Volume 1, No. 8 (Part 2) December 09, 1991
Soka Gakkai Vice President Satoru Izumi, senior chief of the Soka Gakkai guidance committee, gave a frank and pointed series of interviews, which were recently published in the Seikyo Shimbun, in response to the recent ‘Notice of Excommunication’ signed by Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator Nikken Abe and General Administrator Nichijun Fujimoto.
First of all, explaining the term excommunication (referring to the Japanese word used by the priesthood, hamon), Mr. Izumi said: ‘High Priest Nikken is fond of such pompous and pretentious language…. I think that inside Mr. Nikken’s head, we’re still in the Tokugawa period (the period from about 1603Œ1868 when the Tokugawa family of shoguns ruled Japan, also called the Edo period). Though we are now on the verge of the 21st century, he is still thinking like an old-time school master.
‘It seems like they’ve excommunicated the Gakkai members. But people who understand the situation well will probably think that the priesthood has at long last excommunicated itself from Nichiren Daishonin. That is, the ‘Nikken faction,’ which is guilty of grave slander and the ultimate destruction of the three treasures, has now been excommunicated.
‘Because the Soka Gakkai has upheld the ‘three conditions’ of its incorporation as a religious entity, the priesthood has now become the most prosperous Buddhist sect in the world. But all they seem able to understand or say about us is ‘they are destroying the three treasures,’ or ‘they are destroying Buddhism,’ or ‘they are an organization of slanderers.’ Now that they have taken more money from us than they can possibly spend, they think that they can say whatever they want, like gangsters trying to pick a fight. We who have practiced faith for a very long time and have been observing the priesthood over these many years understand this well.’
Mr. Izumi then commented on the excommunication document, which claims that the priesthood will no longer recognize the Soka Gakkai as a religious corporation. ‘Do the priests’ lavish lifestyles, the high priest’s wife throwing money around to an extent that goes far beyond what is possible on their reported income, or violations against society and individuals’ right to privacy such as wiretapping, indicate behavior befitting a religious corporation? After having demanded offering upon offering, after taking and taking, and after amassing fortune upon fortune, they have told us to ‘get out!’ Is this not fraud, embezzlement and thievery? Theirs is the cruelest kind of treachery. Whether it be the robes and prayer beads of priests at the head temple and local temples, their sports cars, golf clubs, the fees they pay at high-class night clubs, or the cost of their wives’ extravagant spending spreesÊall of these things were paid for by the pure-hearted contributions of Gakkai members, were they not? They steal these things from the members, and then accuse them of slander. But if the members are so slanderous, then the priesthood is betraying the teaching that one should not accept offerings from slanderers. If this is the case, then they themselves are guilty of a grave slander.
‘No matter what kind of quibbling or excuses they put forth, the fact is that now that they have enough money, the believers are too troublesome and kosen-rufu too bothersomeÊbecause they have become so corrupt, everything is now too much trouble. Though they speak of ‘excommunication,’ didn’t they already dismiss the chief and senior lay representatives at the end of last year? How many times do they have to cut us off before they are satisfied?
‘Historians of future generations will most certainly judge this high priest as the most iniquitous and degenerate of all. No matter what appearances he tries to maintain, history will be the strictest judge.’
Mr. Izumi then touched upon the priesthood’s refusal of attempts at dialogue over the situation. ‘Can we find any examples of such a lack of consideration in the Gosho or in the ‘Six Volume Writing’ of Nichikan Shonin (the 26th high priest)? During the time of the 66th high priest, Nittatsu, or the 65th high priest, Nichijun, there were certainly times when what we might call major disputes broke out between the priesthood and the Soka Gakkai. But on each of these occasions we were able to hold open-hearted dialogue together, and to further advance kosen-rufu based upon the harmonious unity of priesthood and laity.
‘However, the present high priest thinks only of himself. He does not in the least understand the hearts and minds of the believers, nor does he intend to try to understand them. He is a person with no compassion or mercy. In reality, he is a foolish, self-centered individual.
