Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

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Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Thu Jul 14, 2016 5:35 pm

The full title of this text is, 如来滅後五五百歳始観心本尊抄 Nyorai metsugo gogohyakusai ni hajimu kanjin no honzon shō.

It is translated alternatively as "The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind Established in the Fifth Five-Hundred-Year Period after the Thus Come One’s Passing" (Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Soka Gakkai), and "A Treatise Revealing the Spiritual Contemplation and the Most Venerable One for the First Time in the Fifth 500-year Period after the Death of Sakyamuni Buddha" (Writings of Nichiren Shonin, Nichiren Shu).

如来滅後 Nyorai metsugo means "After the Tathagata's extinction".

Nyorai or Tathagata in Sanskrit, is an alternative title of the Buddha, meaning, "Thus Come One". Its a technical term invoking the Buddha in an absolute sense, and so is often used to refer to Buddha after parinirvana, in contrast to the Buddha in his human form. It is suggestive of the Buddha in his complete aspect - as the Trikaya, which in Lotus Buddhism means the Primordial Triple Bodied Buddha Shakyamuni revealed in the 16th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra.

滅後 metsugo, literally 'after extinction", and this is significant because it refers to a time when a Buddha is not present in this world. In the Lotus Sutra, and many Mahayana sutras, there is a distinction between teachings spread during the Buddha's life and after his passing. It is an important idea that invokes the existential crisis in Japanese Buddhism of the medieval period when it was believed that the Buddha Shakyamuni's teachings has lost efficacy. This idea had been a concern of Tiantai Buddhism in China, and early Tendai, but as the Latter Day, or Mappo had not yet come to pass, it was just viewed as a coming catastrophe. East Asia after 1052 CE was in the midst of this catastrophe according to the doctrine on the periods following the Buddha's extinction, and Nichiren appeared in the midst of this existential crisis in Japan, which at his time coincided with domestic turmoil punctuated by plagues, famine, natural disasters, as well as the Mongol invasion on mainland Asia which had brought the Song dynasty down in China - to compare, in Western Civilization, it was like the fall of Rome, except more complete, as if both the Eastern and Western Empires had been conquered. The point is to emphasize that this "after extinction" was a complete, and thorough existential crisis for the Japanese of Nichiren's day, not just some spiritual crisis, but the literal end of the world.

五五百歳始 gogohyakusai ni hajimu Actually, there is no "ni" there. The title is in Kambun, meaning, Japanese-Chinese. By that I mean something like the way that scholars in Europe until the Enlightenment wrote in Latin as opposed to their native language. In Japan, scholarly works were written in Chinese. "ni" or に is, I guess, a preposition, that can be translated as "to" or "at". Its not there in the original, but to make sense in Japanese, its read into it. 五五百歳 gogohyakusai means "The Fifth Five Hundred Year Age". The time after the Buddha's passing is divided into 1000 year and, again, 500 year periods in East Asia. The first thousand years are the Former Age when the Buddha's teachings are fresh and many sages appear. The Second Thousand are the Middle Age and at this point, controversies arise, discord increases, but the teaching is still viable and still many sages appear, though there is a decline in their numbers. After these ages pass, we have the Latter Age, when the Buddha's teachings have lost efficacy and very few sages appear, if any. The Former and Middle Ages are again divided into 500 year periods with more specific details. The Lotus makes reference to the 500 year periods, and then in reference to the propagation of the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha's passing, specifically refers to the first 500 years of the Latter Age, when the Bodhisattvas of the Earth appear and begin the propagation of the Lotus Sutra.

観心本尊 kanjin no honzon. Kanjin (Sanskrit vipasyana), often translated as "Contemplation" or "Insight". Traditionally, in Buddhist meditation, Vipasyana is paired with Samatha - or "Calming". This two-fold structure of meditation, in the broadest strokes, goes like this: in the Samatha stage, we calm the mind and concentrate it single pointedly. This is commonly achieved through breath counting or the like. By focusing on the breath, we are able to bring the discursive mind to a halt and we dwell in concentration. Once that is achieved, we turn to Kanjin, insight, or contemplation, where we single mindedly turn our mind to the Buddha wisdom. This is the most basic description of this two fold meditation, but our concern is the latter, Kanjin, which is the real point of Buddhist meditation. The calming is just that. Its preparation for Kanjin. Calming practices can be found in all kinds of settings. A lot of the stuff that is taught as mindfulness meditation is just this. In itself, its of limited use. Anyway...

