In Nichiren Buddhism, the most powerful and harmful of “the three powerful enemies” is “the arrogance and presumption of those who pretend to be sages.” At the end of December 1990, the chief administrator and high priest of Nichiren Shoshu, Nikken Abe, revealed his true nature by behaving in just such a manner.
The year 1990 marked the 700th anniversary of the founding of head temple Taiseki-ji by Nikko Shonin. Nikko had left Mount Minobu with the aim of widely propagating Nichiren Buddhism. In October 1990, Soka Gakkai members, who are the disciples of the Buddha, gathered with pure faith at Taiseki-ji to participate in the auspicious, commemorative events.
At this very same time, however, beneath the surface of these celebratory events, Nikken and his associates were secretly looking for an opportunity to implement a plan they called “Operation C.”
As is well known by now, Operation C was a scheme to force the Soka Gakkai to oust Honorary President Daisaku Ikeda—to “cut” the president from the community of believers. If that turned out to be impossible, the plan was to excommunicate the Soka Gakkai as a whole. The eventual goal was to compel each member of the Soka Gakkai to leave the lay organization and become a member solely of a Nichiren Shoshu temple.
It has become obvious that more Operation C steps were taken by Nikken to make Gakkai members submit to his authority. He prohibited them from visiting the head temple to see the Dai-Gohonzon and he halted conferral of Gohonzon upon Gakkai members. Ultimately, he proclaimed that Gakkai members could never attain Buddhahood as long as they stayed with the Soka Gakkai.
Despite such opposition, members remained loyal to the Soka Gakkai. They successfully weathered the persecution stemming from “the arrogance and presumption of those pretending to be sages.” On November 28, 1991, Nikken and his priesthood, in another attempt to disrupt the unity of the members, excommunicated the entire Soka Gakkai. The organization remained unshaken, however, and Gakkai members deepened their faith in Nichiren Buddhism more than ever.
The members could clearly perceive that the Soka Gakkai is based on the Buddha’s will and decree to accomplish kosen-rufu, and that they themselves were the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. They sensed their profound connection with the founding Soka Gakkai presidents. They felt conviction in the nobility of their identity as Gakkai members derived from their understanding of the real history between the laity and the priesthood.
Before the Soka Gakkai’s emergence, Nichiren Shoshu was a small, weak school of distorted Nichiren Buddhism, just like the other Nichiren sects guided mainly by Kuon-ji, the temple located at Mount Minobu. The real history of Nichiren Shoshu has been a process of purification of the school resulting from the unparalleled faith of the Soka Gakkai’s three founding presidents. Nichiren Daishonin’s correct Buddhist teaching almost perished in Nichiren Shoshu but for the Soka Gakkai, which revived it, as the means to provide the most creative way of life amid the harsh realities of society.
When first Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi emphasized the theory of punishment, based upon the principle of gain and loss expounded in Nichiren Buddhism, the priesthood vehemently opposed it. The concept of retribution was nonexistant within Nichiren Shoshu’s understanding of Nichiren Buddhism.
The priesthood contended: “All believers of Nichiren Shoshu are already enlightened as they are. There is no way the enlightened would receive punishment.” Hokkeko members also rejected Mr. Makiguchi’s theory of punishment, readily accepting the priesthood’s position. The priesthood wanted to keep believers dependent on the priest’s and priest’s prayers, and focused on soliciting large offerings at funerals and memorial services. They were not interested in members awakening to faith, devoting themselves to studying Nichiren Buddhism, or their committment to carrying out the daily practice of sutra recitation and chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—which the Gakkai did more assiduously than priests.
President Makiguchi emphasized the theory of negative effects all the more, resolutely determined to wipe out the shallow, erroneous understanding of Nichiren Buddhism rooted in the priesthood. He contended: “‘Those who vex and trouble [the practitioners of the Law] will have their heads split into seven pieces’ is written on the Gohonzon. Doesn’t this refer to the theory of punishment?”
Mr. Makiguchi also said: “Nichiren Daishonin states, ‘There are four kinds of punishment: general and individual, conspicuous and inconspicuous. The epidemics and famines that have attacked Japan, as well as the strife within the ruling clan and the foreign invasion, are general punishment. Epidemics are a form of inconspicuous punishment. The deaths of Ota and the others are both conspicuous and individual’ (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 997). Doesn’t this refer to the theory of punishment?”
Mr. Makiguchi’s statements were like the roar of a lion king. Eventually, a few Nichiren Shoshu priests came to understand the theory of punishment and the power of the Law expounded in Nichiren Buddhism.
But because Nichiren Shoshu in general did not grasp this concept, it pathetically succumbed to pressure from the military government during World War II, disregarding the spirit of “never begrudging one’s life” and abandoned the correct teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. The priests expelled the leaders of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (the original name of today’s Soka Gakkai organization), treating them as nonbelievers. Additionally, they expelled Renjo Fujimoto, a priest who shared Mr. Makiguchi’s views. Nichiren Shoshu took all these actions in fear of govenment authority that was guided by national Shintoism.
Nichiren Shoshu had long ago lost Nichiren’s spirit to remonstrate with the misguided nation. Back in the Edo period (1603–1867), the priesthood had been given an official role in governing the populace and was satisfied with this role. At the very core of its existence, Nichiren Shoshu had developed the cowardly tendency to submit to governmental authority.
The corruption could be seen on an even deeper level, as they turned Buddhism into merely a religion whose sole purpose was to conduct funerals for lay followers. Following the lead of other erroneous Buddhist sects, Nichiren Shoshu went on to create a nefarious object it called the doshi Gohonzon—doshi means “a guide”—whose only purpose was to be enshrined for funeral ceremonies. It is unlike any Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren.
Claiming that no one could attain Buddhahood after death without the inclusion of this special Gohonzon in the funeral service, Nichiren Shoshu priests behaved as if they alone had special powers to enable the deceased to attain Buddhahood. They steered living lay believers toward obediece by professing that they would all equally attain enlightenment. But when believers died, the priesthood intimidated the surviving family members, saying that only the priesthood’s prayers could enable the deceased to attain Buddhahood.
Immoral Nichiren Shoshu priests not only used the sham doshi Gohonzon as a tool to solicit offerings from families of the deceased but also indiscriminately issued the hand-inscribed joju Gohonzon without any standard of faith or practice in order to solicit more offerings from lay believers. Joju means “eternally dwelling.” Many longtime danto (Hokkeko) families residing in the vicinity of Taiseki-ji possess joju Gohonzon that were transcribed by various high priests, and regard them no more seriously than they might nice artwork. Even today, they say without hesitation, “As long as we make offerings to Taiseki-ji, the high priest will easily transcribe joju Gohonzon for us.”
In the early 20th century, during the time of the Russo-Japanese War, Nichiren Shoshu enshrined one of Nichiren Daishonin’s original Gohonzon so that anyone could pray before it for victory in the war. Additionally, they indiscriminately issued more than 10,000 okatagi (woodblock—printed) Gohonzon, including to non-believers, bearing an inscription dedicated to victory in the war.
At the turn of the thirteenth century, Nikko Shonin, the founder of Taiseki-ji, stated: “It is said here and there that some disciples (of our deceased mentor) are treating the Gohonzon inscribed by our mentor lightly, having it carved on a plank of wood and bestowing it upon those who are without faith. Niko and Nisshun are doing such a thing. In contrast, I, Nikko, transcribe the Gohonzon most respectfully and bestow it only upon my disciples, both lay believers and priests, who uphold the teaching without begrudging their lives, or who have suffered scars, or who were banished from their residence, or who have otherwise shown some faith” (The Guidelines for Believers of the Fuji School).
Successive high priests of Nichiren Shoshu misused the Gohonzon in a manner unbefitting the disciples of Nikko. Nichiren Daishonin’s strict teaching of admonishing slanderous acts and the spirit Nikko exhibited when he left Mount Minobu had both been lost within Nichiren Shoshu long before the Soka Gakkai’s emergence. Slanderous teachings and corruption were prevalent throughout the history of Taiseki-ji.
Taiseki-ji seemed to be slowly correcting its behavior after the appearance of the Soka Gakkai, but, in truth, its insidious latent tendency remained and resurfaced in the form of the insane scheme by Nikken and his associates. Nikken displayed the behavior of persecuting those who propagate the Law—“the arrogance and presumption of those who pretend to be sages.”
Nikko stated in a writing titled “Reply to Mimasaka-bo,” “When the lord of this land disobeys the Law, I will no longer dwell here, either.” He chose to depart from Mount Minobu (in spite of its close connection to Nichiren Daishonin) because he had inherited his mentor’s spirit to severely rebuke slander. Just as Nikko left Minobu, Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit has left Taiseki-ji, a place now governed by high priests who commit slanderous acts and persecute the Buddha’s disciples.
The immediate reason for Nikko’s departure was the slanderous action of the lord of the Minobu area, Hakiri Sanenaga. It was the priest Minbu Niko, however, who had influenced Sanenaga—because Minbu Niko taught him slanderous doctrines, Sanenaga’s faith was ruined. For instance, Niko had distorted Nikko’s admonition that disciples should not visit shrines of erroneous Buddhist schools, alleging to Sanenaga that Nikko was ignorant of the essence of Buddhism. Nikko wrote of the accusations made against him by Minbu Niko in “Reply to Hara”:
“It is written throughout ‘On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land’ that the protective, benevolent deities will leave this country. But Byakuren Ajari (Nikko) only reads non-Buddhist writings, remaining ignorant of the essence of Buddhism. If a follower of the Lotus Sutra visits a shrine, the benevolent deities will also visit it. Hence you should visit it most respectfully.”
Regarding Minbu Niko distortions, Nikko wrote, “I, [Nikko], know that this behavior of Niko is a function of the heavenly devil (king devil of the sixth heaven) and therefore I am not frightened in the least. The benevolent deities say that they will abandon a slanderous country. Niko, even though a disciple propounds a different teaching, saying that they will come to any shrine if the follower of the Lotus Sutra should visit it. I, Nikko, feel it is difficult not to be punished for such slanderous behavior. I affirm that, from now on, I will banish such a study chief” (“Reply to Hara”). Nikken and his associates are committing the same sort of error as Niko did centuries before.
The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood contends that Nikken possesses the same life condition as Nichiren Daishonin. They diminish Nichiren Buddhism, worshipping Nikken’s ridiculous remarks as though they were the Buddha’s words, and advocating the erroneous teaching of “the high priest’s sole possession of the heritage of Buddhism” to justify their authority.
It is a fact that Nikken had a tomb erected at a Zen temple. The tombstone bore the inscription, “I, Nikken, have built this tomb for the enlightenment of the successive descendants of our family.” When criticized for this, Nikken brushed it off, saying, “I merely conducted a memorial service at my relative’s tomb that happens to have been built in a cemetery that shares space (with that temple).”
It is also a fact that Nikken hired a prostitute in Seattle. And he frequently consorted with geisha girls; as a case in point, a photo taken at an extremely expensive Japanese restaurant in Akasaka shows Nikken posed with several geisha. He displayed no sense of shame when these facts were revealed, even though at the time he held the supreme position of responsibility as high priest.
Nikko described how debased Minbu Niko had become: “Referring to April 8 as the date of the Buddha’s birth, [Niko] gave a lecture one night at a lay priest’s quarters. Niko not only received a monetary offering but also enjoyed sake there. The lay priest, sensing Niko’s desire [for drink], called on his wife and child to serve him the sake. Becoming drunk, Niko indecently raised his voice, which caused all those who heard him to ridicule his followers and associates. This is indeed shameful. No shame greater than this has ever befallen Nichiren. This is well known in society. Everybody knows about this” (“Reply to Hara”).
Nikken’s propounding slanderous teachings and engaging frequently in sexual escapades is identical in nature to that of Niko.
“You should be aware that the doctrine we uphold teaches that it will be a mistake if you do not abandon the teacher who opposes Nichiren Shonin” (“Reply to Hara”).
In light of this teaching, we should abandon all slanderous teachers. Soka Gakkai members are truly the Buddha’s disciples, and they have abandoned Nikken and have left Taiseki-ji. The truth is that Nikken and his priesthood were virtually excommunicated from the company of Nichiren Daishonin’s true disciples.
That is the point of this book .
November 28, 1993
Yu Fuwa, Editor of Jiyu
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Most successive high priests mentioned in this book will have the number of their term in office noted in brackets following their name. The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin will be referenced as WND followed by volume and page.]
 As described in the Lotus Sutra, there are three types of arrogant people who persecute those who propagate the sutra. (1) “The arrogance and presumption of lay people.” (2) “The arrogance and presumption of members of the Buddhist clergy” or arrogant priests. (3) “The arrogance and presumption of those who pretend to be sages” or arrogant false sages. This third category is described as priests who pretend to be sages and who are revered as such, but when encountering the practitioners of the Lotus Sutra become fearful of losing fame or profit and persecute them.
 Hokkeko refers to members of the Nichiren Shoshu lay organization or Danto. Hokkeko is translated as “Lotus School.” When the Soka Gakkai was founded in 1930, it formed its own lay organization affiliated with Nichiren Shoshu but not the Hokkeko.
 The doshi Gohonzon has inscriptions representing the “officials of hell,” where the dead dwell, not found on any other of Nichiren’s Gohonzon nor in any of his writings. The doshi Gohonzon is based on a superstitious view of hell, where the ten kings of hell dwell, that had become increasingly popular among Japanese in the 16th century. According to this folk belief, the dead will be judged by the ten kings of hell on ten “judgment days”: the seventh day after a person’s death, the fourteenth day, the twenty-first day, the twenty-eighth day, the thirty-fifth day, the forty-second day, the forty-ninth day, the one hundredth day, the one year anniversary, and three year anniversary. Using this superstition, priests encouraged believers to conduct a Buddhist memorial service on each occasion in order to collect offerings.
By emphasizing formalities, a religious body may use them to become authoritarian. In the process, it can lose its compassion to save people. The teaching of the Law as originally expounded by the Buddha to bring happiness to the people will lose its original power if used as the basis for the authority of the religious order.
When this happens the teaching of the Law is then utilized by those who hold power and authority to control their followers, rather than for the people’s happiness and wellbeing. In the Nirvana Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha expressed his concern about what would happen to the teaching of the Law after his demise, in the Latter Day of the Law. In this sutra, Shakyamuni foretold the evil actions that would be taken by priests in the defiled Latter Day. He predicted that their evil deeds would be carried out through the misuse of the very Law that the Buddha had expounded.
The Nirvana Sutra reads: “After I have passed away . . . [After the Former Day of the Law has ended and] the Middle Day of the Law has begun and there will be monks who will give the appearance of abiding by the rules of monastic discipline. But they will scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave all kinds of food and drink to nourish their bodies. Though they wear the clothes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms like so many huntsmen who, narrowing their eyes, stalk softly. They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice. And they will constantly reiterate these words, ‘I have attained arhatship!’ Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they will harbor greed and jealousy. [And when they are asked to preach the teachings, they will say nothing,] like Brahmans who have taken a vow of silence. They are not true monks—they merely have the appearance of monks. Consumed by their erroneous views, they slander the correct teaching” (The Nirvana Sutra, quoted in “The Opening of the Eyes,” WND, vol. 1, p. 275).
Both good and evil priests speak about the teachings of the Buddha. At a glance, it is not clear which priests are correct and which are erroneous. What is the standard by which to judge? Whether they are good or evil should be based upon the actions they take to relieve the suffering of people. From that viewpoint, it becomes easier to judge who is the true votary of the Lotus Sutra. The true votary is devoted to the sacred mission of bringing absolute happiness to the people, while holding the perspective that every human being innately possesses the seed of enlightenment in his or her life.
Evil priests, however, exploit Buddhism in order to strengthen their authority. They use it as a tool to discriminate against people. They divide the people from the Buddha. While behaving as impeccable clergymen, their true nature is evil. This point applies even to the religious school that seemingly upholds the correct Law and teachings.
Today, if we observe other Buddhist schools in Japan it is obvious that they are becoming more democratized and are reducing their authority. Nichiren Shoshu, however, runs counter to this general trend. Ironically, Nichiren Shoshu is the sect most promoting authoritarianism in opposition to the rise of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth.
Where does the oppression of Nichiren Shoshu come from? It derives from the incorrect view of the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism. Nichiren Shoshu’s insanity stems from the idea that the high priest alone inherits the lifeblood of Buddhism. Until this incorrect view is rectified, Nichiren Shoshu will remain a corrupt sect.
The concept of a “heritage of Buddhism” has been the concern of many Buddhist sects. Any priest regarded as the inheritor of the heritage easily attains special status within a Buddhist order, and it is the erroneous view of the heritage of Buddhism that guarantees that status.
The chief administrator (high priest) of the Higashi Hongan-ji School of Jodo Shinshu (Pure Land school) once possessed unparalleled power and authority in Japanese religious society. Historically, he exerted extraordinary influence over both secular and religious matters.
The chief administrator position of this school has been inherited through the lineage of the Otani family, which carried on the bloodline of its founder, Kyonyo (1602). The Otani family was also related to the Japanese Imperial Family. In the Hokuriku area, where the Otani family is overwhelmingly powerful, lay believers of this school would drink the chief administrator’s bathwater when he visited the area to propagate the school’s teachings. The high priest of the Higashi Hongan-ji School was worshipped as a living Buddha who inherited the legacy of Kyonyo.
Today, however, the Otani family is steadily on the decline. Because of internal reforms, the position of chief administrator is no longer considered absolute in the Higashi Hongan-ji School. Currently, no one in the school would regard its chief administrator as a living Buddha.
