Nichiren Shoshu is rooted in Mahayana Buddhism

6 Introduction to Buddhism in Japan In marked contrast to the life-affirming and cheerful tone of Shintoism, Japan's second great religion strives for liberation from this life; because life is suffering. That is the basic thesis of Buddhism. Unlike Shintoism, it came into the country from outside, and unlike Shintoism, it is a book religion with universal claims. In Japan it is on the one hand the acculturated variant of a world religion and on the other hand part and expression of the socio-religious life of society. Buddhism stands for the connection with a culture that has its origins and various forms beyond Japan's borders, as well as for original developments that have become an integral part of what is called Japanese culture. Throughout its one and a half thousand year history in the country, Buddhism shaped Japan and Japan shaped Buddhism. The tremendous influence Buddhism had on the development of culture is in large part due to its coming to the country as a religion of the power elite and as an agent of a superior culture. 6. Buddhism Although the first contact with Buddhist ideas was a long time ago, the rise of Buddhism began quite suddenly in the second half of the Yamato period (approx. 300 ~ 710 C.E.) when it was introduced by Korean monks. In the guise of the Chinese language and script, he encountered a preliteral Japan, whose elites got to know this religion at the same time and in association with the script. Just as one can imagine Japanese culture without writing, it would not be what it is without Buddhism. No other cultural technique has more lasting consequences for the overall culture. Much more than a mere vehicle that transports content that is conveyed in other ways in non-literate communities, their collective appropriation opens up a whole spectrum of new possibilities of expression, new art genres and new forms of storage, transmission and processing of knowledge and thus leads to a deep one pervasive transformation of the entire culture. The close connection between scripture and cult gives it an aura of holiness, which is still noticeable in the respect for the written word, and conversely, scripture has far-reaching consequences for religious life, because next to the prophets and the direct tradition it is more sacred Customs occur the sacred texts as an authentic embodiment of the message of salvation and preoccupation with them as a religious exercise. A reference system is thus created, the possibility of canonizing doctrine, orthodoxy, schism, school education. Scripture gains its own existence independent of the messenger of the message. Faith and learning can meet through it and unite in the veneration of written signs. Like no other religion, Buddhism propagates the idea of ​​understanding the world as reading a book. Scripture is also so significant for religion because it gives it a status that allows it to be administered and prescribed to others, to legitimize power and to give the community commands that are independent of the person in power. Under the reign of Prince Shotoku (574–621), Buddhism was made the state religion in Japan in 594. The famous 17-article constitution of 604, which he wrote, laid the foundations for a unified state based on the Chinese model. Supported by Confucian and Buddhist ideas, it contains regulations for the administration of the state and the conduct of its dignitaries as well as for the morality of the "common people". Sincerity and incorruptibility are commandments inspired by Confucianism, while selflessness and the overcoming of instincts in people reflect Buddhist principles. The important place given to Buddhism is clear from the fact that already in the second article of this first Japanese constitution it is required to honor three things: Buddha, his teachings and his priests. Not only religion, but also its protagonists and thus their institutions were closely related to the state from the earliest times. Buddhist monasteries and temples have therefore been described as one of the three “gates to power” alongside officials and warriors.1 The closeness of Buddhism to the state in the Nara period (710–794) was particularly pronounced. enjoyed fixed privileges during the monks and nuns, and in the Edo period (1600–1868) when the shogunate took control of the Buddhist temples and through the Danka2 system, according to which every household belongs to a temple and is registered there had to be made into an instrument of state administration. The Doctrine The historical Buddha Siddhartha Gautama (556 ~ 476 B.C.E.) turned against the Brahmanic doctrine of the eternal self and the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth that supported the Indian caste system. Liberation through enlightenment and ultimately entering nirvana is the goal. Unity with the universe while at the same time denying any own being with an eternal soul and the view that change is the only constant, are the cornerstones of Buddhist teaching. Not only is there nothing eternal in this world, but also in no other. In its self-image, Buddhism is originally a very practical, this-worldly religion that has no interest in theory. An important socio-ethical aspect is that