Spotlight on Nichiren Buddhism

I only learned about Nichiren Buddhism a few months ago. I was more familiar with Tibetan Buddhism, practiced by the Dalai Lama.

My friend Rodney happily volunteered to participate in this series of interviews. Read his replies below on why he follows this form of Buddhism;

1. How long have you practiced this form of spirituality? 38 years
2. What about it fulfills your spiritual needs? I feel tremendous confidence — even when faced with the most daunting outward situations, and by the negative workings of my spiritual interior — that I can transform everything into the positive. I do this through my diligent practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and staying connected with my faith community (a.k.a., sangha), SGI-USA.
3. What challenges (if any) does being a (fill in the blank) pose in everyday life? In the first couple years of my Buddhist practice, I sometimes encountered awkward social situations rooted in the double-whammy of others misunderstanding my faith as an SGI Nichiren Buddhist, and my own shyness about it. But as I grew more comfortable with explaining my beliefs, the awkwardness went away. Now it’s just a happy part of my daily life.
4. Are there any misconceptions people have about your belief system you’d like to clear up? Misconceptions? I guess the biggie is the notion that *the* spiritual practice for all Buddhists is to depart the trappings of society for meditation on a mountaintop. Rather, with the SGI practice, we are completely engaged in the comings & goings of day-to-day life. My practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo before the Gohonzon (our object of devotion) causes a vast spiritual landscape to unfold before me, right in my own living room (or when chanting with friends — at their home)! So, it’s not necessary to physically go to another place, when I have somewhere special to go in my own heart. But words cannot do it justice: it’s like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It’s kind of like taking a “spiritual shower” or “the best drugs ever” — but without any of the negative side effects, legality issues, or cost (since it’s completely free).

Another grand misconception is that we humans need to obtain salvation from a special class of individuals (priests, positive-thinkers, or whomever fits the role). Without going into the topic at length here, let it suffice to say that everyone possesses the capacity for enlightenment in this lifetime. Or as Nichiren stated (in 1275), “You will grow younger, and your good fortune will accumulate.”

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