‘No other religion in the world has a clergy that is so atrociously arrogant, or who constantly mistreats its believers like the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. All of the Gakkai members have shown real patience and perseverance. I am moved to tears when I think of the hardships all of you have endured over the past 10 years. However, to the extent that you have struggled, Nichiren Daishonin embraces you, the children of the Buddha, in his infinite compassion and mercy. You are all aware of the priesthood’s heartlessness and lack of compassion. How difficult and unpleasant it must have been for you. We will never be able to forget the humiliation we have endured.
‘The high priest and his cohorts have now done us the favor of making it absolutely clear that they are practicing an erroneous teaching that has no relation to Nichiren Daishonin. Their insidious trickery and treacherous scheming will be the downfall of High priest Nikken, and ‘Operation C,’ with which Mr. Kawabe and Mr. Seki are said to be deeply involved, will mark their downfall as well. This intrigue of such unprecedented heinousness, destroying the three treasures of Buddhism, will clearly mark their own defeat. Having engaged in such vicious intrigue, they will never escape the harsh admonishment of both Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. The Soka Gakkai has been strictly protecting and upholding the orthodox teaching and doctrine of the two founders, and will therefore leave a record of total victory for future generations of believers.
‘While it is a shame that the harmonious unity of priesthood and laity has been severed, our mission as Soka Gakkai membersÊto inherit the orthodox spirit of Nichiren Daishonin and to strive to fulfill the task of kosen-rufu the Buddha has entrusted to usÊhas not changed in the least. From here on, we will contribute all the more to society through our movement for peace, culture and education. While you all may have had lots to be concerned about until now, there is nothing more to worry about. As a result of the Buddha’s wisdom, everything will become easier than it has been until today. You are now free from the dark shackles of the ‘Nikken sect’ that has been abusing you and obstructing your way to kosen-rufu and happiness. We can now make a fresh start. As we turn to greet the 21st century, the time has come to show proof of the magnificence of the Daishonin’s Buddhism to all humankind. Through our own ability and effort, let’s turn the Soka Gakkai into the greatest organization in the world. Both presidents Makiguchi and Toda must surely be overjoyed. And at the Gakkai headquarters, we have been receiving phone calls from all around the nation congratulating us on our ‘spiritual declaration of independence.’ Let’s have a wonderful new year and wish the Soka Gakkai a magnificent future!’
Mr. Izumi then addressed how while the priesthood’s ‘Notice of Excommunication’ accuses the Soka Gakkai of ‘forsaking the doctrine,’ it makes absolutely no mention of what doctrine is being forsaken. ‘The priesthood does not understand the doctrine of Nichiren Daishonin, because they have taken no real action for the sake of kosen-rufu. Their inability to state just where and how the Soka Gakkai has allegedly deviated from the teachings is proof of this. In reality, the reason they claim we are ‘destroying the teachings’ is that the Gakkai refuses to do exactly as High Priest Nikken says or follow his egoistic whims. This is the only justification they can claim. It is too low-level an argument. The Gakkai is hundreds or thousands of times more advanced than that.
‘It is quite well known that in recent years the doctrine of the ‘Nikken sect’ has been as follows: If the high priest says something is white, then you must say it’s white also, and if he says it’s black, then it must be black. According to them, if you don’t follow this line of reasoning, then you’re ‘destroying the doctrine.’ Even priests within the sect must be asking themselves if what they are practicing isn’t actually ‘Nikkenism.’ Since we’ve been excommunicated by High Priest Nikken, then we must no longer be followers of Nikkenism, and that’s just fine! It’s not that we’ve been excommunicated from the Daishonin. Therefore, we can legitimately use the name ‘Nichiren Shoshu’ (meaning ‘true sect of Nichiren’) as those who are directly connected to Nichiren Daishonin.’