The authority of the Otani family, once looked upon as no less significant than the emperor’s family—in fact, the wife of former emperor Hirohito and the wife of former chief administrator Mitsuaki Otani were sisters—has declined as the school has moved toward democratization.
The Higashi Hongan-ji School example is symbolic of the wave of democratization of Japan’s religious world. Other Japanese religious schools are going through similar changes—the distorted, illusory view of the heritage is being rejected. The idea that the Buddha’s heritage is a criterion for inequality among the people is being rejected even in schools that don’t embrace Nichiren’s teachings.
We can see, then, that Nichiren Shoshu is extremely anachronistic in the Japanese religious world. In Nichiren Shoshu, the high priest also performs the role of chief administrator, which means he possesses both the utmost religious authority and the utmost administrative and political power within the school. This centralized power is enormous, incomparable in Japanese religious circles today. For this reason, the high priest’s actions remain unchecked, no matter how insane they may become.
Those in the Nikken sect respond, “The high priest’s role in Nichiren Shoshu has a doctrinally special meaning, and it is completely different from the role of the high priest in heretical sects.” But, traditionally, the positions of high priest and chief administrator held the same significance in all Buddhist sects.
Historically speaking, the chief administrator of the aforementioned larger and more influential Higashi Hongan-ji School possessed supreme authority more powerful than that of the high priest of the smaller and weaker Nichiren Shoshu. Nonetheless, Higashi Hongan-ji steadily underwent democratization. This occurred because most of the leaders came to understand if a religious organization does not embrace people’s opinions it will lose its raison d’être in society. They developed this awareness because they wanted to continue propagating the school’s teachings.
In Nichiren Shoshu, however, the priests, who had rarely engaged in propagation, not only distanced themselves from the times but also acted in opposition to the rest of society. It was the Soka Gakkai that shouldered the mission of propagating the Law.
Nichiren Shoshu had established a religious authority completely detached from societal reality, a fact that underlies the foundation of their existence. Put another way, Nichiren Shoshu cloaks itself in assumed religious authority to try to offset its lack of power in society. This has become more conspicuous in recent years, fueled by the school’s distortion of the heritage of Buddhism and deification of the high priest.
First, it is important to note that such absolute power and authority—where the high priest is regarded as a living Buddha—did not previously exist in Nichiren Shoshu.
As I will explain later, various historical incidents demonstrate that the high priest is not a holy entity but rather a mundane administrator. For example, it happened that high priests were recruited from another sect because Taiseki-ji could not find a suitable candidates within its own school. Another high priest, Nitchu-[58th], was ousted from his position in a coup. And the next high priest, Nichiko-[59th], was chosen by election, based on an order from the Minister of Education to remedy a confrontation between two camps within the school.
Nichiko was later forced to resign because he could no longer fulfill his responsibility as high priest due to the malicious treatment he received from other senior priests. The next high priest, Nichikai-[60th], was chosen through an election mired in bribery and threats.
Even before the days of these high priests, Nichiren Shoshu possessed nothing remarkable in terms of authority and power. It was formerly called the Nikko School of the Nichiren Sect, a tiny Buddhist order with jurisdiction over only 50 local temples. It held so little influence over the history of Japan that it could not be even closely compared with the power and authority of the chief administrator of Higashi Hongan-ji School.
“The Twenty-Six Admonitions of Nikko” states “Do not follow even the high priest if he goes against the Buddha’s Law and propounds his own views.”
As is clear from Nikko Shonin’s statement that protecting the Law is more important than the authority of the high priest. Accordingly, there is no social or religious reason to justify the conferral of absolute power and authority upon the high priest of Nichiren Shoshu. Occasionally, over history, the position of high priest was given new powers to bolster a weak leader who would then become despotic, but it was an exception to the general rule.
Nikko regarded the position of high priest to be subordinate to the Law, but in recent years, Nichiren Shoshu has elevated the position to an extraordinary degree. This has been done in order to emphasize the priesthood’s significance and to consolidate the power and authority of the school.
Such actions are in contrast to the Soka Gakkai, which is based on the people. To make priests seem better and more important than ordinary people, the priest-centered Nichiren Shoshu actually revised its rules and bylaws to institutionalize the absolute authority of the high priest, going against the modern democratic trend. Nichiren Shoshu will isolate itself from Japan’s religious community unless it can achieve reformation from within.
Corrupted by their overemphasis of the sole transmission of the heritage through the lineage of successive high priests, no one in Nichiren Shoshu could utter a word against Nikken’s unilateral mismanagement of the school. Even Nichiren Shoshu’s own traditional doctrine has perished due to Nikken’s “holy” teaching.
It is uncertain how long Nichiren Shoshu’s dark days will last. It will never revive unless its priests sincerely listen to the voices of the Soka Gakkai members, who are devoted day and night to spreading Nichiren Buddhism. The priests must humbly and courageously reform the school from within, employing apology and self-reflection.
Otherwise, Taiseki-ji will continue to decay as a heretical temple that can only boast of storing treasures related to Nichiren Daishonin and of its historic connection to Nikko Shonin. It will become just like the Minobu School, noteworthy because it was once a hallowed site where Nichiren Daishonin had lived. Taiseki-ji has become heretical through the erroneous teachings of Nikken and will soon reveal to the world its decadence and ugliness.
In Chapter One, I will relate how some high priests acceded to their office. It will become evident how groundless it is for the Nikken sect to maintain that the high priest alone possesses the living essence of the Buddha, and that the water of the Law has flowed solely from high priest to high priest over the centuries.
The future of Nichiren Shoshu becomes clear when we recount how slanderous, corrupt and destitute Taiseki-ji had been before the appearance of the Soka Gakkai.
Recruiting High Priests From the Slanderous Yobo-ji Temple
In the late sixteenth century Nissho-[15th], came from Yobo-ji, a temple in Kyoto that belonged to a different Nichiren school.
Yobo-ji started out as Jogyo-in, founded by Nichizon, a disciple of Nikko. Nichimoku, the successor to Nikko, had died in Mino (in today’s Gifu prefecture) while on his way to Kyoto to remonstrate with the emperor. Nichizon, who had been journeying with Nichimoku, continued on to Kyoto and remonstrated with the emperor. Nichizon remained in Kyoto and later built Jogyo-in. In time, however, he came to oppose Nichiren’s teachings, and he installed a statue of Shakyamuni at Jogyo-in along with statues of Shakyamuni’s ten major disciples.
Jogyo-in later combined with Juhon-ji—a temple opened in Kyoto by Nichidai, Nichizon’s disciple—and became Yobo-ji. It was Kozo-in Nisshin who established this joint temple. Nisshin wrote treatises titled: A Discussion on Making Statues and A Discussion on Reciting the Sutra. In A Discussion on Making Statues, he insisted that Shakyamuni’s statue should be the object of worship. In A Discussion on Reciting the Sutra, he expounded the erroneous idea that recitation of all 28 chapters of the Lotus Sutra are necessary—the Fuji school advocates only recitation of portions from the “Expedient Means” and the “Life Span” chapters.
Kozo-in Nisshin’s erroneous teachings are the basis of Yobo-ji doctrine. In 1558, when Kozo-in Nisshin wrote A Discussion on Making Statues, he asked Nichiin-[13th], to start an exchange with other Nikko schools, but Nichiin refused.
An exchange between Yobo-ji and Taiseki-ji did start, however, during the time of the next high priest, Nisshu-[14th]. Among the Yobo-ji priests invited was one named Nissho, who became Nisshu’s successor as high priest only two years after first visiting Taiseki-ji. This is confirmed in accounts from The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School.
In effect, then, Taiseki-ji had recruited a senior priest from Yobo-ji. Not only that, there was an instance where Yobo-ji sent another priest to Taiseki-ji when Nichiren Shoshu was in need of prospective priests. The purpose was to enable Taiseki-ji to prosper but it also gave Yobo-ji the upper hand in their relationship.
Nichiko Hori-[59th] openly discussed this historical fact in an interview in the November 1956 issue of The Daibyakurenge (the Soka Gakkai’s study magazine:
Nichiko Hori: There was a relationship between Yobo-ji and Taiseki-ji during the time of High Priest Nichiu. In addition, Nisshu of Taiseki-ji developed a relationship with the Yobo-ji chief administrator. Kuritaguchi no Sei, a powerful member of a prominent family, was instrumental in helping establish this relationship. Taiseki-ji went on to welcome many priests from Yobo-ji. It considered inviting Nissho, a famous Yobo-ji priest, who was a first-class scholar under Nisshin. He was famous in Kyoto. Invited by court nobles all over Kyoto, Nissho lectured in court circles and was invited to lecture at the Imperial court. He could expound on all kinds of subjects other than Buddhism, even on Shintoism. Nissho was a useful individual, and it was said that Taiseki-ji would prosper with him as high priest, but Yobo-ji would not let him go, for he was also very valuable to Yobo-ji.
The Daibyakurenge: Taiseki-ji took in another priest instead of him, right?
Nichiko Hori: Another priest, whose name was also Nissho (although spelled with a different Chinese character), came to Taiseki-ji. This Nissho was also very capable in many ways.”
We can see that high priests of Nichiren Shoshu were often recruited from Yobo-ji through the auspices of the influential Kuritaguchi no Sei.
The Daibyakurenge: One after another, priests from Yobo-ji assumed the role of chief administrator at Taiseki-ji, isn’t that right?
Nichiko Hori: Yes, in all, nine high priests in a row. At first, the priests who came to Taiseki-ji from Yobo-ji were well established. But after the 17th high priest, Nissei, the situation changed. Nissei came to Taiseki-ji while still young. After arriving at Taiseki-ji, he went to Edo and became successful. The priests who came to Taiseki-ji prior to High Priest Nissei had already matured as priests, while those after Nissei essentially grew up as acolytes at Taiseki-ji, [under his erroneous teachings].
The Daibyakurenge: It means that these acolytes didn’t contribute much to Taiseki-ji at first, doesn’t it?
Nichiko Hori: Right. Concerning the Yobo-ji doctrine, these young priests did not bring it to Taiseki-ji. Nonetheless, remnants of the Yobo-ji doctrine remained at Taiseki-ji. It was High Priest Nisshun, who had also come from Yobo-ji, who completely erased Yobo-ji’s influence from Taiseki-ji.
The Daibyakurenge: High Priest Nisshun set aside all the Buddhist statues, eventually destroying them.
Nichiko Hori: Yes, he got rid of the Buddhist statues.
It is noteworthy that Nichiko confirms how the negative Yobo-ji influence remained at Taiseki-ji.
Even though Yobo-ji regards Nichiren Daishonin as the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, its doctrine differs completely from that of Nichiren Shoshu. The fact that a priest recruited from Yobo-ji became high priest of Taiseki-ji only two years after he arrived is inexplicable in light of Nichiren Shoshu’s current stance on the absolute authority of the high priest.
Nissei Erects Statues of Shakyamuni
Nine consecutive high priests—Nissho-[15th], Nichiju-[16th], Nissei-[17th], Nichiei-[18th], Nisshun-[19th], Nitten-[20th], Nichinin-[21st], Nisshun-[22nd] and Nikkei-[23rd]—came over from Yobo-ji.
Nissho-[15th] and Nichiju-[16th] took office at Taiseki-ji after having been recruited as senior priests. The rest coming from Yobo-ji had transferred to Taiseki-ji as acolytes. In those days, however, many senior priests other than those who became high priests also transferred over, so the influence of Yobo-ji’s erroneous teachings must have been pervasive at Taiseki-ji.
In fact, Nissei-[17th], who apparently remained under the influence of Kozo-in Nisshin, actually erected statues of Shakyamuni at Taiseki-ji and promoted the erroneous teaching of venerating Shakyamuni.
Reading Nichiko’s Daibyakurenge interview, it is surprising to find him so candid in answering questions about the heritage of the school. We can see that he viewed the heritage and the position of the high priest to be transparent to the public. Nichiko’s perspective was very different from that of the Nikken sect, who feels that the high priest is “the Daishonin of the modern times” and that the laity must follow the priesthood without question.
The historical truth revealed by Nichiko Hori demonstrates the error of Nichiren Shoshu’s current contention that the high priest is the sole inheritor of the Law.
High Priest Nichijo Abandons His Responsibilities and Vanishes
The Nikken priesthood calls the position of chief priest of Taiseki-ji “the seat of the high priest.” The person in this position—regardless of character—is called “Geika (ultimately respectable),” or “Gozen-sama (His Majesty),” or “Lord of the Chair.” This is maintained even if he proves himself to be the leader of the three powerful enemies or a “Law-devouring hungry spirit.”
But what do you call a high priest who abandons his position and disappears?
It must have been grave event indeed when the high priest, without having transferred the heritage to his successor, vanishes one day from the head temple. Even if it was a destitute temple where few believers visited, it is still unthinkable. Yet, during the Edo Period, this actually happened.
Nichijo-[53rd] was the one who disappeared from Taiseki-ji while still in office in 1865. The background story is very complicated.
Nichijo had been high priest for two and a half years, but then had to resign largely because of a fire that had ravaged Taiseki-ji.
It seems that around the time Nichijo took office there had been a conflict with his predecessor, Nichiden-[52nd]. Nichiden visited Edo to rectify this situation but returned to Taiseki-ji upon hearing about a fire that occurred there. To avoid encountering Nichiden, Nichijo retired to a neighboring temple, Shimono-bo. Later, he disappeared from Shimono-bo, and his whereabouts were unknown.
Nichiden’s own recollection of this incident is written in Organizational Publication for Propagation, Nichiren Shoshu’s Meiji Period publication. A correction was eventually added to his report, and a vital part of the story was erased.
In conjunction with this history, Nikken made a statement in June 1989, the 100th anniversary of Nichiden’s passing, claiming that there was a part of Nichiden’s memoir that should not be made known to lay believers. Thus, Nikken admits that part of the history of Nichiren Shoshu needs to be covered up.
The conflict between Nichiden and Nichijo took place between the end of the Edo period and beginning of the Meiji era (1868–1912). It intensified half a century later in the Showa period (1926–1989) in the form of hatred between the Renyo-an Group (Nichiden’s disciples) and the Fujimi-an Group (Nichiei and Nichijo’s disciples).
The following is an outline of Nichijo’s personal history:
He was born in Edo (now Tokyo) on October 11, 1831, and became an acolyte under Nichiei-[51st] in October 1842. He became chief priest (53rd high priest) of Taiseki-ji in October 1862, at 31. Youthful Nichijo was the successor to the 46-year-old Nichiden.
But there is a very serious question as to whether Nichijo truly received the heritage from Nichiden.
The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School reads, “In December (note: year unknown), Nichiden transfers the Law to Nichijo (Biography of Nichiden Shonin).” The citation is from The Biography of Nichiden Shonin, written by Nichiden himself.
Yet, there is no description of a transfer ceremony between Nichiden and Nichijo in Nichiren Shoshu’s official writings such as The Biography of Nichiden Shonin, The Biography of Teacher Nichiden, or The Summarized Biography of Nichiden.
The following description, however, is found in The Biography of Nichiden Shonin and other writings: “In December of that year, the priests and lay believers invited Study Chief Kodo-in to the Dai-bo (high priest quarters). Thus now we have the 53rd high priest, Nichijo.”
It seems that The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School changed the line “Nichiden transfers the Law to Nichijo” into the statement “. . . the priests and lay believers invited Study Head Kodo-in to the Dai-bo.” This indicates a historical fact that Nichiren Shoshu did not want known.
As a matter of fact, Nichiden took office as high priest three times. Upon retiring for the second time, he transferred the heritage to Nichiin-; the third time, he transferred the heritage to Nichio-.
In The Biography of Nichiden, we can see that there is a big difference between the descriptions of Nichiden’s transfers to Nichiin and Nichio and that of his transfer to Nichijo. Here is a detailed account of his 1869 transfer to Nichiin:
In that summer, Eishu-in (Nichiin) of Kyodai-ji in Shikoku made a pilgrimage to Taiseki-ji. It was because there was an agreement made (between us) last year at Hanchi. In July of the same year, Nichiin Shonin was invited to assume the position of study chief. On October 20 of that year, at 53, I retired again to the Renyo-an lodging quarters . . . I transferred to my successor all legal documents including notebooks, deeds, and bills. On November 1, I invited the study chief to the Dai-bo. Now we have the 54th high priest, Nichiin Shonin. (The Biography of Nichiden Shonin)
Nichiden is claiming to have followed the procedures stipulated by the Rules of Taiseki-ji for his eventual appointment of Nichiin as high priest, first appointing him study chief and then transferring the heritage to him. These events took place in November 1869.
Nichiko-[59th] wrote about Nichiden’s third retirement. (Note: Nichiko made additions to The Biography of Nichiden Shonin, based on notes left by Nichiden.)
According to this added description by Nichiko, Nichiden requested Nippu to once again become high priest of Taiseki-ji, but Nippu declined. Nichiden then decided to transfer the heritage to Nichio, but the transfer ceremony actually took place between Nippu and Nichio. Nichiden felt that “he had better absent himself from this transfer ceremony since it would mean his involvement in a transfer ceremony for the third time.” He then writes, “I am greatly relieved that the transfer ceremony was auspiciously completed on the night of the 20th.” This all happened in May 1890.
What explanation can there be for the big difference between the descriptions of Nichiden’s transfer to Nichiin and Nichio and his transference to Nichijo?
The Biography of Nichiden Shonin describes in great detail Nichiden’s heritage transmissions to Nichiin and Nichio, but about the transference to Nichiin, it merely states, “. . . the priests and lay believers invited Study Chief Kodo-in to the Dai-bo.”
This indicates that Taiseki-ji believers forced Nichiden, despite his reluctance, to transfer the heritage to Nichijo.
