Nichiren Shonin
Gohonzon Shu

O'Mandalas by St. Nichiren
[1222-1282]




Early Mandala inscribed by Nichiren Shonin



Early Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren, abbreviated style.


Dr. Jacquie Stone on the Object of Worship, cont.

[Previous text]

The variety of explanations in Nichiren's writings concerning the object of worship and the plurality of its iconic forms gave rise to considerable controversy after his death. Scholar-monks within the sect debated whether his true intent was represented by the "object of worship as Buddha" or as "person" (butsu-honzon, nin-honzon), or by "the object of worship as Dharma" (ho-honzon). Some argued that one represented Nichiren's true intention and the other a skillful means, while others tried in various ways to reconcile the two. These contraversies have continued down to the present. A related point of contention has concerned whether the physical object of worship employed in actual practice should be an image of Sakyamuni or Nichiren's calligraphic mandala. This represents one of the earliest fault lines along which rival factions among Nichiren's followers aligned themselves after his death. It is addressed primarily in writings of the Fuji School, originating with Byakuran Ajari Nikko (1246-1333), whose differences with other leading disciples led to the first schism within the Nichiren community. Fuji documents cite as one reason for the schism Nikko's opposition to the use of Buddha images and conviction that the mandala alone should be revered as the object of worship.

From a contemporary perspective, it may seem puzzling that Nichiren himself did not clarify such matters more definitively. However, as the late Shioiri Ryodo pointed out, the expectation that each sect of Buddhism should have a unified object of worship had not yet come into being in his time. Nichiren's treatment of the object of worship as a central issue of doctrine was, in Shioiri's view, of "epochal significance in the history of [Japanese] Buddhism." Other reasearch indicated that differentiation in honzon may have contirbuted to the formation of sectarian conciousness long before Nichiren's time. Nonetheless, as Shioiri suggests, the debates that raged among Nichiren's successors over the meaning and form of the object of worship were instrumental in defining the power of a particular tradition's honzon to unify its faith and doctrine and to express its sense of unique identity.

[Click here to learn more from Dr. Stone]

Source: Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism. A Kuroda Institute Book by Jacqueline Ilyse Stone. University of Hawai'i Press: Honolulu. 1999. pp. 275-276.

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explanatory text

Gohonzonsh»u (129 halographs)
Published by Rissho Ankokukai. 1947, 1999.
1 | 2 | 3A | 3B | 3C | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32A | 32B | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68A | 68B | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125

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