Nichiren Buddhist Association of America

Nichiren Buddhist Association of America
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NBAA Charter
 
 

NBAA's Charter is essentially a list of vows signed by all members of NBAA. The crux of all of these vows is that we have devoted our lives to the enlightenment and happiness of all beings. In addition to making all life overwhelmingly happy, we give our lives for the spread of peace, meaning freedom from war and also peace within the hearts and minds of people through the enlightenment of individuals. This, we boldly declare, can only be accomplished through the spread of true Buddhism, meaning the teachings of Nichiren, since it is the only philosophy that, when practiced correctly, has proven itself to make people so incredibly happy that they can truly care about the lives of others, even people that they don't know. This is our lifelong vow.

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All those wishing fulfill their mission as votaries of the Lotus Sutra must be true to certain principles. The following principles form the basis of our efforts to eliminate human suffering through the teachings of the Buddhism of the Lotus Sutra. We take these principles as our vow and declaration:

1. The Goal Is Enlightenment. We declare that each and every individual who practices in strict accordance with the Lotus Sutra will quickly attain enlightenment.

“[The Lotus Sutra] can save even those who commit the five cardinal sins, or who slander the correct teaching. Therefore you must be guided by the intent of [the Lotus Sutra, which is] the immediate attainment of enlightenment, and never give yourself up to the mistaken views that stem from doubt or attachments.” (WND p. 63-64)

“If you chant Myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith in this principle, you are certain to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.” (WND p. 4)

“After I have passed into extinction, [one] should accept and uphold this sutra. Such a person assuredly and without doubt will attain the Buddha way." (LS ch 21 p. 276)


2. The Law, Not the Person. We vow to never directly or indirectly attempt to cause others to follow the Person in the form of ourselves or anyone else as the Teacher of the way and the means to attain Buddhahood. We will instead continually focus on nothing other than the Law and the teachings of both the Lotus Sutra and of Nichiren, leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, as the words that clarify the only direct path to enlightenment. We will uphold the directive made by Shakyamuni and Nichiren to, “Rely on the Law and not upon persons.”

“‘Rely on the Law and not upon persons.’ Even when great bodhisattvas such as Universal Worthy and Manjushri, men who have returned to the stage of near-perfect enlightenment, expound the Buddhist teachings, if they do not do so with the sutra text in hand, then one should not heed them.” (WND p. 109 and 263)


3. The Practice of Shakubuku. We vow that our practice of Buddhism will have as its foundation the refutation of provisional teachings, until they are no longer widely practiced. With the Buddha compassion to relieve the sufferings of all others, we will strictly point out the cause of others’ suffering as being none other than their adherence to heretical doctrines or philosophies. We will validate the predictions of the writings of Nichiren and the Lotus Sutra in our own lifetime with our actions to lead others to enlightenment through the teachings of the Lotus Sutra as Bodhisattvas of the Earth.

“Shoju is to be practiced when throughout the entire country only the Lotus Sutra has spread, and when there is not even a single misguided teacher expounding erroneous doctrines…. But the time for shakubuku is very different from this. It is a time when many different sutras and teachings spring up here and there like so many orchids and chrysanthemums, when the various schools command a large following and enjoy renown, when truth and error stand shoulder to shoulder, and when Mahayana and Hinayana dispute which is superior. At such a time, one must set aside all other affairs and devote one’s attention to rebuking slander of the correct teaching. This is the practice of shakubuku.” (WND p. 126)

“When the correct teaching alone is propagated and there are no erroneous doctrines or misguided teachers, then one may enter the deep valleys and live in quiet contentment, devoting one’s time to reciting and copying the sutra and to the practice of meditation. But when there are provisional schools or slanderers of the correct teaching in the country, then it is time to set aside other matters and devote oneself to rebuking slander.” (WND p. 127)

