This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: nt Mongols and left unharmed the
priests of the nembutsu, Shingon, Zen, and Ritsu, who are the enemies of
Nichiren held that ultimate religious truth lay solely in the Lotus
Sutra, the basic text of the Greater Vehicle of Buddhism in which
Gautama had revealed that all beings possess the potentiality for buddhahood. At the time of its founding in Japan by Saichò in the early ninth
century, the Tendai sect had been based primarily on the Lotus Sutra;
but, in the intervening centuries, Tendai had deviated from the Sutra’s
teachings and had even spawned new sects, like those of Pure Land
Buddhism, that encouraged practices entirely at variance with these
As a result of his virulent attacks on the other sects of Buddhism and 102 The Canons of Medieval Taste his criticism of the conduct of national affairs, Nichiren was often in
trouble with the shogunate authorities, was in fact twice exiled from
Kamakura, and was even sentenced to death. Still, he continued to insist that salvation for mankind and for Japan could only be achieved
through absolute faith in the Lotus Sutra. He preached that, for the individual, there was no need to attempt to read and understand the Sutra;
buddhahood was attainable simply through recitation of the formula,
reminiscent of the nembutsu, of “Praise to the Wonderful Law of the
Nichiren’s name is written with the characters for “sun” and “lotus.”
Lotus, of course, represents the Lotus Sutra, whereas sun stands for
Japan. Nichiren came to envision that, when the age of mappò reached
its cataclysmic end (which he believed was very near), a great new Buddhist era would commence in which Japan would become the central
Buddhist see in the world and in which he, Nichiren, would play a
founding role in religious history similar to that of Gautama.
This kind of Japan-centered millennial thinking has led a number of
commentators to claim that Nichiren was the first nationalist in Japanese history. Although “nationalist” is probably too modern a term to
apply to a person of the t...
View Full Document
This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13