Dogen and Nichiren, together again

Dogen and NichirenActually, I don’t believe these two 13th Century Buddhists ever met each other, although it is possible. Dogen, however, was Nichiren’s senior by 22 years.

Today, the followers of Nichiren worldwide number in the millions; I have no idea how many practice Soto Zen, founded by Dogen, but it developed into the second largest school of Japanese Buddhism.

There are a number of similarities between the two. Both were outsiders. Nichiren as “the son of an untouchable along the beach” who was not admitted to the clannish circles around the top teachers at Mt. Hiei and while Dogen was from a noble family, his mother had been in an unfavorable situation which checked his acceptance among the aristocracy. Both were ordained into the Tendai sect, studied at Mt. Hiei, and they were both disgusted by the spiritual corruption they found there. And they both relied heavily upon the Lotus Sutra, albeit to different degrees.

To my mind, their philosophical approach, their methodology, are like night and day. Still, in bottom line terms, they were not that far apart, especially in regards to the universal potential of Buddhahood. I imagine that the greatest difference between them was in personality. Nichiren was a fiery street preacher. When I think of Dogen, I think of stillness, quietude. Dogen taught only a few disciples. Nichiren on the other hand envisioned a mass movement. One other significant difference is that Dogen rejected the notion of the Three Periods (Former, Middle and Latter Day of the Law), maintaining that all people could attain enlightenment regardless of the age they lived in. For Nichiren, the Three Periods were crucial and even though his time line was off by 500 years, the faith-only ideology associated with the Latter Day of the Law is the all-important context for his teachings.

I thought it would an interesting exercise to put the writings of Dogen and Nichiren side by side to compare and contrast. I considered putting together a collection of brief quotes but felt there might be some question over objectivity doing it that way, so I looked for writings that were similar in title and/or subject matter. The ideal writings are far too long to quote in their entirety. Instead, I am presenting relatively short excerpts.

The sources are Shasta Abbey’s translations of Dogen’s Shobogenzo and the original Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin published under the aegis of the Soka Gakkai.

The first comes from Dogen’s Soku Shin ze Butsu and Nichiren’s Soku Shin jo Butsu. The titles are essentially the same, meaning “this mind is precisely Buddha” or “attaining Buddahood in this very life.” Nichiren gives his explanation of this well-known Japanese Buddhist concept a slight twist. In other writings, he adheres to the phrase as usually defined, but in this work “Soku shin jo Butsu” takes on the connotation of “earthly desires are Buddhahood.”

Dogen, Soku Shin ze Butsu,

Now you know clearly: what is called ‘mind’ is the great earth with its mountains and rivers; it is the sun, the moon, and the stars . . . The mind that is sun, moon, and stars is simply sun, moon, and stars: there is no fog nor is there any mist to obscure its clarity . . . Since this is the way things are, “Your very mind is Buddha” means, pure and simply, that your very mind is Buddha; all Buddhas are, pure and simply, all Buddhas.

Thus, “Your very mind is Buddha” refers to all Buddhas, that is, to Those who have given rise to the intention to realize Buddhahood by practicing and training until They awaken to Their enlightenment and realize nirvana. Those who have not given rise to the intention to realize Buddhahood by practicing and training until they awaken to their enlightenment and realize nirvana are not those whose very mind is Buddha. Even if, for a fraction of an instant, you give rise to the intention to train and realize the Truth for yourself, your very mind will be Buddha . . .

The term ‘all Buddhas’ means Shakyamuni Buddha: Shakyamuni Buddha is synonymous with one’s very mind being Buddha. At that very moment when all the Buddhas of past, present, and future have become, do become, and will become Buddha, without fail, They become Shakyamuni Buddha. This is what “Your very mind is Buddha” means.

Nichiren, Soku Shin jo Butsu

The sutra states, “The wisdom of the Buddhas is infinitely profound and immeasurable.” “The Buddhas” means every Buddha throughout the ten directions in the three existences. It represents every single Buddha and bodhisattvas of any sutra or sect whatsoever, including both the Thus Come One Dainichi of the Shingon sect and Amida of the Pure Land sect, every Buddha of the past, the future or the present, including the present Thus Come One Shakyamuni himself. The sutra refers to the wisdom of all these Buddhas.

