"Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby rory » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:54 am

Sorry Tatsuo; I missed your post and have no problem talking about my previous Pure Land practice. I've always had lots of faith, absolutely believe in Kannon sama etc but all the time I was doing Pure Land I have to say the criticisms that Nichiren made against it seemed to me very true; that the majority of practitioners were passive and just gave up, figuring they'd just wait/go to the Pure Land & work hard and study the Dharma, not accomplishing something in this life and in this place. To me that's a terrible message and not what Shakyamuni taught.
When I read in the Lotus Sutra that Amida was a replica Buddha preaching the Lotus Sutra in Sukhavati and we should abandon provisional paths, it entirely resonated and I abandoned the practice. Nichiren Buddhism is the contemplation of the Middle via the Daimoku and with the help of the Eternal Buddha I am accomplishing far more in terms of progressing in the Dharma than I did as a Pure Land Tendai practitioner.
I hope this is helpful
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Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby Maninder » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:20 am

how many repetitions in a day at minimum are best? 108? Is there any website related to this?
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Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby Queequeg » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:31 pm

Maninder wrote:how many repetitions in a day at minimum are best? 108? Is there any website related to this?


I don't think anyone can tell you how many repetitions in a day are best for you. If someone were to tell you that, I don't think they know what they are talking about.

Each of us takes up the practice on our own, through our own efforts. As we put in the effort to practice on a daily basis, we develop a sense for ourselves what is best.

Do you just need to quickly focus your mind in a limited time between all the other things you have to do in the day? Then who is to say that reciting the Daimoku three times under your breath is insufficient? Do you have the leisure to pursue more focused states of mind? Then maybe you recite it a few thousand times, maybe tens of thousands of times.

The ideal is to recite the Daimoku constantly, even when you are not actually reciting it. That is a tremendous achievement that very few actually get to.

A priest friend of mine suggested that just one heartfelt recitation is more than enough.

Start with one concentrated recitation - to get to the requisite concentration might take you some time to focus the mind, so its not like this is easy. Maybe just start reciting and keep going until you get that one concentrated recitation. Then, try to repeat the daimoku with the same level of concentration. Or maybe, just chant with a distracted mind and see where that takes you. I promise that when you exercise your best judgment, only good can come of your efforts.

This is a flexible practice. As you gain experience with it, you will come to know personally what a few repetitions do for you, you will come to know what a few thousand repetitions do for you. The critical point is that you do it daily without fail. I would encourage you to experiment with it for yourself to find out what is the ideal.
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Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby Tatsuo » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:36 pm

@ Rory:
I agree, that in theory there may be a problem with the notion, that you don't have to keep the precepts or have to study the Dharma to be born in the Pure Land. But I personally have never seen Pure Land practitioners becoming passive because of the teaching, that they are already embraced by the Buddha Amida. On the contrary: Jōdo Shinshū is the Buddhist school in Japan, that stands out in the academic study of Buddhist doctrine and which established many universities. Also the Numata Center (associated with Jōdo Shinshū) has taken up the incredible task of translating the whole Buddhist canon to English. I don't see similar efforts in any other school - including Nichiren schools. And btw. this criticism does not apply to Pure Land traditions outside of Japan (or even Tendai).
Concerning your second point: I don't understand the Lotus Sutra to be against expedient means - it rather praises them as tools to prepare sentient beings for the final teachings (and I doubt, that every being is capable to understand the perfect dharma, or as the Lotus Sutra would say "Only a buddha together with a buddha can fathom it well." (chapter 2) :) ). Apart from that, the Lotus Sutra (chapter 7) speaks about Buddha Shakyamuni as being one of the sixteen princes, who now attained Buddhahood. Amida Buddha - also one of them- is not described as a "replica Buddha", but as being just like Shakyamuni, teaching the Lotus Sutra directly to the Sravakas and Bodhisattvas in his Pure Land.
But I am not here to discuss your decision to practise the Lotus Sutra. Out of all Buddhist Sutras the Lotus Sutra influenced me the most, but I don't agree with the interpretation, that all other Buddhist schools are now invalid. It's interesting, that your conversion to the Lotus Sutra somehow resembles the life of Nichiren Shōnin, who also practised Tendai and Pure Land before he dedicated himself to the exclusive practise of the Lotus Sutra.
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Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby Queequeg » Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:34 pm

