‘Business-oriented Priests’ Lacking in Propagation Spirit
There is a saying in Japan that if you are successful as a beggar for three days, you would not want to quit. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to quit being a priest after just one day because it can be so lucrative.
Just by offering a few impressive words to a pious believer of high social status, you can be respected as a priest well versed in the eternity of life. You will be received with sake and wonderful food, and given a handsome offering upon leaving. Enjoy this pattern for just one day and you will never want to quit being a priest.
Additionally, the national authorities will guarantee your social status as a member of the clergy and even present you with a financial endowment (kashikin) for your cause. No matter how pure one’s faith may have been upon becoming a priest, he could easily lose his way by becoming accustomed to luxury and monetary offerings. Looking back at the history of Nichiren Shoshu, this observation becomes all the more clear. Nichiren Shoshu today is a product of a history of corruption and decadence.
We can look at the village where Taiseki-ji is located and, in a sense, view it as a place where kosen-rufu is already achieved. It also attests to Nichiren Shoshu’s history of decadence and corruption. This village is in the Hanno area of Fujinomiya city. All the Hanno-area residents became lay believers of Nichiren Shoshu’s Myokyo-ji temple in the Edo Period. Presently, they belong to one of Taiseki-ji’s lodging temples. Only five of the remaining 150 village households are not Nichiren Shoshu believers.
The state of faith in this village, however, is simply pathetic, as slanderous items of other religions are commonplace there. For instance, Taiseki-ji built the Mieido temple on the site where Myokyo-ji—the temple at which all the villagers converted to Nichiren Shoshu in the Edo Period—used to stand. The Mieido today has become a Shinto shrine with a shimenawa rope [a braided rice-straw rope used to demarcate a sacred Shinto space]. Enshrined in the center of the Mieido is the Shinto object of devotion, with a statue of Nichiren Daishonin off to one side. Along with the Shinto object are two wooden Gohonzon, one transcribed by Nitten-[27th], and one by Nichiei-[51st].
Also in this village is the Monju-do, a temple equipped with a collection box. It, too, is decorated with a shimenawa rope indicating it as a sacred Shinto place. Enshrined there is a wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nikkyo-[62nd]. During seasonal festivals, they place a painted scroll of Bodhisattva Manjushri in front of it.
Citizens of this village—those people said to be time-honored members of Taiseki-ji—never received a proper education in faith from the Taiseki-ji priesthood. Still, they possess many Gohonzon transcribed directly by successive high priests. They received these joju-Gohonzon in return for monetary offerings. (Note: Joju means “eternally dwelling.”) Often, these old temple members’ homes contain fox statues, fox talismans, Jizo statues [a sort of bodhisattva god of protection] and other objects of worship.
Instead of teaching them correct faith, all Taiseki-ji did was conduct funerals and memorial services in return for offerings. They would rather not discuss the truth of Nichiren Buddhism and the admonition against slander because it would alienate lay believers and their money. Taiseki-ji priests thus refrained addressing the strict aspects of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Whenever they received a generous offering, they made it a practice to present joju — or wooden Gohonzon to the donor as a gesture of appreciation.
The plight of lay believers’ faith in the vicinity of Taiseki-ji shows the true history of Taiseki-ji. The faith of Hanno-area citizens is eloquent proof of how Taiseki-ji has been surviving as a school of funeral Buddhism. Faith in the Law was lost at Taiseki-ji long before the Soka Gakkai appeared.
The many business-oriented priests of Nichiren Shoshu have been concealing their greed. Losing touch with the Law, they used Nichiren Buddhism to solicit offerings in order to satisfy their base desires.
This chapter presents examples of Nichiren Shoshu priests who lent money at high interest rates while seeking offerings from slanderers and intimidated families of the deceased over the issuance of phony doshi-Gohonzon. They even sold Gohonzon for profit and had affairs without guilt.
Exploitation Through High Interest Rates
Buddhism Undermined by Priesthood’s Earthly Desires and Contempt for the People
Buddhism perishes with the corruption of the priesthood as priests ignore the suffering of the people, despise them, and indulge in pleasure seeking.
Why did Buddhism perish in India, the birthplace of Shakyamuni? It was because the priesthood sacrificed the relief of suffering to use people as a source of offerings. Abusing their religious authority, priests instilled fear in people in order to exploit them. Behind the downfall of Buddhism in India was the corruption of a priesthood at the mercy of its own earthly desires.
As the financial foundation of the Buddhist order expanded, it accelerated the corruption of the priesthood.
The Buddhist order in India increased its assets after the Buddha’s demise thanks to the protection of King Ashoka. Financial assets grew along with property values and the interest from leasing those properties.
It became unnecessary for monks to ask for alms, causing them to become detached from the people. Eventually, the spirit with which Shakyamuni expounded the Law was completely lost from the Buddhist order.
As a result, people lost faith in Buddhism. They even came to see it as an object of hatred. This is how Buddhism perished in India.
After coming to Japan through China, Buddhism was restricted to only those in power. In Japan, it was protected by the nation’s leaders. Monks and temples prayed for the enlightenment of leaders’ ancestors and for national security.
In Kamakura, Buddhism eventually spread to the general populace. In the Edo Period, however, Buddhism was used by the Tokugawa government as an agent to control people. In reward, temples received government financial support, which enabled them to maintain good social standing. Buddhist schools could acquire lay believers thanks to a government policy that required all people to register with their family temple. As a result, temples saw no need to propagate the Law, concerned only about how to secure more offerings from lay believers mandated by the government. This is why religion in Japan became the known as “funeral Buddhism,” as this became their primary service.
People’s deeply held belief in the existence of hell compelled them to make offerings to priests for salvation. Prosperous temples then competed in building grand structures in order to boost their religious authority. Such large edifices served as enshrinement sites for Buddhist statues and as priests’ lodging quarters, but not as places where the people could gather to discuss Buddhism.
Huge complexes made it easy for the priesthood to hide corruption and oppress and enslave people through the splendor of their temples. Since Buddhism had lost its original purpose, having large buildings was indispensable for temples to mislead their followers.
Income from the offerings of lay believers, however, was insufficient to construct these large structures. Therefore, priests coerced socially powerful and wealthy leaders into investing in them so that they could then loan that money out at a high interest rate. The borrowers were the temple’s lay believers and farmers in the vicinity. Priests had become loan sharks.
Farmers borrowed money from temples, using their land as collateral, to offset their annual payments to the government. In some years, however, harvests were poor due to weather conditions, and farmers could not pay back the interest they owed, which often resulted in the temple confiscating their land.
Other farmers were then leased the confiscated land who now had to pay rent to the temple and annual duty to the government office.
Under such conditions, temples were not places where people could deepen their faith. As part of the governmental bureaucracy, temples oppressed people under the danka system, consistently siphoning off their meager assets.
Lay believers were intimidated by being told that unless they visited their temples, the priests would report them to the government as suspected Christians. Those that did visit were pressured to demonstrate their faith through the amount of offerings. The priests also threatened believers by telling them that they would fall into hell should they disrespect the priesthood. There is no sign of compassion in such an authoritarian attitude. Instead, we can see their greed in relentlessly squeezing offerings from believers and their arrogance in abusing their religious authority for personal gain.
Taiseki-ji Builds Structures With Slanderers’ Offerings and Makes High-Interest Loans
What about Taiseki-ji? In fact, it was no different in that regard from other Buddhist sects. Backed by government authority, it exploited the people, changing Nichiren Buddhism into funeral Buddhism by repeatedly collecting offerings. Although the Taiseki-ji school experienced some persecution, it was lay believers who were persecuted over their earnest propagation efforts.
The Taiseki-ji priesthood, currying favor with the Edo government, became complacent, forgetting about propagation and the happiness of the people.
Taiseki-ji was engulfed in flames on October 12, 1635. A fire consumed the main temple, the Sanmon Gate and the lodging quarters. In those days, Kuon-ji at Mount Minobu, backed by government authority, placed many Nichiren schools under its control including Fujufuse, a school that refused all offerings from slanderers, even the government.
Kuon-ji threatened Nichiren schools that rejected slanderous government offerings. If these temples showed signs of disobedience, Kuon-ji, working with the government, would persecute them and eventually put them under its control.
Kuon-ji pressured the five major Fuji schools (Fuji Taiseki-ji, Kitayama Honmon-ji, Nishiyama Honmon-ji, Koizumi Kuon-ji and Myoren-ji) to accept the government’s offerings.
Taiseki-ji at first survived by keeping its attitude regarding this matter unclear. But in 1665, along with Kitayama Honmon-ji and Myoren-ji, it finally submitted an agreement letter to the government to accept an offering of property. The following is from the letter:
- Here is our document to your office. We have received government contributions. We take them as offerings from the government. We are different from the Fujufuse school in this regard. This is our understanding.
August 21 in the 5th year of Kanbun (1665)
Honmon-ji, Myoren-ji and Taiseki-ji” (The Essential Works of the Fuji School, vol. 8).
To maintain its standing with the government, Taiseki-ji built structures on its grounds with the offerings. Losing sight of the essential teaching of Buddhism, it sought superficial prosperity. In 1712, Taiseki-ji appealed to Danjo Shoyu Honda, magistrate of temples and shrines, for support in the construction of a new Sanmon Gate. Taiseki-ji received 70 large pieces of lumber obtained from property owned by the Tokugawa government. It also received a financial contribution of 300 ryo from Tennei-in, wife of the 6th shogun Tokugawa Ienobu.
What was the cause of the 1635 fire at Taiseki-ji? It could be argued that the Buddhist gods refused to lend it protection because the Law had been ignored.
For instance, in those days, Taiseki-ji was under the administration of Nissei-[17th]. Nissei taught the importance of erecting and worshipping Buddhist statues. The Taiseki-ji priesthood, however, offered no Buddhist apology for these slanderous acts. Rather, it continued seeking prosperity by cozying up to the government and receiving offerings.
With generous government offerings, Taiseki-ji reconstructed nearly all the structures lost during the 1635 fire. It took many more years to reconstruct the five-story pagoda.
According to The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School, the five-story pagoda reconstruction work began in 1745. The new pagoda was completed in 1749 at a cost of 4,000 ryo, including a 1,000-ryo contribution from Katsusumi Suwanokami, a high Edo government official.
In the previous chapter, I introduced an historic document Taiseki-ji submitted to Egawa Taro Saemon, magistrate of Nirayama in Izu. It contains a shocking revelation about the pagoda reconstruction:
Since we accumulated interest on the money left over, we reconstructed the treasure tower of the five-story pagoda in the time period of Enko.
(from a report by Taiseki-ji to Egawa Taro Saemon, magistrate of Nirayama, Izu, hereafter called “A Report”)
This old document also mentions that Taiseki-ji, using surplus funds from the five-story pagoda reconstruction in its money-lending business. Like other slanderous sects, Taiseki-ji erected structures on its grounds using such income.
Using the money that was left over, . . . we engaged in lending it to . . .
Nichikan-[26th], who wanted to reconstruct the five-story pagoda, left behind the following:
Two hundred ryo in cash and 800 grains of gold. These came out of the characters of the Gohonzon that I, Nichikan, transcribed [from believers offerings]. I offered them to the three treasures, deciding that they should be used to build the structure. The characters of the Gohonzon transformed into gold and cash. When this gold changes into the Gohonzon, we should use it for construction. Without faith, we should never use [such resources] under any circumstances. The disciples and lay supporters of the future should keep this in mind.
June 18 in the 11th year of Kyoho
To senior priests and lay supporters” (The Essential Works of the Fuji School, vol. 8).
Nichikan’s wish was that the five-story pagoda be constructed based neither upon slanderous offerings from the government nor upon money Taiseki-ji earned through making loans, but rather upon the offerings resulting from believers’ sincere efforts in faith and propagation.
After Nichikan died, however, Taiseki-ji deviated from the correct way of Nichiren Daishonin’s disciples. It chose to prosper by colluding with the government while treating its believers only as sources of income.
Taiseki-ji Requests Government Support in Collecting Loan Interest
Taiseki-ji, as did other heretical temples in the Edo Period, walked the path of corruption. Just as others did, Taiseki-ji operated a money-lending business with money offered by lay believers. Taiseki-ji then used its profits to construct the five-story pagoda. With surplus funds, Taiseki-ji intended to profit even further. The business scheme did not go so well, however, due to continued bad weather that caused successive poor harvests.
Because of poor harvests in recent years, and also because of the flood caused by water from Mount Fuji on April 8 , many rice paddies were lost. It is very difficult to restore them.
After this rice disaster, Taiseki-ji pleaded to the magistrate for help:
Because of the power of the government, farmers were diligent in remitting the interest on their loans. Should they get behind due to the current societal conditions, however, we may bring the issue to the government. If that should happen, please extend your mercy to us and help us collect our credit. We deeply appreciate your support.
Taiseki-ji, instead of sharing Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism with the people, engaged in loaning poor people the money it originally received from the government or that it collected as offerings from lay believers. It was a typical way of managing the temple in those days.
The offerings by lay believers are, in a sense, meant for the Gohonzon. Taiseki-ji, however, used them as business capital for its own benefit. Additionally, when business deadlocks arose because the people were experiencing hardship, Taiseki-ji begged the government for mercy, asking it to collect money from poor farmers on its behalf.