Ultimately, this episode reveals that the alleged sanctity of the transmission of the heritage from high priest to high priest—which the Nikken sect continually emphasizes—is a myth.
Taiseki-ji Fire Causes Nichijo’s Disappearance
A huge fire at Taiseki-ji led directly to the retirement and disappearance of Nichijo. The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School in the entry for February 28, 1865, reads: “The reception hall, six-compartment quarters, and high priest quarters all burned down” (The Biography of Nichiden Shonin).
Edo was a crowded, busy city about which an old saying went, “Fires and quarrels are the flowers of Edo.” In contrast, Taiseki-ji is located in the countryside in quiet Ueno Village. Yet, fire and strife are commonplace in Taiseki-ji history.
Taiseki-ji has experienced twelve recorded fires since its founding. Eleven incidents occurred after the Edo period. The danka system (in which every family must belong to a particular temple in order to validate citizenship) was established between 1635 and 1638. It is noteworthy that fires occurred more frequently at Taiseki-ji after it began serving as an agent of the Tokugawa government, controlling people under the danka system.
It is even more astonishing that approximately 100 fires have been recorded in The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School, including those occurring at Omosu Honmon-ji, Yobo-ji, and other Taiseki-ji-affiliated temples such as Hota Myohon-ji, Myoren-ji and Jozai-ji.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: “The sutra reads, ‘If someone . . . should enter a great fire, the fire could not burn him . . . If one were washed away by a great flood and called upon his name, one would immediately find oneself in a shallow place.’ It also reads, ‘The good fortune you gain thereby . . . cannot be burned by fire or washed away by water.’ How reassuring! How encouraging!” (WND-1, 457).
Nichiren is describing the significant benefit of the Lotus Sutra, in contrast to the fact that Taiseki-ji underwent one fire after another.
Perhaps, the priests became more corrupt in their daily lives at Taiseki-ji around the time of the danka system inception, to the point where they became careless. Also, they may have been lacking in faith and sense of mission to protect Taiseki-ji and in turn were denied the protection that strong faith evokes. At any rate, the fact that Taiseki-ji experienced so many fire-related calamities shows that Nichiren’s Buddhism was lost at Taiseki-ji and other Fuji school temples.
The severity of retribution is obvious from this chart of major fires Taiseki-ji has experienced.
It was certainly a large fire that spread through Taiseki-ji on February 28, 1865. According to The Biography of Teacher Nichiden: “A fire broke out in a servant’s room at the high priest quarters on February 28, engulfing entire temples on the grounds of Taiseki-ji. I was astonished at this news and canceled my stay in Tokyo, returning to the head temple” (Research and Study Document of Fuji Academy).
According to this description, the fire that started in a servant’s room in the middle of the night consumed many buildings on the Taiseki-ji grounds including the reception hall, the six-compartment quarters, and high priest quarters. Nichiden- was in Edo, and had been absent from Taiseki-ji during the month of February.
Nittatsu- spoke about the fire of 1865 and about Nichijo-, the sitting high priest at the time:
During the time of 53rd High Priest Nichijo, there was a big fire on February 28, 1865, which burned down the reception hall, the six-compartment lodging, and the high priest quarters. Even the priesthood quarters were burned down. Because of this fire, High Priest Nichijo resigned, and Nichiden Shonin assumed the seat of high priest one more time. (Excerpted from “Regarding the Construction of Various Temples at Head Temple Taiseki-ji and Ushitora Gongyo”)
Things did not go so smoothly between Nichijo’s retirement and Nichiden’s reinstatement as high priest. Nichiden returned to Taiseki-ji in the middle of March, but Nichijo had already resigned as high priest on the day after the fire, according to The Biography of Teacher Nichijo. In May, Nichiei became high priest once again [the 51st and 53rd] despite his old age. But before he took office, Taiseki-ji had no high priest for about two months. It seems a complicated situation surrounds this void in the high priest lineage.
Here, I will quote The Biography of Nichiden Shonin, since it provides a detailed account of what happened at that time. The passage I introduce here deserves the reader’s close attention. It is historically significant, as it led to a correction and deletion later being published in Organizational Publication for Propagation, #21, on May 13, 1892.
According to this document, the fire upset many priests, and they banded together against Nichijo, whom they blamed. Though fully aware of Nichijo’s responsibility, Nichiden quietly left Taiseki-ji because he could not bear the attack on Nichijo.
Surprised at Nichiden’s departure, Taiseki-ji priests were left with the only choice — they had to make peace with Nichijo. The chief priest of the Kujo-bo lodging, on behalf of all the Taiseki-ji lodging temples, and Yogo Uemon Ide, on behalf of all Taiseki-ji lay believers, brought letters written respectively by Nichiei-[51st] and Nichijo-[53rd]. Because of this, when Nichiden returned to Taiseki-ji, Nichijo decided to retire to Shimono-bo temple.
I previously mentioned complications between Nichijo and Nichiden. Nichiden himself relates that Nichijo retired to Shimono-bo in order to avoid seeing Nichiden. There is a view that the fire forced Nichiden into his eventual retirement.
Nichijo Disappears Without Transferring the Heritage
The uproar over the retirement of Nichijo-[53rd] becomes more shocking after that. According to The Biography of Nichiden Shonin:
. . . I stayed at Honko-ji in Negata instead of returning to Taiseki-ji. Dispatching a messenger to Taiseki-ji, I conveyed my earnest request that either Nichijo Shonin should return to the position of chief administrator or Nichiei Shonin would reassume that role. It was decided through a conference of priests and lay representatives that the Rev. Nichiei would come back as chief administrator, while I was requested to return to Taiseki-ji. Then, the Rev. Nichijo left the Shimono-bo lodging temple, his destination unknown.
Nichiden indicates here that Nichijo went missing.
It is noteworthy that no transfer ceremony was held for the reinstatement of Nichiei as high priest; rather, it was determined at a priesthood and laity conference.
It is further written in The Biography of Nichiden Shonin:
. . . I ordered Taimei and Jicho to find out where Nichijo went by visiting the places he might have been. They returned in May after over 30 days travel, reporting to me that they first visited the hot springs in Zuso, three temples in Edo, and then visited some lay believers, trying to locate him. They could not find him even though they checked all possible locations in Tochigi, Noshu Province, Hirai, Sano, Joshu, Ohko and so forth.
It is questionable whether Nichijo-[53rd], upon becoming high priest of Taiseki-ji, received the heritage from Nichiden-[52nd]. Most likely, no official transfer ceremony took place. And when Nichijo retired, he also did not conduct a transfer ceremony for the next high priest. Nichijo chose to retire the day after the fire broke out and then disappeared without ever transferring the heritage.
Nichijo’s disappearance was unprecedented in Taiseki-ji history. Yet The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School only mentions the fire in the section for 1865:
[February 28], the reception hall, the six-compartment quarters and the high priest quarters all burned down (The Biography of Nichiden Shonin).
Furthermore, Taiseki-ji Records (Sekibun) gave merely this simple description of Nichijo’s disappearance and the ensuing change of high priests:
[May 7], Nichijo, vacating the high priest quarters, moved to the Shimono-bo lodging. Later, he departed to Shingyo-ji in Hirai, Shimono Province (Taiseki-ji Records).”
[May 7], Nichiei assumes the role of chief priest of Taiseki-ji (Taiseki-ji Document)”
[May 15], Nichiei leaves the high priest quarters, and Nichiden reassumes the role of chief priest of Taiseki-ji. (Note: This May is an extra month of May inserted into the lunar calendar. In the lunar calendar months reflect the lunar cycle, but then intercalary months are added to bring the calendar year into synchronization with the solar year.)
Additionally, The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School reads: “Nichijo, vacating the high priest quarters, moves to the Shimono-bo . . . Nichiei leaves the high priest quarters, and Nichiden reassumes the role of the chief priest of Taiseki-ji,” Nichiden’s description of internal strife at Taiseki-ji has been intentionally deleted.
This is clearly inconsistent. The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School references The Biography of Nichiden Shonin to describe the fire of February 28, 1865, but does not use the fire in regards to the high priest’s disappearance. In fact, The Biography of Nichiden Shonin (under the title of Summarized Biography of Nichiden) was used, but edited, in two of Nichiren Shoshu’s Meiji Period publications—Organizational Publication for Propagation and The King of the Law to refer to the fire, but not the departure [because of temple politics].
Jikan Tsuchiya, the publisher and editor of Organizational Publication for Propagation who later became Nitchu-[58th], wrote about Nichiden’s biography:
This biography was written exclusively by Nichiden Shonin. No word or phrase has been edited therein. (Organizational Publication for Propagation, #17)
As mentioned before, however, Organizational Publication for Propagation carried a correction that omitted a long portion of Nichiden’s words. The correction reads as follows:
The part of the previous issue that, quoting from Nichiden Shonin’s biography, refers to the great commotion among the people of Taiseki-ji and the apology offered by the Rev. Nichijo are omitted here since these descriptions are controversial. (Organizational Publication for Propagation, #21)
The entire section introduced in the previous issue was later taken out, either because the editor himself had second thoughts or because a Nichijo supporter strongly requested it.
The eliminated portion was included, however, in the version of The Biography of Nichiden Shonin published by Nichiko-[59th] on the 50th anniversary of Nichiden’s passing. Nichiko courageously conveyed for posterity exactly what had happened, despite possible embarrassment to Taiseki-ji.
The priesthood underwent intense conflicts and power struggles during that time period. Nichijo chose to escape from Nichiden. Feeling he was blamed for the fire, he retired and then disappeared—irresponsible behavior indeed.
Nichijo’s departure from Taiseki-ji seems to have been well known even to other Nikko schools including Yobo-ji.
Nichijo’s whereabouts were unknown for some time after disappearing from Shimono-bo, but, according to Record of Successive Chief Priests of Branch Temples, he had moved to Shingyo-ji, in Tochigi Prefecture, where he had once been chief priest. In 1874, when Nichiin (who belonged to the same faction as Nichijo) was high priest, Nichijo became chief priest of Josen-ji in Tokyo. After that, he built Shinjo-ji in Nagano Prefecture and Myojo-ji in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Nissho Transfers Heritage to Lay Believers
Nissho-[57th] died on August 18, 1923, in Okitsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, where he was resting to recover from an illness. Some followers had been attending to Nissho, who was renting a house along the Okitsu coast.
It was in this house that Nissho transferred the heritage to Nitchu, but in a highly irregular manner. Instead of making a direct transmission to Nitchu, Nissho called in two lay believers and entrusted the heritage to them, asking them to complete the transference ceremony at Renge-ji in Osaka.
Nittatsu-[66th] refers to this extraordinary transaction in his 1956 work Refuting Evil: The Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit (published by Nichiren Shoshu Fukyo Kai), his rebuttal against the contentions of Nichiren scholar Bentetsu Yasunaga of Nichiren Shu:
But High Priest Nissho seems to have already made a profound resolution. Inviting Messrs. Kotatsu Naka and Umetaro Makino, lay believers from Osaka, he transferred future matters to them while prohibiting all others from attending this transference. Very soon after, these two men welcomed Nitchu Shonin at Renge-ji. (This was done out of Nissho Shonin’s profound consideration for Nitchu Shonin, to avoid a situation where the latter might be swayed by a third party’s interference. Thus, the whole transference matter was carried out among Nissho Shonin, Nitchu Shonin, Mr. Naka, and Mr. Makino without intervention from other individuals.) Thus, Nissho Shonin’s transference to Nitchu Shonin was completed.
A grave historical fact is hidden here, as revealed by this sentence: “This was done out of Nissho Shonin’s profound consideration for Nitchu Shonin to avoid a situation where the latter might be swayed by a third party’s interference.”
This indicates an abnormal situation surrounding Nissho’s transference to Nitchu that there were radical opponents attempting to interfere with the process. Nissho had little option but to ask two lay believers, including Umetaro Makino, to accept the heritage and eventually transfer it to Nitchu.
Nittatsu further states: “Thus, the whole transference matter was carried out among Nissho Shonin, Nitchu Shonin, Mr. Naka, and Mr. Makino without intervention from other individuals.”
What sinister fact is hinted at in Nittatsu’s description? Why did Nissho feel compelled to entrust the heritage to lay believers? Couldn’t he have entrusted it to one of his priest disciples? A careful reading of Nittatsu’s Refuting Evil: The Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit reveals the following statement:
As to the illness of Nissho Shonin, he had developed a tiny tumor, as tiny as the point of a toothpick, in the lower part of his chin, in autumn . He was examined at a hospital in Tokyo, but his case was not clearly diagnosed there. When he later returned to Tokyo, the same doctor examined him. His tumor appeared malignant, and he began cancer treatment. Just before the rainy season began in , he went to Okitsu for a few days to recuperate. His supporters suggested that he recuperate near the beach, and he agreed to rent a house on the coast. Since High Priest Nissho was not physically robust, those surrounding him were always concerned about his health. (It amused the high priest to think his disciples had him rent a house near the beach because they enjoyed swimming.)
The part we need to pay attention to is the following section: “His supporters suggested that he recuperate near the beach, and he agreed to rent a house on the coast.”
So we can see from this passage that it was not Nissho’s intent to rent a house. Rather, “it amused the high priest to think his disciples had him rent a house near the beach because they enjoyed swimming.”
Judging from the line “Just before the rainy season began in ,” Nissho’s stay in Okitsu was from early June to August 18, 1923, a little more than two months.
Nissho was 63. He was recuperating at a house near the coast, two months before his passing. While, judging from Nittatsu’s other descriptions, Nissho seems to have been in high spirits, it seems reasonable that his illness was grave.
It is also said that he went all the way to Tokyo to receive cancer treatment. It is possible the doctor informed family members that Nissho would not live long. And conceivably, anybody attending Nissho could know of his doctor’s prognosis.
Also, it would have been unlikely that none of his priest disciples cared for Nissho during his recovery. Since Nissho had entertained the idea that they rented a house near the beach because his disciples enjoyed swimming, there must have been a disciple attending him.
If so, then why didn’t Nissho have a priest disciple arrange to transfer the heritage directly to Nitchu? Why did he take the trouble to entrust it to two invited lay believers?
There can only be one answer to this question—a priest attending Nissho must have been connected to one of Nissho’s enemies, and there would likely have been an intervention if Nitchu had been called to Nissho’s side for a direct transfer.
Desperate Power Struggle Over the Position of High Priest
From this perspective, we can now discern a formidable hidden conspiracy behind Nissho’s transfer of the heritage. We can see why Nissho was advised to rent a home near the coast and why despite the fact that he only “went to Okitsu for a few days to recuperate,” he actually would end up dying there.
Most likely, rivals of Nitchu vying for the high priest position had the dying Nissho moved to this house near the coast in order to isolate him from Nitchu and disrupt the transfer process.
Nissho countered, however, by calling in the two lay believers and entrusting them with the heritage for Nitchu while successfully keeping away an attendant likely aligned with the anti-Nitchu camp. This gives the correct context to the following description by Nittatsu:
In the meantime, in the evening of August 17, Nissho Shonin told us to gather all those key people the next morning, since he would then share his will. Those close to Nissho Shonin busily sent telegrams or made phone calls to follow his instructions. At midnight, he shared his will with his disciples. As dawn approached, key people gathered from all over. Around 5:00 a.m., Nissho Shonin called all those present to come to his bedside. After all of them were seated surrounding him, the high priest looked around and ordered his assistant priest to bring a brush pen and a piece of paper. The assistant quietly stood up to get all these things. At that time, the high priest expressed that he would transfer the position of high priest to Study Chief Nitchu. After looking at what his assistant had transcribed on the sheet of paper, the high priest ordered his assistant to affix his signature and seal. Holding out his hand, he ordered his assistant to help him affix his signature. With this done, he once again looked around and closed his eyes. (Refuting Evil: The Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit)
This passage describes how, just before his death, Nissho designated Nitchu as his successor. It is clear from Nittatsu’s passage why Nissho had to again announce that Nitchu would be the next high priest, even though he had already transferred the heritage to Nitchu via the two lay believers.
To avoid confusion within the school, Nissho gathered all involved around him to assert that he had transferred the heritage to Nitchu, since no one, not even his attendant, had known about it.
This raises another question, however. If his intention was to save the school from confusion, why didn’t Nissho make it clear much earlier that he had transferred the heritage to Nitchu? The answer to this also lies in our earlier supposition. Had he tried to do so earlier, either the anti-Nitchu group would have blocked him, or he might have seen his decision reversed.
This means that a priest or priests in close proximity to Nissho opposed the transfer of the heritage to Nitchu; under the guise of attending to the dying high priest, they were mainly concerned with the heritage transfer. That explains why, just before his death, at the last moment, Nissho disclosed the name of the priest to whom he had made the transfer.
But who was pressuring Nissho overtly or covertly to the degree that he had to use two lay believers for the heritage transfer to Nitchu? The answer to this question is indirectly found in Nittatsu’s Refuting Evil: The Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit.
As soon as the passing of High Priest Nissho was widely conveyed, Nichiren Shoshu fell into sorrow. Some, however, were busy guessing who would be the next high priest. They even tried to find out by asking those close to Nissho Shonin whether Nitchu Shonin or Nichikai Shonin would succeed him. One assistant priest, who was in the next room while Nissho Shonin was speaking, said that he could hardly hear what was said. This was mistakenly conveyed to certain individuals, inspiring rumors at one of the two camps. At the time of the high priest’s funeral, some said it was not clear whether Nissho Shonin had chosen Nitchu Shonin or Nichikai Shonin. When someone said that Nichikai Shonin had never assumed the role of study chief, the people of his camp became quiet. We should be sensitive to the feelings of those who were looking forward to succession by Nichikai Shonin.
