Soka Spirit
Behind the SGI's Decision to Issue the Gohonzon

Volume 3, No. 5 (Part 1) –
November 08, 1993

On Sept. 7, adopting a proposal from Sendo Narita, the chief priest of Joen-ji temple in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, the SGI announced that it would start issuing Gohonzon, reproduced from a Gohonzon transcribed in 1720 by Nichikan Shonin, the 26th high priest of Taiseki-ji temple, to its members worldwide. [See the Sept. 13 World Tribune for the details of the announcement and questions and answers on the conferral of the Gohonzon.]

Many SGI members who have been practicing without the Gohonzon since Nichiren Shoshu’s refusal to grant them the Gohonzon are overjoyed at the news. And many others are filled with hope, looking forward to a bright future of the spread of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism and a flourishing of the Soka Renaissance toward a world that embraces truly humanistic ideals.

We can grasp the significance of the SGI’s recent decision from the following two perspectives: First, Nichiren Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon for the sake of all people throughout the world. His fundamental intent and desire in doing so was to make the Gohonzon available to all who sincerely seek to practice his teachings, thus enabling them to establish indestructible happiness through their faith and practice.

Second, in the development of the recent priesthood issue, Nikken Abe, abusing his position as high priest, arbitrarily stopped granting the Gohonzon to SGI members with the express purpose of destroying the SGI, which, since its inception, had been single-mindedly promoting kosen-rufu and supporting the priesthood. Nikken’s action completely counters the Daishonin’s fundamental intent and spirit behind inscribing the Gohonzon.

In light of these circumstances Ê and based on its responsibility as the only body of believers selflessly and harmoniously practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism in modern times Ê the SGI has decided to make the Gohonzon available to its membership. The SGI’s decision was made solely to protect the Daishonin’s Buddhism, to reply to the sincerity of those who have been sincerely seeking the Gohonzon and to further promote kosen-rufu, thus fulfilling the expectation that the Daishonin placed in his future disciples.

The priesthood claims: ‘The Soka Gakkai is a group that has been excommunicated by Nichiren Shoshu, and has absolutely no relationship with Nichiren Shoshu.’ (NST News Special Issue, p. 1) Despite their denial of any relationship to the Gakkai, however, priests still seem to be obsessed and grow nervous about the SGI’s every action: ‘The Soka Gakkai announced that they will begin to independently bestow Gohonzons and, thus declaring complete independence from Nichiren Shoshu.’ (ibid., p. 2) From these two statements, it is clear what status the priesthood expects us, as SGI members, to maintain: excommunicated, but dependent.

Since the SGI’s recent announcement, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and the Hokkeko (a group of lay believers affiliated with the Nichiren Shoshu temples) have been propounding and spreading groundless accusations that have no basis in the Gosho or in any of the Daishonin’s teachings, calling the Gohonzon issued by the SGI ‘counterfeit.’

The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood asserts that the Gohonzon issued by the SGI are ‘counterfeit’ because:

1. They have not been authorized by the High Priest.

2. They have not received the legitimate ‘Opening of the Eyes’ ceremony.
3. They are not issued by the Head Temple. (ibid., p. 9)

This issue of the SGI-USA Newsletter attempts to address these and other accusations brought by the priesthood and demonstrate the validity of the SGI’s decision in light of the Daishonin’s teachings.

The SGI is the only group of believers that has brought the Daishonin’s Buddhism to the entire world, carrying out the Daishonin’s will Ê kosen-rufu Ê in reality. With conviction in the SGI’s profound mission for kosen-rufu, and by further polishing our faith and practice, we can show Nikken and his supporters, through actual proof, the great power of the Gohonzon. As the Daishonin states: ‘Even more valuable than reason and documentary proof is the proof of actual fact’ (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 6, p. 111).



The following is a point-by-point rebuttal to charges made by the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and published in a document called ‘NST News, Special Issue: Soka Gakkai Announces Issuance of Counterfeit Gohonzons,’ in which the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood argues that the Gakkai does not have the right to confer the Gohonzon on its members.

Items in the boxes are headlines and quotes taken from NST News, Special Issue. The text in the shaded boxes below are printed exactly as they appear in the NST News. Any regular brackets ‘[ ]’ are as they appear in the original text. Any special brackets ‘{ }’ include text we have added for the sake of clarity, based upon the full text of the NST document. ‘NST’ is the acronym for the religious corporation ‘Nichiren Shoshu Temples’ in the United States.

