Nichiren Buddhism


The Founding of Buddhism

The Soka Gakkai Singapore (SGS) is a Buddhist organisation that practises Nichiren Buddhism, a Buddhist teaching originating from Shakyamuni Buddha (Gautama Siddartha) in India.

Shakyamuni Buddha was born a prince but renounced his royal upbringing to embark on a spiritual quest to understand how human suffering could be ended. Eventually, while in deep meditation, he experienced a profound awakening, or enlightenment–a deep, encompassing understanding of life and human nature.

Upon awakening to the true nature of life, Shakyamuni Buddha travelled widely, sharing his wisdom with others. The truth to which he was enlightened is expounded in the Lotus Sutra, a central teaching of Mahayana Buddhism, which upholds that Buddhahood – characterised by compassion, wisdom and courage – is inherent within every person.

The teachings of the Lotus Sutra were transmitted and developed by Buddhist scholars and teachers in India, China and Japan, most notably Zhiyi (Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai) in China and Nichiren in Japan.

The Lotus Sutra

The Lotus Sutra is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential sutras, or sacred scriptures, of Buddhism.

Its key message is that Buddhahood – a condition of absolute happiness, freedom from fear and from all illusions – is inherent in all life. The development of this inner life state enables all people to overcome their problems and live a fulfilled and active life, fully engaged with others and with society.

Nichiren Daishonin

In the 13th century, the Japanese sage Nichiren expressed the essence of the Lotus Sutra as “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo”. He taught the practice of chanting this phrase as a means for all people to overcome suffering and lead happy and fulfilled lives by manifesting one’s inherent life state of Buddhahood from within.

In Search of the Solution to Human Suffering​

Nichiren was born in 1222 in Japan, a time rife with social unrest and natural disasters. The common people, especially, suffered enormously. Nichiren wondered why the Buddhist teachings had lost their power to enable people to lead happy, empowered lives. While a young priest, he set out to find an answer to the suffering and chaos that surrounded him. His intensive study of the Buddhist sutras convinced him that the Lotus Sutra contained the essence of the Buddha’s enlightenment and that it held the key to transforming people’s suffering and enabling society to flourish.

The Essence of Buddhism

The Lotus Sutra affirms that all people, regardless of gender, capacity or social standing, inherently possess the qualities of a Buddha, and are therefore equally worthy of the utmost respect.

Based on his study of the sutra Nichiren established the invocation (chant) of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a universal practice to enable people to manifest the Buddhahood inherent in their lives and gain the strength and wisdom to challenge and overcome any adverse circumstances. Nichiren saw the Lotus Sutra as a vehicle for people’s empowerment – stressing that everyone can attain enlightenment and enjoy happiness while they are alive.