Category Archives: Books

Lotus Seeds: The Essence of Nichiren Shu Buddhism

Lotus Seeds bookcoverFrom the NBIC website

Almost 2500 years ago, the Buddha taught a way to relieve the suffering of all beings in the universe. In the thirteenth century, a Japanese monk named Nichiren proposed a reform of Buddhism to make the Buddha’s teaching and enlightenment once again accessible to all mankind without discrimination. His efforts led to the founding of the Nichiren Shu School of Buddhism.

This book makes the Buddha’s and Nichiren’s teachings accessible for us today. Lotus Seeds fills the gap of information for those seeking an English-language explanation of the foundation and essential teachings of Nichiren Shu.

Find out how to apply the principles of Nichiren Shu within your own life and join the practitioners of this unique form of Buddhism worldwide on making the world a better place. Plant Lotus Seeds in your life today.

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Lotus World: An Illustrated Guide to the Gohonzon

This book is available for purchase at
This book is available for purchase at

The Nichiren Buddhist International Center bookstore

The meaning of the characters on the Gohonzon of Nichiren Buddhism can be confusing even to those who read Japanese. The interested practitioner could study the symbolic Buddhas, bodhisattvas, demons, dragons, kings and other beings represented by the thirteenth century Buddhist teacher Nichiren Shonin on his calligraphic Mandala. However, before Lotus World he would have needed a small library of books to find all of the characters represented.

Finally, the Nichiren Buddhist Temple of San Jose has published a book that will allow everyone with an interest in Buddhism to find all of their answers in one slim volume. Lotus World provides the reader with all of the detail one might desire, from the story of the characters to how they are represented in art. There is even useful section describing the overall world-view necessary to understand the hierarchy of beings.
Price: $15.00 (With a pictorial Mandala)

Wander about an interactive map of the Shutei Mandala and the Illustrated Mandala created from excerpts to Lotus World.

Shutei MandalaIllustrated Shutei Mandala

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Odaimoku: The Significance Of Chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

Odaimoku bookcover
This book is available for purchase on Amazon

From Amazon

The Odaimoku, which literally means “the title,” is used in Japanese Buddhism in reference to the repeated recitation of a Buddhist mantra. The Odaimoku of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is derived from the title of the Lotus Sutra which over a millennium, continues to have great influence throughout all of Japanese Buddhism. The Lotus Sutra has also been an inspiration to great Buddhist thinkers and Masters in China, Tibet, Korea and Japan since ancient times, and was a subject of profound interest and research by the 13th Century Buddhist Master, Nichiren Shonin. This ingenious teacher not only wrote exhaustively about the Lotus Sutra, but actively promoted the recitation of both the Sutra and its title, the Odaimoku.

The Odaimoku is today, therefore, the essential mantra of Nichiren Shu Buddhist faith and practice. This book examines the meaning of each single word composing the Odaimoku, so that one might have a deeper understanding of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo and its implications on one’s life, cultivation of Buddhist practice and enlightenment. It is divided into the following four chapters for easy comprehension:

  1. Introduction to the Lotus Sutra and Odaimoku
  2. The Meaning of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
  3. Why do we chant the Odaimoku?
  4. How we chant the Odaimoku?

From the book dedication:

May the merit accumulated in the creation of this work adorn the pure land of Buddha, repay the profound debts of gratitude owed to the Three Treasures, our parents, teachers, and all those senior and more experienced, as well as help those who are suffering or in need. May all who see, read or hear this work bring forth their Bodhisattva heart, walk along the Path of the Buddha and obtain the blessed enlightenment of the Tathagata.

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

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History of Japanese Religion

History of Japanese Religion bookcover
This book is available for purchase on Amazon

From Amazon:

Masaharu Anesaki’s “History of Japanese Religion” continues to be a much-cited pillar of Japanese studies and is now available in digital format.

The original draft of the present book was an outcome of the author’s lectures at Harvard University during the years 1913-15, when he had the honor of occupying there the chair of Japanese Literature and Life. In response to the encouragement given by several friends at Harvard, the author tried to put the material of the lectures into book form and redrafted it from time to time. The book was eventually published in 1930.

See also, Masaharu Anesaki’s “Nichiren, The Buddhist Prophet

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Lotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra Volume 1

Lotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra bookcover
This book is available for purchase on Amazon

From Amazon

The practice of Buddhism is about changing our lives deep at the core. Buddhism calls on us to examine the causes of our suffering in brutal honesty. After making this self-assessment we then take the next step and make the necessary changes so we can free ourselves from the cycle of suffering in ignorance. The essays in the book are short; usually only several hundred words. It is possible to read them quite quickly. That however, is not what I intended and so I have concluded each essay with either some questions for you to consider or suggestions for actions you might decide would be beneficial. You will get the most value out of this book if you take your time and use the essays and the follow-up comments as tools. Use the book sparingly, sampling each essay as if it were a most delicious candy. This book will be of the most value to you if you actually try to use it as a tool for making changes in your life.

