Christianity and Nichiren Buddhism

Buddismo di Nichiren e Cristianesimo

Similarities between some concepts in Christian beliefs and Buddhism have been noted by various scholars.  In essence, the Christian concept of “God” and the Buddhist concept of the “Universal Life” share many features, such as: “the eternal”, “the creative power” , “the unborn”, as well as possessing the properties of “wisdom” and “compassion”.

One of the main differences between these two philosophies - is that “God” has a personified character in Christianity (and is referred to by “he”),

while in Nichiren Buddhism the “Universal Law” (Myoho) has non-personified character,

(having also both male and female qualities). 

Concepts such as: male-female, light-darkness, life-death, good-evil - are viewed in Christianity as separate from each other. The Buddhist view, however, is based on non-duality.  In this understanding, “Life” in Buddhism is understood as encompassing both good and evil, life and death ...etc.

Christianity considers the spiritual aspect of life as the Ultimate Truth (God) whose existence is independent of the Universe (or that he had existed already before the Universe).  On the other hand, Nichiren Buddhism considers the Ultimate Truth as Myoho, Life of the Universe having both aspects; physical (matter) and spiritual (mind). 

The physical aspect (of one’s current life) and the potential aspect (of one’s future death) are both inseparable phases of one cycle, eternally repeating.  Based on this understanding of “Life” as the ultimate truth in Buddhism, the following may give a rough view on corresponding concepts in Buddhism and Christianity:

                    Corresponding concepts in Christianity and Nichiren Buddhism

                                         Christianity                                  S G I  Buddhism    

The Divine:                               God                                                    Life

The Origin:                       Uncreated, Unborn                          Uncreated, Unborn

Time span:                          God is eternal                                 Life is eternal

The material & spiritual:           Separate                                         Inseparable

Good and Evil:                      Separate                                         Inseparable

The Afterlife:                             Death                                              Rebirth   

Heaven and Hell:              Two external places                     Two internal states

The essence of Buddhist and Christian beliefs is also expressed by the behaviour of their founders in the real world, becoming role models for humanity.  However - as was the case with Shakyamuni Buddha (ca 500 BC) - the events of life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth were written down by his disciples after the founder died. This fact creates uncertainty about various doctrines - attributed to the founder but cannot be verified.

The Issue of Certainty of the Founder’s Teachings

It is obvious that neither Shakyamuni Buddha nor Jesus of Nazareth had left any written document recording their teachings.  If the quality of “certainty” (about founders’ teachings) is of any importance, then Nichiren’s writings come as an example of providing this certainty.  Nichiren dedicated great efforts for leaving an enormous hand-written accounts on personally encountered events and on specific details about the scope and depth of his teachings - leaving in this way no room for doubt about the teachings he established. 

Nevertheless, Nichiren’s writings - although available in written form - did not escape the tendency of his followers to interpret them in variety of ways. This means that both Christianity and Buddhism (and in fact all religions) share this phenomenon of diversity of interpretations of teachings of related schools, each claiming to be “the correct” one.  The number of Christian churches and Buddhist schools is perhaps comparably great.  Amid this fact of diversity, SGI Buddhism aims at cooperation - rather than differences - and focuses on what is common between various faith systems:

The search for what is common: Despite diversity of religious views, SGI literature maintains that it is possible to find the common thread of agreement between all religions. This can take place through creating a tendency for interpretation of various doctrines based on the perspective of ‘common humanity’. 

Humanism can offer a uniting - rather than dividing - approach for people in their search for spiritual life.


Jesus’ identity according to SGI Buddhism

The Concept of “LAW ” in Christianity