Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Katy Perry - "Firework"

Is Katy Perry’s song “Firework” from 2010 a Buddhist anthem?  Here’s some of the Buddhist concepts mentioned in the song together with the lyrics (printed in bold)

The first verse mention feeling that you’re not in control of your life and being overwhelmed, but then introduces hope and the seed of Buddhahood within (“Do you know that there's still a chance for you? Cause there's a spark in you?”)  and mentions “You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine” which represents to me awakening your Buddha nature by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

The chorus introduces that you are a Buddha and have the potential to change society (“'Cause baby, you're a firework.  Come on, show 'em what you're worth.” )

The second verse continues with recognizing that each of us is valuable to society (“You don't have to feel like a waste of space”) and is worthy of respect (“You're original, cannot be replaced”).  The theme from the Gosho that “Winter always turns into Spring” is paraphrased (“If you only knew what the future holds.  After a hurricane comes a rainbow”) and then it mentions that the reason for suffering is to reveal a new path to victory similar to “turning poison into medicine” (“Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed, So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road”)

Finally she sings “Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon. It's always been inside of you, you, you. And now it's time to let it through” which is reminding us again of everyone’s potential for Buddhahood since birth and that now is the time to awaken it and let it shine.

Here are three links to youtube videos, including the original video which shows the enlightenment of several individuals:

Just the words and music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQtshvDWOFY

Not a fan of Katy Perry?  Try this version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocL-o8GY02k

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Single Truth

Over the last week I have had four posts looking at differences between the Nichiren schools of Buddhism (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4).  Today I summarise all of this as I look for which of these schools is carrying the single truth of Nichiren's teachings in these modern times.


In the Human Revolution: Volume 6, Nichiren’s early life is discussed and his seeking spirit led him to ask the following questions:

Buddhism was expounded by only one person, Shakyamuni, but why is it now divided into so many sects?  The truth that this saint revealed must be a single truth.  Then where is the sect that inherited it?  (Human Revolution: Volume 6, p8)
Nichiren’s studies led him to the Lotus Sutra as the ultimate, correct and true teaching of Shakyamuni and he used this as the basis of Nichiren Buddhism as well as leaving behind his writings and various Gohonzon.

There are now many different schools of Nichiren Buddhism, which leads me to ponder:

Nichiren Buddhism was expounded by only one person, Nichiren, but why is it now divided into so many schools?  The truth that the Daishonin revealed must be a single truth.  Then where is the school that inherited it?
Over the last week I have hopefully covered a lot of these differences, but today I want to briefly look at why I believe the SGI is the sect that has inherited this single truth and is the only one carrying the flame of true Nichiren Buddhism in the world today.


Nikko was appointed as Nichiren’s successor and moved to Taiseki-ji to start Nichiren Shoshu due to other priests’ slander of Nichiren Buddhism at Mount Minobu.  SGI is a lay group of Nichiren Shoshu, even though we were excommunicated in 1990s.

Nichiren’s other disciples, believed they were the true successors, and set up their own individual schools, which over the years have merged into one school, Nichiren Shu. 

All other schools founded since these early days have been as a result of:

(i)                 individuals breaking with a traditional (or spin-off) school to establish a new school of correct practice

(ii)               individuals new to Buddhism starting a new independent school of correct practice

(iii)             Members of an existing school wanting to be a leader, or believing they should have been a successor, started their own school.

Some of these other schools, include Kempon Hokke Shu, Reiyukai, Rissho Kosei Kai, Shoshinkai and Kenshokai.


There are three main reasons I think the Soka Gakkai is the true school of Nichiren Buddhism today.

Firstly, as a believer that Nichiren named Nikko as his successor, the Taiseki-ji lineage IS the school that inherited Nichiren’s Buddhism.  Some later priests have deviated from the teachings with their own interpretations (as is currently the case) and others have brought it back to the original teachings, so this lineage may currently be compromised, but Nichiren Shoshu, of which the SGI is a lay organisation, WAS the school that inherited the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

Secondly, from my reading of the Lotus Sutra and the Gosho, and comparing these to the various schools of Nichiren Buddhism I know, the SGI is one of the few schools today practising in accordance with the Daishonin’s teachings.  It was also one of the only schools that refused to cooperate with the military government's policy, during World War 2, that all Buddhists should enshrine a Shinto talisman within their Butsudan and change their prayers to include ones for the sun god, the emperor and for Japan's victory in combat.

Thirdly, my experiences of practising Buddhism with the Soka Gakkai International have given me actual concrete proof that I am following the correct school.  Both myself, my wife and my district have all advanced over the last year (and previous years) and seen real benefits in our lives, as have many friends from other SGI districts, which is good enough for me. 

Some schools point to last year’s tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disaster as proof that the SGI is not the correct method to be following, in the same way that the disasters afflicting Japan during Nichiren’s time were proof that the four maxims were disturbing the peace of the land at that time.  But while the population of Soka Gakkai members in Japan is considerably more than Nichiren’s followers in the 1300s, it’s still less than 10% of the population.  It’s a great achievement, but still a long way off from some Christian and Muslim countries which can have a membership of 70% or more of the population, so there is still a lot of propagation needed, both within Japan (and the world), before we can truly secure the peace of the land.


Finally, let’s look at the Japanese public’s image of the Soka Gakkai over the years.  At the end of World War 2, it was seen as an organisation of the poor, the sick and misfits, and they were made fun of for their step by step approach to expansion and small meetings in each others homes, rather than holding flashy rallies like their competitors. 

Now, in 2012, the SGI is criticised and persecuted by some for its political activities and its financial strength, and despite only representing a small percent of the Japanese population, it is seen as a strong and powerful organisation that the public should be afraid of. 

Surely this fact alone - a small organisation of sick and poor people, growing into a much larger organisation of strong, powerful and financial secure members over the last sixty-five years - is proof that the SGI members and the SGI as a whole has benefitted from being the true Nichiren Buddhism school in the world today.



Shakyamuni said “Believe nothing, … not even if I have said it” so as well as reading the Gosho and studying Buddhism for yourself, investigate some of the other Nichiren Schools and find out what they believe in, how they practice and what benefits or proof their members have received. 

My study has led me to the realization that the Soka Gakkai International is the true school of Nichiren Buddhism, but that is only my belief and it agrees with my common sense and reason and is supported by my actual proof as an SGI member. 

If your studies lead you to think that one of the other schools is the true school of Nichiren Buddhism, then feel free to follow them instead.