Nichiren Buddhism

Reaction score
I'm curious as to what this denomination of Buddhism actually IS. Whenever any Buddhist is listing the schools of Buddhism, I never hear about this one. I only hear about it completely independantly, and it is never compared to any other denominations, and so leaves out what i really want to know. In some lists of world religions, Nichiren Buddhism is a completely different category from Buddhism. So what is this religion all about? How does it differ from the other schools of Buddhism? And why do other Buddhists never bring it up?
Mostly because Nichiren is to Buddhism what the Jehova's Witnesses are to Christianity. Nivhiren proclaimed himself a Buddha and that his insight was more relevant than Sakyamuni Buddha's. He also called for the killing of the followers of other sects several times and was generally a thoroughly unpleasant character. Nichiren Buddhism, particularly the sub division known as Soka Gakkai have many cult like characteristics and information about them can be found on most cult information sites. In general I'd steer clear of any tradition, Buddhist or not that has it's own victims association. No other Buddhist tradition accepts Nichiren as being Buddhist as they do not follow the Noble Eightfold Path and tend to use practice for material gain, although they make excuses for this.
Namaste Silent Wind River,

Nichiren Buddhism is a sect of Buddhism in the Mahayana school.

actually the word "yana" means "vehicle" so, the proper translation of Mahayana is Great Vehicle.

in any event... all sects of Buddhism belong to one of three yanas or vehicles: Hinyana (lesser vehicle), Mahayana (greater vehicle) and Varjayana (diamond vehicle).

Nichiren Buddhism places all it's emphasis on the Lotus Sutra to the exclusion of the others. this is is method of practice that i do not find to be compatible with my understanding of the matter. they engage in some chanting practices and things of this nature.

generally speaking, Nichiren Buddhism began at the end of the 1200's. in 1288 Nichiren passed teachings down to his successor and the lineage took off from there.
For the sake of some accuracy, I should clarify few points.

Firstly, Nichiren himself did not claim to be a Buddah. However, he did accuse Zen and Pure Land of be heretics.

Nichiren sect together with Zen and Pure Land are parts of new Buddhist movements started in 12 century. One coule even say that Japan become a buddhist country only after these groups brought Buddhism to ordinary Japanese. Previous Buddhist schools were mainly for nobility class and were mainly concentrated near Japanese capital.

This may be an extrem simplicfication but they did tackle one issue which was problem with Oriental Mahayanan buddhism, that is the massive quantity of sutras and commentary which the previous 1000 years has produced. Zen and Pure Land distanced itself from sutras, Zen concentring on meditation while PureLand focusing on chanting. Nichiren basically decided to focus on just one sutra, Lotus Sutra, as the manifestation of supreme Dharma. Nichiren in turn criticise Zen and Pureland for the lack of Dharma which isn't too unfair criticism given that they move away from Buddhist cannons. You might consider Nichiren as Japanese version of Luther.

Anyway, Nicihren had 6 diciples and after Nichiren dies, there is a split between the leader and the rest of 5 diciples. The Nichiren sects formed by these 5 diciples are called Nichiren Shu and they are, in general, quite o.k. The other one which was set up by the leadercalled Nichiren Shoshu. Nichiren Shoushu consider Nichiren as Buddah of Dharma ending era. According to Nichiren Shoushu Triple gems are Nichiren (Buddah), Lotus Sutra (Dharma) and Nishiren Shoushu (Sangha). They accuse every other buddhist sects of heresy destined to hell. Consequently, they were banned during Tokugawa Shogunate as a cult. Sokka Gakkai is a lay organisation of Nichiren Shoshu which was excommunicated about 10 years ago.
I could add this link as well

It appeared to be written by an ex-sokka gakkai member (or possibly still a member) who is accutely aware of the problem sokka gakkai face and are somewhat very sympathetic to it. He also appear to be quite fluent in Japanese and some of the material, even I found it to be insightful. Excellent introduction to the Japanese buddhism from historical perspective.
I really have to correct this uninformed post.

First of all, Nichiren never proclaimed himself to be the True Buddha. This is a Japanese invention that is unprovable at best and cannot be attributed to Nichiren.