NST Allegation #1

{Gohonzon issued by the SGI are counterfeit because} they have not been authorized by the high priest.

One should never worship anything as a Gohonzon that has not been authorized as such by the High Priest, who has inherited the Heritage of the Law, even if it was inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin himself, or even if it is a mandala transcribed by Nikko Shonin or any of the successive High Priests. This has been a basic tenet of Nichiren Shoshu for seven hundred years (NST News, Special Issue, p. 3-4).

Rebuttal of Allegation #1

(i) Nichiren Daishonin, in a letter known as ‘The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon’ writes: ‘Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo…. The Gohonzon is found in faith alone. As the sutra states, ‘Only with faith can one enter Buddhahood’ (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 213).

Here, the Daishonin teaches us that it is our faith that taps the Gohonzon’s power, and that the locus of that power is within us. If we believe in the Daishonin’s words, how can we accept the idea that anyone, by virtue of his or her assumed religious authority, is able to ‘switch on’ or ‘switch off’ the Gohonzon’s power? Yet Nikken would have us believe that he possesses such power.

According to the above NST statement, the authority of the high priest alone gives the Gohonzon its power. Even Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin himself, the priesthood asserts, have power only by dint of Nikken’s permission. Are we therefore supposed to believe that the Dai-Gohonzon, which the Daishonin bestowed upon all humanity, has power only by virtue of Nikken’s authority? What would Nichiren Daishonin think of this statement?

(ii) The Gohonzon issued by the SGI will be reproduced from a Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan Shonin, the 26th high priest of Taiseki-ji, based upon the Dai-Gohonzon. In terms of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, it is a valid object of worship.

(iii) The Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon for the sake of all people throughout the world. This is exemplified in the Daishonin’s words, ‘Showing profound compassion for those ignorant of the gem of ichinen sanzen, the True Buddha wrapped it within the single phrase Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, with which he then adorned the necks of those living in the Latter Day’ (MW-1, 82). Especially for those who sincerely sought to practice his teachings, the Daishonin spared nothing of himself to inscribe the Gohonzon. He wrote to Abutsu-bo, a sincere elderly believer in Sado, saying, ‘Faith like yours is so extremely rare that I will inscribe the Treasure Tower especially for you’ (MW-1, 30).

Nowhere in the Gosho does the Daishonin state that we need permission from a high priest to tap the unlimited powers of the Buddha and the Law embodied in the Gohonzon or to benefit from our practice. The Daishonin himself states, ‘Whether or not your prayer is answered depends upon your faith; [if it is not,] the fault in no way lies with me, Nichiren’ (MW-5, 305). The Daishonin here admonishes us to depend on no one Ê not even the Daishonin himself Ê and nothing other than our faith to answer our prayers. As he wrote: ‘Faith alone is what really matters. No matter how earnestly Nichiren prays for you, if you lack faith, it will be like trying to set fire to wet tinder. Spur yourself to muster the power of faith’ (MW-1, 246).

(iv) In the past, many branch temples of Nichiren Shoshu reproduced and issued Gohonzon on their own without the high priest’s permission. [See ‘Historical Perspective on the Transcription of the Gohonzon’ on p. 2.] If the priesthood continues to insist that the SGI’s Gohonzon are counterfeit because they are not authorized by the high priest, it would have to deny its own recorded history. Examining this history, it becomes apparent that the absolute, exclusive authority over the Gohonzon by the high priest is a ‘basic tenet’ that exists exclusively in the imagination of the present-day priesthood.

NST Allegation #2

The high priest is endowed with complete authority of the Gohonzon.

The transmission document Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon Transmitted From Master to Disciple states, ‘This [the transcription of the characters ‘Nichiren’ on the Gohonzon by the transcribing High Priest] specifically means that each High Priest corresponds [in function] to Nichiren’ (Fuji Shugaku Yoshu, vol. 1, p. 32). This indicates that all of the doctrines relating to the Gohonzon are transmitted throughout the ten thousand years of the Latter Day of the Law through the exclusive transmission of the Heritage of the Law from one High Priest to the next. It is in this that the solemn transmission of the Entity of the Law exists. (NST News, Special Issue, p. 3)

Rebuttal to Allegation #2

(i) This passage from ‘Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon’ does not refer to the transmission of secret teachings about the Gohonzon exclusively through the successive high priests or imply the existence of a mystic spiritual entity (‘the heritage of the entity of the Law’) possessed and transmitted only by high priests.

