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The Life of Nichiren Daishonin
his article continues a new series based on the Soka Gakkai Study Department’s recently published book Kyogaku no Kiso (Essentials of Study). The first installments of “The Essentials of Nichiren Buddhism” covered the Daishonin’s birth, his early education, the establishment of his Buddhism and the early persecutions that resulted from his efforts to spread his teachings. This month, we are covering the Daishonin’s greatest persecution, the attempted execution at Tatsunokuchi and the events of his final years.
IV. The Tatsunokuchi Persecution; Revealing His True Identity.
In the intercalary1 first month of 1268, an official missive from the Mongol Empire arrived in Kamakura. If Japan did not comply with the demands of the Mongol Empire and acknowledge fealty to it, the missive stated, compliance would be forced by military means. With this, the Daishonin perceived that his prediction of foreign invasion in his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching” was about to be realized.
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In the fourth month of that year, he presented his “Rationale for Submitting ‘On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land’” to a priest deeply connected to the shogunate. The writing admonished the rulers to cease their support of erroneous teachings. However, they remained deaf to the Daishonin’s appeals, refusing even to acknowledge them. In the tenth month, the Daishonin wrote to eleven leaders — including Regent Hojo Tokimune and other Kamukura shogunate officials, and priests of major Kamakura temples such as Ryokan of Gokuraku-ji and Doryu of Kencho-ji — calling for a public religious debate between himself and representatives of the leading Buddhist schools. Neither the leaders of the Buddhist schools nor the government responded in good faith to this request. Instead, government officials regarded the Daishonin and his followers as a threat and considered ways to suppress their activities. Unbowed by such intense official opposition, the Daishonin strictly refuted the doctrinal errors of the major Japanese Buddhist schools. Concerning four of those schools, he issued brief statements known as his “four dictums” (see p. 17): 1) “Pure Land leads to the hell of incessant suffering”; 2) “Zen is the invention of the heavenly devils”; 3) “True Word is an evil doctrine that will ruin the nation”; and 4) “Precepts is a traitor to the nation” (cf. WND, 1016). In 1271, during a severe drought, the Daishonin received word that Ryokan of Gokuraku-ji — a priest of the True Word Precepts school with considerable influence over the ruling Hojo family — would hold, on behalf of the government, an official prayer ceremony for rain. The Daishonin sent Ryokan a message, challenging him to a contest to determine the validity of their respective teachings. Nichiren Daishonin proposed that if Ryokan, through his prayers, could cause rain to fall within seven days, the Daishonin would become his disciple. If, however, rain failed to fall within that sevenday period, Ryokan would agree to follow the Daishonin. Ryokan accepted the challenge. For seven days, beginning on the eighteenth day of the sixth month, he conducted prayer-rituals for rain — and
not a drop fell. He requested and was granted another seven days to conduct his prayers. Not only was he again unsuccessful, but this time a fierce gale arose. Rather than admit defeat, the resentful Ryokan had his follower Gyobin, a Pure Land priest, file a formal complaint against the Daishonin. In addition, Ryokan contrived, through influential Kamakura government officials and their wives, to have the Daishonin persecuted by political authorities. Ryokan was highly regarded in Japan as a learned and virtuous priest who grasped the very essence of Buddhism. In reality, however, he was intent on amassing personal wealth through governmental collusion. Nichiren Daishonin identified Ryokan with the third of the “three powerful enemies” of the Lotus Sutra and its practitioners. Based on “Encouraging Devotion,” the thirteenth chapter of the sutra, Miao-lo of the Chinese T’ien-t’ai school defined three kinds of enemies, the third being “arrogant false sages.” This refers to those whose outward appearance is that of wise and venerable priests but who are inwardly attached to selfish desire and craving. Using their status as high-ranking clergy, they develop close ties with people in power and conspire to persecute those who spread the correct Buddhist teaching. On the tenth day of the ninth month in 1271, Nichiren Daishonin was summoned by the government and interrogated by Hei-no-Saemon, deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs (the chief was the regent himself). The Daishonin remonstrated with Hei-no-Saemon, explaining, from the standpoint of the Buddhist teachings, the correct attitude and posture the leader of a nation should adopt to secure peace in the land. Two days later, on the evening of the twelfth day, Hei-no-Saemon stormed the Daishonin’s dwelling at Matsubagayatsu with a group of armed soldiers. They arrested him, treating him as they would a traitor. The Daishonin, identifying himself as the spiritual pillar of the entire nation, admonished Hei-noSaemon. He said that by persecuting him the rulers were toppling that pillar and leading the nation to ruin. As a result, the Daishonin declared, the two calamities described in the sutras that had yet to
