Q & A on Nichiren Shu Buddhism
1. What is Buddhism?
Buddhism is the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha.
2. What does the word “Buddha” mean?
The word “Buddha” means “The Enlightened One.”
3. What did the Buddha teach in his first sermon?
The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path.
4. What are the Four Noble Truths?
The Four Noble Truths are;
- Life is full of suffering.
- The cause of suffering is ignorance and selfish desire.
- Suffering may be ended by overcoming ignorance and selfish desire.
- The way to overcome ignorance and selfish desire is by following the Eight-fold Path.
5. That are the steps of the Eight-fold Path?
- Right Understanding
- Right Thought
- Right Speech
- Right Conduct
- Right Livelihood
- Right Endeavor
- Right Purpose
- Right Meditation
6. What is meant by Right Understanding?
Right Understanding means that we should try to learn and understand the Teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha.
7. What is meant by Right Thought?
Right Thought means that we should guard our thoughts carefully because our words and our actions rise from our thoughts.
8. What is meant by Right Speech?
Right Speech means that we should always be truthful and kind in what we say.
9. What is meant by Right Conduct?
Right Conduct means that we should be on our best behavior always.
10. What is meant by Right Livelihood?
Right Livelihood means that we should always make our living honestly and in a way which will harm no one.
11. What is meant by Right Endeavor?
Right Endeavor means that we should always try to become a better person that what we are.
12. What is meant by Right Purpose?
Right Purpose means that we should try to do what is right at all times.
13. What is meant by Right Meditation?
Right Meditation means that we should think often of the Buddha and chant “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.”
14. How can we summarize the teachings of the Buddha?
The Buddha teaches that, through love, we can be led from suffering to peace.
15. What are the Three Treasures of Buddhism?
The Three Treasures of Buddhism are The Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sangha.
- The Buddha is the Great Teacher
- The Dharma is the Teaching
- The Sangha is the Brotherhood
16. What are the Three Signs of Buddhism?
The Three Signs of Buddhism are
- Change (anicca)
- Suffering (dukkha)
- Non-self (anatta)
17. What are the Six Paramitas?
The Six Paramitas are:
- DANA (generosity) To give of our time and our love to all; to share; to be helpful in every way, without expecting any return.
- SILA (morality) To think, speak, and act in the kindest way so that we do not offend anyone.
- KSANTI (patience) To be patient and to be thankful for every lesson learned; to be forgiving; to be free of bearing grudges or finding fault; to have the will-power to carry out our daily tasks.
- VIRYA (perseverance) To try hard, at all times, to follow the Teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha; to practice those rules taught in the Six Paramitas.
- DHYANA (meditation) To think about our goal in life; to take time each day to chant “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.”
- PRAJNA (wisdom) To remember that the light and the love of Sakyamuni Buddha’s Teachings take away the darkness of ignorance.
18. What is meant by “Buddha-nature”?
“Buddha-nature” means that all living beings have the seed of Buddhahood within them; therefore, all living beings have the potential for attaining enlightenment.
19. What is “karma”?
“Karma” (or action and thought) is a deed which results from our thinking. It means that what we are today is a result of what we have thought and done in the past, and that what we shall be in the future is a result of what we think and do in the present.
20. What is Nirvana?
Nirvana, in literal terms, means “extinction”; however, it refers to that real and eternal realm which all living beings may attain by overcoming all illusions and selfish desires.
21. Who is Nichiren Daishonin?
Nichiren Daishonin is the founder of Nichiren Shu Buddhism.
22. When did he live?
Nichiren Daishonin was born in Kominato, Chiba-ken, on February 16, 1222. He dies at Ikegami, near Tokyo, on October 13, 1282.
23. What do the words “Nichi” and “ren” means?
“Nichi” is a Japanese word meaning “sun”, “ren” is a Japanese word meaning “lotus.”
