Volume 4, No. 3 (Part 2)
June 20, 1994
The Soka Gakkai’s True Path, the History of the Priesthood’s Corruption and the Shoshinkai Incident (continued)
Question 2: Definition of the Treasure of the Priest
You make your assertion that all high priests are the Treasure of the Priest using a quote from Nichikan Shonin’s “The Three Robes of This Sect.”
Nichikan Shonin strictly defined the Three Treasures of the Daishonin’s Buddhism in the Toryu Gyoji Sho (On the Practice of This School).
As separate guidance, he also includes instruction on prayers to be offered by priests in the course of daily practice in “The Three Robes of This Sect.” The section that you cite actually appears in an explanation of the significance of prayer beads. The successive high priests are mentioned in this section, following after Nichimoku Shonin and separate from Nikko Shonin. It is nothing other than evil and deliberate distortion that you ignore the strict definition in “On the Practice of This School.”
What does your master, Nikken, have to say on this matter?
At a guidance meeting for assistant priests on March 31, 1983, Nikken stated the following:
This [the issue of the Treasure of the Priest] is a matter on which my late master [Nittatsu Shonin], in the interest of eliminating any confusion, gave precise direction. This clear-cut guideline appears in the discussion of the “three treasures of the essential teaching of the Buddhism of sowing” that is found at the end of the Toryu Gyoji Sho in the Six-Volume Writings.
This writing clearly sets forth the three treasures of the essential teaching of the Buddhism of sowing from a doctrinal standpoint. It designates as the treasure of the Law the Great Mandala…and designates Nichiren Daishonin…as the treasure of the Buddha…and designates the second high priest, Nikko Shonin…as the Treasure of the Priest.
In other words, Nichiren Daishonin, and he alone, is the treasure of the Buddha, and Nikko Shonin is the treasure of the Priest.Fundamentally,…we regard Nikko Shonin alone as the Treasure of the Priest. From this standpoint, the successive High Priests are not equal in status to the Treasure of the Priest….
At this time, 700 years later, when the capacity of the people has generally declined, everyone, myself included, is an ordinary person.
Based on the above, your assertion contradicts that of the current high priest.
It is further a fact that Article 4 of the Nichiren Shoshu Rules and Regulations (Shuki) states, “This sect takes the Dai-Gohonzon as the treasure of the Law, the founder, Nichiren Daishonin, as the treasure of the Buddha, and the inheritor of the Law, Nikko Shonin, as the treasure of the Priest.”
Why do you go back on both the words of your master and the doctrine of Nichiren Shoshu?
Question 3: The Face to Face Bestowal of the Law
In our question, we pointed out the fact that the writing which the priesthood uses to justify its claim that the high priest is the sole inheritor of the lifeblood of Nichiren Daishonin was not written by Nichiren Daishonin or Nikko Shonin, according to research done by Nichiko Shonin. This questionable passage appears again in “Myosetsu-ji News” (April 1994, p. 5). Why is the priesthood using such “evidence” for its claims? You ignored our question.
In your response you state: “The content of the Face to Face Bestowal of the Essence of the True Law is a matter that is of concern between one high priest to another. Therefore, it is better that we avoid making comments about the content of the Face to Face Bestowal of the Essence of the True Law since neither of us are high priests.”
However, when Nittatsu Shonin, the 66th high priest, assumed office, he stated, referring to the transmission of the Law: “Nichiko Shonin has published everything. There is, therefore, nothing special or secret about it.”
Nikken himself commented on this as follows: “Reverend Hori [Nichiko Shonin] has already said that all the Daishonin’s teachings are contained in the Gosho Zenshu.” All the transfer documents, including “On the Three Great Secret Laws,” “The One Hundred and Six Comparisons,” and the two transfer documents are available to anyone, in both the Gosho Zenshu and the Essential Writings of the Fuji School. There are no secretly transmitted teachings that only the high priest knows.
The Daishonin spent his life sharing his teachings with his disciples so that they could attain enlightenment. In the Gosho “Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life,” the Daishonin states, “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” (MW-1, 24).
It is true that the Dai-Gohonzon has remained enshrined at Taiseki-ji since its founding. However, as we cited in the open letter, there have been numerous doctrinal errors and breaks in the lineage of high priests. It is by no means true that “the essence of Buddhism has been maintained by successive high priests up to this day.”
