Nichiren Shu Buddhist Temple of UK

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is said by some to be a religion, to others it seems like a philosophy, and to others it seems like an ancient tradition of psychology. In fact, Buddhism cannot be reduced to any of these categories. At its heart, Buddhism is a world view and way of living based upon the awakening of the Buddha, which people follow in order to approach and live consistently with an awakened world view.

Buddhism was founded by a man who we call the Buddha, who was alive 2600 years ago - a very long time ago - six centuries before Christ. In fact, the Buddha was not a Buddha when he was born. He was a man called Siddhartha Gautama, born in the Śākya Kingdom in India. He sought an answer to the problem of suffering he observed, and after years of religious practice attained "enlightenment", and awakened to the truth of all things. Having attained enlightenment, he became known Śākyamuni (The Sage of the Śākyas), the Buddha (Awakened One), and travelled throughout India for the rest of his life in order to guide people towards the same understanding of truth he had realised.

There are many different lineages and traditions and schools who trace their origins back to this great sage. One of them is our school, called Nichiren Shū. It was founded by a Japanese Buddhist monk born in the 13th century, who sought to find the essence of the Buddha's teaching and enable all people to practise it.

Our primary practice in Nichiren Shū is chanting the Odaimoku (Sacred Title), Namu Myoho Renge Kyo. The Odaimoku expresses the essence of the teachings of the Lotus Sūtra, the Buddha's final teaching, and by chanting it we can establish a way of life consonant with the eternal truths preached by the Buddha. We are able to enter into complete enlightenment by the merits transferred to us from the eternal practice of the Buddha.