Questions and Answers on Nichiren Buddhism

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From the Preface by Senchu Murano
Senchu Murano

Nichiren Buddhism is one of the most outstanding religions in Japan. It is a collective name for all the Daimoku-chanting denominations: Nichiren Shu, Nichiren Shoshu, Nichiren Honshu, Kempon Hokke Shu, Hokke Shu Jimmon Ryu, Hokke Shu Hommon Ryu, Hokke Shu Shimmon Ryu, Hommon Hokke Shu, Hommon Butsuryu Shu, Nichiren Shu Fujufuse Ha, Fujufuse Nichiren Komon Shu, and many new religions whose names end with “Kai”. Although all these organizations are independent of each other administratively, they are one in that they center around the personality of the founder Nichiren (1222-1282).

Born as son of a petty officer of a manor in the Province of Awa (Chiba-ken), Nichiren studied at the Hieizan Buddhist Institute under the patronage of the owner of the manor. He was a good writer. He had a vast knowledge of the history of Japan, China, and the neighboring countries including Western Turkistan. He contributed to the study of the history of Japan by recording several events which were not described in any documents other than Nichiren’s writings. He was persecuted oftentimes because he bitterly criticized the chanting of the Nembutsu. But he was loved and respected by commoners. Within a few years after the proclamation of his new faith, he collected votaries numerous enough to make the Government careful of his faithful followers, who were misconstrued as dissidents to the Government.

Nichiren attempted to restore the dignity of Sakyamuni Buddha, who was almost forgotten under the popularity of other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas such as Amida, Dainichi, Yakushi, Kannon, and so forth. According to the Lotus Sutra, Shakamuni is the Original Buddha, all the other Buddhas being his emanations. Shakamuni also is the Eternal Buddha, who is still now expounding the Dharma to save us.

I have had many chances to make contact with my friends overseas. They ask me many questions. Some of the questions are not asked in Japan because we take the matters just for granted. Thanks to the questioners abroad, I could re-study many things to prepare for my answers. The Lotus Sutra begins with the question asked by Maitreya Bodhisattva. There are many Maitreyas in the world. We must listen to them, understand what they want to know, and study the points in the light of the Lotus Sutra and the Gosho of Nichiren.

Here I have collected some questions and answers on Nichiren Buddhism from the letters exchanged between various persons abroad and myself. I shall be very glad if this collection will be able to conduce to the right understanding of Nichiren Buddhism.

Senchu Murano
Kamakura, Japan

Questioners (Alphabetical order)

  • Simon Continente, Faithful Follower of Nichiren Shonin in England.
  • Stephanie Maltz, Faithful Follower of Nichiren Shonin in the U.S.
  • Daniel B. Montgomery, Author of Fire in the Lotus: The Dynamic Buddhism of Nichiren (London, 1991 ).
  • Senkei K. Pieters, Nichiren Buddhist Temple Hokkeji, Moorslede, Belgium.

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