Dishonest Buddhist

Mt. Fuji

Age of Dharma Decline
Summer, ’80

Jean was upset because having not studied under a practicing
Buddhist before I took my vows, I was, according to her, a dishonest Nichiren
Shoshu Buddhist. As a “card-carrying member of the group,” she thought I
should know more than I did. I agreed, and when she volunteered to
teach me, I was more than happy to oblige. Every other week, our
worship group met in a house in Midland (a twenty mile drive), and sitting
before the shrine of Gohonzon, a Japanese lady would lead us in the practice of
Gong Ho, a 15-minute recitation of Japanese script. Everybody chanted
along to the best of their ability. This practice began and ended the
worship session. Not knowing the language, I sat quietly while the
rest, (usually five or six participants) recited Gong Ho. To make a
long story short, I only attended two sessions with Jean and then
politely told her that I didn’t want to continue. I told her I needed
more time to read about the Buddhist sect before I continued my Gong
Ho practice. She was disappointed, but understood, and, as it turned
out, I was disappointed too, but not with Jean, nor even with
chanting, I was disappointed in the literature I found on the Buddhist
sect. I was not impressed.

The main problem with Nichiren Shoshu, for me at least, was that (I’m
actually embarrassed to say this) the followers believed that their
Buddhism was the last word on Buddhism, and by extension, the last
word on all religion. In Japan, around 1262, the monk Nichiren came
to believe that his mission in life was to alert his fellow Japanese
to abandon all other beliefs and religious practices. The last word in
Buddhism, for Nichiren, was to accept the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
The Lotus Sutra, according to the monk, contained the highest truth of all the
Buddhist teachings, and was the only teaching that could be effective in during
the third and last age of Buddhism or Mappo, — the Age of Dharma Decline.

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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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