Zen (or Chan) and Lotus Buddhism
A Comparison Essay
Buddhism, like many other major religions has expanded past a simple definition. There are a large number of regions that practice this astronomically large religion, and throughout the years since its introduction to the world it has developed a large number of ways to practice the belief system. The sect with the largest number of temples in Japan is Zen Buddhism, the second largest number belong to the Lotus, or Nichiren Sect. Zen, being the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character Chan, falls into a much larger sect of Buddhism, with many different branches; this paper will look into the Japanese Zen branch and the Soto-Zen branch. These branches will be compared to the almost exclusively Japanese sect of Buddhism, Nichiren. The Nichiren sect, that borrows its name from its founder, is an extremely large sect of Buddhism whose main sutra is the Lotus Sutra.
The Nichiren sect of Buddhism is any denomination of Buddhism that derives its beliefs from the teachings of the ancient Japanese teacher Nichiren. “Nichiren is comprised of more than forty different independent religious institutions. Nichiren, originally a monk of the Tendai doctrine did not see himself as the creator of a sect, nor did he give his followers a name. It was in his death that his teachings, based on the Lotus Sutra, were denominated to be the Lotus sect of Buddhism” (Buswell Vol. 2). The largest of the Nichiren branches has its largest temple in Yamanashi and is called Nichrenshu.
“Nichiren adopted the Tiantai School doctrine of reality as three thousand realms in a single thought to explain the theoretical basis upon which ordinary people can reach Buddhahood. He found this single thought doctrine not as an access from meditation, but as concrete manifestations from the three great secret dharmas. He derived these three secret dharmas from the latter half of the Lotus Sutra,...