QUESTION: No one has been able to tell me what Nichiren Buddhists believe. You say things like, “We believe everyone can attain enlightenment.” If I ask five different Nichiren Buddhists what this means, I get five different explanations. Various answers include “unexceled bliss,” “omnipotence,” “complete understanding,” and my favorite useless description, “Buddhahood.” These are allContinue reading “Nichiren Buddhist Values”
Does Buddhism suit your politics?
QUESTION: A famous scene in the Vimalakirti Sutra shows a goddess transforming Shariputra, one of the Buddha’s male disciples, into female. This is maybe the first recorded incident of a male transitioning to female in religious literature. This means Buddhism is pro-trans. Change my mind. RESPONDENT ONE: Do people have a right to be perceivedContinue reading “Does Buddhism suit your politics?”
Karma isn’t justice
Carmelight: Can we talk more about karma? General understanding of karma relies on the just-world fallacy or just-world hypothesis, which is a cognitive bias — a belief — that the world is fair and everyone gets what they deserve. Karma is believed to be a powerful force or mechanism for ensuring fairness and giving everyoneContinue reading “Karma isn’t justice”
All karma is collective
Question: I have problems! My Buddhist friends tell me that my problems are manifestations of my karma. If I want to solve my problems, I need to change my karma. They say I should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for my own happiness, and this will automatically change my karma. Please explain how chanting will change my karma.Continue reading “All karma is collective”
Nam or namu?
Question: Which is correct — Nam or Namu? Be honest. Wade: For those who don’t know, here are the basics of this debate. Some groups, such as Nichiren Shu, say that Daimoku is properly chanted and written as Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. Other groups, primarily Soka Gakkai, drop the “u” and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Supposedly, droppingContinue reading “Nam or namu?”
Nichiren by any other name
Question: I don’t like having to identify as a Nichiren Buddhist. Nichiren is problematic for lots of people because he was a militant nationalist. He wanted his brand of Buddhism to become the state religion of Japan. He talked about Buddhism as being a weapon of war. This offends and troubles people who are interestedContinue reading “Nichiren by any other name”
Big Nine noodling
Question: What is consciousness? Wade: “Consciousness” can mean several different things, such as awareness, alertness, or the state of being awake. In Nichiren Buddhism, there’s a concept called the Nine Consciousnesses, informally referred to as the Big Nine, because it’s hard to say the word “consciousnesses.” The first five consciousnesses — first five of theContinue reading “Big Nine noodling”
Again with the cult thing
Question: Did you know that Nichiren was a cult leader? You’re in a cult. Why are you promoting a cult? Hillcrest: I was first introduced to Nichiren Buddhism in Los Angeles, where The Organization I Won’t Name has a huge presence. They market chanting as a self-improvement and prosperity scheme. Youngish people like me wereContinue reading “Again with the cult thing”
Lotus Sutra: tedious or genius?
Question: If the Lotus Sutra is so great, why is it also so tedious and pointless? Carmelight: I assume you mean pointless in the sense that the sutra never gets to the point. Throughout the sutra, the Buddha promises to reveal the ultimate teaching, but never gets around to saying explicitly what it is. TheContinue reading “Lotus Sutra: tedious or genius?”
Something about taking responsibility
Question: What’s your biggest regret related to your Buddhist practice? NoNoNanjo: I regret how much time I spent chanting to change myself and other people. As Gandhi supposedly said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Sounds noble and worthy, right? I was praying to be new and improved. I wasn’t thinkingContinue reading “Something about taking responsibility”
But does it work?
Question: When people say that chanting Daimoku “works,” what do they mean? Jutta: For many, the question is: “If I chant, will it help me get what I want?” When people say chanting works, most of the time they mean, yes, chanting will help you get what you want. After decades of chanting, however, IContinue reading “But does it work?”
But is it Buddhism?
Question: Is Nichiren Buddhism really Buddhism? Nichiren said that earthly desires are enlightenment. He told chanters to embrace their desires rather than to extinguish them. Because of this, Nichiren Buddhism seems to contradict a foundational teaching of Buddhism, namely the Four Noble Truths and the basic goal of freeing oneself from craving. What do youContinue reading “But is it Buddhism?”