‘Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon’ records the Daishonin’s orally transmitted teachings and Nikko Shonin’s comments on the meaning of various inscriptions on the Gohonzon, as well as instructions on the transcription of the Gohonzon. This particular passage simply indicates that when transcribing the Gohonzon, the high priest must write ‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Ê Nichiren’ down the center, exactly as the Daishonin did.

After the Daishonin’s passing, his senior disciples Ê other than Nikko Shonin Ê wrote ‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’ down the center of the Gohonzon, but added their own names below instead of ‘Nichiren.’ They regarded the inscription ‘Nichiren’ under ‘Nam-myoho-renge-kyo’ on the Gohonzon only as a signature, and failed to understand the significance of the oneness of the Person and the Law this expressed. In light of these circumstances, Nikko Shonin explains in this passage from ‘Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon’ the importance of writing ‘Nichiren’ on the Gohonzon. Could Nikko Shonin have intended the words ‘each high priest corresponds to Nichiren’ as a magic formula that automatically turns each high priest into a true Buddha? It does not seem likely. There is nothing magical or supernatural in Buddhism. Nikko Shonin meant this as an admonition to each high priest that he is transcribing the Gohonzon on the Daishonin’s behalf, not his own. He is instructing them to write the Daishonin’s name, not their own, on the Gohonzon. Instead of taking Nikko Shonin’s spirit to heart, Nikken has completely twisted it, trying to use this admonition as a carte blanche endorsement of his own authority.

(ii) Gohonzon issued by the SGI are reproduced from the Gohonzon that Nichikan Shonin transcribed in exact accord with the instructions of the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin, including those in the ‘Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon.’ They are therefore correct and valid Gohonzon of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.

(iii) All of the so-called transfer documents at Taiseki-ji already have been published. Regarding the transfer documents that he himself received as the 66th high priest, Nittatsu Shonin once stated: ‘Nichiko Shonin [the 59th high priest who was also a noted Buddhist scholar] has published everything. There is, therefore, nothing special or secret about it.’ There exists no secret teaching in Daishonin’s Buddhism possessed exclusively by the high priest.

NST Allegation #3

When 35th High Priest Nichion Shonin received the Transmission of the Law, he was honored with the following words from 33rd High Priest Nichigen Shonin.

Nichigen Shonin gave me the instruction, ‘Once you have accepted and stored this ultimate secret Law [of the Gohonzon] within yourself, [the inner realization of] Nichiren, Nikko, Nichimoku, and all the successive High Priests up to Nichi’in, Nichigen, and including you, is all one entity. Realize that at this point in the Latter Day of the Law it is you Nichion who is the present High Priest possessing the three virtues of sovereign, teacher and parent, so that all the Daimoku chanted by those who believe in the teachings of Taisekiji is the Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the secret Law of your inner realization.

The 56th High Priest Nichio Shonin, further explained:

The Transmission of the Entity of the Law entails the legitimate entrustment of the golden utterance [of the Buddha]. If one has not been successively entrusted with the golden utterance, one is decidedly unable to transcribe the Gohonzon.

How does the Soka Gakkai interpret these passage? It must be understood that the profound doctrines relating to the Entity of the Law of the Gohonzon are definitely transmitted solely from one High Priest to the next, and that complete authority concerning the Gohonzon is possessed by only one person Ê the High Priest (NST News, Special Issue, p. 10).

Rebuttal to Allegation #3

(i) ‘The secret Law’ in Nichigen’s words above refers to nothing other than the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws. It does not refer to a ‘secret entity’ possessed only by the high priest to the exclusion of all others.
There are no secrets in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. It is not a hermetic, esoteric or occult teaching. The ‘Three Great Secret Laws’ (indicating the Dai-Gohonzon, Daimoku and the High Sanctuary of true Buddhism) are called so because before Nichiren Daishonin, they were ‘hidden in the depths’ of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Daishonin revealed and clarified them for all humanity so that all people could attain Buddhahood equally in the Latter Day of the Law.

When we have faith in the Dai-Gohonzon [‘the secret Law’] and chant daimoku, we can manifest the Daishonin’s life-condition, that is, the Buddha nature, from within our own lives. Thus we become ‘one entity’ with the Daishonin. In the above passage, Nichigen encourages his successor, Nichion, that he is ‘one entity’ with the Daishonin by virtue of his faith in the Dai-Gohonzon.