There is no no の which means, "of". Again, its just inserted to make it comprehensible in Japanese.

本尊 honzon is often translated as "Object of Veneration" or "Object of Devotion", but it actually has a deeper meaning derived from esoteric BUddhism (Shingon). Its not just the physical object, or symbol, which could be a statue or mandala, but is the actual entity represented. The sign is the signified. If you consider, for instance, Nichiren's gohonzon as just a piece of paper, you are not perceiving it correctly - it is actually the entity signified, myohorengekyo, the Buddha in her complete aspect.

So, kanjin no honzon is the object of devotion, literally, but what that actually means is the entity we contemplate - the being and enlightenment we enter and merge with. Nichiren explains what this is for him in this text.

抄 or sho means, "writing" or "treatise" or "essay"... something along those lines.

This text was written in 1273 while Nichiren was still on Sado Island, a remote island in the Sea of Japan. He was exiled there after his execution was stopped. It was sent to his lay disciple, Toki Jonin, the lord of Shomousa Province, located in present day Chiba Prefecture, just outside modern Tokyo.

The original is kept at Hokkekyo-ji, a temple in the complex originally founded by Toki Jonin in Chiba.

So, for the discussion, let's read this text through the 11th question, which reads in WND "Question: What authority do you have for stating that a plant, a tree, or a land manifests cause and effect, or the ten factors?" (WND I, p. 356) and in WNS reads, "Question: Where does it say that both grass and trees as well as the land, like sentient beings, possess "ten aspects" and principles of cause and effect?" (WNS 2, p. 131).

If you have questions or observations of the above, please share. In the meantime, we'll pick up substantive discussion of the text sometime next week after we have a chance to read it.
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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby john perry » Fri Jul 15, 2016 4:43 pm

観心本尊 kanjin no honzon. Kanjin (Sanskrit vipasyana), often translated as "Contemplation" or "Insight". Traditionally, in Buddhist meditation, Vipasyana is paired with Samatha - or "Calming". This two-fold structure of meditation, in the broadest strokes, goes like this: in the Samatha stage, we calm the mind and concentrate it single pointedly. This is commonly achieved through breath counting or the like. By focusing on the breath, we are able to bring the discursive mind to a halt and we dwell in concentration. Once that is achieved, we turn to Kanjin, insight, or contemplation, where we single mindedly turn our mind to the Buddha wisdom. This is the most basic description of this two fold meditation, but our concern is the latter, Kanjin, which is the real point of Buddhist meditation. The calming is just that. Its preparation for Kanjin. Calming practices can be found in all kinds of settings. A lot of the stuff that is taught as mindfulness meditation is just this. In itself, its of limited use. Anyway...


Are you saying the practice of kanjin is limited? I believe that nichiren talks about kanjin in the gosho.

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:01 pm

john perry wrote:
Are you saying the practice of kanjin is limited? I believe that nichiren talks about kanjin in the gosho.


No. Where do you get that? I wouldn't say contemplation is limited or unlimited. Kanjin = vipasyana. Samatha is a different practice, and in the way its often taught and used in non-Buddhist contexts, limited. But that's getting off topic. Sorry to bring that up.
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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby narhwal90 » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:29 am

Dunno, I think its great to bring up. That kind of meditation gets no play or mention whatsoever in SGI and for my part I've found it very helpful, not as replacement of daimoku/recital but in addition. Citation in this way helps show the relationship to the primary practice.

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby john perry » Sun Jul 17, 2016 3:30 am

Oh, the samatha is limited, not kanjin. One leads into the other.

