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Nichiren and Pure Land

Site-Wide Activity Forums Shrine Room Buddhist Q&A Nichiren and Pure Land

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    • #2871
      Shoyo Fernandes

      Though I have been a Buddhist for four years,  I have just begun exploring different traditions. Since then, I have been deeply involved with Pure Land but have had a huge interest in Nichiren. My dilemma is, which one do I choose?  Both appeal to me and I most certainly know they are mutually exclusive.  Any suggestions?

    • #2878

      Why are they mutually exclusive? I’m not convinced that any two things are mutually exclusive. I could be sitting here in this chair, chanting the Nembutsu as I write, and I could be amazed at how my appreciation of the Lotus Sutra is growing! Namo Amida Bu!

    • #2879

      Yes, it’s an interesting question Shoyo – what is your experience of practising both? I know Honen & Nichiren didn’t get on in their day, but as Andrew said I don’t see that there’s a mutual exclusivity – I know that one of our sangha members Rob has recently had a spiritual experience after reading the Lotus Sutra. Do say more if you can… Namo Amida Bu.

    • #2882
      Shoyo Fernandes

      My research has shown that both schools teach a single practice in order to attain Enlightenment (Nam myoho renge kyo for Nichiren and Namu Amida Bu for Pure Land). Also, both have divergent views on when one attains Enlightenment.  Nichiren taught that Enlightenment can occur here in this life while PL teaches that one can reach Enlightenment in Amida’s Land. Now that I completed 30 Day Nembutsu, I have decided to stay with Pure Land.

    • #3178

      I practiced SGI Nichiren Buddhism for four years.  It stressed the exclusivity of attaining enlightenment by chanting Nam myoho renge kyo, so I don’t understand how one can practice both.  Nichiren wrote a number of Gosho (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin) that condemned the Pure Land. (Yeah I know it sounds funny: I learn from Christianity and Pure Land, but don’t see how one can practice both Nichiren Buddhism and Pure Land?) The only reason why I don’t think its possible to practice both, is because their approach to enlightenment are so vastly different.  However a Pure Land Buddhist can of course read the Lotus Sutra and appreciate it’s teachings.  The Lotus Sutra came before Nichiren’s interpretations, so any Buddhist can read the Lotus Sutra. Yet I believe it may not be possible to belong to a Nichiren school and recite nembutsu. I have long understood that my heart belongs to Amida. My exploration into Nichiren Buddhism was more a desperation to practice with a Sangha, but it was a memorable experience to say the least. Well those are my two cents. Thanks for listening.

      Namo Amida Bu.

    • #3385

      From an SGI Nichiren Buddhist perspective the relationship is one tapping into your connection to the mystic law/ Buddha Nature inherent in our being, Through this “Determination” to live your life through coming into harmony with this it is hoped that insight, wisdom and an indestructable self will be manifested. There is a definate self power in that chanting the Daimoku ( Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) will allow a person to tap into this inherent power and an other power aspect is that this power works in a “Mystic “ way, ( a way difficult to understand ) Faith in this sense means trust that you “ ARE” indeed Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. People chant about specific problems and obstacles and as the thinking mind settles there is indeed new and broader perspectives that arise.

      However it can be difficult to feel a connection or relationship, there is a need for gentleness and surrendering of self with a realisation that we are loved “just as we are” The feeling is different, how can we change ourselves with the very self that has  so many strong karmic patterns and narratives.

      It seems there is a real difference in feeling.

      Nichiren Buddhism: Chanting with the purpose of breaking through obstacles by tapping into our inherent Buddha Nature. When chanting the Daimoku our Buddha Nature arises.Chanting allows the conditioned mind tonsettle to tap into wisdom and other ways of responding approaching “problems”, our filter changes.

