Soka Spirit
Another Temple Severs Ties with Nichiren Shoshu

Volume 2, No. 11 –
October 19, 1992

With tremors rocking the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and Nikken being sued in Los Angeles Superior Court, Nikken and his supporters recently suffered another shake up. On Sept. 24, another temple seceded from the priesthood. Mr. Yuto Hirokawa, chief priest of Daiei-ji temple in Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, announced that he and his temple would sever its affiliation with the religious organization of Nichiren Shoshu.

Daiei-ji held its general representatives meeting with three lay representatives in attendance. At that meeting, it was unanimously agreed to support Mr. Hirokawa’s intention to secede from Nichiren Shoshu. After this resolution, Mr. Hirokawa issued a formal notification and a Letter Explaining Reasons for Leaving Nichiren Shoshu to High Priest Nikken dated Sept. 24, 1992, in which he honestly expressed his feelings about the current issue. He also forwarded a copy of the letter to President Akiya at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters.

Mr. Hirokawa became a priest after graduating from high school in December 1981. He was assigned as chief priest to Daiei-ji temple in January of 1990. Daiei-ji temple was donated by the Soka Gakkai in 1986 as part of its program to dedicate 200 temples to Nichiren Shoshu. In February of this year, he joined the Association to Reform Nichiren Shoshu, a group established by Mr. Gen’ei Kudo, chief priest of Choei-ji temple in Tokyo and former chief priest of Myoho-ji temple in Los Angeles. (Mr. Kudo left Nichiren Shoshu during that same month.) With the addition of Hirokawa, this association now includes 12 temples and 13 chief priests, and Mr. Hirokawa’s departure marks the 15th temple and 29th priest to leave Nichiren Shoshu so far as a result of Nikken’s unjust actions toward the Soka Gakkai.

Letter of Resignation

To High Priest Nikken:

In the Gosho ‘Letter to Ota and Others,’ Nichiren Daishonin states: ‘Chang-an comments: ‘He who injures or brings confusion to the Buddhist Law is an enemy of the Law. If one befriends another but lacks the mercy to correct him, he is in fact his enemy. But he who is willing to reprimand and correct the offender is one who truly understands and defends the Law, a true disciple of the Buddha. He makes it possible for the offender to rid himself of evil, and thus acts like a parent to the offender.’ Because I take these words to heart, I seek to clarify them even at the expense of my life’ (Gosho Zenshu, p. 1003).

At the nationwide Teachers’ Guidance Meeting for priests held on Jan. 6, 1991, you, the high priest, cited a passage from the Gosho, ‘Letter to Toki,’ reading, ‘Ultimately, I am destined to wander alone throughout Japan’ (Gosho Zenshu, p. 964). Referring to this, you said: ‘When I read this passage of the Gosho, tears came to my eyes. I have the same determination as Nichiren Daishonin. No matter what, I will continue to correctly protect the Law even if I have to do so by myself.’ Foreseeing a drastic decrease in the number of believers visiting the head temple after your harsh actions against the Soka Gakkai, you tearfully announced your determination to resolutely protect the true Law no matter how Nichiren Shoshu would be pressed financially. Hearing this, I could not help shedding my own tears as I firmly resolved in my heart to follow the high priest no matter what.

Since then, I have so carefully handled the finances of my temple that ordinary families wonder how we can survive day in and day out with so minimal a budget. Some priests say in an off-handed manner, ‘If you cannot make do, all you have to do is get some support from the head temple,’ or ‘You can use your own savings.’ However, as I assumed the high priest must also be going through tremendously difficult times himself, I exerted myself to survive, economizing in every area. I did so because I wanted to be united in spiritÊin itai doshinÊwith the high priest. Following your guidance, I somehow overcame conflicts with local Gakkai members.

Nevertheless, I have been deeply pained by your ensuing conduct. Frankly, I feel betrayed.

Facing a severe financial crisis, you nevertheless nonchalantly indulged yourself at the classiest hot springs in Okuyugawara, near the head temple. Although local priests following your guidance were suppressing their insecurity and dissatisfaction, and in spite of the anger I felt at your statement at a recent teachers’ guidance meeting in which you said, ‘From now on, I’ll be more careful,’ I tried to convince myself that you deserved a break because of your busy schedule as high priest.