Tatsuo wrote:I don't understand the Lotus Sutra to be against expedient means - it rather praises them as tools to prepare sentient beings for the final teachings (and I doubt, that every being is capable to understand the perfect dharma, or as the Lotus Sutra would say "Only a buddha together with a buddha can fathom it well." (chapter 2) :) ). Apart from that, the Lotus Sutra (chapter 7) speaks about Buddha Shakyamuni as being one of the sixteen princes, who now attained Buddhahood. Amida Buddha - also one of them- is not described as a "replica Buddha", but as being just like Shakyamuni, teaching the Lotus Sutra directly to the Sravakas and Bodhisattvas in his Pure Land.


Please excuse me for interjecting, but this is not how the Lotus Sutra is interpreted in the Nichiren Lotus tradition. It may be interpreted that way in Pure Land schools, but I'd suggest they seem to have neglected the rest of the Sutra.

When all the emanation Buddhas appear, including Amida, Shakyamuni identifies them as his emanations. (Chapter 10?)

In the 15th chapter, the Earth opens up and multitudes of august bodhisattvas exceeding in character even great bodhisattvas like Maitreya, Manjusri, etc. emerge. Maitreya, confused because he has never seen all the bodhisattvas before, assumes that they are the disciples of some great, ancient Buddha. He asks Shakyamuni who these bodhisattvas are and the Buddha says, "These are bodhisattvas I have converted and trained since I attained enlightenment." Maitreya can't understand how the Buddha, having only attained enlightenment 40 years before could have taught all these ancient bodhisattvas. In the 16th chapter, the Buddha explains his True life span. He says that his attainment of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Gaya was itself an expedient means and that he in fact first attained enlightenment in the unfathombaly remote past. This is interpreted in the Lotus tradition to mean that Shakayamuni is a Trikaya Buddha whose nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and dharmakaya have neither beginning nor end.

In this revelation, the Buddha Shakyamuni is said to have revealed that all of his teachings up to this point, including the story about him being the 16th son of some ancient Buddha, was an expedient means. He was already a fully enlightened Buddha at that point, undertaking the bodhisattva path as an expedient means. He gave the appearance of being born in the Sakya kingdom, to grow up, to leave the palace, seek enlightenment and attain it under the Bodhi Tree at 29 in order to be able to teach beings.

Zhiyi interpreted this revelation of the True and the transformation it engenders in the provisional, Expedient Means, transforming them into the True Path as 'Opening the provisional to reveal the real'.

So specifically applicable here, once the Buddha reveals that Amida is his emanation, an expedient means, venerating him is revealed to be a provisional practice that does not actually lead to enlightenment, and that the true purpose of the Amida expedient is to bring people to the Root Buddha, Shakyamuni possessing the three beginningless and endless Trikaya.
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Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby Tatsuo » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:26 am

@Queequeg:
The Buddha Amida is mentioned only twice in the Lotus Sutra and that is in chapter 7 in the context of him being one of the sixteen princes and in chapter 23 that talks about birth of women in the Pure Land of Amida through the practice of the Lotus Sutra. Chapter 10 and 11 speak about the various emanations of Buddha Shakyamuni, but their names are not mentioned. That Buddha Amida was one of them is your interpretation - it is not based on what we can find in the Lotus Sutra.
The notion of Shakyamuni having achieved Buddhahood in the remote past does not conflict with Amida having achieved enlightenment 10 kalpas ago. Otherwise it would be impossible for any sentient being to achieve Buddhahood after Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment - or, that all sentient beings are actually emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha. And I am quite sure, that this is not the interpretation of Nichiren.