Nichiren Daishonin, who strove to establish correct faith for the security of the nation, staked his life on saving suffering people and urging the government to do right by them. How did his spirit depart Taiseki-ji?
Furthermore, since this country is a land whose people slander the correct teaching, the benevolent gods who should be protecting the nation have been deprived of the flavor of the Law and have ascended to heaven, forsaking their shrines. The empty shrines have been occupied by demons that are misleading the worshipers. The Buddha, having finished preaching, has returned to the Land of Tranquil Light. Halls and pagodas, and temples and shrines have been abandoned to become the dwellings of devils. These imposing structures stand in rows, built at state expense and through compulsory labor imposed on the people.
(WND, vol. 1, pp. 1017–18)
The five-story pagoda, which stands on a hill surrounded by cedar trees beyond Taiseki-ji’s Mitobashi Bridge, was actually a structure built on the suffering of people who had to pay high interest rates on loans from the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. It stands to reason that this edifice, reconstructed while Taiseki-ji had already lost the spirit to propagate Nichiren Buddhism, became decrepit in tandem with the collapse of the Tokugawa government whose authority backed Taiseki-ji’s prosperity.
As the Meiji Period unfolded, Taiseki-ji’s errant priests sold off the pagoda’s copper roof tiles to buy kegs of sake. In contrast, using heartfelt offerings from believers in accord with Nichikan’s wish, Soka Gakkai second president Josei Toda volunteered to repair the desolate pagoda as a demonstration of the Gakkai’s efforts to propagate Nichiren Buddhism and to express the significance of Buddhism’s westward expansion (as the pagoda faces westward).
Taiseki-ji distorted the teaching of Nichiren Buddhism. It also curried favor with government authority. Ignoring propagation, Taiseki-ji loaned out believers’ offerings to the poor and used the interest to embellish its grounds with new structures. Taiseki-ji even asked the government to help collect interest from struggling borrowers. Taking advantage of offerings while caring little about believers’ sufferings, Taiseki-ji priests indulged in pleasure seeking, for which they felt no shame. Taiseki-ji indeed embodies the nature of the Latter Day, the time when the Law is lost. It was the Soka Gakkai’s appearance that brought the justice of Nichiren Daishonin’s True Law back to Taiseki-ji.
No matter how it tries to deceive lay believers with beautiful phrases like “700 years of history lit with the light of the succession of the Law” and “the pure current of the Fuji school” it cannot hide historical facts. The Soka Gakkai purified Nichiren Shoshu, which was buried in the mud of slander, and propagated Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings among the people with faith directly connected to his spirit and heart.
Priest Marriages Contribute to the Corruption of Nichiren Shoshu
Nichiko Regards Married Priests as No Different From Laity
The precepts by which Nichiren Shoshu priests must abide throughout their lives are the “Twenty-six Admonitions” by Nikko Shonin, founder of Taiseki-ji. Following these admonitions was Nikko’s strict order to priests.
Nikko stated at the end of the admonitions, “Those who violate even one of these articles cannot be called disciples of Nikko.” Nichiren Shoshu priests should never break any of the admonitions.
These admonitions include the following:
My disciples should conduct themselves as holy priests, patterning their behavior after that of the late master [Nichiren]. But even if a high priest or a priest of profound practice and understanding deviates from [the principle of] sexual abstinence, he may still be allowed to remain in the priesthood [as a priest without rank].
As to this admonition, Nichiko-[59th] states in his Detailed Accounts of Nikko Shonin of the Fuji School:
The scope of this article is beyond me, a regular priest. As I observe the current plight of the priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu, I hope that it is temporary, and I pray it will eventually return to the normalcy of the days of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. Nichiren Daishonin set aside the use of the precept; however, he did not abandon precepts all together. I abandoned the five, eight and ten precepts of Hinayana Buddhism. I also abandoned the ten major and forty-eight minor precepts of Mahayana Buddhism. But he maintained the original diamond precept of the essential teaching. For this reason, he advocated the establishment of the high sanctuary of the essential teaching. Even though he did not disclose what this precept looks like, he clearly did not go by the precepts of Hinayana, Mahayana and the transient Lotus Sutra teaching. He used the term natural for the precept he had in mind, but what he had in mind was, in no way, reckless human behavior.
At the very beginning, Nichiko states, “The scope of this article is beyond me, a regular priest.” Surrounded by married priests, he seems to have deplored the idea that unmarried, sacred Nichiren Shoshu priests would not appear anytime soon. Seeing the reality of the priesthood, Nichiko says, “I hope that it is temporary, and I pray it will eventually return to the normalcy of the days of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin.” The fact that almost all Nichiren Shoshu priests were married seemed to Nichiko an abnormality. From this, we can sense what Nichiren Shoshu was once again supposed to be like in the future.
In his admonitions, Nikko Shonin taught, “My disciples should conduct themselves as holy priests, patterning their behavior after that of the late master.” In this admonition, he demonstrated that Nichiren Daishonin, who advocated no [specific] precept, did not accept recklessness by breaking precepts. Nichijun and Nichizon also admonished reckless human behavior . . . [Nikko Shonin] would not have accepted the current lifestyle of the priesthood, which is no different from that of the laity. I hear there are priests, who, while living their married existences with a secular mindset, boast that just by wearing their robes they are honest and genuine priests; and when they see a priest who reflects on his shameful behavior, they accuse him of hypocrisy. If this type of self-indulgence is the normal way of the priesthood, the spirit of this article by Nikko Shonin is dead for now. I take the current married life of the priesthood as a temporal abnormality.
(Detailed Accounts of Nikko Shonin of the Fuji School).
Here, Nichiko emphasizes the proclamation by Taiseki-ji founder, Nikko Shonin: “My disciples should conduct themselves as holy priests, pattering their behavior after that of the late master.” Nikko, as the disciple, makes clear that Nichiren Daishonin, while abiding by no specific precept, was a sacred priest throughout his life.
Asserting that married priests are the same as lay believers, Nichiko is very critical, rejecting the reality of Nichiren Shoshu, where priests consider it only natural that they marry.
The part that reads “. . . even if a high priest or a priest of profound practice and understanding” is not easy to understand. The two characters of the high priest are obvious, but “a priest of profound practice and understanding” literally denotes a young priest who studies at an institution such as an academy of Tendai. And in case this young priest gives in to a bad influence and has sex with a woman, he should not be excommunicated or thus returned to his secular lifestyle. In other words, he should retain the status of priest even though he would not be allowed to advance in the hierarchy of priesthood.
In the case of a high priest who engages in such acts, he should be demoted as a high priest, letting him assume a lower position. I would take the above admonition in this manner. I don’t think Nikko Shonin made this admonition with the idea that such instances would actually occur in the future.
What about the case of a priest committing the sin of adultery? Nikko Shonin suggests that a high priest or other priests of high status who have committed such an offense should not be excommunicated or ordered to quit being a priest. He rather suggests that they should be placed in the lower ranks of priests.
In any case, when Nikko Shonin conceived of these admonitions, little did he dream that his future disciples would take the unthinkable action of getting married while living as priests. In this admonition, he is talking about an unmarried priest engaging in sex. The notion of a married priest would have been out of the question for him.
In other words, in those days, we can see that priests who engaged in sex were usually excommunicated or ordered to go back to the laity.
In addition to interpreting this article in the above manner, Nichiko also notes the story behind the inclusion of this admonition in Nikko Shonin’s twenty-six warnings to future disciples.
In light of historical facts, the person who seems to correspond to this student priest is Nichidai Shonin, but he was not the type of person to whom this admonition was intended. There were no other student priests at Omosu Seminary. Among his juniors at Taiseki-ji, Nichimoku Shonin was 74, and he was a highly respected priest with solid faith and practice, so we can rule him out. Nichido Shonin, who succeeded Nichimoku Shonin, was neither young nor a student priest. Minbu Nichijo, who was an actual elder brother of Daigaku Nichijo, also became a priest as did his elder brother, and studied for a long time in Kamakura. Both Nikko Shonin and Nichimoku Shonin thought highly of him. This person, though he was supposed to succeed Nichimoku Shonin, may have followed in his father’s bad behavior and been suspected of adultery. Otherwise, this admonition of Nikko Shonin sounds too unrealistic. Therefore, for those of you who view this admonition by Nikko Shonin, I hope what he had in mind was these three particular cases rather than a possible future scenario.
Nichiren Shoshu priests should reconsider the matter of marriage because it is becoming conspicuous how factions are controlling the sect based on family lineage. They should make it their top priority to abide by Nikko Shonin’s admonitions.
Priests Quickly Become Corrupt When Allowed to Marry
When did the priesthood become allowed to freely marry in Japan? Originally, the word shukke, which is interpreted as “priest,” signifies a person who has moved out of his home. Moving out of his home to become a priest, even though he might be married, meant cutting off connections with wife and children.
If a priest committed sexual intercourse, he would have been derided as being a precept breaker. Some corrupt priests tried to keep women at their lodgings, claiming that they were working as maids.
The Tokugawa government strictly monitored priest’s immoral behavior. In the Edo Period, religion was part of the authority structure that upheld the main Tokugawa government and other local governments headed by feudal lords— daimyo. The Tokugawa government was extra sensitive to priest’s improper behavior because a corrupt priesthood could trigger dissatisfaction among the people.
The punishment for sexual intercourse by a temple chief priest was exile to a distant island. An acolyte would first be exposed to society as a criminal, and later punished according to the rules of the sect to which he belonged. Without exception, such an acolyte would be banished from the temple.
Yet, priesthood corruption was unstoppable. And the Tokugawa government frequently exiled failed priests. The sexual activities of priests were kept in check by pressure from the Edo government rather than self-control.
Upon the dawn of the Meiji Period, however, the situation dramatically changed. On April 25, 1872, government order #133 was issued. It declared: “Today, the priesthood is free to eat meat, get married and grow their hair. The priesthood is also free to wear ordinary clothes except at religious ceremonies.”
Because of strong government regulations against propagating their teachings, religious schools in Japan lost their vitality. On the other hand, priests’ livelihood was guaranteed because believers were no longer allowed to disassociate themselves from their temples. In the permissive atmosphere following the Meiji Restoration, priests who lapsed in their commitment to saving people were now allowed to have wives.
In September 1877, Gyosei Fukuda, a Jodo sect priest, asked the Meiji government to withdraw the order, lamenting over how slack Japan’s Buddhist community had become.
In response to that protest from a part of the Buddhist community, the Internal Ministry issued an extra notice in February 1878, which read: “We abolished the conventional way that was once prohibited by the national law. Each school should know that this does not mean its own respective bylaw must accord with the national law.”
Namely, the 1872 government order was that the priesthood was allowed to eat meat, marry and grow hair. It was made to abolish the law that all these actions were strictly prohibited. In other words, the government allowed each sect to revise its rules to be in sync with the change of governmental regulations. In effect, however, the order made priest marriages a matter of course.
The Meiji government’s plan to abolish Buddhism was likely behind this secularization of the priesthood’s lifestyle.
The modern emperor system of the Meiji government based the nation on Shintoism in order to strictly govern people and enhance national power. The government defined the emperor as a living god, insisting that his family lineage has been divine since ancient times and thereby defining the people as the subjects of this god.
Buddhist ideals, however, ran counter to this plan to unify the populace under Shintoism. In the Edo Period, Buddhism was stripped of its dignity and used as a means to strengthen national authority [through the danka system]. In the Meiji Period, Buddhism came to be looked upon as an obstacle to Shintoism becoming the religious heart of the nation. The Meiji government’s policy to abolish Buddhism reflects this perception.
Once, it was only the strong authority of the Tokugawa government that kept the priesthood’s earthly desires from exploding. The 1872 government order became a part of this overall Meiji policy.
By unleashing the priesthood’s sexual desires, the Meiji government attempted to degrade and weaken Japan’s Buddhist circle, thus enhancing Shintoism’s social status.
Nichiren Shoshu was easily ensnared in the Meiji government scheme. Since then, a century has passed. Today, Nichiren Shoshu is under the control of some particular families. It has become a very unhealthy, closed society. This family-lineage organization monopolizes the religious authority, using the vitality of people’s faith only for the prosperity of select families. Nichiren Shoshu cannot be in harmony with modern society unless its archaic, unhealthy internal structure is dismantled.
Priesthood Marriages Brings Fundamental Corruption to Nichiren Shoshu.
The karmic cause of the marriage of priests underlies all Nichiren Shoshu problems—corruption, degradation, decadence, conflict, pursuit of power and vanity. Today’s priests must rethink the subject of priest marriages.
Please read the following lengthy passage carefully. In the Meiji Period, Nichiden-[52nd], lamenting the married lifestyles of Nichiren Shoshu priests, stated:
As soon as a notice was issued by the government about the freedom of the priesthood to eat meat, get married and grow their hair with the premise that it is up to the priesthood whether it will enjoy this liberty or not, as each Buddhist school has its own rules about these particular points, the imperial court does not care about the choice that the priesthood of each sect will make as long as it abides by the national law, whether it follows the intention of own sect by abiding by the teachings of own founder or it goes against the intent of own school by breaking its rules.
