Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dhamma-nating the Conversation, part IV: Liberating the Conversation

This is the fourth and final installment of my brief review of Nichiren Buddhism. If you are interested, please read part 1, part 2, and part 3 if you are not up to speed on what I have already covered. I am not an expert or an established practioner of this form of Buddhism, so please forgive any errors. On the other hand, for those who are experts and/or established practioners of Nichiren Buddhism, this is a chance to see how it can look to other people and may assist in mutual understanding with people from other traditions.

Liberating the Conversation

Previously, I wrote:

If one takes seriously the injunction not to seek this Dharma, and by association enlightenment, outside of oneself, and if it does permeate the universe, then shouldn't a sincere practitioner of such a Dharma be able to "see it" expressed everywhere, even if not confined to a particular form such a scroll or a sound? Perhaps one may feel that Nichiren gave such a Dharma its most direct or potent expression, but after all, can something one believes is so pervasive and essential be limited to any particular manifestation of form? Can such a sincere person not here nam-myo-ho-renge-kyo in the silent meditation of Zen, or in the visualization of Chenrizig during Tibetan pujas, or even in a soulful rendition of "Amazing Grace"? Isn't sharing the insight of the Lotus Sutra helping others to find this principle, and if so, must those dedicated to doing so not "find it" themselves however it may express itself in a particular culture?

Here "the injunction" is referring back to an oft-cited quote by Nichiren. I realize that I may be poking some sensitive areas with a stick for some people, even though that is not my intention, and since such actions can provoke people to anger regardless of their intentionality, I again apologize for any such antagonism.

Given that I am not a strict traditionalist, modernist, or post-modernist when it comes to society, culture, meaning, and that which simultaneously involves all three in a direct and powerful way, such as religion, the quote above should come as little surprise. [previous examples of my thinking on such themes can be found here, and there, and definitely here and here, and ahh heck, there too]. That is, I am not talking about "cleaning up" Nichiren Buddhism to make it appear acceptable to modern Western standards, but rather re-framing it so that the principles and teachings are accessible to a different time and culture. Hence the need to understand the context of Nichiren's life and yet not be bound by it. That doesn't mean chanting the Daimoku in English, or dismissing mythological imagery, etc.

One might naturally ask, "Yes, that's all well and good, but why do you care?"

Well, as indicated by this history of this site, I have attempted to learn from many traditions, Buddhist and otherwise, and have discussed many forms such as Zen, Pure Land, etc. Moreover, while I had read the Dhammapada and looked into Buddhism, I never really gave it much serious consideration until I met a practicing Nichiren Buddhist online who was defending religious liberty, the science of evolution, and other issues that were of importance to me personally. He had a knack for weaving poetic simplicity and an unapologetic enthusiasm into his descriptions about life and meaning that was inspiring. So, the first form of Buddhism that I looked into when I considered giving it a try was Nichiren Buddhism, though I did not go so far as to established a regular practice with it. Partly this was because its representatives online and in books seemed to make such a fuss over criticizing the other Buddhist traditions, which then provoked me to learn more about those other traditions and Buddhism in general. In a sense then I have come full circle, having surveyed the landscape I am better able to incoorporate my own experiences of what might be useful or beneficial in other traditions, which is especially useful given my interest in interfaith and interspiritual dialog and understanding.

I cannot say to what degree various Nichiren Buddhists would agree or disagree with what I have written. Maybe one third would agree with half of what I said, or perhaps one eight might agree with one tenth of what I have said. Who can tell? Nor is it my goal to generate such agreement. If it occurs, that is fine. I have liberated my own conception of what Nichiren Buddhism is and what it can be, but I cannot and would not wish to impose my views on others. I simply wanted to share them in case they may be of use to others.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello! Thanks for leaving a comment.

Everything but spam and abusive comments are welcome. Logging in isn't necessary but if you don't then please "sign" at the end of your comment. You can choose to receive email notifications of new replies to this post for your convenience, and if you find it interesting don't forget to share it. Thanks!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...