This is interpreted in the Lotus tradition to mean that Shakayamuni is a Trikaya Buddha whose nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and dharmakaya have neither beginning nor end.

Can you explain this passage to me? At least one Nirmanakaya of Buddha Shakyamuni obviously had an end.

So specifically applicable here, once the Buddha reveals that Amida is his emanation, an expedient means, venerating him is revealed to be a provisional practice that does not actually lead to enlightenment, and that the true purpose of the Amida expedient is to bring people to the Root Buddha, Shakyamuni possessing the three beginningless and endless Trikaya.

Can you quote, that a) Amida is described as an emanation of the Buddha Shakyamuni in the Lotus Sutra and b) that Amida Buddha is an expedient mean to bring people to Buddha Shakyamuni? Apart from that: Expedient means have the function to lead sentient beings with lesser qualities to the final truth. It does not make sense to reject them - otherwise most of the teaching years of the Buddha would have been in vain. And because of that Buddha Shakyamuni explicitly encourages the use of expedient means in the Lotus Sutra - not in the Shakumon, but in the Honmon (!):
"If good sons or good daughters in ages to come believe in the Tathagata-wisdom, do you proclaim this Law-Flower Sutra to them that they may hear and know it, in order that they may obtain the Buddha-wisdom. If there be living beings who do not believe in it, do you show, teach, benefit, and rejoice them with the other [tactful] profound laws of the Tathagata. If you are able thus to act, then you will have repaid the grace of the buddhas." (Lotus Sutra, chapter 22)
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Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby Queequeg » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:06 pm

Hi Tatsuo,

First, it should be noted in which forum this discussion is taking place. Generally, the matters under discussion are going to be the views of the Nichiren Lotus Schools. Other schools may, and very well do, have different interpretations of Buddhadharma. In forums for those traditions, those interpretations would rightly enjoy precedence. Here, the Nichiren Lotus views ought to enjoy precedence.

Tatsuo wrote:@Queequeg:
The Buddha Amida is mentioned only twice in the Lotus Sutra and that is in chapter 7 in the context of him being one of the sixteen princes and in chapter 23 that talks about birth of women in the Pure Land of Amida through the practice of the Lotus Sutra. Chapter 10 and 11 speak about the various emanations of Buddha Shakyamuni, but their names are not mentioned. That Buddha Amida was one of them is your interpretation - it is not based on what we can find in the Lotus Sutra.


I addressed the mention of Amitayus in chapter 7. From the perspective of the Honmon, the Buddha Shakyamuni's previous incarnation as the 16th son of Mahabhijnajnanabhibhu Tathagata was an expedient means. Not that it was not true, but rather that it was an incomplete revelation of his true identity. That previous incarnation was part of Shakyamuni's upaya appearance as the Buddha Gautama in this world. It follows that his past familial relationship with his 15 brothers was also an upaya. Mahabhijnajnanabhibhu Tathagata was an upaya. Upaya does not mean false - the Buddha does not lie. However, they are not the full revelation of the Truth.

According to the Nichiren Lotus Tradition, and Zhiyi-Zhanran versions of the Tientai teachings, the Buddhist canon preached by Shakyamuni over the course of his life was a gradual build up to his revelation in the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra as the Root Buddha possessing the beginningless and endless Trikaya Buddha Body. Some particularly sharp people caught the full scope of the Buddha's identity when he preached the Avatamsaka Sutra immediately after his enlightenment in his Sambhogakaya/Dharmakaya form as Vairocana Buddha. Others did not. Through the course of the Agama Sutras, the Buddha made no mention of his true identity. In the Prajna Sutras he talked about his identity in theoretical terms. In the Vaipulya Sutras (including the Pure Land Sutras) he gave further hints about his true identity, but still did not come out and say it. Through the entire Lotus Sutra leading up to the 16th Chapter, Shakyamuni drops bigger and bigger hints about his identity, until he finally declares is straight up in the 16th Chapter that he is the 本佛, and then continued to teach it until his preaching of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra and his supposed parinirvana.

