Deity/god

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robban
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Deity/god

Post by robban » Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:21 pm

I was reading the translators note in the nichirenlibrary website. I've read about Nichiren praying to all sorts of bodhisattvas och deities for protection. Did he really believe that the excistence of heavenly gods, dragons were real. Attending SGI meeting i have gotten the explaination that for example the heavenly gods are "just" protective forces and not actual beings. But reading the goshos i get the feeling that Nichiren really believed in deites and gods. To him they were actual beings.

Would be interesting to get to hear your opinions. What's the opinion outside the SGI?

Thanks!



deity, god: These terms indicate the positive forces, or influences, in life, society, and the natural environment, which create happiness and protect life. They represent the functions that support and protect people in response to the good causes they make.

demon, devil: These terms indicate the forces in people’s lives, in society, and in the natural environment that cause misery and unhappiness, and even destroy life itself. For instance, the “devil king of the sixth heaven” is the personification of the fundamental ignorance, or darkness, inherent in life. In terms of Buddhist practice, demons and devils function to prevent people from attaining enlightenment. It is said that Shakyamuni first conquered the devil within, and then attained enlightenment.
In Buddhism there are two kinds of demons: good and evil. The Chinese character for “demon” means the spirit of a deceased person, and indicates either a spirit that has come to be revered as a deity, or a spirit that brings harm to people. The term “hungry spirits,” for example, refers to the spirits of the deceased that suffer starvation as a result of evil deeds performed when they were alive.

evil: When the word is applied to Buddhists, it refers to their acting against the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, and thus making the cause to fall into hell, or a state of intense suffering. When it is applied to people who are unaware of Buddhism, it refers to their being ignorant of their own Buddha nature, and making no effort to develop it.

heaven: The term “heaven” indicates either the dwelling place of the heavenly gods or the gods themselves.
English is not my first language

markatex
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Re: Deity/god

Post by markatex » Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:00 pm

Yes, he did, as did everyone in 13th century Japan (and most of the rest of the world).

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Queequeg
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Re: Deity/god

Post by Queequeg » Mon Apr 18, 2016 4:20 pm

Agree with Mark.

Nichiren believed that Buddhist gods and spirits, as well as Native Japanese Kami, are real. Their form, though is not necessarily anything other than the phenomena that they are. The Wind God, for instance, manifests as... wind. The Thunder God manifests as thunder.

They are sometimes imagined in humanoid form:

Image
These are iconic depictions of the Wind and Thunder gods.

But the humanoid form was implicitly understood by many to be a provisional form. I believe this is the case for many people with "animist" perceptions, Japanese and non-Japanese.

People these days probably have a hard time thinking of the wind and thunder having humanoid form, so groups like Soka Gakkai insist that the gods are natural forces, which, sure enough, is their original understanding.

The more remarkable thing that is consistent regardless of what form the gods take is the belief that they act, and more specifically, act in response to the activities of human beings.

Nichiren taught that those who are devoted to the Single Vehicle of Myohorengekyo will be protected by the beings who made a vow to the Buddha to protect the votaries of the Dharma. Soka Gakkai, notwithstanding efforts to make the teaching on deities relevant to people now, is in accord with Nichiren's teachings.

I believe that all Nichiren traditions are in accord with these teachings on deities. I don't think there are any who have dismissed these teachings as ancient superstitions.
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

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

robban
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Re: Deity/god

Post by robban » Mon Apr 18, 2016 5:10 pm

Thanks!!
English is not my first language

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gohonzon
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Re: Deity/god

Post by gohonzon » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:22 am

Raijin and fujin. I have these two Shinto gods in my fukusa. You can also see them in the daibutsu todaiji in Nara, Japan by the torri gate. Unfortunately, they are in restoration/ construction so it will take a while for them to be restored to glory.

But That is why I like going to Tozan so much, you get to see the Dai Gohonzon and enjoy many Japanese tourist places afterwards. When you're tired of going to kuonji because it gets boring and you already saw all of his old artifacts, it's time to go visit shrines and temples for fun.
The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teachings is Legally owned & cared for exclusively by the Nichiren Shoshu Orthodox Temple Priesthood. — vowed Temple members are called "Hokkeko". :applause:

illarraza
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Re: Deity/god

Post by illarraza » Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:11 am

Queequeg wrote:Agree with Mark.