During this time, Taiseki-ji’s validity was being criticized and strongly attacked by other Nichiren sects. This statement thus instilled confidence in Nichion that he, among all the other high priests of the various sects, was directly connected to Nichiren Daishonin because of his faith in the Dai-Gohonzon. This statement was not intended to exclude everyone else from the possibility of having such a connection with the Daishonin. Nor was it meant to imply that Nichion, simply by becoming high priest, was automatically equivalent to the true Buddha himself, regardless of any faith or effort on his part. Nichigen’s words are to emphasize the importance of accepting the Dai-Gohonzon with sincere faith, to assert the head temple’s validity based on faith in the Dai-Gohonzon, and to emphasize the important responsibility of the high priest to protect the Daishonin’s Buddhism.

(ii) Immediately prior to the passage from, Nichio Shonin quoted by NST above, Nichio defines ‘the entity of the Law’ as the Dai-Gohonzon, stating: ‘The entity of the Law specifically transferred is the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, which is enshrined at this temple.’ (Bennaku Kanjin Sho, p. 212). In fact, Nichio Shonin (56th high priest, who served from 1889-1908) was the first to ever use the phrase ‘heritage of the entity of the Law.’ The term ‘the transmission of the heritage of the entity of the Law,’ which the priesthood now claims is a secret entity only possessed by high priests, actually indicates the transference of the responsibility to protect the Dai-Gohonzon and preserve it for the sake of humanity.

‘The legitimate entrustment of the golden utterance’ indicates those transfer documents pertaining to the Gohonzon, such as the ‘Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon.’ Here Nichio Shonin emphasizes the importance that those who transcribe the Gohonzon be those who understand the instructions of the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin regarding the Gohonzon.

Gohonzon issued by the SGI are produced from a Gohonzon that Nichikan Shonin transcribed exactly following the instructions of the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. Therefore, they do not contradict in the least what Nichio Shonin states in this passage.

(iii) The above two passages by Nichigen and Nichio were written to exalt the orthodoxy of Taiseki-ji temple based on faith in the Dai-Gohonzon over other Nichiren denominations. It is important to bear in mind the historical circumstances behind the writings of the successive high priests in order to grasp their intent and significance.

(iv) Nowhere in the Gosho does the Daishonin mention a ‘heritage of the entity of the Law’ transmitted only through successive high priests. When he writes of ‘the heritage’ (Jpn. kechimyaku) in the Gosho, the Daishonin is referring to the heritage or lifeblood of faith. He states:

Be resolved to summon forth the great power of your faith, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the prayer that your faith will be steadfast and correct at the moment of your death. Never seek any other way to inherit the ultimate law and manifest it in your life.Ÿ Without the lifeblood of faith, it would be useless to embrace the Lotus Sutra. (MW-1, 25)

The heritage of the Law Ê the lifeblood of faith Ê is the universal means by which all people can attain enlightenment. The concept that the heritage of the Law was intended as the exclusive property of any select ‘lineage’ of persons is an idea, in fact, that the Daishonin vigorously fought against.

The Daishonin wrote: ‘Nichiren has been trying to awaken all the people of Japan to faith in the Lotus Sutra so that they too can share the heritage and attain Buddhahood. But instead they attacked me time and again, and finally had me banished to this island’ (MW-1, 24). The priesthood’s claim of an exclusive right to the heritage of the Law is a feudal concept that clearly betrays the spirit of equality for which the Daishonin risked his own life.

NST Allegation #4

The Soka Gakkai has absolutely no qualification to confer the Gohonzon.

The concept of ‘practice towards kosen-rufu’ which denies the Transmission of the Heritage of the true Law from High Priest to High Priest is nothing but an empty theory far removed from the fundamental teachings of the Daishonin.Ÿ A passage from the Gosho ‘On the True Cause’ reads:

[The documents of] this Heritage [of the school of the Essential Teachings of the Lotus Sutra] and [the documents of] the essential matters of the Gohonzon are documents of the Transmission of the Law from Nichiren to the successive master of the seat of the Law. They concern the Transmission bestowed [on Bodhisattva Jogyo] at the Treasure Tower, the Transmission of the Heritage of the Law exclusively from one to the next.

Therefore, absolutely no one is qualified to bypass the High Priest and arbitrarily manufacture and confer the Gohonzon of Nichiren Shoshu, even in the form of wood block reproductions of a Gohonzon (NST News, pp. 11-12).

