1. Outline of HBS
The king of sutras, --The Lotus Sutra--
Buddhism is a religion based on the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, who was born in India 2600 years ago. Today in Japan, Buddhism is divided into hundreds of different sects because of the various sutras. For fifty years, Buddha continuously preached his teachings to innumerable people. His teachings, taught through various periods and in different regions, were later consolidated and edited into textbooks. These textbooks have been preserved and handed down to our generation.
There is no uniformity in the contents of Buddha's diverse sutras. Each separate sutra tells what one should believe in, how it should be practiced, how matters should be looked at, and how it should be thought out. The contents of each sutra differ because each and every sutra is applied to each individual's situation, one's circumstances;one's sufferings, or capabilities. Each sutra preached by Buddha is a worthy teaching.
After Buddha's death, Buddhism spread from India into China, to Southeast Asia and to Japan. During this period of transition, the various Buddhist preachers could not decide upon which sutra was the most important. Gradually, thereafter, many different factions appeared.
The teachings of HBS, are based on the Lotus Sutra (Hokekyo). From ancient times, the Scripture called the Lotus Sutra was respected by numerous people beyond sectionalism.
For example, the eminent Zen master, Dogen (1200-1253) said;“The Lotus Sutra is the king of sutras". Arnold Toynbee, a renowned historian, said, “If you were to select 10 books which should be passed on to the 21st Century, I will recommend the Lotus Sutra be one of them from the standpoint of Buddhism".
From ancient times, many preachers researched the Lotus Sutra and practiced its teachings, but the only preacher who grasped the essence of the Lotus Sutra and enlightened it to the masses that it was the true teaching and how it should be practiced was Nichiren Shonin, the greatest religious person, who played an active role about 750 years ago.
What is HBS?
HBS is a sect founded by Priest Seifu Nagamatsu about 150 years ago. It is based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Shonin (The Buddhist master). Today, Rev Nagamatsu is referred to as Nissen Shonin. He started HBS in order to reform Nichiren Buddhism.
From the early 17th century and for 250 years thereafter, Japan was in the Edo Era, a period controlled by the Tokugawa Shogunates. During this period, the religious groups, were under the jurisdiction of a dictatorial government, and their activities were confined to the role of praying for the deceased and conducting funerals.
Nissen Shonin played an active role from the end of the Edo Era through the Meiji Period, The Meiji Era began in 1868 under the newly established Emperor System. At this time, Nissen Shonin was considered a scholar and a cultural personality.
After the death of his mother, Nissen Shonin became interested in Buddhism. At the age of 32, he convinced himself that the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and of Nichiren Shonin were the true teachings of Buddhism, and became a priest. At age 41, he established HBS.
Presently, there are about 400 HBS temples throughout Japan; 11 in Brazil; 2 in America;6 in Korea;1 in Taiwan and 1 in Australia,and also 1 meeting house in Srilanka, where about 300,000 worshippers can go to pray and listen to sermons based on the teachings of Nichiren Shonin and on the Lotus Sutra.
What is the difference between HBS and the other sects?
Not only HBS worships the teachings of Nichiren Shonin and the Lotus Sutra. Traditional sects, known as Nichirenshu and Hokkeshu and newly formed sects like Reiyukai, Risshokoseikai, and Sokagakkai, all preach the teachings of Nichiren Shonin and the Lotus Sutra.
What is the difference between these groups and HBS?
Firstly, Sokagakkai places Nichiren Shonin above Buddha and reveres him as God, like Christians revere their God.
HBS does not consider Nichiren Shonin as God. He was the great master, who acted as a messenger to propagate and perpetuate the teachings of Buddha. He personally moved among the masses and directly communicated with them.
Sokagakkai is also referred to as the Ikeda religion. Daisaku Ikeda has sent several of his staff members to the Japanese parliament. He has exerted political influence there by acting from behind the scenes. He enjoys unrestricted power to control the organization.
HBS considers this religious group to be a mind-controlling sect and considers it to be a very dangerous organization which has distorted the true essence of Buddhism.
HBS dose not engage in politics.
Secondly, traditional Buddhist sects only pray for the dead. They have forgotten that their mission is to deliver the teachings of Buddhism to their devotees and to guide them accordingly. Other than Sokagakkai, these groups have incorporated the popular versions of superstition and fortune-tellings into their activities. This is not included in the teachings of Nichiren Shonin or the Lotus Sutra. Therefore, these sects are not true Buddhist organizations.