This tradition considers Amitayus/Amitabha to be an emanation of Shakyamuni Buddha.

It is perfectly well understood that Pure Land practitioners tend not to believe this. Fine and dandy.

This is the passage in the 10th chapter that the Lotus Schools base this view of all other Buddhas, including Amitayus/Amitabha upon:

From the Numata/BDK translation of the Lotus Sutra, Chapter 10:

Then the Buddha emitted a ray of light from the tuft of white hair between his eyebrows; and they immediately saw the buddhas in five hundred myriads of koṭis of nayutas of lands in the eastern direction equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River. In these lands the soil was of crystal and adorned with treasure trees and jeweled garments; and these lands were full of innumerable thousands of myriads of koṭis of bodhisattvas. Jeweled drapes were hung everywhere and were covered with jeweled nets. All the buddhas in these lands were teaching the Dharma in most harmonious voices. They also saw immeasurable thousands of myriads of koṭis of bodhisattvas, filling all the lands and teaching the Dharma to sentient beings.

The other directions to the south, north, and west, the four intermediary directions, and the upper and lower regions were also illuminated by the ray of light emitted from the tuft of white hair between the Buddha’s eyebrows; and they were also exactly like this.

Then all the buddhas in the ten directions each addressed the assembly of bodhisattvas, saying: “O sons of a virtuous family! We will now go to the place where Śākyamuni is in the sahā world and pay homage to the jeweled stupa of the Tathāgata Prabhūtaratna.”


The notion of Shakyamuni having achieved Buddhahood in the remote past does not conflict with Amida having achieved enlightenment 10 kalpas ago.


In the Nichiren Lotus Tradition, this is upaya. See below.

Otherwise it would be impossible for any sentient being to achieve Buddhahood after Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment


I don't know what you mean. I am guessing this is some Pure Land teaching?

- or, that all sentient beings are actually emanations of Shakyamuni Buddha. And I am quite sure, that this is not the interpretation of Nichiren.


I am quite sure this IS Nichiren's teaching. Actually, not just sentient beings, but insentients - grasses, trees, and even rocks, dirt, on down to the minutest material particle - all emanation of the Buddha. This is another way to express the concept of "the mutual possession of the ten worlds". We are all functions of the Buddha; we are permeated by the world of Buddhahood; We have the world of Buddhahood in our lives; we are all destined to Buddhahood; we all possess the Buddhanature; we all possess the Tathagatagarbha. The flame of the beginning of the candle is the same as that at the complete burning of the candle. The initiation of the practice is the same as the complete fruition of the practice. Cause and effect is simultaneous and complete. It is all Upaya. All Upaya is the Eternal Buddha.

You need to keep in mind that Nichiren Buddhism is the Buddhism of 一念三千 - the Trichiliocosm in a Single Thought.

What I'm writing may not make sense if you are not familiar with Tientai/Tendai/Nichiren thought. This is Buddhism according to East Asian Lotus Sutra Buddhism discourse.


This is interpreted in the Lotus tradition to mean that Shakayamuni is a Trikaya Buddha whose nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and dharmakaya have neither beginning nor end.

Can you explain this passage to me? At least one Nirmanakaya of Buddha Shakyamuni obviously had an end.


No. In Nichiren Buddhism, the Nirmanakaya neither has a beginning, nor does it have an end. The same goes for the Sambhogakaya and Dharmakaya.

Again, the BDK/Numata translation, Chapter 16.

The Buddha has just finished describing his life span which is longer than a calculation involving crushing worlds into dust and distributing them through the universe and again crushing worlds into dust.

“O sons of a virtuous family! During this interim I explained about the Buddha Dīpaṃkara and others. Furthermore, I also said that they had entered parinirvāṇa. I have explained such things through skillful means.

“O sons of a virtuous family! If any sentient being comes to me, I perceive the dullness or sharpness of his faith and other faculties with my buddhaeye. According to the way I should bring them to the path, I, myself, proclaim different names and lifespans in various places. In each case I have also clearly stated that I would enter parinirvāṇa. Through various skillful means I have explained subtle teachings and have made the sentient beings rejoice.


