Basic questions about Nichiren

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rory
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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by rory » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:35 am

Which should then bring me back to mechanism :)

what does a Nichiren practitioner regard as the mechanism by means of which he or she "...enters enter the Lotus and discovers its own terms".

It's the question I've been curious about from the start. :)[/quote]

This as I posted is the mechanism:
The doctrines of three thousand realms in one thought moment and the Buddha's enlightenment in the distant past, the core of the "Skillful Means" and "Fathoming the Lifespan" chapters, are contained within the two characters myoho [Wonderful Dharma]....All Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the caused and effects of the ten [dharma] realms, the grasses and trees, rocks and tiles throughout the ten directions -there is nothing that is not included in these two characters...Therefore the merit of chanting the five characters myoho renge kyo is vast. Here the daimoku is equated with the three thousand realms in one thought-moment, the entirety of all that is.......

Nichiren indicates that "contemplating the mind" is the Final Dharma age is not a matter of "seeing" the identity of the Buddha with one own's mind in introspective meditation, but of embracing the daimoku, which encompasses Buddhahood within it....The practices carried out by the Buddha throughout his countless lifetimes (causes) and the resulting virtues of his enlightenment (effects) are contained within the daimoku and spontaneously accessed by the practitioner in the act of chanting.
J. Stone "Orgininal Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism" University of Hawai'i Press, p.268 and 269

I asked you about the previous works because they are about inherent Buddhanature and perfection, which are revealed in the Avatamsaka school via study. In Tiantai it's the Lotus Sutra, the theory of ichinen sanzen and "NIchiren held...that Buddhahood is inherent in the act of chanting the daimoku" Stone, p. 233 which Zhiyi held as well, it's entirely orthodox.
gassho
Rory
Last edited by rory on Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:05 am

The mechanism is...
Enlightenment: just do it. (You're already doing it and have been all along...)

Zhiyi refers to the analogy of a candle, I believe taken from the Avatamsaka, about the difference between a person just starting on the path and a Buddha - is the flame at the beginning different or the same. If it's lit, its lit. The difference between beginning and end is negligible compared to being lit or unlit.

As suggested above, the cause and effect of the Daimoku is simultaneous. Embracing it as cause is embracing it as effect.

If you start with gradual path as the assumption this will not feel adequate. But the Lotus is not gradual path, even if it sometimes is described that way.
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

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by daelm » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:46 am


This as I posted is the mechanism:
The doctrines of three thousand realms in one thought moment and the Buddha's enlightenment in the distant past, the core of the "Skillful Means" and "Fathoming the Lifespan" chapters, are contained within the two characters myoho [Wonderful Dharma]....All Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the caused and effects of the ten [dharma] realms, the grasses and trees, rocks and tiles throughout the ten directions -there is nothing that is not included in these two characters...Therefore the merit of chanting the five characters myoho renge kyo is vast. Here the daimoku is equated with the three thousand realms in one thought-moment, the entirety of all that is.......

Nichiren indicates that "contemplating the mind" is the Final Dharma age is not a matter of "seeing" the identity of the Buddha with one own's mind in introspective meditation, but of embracing the daimoku, which encompasses Buddhahood within it....The practices carried out by the Buddha throughout his countless lifetimes (causes) and the resulting virtues of his enlightenment (effects) are contained within the daimoku and spontaneously accessed by the practitioner in the act of chanting.
J. Stone "Orgininal Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism" University of Hawai'i Press, p.268 and 269
[/quote]

Thanks, Rory. I saw that when you posted it earlier. It didn't talk about mechanism, though. It describes the underpinning premises, in terms of which the LS would occupy a a primary space in the pantheon, but as regards mechanism, it only talks about the merits of the Buddha being "spontaneously accessed" by the practitioner. What I'm really interested in is that "spontaneous access". Otherwise, just stipulated like that, it could just as easily be describing the descent of the holy spirit, in early Christianity, during ecstatic prayer. If it IS something like that, that's ok. I'm trying to get an idea of it, whatever it is.
I asked you about the previous works because they are about inherent Buddhanature and perfection, which are revealed in the Avatamsaka school via study. In Tiantai it's the Lotus Sutra, the theory of ichinen sanzen and "NIchiren held...that Buddhahood is inherent in the act of chanting the daimoku" Stone, p. 233 which Zhiyi held as well, it's entirely orthodox.
gassho
Rory
Maybe I should check out T'ien-t'ai for a definition of the mechanism then. So, Nichiren, if I follow you, isolated the daimoku from the range of things that Zhiyi espoused, and focused on it? That was partly why I asked earlier if you could regard Nichiren as an extension of T'ien-t'ai, but illanraza was adamant that you couldn't.

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by daelm » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:08 am

Queequeg wrote:The mechanism is...
Enlightenment: just do it. (You're already doing it and have been all along...)