Mr. Izumi further addressed distortions of doctrine by the current high priest, saying: ‘The way they portray the ‘Three Treasures of the Buddhism of Sowing’ is different from that of Nichiren Shoshu. In the official ‘Rules of Nichiren Shoshu,’ High Priest Nikken is not defined as the ‘Treasure of the Buddha.’ He is not included in the definition of the ‘Treasure of the Priest’ either. None of the previous successive high priests has ever claimed to be greater than the Daishonin, to be a ‘respectworthy entity inseparable from the Dai-Gohonzon,’ purported themselves to be the ‘Daishonin of modern times’ or said that they personally constitute the ‘Treasure of the Priest.’ Isn’t the high priest also a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin? Must he not revere the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary? These are the most fundamental elements of Nichiren Shoshu, are they not?
‘For the high priest to deviate from these basics and state that he is one with the Daishonin, or to go beyond that and claim that he is a ‘living Buddha,’ means that he is no longer practicing the teachings of Nichiren Shoshu. He may be living at the head temple, but he has committed the crime of ‘hijacking’ Nichiren Shoshu. Having holed himself up at the temple, he has kidnapped the Gohonzon and is now locking out those who originally had faith in it.’
Regarding the fact that High Priest Nikken is still being challenged in court regarding the legitimacy of his claim to the lineage of Nichiren Shoshu by a group of priests called the Shoshinkai [who were expelled from Nichiren Shoshu as a result of their contention], Mr. Izumi said: ‘Even if he were to grow tired and resign, this issue would not be settled. Until recently, President Ikeda has been offering the high priest his utmost support and protection in this matter, but this will no longer be possible. Even if the high priest were to resign, if people still asked, ‘was he the legitimate successor or wasn’t he?’ it would be very embarrassing for him. A good many priests and believers contend that there are about 200 priests who claim the current high priest did not legitimately inherit the lineage from his predecessor. They wish the high priest would go to court and speak on his own behalf, but he has not done so. This has caused trouble for many people over the past 10 years.’
One of the issues naturally raised by the ‘excommunication’ action is whether, as the priesthood contends, our lifeblood of faith is severed. About this, Mr. Izumi said: ‘That’s ridiculous. It’s clear, isn’t it, that this excommunication has nothing to do with the lifeblood of faith. It is a product of the high priest’s emotionalism, selfishness and jealousy. The lifeblood or heritage of faith is a matter of belief in the essence of Buddhism. This means belief in the true Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin. In other words, it means to believe in the Gohonzon. The emotionalism of one person can never suppress our powers of faith and practice. A person who makes such claims as, ‘If I excommunicate you, your lifeblood of faith will be severed,’ has lost the lifeblood of faith himself, hasn’t he?
‘It’s not like cutting a rope, you know. To say that they are going to cut off our lifeblood of faith is nothing more than a senseless threat. No one can cut another person’s conviction. And certainly, no one can sever the lifeblood of faith that flows between the Buddha and the Buddha’s children.
‘Just what determines whether the lifeblood is severed or not? What is the criterion for deciding this? When a high priest who commits the slander of erecting a tombstone at a Zen temple tells us that we are excommunicated, this has no bearing on us.’
Speaking with pointed humor, Mr. Izumi voiced his good-natured approval to being cut off from ‘the ‘lifeblood’ connecting us to the devil,’ and continued: ‘We have not been excommunicated or cut off from Nichiren Daishonin, we have not denied the lifeblood of faith, nor have we committed slander or destroyed the three treasures; we are guilty of no wrongdoing. Those who are so fond of using words like ‘cut’ and ‘break’ are likely to have broken something in a past lifetime. One who goes around talking about breaking this or breaking that proves that he is a priest who has ‘broken the precepts.”