The priests of various schools rejoiced over this new government policy. They shed joyful tears at this change, taking it as the mercy of the imperial court. There were such a case as a priest openly takes out the statue of Daikoku that he had been hiding or a priest invited a fish merchant into his temple through its main gate where there was a stone monument to prohibit the incoming of fish and liquor through this Sanmon Gate to entertain his lay believers with fish and meat for the celebration of his inauguration as chief priest or a temple that hoists a flag to celebrate the Boys Day in front of the main altar hall and arranges dolls before the altar for celebrating the Girls Days. These are indeed shameful stories, aren’t they?
Such cases may not apply to all sects equally, and there may be pure, precept-abiding priests and lay believers who, living with their own spirit to protect the Law, go by the fundamental Buddhist spirit of the Founder. But even when there were strict regulations under the old government, many priests broke the precepts. Today’s plight is even more deplorable. The priests are, in this way, inviting the misfortune of the abolishment of Buddhism through their own behavior . . .
Nikko Shonin states in his “Twenty-six Admonitions” that his heart lies in the point that even if a high priest or a student priest breaks the principle of priestly sacredness, his mistake should be pardoned by the high priest of the time on behalf of Nikko Shonin, and he should be placed among other priests as long as he is earnest in study and profound in his commitment to propagate the great Law should he commit adultery. With this admonition, Nikko Shonin does not simply mean that he is ready to pardon any precept-breaking priest . . .
Those priests, whether they belong to our school or not, who rejoice over government permission to eat meat and get married, are violating the teachings of Shakyamuni, thus inviting the destruction of Buddhism, aren’t they? Those resolved to play a central role in their school must first study thoroughly. Faith and practice, however, are even more important than knowledge and ability. Even if they carry Buddhist and non-Buddhist scriptures in their hearts, if their faith is not reflected in their behavior and their actions are violent and disorderly, they will function to break lay believers’ faith and invite the end of Buddhism. The founder Nichiren Daishonin states: ‘Thus you should understand that so long as a practitioner of the Lotus Sutra remains unwavering in faith, free of all false alliances, entrusting himself wholeheartedly to the Lotus Sutra and practicing in accordance with the Buddha’s golden words, he will without fail be able to prevent disaster and prolong his life in this present existence, to say nothing of the life to come. Splendid recompense will be his, and he will fulfill his great vow to broadly proclaim and propagate the Lotus Sutra’ (WND-2, p. 460). At any rate, the propagation of the great Law relies on the genuine faith and practice of both priests and lay believers.
Priests from all schools of the Japanese Buddhist world chose to take advantage of the 1872 government declaration of freedom to marry. Many priests, however, were concerned about the collapse of the idea that priests should remain celibate. They were anxious that priest marriages would corrupt Buddhism at its roots.
Those concerned priests, irrespective of their Buddhist schools, pointed out the crisis in Buddhism over the undeniable paradox inherent in priesthood marriages, a new phenomena of Japan’s “blossoming of civilization” trend under the Meiji government. It can be said that priests chose to engulf their lives in the karmic fire of their earthly desires that consumed their seeking spirit toward enlightenment. The term shukke (abandoning one’s family life)” had lost its meaning.
Thus, the priesthood revealed signs of corruption. Originally, priests left their families, seeking solely the salvation of the people as they tried to cut themselves off from the unavoidable karma that would arise from connections with family members. But they returned, after all, to the karmic secular world.
It was the beginning of the priesthood’s particular agony, which it would share with the laity.
Slanderous Ads in Organ Publications
In Pursuit of Profit, Nichikai Distorts Teachings
Taiseki-ji was in terrible financial trouble in the Meiji Period because of some priests’ out of control behavior. Taiseki-ji was so poor that no one in the vicinity wanted to lend it even a small amount of salt.
The main publication of Nichiren Shoshu in the Meiji and Taisho periods was called Byaku Renge (White Lotus). It was the official organ of Nichiren Shu Fuji School the name of Nichiren Shoshu until 1912). Byaku Renge carried various articles on topics including personnel matters and notices by the school’s Administrative Office. It is equivalent to Dai-Nichiren, Nichiren Shoshu’s current organ.
Nichiren Shu Fuji School was struggling to maintain publication in those days. Therefore, the first issue of Byaku Renge carried an article titled “Mother of Benefit,” which solicited contributions, revealing how much Nichiren Shoshu (Nichiren Shu Fuji School) was struggling financially.
The article first emphasizes the benefit of making contributions:
One’s sincere monetary offering will change into the great benefit of fortune, virtue and contentment in the future. Indeed, making a monetary offering brings about double benefits.
The publication of Byaku Renge is indeed timely and appropriate for propagation, as it answers various questions. If you carry on without supporting this great undertaking, you will be committing a sin in front of the true Buddha and founder, Nichiren Daishonin.
We hereby warn you about this so that you won’t commit the slander of negligence.
In this way, readers were threatened. Those who didn’t offer aid were committing the slander of negligence.
In any event, the publication of Byaku Renge was an important undertaking for all Nichiren Shoshu, a pivotal project for the sake of propagation. It was a crucial new venture, but Nichiren Shoshu was very authoritarian in securing money for this project. It asserted that one would be committing the slander of negligence if he or she did not cooperate with the project; yet, the priests responsible for the publication accepted slanderous advertisements as a source of income.
The ads placed in Byaku Renge were indecent. They are an insult to Nichiren Daishonin, the founder, and Nikko Shonin, who founded Taiseki-ji. Here are some of them.
First, is an altar shop ad that includes a big picture of Daruma (Dharma), a noted Zen monk. Other such ads, like this one for a mokugyo (a wooden bell used by other Buddhist sects), or one for the Hannyashinkyo Sutra, or various others for Buddhist statues are obviously inappropriate for the official Nichiren Shoshu magazine.
This altar shop ad appeared eighteen times in 1913 and 1914.
The Publisher of Byaku Renge in those days was Ho’un Abe, the father of Nikken Abe, who later became Nichikai-[60th].
No matter how destitute Nichiren Shoshu may have been, profiting from an ad with a picture of Zen teacher Daruma is highly inappropriate. This shows just how lacking in appreciation Nichiren Shoshu was for the lay supporters who made sincere offerings to Taiseki-ji despite the weak faith of its priests. At the same time, the ad shows that the priesthood was insensitive to the matter of slander.
There is another astonishing, awful ad that had been published in Byaku Renge. It is for a cloth upon which Nichiren Daishonin’s Gohonzon is woven.
An advertisement for a Gohonzon made of cloth that Nichiren Shoshu ran in its magazine.
The first line reads, “A golden tapestry embroidered with Nichiren Shonin’s original Gohonzon.” Per the detailed ad copy, this textile Gohonzon is about 50 centimeters long by 16 centimeters wide.
Judging from such descriptions as “sharper looking than the Gohonzon depicted in a golden ink on dark blue paper” and “the Gohonzon embroidered skillfully with pure gold thread on one sheet against a dark-blue background,” this Gohonzon must have looked pretty spooky. Noteworthy also is the expression, “Nichiren Shonin, our Founder.” Since it appeared in Byaku Renge, Nichiren Shoshu’s organ, it was meant for both the priesthood and laity.
Also disturbing is the friendly tone of with which the advertiser approaches Nichiren Shoshu priests and believers. It is simply astonishing that the priesthood approved the ad.
At two yen, a “special price,” this Gohonzon scroll was pretty expensive for those days. Who knows how many believers bought this expensive item? It is absolutely unacceptable that the Nichiren Shoshu complacently received an “advertisement fee” for this item that embodies slander involving the Gohonzon
It is also astonishing that the photo of this woven Gohonzon contains the slogan, “in service to the head temple.” The ad reads: “[This Gohonzon is] a ‘one of a kind’ product in the world,” describing the Gohonzon as mere merchandise.
This ad for the woven Gohonzon was published seven times in Byaku Renge, starting in 1913. Since Ho’un Abe became its publisher, the number of slanderous ads dramatically increased.
Here, I am reminded of Shido Ogawa, chief priest of Taiseki-ji’s Rikyo-bo lodging. In June 1991, Ogawa received offerings from medical doctors who were not members of Taiseki-ji. Ogawa tried to pass it off by saying the money he received was for a pamphlet and a yokan (a bar of sweetened bean paste).
It seemed strange at first that Nikken did not dispense with Ogawa for receiving slanderous offerings, but now it seems consistent since Nikken’s father, Nichikai, felt no guilt for even placing slanderous ads in the official Nichiren Shoshu periodical.
Next to this November 1913 woven Gohonzon ad a publisher’s notice reads, “Everyone, please look at this ad.” To the left is another ad proffering “A golden tapestry embroidered with Nichiren Shonin’s original Gohonzon” and containing the following copy:
This year is about to end, and so is our fiscal year. Please think about how our magazine can continue its life of wisdom. Those who have not yet paid the subscription fee, please do not hesitate to make your payment.
Needless to say, the publisher of Byaku Renge was still Ho’un Abe. From the ads in Byaku Renge you can tell that the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, devoid of the spirit to be disciples of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin, had no interest whatsoever in rejecting slanderous items.
It makes sense that such items are still enshrined even today in many Hokkeko members’ homes.
Nichiren Shoshu Also Advertises Slanderous Sect Teacher’s Publication
There are even more slanderous ads in Byaku Renge. An ad placed by Kita Tenkyo Kosha is the sort that should never appear in an official Nichiren Shoshu publication.
First, this company advertises a book titled Secrets for Offering Prayers, with ad copy that reads:
This book is an unparalleled treasure scripture for the world of prayer. Every important teaching of prayer is contained in this book, as is the method to master prayers; everything about spells; and everything about gofu (a healing object). Indeed, this is a secret scripture for the salvation of the people. With this book, you can master any type of prayer. This book has finally arrived with all the points that had been kept in secret.
Since this book was compiled at Honko-in, it must have been produced at a slanderous temple. The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood received money for allowing the book by the slanderous teacher of a slanderous sect to be advertised in its official magazine. A Japanese saying goes, “When you become poor, you become greedy.”
Nichiren Shoshu also allowed another book, One Hundred Key Stories to Preach, to be advertised. Priests might even have bought this book to use in promoting Nichiren Buddhism, quoting the same passages as did priests of other Buddhist sects. These ads were all published along with the ad of the woven Gohonzon in the March 1914 Byaku Renge. The publisher at that time was also Ho’un Abe, Nikken’s father.
From such historical facts we see that before the appearance of the Soka Gakkai, Nichiren Shoshu was a muddy swamp in terms of its spirit of faith. The Soka Gakkai rectified the slanderous direction of Nichiren Shoshu and revived Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, which was unable to erase the slanderous acts of its school and believers while destitute, became affluent thanks to enormous donations from the Soka Gakkai. The same priesthood later came to denounce as slanderous the Gakkai members’ singing of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”!
Nichiren Shoshu priests mouth the strict words of admonition against slander only when bullying believers. Conversely, they say nothing to the old believers at the Taiseki-ji lodging temples no matter how deeply those believers are mired in slanderous acts, because those believers obediently make offerings.
Herein lies the priesthood’s essential nature. Nichiren Shoshu priests wield Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings only as a tool to control believers. When they loudly speak about the True Law and true teaching, it is with the desire to control believers.
Here is another slanderous ad, for a medicine called Rokushingan. It was placed by the Maruoka Eiseido company in the May 1913 Byaku Renge.
In promoting Rokushingan, Maruoka Eiseido used expressions such as “praised by the Ohtani (Nembutsu) school’s assembly,” “praised by the main school Hongan-ji administrative office,” and “praised by Head Temple Honpo-ji High Priest Nissho Ito.” These words appeared in a large font.
It is inappropriate for the official magazine of Nichiren Shoshu to advertise items praised by heretical Buddhist schools like Higashi Hongan-ji and other Nichiren Shu sects. Yet, many such inappropriate ads appeared in Byaku Renge. Incidentally, the Byaku Renge publisher, Byaku Renga Sha, was located on head temple grounds.
Taiseki-ji Loses Treasure Sword Presented to Nichiren Daishonin
The monthly magazine, Nichiren of the World (Sekai no Nichiren), published under the auspices of Jimon Ogasawara, carried an astonishing article in November 1941. It revealed that “A treasure sword forged by Sanjo Munechika”—a precious item once owned by Nichiren Daishonin—and other items were stolen from the Taiseki-ji treasure house.
This sword was originally offered to Nichiren by his lay believer Yagenta Hojo. It is recorded that Nichiren carried this sword when visiting various areas while propagating his Buddhism.
Even though he belonged to the Hojo family that was in power and was guiding the Kamakura government, Yagenta Hojo had become a believer of the Nichiren order. In October 1268, Nichiren wrote eleven letters, and one was addressed to Yagenta Hojo. It seems that to Nichiren, who was resolute in his conviction to convert the Kamakura government to his Buddhism, Yagenta played a vital strategic role.