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The Physician’s Good Medicine

Studying The Lotus Stura, Volume 2

Physicians Good Medicine bookcover
This book is available for purchase on Amazon

From Amazon

In December 2014 I was invited to Las Vegas by then Bishop Shokai Kanai of the Nichiren Order of North America. He suggested that I do a presentation on the Parable of the Skillful Physician and His Sick Children found in Chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra. On many occasions I have been asked to share my experiences as a hospital chaplain. It seemed like a good opportunity to combine both and so I began writing this book. This book is the second volume in my series “Studying the Lotus Sutra”. In this book as in all the books of this series I take one portion of the Lotus Sutra and examine it more deeply. This book focuses on the parable found in Chapter XVI of the Lotus Sutra; The Physician and His Ill Children. As I write about this parable I am tying to do so in a way that brings the stories told over 2500 years ago into our contemporary lives. I hope that through this little effort of mine a door will open for you to have a greater sense of connection to the Sutra.

Ryusho Jeffus

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Nichiren, The Buddhist Prophet

Nichiren, The Buddhist Prophet bookcover
Download this book at Google Play

Download PDF copy of Nichiren the Buddhist Prophet
Masaharu Anesaki’s book, “Nichiren, The Buddhist Prophet” was originally published in 1916 but is now in the public domain. It is available on the web without charge in a number of electronic formats.

Masaharu Anesaki, M.A., Litt.D., was a professor of the Science of Religion at the Imperial University of Tokyo and a professor of Japanese Literature and Life at Harvard University. The 1916 edition was published by Harvard University Press.

Read blog post about book.

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Selected Quotes

Here you will find books that I have purchased – sometimes more than once and in multiple formats – and read. Included on this website are extensive quotes I’ve taken from these books. I’ve done this for my own use as a way of helping me remember. (Anyone under 60 will just have to take my word for it.) If you don’t own one of these books, you are strongly encouraged to purchase it. Each book is linked to a website where it can be purchased.

If you wish to dwell in the enlightenment of the Buddha,
And to obtain the self-originating wisdom,
Make offerings strenuously to the keeper
Of the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma!

If you wish to obtain quickly the knowledge
Of the equality and differences of all things,
Keep this sutra, and also make offerings
To the keeper of this sutra!

Chapter 10, The Teacher of the Dharma

Buying these books says, Thank you!, to the people who worked to make this information available.

Lotus Sutra Practice Guide bookcoverThe Magic City Book CoverNichiren The Buddhist Prophet bookcoverHistory of Japanese Religion bookcoverAwakening to the Lotus bookcoverPhysicians Good Medicine bookcoverLotus Path: Practicing the Lotus Sutra bookcoverOdaimoku bookcoverLotus World bookcoverLotus in a Sea of Flames  bookcoverLotus Seeds bookcoverLecture on the Lotus Sutra bookcover
The Doctrine of Nichiren bookcoverNichiren, Leader of Buddhist Reformation in Japan bookcoverSpring Writings bookcoverSummer WritingsBasic Buddhist ConceptsBuddha Seed book coverbook coverbook coverQuestions and Answers book coverA Phrase A Day

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Lecture on the Lotus sutra

Lecture on the Lotus Sutra bookcoverFrom Amazon

Over several years I have given various lectures on the Lotus Sutra. In some instances the talks were given to a few people, in others the audience was quite large. Some times the same person would hear one or two lectures, but no one has heard them all. For what they are worth I have decided to put much of the best of the lectures here in this book. I first encountered the Lotus Sutra in 1969 when I was fresh out of Marine boot camp. I knew a little about Buddhism before I went to that first activity. I had studied a little of Buddhism in high school and college. I can honestly say now that what I really knew at that time was next to nothing. This is not a linear exposition of the sutra. This is a very circular approach, meandering even, I’ll mention something about a chapter in one part of the book, and then in another part of the book I may mention the same thing again but from a different perspective. I like to think of my approach to unraveling the mysteries of the Lotus Sutra as thematically oriented. This is not to say my approach is better than a linear chapter-by-chapter explanation. It is just a way that makes sense to me. I should point out that non-linear story telling is very popular in the south in America as well as much of Africa. There is reason to suspect the non-linear way may actually resonate with others as well. It is always a great joy when I am able to talk about the Lotus Sutra, and this book project has been no exception. I hope you think of this as a couple of friends sitting on the porch swing talking about something that means something important to both.