Rebuttal to Allegation #4

(i) According to Nichiko Shonin, the 59th high priest and renowned Buddhist scholar, the passage quoted in the above statement was added later to the text of ‘On the True Cause’ by someone other than the Daishonin or Nikko Shonin. (In The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 1, p. 8, Nichiko Shonin underlines this passage and adds a cautionary footnote explaining that it was appended at a later date, long after the Daishonin wrote the body of the letter.)

(ii) The purpose of the passage quoted by NST is to assert that the Daishonin’s important writings such as this Gosho, ‘On the True Cause,’ and other transfer documents regarding the Gohonzon, including ‘Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon,’ had been transmitted through the high priests at Taiseki-ji.

However, these writings were hardly ‘secret documents’ known only to the successive high priests at Taiseki-ji. The original manuscript of ‘On the True Cause’ does not exist. Nichiko Shonin had to compile the text of this Gosho based on a copy made by Nichiji Shonin, the fifth high priest of Taiseki-ji, and two other copies made and preserved at temples of other Nichiren schools (The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 1, p. 8). Nichiko Shonin also had to rely on a copy made by a priest from a different Nichiren school in order to compile ‘Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon’ (The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 1, p. 33). It is strange that Nichiren Shoshu has been claiming exclusive possession of these documents when Nichiko Shonin himself had to go outside of Taiseki-ji to gain access to them.

Because all of the Daishonin’s important writings and transfer documents already have been published, the high priest possesses no secret teachings that he alone is privy to, nor does the priesthood in general. This passage, which was added to the end of ‘On the True Cause’ after the Daishonin’s and Nikko Shonin’s time, still in no way supports Nikken’s claim to exclusive authority over the Gohonzon. The term ‘exclusive transmission’ refers to the Daishonin’s designation of Nikko Shonin as his legitimate successor. This was based on Nikko Shonin’s faith and practice, and his courage to endure persecutions alongside the Daishonin. Because he practiced with the same spirit and intent as Nichiren Daishonin, he was qualified to inherit the Daishonin’s teachings for posterity.

(iii) Regarding the heritage of the Law, the Daishonin states: ‘The heritage of the Lotus Sutra flows within the lives of those who never forsake it in any lifetime whatsoever Ê whether in the past, the present or the future’ (MW-1, 23). In this Gosho passage, the Daishonin clearly defines the heritage of the Law as our faith in the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

In ‘The True Entity of Life,’ the Daishonin further explains the important connection of our faith to kosen-rufu: ‘No matter what, maintain your faith as a votary of the Lotus Sutra, and forever exert yourself as Nichiren’s disciple. If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth. And since you are a Bodhisattva of the Earth, there is not the slightest doubt that you have been a disciple of the Buddha from the remotest past’ (MW-1, 93).

In the passage ‘If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth’ lies an essential aspect of our faith. Those who are of the same mind as Nichiren Daishonin are those who practice with the awareness that they are Bodhisattvas of the Earth, that is, those who fight for others’ happiness for the sake of kosen-rufu. Our dedication to kosen-rufu Ê to the peace and happiness of all people Ê is fundamental to our faith and is the source of good fortune that permeates past, present and future.

As the Daishonin wrote, ‘Without the lifeblood of faith, it would be useless to embrace the Lotus Sutra’ (MW-1, 25). Even if one does gongyo and chants daimoku to the Gohonzon, if he acts counter to the ‘mind of Nichiren,’ in other words, acts to interfere with kosen-rufu or to harm those who strive to accomplish it, that person will be destroying his own good fortune.

Without faith and practice dedicated to kosen-rufu, no one, not even a high priest, can inherit the lifeblood of faith from the Daishonin. This is Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.

(iv) The SGI has developed to the extent it has because it is the only group of believers in modern times that unstintingly practices the Daishonin’s Buddhism in harmonious unity, with the aim of accomplishing kosen-rufu. Many millions of people have changed their karma, developed good fortune and shown proof of victory in their lives by practicing together in the SGI. This is clear evidence that the lifeblood of faith from the Daishonin is alive and pulsating within the SGI.

In this regard, Nichiren Daishonin wrote:

All disciples and believers of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with one mind (itai doshin), transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death. Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren’s propagation. When you are so united, even the great hope for kosen-rufu can be fulfilled without fail. But if any of Nichiren’s disciples should disrupt the unity of itai doshin, he will destroy his own castle from within. (MW-1, 23)

The Daishonin bestowed the Gohonzon upon all the people of the world. He never intended it for possession by only a few.