Yagenta Hojo gave Nichiren a set of two swords. An extant writing by Nichiren, addressed to Yagenta, refers to this offering:
I have received the two swords—a long one and a short one—that you sent as an offering for prayers. The long sword must have been made by a renowned sword smith. It is fully equal to the celebrated swords Amakuni, Onikiri, and Yatsurugi, or to those famous Chinese swords Kan-chian and Moyeh. You have offered this sword to the Lotus Sutra. While you wore it at your side, it was an evil sword, but now that it has been offered to the Buddha, it has become a sword for good, just like a demon who conceives a desire to attain the Buddha way. How wondrous, how wondrous! In the next life you should use this sword as your staff. (WND, vol. 1, p. 451)
This set of swords had been kept among the Taiseki-ji treasures, as recorded in “Details of Treasures Kept at Fuji Taiseki-ji” (included in The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 5). It came to light, however, that these very swords once held closely by Nichiren were stolen from the head temple. The following article appeared in Nichiren of the World:
At the beginning of October, I received two postcards. They were sent to me by conscientious believers from the head temple, Taiseki-ji. I learned from these postcards that:
- Some time in June last year, somebody, breaking the lock to the treasure house of the head temple, entered it in the night. This incident was discovered the next morning but was not taken seriously as there was seemingly no damage to the treasures housed there. No action was taken to pursue the matter.
- On the occasion of the scroll-airing ceremony on April 15 this year, however, when a long treasure box taken from the treasure house was opened, it was discovered, surprisingly, that the sword forged by Sanjo Munechika (which had been owned by Nichiren); another sword, forged by Namihira Gyoan (dedicated by the Tomita family); and six other swords, a total of eight, had been stolen. The chief head temple lay representative was astonished. He reported this incident to the Administrative Office, which responded irresponsibly, saying that even a police station could be robbed these days, and ordered him to keep the matter to himself. Expecting that the Office would take some action over this serious incident, he has been waiting for further word. But strangely, it seems no action has been taken.
Two notebooks recording all the treasures in the treasure house were also missing from the long box where the treasures were kept. We don’t know whether they were also stolen or had been disposed of intentionally. Neither is it known what other treasure items . . . were stolen. It is very lamentable that no data exists for possible investigation of this matter. (Nichiren of the World, November 1941)
Based upon this article, we can confirm that someone broke the lock of the treasure house one night in June 1940. At that time, nothing serious seems to have happened. But upon the April 15, 1941, scroll-airing ceremony, it was discovered that eight swords, including one owned by Nichiren, had been stolen. The Nichiren Shoshu administration, headed by Nichiryu-[61st], singled out no one responsible for the incident, attempting to keep the matter secret. But Jimon Ogasawara and other priests made it public and began to pursue who was responsible.
The robbery was a serious event to which the Japanese religious world paid close attention. Prior to the Nichiren of the World article, Chugai Nippo, in its October 9, 1941, issue, printed an article titled “Strange Robbery Incident at Taiseki-ji, No Responsible Action Taken.” It presented the contents of a letter written by “conscientious lay believers of the head temple, Taiseki-ji,” which was covered in the Nichiren of the World article.
Priests Dispose of Treasure Items for Self-interest
Who in the world stole the swords “secured” at the treasure house? Today, it is known who did it. But as Nichiren of the World and Chugai Nippo pointed out, the police even then regarded it as an internal incident, a crime committed by somebody within the head temple.
A priest was regularly assigned to the treasure house as a security guard, and one was there even on the night of the incident. It would have been highly improbable for someone to steal the swords in the few moments when the priest was not at his security post; it must have been done with the guard’s cooperation. As the police suspected, it is only natural that people within Nichiren Shoshu did it.
In the Muromachi Period, three evil priests sold off the all of Taiseki-ji for 20 strings of coin. In the Edo Period as well, it seems treasure items were often stolen out of the treasure house. In The Essential Works of the Fuji School, vol. 8, Nichiko Hori introduces “A Letter from Saito Chuemon, Subject of Hachisuka Family and Others,” writing:
It is expressed vividly in this letter that two subjects, Saito and Taketomo, following the order of Kyodai-in, a major Taiseki-ji lay supporter around the time of the 359th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing, were devoted to protecting Taiseki-ji in a detailed and caring manner. Through these two, Kyodai-in made several suggestions to Taiseki-ji, such as:
- Taiseki-ji should increase the treasure house security in order to protect all the treasure items.
- Taiseki-ji should keep records of the movement of all the treasure items.
* Taiseki-ji should carefully handle the treasured robes and not cause damage to them.
* Taiseki-ji should treat all treasured goods and items carefully since they belong eternally to the head temple while its chief priests come and go.
Some chief priests were conscientious enough to replace missing ones with new ones to maintain a complete set. There were many chief priests, however, who sold treasure items for their own profit. Treasure items were to have been transferred from one guard to another on three particular occasions—the equinox, bon time and before the oeshiki ceremony (celebrating Nichiren Daishonin’s eternal enlightenment). This mandate also came from Kyodai-in, who also noted that care should be taken to make thorough preparations for the scroll-airing ceremony scheduled for early July. Implicit in these suggestions from Kyodai-in is her dissatisfaction with the way High Priest Nissei treated treasure items. Also contained in her comments are differences in their personalities as well as other people’s negative views of Nissei.
Per this document, Kyodai-in, a major lay believer, used her subjects as proxies to propose “Taiseki-ji should increase the treasure house security in order to protect all the treasure items.” Noteworthy is the statement, “There were many chief priests, however, who sold treasure items for their own profit.”
In fact, there were several chief priests who disposed of treasure items from the Treasure House for self-indulgence. If many chief priests’ attitude had been that bad, junior priests must also have been affected. In this context, Kyodai-in suggested that security priests assigned to the Treasure House should be increased in number for mutual surveillance. Thieves were also found among Taiseki-ji priests even before the Showa Period.
In the Meiji Period, Taiseki-ji priests’ lifestyles became more decadent. They often held parties with kegs of sake stationed here and there at the lodgings flanking the head temple main path. Because of the priests’ terrible behavior, local citizens in the Ohmiya (currently Fujinomiya) area would lend nothing, not even one sho of salt to Taiseki-ji priests.
Eventually, a priest appeared at the head temple lacking money with which to play around with and sold the copper roof tiles off the five-story pagoda and replaced them with thin iron sheets.
The head temple lost the treasure swords closely associated with Nichiren Daishonin around 1940-41. Undoubtedly, one or more evil priests stole them for personal gain.
This was Nichiren Shoshu before the Soka Gakkai appeared. Taiseki-ji, which was in a position to propagate Nichiren Buddhism more than any other Buddhist order, was lost in a swamp of slander where any connection to the Law had been lost.
Selling “Gohonzon for Securing War Victory”
In secular society, people who make money selling war weapons are called “merchants of death.” In the religious world, there are also those who attempt to profit during wartime.
Nichio Oishi-[56th] can be considered just such a war merchant. During the Russo-Japanese War, Nichio produced as many as 10,000 Gohonzon, conferring them upon lay believers who made special offerings. In other words, he took advantage of the war to sell the Gohonzon.
The Hodo Kai headquarters building was located at 18 Higashi-Motomachi, Fukagawa Ward, Tokyo. Hodo Kai is now Hodo-in located in Toshima Ward, Tokyo. The Hodo Kai headquarters published the periodical, The Path of the Law (Ho no Michi). Its editor/publisher was Jiyu Hayase, father of the late Nichiji Hayase, who was Nichiren Shoshu’s executive priest and Hodo-in’s chief priest.
An article documenting “A great prayer meeting for the enhancement of the imperial power and the victory of the war to conquer Russia” appears in The Path of the Law #12 (published in April 1904). It reads in part:
The Hodo Kai gave the military fund all offerings from believers who attended the two-day event. It also conferred upon especially conscientious believers 10,000 scrolls of “the Gohonzon for the protection of war victory.”
According to this article, Hodo Kai hosted a grand event to pray for a decisive victory in the Russo-Japanese War. Offerings made at this meeting were donated to the nation’s war fund. Yet, believers’ contributions are for the purpose of supporting the Gohonzon, and certainly not war. Priests should never use such money for a purpose other than kosen-rufu.
For Hodo Kai to give believers’ sincere offerings to the military is unbefitting the disciples of Nichiren Daishonin. That is how far Nichiren Shoshu, which was then called the Fuji School of Nichiren Shu, had deviated from correct faith.
The “two-day event” mentioned here took place March 12–13, 1904. Incidentally, the Russo-Japanese War broke out on February 10 of the same year. Over these two days, “A great prayer meeting for the enhancement of the imperial power and the victory of the war to conquer Russia” was conducted at the Hodo Kai headquarters in Tokyo. Attendees who made monetary offerings received “the Gohonzon for the protection of war victory.” According to The Path of the Law #12:
It was cloudy on the 12th. Because preparations for this meeting were made through advertisements or notices, participants both from inside and outside came one after another. The Gohonzon area was humbly yet majestically dignified. The meeting started on time with High Priest Nichio’s entry into the site, priests and lay representatives following him. From his seat of the Law, High Priest Nichio opened the altar where the Daishonin’s original Gohonzon was enshrined. After sutra recitation and the chanting of daimoku, Jiyu Hayase, assigned teacher of Hodo-in, took the rostrum to explain the purpose of this prayer meeting. Addresses by the Rev. Arimoto, the Rev. Tsuchiya and High Priest Nichio followed.
From this article, we can tell that a special sanctuary was prepared for the meeting in which “the Daishonin’s original Gohonzon” was to be enshrined. Nichio-[56th], along with other priests, led recitation of the sutra and the chanting of daimoku and allowed attendees to see Nichiren’s original Gohonzon. This was followed by lectures from Hodo Kai teacher Jiyu Hayase; from Koga Arimoto and Jikan Tsuchiya; and then from Nichio.
Most noteworthy is the part that reads: “Because preparations for this meeting were made through advertisements or notices, participants both from inside and outside came one after another.” Where did they advertise this event? Where did they erect signs?
What comes to mind here is that, for the 700th anniversary of Nichiren’s birth (February 16, 1935), Nichiren Shoshu used an airplane to drop tons of leaflets from the sky on both practitioners and others as well. At that time, the Gohonzon was enshrined in this airplane.
From the statement that “participants both from inside and outside came one after another,” we can assume the special service Nichio Oishi conducted toward victory in the Russo-Japanese War was meant for the general public.
Erroneous Buddhist schools at times convene at joint services, each bringing to the event a treasured object of worship from its respective temple, giving an opportunity for not only their believers but the public to offer prayers to it, generally for the purpose of collecting monetary offerings. Nichio did just that here, allowing the general public as well as Nichiren Shoshu lay believers to chant before an original Gohonzon, collecting their offerings and donating them to the military.
To whom did Nichio give “10,000 scrolls of the Gohonzon for the protection of war victory?”
According to a 1904 survey taken by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Fuji School of Nichiren Shu comprised 10,655 households, and 14,369 lay believers. From this, it seems impossible that Nichiren Shoshu could gather 10,000 people and give to each a special Gohonzon scroll.
This must mean that anyone who made an offering to Nichiren Shoshu at that time received this war-associated Gohonzon; that, exploiting the anti-Russia atmosphere prevailing throughout Japan, some 10,000 Gohonzon were randomly given out in exchange for money offerings.
Supporting that supposition, the article in The Path of the Law also reports:
This Gohonzon for the protection of war victory will be widely conferred upon those who make offerings. If you would like to have one, please apply at the Hodo Kai headquarters.
While this war Gohonzon was also given to many followers of Nichiren’s teachings, who made sincere offerings based on faith, the act of conferring Gohonzon upon nonbelievers should never be tolerated. Nichiren Shoshu egregiously demonstrated a lack of faith in those days.
Nichio, 56th high priest, inscribed “Gohonzon for victory in the war.” (World War II)
Nichikai Sells Gohonzon on 650th Anniversary Nichiren Daishonin’s Passing
Nichikai-[60th] also used the Gohonzon as a tool to collect money. A September 1929 document issued under his name to facilitate collection of offerings in anticipation of the 650th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing the following month reads:
We commemorate the 650th anniversary of the passing of Nichiren Daishonin by enhancing study, carrying out propagation, engaging in publication, repairing the five-story pagoda, repairing the reception hall, and carrying out urgent repair work for various temple structures including the Sanmon Gate.
Then, it speaks about the destitute condition of the head temple.
At present, the Sanmon Gate and five-story pagoda in particular among all the structures of the head temple are so damaged that they urgently need major repair work. Minor repairs would be insufficient for these two structures. The head temple does not presently have the assets to fund these repairs. If nothing is done, these treasured structures of the three treasures of Buddhism of sowing will deteriorate further.
Nichiren Shoshu is begging for money, citing financial hardship. Incidentally, the five-story pagoda was in extremely bad shape, its roof and pillars rotted away, because of the aforementioned selling of the copper roof tiles in the Meiji Period in order to fund priests’ decadence.
The five-story pagoda was finally repaired in 1953, courtesy of the Soka Gakkai under President Josei Toda’s leadership. Evidently, the repair work had never been done under Nichikai, despite his plea for funds. Secular-minded Nichikai used the Gohonzon and Nichiren’s 650th memorial to collect money never used for its intended purpose.