Nichikai, Nikken’s father, competed with Nitchu to become high priest. Nittatsu’s description shows that Taiseki-ji was divided into their two respective camps. There was even a quarrel during Nissho’s funeral because “it was not clear whether Nissho Shonin had chosen Nitchu Shonin or Nichikai Shonin.”
Though, back then, Nichiren Shoshu was a very minor Buddhist sect with only 50 local temples, errant priests of the Latter Day of the Law fought a fierce battle in the shadows.
The statement “when someone said that Nichikai Shonin had never assumed the role of study chief, the people of his camp became quiet” indicates that according to the Rules of Nichiren Shoshu in those days, the study chief of Taiseki-ji was supposed to become the next high priest. Disregarding those rules, Nichikai was plotting to gain the post.
Nichikai Used Every Possible Means to Become High Priest
Another interesting fact was revealed in March 1928.
Following the retirement of Nichiko-[59th], there was a Nichiren Shoshu election campaign for high priest. Nichiren Shoshu was divided into two camps; one headed by Ho’un Abe, Nikken’s father, who later became Nichikai-[60th], and the other by Koga Arimoto (then general administrator). After the election, the Arimoto camp insisted the results were invalid and issued a “Clarification” (dated March 13, 1925) that revealed Abe’s shameful past activities:
There had been a long-term, profound plot to make the Rev. Abe the next chief administrator. When High Priest Nissho became seriously ill in August 1923, the Abe faction (using Nissho’s name without his approval) attempted to deny the promotion of Nitchu Shonin, the study chief who was in a position to naturally become the next chief administrator. Maliciously, they exerted every effort to promote their leader, the Rev. Abe.
What is written here is clear. When Nissho was seriously ill, Ho’un Abe invoked Nissho’s name to justify his own ambition, attempting to exclude Nitchu, while his faction used every possible underhanded means to make Abe the next high priest.
As to Nichikai’s dark plot to isolate Nissho at the house in Okitsu, a lay believer, Esokichi Nishiwaki, directly questioned Nichikai about it, through a writing titled “A Document of Opinion,” dated April 3, 1930. Nitchu had been ousted because of a coup orchestrated by Nichikai, but “A Document of Opinion” supported Nitchu:
The Rev. Abe was jealous and disrespectful because of the Rev. Nitchu’s great character. A group of people wanted to have the Rev. Abe succeed Nissho Shonin. Seeing that High Priest Nissho’s illness was worsening, this group schemed and campaigned to promote the Rev. Abe as the next high priest. As High Priest Nissho’s health declined, he relocated to Okitsu to recuperate. There, the Rev. Nitchu was not allowed near the high priest’s bedside. The anti-Nitchu group’s activities became ever more rampant; at times, they fabricated documents, and at other times they even resorted to violence. They forcefully demanded that the Rev. Nitchu resign from the position of study chief.
Nichikai took advantage of Nissho’s ill health to attack Nitchu in every possible manner. He also tried to keep Nitchu away from Nissho and called for Nitchu to resign as study chief. Refuting Evil: The Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit is a record of this ugly confrontation between the two factions within Nichiren Shoshu.
A Coup to Remove the High Priest
Assembly Members’ Secret Agreement Results in Recommendation for Nitchu’s Resignation
An assembly meeting of Nichiren Shoshu began at the head temple Taiseki-ji on November 18, 1926. The assembly first dealt with measures Nichiren Shoshu would be taking against the Minobu Sect. During a November 28 session, however, the assembly decided that they could not trust Nitchu-[58th] and called upon him to resign.
The assembly had turned suddenly from the Minobu matter to their distrust of the high priest, resolving to oust him. Behind this resolution was a secret agreement among assembly members. It was a coup.
The following is a rather lengthy document of allegiance that was deliberated on behind the scenes at the assembly:
The current chief administrator, Nitchu Shonin, violates the Rules of this school with his biased view and judgment. We assert that he lacks the ability to govern this school. We demand that the high priest quickly retire to bring a fresh breeze of renovation to this school. For this reason, we have come to the following agreement, with our pledge in front of the three treasures of Buddhism that all we write here is true. The following are various aspects of Chief Administrator Nitchu’s unjust behavior.
- He has no intention to select the next study chief.
- He has no policy to enhance study and promote propagation.
- When he took over financial contribution matters in August 1924, he mismanaged them.
- He orchestrated the demotion of Ho’un Abe in the hierarchy of priesthood.
- By not abiding by the official rules, he made it impossible for chief priests and teachers to execute their responsibilities.
- He disregarded the teachers of this school.
- He allowed his wife and children to reside at Renzo-bo, the official residence of the study chief.
- The revision of the Rules and Bylaws of this school has been a vital matter for more than ten years. All have wanted to see this revision carried out, but his weak leadership prevented any proposal from being put forth. This indicates that he is unqualified to lead the entire school.
Proposed are the following practical actions.
- We recommend Jirin Hori to become the next chief administrator.
- We propose executing a major revision of the Rules and Bylaws of this school and plan a major study renovation.
- Clarification of the head temple’s assets. [There was confusion over just what were the assets of the head temple and accounting for them.]
In adopting these points, we understand there will be repercussions if they are violated. We sign our names here to express our agreement with all the above points.
November 18 in the 14th year of Taisho 
Assembly member Koken Shimoyama
Assembly member Jiyu Hayase
Assembly member Gido Miyamoto
Assembly member Jimon Ogasawara
Assembly member Gyodo Matsunaga
Assembly member Shuin Mizutani
Assembly member Korin Shimoyama
Assembly member Shohei Fukushige
Assembly member Ryodo Watanabe
Assembly member Shudo Mizutani
Assembly member Jizen Inoue
Council member Shudo Mizutani
Council member Koben Kogyoku
Council member Kohaku Ohta
Council member Jiyu Hayase
Council member Gyodo Matsunaga
Council member Jimyo Tomita
Council member Teiyu Matsumoto
Council member Shinkei Nishikawa
Council member Koga Arimoto
Council member Yodo Sakamoto
Council member Kosei Nakajima
Council member Bungaku Soma
Council member Shundo Sato
Council member Jisen Shiraishi
Council member Shodo Sakio”
The initial part of this document harshly criticizes the high priest, asserting: “The current chief administrator, Nitchu Shonin, violates the Rules of this school with his biased view and judgment.” And the document is noteworthy for expressing the intention to impeach the high priest and make him retire because, as stated, “we have come to the following agreement, with our pledge in front of the three treasures of Buddhism that all we write here is true.”
Clearly, Nitchu, who was then Nichiren Shoshu high priest, was not considered part of the three treasures in the minds of the priests who signed this document. Today, however, the Nikken sect asserts that criticizing the high priest is an act that destroys the three treasures. This view, as we can see here, is incorrect as it is inconsistent with the traditional teaching of Nichiren Shoshu; it is a recent creation.
Eight examples of Nitchu’s supposedly erroneous behavior are cited. The fourth point is especially striking: “He orchestrated the demotion of Ho’un Abe in the hierarchy of priesthood.”
Ho’un Abe (the future Nichikai) had been reprimanded by Nitchu four months before the assembly convened. Abe was deprived of the position of general administrator. He was also demoted from the position of noke priests (an elite rank from which the next high priest is to be selected).
Because of this demotion, Nichikai’s path to becoming high priest was blocked. This act against Nichikai triggered the coup against Nitchu.
The seventh point is also intriguing: “He allowed his wife and children to reside at Renzo-bo, the official residence of the study chief.”
Nitchu’s wife and children must have been living at Renzo-bo because at that time there had been no appointed study chief. (Whoever would have been in the position of study chief would have expected to become the next high priest.)
The document of allegiance described a planned coup against Nitchu. According to this plan, Nitchu’s successor would be Jirin Hori (who later became Nichiko-[59th]).
It is generally believed that the well-trusted Nichiko Hori could have been a steppingstone toward eventual transference of the heritage to Nichikai. If Nichikai, the chief promoter of the coup, had become high priest immediately after Nitchu’s ouster, there would have been strong opposition from Nitchu’s camp.
What happened back then runs completely counter to the contentions of Nikken and his priesthood regarding how the heritage transfer should be conducted. It was highly unusual in Japan’s religious world for a sitting high priest to be dethroned and his successor to be designated by assembly members. How do those who regard the high priest as absolute explain what happened?
Head of Laity Infuriated by Demand for Nitchu’s Resignation
The coup was put into action with this November 20, 1926, resolution: “The assembly does not trust Chief Administrator and High Priest Nitchu Tsuchiya.”
They put forth a vote of no confidence in Nitchu, together with a resolution urging him to resign:
Chief Administrator and High Priest Nitchu Tsuchiya, since his inauguration has failed in his governance of this school. Taking advantage of his position, he pursued his own gain. Abusing the authority of his position, he trampled upon the rights of the priesthood. In light of this, we can no longer entrust him with the role of governing the entire school. Therefore, we recommend his swift resignation.
November 20 
Would today’s Nikken sect accept such an unorthodox method of choosing the next high priest? The heritage is supposed to be transferred from high priest to high priest along the lineage of Taiseki-ji. Yet, the historical facts are far removed from that procedure.
Pressure on Nitchu consisted of more than just the assembly resolution. The resolution was made on November 20, but an incident on November 18 had already greatly disturbed Nitchu. While he was carrying out midnight gongyo in the reception hall, someone threatened him, and there was a sound like a gunshot. Also, some people threw stones at the reception hall.
These actions to disturb Nitchu during midnight gongyo were carried out by two priests, but it seems they were just executing a plan devised by senior priests behind the scenes.
And it appears that what Nitchu experienced was quite serious.
Pressured by the assembly members, Nitchu expressed his intention to resign on November 22 and prepared a letter of resignation. Gladly accepting it, Assembly Chairperson Jimon Ogasawara and other priests went to Tokyo that same day to submit Nitchu’s letter of resignation to the Ministry of Education. They completed the reporting procedure on November 24. As secretly agreed upon beforehand, the new high priest was to be Nichiko Hori.
The news that Nitchu was abruptly intending to resign reached the head of the Taiseki-ji lay group, who became furious that everything had been quickly done without consulting the laity. The situation worsened to where lay society leaders vehemently protested against each of the assembly members on the following day, November 23.
Learning that the priests had gone to Tokyo to submit the notice of Nitchu’s resignation and Nichiko’s inheritance, the lay leaders dispatched three representatives of their own to Tokyo to propose a counter opinion with the Ministry of Education. They begged the Ministry to nullify the assembly’s decision, insisting it was invalid.
Hearing the petition from the Taiseki-ji lay representatives, the religious bureau of the Ministry of Education summoned the three key figures of the assembly: General Administrator Koga Arimoto, who was chief priest of Myoko-ji in Shinagawa, Tokyo; Shudo Mizutani, who later became Nichiryu-[61st]; and Gyodo Matsunaga, who was chief priest of Denmyo-ji in Fukuoka.
It seems that the religious bureau was deeply dissatisfied by the coup carried out within Nichiren Shoshu. Mr. Shimomura, the bureau chief, severely admonished the three representative priests, asking, “Even if you are responsible for guiding and educating society, why did you take such an irrational action?” (December 3, 1925, issue of Shizuoka Minyu Shimbun). Additionally, the religious bureau ordered the representative priests to retrieve the documents given to Nitchu concerning the no-confidence vote and the recommendation for his resignation, and submit them to the Ministry.
The religious bureau, which is responsible for such matters, was likely afraid of bad publicity if it allowed the high priest’s removal to go through. The Ministry of Education did not want the school’s inner strife to become public.
Taiseki-ji Coup Involves Powerful Local Citizens
While initially delighted at having removed Nitchu, the three assembly representatives now returned to Taiseki-ji shaken by the religious bureau’s strict reaction. This bureau possessed absolute authority in its supervision of Japan’s religious organizations. As ordered by the bureau, they had to collect the two documents from Nitchu by December 1.
Upon returning, they requested that Nitchu return the two documents but discovered that the papers had already been given to Tosaburo Watanabe, the head Taiseki-ji lay believer. The representatives no longer held the upper hand; they had to beg Mr. Watanabe to hand over the documents.
At first, the lay leader would not return them—he was resentful of the assembly’s unilateral dismissal of High Priest Nitchu.
The three assembly representatives, with Nitchu and the mayor of Ueno village as witnesses, submitted a written apology to the head of the lay believers. After that, they finally got back the two documents. It was amazing to have priests apologize to lay believers. It was also amusing to see the mayor involved in this sordid drama.
On December 1, the deadline for submitting the documents to the religious bureau, the three priests caught a 5:32 a.m. train at Omiya (now Fujinomiya) Station to Tokyo. It must have been 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon when they finally went before the religious bureau chief with the documents.
Things did not, however, unfold as smoothly as the assembly representatives wished regarding the official inauguration of a new high priest.
The priests and lay leaders who joined together to support the coup had secretly agreed to recommend Nichiko Hori (he was called Jirin Hori in those days and was a lecturer at Rissho University) to become next high priest. They forced Nitchu to write the letter of resignation, and received agreement from Nichiko concerning his inauguration. The representative priests submitted to the Ministry of Education the letters of Nitchu’s resignation and Nichiko’s commitment to serve as high priest.
Nichiko was disgusted with the situation at Taiseki-ji, however, and expressed his desire not to take office. Right after November 27, the date on which the three priests were severely admonished by the religious bureau chief, Nichiko announced his intention to withdraw.
In the meantime, the Taiseki-ji lay leaders—Mr. Watanabe, Mr. Kasai, and Mr. Ide—went to Tokyo on December 2 on a mission to protect Nitchu. The three met with Mr. Shinohara, general administrator of the Tokyo lay group, to exchange information and discuss their strategy.
The Taiseki-ji lay leaders learned in Tokyo that Nichiko had changed his mind about withdrawing and had determined to become the new high priest. It seems Nichiko wanted to avoid Nichiren Shoshu having no chief administrator at all. Since Nitchu’s letter of resignation had been officially accepted by the Ministry of Education religious bureau that meant that there was no high priest.
Nichiko’s change of mind was disconcerting for the Taiseki-ji lay leaders, who were supporting Nitchu; it foreshadowed their defeat. Events were underway that would make the coup a success.
News of Nichiko’s change of mind spread to the Taiseki-ji area via a telegram the lay leaders sent to Heijo Watanabe, mayor of Shiraito. The coup that was underway at Taiseki-ji was now affecting a lot of influential people in the Taiseki-ji vicinity.
Ever since their first meeting, the lay representatives visited the religious bureau day after day to advocate having Nitchu remain as high priest, and they gathered increasing support from lay believers in Shizuoka and Tokyo.
The fact was, however, that the religious bureau had already formally accepted Nitchu’s resignation and Nichiko’s acceptance. Nichiko’s position as new high priest was already legal. To reverse the situation, powerful legal evidence would have to be submitted, and Nitchu’s camp lacked such evidence.
Lay Believers Decide to Excommunicate Priests
Nichiko arrived at Taiseki-ji on December 6 to take office as the new chief administrator (high priest). The next day, December 7, he requested that Nitchu, the former chief administrator, transfer all administrative work to him. But the transfer did not take place because the lay leaders (whose presence was required for the official transfer) had refused to be present.
Nichiko’s inauguration, then, was stalled from the beginning because he could not receive the administrative work from his predecessor.
Also, since Nitchu still resided at the high priest’s lodging, Nichiko had no choice but to stay at the Joren-bo lodging. This led to a serious confrontation between Nitchu’s and Nichiko’s respective camps.
Nitchu’s supporters included the Taiseki-ji lay leaders and other temple members in Tokyo. It made no sense to the lay believers that the priests who gathered at the head temple from all across the country were authorized to kick out the new chief priest (high priest) of Taiseki-ji.
Looking at how newspapers dealt with Taiskei-ji’s internal strife, it sounds as if the priests of Nichiren Shoshu stationed outside the head temple were attempting to gain control of Taiseki-ji. Expressions such as “Taiseki-ji camp” (Nitchu’s group) and “Nichiren Shoshu camp” (Nichiko’s group) were seen here and there in articles covering the discord.
An incident occurred around December 10, when the two camps were locked in serious confrontation. General Administrator Koga Arimoto, the chief priest of Myoko-ji in Shinagawa, Tokyo—who was close to Ho’un Abe (who later became Nichikai-[60th]) and was a core leader of the anti-Nitchu group—was kidnapped by twelve Tokyo lay believers and taken to Tokyo.
The coup against Nitchu is said to have become possible because General Administrator Arimoto, who was Nitchu’s second-in-command, decided to side with Ho’un Abe’s camp—this, despite the fact that it was Nitchu who had appointed Arimoto as general administrator. So Nitchu’s demotion only became possible because of Arimoto’s betrayal. With this kidnapping, a major coup participant was forced to leave Taiseki-ji through the power of lay believers.
Local temple chief priests, it seems, could not oppose the will of their lay believers, who were taking care of them financially and in various other ways, during the Taisho Period (1913–28).
As the year 1926 was ending, both camps seemed at an impasse. On December 28, however, only a few days before the New Year, the Nitchu side made a move. Nitchu suddenly left Taiseki-ji for Tokyo in order to deepen his communication with lay believers there, including the True Law Protection Group, which had arisen amid the uproar over the coup. Nitchu tried to enlist the laity to resolve the confrontation between the two priesthood camps.
The True Law Protection Group was apparently formed as early as mid-December in response to pro-coup priests’ activities. By December 28, when Nitchu arrived in Tokyo, the group had already published a booklet titled Mirror of Right and Wrong to reveal the truth about the ongoing strife.