Then another incident was reported in which you indulged in another extravagant party with geisha girls at a hot springs in Nagaoka, Izu. I don’t know when this happened, but the moment I saw the picture of you drinking sake with a geisha girl, I felt my sincerity toward you had been cruelly betrayed. Skipping out on your duty to lead ushitora gongyo, you indulged in drinking and cavorting with a geisha girl. And you have yet to show any remorse.

I am not saying that you should not be allowed to relax at the hot springs to rejuvenate your bodyÊNichiren Daishonin himself visited the hot springs when necessaryÊbut why do you need a geisha girl to attend to your needs? The Daishonin would be astounded at your outrageous conduct as high priest of Nichiren Shoshu. While we are all suffering under such severe circumstances, there should be no priest who has the time or funds to indulge in extravagant journeys to exclusive resorts. Even priests senior in age to you are striving to restore order to Nichiren Shoshu as they attempt to deal with the crisis existing in our sect. If anything, it is not you but the chief priests on the front lines who are concerned about the plight of Nichiren Shoshu. Protected by these priests, you merely issued directions without setting a good example yourself. This betrays the trust all priests have placed in you. When you said you would wander all by yourself, did you mean that you would be wandering from hot spring to hot spring?

What do you think about the current situation in Nichiren Shoshu? As high priest, do you assume everybody will act according to your every command as a matter of course? Your behavior forced me to reconsider my previous evaluation of you and of the current issue with the Soka Gakkai.

I cannot understand your attitude toward the believers. In reply to a question about the movement to encourage Gakkai members to leave the organization, you stated at the nationwide Teachers Guidance Meeting on Aug. 29, 1991, ‘Whether or not believers develop a dislike towards the practice of faith has nothing to do with us, especially you.’ It is hard to believe that such words were actually uttered by someone in your position, whose mission it is to propagate the Law and serve the people. Because they refuse to leave the Gakkai, you say you don’t care about what happens to their faith? If, in order to make them leave the Gakkai, we cause members to harbor doubts about faith, do you say it has nothing to do with the priesthood? Is this what you mean when you say you have been guiding the Gakkai toward correct faith?

At the nationwide Regional Administrators meeting on April 21, 1992, you referred to the small number of believers attending the gokaihi ceremony and nonchalantly stated, ‘Every day, we only have a tiny number of believers, only 100-200, yet we conduct a gokaihi ceremony every day even for such small numbers.’ Certainly after the change in the tozan system, the numbers of pilgrims drastically decreased. However, the sincere faith of these believers who visit the head temple and worship the Dai-Gohonzon with a seeking mind is no different than before the new tozan system. Local chief priests who are assigned to come to the head temple have their round-trip transportation provided for by Nichiren Shoshu. For believers, however, especially those who come from far away, there is a tremendous financial burden even with our now excellent transportation systems. For them to come to the head temple is an enormous challenge in many other ways as well. I wonder how much you as high priest know about the tremendous obstacles they have to go through in order to visit the head temple? Your remark about the small number of participants is not merely a comment on a quantitative matter; it reflects a lack of due compassion towards the believers. It is a statement that compels me to question your integrity.

At the Teachers Guidance Meeting held on Aug. 28, 1992, you made a similar statement: ‘(The Gakkai) says that the high sanctuary should be built by the people, but how many people participated in the construction of (the Sho-Hondo)? Only about one-tenth of the Japanese nation participated in that. How can we say (the Sho-Hondo) was built by the people if only about one-tenth of the population supported it?’ True, we are in the process of kosen-rufu, and mathematically speaking, most of the population of Japan may not be practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism yet. However, when the Sho-Hondo contribution campaign was conducted in 1965, 8 million people in Japan alone sincerely participated. Judging from the total population in those days, which was still shy of 100 million, almost one-tenth of the population participated in making offerings towards the construction of the Sho-Hondo.

