Nichiren Lotus Sutra Mantra
Origins of Nichiren as True Buddha
Was Nichiren the First to Chant the Daimoku?

Many SGI & NST members believe that Nichiren must be the Original Buddha of Kuon Ganjo because he and only he revealed Namu Myoho Renge Kyo; the Original Cause of Awakening. On the other hand, some opponents argue thst Nichiren was not teaching authentic Buddhism; because the practice is not grounded in the Dharma.

Here is a sample of what various Nichiren Shoshu, SGI, and related sources have to say:

“Very early on the morning of 28 April 1253 he chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time, thereby providing the key for all future generations to unlock the treasure of enlightenment hidden in their hearts. “The Life of Nichiren Daishonin — SGI European Study Web Site

“Returning to Seicho-ji, he chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time early on the morning of April 28, 1253, changing his name to Nichiren (Sun-Lotus).” — Nichiren Daishonin’s awakening —

“He returned to Seicho-ji in 1253. There, shortly afterward, very early on the morning of the twenty-eighth day of the fourth month, he chanted Nam-myoho- renge-kyo for the first time, thereby providing the key for all future generations to unlock the treasure of enlightenment hidden in their hearts. He also changed his name to Nichiren (Sun Lotus).” — Life of Nichiren – nbaa

“There he chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time and proclaimed the founding of his new Buddhism on the twenty-eighth day of the fourth month in 1253.” — Background Info – Letter to Shomitsu-bo — sgi-usa

“On this day, 743 years ago, the True Buddha in the Latter Day of the Law, Nichiren Daishonin, chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time. … On the 28 day of April, 1253, when Nichiren Daishonin was 32 years old, he chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time.” Siginficance of Risshu-e (1996) — Nichiren Shoshu

Early on the morning of April 28, 1253, the then 32-year old priest faced the rising sun, and for the first time chanted “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”. Later that day he changed his name to “Sun Lotus” or “Nichiren”. The Life Of Nichiren” — BIONA

I think, from reading this, most would get the impression that this was the first time anyone, anywhere had chanted Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo.

Dr Stone wrote:

“on the twenty-eighth day of the fourth lunar month in the fifth year of Kencho (1253), on the morning of his first public sermon, Nichiren rose before dawn, climbed Mt. Kasagamori in Awa province and, facing eastward over the Pacific Ocean toward the rising sun, chanted “Namu-myoho-renge-kyo!” for the first time. Many people, both Nichiren Buddhists and others as well, have evidently understood this as meaning not only the “first time” Nichiren himself chanted the daimoku but the “first time” it was ever voiced by anyone.”

A lot of SGI-USA members are still confused on this point. For years, I thought Nichiren himself had added Nam’ to the Chinese [Sino-japanese] Title of the Lotus Sutra, Myoho Renge Kyo. However, in the the “Totaigi Sho” {The Entity of the Mystic Law}, Nichiren wrote,

“But even these great teachers [Nan-yueh and T’ien-t’ai] recited Namu-myoho-renge-kyo as their private practice, and in their hearts they understood these words to be the truth.” — Totaigi Sho

I always thought he meant that metaphorically. But he gives specific examples, and these can be verified. For example he credits Saicho (767–822), aka Dengyo Daishi, with bringing the Namu Myoho Renge Kyo Mantra to Japan, from China. He wrote,

the document concerning the vow taken by the Great Teacher Dengyo on his deathbed carries the words Namu-myoho-renge-kyo.”

The Shuzenji-ketsu {Transmissions at Hsiuch’an-ssu Temple} is a record of oral transmissions received by Saicho during his journey to China. It reads, in part:

“The ‘threefold contemplation in a single mind as encompassed in the Dharma container’ is precisely Myoho-renge-kyo…. At the time of death, one should chant Namu-myoho-renge-kyo. Through the workings of the three powers of the Wondrous Dharma [subsequently explained in considerable detail as the powers of the Dharma, the Buddha, and faith], one shall at once attain enlightened wisdom and will not receive a body bound by birth and death.”

In the “Totaigi Sho” {The Entity of the Mystic Law}, Nichiren wrote,

“Thus the Great Teacher Nan-yueh in his Hokke sempo [The Lotus Sutra Method of Repentance] employs the words Namu-myoho-renge-kyo. The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai employs the words Namu-byodo-daie-ichijo-myoho-renge-kyo [single-minded devotion to the one vehicle -- the Lotus of the great impartially-perceiving wisdom], Keishu-myoho-renge-kyo [I bow my head before the Lotus Sutra], and Kimyo-myoho-renge-kyo [I dedicate my life to the Wondrous Dharma {White} Lotus Flower Sutra].”

