Soka Spirit
Another Priest Calls for Reform

Volume 2, No. 6 June 29, 1992

Yuhan Watanabe, assistant priest at Daigan-ji temple in Shinjuku, Tokyo, reproaches High Priest Nikken and General Affairs Department Chief Gikan Hayase

During a morning meeting of priests and acolytes at Daigan-ji temple on May 18, Assistant Priest Yuhan Watanabe, 32, announced his secession from the head temple.

In a letter titled ‘Final Letter to Daigan-ji Temple’ addressed to Chief Priest Gikan Hayase, General Affairs Department chief in the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, Mr. Watanabe urged him to take responsibility for collaborating with High Priest Nikken in leading Nichiren Shoshu down a ruinous path. He also urged him to relinquish his duties at Daigan-ji temple and as chief of the General Affairs Department.

In addition, Mr. Watanabe confirmed his resolve to work for fundamental reforms in Nichiren Shoshu with the Association of Youthful Priests Dedicated to the Reformation of Nichiren Shoshu, which was formed in March. Mr. Watanabe also sent his Letter of Disassociation to High Priest Nikken, in which he demanded the high priest’s immediate resignation, calling him unfit and lacking in managerial ability. He described the high priest’s behavior as devoid of faith and attempting only to monopolize Buddhism.

A native of Hokkaido, Mr. Watanabe graduated from Soka University with a degree in economics. He practiced in the Soka Gakkai and fulfilled the responsibility of Student Division vice zone secretary. In March 1986, he entered the priesthood as a member of the seventh class of the adult acolyte training program. After six months of training, he was assigned to Hongaku-ji temple in Nagoya, then to Ho’on-ji temple in Kobe and later to Hongyo-ji temple in Toyonaka. Since April 1990, he has served as an assistant priest at Daigan-ji temple in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Letter of Disassociation

(Addressed to High Priest Nikken) 

As a resident assistant priest at Daigan-ji temple, Tokyo, and a graduate of the seventh class of the adult acolyte training program, I hereby reverently submit to you my Letter of Disassociation.

‘At Mount Fuji, where the Dai-Gohonzon is enshrined, there lives not a single priest who upholds the True Law. The pride of the 700-year-old orthodoxy has been sullied, and the lineage of the Law inherited by Nikko Shonin is about to be lost….’ I was deeply moved by this cry of faith from the ten members of the Association of Youthful Priests Dedicated to the Reformation of Nichiren Shoshu, who arose courageously for the great purpose of reforming the priesthood. I now join their sacred battle.

Since I entered the priesthood as your student, I have been devoting my entire body and mind to the priesthood’s development, the accomplishment of kosen-rufu, and the realization of genuine harmonious unity between the priesthood and laity.

Recently, many priests have become consumed by the enervated and oppressive atmosphere, lost their sense of mission as men of religion, and are now drowning in an abyss of corruption and pleasure seeking. Not realizing that they are cutting their own throats, they have been fanatically advocating absolute obedience to the high priest while trampling upon the dignity of believers who possess correct faith. What is the reason for this?

The fundamental cause lies with no one but you, the high priest. Lacking any sign of self-reflection or apology, you appear oblivious to the true cause of the priesthood’s current state of disorder and corruption, which you yourself have brought on. You have taken the entire priesthood captive as you continue to plunge down the path of destruction with increasing fury and cunning, enslaved by your own desire for fame and profit, and suspicious of everyone and everything.

Witnessing your behavior, my heart became filled with indescribable, heavy feelings; no matter how earnestly I tried to deny it, distrust for you continues to well up within me.

‘If one sees a misguided priest sending others into hell with his evil teachings and fails to reproach that priest and expose his errors, then he himself is an enemy of Buddhism’ (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 5, p. 216). Heeding these golden words, I feel strongly that to remain silent and continue to follow you would be to betray my master, Nichiren Daishonin.

