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When the precepts don’t feel like precepts

After reading Edward Conze’s translation of the Diamond Sutra, I had to lie down – or rather sit. In fact, it took a number of days of reading and sitting, and reading and sitting, and waiting for stuff to re-arrange in my heart. Like a penny dropping in slow motion, it was like a 14 day yawning realisation that the way I had been approaching Buddhism wasn’t really as helpful as it could have been. This happened a few years […]

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Dharmic Plumbing

Fixing the Dharmic plumbing

Two terms which get bandied about are outflows, or leaks. This is something that I only rarely encountered in Nichiren Buddhism, and it wasn’t something that was explained in any depth, typically being grouped under illusions or defilements. While this is not incorrect, it is somewhat vague because, let’s face it, a lot of what we do is based on illusion and defilement. Since my change in practice, I have come to understand more of what leaks and outflows refer […]

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Watch out, he's going to crap in your Butsudan!

Opening the Eyes of Wooden and Painted Images

I have recently been confronted with a tirade of anti SGI hyperbolae – it happens sometimes. After all, the SGI has its detractors – and I know a number of Nichiren Buddhists who simply couldn’t stomach some of the more prevalent facets of SGI dogma and either left the practice altogether, or joined other sects. The Gosho Opening the Eyes of Wooden and Painted Images is one of the shorter writings, and not surprisingly has been adopted by the SGI […]

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Turning poison into medicine

The concept of turning poison into medicine (Jpn hendoku-iyaku) through one’s Bodhisattva practice is a strong thread that runs throughout many Gosho. It is common material for discussion amongst Nichiren Buddhists, and is one of the primary doctrines of the SGI, forming a major part of the SGI’s contemporary definition of one’s Human Revolution. For the sake of clarity the poison/medicine metaphor relates life’s challenges, or rather one’s unenlightened attitude towards them, to poison – and the function of the […]

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Inclusive and exclusive readings of the Lotus Sutra

Following this brief introduction are three different translations of a single passage, as an example of how translations can serve an exclusive or include view of the Supremacy of the Lotus Sutra. Make of this what you will – many others have already made of it what they would. The english versions of the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, were produced by the SGI’s Gosho Translation Committee with the assistance of Burton Watson, so it’s easy to understand how his translation […]

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What is the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra?

The Entity of the Mystic Law gosho begins thus: QUESTION: What is the entity of Myoho-renge-kyo? Answer: All beings and their environments in any of the Ten Worlds are themselves entities of Myoho-renge-kyo. As Elwood says in the Blues Brothers… And remember people, that no matter who you are, and what you do to live, thrive and survive, there’re still some things that make us all the same. You, me… them… everybody! everybody! This first passage from the Gosho reveals […]

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Esoteric and tantric elements of Nichiren Buddhism

The three vehicles of Buddhism are accepted generally as; Hinayana (of which the Theravada is the extant school). This term translates as Lesser Vehicle and as such can be regarded derogatory. Mahayana, which translates as Great Vehicle. Vajrayana, which translates to Diamond Vehicle or Adamantine Vehicle. However, to classify Buddhism rigidly in this way is not always helpful. Mayahana Buddhism, which is largely attributed to Nagarjuna and the Nalanda centre of learning, is based firmly on the foundations of the […]

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All pervasive suffering - The Big Kahuna

Three kinds of suffering

We all suffer as a result of our desires – this includes clinging and attachment to material things, to our dearly held views, or to physical experiences. By gaining insight into the nature of our various sufferings we can begin to recognise the kinds of mental afflictions that lead us there in the first place, and in doing so, perhaps, avoid them. Of course, in the Nichiren tradition it is believed that by chanting Daimoku and basing our lives on […]

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Earthly desires are enlightenment – really?

The Buddha Shakyamuni teaches that suffering is Nirvana. Without suffering there could be no cause for the desire to end suffering. Without the desire to end suffering there can be no understanding of the causes of suffering. Without an understanding of the causes of suffering there can be no realisation of or enlightenment to share the path that ends suffering. Therefore, it can be plainly seen that the Buddha’s words are intrinsically true. So, Nichiren’s line regarding “Desires are enlightenment” […]

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The Universal Salty Taste

There are several views as to when this was written, but the de facto date accepted is 1261. The recipient of the letter is unknown. This is the fifth Gosho in Vol 1 WND, and is the second time the Daishonin cites the Lotus Sutra as being the only way to achieve enlightenment. In A Ship to Cross the Sea of Suffering Nichiren previously made it clear that all other teachings were provisional. Only the ship of Myoho-renge-kyo enables one […]

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