Mr. Izumi was then asked about his family Gohonzon, which was transcribed by the 62nd high priest, Nikkyo Shonin, who was responsible for accepting the government’s Shinto talisman during World War II. Again speaking light-heartedly, he recounted his feelings in those days: ‘Because Nikkyo Shonin met a most unfortunate end when he burned to death in a fire at the head temple in June 1945, this made me worryÊif the high priest who transcribed my Gohonzon burned to death, then if I prayed to that Gohonzon, might I not burn to death too? I went to receive guidance about this from President Toda. Mr. Toda was very clear. The benefit or virtue of the Gohonzon does not vary according to the high priest who transcribes it. The Daishonin stated, ‘I Nichiren have inscribed my life in sumi, so believe in the Gohonzon with your whole heart’ (MW-1, 120). Therefore, the Gohonzon is the life and soul of the true Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin. When I heard this, I felt relieved.’
Mr. Izumi then discussed how the true Buddha and the Gohonzon are always the basis of the Daishonin’s Buddhism: ‘No matter how much we refer to someone as ‘high priest,’ that person is still a common mortal. He is not the Daishonin. What he is now saying clearly proves this point. The high priest is not absolute. It is a mistake to think so. To assume that the high priest is infallible is also an error. The Daishonin’s Buddhism is strict. Even if you are the high priest, if you commit slander, you cannot escape the effect. On the right and left sides of the Gohonzon are the inscriptions, ‘One who makes offerings will gain good fortune surpassing the [Buddha’s] ten honorable titles’ and ‘one who slanders will have his head broken into seven pieces.’ The words ‘except for the high priest’ do not appear.’
Mr. Izumi next commented on the reality of what happened since the time of World War II to both the priesthood, which encouraged believers to accept the Shinto talisman, and the Soka Gakkai, which refused to accept the talisman and persevered in standing up for the justice of the Daishonin’s Buddhism: ‘At the head temple, about 1,700 square meters of the Reception Hall and the Grand Lodging were destroyed by fire. Twenty branch temples were also razed by fire, one after another, in a series of air raids that struck Tokyo beginning on March 10, 1945. Interestingly, neither Mr. Makiguchi’s home nor Mr. Toda’s home was burned in the air raids. Despite the incendiary attacks, the members who had maintained their faith during the war were all protected in a similar manner. None of the homes that were used for discussion meetings in those days was burned, including the homes of Mr. Koizumi, Mr. Tsuji, Miss Kashiwabara and Mr. Morita. And though I was sent to the battlefield, I never encountered the enemy. How strict the Daishonin’s judgment is, I thought. It is just as the Daishonin himself stated, proof will definitely be apparent in ‘one hundred days, one year, three years or seven years.”
Mr. Izumi then commented on how in the ‘Notice of Excommunication’ the priesthood brought up the issue of the Gakkai in the past having had wooden Gohonzon engraved. ‘This is really astonishing. High Priest Nikken himself has stated, ‘To bring up this issue concerning the Gohonzon after I have stated ‘do not mention it any more’ is clearly a slander.’ He cannot even follow the guidance he himself gave. When people lose faith, they start to contradict themselves. Because they can find no other reason to justify themselves, they bring up a matter that was completely settled during the time of Nittatsu Shonin. Though Nittatsu Shonin issued a strict order in an internal memo, stating, ‘I forbid any further discussion of this issue,’ they still persist in bringing it up, which is proof that they have nothing else to talk about.
‘If they intended to ignore or make light of Nittatsu Shonin’s guidance from the beginning, then why didn’t they say anything at the time? The situation in no way constituted any sort of problem or slander. It (the engraving of the wooden Gohonzon) was carried out with the approval and permission of Nittatsu Shonin, was it not? The tabloid press said that it was done in the basement of the Seikyo Shimbun building, but this was a complete fabrication.
‘The engraving was carried out by Akazawa Choyo, the company used by Nichiren Shoshu for that very purpose, and was consented to by Nittatsu Shonin. The fact that one of these very Gohonzon were enshrined at the Gakkai headquarters was reported widely in the Seikyo Shimbun, but it never became an issue at the time.