The ‘Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings’ states:

‘Believed in’ [of the passage ‘All (arrogant priests, nuns and lay believers) believed in, bowed to, accepted and followed (Bodhisattva Fukyo’s preaching)’ from the ‘Fukyo’ chapter of the Lotus Sutra] means to take faith, free from doubt; ‘bowed to’ means to defer to the Lotus [Sutra]; ‘accepted’ means to entrust one’s mind to the Lotus Sutra; and ‘followed’ means to entrust one’s body to this sutra. Now votaries like Nichiren and his followers who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are Bodhisattva Fukyo of the Latter Day. (Gosho Zenshu, p. 765)

This passage clearly explains that what people should believe in and follow is the Lotus Sutra, that is, the entire teaching spread by the Daishonin at the risk of his life. It does not indicate that one must follow the high priest above all.

At a guidance meeting for senior student priests on March 31, you encouraged us to fulfill our purpose in having become priests. To do so, you explained, we must trust in ourselves and believe in the Buddha and the Law. Now, out of my faith and resolve for kosen-rufu, and my belief in the Daishonin and in myself, I hope to fulfill my purpose as a genuine Nichiren Shoshu priest.

For this reason, at the risk of sounding offensive, I hereby submit to you my letter of departure and remonstration:

I. Questioning Your Lack of Humanity as the One Who Holds the Highest Office of Nichiren Shoshu

First, before I discuss your specific errors, I wish to state my conclusion that you are lacking in basic human decency and are thus unfit to assume the position of high priest and chief executive of this school.

You have proven yourself to be cruel, temperamental, merciless, hypocritical, deceptive, cowardly, violent, childish and pedantic. In light of the principle of the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds, it is natural that one’s personality comprise many facets. We each possess a range of emotional qualities. Your case, however, exceeds the limits of reason. If your status was that of an ordinary priest, you might be held less culpable. Yet because you are both high priest and chief executive (who is responsible for leading the entire school), you are by no means harmless. The inconsistencies in your personality have always been a problem for us as acolytes.

For example, after performing ushitora gongyo [a special gongyo ceremony held early in the morning], with an intimidating expression, you would frequently rant and rave at acolytes and repeatedly beat them with a large ceremonial fan. Then you would snicker inexplicably and go back to your bedroom. Whether your behavior is calculated or simply an expression of your personality, your nature is clearly cruel and duplicitousÊ[while maintaining an outward air of dignity] you abuse others while enjoying their reactions.

Regarding Jikaku [the third chief priest of Enryaku-ji, the head temple of the Japanese Tendai sect (794-866)], who brought Shingon esotericism into T’ien-t’ai’s Buddhism, the Daishonin writes, ‘He was like a bat, for a bat resembles a bird yet is not a bird, and resembles a mouse yet is not a mouse’ (MW-4, 222). This is one characteristic of the third and most dangerous of the so-called three powerful enemies in Buddhism [i.e., priests revered as saints and respected by the general public who, in fear of losing fame or profit, induce secular authorities to persecute the votaries of the Lotus Sutra].

This description of a bat seems quite applicable to you. Through numerous incidents, you have proven your tendency toward duplicity and deception.

At the end of 1990, the head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations was discharged from his position. In the beginning, you had the Administrative Office explain repeatedly to everyone, including the mass media, that the discharge of Honorary President Ikeda was merely the result of a revision of the Rules [of Nichiren Shoshu]. At the scroll-airing ceremony this year, however, you clearly stated that the priesthood implemented the measure in order to ‘call for reflection [on the part of the honorary president].’ If so, why did you at first repeatedly offer the weak excuse that Honorary President Ikeda’s discharge was merely a consequence of a revision of the Rules? Your new explanation is still far from accurate. The priesthood’s action, by all indications, was clearly intended to lambaste and attack [Honorary President Ikeda]. You are still trying to conceal the truth.