A document issued by Nichikai stands as undeniable proof that Nichiren Shoshu exploited the Gohonzon to collect money. An excerpt reads:
We shall respond with three types of awards—conferral of the great “award Gohonzon,” a title of honor, and a certificate—upon venerable contributors.
- Those who contribute more than 1,000 yen shall receive the great “award Gohonzon” and a title of eternal honor.
- Those who contribute more than 50 up to 1,000 yen shall receive the great “award Gohonzon.”
- Those who contribute more than 20 yen shall receive a title of honor.”
- Those who contribute less than 20 yen shall receive a certificate of award.
Today, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood says that one cannot attain Buddhahood without a posthumous name. In the past, however, if you paid 1,000 yen (equivalent to 1.5 million yen today), you could receive a special Gohonzon and a title of eternal honor (posthumous name) that allegedly guaranteed your enlightenment.
Should you offer 50 yen (75,000 yen today) or more, you would at least receive a great mandala. Incidentally, what exactly is the difference between a great “award Gohonzon” and the Gohonzon?
One thing clear here is that Nichikai, then high priest, collected money by essentially selling the Gohonzon that Nichiren Daishonin inscribed for the salvation of the people. In addition, on an auspicious anniversary, he seems to have created a distinction between types of Gohonzon. To Nichikai, both the Gohonzon and Nichiren Daishonin’s passing are merely excuses to collect money.
Priesthood Fails to Discern Correctness in Faith
And so, as early as two years prior to the event, the 650th anniversary was used as a reason for collecting money. Finally, over a full week in October 1931, “a memorial service to commemorate the 650th anniversary of the passing of Nichiren Daishonin” was conducted at the Nichiren Shoshu head temple. Taiseki-ji produced a document for participants in the anniversary ceremony, titled “Guide to the Great Memorial Service.” Printed on both sides of a sheet of paper, it includes the history of Taiseki-ji and some information about the roads, transportation and lodging on its front page under the headline “For Participation.”
A humorous note—several sightseeing spots near the head temple are also introduced: the temples Shimono-bo, Myoren-ji, Kitayama Honmon-ji, and Nishiyama Honmon-ji; the Cherry Tree at Komadome, the Soga Shrine, the Tomb of Kudo Suketsune, Otodome Falls, Shiraito Falls, the Human Cave, Inogashira Bakuen, the Summit of Mount Fuji, and Mount Anmo. Nichiren Shoshu had deviated so far in faith that in their promotional pamphlet they highlighted a Shinto shrine as a sightseeing spot.
Also, in 1931, Kitayama Honmon-ji belonged to the Honmon school that had parted with Taiseki-ji. The same was true with Nishiyama Honmon-ji. They were heretical schools.
This guide also describes attractions such as the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching, the first statue of the Daishonin, and the ashes of the Daishonin. It is no different from pamphlets issued by heretical temples in Kyoto, the Mecca of slanderous Buddhist schools.
Nichio-[56th] sold off 10,000 Gohonzon during the Russo-Japanese War as if they were talismans. Nichikai-[60th] created arbitrary classifications of Gohonzon in order to collect money on the 650th anniversary of Nichiren’s passing in 1931.
Nichikai later made mistakes in transcribing the Gohonzon. Jimon Ogasawara was most critical of Nichikai over this. Later on, Ogaswara sold a photo of the Dai-Gohonzon for two yen as a good luck charm. When Nichiren Shoshu priests accuse lay believers of using distorted teachings for their own sake, this is merely an attempt to hide their own base hearts.
Jimon Ogasawara sold a photo of the Dai-Gohonzon and later proposed teachings that the emperor is superior to the Buddha.
Using Counterfeit Gohonzon To Exploit Believers’ Fear of Death
Doshi Gohonzon Reflects Erroneous Ideology
The thought of living in the formidable Latter Day has dominated the minds of people in various eras throughout history. In each period, society embodied the defiled Latter Day pervaded by killing, robbing, and violence. Starvation was also rife. For this reason, people were always conscious of death. Death in those days was often a tragic one caused by violence, starvation or other terrors.
Without formal burial, a putrid smell hung in the air. Corpses were strewn all about, the fresh ones becoming food for wild dogs and other beasts, with older corpses likely left to the maggots.
This was literally a world of hell. The story people heard under such dire circumstances frightened them to a degree beyond our imagination, since they weren’t privy to our modern society’s vast information, knowledge and advances of science.
The idea of hell is powerful enough to pervade a weakened mind and expose a total emptiness and darkness in one’s heart. An fear of death can make hell a real thing and a source of fear that causes people to pity the deceased and think, “What can I do to save my parent/spouse/child from hell’s sufferings?”
The priesthood has been capitalizing on people’s fear of death and pity for their loved ones by living off the tradition of funeral Buddhism.
Toward this end, priests created a false writing by Nichiren Daishonin, to turn people’s fear of death into a source of income.
The doshi Gohonzon enshrined at Nichiren Shoshu funerals contains two names that Nichiren Daishonin never included on the Gohonzon. They are King Emma and Godo Myokan (the officer in the world of death who judges the people of the five paths). These two names represent the world of hell. Nichiren Shoshu derived a new theory that the inclusion of these extra names has a special impact upon the deceased’s attainment of enlightenment.
In other words, the doshi Gohonzon was an invention founded upon the people’s belief in the Ten Kings and literal existence of hell after death.
The Gohonzon in the Minobu school of Nichiren Shu that contains includes King Emma and godo myokan seems to have been called a “mandala for the time of death.” This mandala was obviously created after Nichiren’s passing.
In Nichiren Shu, a mandala for the moment of one’s death was given to a person soon to die, in order to relieve his or her fear of falling into hell.
According to Rissho University professor Jugon Matsumura, the oldest extant Gohonzon containing King Emma and godo myokan was transcribed by Nisshin of Honkoku-ji in Kyoto.
Nisshin created a rinju (moment of one’s death) mandala in 1592. This was during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (approx. 1573 to 1603). It seems that Nichiren Shu has the rinju mandala including the last one transcribed by Riten-in Nikken, 43rd high priest of Nichiren Shu of Muon-ji temple at Mount Minobu in 1763.
Many of the rinju mandala possessed by Nichiren Shu have important Lotus Sutra excerpts inscribed on their upper portion. This is also true of the Nichiren Shoshu doshi Gohonzon. After culminating in the Konmon Era (1661–72) of the Edo Period, transcription of the rinju mandala faded away. But the doshi Gohonzon has been maintained through today in Nichiren Shoshu—a mandala solely for funerals, which signals the deceased’s attainment of enlightenment.
Even today, the rinju mandala is still being used by Nichiren Shu, but in a different way. It is printed on the upper part of the white robe worn by a person soon to die. This robe is also called a rinju or eifuku (hidden) mandala.
Nichiren Shu teaches that by wearing this white robe with the rinju Gohonzon imprint, one can be freed from the sufferings of hell after death. This so-called “sutra robe” plays the same role as that of the doshi mandala in Nichiren Shoshu.
Rinju Mandala Widely Dispensed as Nichiren Shu Becomes a Collection of Funeral Buddhist Schools
The rinju mandala exists not only at Honkoku-ji in Kyoto but also at other temples like Ichinyo-in of Honman-ji in Kyoto, one transcribed by Nichiju at Rippon-ji in Kyoto; one by Nisshin at Hokekyo-ji in Nakayama; and one by Nikken at Honmon-ji in Ikegami.
As mentioned, the oldest extant rinju Gohonzon is most likely the one transcribed by Nisshin of Honkoku-ji in Kyoto in 1592. Then, when did this illegitimate Gohonzon appear in Nichiren Shoshu? An educated guess is that it began being transcribed somewhere between the inauguration of Nissho-[15th] (1596) and the retirement of Nikken-[23rd] (1692), or the time period when those nine priests from Yobo-ji in Kyoto became Nichiren Shoshu high priests.
In the Edo Period, each Buddhist school in Japan was governed under the magistrate responsible for the administration of temples and shrines. Buddhist temples thus became responsible for preserving the establishment of the Tokugawa and local daimyo (feudal lord) governments. At the same time, they were prohibited from propagating their teachings, which resulted in them becoming largely funeral Buddhism sites in order to derive income.
The magistrate of temples and shrines was institutionalized in 1635 under 3rd shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu. Since then, each Buddhist school partnered with the government to oppress the people. Adding to their fear of death and possible hellish existence after, Buddhist temples taught them to obediently follow priests as the only way to escape death’s terrors.
Believers’ obedience to the priesthood was measured, then, by the amount of the offerings they made to the temple. Priests made the most of their link to Tokugawa authority and exploited people’s fear of death for profit. The many priests who had lost the passion to save the people now wielded government authority to control them and make money off of them through funeral and memorial services. The rinju mandala spread rapidly as each Nichiren school became funeral Buddhism.
When Nissho-[25th] was assuming office, Nichiju of Honman-ji in Kyoto transcribed many rinju Gohonzon. Nissho became Nichiren Shoshu high priest in 1596 and died in 1622. Among extant rinju Gohonzon are six that Nichiju transcribed, the most by any one individual, between 1600 and 1622.
The influence of the rinju mandala that must have spread in Kyoto was presumably brought into Taiseki-ji by those high priests who originally came from Yobo-ji in Kyoto.
Those involved in study within the Nikken sect are pouring over those writings, trying to find “godo myokan” in order to rebut our assertion that the doshi Gohonzon is fraudulent for containing these words. But this is a waste of time. Nichiren Daishonin never mentioned godo myokan in his writings; the words godo myokan or, simply, myokan do not appear, nor does King Emma. Only the word godo appears, three times, Nichiren’s writings:
Long ago, major world system dust particle kalpas ago, certain persons drank the wine of evil influence; as a result, in a drunken state they kept transmigrating through the five or six lower realms of existence, and now they have been born into families that slander the Law. (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 78)
We, the living beings, lost the gem that was sown in our lives numberless major world system dust particle kalpas ago, transmigrating through the five or six lower realms and now they have been born as poor individuals. (Gosho Zenshu, p. 831)
Although the sutra speaks of those who, having heard the Law, “dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, constantly reborn in company with their teachers,” there are persons like the three groups of voice-hearers who, after receiving the seeds of Buddhahood, reject the Mahayana, select the Hinayana, and sink into the five paths or the six paths for a succession of rebirths, but when the time to achieve Buddhahood arrives, they are able to obtain emancipation, one after another. (WND, vol. 1, pp. 311–12)
In all three cases, Nichiren Daishonin is referring to the word godo (the five paths—the worlds of Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger and Humanity) in parallel with the word rokudo (the six paths—the worlds of Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Humanity and Heaven). He is not using it in the context of godo myokan, the idea related to faith in the Ten Kings or the dreadfulness of hell.
Nichiren Daishonin uses the terms Emma, King Emma or hell in service of consistently encouraging his believers to devote themselves to faith while still alive, as that is what determines their enlightenment. This is diametrically opposed to the way Nichiren Shoshu uses them to intimidate family members into paying priests to conduct a memorial service for the deceased.
In contrast, the doshi Gohonzon is, both linguistically and historically speaking, based upon belief in the Ten Kings and in the horrors of hell. People with such incorrect faith depend on ceremonies performed by priests to determine whether the deceased have attained Buddhahood.
Godo Myokan Idea Not Part of Nichiren Daishonin’s Teachings
The teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and the idea of godo myokan have no common ground. From the standpoint of Nichiren’s teachings, that sort of term would never be included on the Gohonzon. Therefore, the doshi Gohonzon is not legitimate. It was fabricated as the various Nichiren Shu schools became institutions of funeral Buddhism, and it exists for the priesthood to control the laity and collect money.
An examination of all 123 original Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin, those included in Collection of Nichiren Daishonin’s Original Gohonzon that was compiled by the religious organization Rissho Ankoku Kai reveals that the terms King Emma and godo myokan is not used in any of them.
Incidentally, there was something called a rinmetsudo–no-Gohonzon (rinmetsudo meaning “occasion of death”) said to have been enshrined at the time of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing. It is housed at Myohon-ji in Hikigayatsu, Kamakura. This Gohonzon had been inscribed by Nichiren in 1280 (the 10th month of the 3rd year of Koan).
Historical information on this Gohonzon is contained in a letter that Nichidai, Nikko Shonin’s disciple, gave to Nichigo:
When the Founder was at the moment of his passing, he called on this particular mandala to be enshrined. This was a fact. It was a matter of course. (“Reply to Saiso Ajari”)
King Emma and godo myokan do not appear on this Gohonzon. In the space where King Emma and godo myokan would appear on the doshi Gohonzon there is instead the names of the Sun Goddess and Bodhisattva Hachiman just like on other Gohonzon.
If the historical fact of the rinmetsudo–no-Gohonzon is true, then that proves there is nothing like a special doshi Gohonzon meant to be enshrined at the moment of one’s death.
“On Praising the Ten Kings” Is A Complete Fabrication.
Included in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Showa New Edition, published by Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple Taiseki-ji are the writings “On Praising the Ten Kings (Juo Santan Sho)” and “On the Benefit of Turning Good to Others (Eko Kudoku Sho).” These writings were not written by Nichiren but were fabricated by somebody else.