“Although few people slander the Lotus Sutra with actual words of abuse, there are none who accept it. Some appear to accept the sutra, but their faith in it is not as deep as their faith in the Nembutsu or other teachings. And even those with profound faith do not reproach the enemies of the Lotus Sutra. However great good causes one may make, or even if one reads and copies the entirety of the Lotus Sutra a thousand or ten thousand times, or attains the way of perceiving three thousand realms in a single moment of life, if one fails to denounce the enemies of the Lotus Sutra, it will be impossible to attain the way.” (WND p. 78)

“I will be the pillar of Japan. I will be the eyes of Japan. I will be the great ship of Japan. This is my vow and I will never forsake it.” (WND p.281)

“I, Nichiren, am sovereign, teacher, father and mother to all the people of Japan. But the men of the Tendai school [who do not refute misleading teachings] are all great enemies of the people. [As Chang-an has noted,] “One who rids the offender of evil is acting as his parent.” (WND p.287)


4. Protecting and Maintaining the Correct Teachings. We vow to strictly follow the Lotus Sutra and always teach about Buddhism using the writings of Nichiren and the Lotus Sutra, never the mere opinions of others. These teachings comprise the documentary proof of the correct practice of Buddhism. We acknowledge and affirm that we are living in the Latter Day of the Law and that the teachings of the Lotus Sutra are the only teachings that lead people to attain enlightenment. All others mislead and end up slandering the Buddha nature inherent in all. If other writings, teachings, or personal opinions confuse or corrupt these teachings, they are to be immediately refuted and discarded. We are aware that without studying Buddhist doctrine directly, we cannot maintain a correct understanding, or distinguish between what is correct and what is incorrect in the realm of Buddhist faith. In order to grow in our practice of Buddhism, we will apply the study of Buddhism to our own lives as a basic tenet of Buddhist practice and will never confuse the study of secular knowledge as being the study of Buddhist doctrine.

“Exert yourself in the two ways of practice and study. Without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism. You must not only persevere yourself; you must also teach others. Both practice and study arise from faith. Teach others to the best of your ability, even if it is only a single sentence or phrase.” (WND p. 386)

“All bodhisattvas who attain perfect enlightenment in all cases do so through [the Lotus Sutra].” (Lotus Sutra ch.10)

"To ignore the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra and assert that other sutras stand on a par with it is to commit the worst possible slander of the Law, a major offense of the utmost gravity.” (WND p. 61)


5. Organizations. We vow that any organization that claims itself to be an organization for the propagation of Buddhism, will either maintain that sole purpose or we will refute such organization. We vow that we will not knowingly create an organization that confuses people as to what they should be doing in order to attain enlightenment. We vow to never lead people to believe that secular activities are the practice of Buddhism or that those activities will result in ultimate happiness. We vow to maintain the purity of the Buddhist teachings so that people can distinguish between what will lead them to happiness and what won’t. We will not create such an organization for any purpose other than that of teaching Buddhism and encouraging Buddhist faith and practice or correcting each other as Buddhists using the teachings of Buddhism. Any other actions of such an organization, whether promoting political, cultural, educational or peace activities, are not to be considered acceptable functions of an organization of votaries of the Lotus Sutra. These activities dilute and distract from our original intent and vow, and confuse others who have little or no understanding of correct Buddhist principles.

“Suddenly confronted with the evidence of the impermanence of life, we may be frightened at the thought that we have remained so distant from Buddhism and lament that we have been too engrossed in secular affairs.” (WND p. 99)

“‘In [the Latter Day of the Law] there will be evil monks who will steal this sutra and divide it into many parts, losing the color, scent and flavor of the correct teaching that it contains. These evil men will read and recite this sutra, but they will ignore and put aside the profound and vital principles that the Thus Come One has expounded in it and replace them with ornate rhetoric and meaningless talk.’” (WND p. 271)

“People think that good deeds are all equal in their goodness; thus they adhere to lesser good and do not realize that, in doing so, they bring about major evil.” (WND p. 78)

“Now is the time when, because the impurity of thought prevails, more people fall into the evil paths with the intention of creating good causes than they do by committing evil.” (WND p. 78)


6. Our True Identity. Our ever-developing concern to eliminate the sufferings of others will become the accurate measure of our personal growth as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, rather than our social acceptance or position.