By the summer of 1990, it was already your clear intention to destroy the Soka Gakkai. In August of that year, when I attended a training seminar for student priests at the head temple, meetings were taking place every day with you and executive priests of the Administrative Office. I clearly remember that our scheduled audience with you was substantially delayed because of this situation. In your lecture at the training seminar, you were unusually critical about the Soka Gakkai’s activities. For example, you said, ‘Nowadays, believers always merely parrot the word ‘culture.’ But the Daishonin’s Buddhism is different; it is a teaching to refute distorted views and reveal the truth.’ Your criticism is still vivid in my memory. I remember how disappointed I was by your criticism, which to me seemed superficial and naive. I thought to myself: ‘Was this the remark of a high priest, who is supposed to deeply understand Nichiren Daishonin’s mandate to accomplish kosen-rufu?’

Clearly, you lack even the most rudimentary understanding of the Soka Gakkai’s efforts to promote kosen-rufu and its strict attitude to reveal the truth of the Daishonin’s teaching while refuting distorted views.

A few days later, you attended a Soka Gakkai culture festival. You applauded the performers and waived both arms at the cheering audience. ‘Operation C’Êthe plan to destroy the GakkaiÊwas already concealed deep within your heart as you feigned a posture of harmony in your relationship with the Gakkai. You are shrewd and two-faced. In reality, you lied about the honorary president’s discharge when you claimed it stemmed merely from a revision of the Rules. In fact, you have lied too many times to count; some might call you a genius of deception.

Your remark at a March 31 dinner meeting angered me. It was the day after five youthful priests remonstrated with you in your living quarters. You commented on the previous day’s incident, misrepresenting the fact that Mr. Yuri Usukura had repeatedly beaten Mr. Yumo Matsuoka. You said, ‘[Mr. Usukura’s] behavior is permissible because he did it to protect me.’ Thus, you falsely insinuated that Mr. Matsuoka tried to harm you. You treated Mr. Usukura as if he were some sort of hero, thereby endorsing and promoting such violence. How can one who would allow violence for any reason be called high priest? Despite the fact that Mr. Matsuoka had been completely passive and displayed no sign of aggression toward you, Mr. Usukura jumped to his feet and struck him in the face three times. All this happened right before your eyes. Why did you go so far as to lie in order to endorse such violence?

At the same dinner meeting, you said the following about Chief Priest Takudo Ikeda of Seoh-ji temple in Shiga Prefecture, who seceded from the head temple to promote the reformation of the priesthood: ‘Takudo Ikeda was paid by the Gakkai and broke away. Now he is luring other temples away. I heard that he received Š50 million as a first payment and will continue to receive Š800,000 a month.’ This was the outrageous lie you offered as guidance to the student priests. I tried to confirm this with Chief Priest Ikeda; he flatly denied the allegation. [Mr. Takudo Ikeda later filed a lawsuit against High Priest Nikken for defamation.]

Why do you continue to spread such groundless rumors in public? It is intolerable that an individual in the position of high priest should mislead his students with lies. You should apologize to Mr. Takudo Ikeda for injuring his reputation. This incident alone should suffice as grounds for your immediate resignation.

In addition [to your duplicitous nature], you have displayed unparalleled cruelty. Insensitive to the profound commitment your students made upon entering the priesthood, you have ousted them whenever you suspected they were not following your will. More than 100 acolytes have thus far been expelled. There were several individuals who were banished from the priesthood just because they were considered ‘unfit.’ One of them was given a settlement of Š500,000 to prevent possible future trouble.

However, the misdeeds of the sons and relatives of executive priests are overlooked and go unpunished. For example, Mr. Shokan Hayase, the second son of General Affairs Department Chief Hayase for whom I worked as an assistant priest, is a student of the Fuji Seminary. He seldom attends classes, and when he does, he shows up five minutes before class ends. He frequents red-light districts with other delinquent acolytes.

On April 20, Mr. Doto Odagiri, the secretary of the Fuji Seminary, cautioned Shokan Hayase on his behavior. Hayase, however, argued with Mr. Odagiri and abruptly committed an incredible act: He punched Mr. Odagiri and then kicked him. Nevertheless, Shokan Hayase has not been punished for this. If the same act was committed by an acolyte like myselfÊone who is not related to any of the influential families within the priesthoodÊhe would have been expelled immediately without a single chance to defend himself.

