Are there precepts in Nichiren Shu?

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bcol01
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Are there precepts in Nichiren Shu?

Post by bcol01 » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:16 pm

It seems like Lotus Seeds (a Nichiren Shu primer) teaches that in Nichiren Shu, the precepts are followed, at least the 5. Can anyone confirm this?

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Queequeg
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Re: Are there precepts in Nichiren Shu?

Post by Queequeg » Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:26 pm

According to Nichiren there is only one precept, NMRK. Following the 5 precepts is a supplementary practice, strictly speaking, and it can be encouraged. Because its really basically good advice on living an ethical life, and basically derives from the one precept.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

bcol01
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Re: Are there precepts in Nichiren Shu?

Post by bcol01 » Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:26 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:26 pm
According to Nichiren there is only one precept, NMRK. Following the 5 precepts is a supplementary practice, strictly speaking, and it can be encouraged. Because its really basically good advice on living an ethical life, and basically derives from the one precept.
Supplementary? How so and, how does it derive from the one precept?

illarraza
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Re: Are there precepts in Nichiren Shu?

Post by illarraza » Sun Jun 09, 2019 1:46 am

bcol01 wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:26 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:26 pm
According to Nichiren there is only one precept, NMRK. Following the 5 precepts is a supplementary practice, strictly speaking, and it can be encouraged. Because its really basically good advice on living an ethical life, and basically derives from the one precept.
Supplementary? How so and, how does it derive from the one precept?
Naturally, chanting the Daimoku with a strong and correct faith, one will not engage in activities that harm other living beings or ourselves.

narhwal90
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Re: Are there precepts in Nichiren Shu?

Post by narhwal90 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 2:45 am

Nichiren accepts Zhiyi's 5 Periods/8 Teachings which makes the Lotus/Nirvana sutras ultimate and the preceeding sutras provisional. Though considering them provisional, Nichiren also accepts them as the Buddha's teachings and thus not incorrect. Practices & principles in those sutras can only be supplementary because none of them can supercede daimoku. eg, adopting the 5 Precepts as a guide to conduct would be helpful in various ways; easier to chant when not troubled by lies, hangovers, pangs of conscience but no amount of strict observance would be a substitute. Could be those and other principles might teach a variety of supporting conduct.

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Queequeg
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Re: Are there precepts in Nichiren Shu?

Post by Queequeg » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:56 pm

From Shishin Gohonsho
Question: For practitioners in the Latter Day of the Law, who have just aroused the aspiration for enlightenment, what types of practice are restricted?

Answer: Such persons are restricted from practicing almsgiving, the keeping of the precepts, and the others of the five pāramitās, and are directed to chant Namu-myoho-renge-kyo exclusively. This practice corresponds to the capacity of persons at the stages of “producing even a single moment of belief and understanding” and “rejoicing on hearing the Lotus Sutra.” It represents the true intention of the Lotus Sutra.

Question: I have never before heard such an assertion. It astonishes my mind and makes me wonder if my ears have not deceived me. Please clearly cite some passages of scriptural proof and kindly explain.

Answer: The sutra says, “[Such persons] need not for my sake erect towers and temples or build monks’ quarters or make the four kinds of offerings to the community of monks.” This passage from the sutra makes it quite clear that practitioners who have just aroused the aspiration for enlightenment are restricted from almsgiving, the keeping of the precepts, and the others of the five pāramitās.

Question: The passage you have just quoted restricts us only from erecting temples or towers, or providing for the community of monks. It says nothing about the keeping of the various precepts and the other practices.

Answer: The passage mentions only the first of the five pāramitās, that of almsgiving, and skips mention of the other four.

Question: How do we know this?

Answer: Because a subsequent passage, in describing the fourth stage of practice, goes on to say, “How much more is this true of those who are able to embrace this sutra and at the same time dispense alms, keep the precepts . . . !” The sutra passages clearly indicate that persons at the first, second, and third stages of practice are restricted from practicing almsgiving, the keeping of the precepts, and the others of the five pāramitās. Only when they reach the fourth stage of practice, are they permitted to observe them. And because such practices are permitted only at this later stage, we may know that, for persons in the initial stages, they are restricted.