What is meant by the ‘wisdom’ of the Buddhas! It is the entity of the true aspect, or the ten factors, of all phenomena, the entity that leads all beings to Buddhahood. What then is the entity! It is nothing other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. A commentary states that the profound principle of the true aspect is the originally inherent Law of Myoho-renge-kyo. The true aspect of all phenomena indicates the two Buddhas Shakyamuni and Taho seated together in the treasure tower [jeweled stupa]. Taho represents all phenomena and Shakyamuni, the true aspect. The two Buddhas also indicate the two principles of the truth as object and the wisdom to grasp it. Taho signifies the truth, as object and Shakyamuni, the wisdom. Although these are two, they are fused into one in the Buddha’s enlightenment.

These teachings are of prime importance. They mean that earthly desires are enlightenment and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana . . .The Juryo chapter of the Lotus Sutra says, ‘At all times I think to myself: How can I cause living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha?’ And the Hoben chapter states, ‘All the characteristics of the world are eternal.’ The entity is none other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The second example comes from Dogen’s Bendowa and Nichiren’s Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho. As you will see, they had vastly different takes on what Shakyamuni Buddha taught.

Shasta Abbey translates Dogen’s work as “A Discourse on Doing One’s Upmost in Practicing the Way of the Buddha,” while others use “The True Way of Practicing the Teaching of the Buddha,” or “The Wholehearted Way.” Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho appears in Nichiren’s Major Writings as “On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings.” Others have translated the work as “On Practicing According to the Preaching” and “Buddhist Practice as Taught by the Tathagata.”

Dogen, Bendowa

This is why even the meditating of just one person at one time harmonizes with, and is at one with, all forms of being, as it tranquilly permeates all times. Thus, within the inexhaustible phenomenal world, across past, present, and future, the meditator does the unending work of instructing and guiding others in the Way of Buddhas. It is the same practice, in no way different for all, just as it is the same realization and personal certifying by all . . .

You have now heard just how great and vast the virtues and spiritual merits of this seated meditation are. However, someone who is befuddled by doubts may ask, “Since there are many gates into the Buddha’s Teachings, why bother to do just seated meditation?”

I would point out in response, “Because it is the proper and most straightforward entryway into what the Buddha taught.” He may then ask, “Why is this the one and only proper and straightforward entryway?”

I would then point out, “Undoubtedly, the Venerable Great Master Shakyamuni Transmitted it directly as the most excellent method for realizing the Way, and Those who embody the Truth in the three temporal worlds, alike, have realized, do realize, and will realize the Way by doing seated meditation. Therefore, They pass it on generation after generation as the proper and most straightforward gate to the Dharma. Not only that, the Indian and Chinese Ancestors all realized the Way by doing seated meditation, which is why I have now indicated it to be the proper gate for those in both human and celestial worlds.”

Nichiren, Nyosetsu Shugyo Sho

[The Hokke Gengi says] “The practice of the Lotus Sutra is shakubuku, the refutation of the provisional doctrines.” True to the letter of this golden saying, the believers of all provisional teachings and sects will ultimately be defeated and join the followers of the king of the Law. The time will come when all people, including those of Learning, Realization and Bodhisattva, will enter on the path to Buddhahood, and the Mystic Law alone will flourish throughout the land. In that time because all people chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo together, the wind will not beleaguer the branches or boughs, nor will the rain fall hard enough to break a clod . . .

Question: How should one practice if he is to be faithful to the Buddha’s teachings?

Answer: The Japanese people of this age are one in their opinion of what practice accords with the Buddha’s teachings. They believe that since all vehicles are incorporated in the one supreme vehicle, no teaching is superior or inferior, shallow or profound, but that all are equal to the Lotus Sutra. Hence the belief that repeating the Nembutsu chant, embracing Shingon esotericism, practicing Zen meditation, or professing and chanting any sutra or the name of any Buddha or bodhisattva equals following the Lotus Sutra.

But I insist that this is wrong. The most important thing in practicing Buddhism is to follow and uphold the Buddha’s golden teachings, not the opinions of others. Our master, Shakyamuni Buddha, wished to reveal the Lotus Sutra from the moment of his enlightenment. However, because the people were not yet mature enough to understand, he had to employ provisional teachings for some forty years before he could expound the true teaching of the Lotus Sutra.

Finally, here are writings from each man that have the exact same title, Shoho Jisso. Dogen’s piece is translated as “On the Real Form of All Thoughts and Things,” and Nichiren’s as “The True Entity of Life.”


