Reading more widely

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Ginkyo
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Reading more widely

Post by Ginkyo » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:42 pm

Whenever I come to this forum I am more and more impressed by how ignorant I am of the wider Buddhist Sangha and how Nichiren's Buddhism fits in with with Buddhism generally.

If I want to read outside of the SGI, do people have some suggestions for books? I'm not interested in sectarian bunfights, but in how everything fits together.

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Queequeg
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Queequeg » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:43 pm

How far do you want to go with this?
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

Ginkyo
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Ginkyo » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:59 pm

Far enough. Academic study is something I enjoyed in the past, and I want to put the Dharma front and centre in my life so I can be confident in it.

I'm not looking to leave the SGI or become an 'academic Buddhist' or something but I want to satisfy my curiosity and intellect, and also feel more able to understand more what the hell it's all about.

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Queequeg
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Queequeg » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:32 pm

IMHO... this is what I would recommend to someone with an open ended approach... same advice that Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin gave - if you have time, capacity, and inclination, start at the beginning.
The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being.
-Nichiren, The Three Kinds of Treasure

Start with the man, Siddhartha Gautama.

Dhammapada

Life of the Buddha, by Bhikku Nanamoli

Take in the Tripitaka

Move on to Mahayana

Start with Nagarjuna and Prajna literature

For Nichiren, Yogacara is not that important.

Mahayana literature.

Tientai

...

That's years of work, if not decades. And then write a book report about 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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Coëmgenu
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:35 pm

Ginkyo wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:59 pm
an 'academic Buddhist'
Academic Buddhists: "the Buddha is a composite figure, likely a misremembered early class of hominid, also a Scythian and named Lǎozǐ"
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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Bois de Santal
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Bois de Santal » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:52 pm

Try this:
https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma14/b ... Teachings

It gives a good outline of the fundamentals of Buddhism from the Theravada perspective, which is where it all started really. It is also available in paperback from Amazon. (Worth it, imo, if you can get a copy.)

My copy came into my possession years ago when I was still narrowly focused on SGI and it lay unread until last year. All the terms are in Pali and it just didn't seem relevant to me. But I finally took it off the shelf and was surprised by how much I understood and how much it differed from Mahayana. It runs through lots of basics and in many ways I found it joining lots of dots.

Of course there is loads of other material out there - too much to list in a single post and much depends on where you are at right now.

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Re: Reading more widely

Post by anjali » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:05 pm

I would like to offer a somewhat nontraditional answer, given that you are looking for a general background/overview. Get yourself a good Buddhist encyclopedia or two. Every Buddhist should probably have at least one on their shelves for reference. Encyclopedias are good places to start when learning about a new Buddhist subject, but will not have the nuances of detailed works in specific Buddhist schools. Eventually you can dive into specifics with supplemental texts if you are inclined.

There are a several of them out there, take a look around and see which ones you are attracted to. For example:

Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Damien Keown (Editor), Charles S. Prebish (Editor)

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Buddhist Wisdom: A Complete Introduction to the Principles and Practices of Buddhism, by Gill Farrer-Halls

The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Robert E. Buswell (Author), Donald S. Lopez (Author)

I personally recommend one of the Encyclopedias paired with the Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Well wishes on your explorations!
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Queequeg
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Queequeg » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:15 am

Lopez has a bias against E. Asian Buddhism, imho. I've often found entries in the Princeton Dictionary off. I can't imagine he wrote them all, but his other stuff leaves one wondering about him. For East Asian Buddhism I recommend the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism... http://www.buddhism-dict.net/ddb/

But good recommendation about the encyclopedia as a general suggestion.
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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anjali
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by anjali » Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:18 am

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:15 am
Lopez has a bias against E. Asian Buddhism, imho. ...
Interesting. Maybe for another topic, but you can briefly say how the bias manifests?
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Queequeg » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:30 pm

anjali wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:18 am
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:15 am
Lopez has a bias against E. Asian Buddhism, imho. ...
Interesting. Maybe for another topic, but you can briefly say how the bias manifests?
As I wrote, imho. I have not read Lopez extensively, mostly because his approach turns me off. I have his dictionary, his Prajna Paramita translations, and some other secondary sources he has written. In looking up terms and figures relevant in East Asian contexts, he doesn't seem to understand what's going on. The entries are not fluent. In general, his sympathies seem to lie with Himalayan traditions and he seems to exhibit similar biases one tends to see coming from those traditions. As for specifics, I'm afraid I can't offer any simply because its not that important to me. If I incidentally come across something, I'll come back and share.

