Nāgabodhi (n.d.) A native of southern India and the fourth in the lineage of the transfer of the esoteric teaching of the True Word school. He is said to have inherited the esoteric teaching from Nāgārjuna and transferred it to Chin-kang-chih.
Nāgārjuna (n.d.) A Mahayana scholar who lived in southern India between 150 and 250. He wrote many important treatises on a great number of Mahayana sutras and organized the theoretical foundation of Mahayana thought, thus making an inestimable contribution to its development. He is especially known for his systematization of the doctrine of non-substantiality. His treatises include The Treatise on the Middle Way, The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, and The Commentary on the Ten Stages Sutra.
Nagoe, the lay nun of (n.d.) Also known as Ōama (elder nun). A follower of Nichiren Daishonin and the wife of Hōjō Tomotoki, a younger brother of Hōjō Yasutoki, the third regent of the Kamakura government. Her husband was the lord of Nagasa District in Awa Province where the Daishonin was born. After the Daishonin entered the priesthood, she apparently assisted his parents in some way. Soon after the Daishonin proclaimed the teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Ōama became his follower. However, she abandoned her faith around the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution. After the Daishonin came back from Sado Island and situated himself at Minobu, she again changed her mind and asked the Daishonin to grant her a Gohonzon. He refused, knowing her faith to be unreliable. He did, however, give a Gohonzon to Niiama (younger nun), the wife of Ōama’s son or grandson.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo The ultimate Law or reality that permeates all phenomena in the universe. It is also the invocation or daimoku in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
Namu-Amida-butsu “Homage to Amida Buddha.” Also known as the Nembutsu. The phrase invoked by followers of the Pure Land school.
Nanda Shakyamuni’s disciple and younger half brother, the son of Shuddhodana and Shakyamuni’s maternal aunt Mahāprajāpatī. He is said to have been particularly handsome in appearance.
Nan-yüeh (515–577) Also known as Hui-ssu. T’ien-t’ai’s teacher. He entered the priesthood at age fifteen and concentrated on the study of the Lotus Sutra. Later he studied under Hui-wen who taught him the meditation for observing the mind. He was often persecuted by those hostile to him, but he devoted himself to lecturing on the Lotus and Wisdom sutras. And he engaged in the practice of the Lotus Sutra and the training of disciples.
Nārāyana Originally the god Vishnu in Hindu mythology. He was incorporated into Buddhism as a protective deity said to possess great physical strength.
nayuta (Skt) An Indian numerical unit. Explanations differ according to the source. According to one account, it is one hundred billion (1011), and to another account, ten million (107).
near-perfect enlightenment The fifty-first of the fifty-two stages of bodhisattva practice. The stage almost equal to the Buddha’s perfect enlightenment, the last stage before a bodhisattva attains Buddhahood.
Nembutsu A Japanese term generally meaning to meditate on Amida Buddha or invoke his name. The practice of adherents of the Pure Land school. It was stressed as the means by which to attain rebirth in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha. The term is also used to refer to the Pure Land school itself.
Nembutsu Chosen above All, The A work written by Hōnen that constitutes the basic text of the Japanese Pure Land school. In this work Hōnen explains the doctrine of Nembutsu and, basing himself on the three major sutras of the school, exhorts people to discard all teachings other than Nembutsu teachings. Its Japanese title is Senchaku shū.
Nen’a (1199–1287) Also known as Ryōchū. The third patriarch of the Japanese Pure Land school, after Hōnen and Benchō.
Never Disparaging A previous incarnation of Shakyamuni who appears as a bodhisattva in the “Never Disparaging” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. After the death of the Buddha Awesome Sound King in the remote past, he showed respect toward all people for their innate Buddha nature. People ridiculed and attacked him with staves and stones, but he continued his practice. Those who slandered him fell into hell but, after expiating their offenses, were reborn with him and were saved by practicing the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Daishonin often cites the story of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging to illustrate the principle of attaining enlightenment through reverse relationship, or connection that one forms with the Law by opposing or slandering it. The Daishonin also refers to the practice carried out by Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, who was cursed and attacked with staves and stones but thereby expiated his past offenses.
“Never Disparaging” chapter The twentieth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in which Shakyamuni illustrates both the benefit of embracing and practicing the Lotus Sutra and the gravity of retribution for slandering its votaries with the story of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging.
Nichirō (1245–1320) One of Nichiren Daishonin’s six senior disciples. Also called Chikugo-bō. Born in Shimōsa Province, he converted to the Daishonin’s teachings together with his father in 1254 and received the tonsure under his uncle Nisshō. He was imprisoned at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution in 1271.