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Thu Jul 21, 2016 5:34 pm

john perry wrote:Oh, the samatha is limited, not kanjin. One leads into the other.


They're often referred to together - shi - kan, 止観, samatha and vipasyana.

shi means "stop"
kan means "observer" or "see".

Zhiyi's greatest teaching is (in Japanese) 摩訶止観 MakaShikan, meaning "The Great Samatha and Vipasyana"

Kanjin refers to the practice where we stop the discursive mind and open into observation or contemplation of the True Aspect.

観心 kanjin, which is the full designation of Vipasyana in Chinese characters literally reads, "Observe the Heart/Mind/your intimate, true self"

心 pronounced kokoro or shin/jin is a wonderful character with a profoundly rich meaning. The Digital Dictionary of Buddhism has this entry:

Basic Meaning: heart, mind
Senses:

Spirit, motive, sense. The mind as the seat of intelligence, mentality, idea (Skt. citta; caitasika; Tib. sems). Citta is also transliterated as 質多. [Charles Muller; source(s): Soothill, JEBD, Yokoi, YBh-Ind]

Thought, intellect, feeling (Skt. mānasa; Tib. yid). [Charles Muller; source(s): Soothill, Stephen Hodge]

Wholeheartedness, sincerity, attention, interest, care, intention, will, mood. [Charles Muller; source(s): Soothill]

Essence, core, marrow (Skt. hṛd, hṛdaya; Tib. snying). Transliterated as 汗栗太, 汗栗馱; 紀哩馱. The physical heart of sentient or nonsentient living beings, e.g., men, trees, etc. 肉團心. [Charles Muller; source(s): Soothill]

The discriminatively conceptualizing mind that works through language. The mano-vijñāna 意識, as, for example, in the *Vajrasamādhi-sūtra 金剛三昧經. Also understood as 緣慮心; 了別心, etc. [Charles Muller]

The basis of conceptualization; the thinking and calculating mind 思量心; the seventh (Skt. manas 末那識) consciousness—usually written in Chinese as 意. It is characterized in the Cheng weishi lun as 'continually examining and assessing' 恆審思量. [Charles Muller]

The mind as the principle of the universe. In this understanding the three worlds are only mind, and outside of mind there is no separate existence 唯心. The ālayavijñāna 阿賴耶識, or totality of mind, and the source of all mental activity 集起心. The mind-ground 心地, as the true mind that all sentient beings are originally endowed with. It is the agent and locus for the production of the myriad phenomena. [Charles Muller]

The enlightened mind-essence which is the basis for the manifestation of various buddha-bodies. The mind of thusness 堅實心, or the permanent mind, as understood in the Tathāgatagarbha tradition. [Charles Muller]

(Skt. cetas, vijñāna; jyeṣṭhā; adhyāśaya, abhipraya, ātman, āśaya, āśraya, garbha, cittatā, citta-dhāra, citta-prakṛti, cittâśaya, cittâśaya-vicāra, citti, cintā, cintya, cetana, cetanā, cetasika, caitanya, caitasikī, caitasī, jñāna, dharma, dhātu, prajñapti, pradhāna, buddhi, bhakti, bhāva, maṇḍa, mati, manasi-kāra, māna, mānasaka, vitarka, vyavasāya, saṃkalpa, saṃcintya, saṃjñā, saṃjñāna, saṃtati, saṃtāna, sāra, sva-citta; Pāli citta) [Charles Muller; source(s): Soothill, Hirakawa]
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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby narhwal90 » Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:07 am

I like that Nichiren gives an authoritative answer to the "Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?" question.

But more seriously, when I started in NSA, and still in the SGI, the gohonzon are handled very carefully, I heard a case of a SGI newcomer had printed their own gohonzon from one of the online images & the local district scurried to get her a real one after finding out; the printed image was not considered appropriate. I wonder if if this speaks to the "wooden & painted images" paragraph, esoteric significance being given to the scroll, method of printing etc OTOH I've also heard of Nichiren Shu folks printing them for use. I downloaded a few from the Gohonzon-sho page & printed them- and did not burst into flames but was not inclined to enshirine one, though I really like many of them. But maybe its more of a concern in relation to lineage.

