Volume 1, No. 8 (Part 1) December 09, 1991
Soka Gakkai President Akiya, who is also an SGI general director, gave the following speech at a commemorative meeting for the great victory of the ‘Soka Renaissance’ held at the Soka International Friendship Hall in Sendagaya, Tokyo, on Nov. 30, following the receipt of the ‘Notice of the Soka Gakkai’s Excommunication.’ The original text of the speech was carried in the Dec. 2 Seikyo Shimbun.
‘As Nichiren Daishonin’s disciples, we Soka Gakkai members practice Buddhism in exact accord with the Daishonin’s spirit together with President Ikeda.’
First, I apologize for asking all of you to gather today despite your busy schedule at the end of the month. Members throughout the nation, however, have been overjoyed since this morning. I believe that each area has marked a fresh, joyful departure today.
President Ikeda composed a poem in commemoration of today’s meeting; so I would like to share it with you.
The destined moment
has finally arrived
for kings and queens of Soka.
President Ikeda commented, ”Kings and queens of Soka’ means that all Soka Gakkai members are kings and queens of faith.’
Yesterday afternoon (Nov. 29) we received the ridiculous ‘Notice of the Soka Gakkai’s Excommunication’ from Nichiren Shoshu. As Nichiren Daishonin’s disciples, we Soka Gakkai members practice Buddhism in exact accord with the Daishonin’s spirit together with President Ikeda. The priesthood says it has excommunicated us, but, to begin with, we have never been disciples of the slanderous High Priest Nikken. No matter how many times the priesthood may send us such notices, therefore, it has no meaning whatsoever in terms of faith. To us the notice is nothing more than an ineffective scare tactic. No Soka Gakkai member will be influenced by such intimidation.
In the notice, the priesthood declares that it has no relations with the Soka Gakkai hereafter. With this notice, therefore, Nichiren Shoshu has become one of the most minor and insignificant sects in Japan, and the Soka Gakkai has turned into a worldwide religious organization.
Having their slanderous acts exposed one after another and being unable to respond to any of our questions, High Priest Nikken and the priesthood felt compelled to resort to such an anachronistic act of excommunication. Without any prior discussion, the priesthood has excommunicated us with a single notice. This utterly base action is reminiscent of the Dark Ages. I must say that this measure by the priesthood is a cruel, outrageous action that goes against the era of democratization and tramples upon the spirit of individual religious freedom.
We have already received many voices of encouragement from intellectuals and scholars regarding this recent incident. For example, one university professor said: ‘How could the priesthood resort to excommunication? I’m completely at a loss to explain their psychology. It is most likely unprecedented in religious history that so many believers were excommunicated [at one time].’
To begin with, the current priesthood, which has committed various slanderous offenses and thus turned into the ‘Nikken sect,’ is not qualified to excommunicate the Soka Gakkai. While making his juniors advocate heretical doctrines such as the ‘oneness of a high priest and the true Buddha’ and the theory that the Gosho is only a ‘part’ of while the high priest’s guidance is the ‘whole’ of the Daishonin’s teaching, High Priest Nikken has committed 15 major offenses so far, including erecting a tombstone for his ancestors at a Zen temple. Clearly it is High Priest Nikken himself who will be strictly judged by the Daishonin.
Furthermore, I strongly feel that the priesthood has already been excommunicated by Nichiren Daishonin for its attempt to destroy the harmonious unity among believers and thus obstruct the progress of kosen-rufu.
The priesthood keeps repeating the word ‘excommunication.’ Its true intention, however, is to lure more Soka Gakkai members into lay organizations under local temples. The priesthood’s ambition to disband the Soka Gakkai through its so-called danto movement has not changed in the slightest. We must perceive this as the true intent of the priesthood.
As proof of the priesthood’s real intention, General Administrator Fujimoto stated at the press conference, ‘The Soka Gakkai has been excommunicated; however, individual Gakkai members remain as believers [of Nichiren Shoshu].’
Some local temples already announced that they would no longer bestow the Gohonzon upon believers unless they are Hokkeko (a lay organization administered by a local temple) members or belong directly to a local temple. In other words, priests are trying to lure individual believers using the Gohonzon as bait. We must resolutely fight against such priests who harbor such base motives. Otherwise, we would receive retribution for supporting slanderers.
Now that the chains of darkness in our faith have been severed, we can advance freely, without any restriction, toward worldwide kosen-rufu. I hereby would like to issue a victorious declaration of ‘Soka Renaissance,’ for we have won the freedom of the soul.
From now on, it is expected that cruel schemers will employ various deceptive tactics. But we should never be fooled by them. In this regard, I would like to clarify some points.