Nichiren believed that Buddhist gods and spirits, as well as Native Japanese Kami, are real. Their form, though is not necessarily anything other than the phenomena that they are. The Wind God, for instance, manifests as... wind. The Thunder God manifests as thunder.

They are sometimes imagined in humanoid form:

Image
These are iconic depictions of the Wind and Thunder gods.

But the humanoid form was implicitly understood by many to be a provisional form. I believe this is the case for many people with "animist" perceptions, Japanese and non-Japanese.

People these days probably have a hard time thinking of the wind and thunder having humanoid form, so groups like Soka Gakkai insist that the gods are natural forces, which, sure enough, is their original understanding.

The more remarkable thing that is consistent regardless of what form the gods take is the belief that they act, and more specifically, act in response to the activities of human beings.

Nichiren taught that those who are devoted to the Single Vehicle of Myohorengekyo will be protected by the beings who made a vow to the Buddha to protect the votaries of the Dharma. Soka Gakkai, notwithstanding efforts to make the teaching on deities relevant to people now, is in accord with Nichiren's teachings.

I believe that all Nichiren traditions are in accord with these teachings on deities. I don't think there are any who have dismissed these teachings as ancient superstitions.
The Nichiren Shoshu scholar Martin Bradley [ http://hokkeko.de/hokkeko.ca/index.htm ] denies the thusness [reality] of the deities:

"The Guardian Deities and the Spirits of Good (shoten zenjin) in our teaching are the psychic forces that prevent us from making very regrettable mistakes or doing the wrong thing. Nevertheless, they are all forces that exist in our own heads and are to be found nowhere else."

Nichiren, on the other hand, teaches:

"Though this sutra exists in the nation, its ruler has never allowed it to be propagated. In his heart he turns away from it, and he takes no pleasure in hearing its teachings.... In the end, he makes it impossible for us [the four heavenly kings] and the other countless heavenly beings who are our followers to hear this profound and wonderful teaching. He deprives us of the sweet dew of its words and cuts us off from the flow of the correct teaching, so that our majesty and strength are drained away.... And once we and the others abandon and desert this nation, then many different types of disasters will occur in the country, and the ruler will fall from power." -

"Such being the case, you must be an envoy sent by the heavenly gods Bonten and Taishaku."(Letter to Endo Saemon-no-ji)

"Therefore, King Bonten will look after you with his divine eye, Taishaku will press his palms together and pay obeisance to you, the earthly deities will delight in reverently holding up your feet, and Shakyamuni Buddha will extend his hand from Eagle Peak to stroke your head. Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, Namu-myoho-renge-kyo."(Reply to Lord Matsuno's Wife)

"Then I could test the vows that the Sun Goddess, Hachiman, the gods of the sun and the moon, Taishaku and Bonten made in the presence of the Buddha. Above all, I will urge them to protect every one of you."(Reply to a Believer)

"How astonished Bonten, Taishaku and the Four Heavenly Kings must be to witness it! "(Universal Salty Taste).

"Since you thus proved yourself to be the most worthy ally of the Lotus Sutra in all the world, no doubt Bonten and Taishaku could not bring themselves to forsake you."(The Receipt of New Feifs).

"Shakyamuni had the support of Bonten and Taishaku who dwell in heaven. From among the six paths, the Buddha chose the worlds of Heaven and Humanity, and of these two, he chose to be born among human beings."(Propagation by the Wise)

"Even so, if we could somehow place ourselves under the protection of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha and the Buddhas of the ten directions would treat us as their children, and thus even the heavenly kings Bonten and Taishaku. would refrain from approaching us out of fear."(Jozo and Jogen)

"Your sincerity is loftier than the sky, and the heavenly gods Bonten and Taishaku must also be aware of it."(The Causal Law of life).

"You are the most filial person in all of Japan. Bonten and Taishaku will descend from heaven to serve as left and right wings to you, and the gods of the earth in the four directions will support your feet, revering you as their father and mother."(Filial and Unfilial Conduct).

"These are two deities whom Bonten, Taishaku, and the gods of the sun and moon have assigned to each person in order to protect him."(Unity of Husband and Wife).

"This is due solely to the workings of Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, and other deities."(Reply to Yasaburu).