everyone carries the seeds of Buddhahood and can become Buddha themselves through suitable practice. This puts Buddhist teaching in direct opposition to Hinduism, which approves a hierarchical social order. Buddhism knows no creator and also no absolute principle on which the world is based. Every human being comes about through mutable factors of existence that arise and disappear in functional dependence on one another. Seen in this way, original Buddhism had strong atheistic features. The form in which it came to Japan is a further development, namely Mahayana Buddhism, of which one cannot say that. Mahayana means 'great vehicle', namely to cross the waters of samsara3 to the land of salvation. Two important tendencies of Mahayana Buddhism are the elevation of the Buddha from the human into the divine as well as the opening up to new ideas and the expansion of religious teaching. The most important innovation is the redeeming figure of the Bodhisattwa (Japanese: bosatsu), who is on the way to becoming Buddha (the enlightened) values ​​and beliefs120. He embodies the principle of mercy, for he puts his final salvation through entering nirvana aside in order to give comfort to others and to serve their salvation. As the greatest act of selflessness, he turns his back on nirvana in order to turn to people and, paradoxically, thereby achieves nirvana. The Buddhist pantheon arises around the Bodhisattva. In Japan there are four groups of divine beings: Nyorai, Bodhisattwa, Myoo and Ten. Nyorai, 'who came from or entered into the truth,' are different incarnations of the Buddha. In addition to the historical Buddha Shaka, Amida, the Buddha of light, Dainichi, the cosmic Buddha, and Yakushi, the healing Buddha, are particularly venerated in Japan. Bodhisattva are the enlightened ones on earth. Most popular in Japan are Kannon, the bodhisattva of compassion, and Jizo, the patron saint of travelers and dead children. Myoo are the numerous kings of light or wisdom, the most popular of which is the god of luck, Fudo. Finally, ten (tembu) are the heavenly beings of the fourth rank in Japan's Buddhist iconography. They are protective gods who are often depicted as warriors and stand at the entrance of temples to ward off evil. However, there are also female and genderless embodiments. Especially in esoteric Buddhism since the 9th century, numerous local cults have arisen around the deities of this category. This diversity of concrete gods represents a certain counterbalance to the abstractness of Buddhist thought and to world indifference. Conceptually, the doctrine of lack of constancy and lack of selfhood is difficult to grasp, but it is precisely on this that its diverse interpretability, which proceeds from the "four noble truths", is based which say that existence is sorrowful; that the suffering is caused by self-centered cravings for pleasure and perishable things; that this desire can be lifted; and that there is a way - the "noble eightfold path" - to achieve it. This path includes right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right life, right pursuit, right awareness, and right concentration. These eight aspects are based on three elements: ascetic practice, meditation, and redeeming enlightenment. Asceticism, meditation and enlightenment are common elements of many directions, sects and schools of Mahayana Buddhism. They differ in their concrete form, the ascetic commandments of conduct, the texts considered important, the forms of meditation and the techniques with which enlightenment is sought as liberation from the self. Schools in Japan Mahayana Buddhism spread from India to much of Central Asia and all of China, reaching Japan via Korea in the sixth century C.E. At that point in time it had already divided into various currents, which in Japan, under Chinese influence, had further ramifications. Of the six schools of the 8th century, when Japan's capital was Nara (710-794), three still exist today: the Hosso school around the Kofuku temple in Nara, the Kegon school with the Todai temple at the top and the Ritsu school associated with this temple, which is also located in Nara. In the Heian period (794–1160), when the capital was in Heian, today's Kyoto, there were further splits and new foundations. Particular mention should be made of the Tendai school founded by Saicho (767–822, posthumously: Dengyo Daishi) in Enryakuji on Mount Hiei and the esoteric Shingon school, the Kukai (774–835, posthumously: Kobo Daishi) with imperial permission from China to Japan, where he created important centers for their distribution on Mount Koya south of Nara and in Toji in Kyoto. The Tendai School places the Lotus Sutra at the center of its teaching and practices concentrated meditation. The Shingon school draws on Indian tantrism. Your most important writings come from Kukai himself. The word shingon, literally: 'true word', corresponds to Sanskrit mantra, which means 'embodiment of divine power in sound'; hence the meditative practice of repeating individual syllables. This practice and the mysterious rite of Shingon Buddhism bring him close to the magic into which he sometimes slips. Tendai and Shingon were directed against the old Buddhism of the Nara period and laid the spiritual