Politics and Doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism#008【ミステリーな日蓮 〈番外編〉「日蓮と政治」英訳版】

Politics and Doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism#008


Hiroto Ema


Chapter 2

Political nature of Nichiren’s doctrine


3.Mandala Gohozon for defeating Esoteric Buddhism

The doctrine of Nichiren changed greatly before and after the transportation to Sado Island, and Nichiren himself told his disciples to understand it.


Since Nichiren established the sect, his criticism was aimed at Nenbutsu and Zen. He regarded himself as the legitimate successor of Saityo (the Great Teacher Dengyo 766-822) who had preached the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra, and in this sense was a monk of Tendai school. But after the transportation to Sado Island, Nichiren began to criticize Esoteric Buddhism (Shingon and Tendai sect) in real earnest. In those days, the Secret Laws and prayers concerning national affairs were dominated by Esoteric Buddhism and dispensed actively to defeat enemy countries, especially Mongolia,by order of the Imperial Court or the shogunate. For Nichiren, who regarded the Lotus Sutra supreme among others, Esoteric Buddhism was an evil creed because it placed the Mahavairocana Sutra above the Lotus Sutra, but since Tendai sect was dependent on Esoteric Buddhism, it was not easy for Nichiren who called himself “Tendai sramana (a monk of Tendai school)” to criticize Esoteric Buddhism(55). So he prepared cautiously for the rivalry with Shingon and Tendai sect(56).


With the transportation to Sado Island, Nichiren got conscious that he was the one and only true “executor of the Lotus Sutra” who had received sufferings foretold in Encouraging Devotion chapter of the Lotus Sutra to the letter(57). This means the consciousness of “one who has devoted himself to the Lotus Sutra”, “one who represents the Lotus Sutra”, or Nam “Myoho Renge Kyo”. So it is the essential consciousness of Nichiren that only he could call himself Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, and based on this consciousness he drew Mandala Gohonzons. Originally, Mandala was a representation of view of the world which had Mahavairocana (a Buddha worshiped in Esoteric Buddhism) as its idol (the object of dedication), and essential to training, Secret Laws, and prayer of Esoteric Buddhism. Nichiren substituted the characters of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for the image of Mahavairocana placed on the center as its idol, and showed his view of world in which the idol was a “executor of the Lotus Sutra”.


Though Mandala Gohonzons by Nichiren, which were based on Ceremony in the air preached in the Lotus Sutra, were clearly influenced by the Lotus Sutra Mandala of Esoteric Buddhism, of which the treasure tower was drawn in the center(58), it would be because Nichiren rejected abstract drawings that could be interpreted variously, and needed logical strictness which showed the meanings and contents clearly, that he described the idol as the characters of “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo(南無妙法蓮華経)”. So it can be expressed as the academic of Nichiren who respected logical thinking.


Anyway, the drawing of Mandala Gohonzon by Nichiren was nothing less than the attack against Esoteric Buddhism which placed the Mahavairocana Sutra above all. In the past, Nichiren had popularized Chanting Daimoku to counter the spread of Nenbutsu, and tried to restore the belief in the Lotus Sutra by changing the object of dedication from Amida Butsu to Myoho Renge Kyo. And now, he substituted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for Mahavairocana as the idol of his Mandala, and tried to establish the new belief in Lotus Sutra to counter Esoteric Buddhism. Thus, the meanings of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo got to have ambiguity, “a executor of the Lotus Sutra as the idol” as well as “the oath to devote himself to the Lotus Sutra”.


In the letters written by Nichiren, the reference to “executor of the Lotus Sutra” was concentrated around the period after the transportation to Sado Island. And he repeatedly asked the receivers “to whom the executor who practice according to the Buddha’s teachings of the Lotus Sutra to the letter” would refer, and declared sometimes euphemistically, sometimes directly, that it was no one but Nichiren himself. Also, an expression “the executor of the Lotus Sutra who is more precious than Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings”(59) can be seen in a letter, so this fact can be described as an exhibition of consciousness as Buddha in an era of the Latter Day of the Law of Shakyamuni Buddhism. In Mandala Gohonzons drawn by Nichiren, the size, the time of execution, and the Buddhas placed vary widely. Yet, the idol “Nam Myoho Renge kyo”, placed in the center, was always same, and later Nichiren wrote his name and his signature right under the idol. Thus he expressed his consciousness as Buddha in the Latter Day clearly.