In the final analysis, I must conclude that you have lost any humanity you might have possessed, disqualifying yourself as a decent member of society. I advise you to immediately relinquish your position as high priest so as not to bring more disgrace upon yourself. The Daishonin states, ‘Thus, although one may exert one’s full effort to save others, it is very difficult to save them from the karmic retribution that they have brought upon themselves’ (MW-4, 257).

II. Questioning the Managerial Capacity of the High Priest in His Role as Chief Executive of Nichiren Shoshu

I am compelled also to point out your lack of managerial ability as chief executive of this school [i.e., Religious Corporation Nichiren Shoshu]. The chief priests of local temples have been indulging themselves in pleasure-seeking and extravagance. They are fully aware that their position is secure so long as they pledge token obedience to you.

For example, your order forbidding priests to play golf (an extremely expensive pastime in Japan) has been completely ignored. Study Department Chief Juken Ohmura installed a putting green on the temple grounds. He and his wife keep their golf clubs in the car trunk and frequent a golf course. Many chief priests argue publicly that golf is good for their health.

Many priests questioned the appointment of Mr. Ohmura as Study Department chief in the first place, citing his incompetence in Buddhist study. Furthermore, you recently appointed Mr. Kido Fukuda as the chief priest of a local temple; this, instead of punishing him for promoting among his acolyte students a distorted doctrine that states that Nichiren Daishonin is ‘transient’ while the high priest is ‘true.’

There are many chief priests who are not fit for the priesthood. For example, one has served time in prison for being involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident while intoxicated. Another priest’s temple burned to the ground (the Gohonzon included) because of his carelessness. Yet, instead of being demoted, he easily replaced the structure with an extravagant temple and living quarters, enjoying a lifestyle even more luxurious than before. A third chief priest sexually exploited youth division members. There are many more examples. These men were appointed by you as chief priests based solely on their position and tenure in the priesthood, with no consideration given to their character or qualifications. I find it hard to believe that you have taken no strict disciplinary measures against these problem priests.

You are inconsistent in your direction and supervision of acolytes and young priests. On one hand, you are excessively strict with acolytes who are junior and senior high school students living on the head temple grounds, forbidding them from possessing electrical appliances, clothes other than uniforms, and comic books. On the other hand, you once told student priests residing at local temples who were attending college, ‘I will pretend that I am unaware of your smoking and drinking at the local temples’Êthus approving of illegal smoking and drinking by minors. What is the basis of these inconsistent policies?

In November 1989, you lectured to young priests during the autumn seminar. One comment made me question your awareness as a priest and your ability to guide your students. You said: ‘If you are too serious and know no secular pleasure in youth, you might suddenly indulge in play when you are 40 or so. It is, therefore, recommended that youth experience some pleasure.’

I heard this comment from a young priest who attended the lecture, so your exact words may have differed slightly. In any case, you are developing an unprecedented reputation as a high priest who encourages indolence and indulgence in his students. Because of your inconsistency, young acolytes who practice under stringent restrictions look forward to becoming college students and certified priests so that they may indulge themselves freely in hedonistic pursuits. Corrupt priests thus develop one after another. There is no denying that many of your student priests have caused traffic accidents and committed misdemeanors such as shoplifting.

Instead of developing stronger faith, the longer acolytes remain in the priesthood, the more corrupt they become. They expect that once they become certified priests, they will be able to live in comfort. This is the reality of the priesthood at this time.

Your administrative responsibility as chief priest of Taiseki-ji must also be condemned. As a case in point, take the temple’s mismanagement of the handling of the ashes of the deceased.

An enormous amount of ashes is kept in the cinerarium of the head temple, but little effort is made to preserve them. Cleaning is conducted once a year at most. The cinerarium is never ventilated, even in the rainy season, so the ashes absorb moisture and even accumulate water inside the urns. Ashes have often been found moldy when the urns were opened.