"Aside from the agony which awaits slanderers in the next life, I have enjoined Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, and the Four Heavenly Kings to punish in this life those who have become enemies of the Lotus Sutra, as a warning to the people."(The Royal Palace)

"Bonten and Taishaku witnessed what happened, and the Great Bodhisattva Hachiman of Kamakura likewise looked on."(The Story of Ohashi no Taro)

"The time will certainly come when, by the workings of Bonten and Taishaku, the entire Japanese nation will simultaneously take faith in the Lotus Sutra. At that time, I am convinced, many people will insist that they too have believed since the very beginning."(The Workings of Bonten and Taishaku).

"That is why Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, and the Four Heavenly Kings incited a neighboring country to punish our land. This is clearly described in the Daijuku and Ninno sutras, the Nirvana Sutra and the Lotus Sutra."(A Sage Perceives the Three Existences).

"You may rest assured that nothing, not even a person possessed by a powerful demon, can harm Nichiren, because Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, the Four Heavenly Kings, Tensho Daijin and Hachiman are safeguarding him."(On Persecutions Befalling the Buddha).

"Furthermore, the Lotus Sutra states that the votary of this sutra will receive the protection of the bodhisattvas as numerous as the dust particles of a thousand worlds who emerged from the earth, the bodhisattvas Monju and Kannon, Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, the Four Heavenly Kings and the ten demon daughters. Therefore, there is no other way to attain Buddhahood than
by practicing the Lotus Sutra, for it is the only scripture which reveals things past and future."(Letter to the Priests of Seichoji).

"Therefore, as Japan no longer has a ruler worthy of protection, Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, and the Four Heavenly Kings have replied to this slander by ordering a foreign country to invade Japan. They have also dispatched the votary of the Lotus Sutra as their envoy."(Letter to
Misawa).

"The Daijuku, Konkomyo, Ninno, Shugo, Hatsunaion and Saishoo sutras record that when the Latter Day of the Law begins, if there should appear a person who practices the True Law, then those who uphold false teachings will appeal to the ruler and his ministers, and the ruler and his ministers, believing their words, will revile that single person who upholds the True Law or attack him, send him into exile or even put him to death. At that time, King Bonten, Taishaku and all the other innumerable deities and the gods of heaven and earth will take possession of the wise rulers of neighboring countries and cause them to overthrow the nation where these things take place. Doesn't the situation we face today resemble that described in these sutras?"(The Three Tripitaka Masters Pray For Rain).

"When the fox of Mount Shita encountered the Law of the Buddha, he grew dissatisfied with life, longed for death, and was reborn as the god Taishaku. In the same way, Abutsu Shonin grew weary of his existence in this impure world, and so he became a Buddha."(The Treasure of a Filial Child).

"When one places a sutra in front of a wooden or painted image of the Buddha, the image becomes endowed with all thirty-two features. Yet, even though it has thirty-two, without the spiritual aspect it is no way equal to a Buddha, for even the being in the world of Humanity or Heaven may possess the thirty-two features. When the Gokai Sutra is placed before a wooden or painted image having thirty-one features, the image becomes equal to wheel-turning king. When the Juzen Ron is placed before it, the image becomes equal to Taishaku. When the Shutsuyoku Ron is placed before it, the image becomes equal to Bonten. But in none of these cases does it in any way become equal to a Buddha." (Opening the Eyes of Wooden or Painted Images).

"Although I am of lowly birth, I embrace the Lotus Sutra, which Shakyamuni, Taho, all the Buddhas of the ten directions, Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, the Four Heavenly Kings, the dragon deities, Tensho Daijin, and Bodhisattva Hachiman protect and treasure, just as people treasure and are unwilling to part with their eyes, as the heavenly gods revere Taishaku, or as a mother loves her child. Therefore, all these Buddhas and gods will punish those who persecute the votary of the Lotus Sutra, even more severely than one would chastise an enemy of his parents or than the government punishes rebels." (Letter to Nakaoki Nyudo).

"Shakyamuni Buddha must have led you by the hand, with Taishaku as the horse you rode on, Bonten as your companion, and the sun and moon acting as your eyes along the way."(The Teachings in acoordance With the Buddha's Mind).

"As for my parents in this lifetime, however, they not only gave me birth, but made me a believer in the Lotus Sutra as well. Thus I owe my present father and mother a debt far greater than I would had I been born into the family of Bonten, Taishaku, one of the Four Heavenly Kings or a wheel-turning king, and so inherited the threefold world or the four continents, and been revered by the four kinds of believers in the worlds of Humanity and Heaven."(The Four Debts of Gratitude).