Question: The sutra passages you have just quoted seem to support your argument. But can you offer any passages from the treatises or commentaries?

Answer: What commentaries would you like me to cite? Are you referring to the treatises by the four ranks of sages of India, or to works written by Buddhist teachers of China and Japan? In either case, it amounts to rejecting the root and searching among the branches, seeking the shadow apart from the form, or forgetting the source and prizing only the stream. You would ignore a sutra passage that is perfectly clear and instead seek an answer in the treatises and commentaries. But if there should be some later commentary that contradicts the original sutra passage, would you then cast aside the sutra and follow the commentary?

Nevertheless, I will comply with your wishes and cite some passages. In volume nine of The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra it is stated: “There is a danger that a beginner will be led astray by subordinate concerns, and that this will interfere with the primary practice. The beginner should directly give all his attention to embracing this sutra; that is the highest type of offering. If one sets aside formal practices but maintains the principle, then the benefits will be many and far-reaching.”

In this passage of commentary, “subordinate concerns” refers to the five pāramitās. If the beginner tries to practice the five pāramitās at the same time that he embraces the Lotus Sutra, that may work to obstruct his primary practice, which is faith. Such a person will be like a small ship that is loaded with wealth and treasure and sets out to cross the sea. Both the ship and the treasure will sink. And the words “should directly give all his attention to embracing this sutra” do not refer to the sutra as a whole. They mean that one should embrace the daimoku, or title, of the sutra exclusively and not mix it with other passages. Even recitation of the entire sutra is not permitted. How much less are the five pāramitās!

To “set aside formal practices but maintain the principle” means that one should set aside the keeping of the precepts and the other formal practices [of the five pāramitās] and embrace the principle of the daimoku exclusively. When the commentary says that “the benefits will be many and far-reaching,” it implies that, if the beginner should attempt to carry out various other practices and the daimoku at the same time, then all benefit will be completely lost.

Words and Phrases continues: “Question: If what you say is true, then upholding the Lotus Sutra is the foremost among all the precepts. Why, then [in describing the fourth stage of practice], does the Lotus Sutra speak about ‘one who can keep the precepts’? Answer: This is done in order to make clear by contrast what is needed at the initial stages. One should not criticize persons at the initial stages for failing to observe requirements that pertain only to the later stages.”

The scholars of today, ignoring this passage of commentary, would place ignorant people of the latter age in the same category as the two sages Nan-yüeh and T’ien-t’ai—a most grievous error!

Miao-lo further clarifies the matter as follows: “Question: If that is so, then is there no need to construct actual towers to house the Buddha’s relics, and is there no need to formally keep the precepts? And further, is there no need to provide alms for monks who carry out the formal practices [of the six pāramitās]?”

The Great Teacher Dengyō declared, “I have forthwith cast aside the two hundred and fifty precepts!” And the Great Teacher Dengyō was not the only one to do so. Nyohō and Dōchū, who were disciples of Ganjin, as well as the priests of the seven major temples of Nara, all in like manner cast them aside. Moreover, the Great Teacher Dengyō left this warning for future ages: “If in the Latter Day of the Law there should be persons who keep the precepts, that would be something rare and strange, like a tiger in the marketplace. Who could possibly believe it?”

Question: Why do you not advocate the meditation on the three thousand realms in a single moment of life, but instead simply encourage the chanting of the daimoku?

Answer: The two characters that comprise the name Japan contain within them all the people and animals and wealth in the sixty-six provinces of the country, without a single omission. And the two characters that make up the name India—do they not likewise contain within them all the seventy countries of India? Miao-lo says, “When for the sake of brevity one mentions only the daimoku, or title, the entire sutra is by implication included therein.” He also says, “When for the sake of brevity we speak of the Ten Worlds or the ten factors, the three thousand realms are perfectly encompassed therein.”