      Pure Land Buddhsim : Chanting to keep Amida in mind (fully)  Amida is expressing through us, all is already done. We are “loved as we are “ Chanting to express gratitude. Realising that fundamentally it is difficult go change pur conditioned nature. Surrendering, offering the self as is. Love and compassion.Connecting to Amida allows the self to “give ip control” find refuge and as a byproduct there is change, softening and growth in unexpected directions.


      For me they really don’t feel like overlapping or complementary practices, certainly in terms of chanting and the feeling quality and motivations to chant.

      I am really struggling with this also, I feel I need settle and I am struggling

      Nam Myoho Renge Kyo / Namo Amida Bu

      Guidance and Insight most appreciated.Please help ! 🙂









    • #3391

      Hi Wayne, good to hear from you again. I know this is something you’ve struggled with for some time. I’m wondering what you hope the answer will give you – permission to continue with both practices? A resolution to some koan? Reassurance that you are getting or doing something ‘right’? Something else?

      In my own understanding, self-power practices also take us towards other-power, as we have a very deep experience of our limits. Dharmavidya writes of Zen & PL as like opposite ends of a tunnel that lead to the same place. Maybe the only way to find out is to keep practising??

      Namo Amida Bu, sending blessings from here.

      • #3398

        Hi Satya, thank you for responding to me. I always find your words to be supportive, reflective and kind, in which ever form I hear or read them.

        I too wonder what the answer will give me. There is an element of wanting a return before I put in an investment, just in case I lose my investment and feel a fool.

        I have invested in Nichiren Buddhism and there has been some return but something is missing.

        The self is never satisfied or convinced but yet yearns for a connection for something other than the self, unlimited, loving, expansive compassionate.

        Perhaps gratitude for what is, this is enough?  I am a human being who calls out  not only in gratitude but also for help. Can Amida help in my daily life and struggles, how ? or are these just more self power strategies?

        Thank you Satya, your thoughts and intuitive nudges are always welcome!

        I feel as though I will be coming to visit the temple in Malvern this year.

        Namo Amida Bu


      • #3399

        It would be lovely to meet you if you are able to come.

        Good insights. A fear that you might invest time/energy and receive nothing in return… a perfect description of bombu nature 🙂 and Amida will be there whether you practice Nichiren Buddhism, or Pureland, or both or neither. Just say Namo Amida Bu and he/she’ll take care of the rest.

        Namo Amida Bu!

      • #3420

        Thank you Satya,

        Where I am based I have a group of people to connect to who are all trying to live their lives by aligning themselves/ connecting to the mystic law/ Buddha nature. Chanting allows this small conditioned self to quieten and allow a connection and feeling for the wholesome creative energy. Universal life and light is and encompasses all. There is trust and surrender to the mystic law/ buddha nature and faith that we are able express this in our lives. I believe that intent is all important. I will keep practicing as you suggest. I would love to come and visit at some point. I am so interested in what can be shared with other faiths/people!









    • #3395

      I’ve been thinking for a while now, and I am starting to see that I was rigid in my thinking.  It doesn’t have to be black or white.  We can learn and grow from studying the BuddhaDharma, as expressed through the various sects. I am primarily a Pureland Buddhist, but I’ve decided to have an open heart. Thank you Wayne and Satya for this engaging discussion.

    • #3400

      Thanks Jeaunice. I see myself in a similar way – my heart is with Pureland Buddhism as it suits this particular bombu person, and I also take great wisdom and comfort from other perennial spiritual teachings – more and more as I go further on this Pureland path. Good to have you back here with your lovely open heart!

    • #3413

      Nichiren Buddhism seems based upon self-power – you are chanting to bring forth your Buddha nature, where Pure Land Buddhism is focused on the Other Power of Amitabha Buddha.

      Nichiren Buddhism varies across the board. For most people in the West, their experience with Nichiren Buddhism will have been through Soka Gakkai International (SGI). They are a lay-led group who were kicked out of the older Nichiren Shoshu, one of the two main Nichiren groups. They no longer believe in a priesthood and everything is done by lay members. Their form of worship is also very plain – they do not have temples and in their centres the mandala scroll (Gohonzon) is contained in a simple wooden cabinet.