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arise — internal strife and invasion from abroad — would definitely occur. Nichiren Daishonin was then brought before government authorities and sentenced to exile in Sado Province, an island in the Sea of Japan. Hei-noSaemon, however, secretly plotted to have the Daishonin executed. In the predawn hours of the following morning, he had a group of soldiers take the Daishonin to the execution grounds at Tatsunokuchi (Dragon’s Mouth) on a beach near Kamakura. Just as they were about to carry out orders to behead him, a brilliant object appeared in the sky over Enoshima, a small island near the shore. In the Daishonin’s own words, “a brilliant orb as bright as the moon burst forth from the direction of Enoshima, shooting across the sky from southeast to northwest” (WND, 767). The soldiers, terrified by this display, abandoned their execution plans. This incident is known as the Tatsunokuchi Persecution. This event is extremely significant in the context of Nichiren Daishonin’s lifetime teachings. Its meaning can be summarized as follows: Through the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, the Daishonin cast
off his provisional identity as one at the initial stage of Buddhist practice (the “stage of hearing the name and words of the truth”) and, within his life as an ordinary person, manifested his true identity — the Buddha of absolute freedom. This is called “casting off the transient and revealing the true.” Nichiren Daishonin thus revealed his true identity and role as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. In that role, he inscribed the Gohonzon, the mandala embodying “the soul of Nichiren,” which is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. All people, by acknowledging and revering the Gohonzon as the foundation of their lives, can attain Buddhahood.
V. The Sado Exile
fter the failed execution attempt at Tatsunokuchi, the government could not decide what to do with Nichiren Daishonin. For about a month, he was held at the residence of Homma Rokuro Saemon at Echi in Sagami Province (present-day Kanagawa Prefecture, in northern Atsugi City).
The Life of Nichiren Daishonin The Life of Nichiren Daishonin
February 16, 1222
Born in Kominato, Awa Province.
Attacked by steward Tojo Kagenobu. Sustains injury to his forehead and arm (Komatsubara Persecution).
November 11, 1264
April 28, 1253
Proclaims founding of his Buddhism in Seicho-ji temple at 32.
July 16, 1260
Submits “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” to Hojo Tokiyori (right) (first remonstration with government).
Prompted by threat of Mongol invasion, writes eleven letters to government officials and high-ranking priests appealing for public religious debate with other Buddhist schools.
August 27, 1260
Attacked in his dwelling at Matsubagayatsu by a Band of Nembutsu believers (Matsubagayatsu Persecution).
Arrested by Hei no Saemon and his warriors, and again remonstrates with Hei no Saemon (second remonstration with government). Taken to Tatsunokuchi to be beheaded (Tatsunokuchi Persecution). At this time his true identity as the true Buddha of beginningless time is revealed.
September 12, 1271
Exiled to Ito on Izu Peninsula
Photos from left: Mount Fuji by Katsushika Hokusai — Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS, Hojo Tokiyori — Sakamoto Photo Research Laboratory/CORBIS, Izu Peninsula by Charles E. Rotkin/CORBIS, Kamakura by Toyokuni II — Christie’s Images/CORBIS
May 12, 1261
Finally, a sentence of exile to Sado Island, of which Homma was the steward, was imposed. The Daishonin was taken from Echi on the tenth day of the tenth month of 1271. At Sado, he entered his assigned residence — a small, dilapidated hut called Sammai-do in a graveyard called Tsukahara — on the first day of the eleventh month. Compounding the hardship of Sado’s frigid winter climate, the Daishonin lacked adequate food and clothing, and local Pure Land believers posed a threat to his safety. On the sixteenth day of the first month of the following year, 1272, several hundred priests and adherents from Sado and from neighboring provinces of Japan’s main island gathered on Sado and challenged the Daishonin to a religious debate. In that encounter, known as the Tsukahara debate, the Daishonin overturned his opponents’ arguments and refuted the erroneous doctrines of the Buddhist schools they represented. During the second month of that year, an attempted coup arose within the ruling Hojo clan, and battles erupted in Kamakura and Kyoto (an event known as the Disturbance of the Second
Month). Thus, the calamity of internal strife came about only 150 days after the Daishonin’s prediction at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution. Early that summer, in the fourth month of 1272, Nichiren Daishonin was transferred from Tsukahara to more comfortable quarters called Ichinosawa. The relocation, however, did not diminish the threat to his life posed by angry Pure Land believers. Nikko, whom the Daishonin would later designate as his successor, had remained with the Daishonin throughout his hardships, continually serving and learning from him. In addition, Sado residents began taking faith in the Daishonin’s teachings, among them such noteworthy believers as Abutsu-bo and his wife, the lay nun Sennichi; the lay priest of Ko and his wife; the lay priest Nakaoki, and the priest Sairen-bo Nichijo. While in exile on Sado, Nichiren Daishonin authored many important writings, central among them “The Opening of the Eyes” and “The True Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind.” Penned in the second month of 1272, “The
October 10, 1271
Exiled to Sado Island (Sado Exile).
