Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism/Part 6

By: John Ankerberg, John Weldon; ©2000
In the area of spirituality, religious claims and morality, Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism falls short of what a seeker might legitimately expect of true religion.

CRITIQUE–Three Problems for NS

In the areas of spirituality, religious claims and morality, NS Buddhism falls short of what a seeker might legitimately expect of true religion. We will first summarize these three problems. Then we will examine the most critical problem for NS claims in depth. First, despite its claims to offer an intelligent spirituality, NS really offers just another occult-based system of religion. Nichiren Shoshu priests and some laypersons have claimed occult and/or shamanistic powers, and part of daily worship involves an offering of ritual prayers to the dead. The Gohonzon itself is seen as a repository of magical powers available to anyone who recites the incantation and therefore “has the power to bless or curse” its worshipper, depending upon the treatment given it.[1]

Second, NS’s claims to constitute true Buddhism is false. As Yale historian Kenneth Scott Latourette concludes, “[Nichiren] was mistaken in his conviction that the Lotus Sutra contained the primitive Buddhism. As a matter of fact, it was a late production, an expression of a form of Buddhism that would scarcely have been recognized by Gautama, or if recognized would have been repudiated.”[2] Nor can NS offer the world the true interpretation of the Lotus Sutra, for the important NS doctrines are absent from the Lotus Sutra and its mythological content is incapable of uniform interpretation. The most fundamental NS claim of all is demonstrably false. We will discuss this in depth below.

Third, John Weldon has talked with NS members who have actually attempted to utilize chanting to bring about evil: to obtain drugs, commit a crimes, or to magically control other people’s decisions. They told him that “chanting works as well for these things as for any others.” How can the NS member justify worshiping an evil source of spiritual power? But even when NS members chant for “good” things, the emphasis is far too materialistic. NS maintains that those who chant properly “will surely become rich”[3] and, “Let’s make money and build health and enjoy life to our heart’s content before we die!”[4] Many more examples of such a materialistic attitude could be cited if space permitted. In NS it becomes all too easy to replace spiritual integrity with a goal of personal self-indulgence.

In contrast to this entire approach, Jesus warned us, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed, for not even when one has abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15) After Christianity’s clear condemnations of the occult and materialism and its solid historical support are contrasted with NS’s failings in these areas, the seeker of truth and salvation would be most unwise to disregard the claims of Christ for NS’s alleged “benefits.” For Jesus also said: “For what will a man be profited if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt. 16:26)? But in fact, the so-called benefits are few and far between anyway, as the Ex-NSA Journal reports: “Ex-members…will tell you that the really important things never did materialize [and that] they never really became happy.”[5]


  1. Brannen, p. 34.
  2. Kenneth Scott Latourette, Introduction to Buddhism (New York: Friendship Press, 1956), p. 38; cf. Mark A. Ehman, “The Saddharmapundarika–Sutra” in Charles S. Prebish ed., Buddhism: A Modern Perspective (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1975), p. 102, cf., Murata, p. 24.
  3. The Soka Gakkai, p. 141.
  4. In Murata, pp. 107-108.
  5. Ex-NSA Journal, Vol. 4, no. 3, p. 1.

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