‘General Administrator Fujimoto himself clearly testified at the trial of the Shoshinkai lawsuit that this was ‘not a slander.’ Doesn’t their making a big issue out of it now in the ‘Order to Disband’ or in this ‘Notice of Excommunication’ mean that the general administrator is guilty of perjury? For High Priest Nikken to bring up and try to make a sensation out of an issue that he has been silent on until now, and which has not constituted any sort of problem in the past, indicates the kind of a dark-hearted and indecent person he is. There are even those at the head temple who say, ‘If engraving wooden Gohonzon constitutes a slander, then why is one enshrined in the Hoan-den [at the head temple]?’ While Nittatsu Shonin took full responsibility for this issue and personally laid it to rest, to use it as ammunition to attack the Soka Gakkai is clearly a great betrayal of the late high priest.’
Mr. Izumi then addressed the allegation in the ‘Notice of Excommunication’ that the Soka Gakkai planned to ‘pursue a course of independence’ from the head temple in 1974. ‘They claim to possess a document to this effect, which they claim was an internal Soka Gakkai memo. This document, however, was actually written by Masatomo Yamazaki, the ex-Gakkai lawyer who is now in prison for attempted blackmail, and who is very fond of plotting and scheming against the Gakkai. The Soka Gakkai headquarters had nothing to do with this from the beginning. The proof of this is that the Gakkai has done absolutely nothing that this document suggests it was planning to. The document containing this alleged plot is typical of Yamazaki’s usual schemes.
‘I had heard that High Priest Nikken apologized to Yamazaki, saying, ‘I’m sorry for calling you a liar, please forgive me,’ but now I see the meaning of this. If he was going to use Yamazaki’s document having called him a liar, that would make High Priest Nikken a liar, too.
‘Actually, the Gakkai has been independent from the time it was established as a religious corporation in 1952. If the Gakkai really wanted to separate itself and be independent of the priesthood, then why has it continued until recently to donate so many temples? Why did it donate so many buildings and facilities to the head temple, such as the Sho-Hondo, the Grand Reception Hall, the Grand Lecture Hall, the Mutsu-bo, the Daike-jo, the general lodging quarters (since rebuilt), the new general lodging quarters #1 and #2, the Kaisen Center, the Pilgrimage Center and the footbridge in front of the Sanmon Gate? Furthermore, why would the Soka Gakkai have contributed again and again to the renovation and repair of the grounds around the Sho-Hondo, to the renovation of the Five-story Pagoda and the major repair of the Sho-Hondo in preparation for the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the head temple’s founding?
‘In any case, the document containing the supposed plot was allegedly created in 1974, but how many offerings and contributions has the Gakkai made to the priesthood since then? In reality, the offerings made by the Gakkai are unprecedented in the 700-year history of Nichiren Shoshu. If we had intended to separate, then we would not have made so many offerings, would we? It was because of our desire to foster the harmonious unity of priesthood and laity that we sincerely dedicated ourselves to protecting the priesthood in our outside role as lay believers. If they had intended to cut us off, then they should have done so sooner, before they took so much.’
When asked if it wasn’t in fact High Priest Nikken and his group of supporters who had been scheming while accusing the Soka Gakkai, Mr Izumi replied: ‘Absolutely right. As we have recently learned, there are those within the priesthood who say that High Priest Nikken has been planning this for more than 10 years. While I don’t know whether he was thinking specifically of ‘Operation C’ during that time, hasn’t he been the ringleader when it came to plotting how to take as much money from the believers as possible in the form of offerings, abusing and threatening the Gakkai members or even stealing believers from the Gakkai?
‘This is our current high priest. Because of this I think the most fitting name for them is the ‘Insidious Nikken sect.’ Honest and straightforward people no longer associate with this high priest and his supporters. If you were able to look into the proverbial iron pot in hell [where evil-doers are said to be boiled alive], you still could never find so many unsavory characters in one place. The Gosho states, ‘Many evil forces are vanquished by a single great truth’ (MW-1, 154). The members of the ‘Nikken sect’ who have lost sight of this ‘single great truth’ cannot continue on indefinitely.