January 16, 1272
Remonstrates strongly with Hei no Saemon (third remonstration with the government).
At Sammai-do, a hut in Tsukahara, Sado, debates with priests of other sects and refutes their doctrines (Tsukahara Debate).
Leaves for Mount Minobu.
Writes “The Opening of the Eyes,” clarifying the object of devotion in terms of the Person.
October 12, 1279
Seeing believers firmly upholding their faith during the Atsuhara Persecution, senses that the appropriate time has arrived and establishes the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary of the essential teaching, thus fulfilling the purpose of his advent in the world.
Writes “The True Object of Worship,” clarifying the object of devotion in terms of the Law.
October 13, 1282
Pardoned from exile on Sado.
Returns to Kamakura.
March 26, 1274
After having entrusted entirety of his teachings to Nikko Shonin, dies at 61 at Ikegami in Musashi Province.
the Mongols would surely launch an attack on Japan within the year. In the tenth month of 1274, a large Mongol Empire military force did indeed assault Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. Nichiren Daishonin’s prediction of the two calamities — internal strife and foreign invasion — had come true. In summary, the three occasions in which the Daishonin had remonstrated with the rulers and made predictions that later came true are known as his “three-time gaining of distinction.” The first was with his work “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”; the second consisted of his statements upon his arrest by Hei-no-Saemon and the resulting Tatsunokuchi Persecution; the third comprised the warnings and predictions made to the government after his pardon from exile on Sado.
Opening of the Eyes” is known as the writing that reveals the object of devotion in terms of the Person. It clarifies his role as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, who embodied the three virtues — parent, teacher, and sovereign (the three virtues exhibited by Buddhas). “The True Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” written in the fourth month of 1273, explains the Gohonzon, the object of devotion that embodies the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, faith in which enables all people of the Latter Day to attain Buddhahood. For this reason, it is known as the writing that reveals the object of devotion in terms of the Law. In the second month of 1274, the Daishonin received a pardon from his exile on Sado, and on the thirteenth day of the third month he returned to Kamakura. In the fourth month, he met again with Hei-no-Saemon and strongly warned against using prayers based on erroneous Buddhist teachings to ward off a Mongol attack. In response to Hei-noSaemon’s questions, the Daishonin predicted that
Terry W. Eggers/CORBIS
VI. Entering Minobu
ecause this third remonstration, like the two before it, went unheeded, Nichiren Daishonin, following an old custom3, left Kamakura. He wrote: “I now had remonstrated with the authorities three times for the sole purpose of saving Japan from ruin. Mindful that one whose warnings are thrice ignored should retire to a mountain forest, I left Kamakura on the twelfth day of the fifth month” (“Letter to Konichibo,” WND, 661). He thus took up residence in the forest on the flank of a mountain called Minobu in Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture), in the district of Hakiri. That district was governed by Hakiri (also pronounced Hakii) Sanenaga, whom Nikko had converted into a follower of the Daishonin. The Daishonin arrived at Hakiri Sanenaga’s home on the seventeenth day of the fifth month, 1274. On the seventeenth day of the sixth month, he moved into a simple hermitage on Mount Minobu. At Minobu, the Daishonin neither retired from his life’s work, nor secluded himself. On the contrary, he produced many important writings such as “The Selection of the Time” and “On Repaying Debts of Gratitude.” In these works, he explained the significance of his Buddhism in terms of
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human history as it was known. He also lectured on the Lotus Sutra and other topics, pouring his energies into fostering able successors who would spread his teaching in the future. In addition, he wrote many letters to his individual lay followers, continually encouraging them in faith and in how to face the harsh realities of daily life. Finally, Nichiren Daishonin transmitted the profound doctrines of his Buddhism to his immediate successor, Nikko, who set them down in writing in the form of notes he recorded and compiled. These compilations include the works titled “The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings” and the “One Hundred Six Comparisons.” On the eleventh day of the tenth month, 1282, two days before his death, the Daishonin gave Nikko his work “On the Mystic Principle of the True Cause.”