Yes. That's a completely common Mahayana position. So, given that at some point you don't realise that, have experiences, and suffer, and presumably at another point do realise it, have wildly different experiences (even though of the same base reality) and don't suffer, what is the thing that happens between the first and the second. Not mystically. Plain language.

In other words, if you were introducing someone to Nichiren, in order for them to change from the first state to the second, what would you have them do, and and would you hope happened?
Zhiyi refers to the analogy of a candle, I believe taken from the Avatamsaka, about the difference between a person just starting on the path and a Buddha - is the flame at the beginning different or the same. If it's lit, its lit. The difference between beginning and end is negligible compared to being lit or unlit.
The candle metaphor originates in the Pali, though I can't remember where. The Buddha uses it to explain the continuity of karma, despite the lack of real self as vehicle for the karma. I haven't read the Flower Ornament Sutra since I was in retreat, so I can't remember if it's used that way, but that's not out of line with the general buddha-nature themes of these sutras. It might be encompassed in the section on the bodhisattva bhumis, where it would make sense.

The general idea is that progression is an illusion, since like a light bulb, you're either on or off. While you're alive, you're on, and therefore have all the capacities of the light bulb. Buddha Nature. However, while you're on, irrespective of the fact that you have Buddha Nature, you have two possible subjective states - experientially located in your Buddha Nature, or experientially located in your ignorance. In other words, you're either enlightened or ignorant, subjectively. And in terms of being ignorant, you might be ignorant of being enlightened, or aware of being enlightened, but you're still ignorant, if you existence a reality predicated on ignorance.

So even though the truth is that you're already enlightened, if you're experiencing a reality other than, say that contained in the LS or the FOS, for arguments sake, you're still in the theatre. Hence the variety of mechanisms to address that. I was just curious about the Nichiren mechanism.

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by rory » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:15 am

I'm trying this again as I really don't think you quite grasp the idea of original enlightenment that is found in The Awakening of Faith and the Avatamsaka sutra. As Queequeg & Illaraza and I are all in agreement;

"This stress on the possibility of realizing Buddahood with this very body .....In hongaku [original enlightenment] discourse all beings are considered to be enlightened from the outset; what counts then, is the moment when, whether...reading it in texts one realizes (or takes faith in) one's originally enlightened nature. Thus medieval Tendai texts would speak of "realizing Buddhahood in a single moment," Stone, p. 33

that's it, plain and simple.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by plwk » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:21 am

Good one rory, concise but a question remains, how sustainable is it for an average Joe or Jane for the "realizing Buddhahood in a single moment... especially when it's after the glow, comes the laundry to quote Kornfield...

plain and simple. Yes and no, I guess...

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:36 pm

plwk wrote:Good one rory, concise but a question remains, how sustainable is it for an average Joe or Jane for the "realizing Buddhahood in a single moment... especially when it's after the glow, comes the laundry to quote Kornfield...

plain and simple. Yes and no, I guess...
I think the answer is that you understand laundry is the glow, too.

In ichinen sanzen theory, all ten worlds, from hell to bodhisattva are included in Buddhahood. Even the Buddha does laundry, and its more or less the same chore it is for us.

In my understanding, what were stuck on in needing to find the mechanism of transformation is how to transcend our assumption that Buddhahood is different than our ordinary lives.

Nichiren urged faith - even when you can't see it, when you're not actively glowing, know your actual nature, Buddha, through faith. Let that trust carry you through the moments you don't see it.

D aslked if it was refuge before... That's not wrong, but a more accurate English rendering might be the meaning of faith in Namu.
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

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by daelm » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:55 pm

Queequeg wrote:
In ichinen sanzen theory, all ten worlds, from hell to bodhisattva are included in Buddhahood. Even the Buddha does laundry, and its more or less the same chore it is for us. In my understanding, what were stuck on in needing to find the mechanism of transformation is how to transcend our assumption that Buddhahood is different than our ordinary lives. Nichiren urged faith - even when you can't see it, when you're not actively glowing, know your actual nature, Buddha, through faith. Let that trust carry you through the moments you don't see it. D asked if it was refuge before... That's not wrong, but a more accurate English rendering might be the meaning of faith in Namu.
excellent. now there's some meat to it. thanks.


rory said: "In hongaku [original enlightenment] discourse all beings are considered to be enlightened from the outset; what counts then, is the moment when, whether...reading it in texts one realizes (or takes faith in) one's originally enlightened nature."

"original enlightenment" is in no way an idea unique to Nichiren. it's the basis for pretty much all Mahayana, by the way, in some degree. the main arguments about the originally enlightened state are subsidiary to this. they tend to form around things like whether that enlightenment should be understood to be a possibility, or a fact, for the first part, and whether it should be regarded as being self-existent (in that it has attributes that are unconditioned) or empty of those attributes, for the second part . pretty much every commentarial work on this subject falls into those categories. let's accept accept as axiomatic "original enlightenment" and stipulate that for the purposes of this discussion, it means, as Queequeg put it earlier, that everyone is fully enlightened, and that any experience other than that is to a shadow play, a theater. with that as given, my questions throughout have been:

1. what does a Nichiren practitioner do, to go from a state there the theater is believed to be true, to a state where the original enlightenment is believed to be true? that seems to be agreed to be something akin to faith, devotion and/or refuge. that's fine. thank you.