‘As President Toda used to say, our Soka Gakkai is now truly the king of the religious world. As such, I hope we will advance boldly along the great path of kosen-rufu.’
In response to a question about a priesthood directive for local temples to stop issuing the Gohonzon, Mr. Izumi said: ‘It seems like they’ve decided to stop issuing the Gohonzon to people who do not do exactly as they (the priesthood) say. It’s awful. They’re really showing their true, scurrilous colors. They are now committing the great offense of forsaking the true Buddha’s words, ‘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-5, 272). In reality, the current high priest and his supporters are like parasites that devour Buddhism from within. They are using the Gohonzon as a means to compel believers to abide by their whims. Never in the history of Buddhism has there appeared such a dishonorable high priest. The fact that he intends to use the Gohonzon as a tool to exploit believers proves that he lacks any faith.
‘Neither President Makiguchi nor President Toda had the Gohonzon with them while they were in prison. Nevertheless, President Makiguchi persevered in his practice just as Nichiren Daishonin taught, and he left a proud legacy of propagating the law for posterity, without begrudging his life. While in prison, Mr. Toda awakened to his profound mission for kosen-rufu. The important point is whether one has faith; whether one has a profound determination to accomplish kosen-rufu. Such faith and determination are the lifeblood that courses through the Soka Gakkai. Therefore, no matter how High Priest Nikken and his group try to harass us, it doesn’t bother us at all. As many of our fellow members overseas [who have been deprived of the Gohonzon] have proven, so long as we have faith, benefit will be plainly apparent. So long as the high priest and his supporters continue to abuse pure-hearted believers, then no matter how much they pray to the Gohonzon, they will invite punishment rather than benefit. However, it seems they haven’t been praying much from the very beginning.’
Responding to the priesthood’s announcement that although they will no longer issue the Gohonzon, they will continue to conduct funerals and other ceremonies, as well as honor requests for memorial-book inscriptions, toba (wooden memorial tablets) and the conducting of wedding or construction completion ceremoniesÊin short, any other activities that entail offerings from the believersÊMr. Izumi said: ‘This, too, is High Priest Nikken’s way of thinking. Recently, an optometrist who saw High Priest Nikken interviewed briefly on television said, ‘That man must be very wealthy.’ The eyeglasses High Priest Nikken wore were of extremely fine quality, (with frames of) 18- or 20-karat gold. I was shocked to hear how expensive such glasses are. A person who knows such things can easily tell. It must be difficult to make glasses to suit this high priest, since so much gold is required there is hardly room for the lenses.’
Mr. Izumi then discussed the modest lifestyles of previous high priests. ‘Immediately after World War II, when High Priest Nichijun was living at Josen-ji temple in Tokyo, he ate by cooking sweet potatoes for himself, once saying, ‘I’ll eat sweet potatoes until they make me sick.’ Though he lived in poverty, he maintained his dignity.
‘And when Nichiko Shonin took the seat of high priest, he stated, ‘Limit my garments to cheap wool or cotton; I don’t want any expensive silk’ and ‘Make my meals simpler than that of the average middle-class person. I will not permit anything fancy or expensive.’ Is this not the proper posture of a high priest?’
The vice president then commented on how it is natural that a high priest who does not even uphold the Daishonin’s admonition to ‘desire little and be happy with what he has’ would find it impossible to strictly refute slander: ‘This is why he was able to erect a tombstone on the grounds of a Zen temple cemetery, and why the believers who live near the head temple are so rife with slander. If he can take so much trouble to issue a ‘Notice of Excommunication’ to the Gakkai, then why not bother to refute the Minobu sect? But I guess this, too, would be out of the question, since he is still going around praising Hakiri Sanenaga, whose grave slander [caused Nikko Shonin to leave Mount Minobu], saying he was a man of great accomplishment and merit.
‘It was the Soka Gakkai that originally refuted the Minobu sect during the famous ‘Otaru Debate’ in 1955. You might say that High Priest Nikken has been trying to seek revenge on behalf of his father.