VII. The Atsuhara Persecution and the Establishment of the Dai-Gohonzon
fter Nichiren Daishonin entered Mount Minobu, Nikko undertook the spread of his teachings in the Fuji area of Suruga Province (present-day Shizuoka prefecture). Priests and lay followers of the Tendai and other schools set aside their beliefs and embraced the Daishonin’s Buddhism. As a result, established Tendai temples in the area such as Shijuku-in and Jisso-ji began to persecute the Daishonin’s followers. A lay priest named Gyochi, the acting deputy chief priest of Ryusen-ji in the Atsuhara district, bullied and harassed area farmers who followed the Daishonin’s teachings. On the twenty-first day of the ninth month, 1279, twenty Atsuhara peasant believers were arrested. In what has become known as the Atsuhara Persecution, they were falsely accused of entering Gyochi’s fields and illegally harvesting rice. They were taken to Kamakura and subjected to harsh interrogation at the private residence of Heino-Saemon, who threatened and intimidated them to give up their belief in the Lotus Sutra. These farmers, however, continued to uphold their beliefs. In their actions, the Daishonin sensed that the strong faith necessary to protect the correct Buddhist teaching against great persecution was now
firmly established among ordinary practitioners. In “On Persecutions Befalling the Sage,” written on the first day of the tenth month that year, he declared that he had fulfilled the purpose of his advent in the world. He had already propagated the Lotus Sutra — the Buddha’s will — and encountered the persecutions predicted in the sutra to befall its votary. The phrase “purpose of one’s advent” refers to the reason for a Buddha’s appearance in the world. The Daishonin’s purpose, then, in having been born in the Latter Day of the Law, was to carry out his great vow to lead all people to Buddhahood over the 10,000 years of that age. On the twelfth day of the tenth month, 1279, in response to the strong faith of ordinary people as demonstrated during the Atsuhara Persecution, Nichiren Daishonin established the Dai-Gohonzon or great object of devotion for “all of Jambudvipa,” or the people of the entire world. In accord with his declaration fulfilling the purpose of his advent, he inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon as an expression and crystallization of his great vow and desire to save all living beings from suffering through the wide propagation of his teachings. The deeply rooted faith of the peasant believers of Atsuhara would soon face the ultimate test. Three of the farmers — Jinshiro, Yagoro, and Yarokuro — were executed and the remaining seventeen were banished from Atsuhara (on the fifteenth day of the tenth month of that year; or, according to another account, on the eighth day of the fourth month of the following year). This was a clear demonstration of the spirit elucidated in the Lotus Sutra “singlemindedly desiring to see the Buddha, not hesitating even if it cost them their lives” (LS16, 230); that is, to be willing to sacrifice even their lives to uphold their Buddhist faith.
VIII. Entrusting the Teachings to Nikko; Final Days
n the eleventh month of 1281, a lodging temple measuring approximately sixty feet by sixty feet was completed at Mount Minobu and given the name Kuon-ji. In the ninth month of 1282, the Daishonin
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transferred to Nikko all of the teachings he had expounded, as well as the Dai-Gohonzon, which he had established for the benefit of all humankind. He also entrusted Nikko with the mission and responsibility to accomplish widespread propagation of the Mystic Law. The document that records this transfer is known as the “Minobu Transfer Document” (also called “The Document for Entrusting the Law that Nichiren Propagated throughout His Life”). On the eighth day of the ninth month, at the suggestion of followers, the Daishonin left Minobu for Hitachi Province (which today encompasses northern Ibaraki Prefecture and southeastern Fukushima Prefecture) to treat an illness in the hot springs there. He had resided at Minobu for nine years. On the way to Hitachi, he visited his lay follower Ikegami Munenaka in Musashi Province and clarified matters to be observed after his death. On the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, despite his grave illness, Nichiren Daishonin gave his last sermon, lecturing on “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.” On the eighth day of the tenth month, he selected six priests whom he designated as his main disciples: Nissho, Nichiro, Nikko, Niko, Nitcho, and Nichiji (listed in order of their conversion to his teachings). They are known as the six senior priests, selected to serve as central figures among the believers who were scattered widely, and to be responsible for the areas where those with whom they shared a family, personal, or religious connection resided. The Daishonin did not, however, entrust his teachings formally to all six as his successors. Nikko clearly surpassed the other senior priests in faith, practice and study of the Daishonin’s Buddhism; he alone had accompanied the Daishonin during the exiles to both Izu and Sado, always serving his teacher. In addition, Nikko far exceeded the others in the practice of propagation, and in raising able disciples to bear responsibility for the future. Nikko alone among the six regarded and revered Nichiren Daishonin as the Buddha of
1. According to the “Encouraging
Devotion” (thirteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, what is the third kind of enemy that will persecute those who spread the correct teaching?