Regarding the Gohonzon, chief priests at local temples will probably attempt to intimidate members to leave the Gakkai, saying, ‘Since the Gakkai is excommunicated, it does not have the heritage of the Law. The Gakkai members’ Gohonzon have become just pieces of paper. But if they directly belong to a local temple, they can reconnect their Gohonzon to the heritage of the Law.’ The Gohonzon is not a television set. You cannot turn on and off the heritage of the Law so easily. To say such a thing, I think, is a proof of insanity.
The Daishonin states in the Gosho:
‘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 you life. Only then will you realize that earthly desires are enlightenment and the sufferings of life and death are nirvana. Without the lifeblood of faith, it would be useless to embrace the Lotus Sutra.’ (MW-1, 25)
In other words, our great power of faith is the substance of the heritage of the Law.
Nichiu Shonin, the ninth high priest, states in ‘On the Formalities of True Buddhism’:
‘Faith, the heritage of the Law and the lineage of the LawÊall these refer to the same thing. So long as believers’ faith is unswayed, they will not contradict both the heritage and the lineage of the Law.’
We will not go against the heritage of the Law that has been handed down from the Daishonin as long as we maintain resolute faith. We receive benefit of the Gohonzon when we fuse our powers of faith and practice with the powers of the Law and the Buddha that are embodied in the Gohonzon. In light of the Gosho, it is clear that those who summon forth the great power of faith will continue to gain immeasurable benefit exactly as they did before. Let us validate this with our actual proof.
Overseas members, new members and those who move away from their families need not worry whatsoever about practicing without the Gohonzon. They can chant to the Gohonzon enshrined at community centers located throughout the country and in other members’ home. In any case, I would like to confirm the foremost importance of individual members’ faith.
There is no problem with leaving the graves and ashes of the deceased at Nichiren Shoshu temples. But please make sure that you continue ‘to pay a custody fee.’
The general administrator has made few remarks about the use of the name of Nichiren Shoshu. Because the current priesthood has turned into the slanderous ‘Nikken sect,’ it is not qualified to call itself Nichiren Shoshu [which means the orthodox sect of Nichiren] anymore. Whether the Gakkai will use the name of Nichiren Shoshu from now on is totally up to us. The priesthood has no reason to instruct us in this regard.
Funerals and wedding ceremonies may be conducted as we have been doing. Many funerals and wedding ceremonies have been conducted throughout the world without priests. Members may hold wedding ceremonies at community centers.
It has been decided that a ceremonial section will be established for each prefecture and ward. Prefecture- and ward- level leaders will be appointed as ceremonial section chiefs and vice chiefs. Regarding funerals, families of the deceased may request local headquarters- or chapter-level leaders to conduct funerals, as we have already been doing.
The Soka Gakkai Headquarters will soon send the priesthood an official letter to demand the resignation of High Priest Nikken, who has resorted to this unjust measure after committing slanderous acts one after another. As of now, signatures demanding the high priest’s resignation total some 12,420,000 (10,890,000 in Japan and 1,530,000 overseas) around the world.
We will send these signatures to the priesthood as the voices of people’s justified anger. Let us resolutely advance together with our friends in Japan and the rest of the world until High Priest Nikken resigns.
Let us practice the Daishonin’s Buddhism based on the Gohonzon and the Gosho and advance toward kosen-rufu together with President Ikeda, holding aloft the banner of humanism.
Mr. Yoshinori Ohguchi, attorney and member of the Shizuoka youth division, gave the following speech at a commemorative meeting celebrating the ’emancipation’ of the Soka Gakkai as a result of the head temple’s ‘Notice of the Soka Gakkai’s Excommunication.’ The meeting was held at the Soka International Friendship Hall in Sendagaya, Tokyo, on Nov. 30. The original text of the speech was carried in the Dec. 2 Seikyo Shimbun.
As expected, we received the head temple’s ‘Notice of Excommunication’ yesterday. This astonishing document, which symbolizes the anachronistic and authoritarian tendencies characteristic of Edo period (1603Œ1868) religious authorities, is even more carelessly composed and lacking in substance than the ‘Order for the Soka Gakkai to Disband’ issued on Nov. 7. The head temple intends to expel the entire organization with this notice, but how is this possible when the Soka Gakkai is an autonomous religious corporation?
The idea of expulsion applies only to those who are under the direct administration of a religious authority, or applies only in a situation where a religious teacher decides to cast off a pupil. Thus, it has no relevance to the Gakkai, which is an independent organization.