More important, for the first time over the 700-year history of Nichiren Shoshu, the practice to Gohonzon has spread not only throughout Japan but all over the world. It goes without saying that it is an unprecedented achievement in the history of Buddhism.

Shakubuku is the most difficult of all activities. For the sake of shakubuku, many Gakkai members have mounted numerous struggles, often being chastised by relatives for their faith and frowned upon by neighbors and friends for their diligent efforts in propagation. Yet, refusing defeat, they have continued their practice for the sake of kosen-rufu. As a result, the Gakkai now has accomplished its present growth. As high priest, is it not your responsibility to wholeheartedly and compassionately praise their precious efforts to propagate the Daishonin’s teachings?

Those who have been devoted to shakubuku may humbly say ‘only about one-tenth of the population,’ but you, who have done almost nothing for the sake of propagation, ignore their painstaking efforts and their struggle and mock them by saying ‘only about one-tenth of the population.’ Are you qualified to say such things? In light of these statements, I cannot help concluding that your character is merciless and arrogant.

Your statement of May 28, 1992, like your statement of Aug. 20, 1991, is difficult to believe as coming from someone in the position of high priest. You said: ‘The Buddha wisdom is so deep that the general public cannot fathom it. Accordingly, no matter how many half-wits may gather, whether it be 1,000 or 10,000, their ideas are far inferior to one thought by a Buddha.’ Regardless of context, the use of the word ‘half-wit’ abundantly indicates the contempt in which you hold ordinary lay believers. You casually say ‘those half-wits,’ but has it not been the stance of Nichiren Shoshu that Soka Gakkai members are Nichiren Shoshu believers first and Gakkai members second? If this is the case, then does the high priest consider his own sect’s believers to be half-wits? If this is so, then the term ‘half-wits’ must not only have applied to Gakkai members but to the attending Hokkeko members as well, who have steadfastly followed you. Those attending who had an ounce of faith in you were also included in the category of half-wits.

Suppose the prime minister of a nation referred to the populace as half-wits. He would immediately be held responsible for such remarks. As a leader in the world of faith, where compassion ought to be basic, you should be held even more responsible. You are at the apex of a religious group capable of saving the people, yet you make disparaging remarks. This both saddens and angers me.

Your expression ‘half-wits’ was edited in the July edition of Dai-Nichiren, the journal of Nichiren Shoshu, to read, ‘common mortals strongly deluded by the three poisons who possess unenlightened vision and wisdom.’

Recently, the Seattle incident has become an issue of major magnitude in Nichiren Shoshu, yet instead of saying resolutely ‘This is false,’ you deny it with a coy smile and long-winded, convoluted excuses. Do you think the priests are convinced by your statements? Mrs. Hiroe Clow, whose disclosure the priesthood has denounced as lies, brought suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against you, Nichiren Shoshu Temples, the Nichiren Shoshu Hokkeko Joint Federation and the Hokkeko organization in the United States. The case was accepted by the court as reported in various newspapers. This is truly a first in the history of Nichiren ShoshuÊa high priest is sued for libel by a believer. If you really did not do what Mrs. Clow claims, why not take legal action against her? Are you aware that you cannot simply brush it off by calling it a lie? The Law is on the brink of extinction in Nichiren Shoshu. No matter what action you may take against Mrs. Clow, everything you do will be seen as an attempt to shift the focus of the issue.

In the Kegi Sho (On Formalities), the ninth high priest, Nichiu Shonin, states: ‘A priest of the Hokke sect is hoped to be a master of the world. Therefore, as priests of the Hokke sect, we should behave like court nobles among our believers.’ Nittatsu Shonin also said: ‘At the time of kosen-rufu, the high priest of this sect is destined to become the teacher of the sovereign of the nation. Therefore, he should behave respectably like a public servant among his disciples.’ As high priest, you imitate the extravagant behavior of the court nobles of the Heian period, who indulged themselves in lascivious pleasures. While looking down on believers and the general public, referring to them as half-wits, your conduct is far from that of ‘a teacher of the world.’ It is truly disappointing. Does the harmonious unity of priesthood and laity, which you advocate, involve holding lay believers in contempt? Such things are unknown to the Hokkeko members or any believers directly connected to my temple, because I have kept all of your scandalous affairs from their attention. No matter how concerned I became about your behavior, I could not disclose the true picture of your behavior to the believers who gather around me. They rarely have the chance to see you directly, so they only know about you through the publicationsÊDai-NichirenÊor the words of other priests. Those who trust their chief priest wholeheartedly believe in a false image of the high priest, which each chief priest has created. I am deeply sorry for this and I deeply regret my past behavior in this respect.