2. What is the significance of the
Tatsunokuchi Persecution to the life of Nichiren Daishonin?
3. Written by the Daishonin while exiled
on Sado Island, what do “The Opening of the Eyes” and “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind” clarify in terms of the object of devotion (Gohonzon)?
4. The faith demonstrated by common
farmers during the Atsuhara Persecution prompted the Daishonin to do what?
5. Why is it clear that Nikko Shonin is the
legitimate successor to Nichiren Daishonin?
the Latter Day of the Law, and correctly grasped the profound significance of his Buddhism. This qualified him to be entrusted with the entire body of the Daishonin’s teachings. On the thirteenth day of the tenth month of 1282, at the Musashi Province estate of Ikegami Munenaka, the Daishonin again declared the transfer of his teachings to Nikko, designating Nikko to be the chief priest of the temple Minobu-san Kuonji (which the Daishonin had founded). The document recording this is known as the “Ikegami Transfer Document” (or “The Document for Entrusting Minobu-san”). Later that day, Nichiren Daishonin’s venerable life ended at age sixty-one.
1. intercalary month: a month added to the lunar calendar to bring it into harmony with the solar calendar. 3. From the Confucian Book of Rites, which states that a wise man thrice unheeded by the sovereign should retire to a mountain forest.
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n Nichiren Daishonin’s writings he declares that the cause of the peoples’ misery is their adherence to erroneous teachings. His refutation of the four major schools of Buddhism at that time is summarized in what are known as “The Four Dictums.” In the study series “The World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings,” SGI President Ikeda explains: “The Daishonin absolutely did not aim to attack the followers of specific Buddhist schools or to simply expand his own school. The essence of the Daishonin’s practice lay in the struggle against the devilish nature of power and authority that treats the people with contempt” (June Living Buddhism, p. 13). The four dictums denounce four of the most influential Buddhist schools in Japan — the Pure Land (Jodo) school (also, the Nembutsu school), the Zen school, the True Word (Shingon) school and the Precepts (Ritsu) school. Based on his understanding of the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra and his perception of the slander these schools commit in denying or disparaging that sutra, the Daishonin repudiated their doctrines and declared as follows: 1) “Nembutsu leads to the hell of incessant suffering,” 2) “Zen is the invention of the heavenly devil,” 3) “True Word will ruin the nation,” and 4) “Precepts is a traitor to the nation.” In explaining the meaning of the Daishonin’s statements in the same series, President Ikeda states: “The four dictums in essence express the wisdom of the Daishonin, who saw through and strictly identified the self-righteousness of the various schools of the day, as well as their duplicity in concealing their true nature behind religious authority. It also goes without saying that at the foundation of the four dictums is the Daishonin’s compassion to protect the people. “In other words, upholding the four dictums means manifesting the wisdom to refute philosophies and religions that obstruct people’s happiness in any age. “To merely repeat the four dictums simply because they came from the Daishonin, while ignoring people’s feelings and the changing times, is to overlook the Daishonin’s spirit. The four dictums are then nothing but dogma. That is what gives rise to the devilish aspects of religion. “It is people and the heart that count. The four dictums are the manifestation of the Daishonin’s firm conviction to resolutely battle the devilish functions that serve to confuse people. To lose sight of this important
THE FOUR DICTUMS
point and interpret the four dictums in a superficial or dogmatic manner, and then criticize on that basis the Daishonin’s Buddhism as exclusive or intolerant, is extremely shallow. “The doctrines of these four schools can be summed up as: 1) salvation through the external power of an absolute being (Nembutsu); 2) attainment of enlightenment only through the direct perception of one’s own mind and being content with that self-enlightenment (Zen); 3) gaining benefit in this life through occult means (True Word); and 4) being controlled from without by means of precepts or standards (Precepts). “The perfectly balanced teaching does not succumb to any one of these extremes, but expounds the fusion of internal and external power as the means to transform the life of the individual as well as the surrounding circumstances. Combining internal and external power means discovering within the self a power that is greater than the self.” President Ikeda then points out that the four religious archetypes listed above, when viewed in light of the allencompasing power