The Daishonin states, “If Nichiren’s compassion is truly great and encompassing, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo will spread for ten thousand years and more, for all eternity…” (MW-4, 272).
The achievement of kosen-rufu and the eternalization of the teachings are nothing less than the great will and compassion of the true Buddha.
Question 4: On the Document “Reconfirming Our Fundamental Mission”
Response to this is given in the document preceding this one.
Questions 5 and 6: Faith Is the Heritage of the Law
In your answer to questions 5 and 6 in our letter, you do little but reiterate Nikken sect doctrine. Furthermore, we asked you questions pertaining to your misuse of the Gosho in your address at the March 28, 1993, gojukai ceremony, and asked for proof of your claim that the high priest alone “possesses and protects” the Law. We believe you repeated yourself because you cannot answer the question.
When you say “…each successive high priest also received the correct teaching of Nichiren Daishonin from their master. This is an unchangeable creed that has been handed down for 700 years,” you are talking about an ideal. If we look at history, the reality is the opposite.
We do not call into doubt in the least the greatness of a high priest such as Nichikan Shonin. However, it is impossible to understand why you assert your claims of the pure transmission of the lineage of Nichiren Shoshu and shroud it in unnecessary mystery when we have given you historical facts to the contrary.
In the “Recorded Lectures,” the Daishonin states: “The three enlightened properties [Of the Thus Come One] are acquired by a single word. That word is faith” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 753).
The true Buddha has spelled it out for all of us. The tradition to be followed is that of faith in the Gohonzon. The ninth high priest, Nichiu Shonin, restates this point in his “On the Formalities of True Buddhism”: “Faith, the heritage of the Law, and the pure flow of the entity of the Law are identical” (Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 1, p. 64).
This is further elaborated on by the 59th high priest, Nichiko Shonin:
In the final analysis, faith, the heritage of the Law and the pure water of the Law refer to the same thing. The heart of faith exists in those who practice faith, and with this faith, they receive the pure water of the Law from the original Buddha. The way the pure water of the Law flows from the original Buddha to believers is like blood circulating in the human body. The transmission of the pure water of the Law through faith, therefore, is called the transmission of kechimyaku or the “bloodstream” of Buddhism.” (Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 1, p. 176)
Question 7: On the ‘Orthodox Lineage’ of the High Priests
In question 7, we asked you to provide us with documentary proof that believers cannot draw out the true power of the Secret Law if they ignore the sacred inheritance of the Secret Law by High Priest Nikken. Your response completely sidesteps the question, stating only that successive high priests did their best to protect the Dai-Gohonzon, and that their actions must be interpreted in light of historical circumstances. This is an outrageous and pitiful excuse.
The Daishonin states quite clearly in “The Three Kinds of Treasure” that people become noble or ignoble through their actions:
The real meaning of the Lord Shakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world lay in his behavior as a human being. How profound! The wise may be called human, but the thoughtless are no more than animals. (MW-2, 281)
In the Gosho, “On the Buddha’s Behavior,” the Daishonin teaches his disciples how to behave in the face of severe persecutions. When Nichiren Daishonin was taken to Tatsunokuchi, he demonstrated his resolve to save the people of the world, stating:
I immediately recognized the dire portent of this event and thought to myself, “I expected something like this to happen sooner or later. How fortunate that I can give my life for the Lotus Sutra! If I am to lose this worthless head for Buddhahood, it will be like trading sand for gold or rocks for jewels!” (MW-1, 178)
In the same Gosho, the Daishonin instructs his disciples on how they should behave in the face of severe persecution:
None of you who declare yourselves to be my disciples should ever be cowardly…. Each and every one of you should be certain deep in your hearts that sacrificing your life for the Lotus Sutra is like trading rocks for gold or filth for rice. (MW-1, 176)
If you quail before the threats of the rulers of this little island country and abandon your faith, how will you face the even more terrible anger of Emma, the King of Hell? You have proclaimed yourselves to be the messengers of the Buddha. But if you falter, there will be no one more despicable than you. (MW-l, 176-77)
Nothing is more illustrative of the Daishonin’s point than the priesthood’s behavior during the period prior to and during World War II. In light of these Gosho quotes, let us examine the behavior of the priesthood and the Soka Gakkai in this period.
