The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】6.Why did Nichiren regard the Lotus Sutra supreme?

6.Why did Nichiren regard the Lotus Sutra supreme?


Hiroto Ema

Then, why did Nichiren accept the Lotus Sutra as holy writ?


There are so many sutras in Buddhism that they are called “eighty thousand teachings  (innumerable sutras)”. In China, the monks there tried to analyze and compare those sutras brought from India, and systematize the rating of each. Chigi (Tendai Daishi, 538-597), based on the result of the previous works, organized the whole Buddhism, regarding the Lotus Sutra as the only and supreme sutra. Thereafter, his interpretation was accepted widely, and in Japan, Saicyo (Dengyou Daishi, 767-822) inherited it.


Nichiren thought himself as the legitimate successor of Tendai and Dengyo. Then, in what point was the Lotus Sutra superior to other doctrines or sutras? According to Nichiren, there are two points of supremacy in the Lotus Sutra.


First, only the Lotus Sutra preaches that everybody can attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. Second, only the Lotus Sutra shows that Buddha has been preaching so in this world. Simply put, according to other sutras, there are those destined not to attain Buddhahood, such as women and the monks of Hinayana(some kinds of intellectual). But the Lotus Sutra got rid of this discrimination from the doctrine and preaches that everybody can attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. In fact, it preaches not only every human but also everything can do so and are equal, though this doctrine is too difficult to discuss here. Furthermore, it also shows that with the Lotus Sutra, Buddha appears in this world repeatedly and preaches “attainment of Buddhahood” of everybody eternally. By this, Gautama Buddha of India (Shakyamuni) was relativized as just one of Buddhas who preach the Lotus Sutra. So, the Buddha who preached so is called “Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings ” to distinguish from Shakyamuni.


Then, what about Amida Buddha? Nichiren criticized it as being not the Buddha of this world. He asserted bitterly that it is ingratitude to discard Shakyamuni Buddha, who as the lord of teaching has tried to attain us Buddhahood in this lifetime, and believe in the Buddha of another world. He also said that according to the Lotus Sutra, those who have done so shall go to Hell. Moreover, based on the past records, he declared that the chief priests of the Pure Land sect would suicide because they had departed from this world and worshipped the Buddha of another world. The criticism of other sects by Nichiren was logical, for it was based on the comparison with the Lotus Sutra, the comparison between the Buddhas whom each worshipped, and the papers of the past.

December 1st 2018


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