Members of the True Law Protection Group must have been in very high spirits with their newly published booklet and with High Priest Nitchu beside them in Tokyo. The lay believers who supported Nitchu (the core being the True Law Protection Group) decided to hold a kickoff for lay believers nationwide in Tokyo soon after New Year’s Day. And they decided to use their strong voices as aggrieved lay believers to appeal to society about the assembly members’ unjust coup.
The kickoff took place at the Izumibashi Club in Kanda, Tokyo, on January 16. The following five points were adopted at the meeting:
- ”We should devote ourselves to making efforts to have Nitchu Shonin return to the treasure seat of chief administrator that is equal to that of the grand leader.”
Their contention was: Since Nitchu did not transfer the heritage to Nichiko then Nichiko could not be the chief administrator (high priest) of Taiseki-ji. But Nitchu had already turned in his letter of resignation to the Ministry of Education religious bureau, and Nichiko had submitted a letter of inauguration to the same bureau. Legally, then, Nichiko could be considered the legitimate chief administrator.
It is possible that according to the lay believers then, the high priest was still Nitchu while the chief administrator was Nichiko. But in Nichiren Shoshu, one person was traditionally supposed to assume both roles. This idea seems to underlie their expression “the treasure seat of chief administrator that is equal to that of grand leader.”
There was a real crisis of faith in the hearts of these lay believers because the heritage transmission was about to be recognized despite the will of the former high priest, Nitchu. Such a situation had rarely occurred in Taiseki-ji’s 600-plus-year history.
Also, it was unheard of in those days that the desires of common lay people would triumph over those of religious professionals (the priesthood).
Taisho Period Japan was a modern nation under the emperor system. The nation’s organizational model was to establish an unchanging order with the emperor from the top on down to all ordinary people. But, in a display of very poor timing, and contrary to the trend of the times, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood was now exemplifying an institution in which the ultimate authority had been toppled. The Nichiren Shoshu/Taiseki-ji conundrum garnered strong public attention.
- “We should take proper action to ensure that High Priest Nitchu alone be the one to conduct gokaihi (door-opening) ceremonies with the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, and that he alone should be the one to transcribe the Gohonzon for temple members and other lay believers. No other priests, as they have not inherited the heritage of this school, should fulfill such vital functions.”
The lay group here rejects the idea of gokaihi ceremonies and transcription of Gohonzon being carried out by Nichiko, seemingly out of a desire to protect the heritage of Taiseki-ji. In reality, the lay group merely wanted to conspicuously reject Nichiko as high priest. Nichiko, who had dared to take on the role of chief administrator in order to resolve the school’s internal strife, must have suffered greatly over the laity’s rejection.
- “We will stop making offerings to those priests who deny Nitchu Shonin or lend support to the anti-Nitchu Shonin movement until we fulfill our purpose. We will also abandon our ties in faith with them.”
The situation had evolved to where certain priests were excommunicated by the laity. The lay believers’ action seems based upon their observation that the priesthood had deviated from the correct lineage of faith by forcing the heritage transfer.
- “Proper action should be taken so that the illegal revision of the Rules, Bylaws, and study provisions will be reversed.”
Here, the laity tries to stop the change of Rules that were favorable to the camp that carried out the coup. At that point, both sides were engaged in discussion about the legal actions they should take.
- “More than ten committee members should be selected to execute these four points.”
A very organized activity was about to be carried out on a national scale, moving toward the reinstatement of High Priest Nitchu.
Election of Chief Administrator Through Intervention of National Authority
Because of the lay members kickoff on January 16, the Ministry of Education religious bureau had the impression that the two sides in this disagreement were completely hostile to one another and that efforts to reconcile them would be fruitless. As a result, the bureau rendered its final decision.
The bureau judged that the current strife could not be resolved through dialogue. It was therefore decided that the chief administrator would be arrived at by election. It seems this decision was conveyed to Nichiren Shoshu on January 16, when the laity kickoff was held. The election of candidates for the next chief administrator was announced to the public in accord with the Rules of Nichiren Shoshu.
Voting was done either by mail or in person. February 26 was the deadline. It was agreed that all the votes would be counted at the Administrative Office of Taiseki-ji. Possible candidates for chief administrator would be priests of higher rank. Ho’un Abe was excluded for candidacy, however, because he had been demoted a rank one year before.
For this election, only four priests qualified as legitimate candidates for the position of high priest. They were High Priest Nitchu, Koga Arimoto (chief priest of Myoko-ji in Shinagawa ward, Tokyo), Jirin Hori (who would later be called Nichiko and was residing at Taiseki-ji’s Joren-bo lodging), and Shudo Mizutani (who later became Nichiryu-[61st]). More than 80 priests were eligible to vote.
On January 25, Nitchu issued a declaration, asserting: “Whoever may be elected other than I, Nitchu, I hereby declare that in no way will he be able to transfer the heritage that each of the successive high priests of this school inherited from his immediate predecessor.” He threatened voters by saying that the transmission of the heritage of Taiseki-ji will be discontinued should a future high priest be chosen by election. The text of his declaration is as follows:
- Were I to resign from the position of chief administrator, my resignation would not reflect my true intention; it would be a result of plots against me and intimidation by members of the assembly and some executive priests. There are unjust actions behind this election.
I hereby declare that whoever may be elected through this unjust election (other than I, Nitchu), will in no way be able to transfer the heritage in the way that the heritage has been handed down through the lineage of the successive high priests.
Since the transfer of the heritage is a matter solely between one high priest and another, it is not a subject that others should regard casually. Whoever shall inherit the heritage from me, therefore, must be a person whom I, Nitchu, can trust as capable of inheriting the Law. I hear, however, that there are people who utter poisonous words against the heritage that I, Nitchu, solely inherited from the former high priest. Such words are merely the product of a plot against me. Those who utter such slander are precisely the parasites in the bowels of a lion king. The heritage of this school has been transferred to Nitchu through the correct lineage of the successive high priests. I assert that the heritage of this school exists only within the life of Nitchu, nowhere else.
Since the election will be held in a very unjust manner, no transfer of the heritage (which is supposed take place between one high priest and another based upon their supreme life condition) is possible, no matter who may be elected. This is again because the transmission of the heritage is to be carried out based upon the spirit that respects the Buddha’s mandate. Nitchu upholds the heritage because I am afraid that otherwise the essence of this school will be profaned and the lifeblood of Buddhism will be lost.
I am deeply concerned that the correct way of this school will be overturned. Pure, concerned believers are now courageously advocating justice in a passionate attempt to restore the legitimate way of heritage transmission. It will be truly lamentable if your faith as priests falls short of this correct endeavor. The rise or decline of Buddhism will be determined by this election. I sincerely wish for you to make the right choice in the election.
To those priests and lay believers who, with pure and correct faith, wish to let the sun of Buddhism shine with its original, great light: Devote yourselves to the correct path and be courageous in upholding the correct establishment of this school so that you can dauntlessly protect the three treasures.
January 25, 
Head Temple 58th High Priest
(and his seal)
Through this declaration, we can sense Nitchu’s profound regret at having been ousted as high priest. He’d had no reason to resign, but because he’d demoted Ho’un Abe in the priesthood hierarchy, the latter held a grudge against him and he was toppled by a coup. His resignation was a result of conspiracy and intimidation.
Only Two Priests Demonstrated Devotion to High Priest Nitchu
Eight representatives of the True Law Protection Group visited the Joren-bo lodging at Taiseki-ji to entreat Nichiko to change his mind and support Nitchu. It was January 29. Also attending this meeting with Nichiko was a leader of the local Taiseki-ji lay believers.
They actually met with Nichiko several times over two days. But the True Law Protection Group’s maneuvering failed; Nichiko resolutely turned down their entreaty.
On January 30, the group’s representatives arrived at Hashimoto Inn in Omiya Town (currently, Fujinomiya City) and discussed until late in the evening what they should do. It seemed certain that Nitchu would be defeated now that their efforts to persuade Nichiko had failed. They decided to take extraordinary action.
They went to the Omiya Police Station at 1 p.m. the next day, January 31, and met with Deputy Police Chief Hikita. They then returned to Tokyo on the 2 p.m. train. These True Law Protection Group representatives seem to have asked Mr. Hikita to investigate the incidents to intimidate Nitchu. They pointed out that Nichiren Shoshu assembly’s non-confidence resolution against Nitchu the previous November was invalid. (Note: Later, it was discovered that Nitchu’s camp filed a lawsuit over this incident. This lawsuit prompted police to eventually investigate Nichiren Shoshu.)
The election for high priest was thus conducted. Shizuoka Minyu Shimbun dated February 12, 1926, published the following article:
Taiseki-ji, a major temple of Nichiren Shoshu located at Ueno Village in Fuji County, is now engaged in an ugly internal dispute. The school is divided in a confrontation between priesthood and laity over the election of its chief administrator. Nichiren Shoshu seems to have abandoned the school’s proud 700-year tradition, established during the days of Nichiren through the traditional transmission of the heritage of his Buddhism. Its shame is now being exposed to the public. Voting in this election ends on the 16th, with vote counting to start on the morning of the 17th. It is predicted that the Rev. Tsuchiya, the former chief administrator, who is supported by the laity, has no chance to win in this election. The Rev. Jirin Hori, the chief administrator’s current secretary, who is backed by the priesthood, will doubtless win. The Omiya Police Station, which is responsible for security of the area that includes Taiseki-ji, is planning to send more than ten plainclothes police to prevent possible disruption as major chaos is expected on vote-counting day.
More than ten policemen were to be mobilized to protect the counting of the votes for the next chief administrator. This article shows the severity of the confrontation within Nichiren Shoshu.
The counting of votes started at 9:05 a.m. on February 17. The total number of votes possible was 87. Two people abstained. The total number of valid votes was 85 [points were assigned based on first, second and third place votes]. The outcome is as follows:
Priest Jirin Hori: 82 points. (Elected)
Priest Shudo Mizutani: 51 points. (Elected)
Priest Koga Arimoto: 49 points. (Elected)
High Priest Nitchu: 3 points
The incumbent, Nitchu, received only three votes. Since Nitchu voted for himself, this means that only two other people voted for him. In other words, only two people were faithful to him. Though priests stress absolute obedience to the high priest, it seems they only follow him obediently when doing so is beneficial to them.
The election gave a rare look at the degree to which the priesthood’s obedience to the high priest was quantifiable. Only two out of the 87 voters absolutely followed the incumbent high priest—a pathetic 2.2 percent!
Pro-Nitchu Lawsuit Prompts Police Investigation of Assembly Members
Nichiko obtained an overwhelming election victory. Next, a committee meeting affirmed his succession to the role of chief administrator and received approval from the Ministry of Education on his inauguration.
It appeared that the three months of murky discord had finally come to an end. But the new situation created a new round of hostility.
The anti-Nitchu group had a happy moment with Nichiko in the center, celebrating his victory at the high priest lodging on the afternoon of the vote-counting day. That is where Deputy Police Chief Hikita of the Omiya Police appeared together with several other uniformed officers. Their investigation was brief on that day, but Mr. Hikita told all those involved in the election to appear at Omiya Police Station the next day, February 18.
The pro-Nitchu group had filed a suit against 21 people (including Nichiren Shoshu Assembly Chairperson Jimon Ogasawara, assembly members, and committee members) who were opponents of Nitchu. The pro-Nitchu group charged that the opposing group had coerced Nitchu’s letter of resignation.
In the early morning of February 18, a committee meeting was held, and it was decided that Nichiren Shoshu would apply immediately to the Ministry of Education for their endorsement of Nichiko as new chief administrator. General Administrator Koga Arimoto and Director Yodo Sakamoto hurried to Tokyo and submitted the necessary paperwork the following day, February 19. Astonished at the police intervention, they were expediting legal procedural matters.
Back at the Omiya Police Station, nine people, including Jimon Ogasawara, were questioned starting at 9 a.m. All nine had been gathered first in a large room within the police center. They were then called one by one into an investigation room. Questioning continued into late evening.
Priests residing in other prefectures were later summoned to the Omiya station. An intense investigation continued there for several days. The conflict within Nichiren Shoshu had reached its lowest point.
By February 24, the prosecution had been sent an investigation report on two individuals—Jinin Kato of the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office and Shohei Kawata, chief priest of Renjo-ji. The pair confessed to having fired a gunshot and throwing stones at the reception hall in an effort to intimidate High Priest Nitchu during midnight gongyo the previous November 18.
The report also included such names as Shudo Mizutani (chief priest of Honko-ji in Shizuoka prefecture, who later became Nichiryu-[62nd]), Jimon Ogasawara (assembly chairperson), Koga Arimoto (chief priest of Myoko-ji in Shinagawa, Tokyo), Bunkaku Aishima (chief priest of the Rikyo-bo lodging), Kosei Nakajima (chief priest of the Jakunichi-bo lodging), Shinkei Nishikawa (chief priest of the Kangyo-bo lodging), Yodo Kosaka (chief priest of the Hyakkan-bo lodging), Jiyu Hayase (chief priest of Hodo-in), Teiyu Matsumoto (editor and publisher of Dai-Nichiren), and Kohaku Ohta (chief priest of Renko-ji in Shizuoka prefecture). In the police report, they were mentioned as suspected intimidators against Nitchu. The investigation continued.
Strife over the chief administrator position continued. It was the worst situation that had ever developed at Taiseki-ji. But one day, it all came to a sudden, unexpected end.
On March 6, Nitchu, his wife, his attendant priest, and two members of the True Law Protection Group gathered at Fuji Station, then set off by car to Hashimoto Inn in Omiya Town. There, they joined the three leaders of the Taiseki-ji lay believers for a discussion. That evening, they were met by the two True Law Protection Group members from Tokyo. The discussion continued until late in the evening.
The following morning, March 7, Nitchu and the others returned to Taiseki-ji in two cars. The purpose of their visit was to conduct a public transfer ceremony for Nichiko. The ceremony took place at 10 a.m. at the reception hall. A congratulatory reception followed at 2 p.m.
A private transfer ceremony was conducted between Nitchu and Nichiko for one hour, starting at noon on March 8. The following month, on April 14 and 15, an inheritance ceremony was conducted to officially introduce the new high priest, Nichiko.
This brought to an abrupt end the drama over the position of high priest of Nichiren Shoshu. This resolution was a result of a reconciliation effort by Mr. Shimomura, the Ministry of Education religious bureau chief, who was instrumental in softening the attitude among Nitchu’s camp.
Mr. Shimomura’s efforts were likely made in either late February or early March. Five points were agreed upon during the meeting.
It is not clear who from the Ministry was there to witness the reconciliation. It is certain, however, that the two camps reached an agreement at the reconciliation session. Several newspapers reported on the five points of agreement:
- The pro-former-high-priest group and the pro-current-high-priest group shall cooperate in order to maintain the legitimate establishment of this school.
- The new high priest shall reform Taiseki-ji and this school.
- Both former and current high priests shall discuss this school’s matters of great importance.
- The new high priest shall not involve himself in the school’s trivial matters.
- The new high priest shall devote himself to promoting faith and practice among both priesthood and laity.
One sticking point in the delicate negotiations was the matter of retirement benefits for Nitchu. Masajiro Tanabe, a True Law Protection Group member, revealed this in a document called “A Document of Exhortation for Many in Body, One in Mind” in September after Nichiko’s inauguration:
In the meantime, the retirement fee for High Priest Nitchu was 3,000 yen in cash (which is also reported in “Correct Mirror,” a document disseminated by the anti-Nitchu group.) The Taiseki-ji lay society’s representative secretly discussed with outgoing High Priest Nitchu what he might think of an offer of 70 sacks of white rice. But the retirement offering was later reduced to 25 sacks of rice and 1,000 yen in cash, after the transmission of the heritage was conducted on March 8. It is said that even this reduced offering was not distributed as promised to the former high priest Nitchu.
Astonishing. This document reveals that Nitchu, in return for a smooth transfer of the heritage, was promised a retirement of 3,000 yen in cash and 70 sacks of white rice. This was allegedly proposed by the Taiseki-ji lay believer leaders. It is not certain whether the new high priest’s group approved this offer, but Tanabe, who sided with Nitchu, disclosed that the award was reduced to 1,000 yen and 25 sacks of rice after the transmission was completed.
Tanabe revealed this secret retirement was proposed at a time when the scars of internal strife had not yet completely healed. He does not seem to be lying. Whether the retirement bonus was paid must have been a subject of interest among the priests and believers of Nichiren Shoshu. The sanctity of the heritage transmission from one high priest to another, the source of Nichiren Shoshu priesthood pride, was severely tarnished in those days.
At the time, 1,000 yen would be the equivalent of 1.5 to 2 million yen (approx. 19,000 to 25,000 dollars) today.
After all this, the retirement award money and rice were not given to Nitchu. Almost all the priests and lay believers opposed him, eventually banishing him. He had been high priest for only two years and three months, and the treatment he received from other Nichiren Shoshu priests was awful.
It is inconceivable, however, that the scholarly and honorable Nichiko would be involved in reneging on Nitchu’s retirement payment.
The idea for this deal was likely drawn up by priests with political interests who had carried out the coup against Nitchu. Their purpose would have been to nullify the influence of Nitchu and the True Law Protection Group. We can sense behind the scenes the intention of these priests to use Nichiko to put Nichiren Shoshu under their control.
Nikken’s Father, Who Became 60th High Priest Nichikai, Was at the Center of the Coup
It was commonly known that Ho’un Abe was at the center of priests seeking political power. Abe was also involved in various plots to become high priest. Koga Arimoto, another political priest behind the coup, also became a candidate in another high priest election as a fierce rival Ho’un Abe after Nichiko resigned in November 1926.