A. The Priesthood’s Behavior
Deletion of Gosho Passages/Slanderous Doctrine
So as not to offend the militaristic government, which considered the Emperor and the Shinto Sun Goddess as supreme deities, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood deleted from official publications Gosho passages in which the Daishonin clarifies his identity as the true Buddha. Among the 14 examples of deletions, one states, “I am the foremost sage in the entire world” (MW-2, 259).
In addition, an official memorandum from the priesthood’s administrative office dated Aug. 24, 1941, states:
Because Nichiren Daishonin’s Gosho was written in the Kamakura Era, there may be some people who misunderstand the Daishonin’s spirit of Respecting the Emperor and Protecting the Country…. We hereby ban the publication of the Gosho Zenshu, and will issue summaries of major writings.
It goes on to say:
The doctrine that the Buddha is true while the deities are transient is a vulgar belief in Buddhism…. This school, therefore, shall not rely on this doctrine in its original meaning.
Revision of Silent Prayers
The priesthood blatantly and deliberately altered the silent prayers to conform to the doctrines of State Shinto. The revised first silent prayer from that era reads:
I humbly thank the Sun Goddess, the ancestor of the Emperor, and all emperors of the successive reigns since the time of first emperor Jimmu…. I also offer my benefits…to gods of the sun and moon and all other deities — the guardians of the Empire.
The result of the priesthood’s docile and subservient attitude toward those in power during World War II, and their total lack of courage and spirit of refutation, is elaborated on by Nichiko Shonin:[It reached the point where] Shinto talismans were hung in the Study Hall (a building at the Head Temple)…. Perhaps, as a result of this, on the night of June 17, 1945, due to carelessness, a fire started which burned down the Conference Hall, the high priest’s living quarters, Study Hall and Reception Hall. The 62nd high priest, Nikkyo, also unfortunately perished in the flames…. (Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 9, pp. 431-32)
B. The Soka Gakkai
In contrast to this, the first president of the Soka Gakkai, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, resisted a wartime government order to worship the Sun Goddess of Shintoism. He strictly pointed out to Soka Gakkai members that worshipping the Sun Goddess was absolutely opposed to the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings.
In June 1943, Soka Gakkai leaders were ordered to the head temple. Jikai Watanabe, a senior priest of the time, suggested that the Gakkai members receive the Shinto talisman and follow the direction of the military. This suggestion was made with the high priest in attendance.
Nikko Shonin writes in his “Twenty-Six Admonitions” that we should not follow even the high priest if he takes actions that oppose the teachings of the Daishonin’s Buddhism. In this spirit, Mr. Makiguchi resolutely rejected the idea of accepting the Shinto talisman. As a result, he and his disciple, Josei Toda, were arrested. Mr. Makiguchi died in prison of malnutrition on Nov. 18, 1944.
It is an eternal badge of shame for the priesthood that when Messrs. Makiguchi and Toda refused to accept the Shinto talisman, the priesthood punished them by banning them from going on tozan2, which had the effect of disassociating the priesthood from the Gakkai in the eyes of the government.
Mr. Nagasaka, when you examine the actions of both the priesthood and the Soka Gakkai, it is quite apparent which one lives up to both the spirit and the letter of the Gosho.
Question 1: On the Gosho and Believers’ Relationship to It
Again you have sidestepped our question and reasserted your claims without proof or explanation.
In your letter you:
A) Refused to take responsibility for your absurd statement that it is arrogant for lay believers to read the Gosho.
B) Refused to give specific doctrinal basis for your assertions and why they differ from those of both Nikko Shonin and Nichijun Shonin.
If the Daishonin’s writings were too difficult for common people to understand, why do you think he wrote so many Gosho to common lay believers’ Why did Nikko Shonin state, “At the time of kosen-rufu, the Daishonin’s words should be translated into foreign languages” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 1613). Your statements show that you do not grasp the Daishonin’s intent.
Question 2: On ‘toba’ Memorial Ceremonies and Faith
What we call into question is your over-emphasis in temple publications and lectures on erecting toba3 as a condition for attaining enlightenment.