"The Buddha replied, "Your mother has committed grave misdeeds. You alone do not have the power to remedy this situation. And indeed no one, neither the gods of heaven, the gods of earth, the devils of heaven, the Brahmans, the Taoist priests, the Four Heavenly Kings, nor the gods Taishaku and Bonten have the power to do so."(On the Urabon).

"I have received your offering of seven kan of coins. The essence of the Zokurui (twenty-second) chapter of the Lotus Sutra is as follows. The Buddha, [rising from his seat in the Treasure Tower,] stood in open space and, in order to make a transfer of the Lotus Sutra, stroked no fewer than three heads of Bodhisattva Jogyo and his followers, Monju and his followers, Daibonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, the Four Heavenly Kings, the dragon kings, the ten demon daughters and others."Zokuruii and Other Chapters).

"And all bodhisattvas, persons of the two vehicles, Bonten, Taishaku, and the gods of the sun and moon, which shine now in the sky like bright mirrors, witnessed these statements being made."(The Sutra of True Requital).

"Should you depart from this life before I do, you should report to Bonten, Taishaku, the Four Great Heavenly Kings and Great King Emma. Declare yourself to be a disciple of the priest Nichiren, the foremost votary of the Lotus Sutra in Japan. Then they cannot possibly treat you discourteously." (Encouragement to a sick Person).

"But how vexing such attacks must be to Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon and the Four Heavenly Kings, who inscribed an oath in the presence of the Buddha that they would not permit evil men to strike the votary of the Lotus Sutra! It would be no small matter if those who slander me were to incur no punishment from Heaven in their present body. So those deities [who fail to punish them] will not only be destroyed throughout past, present and future, but even now are surely being called upon to account to the Buddha for their actions. And when that happens, it will be no fault of Nichiren's! Rather, by siding with those priests who slander the Law, they are summoning disaster upon themselves."(Letter to Myomitu Shonin)

"In the case of the other Buddhas, bodhisattvas and deities, we hear that they bestow superb blessing, but with our common-mortal eyes we have yet to see it. In the case of the sun deity, however, there can be no doubt, for his blessings are before our very eyes."(Consecrating an Image of Shakyamuni Buddha).

"If we consider the situation in Japan at present, we will realize that many centuries have elapsed since the founding of the country. The benevolent deities that have guarded the nation from times past have undoubtedly grown old and their store of good fortune has run out. Their bright glow has waned, their powers have dwindled. If they could taste the flavor of the Buddhist teachings, they would surely regain their old brilliance and power. But the flavors of the Buddhist teachings that are offered to them now are all the wrong ones. Old in years as they are, how can such deities stave off the disasters that beset the nation or grant protection to those who pay honor to them?

Moreover, though Japan as a country is guilty of slandering the Law, because these are its patron deities, they do not punish it for its great offense but instead continue to give it their protection. In doing so, these gods are violating the oath that they took in the presence of the Buddha. They look on those who patronize them as one would look on a beloved child who commits an error, not casting them aside but continuing to protect them. But in doing this, in failing to chastise the ruler and people of a nation that bears malice toward the votaries of the Lotus Sutra and protecting it instead, they are guilty of error. For such a fault Hachimanand the other deities must have been punished by Brahmā and Shakra. But this is a matter of grave import and must be treated with the utmost secrecy!

It is stated in one of the sutras5 that the Buddha called together all the Brahmās, Shakras, sun and moon deities, four heavenly kings, and dragon gods of this world and the other worlds and said that if in the Former, Middle, or Latter Day of the Law the devil king of the sixth heaven or other evil spirits should take possession of the human sovereign or his subjects and cause them to vex and persecute the Buddha’s disciples, whether those who uphold the precepts, break the precepts, or are without precepts; and if the patron deities, observing and hearing of these events, let even so much as a moment pass by without punishing the offenders, then Brahmā and Shakra would send messengers with orders to the four heavenly kings to carry out punishment. If the patron deities of the nation fail to carry out punishment, then Brahmā, Shakra, and the four heavenly kings shall punish those deities as well. And the same applies, he said, to Brahmāand Shakra themselves. If they fail to carry out punishment, then the Brahmās and Shakras of other worlds will invariably step in to punish theBrahmā, Shakra, sun and moon gods, and four heavenly kings of this world. If this is not done, the Buddhas of the three existences of past, present, and future will cease to appear in the world, and Brahmā andShakra and the others will lose their positions and for a long time will sink into the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering." (On Reprimanding Hachiman)