‘A debate took place between Nichiren Shoshu and the Minobu sect in the 14th year of Taisho (1925). At that time, the interdenominational Buddhist journal Chugai Nippo featured a dialogue with a scholar from the Minobu sect criticizing Nichiren Shoshu on matters concerning the Gohonzon. High Priest Nikken’s father, Nikkai, who at that time held a post in Nichiren Shoshu equivalent to the present-day general administrator, authored what appeared to be a rebuttal to the Chugai Nippo article, which ran in the July 1925 edition of Taiseki-ji’s journal, the Dai-Nichiren. However, the content of the rebuttal was itself an affront to the True Law. As a result, Nikkai was relieved of his post by the high priest of the time. Moreover, at the end of his article, Nikkai had written, ‘To be continued in the next issue.’ That continuation never appeared, however. The Minobu sect wrote, ‘Though the article stated ‘to be continued in the next issue,’ no continuation appeared in the next issue, or in the next, or the next, or the next after that. It is now 1926, and the article still has not appeared.’ Thus Nichiren Shoshu became the target of merciless ridicule. After that only one person, Nichijun Shonin, was able to counter the claims of the Minobu sect.
‘At the Otaru Debate, President Ikeda (then chief of the general staff), as the spirited master of ceremonies, beautifully refuted the Minobu sect and cleansed the name of Nichiren Shoshu. High Priest Nikken should therefore feel a natural sense of gratitude toward President Ikeda. Instead of showing appreciation, however, he tries to repay the favor by inflicting damage. When people hear that he excommunicated the Gakkai, they are genuinely amazed. Those at Minobu must be laughing to themselves that the gentleman has lost his mind.’
Mr. Izumi was then asked about how Myohon-ji temple in Hota (Chiba Prefecture) and Jozen-ji temple in Hyuga (Miyazaki Prefecture)Êwhich belonged to a line of temples directly descended from Nikko Shonin’s school that became part of the Minobu sectÊ returned to Nichiren Shoshu through the efforts of the Soka Gakkai. He said: ‘When I was a member of Eto General Chapter, as a result of shakubuku carried out by members in the area, Myohon-ji returned to Nichiren Shoshu in April 1957. And in August of that year, the chief priest of Jozen-ji in Hyuga on the island of Kyushu took advantage of the Gakkai’s shakubuku in that area to return to Nichiren Shoshu, bringing eight other temples with him.
‘It seems the priesthood has forgotten its debt of gratitude here as well. When this school that descended from Nikko Shonin merged back into Nichiren Shoshu, who was to thank for it? Has the priesthood completely forgotten the admonition of Nikko that states: ‘You should treasure those practitioners who are skillful in difficult debate, just as the late master did’? It was only because of the Gakkai that the priesthood regained the spirit of the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. To excommunicate the Gakkai is the same as excommunicating the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. Ultimately, High Priest Nikken has repaid great favor with great scorn. This is not the behavior of a human being.’
Mr. Izumi cited a similar lack of appreciation in regards to the incident in which the Shinto talisman was accepted before the war: ‘The priesthood had submitted to the will of the authorities, allowing the talisman to be hung in the central tower of the head temple and a Shinto purification rite to be held without uttering a word of disapproval. They were completely cowed. President Makiguchi strictly remonstrated against this. Because he refused when they tried to press him to accept the talisman [on behalf of the Gakkai], they barred him from making pilgrimages to the head temple. Their faith has thus been spoiled since long ago.’
The vice president refuted the priesthood’s excuse for accepting the talisman: They claimed that had they not done so the high priest might have been arrested and the heritage of Nichiren Shoshu could have been threatened. ‘There were three retired high priests alive at the time; is there any way the heritage could have been severed under such circumstances? The reality is that they were cowardly. They are a sly lot; experts at chicanery. Did the Daishonin plead for his life at the execution grounds at Tatsunokuchi?’ Mr. Izumi added, humorously, ‘Because there are foolish senior priests who would say that the Daishonin’s example is simply ‘an ideal,’ I’d better not talk about this.’