If one's aim is to understand an East Asian tradition, there are better sources than Lopez's dictionary. That's all really. You'll tend to get more insight from DDB. By the same token, I'm not sure how suitable DDB would be for Tibetan or S. and SE Asian Buddhism.
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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Coëmgenu
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:32 pm

His A Study of Svātantrika is at times impenetrable.
नस्वातो नापिपरतो नद्वाभ्यां नाप्यहेतुतः उत्पन्ना जातु विद्यन्ते भावाः क्वचन केचन
There absolutely are no things, nowhere and none, that arise anew, neither out of themselves, nor out of non-self, nor out of both, nor at random.
सर्वं तथ्यं न वा तथ्यं तथ्यं चातथ्यम् एव च नैवातथ्यं नैव तथ्यम् एतद् बुद्धानुशासनम्
All is so, or all is not so, both so and not so, neither so nor not so. This is the Buddha's teaching.

一切實非實亦實亦非實
非實非非實是名諸佛法

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anjali
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by anjali » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:02 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:30 pm
...In general, his sympathies seem to lie with Himalayan traditions and he seems to exhibit similar biases one tends to see coming from those traditions. ...
That'a shame. It is true that Lopez's background is toward the Tibetan tradition (Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies). I would have hoped Buswell (co-author), who does have a strong background in the East Asian traditions, would have had more editorial influence on those entries. Maybe he did, and the result is what we got! Anyway, your advice to use DDB is a good one. Thanks for the recommendation.
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Queequeg » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:52 pm

I can't imagine Lopez wrote all the entries. I would imagine that he solicited entries from many scholars who roughly cover the subjects of the entry... Watching my wife, an art historian, work, including contributing to these sorts of collaborative works, raises my critical eye - That Princeton Dictionary is a massive work and I imagine that finding scholars to write the various entries was a considerable effort in itself... What I see is that most scholars try to avoid these things as much as possible. These are the conversations I hear - "I was asked to write an entry on ....." with eye rolls and sighs. "Are you going to do it?" "I really don't want to. I really need to get this article finished and ..." What ends up happening is that the shit rolls down hill to some hapless grad student who hasn't figured out that being asked to do things like this is NOT an honor, and are naive enough to try and write a concise 500 word entry about a subject that has shelves devoted to it in the library. Compounding this, I imagine a lot of the entries were written by people writing about stuff outside their specialty. "Hey, you study Shan-tao... want to write an entry on the Korean canon?" If Lopez is human, he is subject to the same shortcomings as anyone else about stuff outside their specialty. As an editor, he's not going to be able to really evaluate every entry, and I can't imagine he coordinated a wide peer review, either. Not a knock on him... that dictionary is a massive project. There is no way he'd get it perfect or even close. For someone doing research, its what a resource like that should be ... a good start.
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

narhwal90
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by narhwal90 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:03 pm

Also nothing wrong with starting to read a bunch of the sutras eithe. Theres a tremendous diversity of subjects. Plenty is available online as well, Bikkhu Bodhi and many others have done detailed studies of a number of sutras, a great change of pace from just reading all the time.

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Re: Reading more widely

Post by markatex » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:28 pm

There’s so much material out there, from so many different perspectives, that the waters are easily muddied.

A general, introduction to Buddhism book from an Eadt Asian Mahayana POV would be a good place to start before delving into meatier material. I think The Way to Buddhahood by Yin Shun is serviceable in this regard.

Then, I’d say start with the early Buddhist texts and go from there. For East Asian Buddhism, those texts would be the Agamas, but the Pali Nikayas are more readily available in English. In the Buddha’s Words by Bikkhu Bodhi is an anthology of the Pali Nikayas that is a good overview. It’s dense, heavy reading, though. Not that the rest of it isn’t.

After that, the Vimalakirti Sutra is a fairly accessible pre-Lotus Mahayana sutra. Then, I’d recommend the Heart Sutra and something by Nagarjuna. A Strand of Dharma Jewels, published by Kalavinka Press, is good and fairly accessible, as these things go. Then, The Essentials of Buddhist Meditation by Zhiyi (also from Kalavinka Press).

And QQ said, you could easily spend years going through the above recommendations. None of them are particularly long books, but they are very dense and profound. But after all that, you should have a pretty good grounding in the general milieu that Nichiren was working from.

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Minobu
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Minobu » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:16 pm

Queequeg wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:43 pm
How far do you want to go with this?
LOL!!!!!!!
i love you man !!!!!

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Minobu
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Minobu » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:21 pm

Thing is and this is vital...

Nichiren read everything that was available in Buddhism in all of Japan...

