of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra that Shakyamuni Buddha who had achieved enlightenment in the remote past, along with the bodhisattvas Jogyo, Muhengyo and the others is to propogate-will alone spread throughout the country.”

"In the first five hundred years of the Former Day of the Law following the Buddha’s passing, only Hinayana teachings spread, while in the next five hundred years, provisional Mahayana teachings spread. The thousand years of the Middle Day of the Law saw the rise of the theoretical teaching. In the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, only the essential teaching spreads, but even so, the theoretical teaching should not be discarded. Nowhere in the entire Lotus Sutra do we find a passage suggesting that we should discard the first fourteen chapters, which comprise the theoretical teaching. When we distinguish between the theoretical and the essential teachings on the basis of the threefold classification of the entire body of the Buddha’s teachings, the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings were to be spread in the Former Day, and the theoretical teaching, in the Middle Day, but the Latter Day is the time to propagate the essential teaching. In the present period the essential teaching is primary, while the theoretical teaching is subordinate. But those who therefore discard the latter, saying it is not the way to enlightenment, and believe only in the former, have not yet understood the doctrine of Nichiren’s true intention. Theirs is a completely distorted view."

"Thus a single word of this Lotus Sutra is as precious as a wish-granting jewel, and a single phrase is the seed of all Buddhas."

"Again, a single character equals innumerable others, for the validity of the sutra was attested to by the Buddhas of the ten directions. The treasures bestowed by a single wish-granting jewel equal those bestowed by two such jewels or by innumerable jewels. Likewise, each character in the Lotus Sutra is like a single wish-granting jewel, and the innumerable characters of the sutra are like innumerable jewels. The character myō was uttered by two tongues: the tongues of Shakyamuni and Many Treasures. The tongues of these two Buddhas are like an eight-petaled lotus flower, one petal overlapping another, on which rests a jewel, the character of myō.

The jewel of the character myō contains all the benefits that the Thus Come One Shakyamuni received by practicing the six pāramitās in his past existences: the benefits he obtained through the practice of almsgiving by offering his body to a starving tigress and by giving his life in exchange for that of a dove;9 the benefits he obtained when he was King Shrutasoma who kept his word, though it meant his death, in order to observe the precepts;10 the benefits he obtained as an ascetic called Forbearance by enduring the tortures inflicted upon him by King Kāli;11 the benefits he obtained as Prince Earnest Donor and as the ascetic Shōjari, and all his other benefits. We, the people of this evil latter age, have not formed even a single good cause, but [by bestowing upon us the jewel of myō] Shakyamuni has granted us the same benefit as if we ourselves had fulfilled all the practices of the six pāramitās. This precisely accords with his statement “Now this threefold world is all my domain, and the living beings in it are all my children.” Bound as we common mortals are by earthly desires, we can instantly attain the same virtues as Shakyamuni Buddha, for we receive all the benefits that he accumulated. The sutra reads, “Hoping to make all persons equal to me, without any distinction between us.” This means that those who believe in and practice the Lotus Sutra are equal to Shakyamuni Buddha."

"Therefore, a single word from one of these kings can destroy the kingdom or insure order within it. The edicts handed down by rulers represent a type of pure and far-reaching voice. Ten thousand words spoken by ten thousand ordinary subjects cannot equal one word spoken by a king."

"Similarly, though we gather together all the various sutras, such as the Flower Garland Sutra, the Āgama sutras, the Correct and Equal sutras, the Wisdom, Nirvana, Mahāvairochana, and Meditation sutras, they could never equal even a single character of the Lotus Sutra."

"Shakyamuni Buddha and the written words of the Lotus Sutra are two different things, but their heart is one. Therefore, when you cast your eyes upon the words of the Lotus Sutra, you should consider that you are beholding the living body of the Thus Come One Shakyamuni."

"The characters of this sutra are all without exception living Buddhas of perfect enlightenment. But because we have the eyes of ordinary people, we see them as characters. For instance, hungry spirits perceive the Ganges River as fire, human beings perceive it as water, and heavenly beings perceive it as amrita. Though the water is the same, it appears differently according to one’s karmic reward from the past."