Abe won the election, finally placing himself on the high priest’s throne. The defeated Arimoto issued a statement (dated March 13, 1928) revealing Ho’un Abe’s machinations from 1924 to 1928. What it describes is how Abe behaved as a devilish function (King Devil of the Sixth Heaven) appearing in the Latter Day to decimate the teaching of the Law.
The Buddha’s will did not support their scheme. The Rev. Nitchu became 58th high priest. Ever since then, the political priests schemed, saying that the 59th will be the Rev. Abe and that the 60th will be Sakio and so on. In this way, they disparaged the impeccable reputation of the school’s heritage transmission. In their unpardonable plot, Sakio was promoted two ranks higher in the priesthood hierarchy for the sake of the upcoming election. Isn’t this strange?
The most frustrated person, however, was the Rev. Abe. In a desperate attempt to enhance his reputation, he contributed an article to Dai-Nichiren, titled “Admonishing Shimizu Ryozan.” This article attacked remarks made in an interview by Mr. Ryozan, a scholar of Nichiren schools in Japan. When High Priest Nitchu saw the article, he was astounded at the Rev. Abe’s immaturity and lack of consideration, to the point where the high priest directly reprimanded him, stating that Abe was not suitable to be general administrator or to retain noke status in the hierarchy of priesthood. Although the Rev. Abe apologized, he was still compelled to resign from his positions.
Abe and his associates developed a profound grudge against High Priest Nitchu, and regarded the high priest’s action as revenge against the group’s scheming. The Abe group also developed a grudge against the Rev. Arimoto, who acceded to the Rev. Abe’s former position. The action taken by High Priest Nitchu, however, was not based upon secular emotionalism, it was precautionary, taking into account the terribly negative impact that the Rev. Abe’s article have and how that would reflect on the teachings of this school. As a matter of fact, High Priest Nitchu asked the Rev. Hori (who was then at the Joren-bo lodging) if there was any way to save the Rev. Abe’s article. The Rev. Hori replied that the article was extremely poor and that it was not advisable to publish it in Dai-Nichiren. Thus it was not published.
This was how the Rev. Abe lost the position of noke, which made it impossible for him to be a candidate for chief administrator. Outraged by this development, he and his associates searched desperately for a way to regain his position. The Abe group paid careful attention to the sentiments of the people at the assembly meeting in November 1925.
Recognizing that Nitchu’s personality did not harmonize with other priests and lay believers, and taking advantage of the general respect shown to the Rev. Hori, the Abe group supported Hori’s candidacy and succeeded in creating an unfriendly atmosphere throughout the school toward Nitchu, who eventually was forced into retirement.
The author of the statement, Arimoto, had acceded to Abe’s position of general administrator at the time of the coup. It was Nitchu who had appointed Arimoto to this number-two position, and it was Nitchu who was betrayed when Arimoto joined Abe in his scheming. Arimoto’s betrayal was most instrumental in making the coup successful.
The statement reveals the secret story behind this alliance:
In winter 1925, when distrust of High Priest Nitchu became an issue, the Abe group was ready to put the Rev. Abe in the position of chief administrator. It was a tremendous job to convince the group of the necessity of promoting the Rev. Hori for high priest. Since we asserted that we would not support the Rev. Abe unless they would uphold the Rev. Hori for now, the Abe group reluctantly followed our instructions.”
In this way, the political priests used Nichiko Hori against Nitchu.
As the new high priest, Nichiko-[59th] was the ideal person to restore Nichiren Shoshu’s reputation; the school had tarnished its image terribly through its ugly internal squabbles.
Without Nichiko’s demonstration of virtue and discernment, there could not have been a peaceful resolution. Nichiko was indeed a treasure Taiseki-ji could boast about—it is a shame that he was further hurt by his colleagues’ scheming and plotting.
‘Political’ Priests Use Nichiko for Their Purposes
‘My Wish’—Nichiko’s Heart-Warming Memoir
Nichiko wrote a memo to the priesthood titled “My Wish,” in which he described his honest feelings during this tumultuous period. His personal impressions as the new high priest also appear at the very beginning of “One Hundred Sacred Lessons” [April 1926 issue of Dai-Nichiren].
I changed my name in early March. I did not abandon my old name; all I did was change my name based upon the Rules and Bylaws of this school for the priesthood in dealing with matters of correctness and obligation in secular, public documents.
It turned out that I had to use the name Nichiko publicly and privately for good, since the name change was registered at the government office. My old name, Jirin, had been given to me by my first mentor, Koken-bo Nichijo, who came up with it based upon a New Year’s Day dream. “Nichiko” was given to me by Nichiden Shonin, a great mentor. Both names are very special to me. Such names as Sessen, Suika, and Enichi are the names I gave to myself, so I have no special feeling toward them.
He also spoke frankly about his feelings after taking office:
I have no idea of how much my character has improved as an individual in proportion to the rise of my position in the priesthood hierarchy and in accord with the change of my name.
This remark reflects Nichiko’s character and heart, in stark contrast to Nikken, who insists he is “the Daishonin in modern times” and “as respectable as the Dai-Gohonzon.”
Year after year, I am aging and weakening. My hair has become increasingly gray, and my spirit has been on the decline. And I am becoming more useless. These are sure things. I cannot say how much my faith and character are improving. Certainly, my value as an individual has not changed at all despite my name change from Jirin to Nichiko.
Here, we can deeply sense his virtue as an individual and noble life condition as a priest. Even when he first attained the position, it was apparent the humility with which he tried to fulfill his mission as both a priest and a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin.
Upon taking office, Nichiko issued the following candid request to the priesthood and laity. This, certainly, is what a priest should be.
It seems to me that when priests and lay believers make offerings to the head temple as a token of their faith, they tend to offer finery to the high priest such as an elegant kesa robe, a clergyman coat (hoi), or white Japanese middle wear. They also offer rare and precious candies and fruit and even household items. These all seem overwhelmingly luxurious compared to ordinary offerings made to other priests. For example, when I was just Jirin, no one gave me a hoi. But after I became Nichiko, I hear people say they would like to offer this or that to me. Since I have no virtue to receive such offerings, I feel I don’t deserve them.
From this, we can tell that he was embarrassed to receive so many, often luxurious, offerings.
I am a common, ordinary, unaccomplished priest—if, month by month and year after year for the coming years, I can bring some benefit to this school without disgracing the seat of high priest, I may become qualified to receive humane or heavenly offerings, perhaps even the clothing of high and rare quality. I am, however, still a plain, elementary priest disgracing the seat of the lion king. Therefore, I am not in a position to receive high-quality offerings. And I don’t want to put myself before the Buddha and benevolent deities as a greedy, shameless priest. Also, I don’t want to put myself before my most respectable mentor and past sages. Also, I am afraid of the effect I may receive in the future due to the sin of recklessly accepting offerings from believers with sincere faith.
He clearly asserts here that he feels he has not made much contribution to this school yet. And he sets a clear limitation as to what the head temple should receive as offerings:
Offerings of clothing should be limited to inexpensive clothes. Please do not offer expensive silk goods. If you offer clothing, please make it the type that I can comfortably hand down later to acolytes.
And I request that any furniture offered should be inexpensive, robust and practical.
If you offer food, please offer ordinary foods usually preferred by those who live a below-middle-class lifestyle. Rare foods and expensive offerings should be absolutely prohibited. Please refrain from offering yokan, manju or sweet desserts—they are not good for health, since they contain lots of sugar.
Specifying that offerings should be meager and humble was no small declaration. He continued:
If I say this, some may say: “You’re limiting one’s sincere resolve in making offerings to the Buddha. You’re diminishing the good root of one’s faith. You’re not employing Founder Daishonin’s teaching that the debt of gratitude one owes to a white crow may be repaid to a black crow. I am not making offerings to you, I am giving you these things as if giving them to the true Buddha Daishonin. If you refuse to accept them, you are doing something incorrect.” What they say makes sense, but while I am high priest of this school, please let me have my own way in this regard. Please understand how I feel toward this matter. And if you still disagree with me and really want to make the sincerest offerings to the Buddha out of gratitude, please make offerings that benefit the public, not private gifts to me.
What are public offerings? One category would be Buddhist altar accessories. Another would be various Buddhist items.
Speaking of altar accessories, I think what we have at the Mieido and other temples, which is supposed to dignify the Gohonzon, is very indecent. I am sorry for the Gohonzon. As I serve the Gohonzon every day, I really feel sorry for it. It is OK that us priests possess shoddy Buddhist goods, but I would like us to dignify the Gohonzon in a splendid manner.
He further stated:
The current temples on the head temple grounds are in need of attention. But we cannot improve them with a small amount of money. When it comes to having a complete set of wonderful Buddhist altar accessories, we don’t have to spend too much money—a table before the Gohonzon, a sutra table, or other goods can even be offered separately. One person does not have to offer a complete set of altar accessories at one time. If various people make random offerings of Buddhist furnishings on their own, the various temples of the head temple may look like Buddhist altar shops, which is not wise. Therefore, in making such offerings, please coordinate with the head temple prior to your purchases. A lot of offerings in the form of Buddhist furnishings that were thus far made seem to have been wasted since they were given to the head temple without any planning.
As to the offerings of Buddhist goods, some of them are used exclusively for the head temple. Many others are used for welcoming visitors. Few would be satisfied on their pilgrimage to the head temple should they be served with poor merchandise despite their sincere faith. Of course, the head temple will be very careful about treating our visitors well, but it may take a great amount of money and time before we can have a complete set of serving ware. If well-wishing believers have a good prior discussion with the head temple before making offerings in the form of Buddhist goods, they can select items on their own that accord with the head temple’s needs. That way, other believers who may use such items will also be satisfied as well as the people who donated them. Such a great way of mutual service was found in the past as well, but it is my sincere wish that our believers will spend for our general Buddhist materials rather than just for my sake. I sincerely apologize for having used too much space on the topic to express my personal requests, which I should have made separately to individuals.
He retains my wholehearted respect.
No Sign of ‘Mysticism in High Priest Position’ in Nichiko’s Actions
Nichiko wrote an article titled “Confession” on November 20, 1927, two years after he was inaugurated, expressing his intention to resign as high priest.
The foreword to “Confession” is titled “My Sincere Exhortation to All Priests and Lay Believers of This School,” and the rest consists of four parts: 1. “Process Behind My Becoming Chief Administrator”; 2. “Term of Chief Administrator”; 3. “Cause for Resignation of High Priest”; 4. “Immediate Cause for Resignation from Position of Chief Administrator.”
The foreword begins:
I assumed the roles of chief administrator and high priest for unavoidable reasons. From the inception of my inauguration, I repeatedly expressed my desire to resign from these positions as early as possible. Therefore, if you have heard of my resignation, don’t be shocked. Rather, you should celebrate my early departure. At the same time, those members of the assembly who are aware of the reality of this school should be able to let those who are not so aware of the situation to know about this change (“Confession”).
Nichiko shows here that from the time of his inauguration he had strongly intended to resign. He felt he should do so early, because becoming chief administrator and high priest had not been his true desire. He merely took the office because others had persuaded him.
In the next sentence, Nichiko described receiving one letter after another requesting him not to resign.
My silence is partly responsible for this conflict, which we may have to regard as an extremely unfortunate incident for this school if a group of people were marginalized over this ordinary, positive change. (“Confession”)
Nichiko is hinting that, although he had received many such letters, there seemed to be a group who specifically did not want Ho’un Abe to become the next high priest. In those days, apparently there were strong opinions and substantial agitation regarding the high priest position.
Nichiko explained in his “Confession” that political considerations were not the reason he contemplated resigning. He concluded his foreword to “Confession” by saying “I wish for you all to read this document most carefully.”
The first section of the main text, titled “Process Behind My Having Become Chief Administrator,” reads as follows:
I first have to explain why I came out of retirement after more than ten years to assume the roles of chief administrator and high priest, positions unsuitable to my character. Many people refer to the great incident that broke out in November 1925, saying I was pulled out of the gloomy cave of retirement and promoted to the ultimate position of the Law for the good of this school. All of you shared the same feeling that our school would be secured through my inauguration. I felt differently, however. I believed that the original cause for this grave incident existed within me. Hence, I was resolved to quiet this disturbance by any means. With this determination, I accepted the earnest request from the four teachers, that is, Mizutani, Arimoto, Ogasawara, and Fukushige. (“Confession”)
He explains that he was inaugurated to calm the situation that arose from the Nichiren Shoshu assembly’s November 18, 1925, resolution asking Nitchu to resign as high priest.
He discloses that those who entreated him to become high priest were the pro-coup priests: Shudo Mizutani (committee member; later Nichiryu-), Shuin Mizutani assembly member; later Nissho-), Nichijin Arimoto (assembly member and general administrator), Jimon Ogasawara (assembly chairperson), and Shohei Fukushige (assembly member). Ho’un Abe, who was planning to be next high priest, was manipulating these priests behind the scenes.
But I thought it necessary to put an end to the incident, which was so divisive to this school. Therefore, I assumed the role of chief administrator, feeling as if I had been placed on the guillotine. I was determined, however, to exert myself to rectify the sin I committed by avoiding my original responsibility as chief administrator, figuring that I would spend at least three months or at most six months (at this responsibility). I could not, however, bring satisfactory solution to this internal strife, due to some desperate manipulations behind the scenes. Therefore, I could not resign halfway through without accomplishing anything. (“Confession”)
Indeed noteworthy is the description of his feeling upon taking office as new high priest: “I assumed the role of chief administrator, feeling as if placed on the guillotine.”
Nichiko’s expression must sound unpalatable to the current Nichiren Shoshu leaders, who exalt the position of high priest. As Nichiko was in that very position, doesn’t his description here demystify it? Doesn’t it defeat the idea that whoever holds that position has a special life condition?
Today, Nichiren Shoshu propounds that once someone becomes high priest, he obtains the same life condition as Nichiren Daishonin. Nichiko, in contrast, was humanistic; while holding the seat of high priest, he sought the earliest retirement.
Nichiko’s statement in “One Hundred Sacred Lessons” about his feelings upon inauguration, completely undermines the idea that the person at the seat of high priest possesses the same life condition as Nichiren Daishonin. Nichiko said: “I have no idea how much my character has improved as an individual in proportion to my rise in the priesthood hierarchy and in accord with the change of my name.”
Many in Nichiren Shoshu Oppose Nichiko’s Renovations
It seems that having to move to the high priest quarters upon taking office was against Nichiko’s intention. He writes:
. . . I finally moved to the high priest quarters on April 9, 1926. I left the Joren-bo, where I had once decided to dwell for the rest of my life, since many felt it was improper for me to commute from that retirement lodging to the reception hall area; the scroll-airing ceremony, which was always held at the reception hall, was near at hand. (“Confession”)
Although I am high priest for now, my thought is that I am a temporary, interim high priest. I have had no intention whatsoever to become an honored high priest who inherits the heritage of this school. First, I earnestly want my sentiment to be understood by all people, as it was reflected in my behavior ever since last year. (“Confession”)
It is surprising that he uses the expression “a temporary, interim high priest.” Today’s authoritarian Nichiren Shoshu priesthood would be dumbfounded by it. I wonder how those priests who “deify” the position of high priest would react to Nichiko’s words.
Nichiko went on to say, “I have had no intention whatsoever to become an honored high priest who inherits the heritage of this school.”
He had no affectation as high priest, but he was an outstanding scholar in modern Nichiren Shoshu. He was of noble character, the type of person before whom you would want to put your palms together in respect. In the third chapter of his “Confession,” “Cause for Resignation of High Priest,” Nichiko writes that he had both internal and external reasons for wanting to resign.
As his personal reasons, he explains, in effect, that he had taken actions that reflect his character, but not the conventional way of Nichiren Shoshu. Accordingly, his relations with other priests were not smooth. His lifestyle as high priest did not match his ideals and character. His health declined, and he was assailed by an unidentifiable illness. Should he collapse, he said, it would not be good for the school. Nichiren Shoshu would have a hard time taking care of him. The sacred task to which he had been devoted for the past twenty to thirty years—the compilation of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings—would remain unfulfilled. In that case, he wouldn’t be able to die in peace. Here is the actual text of his remarks:
Talking about my personal reasons, as I stated in the first point, the role of chief administrator does not fit my character. If I behave in a way that suits my personality, my behavior may not be what is expected of a high priest. I may develop unfitting relationships with others. I may also develop disharmonious relations with my seniors and juniors. These things will definitely occur. Because of these personal reasons, I am only able to assume the role of chief administrator briefly, for one or two years. To live a lifestyle that matches neither my ideal nor my character disturbs and discomforts my mental and physical health. It may give me frequent bouts of undefined illness, mysteriously caused by disharmony of the four elements. Should I fall to such illness, it won’t be good for this school. Not only that, I will have ended my life as an obvious troublemaker. It would be very regrettable were I to allow the sacred editorial work I have desperately wanted to accomplish for the past twenty or even thirty years to go unfinished. Should that happen, I would not be able to die in peace. This is the primary reason I want to resign. (“Confession”)
It seems that many in Nichiren Shoshu did not welcome Nichiko’s innovative actions. And Nichiko seemed dissatisfied spiritually as high priest. Instead of staying in a position that did not suit his character, he would have rather spent his time and energy on the sacred task of compiling Nichiren Daishonin’s writings.
Also, it appears that no one felt obliged to follow him with absolute obedience, even though he was dedicated to Nichiren Shoshu administrative matters with a clear sense of purpose toward kosen-rufu, and living a sincere and humble daily existence.
Powerful priests such as Ho’un Abe took advantage of Nichiko’s sincerity and honesty in order to oust Nitchu. Once the school was rid of Nitchu, Nichiko’s presence became annoying to them.
Those in power within Nichiren Shoshu opposed Nichiko in many ways, which is obvious from his “Confession.” His spiritual worries had already reached the limit of his capacity.
