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Convergence Of Ideas

Updated: July 4, 2015 12:20 pm

Nichiren Buddhism is a Japanese Buddhist movement in the Mahayana Tradition. It is also popular in the West and has a fast growing membership in the UK. Nichiren Buddhism differs from other schools of Buddhism in focusing on this world, and in its view that it is the only correct tradition. It also emphasises the importance of individuals taking responsibility for improving themselves. Although it can be seen as a highly self-focused religion, followers of Nichiren Buddhism believe that individual empowerment and inner transformation contribute, in turn, to a better and more peaceful world.

The book Finding Peace—An Oriental Quest authored by Koushiki Choudhury is the outcome of an exploratory research study on Nichiren Buddhism, and an exhaustive research of the poetry and philosophy of Tagore, the great poet-philosopher and Nobel Laureate from India. The practice of Nichiren Buddhism is rapidly becoming a global religion. This contemporary global Buddhist practice originates from the philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin, a Buddhist monk who lived in Japan in the thirteenth century. Nichiren discovered that amidst the many Buddhist sutras, it is the Lotus Sutra that contains the crux of the Buddhist teachings and the truth which was revealed to Buddha. Thus, about 2,000 years after Buddha’s demise, Nichiren, the Buddhist priest, distilled the wisdom and profound teachings of the Lotus Sutra into a simple, practical practice, which would permit each and every person to manifest their highest state of life, that is, Buddhahood, in the midst of harsh reality. The Lotus Sutra asserts that each and every person has infinite potential, and that by sincere practice, each person can bring out that potential, enabling their intrinsic, deep storehouse of creativity to flower, and making it possible for them to contribute to the improvement and enrichment of society. In short, according to the Lotus Sutra, a universal principle, called the Buddha nature, is innate in all life, and each and every person is capable of attaining enlightenment.

Nichiren Buddhism enables ordinary people to bring forth their Buddha nature, their Buddha wisdom, and nurture the immense energy, courage, and insight they already possess within themselves. It consequently empowers people to transform their sufferings and live courageously, victoriously, and happily in this age of conflict and strife. In the same vein, the philosophy and spiritual thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore, as reflected through his poetry, abounds with hope and shines on the limitless potential, invincibility, and divinity of man. The philosophy of Tagore encompasses and transcends all aspects of life and living, man and nature, our myriad emotions­ heartbreaking and joyous, towards the overwhelming triumph and evolution of the human spirit.

The book reveals that the ethos of Nichiren and Tagore confluence to illuminate a path of hope, courage, and peace for people in today’s harsh, despaired, materialistic, and stressed­ out world. It is offered with the humility, that even lifetimes are not enough to mine these philosophical diamond fields. How the philosophies of Tagore and Nichiren converge in their emotive power for uplifting the human spirit and how they convey the same truth, is left for the readers to distill in their unique way.04-07-2015

By Nilabh Krishna

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