All Buddhas and Ancestors fully manifest Their thorough realization of what is real.  What is real are all Their thoughts and the things around Them.  All Their thoughts and the things around Them comprise Their form just as it is, Their True Nature just as it is, Their body just as it is , Their mind just as it is, Their world just as it is, Their ‘clouds and rain’ just as they are, Their daily activities—walking, standing, sitting, and reclining—just as they are, Their moving or being still within Their joys and sorrows just as they are, Their traveling staff and Their ceremonial [staff] just as they are, Their flower raised aloft and Their face breaking into a smile just as they are, Their inheriting the Dharma and Their prophesying Buddhahood just as they are, Their training under a Master and Their doing the practice just as they are, and Their pine-like fidelity and Their bamboo-like integrity just as they are.

Shakyamuni Buddha once said: “Only a Buddha is directly able to fully realize the real form of all thoughts and things, just as all Buddhas have done. What is called ‘all thoughts and things’ is form just as it is, True Nature just as It is, physical body just as it is, spiritual abilities just as they are, as well as actions just as they are, causes just as they are, conditions just as they are, effects just as they are, and consequences just as they are, for all things are Ultimate Reality, from beginning to end, just as they are.”

The Tathagata’s phrase ‘Ultimate Reality from beginning to end’ was His own way of expressing the reality of all thoughts and things. It is the way our Master Shakyamuni personally expressed it. It was His exploring through His training that all things are equal, because when we explore the Matter through our training, all things are seen to be equal.

Each and every Buddha is the real form of the True Dharma, and the real form of the True Dharma is each and every Buddha . . .


Question: In the Hoben chapter of Volume One of the Lotus Sutra is the passage: “The true entity of all phenomena can only be understood and shared between Buddhas. This reality consists of the appearance, nature…and their consistency from beginning to end.” What does this passage mean?

Answer: It means that all beings and their environments in any of the Ten Worlds, from Hell at the lowest to Buddhahood at the highest, are, without exception, the manifestations of Myoho-renge-kyo [title of the Lotus Sutra/Mystic Law]. Where there is an environment, there is life within it. Miao-lo states, “Both life (shoho) and its environment (eho) always manifest Myoho-renge-kyo.” He also states, “The true entity is invariably revealed in all phenomena, and all phenomena invariably possess the Ten Factors. The Ten Factors invariably function within the Ten Worlds, and the Ten Worlds invariably entail both life and its environment” And, “Both the life and environment of Hell exist within the life of Buddha. On the other hand, the life and environment of Buddha do not transcend the lives of common mortals.” Such precise explanations leave no room for doubt. Thus, all life in the universe is clearly Myoho-renge-kyo. Even the two Buddhas, Shakyamuni and Taho, are the functions of Myoho-renge-kyo who appeared to bestow its blessings upon mankind. They manifested themselves as the two Buddhas and, seated together in the Treasure Tower, nodded in mutual agreement.

No one but Nichiren has ever revealed these teachings . . .

The two Buddhas, Shakyamuni and Taho, are merely functions of the true Buddha, while Myoho-renge-kyo actually is the true Buddha. The sutra explains this as “the Tathagata’s secret and his mystic power.” The “secret” refers to the entity of the Buddha’s three properties and the “mystic power” to their functions. The entity is the true Buddha and the function, a provisional Buddha. The common mortal is the entity of the three properties, or the true Buddha. The Buddha is the function of the three properties, or a provisional Buddha. Shakyamuni is thought to have possessed the three virtues of sovereign, teacher and parent for the sake of us common mortals, but on the contrary, it is the common mortal who endowed him with the three virtues.

I’m not sure much is revealed by this exercise, other than Dogen and Nichiren had similarity and difference in their approach to Buddha-dharma. Nonetheless, I thought it would be interesting to contrast them, as their forms of practice are still followed by many today.


25 thoughts on “Dogen and Nichiren, together again

  1. Nice post.

    This echos some of my feelings as of late, that even given the historical and cultural context, Nicherin was a crazy bastard! jk.

    Seriously though, this demonstrates that he was an extremeist in his teachings, and that he was wholly intolerant of the views of others. Something that I personally find repulsive.

    I don’t know much about Dogen or his writings (yet) but from this and what else I’ve read, it seems Dogen instructed in the way of investigation, rather than absolute truth (as Nicherin did).

    1. @ Adam: To be fair, Dogen could be opinionated, too. He seems to say that Zen is the only way, although obviously not as fervently as Nichiren does in insisting on his way. Single-practice was an idea in vogue at that time and I think that needs to be taken in consideration.

  2. Thanks for bringing these two together a little bit. Clearly, Nichiren’s passages are highly focused on the Lotus Sutra, and that last passage is really disappointing in its emphasis on taking down all other approaches.

