Different Times Required Different Methods-Lotus Sutra And Dharma Are One


Buddhist Worship Alter

Honolulu
Nichiren Shoshu, Buddhism

Greeted by the man opening the door, I entered the building and
the first thing I noticed was that the temple area was not opened for
viewing. It was behind closed doors. After I told the man I was
curious about his religion, he invited me into his office and told me
to have a seat. He asked me, “What would you like to know?” I replied,
“I was curious about what makes Nichiren Shoshu different from Zen
Buddhism or from Buddhism in general?” Actually, I already knew
something about this sect because many years ago some fluke of fate
got me initiated into it. I had no idea what I was getting into back
then, but, later, when I made some inquiries, I was not impressed. I
had come here only to confirm what I already suspected. I just played
dumb when the man in the suit answered my question. “We are all
Buddhists,” he said. “The Buddha taught how to put an end to
suffering. All Buddhists work toward that end.”

“How come I don’t see any Buddha statues around here?” I said, “At
the Zen Temple a huge statue greeted me.”

“All Buddhists want to put an end to suffering,” he replied, “but the
methods for doing so are different for different Buddhists. At
Nichiren Shoshu, we believe in the teachings of the monk, Nichiren
Diashonan. He taught that different times required different methods
to put an end to suffering. After all, the methods that worked at the
time of the Buddha are not necessarily going to work in today’s world.
Things are different for people living under the stresses of modern
society. In fact, the Buddha knew that his teachings would have to
change. He predicted that his teachings would lose meaning over time.
It was the monk, Nichiren, who revived the Buddha’s teachings. He
taught the Lotus Sutra, the most powerful of all Buddhist sutras.
During the Buddha’s time, the sutra was taught to only the few who
could understand its elevated truths. Here at Nichiren Shoshu, we
believe that the dharma of the highest Truth and the Lotus Sutra are
one. The Truth is in the dharma, not in the Buddha. That is why you
do not see Buddha statues in this temple.”

The guy was convincing, but when I continued to question him, I got
the same old line: Reverencing “Gonyo,” repetitive prayers to the
Lotus Sutra, eliminated suffering. I knew that to eliminate suffering,
according to the Buddha, you had to eliminate desire, attachment, and
craving, but the monk Nichiren, in a seeming contradiction, taught
that prayers were answered when desires got satisfied. Reverence to
the Lotus Sutra and the Nichiren Shoshu way in general, was all that
was required in order to get your prayers answered. What a deal! I
thanked the guy and told him I would probably be back to see him, but
I knew I wouldn’t.

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About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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8 Responses to Different Times Required Different Methods-Lotus Sutra And Dharma Are One

  1. Mèo Lười Việt says:

    I want to tell you several things:

    1. Buddhism is not impressed. Christian can be impressed (I know this from Bible). Buddhism is slow, deep and through. You can see this in the architecture of Buddhism and Christian. Christian churchs always look very majestic with high domes, but Buddhist pagodas look very graceful with low roof. Christ watchs us from the heights, while Buddhist is every where by our sides, even inside each of us.

    2. Not all monks are real monks. Nowadays many people take advantage of religion to make money. Some get into pagodas to work as monks. They can know about the outside, the appearance of Buddhist Sutra. They can talk about it but they don’t understand it, even don’t believe in it at all.

    3. Everyone comes at the right time. Maybe someday you will meet someone whom can explain thoroughly all of your questions about Buddhism. Vạn sự tùy duyên. But its good if you think much about it, someday you will understand. No one can teach you about ultimate Truth of life. You have to experience and find it out by yourself. Some people can come to help, but you are the main cause. I’ve almost never asked monks about Buddhism. I just read books and think about the teaching in those books. I know I can’t throw away all the desire, hatred, pride… immediately… But I DO want to change. And when in your mind and your heart, you sincerely want to change yourself to be better person, you will gradually change. And God, or holy spirits will send someone there to help you, maybe in the way that you don’t want, and even don’t know that’s the holy help from God. Just when all have past, you realised that is the message from God.

    Hope this helps! 😀

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    Good for you! Of course it helps! Keep me honest. I welcome help. These posts are time-dependent journal events in an ongoing conversation with myself–a conversation that hopefully generates a learning curve that increases the value of this conversation over time. At any given time, though, I might be heading in the wrong direction,–sometimes (for me at least) it might be two steps back in order to advance one step forward. Do not hesitate to call me on this! We can learn from each other–absolutely! I have spent the last half of my life working as a humble janitor (the first half was sporadic work whenever and wherever I could get it). Tomorrow’s post suggests that I am writing these posts within the context of a time-line of revealed spiritual truths (the spiritual truths I have discovered over time). Thanks for the comment and take care.

    • Mèo Lười Việt says:

      At any given time, though, I might be heading in the wrong direction,–sometimes (for me at least) it might be two steps back in order to advance one step forward. Do not hesitate to call me on this! We can learn from each other–absolutely!

      Step back one step to see the horizon. Congratulations! 😀

  3. eof737 says:

    What does your friend mean by impressed? Just like in other faiths, there are many interpretations of same… I wouldn’t be in a hurry to generalize on Christianity or any other faith for that matter. Plus, not all churches are domed or large. Some are as stark and simple as he describes.
    I’m a Christian and I see God in all things everywhere; faith is very much an individual endeavor. Once we leave the buildings, we can choose to recognize that God dwells in us first and foremost. 🙂
    Eliz

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      I’m pretty sure Meo was referring to the following sentences: Actually, I already knew something about this sect because many years ago some fluke of fate got me initiated into it. I had no idea what I was getting into back
      then, but, later, when I made some inquiries, I was not impressed.

      Somewhere down the line, Nichiren Shoshu, Buddhism will come up again. Their mantra nam myho renge kyo was given to me back in ’69–it’s the universal mantra of their tradition because it honors the Lotus Sutra. It’s kind of a brain melt for me now. Thanks for the comment.

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      Oh, how right you were way back then!

  4. I fell into Nichiren Shoshu for a while, in my early ’20s, when I was looking – not quite sure what I was looking for. When I decided, for a multitude of reasons, it wasn’t for me I was hounded for months with phone calls at home, pushing me to go back and to bring people with me. It might have been that particular chapter but I felt like I had escaped some sort of sect! I found other forms of Buddhism along the way and I am forever grateful for their teachings but I never went back to Nichiren Shoshu.

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      In 1980 I was taking a yoga class and it turned out that my instructor practiced Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. Jean, an Art graduate student at my university, was a great yoga instructor. After I told her about my experience with the Buddhist sect, she said, “It’s not done like that anymore.” I was “street shockabukued,” meaning I became a Buddhist initiate before I had the foggiest notion of what it meant to be one. At the time, however, I had studied Buddhism in an Asian Philosophy class, so it wasn’t as if I was forced into doing something that I didn’t want to do. It’s just that I had no idea what made Nichiren Buddhism different from the Buddhism I had studied in class. As it turned out, there was quite a bit of difference and although I continued to use the mantra I was given, and complete the yoga class, I stayed away from Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. I will talk more about that experience later in this blog. Thanks for sharing.

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