Nichiren Shū (日蓮宗 Nichiren-shū?, Nichiren School) is a confederation of four of the original Nichiren Buddhist Schools that date back to Nichiren's original disciples, and part of the fifth:[2][3]

  • the Minobu-School (founded by Nikō)
  • the Hama-School (founded by Nisshō)
  • the Ikegami-School (founded by Nichirō)
  • the Nakayama-School (founded by Nichijō (Toki Jōni))
  • the Fuji-School (founded by Nikkō; part only, some of the Fuji-School belongs to Nichiren Shōshū)

The school's Head Temple, Kuon-ji, is located on Mount Minobu[4] where Nichiren lived in seclusion and where he asked to be buried. Another important temple of Nichiren Shū is Ikegami Honmon-ji where Nichiren died. Its temples have many of Nichiren’s most important personal artifacts and writings (which are considered National Treasures of Japan) in their safekeeping.

Overview of Nichiren Shū

Nichiren Shū does not believe Nichiren designated a single successor, as taught for instance by Nichiren Shoshu, but that he designated Six Senior Disciples to succeed him. The Six Senior Disciples designated by Nichiren were: Nissho (1221-1323); Nichiro (1245-1320); Nikko (1246-1333); Nikō (1253-1314); Nitchō (1252-1317); and Nichiji (1250-unknown).[5]

Nichiren Shū states that the Buddha, to take refuge in, is the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha of the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren is regarded as the appearance in this world of Superior Practice Bodhisattva who is given the mission in chapter 21 of the Lotus Sutra[6] to uphold the true Dharma in the Latter Day of the Law. Nichiren is seen as the votary of the Lotus Sutra fulfilling its prophecy in acting as the appearance of Bodhisattva Jōgyō ("Superior Practice"), who leads all bodhisattvas in propagating the Lotus Sutra. Shakyamuni Buddha is regarded as the Eternal Buddha as revealed in the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra.

Nichiren Shū regards Nichiren as the messenger of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha or Original Buddha, but does not consider him as more important than Shakyamuni. The Original Buddha occupies the central role in Nichiren Shū; Nichiren—referred to as Nichiren Shōnin ("Saint Nichiren")—is the saint who refocused attention on Shakyamuni by rebuking other Buddhist schools for solely emphasizing other buddhas or esoteric practices or for neglecting or deriding the Lotus Sutra. This can be seen in the emphasis of training in Nichiren Shū. The Lotus Sutra is paramount in study and in practice, and Nichiren's writings—called Gosho (御書) or Goibun (御遺文)—are seen as commentaries or guides to the doctrines of Buddhism. They include the Five Major Writings of Nichiren in which he establishes doctrine, belief, and practice, as well as many pastoral letters he wrote to his followers. Nichiren Shū is currently in the process of translating many of the writings of Nichiren into English using the extant documents from Nichiren's life or copies known to have been made by his original disciples. In total there will be 7 volumes published through the University of Hawaii Press.

Nichiren wrote frequently, and readers can verify or correct their understanding of the doctrines of Nichiren Buddhism through his surviving works. Unlike Nichiren Shōshū, Nichiren Shū is far more selective about which Gosho it deems authentic. Many Gosho that are accepted by the Nichiren Shoshu are not accepted as genuine by Nichiren Shū on grounds that scholars have not verified their authenticity. The primary reason for this dispute arises over an inability to verify those various disputed writings as actually having been authored by Nichiren Shonin. This does not mean those gosho or alleged oral transmissions (like the Ongi Kuden) are rejected, but it does mean that they are viewed as secondary to authenticated materials and it is admitted that while they might have pastoral value they can not be definitively asserted as Nichiren's own teaching.

Nichiren Shu Practice and Beliefs

In the Lotus Sutra, according to Nichiren Shū, there are five kinds of practices that one should perform. They are:

  • to receive and keep the Sutra in each one's body and mind
  • to read the Sutra with the eyes
  • to recite the Sutra
  • to explain the Sutra to others
  • to copy the Sutra

The Primary Practice in Nichiren Shū however, is chanting Taking Refuge are used as supporting practices in Nichiren Shū.