When I was at the head temple, first-year students of junior-high-school age who had just entered the priesthood were assigned the task of sorting ashes for temporary custody from ashes designated for communal burial. Without understanding the solemn responsibility and bored with their task, these 12-year-old boys treated ashes carelessly and often mistook ashes for temporary custody with ashes for communal burial.

This creates serious moral and legal problems. When Mr. Yubun Kanai and others in charge of handling the ashes found that some ashes assigned for temporary custody had been misplaced, they stooped to orchestrating a cover-up with the permission of Supervisor Keigo Matsuo. They contacted the related families under the pretense of having them complete a questionnaire to confirm what kind of urns and what parts of bones were contained in the ashes. Then they bought similar urns and stuffed them with the same parts of bones from other people’s ashes that had been consigned for communal burial. When the families came to retrieve the ashes, many received the ashes of complete strangers.

Your responsibility in allowing such a misdeed to take place unchecked is especially serious. As the representative officer [of the Religious Corporation of Taiseki-ji], you must assume legal responsibility. Furthermore, as the chief executive [of the Religious Corporation Nichiren Shoshu] and chief priest of Taiseki-ji temple, you must acknowledge responsibility and apologize.

In addition, the manner in which priests handle memorial tablets is degrading to lay believers. Chief priests of the lodging temples on the head temple grounds nonchalantly inscribe [the daimoku and the names of the deceased] on memorial tablets as they listen to the radio. With coffee in one hand, young priests scribble the daimoku and then boast to each other about how fast they can write. Yet the processing of memorial tablets is so slow that applications usually pile up for two or three months.

The prayers priests offer for the deceased are also half-hearted. When priests are busy, they simply place a bundle of several hundred applications on the wooden tray before the Gohonzon instead of reading each application and praying for the deceased.

In the final analysis, you possess neither a desire for the protection nor for the happiness of lay believers. You appoint evildoers as chief priests without reservation and allow the numerous misdeeds of those in your chargeÊ which make a mockery of the laityÊto continue unabated.

You are clearly unfit for your position. For this reason, I strongly demand your immediate resignation.

III. Questioning the High Priest’s Lack of Faith, and His Tendency To View the Daishonin’s Buddhism as His Personal Property

Last, I cannot help feeling that the negative influences that have accumulated in the priesthood over the past 700 years have all become manifest in your person. You neglect even the practice of gongyo and daimokuÊthe basics of faith.

On the surface, you assume the highest position. Wielding authority based upon a presumed lineage, you castigate Honorary President Ikeda as a great slanderer, ignoring his contributions as a Buddhist leader who has been taking action throughout the world based upon faith, practice and study. When you realized that Honorary President Ikeda would not behave submissively, you were blinded by jealousy and scorn, masterminding the series of events that led to the current situation.

Citing the ‘orthodox lineage’ as a pretext, you judge the Gakkai to be slanderous and claim that all members are destined to hell. But when we view things objectively, who is it that is practicing in accord with the Daishonin’s teachings? Faith has nothing to do with authority or formality. Good or evil must be determined by people’s behavior, since the true entity of life invariably manifests itself in all phenomena. Those who blindly follow you are making desperate excuses, propounding new theories such as the one that states that your true inherent enlightenment exists apart from your deviant behavior, which derives from your transient identity. If the priesthood asserts that all phenomena (one’s behavior) are separate from the true entity of life (one’s enlightenment or life condition), its assertion is a provisional teaching that predates the Lotus Sutra. Such distorted doctrine is unrelated to the Daishonin’s Buddhism, which elucidates the attainment of enlightenment in one’s present form.