All these fallacious writings send the same message, over and over, that the only way to save the deceased from the hellish agony they describe is to have a priest conduct a memorial service for them—it is the ultimate message that comes from faith in the Ten Kings and in the existence of hell after death, that prayer by a priest is a requisite for the deceased’s attainment of enlightenment.
According to Nichiren Daishonin’s original teachings, however, it is up to the strength of our faith while alive that determines our manifesting Buddhahood, regardless of status, and whether priest or lay believer.
Since “On Praising the Ten Kings” is not included in the Soka Gakkai’s version of the major writings, the Gosho Zenshu, some branch temples of Nichiren Shoshu copied it out of Nichiren Shoshu’s, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Showa New Edition. But scholars have proven the writing to be a fabrication since its exact contents were appropriated from the literature of other Buddhist sects written after Nichiren’s passing.
Portions of other Buddhist sects’ writings such as “About the History of Zenko-ji ” and another writing have been incorporated verbatim into “On Praising the Ten Kings.”
“On Praising the Ten Kings” was determined to have been written ca. 1396–1411, well after the death of Nichiren Daishonin who died in 1282.
The idea expressed in “On Praising the Ten Kings” is in sync with that expressed in “The Sutra of Bodhisattva Jizo’s Determination and Its Relation With the Ten Kings,” a fabricated sutra (created ca. 1190–1200) and in Collection of Observations of Pure Land (written by Sonkaku in 1356).
The Ten Kings are figures that judge the deceased on their respective assigned dates:
First 7th day after death, King Shinko
Second 7th day after death, King Shoko
Third 7th day after death, King Sotai
Fourth 7th day after death, King Gokan
Fifth 7th day after death, King Emma
Sixth 7th day after death, King Henjo
Seventh 7th day after death, King Taisen
100th day after death, King Byodo
1st anniversary, King Tocho
3rd anniversary, King Godo Tenrin (from “On Praising the Ten Kings).
In any event, the content of “On Praising the Ten Kings” is of a different nature from that of Nichiren Buddhism—it is sheer intimidation of the people. By what standard was it ever considered genuine?
The entirety of this long and unpalatable writing, “On Praising the Ten Kings,” is included in volume one of Taiseki-ji’s The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Showa New Edition.
“On the Benefit of Turning Good to Others” is even more explicit as it gives a summary of “On Praising the Ten Kings.” Here is just the initial portion:
According to the Nirvana Sutra, King Emma dares to drive 49 nails into the body of the deceased. He first drives a nail into each eye. Then, a nail into each ear. Then, 6 nails into his tongue. Then, 18 nails into his chest. Then, 6 nails into his stomach. Then, 15 nails into his feet. Each nail is one sun (1.2 inches) long.
[The deceased] has a good, filial son in the saha world. This son sent a person to ask a priest to conduct a memorial service for his father. King Emma, who was at his palace, heard this news and removed 15 nails from the deceased one’s feet in light of the benefit of requesting a priest to conduct a Buddhist service. As a result, the deceased one’s feet are now pain-free.
The priest then erected a Buddhist statue and copied the sutra. King Emma took the 6 nails out of the deceased one’s stomach. When the priest conducted an eye-opening ceremony for the statue, King Emma took the 18 nails out of his chest. When the priest built a statue of the Buddha, recited the sutra that expounds the benefit of the three bodies, thus making the statue a living Buddha, and gave a sermon for the sake of the deceased one in the world of death, King Emma took the nails out of each ear. When the priest worshipped this Buddha most respectfully, King Emma took the nails out of the deceased one’s eyes. In the saha world, when the filial son chanted daimoku for the deceased one, and when the deceased one, too, chanted daimoku, King Emma took the 6 nails out his tongue.
In this way, when the filial son conducts a memorial service for the deceased one, King Emma, who incarnates the enlightened one, is aware of every Buddhist service conducted in Jambudvipa and turns to taking away the nails from the deceased one’s body. Without the filial child arranging a memorial service, how can the deceased parent have the nails taken out of his body? Even a tiny thorn gives us unbearable pains. Much more painful if even one nail is driven into one’s body. One can hardly move one’s body, then, if 49 nails are driven into it. Just hearing of somebody having this many nails driven in is so painful. Having this many nails driven into one’s body is an awfully lamentable sight.
Yet people are ignorant of the benefit of having a priest conduct a memorial service. They are ignorant of the benefit of conducting a memorial service for the 7th-day commemoration of the death of their parents and siblings. They are even more ignorant of the benefit of the memorial service for the 49th-day, 100th-day, one-year and three-year commemorations of their passing. If you don’t conduct these memorial services for the deceased, your mercilessness is despicable. Unless you help the deceased ones get rid of their pains and worries, you will be committing the profound sin of being unfilial. The deceased ones will become an obstacle in your life as they will become evil spirits.” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Showa New Edition, published by Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple Taiseki-ji)
This writing first overtly emphasizes the importance of the priesthood, stating that the mere calling for a priest results in 15 nails being pulled out of the deceased’s feet. It says this is based on the Nirvana Sutra, but that sutra does not contain this mythology.
This writing repeatedly says that only a priest can enable the deceased to attain Buddhahood. The Nikken sect today makes the very same claim.
Priesthood corruption lies behind such fabrication of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, behind the fact that King Emma and godo myokan are inscribed on the illegitimate doshi Gohonzon.
While myokan appears three times in “On Praising the Ten Kings,” it exists nowhere in Nichiren’s actual writings. “On Praising the Ten Kings” and doshi Gohonzon share the same common ground. The term godo myokan also appears in Shinran’s Harmonious Praise (Wasan). Godo taizan (great mountain of the five paths) appears in Praising Memorial Service (Hojisan) written by Zendo, founder of the Nembutsu school. Godo myokan and godo taizan, then, may have arisen from the same idea, which would make godo myokan an extension of Nembutsu-like thought.
The doshi Gohonzon, therefore, is a false Gohonzon.
Those Devoted to Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and to Kosen-rufu Can Definitely Attain Buddhahood
Nichiren Daishonin writes:
As I have been saying for some time, in your situation as a lay believer, you should just single-mindedly chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo morning and evening, day and night, and observe what happens at the last moments of your life. At that time, hasten to the summit of perfect enlightenment, and look around you in all directions. The entire realm of phenomena will have changed into the Land of Tranquil Light, with the ground made of lapis lazuli, the eight paths marked off by golden ropes, the four kinds of flowers raining down from the heavens, music resounding in the air, and Buddhas and bodhisattvas all being caressed by breezes of eternity, happiness, true self, and purity. We, too, will surely be among their number. The Lotus Sutra is indeed such a splendid sutra! (WND, vol. 1, p. 843)
He also writes:
Any minor offenses he committed in this lifetime have probably already been eradicated, and the great evil of slander will also be extinguished because he has taken faith in the Lotus Sutra. If he were to go right now to Eagle Peak, he would be delighted as if the sun had come out and he were able to see in all ten directions. He would rejoice, wondering how an early death could be so happy a thing. (WND, vol. 1, p. 938)
He goes on to say that he himself will welcome his deceased disciples.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is what is most important for attaining Buddhahood, not the priesthood’s existence. Those connected with the Soka Gakkai, a wondrous organization that realizes the Buddha’s intent and mandate, and thereby connected with the ranks of kosen-rufu, are sure to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime and enjoy the life condition of absolute happiness throughout past, present and future. Nichiren writes:
Question: Is it possible, without understanding the meaning of the Lotus Sutra, but merely by chanting the five or seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo once a day, once a month, or simply once a year, once a decade, or once in a lifetime, to avoid being drawn into trivial or serious acts of evil, to escape falling into the four evil paths, and instead to eventually reach the stage of non-regression?
Answer; Yes, it is.
(WND, vol. 1, p. 141)
In light of the essential teaching of Buddhism, we can achieve the life state of Buddhahood in this lifetime, not needing to wait until after death, through devoting ourselves with correct faith to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and propagating the Law. As Nichiren writes:
When he was alive, he was a Buddha in life, and now he is a Buddha in death. He is a Buddha in both life and death. This is what is meant by that most important doctrine called attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form. The fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra states, ‘If one can uphold this [sutra], one will be upholding the Buddha’s body.’
(WND, vol. 1, p. 456)
How can the priesthood maintain that those who devoted their lives to daimoku and kosen-rufu cannot attain Buddhahood without priestly intervention?
Evil priests may argue, “If you disparage the doshi Gohonzon as illegitimate, then those whose funeral ceremonies were conducted with the doshi Gohonzon did not attain Buddhahood, did they?”
If you should fall into hell for some grave offense, no matter how Shakyamuni Buddha might urge me to become a Buddha, I would refuse; I would rather go to hell with you. For if you and I should fall into hell together, we would find Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lotus Sutra there. It would be as if the moon were illuminating the darkness, as if cold water were pouring into hot, as if fire were melting ice, or as if the sun were dispelling the darkness. (WND, vol. 1, p. 850)
What a contrast between Nichiren’s compassionate statement and the priesthood’s cruel assertion! Nichiren says, “If you should fall into hell for some grave offense, no matter how Shakyamuni Buddha might urge me to become a Buddha, I would refuse; I would rather go to hell with you.” The priesthood, however, states that you will go to hell unless you put up the doshi Gohonzon for your funeral.
Knowing how deeply Nichiren Daishonin praised his disciples who devoted their lives to his teaching, we can be sure of how much he will praise our fellow members at Eagle Peak. Further, it will be truly meaningful if their descendents also carry out pure faith and continually chant for the repose of their ancestors. Nichiren writes:
Now when Nichiren and his followers perform ceremonies for the deceased, reciting the Lotus Sutra and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the ray of light from the daimoku reaches all the way to the hell of incessant suffering and makes it possible for them to attain Buddhahood then and there.
(ROTT, p. 17)
Those who encountered Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in this lifetime will receive immeasurable benefit. Those who carry out faith in it will attain Buddhahood beyond the bounds of life and death. The daimoku that the Buddha children chant for the repose of their deceased loved ones will illuminate and protect their lives beyond this lifetime.
Those who, even after the falsity of the doshi Gohonzon has been pointed out, continue to attach themselves to it and claim that a funeral where the doshi Gohonzon is not enshrined does not guarantee the deceased’s enlightenment can no longer be regarded as Nichiren Daishonin’s disciples—they are slanderers of Buddhism.
“On Praising the Benefit of the Ten Kings” Is Based on a Fabricated Sutra.
“On Praising the Ten Kings” was created based upon the Buddha’s Elucidation: Bodhisattva Jizo’s Determination’s Background Story and Ten Kings Sutra (hereinafter, the Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra). It is scholastically proven that this sutra was created in early-Kamakura-period Japan. It was regarded as having been written by a master priest, Kurakawa, but this has been proven false.
This fabricated sutra was treated as the religious basis for conducting memorial services in the samurai society that culminated in the Edo Period via the Kamakura, North and South Imperial Court, and Muromachi ages. Those who had to live amid the rampant violence and immorality of samurai society may have turned to conducting memorial services to assuage their guilty consciences.
Along with the ten Buddhist memorial dates—the 7th day, 14th day, 21st day, 28th day, 35th day, 42nd day, 49th day, 100th day, first anniversary, and third anniversary—this false Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra, came to be cherished. In various sects, other sutras were fabricated based upon the Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra.
In addition to “On Praising the Ten Kings,” other works originating from this sutra are Practice Diary of Great Teacher Kobo, attributed to Kukai, and On the Interpretation of Diamond Precept, attributed to Honen.
The Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra exerted strong influence upon the post-Kamakura religious world of Japan. Faith in the Ten Kings and in the existence of hell after death likely originate from this sutra.
This phony sutra created the basis of Japanese religious ideology—a formidable reality indeed. Even today, it is unknown who created this sutra that repeatedly teaches the necessity of conducting memorial services for the deceased’s salvation. Here are some “exemplary” quotes:
The deceased one, plagued by suffering, laments, begging: “I cannot drink or eat anything until the 49th day. In the meantime, I am suffering so much as it’s so cold here. Both men and women, please do good for me with the assets that I left for you. Please help me by making offerings with them . . .”
If you, men or women, want to save your deceased acquaintance, you should today make offerings to receive eight precepts. Your act of making offerings is so powerful and outstanding . . .
Memorial services were to be funded by the assets left behind by the deceased.
The Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra and “On Praising the Ten Kings,” which were treated as Nichiren Daishonin’s original work, are identical in sentence structure and content. In “On Praising the Ten Kings” a passage reads, “[A]ccording to the Ten Kings Sutra, the deceased one will cross the naka river on the 14th day.” (The “Ten Kings Sutra” is a reference to the Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra.) And from the Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra: “The deceased one will cross the naka river on the 14th day.”
Intimidations Repeated in “On Praising the Ten Kings”
Just as the Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra states, “On Praising the Ten Kings” expounds that the Ten Kings take turns judging the sins the deceased committed while alive. The judgments occur on the successive occasions of the 7th day after death, the 14th day, 21st day, 28th day, 35th day, 42nd day, 49th day, 100th day, first anniversary, and third anniversary.
