On Nichiren’s Gohonzon for Practicing Kanjin


The Lord of Teachings of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo,
Shakyamuni Buddha enlightened from remote ages past;
which is the reason for Sage Nichiren’s Advent in this World

We now have a full translation of Nikko’s 1288 letter to Lord Hakiri’s son Hara; “Hara Dono Gohenji {Reply to Hara Dono} . It is real hard to follow though. Nikko is known for long, vague sentences, that assume the reader knows things, like subject & object. That makes it easy to interpolate {read in} inferred meanings. I have read it over and over. All I can is do is try to read out 13th Century Kamakura Era Japan isssues; and avoid reading in 21st Century Sectarian issues.
Nikko tells Hara about the events that had caused him to leave Minobu. Most of it relates what Nikko had said to Lord Hakiri himself, another of the sons, and Minbu Acharya Niko. It also tells about Nikko’s understanding of Niko’s actions.
Here is one really arcane segment:
A few people have drawn the image of the lord of teachings of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, Shakyamuni Buddha enlightened from remote ages past which is the reason for Sage Nichiren’s advent in this world. But no one has carved a wooden statue yet.
A few people have drawn the image
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting In the Kamakura Era, a few paintings of “Shaka Raigo” appear. The “Shaka Raigo” connects the historical Nirmana-Kaya with the Eternal Sambhogha-Kaya, as ultimately One. The paintings show Shakyamuni Buddha in the sky. These are rare. They resemble the Amida Raigo:
In other words, the Shaka Raigo shows Shakyamuni Buddha descending from the Buddha Field to Holy Eagle Peak.
“In order to save living beings, as an expedient means I appear to enter nirvana but in truth I do not pass into extinction. I am always here preaching the Law. … When living beings have become truly faithful, honest and upright, gentle in intent, single-mindedly desiring to see the Buddha, not hesitating even if it costs them their lives, then I and the assembly of monks appear together on Holy Eagle Peak.” — Ch 16
But no one has carved a wooden statue yet.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Huh? Shijo Kingo? Toki Jonin? Kaikei? The 4th C Chinese?
Prior to the Kamakura Era, the Celestial Shakyamuni Buddha was depicted sitting in the Stupa opposite Prabhutaratna {Taho} Buddha. This statue is from China some 700 or 800 years before Nichiren.
A sculptor named Kaikei {1183–1236}, in 1210, used the cloud halo to indicate the “celestial Shakyamuni”, “Shaka Raigo”, or “Shaka Nyorai.” IIRC, Kaikei had in mind the “recompense body,” not the ‘historical buddha’. Toki Jonin had likely enshrined a standing statue of Shakyamuni, flanked by the Four Bodhisattvas of the Earth, like below: Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I suppose it is possible that Nikko was unaware that others had carved statues of “Shakyamuni Buddha enlightened from remote ages past.” Nikko may also have meant no one had used a statue without either the Cloud Nimbus, or being paired with Taho, or being flanked by the BOE. And that appears to be what Hakii was doing; using an unadorned statue of the Historical Shakyamuni.
The lay priest got an idea, “I want to do my bit to make a formal wooden statue of Shakyamuni.” Acharya Mimbu gave him an unnecessary advice that he should make an wooden Buddha in the place of the one which Acharya Daikoku took. Since then he has clung to this idea. I, Nikko, told him that I dare not oppose him if he wanted to enshrine the Buddha which the late Sage had and enshrined. The Buddha however didn’t have the bodhisattvas like Superior Practices as attendants. It was only the one who attained enlightenment for the first time in this world.
This I got. I think. It appears that Nikko thought they intended to place it at the planned Mausoleum; to replace the “Buddha from the Sea” statue that Nichiro saw fit to take from Minobu. The same statue is now at Kaikozan Butsugen-ji Temple. It looks like the Kaikei Statue, but no cloud Halo. It is about a foot tall. Nikko was okay with replacing that? It appears that Nikko learned they intended to enshrine it in the Hondo or main hall of Kuon-ji. He objected because it didn’t have the four attendants
I said to him, “For what reason do you want a copy of the Buddha who attained enlightenment for the first time and who is transient. If it is beyond your ability, you should wait until someone appears among your descendants and rightly builds one. Until then you should enshrine the one which the Sage had built with letters.
I think I get this. Nikko had learned he meant it for the Temple? He says that until Hakiri can afford the proper statue arrangement Gohonzon for the Temple, he should enshrine his Calligraphy Mandala Gohonzon. Nikko did not object because it was a statue. It was the style of the statue. Other sources indicate that since Hakiri could not afford 4 more statues, he sought the advice of Niko {one k}.
Why can you break so hastily the wooden statue of the lord of teachings of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo [Shakyamuni Buddha enlightened from remote ages past] which is the reason for the Sage’s advent in this world?” I told him like this strongly but he might think I was making light of him.
Huh? I have no idea what he means here. Was there a statue arrangement at Kuon-ji earlier, similar to what Toki Jonin had at Nakayama, and did Hakiri break it? Was Hakiri trying to replace it?
Here is how Rissho Kosei Kai depicts the Eternal Shakyamuni:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com