Nichiren Buddhism is a Japanese form of Buddhism that
began with a humble �sherman’s son, Nichiren Daishonin
(1222-1282). Nichiren Buddhists consider him a reformer
who became a Pillar of Japan.
He lived during a volatile time in Japan’s history when there
was extreme social unrest and natural catastrophe.
Nichiren blamed much of Japan’s ills on people following the
wrong religious paths. Though he had studied with Tendai
monks when he was 11 years old, he would later declare
that the Lotus Sutra (taught during the �nal eight years of
Buddha’s life) was the highest and most ultimate teaching of
the Buddha. After an intensive study of the Lotus Sutra,
Nichiren (at the age of 31) created a simple daily practice based on the scripture for all people.
Because Nichiren declared all other paths to be corrupt and questioned the government, he was exiled
twice from Japan as a radical. But many of his followers believed him to be an incarnation of a
Bodhisattva who would save Japan from all the political and social evils.
Nichiren was against social classes and because of this, Nichiren Buddhism, at the time, became very
attractive to many peasants and farmers . Another reason for this attraction is because Nichiren taught
that only one thing was needed for salvation: to chant the Daimoku Chant. Many of the peasants and
farmers were illiterate, so this teaching is another reason why Nichiren Buddhism was so popular. It can be
embraced whether educated or not.
The Daimoku chant is Namu M yoho Rengekyo which translates as “Praise to the Wondrous Truth
of the Lotus Sutra.” Modern Nichiren Buddhists, including Tina Turner, say that chanting gives them a
sense of personal empowerment and helps them to have clarity in their daily lives.
Watch the following: Tina Turner Chanting on Larry King Live
Nichiren Buddhists have a special type of worship, focusing
on the Gohonzon , which is a Mandala on a scroll inscribed
with names of Buddhas and bodhisattvas outlined in the
Lotus Sutra. It usually has the Daimoku chant in the middle.
It is said this Gohonzon was originally designed by Nichiren
himself and it has become the chief object of focus on
Nichiren households and temples. The Gohonzon functions
as a spiritual mirror. Practitioners say that sitting in front of
the Gohonzon enables them to recognize their own Buddha
6/29/2018 Nichiren – 18.SU.REL.1111.C50 EASTERN RELIGIONS
Nichiren Buddhists believe the Daimoku contains the universal Buddha nature.
Worship includes reciting the Daimoku Chant and other portions of the Lotus
Sutra before the Gohonzon, sometimes accompanied by drums and gongs. Some
Nichiren Buddhists also count mala beads.
There are many different branches of Nichiren Buddhism, including Nichiren Shu,
Nichiren Soshu, and Soka Gakkai. Each has their own distinct beliefs, practices
and politics. There is a Soka Gakkai center in Columbus (866. W. Broad Street) and
their website is www.sgi- usa.org. Actors and Actresses like Orlando Bloom, Tina
Turner, and Kate Bosworth all belong to the Soka Gakkai denomination.
Though little was known about Nichiren Buddhism outside of Japan before World War II, it has become a
very popular denomination of Buddhism today across the world.