2017 Introductory Exam: Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers to the Introductory Exam held in October.

Photo: Jonathan Wilson.


1. In Nichiren Buddhist practice consists of practice for oneself and practice for others. Practice for oneself refers to chanting and reciting the sutra on a daily basis. Practice for others constitutes:

a) finding an isolated mountainside or forest for you to practice Buddhism.
b) teaching people about Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and helping them establish their Buddhist practice.
c) meditating by the seashore.
d) copying Buddhist sutras.

2. In the phrase Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, renge literally means “lotus flower.” In Nichiren Buddhism, what Buddhist concept is symbolized by the lotus flower?

a) Oneness of life and its environment
b) Oneness of body and mind
c) Simultaneity of cause and effect
d) Voluntarily assuming the appropriate karma

3. Within the Ten Worlds, in which state(s) of life is a person easily influenced by external circumstances?

a) Buddhahood
b) Voice-hearers
c) Bodhisattva
d) The six lower worlds, or the six paths

4. Regarding attaining Buddhahood, Nichiren Daishonin says that “attain” means to:

a) open or reveal the Buddha nature we already possess.
b) acquire supreme awakening from the Buddha.
c) die and be reborn in our next lifetime in order to achieve happiness.
d) implore priests to turn us into a special being called a Buddha.

5. In his writing “The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon,” Nichiren Daishonin writes: “Never seek this Gohonzon _____________.” Please correctly fill in the blank.

a) within yourself
b) within the mortal flesh of ordinary people
c) outside yourself
d) in a temple of the provisional teachings

6. In “The Three Kinds of Treasure,” Nichiren instructs Shijo Kingo to “live so that all the people of Kamakura will say in your praise that Nakatsukasa Saburo Saemonno- jo [Shijo Kingo] is diligent in the service of his lord, in the service of Buddhism, and in his concern for other people.” In essence, Nichiren was instructing Kingo to:

a) be most concerned about protecting his reputation.
b) use whatever means necessary to gain praise from his lord and those around him.
c) put on an image that things are going fine when they are not.
d) be sincere and work with integrity to show proof of the power of Nichiren’s teachings.

7. The principle of “lessening karmic retribution” means that through the benefit of devoting ourselves and leading others to the Mystic Law:

a) we can defer our heavy karmic debt to a future lifetime.
b) we need not experience any hardship or difficulty in this life.
c) others whom we wronged in past lives will not take revenge on us.
d) the heavy consequences of our negative karma are quickly lightened.

8. Nichiren writes, “The three obstacles and four devils will invariably appear, and the wise will ___________ while the foolish will retreat.” Please correctly fill in the blank.

a) rejoice
b) remain silent
c) be deceived
d) not notice


9. On April 28, 1253, Nichiren lectured publicly, refuting the teachings of the major Buddhist schools. He chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and asserted that it is the correct teaching capable of relieving the suffering of all people of the Latter Day of the Law. This event is known as his:

a) taking up residence at Mount Minobu.
b) declaring the establishment of his teaching.
c) commencement of a hunger strike to protest government policies.
d) praying for rain.

10. After observing the recurrence of natural disasters, epidemics, poverty and hunger, on July 16, 1260, Nichiren wrote and submitted to Hojo Tokiyori, the highest authority in Japan, the treatise titled:

a) “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime.”
b) “Great Concentration and Insight.”
c) “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.”
d) “On the Buddha’s Prophecy.”

11. For several years leading up to the autumn of 1279, many of the farmers who practiced Nichiren’s teachings in the Atsuhara region endured mounting pressures to renounce their faith. Ultimately, three of Nichiren’s followers were executed and 17 were driven from their lands. This series of persecutions, known collectively as the Atsuhara Persecution, demonstrated that Nichiren had fulfilled the purpose of his appearance in this world because:

a) his followers had now established faith strong enough to endure any persecution while protecting his teaching.
b) his followers proved that ordinary people could not attain Buddhahood.
c) his followers were ready to establish their own schools of Buddhism.
d) he no longer had to shoulder the responsibility of spreading his teachings.


12. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, with his disciple Josei Toda’s dedicated assistance, published the first volume of The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy on Nov. 18, 1930. This is also the date of the Soka Gakkai’s founding. In this work, Mr. Makiguchi uses the word soka, which means:

a) evolution
b) creationism
c) value creation
d) value assessment

13. In 1943, Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda were imprisoned for refusing to comply with government pressure to accept the Shinto religious talisman and thereby compromise their beliefs. While in prison, Mr. Toda earnestly chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and repeatedly studied the Lotus Sutra, and came to realize that the Buddha is essentially life itself and that this life of the Buddha exists within himself and all people, as well as in the vast universe. Through practicing and studying Buddhism in prison, Josei Toda:

a) gained a special ability for palm reading.
b) awakened to his mission as a Bodhisattva of the Earth.
c) resolved to become a political commentator.
d) extinguished all desire.

14. Every year since 1983, in order to offer his perspective and vision for a better world, SGI President Ikeda has:

a) published a peace proposal.
b) made traditional ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
c) run in long-distance marathons.
d) delivered speeches at the United Nations General Assembly.


15. In his writing “The Dragon Gate,” Nichiren uses the analogy of carp climbing a waterfall to become dragons to emphasize that:

a) attaining Buddhahood is easy.
b) once you attain Buddhahood, there is no need to struggle anymore.
c) attaining Buddhahood is so difficult that only priests can achieve it.
d) attaining Buddhahood entails overcoming many difficulties.

16. In “The Dragon Gate,” Nichiren says, “My wish is that all my disciples ______.” Please correctly fill in the blank.

a) commit my writings to memory
b) make a great vow
c) give up their livelihood for the sake of Buddhism
d) heed the instructions of priests

17. In “How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way,” Nichiren offers an analogy, saying, “When a caged bird sings, birds who are flying in the sky are thereby summoned and gather around, and when the birds flying in the sky gather around, the bird in the cage strives to get out.” President Ikeda explains that the caged bird singing represents:

a) the world of hungry spirits.
b) those imprisoned for propagating the Mystic Law.
c) crying out for help because one feels powerless.
d) people rousing faith in and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

18. In “The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon,” Nichiren also states, “This Gohonzon also is found only in the two characters for ___________.” Please correctly fill in the blank.

a) isolation
b) desire
c) faith
d) suffering


19. The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood’s doctrine of the infallibility of its high priest—that the high priest must be followed despite any error—runs counter to the statement of Nikko Shonin in his “Twenty-six Admonitions”: “Do not follow even the high priest if he goes against the ___________ and propounds his own views.” Please correctly fill in the blank.

a) Buddha’s law
b) law of the land
c) tide of the times
d) will of the people

20. The claim of Nichiren Shoshu that “the fundamental principle of the Daishonin’s Buddhism is transmitted only to the High Priest” is contradicted by Nichiren’s own statements. For instance, in one letter, he writes, “Nichiren has been trying to awaken all people of Japan to faith in the Lotus Sutra so that they too can share ____________ and attain Buddhahood.” Please correctly fill in the blank.

a) the precepts
b) debt
c) the heritage
d) conspicuous punishment

(p. 8)