In light of this, we could say that the order characterizes the priesthood’s childishness. I think it’s time for High Priest Nikken and General Administrator Fujimoto to both thoroughly study up on the conventional practice of excommunication.
Yesterday, General Administrator Fujimoto revealed the priesthood’s sinister design to boost its heretofore unsuccessful danto movement. He did this by stating in a press conference that the alleged excommunication is ‘the severest punishment for a lay organization,’ and by urging members to ‘leave the Gakkai and to become believers [under the administration of the priesthood]… as their status as members of Nichiren Shoshu remains unchanged.’
In other words, what they’re trying to say is, ‘We’ve excommunicated the Soka Gakkai; so we won’t allow you to carry out activities as Gakkai members. However, should you join a temple-associated danto group we will permit you to practice as you wish.’ This is nothing but a last-ditch attempt by the ‘Nikken sect’ to ensnare SGI members into joining the failing danto groups.
It is important to note that there is nothing in the Nichiren Shoshu bylaws that enables the priesthood to excommunicate a lay organization. As there are no procedural bases for what is presently being attempted, it follows that the ‘Nikken sect’ selfishly decided to expel the Soka Gakkai when maintaining the association became inconvenient. This reveals the priesthood’s feudalistic orientation. Even conventions of legal procedure provide the defendant with a chance to explain his or her position; otherwise, an indictment would be made invalid.
Furthermore, the rationale for the excommunication is based on ideas that completely deviate from the correct path of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. These include meaningless and rather humorous theories that draw on the erroneous idea that High Priest Nikken is the true Buddha (that the high priest is superior to Nichiren Daishonin himself). Based on this, the priesthood advances the ‘absolute authority of the high priest’ and the ‘superiority of clergy over laity.’
Moreover, why is the head temple forcefully pursuing the makeshift excommunication measure against the lay organizationsÊthe Soka Gakkai and the SGIÊinstead of dealing with individual leaders and members? [Note: Article 230 of ‘Nichiren Shoshu Rules’ allows for the expulsion, reprimand of, and admonishment of believers in addition to the suspension of their privileges.] It is because High Priest Nikken wants to avoid a legal confrontation at all cost.
That is to say, because sect guidelines allow the expulsion of individuals, those being excommunicated have a legal right to challenge that order in a court of law. Such a situation would force the high priest to appear in court as the chief executive of the defendant, Nichiren Shoshu. This is why the priesthood has reverted to excommunicating an entire lay organization, an action that has no procedural basis in sect regulations and cannot, therefore, be challenged legally.
General Administrator Fujimoto stated in the press conference that the head temple will ‘give consideration later to the matter of reclaiming Gohonzon issued to the Gakkai and affiliated organizations,’ but, in fact, it has absolutely no legal basis for making this demand. Should the priesthood decide to sue us on this matter, the courts are not likely to consider it seriously. The fact that he made this comment proves that the Edo period lives on in his mind.
Now I’d like to turn to the issue of familial gravesites. Among those of you who currently have family graves inside Nichiren Shoshu temple grounds, there may be some who are worried that, on account of the present dispute, you may no longer be able to maintain them, or may have to return those plots to the respective temples. Let me say here that there is no need to worry in this way. So long as you properly pay the required management fees, you retain the legal right to continue using those gravesites.
Moreover, there may be those who are worried that a proper burial isn’t possible unless priests recite the sutra at funerals. A leading constitutional scholar, however, has stated that from the perspective of an individual’s freedom of religion, a proper burial is possible even without a ceremony. We have no need to pay heed to the slanderous priests of the ‘Nikken sect.’ On the contrary, we ourselves can sincerely recite the sutra and offer our prayers in laying our loved ones to rest.
Also, General Administrator Fujimoto stated, ‘The term ‘Nichiren Shoshu’ cannot be used for much longer as part of the Gakkai’s official name.’ But we have been the ‘Nichiren Shoshu Soka Gakkai’ for quite a few years, and it would be legally impossible to force us to change that name. On the contrary, it is the current Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, which has abandoned the spirit of the Daishonin, that should consider changing its name to the ‘Nikken school.’
Last, 8,000 members of our Shizuoka Prefecture youth division toiled sincerely at Taiseki-ji in preparation for last year’s culture festival commemorating the 700th anniversary of the founding of the head temple. While members of the young men’s and young women’s divisions juggled their work and Gakkai schedules to exert themselves tirelessly in the intense summer heat, the head temple administration, led by High Priest Nikken, was cooking up the ‘Operation C’ strategy.
The recent petition drive to unseat the high priest has enabled members worldwide to register their disgust and demonstrate their determination to not let the villainous ‘Nikken sect’ have its way.