Volume 1, No. 6 (Part 1) November 18, 1991
The Soka Gakkai recently received a complete copy of the original document for ‘Operation C,’ officially called ‘The Operation to Cut Off the Soka Gakkai,’ from someone associated with the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. The document, in its entirety, appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, and is reprinted here.
Another document, titled ‘Order for the Soka Gakkai to Disband’ and signed by High Priest and Chief Administrator Nikken and General Administrator Fujimoto, was sent to the Soka Gakkai Headquarters on Nov. 8. Though on the surface, the content of this document sounds quite reasonable for example, it states that the Soka Gakkai èrevised the traditional doctrines and formalities of this sect,’ and, therefore, ‘we advise the Soka Gakkai to disband’ it is essentially irrational.
It is well known that as early as the summer of last year, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood had prepared for the activation of its so-called ‘Operation C,’ a scheme to cut off or dispose of the Soka Gakkai. Now that the details of ‘Operation C’ have been disclosed, it is even clearer that the series of actions taken by the priesthood against the Soka Gakkai, including the latest dissolution documents, have all been based on this plot. According to the scenario, the priesthood would kick off its operation by revising the Rules of Nichiren Shoshu at a special council session.
For the second stage, the priesthood would then dismiss Honorary President Ikeda from the sokoto position and issue various orders to the Soka Gakkai’s executive leaders. This indicates that the abrupt actions taken at the end of last year were premeditated. The scheme describes astonishingly malicious actions, and it is difficult indeed to believe they were developed by members of the clergy, let alone by High Priest Nikken and his associates.
Nevertheless, the advice given by the priesthood to disband the Soka Gakkai is based upon this wicked plot, and it is obvious that the priesthood, while continually trying to intimidate the Soka Gakkai, was all the while intending to cut it off. We cannot tolerate such evil acts to destroy our movement for the propagation of the True Law, and therefore we will continue to fight.
A translation of the complete original plans for ‘Operation C’ follows:
The purpose of this operation is to dismiss Honorary President Ikeda from the position of sokoto, head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations, and announce to the public that Nichiren Shoshu is a religious organization that has nothing to do with the Soka Gakkai, thus destroying the organization of the Soka Gakkai completely. Through this method we aim to reorganize the believers into a perfect organization based on pure faith.
Changing the rules of Nichiren Shoshu as necessary, especially those parts necessary to implement this operation, that is, Article 158, Article 223, Article 226, Article 227 and Article 228, and so forth. These changes will be decided upon at a special session of the council on Aug. 28, 199
Dismissing Honorary President Ikeda as sokoto and notifying executive leaders of the Soka Gakkai of our orders. This notification will be given to the executive Gakkai leaders at the communication conferences on Aug. 13, 1990. On the same day, in accord with the direction of the Administrative Office, each local temple will conduct an oko lecture emphasizing the authority of and clarifying the believers’ obligation to dedicate themselves to the Three Treasures.
A) Notification signed by the Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu will be issued and delivered to the executive leaders of the Soka Gakkai on Aug. 13, 1990. Gakkai leaders will immediately submit a document acknowledging their receipt of this order from the chief administrator. The following is a draft of this order:
To Honorary President Ikeda: You filled the important role of sokoto for all lay organizations, for many years, which we sincerely appreciate. Now, in this year, which marks the 700th anniversary of the founding of Taiseki-ji, we would like to start fresh under new leadership for kosen-rufu in the new age. As a token of our appreciation, we hereby present you with a copy of the Gosho.
B) Notifying executive leaders of the Soka Gakkai that is, Soka Gakkai President Einosuke Akiya and General Director Kazuya Morita of our intent. The following should be included in our notification, which will be handed to President Akiya, with a reply requested no later than noon on Aug. 20. (Note: It is desirable that the contents be something difficult for the Soka Gakkai to accept.)
1) As we celebrate the 700th anniversary of the founding of Head Temple Taiseki-ji, High Priest Nikken has expressed his determination to commence a new phase of kosen-rufu under new leadership.
2) Under these circumstances, Honorary President Ikeda, following our intent, has been retired from the position of Hokkeko sokoto, head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations.
3) From now on, the Soka Gakkai will obediently follow its regulations as a religious organization whose mission is to protect Nichiren Shoshu from the outside. Centering on the president and the general director, the Soka Gakkai will, we hope, operate in harmonious unity with the priesthood.
4) From now on, Mr. Daisaku Ikeda will function only under the title of Honorary President, and unless requested by the priesthood to give guidance in faith, we ask him to remain at home.
5) You can continue to pay Mr. Ikeda’s salary.
6) We order his secretariat (dai-ichi shomu) to be dissolved.
7) We order half of the officers of the Soka Gakkai to be replaced by priests designated by the Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu.
8) From now on, we prohibit the Seikyo Shimbun and other Gakkai publications from printing Honorary President Ikeda’s speeches and other articles.
9) We order the Soka Gakkai’s Central Executive Conference, Headquarters leaders meetings, and other important conferences be attended by the executive staff of the Administrative Office.