2. having acquired that faith, devotion and/or refuge, what does a Nichiren practitioner do to actualize that that enlightenment in their own experience, rather than the theater? there has to be some qualitative change in that experience somewhere, or else, despite having faith in your original enlightenment, you're still living in the - theater, illusion, etc - of samsara.

this may need some unpacking. Queequeg, in your answer, above, you note that "...Nichiren urged faith - even when you can't see it, when you're not actively glowing, know your actual nature". This implies that no matter whether you have developed the faith, and encountered and taken the refuge, your problem with the theater wasn't necessarily solved. the theater still may obscure your experience. hence the injunction to faith. you said specifically "Let that trust carry you through the moments you don't see it". i accept that. but it implies that there are moments that you don't see it, even though it is the only thing that exists.

the context for this is that it is a core problem that the whole of Mahayana grapples with all the time. it's not unique to Nichiren at all. it goes something like this:

- IF it is the case that you're enlightened;

- AND it is the case that any aspect of samsara you experience is totally illusory in every part, ""Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream, like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream";

- AND it is the case that there is no meaningful distinction between the undefinable ineffable referent that concepts like "samsara" and "nirvana" refer to, in its nature;

- AND there has never been anything other than nirvana, or anything other than the complete inseparability of samsara and nirvana, nor will there be;

- AND therefore, the supposed "problem" of samsara - for you, personally - is wholly a problem of the way you experience, refract and construct reality, not reality itself...

...it still follows that despite these all being true, you nevertheless experience samsara. that happens.

the sutras being referenced here, and much of the general Mahayana, outlines the full scope of Buddhahood. they're the explanation, the underpinning, the meaning and the ground for that set of axioms that i listed immediately above. the complete context. both the LS and the FOS describe enlightenment. as far as I can recall, there is no laundry in it, for example, :) and the experience of boddhisatvas on the bhumis is described in ways that make it seem quantitatively different to mine, and (i assume) yours. definitely to mine :)

is there in Nichiren an expectation that that fruit will be the first-person, phenomenological experience of the practitioner? in other words, will the Nichiren practitioner's experience at some point be the same quality of experience described as full enlightenment in the sutras, and if yes, how do they get there?

if not - that is, if the sutras are to be treated as schemas, and not literal truths, and open to interpretation - how does Nichiren resolve the apparent conflict between taking their message as fundamentally true, and the need to have it repurposed and explained by someone interpreting it?

does that help make the discussion clearer?


thanks again
Last edited by daelm on Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by daelm » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:02 pm

just a note quickly to say thank you to the people participating in this discussion. it is genuinely interesting and engrossing and that is in large part due to the people engaged and the good faith of the engagement. i don't think, for western Buddhists at least, because that's who i encounter a lot of, that there is enough of this business of digging into the why's and what's of what we believe. so this is really valuable.

i'm quite grateful for that.

:cheers:

normal programming can now resume :)

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by Queequeg » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:06 pm

D, I think that the insight you bring to the inquiry is not a small part of the success of the discussion. Thank you for your skillful questions.

You wrote:
let's accept accept as axiomatic "original enlightenment" and stipulate that for the purposes of this discussion, it means, as Queequeg put it earlier, that everyone is fully enlightened, and that any experience other than that is to a shadow play, a theater.
If I'm following you, that's not quite what I meant. It might be a matter of interpretation or emphasis, but let me try to explain.

The theater I was specifically referring to is the Buddhist path. Real life is the real. Real life is of course full of theater, all of which is real in some respect, just not necessarily in the way that beings might think its real. But then those misapprehensions themselves are the real as well. In the perspective I'm suggesting, the laundry is more real; the glow is more theater.

In the fourth chapter of the Lotus Sutra is the story of the Rich Man and his lost son. It goes like this - there is a rich and powerful man who is nonetheless disconsolate because he has no heir. Years before his son wandered off and was lost. The son has lost all and wanders about as a beggar, living hand to mouth in filth and poverty. One day, the Rich Man sees his son and sends his guards to retrieve him. On being seized, the son becomes distressed with fear that he is being arrested and will be enslaved by this rich and powerful man that he does not recognize as his father. The Rich Man, seeing the distress of his son orders him released, and the son is overjoyed at his release. The father however longs to have his son near, and so devises to offer the son employment cleaning the latrines on his estate for meager pay. The son, having a very low opinion of himself and thinking he is not deserving of more than a job shoveling poop, accepts the employment. The Rich Man, removes his fine garments and jewelry, puts on rags, and goes to work in the latrines with his son. As time goes by, the son is given more responsibility and a greater wage. Soon the son is given responsibility of managing the entire estate and feels confident and worthy of his responsibility, feeling free to come and go as he pleases. At that time, the Rich Man gathers everyone and announces that the poor man is in fact his true son and heir to all of his fortune. The son having developed an adequate confidence in himself is able to accept this revelation. What we find, then, is that this whole employment and promotion process was a big theatrical production for the benefit of the son.