foundation for the symbiotic rapprochement between Buddhism and Shintoism (see below). By the time the Heian Period came to an end, both had become the mainstream Orthodox schools. Values ​​and beliefs122 In the Kamakura period (1185–1333), important heterodox movements emerged again. The practical meaning of the Buddhist religion is manifested not least in the fact that it was usually times of unrest, hardship and war in which charismatic monks founded new sects and found followers with a variant of the message of a painful existence. The Heian period, in which the Tendai school of Saicho and the Shingon school of Kukai were founded, was characterized by natural disasters and political turmoil, as was the Kamakura period, in which the Jodo, founded by Honen (1133-1212), was marked School, the Nichirens School (1222–1282) and Zen Buddhism in the Soto School founded by Dogen (1199– 1253) and Eisai (1141–1215) Rinzai School. The Jodoshu was further developed by the monk Shinran, who regarded himself as a disciple and follower of Hone. However, its impact was so great that it led to the establishment of a new school, the 'True School of the Pure Land' (Jodoshin-shu). The differences between the Jodo sect and the Jodoshin sect are, however, insignificant in terms of teaching and practice. Jodoshinshu, also known as Shin Buddhism, is the most widespread and most important Buddhist school in Japan today. With the Jodo-shu it is sometimes referred to as Amida Buddhism. The Amida Buddha (skrt .: 6. Buddhism 123 Fig. 8: Japan's Buddhist schools and their origins Values ​​and beliefs124 Fig. 9: From a scroll by the hand of Kukai (774–835), the founder of the Shingon school Amitabha, ‹Infinite light›) is at the center of admiration and the ‹doctrine of the pure land in the west›. The invocation of the name is the most important exercise that has congealed in the formula Namu Amida Butsu. The 'pure land in the west' is where enlightenment is. It does not require good deeds, as in other schools, to achieve it. The only practice that Shin Buddhism prescribes is the repetition of the invocation formula. The new movements of the Kamakura period had a Protestant character, in particular the monk Nichiren was a militant evangelist who roamed the country, calling for renewal and recruiting his followers mainly from the lower samurai. Nichiren preached the exclusivity of the Lotus Sutra, again placing special emphasis on scripture. The characters of the Lotus Sutra represent the voice of the Buddha Shakayamuni, his body and his heart. Nichiren's confrontation with the orthodoxy of the monasteries and temples of Nara and Kyoto was not just a theological one, as he was primarily concerned with reforming Japanese society. Rissho ankoku ron, 'Treatise on the introduction of the righteousness and pacification of the country' was the name of one of his pamphlets, which earned him personal attacks and exile to Izu. Ironically, despite its founder's critical stance towards the state, Nichiren Buddhism was conquered by nationalists in later centuries, especially after the Meiji Restoration (1868). Today, influential politically active organizations such as Reiyukai, Rissho Koseikai and Soka Gakkai, the religious community behind the Buddhist party Shinkomeito (Komeito until 1998), refer to Nichiren. Zen Buddhism, which was adopted from China, plays a special role.5 Its fame in the West does not correspond to the importance it has in Japan. The very fact that it was introduced twice in two different forms by two monks suggests that Zen is not a school in the same sense as the other directions mentioned; because Zen is less a doctrine than a religious practice. Enlightenment (satori) is said to result from meditation while sitting (zazen). Discursive tasks (koan) guide the meditator to do this. Master Hakuin used to hold up a hand and ask his students to hear its tone. Due to their paradoxical character, however, the koan served precisely to show them the impossibility of an argumentative, rational solution. Accordingly, one cannot discursively present what enlightenment consists of. It is not an insight obtained through the effort of reason, but a transformation. The enlightened one does not know that he becomes Buddha. Some temples are centers of Zen Buddhism such as the Jufukuji in Kamakura, the Kenninji in Kyoto, the Shofukuji in Hakata (Fukuoka) and the Sojiji in Yokohama, but zazen can be practiced in any temple. Since many samurai took part in Zen exercises during the Kamakura period, a connection arose with the “way of the sword” and other ways that were practiced by them, archery, but also ink painting, calligraphy and poetry. Even intensive practice in these disciplines can lead to enlightenment when the power of the thinking ego is replaced by the power from the center of life, the power of the Buddha. Jiriki soku tariki, ‹your own strength is the other strength›, say the Zen Buddhists. Schooling and the ramification of schools into numerous subgroups is a prominent feature of Buddhism in Japan. It is true that there have always been disputes between individual schools in history, which was primarily related to their patronage by the secular rulers. But there is nothing that reminds of the intolerance