In the Gosho, it is stated:
However, even though you chant and believe in Myoho-renge-kyo, if you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the Mystic Law but some inferior teaching. “Inferior teachings” means those other than this sutra, which are all provisional and transient. No provisional teaching leads directly to enlightenment, and without the direct path to enlightenment you cannot attain Buddhahood, even if you practice lifetime after lifetime for countless aeons. Attaining Buddhahood in this lifetime is then impossible. (MW-1, 3-4)
Our enlightenment is achieved through the power of the Buddha and the power of the Law that are inherent in the Gohonzon, and the powers of faith and practice within ourselves. It is not in the least dependent on either a third party, or an outside force.
Question 1: Pilgrimage to Taiseki-ji, Now a Seat of Slander, Is a Negative Cause
It is regrettable that rather than presenting a reasoned argument based on the Daishonin’s teachings, you content yourself with empty repetition of the same phrases, regardless of what you are asked or the number of times you are asked it.
In the Gosho, it is stated: “The place where those who practice the Lotus Sutra dwell is itself the Pure Land. Why should one bother to search for it elsewhere?” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 72).
This attests to the fact that faith based on the Dai-Gohonzon and doing a pilgrimage to Taiseki-ji are not the same thing; practice for others with a selfless spirit and strong faith to promote kosen-rufu is indeed “faith based on the Dai-Gohonzon.”
On the other hand, one lacking in faith cannot be said to be practicing “based on the Dai-Gohonzon,” even if seated directly in front of it. Accordingly, your assertion that a journey to a distant place is necessary to attain enlightenment is an evil doctrine, utterly divorced from the Daishonin’s Buddhism.
Taiseki-ji, on the other hand, has become a realm of slander, due to the misguided views of the high priest and of priests like yourself. Nikko Shonin states in the “Twenty-Six Admonitions of Nikko,” “You should not sit together with slanderers of the Law at religious ceremonies, for fear of suffering the same punishment as they” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 1618).
Elsewhere, he says, “If we do not disavow those [evil] teachers who go against Nichiren Daishonin, we will be committing an offense ourselves” (Hennentai Gosho, p. 1734).
Further, in the “Rissho Ankoku Ron,” Nichiren Daishonin states, “[Y]ou must never give alms to a person who has slandered the Law” (MW-2, 38).
We assert that going on pilgrimage to the head temple now, far from “eradicating negative karma,” runs utterly contrary to the Daishonin’s spirit, and it is for this reason that we so adamantly oppose the tozan movement you are trying to create.
Question 2: On Gohonzon Conferred by the SGI
See the response to Cover Letter, Paragraph 6.
1. Honsho-bo Nissho: 16th chief priest of Joen-ji temple. The Gohonzon that Nichikan Shonin transcribed on June 13, 1720, bears an inscription on the side, which reads: “To be bestowed upon Daigyo Ajari Honsho-bo Nissho at Honnyo-zan Joen-ji temple in Kogusuri Village in Shimotsuke Province.”
2. Tozan: pilgrimage.
3. Toba: A wooden grave tablet, long and narrow in shape, and inscribed with pasages from the sturas, the deceased person’s posthumous name, etc. It is planted beside the grave during memorial services.
The Chief Priest Responds to the Youth Division’s Challenge
From Jisei Nagasaka, chief priest of Myosetsu-ji temple
To the SGI-USA New York Youth Division
IN 1977, Daisaku Ikeda made his first deviation from Nichiren Shoshu’s teachings, and he enlarged and replicated seven paper Gohonzon to wooden honzon, transgressing against the high priest’s singular authority to transcribe the Gohonzon. Without the high priest’s permission he had made seven counterfeit honzon.
Due to the admonition of the 66th high priest, Nittatsu Shonin, on making these counterfeit honzon, Daisaku Ikeda expressed repentance about his conduct.
He gave those honzon to the Head Temple Taiseki-ji as the actual proof of slandering against the Daishonin’s Buddhism However, I must point out that at that time, Mr. Ikeda did not omit his name [on the] counterfeit honzon.
Last year, without the permission of the high priest, the Soka Gakkai replicated 26th High Priest Nichikan Shonin’s Gohonzon, omitting the applicant, Chief Priest Honsho-bo’s name from the Gohonzon and then distributing these counterfeit honzon to its worldwide membership.
This is a great slander against Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Moreover, this time, they made an even greater cause for falling into the Hell of Incessant Suffering, by tampering with the inscription of a Gohonzon, than when they made the seven counterfeit honzon.
