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Some Disputed Writings in the Nichiren Corpus: Textual, Hermeneutical and Historical Problems
Author Stone, Jacqueline Ilyse
PublisherUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Publisher Url
LocationLos Angeles, CA, US [洛杉磯, 加利福尼亞州, 美國]
Content type博碩士論文=Thesis and Dissertation
InstitutionUniversity of California, Los Angeles
DepartmentEast Asian Languages and Cultures
AdvisorLaFleur, William R.
Publication year1990
KeywordNichiren; Doctrines; Buddhism; Japan; History
AbstractThis dissertation addresses some controversial texts among those attributed to the Japanese Buddhist teacher Nichiren (1222-1282). These texts present Nichiren's doctrine of salvation through faith in the Lotus Sutra in terms of original enlightenment thought (hongaku shiso), a discourse then current within the dominant Tendai sect. Once highly valued, they are now deemed possibly apocryphal by some leading Nichiren scholars in Japan who argue that, in breaking with Tendai to start a new school, Nichiren also rejected or substantially revised the Tendai hongaku doctrine.

The problems involved here are explored by considering representative writings in three genres: essays, personal letters and purported records of Nichiren's oral teachings (translations are included). Reasons are cited for regarding these texts as problematic: Few survive in Nichiren's holograph, and several use terminology not attested in his authenticated writings. However, the evidence is seen to be inconclusive, and an argument is developed, based on historical data, that reference to original enlightenment thought alone may not constitute reliable grounds for questioning Nichiren's authorship. Arguments both for and against including these writings in a consideration of Nichiren's ideas are shown to have been influenced by various hermeneutical agendas, including sectarian interestedness in asserting Nichiren's independence from Tendai, scholarly assumptions about original enlightenment thought and Kamakura Buddhism, and conflicting doctrinal interpretations within Nichiren Buddhism.

In these texts, one cannot distinguish conclusively between Nichiren's thought and its interpretation by members of his early community who might have forged the documents. Thus they encourage a shift in emphasis from Nichiren as the founder of a sect to how the tradition emanating from him developed. They also show the early Nichiren community to have been embedded in a broader tradition of Lotus-related discourse, one not readily classifiable along denominational lines.
Created date1998.04.28
Modified date2016.05.26

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