The blind cannot see the characters of this sutra. To the eyes of ordinary people, they look like characters. Persons of the two vehicles perceive them as the void. Bodhisattvas look on them as innumerable doctrines. Buddhas recognize each character as a golden Shakyamuni. This is what is meant by the passage that says, “[If one can uphold this sutra], one will be upholding the Buddha’s body.”1 Those who practice with distorted views, however, are destroying this most precious sutra. You should simply be careful that, without differing thoughts, you single-mindedly aspire to the pure land of Eagle Peak. A passage in the Six Pāramitās Sutra2 says to become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you. I will explain in detail when I see you.

“Now this Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law I have been speaking of represents the true reason why all Buddhas make their advent in the world and teaches the direct way to the attainment of Buddhahood for all living beings. Shakyamuni Buddha entrusted it to his disciples, Many Treasures Buddha testified to its veracity, and the other Buddhas extended their tongues up to the Brahmā heaven, proclaiming, ‘All that you [Shakyamuni] have expounded is the truth!’ Every single character in this sutra represents the true intention of the Buddhas, and every brushstroke of it is a source of aid to those who repeat the cycle of birth and death. There is not a single word in it that is untrue."

"Even if one were to prepare a feast of a hundred flavors, if the single flavor of salt were missing, it would be no feast for a great king. Without salt, even the delicacies of land and sea are tasteless."

“The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, before which I bow my head, in its single case, with its eight scrolls, twenty-eight chapters, and 69,384 characters, is in each and every one of its characters the true Buddha who preaches the Law for the benefit of living beings.”

"Every single character in this sutra represents the true intention of the Buddhas, and every brushstroke of it is a source of aid to those who repeat the cycle of birth and death. There is not a single word in it that is untrue."

"If one discards one word or even one brushstroke of the sutra, the offense is graver than that of one who kills one’s parents ten million times over, or even of one who sheds the blood of all the Buddhas in the ten."

I can supply dozens of more similar passages. Throwing out the character Mu is to throw out a golden Buddha from the heart of the Lotus Sutra. Perhaps the SGI should remove the character Mu from their Gohonzons as they have from Nichiren's writings.

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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby markatex » Wed Jul 09, 2014 11:46 am

tl;dr
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Queequeg » Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:20 pm

markatex wrote:tl;dr

Illaraza is just doubling down on his ignorance.
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby reciproque » Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:31 pm

I would like to address the remarks of illarraza about "Mu" and the supporting documentation he cites.

Firstly, let me congratulate you on doing the research to find the quotes, it's always appreciated.

Secondly, the notion that a word, or a character, is being rejected is not the point. All words and characters from all the world's languages are meant to convey meanings. Shakyamuni, if he were alive today, would probably be as mystified with the sound of the chanting of Sutras as anyone else at their first encounter with today's method of practicing, which probably means he also wouldn't have understood what Nichiren would have chanted either. Every character is, in reality, tied up in its meaning, or intention.

When Nichiren says that all the characters of the Lotus Sutra are like the body of the Buddha itself, he was encouraging a sense of respect towards the teaching. Looking through Nichiren's writings doesn't shows us much evidence that he was a stickler for a precise oral expression regarding manifestations of faith in the Original Teaching. After all, did he not indicate the the second and sixteenth chapters of the Lotus sutra are to be recited and not all twenty eight chapters, or that all the teachings of the entirety of the Buddha's teaching are distilled into the five or seven characters of the Dai-moku?

Arguing this point, and others related to it, based upon superficial linguistical lines, is to reduce Nichiren Buddhism practice to a formula-like mathematical equation. If this is the case, who exactly has the correct practice? I believe that if one considers this issue from this point of view, we will conclude that Nichiren's repeated exhortation to have faith is the key component and not minor variances in wording or pronunciation.
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Masaru » Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:51 am

illarraza wrote:Throwing out the character Mu is to throw out a golden Buddha from the heart of the Lotus Sutra. Perhaps the SGI should remove the character Mu from their Gohonzons as they have from Nichiren's writings.

