Nichiren Shoshu is a religion dedicated to teaching the
Buddhism of
Nichiren Daishonin, the Eternal Buddha,
who was born on the 16th day of the second month in
the year 1222 in a fishing village on the pacific coast in
Chiba, a prefecture in eastern Japan. As he said in his
own words: "In this life I was born into poverty of
humble parentage, I grew up in the house of a
Candala is the lowest class of the Indian caste system.
Its members are fisherman, jailers, slaughterers and other
followers of "unclean" trades.) In this it can be seen that,
unlike many of the saints and scholars in history, Nichiren
Daishonin was open about his humble birth and poor
lineage. Moreover, it is this background of poverty which
must be remembered when studying the teachings of the
Daishonin. For the truth of all things - the universe and
the realm of Buddhism as perceived by Buddha - is
something which is to be granted equally to all living
things without question of form, wealth, status or abililty.
It is taught that all peoples, living creatures and
phenomena are equal before the Eternal Buddha and the
laws of Buddhism. In addition to this concept of absolute
equality, from the very start the Buddhism of Nichiren
Daishonin is based on the doctrine of salvation for all.
At the age of 12 Nichiren Daishonin entered the monastery of Seicho-ji on Mount Kiyosumi
near his home. His studies began with the fundamentals of Buddhism and a general course of
study. At the age of 16 he was ordained and began his training as a priest. At this time he
personally vowed that he would endeavor to become the leading scholar of his day. To attain
this the Daishonin devoted himself wholeheartedly to studying the
Mahayana Buddhism that
was followed in India, China, Japan and northeast Asia.
From the age of 16 to the age of 32, in order to study all aspects of Buddhism, Nichiren
Daishonin traveled to Kyoto and Nara and other religious centers in Japan, dedicating himself
to the study and practice of Mahayana Buddhism. Through this effort he gradually became
convinced that the true religion of the Indian sage,
Shakyamuni Buddha, was contained in
Lotus Sutra (Saddharma-pundarika-sutra) and so realized that all aspects of Buddhism
can be found united within this text. Nichiren attained this understanding on the 28th day of
the fourth month in the year 1253. From then on, despite the wave of religious persecution
to which he was subsequently subjected, the Daishonin strove to put into practice the
teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren Daishonin, having read all of the Buddhist texts, decided that the Lotus Sutra, with
its laws for complete salvation and its doctrine of absolute mercy (a doctrine which teaches
that all living things may be granted a way of life the same as that of Buddha) was the
principle scripture of the Buddhism of Shakyamuni. However, there is a great difference
between the Lotus Sutra of Shakyamni and the Lotus Sutra as taught by Nichiren. This is
because the Lotus Sutra itself has two purposes: One is to enable those with a relationship to
Shakyamuni, living in the Middle Day of the Law (see sermon on
true religion) to seek
enlightenment through the study and practice of this text. The second is to prophesy that in
the age of the extinction of the law, or the Latter Day of the Law (see essay on true religion)
when salvation cannot be reached through the basic teachings of Shakyamuni, the Eternal
Buddha will come forth to re-establish the basic truths of Buddhism for the salvation of all
living things.
By the time Nichiren Daishonin came a long the power of Shakyamuni's Buddhism to save
mankind had expired. Daishonin came to realize that the true essence of the Lotus Sutra
resided in its title Myoho-renge-kyo. And by intoning the chant Namu-myoho-renge-kyo
eternal peace and happiness could be attained for all living things. As prophesied in the Lotus
Sutra of Shakyamuni, Nichiren Daishonin appeared in the Latter Day of the Law to reveal
and explain for us the fundamentals of Buddhism, and thereby open the path for all us to
This is NOT an official site of
the Nichiren Shoshu Shoshin-kai
(Excerpted from a Treatise)
By Reverend Kendo Ohyama
Edited by Udumbara Foundation staff.
Wave and Mt. Fuji by Hokusai
Sunflowers by Van Gogh