Why Does Nichiren-Shu Worship the gods of Hawaii and the gods of Japan?

In the Hokke Shoshin Jobutsu by St. Nichiren it is written that having achieved enlightenment, Shakyamuni Buddha immediately wanted to teach the Lotus Sutra to people. Nevertheless, the ability and conditions of the sentient beings were of an infinite variety and were not the same, and that is why for forty years, he prepared to do so by teaching various sutras, and at the end He expounded the Lotus Sutra.

In chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra, Expedients, if He had taught the Lotus Sutra from the start, the people would have difficulty in understanding and would not believe Him. They would instead slander the Lotus Sutra, and fall to the world of hell, hungry ghosts and animals after death. That is why to elevate the ability of the people so that they could understand the Lotus Sutra, for forty years, in the order of the Kegon Sutra, Agon Sutra…Hannya Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Dharma, and at the end He expounded the Lotus Sutra.

It is written that for forty years, the twelve thousand devoted practitioners, beginning with Sharihotsu and Mokuren, who heard the sermons of Shakyamuni Buddha, the eighty thousand bodhisattvas, including Monju and Miroku, the more than a billion rulers of countries, Bonten god, Taishakuten god and others, and countless deities said that they were unable to achieve enlightenment from the teachings that they heard before the Lotus Sutra. This is explained in chapter 2, Expedients.

Moreover, when they finally heard the Lotus Sutra they rejoiced over having made this supreme jewel there own without having sought it. And they said that they often heard Shakyamuni Buddha’s sermons in the past, but they had never heard such an excellent teaching until that time.

Among the more than billion deities, the gods of Hawaii, the gods of Japan and the gods of India are also included. While you may not believe this, these gods had heard the sermons of Shakyamuni Buddha. Why did they hear them? The gods also have suffering and need to acquire enlightenment. For forty years the gods heard the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. Nevertheless, they could not achieve enlightenment. After hearing the Lotus Sutra they finally could become enlightened. That is because they achieved the firm belief that they could also become the Buddha. That is how it is written in Expedients.

It is for this reason that the Nichiren-Shu reads the Lotus Sutra to the gods of various religions. While this might be very difficult for the people of Hawaii to understand, in Buddhism, in the same way as the attainment of the Buddhahood of we human beings, the attainment of Buddhahood of the gods in taught.

These gods are different from the Eternal Parent Spirit called the Eternal Buddha. They are invisible existences that inhabit the higher realms.  Of course, the gods are existences of an immensely higher spiritual dimension than human beings. The gods, however, have yet to reach the Buddha’s realm. Spiritually speaking they are at a level a bit before the highest. That is why they seek the Lotus Sutra, which is the supreme teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha. What is more, the gods are delighted by the Lotus Sutra that we read to them. Their delight is called houraku. It is for this reason that we read the Lotus Sutra to the gods of Hawaii.














この神々は、永遠の仏という私たちの命の根源とは違います。天上界に住む Invisibleの存在です。もちろん神々は、人間よりとても魂的次元の高い存在です。しかしその神々はまだ仏界には至っていない。魂的に最高から少し手前の段階におられるのです。だから釈迦牟尼仏の最上の教えである法華経を求められるのです。そして、私たちの読む法華経に神々は歓喜されるのです。これを法楽と呼ぶのです。