This parable in a nutshell captures the Buddha's career according to the Tientai - on his enlightenment at Gaya, the Buddha pours out his enlightenment as the Avatamsaka Sutra (seizing the son). However, realizing that if he just came out and related his enlightenment that he'd scare everyone, he resolved to teach a series of teachings to prepare people to hear the full scope of this enlightenment. So, he starts with the Hinayana for the 5 ascetics (shoveling poop in the latrines)... the Provisional Mahayana (promotion to fries)... the Prjana teachings (manager)... and finally, the full revelation in the Lotus ("This is my son.")

Anyway, the lost son's idea of himself as an unworthy beggar was real, with real consequences, even as his belief was ultimately false. Cleaning the latrines and getting paid meager wages was real, but not quite in the way that he thought - the reality was that he was getting paid out of his own bank account. His supervisor in the latrines was in fact his supervisor; the supervisor was also unbeknownst to him, his father. This subjective misapprehension all along was real, though not in the way he thought it was real. Working with the way things really are, the Buddha/Rich Man devised theater to transform the subjective circumstance of the son.

This point is made in several parables related in the Lotus including the burning house, the conjured cities, and the death of the doctor.

The laundry is real, even if its not real in the way we think it is - the glow is the theater, which is also real, just not in the way we think it is. And the whole point of the theater is to reveal that doing the laundry isn't just the chore we think it is. I'm sure, if I'm fortunate and have an opportunity to look back over my life on my deathbed, some of the things I will recollect fondly are the most ordinary things, like folding my toddlers clothes and feeling full of love and sentimentality that he will (hopefully) grow to be a man and won't fit in those clothes for long. I know that kind of attachment for my little Rahula clouds perception, but if the only point to all this is to purge such experience from possibility, to cut off all attachment and wait around for karma to exhaust, screw that. If that's your path, I suppose its harmless to me and certainly better than some theater where God tells you to kill.

Its the Buddha who employed expedient means and created this elaborate structure with its grades of progress and achievement - the Buddha hired us to work on his estate. He's the one who identified certain dhyanic insights as achievement and privileged them as something more "real" than doing laundry, all along not intending any of this to be ultimately taken as real, at least according to the Lotus. This whole elaborate play is contrived just so he can tell us, "You're a Buddha, too," and we can accept this.

When considered thus, all this path that is laid out as the Buddhist path in the 80,000 teachings and innumerable commentaries, is all theater. Do you need to go through all that theater if you're told the conclusion? Sure, the dhyanic insights give a little more substance and provide more detail as to the implications of our Buddhahood, but is that really required to stop the suffering? My in laws are physicists who get to explore amazing things and come to know this reality in detail unknown to man before. For me, that's a difference in quality but not substance from meditative discovery.

I don't think what I'm saying is such a departure from Mahayana.

The difference, however, is as Illaraza pointed out - Tendai Daishi, Dengyo Daishi, and for that matter, Nagarjuna, etc. understood all this in reflective and meditative theory, but they didn't take the step back through the looking glass, out of the theater, and back out here where we have to do laundry. What distinguished Nichiren, and which caused all kinds of consternation to his contemporaries, and to people since, he called it all out as theater and endeavored to get into THIS REAL, which meant, remonstrating with the secular government to stop promoting the theater to the population, especially the worst kinds of theater, directly addressing people absorbed in the theater and telling them to cut the crap and get real, here and now. That's not to say that he did this perfectly - I think Nichiren found it difficult to fully extricate out of the theater himself, especially when the theater was the means of social interaction and communication as well as meaning and knowledge. Fish have to live in water, so to speak. When you're stuck in a paradigm, its hard to step out of the paradigm.

One of my favorite counsels of Nichiren is, "Drink sake only at home with your wife, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Realize both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Dharma? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever."

When I see people absorbed in the theater of Buddhism, I can't help but think Marx had a point about religion.

Sorry. So long winded. I'll go shut up now.
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

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by daelm » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:27 pm

Queequeg wrote:
I don't think what I'm saying is such a departure from Mahayana.
i don't either. :)

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by rory » Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:52 am

Daelm; by actualizing do you mean something like having your sense of separateness melt away and feel part of the shining whole? Small samadhi. It does feel different, like the sun transforming a cloudy day.

