"Nichiren" as written by and Duncan Sheik....
He beat the drum and lit the fires
He sent the messages in vain
But the sound of his philosophy
Rose above the falling rain

And to you who find it difficult
To believe in anything
I praise you for the outrage
At the horror you have seen

So I'm trying to remember
I try to understand
Every holocaust has meaning
Not set in stone but drawn in sand

And in some cold and barren place
He spoke the phrase and thus I heard
With every small decision
You change a heart
You change the world


Lyrics submitted by misskitty

"Nichiren" as written by Duncan Sheik

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Nichiren song meanings
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    General CommentThis song is very confusing to me and extra opinions would be helpful.

    I typed in a search online for Nichiren I was still confused. As far as I know, it's a buddhest way of thought, peacefulness, I think. I'm probably wrong.

    To me, it sounds like it was written about a cruel leader. The first verse somehow reminded me of Hitler and his cruelty, but I don't know why. The second verse is maybe to the Jews who had to understand. The third verse made me think even more of the Holocaust, maybe even Kristalnacht. In Germany's history, I don't know how much recognition is given to jews, which is why I like the line "Not set in stone but drawn in sand". The last verse, the lines "with every small decision you change a heart, you change a world" seems to me like that if you have the power, you can change on life and you can change many.

    I love this song! The lyrics are just.....WOW
    Rinse_It_Awayon June 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSorry this is so long, but I wrote it for a paper so it's well-researched and thought-out. Before my interpretation, here's some background info that will help.

    Nichiren: 4th century Buddhist monk in Japan
    Soka Gakkai: International movement of Nichiren followers; Duncan Sheik's personal relgious beleifs
    Gohonzon: a sacred Japanese phrase written on a scroll and enshrined in the homes of Soka Gakkai members. The Gohonzon is hcanted regularly and believed to have mystical power.
    View of history: According to Soka Gakkai, history is split into four periods, and we are currently in the last of the four periods called The Age of the Last Law. Nichiren's death ushered in the change fron The Age of the False Law to the current Age of the Last Law.


    He beat the drum and lit the fires
    He sent the messages in vain
    But the sound of his philosophy
    Rose above the falling rain

    This verse explores Nichiren’s devotional life and the religious rituals he participated in. Nichiren beat a drum and lit incense as part of personal devotional practice. Nichiren tried to spread his messages of truth, of the True Buddhism, but unfortunately his words fell on deaf ears. This idea is in line with Soka Gakkai’s view of time, and Nichiren was ushering in the next time period, the Age of the Last Law, and ushering out the previous time period, the Age of the False Law. The Age of the False Law is marked both by false messages (highlighting the need for the truth Nichiren preached) and by apathy from the general public (as is evident since his messages were sent in vain). But despite these problems, the truth of his philosophies survived on virtue of their veracity. Despite hard times and an apathetic audience (falling rain), Nichiren’s message survived until future generations would grow to embrace it. The fact that his message survived in spite of such a hostile environment point to its depth, meaning, and power.

    And to you who find it difficult
    To believe in anything
    I praise you for the outrage
    At the horror you have seen

    This verse speaks about people in all times who view injustice and are outraged. Here, Sheik argues that denying injustice is not an option; it is wrong to explain away injustice by claiming justice – this is simply closing your eyes to the problem. The Soka Gakkai worldview requires one to see injustice as truly unjust, and the only way to come to salvation in the Gohonzon is first to realize injustice. Sheik commends people who really think about life and the tragedy it so often brings, even if these people find it difficult to believe in anything religious. According to Soka Gakkai, it is better to be a thinking, honest nonbeliever than a person who doesn’t consider the deeper questions of life and blissfully accepts things as they are.

    So I’m trying to remember
    I try to understand
    Every holocaust has meaning
    Not set in stone, but drawn in sand

    Here, Sheik humbly gives us a tour of his own thought process when considering injustice in the world. Sheik admits that it’s difficult for him, also, to deal with the injustice in the world – that is simply the nature of injustice. Sheik tries to understand the meaning and origin of suffering, and realizes that everything is capable of change. Yes, every holocaust has a meaning, but it’s not set in stone; it’s drawn in sand. It is able to be manipulated, and things don’t always have to be the way they are now. Suffering doesn’t always have to be present. Sheik points to the beliefs of transience and malleability that Nichiren teaches. Suffering is here, yes, don’t deny it, but realize that it can be changed and that things are not hopeless.

    And in some cold and barren place
    He spoke the phrase and thus I heard
    With every small decision
    You change a heart; you change the world

    Finally, Sheik offers the conclusion he came to, which is the truth that Nichiren tried to preach in the beginning of the song. In the midst of this troubled state Sheik was in when considering the horrors of injustice, in this cold and barren place, he hears the words of Nichiren: that injustice can be overcome by karma, acting ethically and practicing the Gohonzon regularly. Sheik points to the very practically, every-day, down-to-earth appeal of Soka Gakkai. Every decision changes the world, and everything around us is able to be manipulated by prayer to the Gohonzon. Fellow followers of Soka Gakkai would agree with Sheik’s strong belief in karma and the sense of control over self and environment that leads to an ethical way of life. Sheik and Soka Gakkai are followers of Nichiren and thus endorse his theology that every small decision has an impact on the world around us, and thus everyone has a personal responsibility to act ethically. With every small decision, you change a heart; you change the world.


    Hope this helps everyone - please give me feedback :)
    regularraisinon May 17, 2007   Link

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