Evil Priests Entrenched Before Soka Gakkai’s Appearance
After disclosing his internal reasons for wanting to resign, Nichiko gives six external reasons. First:
It was an unbearable disgrace to conduct an election for the position of chief administrator in December 1925, having been pressured by the local government agent responsible for the management of religious organizations.
A similar description can be seen in the initial part of this chapter.
This evolution I neither sought nor desired, but many priests had to go through the disgraceful circumstances of being involved in a police investigation. Not only that, they were defamed in many ways. I had to put up with all sorts of anguish. (“Confession”)
I referred to this previously in detail. It was an “an indelible disgrace” to Nichiko that the election of a new high priest was conducted under the supervision of the police. Constantly aware that he came to the position through the intervention of national authority, he repeatedly referred to himself as “an interim high priest.”
In his “Confession,” he wrote about the heritage transmission in which he took part:
Since I was an interim high priest, I felt that I should not have to go through a major transmission ceremony; I did so, however, in response to various people’s desire and the government officials’ intervention. That I went along with this uncomfortable formality is, to me, a permanent disgrace, as I was so passive in the face of third-party pressure. (“Confession”)
Here, in great honesty, he asserts that the heritage transfer ceremony on March 7, 1926, was a disgrace.
Nichiko points out various people’s requests and the national authority’s intervention as the reasons he had to go through the uncomfortable formality of the heritage transmission.
The “various people” must be referring to powerful priests and lay believers within Nichiren Shoshu. The national authority’s intervention indicates the Minister of Education religious bureau.
Those people seem to have wanted to conduct the transfer ceremony in a grand manner so that it would clearly signal the end of strife within Nichiren Shoshu. Nichiko, however, felt disgraced by the fact that the national authority used the sacred transfer ceremony as a means to end the internal squabbling.
Things went ahead, contrary to Nichiko’s will. The public transfer ceremony was conducted March 7 at 10 a.m. at the Taiseki-ji reception hall. It ended at 1 p.m. A congratulatory reception followed at 2 p.m. An hour-long private transfer ceremony between the old and new high priest was conducted at midnight on March 8.
After completing the heritage transmission to Nichiko, Nitchu left Taiseki-ji. A priest allegedly threw stones at the departing Nitchu.
Thus, before the Soka Gakkai appeared, Taiseki-ji was a Latter Day of the Law hotbed of errant priests.
Nichiko refers to another reason he wanted to resign:
- The fact that I heard the contents of the heritage from lay believers assigned by High Priest Nissho was very puzzling; I wonder if what I had to do is in sync with the Buddhist spirit of ‘seeking enlightenment through a senior.’ [priest, not laity] (“Confession”)
Nichiko received the heritage from Nitchu in a transmission ceremony conducted at midnight on March 8, 1926, through the intervention of the national authorities.
It would seem logical that Nichiko thoroughly received the heritage from Nitchu at that ceremony. He writes in “Confession,” however, that he’d had to ask the person who temporarily received the heritage from Nissho-[57th] about the contents of the heritage. This begs the question: why?
A commotion arose within Nichiren Shoshu, compelling some to worry that the heritage transfer from Nitchu to Nichiko was insufficient, or to worry that Nichiko—who was known as a great scholar—had perceived something lacking in Nitchu’s transfer to him.
Nichiko Sensed Something Missing in Heritage Received From Nitchu
We need to confirm how the transmission of the heritage between Nissho and Nitchu was conducted in order to understand Nissho’s statement quoted in “Confession” that “I entrusted a special heritage.”
The heritage transfer was conducted under very unusual circumstances, the source of which was Ho’un Abe’s attachment to the position of high priest. As explained in detail earlier, the transfer between Nissho-[57th] and Nitchu-[58th] was conducted with two lay believers as middlemen.
Ho’un Abe aimed at succeeding Nissho, but his plan was not realized. Then, he focused on succeeding Nitchu, which he ultimately could not pursue because it would mean uniting with Koga Arimoto’s faction. He had no choice but to temporarily support Nichiko. As soon as Abe regained the priesthood rank he had once lost, however, he schemed to isolate Nichiko and urge him toward early resignation.
After Nichiko’s retirement, the Abe and Arimoto factions that had previously cooperated to oust Nitchu, became fiercely opposed, culminating in a terrible election for the next high priest in which bribery, intimidation and favoritism prevailed. Ho’un Abe, brought confusion to the stage upon which the heritage was to be transferred.
The specific person “upon whom High Priest Nissho entrusted the heritage” and the individual whom Nichiko asked about its contents are mentioned in Nittatsu’s Refuting Evil: The Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit. How regrettable that he had to deal with these two lay believers—Tatsu Nakamitsu and Umetaro Makino—regarding the heritage they temporarily received from Nissho to pass along to Nitchu.
Again in “Confession,” Nichiko shares his view that “I am an interim high priest,” surely referring to this unusual transfer. Since he had to humbly confer with these two lay believers, he must have felt the heritage he received from Nitchu was insufficient.
The fifth point is as follows:
- Even though I submitted seven or eight new ideas for reforming the Rules of this school, which included very important proposals, the drafters, administrative office staff and assembly members gave them the silent treatment. As I could not force my ideas upon them, sadly, I was powerless as chief administrator. I relinquished my ideas, telling myself that the time had not come yet for them to be enacted. As a result, I felt irresponsible, which caused me unavoidable pain.
Nichiko wanted to revise the Rules of Nichiren Shoshu in hopes of reforming the school. But the priesthood coldly ignored his intentions, silently killing his ideas.
Nichiko’s ideas were not overtly rejected at the assembly meeting; rather, the Nichiren Shoshu staff priests just ignored his instructions. In other words, they protested against Nichiko by not doing their jobs instead of obeying him without question.
There is no way of knowing the reforms Nichiko sought. His ideas must have been too innovative. Rejection by the Nichiren Shoshu staff must have contributed heavily toward his desire to resign.
Nichiko labeled himself “irresponsible” either for not standing up to those priests who stood against him or for not maintaining his resolve to realize his reformation plan.
Here, he describes his sixth external reason for resignation:
- Ever since I took office, I felt lacking in personal assets. I left the staff to responsibly fulfill their roles. The income from the scroll-airing ceremony that commemorated my inauguration was used for repair work on some of the head temple buildings. Despite our income, we spent so much money on the improving our structures that the staff had to go through excessive hardship. I myself have almost no money in my pocket; I am living a life of austerity. Yet, I have not heard any positive comments that the high priest and staff are doing a great job. Rather, I hear negative comments about us. Under such circumstances, I am not sure we can successfully hold an upcoming event to commemorate the passing of the founder and show him our debt of gratitude. Such an incapable high priest lacking in virtue should not stay in the supreme position for long. I wonder why I have yet to receive a letter recommending my resignation.
Nichiko Chooses Resignation to Work Toward His Sacred Mission—The Compilation of Nichiren’s Writings
In 1931, a great undertaking celebrating the 650th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing was scheduled at the head temple. Nichiko thought that such a significant event should not be carried out under his administration. This was another reason he chose to resign.
In fact, Ho’un Abe’s group and Koga Arimoto’s group, the two dominant factions at Nichiren Shoshu, were both planning to hold significant 650th anniversary services conducted by their respective group leadership.
Accordingly, neither group heeded Nichiko’s instructions. They ignored him as much as possible; and Nichiko, in isolation, felt he had no choice but to resign.
On top of that, there was a particularly troubling incident. A priest who attended Nichiko became mentally unstable. As Nichiko relates:
From among the assistant priests who were serving me, I acquired an acolyte who lost his sanity. Buffeted by the stormy waves of frivolousness and wickedness in the outer world, his mind broke down, his faith filled with arrogance, his honesty becoming doubt, and his small-mindedness becoming fear. Thus he would spend each day in anger, tears, fear and empty laughter. What awful karma this is! Sinful is this insane boy. But how can I just go about blaming him for hurting my virtue? Both the ailing and the insane should be at peace under the compassion of the high priest. People have such belief. It is indeed unusual that such a young priest, who has been nurtured for more than ten years in this school, should suddenly go insane. It would unlikely be pointless to just accept it as my karma to have such an assistant priest in my environment. Deeply believing that this is how the true Buddha is teaching me things, I secretly gave up my place and isolated myself at the Sessen-bo lodging right after the oeshiki ceremony was over, even without having obtaining permission from other executive priests regarding my resignation. Here at this lodging temple, I am praying for the recovery of this sinful boy. This is how miserable I am. I am a small-minded person, but how can I shamelessly and peacefully remain in the highest position of high priest? This is justifiably an immediate reason to resign. Taking the current situation as the Buddha’s punitive admonition, I am now in isolation.
Nichiko refused to be indifferent to this unexpected situation. He concluded that he could not assume his high priest responsibilities with an insane acolyte around him. This incident became an immediate cause for his retirement. Reflecting on his not acting boldly for the renovation of Nichiren Shoshu, Nichiko’s assessment was, “My indecisive attitude has finally incurred the fury of the Buddha and heavenly gods.”
On thing to add here, however, is that all these external causes as well as his attendant having become insane were no more than supplementary reasons for his resignation.
His primary reason for resigning was internal. He had a burning desire to accomplish such sacred undertakings as compiling Nichiren Daishonin’s writings (Gosho) and the publication of Complete Works of the Teachings of the Fuji School.
Nichiko emphasizes this internal reason:
It would be so regrettable if I allowed the sacred editorial work that I desperately wanted to accomplish for the past twenty to thirty years to go unfinished. If this should happen, I won’t be able to die a peaceful death. This is my primary reason for resigning.
He had decided these should be his lifetime accomplishments, and he resolved to resign, determined that the conflicts caused by evil priests in the Latter Day of the Law would not sway him and keep his sacred work from being done.
The Nichiren Shoshu laity has been enslaved under the authority of the priesthood, which claims that Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings belong only to the priests and urges lay believers to depend on priests. The laity is nurtured to become dependent. Lay believers are encouraged neither to study nor propagate Buddhism.
Nichiko, trying to expel the stagnated air from Nichiren Shoshu, wished for the people to play a chief role in propagating the Law.
In Complete Works of the Teachings of the Fuji School, Nichiko made public the contents of such transfer documents as “Transfer Teachings on First Bath,” “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon,” and “The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon” that were supposed to be treated as secret teachings.
Nichiko must have worried that the transfer documents could be distorted, judging from the ugly behavior of priests like Ho’un Abe.
Or he may have wanted his juniors to not undergo the shame he had to as high priest, the deplorable situation where he had to hear from two lay believers about the contents of the heritage. Or he merely might have perceived that the time had come to publicize the contents.
It seems indeed wondrous that Soka Gakkai second President Josei Toda vowed to publish Gosho Zenshu (Complete Works of Nichiren Daishonin) together with Nichiko.
Nichikai Underwent Constant Strife
No Heritage for Someone Who Became Chief Administrator Through Corrupt Election
Nichiko publicly revealed his intention to resign at the November 1927 Oeshiki ceremony.
Nichiren Shoshu was divided into two camps—the Renyo-an Group in support of Ho’un Abe (who later became Nichikai-[60th]), and the Fujimi-an Group headed by Koga Arimoto.
A certain individual who was surprised at Nichiko’s retirement announcement at the Oeshiki ceremony, allegedly said to him:
If you quit as high priest now, this school, which has finally been stabilized, will undergo another furious battle. Please stay in the position. (from “A Document of Message”)
With firm determination, Nichiko replied:
I know further chaos will come. The division of this school into two entities will eventually cause things settle down in the way they are supposed to. You people may become excited about this seeming turmoil, or you may feel content as you may find it worth your challenge. Do as much as you want. (from “A Document of Opinion”)
Since all administrative matters were then under the Abe group’s control, Nichiko was powerless. The Taiseki-ji Administrative Office staff treated him coldly and disregarded his reformation proposal.
Nichiko had had no desire to become high priest. He was inaugurated to resolve major confusion at that had become obvious through the November 1925 coup against Nitchu. It may be more precise to say that the majority group within Nichiren Shoshu used Nichiko to realize its scheme.
Since he was now being ignored as a result of the Abe group’s influence within Nichiren Shoshu, despite having cooperated with the school’s anti-Nitchu groups since taking office, Nichiko seemingly resolved to retire early in order to focus on his study of Nichiren Buddhism.
Upon hearing of his intention to retire, Nichiren Shoshu went into election mode, sensing a fierce contest between the Abe and Arimoto groups.
After Nichiko’s inauguration, Ho’un Abe, who had earlier been demoted by Nitchu from the rank of noke was reinstated as a noke priest. It was around that time that the Abe group began to plot Nichiko’s isolation and eventual early retirement.
The Abe group, having successfully seen Nichiko removed from administrative matters, now maneuvered toward victory in the upcoming high priest election. The Arimoto camp was unprepared.
In 1927, seemingly having laid the groundwork with Nichiko, the Abe group, secretly had nine members promoted to the position of teacher. It was highly irregular for that sort of special promotion to be given within the school, and the Arimoto group naturally took issue.
This demonstrates the Abe group’s well-planned preparations for the upcoming election. The Abe camp seems to have already started its election campaign in October, before Nichiko had even revealed his intention to resign. Before the official commencement of the election, the Abe group was visiting ill priests and their families, stopping over at priests homes during trips, and sending gifts to priests eligible to vote.
The Abe group seemed relentless in its corrupt efforts to win. After the election, the Arimoto group issued its own document (dated March 13, 1928) to criticize the Abe group’s campaign wrongdoings. It reads in part:
Considering a certain temple’s chief priest to be too old, this person, lying about being a messenger from Shinagawa, had the priest driven by night to Tokyo. He secretly served this priest sake and a meal. As the priest became intoxicated, he filled out an address-change document, attempting to have him vote for Teacher Abe by sending a ballot to this new address. Via an attorney, we went to great pains to reclaim this ballot. Also, the Abe group kidnapped another temple chief priest. While dining with people from the Abe group, this chief priest was denied his freedom until he eventually agreed to vote for Teacher Abe. Yet another temple chief priest, who had vowed to the Buddha and heavenly gods that he would vote for Teacher Arimoto, was intimidated by the Abe group’s campaigners into voting for Abe.
There are many actual cases in which the Abe group hindered the Arimoto group from obtaining votes. For instance, the Abe group forced a chief priest to go out to conduct a believer’s memorial service, thus making it impossible for our group to contact him. Also, the Abe group tried to buy a vote by telling a chief priest he would be transferred to a more-prestigious temple or be promoted within the priesthood hierarchy. And they threatened to fire or transfer another chief priest unless he voted for the Rev. Abe. And they pressured another chief priest to vote for the Rev. Abe using a powerful lay believer. And they sent a misleading telegram to prevent another chief priest from voting for the Rev. Arimoto.
Jimyo Tomita, representing the Abe group, rebutted the document with his “A Document of Rebuttal” (dated December 29, 1928), which states in part:
Other priests were coerced into voting for Teacher Abe. The Arimoto group discovered this and had one of them write to the Administrative Office about a change of mind. Another priest, from the Tohoku region, sent the Administrative Office a letter expressing his change of mind, fearing intimidation from the Arimoto group. A priest from the Abe group, hearing about such intimidation by the Arimoto group, sent a new document to the Administrative Office pointing out that the priest’s reversal did not reflect his true intention.
Election campaign battles like this took place across the country. Both the Abe and Arimoto groups used the tactics of intimidation and bribery.
Despite the ugly election process, because of Nichiren Shoshu’s claim that the high priest alone possesses the Nichiren Buddhism heritage through the Taiseki-ji lineage, once a person is inaugurated into the high priest’s seat, he is automatically cloaked in the mystification of the position. The Buddha’s children—the disciples of Nichiren Daishonin—need to correct this distorted view. We must deepen our awareness of Nichiren’s original teaching regarding the heritage of his Buddhism. The true heritage of Nichiren Buddhism resides within the life of each person who, with pure faith in Nichiren Daishonin’s original teaching, is connected with Nichiren himself.
Ambitious Nichikai Was Always at Center of Conflict
December 18, 1927, was the date a new chief administrator was to be determined. It was vote-counting day at the head temple—eligible voters had sent in their votes.
Taiseki-ji was in an uproar that day, as the Abe group had asked for police mobilization. The vote counting was conducted, supervised by the police. Yet there were minor skirmishes here and there on the head temple grounds. The Arimoto group’s “A Document of Message” depicts Taiseki-ji that day.
Ho’un Abe received 51 votes while Koga Arimoto garnered 38. The Ministry of Education religious bureau had to help assess the election validity because various violations had occurred, including the aforementioned sudden increase of nine (eligible to vote) teachers courtesy of the Abe group.
Charges were filed at Omiya (currently, Fujinomiya) Police Station resulting from the confrontation between the two groups, which continued even after the election. The strife that had started with the coup against Nitchu-[58th] resulted in this legal action. Major Nichiren Shoshu priests were investigated one after another. A similar police investigation was conducted regarding the transition from 59th to 60th high priest.
The following lawsuit was detailed in the January 26, 1928, issue of Osaka Jiji Shimpo. It is a rather long quote, but it illustrates the internal condition of Nichiren Shoshu at that time.
Incidentally, this article reports that Nichiren Shoshu had 150 local temples with 170,000 believers. The reality, it seems, was only one-third of that figure. Nichiren Shoshu apparently gave false statistics to boost its image.