      Nichiren Shoshu are a very exclusive organisation. They believe that Nichiren Buddhism is the one true faith and that members should not engage in any other religious practices. When SGI was part of Nichiren Shoshu, new members had to destroy all other religious artefacts. Only their members can visit the Head Temple Taisekiji on the slopes of Mt Fuji and see the Dai-Gohonzon, which they consider the most sacred Gohonzon and object of their faith.

      Nichiren Shu, based on Mt Minobu, is more moderate. I don’t know an awful lot about them, but I have heard that they sometimes use a combination of statues instead of the Gohonzon.

    • #3428

      This is really interesting as I have also tied myself in knots occasionally trying to decide which is ‘better’. My issue with Nichiren is its exclusivity. As soon as any group or sect says, ‘This is the only way’, then I think it is time to head for the door. I am sure there are PL groups who are also quite dogmatic about the single practice (thankfully, not here!), but I think PL is saved from this generally by the emphasis on our bombu nature. We just don’t know and cannot know what That/This is. The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao. It’s beyond us. Any practice, whether Zen or Nembutsu or Hindu Kirtan is surely just a means to get out of our own way, push all our cleverness and self-regard to one side and only then does That Divine Thing (whatever It is)  have a chance to break through. And there is nothing we can do to determine when/if that happens and that is ok. Accepting my bombu nature and being open to Amida (without really understanding what Amida is) suits me. It’s psychologically a huge release to accept Other power and my own limitations. Nichiren surely tempts us to think we can take control of life through chanting to the Gohonzon and making ‘progress’ towards something. And what if that doesn’t happen…? Then, do I have to blame myself for lack of chanting effort?

    • #3429

      For what it’s and this may come across as a bit confused , I see similarities. I’ve tasted many a dish in my spiritual search and over the years and see to a large extent they all have the same aim but call it different things , and use different practices.  This may be oversimplified but they all try to subdue ,put to sleep the ego so that reality can be experienced . I rhink it mentioned in the bible as well as somewhere else about dying to oneself in order to be free or experience heaven ect. The thing is not to burn oneself up in making a decision as one becomes like a tail chasing dog going ever faster and faster and foresaking ones life and what’s around one , ie family and actually living ect. I took great pleasure and comfort from the Kalama sutra Which in essence says absorb what’s useful reject what’s not. Taking time out also helps in the same way Larry in Somerset Maugham s the razors edge worked down the mines to clear his head. The human mind is a great thing as long as we don’t overfill it with stuff . Ultimately divine emptiness or that peace that passeth all understanding is real home  and pure land practice has given it to me. Now I don’t see Amida as a being(certainly not in my limited comprehension of what that may be)   I see him as a deity that represents a living ubiquitous  energy field that I surrender to that enables me to taste and become graced by a thing far greater than myself. I have moments of clarity calm ect that generally has become my underlying default position  but hey , at times no , I’m still an arshole but the beauty is I see that and it’s still fine as it’s bombu as opposed to beating myself up. That’s why I’m here and looking back from this viewpoint enables me to see all my searching and uncovering ultimately led me to here and understand those previous practices /words with greater depth and although don’t do them enjoy reading the words of    such disciplines.  .If it sticks ya just find yourself doing , like breathing and the nembutsu has become that for me and for a while now and at the moment am just dandy with that .

      Namo Amida Bu

      • #3430

        Hi Ken, your response made me smile and I really resonate with what you say, especially concerning the ego or conditioned mind! For me chanting the Daimoku is a way to tap into this energy field which is essentially what I am and what everything arises from. When chanting, the conditioned self surrenders, revealing the creative non duality already present but obscured by the conditioned mind. From this place there is a wisdom and creative impulses that seem to arise. The thinking mind is surrendered not from an act of will but as a natural response to the chanting of the Daimoku.

        Thank you



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