10) We order there to be a communications conference once every month at each prefecture, exemplifying the oneness of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and the Soka Gakkai.
11) We order the overseas organization of the Soka Gakkai to follow the direction of the Overseas Bureau of the Administrative Office.
(Note: If the Soka Gakkai were to accept all these orders from the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, this operation would be completed. However, there is no way the Gakkai will accept them without argument, and even if it accepts some of these orders, the way it does so will not be satisfactory to the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. Therefore, the priesthood will have no choice but to proceed to the next stage.)
1) As of noon on Aug. 20, we will institute a task force to deal with the Soka Gakkai issue within the Administrative Office. This task force will be granted the authority of the Administrative Office and the power necessary to implement ‘Operation C’ until the day the Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu declares that the battle has been won.
2) In the name of the Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu, we will declare to the general public of Nichiren Shoshu and to the Soka Gakkai that the Soka Gakkai is an organization that has nothing to do with Nichiren Shoshu. At the same time, we will have a press conference at the Administrative Office; via television and radio we will proclaim to the people of Japan the inherent justice of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood.
3) Duly respecting all Soka Gakkai members, we will let them choose freely whether they will align themselves with the priesthood or stay with the Soka Gakkai. If they choose to side with the priesthood, we will have them submit their names to their local temple and send a letter of resignation to the Soka Gakkai. (Note: Forms prepared by the Administrative Office should be used for this purpose.)
4) Under the aegis of the Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu, we will run a full page ad for three consecutive days (Sept. 2, 3 and 4) in the four major newspapers Asahi, Yomiuri, Mainichi and Sankei so that the Japanese people will know the progress of this matter between Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai. We have a budget of Š120 million for this. Thus, almost all Gakkai members should understand what has happened. Therefore, within a few days of this announcement, a large number of Gakkai membersÊwe expect from 100,000 to 200,000 will rush to their local temple to register their names.
5) After the situation calms down maybe one or two years from the commencement of the implementation of this operation we will organize ex-Gakkai believers who belong to their local temples and establish a network of communication in each district, thus creating a united organization throughout Japan.
6) As far as the overseas organization is concerned, country by country, we will let members choose whether they side with the priests or the Gakkai. The Overseas Bureau will directly manage and guide these overseas members.
1) The official number of Gakkai members including those in overseas countries is 10 million, but in reality, the number of very active members is estimated at 1.5 to 2 million. And 80 to 90 percent of them will bear unjust anger and ill feelings toward the high priest, which we may have to soothe through the media.
2) There may be many crazy people burning with religious anger after this operation takes place. Because we cannot lawfully imprison them as Japan is a country governed by laws the head temple and local chief priests and their families may have to deal with insane Gakkai members. It is even expected that there may be assassinations. The high priest and the other executive priests will most likely become the target of these crazed Gakkai members. Security for these people should therefore be kept tight for a long period of time.
3) Gakkai members of weak faith and those who cannot judge matters based on reason may experience nervous breakdowns or commit suicide; or whole families may choose to take their lives together. Such mishaps may occur. Because the media will cover these incidents, the general public will develop anger over the religious dispute between Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai.
4) Gakkai lawyers who currently help the priesthood in a number of lawsuits might all withdraw. The priesthood would then most likely lose these suits.
5) Soka University professors now teaching classes at Fuji Gakurin College might also withdraw. Because teachers who are also chief priests at local temples will be extremely busy with their own matters, they may have no choice but to stop teaching at Gakurin College, which may have to close until order is restored. No one may be able to graduate from Gakurin University for a while.
6) We may have to temporarily halt the construction, remodeling or repairing of Gohonzon rooms and kuri (family living quarters for chief priests), which are now under way at local temples. The construction of cemeteries may also have to stop temporarily.
7) Local temples that borrowed money for remodeling or new construction may not be able to repay the funds they borrowed.
8) Because of the conduct of each temple’s general representatives (sodai) who happen to be Gakkai members, the management and accounting at local temples may have to be halted. It is urgent that we revise the rules of each local temple.
A Letter From a Priest
The following letter, contributed by a Nichiren Shoshu priest, was carried in the Nov. 6 edition of the Soka Shimpo, the Soka Gakkai’s youth division newspaper. Because of his particular circumstances, he submitted the letter anonymously.
The issue between the priesthood and the Soka Gakkai has now deteriorated to such an extent that the priesthood openly talks of disbanding the Soka Gakkai, excommunicating its top leaders and refusing to bestow the Gohonzon upon people introduced by Soka Gakkai members.
Deep in my heart, I have been resisting the way the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office has been handling this issue. But because of my position within Nichiren Shoshu, I felt obliged to follow the high priest with absolute faith, no matter what the circumstances and no matter what he did. Nevertheless, seeing the situation worsen, I have decided I can no longer remain silent. I have thus chosen to write this letter.
At a ‘Representatives Conference’ held at the head temple on Oct. 17, a decision was made that each administrative parish would collect from its priests petitions asking the head temple to disband the Soka Gakkai. I did not fully agree with this decision, and I think there were many other priests who also felt uncomfortable with it.