Illarraza


And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we can't have nice things.

Of course, the characters [南] and [無] aren't part of the sutra, but simply characters that stand for words which, when put together, are meant to read phonetically as the Sanskrit word for devotion. The meaning of [南] is actually "South," and the meaning of [無] is literally "nothing." The characters aren't part of the sutra, and thus eliding the vowel of [無] doesn't have any significance. Not to mention that we've already established that Nichiren had a much wider range for what he considered valid practice than what you are letting on, not to mention that your multitudinous quotes are basically you running a train of argumentum verbosium on the readership's minds that no one realistically has time to counter. This is a bunch of ballyhoo about nothing.

:buddha2:
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Queequeg » Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:35 pm

reciproque wrote:I would like to address the remarks of illarraza about "Mu" and the supporting documentation he cites...


Oh. You must be new here. If you expect engagement, you are mistaken. His post is copy-pasta. The only thought that went into it is: Ctrl C, Ctrl V.
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby nichirenista » Sun Jul 27, 2014 4:19 pm

Another thread that apparently got derailed along the way. All the same, thank you to everyone who contributed. I now feel fine to go back to where I started: chanting "nam"-myoho-renge-kyo.
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby reciproque » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:43 pm

Hey Nichirenista,

You got it right about chanting. Giving voice to something is at the core of all of this. Nichiren says "all acts" of gratitude offered to the Treasure Tower are valid in their own way and contribute to one's practice. He also says that there's a time and place for everything. The Japanese have sought, consciously and unconscionably, to fuse their cultural sensibilities with Nichiren's teachings. The examples of this are too numerous to mention and it's difficult to identify which is which. Personally, it took me more than 30 years to even begin to get an understanding of it.

The point where the Japanese go off the rails, is in their perspective on Japanese culture. Old timers, like me, well remember when priests and gakkai leaders would readily say that Japan was chosen by the Buddha to take on this central role of propagation, but it's just a way for them to pump themselves up. Leaders would say to all sorts of things that just made no sense, things like the Japanese language has some special quality making it the perfect linguistic vehicle for the spread of Nichirenism, that the Japanese are destined to take a leading role because of their deep relationship to Buddhism, because it was predicted in the Lotus Sutra, or because of the country's physical location etc.. All of it has little to do with whether or not you will experience some profound truth through your practice. NMHRK is not a universal language, but faith can be acknowledged as a universal act. In a way, faith is a meeting point between Nichiren Buddhism and the Abrahamic religions.

Most practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism gave up their family religions without ever really understanding what they were. I gave my study of Buddhism an enormous amount of time and effort compared to what I did with Christianity and for many others this is also the case, but it's not the rule. You would be surprised how much there is in common between Roman Catholicism and Nichirenism.
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:19 pm

I think Nichiren Shu of Korea chants it in whatever equivalent of shindoku is for Korea. I forget what it was, but I think kyo was "bap".

reciproque wrote:Most practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism gave up their family religions without ever really understanding what they were. I gave my study of Buddhism an enormous amount of time and effort compared to what I did with Christianity and for many others this is also the case, but it's not the rule. You would be surprised how much there is in common between Roman Catholicism and Nichirenism.

As a former Lutheran, I see it differently, I have a "thing" for reformist religion. And Nichirenism is/was a reformist movement, and so was the work of Shakyamuni in a manner of speaking. keep checking the status quo, make sure things are still serving their established purposes. when they are not, break ranks.

I also like religious simplicity over catholic ostentation. A hangover from my "previous life". but the zennists do iconoclasm better than we do, for me, stark is beautiful. If western Buddhism ever becomes its own established "thing", this could be a curious division within our ranks, lingering protestant or catholic/anglican influence. its an easy target for today's leftists, but this value of simplicity does not mean being prim and proper or snooty.