Anyway, it's done by reading, chanting the Lotus Sutra. It's very powerful. If you like go to the Tendai Betusin and try the various practices there. I went to gyo 10 years ago and that was an amazing powerful experience. But you leave and then what? I actually practiced Pure Land then and it didn't work for me for very long. Studying Tiantai philosophy, Nichiren's works, chanting the Lotus Sutra, daimoku, faith, shikan meditation, do the job.

As Queequeg says you do the laundry, (well I cooked dinner instead;-) but you do it knowing you're the rich man's child...massive difference.
This is a great discussion: bowing to you all :namaste:

Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by illarraza » Sat Jul 18, 2015 7:45 pm

Nichiren Daishonin deviated sharply from the teachings of his predecessor Dengyo the Great. Dengyo [Saicho] taught the primacy of Buddha-nature [Buddha Wisdom] and the doctrine of Original Enlightenment [Hongaku Shiso] while Nichiren taught the primacy of Buddha seeds or Namu Myoho renge kyo. Without the seeds of Buddhahood, the field of Buddha-nature lies forever fallow. This is the meaning of the Ceremony in the Air and the rationale for the oneness of Shakyamuni Buddha and the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, both plant the seeds of Namu Myoho renge kyo in the wasteland of people’s lives in this evil filled latter age.

"The Great Teacher Miao-lo says in his commentary (The Annotations on The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, volume seven), 'Therefore we know it is because of seeds planted in previous existences that in the latter age one is able to hear the Law even for an instant, and having heard it, take faith in it.' He also says (The Annotations on Great Concentration and Insight volume two), 'Having been born at the end of the Middle Day of the Law, I have been able to behold these true words of the sutra. Unless one has planted the mystic cause in a previous existence, they are truly difficult to encounter.'

During his first forty and more years of teaching, Shakyamuni Buddha kept secret the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. Not only that, he still remained silent concerning them when he preached the first fourteen chapters of the Lotus Sutra, which comprise the theoretical teaching. It was only with the “Life Span” chapter that he spoke openly regarding the two characters of renge, which [represent the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo and] indicate the true effect and the true cause. The Buddha did not entrust these five characters to Manjushri, Universal Worthy, Maitreya, Medicine King, or the others of their group. Instead he summoned forth the bodhisattvas Superior Practices, Boundless Practices, Pure Practices, and Firmly Established Practices and their followers from the great earth of Tranquil Light and transferred the five characters to them."

Nichiren goes on to say:

"These five characters Myoho-renge- kyo were not entrusted even to Mahakashyapa, Shariputra, or the other disciples, though these men had from the outset attended the Buddha as closely as a shadow follows the body. But, even setting that aside, why did the Buddha refuse to entrust them to the bodhisattvas such as Manjushri and Maitreya? Even though they may have been lacking in capability, it would seem unlikely that he should reject them. There are in truth many puzzling aspects about the matter. But the fact was that the bodhisattvas from other worlds were rejected because their connection with this world was slight; or in other cases, although the bodhisattvas were of this saha world, they had only recently established connections with this world; or in still other cases, some were rejected because, although they were disciples of the Buddha, they had not been among his disciples when he first aroused the aspiration for and attained enlightenment in the remote past. Thus, among those who had been his disciples during the forty and more years preceding the preaching of the Lotus Sutra or during the preaching of the theoretical teaching, the first fourteen chapters of the Lotus Sutra, there was not one who could be called an original disciple. We see from the sutra that only these four bodhisattvas had been the disciples of Shakyamuni, the lord of teachings, since numberless major world system dust particle kalpas in the past; from the time he had first aroused the aspiration for and attained enlightenment, they had never followed any other Buddha, nor had they required the instruction of the theoretical and essential teachings.

Thus T’ien-t’ai says, “The great assembly witnessed the Bodhisattvas of the Earth alone making this pledge.” He also states, “[The Buddha said of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth,] ‘These are my disciples, destined to propagate my Law.’ ” Miao-lo says, “The children propagate the Law of the father.” And Tao-hsien states, “The Law embodied therein [in the Lotus Sutra] is the Law that was realized countless kalpas in the past, and therefore it was entrusted to persons who had been the Buddha’s disciples from countless kalpas n the past.” Thus these five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo were entrusted to these four bodhisattvas."

Lastly, Nichiren teaches:

"...And the situation today is just the same. Now, in the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, the time has come to propagate the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo so that all people throughout the country of Japan may receive the seeds of Buddhahood." On Rebuking Slander of the Law and Eradicating Sins.

What are we to make of these seemingly diverse teachings, especially those of "planted" and "received"seeds?

“The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field.” -- The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood.

