Our sect name, Honmon Butsuryu Shu (本門佛立宗), was originally named by Nichiren Shonin and presented to the world by Nissen Shonin. The name can be found clearly in Nichiren Shonin’s treatises:
You should know that I, Nichiren established the Hokke [Lotus] sect based on the text “it [The Lotus Sutra] is the king amongst all sutras” in the Lotus Sutra, and the sect should be called Butsuryu Shu since the Buddha Himself as good as established it.
[Hokkeshu Naisho Buppo Kechimyaku]
The teaching that Nichiren Shonin spread is based on the Lotus Sutra because there is a statement, “it [The Lotus Sutra] is the king amongst all sutras,” in the chapter 23 of the Lotus Sutra, The Story of The Bodhisattva Medicine King. According to the statement, the Buddhist sect that spreads the true teaching of the Buddha should be given the name, Butsuryu Shu (佛立宗) that means, “the sect established by the Buddha Himself.”
As I contemplate this, the One Vehicle teaching of the Lotus Sutra is the golden words of the Three Buddhas (the Buddha, the Buddha of Many Treasures, and Buddhas in manifestation in all the worlds throughout the universe), the brightest jewel of the Lotus Sutra that exceeds all sutras, that have been preached, are being preached, and will be preached, and is supreme among all Buddhist scriptures. Therefore, it is preached in the Lotus Sutra, “It is at the summit of all sutras;” and “the Lotus Sutra is the foremost.” Referring to the Lotus Sutra as interpreted by Grand Master T’ien-t’ai, Grand Master Dengyo states in his Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra, “This is the school of Buddhism established by the Buddha Himself.”
[Ota Nyudo-dono Gohenji—A Reply to Lay Priest Lord Ota]
The One Vehicle teaching of the Lotus Sutra means the Odaimoku, Namumyohorengekyo that is the golden word of the three Buddhas: the Shakamuni Buddha, the Buddha of Many Treasures, and all the provisional Buddhas in this universe. Since The Odaimoku is the gem of the Lotus Sutra that exceeds all sutras: Nizen-Shokyo (all the Pre-Lotus Sutras that have been preached before the Lotus Sutra), Muryogi-kyo (the Sutra of Infinite Meaning that is being preached), and Nehan-gyo (the Nirvana Sutra that will be preached), it is preached, “the Lotus Sutra is the summit of all sutras” and “it is the foremost among all sutras” in the chapter 23 of the Lotus Sutra, The Story of The Bodhisattva Medicine King. Dengyo Daishi (great teacher of the Buddhism) Saicho (the founder of the Japan Tendai sect) also stated in his treatise that the sect that bases its doctrine on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra should be called Butsuryu Shu.
The Tendai Hooke School, also called Butsuryu-shu, is the school established by the Buddha. On the contrary, the Shingon School was invented by later commentators and Buddhist masters on the pretext of the Great Sun Buddha,* Bodhisattva Maitreya and others.
[Shomitsu-bo Gosho—A Letter to Shomitsu-bo]
It can be said that Tendai Hokke (Lotus) sect is narrowly Butsuryu Shu (the sect established by the Buddha) since its doctrine is based on Shakumon part (first 14 chapters of the 28 chapters) of the Lotus Sutra, comparing to other sects that base their doctrines on Nizen-Shokyo, pre-Lotus Sutras (various teachings before the Lotus Sutra). They are all Ninryu Shu (人立宗), sects invented and named by later commentator and Buddhist masters who misunderstood the true intention of the Buddha.
Question: Is there any sect that the Shakamuni Buddha Himlesf established among eight, nine or ten traditional Japanese Buddhist sects?
Answer: It can be said that only Hokke Sect is the one because it teaches that the Lotus Sutra is supreme among all sutras, that have been preached, will be preached, and will be preached. This is the golden maxim of the Shakamuni Buddha. Therefore, the sect based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra can be called Butsuryu Shu.