The difference between Buddhism and Christianity:
The biggest difference between Buddhism and Christianity is that Buddhism calls for the act of practice by placing your heart, body and mouth in the center to obtain the fruits and merits of the faith. This is the basic posture of Buddhism.
Buddhist practices can be divided into two parts:
a. Mind concentration, like that of Zen.
Through this practice, people can observe the state of affairs in their own heart, the evil thoughts contained therein, and to awaken Buddha nature hidden deep under their soul.
b. Verbal practice. Chanting the names of Buddhas and sutras.
This prepares one's body and soul to recieve it's power.
HBS takes the position to practice its faith by mouth. Unless one is gifted with great intelligence and ability, it is difficult to control one's heart to draw out Buddha nature by meditation alone, and to practice it haphazardly only causes confusion and damage to one's body and soul.
Based on the teachings of Nichiren Shonin, HBS observes the verbal practice by chanting out loud repeatedly the phrase, “Namumyohorengekyo", which is also known as the “Odaimoku".
Other sects merely read aloud. rhythmically the names of Buddhas and sutras.
What is “NAMU-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO"(Odaimoku)?
One may asks what significant effect repeated chanting of the phrase, “Namu-myoho-renge-kyo" has? It is difficult to explain it in these few pages. However, to summarize it, praying in front of the altar by repeated chanting of the phrase, “Namumyohorengekyo", invokes a mysterious power which improve the health of the sick and helps persons with psychological illnesses. One who constantly chants the “Odaimoku" will be protected from distress and calamity. To illustrate, there is a the proverb, “The proof is in the eating". The following is an actual case.
Professor Kenichiro Tashiro, a neurologist, and now a member of HBS, did not believe in any religion. In fact, he held a negative attitude toward religion. He believed medical technology and religion did not mix, that religion could not cure illnesses in contrast to medicine. He felt that religion was a hindrance to healing through modern medical technology. Therefore, he frequently persuaded his wife, who had practiced with HBS since she was young, to renounce her membership.
Professor Tashiro, who had been leading a successful life, was suddenly confronted with many undesirable circumstances one after another. Due to conditions beyond his control, Professor Tashiro fell into a state of mental anxiety. Being a neurologist, he diagnosed his own mental problem and began selfdiagnosis. His physical condition however began to deteriorate to a point where his colleagues felt he could no longer adequately perform his duties.
His wife strongly advised him to meet Reverend Shingen Kobayashi, Head Priest of the Kokun‐ji Temple, in Fukuoka City, where she is a member. Professor Tashiro, who could find no way out of his predicament decided to follow his wife's advice.
Professor Tashiro met Reverend Kobayashi. who, immediately, told Tashiro, “From today, stop taking any medicine. Chant the “O‐daimoku" morning and night for an hour. Also let's hold an “O‐jogyo" for one whole week"
“O‐jogyo" is a practice where other members of the congregation pray together with a distressed person in the hopes of having his request(s) fulfilled. In short, O‐jogyo is praying together with the support of others by chanting O‐daimoku.
Professor Tashiro, who was plagued with withdrawal symptoms from stopping to take medication endured the hardship. He earnestly prayed by chanting the “Odaimoku" for a week. and from the third day his condition began to improve. On the fourth day, he showed more improvement, and, finally, after a week, he regained his health and was able to return to work.
Shortly thereafter, accompanied by his family, Dr.Tashiro went to America to conduct researches on biochemistry of the brain at the National Institute of Health. He was able to discover a new type of substance relating to the brain.
After returning to Japan, he worked at the Wakahisa Hospital for mental patients in Fukuoka City. He is also continuing his research relating to the brain at the National Kyushu University Hospital. As might be expected he has not missed a day of praying at the Kokunji Temple.
Professor Tashiro said, “My encounter with HBS was like meeting Buddha in Hell. If I had not come in contact with HBS when I was ill, I don't think I would be where I am today. In Japan, there is a treatment for mental patients known as the Morita therapy, which utilizes the Zen principles. I have met several of these patients who were treated by the Morita method, but the treatment must be continued for a long period. By contrast, chanting the “Odaimoku" enabled me to return to work in a very short period. It is a marvelous way of treating mental patients".