The study of Tibetan Buddhism is considered a whole Buddhist Study for it covers both Mahayana, Tantra, and theravada..everything...

i was amazed when i first studied under a Rinpoche....for me it was Buddhism for the first time....now i see what Nichiren knew as well...

illarraza
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by illarraza » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:13 am

Ginkyo wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:42 pm
Whenever I come to this forum I am more and more impressed by how ignorant I am of the wider Buddhist Sangha and how Nichiren's Buddhism fits in with with Buddhism generally.

If I want to read outside of the SGI, do people have some suggestions for books? I'm not interested in sectarian bunfights, but in how everything fits together.
A good basic book is The Buddhist Tradition: In India, China and Japan by William Theodure de Bary

Mark

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Queequeg
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by Queequeg » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:54 am

illarraza wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:13 am

A good basic book is The Buddhist Tradition: In India, China and Japan by William Theodure de Bary

Mark
I just recommended that book to my wife for her class. :smile:
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

illarraza
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Re: Reading more widely

Post by illarraza » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:52 am

Queequeg wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:54 am
illarraza wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:13 am

A good basic book is The Buddhist Tradition: In India, China and Japan by William Theodure de Bary

Mark
I just recommended that book to my wife for her class. :smile:
I loved his depiction of the Pot-headed monk Nisshin. Here is another depiction of my hero, Nisshin from http://seattlebuddhist.org/lineage.html

Nabekamuri Nisshin the "Pot Wearing Saint"

"Kuonjoin Nisshin (1407-1488) is one of the most colorful and famous priests in the history of Nichiren Buddhism. He was, according to Jacqueline Stone, an authority on medieval Japanese Buddhism, "an uncompromising purist." Nisshin's efforts to spread the Lotus Sutra are said to be modeled after those of Nichiren himself. He followed and supported the initial efforts of Higo Ajari Nichizo (1269-1342), who was dispatched by Nichiren to preach the Dharma in Kyoto and reach the ears of the emperor, and Jogyoin Nichiyu (1298-1374), who presented a letter of admonition to the Emperor Godaigo. Additionally, he traveled and established many temples throughout Kyushu, Japan, including our home temple, Enkyoji. To understand true propagation and the spirit of shakubuku, we must understand some important aspects of his life.

At the age of 20 in the year of Oei 33, Nisshin made a statement regarding his spirit toward spreading the Dharma and reforming Buddhism in Japan: “One’s body is insignificant, but the Dharma is profound.” At the end of that year, he started his ascetic training, which lasted for 100 days from autumn through winter. Each night during the hours of 11pm to 3am, he went to the graveyard of what is now Hokekyoji Temple, modern Ichikawa City. He followed the esoteric tradition conferred in the Prayer Sutra known also as the Kito-Kyo. This was conferred by Nichiren for spiritual protection upon Toki Nichijo, who then transferred it to Nichiyu through secret transmission. Nisshin understood that he had received transmission of this teaching from Nichiyu, and due to that fact, he could not be killed or harmed and would be able to overcome any amount of torture.

Sitting in front of the stone grave stupas at the graveyard, he recited the Jigage verses of Chapter 16 each night one hundred times. This place was desolate and no one traveled there except for foxes and ghosts. According to legend, on the last night, all the stone stupa monuments recited the Jigage with him. One stupa stood out from the rest in its magnificent voice, but he could not make out whose grave it was. He embraced the stupa and pulled part of it off to identify it in the first morning light. When he returned in the morning sun, he realized that it marked the grave of Nichiyu, who had been the chief abbot of the Hokekyoji and whom he considered his spiritual protector. During this time it is stated that after peeling a fingernail away from his hand, he drew a mandala in his own blood mixed with the water from the pond where he had performed his freezing water absolutions every day. This act showed that he valued the Dharma over his own life.

As part of his propagation he was dispatched by his home temple of Nakayama Hokekyoji to oversee its branch temples located on the southern Japan island of Kyushu. Upon his arrival he found many of the temples to have enshrined bodhisattvas and deities not directly related to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. He became very upset and criticized both the priests and laity publicly. This led to his expulsion from the lineage in the year 1437. Undaunted, he continued to admonish other priests and government officials including the shogun, Ashikaga Yoshinori, for their lack of devotion to the Lotus Sutra.

The shogun censured Nisshin and ordered him to cease criticizing the government. Nisshin ignored the order and proceeded to write one of his most famous works, Rissho Chikokuron (立正治国論), which he sent to Ashikaga Yoshinori in 1439. This book was inspired and based on the Rissho Ankoku Ron, written by Nichiren. As a result, Nisshin was imprisoned beginning in 1440 for 2 years. Nisshin's prison cell is said to have measured four feet, five inches high, and its width could only fit four tatami mats (less than 9 feet by 9 feet). Long nails pierced the ceiling. The cell contained up to twenty-eight people at a time. The prisoners in the cell could neither stand nor sit comfortably.

