Category Archives: Doctrines of Nichiren

The Nature of the Kaidan

If we repeat the Daimoku, and rigorously purify our thoughts, our bad appetites and passions will disappear of themselves, and we shall become inspired with the pure and lofty ethics of our Sect. In walking or resting, standing or lying, speaking or keeping silence, acting or refraining from action – in all these situations we may attain to the mysterious deliverance; birth, old age, disease and death will disappear of themselves; fears, sorrows, pains and troubles vanish away forever, leaving nothing behind them but eternity, purity, enlightenment and peace. Thus we find ourselves in the Paradise of Buddhas, living in the Land of Glorious Light. Therefore the [Lotus Sutra] says, “We ought to know that this place is the Kaidan.” In other words, any place whatever, where we practise the doctrines of the [Lotus Sutra], is fit to be a Kaidan. And if it is fit to be a Kaidan it is in habited by all the Buddhas. Such is the nature of the Kaidan as taught by our Sect.

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

This “Miraculous Scene”

[W]hat is the Kaidan, or Place for Learning Moral Precepts? This is easily understood, since we have already explained the Honzon and the Daimoku. It has been already pointed out that our bodies are identical with the body of the Buddha of Original Enlightenment. The reality behind appearances is the miraculous scene that is reflected, as in a mirror, by the enlightenment of the Buddha; in other words, that is apprehended by the Buddha’s intellect. Now we ourselves are the Buddha’s intellect, and it is the reality behind appearances which we must learn to apprehend. The intellect stands in the same relation to this “miraculous scene” as the cover of a vessel to the vessel itself. In each case, the former corresponds to the latter.

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

The Miraculous Oral Discipline in Our Sect

All we have to do is to open our eyes and look at the Truth; then, in spite of our anger and fury we shall experience peace and happiness, we shall be able to establish equality and impartiality between ourselves and others, and attain to that state of content and pleasure which they and we shall enjoy together. What possible reason is there against our succeeding to become Buddhas, except our continuance under the spell of anger and fury, unless we reduce ourselves to emptiness and annihilation? Even ignorant men and women who can neither read nor write may surely attain the Buddhahood, if they will but sincerely repeat the Daimoku Na-nu Myo Ho Ren-ge Kyo. This is the miraculous oral discipline in our Sect.

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

Devadatta’s Example

Among the figures inscribed upon the Mandala there is that of Devadatta, of whom we have already spoken as the bitterest enemy of Sakyamuni. Now Devadatta is included in the Mandala as the representative of infernal beings. He fell into the infernal regions through having given rein to anger and fury. But even he was enabled to discard illusions and confusions, and attain to the reality which lay behind his anger and his fury – that is, the Truth. He now became Tenno Buddha without losing his infernal form. Anger and fury, in the first instance, produced the infernal world; but afterwards, as manifestations of the hidden reality behind, they produced the state of Buddhahood. And this resulted simply from the control exercised over them by Devadatta. And if it was thus with Devadatta, why should it be different with us?

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

Meditating Upon the Truth in One’s Mind

[T]he Daimoku contains the very essence of the [Lotus Sutra]. If anyone sincerely meditates upon the Truth in his mind, and repeats the Daimoku in his heart, he will surely receive great blessings. Even as regards the common occurrences of our daily life, be they good or bad, pleasurable or painful, if they are only recognized as the mysterious manifestations of the Truth of the Good Law, and as representations of the transcendent power of the [Lotus Sutra], we shall be able to free ourselves from the slavery of earthly rapture as well as rest perfectly content even in the midst of trouble; pains and pleasures will be indifferent to us, we shall be confused by neither; we shall attain to complete self-mastery, controlling our hearts and minds and not being controlled by them; able to suppress the five appetites and the seven passions, and thus become possessed of a Buddha-body, replete with the four attributes of eternity or permanence, peace, enlightenment, and purity. Under these conditions we are enabled to rid our minds of all base and mean propensities; for example, instead of giving rein to anger and fury, we shall quiet ourselves, and think calmly about the matter, and by this means be able to attain our object.