Moreover, by drawing Mandala Gohonzons, Nichiren also opposed to Esoteric Buddhism about the Secret Laws (mysteries) and prayers. For example, the Lotus Sutra was criticized by Esoteric Buddhism that among the Three Secret Laws — Secret Law of the mind, Secret Law of the mouth, and Secret Law of the body — which were needed “Becoming Buddha in this life (Sokushin Jyobutsu)”, it lacked Secret Law of the mouth and Secret Law of the body. In countering this criticism, Nichiren interpreted visualizing “the idol of Mandara Gohonzon” in one’s mind as Secret Law of the mind, “Chanting Daimoku” as Secret Law of the mouth, and the rituals of “the house” for giving the commandments, the center of spreading Lotus Sutra(60), as Secret Law of the body. Thus, he positioned them as “the Three Great Secret Laws”, which exceeded the Three Secret Laws of Esoteric Buddhism. So, by taking advantage of the criticism from Esoteric Buddhism, Nichiren integrated the Secret Laws and prayers into Chanting Daimoku, and tried to overcome the privileged Secret Laws and prayers practiced according to the complicated rules of Esoteric Buddhism(61).



(55) Nichiren called himself “Konpon Daishi Monjin Nichiren”(“Hokke daimoku shō: The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 391) or “Honchō Shyamon”(“Kyō ki ji koku shō: The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 241.”Kenhōbō shō: What It Means to Slander the Law.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 247 ), a title for the disciples of the Great Teacher Dengyo, and wrote in 1269 “It is Mount Hiei that will decide whether the teaching of the Buddha is destroyed or not. And it is because the teaching of the Buddha in Mount Hiei has been destroyed that foreign nations are now attempting to destroy our country”(“Hōmon mōsarubeki yō no koto: On the Proper Way to Preach the Doctrine.” ed. Rissyou University, op. cit., pp. 453).


(56)  In 1270, Nichiren said “I have attacked these teachings for the past seventeen years, from the fifth year of the Kenchō era (1253) to the present, the seventh year of the Bun’ei era (1270). And, as may be seen by the evidence before one’s eyes, the spread of the Nembutsu in Japan has been largely brought to a halt….I can bring an end to the errors of all Shingon sects (all Esoteric Buddhism) at will”(“Zemmui Sanzō shō: The Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei.” ed. Rissyou University, op. cit., pp. 465).And in “Hayagachi mondō: Dialogues for Quick Victory.”, which was held in 1271, shortly after the transportation to Sado Island, he set forth twenty-four questions consisting of two chapters to Pure Land sect and Zen sect, whereas to Tendai and Shingon sect he set forth thirty-three questions consisting of three chapters(ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 2061-2068). Then in “Kaimoku Syō: The Opening of the Eyes.”, which was written in February 1272, he declared to have overcome both Tendai and Shingon sect, saying “I, Nichiren, am sovereign, the teacher, and the father and mother to all the people of Japan. But the men of the Tendai school are all great enemies of the people”(ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 608). Moreover, in October 1274, after going to Mount Minobu, and Mongolian attacks came true, Nichiren said “Erroneous views of the Buddha’s teachings mean a mistaken understanding of the relative superiority of the Singon teaching and the Lotus teaching. My criticizing the Zen teaching and the Nembutsu teaching was a preparatory step leading to the revelation of this matter”(“Soya Nyūdō dono gosho: Distinguishing the Lotus Sutra from the True Word Sutras.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 838), and in March next year, he sincerely asked Soya Kyōshin and Ōta Jōmyō to collect sutras and the reference books about them (“Soya Nyūdō dono moto gosho: On the Five Guides for Propagation.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 910-912). Also, in 1276, he asked Seichō temple to lend him a reference book about Shingon (“Seichō-ji daishū chū: Letter to the Priests of Seichō-ji.” ed. Rissyou University, op. cit., pp. 1132). Judging from Nichiren’s word “the ruler of this country would summon the priests of the Singon school for an open debate with me”(“Misawa shō: Letter to Misawa.” ed. Rissyou University, op. cit., pp. 1447), he seems to have prepared these expecting the official debate with Tendai and Shingon.