In other words:
"Sometimes I call myself Vairocana. Sometimes I call myself Amitayus. I do it to lead beings to enlightenment."

“O sons of a virtuous family! To those beings whom the Tathāgata perceives as taking pleasure in the inferior teachings, who have few qualities and grave defilements, he teaches that the Buddha attained highest, complete
enlightenment after he renounced household life in his young age. However, it has been a very long time indeed since I attained buddhahood. I give such an explanation only to lead and inspire the sentient beings to enter the buddha path through skillful means.

“O sons of a virtuous family! The sutras that the Tathāgata has expounded are all to save the sentient beings. Whether the Tathāgata teaches about himself or others, whether he reveals his form or that of others, whether he shows
his acts or those of others, everything he says is true, never false.

“Why is this? Because the Tathāgata perceives all the marks of the triple world as they really are: that there is no birth and death, coming or going; that there is also no existence or extinction in the world, truth or falsehood, sameness or difference. The Tathāgata does not view the triple world as sentient beings in the triple world see it. The Tathāgata perceives such things clearly and without mistakes.

“Since sentient beings have various natures, desires, behaviors, thoughts, and distinctions, the Tathāgata, wanting to cause them to plant roots of good merit, has explained various teachings through a variety of examples, explanations, and illustrations. He has not desisted from doing buddha acts even for a single moment and in this way it has been an extremely long time since I attained buddhahood. My lifespan is immeasurable and incalculable. I abide forever without entering parinirvāṇa.

“O sons of a virtuousfamily! The lifespan that I first attained through practicing the bodhisattva path has not yet expired. It is twice as great as the number previously mentioned. Although I do not actually enter parinirvāṇa I proclaim that I do. It is through this skillful means that the Tathāgata leads and inspires sentient beings.

“Why is this? Because if the Buddha abides a long time in this world, those who have few qualities do not plant roots of good merit, acquire poor and superficial characters, are attached to the desires of the five senses, and enter into the web of illusions and false views. If they see the Tathāgata always existing without extinction, they then become proud, self-willed, and negligent. The thought that the Buddha is difficult to meet and that he is to be respected cannot awaken in them. That is why the Tathāgata teaches through skillful means, saying:

O monks! You should know that the appearance of the buddhas in the
world is very difficult to encounter.

“Why is this? Because some of those with little merit may not see the Buddha during the passage of immeasurable hundreds of thousands of myriads of koṭis of kalpas.

“For this reason I say:

O monks! It is difficult to meet the Tathāgata.

“Hearing such words, the thought that it is very difficult to meet the Tathāgata will certainly awaken in these sentient beings. Longing and yearning for the Buddha, they will plant roots of good merit. For this reason, although the Tathāgata does not really pass into extinction, he nevertheless says he does.

“Furthermore, O sons of a virtuous family, the teaching of all the Buddha Tathāgatas is exactly like this. It is entirely true, never false, all for the sake of saving sentient beings.


Some people, even Nichiren Buddhists, argue that this passage implies a beginning to the Nirmanakaya. However, they are not taking into account the full scope of Trichiliocosm in a Single Thought. What we talk about is an Original Cause and Original Effect which are simultaneous. Trying to find this Original Cause is like trying solve the riddle of the chicken and egg. What we are pointing to is the infinite nature of cause and effect - what the Buddha teaches is how to become a being who fully embraces and realizes the potential of this nature. To realize that Our life is, like that of the Buddha's, "immeasurable and incalculable", like Infinite Life - Amitabha - an emanation of Shakyamuni.

Apart from that: Expedient means have the function to lead sentient beings with lesser qualities to the final truth. It does not make sense to reject them - otherwise most of the teaching years of the Buddha would have been in vain.


I think this is addressed above. For further reference, see the Expedient Means (chapter 2) and Belief and Understanding (chapter 4) of the Lotus Sutra for how the "provisional" teachings are viewed.

