March 1, 2002
The Justice Chronicle, provided by Soka Gakkai International-USA, is a free monthly e-mail in support of the Soka Spirit movement. Soka Spirit is the SGI’s educational effort to create value and deepen our understanding of Nichiren Buddhism through increased awareness of issues surrounding the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and the spiritual foundation of the SGI movement.
On Feb. 22, the Supreme Court in Tokyo dismissed an eviction suit filed by the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood against chief priest Jizai Watanabe of Daikyo-ji Temple. The plaintiff had sought to evict the defendant from his temple after he disassociated himself from Nichiren Shoshu in October 1992. The Yokohama District Court had ruled in Rev. Watanabe’s favor, but the appellate court overturned the decision. The defendant then appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed with the district court. The latest verdict is the third issued by the Supreme Court in 2002 over similar eviction suits filed by Nichiren Shoshu against priests belonging to reform organizations.
This series contains excerpts of speeches SGI President Ikeda made in the United States which relate to Soka Spirit and are contained in the book My Dear Friends in America.
THE DEMONIZATION OF RELIGION
I would now like to focus on how religions, in a general sense, change in character and grow authoritarian.
The original purpose of religion is to help people find happiness. But we find quite frequently that religions, abandoning their doctrines, act in a way that generates unhappiness. We see teachings of love turn into evil behavior, compassionate creeds become the rationale for atrocities — all of which cause people to suffer. Why is it that religion undergoes this kind of evil transformation?
Paul Tillich (1886-1965), a renowned philosopher and Harvard University professor, said: Affirming the finite in the name of the holy as the majesty of the ultimate, as the Divine, is called demonization. If the finite were elevated to the level of ultimate, then it would strive to subjugate all other finite things. And if it found it impossible to do so, it would seek their destruction.
In Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, the ultimate corresponds to the Gohonzon. If, for example, people who are of finite existence should raise themselves to the same level of dignity as the Gohonzon and declare that they were one and the same [as the Gohonzon], we could say that the demonization of our religion has started. Once this happens, such people assume a condescending attitude toward all others and try to force people to submit to their control. This is truly an abuse of authority. Then they try to destroy anyone who refuses to yield like slaves to them. I hope that this helps you understand the causes of the insane behavior [among Nichiren Shoshu priests] of disrupting the harmonious unity of believers working to achieve kosen-rufu.
Tillich especially stresses the threats posed by demonization of the church and clergy, naming examples such as belief in the infallibility of the pope. He says that such institutions only convey the holy or are symbolic of the holy.
He continues: It is for this reason that an institution which is demonically destructive will attack all other institutions and conflicting cultures. Similarly, individuals who engage in profanization become fanatical.
Asserting that [singing Ode to Joy in] Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which was performed earlier at this meeting, is slanderous [as the priests have done] is a typical example of this kind of attack on culture.
Born in Prussia, Tillich was driven from Dresden University for his outspoken criticism of the Nazi regime. In deifying and investing absolute power in Hitler, a finite being, and in the Third Reich, a finite nation, the Nazis had turned into demons, just as Tillich outlines. The concentration camp at Auschwitz bears stark testimony to this.
With its state and personality cult, Nazism could be termed a kind of religion. Perhaps in Tillich’s mind as he expounded his theory of the demonization of religion was the recurring thought of the tragedies that had visited his country. We must absolutely never allow such a tragedy to be repeated. (pp. 151-52)
Five in a series.
SOKA SPIRIT IN THE PUBLICATIONS
This section highlights articles published in the World Tribune and Living Buddhism related to the Soka Spirit movement.
March 1 World Tribune page 9: SGI-USA General Director Danny Nagashima encourages the youth of SGI-USA to take the lead in Soka Spirit activities in his message for March 16, Kosen-Rufu Day, meetings.
March 1 World Tribune page 11: In the first installment of the series District Leaders Q-and-A with the General Director, Danny Nagashima discusses the true meaning of Soka Spirit: caring for others.