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:09 pm

The text we are reading can be found online here:

Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Volume 1, No. 39, p. 354, translated by Soka Gakkai
Two Nichiren Texts, p. 63, translated by Senchu Murano, published by BDK
The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume 1, translated by Soka Gakkai/Nichiren Shoshu
Martin Bradley translation

I don’t think the Nichiren Shu translation published in Writings of Nichiren Shonin, Volume 2, is available online. This is unfortunate.

I would not rely on the Martin Bradley translation. I don’t know what his background is, but his translation is oddly phrased in places. I posted a link because I find it to be an interesting effort.

I have not read Murano’s translation closely. It may be dated. However, I included it here because he was a Nichiren Shu priest who studied in the US, getting a degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 1938. He later taught at Rissho University in Tokyo (a Nichiren Shu affiliated university where many priests of almost all Nichiren traditions study). He is perhaps most well-known for his translation of Kumarajiva’s threefold Lotus Sutra which was the first complete translation into English. It might be interesting to compare his translations with the others for his unique gloss. Also, I want to draw attention to the publisher, BDK, for the great work they are doing in working toward publishing the entire Japanese Taisho canon in English translation.

The Soka Gakkai and Soka Gakkai/Nichiren Shoshu translations I find are very good except when it comes to their idiosyncratic ideas which make their way into the nuances of translation and certainly in some footnotes. Just beware. Or maybe you subscribe to those views, in which case, carry on.

The Nichiren Shu translation (no link) is good, though it’s a loose translation that takes liberties without always notifying the reader that words and phrases have been added to clarify certain points. They admit that their translations are not meant for scholarly use but rather are intended for general audiences.

What we should keep in mind is that no translation is perfect. However, the approach I like to take is to read several translations together. To the extent possible, I also use my limited Japanese language ability to read the original, but it’s too time consuming to be practical. In my next life, I will be more diligent in my studies when I am young and have the opportunity and leisure.
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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:12 pm

This text was written to address questions about the meditative aspect of Nichiren’s teachings. Several criticisms had been raised against Nichiren, one of them that he only taught doctrine and did not teach meditative practices. Publicly, Nichiren seems to have taught only chanting of the Daimoku and doctrinal critique of other teachings of his day. Indeed, he may have held back the full meditative practices for many of his supporters for whom such teachings might be too much. However, if we look at the body of his writings it is quite clear that he did teach meditative practices – if not in his writings, explicitly, he made references that suggest he taught them orally. In any event, he addressed the criticism directly in this text.

The translations I use for quotes are generally from the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, but be warned, I will alter the quotes when I think its appropriate.

The text opens:

Volume five of Great Concentration and Insight states: “Life at each moment1 is endowed with the Ten Worlds. At the same time, each of the Ten Worlds is endowed with all Ten Worlds, so that an entity of life actually possesses one hundred worlds. Each of these worlds in turn possesses thirty realms, which means that in the one hundred worlds there are three thousand realms. The three thousand realms of existence are all possessed by life in a single moment. If there is no life, that is the end of the matter. But if there is the slightest bit of life, it contains all the three thousand realms. . . . This is what we mean when we speak of the ‘region of the unfathomable.’”


There is no doubt what Nichiren means by meditative practice. He opens with a quote from Mohezhikuan (Jp. Maka Shikan, Eng. Great Concentration and Insight), Zhiyi’s (T’ien T’ai’s) exposition of his own deepest meditative practice. Nichiren’s teaching on meditative practice is based on the Three Thousand Realms in a Single Moment of Thought (Jp. Ichinensanzen) taught by Zhiyi. Nichiren’s teaching is a little different than Zhiyi’s, but we will get to that.

The Maka Shikan is a record of a series of teachings that Zhiyi gave orally toward the end of his life and recorded by one of his close disciples. Zhiyi is revered as the incarnation of the Bodhisattva Medicine King.