(57) According to “Kaimoku Syō: The Opening of the Eyes.”(ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 559- 560), Nichiren wort as follows. “I recall the twenty lines of verse in the Encouraging Devotion chapter of the fifth volume of the Lotus Sutra. If I, Nichiren, had not been born in this land of Japan, then Shakyamuni Buddha predicting such persecutions would have become a great liar.”“Again and again we will be banished, says the sutra. But if Nichiren had not been banished time and again for the sake of the Lotus Sutra, would these words again and again have become reality? Even the Great Teacher Tendai and Dengyō were not able to fulfill this prediction represented by the words again and again, let alone others. But because I had preached the belief in the Lotus Sutra at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, the age of fear and evil described in the sutra, I alone had been able to execute these words.” Nichiren said the two transportations proved that he had executed the Lotus Sutra to the letter, and even asserted he was the first to prove the Lotus Sutra was right and true.


(58) Lucia Dolce. “Hoke Kyō to Mikkyō.” Series Nichiren vol. 1, Syunjyū Sya, 2014, pp. 282-284.


(59)”Shimoyama goshōsoku: Letter to Shimoyama.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 1343.


(60) Nichiren called the whole rituals for giving the commandments “Kaihō”, including “Kaidan”, the ordination platform in the special building on which it was dispensed, and compared it with that of Enryaku temple (“Sandai hihō honshō ji: On the Receiving of the Three Great Secret Laws.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 1864-1865). The biggest Mandala Gohonzon by Nichiren is 244cm long, 125cm wide, and after mounted and arrayed exceeds three meters (Gohonzon syū mokuroku, Rissyō Ankoku Kai, 1974, vol. 57). And there is another huge Mandala Gohonzon(198cm long, 109cm wide), which he ordered Nissyō, the eldest disciple, to leave for posterity(ibid. vol. 101). It seems that as with Esoteric Buddhism, on the ordination platform in the big house with a huge Mandala Gohonzon in front of it, the special rituals were performed, and the commandments were given among Chanting Daimoku.


(61) According to Endō Asai, in “Kakuzen syō” written by Kakuzen(1143-1213?), a Shingon monk, there is an instance in which Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was chanted in front of the Lotus Sutra Mandala during Hokehō sanmitsu syugyō (the training of the Three Secrets Laws of the Lotus Sutra teaching). Then Asai makes it clear that the Hoke Syuuhou (the Lotus Sutra training method) was so complex a ritual performed by the specialists, and valued highly the common sense of Nichiren, who integrated it into simple words of Daimoku (“Honzon ron no tenkai.” Chūsei Hoke Bukkyō no tenkai, ed. Gyouo Kageyama, Heirakuji Syoten, 1974, pp. 258-261).


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ミステリーな日蓮 〈番外編〉「日蓮と政治」#008


第2章 日蓮仏法の政治性





 立教開宗以来、日蓮の批判は念仏と禅に向けられてきた。日蓮は法華第一を説く最澄(伝教大師 766-822)の直系を自認しており、その宗派的立場は天台僧である。ところが佐渡以降、日蓮は本格的に密教(真言宗・天台宗)への批判を始める。当時、国事に関わる秘法・祈祷は密教の占有であり、蒙古襲来に備える異国調伏の秘法・祈祷が、朝廷や幕府の命を受けて盛んと行われたからである。法華経を第一とする日蓮にとって、大日経を第一として法華経を下す密教は邪教であったが、天台宗が密教を重用している以上、天台沙門を名乗る日蓮が密教批判を行うことは容易ではない(55)。日蓮は真言宗・天台宗との対決を周到に準備していた(56)。


















(58)ルチア・ドルチェ「法華経と密教」(『シリーズ日蓮 第1巻』春秋社、2014年、282‐84頁)






(61)浅井円道氏は、真言僧・覚禅(1143~1213?)の『覚禅鈔』において密教の法華法三密修行に触れた箇所に、法華曼荼羅に向かって南無妙法蓮華経と唱えた例があるとされた上で、さらに「法華観智儀軌」による法華修法が専門家による複雑多岐な儀式であったことを示し、これを題目の一句に帰納した日蓮の宗教の庶民性を評価された(「本尊論の展開」『中世法華仏教の展開』影山尭雄編 平楽寺書店、1974年、258-61頁)






江間浩人 編著『鉛筆でなぞる『法華経』—-「方便品」と「如来寿量品」

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はじめに  ‥‥‥‥‥‥ 今、なぜ『法華経』か
第一部      ‥‥‥‥‥‥ 「方便品」   原典・訓読・現代語訳/万人の成仏を説いた「方便品」 
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実践編(5回分)‥‥‥ 「方便品」「如来寿量品」