THE BUDDHA WRITINGS OF NICHIREN DAISHŌNIN~ AN INTRODUCTION ~
by Martin Bradley
Part 1: The Life of Nichiren
Part 2: Utterness
Part 3: Myōhō
Part 4: Renge
Part 5: Kyō
Part 6: Nam(u)
Part 7: A Chain of Twelve Causes
It seems that every time we come to die, we are, at some time or another, confronted with the clear light of the Dharma. It is the clear light of the original state which is, as the Collation of the Layers of the Various Teachings of all the Buddhas (Sō Kan Mon Shō) states, “mind just as it is, is light”, our fundamental condition, the simultaneity of all time past, present, and future, as well as every imaginable space.
But, every time we die, there is always something inherent in us that makes us turn away from this fact, so that we find ourselves again in the entanglement of thoughts, which bring back old attachments that haul us all the way back to the cycle of living and dying like roach and dace on the hook of a fishing line.
However hallucinating and disorientating our experiences in the intermediate state between dying and being reborn made us feel, we come back into the world of humankind all fresh, innocent, and clean, as though we had come out of a good bath. We are hardly aware that deep down in our psyches lurk many of the older reactions to the pitfalls of life that make us unhappy. As we grow up, we usually become less carefree and progressively burdened by our respective karma. We look in all directions for paradisiacal relief, either in the flesh or in the mind. There are all manners of heavens, all sorts of hells, and all kinds of spaces in between.
Nichiren Daishōnin’s aim was to make us understand that the clear light of the Dharma realm is in no way apart from whatever situation we are living at this very moment. This essay and these translations are about the quest for an inner realisation and becoming an individuated person. And they are done in this spirit of bearing the intention of Nichiren in mind, which was to make all people aware of the fact that our real identity is life itself and at the same time we can get on with being the persons we think we are in the business of living out our lives.
Probably the best way to introduce a collection of translations of the writings of Nichiren Daishōnin would be first to give the reader a résumé of the main events in his life. However, before I go a step further, I would like to explain the title Daishōnin.
In most Chinese and Japanese dictionaries, the ideogram shō is defined as a sage, wise and good, upright and correct in all his character. In Harajima’s Nichiren Daishōnin Goshō Jiten, the standard dictionary of Nichiren Shōshū terminology, it says, “A person whose knowledge and insight is decidedly superior, and thoroughly versed in all principles. Therefore, such a person is able to discern the correct view of the Buddha wisdom.” This word or ideogram could be translated as “sage-like”, if we were to think of this word in its philological context as having an underlying meaning of “whole”, “healthy” or “hail” or in Latin languages “saint”, “sain”, etc. Placed in front of this word shō, we have the ideogram dai, a pictogram of a man with his arms and legs stretched out. This ideogram is defined in what might be the most ancient of dictionaries, the Shuowen jiezi as, “enormous as the sky, as huge as the earth, and also as vast as humankind. Therefore, this ideogram is in the shape of a human being. That is why it means universal or great.” So here, in contrast to the Buddha whose title might be translated as “the enlightener”, we have the Daishōnin, who is the person who is universally sage-like.
It is in this light that I have translated a few of his writings, in order to break out of the sectarian limitations of the various schools that propagate something of his teachings. The aim of this book is to make the all-pervading enlightened wisdom of Nichiren Daishōnin available to a wider reading public.
Looking north on Buttle Lake, Vancouver Island, BC
Martin Bradley, The Buddha Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin, ISBN: 2-913122-19-1, 2005,
The Buddha Writings of Nichiren Daishōnin by Martin Bradley
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.