"Reverence for this one vehicle teaching has brought prosperity to the three lands [of India, China, and Japan]. Who could doubt a fact that is so plain before the eyes? And yet, because so many have turned their backs on the correct path and insist upon following the road of erroneous doctrines, the sages have abandoned the nation, the benevolent deities seethe with anger, the seven disasters occur one after another, and the area within the four seas knows no peace." (The Day Before Yesterday)

"But the greatest source of sadness to me is the thought that ifBrahmā, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, the four heavenly kings, and the others should abandon the votary of the Lotus Sutra, who chantsNam-myoho-renge-kyo, now when he is in great distress, they will in their present existence lose their status as heavenly beings, the fruit of past endeavor, and, like petals scattering in a high wind or rain falling from the sky, will fall into the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering; p.625for, as the sutra predicts, “When his life comes to an end he will enter the Avīchi hell.”34 This is what I find truly pitiful." (Rulers of the Land of the Gods)

"At that time, because the innumerable benevolent guardian deities will be unable to taste the flavor of the Law, their majesty and strength will diminish."

"And in addition, the Buddhas of the six directions and the twenty-five bodhisattvas of the Pure Land school, the twelve hundred honored ones of the True Word school, and the various honored ones and benevolent guardian deities of the seven schools are also certain to protect Nichiren."

"Third, it would appear that the guardian deities have deserted this country, and this is probably one reason why offenders do not suffer any immediate punishment."

"Aside from the agony which awaits slanderers in the next life, I have enjoined Bonten, Taishaku, the gods of the sun and moon, and the Four Heavenly Kings to punish in this life those who have become enemies of the Lotus Sutra, as a warning to the people. You will see by the results of my predictions whether I, Nichiren, am the votary of the Lotus Sutra or not."

"When one comes to the end of one’s good fortune, no strategy whatsoever avails. When one’s karmic rewards are exhausted, even one’s retainers no longer follow one. You survived because you still have both good fortune and rewards. Moreover, in the “Entrustment” chapter, the heavenly gods and benevolent deities pledged to protect the votaries of the Lotus Sutra. Of all the guardian deities in heaven, it is the gods of the sun and moon who visibly protect us. How can we doubt their protection? The heavenly deity Marīchi in particular stands in service before the god of the sun. When the god of the sun protects the votaries of the Lotus Sutra, how could the honorable one of heaven Marīchi, who is his vassal, possibly abandon them? The “Introduction” chapter of the sutra reads, “[At that time Shakra with his followers, twenty thousand sons of gods, also attended.] There were also the sons of gods Rare Moon, Pervading Fragrance, Jeweled Glow, and the four heavenly kings, along with their followers, ten thousand sons of gods.” Marīchi must be among the thirty thousand sons of gods who were present at the ceremony. Otherwise, this deity could only abide in hell.

You must have escaped death because of this deity’s protection. Marīchi gave you skill in swordsmanship, while I, Nichiren, have bestowed on you the five characters of the title of the Lotus Sutra. There can be no doubt that Marīchi protects those who embrace the Lotus Sutra. Marīchi also upholds the Lotus Sutra and helps all living beings. Even the words “Those who join the battle are all in the front lines” derive from the Lotus Sutra. This is what is meant by the passage “If they should expound some text of the secular world or speak on matters of government or occupations that sustain life, they will in all cases conform to the correct Law.” Therefore, you must summon up the great power of faith more than ever. Do not blame the heavenly gods if you exhaust your good fortune and lose their protection."

It is obvious that Nichiren believed in and taught the very real existence of heavenly beings, Buddhist gods, and guardian deities. More importantly, he, unlike Martin Bradley, the Nichiren Shoshu, and the Soka Gakkai, believed in the very real Shakyamuni Buddha of the Juryo Chapter of the Lotus Sutra who manifested as Shakyamuni Buddha of India.

illarraza

robban
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun May 19, 2013 1:41 pm

Re: Deity/god

Post by robban » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:05 pm

From time to time i sense a "divine" feeling going through my body. It makes me feel warm, filled with love and at that moment all my worries are gone.
Unfortunately the feeling goes away rather quickly.
Anyway, it's a overwhelming feeling :)
English is not my first language

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