And because of that Buddha Shakyamuni explicitly encourages the use of expedient means in the Lotus Sutra - not in the Shakumon, but in the Honmon (!):
"If good sons or good daughters in ages to come believe in the Tathagata-wisdom, do you proclaim this Law-Flower Sutra to them that they may hear and know it, in order that they may obtain the Buddha-wisdom. If there be living beings who do not believe in it, do you show, teach, benefit, and rejoice them with the other [tactful] profound laws of the Tathagata. If you are able thus to act, then you will have repaid the grace of the buddhas." (Lotus Sutra, chapter 22)


In the Nichiren Lotus Tradition, once the Buddha reveals his LifeSpan and true identity as the "Eternal" Buddha, all other teachings are transformed into leaves and branches of the Lotus Sutra. This is called "Opening the Trace teachings to Reveal the True Teaching". All of the Buddha's teachings are revealed to be the Lotus Sutra, albeit preparatory teachings.
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Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby Tatsuo » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:57 am

Thank you for your extensive explanation, Queequeg. I understand ichinen sanzen to be a cosmological teaching, that all planes of existence are always present as potentiality - nothing more, but maybe I just don't understand Zhiyi :shrug: That is probably why we seem to speak two different languages here.. I think I have to read much more about the Nichiren interpretation of the Lotus Sutra before I can can give a reasonable reply to your post. Up until now I have only studied the Lotus Sutra and never really understood Nichirens interpretation. It would really be interesting to hear about the Tendai interpretation of the Lotus Sutra/ichinen sanzen - it's a Tendai teaching after all :)
Concerning the use of upaya: What is the practical implication of the passage of chapter 22? When "all other teachings are transformed into leaves and branches of the Lotus Sutra", does that mean, that a teacher of the Lotus Sutra can teach zazen or the nenbutsu? Both would obviously be considered upaya teachings according to the Nichiren tradition. According to chapter 22 upaya can still be used to teach anyone, who does not believe in the Lotus Sutra.
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Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby Queequeg » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:09 pm

Hi Tatsuo,

Tatsuo wrote:I understand ichinen sanzen to be a cosmological teaching, that all planes of existence are always present as potentiality - nothing more, but maybe I just don't understand Zhiyi


I'm not quite sure what you mean by "cosmological teaching".

Concerning the use of upaya: What is the practical implication of the passage of chapter 22? When "all other teachings are transformed into leaves and branches of the Lotus Sutra", does that mean, that a teacher of the Lotus Sutra can teach zazen or the nenbutsu? Both would obviously be considered upaya teachings according to the Nichiren tradition. According to chapter 22 upaya can still be used to teach anyone, who does not believe in the Lotus Sutra.


"Opening the provisional to reveal the true" is a concept which declares that all of the Buddha's teachings prior to the revelation of the essential section of the Lotus Sutra are all incomplete truths intended to prepare the listener for the essential section of the Lotus Sutra.

It might help to share a parable from the Lotus Sutra to explain what is meant.

In the 4th Chapter, the Buddha's arhat disciples tell a story about a poor man who became estranged from his parents. One day, the man's father sees and recognizes him. The father is a fabulously wealthy man with many servants. He sends his servants to bring the poor man to him. When the servants catch up to the poor man and start bringing him to the Father, the poor man goes into a panic, and the father, feeling sorry for how distressed the poor man is, orders his servants to release the poor man. The poor man is overjoyed at being released because he doesn't know any better; he does not realize that he was about to be claimed as the son of the Rich Man and instead just thought he had a close call with getting enslaved. Next the father sends a servant to the poor man to offer him a job, shoveling shit in the rich man's latrines. The poor man is pleased and accepts the job, shoveling shit for a few pennies a day. The father, wanting to be close to his son, puts on rags and starts shoveling shit next to the poor man as his foreman. The father tells the poor man to think of him as his father without actually revealing the true nature of their relationship. Over time, the poor man is given promotions and more responsibility. In time, the poor man is managing the entire estate and has grown into the comfort of living in the luxury of the estate. One day, the father, realizing that his life was coming to a close, calls the poor man and all the staff together and announces that the poor man is actually his biological son, entitled to inherit the entire estate. The poor man finally accepts that he is the son and true heir of the rich man.