“Now in the two thousand years of the True and Counterfeit [Dharmas] when they kept and relied upon the Lesser Vehicle and Provisional Great Vehicle, and practices putting one’s merit [effort] into them, in general there was benefit. Even so, although everyone who practiced those various sutras thought that they obtained the benefit by the various sutras upon which they relied, when we inquire on the meaning by the Hokekyo, they had not one bit of benefit. What is the reason why? It being when the Buddha was in the world they formed a connecting condition with the Hokekyo but it depended upon whether or not there was maturation or not in their capacities. Those whose capacities of the Perfect Teaching are pure and matured in the time [when the Buddha] was in the world attained Buddhahood. Those whose faculties and capacities were faint and inferior [or not yet mature] backslid to the True Dharma [era] and took their realization from the Jomyo [Vimalakirti], Shiyaku, Kan[muryoju]kyo, Ninno hannya kyo and so on, just as when [the Buddha] was in the world. And so in the True Dharma [era] was jointly possessed together of the three, teaching, practice and realization.

“In the Counterfeit Dharma [era] there was teaching and practice but no realization. Now on entering the Latter Dharma there are the teachings, but there is no practice or realization. There is not one person of those who formed the connecting condition when the Buddha was in the world. The two capacities of the Provisional and Real [Teachings] are all gone. At this time for the two [types] of people who are of the rebellious [sins] and blasphemy of the present era for the first time one takes Namu Myoho renge kyo of the ‘Chapter of the Measure of Life’, the Essence of the Hommon as the laying down of the seed (or, as the Buddha Seed). “‘This good, excellent medicine now I leave here. You should take and swallow it. Do not worry that you will not be cured’” refers to this.

It is as when long ago in the Counterfeit Dharma [era] of the past Buddha Ionno when there was not one person who knew the Great Vehicle, the Bodhisattva Fukyo came forth and chanted the Twenty-four Characters which the Master of Teachings had preached. Those who heard those Twenty-four Characters not lacking one person also [later] encountered the Great Being (Mahasattva) Fukyo and obtained benefit. This then was because they made the previous hearing of the Dharma the laying down of the seed (geshu).

Now it is also like this. That was the Counterfeit Dharma; this is the polluted evil Latter Dharma. That was a practicer of the First (Elementary) Following Joy [level]; this is a worldling of the Name [Identity]. That was the laying down of seed of the Twenty-four Characters; this is only the Five Characters [of the Daimoku]. Although the times of obtaining the Way (tokudo: Buddhahood) are different, their ultimate meaning of Attaining Buddhahood would be completely the same.” (STN, v. 2, 1479-1480) Kyogyosho Gosho

“Though the people who say the Nembutsu, keep the precepts and so on are many, the persons who rely upon the Hokekyo are few. The stars are many but they do not illuminate the great sea. Grasses are many but they do not form the pillars of the Imperial Palace. Though Nembutsus are many, they are not the Way to become a Buddha. Though one keeps the precepts they do not form the seed for going to the Pure Land. It is only the Seven Characters ‘Namu Myoho renge kyo’ that are the seed for becoming a Buddha. Though, when I said this, people were jealous and did not adopt it, the late Lord Ueno by his believing it has become a Buddha.” (STN, v. 2, 1603) — Gosho unknown by me

There are two processes and two general types of people, according to Nichiren Daishonin: Those who received the seeds of Buddhahood in the past, those in the Higher Six Worlds; and those who never received the seeds, those in the Lower Four Worlds. For those who have already received the seeds, the Daimoku functions to water the seeds. For those who never received the seeds, hearing the Daimoku [Law] is the seed and practicing the Daimoku is the water. He states, “But many who neither received the seeds of Buddhahood nor formed ties with the Buddha in past existences…” and further along, “The sutra explains that all bodhisattvas, persons of the two vehicles, and human and heavenly beings received the seeds of Buddhahood numberless major world system dust particle kalpas ago.” Therefore, when he asserts, “If people do not possess innate Buddha wisdom, how could the Buddha say he wanted to open it? One must understand that Buddha wisdom is inherent in all human beings.” [Even those in the Four Lower Worlds who do not possess the Buddha seeds]. How do we reconcile these seemingly diverse teachings? The only way we can resolve the contradictions is that the the Buddha-nature is the FIELD of good fortune synonymous with Buddha wisdom in all beings but without the Buddha seeds and water of Myoho renge kyo, the field will lie fallow and Buddhahood will never open [manifest].

The following is the specific principle which Nichiren Daishonin taught us to bring forth when not engaged in formal debate:

“The people throwing sticks at Never Disparaging are Buddhas training Never Disparaging.” -- mistaken individual

No. Shakyamuni Buddha [Never Disparaging], the Original Eternal Buddha, is the one and only Buddha who has been enlightened since time without beginning and the one who has been training and guiding all others to Buddhahood. This is an integral part of Nichiren’s enlightenment and the enlightenment of all Buddhas throught the Ten Directions and Three Existences. Shakyamuni Buddha trained himself in the remotest past.

Shakyamuni Buddha of India too is the Original Buddha throughout time and space, the sower of the seeds of Buddhahood in the wasteland of people’s lives since time without beginning. The Original Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni always and exclusively practices the True Law and has been doing so since time without beginning.