First, I wondered if it is permissible for priests to excommunicate lay leaders who have been wholeheartedly encouraging believers and positively contributing to society in the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
At the Representatives Conference, some priests said that punitive action should be taken against the Soka Gakkai because its guidance opposes the bylaws and Rules of Nichiren Shoshu. However, these priests did not produce any objective proof to validate their claims. Furthermore, this decision was made before hearing what the Soka Gakkai had to say. Who could possibly believe that the actions by the priesthood against the Soka Gakkai would be impartial or appropriate under these circum-stances?
For these reasons, I believe that if the Administrative Office enforces its planned punitive action against the Soka Gakkai, the priesthood will have stained its own history and will suffer from great regret in the future.
Since ancient times, Buddhist priests, regardless of the sect, have been expelled if they have committed any of the four major sins: killing, stealing, infidelity or lying. Priests are supposed to seek enlightenment and guide people to the correct teachings. Therefore, they have had to answer to a higher standard. Having taken a vow to save all people, priests are expected to demonstrate a resolve to repay their ‘four debts of gratitude,’ to strengthen their character through practice, and to act as fine examples for the people. Naturally, unworthy priests were expelled so that the priesthood could remain deserving of the people’s trust.
Being a priest does not guarantee that one is an excellent human being. Whether priests have the capacity to purify themselves, as individuals or as an organization, has been an issue since ancient times. Regrettably, for the past several years, Nichiren Shoshu has been sanctioning the idea that one can get away with anything so long as one is a priest. This atmosphere has developed because priests, while the believers have cherished them deeply, have been spoiling themselves so much that they can no longer purify themselves.
Priests who cannot purify or reflect upon themselves will only become obstacles to the advancement of global kosen-rufu. It is only natural that as a lay organization committed to kosen-rufu, the Soka Gakkai stand up to purify the priesthood. This in itself demonstrates the protection of the Buddhist gods.
In contrast, the priesthood condemns the Soka Gakkai’s resolute stance by claiming that the Gakkai is destroying the Three Treasures: that it has committed slander and should be punished. This is proof that the priesthood has lost its capacity for self-purification. Nothing is more repulsive, or causes greater damage to a group’s honor, than the presence of people who have no intention of reflecting upon or changing themselves. While the priesthood has revealed its own ugly nature, the Soka Gakkai has merely pointed it out with the light of clear reason. However, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood could not listen to what the Soka Gakkai had to say. If Nichiren Shoshu truly possessed a sincere and humble attitudeÊone that allowed priests to reflect upon the bad tendencies that had worked their way among themÊthe situation would never have deteriorated this far.
How did the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood lose its spirit to purify itself? Some have suggested that it stems from the accumulation of too much wealth, from problems arising from the marriage of priests, or from the nepotism reflected in the dominance of particular families within the sect. On a more fundamental level, however, I believe we can point to the priesthood’s arrogant notion that it is infallible. This is an offshoot of the erroneous idea that the high priest is infallible. Priests have begun to believe that those who follow the guidance of a supposedly infallible high priest and an Administrative Office that is supposedly equally infallible, must themselves be infallible. This is a dangerous concept, yet many priests have been swayed by this way of thinking.
The time has come for us priests to reflect upon ourselves and begin to reestablish our own identities. Even if this effort affects our position within the priesthood or meets with severe persecution from the Nichiren Shoshu establishment, I believe the time has come for us to believe in the protection of the true Buddha and honestly reevaluate ourselves. I appeal to my fellow Nichiren Shoshu priests to awaken.
Nichiren Daishonin always thought of this mundane world as his realm and of all the people living within it as his children. He always pondered how to make everyone equal to himself. With such absolute compassion, Nichiren Daishonin, the true Buddha, showed all the people of the Latter Day of the Law the correct path to happiness.
During the Daishonin’s lifetime, a disciple named Soya Kyoshin developed his own distorted view of Buddhism, proclaiming that it was not necessary to recite the transient teaching (indicating the Hoben chapter) of the Lotus Sutra. Other believers quit practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism. Yet the Daishonin embraced them all with absolute compassion, strictly attempting to guide them to the correct way of faith. We, his disciples in these modern times, should understand Nichiren Daishonin’s deep compassion and realize that now is the time to regain his spirit and his way of practice.
The Soka Gakkai is a very respectable organization which, under the leadership of the successive presidents, has been dedicated to improving and refining the faith of its members. It has made many great contributions to society based upon faith in the Gohonzon and the guidance of Honorary President Ikeda. I maintain that the Soka Gakkai has been able to make such progress because the true Buddha has been watching over its development. The Soka Gakkai cannot be merely a ‘Soka sect’ or an èIkeda sectî as some in the priesthood charge.
Nichiren Daishonin’s great compassion encompasses this lay organization. It is the role of priests to warmly watch over the practice of lay believers while at times guiding them to the correct path of faith. This is the proper way for priests to contribute to kosen-rufu, the task entrusted to us all by Nichiren Daishonin. I hope the members of the Soka Gakkai are convinced that justice will surely prevail. I also sincerely hope that nothing will sway them in their struggle.