The first eight questions and answers clarify where this teaching of ichenensanzen was expounded. In short, it is only found in the seventh chapter of the Maka Shikan. Questions 9-11 concern the difference between ichinensanzen and another teaching that Zhiyi had expounded, the 1000 factors. He had taught this in previous lectures which had been recorded as “Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra”, a discussion of the Lotus Sutra in terms of its title, or Daimoku, (Myohorengekyo), and “Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra”, a record of his line by line explanation of the Lotus Sutra.

Very briefly, ichinensanzen is a description of your Mind. We dwell in the human realm. However, this is not the only realm. There are also realms of hell dwellers, preta (hungry ghosts), animals, asura (fighting titans), deva (gods), sravaka (voice-hearers), pratyekabuddha (self-awakened beings), bodhisattva (hm?) and Buddha (?!?!?!). These realms are not separate from us, and in fact are related to us. We have certainly been spun through the so-called six realms (hell, preta, animal, asura, human, deva) since the primordial past. We also have the capacity of the sravaka, pratyekabuddha, bodhisattva, as well as Buddha. In fact, in the course of our turning through samsara, we have certainly been sravaka, pratyekabuddha, and bodhisattva up to the level of non-retrogression. We are destined to reach the stage of non-retrogression at some point, and attain Buddhahood. This is certain.

This is the teaching on the Ten Worlds.

These ten worlds are not mutually exclusive worlds. They interpenetrate completely – Buddha who see things correctly know that there are no distinctions between the realms. The idea that I am separate from you is a problematic distinction if we think it is real. We are separate in certain ways, but when we carefully examine the distinctions, we find they are insubstantial. The Buddha understands this completely at levels so profound we cannot comprehend intellectually no matter how long we considered it. On our Buddhahood we will understand this completely, also. In any event, this interpenetration is usually translated as “Mutual Possession”. This gives us the teaching on the 100 worlds.

Mind can be understood in terms of ten aspect. These are stated in the 2nd chapter of the Lotus Sutra. “Sho i sho ho, nyo ze so, nyo ze sho, nyo ze tai, nyo ze riki, nyo ze sa, nyo ze in, nyo ze en, nyo ze ka, nyo ze ho, nyo ze hon matsu ku Kyoto” “The True Aspect of Reality is Thus Character, Thus Nature, Thus Substance, Thus Potential, Thus Function, Thus Cause, Thus Condition, Thus Result, Thus Effect, Thus Consistency from Beginning to End.” I think I have a translation of Zhiyi’s explanation of these 10 Aspects and I will look for it this weekend. I will post it if I can find it.

This gives us 1000 Factors.

There are also Three Factors – Beings, their Environment, and the Five Aggregates. These are the factors that differentiate us.

This gives us 3000 realms in a single moment of thought. In the passage quoted above, the expansion is slightly different, but it’s the same substance.
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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby john perry » Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:44 am

Can't chanting daimoku lead into meditation? There is one meditation that deals with counting of the breaths. Counting of the breaths is rhythmic. Chanting daimoku is rhythmic.

I wonder if these other practices of meditation are rhythmic.

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Mon Aug 01, 2016 4:15 pm

Hi John, I'd suggest posing your question about chanting and meditation in another thread - possibly even in a more general forum like Mahayana or Open Dharma - I think you might invite a variety of views on chanting and/as meditation. Its not just Nichiren tradition that practices chanting.
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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby narhwal90 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:19 pm

Many thanks Q, for the thorough posting above- I confess I'm unable to offer anything of similar breadth and depth. With respect to the meditative practice I've been reading up on the Aragyo vs Shingon Morning Star practice, the theory I am considering is they may serve similar puposes. I should think Nichiren was well aware of the latter but apparently the Aragyo was developed by the Nichiren Shu folks after his passing. Have you come across any material suggesting Nichiren's attitudes towards such practices? Perhaps the question could be broadened, given the esoteric elements in Tiantai, do they have a similar practice as well.

I do apologize if this is an ignorant question, I am looking at a big world thru a SGI "keyhole" and only recently have been enlarging it.