The Arhat disciples explain that in the past, when they heard prophecies of enlightenment for bodhisattvas, they felt nothing, because they were part of a different lineage, destined to a different form of final enlightenment. On hearing the prophecy of full blown Buddhahood for Sariputra, however, they feel like the poor man who at last finds out that they are the true heir of the rich man who they compare to the Buddha.

The poor man was always the rich man's true son - that was the actual truth the entire time. However, the poor man did not know this, and instead just thought he was lucky to stumble into a job on the rich man's estate. The further truth is, all the wages the poor man was paid was money out of his own bank account, even as he thought he was getting paid an honest day's wages for an honest day's pay. The Rich man contrived this fiction because the poor man was unprepared to accept his legacy at first. Only after he had been trained by the Rich Man to accept the wealth could he accept the wealth.

This idea is echoed in different ways in other parables - like the burning house, the phantom city, the doctor with poisoned children, etc.

These parables are applied to the lifetime of the Buddha's teachings. Everything prior to the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra that comes in Chapter 16, was comparable to work on the rich man's estate for wages. Nembutsu, Zazen, Tantra, Prajnaparamita, Tipitaka, etc. all of these teachings were taught to prepare people for the teaching of the Lotus Sutra; they were partial truths and their true significance is unknown until they are understood in light of the Lotus Sutra.

In Tientai/Tendai Buddhism, this idea was used to assimilate all practices. Nichiren, however, taught that once the Lotus Sutra has been revealed, all other teachings lose efficacy. Why keep shoveling shit in the latrines if you now know you own the whole place and don't need to do that labor for minimal pay anymore? Maybe you can do it for fun - but its qualitatively not ever going to be the same experience as when you once thought you had to do the work for your survival. It becomes just playing at being a laborer - like Marie Antoinette on her toy farm.

We don't teach Nembutsu or Zazen because 1) from the perspective of the Lotus these are provisional teachings that have no power once revealed for what they are - upaya; 2) these teachings do not take into account the revelation of the Lotus Sutra and therefore lead to incorrect views - it is one thing to undertake practices such as this when they are believed to be efficacious, but once revealed to lead only to an incomplete realization, they then become misguiding teachings. If you undertake these practices in light of the Lotus Sutra's revelation - they aren't quite what Nembutsu teachers or Zazen instructors teach, is it? They are transformed into something else.

What distinguishes Tendai from Nichiren teachings is that Nichiren asserts that its a waste of time to bother with provisional teachings once you know the root teaching. The point is open for debate. Similar in ways to the debate between the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations, or High Church v. Low Church.
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Re: "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" -- which schools say this?

Postby illarraza » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:28 pm

Queequeg wrote:Hi Tatsuo,

Tatsuo wrote:I understand ichinen sanzen to be a cosmological teaching, that all planes of existence are always present as potentiality - nothing more, but maybe I just don't understand Zhiyi


I'm not quite sure what you mean by "cosmological teaching".

Concerning the use of upaya: What is the practical implication of the passage of chapter 22? When "all other teachings are transformed into leaves and branches of the Lotus Sutra", does that mean, that a teacher of the Lotus Sutra can teach zazen or the nenbutsu? Both would obviously be considered upaya teachings according to the Nichiren tradition. According to chapter 22 upaya can still be used to teach anyone, who does not believe in the Lotus Sutra.


"Opening the provisional to reveal the true" is a concept which declares that all of the Buddha's teachings prior to the revelation of the essential section of the Lotus Sutra are all incomplete truths intended to prepare the listener for the essential section of the Lotus Sutra.

It might help to share a parable from the Lotus Sutra to explain what is meant.