This fabricated sutra teaches that the memorial services the family and relatives hold with a priest is the only way to help the deceased avoid the torture that each king will administer.
Here are the portions of “On Praising the Ten Kings” where the kings who will judge on their respectively assigned memorial dates are introduced and the holding of memorial services is encouraged. (Quotes are taken from The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Showa New Edition, published by Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple Taiseki-ji).
On the 7th day, King Shinko will tell the deceased:
At that time, King Emma reprimanded the deceased one, “You have been telling me your own ideas without reservation, but why are you now so quiet?” The deceased one could only cry while taking the king’s words to heart. On that occasion, even if he is mentally conflicted and regrets 1,000 or 100 times, it will be of no avail. Regrets do not improve your situation. That is why it is so important to think about your next lifetime while still alive in your current one. After wasting away many days and making bad causes while alive, you will return to your home in the three evil paths and receive more sufferings. Whom should you then blame?
King Shinko’s statement serves as a template for the ensuing hellish accusation by each king.
On the 14th day, King Shoko says:
. . . while the sinful, deceased one eagerly waits for good causes to be made by his wife and children, his children, fighting over the assets he left them, make various new bad causes. Therefore, the sinfully deceased one will experience further sufferings. Pitifully enough, while alive in the saha world, he made bad causes for his wife and children and is now suffering thusly. His survivors do not send him causes good enough to lessen his sufferings. His grudge against his wife and children, then, becomes limitless. Even the great treasures he saved for his family play no part in dispelling his sufferings. This man, so sad, can do nothing. He just cries. Observing this, King Emma says, “Your children do you no good. I cannot help in such circumstance.” That said, King Emma orders this man to hell. The deceased one can attain Buddhahood only when his survivors make a good cause by chanting the Mystic Law, which is powerful enough to save even those who committed the five cardinal sins and slander of the Mystic Law, and by making offerings to the priest who conducts the memorial service. If such good is created, King Emma will be delighted and the sinfully deceased one will also rejoice.
On the 21st day, King Sotai says:
But the deceased one has several children in the saha world, and he may receive a good cause should any of them exhibit filial piety. Therefore, he begged for mercy, that Emma wait before placing him in hell. King Emma, angry on the surface but compassionate at heart, said he would wait for a while even though he should put him in hell since he clearly knows all the evil deeds the deceased one committed while alive. This sinful man rejoiced over the king’s temporary decision to excuse him from hell in case one of his conscientious children made good causes for the deceased one. King Emma, delighted at the child’s respectable deeds, will then praise the deceased, saying, “Your child is so good and different from you in behavior.”
On the 28th day, King Gokan says:
Taking a deep breath, King Emma said, “Listen well! If your wife and children had sent good to you from the saha world, you could have been reborn in a good place with your former king. But your wife and children think only about themselves and go through societal hardships, they have forgotten about you and send you no good. As a result, you wandered into this world of suffering.” In this regard, the Buddha expounded, “The wife and children you left are the source of your suffering in the next lifetime.” How can this suffering be erased? It is ultimately foolish to begrudge King Emma. You are the one you should hate.
On the 35th day, King Emma says:
Make sure to pray for the deceased one’s repose. Then, all the good causes you make for the deceased returns to you as benefit. Ultimately, the deceased one’s destiny will be determined by the good his survivors do him. In light of this principle, arouse your faith and send prayers and offerings to your parent. Since the deceased one will suffer greatly in front of King Emma, the memorial service for his 35th day is vital, as on that day he will appear before King Emma. If you conduct a memorial service on that day for your deceased father, all your good deeds will be reflected in the johari mirror and King Emma and other kings will rejoice. The sinful person will also rejoice exuberantly as he will receive good through the memorial service conducted for him in the saha world. King Emma will weigh all the good causes and benefits accumulated in the deceased one’s life and then determine whether he will go to the world of Buddhahood, the world of humanity, or the world of heaven or become the next king.
On the 42nd day, King Henjo says:
When the effect of the good shared by a filial child manifests, King Emma will observe and note it, order the prison worker to forgive the sinful deceased man, release him and send him to a good place. The sinful man’s joy will be limitless, and he will want to let his son know of his joy. But when this son commits a new bad cause, his parent will again suffer and be sent back to hell. Therefore, those still alive in the saha world should send good to the deceased by holding memorial services.
On the 49th day, King Taisen says:
If a heartfelt memorial service is held for the deceased, his karma of having to be born at an evil place will change so that he can be born at a good place.
On the 100th day, King Byodo says:
What is dependable is the memorial services conducted in the saha world. You should make sure to hold such services, sending good to the deceased to help rid him of his heavy sufferings.
With your debt of gratitude, it is awful that you make no good causes for your deceased parent wasting away in suffering amid the three evil paths. How can it be that the Buddhist gods do not hate you? Also, there are cases where parents intentionally commit bad causes to experience sufferings in hell in order to awaken their children. Make sure to pray for the enlightenment of your parents and for their happiness in the next lifetime.
On the first anniversary, King Tocho says:
You are the type of person who went against the law of cause and effect, as you are ignorant of what you should have done for yourself. But your wife and children are good filial people. Thanks to the memorial service held on the first anniversary of your death, you will be sent on to the king who will examine you on the third anniversary.
On the third anniversary, King Godo Rinten judges:
After additional memorial services held for you, and with your wife and children’s continued prayers for your repose, you will be allowed to attain Buddhahood or be dispatched to the worlds of humanity or heaven.
Conspicuous through such malicious intimidation repeated throughout this sutra is the lowly intent of profit-oriented priests who thrive upon people’s misery, intimidating those who are suffering over departed loved ones.
This base writing has been regarded as Nichiren Daishonin’s own teaching. It has been cherished for centuries as a tool by which the priesthood deceives the laity. At these memorial services, the invited priests surely received handsome monetary offerings from the deceased’s family.
Decadence, Arrogance and Callousness Underlie “On Praising the Ten Kings”
To show that “On Praising the Ten Kings” was based upon the Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra, here are some parts that appear almost identical:
Therefore, this mountain is called the mountain of departure for the world of death. Because this deceased person does not know how to climb it, he seeks a cane, but there is no one who can share one with him. Sitting on a stone beside the path while seeking to have a pair of shoes, there is no one who can offer them to him. (“On Praising the Ten Kings”)
The kingdom of Emma borders on the southern gate of the death heaven . . . In the world of death, one accumulates one’s death toward the heaven. Therefore it is called the death heaven. From here, the deceased person travels toward the mountain of death. He seeks a stick on a steep slope. He also seeks a pair of shoes while sitting on a stone beside the path. (The Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra)
How dreadful these demons are before and behind the sinful man! They look so awful. Also, there is a huge tree on the embankment. One demon is in the upper part of this tree. Its name is Kenneo. There is another demon before the bottom part of this tree. Its name is Kenneu. This devil strips the sinful man of his clothing and hands it to the above demon. This demon then hangs it on a branch. (“On Praising the Ten Kings”)
There is a huge tree in front of the courthouse. This tree is called Eyoju. Two demons dwell behind this tree. One demon is called Datsueba. The other demon is called Kenneo. This female elder demon (Datsueba) reprimands the sinful one’s past deed of stealing and breaks the fingers of his both hands. The male elder demon (Kenneo) hates the sinner’s unjust behavior . . . The female elder demon strips him of his clothes and the male demon hangs them on a branch of this big tree to reveal the degree of his sin . . . (The Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra)
The four sides of the great castle are surrounded by an iron fence. There is an iron gate on each side. The sinfully deceased person opens each gate. Each side of each gate is flanked by a flagpole. An object crafted after a human head is on top of the pole. This human-headed craftwork can clearly see his behavior in his past existence. (“On Praising the Ten Kings”)
There are iron fences surrounding this big castle. There are iron gates on each side. When you open this gate, you will see a flagpole on each side of the gate. There is a craftwork in the shape of a human head. Thus human-headed craftwork can see the past behavior of the deceased person as clearly as one sees anraka fruit on one’s palm. (The Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra)
There is another quarter. It is called Komyo-in. There are nine mirrors in this quarter. A mirror is hung in each of the eight corners of this building. There is another mirror in the center. It is called the johari mirror. (“On Praising the Ten Kings”)
Next, there are two quarters. One is called Komyoo-in. The other is named Zenmyosho-in. Behind the central part of Komyoo-in is hung a large clear royal mirror called the johari mirror. (The Bodhisattva Jizo and Ten Kings Sutra)
Several other similar passages can also be found. It is unimaginable that such a cruel writing had been considered to be Nichiren Daishonin’s own.
The theoretical basis of the doshi Gohonzon—the term Godo Myokan, which is inscribed upon it—is found only in the clearly fabricated “On Praising the Ten Kings,” but not in any of Nichiren’s actual writings. And yet, for centuries, because of the priesthood’s decadence, arrogance and cold-heartedness, this false writing has been used to enslave the laity.
Most dreadful is the wicked wisdom of the wicked teacher. Believers must acquire a solid understanding of Nichiren Buddhism’s original intent. Otherwise, as has happened for centuries, they will never stop being deceived by the priests.
Successive High Priests Transcribe This Phony Gohonzon
Nichiren Shoshu promulgates the idea that the high priest transcribes the Gohonzon based upon his special life condition acquired through receiving the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism from a previous high priest in an unbroken lineage. Some insist that exactly the same life condition as that of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin flows through the lives of the successive high priests, who have, for centuries, been producing phony doshi Gohonzon.
Believers, who evidently have a low-level of understanding of such matters, have seemingly been unaware of the inclusion of King Emma and Godo Myokan on the doshi Gohonzon.
Their ignorance of these two inappropriate names seems only natural, because believers only briefly glimpsed this doshi Gohonzon at the funeral. But what about the high priest who transcribes it?
Nichikai- once made an error while transcribing the Gohonzon, mistakenly writing “in 2,220-some years since the passing of the Buddha” instead of “in 2,230-some years . . .” He apologized sincerely, saying, “I was too casual at that time. I am so sorry for the mistake I made.”
But inscribing King Emma and godo myokan, it seems, is another story. The high priest as the transcriber of the doshi Gohonzon cannot simply say, “I included these names haphazardly,” he is clearly conscious of what he was doing.
The high priest is authorized to copy or transcribe the Gohonzon on behalf of Nichiren Daishonin, not to create a new Gohonzon! Yet, successive Nichiren Shoshu high priests have been putting forth this fake mandala. As mentioned earlier, the high priest is said to transcribe the Gohonzon based upon the special life condition he acquires upon receiving the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism through the lineage of high priests. Yet, with this special, enlightened life condition, he evidently feels nothing strange about producing this phony mandala.
Logically, then, can the Nichiren Shoshu high priests really be said to possess a special enlightened life condition?
Another example of a phony mandala is the so-called “future Gohonzon” that allegedly guarantees one’s attainment of enlightenment at birth or at the time of affirmation (formally taking faith in Nichiren Buddhism). Many of these were issued when posthumous names were given out. This is a miniature of the doshi Gohonzon, and is placed in one’s casket or urn to ensure enlightenment.
Evil priests tried to use believers’ impending deaths to collect money from them.
Nichiko Denies Having Achieved Special Status Upon Inauguration
Nichiko-[59th] said the following after his inauguration as high priest:
I have no idea whether I’ve improved my personality and character even though I have advanced in the priesthood hierarchy and am now called differently. (From “One Hundred Sacred Lessons,” Dai-Nichiren, April 1940)
His statement clearly shows that by becoming a high priest, one does not suddenly enter a special spiritual realm or automatically gain a magic, enlightened life condition.
A man of excellent character will maintain his character regardless of position or status. But a man of base character will put on more airs after becoming high priest. If a person of great ambition becomes high priest, he will reveal his true nature. Unless he is very strict with himself, his faith will be destroyed through arrogance.
Receiving the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism through the high priest lineage does not mean one is automatically and abruptly endowed with a special, enlightened life condition. Then, what does this formidable expression “the sole transmission of the heritage from the golden lineage of the successive high priests” signify? Shouldn’t it signify transmission of the authority, rather than the life condition, necessary to lead the responsible Buddhist order? It is a religious expression that the high priest, through the lineage of high priests, is being granted authority to govern the school as Nichiren Shoshu chief administrator.
Otherwise, there is no rationalizing the ridiculous fact that high priests, parties to the golden lineage, seriously continue to affix the names of King Emma and godo myokan—symbolizing belief in the slanderous teachings of “the Ten Kings” and “the physical existence of hell after one’s death”—to the Gohonzon they transcribed.
The high priest—the chief administrator—of Taiseki-ji possesses the sole right to interpret the doctrines of Nichiren Buddhism and transcribe Gohonzon. Now that we know he possesses no special, enlightened life condition, we can understand that these rights are granted merely as the endorsed policy of the Buddhist order.
As to Gohonzon transcription, at times, Taiseki-ji branch temple chief priests have also been authorized to transcribe Gohonzon on behalf of the high priest. Allegedly, this was because it was difficult for some believers to travel the great distance to the head temple due to poor transportation. Yet, chief priests of temples close to Taiseki-ji also transcribed Gohonzon. Transcription was carried out based upon mutual agreement within the Buddhist order that befitted the times.
