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Switch to Forum Live View Homosexuality and Nichiren Shu?
9 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 10:21AM #1
Metlboy
Posts: 5

I am just sort of getting my feet wet in Nichiren Buddhism, and I'm trying to figure out the differences between the sects. I know that SGI has no problem with homosexuality, but I can't find the others' stances. Can anyone fill me in on this?

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 1:02PM #2
Aurumsky
Posts: 12

Greetings,


Howdy! I can tell you definitively that Nichiren Shu at least in the US (where I live) has absolutely no issues whatsoever with homosexuality. Some of our ministers are, and I am pretty sure at least one was involved in "civil disobedience" when he chose to marry same sex individuals in a state where it wasn't yet legal. Significant others are treated (in my experience in the US) as if they were spouses, even if they aren't "officially" in the US.


All humans can become enlightened.... :)


That being said, in my personal experience, in Nichiren Shu, we do touch on Buddhist fundamentals in which it is important not to exploit or mislead people in a sexual way - regardless of which side of the track you are on. And I'm sure the SGI points out cause and effect to the same end.


Hey, and welcome to the Nichiren family!


Blessings on you, and may ALL beings attain enlightenment!


Kris

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 18, 2009 - 11:24PM #3
Metlboy
Posts: 5

Thanks for the information! I wish there was a Nichiren Shu temple (church?) in my area.


I was also wondering, since the SGI is a lay organization, is it mutually exclusive from Nichiren Shu? I realize there isn't any affiliation, but does either organization frown on participating in the other? I went to an SGI meeting in my area, and I loved it, but upon reading some of the publications, the tone of many of the articles kind of rubbed me wrong (though none of that tone was reflected in the actual meeting).

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 19, 2009 - 2:13PM #4
Aurumsky
Posts: 12

Metlboy,


You are most welcome.


SGI is quite separate from Nichiren Shu, though our primary practice, chanting, is the same.


Nichiren Shu does not have any problem with SGI members joining us in chanting at our services; in my personal experience, SGI does indeed frown on Shu members at their services.


(I have a good friend in Southern California who is a member of Nichiren Shu whose husband was an SGI member at the time. Their house was placed "off limits" for SGI meetings by the local SGI precisely because my friend is a Shu member. I have another friend who was pointedly asked not to attend specific SGI meetings because she associated with a Nichiren Shu minister, and the SGI members I personally know who are leaders will not chant with me).


If you were to actually join Nichiren Shu, it is expected that you give up being a SGI member (and vice versa)- doctrinally, there are some significant differences in beliefs, which effect daily practice - for instance, SGI members focus more on the gosho, and concentrate on the writings of Daisaku Ikeda whereas Nichiren Shu will focus on Lotus Sutra, the goshos, and will also study other sutras. Nichiren Shu has some auxiliary practices that the SGI does not, such as silent meditation, chanting other portions of the Lotus Sutra, and meditatative copying of the sutra.


But you don't have to join Nichiren Shu to chant with us, and you will still be welcome, regardless of your affiliation.


I think if you read a few of the posts of the SGI members at this site, you can see that they often feel very strongly that theirs is the only "true" way to practice, and they take that very seriously.


That being said, there are many good and sincere SGI members who have no problem chanting with Shu members. I have been fortunate to have a few good SGI friends who will chant with me. Heck, there are so few Buddhists out where I live, it's just nice to find somebody to chant with!


You might check in with one of the ministers or at the Nichiren shu yahoogroup to see if there are any Shu members in your area. I know we are a pretty far flung group, not too many of us, but all over the world. Reverend Myokei of the Houston, Texas sangha and Reverend Ryuei of the San Franscisco sangha both minister to a geographically far flung population, and may be able to introduce you to someone in your area. Reverend Faulconer is also a great guy to talk to, he's up in the Boston area.


Another option, particularly if you live in a bigger city is to chant with Independent Nichiren buddhists. There are a number of people who are chose to practice outside of organizations entirely. Don Ross, who administers the big website "www.nichirenscoffeehouse.net" can line you out on that, if you are interested.