Agreeing with the notion that it seems High Priest Nikken is the high priest who ‘inherited the lineage’ only from those evil priests whose faith had become spoiled and corrupt, and who had deviated far from the spirit of the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin, he further remarked: ‘Because of the Emperor’s absolute authority before the war, priests from the high priest on down submissively paid homage to the Shinto shrine at Ise. Now that religious freedom is guaranteed by the constitution and there is nothing greater to bow down to, they parade around haughtily, insisting that they are the greatest, and they try to prey upon the believers. If we would be quiet and allow them to continue sucking our blood, then everything would be fine. But once we refused to allow them to prey on us any more, they cut us off. Instead of ‘Established Buddhism’ (kisei bukkyo), they are practicing ‘Parasite Buddhism’ (also pronounced kisei bukkyo). This is the nature of the high priest and his cohorts from top to bottom. A women’s division member in Hyogo Prefecture said: ‘The more I know, the more I realize how awful these priests really are. As their masks are removed one by one, the ugly truth becomes apparent. If we had allowed this to go on much longer, it would have been fatal. It’s really a good thing we were excommunicated.’
‘High Priest Nikken has shown his true colors as the most evil high priest ever. This is because he is bringing about the destruction of Nichiren Shoshu itself. Later he may well become known as the ‘high priest that shut down the head temple.’
‘What will they do in the future? They might be anxious about having to look for other work. I’ve heard that because no believers are coming to the temples and there is nothing for many priests to do…. There are priests who say they now want to close their temples and look for outside work. Not only doesn’t High Priest Nikken care about the believers, he doesn’t care about the priests either. This is why some within the priesthood are cursing High Priest Nikken’s lack of compassion.
Responding to the comment of a scholar that ‘voices of dissent are arising within the priesthood as well, and we are seeing the dark inner curtain being pulled away,’ Mr. Izumi said: ‘When this happens, I believe priests will also be excommunicated. But it will be fine for them to be excommunicated from the ‘Nikken school.’
‘We were glad to be excommunicated. One American celebrity sent us his comment, stating, ‘This is a process of unmasking the backward, provincial aspect of religion. While I had heard from my friends that Nichiren Shoshu is the greatest religion in the world, it now seems like it is the world’s basest. However, through this I can now see that it is the Gakkai that practices the world’s greatest religion, and the priesthood that [wishes to remain] a small-town, country religion.’
‘These priests are arrogant people who do not understand the world, do not understand Buddhism, and have thus disqualified themselves as members of humanity.
‘Was it not the Soka Gakkai that, on various levels, took this nameless temple and turned it into a world religion? One can only be dumbfounded at how, after receiving and hoarding untold offerings, they have tried to repay the favor with vengeful behavior. This evil high priest who, through deceit and subterfuge, extracted unfathomable sums of money from 10 million believers, will be derided and censured for all eternity. From here on High Priest Nikken has no path to follow but that of a money-crazed old man on his way to the grave.’
* During the administration of the former high priest, Nittatsu, the Soka Gakkai requested that several of its Joju Gohonzon, including the one enshrined at the Soka Gakkai headquarters, be transferred from paper to wood in the same manner as Gohonzon at the temples. Nittatsu Shonin approved this request from the Soka Gakkai and even attended an ‘initiation ceremony’ for the wooden Gohonzon for the Soka Gakkai Headquarters on Nov. 9, 1977. However, later an anti-Gakkai faction within the priesthood fabricated the story that the Gakkai created these wooden Gohonzon of their own accord. This caused considerable confusion at the time, irritating Nittatsu Shonin to where he declared that because the matter of the Gohonzon is most serious and something that belongs solely to his realm of authority, idle and casual discussion of the matter should cease immediately. Initially, High Priest Nikken followed the guidance of Nittatsu Shonin on this matter.