Your cover letter states on page 3:
Based on a correct understanding of the significance of kosen-rufu, the Soka Gakkai has omitted the name of Honsho-bo during the printing process of the okatagi Gohonzon which are being distributed to new SGI members throughout the world.
Also, your “General Comment” letter states on page 1:
First, let us make it clear that Honsho-bo Nissho’s name was not “erased” from the Gohonzon .The Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan Shonin in 1720 remains in exactly the same condition as it always was. To say that the Gohonzon or any part of it was “erased” constitutes simply another example of the way you distort facts to fit your needs at the moment.
You must understand that both are the same great slander against the 26th high priest, Nichikan Shonin, to erase Rev. Honsho-bo’s name in the printing process. Because all Gohonzon are the body and heart of Nichiren Daishonin. It is a great slander to replicate Nichikan Shonin’s Gohonzon and distribute it to Soka Gakkai members without the high priest’s permission.
Regarding a public debate, it would be a waste of time considering your hypocritical attitude as shown in the two paragraphs quoted above.
If you want to know about Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, please make an appointment and come to the temple. I will teach you Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, which has been handed down at the Head Temple Taiseki-ji for the past 700 years.
The Rev. Jisei Nagasaka
A Declaration of Victory
Dedicated to the life of George Kasahara
(Editor’s note: See article about George Kasahara on page 2 of the June 20 World Tribune.)
From the Youth Division of New York
THE history of humankind is the history of our common quest for dignity, freedom and happiness. On April 28, 1253, Nichiren Daishonin chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time. With this “bold declaration,” he established the means for each individual to achieve absolute happiness. On Nov. 18, 1930, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai. This became the vehicle by which common people throughout the world were introduced to true Buddhism.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
Attaining Buddhahood is nothing extraordinary. If you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with your whole heart, you will naturally become endowed with the Buddha’s thirty-two features and eighty characteristics. Shakyamuni states, “At the start I pledged to make all people perfectly equal to me, without any distinction between us.” (The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 259)
United in our remarkable diversity, the SGI members of New York have spared no effort to build a movement for dignity, freedom and happiness here in our city. As one facet of our movement, we supported the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood; in particular, the Myosetsu-ji temple in Queens. All this changed on Nov. 28, 1991, when Nikken’s contempt for lay believers culminated in the act of excommunicating 17 million SGI members.
We, the SGI members in New York, are standing on the side of justice and the common person. This confrontation with the priesthood is a battle — not merely an exchange of accusations and assertions. It is a battle for religious reformation. It is a battle for humanity.
Among Nikken’s disciples is Jisei Nagasaka, the chief priest of Myosetsu-ji temple in Queens, New York.
He has used the confusion generated by Nikken’s actions to lure members from the true path of faith. Let the record show that:
He propounds false doctrines, such as the high priest alone contains the Daishonin’s enlightened essence. He teaches that one can only attain enlightenment by going on tozan. He claims that the Gosho is not for lay believers to read or understand.
These actions run directly counter to the spirit and intention of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin.
The Gosho states, “To seek enlightenment without repudiating slander is as futile as trying to find water in the midst of fire or fire in the midst of water” (MW-1, 165).
Through a series of letters, beginning on April 2, 1994, we have questioned Jisei Nagasaka on the doctrine he is promoting. Basing ourselves on the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, we challenged him to a fair and open debate.
Our purpose was clear: to enable all believers to bear witness to a debate and thereafter freely choose who is following the correct teachings of the Daishonin.
Jisei Nagasaka has refused our offer, stating, “It would be a waste of time….” Nowhere in his responses did he quote the Gosho to justify his position. Clearly, he is not a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin. By refusing to discuss the issues in an open forum, he has conceded victory to the SGI-USA. Together with SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, we, the SGI-USA members of New York, declare victory over Jisei Nagasaka of Myosetsu-ji temple.
In 1253, Nichiren Daishonin made a declaration that changed the course of human history. Today, June 16, 1994, we, the SGI-USA members of New York, declare our resolve to continue the battle for equality and religious reformation that Nichiren Daishonin began over 700 years ago. We pledge to uphold the purity of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, fight against all forms of authoritarianism, and protect the common people. This is our pledge, this is our word, this is our bond.