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Tue Aug 02, 2016 7:06 pm

narhwal90 wrote:Many thanks Q, for the thorough posting above- I confess I'm unable to offer anything of similar breadth and depth. With respect to the meditative practice I've been reading up on the Aragyo vs Shingon Morning Star practice, the theory I am considering is they may serve similar puposes. I should think Nichiren was well aware of the latter but apparently the Aragyo was developed by the Nichiren Shu folks after his passing. Have you come across any material suggesting Nichiren's attitudes towards such practices? Perhaps the question could be broadened, given the esoteric elements in Tiantai, do they have a similar practice as well.

I do apologize if this is an ignorant question, I am looking at a big world thru a SGI "keyhole" and only recently have been enlarging it.


No ignorant questions here. We're all learning and I'm happy to share. I went through that keyhole, too.

Nichiren probably practiced the Morning Star meditation. Kiyozumidera, also known as Seichoji, the temple near his birthplace where he first became an acolyte had been a Tendai temple, later became a Shingon temple, and when he was there, the most common practice seems to have been Pure Land (it is now a Nichiren Shu temple). The honzon was Kokuzo Bosatsu - Bodhisattva Space Treasury, with whom the Morning Star practice is associated. Nichiren remarked in several places that as a young monk he prayed to Kokuzo Bosatsu.

I, Nichiren, was a resident of [Seichō-ji on] Mount Kiyosumi in Tōjō Village in the province of Awa. From the time I was a small child, I prayed to Bodhisattva Space Treasury, asking that I might become the wisest person in all Japan. The bodhisattva transformed himself into a venerable priest before my very eyes and bestowed upon me a jewel of wisdom as bright as the morning star. No doubt as a result, I was able to gain a general mastery of the principal teachings of the eight older schools of Buddhism in Japan, as well as of those of the Zen and Nembutsu schools... The fact that I have in this way been able to discern the errors of the various sutras, treatises, and schools is due to the benefit of Bodhisattva Space Treasury, and is owed to my former teacher Dōzen-bō.
The Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei

Its interesting to note the way Nichiren writes about Kokuzo - he appeared as a priest, who he identifies as his teacher, Dozen-bo.

As you are well aware, from the time I was young I have had my heart set on learning, and in addition I prayed before the statue of Bodhisattva Space Treasury that I might become the wisest person in Japan. I was twelve then, and had various reasons for offering such a prayer, but I will not go into them here.

After that, I lent my ear first of all to the teachings of the Pure Land and Zen schools, and later I traveled to Mount Hiei, Onjō-ji, Mount Kōya, and various other places in the capital and the countryside, carrying out religious practice and studying the doctrines of the various schools of Buddhism. But I found it difficult to resolve my doubts.
Refuting Ryokan and the others

Hiei is the head temple of Tendai, Onjoji (Miidera) is the Tendai temple at the base of Mt. Hiei, and Koya is one of the main ceters of Shingon.

“Nichiren has often been on the verge of being killed. Twice he was exiled and once almost beheaded. This is not because of any worldly wrongs on his part. [As a youth,] he received great wisdom from the living Bodhisattva Space Treasury. He prayed to the bodhisattva to become the wisest person in Japan. The bodhisattva must have taken pity on him, for he presented him with a great jewel as brilliant as the morning star, which Nichiren tucked away in his right sleeve. Thereafter, on perusing the entire body of sutras, he was able to discern in essence the relative worth of the eight schools as well as of all the scriptures.”
Letter to the Priests of Seichoji

Toward the end of his life, in 1277, from Mt. Minobu, Nichiren wrote the following.

The points I have touched on here are very important matters of doctrine. When paying respect to Bodhisattva Space Treasury, you should make a regular practice of reading this aloud.