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

The Buddha-Heart

We have said [before] that there is no distinction between the body of any given man and that of the Buddha himself. When the reason of this is understood, everyone ought to exercise the Buddha-heart as soon as any thought arises in his mind. The Buddha-heart means a heart that is set upon practicing the Great Way. Each man ought to pursue the interest proper to his true nature – the acquisition of enlightenment ‐ and to reap the fruits which accrue from the pleasures arising out of friendship for his fellow-men. But the generality of people, not being sufficiently firm in their determination, fail to preserve and enjoy those fruits; their will is weak, and their power of meditation inadequate. This is a human frailty for which provision is made. Instead of insisting upon the mental process, which is too severe for them, our Sect allows them to adopt a mechanical oral practice; in other words, it substitutes the repetition of the Daimoku, or Title of the [Lotus Sutra], for the intellectual discipline. The formula to be repeated is Na-mu Myo Ho Ren-ge Kyo, and these words form the Daimoku, the merits of which were known to Sakyamuni ages and ages ago.

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

The Rich Man and His Poor Son

Man is said by Chinese moralists to be the chief of all living beings in this world. But when a man is engrossed in pursuing his own interests, and cannot live in peace with his neighbours, how can he deserve so high a title? Let us take an illustration. There is one, say, who is entirely ignorant of the Truth. He does not know that in his real nature he is identical with the Buddha of Original Enlightenment, but regards himself as a debased and common person incapable of instruction. In short, he is such a one as Buddha would call a mendicant. But he was not always thus. He began life as the son of a rich man to whom he was very dear. Yet he left his good father, and wandered to and fro upon the earth till forty years had elapsed; during which period his father went to live in a foreign land, so that the prodigal could not rejoin him even when he wanted to, but sank into the direst poverty. But was this poverty, this beggary, his true and original condition? Was it the state proper to a rich man’s heir? No! The beggar is but the image of the real man. He is like the Chinese philosopher Chuang-tzu when he dreamt he was a butterfly. The butterfly had only a temporary and subjective existence in the consciousness of the dreamer; it was not Chuang-tzu himself, but vanished when he awoke. Our wanderer, however, is still asleep; alas he is still dreaming that he is a beggar. Under this delusion he is taken captive by the five appetites of colour, sound, smell, taste, and touch, and humbled by the seven passions of cheerfulness, anger, sorrow, pleasure, love, hate, and avarice; he becomes unjust and partial, and aims only at self-interest; he sinks into the gulfs of sadness, melancholy, pains, and troubles; he assumes that his soul is doomed to pass through a series of painful transformations in the six forms of living beings – such as hungry devils, brutes, and so forth. To enable such a one to awake from his dream, and recover from the confusion that besets him, our Sect appoints the Great Mandala as the Chief Object of Worship, which manifests the identity existing between the Buddha and the multitude, and helps people to form a determination to become enlightened. If the beggar we have been speaking of looks steadfastly at this Mandala and sees his own person reflected there, so as to free himself from the base idea of self-renunciation, he will soon become a Buddha of Original Enlightenment in spite of his outward ordinary appearance, just as, on Chuang-tzu awaking from his dream, the butterfly disappeared and the dreamer became himself again. Thus restored, the beggar will be once more the rich man’s son. Sariputra, one of Sakyamuni’s disciples, is said to have become Keko Buddha without undergoing any change in his appearance. Therefore Sakyamuni says, “The Mandala is the mysterious ground on which any man can acquire enlightenment and become a Buddha.”

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

Attempt to be a Nichiren and a Sakyamuni

The fact that Nichiren became enlightened proves that even the multitude, in these Last Days of the Great Law, can get free from all evils and reach the self-same goal. Indeed, to attempt to be a Nichiren and a Sakyamuni should be the first motive of all who believe in our doctrines, and carry their self-reliance to the furthest possible point.

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

To Become a Bodhisattva, or Even a Buddha

It is not difficult for any one to become a Bodhisattva, or even a Buddha. Women, too, may succeed, in spite of the exceptional difficulty which popular Buddhist teaching attributes to the female sex in such a quest. Why, even a female dragon is said to have attained to Buddhahood; and if that is true, why not a female human bing? Devadatta became a Buddha in spite of his infernal character. Why, then, not another man?

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

The Attainment of Bodhisattvaship by Nichiren

Sakyamuni advanced at one step from the state of a human being to the Buddhahood, and thereby brought a thousand everlasting blessings into the world. Nichiren advanced at one step from the state of a human being to that of a Bodhisattva, or wise being, which is only one degree below the Buddhahood. The attainment of Bodhisattvaship by Nichiren constituted a great mission, the influence of which has continued unimpaired for seven hundred years*.

Doctrines of Nichiren (1893)

* As of 1893