Nichiren Buddhism is a branch Mahayana Buddhism founded by Nichiren in the 13th century Japan. How is it different from other sects and branches of Buddhism? What are it's tenets, philosophy and practices? Do they venerate Buddha as a God or as a great personality and spiritual master?
Nichiren Buddhism differs from other schools of Buddhism in focusing on this world, and in its view that it is the only correct tradition. It also emphasises the importance of individuals taking responsibility for improving themselves. Although it can be seen as a highly self-focused religion, followers of Nichiren Buddhism believe that individual empowerment and inner transformation contribute, in turn, to a better and more peaceful world. Beliefs: instant enlightenment
Instant enlightenment is one of the key elements of Nichiren Buddhism. It teaches that enlightenment is available to everybody. One writer has encapsulated this idea as a "shortcut to salvation". The essence of enlightenment is opening a person's innate Buddha-nature in this world.
Nichiren, the founder, came to believe that he was living in a degraded age, an age of mappo (very similar to the English term "end times") where Buddha's teachings were misinterpreted and as a consequence many bad things were happening. Nichiren followed the Lotus Sutra in his teaching that all living beings could attain enlightenment on earth and could do this through chanting and 'human revolution'. Nichiren emphasised the Lotus Sutra to the extent that he taught that it was the only way that could lead to true Buddhahood, and create a truly good world. He taught that other Buddhist practices no longer provided a road to enlightenment, and that it was the neglect of the Lotus Sutra that was responsible for the evils of his time; including such things as earthquakes. Nichiren was not just a scripture scholar, he was an activist. Having worked out what was wrong with contemporary Buddhism he did something about it. He engaged in shakubuku. This Japanese word means "to break and subdue".
The main practice of Nichiren Buddhists is chanting, primarily the mantra Nam Myoho Renge Kyo which means 'I devote my life to the law itself'. Chanters repeat this mantra to enter more deeply into the spiritual tradition of the Lotus Sutra. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is both the heart and title of the Lotus Sutra, which teaches the enlightenment of all living beings. Believers also recite sections of the Lotus Sutra as part of their daily practice. The chant is performed in front of a scroll called the Gohonzon. Chanting is usually performed for about 30 minutes night and morning and is believed to bring about changes in a person's life and reverse bad karma. Nichiren Buddhists specifically believe that everyone can change their destiny and bring about the effects they desire. Followers are encouraged to write their personal goals down on a piece of paper and have it in front of them while chanting. The aim of the practice is to establish high states of self-development. As Yukio Matsudo writes, it "works as a regular and constant inspiration to manifest the qualities of the Buddha in one's daily life." Chanting versus prayer: This chanting tradition is very different to the tradition of chanted prayer in many other religions. Those who practice it believe that the chant is "an influence at work in the metaphysical economy" and actually changes the force and action of karma.