Beyond that, there are other Nichiren schools like Nipponzan Myohoji,  Nichiren Shoshu, Kempon Hokke and such....they tend to be more "formal", in my mind, but there are alot of branches on the Nichiren tree.


At any rate, it would be great if you can find a good handful of people to chant with regularly, that you feel comfortable with - regardless of their label. You can always check different groups out; in fact, I found that even within the SGI differing chapters and districts can be remarkably different from one another. I would definitely listen to your instincts about any groups you encounter.


The important thing is to find a group that helps foster your growth spiritually, that encourages you to chant and study, to cultivate compassion, patience, diligence and wisdom.


You have my best wishes in your search,


Kris


 


 


 

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 19, 2009 - 11:00PM #5
Metlboy
Posts: 5

Thanks a lot for your help! I'll check out some of those resources to see what else is in my area. I guess what was confusing me was that the meeting that I went to and the official SGI publications seemed to be so different. I know that a friend of mine who practices Zen has meditated with a guy who leads SGI meetings in town, so maybe my area has a slightly more ecumenical attitude due to the small number of Buddhists? In any case, thanks again for your help, you've given me some research to do!

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2009 - 2:58PM #6
Aurumsky
Posts: 12

Metlboy,


Cool. It sounds like you do live in an area where the SGI is more open. That is great. I realized you live in the Buddhist outback... I live in an area that has so few buddhists, that ecumenism is a must!


Good luck in your journeys.... It has been good to e-meet you!


Kris

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 26, 2009 - 8:55AM #7
Metlboy
Posts: 5

Sorry to keep pestering you with questions, but I keep coming up with more!


I was told by some SGI people that if I get a Gohonzon from them, someone will have to come to my house to be sure I have my altar set up appropriately. Is this normal for other sects of Nichiren Buddhism? It really rubs me the wrong way. I can understand wanting it to be respected, etc, but at the same time, it just seems really big brother-ey. It's my faith and my practice, so it doesn't seem like it's their business where I put the Gohonzon/how I set up the altar.


I did e-mail a couple of the Nichiren Shu ministers closest to me, and I'm awaiting a response. Thanks again for how helpful you've been.

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 26, 2009 - 11:14PM #8
Aurumsky
Posts: 12

Metlboy,


Greetings, again.   Well, I don't know what the official SGI policy is, but I can speak from my short two year membership in the SGI - generally, the SGI leaders in your area really feel it vitally important that they see your butsudan to make sure they feel like you can respectfully look after your mandala (the gohonzon). I don't know of anyone who received their gohonzon in the SGI without inspection, but that is my limited experience speaking.


You are not alone in feeling uncomfortable, and don't let anyone convince you something is wrong with YOU; I have a number of friends who have felt the same, some in the SGI-USA (who endure in discomfort); and a number of Shu friends who only invite close friends to see their personal butsudan and altar.


I know that in Nichiren Shu, it is likely to vary by minister - I have lived at a distance from my minister, Mike McCormick in San Francisco, and he has never seen my altar, though he bestowed my mandala on me when I took the precepts (Jukai) with the San Fransico sangha. I did go there for the ceremony, and had met him a few times in person at Dharma conferences.


What he did want to assure himself of was that I understood I wasn't just worshipping a magic sheet of paper (or as a whimsical friend of mine once called it "a magical Chinese laundry list"). Basically, he wanted to make sure I understood what I was getting into by chanting, and that our particular school generally utilizes a calligraphic mandala symbolizing the Gohonzon (that which is worthy of greatest respect and devotion). We don't worship a piece of paper or statues.


(Sometimes in Nichiren Shu we symbolize the Gohonzon using statues, as Nichiren did, rather than a calligraphic scroll - but a scroll is more portable and generally much less expensive).