When Bodhisattva Manjushrī and the Venerable Ānanda came to compile all the words spoken by the Buddha at the three assemblies during the eight years [in which the Lotus Sutra was preached], they wrote down the title Myoho-renge-kyo, and to show their understanding [that the entire sutra is contained in these five characters], they proceeded with the words “This is what I heard.”

Question: If a person simply chants Namu-myoho-renge-kyo with no understanding of its meaning, are the benefits of understanding thereby included?

Answer: When a baby drinks milk, it has no understanding of its taste, and yet its body is naturally nourished. Who ever took the wonderful medicines of Jīvaka knowing of what they were compounded? Water has no intent, and yet it can put out fire. Fire consumes things, and yet how can we say that it does so consciously? This is the explanation of both Nāgārjuna and T’ien-t’ai, and I am restating it here.

Question: Why do you say that all teachings are contained within the daimoku?

Answer: Chang-an writes: “Hence [T’ien-t’ai’s explanation of the title in] the preface conveys the profound meaning of the sutra. The profound meaning indicates the heart of the text, and the heart of the text encompasses the whole of the theoretical and essential teachings.” And Miao-lo writes, “On the basis of the heart of the text of the Lotus Sutra, one can evaluate all the other various teachings of the Buddha.”

Though muddy water has no mind, it can catch the moon’s reflection and so naturally becomes clear. When plants and trees receive the rainfall, they can hardly be aware of what they are doing, and yet do they not proceed to put forth blossoms? The five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo do not represent the sutra text, nor are they its meaning. They are nothing other than the intent of the entire sutra. So, even though the beginners in Buddhist practice may not understand their significance, by practicing these five characters, they will naturally conform to the sutra’s intent.

Question: When your disciples, without any understanding, simply recite with their mouths the words Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, what level of attainment do they reach?

Answer: Not only do they go beyond the highest level of the four flavors and three teachings, as well as that attained by practitioners of the perfect teaching set forth in the sutras that precede the Lotus Sutra, but they surpass by a hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million times the founders of the True Word and various other schools of Buddhism, such as Shan-wu-wei, Chih-yen, Tz’u-en, Chi-tsang, Tao-hsüan, Bodhidharma, and Shan-tao.

Therefore, I entreat the people of this country: Do not look down upon my disciples! If you inquire into their past, you will find that they are great bodhisattvas who have given alms to Buddhas over a period of eight hundred thousand million kalpas, and who have carried out practices under Buddhas as numerous as the sands of the Hiranyavati and Ganges rivers. And if we speak of the future, they will be endowed with the benefit of the fiftieth person, surpassing that of one who gave alms to innumerable living beings for a period of eighty years. They are like an infant emperor wrapped in swaddling clothes, or a great dragon who has just been born. Do not despise them! Do not look on them with contempt!
As Illaraza and Narwahl touched on above, if one commits single mindedly on practicing the Daimoku with vigor and tenacity, it wouldn't seem attractive to take life, to steal, to engage in harmful sexual behavior, to lie, to ingest substances that harm one's single minded practice.

To quote Lou Reed:

But, anyone who has a heart
Wouldn't want to turn around and break it
And anyone who ever played the part
He wouldn't want to turn around and fake it

Practicing Daimoku is about coming to one's authentic Self (True Self, in the Lotus/Nirvana Sutra sense, in the Tathagatagarbha sense). Intentions to harm oneself or others have no space in such a mind.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

markatex
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Re: Are there precepts in Nichiren Shu?

Post by markatex » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:41 pm

I’m a Nichiren Shu practitioner. Others have answered more in-depth with what are basically the Nichiren Shu understanding of the precepts. They’re there inasmuch as they are in Nichiren Buddhism, generally. But they’re not focused on for the reasons others have stated.

One’s behavior naturally conforms to the spirit of the precepts, if not the letter, as a result of our practice; there is no conscious effort made to follow them.

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