Born in Japan in a time of drastic societal change, Nichiren Shōnin was a Buddhist monk who dedicated his life to enabling people in the Final Age of the Dharma, a time period in which we still find ourselves in, one in which true understanding and embodiment of the Buddha’s teachings in the world is declining, to hear the eternal truth of the Lotus Sūtra, known as the “king” of all the teachings of Śākyamuni Buddha.
The many branches and lineages descended from Nichiren Shōnin have historically been known collectively as “Nichiren Shu” (the Nichiren School) or “Hokke Shu” (the Lotus School). Although some branches and lineages became independent schools for various historical reasons, the majority united together in the Meiji Period to form the present-day Nichiren Shu (Nichiren School), one of the major denominations of Japanese Buddhism. Nichiren Shu comprises around 5,000 temples throughout Japan together with temples and sanghas in other parts of Asia, North and South America and Europe.
The Nichiren School of Buddhism is based on the Lotus Sūtra, which is the highest teaching taught by Śākyamuni Buddha, and reveres Nichiren Shōnin, the foremost practitioner of the Lotus Sūtra, as its founder. Nichiren Shu Buddhists believe in and spread the teachings of the Lotus Sūtra and Nichiren Shōnin, and strive for the happiness of all people and the peace of society in order to realise this world as the Buddha’s Pure Land.
This tradition has been passed down for more than 700 years to the present day by both monks and nuns, as well as lay believers.
The spiritual and religious centre of Nichiren Shu is Mt. Minobu, which was established by our founder Nichiren Shōnin. Nichiren Shu’s administrative centre, called the “Shumuin," is in Ikegami in the south of Tokyo, and unites all clergy and lay practitioners as one school, actively working to disseminate the teachings of the Lotus Sūtra and our founder Nichiren Shōnin.
The Buddha fully revealed his true mind and enlightenment in the Lotus Sūtra or “Myoho Renge Kyo”, and it is through the Lotus Sūtra that he showed the spirit of his enlightenment.
Although the Lotus Sutra is a work or text made up of words, each character is in fact a manifestation of the Buddha itself and it is that which we give rise to with our voice when we recIte the sūtra and chant “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo”.
It is for that reason that our founder Nichiren Shōnin taught that those who believe in the Lotus Sūtra bring about the presence of the Buddha’s form.