“Hokke Sempo” is another name for the ” Fa-Hua San-Mei Ch’an-I” and is actually attributed to Chih-I {T’ien-t’ai} {538-597 CE}. The ‘Fa-Hua San-Mei Ch’an-I’ has been translated by Peter Johnson as The Confessional Samadhi of the Lotus Sutra. Peter wrote,

This work, written by Chih-I, describes the liturgical practice of faith that he used. … This seminal work describes the object of worship that was later revealed pictorially as the Gohonzon of Nichiren. This is also the earliest work that expresses the mantra [Namu Myoho Renge Kyo] later promulgated by Nichiren.”

And Nichiren also wrote:

“This mandala is in no way my invention. It is the object of devotion that depicts Shakyamuni Buddha, the World-Honored One, seated in the treasure tower of Many Treasures Buddha …” The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon

So here we have both the Honzon and Daimoku being taught by the Chinese TianTai School, as part of a 21 day Confessional Practice, in the 6th Century of the current era, some 600-700 years before Nichiren. Still, there are those within SGI & NST who want Nichiren to have invented something entirely new. For some, this is, perhaps, a sincere form of reverence. Others, the “supercessionists”, may wish to distance our form of Buddhism from the traditional; and for not a few, there is a Japanese Nationalist element in this thought.
Josei Toda (1900-1958) was a great and courageous leader of the Soka Gakkai. But he was also a strong proponent of “supercessionism.” His “Lectures on the Sutra” are a source of a lot of confusion and erroneous beliefs. He stated,

“There are two main streams of Buddhism in mankind’s recorded history. One is what is generally called the Buddhism of Shakyamuni and the other, Nichiren Dai­shonin’s Buddhism. The latter is known as True Bud­dhism as distinguished from the former.”

But this is counter to Nichiren’s expressed intent, and fuels opponents who claim our practice is not authentic Buddha Dharma. As Dr. Stone wrote:

“… Nichiren himself did not claim to have originated the practice of chanting the Lotus Sutra’s title, and in fact insisted that Buddhist masters of the past had chanted it before him.”

At the conclusion of the Totaigi Sho, Nichiren explains why masters of the past kept this mantra secret:

“There are two reasons [they did not propagate it widely]. First of all, the proper time to do so had not yet arrived. Second, these men were not the persons entrusted with the task of doing so. It is the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo that constitute the Great Pure Law that will be spread widely in the Latter Day of the Law. And it is the great bodhisattvas who sprang up from, the earth in numbers equal to the dust particles of a thousand worlds who were entrusted with the task of spreading it abroad. Therefore Nan-yueh, T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo, though in their hearts they understood the truth, left it to the leader and teacher of the Latter Day to spread it widely, while they themselves refrained from doing so.”

This seems to confirm Nichiren’s view of his role as Jogyo Bosatsu, the leader of the “Jiyu-no-bosatsu”, the messenger of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha in the Latter Days of the Dharma. It also shows that the practice he taught is grounded in traditional Lotus School Buddhist Dharma.
Links: Note that Pages at Nichiren Shonin Gohonzon Shu have pix of Mandala Gohonzons by Nichiren.
Peter Johnson — T’ien T’ai
At Nichiren Shonin Gohonzon Shu: The Daimoku outside of the Nichiren Context — Dr. Stone
At Nichiren Shonin Gohonzon Shu:Did They Chant the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra in Ancient China? — Dr. Stone
At Nichiren Shonin Gohonzon Shu: Chanting the August Title of the Lotus Sutra — Dr. Stone
Mount Senko – Seichoji Temple — Nichiren Shu
Nichiren Shonin and His Relationship with Seichoji — Temple Nichiren Shu Beikoku Betsuin

Photo Tour, Ceremonies, Nichiren Sites and Temples … Kiyosumi-dera
Seichoji Temple –Nichiren Buddhism Modern Religious Institute
The Rikkyo conversion 750 year celebration — Nichiren Buddhism Modern Religious Institute
Pictures Seichoji — yuuyuusyumi
Saint Nichiren Tanjoji & Seichoji Amatsukominato (Chiba prefecture) —
Asahi forest KIYOSUMI July 10th of 2000 photograph Photos Kiyosumidera — Okayama Temple Photo gallery
Kominato/Seichoji — Footsteps

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2006-04-27 00:19:57