    1. @ nathan: I thought the selections were representative of each man’s approach to Buddhism. Nichiren has some wonderful writings but his dogma gets in the way far too often.

  3. Dogmatic extremism is unskillful in any situation; it is a form of paradigm paralysis. The Buddha did not become enlightened because he chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, nor will anyone else attain enlightenment solely by chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. The Buddha became enlightened because he saw the truth of suffering, saw its cause, discerned a way to bring an end to that cause, and began to practice that way until the end was achieved.

    1. Thanks Richard. I might add that the historical Buddha didn’t chant Nam-myho-renge-kyo, a claim that gets thrown around from time to time.

      What gets lost in the translation are the nuances of Nichiren’s statements. Someone else did some research into Nichiren and Zen and from that I learned that when Nichiren is criticizing Zen, he means Daruma-shu, which even Dogen was critical of. Some of Nichiren’s complaints about the Buddhism of his day were valid, it’s the extreme position he takes that’s off.

      My theory is that even though Nichiren viewed Nagarjuna and Chih-i as spiritual ancestors, he did not understand them. If he had, then he would have known that views are empty and would not have become so attached to his own.

  4. “They are all true and not empty.” (Lotus Sutra Chapter 16). This short verse refers to the reality of the Dharmas [phenomena]

    ‘They are all empty and not true.” — This refers to all other Buddhist teachings.

    This verse is the foundation of Tientai the Great’s Truth of the Middle Way Doctrine without which Nagarjuna’s Two Truths would.remain a partial exposition of the truth or the real reality.


  5. Nichiren se ilumina a los 31 años coincide el mismo año que entra en parinirvana el maestro Dogen, 1253, Tres maestros iluminados: Chi.i a los 24, Dogen a los 23 y Nichiren a los 31años. Ningun iluminado es un hombre común por lo tanto las instituciones formadas despumes de su muerte(Nichiren) pusieron palabras y falsearon hechos para su propia conveniencia ya que no estaban dispuestos a dejar su codicia, a permanecer serenos, a mantener el estado de presencia,a seguir la carrera del del Bodhisattva. Se esforzaron por seguir siendo hombres comunes al servicio del poder, no habiendo ningún Iuminado entre sus representantes y seguidores. Esforcémonos como ellos, seamos disciplinados y meditemos en profundidad y tal vez logremos comprender que es un maestro iluminado.Reverentemente en Gassho

  6. That is a fascinating discussion thank you. I am a Soka Gakai Nichiren Buddhist because of my passion for the fundamental teachings of the Lotus Sutra and the fact that over 32 years I have changed my life condition enormously through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. It is something that everyone can do regardless of their background/ intellect etc. However, I have also always been clear in mind that Nichiren’s ‘one practice’ view, regardless of the reasons that he had for this, does not accord with the spirit of our times and is no longer helpful, especially as I can see the similarity in the fundamental core beliefs, with Dogen, universal eternal Buddhahood, sufferings of Birth and Death are Nirvana, we can all attain Buddhahood in this lifetime ( and indeed now). I would be interested in knowing more about Darima Shu and what it was that Dogen disapproved of about that.

    1. Thanks for your comment, John. I’m glad you found this old post interesting. I agree that Nichiren’s practice is accessible to everyone and that they can benefit from it. I do have problems with the idea that the Lotus Sutra is the only valid Buddhist teaching and so on, which as you point out is not really in the spirit of our times.

      I am not an expert on Dogen, so I am not sure about all the things he may have disapproved of, and I have never heard of Darima Shu. I think you may mean Dharuma Shu, a Rinzai Zen sect. Dharuma is the Japanese translation of Bodhidharma, the so-called founder of Zen. Since Dogen was Soto Zen, he may have had some problems with Rinzai. Whatever they may have been, I’m not too sure they are particularly relevant to today’s Buddhism, but since I’m not up on this subject, it is difficult to say.