There are many questions regarding Taiseki-ji’s traditional handling of the matters of Gohonzon transcription and its conferral upon new believers.
Judging from the fact that high priests have, for centuries, been producing doshi Gohonzon without doubting its integrity, it is obvious that the strictness about Gohonzon transcription was lost at some point in Taiseki-ji history.
Additionally, even in recent years, joju Gohonzon transcribed by each new high priest would be dispensed to the Taiseki-ji lodging temple members. Long-time temple members, therefore, often possess many Gohonzon from various high priests, and treat them essentially as art objects.
Nichiren Shoshu regards all woodblock Gohonzon other than the joju Gohonzon as temporary. In other words, the woodblock Gohonzon and those transcribed by branch temples chief priests are considered provisional. Nichiko writes:
As mentioned in his original work, the High Priest (Nichiu) hereby says that branch temple chief priests can transcribe omamori (protection) Gohonzon or even joju (eternally dwelling) Gohonzon and confer them upon lay believers and disciples. It is not known, however, if this guideline was valid before the time of Nichiu Shonin. In any case, the Gohonzon transcribed by a local chief priest was temporary just like the woodblock Gohonzon. (“Comment on High Priest Nichiu’s On Formalities,” The Essential Works of the Fuji School, vol. 1)
This means that, in the priesthood’s view, the many, likely rolled-up, Gohonzon that older temple members possess are “real” while the special woodblock (tokubetsu okatagi) and regular woodblock (okatagi) Gohonzon that have been conferred upon Gakkai members devoted to the propagation of the Law are all “temporary.”
Those Gakkai members who feel it difficult to accept the notion that the Gohonzon to which they have been practicing so assiduously is temporary need only look at the lower left side of the scroll where their name is supposed to be inscribed. It is not there. Hence, according to the priesthood, the Gohonzon you have is provisional.
This fact indicates that the priesthood has been discriminatory toward lay believers.
Whether or not the Gohonzon you embrace is temporary, Nichiren Daishonin’s compassion is fair and boundless. With even a temporary Gohonzon enshrined at home, those who have been sincerely dedicated to faith overflow with benefit today, while many temple members, no matter how many joju Gohonzon they possess, live lifelessly with little hope for their future.
The important thing is whether one has a correct faith and practice that can be nurtured amid the pure intentions of the Buddhist order.
Formalities of Gohonzon Transcription Can Change As Global Kosen-rufu Advances
Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha, states:
Shakyamuni Buddha who attained enlightenment countless kalpas ago, the Lotus Sutra that leads all people to Buddhahood, and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate from one another. To chant Myoho-renge-kyo with this realization is to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death. This is a matter of the utmost importance for Nichiren’s disciples and lay supporters, and this is what it means to embrace the Lotus Sutra. For one who summons up one’s faith and chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the profound insight that now is the last moment of one’s life, the sutra proclaims: “When the lives of these persons come to an end, they will be received into the hands of a thousand Buddhas, who will free them from all fear and keep them from falling into the evil paths of existence.” How can we possibly hold back our tears at the inexpressible joy of knowing that not just one or two, not just one hundred or two hundred, but as many as a thousand Buddhas will come to greet us with open arms! (WND, vol. 1, pp. 216–17)
This passage expounds the existence of the powers of the Buddha and the Law, which transcend the question of whether one’s Gohonzon is “genuine” or “temporary.” Any Gohonzon is great because of Nichiren Daishonin’s infinite compassion. One’s strength of faith in the Gohonzon is what counts.
Today, when so many people worldwide are practicing Nichiren Buddhism, what is the likelihood that each individual could receive a joju Gohonzon with his or her name inscribed? Such joju Gohonzon become increasingly unavailable as the number of practicing members grows.
As kosen-rufu progresses, however, the most important subject is propagation, not what type of Gohonzon one possesses. This is the time that each of us, taking to heart the will of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin, should devote ourselves to spreading the Gohonzon.
Nichiren Daishonin states:
Leave such people strictly alone. The time will certainly come when, by the workings of Brahma, Shakra, and other gods, the entire Japanese nation will simultaneously take faith in the Lotus Sutra. At that time, I am convinced many people will insist that they too have believed since the very beginning. (WND, vol. 1, p. 800)
When what is written here becomes a reality, what should we do? Nichiko-[59th] states:
In the future, however, when the fortune of this school expands, and the Mystic Law comes to be chanted overseas among other nationalities, I wonder if the high priest alone can confer the mandala upon so many people. We may have to offset the shortage of Gohonzon by issuing many woodblock ones. (“Comment on High Priest Nichiu’s On Formalities,” The Essential Works of the Fuji School, vol. 1)
We need to ask: By what method should the Gohonzon be transcribed as the world kosen-rufu movement develops? Open-minded priests like Nichiko don’t exist in today’s Nichiren Shoshu.
Gohonzon Transcription Should Be Based on Buddhist Order’s Strict Rule
If the high priest were to transcribe three joju Gohonzon each day, that would produce just over 1,000 a year, and almost 11,000 in ten years. This means less than one percent of the current SGI membership could receive a joju Gohonzon. Obviously, we need to reconsider Gohonzon-transcription procedure as global kosen-rufu expands.
In addition, it is clear that the high priest is not transcribing the Gohonzon based upon his special life condition. As evidenced with the doshi Gohonzon, high priests could make other mistakes and repeat them generation after generation. A responsible Buddhist order, therefore, should reconsider the transcription method and set a strict, correct rule by which transcribing the Gohonzon should be implemented.
Modern printing technology has greatly advanced, as have transportation and communication. Under such circumstances, the right to transcribe Gohonzon has been the right of the high priest of the Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist order. Until around 1983 woodblock (okatagi) Gohonzon were produced at Hodo-in in Tokyo, a Taiseki-ji branch. And countless woodblock-printed Gohonzon have been distributed to local temples without having undergone the high priest’s eye-opening ceremony.
It is only relatively recently that the high priest acquired the exclusive right to transcribe Gohonzon. The true Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, conceived of the Gohonzon so that all people in the Latter Day of the Law could attain Buddhahood. Nichiren Buddhism believers are all the Buddha’s children who constitute the Buddhist order. The Nichiren Shoshu high priest, then, who supposedly inherits Nichiren’s intent, should dedicate himself unsparingly to the believers’ happiness. Nikken, who fully controlled Gohonzon transcription when the rift between Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai broke out, decided that, rather than striving to propagate the Law, he would refuse to issue Gohonzon to Gakkai members in order to destroy the Gakkai and enslave its membership within a feudalistic system.
What is happening to the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood is that “the poison has penetrated deeply and their minds no longer function as before” (The Lotus Sutra, p. 228), exactly as described in the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
The high priest who, along with his cohorts, claims the right to transcribe the Gohonzon, departed from correct faith and severed himself from the pure-hearted Buddhist order. Nikken now takes on the “arrogance and presumption of those who pretend to be sages,” the role of a Buddhist enemy.
As a result, the Buddha’s children who practice earnestly seem to have lost the right to transcribe and confer Gohonzon upon its members, a right originally inherent in the Buddhist order responsible for promoting kosen-rufu. This right needs to be restored to those within the Buddhist order of those who follow the Buddha’s mandate.
As “the arrogance and presumption of those who pretend to be sages” has manifested, it is indeed timely that the Soka Gakkai has instituted bestowal of the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan-[26th]. The time has come for the Soka Gakkai, in unity with its mentor, to develop a new dimension of kosen-rufu. The Soka Gakkai embodies the original teaching of Nichiren Daishonin.
Pure Current of Fuji School Is Sheer Illusion
The Nikken sect always refers to “the pure current of Fuji” and “the tradition of 700 years” to justify its authority. But can the sect truly boast of such things? The truth shows quite the contrary.
The Nikken sect also insists on “the transmission of the pure water of the Law from one high priest’s vessel to another,” and “the transmission of the heritage through the lineage of the successive high priests.” The truth is, nothing mystic gets passed, just the responsibilities of being the school’s chief administrator. Thinking otherwise is delusional.
Nichiren Shoshu has somehow survived despite currying favor with government authority and yielding to other slanderous Nichiren sects, despite its countless slanders and its wallowing in the mud of false teachings, ignorant of its having disparaged Nichiren Daishonin’s original teaching. Shallow is the belief that high priests acquire a special enlightened state upon receiving the heritage.
If the successive Nichiren Shoshu high priests exist in a special, enlightened world equal to the life condition that Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin mastered, how could they possibly have made the same mistake for ages in inscribing King Emma and godo myokan on the doshi Gohonzon?
We should relinquish the foolish idea that only Nichiren Shoshu high priests possess the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism. The flow of the Law ceased in their lineage. Not until the Soka Gakkai appeared did it flow once again. The historically groundless absolutism of the seat of high priest should be rejected. It only serves to keep the high priest on a pedestal, which runs counter to the fundamental Buddhist message of equality.
Nichiren Shoshu Avoided Admonishing Slander
To be clear, before the Soka Gakkai’s appearance, Nichiren Shoshu had lost the spirit to admonish slander. Therefore, “the pure current of Fuji” is purely fantasy.
Nikko states, “’When the lord comes to slander the Law, I, also, will not dwell here.’ This was the will of the Founder” (“Reply to Mimasaka-bo”).
Nikko wrote down the last will of the true Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, whose heart and spirit had long left Taiseki-ji. Bodhisattvas of the Earth close to Nichiren Shoshu did appear, however, in the form of the Soka Gakkai members. It was indeed a dark era, as slander abounded within and outside Nichiren Shoshu, and militarism was rife through Japanese society. As President Toda commented, “Bodhisattvas of the Earth landed just before enemies in the midst of slander.”
Thanks to the death-defying efforts of the first two Soka Gakkai presidents, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, the time arrived for the people to propagate the Law. Today, under the leadership of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, worldwide kosen-rufu is becoming a reality.
The three founding presidents took responsibility to promote kosen-rufu. This undeniable fact proves Nichiren Daishonin’s compassion will extend into the long future of the Latter Day of the Law.
The True Disciples of the Soka Gakkai Actualize Nichiren’s Mandate
Those who cloak the high priest position in mystery do so based upon such transfer documents as “the Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon” and “the Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon.” They also insist that other orally transferred teachings are transmitted between high priests. It should be noted that these transfer documents, which were supposedly hidden teachings, are also treated as such in other Nichiren schools. This indicates that they are not an exclusive, secret of Nichiren Shoshu teachings. Furthermore, most of these documents are copies of the same original. And of course, what Taiseki-ji has are not original documents.
Nichiko-[59th] openly published all the transfer documents in The Essential Writings of the Fuji School. He did this intentionally because other Nichiren schools already possessed the same documents.
We must not be disillusioned by the terms heritage and transmission. Nothing is more unique and mystic than the Soka Gakkai, which, in unity with its successive presidents, actually promotes kosen-rufu as per Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching.
Now, no matter what, strive in faith and be known as a votary of the Lotus Sutra, and remain my disciple for the rest of your life. If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth. And if you are a Bodhisattva of the Earth, there is not the slightest doubt that you have been a disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha from the remote past. The sutra states, “Ever since the long distant past I have been teaching and converting the multitude.” There should be no discrimination among those who propagate the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo in the Latter Day of the Law, be they men or women. Were they not Bodhisattvas of the Earth, they could not chant the daimoku. At first only Nichiren chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then two, three, and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others. Propagation will unfold this way in the future as well. Does this not signify “emerging from the earth”? At the time when the Law has spread far and wide, the entire Japanese nation will chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, as surely as an arrow aimed at the earth cannot miss the target. (WND, vol. 1, p. 385)
It is the Soka Gakkai, under the leadership of Honorary President Ikeda that is actualizing Nichiren’s golden teaching.
Irreplaceable to Soka Gakkai members is their organization devoted to making Nichiren’s intent a reality and the gathering of Bodhisattvas of the Earth among which they are included. Gakkai members need to be convinced that they themselves are disciples of the Buddha.
As Nichiren writes, “Now persons like Nichiren and his followers, who have learned to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, may be said to have entered the treasure tower” (ROTT, p. 29).
Soka Gakkai members should deepen their awareness of the dignity of their existence. The Nikken sect priesthood, however, will insist that the laity is inferior.
While the priesthood insists on its superiority, it begs the question: How dignified in faith were the priests before the emergence of the Soka Gakkai? They should answer this question based upon historical truths, without ignoring the fact that successive high priests have been producing phony doshi Gohonzon for centuries.
Nikken sect believers must sever their attachment to such concepts as “the transmission of the heritage of Buddhism,” “the transference of the water of the heritage from the vessel of one high priest to the vessel of another,” “the pure current of Fuji,” “the tradition of 700 years,” and “the original teachings and formalities of this school.”
Buddhism exists in the world of living reality, not the world of fantasy. The people of the Nikken sect had better dispel their delusions and open their eyes to the historical facts.
 Shinto is an indigenous religion of Japan. During World War II, the military government pressured the populace to support the Shinto religion that promoted belief in the divinity of the emperor. It was the resistance of the first two Soka Gakkai presidents to comply that led to their imprisonment.