The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】7. Attacking Nenbutsu with Chanting Daimoku

7. Attacking Nenbutsu with Chanting Daimoku


Hiroto Ema
The Chanting Daimoku of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo which Nichiren preached and popularized was a new way to revive the belief in the Lotus Sutra. About this regard, Nichiren said as follows.


First, Nichiren contradicted the assertion that neither Eshi (Nangaku Daishi 515-577), Chigi(Tendai Daishi 538-597), nor Saityo(Dengyo Daishi 766-822), all of whom had popularized the Lotus Sutra in the past, had chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.


“Even these great teachers recited Nam Myoho Renge Kyo as their private practice, and in their hearts they understood these words to be the truth. Thus Nangaku Daishi in his Method of Repentance through the Lotus Sutra employs the words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. … And the document concerning the vow taken by Dengyo Daishi on his deathbed carries the words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.”(The Entity of the Mystic Law)


Then,why is it that neither Tendai nor Dengyo tried to popularize Chanting Daimoku? Nichiren answered that the time had not come for both of them, and asserted as follows.


“If the title of the provisional sutras(Nenbutsu) is spread abroad, then the title of the Lotus Sutra(Daimoku) will also surely be spread abroad”(The Selection of the Time)


The provisional sutras are the sutras written in preparation for the Lotus Sutra. One example of such sutras is Amida Sutra. Nichiren said the popularization of Nenbutsu had been the forerunner of Chanting Daimoku, so it was natural that after Nenbutsu, Chanting Daimoku be popularized. Furthermore, he simply described his originality as follows.


“No one has recommended or chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo as he chants the name of Amida(Namu Amida Butsu)” (Reply to the Lay Nun Matsuno)


“There are of course some persons who recite the Lotus Sutra, but throughout the whole land of Japan there was not one person who chanted the words Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I, Nichiren, at the beginning of summer in 1253 began chanting them. And for the following twenty and more years, I alone have continued to chant them as the great majority of people of our time chant Nembutsu(Namu Amida Butsu)”(Reply to Matsuno)


Nichiren prided himself as one and only advocator of Chanting Daimoku, and had strong confidence in it. He declared that the popularization of Chanting Daimoku was a necessity of history, and it was no other than him who achieved it. With this pride and confidence, Nichiren criticized the existent faith in Nenbutsu bitterly and urged the conversion to the Lotus Sutra.


He said “Nenbutsu is eternal hell”. It means those who chant Nenbutsu must go to eternal hell. And he told people the terrible way the chief priests of the Pure Land sect had died, who had passed away in throes. We can easily imagine how shocking the preachment of Nichiren was to those who believed they could die peacefully only by chanting Nenbutsu. The criticism of Nenbutsu by Nichiren was so fierce that one could not remember more bitter accusation.
January 1st 2019


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  日蓮こそ、史上唯一の唱題の提唱者であるという、誇りと自信に溢れています。唱題の流布は歴史的必然なのだと確信し、それを成し遂げた僧こそ私である、と 日蓮は高らかに宣言しているのです。この誇りと自信から、日蓮は、先行する念仏信仰を激烈な言葉で責め立て、法華経への改宗を迫っていきました。


 いわく「念仏無間」。これは「念仏を唱えれば必ず無間地獄に堕ちる」という意味です。そして浄土教の教主たちが、いかに断末魔の苦しみの中で世を去っていっ たか、その恐ろしい死に様を語り聞かせていきました。念仏を唱えれば、極楽往生できると信じる人々に、この日蓮の説法はどれほどの衝撃を与えたことでしょ う。ここまで過激な悪口は過去に聞いたことがない、と思えるほど、日蓮の念仏に対する批判は激しいものでした。






澤宮 優




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