Medical effectiveness of the “Odaimoku":
Based on research conducted by medical doctors, it has been proven that chanting the “Odaimoku" improves one's soul and body. The following are some examples:
Professor Tomio Hirai, Chief Neurologist, Tokyo University Hospital, states; “By taking a large and deep breath slowly. the blood becomes less alkaline and it tends to enlarge the blood vessels and the blood flow becomes smoother. It places less burden on the heart and the muscles relaxes. These reactions help to improve the health." One chants the Odaimoku about 35 times per minute in front of the altar in HBS's practice. This is continued for about 30 minutes to an hour. At this time, the breathing rate is about 5‐6 times per minute. That means, one is unconsciously taking a deep breath while chanting.
Doctor Yoshio Sakai's research on the effect of chanting has revealed that the breathing becomes deeper, stronger, and longer, which helps to improve one's vitality. It also effectively stimulates the diaphragm.
According to other researchers, continuous chanting of the “Odaimoku" has a good therapeutic effect on the autonomic nervous system, thereby improving health.
By praying earnestly the brain waves changes from beta to alpha. A beta wave is a short, irregular wave. It occurs when one is irritated, broody, or under strain. An alpha wave is smooth, and depicts a curved line. It occurs when one is relaxed and calm. That means that chanting the “Odaimoku" balances the cerebellum and stabilizes mental condition. These conditions show, also from a medical standpoint, that chanting the “Odaimoku" improves the mind and body. But, there is much more to it from the standpoint of HBS. The “Odaimoku" contains an extremly powerful energy. This will be explained in the next chapter.
Law of karma (The law of cause and effect regulating one's future life):
Are you familiar with the word Karma? Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis and Karl Jung, are doctors who have made studies of the unconscious mind.
Buddhism has expounded more deeply the functions of the unconscious mind, but it is difficult to explain them in detail in this short space. The writer will try to explain what Buddha said about Karma. Our daily activities, such as seeing, hearing, thinking, and what we have done are recorded in the “Arayashiki" (The most fundamental consciousness.) It stores all potential energy, the mental and physical manifestation of one's existence and supplies the substance to all existences. The arayashiki also recieves impressions from all functions of other consciousness and retains them as potential energy for their future manifestations and activities.
In Buddhism, the various experiences recorded deep in the conscious is referred to as “Shuji (seeds)". The term refers to the energy or force that gives rise to each existence or act. Innumerable seeds are stored in the eighth consciousness of each individual, and, when ripened, particular seeds produce their manifestations. The manifestations in turn leave their impressions in the eighth consciousness.
“Shuji" means that every individual himself or herself has the spiritual power and energy to form his or her own destiny. In other words, the actions one takes by mouth, mind, and heart will eventually determine his or her future destiny and is recorded in the “Arayashiki".
For example, Professor Brian L. Weiss, renowned psychiatrist, used hypnosis to delve into people's lives of the past world and compared them with their present life. He says, “People who suffered in the past world have similar experience in this world. A woman married to a husband who resorted to violence in this world showed to have acted in a similar fashion in the past world. The alcoholics who ruined their lives in this world lived in a similar manner in the past world. Even after rebirth, people's lives show similar patterns in this world as those of the past. Professor Weiss introduced many such cases.
Professor Joel. L. Whitton's researches have also revealed that there are similarities in the way people live in their present lives and past lives. Professor Whitton is the author of the book entitled “Life Between Lif", and is a member of the Psychiatric Department of Toronto University. In Buddhism, these patterns are called Karma.
The most important aims of HBS are:
a. Eradication of one's bad Karma which has been sowed into the "Arayashiki " of the past world.
b. Guiding one into a better environment in order to build a good Karma in this present world to prepare them for the future world.
By chanting the Odaimoku and listening to it carefully the good seeds of Buddhahood will be sowed into the Arayashiki, and the bad Karma will be eradicated. Simultaneously, the pure power of Buddha contained in the Odaimoku will build you a better Karma which can be stored in the Arayashiki. In this manner, HBS's faith will purify the body and soul.
Kenji Miyazawa, a famous Japanese poet, writer and chemist, said, “To chant the Odaimoku appears to be old fashioned and superstitious, but no matter how much you research it or think about it, it is not so. If you meet a stumbling block have faith in it and chant the Odaimoku. This is a million time more realistic than the knowledge gained from my research."
Nichiren Shonin said, “Ambers draw dust. Magnets have the power to attract iron. The sins made in the past and present worlds are like the dust and the irons. The Odaimoku is the magnet and amber. The Odaimoku attracts our sinful inequities, and will rescue us from our deep sins. It is something to be thankful for. How can we refrain from chanting it?"
To learn more about HBS, get in contact with us and learn about it. Why don't you join us? We can practice the faith together.