And the role and responsibility of making the Gohonzon available for those who sincerely seek to practice the Daishonin’s Buddhism naturally rest with the group of believers who are united in working toward the goal of kosen-rufu. With this qualification and responsibility, based on the Daishonin’s Buddhism, the SGI is conferring the Gohonzon upon its members.

NST Allegation #5

‘Faith based on the Dai-Gohonzon’ without pilgrimage to the Head Temple is an obvious contradiction.

As Nichiren Daishonin proclaims, ‘I, Nichiren, infuse my life into sumi and inscribed the Gohonzon,’ The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary enshrined at Taisekiji is the spirit and embodiment of the true Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin. How can people who do not wish to worship the Dai-Gohonzon call themselves believers with a direct connection to the Daishonin?Ÿ We must always bear in mind that regardless of the time or circumstances, there can be no true means of attaining Buddhahood if one separates oneself from the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary and from the Head Temple Taisekiji (NST News, Special Issue, pp. 12-13).

Rebuttal to Allegation #5

(i) Our faith in the Dai-Gohonzon has nothing to do with our physical proximity to the Dai-Gohonzon. The Daishonin inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon for the sake of all people. When we pray and dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu, our faith rests solidly in the Dai-Gohonzon because we are in complete accord with the Daishonin’s intent in revealing it.

We may be oceans apart from the Dai-Gohonzon. Many of us have never seen the Dai-Gohonzon. But as long as we have faith, when we do gongyo and chant daimoku to our personal Gohonzon, or even, when necessary, to a blank wall, we are actually worshipping the Dai-Gohonzon.

Because parents love their children and children care about their parents, they remain as parents and children. Some children live far away from their parents, but what binds or separates them as parents and children is their love or its absence. Likewise, what makes it possible for us to connect with the Daishonin’s life and tap the same Buddha nature in our own lives is nothing other than our spirit of faith to seek the Daishonin’s heart. As the Daishonin states: ‘The Gohonzon is found in faith alone’ (MW-1, 213).

To Sennichi-ama, the elderly wife of Abutsu-bo, who lived on the remote island of Sado and probably would never have a chance to see the Daishonin again, he wrote:

It is a thousand ri across the sea and mountains from Sado to this province. You, as a woman, have held fast to your faith in the Lotus Sutra; and over the years you have repeatedly sent your husband here to visit me in your place. Surely the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni, Taho and all other Buddhas of the ten directions know of your devotion…. Though you remain in Sado, your heart has come to this province.

The way of attaining Buddhahood is just like this. Although we live in the impure land, our minds reside at Eagle Peak. Merely seeing each other’s face would in itself be insignificant. What matters is one’s heart. (MW-5, 288-89)

How enraged the Daishonin would be to learn of someone who boasts that he can sever this beautiful, heart-to-heart bond between master and disciple while claiming to be heir to a secret lineage! From this Gosho, it is clear that what is most important in our practice is not our physical proximity to the Dai-Gohonzon but our sincere ‘heart of faith’ dedicated to kosen-rufu.

In another Gosho the Daishonin admonishes us to ‘Believe in the Gohonzon with your whole heart’ (MW-1, 120). Yet he never wrote anything to the effect that ‘proximity to the Dai-Gohonzon is so crucial, you must always strive to worship it directly. Therefore, you must follow and abide by the wishes of whomever may possess it, no matter how malicious or self-serving their intention, since they alone hold the key to your enlightenment.’

Nichiren Daishonin, whose state of life is described as that of ‘the Buddha of absolute freedom,’ would never intend our faith to be so dependent on the whims of others. The priesthood’s intent in emphasizing that we must physically worship the Dai-Gohonzon is none other than to force our dependence upon them, since they now physically possess the Dai-Gohonzon. There is a saying that ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law.’ When it comes to the ‘Buddhist Law,’ however, our sincere faith and practice, not possession, is the crucial factor.

(ii) Currently, a visit to Taiseki-ji, which is controlled by a corrupt priesthood, and worshipping the Dai-Gohonzon, involves mandatory offerings to Nikken and his supporters who slander the Daishonin’s Buddhism and contrive to dismantle and destroy the SGI. To make offerings to such people is equivalent to supporting their intent and thus complying with their offense.

In this regard, the Daishonin wrote: ‘Though one may perform meritorious deeds, if they are directed toward that which is not true, then they may bring great evil but they will never result in good’ (MW-6, 281). Therefore, from the standpoint of faith, SGI members have refrained from visiting Taiseki-ji, even if their desire has been simply to see the Dai-Gohonzon.