Teachings of Nichiren Shonin
Nichiren Shonin provided all people with a way to understand and put into practice the true spirit of Shakyamuni’s teachings. He taught three basic principles based on the essential truths of the Lotus Sutra called the Three Great Hidden Dharmas, and a simple yet profound practice based on those principals.
The Three Great Hidden Dharmas are:
The Essential Focus of Reverence (Gohonzon)
The Lotus Sutra teaches that Shakyamuni Buddha is none other than the embodiment of the Eternal Buddha: the timeless Buddha nature in which all life participates and which all beings are destined to realize as their own true nature. The Gohonzon depicts this insight through the use of Chinese calligraphy and represents the all encompassing life of the Eternal Buddha, not an object or thing.
The Sacred Title
The name of the Lotus Sutra is “Myoho Renge Kyo” which is the essence of the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha. When the word “Namu,” meaning “devotion” is added, it becomes “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” or “Devotion to the Wonderful Truth of the Lotus Flower Teaching.” Because the Odaimoku embodies the essence of the Lotus Sutra, it contains all of the qualities of Buddhahood. This means that by the merit of the five characters, Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo, we can attain Buddhahood by reciting the Odaimoku, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
The Precept Platform (Kaidan)
The Precept Platform is considered any place where one chants the Odaimoku, thereby basing one’s life upon the true spirit of Sakyamuni Buddha’s teachings. Traditionally, the Kaidan was the place where one made formal vows to follow the precepts of Buddhism as a member of the clergy. Nichiren Shonin, however, universalized the concept of the Kaidan so that all people could uphold the essential teaching and practice of the Lotus Sutra at all times through chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.
In order to put these three principles or Three Great Hidden Dharmas into practice, Nichiren Buddhists regularly recite selections from the Lotus Sutra and chant the Odaimoku in the presence of the Gohonzon. In doing this, we remind ourselves that the Eternal Buddha is continuously transferring the Dharma to us so that every moment is an awakening to the Truth.
By faithfully following this teaching and practice, Nichiren Buddhists are able to make the cause that will enable them to manifest the perfect wisdom and great compassion of the Buddha in all circumstances and transform not only their lives but even the lives of others, so that this world can cease to be a world of suffering and become a pure land of peace and tranquility.