You and the Administrative Office say you have given repeated guidance to the Soka Gakkai and Honorary President Ikeda based on faith. Practically, however, how did you give them ‘repeated guidance based on faith?’ This sounds to me like an empty statement. All you have done is send them notifications and ultimatums. Does sending these documents constitute ‘repeated guidance based on faith’? If you had any intent to guide the Soka Gakkai and Honorary President Ikeda based on faith, then why did you not elect to meet directly with the honorary president and talk to him before dismissing him from the position of sokoto, head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations? If you really meant to ‘give guidance based on faith,’ why did you employ such a foolish method as trying to communicate only through formal correspondence. You should have lost no time in directly meeting with him. You unilaterally closed the door to dialogue. It is you and the priesthood who have completely shunned dialogue.

In dealing with the Myoshinko problem, the late high priest, Nittatsu Shonin, went to Myoen-ji temple himself to meet with the Asai family, who led the lay group, to resolve the issue. After many twists and turns, he had to eventually excommunicate the Myoshinko, yet he met with them personally before taking any such action. Why did you fail to take similar action in the current dispute? It seems to me that you had made up your mind from the beginning to excommunicate the Soka Gakkai and personally expel Honorary President Ikeda from Nichiren Shoshu.

Isn’t it true that Operation C originated from within Nichiren Shoshu? At first I thought it could not be so. However, as I recollect, the priesthood never denied the existence of Operation C, not even once. I cannot disclose the name, but one of my friends, a priest, clearly told me that Operation C did in fact exist. Eventually, the entire text of Operation C was revealed. In view of the series of unreasonable actions taken by the priesthood in an obvious effort to follow the outline of that plan against the Soka Gakkai, there is no denying that Operation C actually existed in Nichiren Shoshu.

Also, rumors spread in Nichiren Shoshu that priests who left the sect had received a sum of money from the Soka Gakkai. You personally charged that Takudo Ikeda, a priest who left the head temple, received Š50 million from the Soka Gakkai. As a result, Mr. Ikeda took the case to court, suing you for libel. It is obvious to me that he received no money from the Soka Gakkai.

Moreover, you have promoted all kinds of erroneous information and ideas about the Soka Gakkai. You once mentioned that all articles concerning this issue appearing in the Seikyo Shimbun and Soka Shimpo were lies; however, it has become common knowledge among the priesthood that most of the articles are true. The priests know the truth. You have failed in to correct the corruption in Nichiren Shoshu. You have been preoccupied with inventing disparaging statements about the Gakkai and showing interest only in those reports that speak ill of it. Even if there are some areas which need to be improved in the Soka Gakkai, isn’t it true that priests should first be strict with themselves?

When we talk about guiding believers to correct faith, the priesthood should first be strict with themselves and set a great example in their attitude of faith. It is only natural that lay believers do not want to listen to corrupt priests.

The current situation with the priesthood is unsatisfactory. Because you are completely controlled by your emotions, a resolution will not be reached as long as you are in office.

On Aug. 28 of this year, you said, ‘(Ikeda) is a horrible foolÊhe is the worst, most stupid of animals.’ As such remarks demonstrate, the current issue has been caused chiefly by your hatred of Honorary President Ikeda and the Soka Gakkai. The current situation is not a Gakkai issue or a priesthood issue. It is your issueÊit is a problem with the high priest. I should have become aware of this much earlier.

