June 20, 2012

Understanding Nichiren Buddhism

Andrew Cooper

While Tricycle is a nonsectarian and independent publication, most of our content reflects a perspective of what might be called meditation-oriented Buddhism. Most of our readers and contributors know Buddhism primarily in terms of the meditation traditions of Zen, Vipassana, or Vajrayana as they have been presented to a Western audience. Indeed, it is probably not an exaggeration to say that, for many of our readers, approaches to Buddhism, such as Nichiren, that are not based on a practice of quiet, focused sitting meditation are, other than in name, scarcely recognizable as Buddhist at all.

Over the years, we have become increasingly convinced of the importance of promoting a richer and more inclusive dialogue among different Buddhist communities. This is not always an easy thing. Among Western convert Buddhists, there has always been a sharp division, exacerbated by prejudice and misunderstanding, between Nichiren Buddhists and those pursuing approaches based on quiet sitting. Meditation-oriented Buddhists often think of Nichiren Buddhists (if they think of them at all) with little real knowledge and even with condescension. The same is true in how they view Pure Land Buddhists. We can do better, and we should.

In an online special section, we have selected, with an eye toward variety, some of the articles on Nichiren Buddhism published in Tricycle over the years. We hope that by gathering these articles in one place and making them freely available, our Buddhist conversation will be broadened and that we can, all of us, more fully know ourselves in knowing one another.

Read the articles and discuss them here.

—Andrew Cooper

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