I'm not sure if I'm writing with clarity - Rev. McCormick (Ryuei) likes to say that he likes to bestow the paper mandala on folks who know the difference between the paper itself and what it represents (I'm paraphrasing). 


For instance, if you were praying TO the paper like it was going to grant a wish (kind of like rubbing a statue of the Buddha for good luck) he wouldn't be keen on presenting a gohonzon to you. But, if you really were sensitive about someone invading your privacy, but had a clear understanding that the paper mandala is a tool to utilize to grow in your Buddhahood, then I don't think he would feel the need to actually "check out" your altar. But that is my minister, and different ministers may feel differently.


There are replicas of gohonzons online (www.nichirenscoffeehouse.com has the link somewhere), if you find that it is useful for you to focus on an image (which is really, really helpful to folks like me who have a "monkey mind" that bounces all over while I chant sometimes).


I used a copy of the last gohonzon Nichiren is known to have penned for 2 years prior to joining Nichiren Shu. When I joined Nichiren Shu, I could have had Mike (Ryuei) "eye-open" it (he was totally okay with that),  but I chose to get a special gohonzon with fabric backing. It has sentimental meaning to it, because he wrote some notes on the back for me. It took me many years before I committed to Nichiren Shu, so having a "special" different scroll was important to me as a sort of rite of passage.


Eye-opening isn't some magic spell, it is more a ceremony to impress upon yourself and remind your sangha members that this scroll (or statue if that is what you prefer) is going to be a part of your sacred practice, that you use when you are endeavoring to  touch the best part of the universe, the ineffable good stuff....kind of like if you have a dear friend who is at war or something who leaves behind a token - you know the token isn't your friend, but you treat the token reverently because of who it represents.


Anyway, I hope that wasn't too abtruse or abstract - and don't apologize for asking! I just hope some of this makes SENSE. I actually like writing you.


Take good care of yourself,


Kris


 

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 27, 2009 - 1:36PM #9
Metlboy
Posts: 5

Thanks for responding! That makes perfect sense to me, actually. At the first meeting I went to, one of the people said something very similar. Basically, to not think you were chanting TO the scroll, the scroll was just an external representation of the belief that you had the power to change your life and initiate positive cause and effect for yourself and others,  etc, but that all of that had to be in your heart for chanting to do any good.


I guess this is sort of why I'm having a problem deciding how I feel about SGI. There are so many people who seem great and I like what they have to say, etc, but then I read the publications and listen to some other people and it's a totally different story.


I guess I'll keep going to the meetings for now (I do like the discussion meeting format, though not so much that all you can discuss is Ikeda). I'll probably order some of the Nichiren Shu's books on the sly though and uh... hide them, I guess, if I ever get inspected (if I even go through with that, that is).


Thanks again for your help!

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 29, 2009 - 2:20AM #10
Neverdespise
Posts: 270

Hi All!


A couple of things. The president of the Nichiren Shu Layman's Association, John Petry, is a homosexual so of course you will be welcomed and will feel comfortable.


Now, as far as the Gohonzon, Nichiren Daishonin writes, On Offering Prayers to the Mandala of the Mystic Law,


"I HAVE offered prayers to the Gohonzon of Myoho-renge-kyo. Though this mandala has but five or seven characters, it is the teacher of all Buddhas throughout the three existences and the seal that guarantees the enlightenment of all women. It will be a lamp in the darkness of the road to the next world and a fine horse to carry you over the mountains of death. It is like the sun and moon in the heavens or Mount Sumeru on earth. It is a ship to ferry people over the sea of the sufferings of birth and death. It is the teacher who leads all people to Buddhahood and enlightenment. This great mandala has never yet been propagated anywhere in Jambudvipa in the more than 2,220 years since the Buddha’s passing."



In other writings he states the Object of Worship is Shakyamuni Buddha of the Juryo Chapter of the Lotus Sutra.



Putting two and two together, the Gohonzon itself is the Master of Teachings Lord Shakya of the Original Doctrine. How fortunate you are about to meet Him.



Mark

 


 

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