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Lotus in a Sea of Flames

Lotus in a Sea of Flames bookcover
Lotus in a Sea of Flames can be purchased from the Nichiren Buddhist International Center or by by sending a check for $31 (this includes shipping and handling) made out to the San Jose Nichiren Buddhist Temple and mailed to San Jose Nichiren Buddhist Temple, 3570 Mona Way, San Jose, CA 95130.

From the author Rev. Ryuei Michael McCormick’s Preface to the book:

At the age of 18 I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism. Since that time I have voraciously read everything I could find in English translation connected to Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, the Lotus Sutra, the teachings of Tiantai, and the life and writings of Nichiren Shonin, the founder of the school of Buddhism that I am ordained in as a minister. So this book is the product of my 30 years of research, some might say obsession. However, it would not have begun at all had not my sensei, the Ven. Ryusho Matsuda, asked me to write a book about Nichiren Shonin’s life using as my primary source the seven volumes of the Writings of Nichiren Shonin put out by the Nichiren Shu Overseas Propagation and Promotion Association. To get me started, I was handed two very thick sheaves of notes. One was a collection of passages from the aforementioned seven volumes pertaining to events in Nichiren’s life, and the second consisted of my sensei’s outline of Nichiren’s life based on those passages and other sources. He also provided me with his own translation of the booklet that accompanies a documentary DVD on the life of Nichiren Shonin by Dr. Takashi Nakao. Provided with these materials, I began to marshal my own resources and set to work. The end result is the present book. This book is my attempt, given my own limitations, to present a historical novelization of the life of Nichiren Shonin in order to understand him in the context of his own time and place. I hope that I have at least partially succeeded in conveying some of his spirit so that others will come to appreciate his life, teachings, and sacrifices as I have.

On Jan. 11, 2016, Rev. Ryusho Jeffus of Myosho-ji Temple in Charlotte, NC, hosted an online discussion with Ryuei Shonin.

With other books on this website, I’ve selected quotes that help me remember favorite passages. I’m not doing that with this book.

As with Ryuei’s other books written on behalf of the San Jose Nichiren Temple – Lotus World and Lotus Seeds  – Lotus in a Sea of Flames takes the reader from the basics of Buddhism, and in this book Japanese culture, to a thorough appreciation of the nuances of the topic. People with little knowledge of Nichiren or even Buddhism in general will find this book very informative and even entertaining.

The scholarly aspect of this historical novel benefits from fact-checking assistance provided by Dr. Jacqueline I. Stone, Professor of Japanese Religions in the Religion Department of Princeton University.

Ryuei has used Nichiren’s deathbed reminiscences as a vehicle to tell Nichiren’s life story. The first and last chapters are particularly well written. The scenes – nearly all based on the writings of Nichiren Shonin – are often very compelling. One of my favorites comes as Nichiren is being taken away to Izu on his first exile.

“I am no magistrate,” said the official. “I am not interested in your arguments. I am only interested in getting you onto that ship, out of Kamakura, and on to Izu. Now keep quiet!”

Nichiren put his palms together and bowed. His disciples cried out to him, some in tears. The guards kept back all but one. Nichiro, now a strong young man of 16, would not be cowed. He slipped past the guards and ran down to the boat just as it was being pushed off into the surf.

“Get back!” screamed the official.

But Nichiro would not get back. Crying for his master as he reached out to him, he waded out into the bay after the boat. Nichiren exhorted him to be calm, but his disciple was too overwrought and would not listen. “Take me with you!” He shouted again and again. Exasperated, the official took an oar and struck the young monk with bone shattering force. Clutching at his broken right arm, Nichiro finally backed away, his face white with pain.

Tears fell from Nichiren’s eyes as he saw his faithful disciple so brutalized. “Nichiro! Calm yourself. Is this how a disciple of the Buddha should act? From now on, when you see the sun setting in the west behind Izu, think of me. When I see the sun rising from the sea, I shall think of you.”

Nichiro nodded. “Forgive me, master.” Becoming faint, he went down on his knees in the water, sweat and tears coursing down his face. One of the guards finally reached him and escorted him back to where Nissho and the other monks were gathered.

As the boat moved away Nichiren began to chant the final verses from the eleventh chapter of the Lotus Sutra, “It is difficult to keep this sutra. I shall be glad to see anyone keeping it even for a moment.” The rocking of the waves caused his voice to fade in and out, giving the recitation an odd rhythm. The passage ended with, “Anyone who expounds this sutra even for a moment in this dreadful world should be honored with offerings by all gods and men.” From that point on Nichlren knew that he and his disciples had truly become practitioners of the Lotus Sutra as its predictions of hardships that would be faced by the teachers of the True Dharma began to be fulfilled in their own lives.

Each day I recite the Hotoge, those verses from Chapter 11, and I wonder what was the source of the odd rhythm.

Hotoge with rhythm markings