[Hokke Shoshin Jobutsu Sho]
Among the Nanto-Riku Shu (six sects of Nara Buddhism: Kusha, Jojitsu, Ritsu, Hosso, Sanron, and Kegon sect), Tendai, Shingon, Zen, and Jodo sect, which is the sect established by the Shakamuni Buddha Himself? Only Hokke sect can be said the one because as the Shakamuni Buddha said, it teaches the Lotus Sutra exceeds all sutras: the Pre-Lotus Sutras preached for 40 years or so, the Sutra of Infinite Meaning, and the Nirvana Sutra. Hence, the sect based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra should be called Butsuryu Shu.
As the reincarnation of Jogyo Bodhisattva (Superior Practice Bodhisattva), Nichiren Shonin spread Honmon Happon shoken, Jogyo shoden, Honnin-geshu no Namumyohorengekyo, by the Buddha’s order to save us, ordinary mortals poisoned by avarice, anger and ignorance, struggling to live in Mappo period, the world stained by defilement.
I, Nichiren, am neither the founder of a sect nor a disciple of a certain Buddhist master.
[Myomitsu Shonin Goshosoku—A letter to Myomitsu Shonin]
Nichiren Shonin says that he did not establish a Buddhist sect by his own idea and spread a teaching of a Buddhist master as one of his disciple. Then he also says,
I, Nichiren, was born here just at this time in compliance with the order of Sakyamuni Buddha.
[Nyosetsu Shugyo-sho—True Way of Practicing the Teaching of Buddha]
He says that he spread the teachings of the Primordial Buddha as His messenger.
Hence, the sect that Nichiren Shonin established based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra should be called “Butsuryu (established by the Buddha) Shu (sect)” because it comes from the teachings of the Primordial Buddha. This is clearly written in Nichiren Shonin’s treatises.
However, We should remember that Nichiren Shonin chose Honmon teachings out of the Lotus Sutra for people of Mappo whereas Dengyo Daishi Saicho who lived during Zobo period (Age of the Semblance Dharma) chose Shakumon teachings. Therefore, there should be the difference between Honmon and Shakumon on the name of a sect although it is based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, the true teachings of the Buddha, and can be called Butsuryu Shu. Consequently, Nissen Shonin added the word, Honmon (本門), onto the name of Butsuryu Shu (佛立宗). Here is his Statement:
Honmon Butsuryu Ko was established to propagate the Odaimoku, Jogyo-shoden no Namumyohotengekyo widely to the world that is the true reason for the appearance of Nichiren Shonin. Since only our Ko is based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra that is the true intention of the Buddha, we should be called Butsuryu Ko, the sect established by the Buddha. In addition, we add the term, Honmon, to the beginning of our sect name to distinguish us from Tendai sect.
[Bannen Eizoku Hanjo Ki]
Whenever Nichiren Shonin used the term, Butsuryu Shu, in his treatises, he quoted passages from Hokke-shuku (The Outstanding Principles of the Lotus Sutra) of Dengyo Daishi Saicho. This means that Nichiren Shonin regards Tendai sect as the sect that shuld be called Butsuryu Shu by definition, but the teachings of Tendai Hokke sect, that is Shakumon Butsuryu Shu, does not apply to us, people of Mappo period. The teachings of Shakumon on which Butsuryu Shu of Tendai is based are for people in the period of Zobo and have no effect on us, foolish beings of Mappo period. That is why our sect, Honmon Butsuryu Shu, which is originally named and headed by Nichiren Shonin, should prosper in this Mappo age.
thank you very much for this clear explanation. I wrote to you last year while I took contact with the Italian center. I’m now practicing regularly! Nice to meet you one’s more in this occasion!
Hi, Luc! Arigatogozaimasu.
It’s all my pleasure! I am so happy that I could help you start HBS practice. If there is still something I can help you with, please feel free to tell me 😉