“The Lotus Sutra states, ‘A person who can accept and uphold this sutra is likewise foremost among all living beings.’ There is no question about these golden words of the great sage. And yet people fail to understand this principle or to examine the matter, but instead seek worldly reputation or give way to suspicion and prejudice, thus forming the basis for falling into hell.” (WND p.60)

“Now, if you wish to attain Buddhahood, you have only to lower the banner of your arrogance, cast aside the staff of your anger, and devote yourself exclusively to the one vehicle of the Lotus Sutra. Worldly fame and profit are mere baubles of your present existence, and arrogance and prejudice are ties that will fetter you in the next one. Ah, you should be ashamed of them! And you should fear them too!” (WND p.59)

“Though at present you may taste only a tiny fraction of the everlasting joys that await you in the future, surely you should not spend your time thoughtlessly coveting worldly fame and profit, which are as fleeting as a bolt of lightening or the morning dew.” (WND p. 64)

“How long does a lifetime last? If one stops to consider, it is like a single night’s lodging at a wayside inn. Should one forget that fact and seek some measure of worldly fame and profit? Though you may gain them, they will be mere prosperity in a dream, a delight scarcely to be prized. You would do better simply to leave such matters to the karma formed in your previous existences.” (WND p. 63)

“But in matters of Buddhist doctrines one cannot jump to conclusions simply on the basis of the eminence of the person involved.” (WND p. 109)


7. The Urgency of Our Mission. We vow to propagate Buddhism with the passion and urgency that is commensurate with our concern for the sufferings of others.

“If, knowing the best path, one sees one’s parents or sovereign taking an evil path, can one fail to admonish them? If a fool, crazed with wine, is about to drink poison, can one, knowing this, not try to stop him? In the same way, if one understands the truth of the Buddhist teachings and knows the sufferings of [the worlds of hell, hunger and animality], can one fail to lament at seeing someone to whom one owes a debt of gratitude about to fall into the evil paths? Rather one should cast away one’s body and lay down one’s life in an effort to save such a person. One will never grow weary of admonishing him, nor will their be limits to one’s grief.” (WND p. 122-123)

“I hope we may set about as quickly as possible taking measures to deal with these slanders against the Law and bring peace to the world without delay…” (WND p. 26)


8. Our Determination and Vow. We vow to never forsake the Lotus Sutra no matter what persecutions assail us. We vow to give our lives for the sake of the Law.

“This I will state. Let the gods forsake me. Let all persecutions assail me. Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law….Here I will make a great vow. Though I might be offered the rulership of Japan if I would only abandon the Lotus Sutra, accept the teachings of the Meditation Sutra, and look forward to rebirth in the Pure Land, though I might be told that my father and mother will have their heads cut off if I do not recite the Nembutsu - whatever obstacles I might encounter, so long as persons of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false, I will never yield! All other troubles are no more to me than dust before the wind.” (WND p. 280)


From this day forward, we hereby vow that we will place no other teachings above the teachings of Buddhism. We vow to never promote any person or organization ahead of the Lotus Sutra or the teachings of Nichiren. We vow to teach others about the Law to the best of our ability and show them how to end their sufferings through the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. We vow to adhere to the above declarations as votaries of the Lotus Sutra and Bodhisattvas of the Earth and remain true to the teachings of Buddhism throughout our lives or until these teachings are proven false.

 

References:

LS refers to: Siddhartha Gautama. The Lotus Sutra. Trans. Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

WND refers to: Nichiren. The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin. Trans. The Gosho Translation Committee. Tokyo: Soka Gakkai, 1999.


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