In the 4th Chapter, the Buddha's arhat disciples tell a story about a poor man who became estranged from his parents. One day, the man's father sees and recognizes him. The father is a fabulously wealthy man with many servants. He sends his servants to bring the poor man to him. When the servants catch up to the poor man and start bringing him to the Father, the poor man goes into a panic, and the father, feeling sorry for how distressed the poor man is, orders his servants to release the poor man. The poor man is overjoyed at being released because he doesn't know any better; he does not realize that he was about to be claimed as the son of the Rich Man and instead just thought he had a close call with getting enslaved. Next the father sends a servant to the poor man to offer him a job, shoveling shit in the rich man's latrines. The poor man is pleased and accepts the job, shoveling shit for a few pennies a day. The father, wanting to be close to his son, puts on rags and starts shoveling shit next to the poor man as his foreman. The father tells the poor man to think of him as his father without actually revealing the true nature of their relationship. Over time, the poor man is given promotions and more responsibility. In time, the poor man is managing the entire estate and has grown into the comfort of living in the luxury of the estate. One day, the father, realizing that his life was coming to a close, calls the poor man and all the staff together and announces that the poor man is actually his biological son, entitled to inherit the entire estate. The poor man finally accepts that he is the son and true heir of the rich man.

The Arhat disciples explain that in the past, when they heard prophecies of enlightenment for bodhisattvas, they felt nothing, because they were part of a different lineage, destined to a different form of final enlightenment. On hearing the prophecy of full blown Buddhahood for Sariputra, however, they feel like the poor man who at last finds out that they are the true heir of the rich man who they compare to the Buddha.

The poor man was always the rich man's true son - that was the actual truth the entire time. However, the poor man did not know this, and instead just thought he was lucky to stumble into a job on the rich man's estate. The further truth is, all the wages the poor man was paid was money out of his own bank account, even as he thought he was getting paid an honest day's wages for an honest day's pay. The Rich man contrived this fiction because the poor man was unprepared to accept his legacy at first. Only after he had been trained by the Rich Man to accept the wealth could he accept the wealth.

This idea is echoed in different ways in other parables - like the burning house, the phantom city, the doctor with poisoned children, etc.

These parables are applied to the lifetime of the Buddha's teachings. Everything prior to the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra that comes in Chapter 16, was comparable to work on the rich man's estate for wages. Nembutsu, Zazen, Tantra, Prajnaparamita, Tipitaka, etc. all of these teachings were taught to prepare people for the teaching of the Lotus Sutra; they were partial truths and their true significance is unknown until they are understood in light of the Lotus Sutra.

In Tientai/Tendai Buddhism, this idea was used to assimilate all practices. Nichiren, however, taught that once the Lotus Sutra has been revealed, all other teachings lose efficacy. Why keep shoveling shit in the latrines if you now know you own the whole place and don't need to do that labor for minimal pay anymore? Maybe you can do it for fun - but its qualitatively not ever going to be the same experience as when you once thought you had to do the work for your survival. It becomes just playing at being a laborer - like Marie Antoinette on her toy farm.

We don't teach Nembutsu or Zazen because 1) from the perspective of the Lotus these are provisional teachings that have no power once revealed for what they are - upaya; 2) these teachings do not take into account the revelation of the Lotus Sutra and therefore lead to incorrect views - it is one thing to undertake practices such as this when they are believed to be efficacious, but once revealed to lead only to an incomplete realization, they then become misguiding teachings. If you undertake these practices in light of the Lotus Sutra's revelation - they aren't quite what Nembutsu teachers or Zazen instructors teach, is it? They are transformed into something else.

What distinguishes Tendai from Nichiren teachings is that Nichiren asserts that its a waste of time to bother with provisional teachings once you know the root teaching. The point is open for debate. Similar in ways to the debate between the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations, or High Church v. Low Church.


Very good QQ. Here is a rather more lengthy refutation of the Nembutsu from the standpoint of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren if anyone is interested:

http://kemponhokke.blogspot.com/2012/09 ... amont.html

Illarraza
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