[I’d like to introduce Mr. P. Wayne Smith also @PWayneSmith on Twitter which is where I made his acquaintance. The concept of “true” Buddhism is one that is familiar to me and one that I find difficult to wrap my head around so I thank Mr. Smith for throwing his experience in the practice into the ring and I ask that anyone that wished to engage to please do so with compassion. Cheers ~ John]
First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Jack Daw for the opportunity to explain Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism from this lowly practictioner’s viewpoint.
It seems the members of various sects of Buddhism are quite ticked whenever they encounter Nichiren Shoshu’s claim to be True Buddhism. I’ve been involved as a laybeliever off and on over a 25 year period and I still try to understand it myself. I will try to explain this based on what I’ve learned from listening to the various lectures given by our Priesthood.
Nichiren Daishonin was a priest in the Tendai sect in 13th Century Japan. He had been born a fisherman’s son and became a priest in order to obtain an education. From his humble origins came a desire to help relieve the sufferings of the populace that he saw. His thirst for knowledge on all the various sutras led him to many of the different sects temples. From this research the Daishonin came to the conclusion that the Lotus Sutra was The Supreme Teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha (aka Gautama Buddha, aka Siddhartha). He then began to regard the various sutras Shakyamuni taught before the Lotus Sutra as “expediant means” taught according to the circumstances and capacity of the people Shakyamuni encountered at the time.
As one Nichiren Shoshu priest explained in a lecture, the other sutras expounded by Shakyamuni were likened to the “scaffolding of a magnificent building, the building that was the Lotus Sutra. Once this magnificent building (the Lotus Sutra) was completed, the scaffolding (the other sutras) could be discarded”.
It was the Daishonin’s conviction that the Lotus Sutra contained the very essense of all Shakyamuni’s teachings within this one Sutra. He believed that the True intent of the Buddha was to save all of humankind from itself through Buddhist practice. In Nichiren Shoshu, this practice consists of reciting portions of the Lotus Sutra morning and evening as well as the chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, derived from the title of the Lotus Sutra in Sanskrit. It is also part of the practice, as Nichiren Daishonin explained it, to “teach others even a single word or phrase of this Sutra”, that is, to propagate this teaching.
It is not the intention of Nichiren Shoshu to arrogantly proclaim itself True Buddhism for ego’s sake. It goes back simply to the conviction, taught by Nichiren Daishonin to his followers both the Priesthood and lay believers alike, that Shakyamuni Buddha’s True Intentions were to help all humankind to attain enlightenment, or Buddhahood, in this lifetime we now exist in. We do not worship the Buddha as a god outside ourselves nor do we try to get to a Pure Land far far away or strive to become One with everything. Through our daily practice we try to become like the enlightened person the Buddha was. We strive to become the enlightened men and women that the Buddha intended us all to be! It is with this conviction that Nichiren Shoshu will continue to propagate for all the millenia to come until all people, as the Daishonin taught, chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo “many in body but one in mind” together.