The two volumes of The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin include translations of most of Nichiren Daishonin gosho zenshū (The Complete Works of Nichiren Daishonin), the letters and treatises of the Japanese scholar-monk Nichiren (1222–1282). The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings is also a translation of a work from that text.
The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras is a translation of the Chinese texts of the Lotus Sutra, Immeasurable Meanings Sutra, and Universal Worthy Sutra found in Myōhō-renge-kyō narabini kaiketsu (The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law and Its Opening and Closing Sutras).
This Chinese Lotus is the version done by the renowned scholar-translator Kumārajīva in 406. The Immeasurable Meanings and Universal Worthy Sutras are viewed as the prologue and epilogue to the Lotus. Both the above-mentioned Gosho zenshū and Myōhō-renge-kyō are published by the Soka Gakkai.
The founder of Buddhism is Shakyamuni, also known as Gautama Buddha, who scholars believe lived in India sometime around the sixth or fifth century bce. His words and actions, infused with compassion and wisdom, were committed to memory, organized, and transmitted as narratives that in turn gave rise to various views and doctrines.
Around the end of the first century bce and beginning of the first century ce, an effort to revive the essential message of Buddhism took shape in a movement called Mahayana, and a new effort to record and edit those narratives produced many scriptures, or sutras. The Lotus Sutra was compiled and recorded in this period.
The Lotus reveals that all people inherently possess the wisdom of a buddha in their lives and explains the way for all to bring this wisdom forth. Thus the Lotus conveys the fundamental wish of Shakyamuni that people be able to build enduring happiness for both themselves and others. Guiding us to the very heart of his teachings, the Lotus provides a way for people to overcome suffering.
In India, the philosophers Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu greatly contributed to the development of Mahayana thought, leaving behind works that advanced and promoted the ideas of the Lotus. In East Asia, in sixth-century China, the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai, and in the eighth century, the Great Teacher Miao-lo, in their works clarified the preeminence of the Lotus over any other sutra. And in ninth-century Japan, the Great Teacher Dengyō made known their teachings and strove earnestly for their establishment in society.
In such diverse ages and cultures, people came to accept and believe in the Lotus and in the course of that process, Lotus thought was refined and its universality enhanced, gaining a multilayered richness.
In thirteenth-century Japan, a society wrought with turmoil and confusion, Nichiren empathized deeply with the suffering of the people; he sought for a solution, finding it in the Lotus teaching of unlocking the unlimited potential all people possess and developing it to benefit society. Nichiren resolved firmly to establish genuine happiness and dignity for people and realize a peaceful society, and just as the Lotus teaches, dedicated himself fully to encouraging people so that they could revitalize their lives. In the course of his efforts, he introduced the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and inscribed the Gohonzon, or object of devotion, a mandala of Chinese characters with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo down the center. With these acts, he identified and set forth the vital teaching of the Lotus Sutra and tangibly presented a means for achieving the enlightenment of all people.
The Lotus and the writings of Nichiren necessarily deeply reflect the unique cultures and values of their times. The universal message of hope of the Lotus and of the ideas of Nichiren drawn from it, however, transcends time and culture, and shines from passages throughout these works. For example, Nichiren writes, “The sufferings that all living beings undergo . . . all these are Nichiren’s own sufferings” (WND-2, 934). These words express the deep compassion and resolve of his wish for the happiness of people.
The Soka Gakkai has given new life to this teaching of Nichiren in our present age and introduced it worldwide as a philosophy with universal application. And sympathizing with the suffering of people, it has pointed to the crucial message of hope that “all people possess the supremely noble buddha nature” and continued to encourage them.
This is a view of religion that finds religious purpose in no less than the happiness of the people and a peaceful world. It is also a view based on the conviction that religion should always exist for the sake of human beings and not the other way around.
In recent years Buddhist scholarship, particularly research into the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren and his writings, has progressed considerably. To reflect these advances and changes in society that affect editorial style choices, we plan to add to and update this site to keep you informed. Additionally, the volumes here are the latest printings of each work.
Our heartfelt wish is that this site will help enrich the faith and understanding of those who practice Nichiren Buddhism and enable many others to discover the universal value and wisdom of his teachings.
The Nichiren Buddhism Library Committee