In his ‘Twenty-six Admonitions,’ Nikko Shonin clearly instructs us: ‘As for practitioners who treasure the Law more highly than their own lives, even if they are but humble teachers of the Law, you must hold them in great esteem, revering them as you would the Buddha’ (Gosho Zenshu, p. 1618). Practitioners who struggle for kosen-rufu at the risk of their lives are Buddhas, writes Nikko Shonin. He did not say that Buddhas are only those who inherit the lineage of high priest.

Rather, Nikko Shonin states, ‘Do not follow even the high priest of the time if he goes against the Buddha’s Law and propounds his own views’ (Gosho Zenshu 1618). He urges us to resolutely challenge the authority of a high priest who propounds a distorted teaching.

He continues, ‘Even if a view is set forth unanimously by a conference [of believers], the high priest should repudiate it if it goes against the Buddha’s Law.’ In such a case, the high priest must have the wisdomÊbased on faith and practiceÊto understand when believers’ views contradict the Buddha’s teaching. Put another way, the high priest must ‘behave’ in accord with the Lotus Sutra and the Gosho, as did Nichimoku Shonin. Therefore, ‘the high priest’ in the above admonition does not refer to someone who, like yourself, is lacking in faith, does not practice, and vainly pretends an understanding of Buddhist doctrine.

Priests who live at the head temple observe your selfish behavior. In your case, practice for oneself (jigyo) consists of ushitora gongyo once a day. If you feel even the slightest bit not up to it, you skip it. I was told that once during ushitora gongyo last year you left your seat in the middle of the second prayer and never returned, saying that you felt a strange sensation in your throat. Those around you could not repress their amusement at the thought of how far your determination actually extends never to begrudge your life for the sake of the Law.

Regarding your practice of evening gongyo, we were informed several years ago that you were scheduled to attend an evening gongyo at the Mutsubo Hall at the head temple with student priestsÊan unprecedented event. All were anxiously waiting for you, but you never showed up. Virtually no one has ever witnessed you chanting daimoku. I have heard that your personal record for chanting daimoku is one half-hour; that was when overseas Gakkai members begged you to chant with them.

Because you lack the spirit to refute distorted teachings or spread the Daishonin’s Buddhism, many parishioners of the head temple have always been slanderous. One lay representative of a local temple nearby is also a chief parishioner of the Asama Shinto Shrine. I wonder why you could not refute this single lay representative’s slander? Are you not the one who inherited the teaching of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin that states the protective deities depart a land that is filled with slanderers of the Law? Furthermore, you yourself have been committing slanderous acts one after another, such as erecting a headstone for your family on the grounds of a Zen temple and conspiring with a slanderous tabloid journalist to assail the Soka Gakkai in the press.

Your personal life is also corrupt. Many priests and their families are now experiencing great financial difficulties and have been forced to live on their savings and cancel insurance policies. Yet it has been revealed that you recently took your whole family and several supporters to an exclusive hot springs resort in Okuyugawara. There, clad in a $14,000 silk garment and neglecting gongyo and daimoku, you indulged in extravagant merrymaking. Has there ever been a high priest who has indulged himself in this way?

Furthermore, you allowed your wife, Masako, to engage in extravagance beyond anyone’s imagination. You planned to build a $15 million mansion for yourself with an indoor swimming pool. Nichiren Daishonin states, ‘Law-devouring hungry spirits renounce the world to spread Buddhism only because they think that if they preach the Law, people will respect them’ (MW-4, 93). Your hedonism identifies you as a ‘law-devouring hungry spirit’ who is attempting to monopolize the Daishonin’s Buddhism and use your status as high priest to ensure the financial prosperity of your family and immediate supporters.

You are unqualified to instruct others without first correcting your own behavior. I can confidently say that you have no right to judge the faith of the Soka Gakkai or any of its members.

At present the human race is facing many global problems for which there seem to be no solutions. In this confusing time, the Daishonin’s Buddhism alone can dispel the darkness like the sun or the moon, and point to the correct direction for the future. But no matter how profound the Daishonin’s teaching may be, if it is forgotten or ignored, it has no meaning. Even the Daishonin’s teaching will come to naught without a Buddhist leader of wisdom and action who can spread it in society and enable people to practice it correctly.