I think buddhists and catholics in general are warm and fuzzy only because of Vatican 2, and most people cannot differentiate Protestantism and American christian fundamentalism.
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.-The Sith Code
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Masaru » Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:03 pm

reciproque wrote:NMHRK is not a universal language, but faith can be acknowledged as a universal act. In a way, faith is a meeting point between Nichiren Buddhism and the Abrahamic religions.


I could see that as being the case, but I think Nichiren Buddhism leads back to something more profound than most, or maybe all of the Abrahamic religions once we get into the philosophy supporting the popular aspects of the practice. I've read some things about Judaism that seem to jive with dhammic traditions, but personally I suspect that a religion that posits an absolute God can't really plumb the depths of the human spirit like the Buddhist tradition.

reciproque wrote:Most practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism gave up their family religions without ever really understanding what they were. I gave my study of Buddhism an enormous amount of time and effort compared to what I did with Christianity and for many others this is also the case, but it's not the rule. You would be surprised how much there is in common between Roman Catholicism and Nichirenism.


An all knowing Buddha with supporting Gods vs Jehovah and his angels is pretty similar, but the mythologies lead back into different directions. But I'm curious about this, and very interested in hearing what details you have to offer on this subject.

Ultimately, though, for me something was always missing in Christian services and in Christian mythology itself. It never sat right with me. I never found what I was missing until I found practice in a Buddhist congregation. Idk what it was. Maybe the Japanese and Asians in general just have a better grasp of how the mind works? It was hard for me to leave SGI, and even when I doubted myself and suspected my own motivations for pursuing Buddhism in the first place might have been less than sincere, I could still never connect with Christianity. ( http://youtu.be/Vp1rWgq2-Fo" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ) I remember looking at an old Gohonzon from Japan that markp from the ichinensanzen.org forum had in his home. Sometimes I really felt like those characters on that scroll were alive somehow, even despite all of the pain and doubt I experienced during that period of my life. There is something to this practice that I can't explain away...

I don't depreciate the "revelations" or religious experiences of other faiths. My own grandmother saw the Lady of Guadalupe when she was seriously ill, right before she recovered. But Nichiren Buddhism, I feel in my deepest inner heart, has brought me in line with a truth - set me on the path to a gate, that other faiths cannot enter. Since I live in the American South, from time to time a young woman will come into my life who might want to drag me to church with her family. Maybe I can bow my head and pretend. But in my heart of hearts? I can never go back.

:buddha1:
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:09 am

My paternal grandfather was a bishop in the lutheran church and he was often paid in groceries for his services in the rural community my father, aunts and uncle grew up in. My dad remembers chasing newly headless chickens around after my g ma offed them, those days were not easy, and I am sure Christianity saw them through. though yes, to me too, its just not "complete" enough for me. no good connection.

Where I live though, very few people want to drag you anywhere. this is the godless belt, I have a higher chance of being dragged to a furry convention actually, and I would probably go :jumping:
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.-The Sith Code
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Re: The acceptability of "Nam"

Postby Masaru » Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:20 am

Myoho-Nameless wrote:My paternal grandfather was a bishop in the lutheran church and he was often paid in groceries for his services in the rural community my father, aunts and uncle grew up in. My dad remembers chasing newly headless chickens around after my g ma offed them, those days were not easy, and I am sure Christianity saw them through. though yes, to me too, its just not "complete" enough for me. no good connection.

Where I live though, very few people want to drag you anywhere. this is the godless belt, I have a higher chance of being dragged to a furry convention actually, and I would probably go :jumping:


Dude, one of the local "non-denominational" Christian churches rents the public park for services every time we get so much as sprinkling rain. The police station has a neon cross on it. The place I currently work at has a banner up in the breakroom "thanking the Lord" for blibbity blah blah blah. The Virgin of Guadalupe is on everyone's shirts and I have a family member with the the saint tattooed onto his entire back - though the Catholicism in that Christianity is really just because the neighborhood I live in right now is so Mexican that everyone has two guitars and plays the accordion.
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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