Object of Devotion in Nichiren Shū

Nichiren Shū issues calligraphic Gohonzons to its members, but statue arrangements may also be used to represent the Gohonzon. In Nichiren Shū, the following may be used as the Gohonzon:[7]

  • A statue of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha.
  • A statue of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha, flanked by the Four Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
  • A stupa with Namu-myōhō-renge-kyō inscribed on it, flanked by the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Many Treasures.
  • An inscription of the Odaimoku alone (Ippen Shudai).
  • The Nichiren.

All fully ordained Nichiren-shū ministers are able to inscribe and consecrate mandalas, but in practice few of them do. They usually bestow a copy of a Nichiren inscribed mandala, called the Shutei Gohonzon,[8] upon their members.

Nichiren Shū Today

The Nichiren Shū first spread overseas with Japanese immigrants to the United States, then Kingdom of Hawaii, Brazil and other locations in the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Presently, there are Nichiren Shū temples and Sanghas in the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, much of South America, India, Korea, Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan), and Europe.[9] Nichiren Shū also ordains non-Japanese and non-Japanese speaking men and women, and continues to expand its presence overseas. Nichiren Shū maintains relations with other Nichiren Schools and non-Nichiren Schools.

Differences and Similarities with other Nichiren Schools

Apart from other fundamental issues on dogma,[10][11][12][13] Nichiren Shū does not believe the Dai-Gohonzon, which is revered in Nichiren Shōshū, to be superior to other Gohonzons nor that it has been inscribed by Nichiren at all: "Although the Daigohonzon in itself is a valid Mandala Gohonzon, this concept of a super Gohonzon that empowers all the others blatantly contradicted Nichiren Daishonin's teachings and consequently, created a great feeling of mistrust with other Nikko temples."[14] This view is very similar to SGI teaching on this matter: "First, the power of any Gohonzon, including the Dai-Gohonzon, can be tapped only through the power of faith. In other words, we should be clear that it is wrong to think that the Dai-Gohonzon alone has some kind of unique mystic power that no other Gohonzon possesses. The Dai-Gohonzon and our own Gohonzon are equal."[15]

The major difference in beliefs, however, centres on the spiritual identity of the founder, Nichiren. Nichiren Shū regards Nichiren as Superior Practice Bodhisattva, and teaches that Shakyamuni "... is known as “the” Buddha, not because he attained something that ordinary people cannot attain, but because he was the first person in recorded history to awaken to the truth and to show the way whereby others could do so as well. In that sense, the title “Buddha” is reserved for Shakyamuni simply because he happened to be the one to fulfil the role of teacher and model for all those who follow his path."[16] Nichren Shoshu believes that Nichiren was the "Original Buddha of kuon ganjo"[17] while SGI views Nichiren as simply an ordinary person who attained Buddhahood "I, Nichiren, vowed ... to attain Buddhahood".[18] Other differences relate to Nichiren designating Nikko his successor, and to disputing the authenticity of some of the writings attributed to Nichiren by certain schools.

A similarity, common to most Nichiren schools, is the shared doctrine of The Three Great Hidden Dharmas,[19] referred to in some schools as the Three Great Secret Laws,[20] as "... it was in order to put the insight of Ichinen Sanzen into actual practice that Nichiren Shonin taught The Three Great Secret Dharmas: the Gohonzon, the Essential Focus of Reverence, the Odaimoku, the great Title of the Lotos Sutra; and the Kaidan, the Precept Platform."[21]


External links

  • Nichiren Buddhist International Center
  • Nichiren-shū Yahoo group moderated by one of the North American Nichiren-shū ministers
  • Copy of a Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren
  • Website of one of Nichiren-shū's North American ministers
  • Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Greater New England
  • Nichiren-shū in Italy and Europe, website in Italian, English, French and Spanish
  • Nichiren-shū in the UK
  • Templo Nichiren Shu do Brasil
  • Nichiren Shu In Indonesia
  • Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
  • Nichiren Sangha, website in English and Spanish
  • 資料集
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.