Nichiren Shonin
Gohonzon Shu

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




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Gohonzon Mandala inscribed by Nichiren, formal style.


Secret Transmissions in the Hokkeshu
by Dr. Jacquie Stone

In the Muromachi period different lineages within the Hokkeshu began to produce and transmit what purports to be records of secret oral transmissions containing their distinctive interpretation of Nichiren's teachings. This adoption of kuden forms on one hand reflected trends in the broader culture; by this time secret master-disciple tranmission had become the normative mode of passing on knowledge in religion, literature, and the arts. More specifically, however, it was undoubtedly a product of Hokke-Tendai interactions. Hokke monks studying at Tendai dangisho or on Mt. Hiei would have been exposed to Tendai kuden literature, while Tendai scholar-monks converting to the Hokkeshu would also have been familiar with these forms. It is also possible that increasing rivalry among Hokke lineages may have encouraged adoption of medieval Tendai forms of kuden and secret transmissions as a way of asserting the superior authority of one's own school.

The greatest number of Hokke kuden are devoted to secret teachings concerning the calligraphic mandala that Nichiren had devised. This mandala, variously termed daimandara or gohonzon, continued to occupy a vital place in Hokkeshu practice and ritual after Nichiren's death, as it had during his lifetime. Mandalas were enshrined as the object of worship in Hokke temples, either by themselves or behind a Buddha image. Abbots produced them for the parishoners of their temples as personal honzon, and teachers sometimes inscribed them for disciples as proof of the transmission of lineage. However, Nichiren's own writings contain very little in the way of detailed explanation of the mandala. Probably in response to the need for explanations of this ritually central object, interpretations of the mandala were elaborated after his death in the various Hokke lineages. Written down, these take the form of master-to-disciple kirikami transmissions or collections of such transmissions, and some, like medieval Tendai kuden texts, assume, the convention of secret transmission. For example, in this text of the Fuji lineage of Nikko:
This [transmission] represents the great matter of our sect, the inner meaning of its secret repository. Do not transmit it to anyone who lacks the proper capacity, not even for a thousand in gold. I ask that you choose a[n appropriate] Dharma-vessel from among the disciples and confer this secretly in a personal interview.
Or this one, from the Hama lineage of Nissho:
The above doctrines represent the oral transmissions of successive generations of our school, first set down on paper during the abbecy of Nichiden. [The choice of] the person to whom it is transferred should be restricted to those who have: first, faith; second, wisdom; and third, lack of arrogance.... Beyond that, it should be transferred only to a single person.

[Click here to learn more from Dr. Stone]

Source: Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism by Jacqueline Ilyse Stone. (Studies in East Asian Buddhism 12) University of Hawai'i Press: Honolulu. 1999. pp. 328-329.

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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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