The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】18.Nichiren aimed to be a Master of State

18.Nichiren aimed to be a Master of State


Hiroto Ema


Nichiren criticized Esoteric Buddhism when the whole circles of Buddhism adopted the prayer of Esoteric Buddhism and became so, and the state protected, accepted, and exploited it. For Nichiren, the ruler of the state, the king, was the Kamakura shogunate and its regent. The aim of him was to bring peace to the state. In order to achieve it, Nichiren thought, the regent must respect Lotus Sutra. So he asserted that unless the shogunate and its regent, who continued to order the prayer of Esoteric Buddhism to prepare for the invasion of Mongolia, changed their mind, Japan would be destroyed completely. Thus, he urged the shogunate to halt the prayer of Esoteric Buddhism, which had denied the Lotus Sutra.


Moreover, Nichiren urged that the regent should believe in Lotus Sutra, and this belief wasn’t traditional one. The doctrine of Shakyamuni had already been in the era of Latter Day of the Law and lost power needed to guide the state and save people. And Nichiren thought that no belief other than the new belief in Lotus Sutra established by Nichiren had such power. Then, how did he try to achieve such a change of policies?


Nichiren regarded the era of Chigi (the Great Teacher Tendai) and Saityo (the Great Teacher Dengyo) as ideal. Both Chigi and Saityo were criticized bitterly by the circles of Buddhism when they tried to popularize the Lotus Sutra. Then, the king and Emperor entered in the stage. The rulers hosted public debate between Chigi, Saityo, and various sects. As a result, Chigi and Saityo, who won in this debate, were given the title of Great Teacher, which was the most prestigious in the circles of Buddhism, and the rulers established a new structure of state where Tendai school was on the top of it. Furthermore, according to Nichiren, Chigi and Saityo were ordered to pray for the protection of state and succeeded in raining by their prayer.


In “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the peace of the Land”, Nichiren prophesied that if they didn’t halt the devotion to Nenbutsu, the state would be in turmoil and invaded by other countries. Then, when the official letter of Mongolia arrived and one of his prophecies was proved right, Nichiren hoped the shogunate would give him four rewards, so to say, 1. The highest honors in Japan would be bestowed upon me, 2. Awarded the title of Great Teacher while still alive, 3. Consulted about the Mongols, invited to the war council, and 4. Asked to defeat them through the power of prayer. Chigi was given the title of Great Teacher while he was still alive, but Saityo was given it after he had passed away. So Nichiren insisted that he should be given more prestige than the Great Teacher Dengyo and received as a Master of State. In fact, this is the real intention of Nichiren and his true aim. We will discuss it further in the next section.

December 1st 2019


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