Nichiren writes in the Opening of the Eyes:

“Thus, in the various sutras other than the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni does not assemble those Buddhas who carry out different austerities and practices and who possess the three bodies nor does he identify them as emanations of himself. Only in the Hoto chapter of the Lotus Sutra does he do so. This chapter then, is intended as an introduction to the Juryo chapter that follows later. Shakyamuni Buddha who was believed to have attained enlightenment for the first time only some forty and more years previously, calls together Buddhas who had become enlightened as long ago as one or even ten kalpas in the past, and declares that they are emanations of himself. This is a far cry indeed from the Buddha’s usual preaching on the equality of all Buddhas [in their Dharma bodies], and in fact a cause of great astonishment. If Shakyamuni had attained enlightenment for the first time only some forty years earlier, there could hardly have been so many beings in the ten directions who had received his instruction. And even if he was privileged to possess emanations, there would have been no benefit in his showing them to his listeners. T’ien-t’ai, describing what went on in the astonished minds of the assembly, stated: “It was evident to them that Shakyamuni Buddha possessed numerous emanations. Therefore, they understood that he must have attained enlightenment in the far distant past.

I have collected 200 additional passages of proof from Nichiren but it is difficult to save those who are deaf to the teachings of this Sutra..

Question: What is the Meaning of Original Buddha or Original Teacher?

Answer: Original Teacher means that no matter how eminent, wise, or knowledgeable one may be, no matter how diligent one is in carrying out the Six Paramitas (Six Perfections), and no matter how long one practices the Six Paramitas, there is no way that one could come up with, let alone reveal, Myoho renge kyo independently of Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha, in the history of the universe, was the one unique individual capable of doing so. Nichiren realized this, taught this, and reverenced Shakyamuni Buddha for His astronomical feat of autonomous self-practice, his mercy, and compassion. That is why He, rather than any other individual, is revered as the person of the Gohonzon (Ninpo-Ika or Oneness of Person and Law).

We owe our very Enlightenment to this Buddha and this Buddha alone. The arrogance of those who misconstrue Shakyamuni Buddha’s and Nichiren Daishonin’s words for their own aggrandizement is cause to fall into the Lower Worlds and to remain there for a very long time. It was Shakyamuni Buddha who taught Nichiren Daishonin and the other Bodhisattvas of the Earth the Lotus Sutra in the remote past. It was Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha who planted the seed of Myoho renge kyo in our Buddha-nature, the seed that, when watered with a correct faith and practice, grows into the magnificent tree of the Supreme Enlightenment of Myoho.

Illarraza

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by illarraza » Sat Jul 18, 2015 7:56 pm

The way to evaluate any phenomena, philosophy or religion is through the Three Proofs.

The first proof is documentary proof. The phenomena, philosophy or religion must exist through matter, energy and/or ideas. An example of a phenomena is a rock, an example of a philosophy is the Critique of Pure Reason by Emmanuel Kant, an example of a religion is the religion based on the Lotus Sutra. We know that these phenomena, philosophies and religions exists. It has been documented that they exist.

Theoretical proof means that the phenomena, philosophy or religion can be evaluated by reasoning or scientific evidence. A rock has a certain weight, composition, structure etc. that can be measured. The Critique of Pure Reason can be evaluated through science and other philosophical works as to its classification (idealism), its structure (epistomology), its development etc.

Actual proof is the function of the rock, that it can be used in weights and measures, used to knock down an attacker, or ground up to become an abrasive. Regarding religion and philosophy, actual proof is the measure that a philosophy or religion can change the individual or society.

The Chinese Gooseberry is a delectable fruit. It exists in the mid to southern latitudes. Its color varies from lime green to orange-yellow. It has a unique taste with hints of honey, ginger, cinnamon and coriander, strawberry and banana.

Can you imagine how it tastes? Let me give you some more information about this sublime fruit. It has 400 specialized enzymes that convert the nitrates, proteins and fats in the soil into various types of carbohydrates. The Chinese Goosebberry plant also uses photosynthesis to convert water and carbon dioxide into other sugars and carbohydrates that, thanks to this multitude of enzymes, are more varied and complex than in any other plant. The sugars and carbohdrates travel up and down the plants vascular system called the phloem and are concentrated in the fruit. The concentration of the various carbohydrates are 10.000% this and 12.567% that, 9.641% this and 49.210% that, and 1.879 % this… The Chinese Gooseberry is also chock full of phytonutrients and antioxidants like, flavins, tannins, lycopenes, Vit. A, C, and E. The Chinese Gooseberry tastes nothing like, rasberry, strawberry, blueberry, melon, apple, grapefruit, avocado, or the angostora bitter. These fruits too are composed principally of carbohydrates and are full of phytonutrients and vitamins but composed of vastly different types and in vastly different proportions. Can you now tell me how the Chinese Gooseberry tastes?