Nikkō Shōnin (1246–1333) Nichiren Daishonin’s closest disciple and immediate successor. Also called Hōki-bō. In 1258, when he was thirteen, he became the Daishonin’s disciple. He joined the Daishonin in his two exiles, to Izu and Sado. Later, his propagation efforts led to the Atsuhara Persecution. At Minobu he recorded the lectures on the Lotus Sutra that the Daishonin gave to his disciples and compiled them as The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings. After the Daishonin’s passing, Nikkō Shōnin collected and copied his teacher’s writings, which he called the Gosho, or “honorable writings.”
nine consciousnesses Nine levels of discernment. The first five consciousnesses correspond to the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. The sixth consciousness integrates the perceptions of the five senses into coherent images and makes judgments about the external world. The seventh consciousness corresponds to the inner spiritual world and generates awareness of the self and the ability to distinguish good from evil. The eighth consciousness, called ālaya-consciousness, receives the results of one’s good and evil deeds and stores them as karmic potentials or “seeds,” which then produce the rewards of either happiness or suffering accordingly. The ninth consciousness, called amala-consciousness, which remains free from all karmic impurity, is defined as the basis of all life’s functions and is identified with the true aspect of life, or the Buddha nature.
nine great ordeals Also, the nine great persecutions. The major hardships that Shakyamuni underwent, which are listed in The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom. They include Devadatta’s attempt to crush him by dropping a boulder from atop a cliff and King Ajātashatru’s attempt to kill him by loosing drunken wild elephants on him and his disciples.
nine great persecutions See nine great ordeals.
nine mountains Mount Sumeru and the eight concentric mountain ranges said to encircle it.
nine mountains and eight seas The mountains and seas that constitute the world, according to the ancient Indian view. The nine mountains are Mount Sumeru at the center of the world and eight concentric mountain ranges that surround it. These mountain ranges are separated by eight seas.
nine schools The Dharma Analysis Treasury, Establishment of Truth, Precepts, Dharma Characteristics, Three Treatises, Flower Garland, Tendai, True Word, plus either the Zen or the Pure Land school. The first eight schools and the Pure Land school appeared in Japan before the Kamakura period (1185–1333), while the Zen school emerged in the early Kamakura period.
ninety-five non-Buddhist schools Schools of Brahmanism said to have existed in Shakyamuni’s time. Their names and particular doctrines are unknown. Another view holds that there were ninety-six schools of Brahmanists. The “ninety-five non-Buddhist schools” is also referred to as “the ninety-five schools of Brahmanists.”
nine worlds The nine worlds, from hell to the world of bodhisattvas, often contrasted with the world of Buddhahood to indicate the transient and deluded states of life. The Lotus Sutra teaches that all beings of the nine worlds possess the potential for Buddhahood.
ninth period of decrease Usually refers to the ninth period of decrease in the kalpa of continuance. During the kalpa of continuance, the human life span is said to undergo a repeated cycle of decrease and increase. This decrease and increase is repeated twenty times. It is said that Shakyamuni appeared in the kalpa of continuance, in the ninth period of decrease, when the life span of human beings was one hundred years long.
nirvana (Skt) Enlightenment, the goal of Buddhist practice. The word nirvana means “blown out” and is variously translated as extinction, emancipation, cessation, quiescence, or non-rebirth. Nirvana was originally regarded as the state in which all illusions and desires and the cycle of birth and death ends. In Mahayana, nirvana means not so much an exit from the phenomenal world as an awakening to the true nature of phenomena, or the perfection of Buddha wisdom. The term nirvana is also used to refer to the death of a Buddha. The Sanskrit words parinirvāna and mahāparinirvāna are terms similar to nirvana and are often used in reference to the passing away of the physical body of a Buddha.
Nirvana Sutra A compilation of the teachings expounded by Shakyamuni immediately before his death. It teaches that the Dharma body of the Buddha is eternal, that all people possess the Buddha nature, and that even icchantikas, or those of incorrigible disbelief, can attain Buddhahood. It also contains the stories of the boy Snow Mountains, who offered his body to a demon in exchange for the Buddhist teaching, and of Ajātashatru, who put his father to death but later repented and became the Buddha’s disciple.
numberless major world system dust particle kalpas (Jpn gohyaku jintengō) An incredibly long period described in the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra that indicates the time that has elapsed since Shakyamuni’s original attainment of enlightenment. This concept differs from “major world system dust particle kalpas,” in that, while the calculation of “major world system dust particle kalpas” begins with one major world system being reduced to dust particles, as is explained in the “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, that of “numberless major world system dust particle kalpas” begins with countless major world systems being reduced to dust particles. When compared with the period revealed in the “Life Span” chapter, “major world system dust particle kalpas” indicates a very recent past.