  7. One only can claim that other Buddhist teachings, such as Dogen’s are the equal of the Lotus Sutra, if you ignore the words of the Lotus Sutra and its preface, the Muryogi Sutra and Shakyamuni’s final teaching, Nirvana Sutra, which state:

    “But in these forty or more years [since I have been preaching the law], I have not revealed the Truth.” [Muryogi Sutra p. 15]

    The world-honored one has long expounded his doctrines
    and now must reveal the truth.
    [Lotus Sutra p. 59]

    If there are monks who, for the sake of comprehensive wisdom,
    seek the Law in every direction,
    pressing palms together, gratefully accepting,
    desiring only to accept and embrace
    the sutra of the great vehicle
    and not accepting a single verse
    of the other sutras,
    to persons such as this
    it is permissible to preach it.
    [Lotus Sutra, p. 115]

    Medicine King, now I say to you, I have preached various sutras, and among those sutras the Lotus is the foremost! [Lotus Sutra, p. 203]

    I have widely preached many sutras, and among them this sutra is foremost.
    If one can uphold this, one will be upholding the Buddha’s body. [Lotus Sutra p. 220]

    Manjushri, this Lotus Sutra is foremost among all that is preached by the thus come ones. Among all that is preached it is the most profound. And it is given at the very last, the way that powerful ruler did when he took the bright jewel he had guarded for so long and finally gave it away.

    “Manjushri, this Lotus Sutra is the secret storehouse of the buddhas, the thus come ones. Among the sutras, it holds the highest place. Through the long night I have guarded and protected it and have never recklessly propagated it. But today for the first time I expound it for your sake.”
    (Lotus Sutra, p. 246-47 )

    Constellation King Flower, among all the rivers, streams, and other bodies of water, for example, the ocean is foremost. And this Lotus Sutra is likewise, being the profoundest and greatest of the sutras preached by the thus come ones. Again, just as among the Dirt Mountains, Black Mountains, Small Iron Encircling Mountains, Great Iron Encircling Mountains, Ten Treasure Mountains, and all the other mountains, Mount Sumeru is foremost, so this Lotus Sutra is likewise. Among all the sutras, it holds the highest place. And just as among all the stars and their like, the moon, a god’s son, is foremost, so this Lotus Sutra is likewise. For among all the thousands, ten thousands, millions of types of sutra teachings, it shines the brightest. And just as the sun, a god’s son, can banish all darkness, so too this sutra is capable of destroying the darkness of all that is not good. [Lotus Sutra p. 327]

    Rely on sutras that are complete and final and not on those that are not complete and final.
    [Nirvana Sutra]

    Follow the Law, not Persons. [Nirvana Sutra]

    There is no question that the Lotus Sutra is the Buddhist teaching – which encompasses all others, not the Heart Sutra or other provisional doctrines expounded by sects such as Soto-Zen.

    One must practice in accordance with the Law.


    1. Nichiren’s teachings and his writings are so compassionate. I can’t stop crying whenever I read his writings. You ought to open your eyes when you read his writings or understand the history of Buddhism and during the chaos time in Kamakura period. He is not an extremist nor an arrogant priest. He is simply saying the truth. He wanted to save all people in Japan at his time. That’s why he wrote the Rissho Ankokuron, On Establishing the Correct Teachings for the Peace of the Land. One of the four virtues of Lotus Sutra teachings is being true to yourself. He is a Bodhisattva Superior Practices, being True Self. What the past Buddhas and sages had taught us all along in the essence of Lotus Sutra –we all have a buddha nature. We all can attain buddhahood in this lifetime. President Ikeda said -On a societal level, establishing the correct teaching means establishing concepts of human dignity and the sanctity of life as principles that support and move society. We are all in it together. We gotta love this Saha World. Thats why Lotus Sutra is the superior teachings. Now, how can you have the compassionate heart to help everyone in the Jampavibpa? That’s why Nichiren went on the streets and preached the Lotus Sutra to the common people.

      Rely on the Law, not persons. -Lotus Sutra

  8. I am not scholastic or intellectual, and I also do not like radicalisms but what I know based on my humble experience is that I have practiced other Budhisms for years, and did not had any real effect. Nichiren Daishoni ‘s Budhism changed my life completely. On this regard I understand the frustration, compassion and passion of nichiren’s in trying to show how much people could accomplish with practicing the lotus sutra, and how frustrate was to see people that truly are seeking the way following or wasting time in practices with doubtful results, very common in that time and perhaps also now. Now I can really understand other Budhisms teachings( studying Vajnayana budhism now) but I could not have done before without the transformation and realization that came as result of my practice of Lotus Sutra. Budhism is something you practice with your life

    1. I am happy that Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism works for you. Based o9n my humble experience, I don’t think there is one Buddhism that works for all people. There are too many differences among people for that, and thank goodness, Buddha-dharma is diverse. I do wholehearted agree with you that Buddhism is something you practice with your life.

  9. One cannot claim to Buddhist while ignoring the teachings of the Lotus Sutra – which clearly indicates that other Buddhist teachings are provisional and incomplete, as confirmed by the Muryogi, Fugen and Nirvana sutras.