During his time in prison, Nisshin was horribly tortured on many occasions. One of the many tortures recorded was that in the intense heat of summer a large fire was made, and Nisshin was forced to walk across it. His captors stated that if he simply chanted and asked for Amida Buddha's mercy, it would be granted. Nisshin stated that the flames and heat were indeed very difficult to endure, however the flames of hell of the slanderer of the Dharma were even more harsh, upon which he continued to chant the Odaimoku, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. Next they took him out in the middle of the night, tied him to a tree and beat him over and over again. They again told him that if he relied on the power of Amida Buddha’s vows, he would receive mercy. Nisshin replied, “There is no way to describe how hard the cold is to endure. However, one who receives the Dharma of an evil teacher falls into the eight cold hells and is pierced by the ice of hell of the great red lotus. No comparison can describe how many times the suffering of cold in that hell exceeds my present torments. How could I, because I shunned a brief spell of cold in this world, plant the seeds for long kalpas of suffering.” He continued to chant the Odaimoku. Upon the rise of the sun, the shogun came to inspect Nisshin's state and was angered to find that he had been able to endure this ordeal because of his great faith in the Lotus Sutra.

On another occasion, Nisshin was locked in a heated bathhouse for three hours where there was little air. Bamboo skewers were applied to his testicles and gardening hoes heated bright red were applied under his arms over and over again. However, his demeanor did not change, and he continued to chant the Odaimoku. Finally, frustrated that they had been unable to break his resolve, his tormentors heated a pot until it glowed bright red and placed it over his head. His demeanor still did not change, and he continued to chant the Odaimoku. News of this amazing feat of defiance spread near and far and his reputation grew larger than life. He came to be known as the “pot wearing saint.” This became known as the Takehara persecution. Wishing to silence him once and for all, the shogun demanded that his tongue be cut off. The person administrating the order felt compassion for Nisshin and simply cut off the front of his tongue, which gave him a lisp for the rest of his life. Many of his captors realized quickly that this could not be any ordinary person, but only a bodhisattva born in this world.

From his prison cell Nisshin warned Ashikaga Yoshinori that in the Lotus Sutra it is said that the tormentor of the teacher of the Dharma will be surely punished. He predicted that within three years Yoshinori would reap what he had sowed. Yoshinori laughed and said that he had been tormenting Nisshin for more than a year and nothing had happened. Nisshin stated that perhaps 3 years was too long, at which time he predicted that within 100 days the shogun would receive his punishment. Once again he was ignored. On the evening of the 99th day, Yoshinori was assassinated by one of his vassals. After Yoshinori’s death his family wished to erase some of his terrible karma and released many of the imprisoned people from jail. However, Nisshin said that he would not leave until all of Yoshinori’s family members and the shogun’s entire clan became devotees of the Lotus Sutra. They could not oppose Nisshin, and all became followers of the Lotus Sutra. Nisshin was 35 when he left the prison.

Following his release from prison, Nisshin continued to spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. He was a very charismatic man and, because of his teachings, many people took refuge in the Lotus Sutra. He could no longer shave his head due to the scarring and so he wore his hair cropped much in the fashion of children of the time. When he administered sermons, people were able to hear and see first hand the cruelty of the government through his lisp and scars. Many considered him to be Nichiren reborn. They thought, “who else could overcome such severe torment and torture?”

Although he was very popular with the common people, many government officials and priests of the established order did not like the way Nisshin refused to compromise his ideals of exclusive devotion to the Lotus Sutra, making no accommodation to social custom or secular authority. As a result, in 1460, Honpoji, a temple in Kyoto founded by Nisshin, was destroyed. In the same year, after receiving complaints from priests of other sects in Hizen about Nisshin's proselytizing, the 8th shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimasu, ordered the governor of Hizen, Lord Chiba Taneshizu, to detain Nisshin and bring him at once to Kyoto. Chiba was one of Nisshin's followers and hesitated to turn Nisshin over to the heretics in Kyoto whom he knew simply wished to make him disappear. He delayed leaving Hizen as long as he could, then deliberately took the long way to Kyoto: a journey which normally only required one month took them nine months. Chiba explained that they had been delayed by crowds of people along the route who wished to meet Nisshin and hear his teachings.

Nisshin was held in Kyoto for about year under house arrest, then was released in 1463. Following his release, he continued to spread the Dharma and worked hard to re-build Honpoji. He died at the age of 82."

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