of the European religious wars. Coexistence without a claim to exclusivity is the normal case, as is also evident in relation to Shintoism (see below). The schools mentioned usually have a main temple to which other temples belong, some of whose congregations regard themselves as subordinate sects. The Nichiren School, which includes over 5000 temples not only in Japan, is headquartered in Kuonji in Yamanashi Prefecture. The main temple of the Jodo School is the Chion'in in Kyoto, where other schools are also based. The Nishi Honganji in Kyoto is the main temple of the Jodoshinshu, while the Higashi Honganji one block to the east is the main temple of another branch of this school, the Shinshu Otani sect. Both include around 10,000 temples. The Shingon School has a total of 18 main temples in its various branches.Throughout the country there are around 80,000 Buddhist temples, which through their physical existence as well as their diverse activities have an indispensable part of Japan's cultural life to this day. Values ​​and Beliefs126 6. Buddhism 127 Fig. 10: Text mandala written by Nichiren. In the middle the admiration formula Namu myoho renge kyo, ‹I take refuge in the Lotus Sutra› Relationship to Shintoism When Buddhism came to Japan, it did not displace native Shintoism. Rather, both religions existed side by side for centuries, yes, together. Not only did the religious communities almost completely overlap, the religious contents also influenced each other, so that a very special symbiosis, shinbutsu shugo, arose, which gave Buddhism in Japan its specific character and also changed Shintoism. Topographically, the intense relationship between the two religions was reflected in the fact that their places of worship were built next to each other and temple-shrine complexes (jisha) were built across the country. Shinto torii and Buddhist pagodas stand side by side. Jinguji, 'shrine temples', were built as such so that Buddhist monks and priests could recite the Shinto kami sutras and perform Buddhist rites for enlightenment. Buddhism, which came to Japan through the upper class, opened up access to the people through its harmonious connection with Shintoism. There is still a certain division of labor between the serious and the cheerful, but both exist in every human life, and so, as mentioned in Chapter 1, most Japanese marry according to Shinto custom and have their funeral mass read by a Buddhist priest. The Shinto-Buddhist syncretism not only arose spontaneously from the practical life in the communities, it was also cultivated in a targeted manner and given a theoretical foundation. According to the teaching, which became known with a term borrowed from the exegesis of the Lotus Sutra as honji suijaku, ‹the primary being and its manifestation›, there was an identification of the Buddhist with the Shintoist deities.6 Comparable to the moon and its Reflected in a pond, the Shinto kami were interpreted as local embodiments of the ephemeral Buddhas and Bodhisattwas, as protectors of Buddhism, as mediators who lead the Japanese people to enlightenment. From the Buddhist side, the transcendent Buddhas were regarded as the origin and the local kami as manifest traces. Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess worshiped in the Great Shrine of Ise, was afterwards the Japanese embodiment of Dainichi Nyorai, the great Sun Buddha. Not least because of the imperial family's special relationship with the Ise Shrine, Buddhists, especially the Shingon School, had a keen interest in merging with Shintoism, while, conversely, the Shintoists were quite ready to benefit from the great prestige of the foreign high religion . In their own interpretation of syncretism, however, they preferred to view Buddhas and Bodhisattwas as secondary embodiments of the kami. Buddhism and Shintoism are highly congenial with regard to the worship of nature. Not only Shintoists can discover the original divinity in nature, but also Buddhists, as is expressed in the following poem by Shotetsu (1381–1459), in which hotoke, ‹Buddha›, could just as well stand for kami. Yama mo mina mountains and rivers moto no hotoke no are forms of the sugata ni te original Buddha taezu minori o and the storm toku arashi kana incessantly preaches the Dharma. The harmony of the two religions continued into the early Meiji period. Only then was an institutional separation decreed because the government had decided to develop Shintoism into an autochthonous state cult. Even today, however, the harmonious interrelation is still rooted in people's consciousness and practice. Many houses have both a Buddhist house altar and a Shinto shrine. Feasts of Buddhist and Shinto origins are sometimes celebrated together, such as the Buddha's birthday (kabutsue) on April 8, which is also known as the flower festival (hanamatsuri) with the Shinto term matsuri, or the mid-summer Obon festival, which includes many different ceremonies for both religions connected is. Just as Japan's only Christian prime minister Masayoshi Ohira prayed in the Great Shrine of Ise, took part in bon dances and meditated in Zen temples, most Japanese lead a bi-religious life and consider the harmonious division of functions to be an ideal. 6. Buddhism 129