    It is disingenuous to speak of “Buddha Dharma that is diverse.” The Hoben or 2nd Chapter of the Lotus Sutra clearly indicates there is one Dharma-vehicle, not two or three.

    Someone who is attached to earlier forms of Buddhism, or Zen is merely attached to their own views rather than practicing Buddhism. Arrogance and self-satisfied views were matters that Shakyamuni Buddha rebuked his disciples as to on a regular basis.

    One should master the real Buddhist teaching for this latter age rather than being mastered by their own mind


    david wrote:

    I am happy that Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism works for you. Based o9n my humble experience, I don’t think there is one Buddhism that works for all people. There are too many differences among people for that, and thank goodness, Buddha-dharma is diverse. I do wholehearted agree with you that Buddhism is something you practice with your life.

    1. Disingenuous to speak of diversity, huh? I feel sorry for you. The fact that seemingly intelligent people believe in the crap you are spouting is just sad.

      1. I booked marked theendlessfurther several years ago while reading the Lieh Tzu and Tao te ching. Since then I have read a great deal more, because this stuff is so interesting. I found this post because I have been reading and trying to understand Alan Watts life experience as a “westerner” and buddhist.

        And this conversation was interesting right up until this response. What happened?

        I don’t know if you are calling the quotes from the 3 or 4 sutras crap, or what. The Buddha says that half of those listening to him got up and left when he delivered the suddharmapundarika so I get that there is disagreement. But are you rejecting the quotations, which I checked for accuracy (more or less) or the practice of embracing them?

        For context, I was raised protestant, but I reject the old testament entirely, because there is absolutely no way to translate it into daily life.


        1. Hi, glad you have found the blog interesting. Now, if you are referring to the quotes that Paul offered in his comment of Jan. 4, those are largely taken from the writings of Nichiren and while they may be accurate, reading them in the larger context of each sutra and with a informed historical perspective, you cannot really take them at face value. In any case, none of the quotes confirm that all other sutras other than the Lotus are incomplete and provisional as Paul claims. Shakyamuni Buddha did not teach any of these sutras, they were written by mortal men and therefore they are just views, which is rather ironic considering Paul’s comment about views. I might also point out that Paul has left this exact same comment on at least one other post, so I guess that might qualify him as a troll. But ultimately I am not rejecting the quotes nor the practice of embracing them. What I am rejecting is attitude that one teaching is superior to all other thereby negating diversity, or that one group’s opinion is supreme to all other opinions. And I reject an attitude that suggest that if you disagree with that opinion you are just arrogant. I am rejecting sectarianism, prejudice and small-mindedness.

  10. Sakyamuni didn’t write anything down. At least 200 years went by before we have scrolls, though we’re getting into some murky waters if validity is to be based on historicity. Any dispute with what’s written in the Lotus Sutra, or if it is the ultimate sutra, then your argument is with Kumarajiva and Zhiyi, patriarch of Tien Tai monastery. One of the great contributions of Tien Tai was to discern superior teachings from inferior, and apocryphal from what read true to the intent of the Buddha. They recognized the LS above all. Virtually every sect of Buddhism from Nichiren’s time were derived from Tien Tai, and each asserted that it was correct. There was a lot of money and power riding on their hubris. Nichiren was able to doctrinally back up his claims to a unique and strictly correct interpretation of the Lotus Sutra. Attitude? Sure, you can say he had attitude. So did Muhammed Ali. But if you want to practice Buddhism that is perfectly suited for these times, try chanting. And Nichiren’s writings will afford you a lifetime of study of straight-no-chaser Buddhism. To think that all opinions are equally valid is absurd.

    1. Crutis, first you must understand that Kumarajiva and Zhiyi were laboring under the false assumption that the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, actually taught all the Mahayana sutras, including the Lotus. We now know, from modern scholarship, that wasn’t the case and that the Lotus and the other Mahayana sutra were “man-made.” It does not necessarily change anything but one can’t help but wonder how it might have changed Zhiyi’s classifications of the sutra if he had had accurate information. Secondly, neither Kumarjiva, Zhiyi, or the various sects that arose from Tendai in Japan abandoned the other sutras as Nichiren did. Dogen revered the Lotus as the highest teaching, but he did not dismiss the others sutras either. To dismiss the whole of Buddhist teachings to adhere and study only one sutra is tantamount to cutting off your nose to spite your face. Nichiren’s writings may offer a lifetime of study, but so does all Buddhism. To neglect other teachings is really to deprive yourself of broad and comprehensive wisdom.

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