Because you are being controlled by your hatred of the Gakkai, you quickly responded to the movement to dissolve the Soka Gakkai staged by Mr. Toshimitsu Ryu, an ex-leader of the Soka Gakkai who left the organization. You ordered both priesthood and laity to involve themselves in this anti-Gakkai petition campaign. Common sense declares that this kind of campaign has no legal bearing. It was simply intended to rival the Gakkai’s signature campaign demanding your resignation. You intended to strengthen the unity within Nichiren Shoshu and to judge who was faithful to you, with empty results.

Mr. Ryu is said to be planning a drive to demand that the Gakkai return zaimu contributions made in the past. This drive will naturally have no legal bearing, and I sincerely hope that you will not cooperate with such a foolish idea. I hope you will thus refrain from causing any further trouble for the believers. Such actions usually produce nothing. This should be obvious from the results of other cases in which the return of contributions made to the Gakkai were demanded by disgruntled members, including a law suit brought against the Soka Gakkai in 1983.

Why, as high priest, do you value only disgruntled ex-leaders of the Gakkai such as Mr. Ryu and Mr. Fukushima. Why do you listen to them alone? The people you should speak with are Honorary President Ikeda and President Akiya. When you avoid this, we have no choice but to conclude that you are operating out of base emotionalism.

As a priest of a branch temple, I have forced myself to believe in the validity of the priesthood in hopes that I can thereby protect the sect. I have been seriously trying to raise Hokkeko membersÊon Aug. 30, I conducted an inaugural meeting for a Hokkeko chapter at my temple. In the meantime, I dared to put aside all my worries and anxieties about your behavior and the many unreasonable policies adopted by the Administrative Office. However, I realized that through my actions I have been contributing to hampering the progress of kosen-rufu. I have been living under the illusion that the high priest and the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood are right. While I did not personally attend the teachers’ seminar on Aug. 29 of this year, I was told by a fellow priest that at the end of the meeting you said to those present: ‘Please don’t play around. Do your best.’ Such a statement mocks those priests who have been sincerely dedicated to their duties in their local areas while you spend your time at exclusive spas. How do you view your own conduct? When I heard this, my faith in you collapsed. All conscientious priests are now trying their best in their struggle to overcome their financial difficulties. None have been wasting time seeking pleasure as you have been.

When I witness such behavior, the contradictions of your character become apparent. Your statement, ‘Don’t play around. Do your best’ are instructions I would like to tell you. I am frightened by your madness and delusion. As I prepared to leave the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, I recalled the face of each Hokkeko member of this temple. It was difficult and painful for me. On many occasions I tried to deal with the issue passively. However, I cannot hide my true feelings from the Hokkeko members any longer. Doing so will betray the faith of those believers. I am now resolved to leave Nichiren Shoshu.

From now on, while revering the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism, I will dedicate my life to the reform of Nichiren Shoshu to the fullest extent of my ability. I am resolved to devote myself to world kosen-rufu, the intent of Nichiren Daishonin.

The majority of the priests in Nichiren Shoshu have already abandoned you in their hearts. Are you not aware of this? You are perhaps the only person ignorant of this fact.

Yet this is the result you have invited upon yourself. High Priest Nikken, please refrain from further tarnishing the position of high priest. I only hope you will resign courageously.

When I leave Nichiren Shoshu, I know that many other priests who remain at the head temple will say I had no faith from the beginning. Last, I would like to quote part of a declaration made by some of the priests who left Nichiren Shoshu before I did. I share their resolve. I never dreamed the day would come that I would have to send you, the high priest, a letter of this nature. It is painful, and I am filled with disappointment. Yet, I sincerely appreciate all the guidance you have given me until today.

Always protecting the dignity of the seat of high priest which successive high priests cherished, our aim is to reconstruct Nichiren Shoshu for the sake of kosen-rufu. Our intent is to restore the original significance of the heritage of Nichiren Shoshu, which was passed on by Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. Based on this quest, we strongly urge you and other executive priests who have destroyed the sanctity of the seat of high priest to deeply repent and resign. Without your resignation, it will be impossible to realize the ideals of reconstructing and the reviving Nichiren Shoshu. This we proclaim with all our hearts.

I wholeheartedly anticipate your courageous decision.

September 24, 1992

Yuto Hirokawa
Daiei-ji temple