The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】9.Nichiren urges conversion on the rulers first.

9.Nichiren urges conversion on the rulers first.

Hiroto Ema

Nichiren began to fight with the monks of Nenbutsu to restore the belief in the Lotus Sutra. But, those fights were not limited to the domain of religion, and his object was the rulers. Nichiren believed that if the rulers stopped Chanting Nenbutsu and the belief in the Lotus Sutra was restored through Chanting Daimoku, the world would regain peace.


For Nichiren, the relationship between the rulers and the doctrine of Buddhism was as follows.


“As for good and evil, the nation should follow the king. Such is the way of the world. And such, too, is the way of Buddhism. And the Buddha has already made the doctrine subject to the law of king. If so, unless they follow the law of king, even wise men who are also saints and philosophers cannot spread the doctrine of Buddhism. And even if it should later be propagated, at the beginning it will without fail meet with great obstacles” (Reply to Shijo Kingo “The Pure and Far-Reaching Voice”)


For Nichiren to restore the belief in the Lotus Sutra, it was needed for the rulers to believe in it first. Such a thought would not be accepted easily by us who live in the modern democratic society, but since the doctrine of Buddhism had aimed the peace of the nation from the first, it was natural that the faith of the rulers was given the priority. So in this context should we understand the fact that one of the main works of Nichiren was “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the peace of the Land (Rissyo Ankoku Ron)”, and a letter of opinion which he submitted to the supreme ruler of the shogunate.


On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the peace of the Land was written in Shiroku Benrei Tai (四六駢儷体), which is considered one of the most luxuriant styles in classical Chinese writing. The knowledge of Nichiren who used the style in those days is surprising. It was written as a dialogue between a master and his guest, and first the guest grieves for the death caused by abnormal weather, famine, and plague, then he questions to the master what misfortune and error has caused the misery of the nation.


The guest is representing the supreme ruler of the shogunate, and the master Nichiren himself, it shows the way to restore the peace and justice of the world answering to the question by the guest. And here, we are surprised at the relationship between the two. In writing On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the peace of the Land, Nichiren regarded it just natural that he was a guide to the shogunate. And the shogunate didn’t seem to protest against it. So this fact seems to tell the fact that it was rather natural for monks to guide the policies of the shogunate from the upper position, and the political position of monks in those days was much more superior to that of the present.

March 1st 2019


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