24. Why did Nichiren Daishonin choose these words for his name?
Nichiren Daishonin took these words as the basis for his name because of two references in The Lotus Sutra:
- “Just as the light of the sun and moon expels all dimness and darkness, so this man, living and working in the world, drives out the darkness (illusion) of all living beings;”
- “Be not influenced by environment. Lo, the lotus blossoms, never to be soiled by the muddy waters from whence it grows.”
25. On what did Nichiren Daishonin base his teachings?
Nichiren Daishonin base his teachings on The Lotus of the Wonderful Law, which is also known as The Lotus Sutra.
26. Why did Nichiren Daishonin teach Lotus Sutra?
In his many years of study, Nichiren Daishonin found that The Lotus Sutra contained the final, and only complete teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha.
27. How can we summarize the one teachings of The Lotus Sutra?
The Lotus Sutra teaches that there is only one path – The One-Vehicle – to the Truth; that Sakyamuni Buddha and the Buddha Dharma are eternal; and that, because all living beings contain the Buddha-seed or Buddha-nature, they may all attain Buddhahood.
28. What is the symbolism of the lotus?
The lotus symbolizes the life of both the Buddha and the righteous Buddhist. Although its roots lie in muddy water, the lotus lifts a pure white blossom above that pollution. In the same way, the righteous Buddhist rises above the polluted environment of society to live a pure life.
29. What is the Sacred Title ( O’Daimoku ) ?
The Sacred Title consists of the words “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”
30. What do the words of the Sacred Title mean in English?
The words of the Sacred Title are usually translated as “Adoration to the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law”.
31. Why do we chant the Sacred Title?
We chant the Sacred Title because it reminds us that we have taken refuge with Sakyamuni Buddha whose True Spirit is shown in the The Lotus Sutra. The chanting of the Sacred Title also develops Buddha-nature of the reciter by bringing him/her into harmony with The Lotus Sutra and Sakyamuni Buddha.
32. What is the main object of worship of Nichiren Shu Buddhists?
The main object of worship of Nichiren Shu Buddhists is the The Great Mandala (Gohonzon).
33. What does The Great Mandala (Gohonzon) represent?
The Great Mandala (Gohonzon) represents the Supreme Truth, and illustrates the Ten Worlds of Existence in which all living beings will attain Buddhahood.
34. Why do we worship The Great Mandala (Gohonzon)?
We worship The Great Mandala (Gohonzon) because, by gazing upon it and chanting the Sacred Title, the heart and soul become one; and we come to know that, through Sakyamuni Buddha, life is eternal, and one’s value is without limit.
35. What is the basic reason for worshipping?
The basic reason for worshipping is that it helps us to remove illusion. It helps us to gain true self-identity in relation to all living beings, in relation to the True Law of Sakyamuni Buddha; and in relation to the Buddha, himself.
36. What is the purpose of the rosary (O-Juzu)?
The Nichiren Shu Juzu has 108 beads in a loop with 5 tassels, 3 on one side and 2 on the other. Besides the 108 beads, there are several special beads. 2 larger beads represent Sakyamuni Buddha and Taho Buddha. 4 smaller beads in the main loop represents the 4 Bodhisattvas from under the earth. The Juzu also represents ourselves. The tassels represents our head, arms and legs. This reminds us that we are made up of the 108 desires.
37. What are the three essential articles in the altar arrangement?
The three essential articles in the altar arrangement are:
- Incense for purity
- Candle-light for wisdom
- Flowers for compassion
38. What are the Four Great Vows of a Bodhisattva?
The Four Great Vows of a Bodhisattva are as follows:
- Sentient beings are innumerable; I vow to save them all
- Our evil desires are inexhaustible; I vow to extinguish them all
- The Buddha’s teachings are immeasurable; I vow to study them all
- The way of the Buddha is unexcelled; I vow to attain the Path Sublime
Where Can We Learn the Dharma?