There are many people suffering from war and hunger. Can you not hear their voices of agony? Can you not shed tears for their misery?

The Daishonin states: ‘Sufferings shared by all living beings are the suffering of Nichiren himself’ (Gosho Zenshu, p. 578). What action are you taking? How are you sharing people’s suffering? You display none of the Daishonin’s noble spirit. Traditionally, excommunication has been used with the intent of bestowing an effective death sentence upon a religious practitioner. Your attempt to ‘execute’ the Buddha’s children of pure faithÊmembers of the organization for kosen-rufuÊcan be compared to a spiritual holocaust.

I therefore condemn your lack of faith and your attempt to monopolize and exploit Buddhism, and I strongly demand that you resign immediately from your position as high priest.

I have summarized in the above three points what has been troubling me for quite some time. I will not reproach you for attempting to retaliate. Although you are my teacher, under whom I entered the priesthoodÊin fact, precisely for this reasonÊit is my responsibility, as one of those who pledged upon entering the priesthood to help all people attain enlightenment, to thoroughly rebuke and reproach you now that you have turned into the third and most powerful of the three powerful enemies. This is also my duty as a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin.

To conclude this letter, I would like to mention Mr. Shogyo Abe, your grandson.

He was once a pure-hearted youth who sincerely loved and respected Honorary President Ikeda. He wrote a New Year’s greeting card to Honorary President Ikeda every year and was extremely happy to receive a personal reply. Sometimes he could not restrain himself from going to see Honorary President and Mrs. Ikeda when they came to the head temple. He was deeply moved by their warmth and consideration.

At that time, he was sincere about faith and practice. He once said to me: ‘I heard that some chief priests and resident student priests at local temples neglect gongyo. This is preposterous. I will never become like them.’

However, you were enraged when you discovered that your grandson met the honorary president, and you strictly forbade him to see the honorary president again. This was before the current issue arose. After this issue surfaced, you and your son, Mr. Shinsho Abe, forcibly and thoroughly transformed your grandson into a radical anti-Soka Gakkai priest. His faith and his daily life subsequently plunged headlong into decay.

Your grandson is now a sophomore in college. Though he is a priest, which literally means one who has left his family home to practice Buddhism, he is allowed to live with his parents. Dressed like a gangster, he frequents the red-light district late at night with other delinquent student priests. On top of all this, he engaged in a brawl with a drunk while riding the train.

What are your thoughts on this? In any case, you should be blamed for all that has happened. Introducing bad friends in faith and driving away good ones, labeling good as evil and evil as good, you indoctrinated several hundred of your students, including your own grandson, into a teaching of the Devil of the Sixth Heaven. How else can we describe your act other than as a grave slander that destroys the three treasures and Nichiren Shoshu? Somehow I feel that the course your grandson has taken reflects the path of self-destruction down which the priesthood is plunging.

High Priest NikkenÊyou are the source of all this evil! The ‘Rissho Ankoku Ron’ states: ‘How tragic, that they should heed the gross and deluded words of this ignorant monk! If we hope to bring order and tranquillity to the world without further delay, we must put an end to these slanders of the Law that fill the country!’ (MW-2, 39). It further states: ‘Rather than offering up ten thousand prayers for remedy, it would be better simply to outlaw this one evil doctrine that is the source of all the trouble!’ (MW-2, 24).

From today on, I will fight with my entire life to defeat this ‘one evil doctrine’ of yours. Resolved never to return to Taiseki-ji until the fundamental reformation of the priesthood is realized, I hereby disassociate myself from the head temple.

This, I believe, is the supreme path I must take as a Nichiren Shoshu priest. As Nikko Shonin states: ‘Failing to take leave of teachers who go against the Sage Nichiren compounds the error all the more’ (Hennentai Nichiren Daishonin Gosho, p. 1734).

May 18, 1992

From Yuhan Watanabe

To Mr. Nikken Abe