The Chinese Gooseberry is like the Lotus Sutra (Myoho renge kyo). It exists, this we know. We have abundant documentary proof of this. They both can be analyzed (see above for the Chinese Gooseberry). The Lotus Sutra contains the teachings of the Ten Worlds, Ten Factors, Three Realms, and 3000 Worlds in a Momentary Existence of Life. These teachings can be evaluated through science and through reason just as the gooseberry. Science and reason gives us a great deal of information as to the nature of the Chinese Gooseberry. Its form, it’s composition, its structure. However, as far as its taste, despite knowing all these things, our brains are too small to analyze all the data and experience the taste. Likewise, our brains are too small to analyze the data of 3000 Worlds in a Momentary Existence of Life to know exactly its ability to change the individual (become Buddha) and/or society (Buddha’s Land).

We must taste the Chinese Gooseberry, to know its taste (BTW, the Chinese Gooseberry is the Kiwi fruit). We can only taste the Lotus Sutra by chanting Namu Myoho renge kyo with one’s whole heart. We can only understand Nichiren Lotus Sutra Buddhism by practicing as the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren teach.

Illarraza

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rory
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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by rory » Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:09 am

dude wrote:I have a question of my own about this that maybe someone could answer. As a Nichiren Shu practitioner, I've never come across this "actual proof" business. I'm assuming Soka Gakkai didn't just pull it out of their behinds. Did Nichiren talk about this?


Yes.

In judging the relative merit of Buddhist doctrines, I, Nichiren, believe that the best standards are those of reason and documentary proof. And even more valuable than reason and documentary proof is the proof of actual fact.

"On the the three Tripitaka Masters' Prayer For Rain.
I believe it is located in the Jinriki chapter, ch. 21 of the Lotus Sutra:
At that time the World-Honored One, in the presence of Manjushri and the other immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of bodhisattvas and mahasattvas who from of old had dwelled in the saha world, as well as the monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, heavenly beings, dragons, yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimvaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings-before all these he displayed his great supernatural powers
http://nichiren.info/buddhism/lotussutr ... hap21.html

Nichiren Shu may not talk about it a lot & neither does my sect Kempon, though HBS does but yes, actual proof is the best persuader.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

illarraza
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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by illarraza » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:04 pm

"When we revere Myoho-renge-kyo inherent in our own life as the object of devotion, the Buddha nature within us is summoned forth and manifested by our chanting of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo. This is what is meant by “Buddha.” To illustrate, when a caged bird sings, birds who are flying in the sky are thereby summoned and gather around, and when the birds flying in the sky gather around, the bird in the cage strives to get out. When with our mouths we chant the Mystic Law, our Buddha nature, being summoned, will invariably emerge. The Buddha nature of Brahmā and Shakra, being called, will protect us, and the Buddha nature of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, being summoned, will rejoice. This is what the Buddha meant when he said, 'If one can uphold it [the Mystic Law] even for a short while I will surely rejoice and so will the other Buddhas.'” -- How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way Can Attain Buddhahood through the Lotus Sutra

gordtheseeker
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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by gordtheseeker » Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:51 pm

Thought i would post this here instead of starting a new thread. Is it considered proper to practice chanting throughout the day? Like in your car or while at the gym (perhaps quietly so you don't disturb others). I see lots about the practice in morning and evening, but little about practice throughout the day.

Thanks for your time!

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by Queequeg » Fri Oct 16, 2015 5:38 pm

Nichiren taught that the greatest practice is reading the Lotus Sutra with your body. I understand this as going beyond just mouthing the words, but living the teaching in your thoughts, words and deeds. It goes without saying, that if you want to chant throughout the day, go ahead - sometimes it might interfere with your life activities, in which case, maybe you just chant silently, or just maintain your thoughts on it.
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

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by gordtheseeker » Fri Oct 16, 2015 5:41 pm

Queequeg wrote:Nichiren taught that the greatest practice is reading the Lotus Sutra with your body. I understand this as going beyond just mouthing the words, but living the teaching in your thoughts, words and deeds. It goes without saying, that if you want to chant throughout the day, go ahead - sometimes it might interfere with your life activities, in which case, maybe you just chant silently, or just maintain your thoughts on it.
Excellent. Thank you for the reply! :twothumbsup:

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Re: Basic questions about Nichiren

Post by Rita_Repulsa » Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:41 pm

rory wrote:Daelm; by actualizing do you mean something like having your sense of separateness melt away and feel part of the shining whole? Small samadhi. It does feel different, like the sun transforming a cloudy day.
Oh that? Yeah, no big deal, really.
Queequeg wrote:I can't help but think Marx had a point about religion.
China agrees.
Echo interaction cause and effect the interconnected quality of the absolute truth the foundation of Buddhism laying in this belief in happiness the four immeasurable and cessation of suffering. - tomschwarz

Buddhism is not a Care Bears fantasy (as many westerns think). - Harimoo

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