In today’s society, many people are unaware that 2500 years ago Sakyamuni Buddha explained that hard realities of life and inner poisons that prevent us from finding any lasting self-fulfillment. The Buddha taught the way to liberate ourselves from this turmoil while creating harmony in our daily lives.
Many people today are unaware of the Merits of the teachings (Dharma) of the Buddha. They engage in alternative solutions to their problems. These solutions range from the conventional to the desperate. Some people try to solve their problems through medical and physical therapy, while others try to find a solution in the form of drug or alcohol abuse. However, very few discover and embrace the gentle wisdom of the Dharma.
In the Lotus Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha specifically entrusted the Dharma to us. In this age of spiritual confusion and emptiness we must incorporate the Dharma into our daily lives as well as assist others to do the same. Nichiren Shu invites everyone to come to the temple for Services and other activities to discover the Dharma for themselves.
Where Can We Meet the Buddha?
In today’s world it has become increasingly difficult to encounter the Buddha, someone whose very presence inspires peace and love in the depths of one’s being.
The Lotus Sutra tells us that the Buddha is among us now, just as he was present with the assembly at Mr. Sacred Eagle thousands of years ago.
If so, why can’t we see him? Why can we not feel his presence? Is it because we have never truly searched? The Lotus Sutra tells us to seek the Buddha with all our hearts, even at the cost of our lives. With whole hearted dedication and sincerity, we open our eyes to the life of the Buddha that has been hidden from us behind the transient joy and sorrows of daily life.
Do we really have a sincere desire to come into the presence of the Buddha? If so, then that desire should be acted upon an expressed. To make that possible, Nichiren Shu invites you to participate in its Services and other activities, so that together we may see and encounter the Buddha.
Where Can We Join the Sangha?
Many Buddhists think of the Sangha as referring only to the Buddhists clergy. Sakyamuni Buddha, however, considered the Sangha to be those who actually transform their lives by living in accordance with the Dharma. The Sangha consists of all those who in the effort to attain Buddhahood, assist all sentient beings in doing the same.
Joining the Sangha does not mean that one must be a monk or a nun. All that is needed is a sincere aspiration for enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. When many people come together to encourage each other and to share in this aspiration, a genuine spiritual community is created. This is the Sangha which brings real benefit to the world.
Nichiren Shu recognizes this need for a genuine spiritual community and invites you to participate in the Sangha through participation in its Servcies and other activities.
We believe in Sakyamuni Buddha. He is Eternal. He lives in this world. He is our Teacher. He is the Saviour of this world.
We express our faith by reciting the O’Daimoku (Sacred Title): Namu Myoho Renge Kyo (We devote ourselves to the Myoho Renge Kyo). The Myoho Renge Kyo represents not only the title of the a Sutra (also called Hokekyo, the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law, the Lotus Sutra), but also the teachings expounded in this sutra, and also the Eternal Buddha as Sakyamuni Buddha calls himself in this sutra.
We believe that Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1282) was the messenger of Sakyamuni Buddha. He never gave up spreading the O’Daimoku after he founded Nichiren Shu on the twenty-eighth day of the fourth month of 1253.
We vow to the Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin that we will make efforts to secure the peace of the world as well as ours by disseminating the teachings expounded in the Lotus Sutra.
When you understand the Lotus Sutra more thoroughly, practices it with others, and transmit it to others, you can obtain following merits and at the same time can save others; and finally, you can attain the same state of mind as the Buddha.
- Revitalization by Harmony of Body and Mind
- Unification with the Universal True Life
- Protection by the Eternal Buddha and Deities
- Maintenance of Good Health and Peace of mind
- Possession of Wisdom and Right Judgement
- Possession of Gentle and Positive Mind
- Determination with the Eightfold Noble Paths
- Devotion to Work for One’s Family, One’s Job, and for World Peace
- Realization of Goof Life and Peaceful Final Moment on this Earth
- Realization of Dharma World and Eternal Enlightenment