The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】10.The original aim of Nichiren was a halt to Nenbutsu

10.The original aim of Nichiren was a halt to Nenbutsu


Hiroto Ema


Nichiren banned  his believers from Chanting Nenbutsu of Namu Amida Butsu and Chanting Daimoku of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, and urged them to chant only Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. He was the only person in the history who required the strict belief in the Lotus Sutra. Why is it so?


 The Lotus Sutra says “Honestly discarding expedient means” and “Not accepting a single verse of the other sutras”. They mean “all the doctrines before the Lotus Sutra are mere expedient”, and “one should not believe any sentence of sutras other than the Lotus Sutra” respectively. On the ground of it, Nichiren urged the belief in the Lotus Sutra only. Having been said so, we cannot object against it. Meanwhile, though Nichiren regarded highly some of whom had believed in the Lotus Sutra, such as Minamoto no Yoritomo, it isn’t the case that they believed in the Lotus Sutra only. Thus, the strictness of the belief in the Lotus Sutra varies across ages.


About this point, Nichiren wrote as follows.


 “These days, even the wise or the learned are abandoning the Lotus Sutra and chanting Nenbutsu instead” (Gessui gosho), “We find persons who are held in high esteem by the world at large chanting only the name of Amida Buddha. And because they do so, all the rest of the people spend their whole lives doing so, chanting the Nenbutsu sixty thousand or one hundred thousand times in one day but never once in their lives chanting the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra” (The Relative Merit of Reciting the Daimoku and Amida’s Name), “One should preach only the Lotus Sutra even to those who slander the Law” (The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country)


Here, the consciousness of Nichiren comes out clearly. The original aim of Nichiren was a halt to Chanting Nenbutsu and it is clear from the fact that in “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the peace of the Land”, he urged such policies as “Outlaw this one evil” and “We must put an end to these slanders of the Law that fill the country”, both referring to Nenbutsu.


To press back the tide of Chanting Nenbutsu and aim at the restoration of the belief in the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren adopted the Chanting Daimoku of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. It was a chant which everybody could do easily, and a revolutionary way of training in that the denial of Chanting Nenbutsu becomes the belief in the Lotus Sutra itself. The popularization of this Chanting Daimoku was nothing less than the denial of Nenbutsu and the attack against it, and also a kind of propaganda. So the assertion that one should chant Daimoku instead of Nenbutsu was very natural to Nichiren. Thus, the new belief in the Lotus Sutra, which was unique to Nichiren and required Chanting Daimoku only, was born.

April 1st 2019


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