Second, the passages you are referring to in the Rissho Ankoku Ron "called for the killing of the followers of other sects" was in fact quotes from the Nirvana Sutra, so the Buddha said this, not Nichiren. The Rissho Ankoku Ron was written to the Emperor and is not to be misconstrued as to be instructions to lay people, and further, the Buddha was actually stating that these persons slanders were so bad that it would be better to put them out of their misery than to let them continue to slander Buddhism. It was an act of kindness, and was carried out by the Ruler, not by any lay person.
Hi All,
I went to one of their meetings as my friend belongs to Sokka Gakkai. She seemed to be enjoying the group and I was eager to visit. My friend suffers from depression. There was some chanting (for about an hour) and then there was a meeting of about seven of us. They talked about how the chanting was not magic. Someone said "you decide, chant, then action". My problem with it is what if your desires are harmful to others or yourself or both? It was a bit disturbing.

Anyway a few months ago, my friend left the sect because they were always denouncing all other faiths. Again I have a problem with this. No one has a monopoly on the truth. I know good people of all faiths. I cannot denounce them. When she left her practice, she got all kinds of correspondence saying she had fallen into the "lower realms" or "hell realms". They were kicking her while she was down. I have a big problem with that too.

Anyway, she went back to them because I guess she was afraid of losing their support. She is still there.

Hope this helps
ps: they are always saying stuff like "Sensei said..." and "Sensei that" but I don't see any mention of the Buddha. A little strange. And Buddha did not say that the fulfillment of your desires is enlightenment. But this is what the Sokka Gakkai believe. It seems that they are encouraging people to chant for whatever they want which is the antithesis of what Buddha intended. Look it up - Buddha taught of the 4 noble truths and the eight fold path.
SGI is self destructing because of their emphasis on their sensei instead of Buddhism, but there still are a lot of inaccuracies in the prior posts.

Without getting into the stuff with the sects, the Independents are the way to go with Nichiren Buddhism. We're tired of the stupid sect wars, and so there have been quite a few independent movements springing up. We have our own free liturgy books and downloadable Gohonzon (Object of Veneration), and my movement which is ION, the Independent Organization of Nichiren Lotus Dharma Buddhism, will be doing woodblock prints of Gohonzon soon.

If you take away all the crap the Japanese have done with Nichiren Buddhism and just do the practice you'll find it to be an extremely relevant sect of Buddhism, and we do speak of the Buddha, BTW. Tell your friend to visit the ION website.

It seems I can't post links yet, so you'll have to google it.
sarin gas in tokyo subways. google that. Soka Gakkai International... has many features of a cult. They also seem to focus on too much mantra chantings, for my liking. Doctrinally, they are similiar to Pure Land, insofar as you don't really need to know or do much to be a a buddhist, you just chant.

namo myoho rengekyo! (I think)...
sarin gas in tokyo subways. google that. Soka Gakkai International... has many features of a cult.
SGI only wishes they could be a cult of personality, and it is to the hardcore members, but most of their members go right out the back door once they start pushing their Sensei on everyone.

Sarin gas? Never!

No Nichiren Buddhist of any sect would do that! We are Buddhist and the cult that did that wasn't!

Doctrinally, they are similiar to Pure Land, insofar as you don't really need to know or do much to be a a buddhist, you just chant.
There are some major differences. First, Nichiren Buddhism of any sect views the Pure Land as the land beneath your feet, not the land in the next lifetime. Also, the practice actually works and Pureland doesn't. Of course you won't believe it till you experience it. Third, although the practice appears simple in that anyone can do it, the theory of it is based on T'ien-t'ai theory of Kanjin (Observation of the Mind) and so it goes so deep that Quantum Physics supports it. It was actually called the practice of the unfathomable and the Buddha's own practice by Nichiren.

The fact that the practice is broad and supports those of simple faith as well as those that have the capacity to understand puts it way beyond Pureland.

And BTW, it's Namu Myoho Renge Kyo
As an addendum, Kanjin is the same thing as Shikan meditation and is a form of Vipissana meditation. However, as it is practiced by Nichiren Buddhists is to chant while focusing on the Gohonzon, which was inspired by Chi-ih's "Confessional Samadhi of the Lotus Sutra", and seeking insight into the 'One Moment in Three Thousand Existential Spaces', which is Chi-ih's major work in the Great Concentration and Insight.