The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】21. Nichiren dreamed of becoming a Master of State as early as he was twelve years old.

21. Nichiren dreamed of becoming a Master of State as early as he was twelve years old.


Hiroto Ema


When did Nichiren begin to aim at becoming a Master of State? There is a sentence which gives the hint.


“As you are well aware, from the time I was young I have had my heart set on learning, and in addition I prayed before the statue of Bodhisattva Space Treasury that I might become the wisest philosopher in all Japan. I was twelve then, and had various reasons for offering such a prayer, but I will not go into them here” (Refuting Ryokan and the Others)


It is said that Nichiren went to Seichou Temple in Awa (Now a part of Chiba Prefecture) when he was twelve years old. And a philosopher mentioned here refers to a monk who has completed the study in the doctrine of Buddhism. So it can be understood easily that the wisest philosopher in all Japan means a Master of State, who receives devotion from those in power and guides the country rightly.


Nichiren wrote “What can we say, then, of persons who are devoting themselves to Buddhism? Surely they should not forget the debts of gratitude they owe to their parents, their teachers, and their country. But if one intends to repay these great debts of gratitude, one can hope to do so only if one learns and masters Buddhism, becoming a philosopher of wisdom” (On Repaying Debts of Gratitude, and lamented the attitude of the shogunate which wouldn’t hear of Nichiren’s wish. “All I have done is try to repay the debt I owe to the country of my birth by endeavoring to save it from disaster. That my advice was not heeded was certainly a cause of great regret to me.” The Selection of the Time From the first, Nichiren hoped and pledged to become the Master of State to help the country and bring peace to it.


Also in “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land”, Nichiren wrote this as a word by a guest, who symbolizes the regent. “I (the regent) will judge each sect by guessing its depth and worship the most distinguished monk” Thus, it was the hope of Nichiren that the regent judge various sects and select the Master of State among them.


Though, Nichiren’s hope from his childhood never came true in his lifetime. Why?


Certainly, if Nichiren was just one of many obscure monks, it seems natural that his hope didn’t come true. But if so, why did the shogunate transport him twice? It must be because of his influence. On the other hand, Nichiren didn’t change his religious assertion even during these transportations. Then, why did the shogunate pardoned him twice? If these transportations were to contain influence of Nichiren, it seems meaningless for the shogunate to pardon him.


Why did the treatment by the shogunate vary so much? The reason of it relates to the political position of his sect, including his pedigree, and the view of the shogunate toward him. We will discuss this mystery in part II.

March 1st 2020


From next time, we will post the extra edition “Politics and Doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism”.


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