Letter to Shomitsubo

Also relevant with regard to Nichiren and Shingon:
http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=22945&p=342832#p342833
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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby narhwal90 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:50 pm

I've been reading the Shingon book off and on for a few months now, the amount of detail in some of those practices leaves me a bit cross-eyed but its interesting reading. I like Nichiren's devotion to Dozen-bo though, he carried around the statue Dozen-bo gave to him despite having developed his own perspective from what he learned at Seicho-ji. It is interesting that not all of Nichiren's relationships with people in other sects were contentious, probably mirroring what sometimes happens with people of differing denominations today. Its easy to find citations for his conflicts with members of other schools, less so for those he had good relations with.

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:29 pm

If we look at his letters, I think its evident that there was the public Nichiren and then the guy at a personal level who had a relatively tolerant and accepting attitude so long as a person conducted themselves within the framework of Lotus Sutra veneration. When Shijo Kingo wrote describing one of his practices worshiping the sun, Nichiren praised him and commented that he practiced that, too. He even wrote to a woman that it was OK to recite the Nembutsu after one had exhausted themselves reciting the Daimoku. There is that one telling instance where some supporter had gone on pilgrimage to a shrine and stopped at hot springs, and then went to visit Nichiren on the way back. Nichiren refused to give an audience because he interpreted her action as placing the Lotus Sutra in a position subordinate not only to the shrine, but to her visit to the hot springs.

For people who don't understand this principle well, this might be too fine a line, in which case, for them, bright lines might be the appropriate teaching - "NMRK ONLY".
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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby narhwal90 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:04 pm

Yeah "Letter to Misawa" is Nichiren being strict (I assume thats the gosho you are referring to). As per the SGI translation Usubusa was a lay nun so Nichiren may have been applying higher standards, noting his suggestions to the householder earlier in the document. Its this kind of issue where I wonder if cultural & gender influences may also play a part.

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:14 pm

narhwal90 wrote:Its this kind of issue where I wonder if cultural & gender influences may also play a part.

Can you elaborate?
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
-Henry Miller

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby narhwal90 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:12 am

I was thinking of normative values of the time with respect to women or lay members, ie what were the expectations of behavior for lay nuns relative to a regular laywoman, particularly given the pass Nichiren gives the householders. Which isn't to say I'm claiming misogyny, Nichiren is considerate of women in other gosho. I think its potentially easy to mistake cultural issues for doctrinal.

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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby Queequeg » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:49 am

The lay woman/lay nun distinction is interesting. Never put much thought into it. From what I understand, the decision to become a lay nun/monk involved long established social convention - it was something aristocrats did when they were older, often if they were widows/widowers. It was what you did when you retire. Like we move to Florida. I shouldn't joke. It was a way to materialize a deeper level of devotion without going full monastic - for whatever reason one might not want, or not be able, to completely abandon worldly concerns. It might also be a way to avoid worldly obligations like (re)marrying and being expected to have children (for women).

It was a devoutly Buddhist country at the time, and Buddhism had really permeated throughout society, not incidentally, along with literacy, which seems to have been a huge factor in the nature of Buddhism of the time. That, literacy, might be the most critical factor in what was taught to you as much as lay/renunciate distinctions.

Toki Jonin was a lay monk. Shijo Kingo was samurai. They both received important writings. There is though a difference in formality between the important writings entrusted to men and the letters sent to women, though content is comparable. The major treatises were composed in Chinese (kambun) while letters were in Japanese which was a controversial convention.

Interesting angle to consider.
“Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”
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Re: Study Group: Kanjin no Honzon sho

Postby narhwal90 » Thu Aug 04, 2016 1:44 am

If you'll pardon me hopping back to the question of meditation techniques, I wonder if the complete lack of discussion of any meditation techniques other than daimoku (in SGI/old NSA) is due to the relative absence of promotion in the gosho, or is more of an omission of a detail seen as extraneous in some way in the modern formulation of the practice. You made an interesting point that Nichiren may have taught additional methods orally. No doubt he was well trained & experienced in many, I wonder if it was a question of teaching according to the capacity of the student ie back then was vipassana considered an advanced technique with daimoku simpler & more accessible? I've not found daimoku as calming & centering as vipassana, I do them both nowadays and it adds a dimension to practice I've not experienced before.


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