of the Daishonin’s Buddhism, can take on a positive function. For instance, with regard to the above archetypes: 1) While little is to be gained by looking solely to an imagined outside power for salvation, as the Pure Land school teaches, there is value in correctly appreciating the dynamic relationship between our lives and our external environment. Particularly, when our lives encounter the Buddha nature manifest in our environment, our Buddha nature within can be stimulated and called forth. It is for this reason that we chant daimoku to the Gohonzon, the concrete manifestation of the enlightened life of Nichiren Daishonin, and aim to summon forth the same state of life that is innate within us. At the same time, President Ikeda points out, we can be confident that, by calling forth our own Buddha nature, we can gain “the ability to embrace the sick and weary with the life-state of Buddhahood and provide a sense of absolute peace of mind” (p. 17). Concerning archetype 2): Zen teachers denied and looked down on the sutras, the teachings of the Buddha himself; in that, sense, they saw their own minds as superior to the teachings of the Buddha. Nevertheless, the Daishonin emphasized the inward orientation of Buddhism. Through faith in the Mystic Law, we awaken to the internal reality that our lives are the Law itself, that Buddhahood is something we open from within. This is why the Gohonzon is called the object of devotion for
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“observing the mind,” that is, for observing and bringing forth the state of Buddhahood from within. This is the ultimate point of the sutras, as crystallized in the Lotus Sutra, and manifested in reality by Nichiren Daishonin. While Zen rejects the sutras and focuses entirely on the “mind,” the Daishonin’s Buddhism clarifies and crystallizes the ultimate message and intent of the sutras: to actually enable ordinary people to manifest Buddhahood from within their lives. For this reason, President Ikeda says that the value of this archetype, when based on faith in the Mystic Law, equates to “the ability to believe and actually sense that we possess within us the power to change ourselves” (p. 17). Regarding archetype 3): The True Word school, which was the main Japanese branch of Esoteric, or Tantric, Buddhism, emphasized secret rites and magical formulas to affect worldly outcomes. Nichiren Daishonin clearly pointed out that seeking worldly gain through occult means was not the spirit of Buddhism. On the other hand, he emphasized the importance of “proof of actual fact,” the power of a Buddhist teaching to enable its practitioners to prove its principles in the real world. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, then, emphasizes the power of prayer to infuse our lives with wisdom and life force, and thus to empower us to affect positive changes in our circumstances. Thus, through faith and practice in the Daishonin’s Buddhism, this archetype corresponds to “the ability to courageously
challenge our circumstances” (p. 17). Finally, concerning archetype 4): The practice of Precepts in Buddhism originally was intended to instill discipline and order among monks. The point of precepts was instilling self-control and combating evil impulses. Eventually, however, monastic disciplines and lifestyles functioned to separate the monks from ordinary believers and estrange them from the sufferings and concerns of those living in society. Precepts-oriented Buddhism thus lost its power to contribute to and transform society for the better. While Nichiren Daishonin refuted the practice of precepts as a means for attaining enlightenment, he did emphasize the importance of diligent practice. Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the six paramitas, or six disciplines to master in order to attain perfection, and Nichiren Daishonin stated that all six of these are contained within the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. One of the six paramitas is “precepts.” In that sense, chanting Nammyoho-renge-kyo enables us, by tapping strength and wisdom from within, to master the self-discipline precepts once sought to instill from without. Therefore, President Ikeda says, the archetype of precepts, when based on faith in the Mystic Law, represents “the ability to control earthly desires and eliminate evil through our inner wisdom” (p. 17). “The modern significance of the four dictums is not limited to the simple refutation of Japanese Buddhist schools, but in fully developing the positive power of human life. This is the Mystic Law of the simultaneity of cause and effect inherent in human life, and to embrace it is to create boundless value. “In establishing and announcing this perfect teaching, the Daishonin raised the curtain on a religion for all humanity. He thus revealed the eternal and fundamental path leading to enlightenment for all humanity” (pp. 16–17).
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