Embezzlement Suit Filed Against Nichiren Shoshu Senior Priest
Nichiren Shoshu (formerly, the Nichiren Shu Fuji School), whose head temple is Taiseki-ji of Ueno village, Fuji county, Shizuoka prefecture, with 150 branch temples and 170,000 believers throughout the country, has been undergoing internal strife since the end of last year, which causes the Minister of Education to refrain from approving the appointment of the new chief administrator. The Mukojima Police Station, requested by the Omiya Police Station of Shizuoka prefecture, interrogated for several hours the Rev. Ho’un Abe, chief priest of Josen-ji (175 Koume, Mukojima). Mr. Abe, who holds the title of gon-no-sojo in the priesthood hierarchy, was announced as having been elected new chief administrator. He was temporarily allowed to return home in the evening. A record of the investigation was immediately sent to the Omiya Police Station.
The contents of this investigation were kept secret. The aforementioned Ho’un Abe, who was elected as next chief administrator last November and Koga Arimoto, chief priest of Myoko-ji (Mitsuki, Minami-Shinagawa, Soto-Shinagawa-cho, Tokyo), with the title of gon no sojo in the hierarchy of priesthood, ran for this election. After votes were counted on December 18, Ho’un Abe had won the election 51 to 38. Dissatisfied with this result, the Arimoto group filed a lawsuit at the Omiya Police Station, claiming that Rev. Ho’un Abe had used the value of the head temple’s trees to fund his election campaign in collusion with the Rev. Shudo Mizutani, general administrator of the General Administrative Office; that the Rev. Ho’un Abe had embezzled 2,000 yen as a maintenance fee for Renyo-an where Nakako Kaneko, widow of the former chief administrator Nichio Oishi, and a woman named Myoden reside. This lawsuit was filed against the Rev. Ho’un Abe and the Rev. Mizutani by Mr. Nakane (Sendagaya, Tokyo), who is now a layperson and was once a junior priest to the Rev. Koga Arimoto, and Mr. Matsumoto, former secretary of Josen-ji (Nishitobe, Yokohama City).
Ho’un Abe was interrogated at Mukojima Police Station for suspicion of bribery. Shudo Mizutani, against whom a charge was also filed, later became Nichiryu-[61st].
In “A Document of Message,” the Arimoto group touched upon this lawsuit:
Rumor has it that our side having filed a lawsuit against the Rev. Abe and the Rev. Mizutani was not beneficial to us. As the newspapers reported, it was a fact that both of them were sued, but we ourselves did not file this lawsuit. The Rev. Abe, however, reported on the occasion of the third anniversary of Nichio’s passing that Renyo-an’s basic fund of 4,000 yen would be kept in the bank as savings. At this time, one of Nichio’s disciples sent a certified letter to the Rev. Abe to confirm this matter. The Rev. Abe responded by certified mail that this money was withdrawn from the bank, that it was responsibly kept by him, that he should rest assured that there would be no problem, and that the Rev. Abe would make a new announcement of this money on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of Nichio’s passing. Nichio’s disciple, however, was not convinced by this report. It was rumored that some of this 4,000 yen was lent to a certain individual. There was another rumor that some of this 4,000 was lent to a certain shop in Ginza. Today, even big banks do not lend money so easily. It is most dangerous to loan money to individuals. The money we are talking about had been offered in good faith by sincere believers, a crystallization of their genuine faith and hard work. The disciple sent another certified letter to the Rev. Abe, demanding that he disclose immediately how he would be keeping the money, instead of waiting for the seventh anniversary of [Nichio’s] passing the following year. The Rev. Abe’s temple’s secretary, the Rev. Kimura, then replied that the Rev. Abe was out of town. Since then, there has been no further response from the Rev. Abe. We told another individual about the Rev. Abe’s silence. As a result, this individual, objected to the result of the election, is said to have sued the Rev. Abe. We can tell which side is wrong once we understand what happened in this lawsuit, which we did not file. We think it inexcusable that the Rev. Abe, a senior priest, made a loan of Renyo-an’s funds, which came from believers’ pure faith, to another individual, without having discussed the matter with others. It is only natural that [Nichio’s] disciple could not trust the Rev. Abe, who says that he would disclose the matter the following June. We will see how the police investigate this matter.
Nichiren Shoshu’s inner conflicts, which involved the police, seemed endless. According to the news article, the amount of money embezzled was 2,000 yen. By the Arimoto group’s reckoning, however, it was 4,000 yen. The 2,000-yen differential may point to money whose use was later revealed, even though how it was used remains unknown. Regrettably, because of limited information, the lawsuit outcome is unknown. Ho’un Abe was never arrested. Perhaps, his case did not become a criminal case, as he might have justified using the money to make both ends of the balance sheet meet.
On June 2, 1928, Ho’un Abe, with permission from the Ministry of Education religious bureau, formally became Nichiren Shoshu chief administrator. As the vote counting had been held the previous December 18, it means it took six months to get governmental approval. Of course, both the Abe and Arimoto groups repeated their respective petitions to the government.
Nichiren Shoshu had previously resolved internal conflict through intervention by the Ministry of Education religious bureau regarding the transfer from Nitchu-[58th] to Nichiko-[59th]. Now the school required an abnormally long period of reconciliatory support from the religious bureau to gain governmental approval for the transition from Nichiko-[59th] to Nichikai-[60th].
It was a religious school in which conflicts arose one after another, major conflicts involving the national authorities. Nichikai (Nikken’s father), with his sights set on being high priest, was always at the center of controversy.
 One of the thirty-six types of hungry spirits listed in the Meditation on the Correct Teaching Sutra. According to this sutra, one who preaches the Buddhist Law, or teachings, out of the desire to gain fame or profit is reborn as a Law-devouring hungry spirit.
 Jimon Ogasawara, would later play a key role in the priesthood’s wartime behavior, proposing that Nichiren Shoshu adopt the doctrine that the Buddha is subordinate to the Shinto deity.
 This is from a story found in Chang-an’s Annotations on “The Treatise on the Observation of the Mind.” When a snake was about to bite the king, who was laying on the grass resting, a white crow flew down to alert the king. Saved from the danger, the king ordered his vassals to find the bird, but they were unable to do so. Determined to express his appreciation, the king then bestowed his favor on a black crow.
 Noke is an exclusive group of the highest-ranking priests. There are only five or six noke at any one time.
In the Edo Period [1603 to 1867], the purity of Taiseki-ji’s teachings and actions were greatly diminished. Succumbing to the authority of the Tokugawa shogunate government, Taiseki-ji began accepting offerings to the Gohonzon from the government.
Taiseki-ji submitted a document of acceptance of land that the government had given as an official offering at the time of Nitten-, who came from Yobo-ji in Kyoto. There were two retired high priests at Taiseki-ji then who also came from Yobo-ji—Nissei- and Nisshun-. Currying favor with the government, Taiseki-ji was permeated with slander.
In those days, many members of another Nichiren school, the Fujufuse (never-accept-and-never-offer), had become martyrs because of the school’s refusal of slanderous government offerings. Fujufuse protested the government’s religious impurity, endeavoring to protect the integrity of the Law they believed in. For this reason, the school was heavily persecuted in Japan, as much as were Christians. Taiseki-ji priests, intimidated by these events, capitulated and accepted government offerings in order to preserve their security, all the while having to deal with pressure from the Minobu school.
Various Nichiren-affiliated schools were centered in Kyoto or on Mount Minobu. Taiseki-ji was merely a tiny, forgotten mountain temple, barely surviving. It lacked capable priests and any prosperity was unimaginable. For this reason, over a century spanning the Azuchi-Momoya (1573–1603) and Edo periods, Yobo-ji in Kyoto, whose teachings differed with them fundamentally, sent several priests who eventually became Taiseki-ji’s chief administrator (high priest). Nine high priests in all, Nissho- through Nikkei-, originated at Yobo-ji.
Yobo-ji doctrine naturally flowed into Taiseki-ji. Most notable were the terrible imported teachings of Nissei-. Nichikan- would refute Nissei’s doctrine and restore the Nikko school’s original teachings. But Nichikan’s recovery efforts were not sustained for very long because of the influence of evil priests within the school. Over time, the Taiseki-ji priesthood, satisfying itself with offerings from slanderous entities, became increasingly corrupt.
Taiseki-ji and its local temples were incorporated into the establishment of the Edo and local governments. As an agent of the magistrate that dealt with temple and shrine matters, they contributed to governing the people. The Edo government prohibited sects from praising themselves and criticizing other sects, and in order for the foundation of governmental authority to remain secure, it curtailed the freedom of propagation so that certain sects wouldn’t become too powerful. Thus, no religious school could obtain new believers; on the other hand, none had to worry about losing the believers they had to other sects.
Temples therefore became agencies to control their believers on behalf of the government. They also issued religious identity documents that, among other things, guaranteed that believers were neither Christian nor Fujufuse school believers.
As a result, priests now reigned over believers, who were obligated to make offerings to their respective temples at funerals, memorial services, etc., and now had to depend on these temples to guarantee their religious status.
Furthermore, Nichiren Shoshu priests, with their sizable and growing financial resources, engaged in lending money to farmers at a high interest rate. If farmers could not repay the debt, their rice fields were seized and managed by the priesthood.
So, with an affluence acquired with governmental backing, and a lack of propagation effort, it is only natural that the priesthood became corrupt. Following the trend of the times, Taiseki-ji became a “funeral Buddhism” temple, devoid of the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, and Nikko Shonin, the founder of Taiseki-ji.
Corruption became further rooted when the Meiji government allowed the marriage of priests. Not only did priests now enjoy the benefits of intimate relations, but this was also the origin of the insidious tradition of ruling through family lineage. Priests could now use wives and children to seek family control over the sect.
Taiseki-ji priests so desired to play an important role within the government establishment that they distorted their original teachings. As the new Meiji government, steeped in Shintoism, set forth a policy of abolishing Buddhism, the priesthood sought to gain favor with the modern emperor system. Instead of confronting the national authority, Taiseki-ji succumbed for self-preservation.
As an extension of this corruption, Taiseki-ji joined with other slanderous sects to beg the government to issue the title of rissho taishi (“the great teacher who established the correct teaching”) to Nichiren Daishonin and to receive a framed calligraphy from the emperor. The corrupt priests, deluded to where they proudly engaged in such offensive behavior, lacked the correct attitude in faith demonstrated by the Daishonin and the spirit to preserve his original teachings.
A typical example of secularism was displayed by Nichikai-, who was regarded as a monster priest for disparaging the Law.
This chapter sheds light on the historical process of how Taiseki-ji distorted its original teachings.
17th High Priest Nissei Slanders by Worshipping Shakyamuni Statues
Nissei- was a most slanderous high priest.
As Nichiko Hori- writes in The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 7:
Basing himself in Edo, Nissei increased the number of branch temples and expanded the school’s influence. In the process, he initiated the practice of reciting the sutra to Buddhist statues, thereby introducing Yobo-ji school doctrine into this school. Perhaps due to conscience or to opposition around him, however, he refrained from bringing this bad influence into the head temple.
Nichiko says here that Nissei’s efforts to inject Yobo-ji doctrine into Taiseki-ji were not as impactful as expected, “Perhaps due to his conscience or to opposition around him . . .”
As background, Nissei had authored a text that came to be called “Zuigi Ron,” (“Thesis on Affirmed Points”) in which he expounds on the validity of erecting statues of the Buddha and of reciting the entire Lotus Sutra.
“Zuigi Ron” concludes:
The next year after building Hosho-ji, I had a Buddhist statue built. Since both priests and lay believers of this school criticized my behavior, I write this to dispel their fog of doubt and help them understand the validity of my action.
In the Nikko school, it was regarded as slanderous to erect such statues and even more slanderous to worship them. It stood to reason that Nichiren Shoshu would erupt in turmoil over the high priest initiating this slanderous action.
From information contained in The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, we see that the temples where Nissei erected Shakyamuni statues include Hosho-ji, Josen-ji, Seiryu-ji, Myokyo-ji, Honsei-ji, Kujo-ji, Choan-ji, Hongen-ji, Kyodai-ji, Jozai-ji, Jitsujo-ji and others.
It is also recorded that Nissei supported the restoration of the main temple at Yobo-ji in Kyoto, where Shakyamuni’s statue was enshrined.
As Nissei explains, he wrote “Zuigi Ron” to quiet the uproar within the school over the Shakyamuni statue. Here are some important passages:
A Buddhist statue is an object of worship. Who can say we should not erect it? No one has done so simply because the sage did not enshrine a Buddhist statue.
Nissei believed it only natural to erect statues of Shakyamuni. His reason for not having done so within Nichiren Shoshu: It was simply because Nichiren Daishonin never did. Naturally, Nichiren’s disciples are not supposed to do what he did not do in his lifetime. But Nissei felt that Shakyamuni statues were traditionally supposed to be built, and perhaps it was just an oversight that Nichiren happened not to build one. Nissei contends it is right to produce Shakyamuni statues and enshrine them at Nichiren Shoshu temples.
Viewed from the perspective of the provisional teachings, making a statue is a good cause that prevents one from falling into evil paths. It will also cause one to appear in the world of Heaven. Even the provisional teachings expound such benefits in making a statue. The Lotus Sutra, which is the true Mahayana teaching, enables all small good causes to bring about enlightenment. It goes without saying that making a Buddhist statue is a major good cause.
Nissei asserts that even the provisional teachings proclaim it is a good cause to build statues of Shakyamuni and that the actual Mahayana teachings of the Lotus Sutra propound that all minor good causes enable one to attain Buddhahood. He then concludes that, according to the Lotus Sutra, erecting Shakyamuni statues is a great good cause—a horrendously erroneous view.
The sage did not make a Buddhist statue because he did not settle down at any one place.
Nissei contends that Nichiren Daishonin never put up any Shakyamuni statues because he was always moving, whether it was to Kamakura, Izu, Sado or Minobu, implying that Nichiren’s not having built Shakyamuni statues was actually a matter of circumstance and not intent.
After discussing these things and quoting Nichiren’s writings, Nissei concludes, “It is indeed erroneous to say, as pointed out from ancient times all the way through today, that making a Buddhist statue causes one to fall into hell.” What an awful high priest Nichiren Shoshu produced!
In later years, Nichiin- added this comment to the end of “Zuigi Ron”: “I, Nichiin, would say that the Rev. Nissei’s idea varies greatly from the actual teachings of this school.” Asserting that Nissei’s teaching was vastly different from the traditional teachings of Fuji Taiseki-ji, Nichiin concludes that it was therefore very slanderous.
Nissei’s erroneous teachings were a direct product of the influence exerted by Kozo-in Nisshin of Yobo-ji in Kyoto. Nissei’s own influence continued at Nichiren Shoshu until later rectified by Nisshun- and Nikkei-. It was Nichikan, however, who finally rooted out the erroneous Yobo-ji teachings within Nichiren Shoshu.
It is a historical fact that a high priest like Nissei appeared in the annals of Nichiren Shoshu history! As documents from those days indicate, it is noteworthy that some priests and lay believers did protest against Nissei’s erroneous teachings. Nissei confirms this by writing, “Both priests and lay believers of this school criticized my behavior.”
The following description, in a work titled “The Dai-Gohonzon and the Transmission of the Heritage,” appeared in the March 1991 issue of The Bell of Dawn (Gyosho), an organ of Myokan-ko, a lay society connected with the Rikyo-bo lodging temple on the Taiseki-ji grounds, whose chief priest was Shido Ogawa.
The entity of the Law established within the life of the Daishonin has been transferred from Nikko Shonin to 3rd High Priest Nichimoku Shonin, and from Nichimoku Shonin to 4th High Priest Nichido Shonin just as water flows from one vessel to another. Taking into consideration this transmission of the heritage from one high priest to another through the successive lineage of the high priests, it becomes easy to understand the 700-year tradition of this school where we worshipped each of the successive high priests as Nichiren Daishonin’s surrogate.
This view would mean, then, that the heritage of Nichiren Daishonin had been terminated at the time of Nissei, and that poisonous water has been flowing through the vessel of high priest since then. The fact is that there have been both respectable high priests and erroneous high priests in the history of Nichiren Shoshu.
Nichiko Identifies Nissei’s Errors
The Biography of Sage Nichiren, written by Nissei, is included in volume 5 of The Essential Writings of the Fuji School. Nissei expounds an erroneous view there, too. Dealing with Nissei’s errors, Nichiko- added critical comment:
As to the object of devotion in both general and specific senses, this teacher has no clear understanding of the correct teachings of this Fuji school. “This teacher” in this document means Nissei. One way or another, his theory is influenced by his old temple. We have to be careful about what he says.
Nichiko put priority on protecting the integrity of the Fuji school, pointing out erroneous teachings, even if a high priest had expounded them. Here we see that Nissei, a high priest, was evidently unclear about the significance of the Gohonzon.
To further point out Nissei’s errors, Nichiko also wrote: “How this teacher misunderstands the teachings of this school is also clear regarding the object of devotion.”
Nichiko is referencing a portion that shows Nissei misunderstanding Nichiren’s writings in two places—Nissei mistakes the meaning of “the Buddhist statue” Nichiren writes about in “The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,” and he misunderstands ”the Shakyamuni Buddha of the ‘Life Span’ chapter” Nichiren mentions in “The Unmatched Blessings of the Law.” As a result, Nissei justifies the erection of Shakyamuni’s statue.
Nichiko also declares: “The Rev. Nisshin’s theory of making the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha is revealed in this part. We should not fall prey to this erroneous teaching. ” Here, he refers to Nissei’s concept that “Shakyamuni Buddha of eternal past” should be the object of worship. Pointing out that Nissei is precisely expressing Kozo-in Nisshin of Yobo-ji’s erroneous teaching, Nichiko cautions young priests and lay believers not to be swayed.
Nichiko also added a comment about Nissei’s teaching that the construction of the high sanctuary is fulfilled by erecting and transcribing the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth: “This teacher’s erroneous teaching is revealed here. You should not be confused by it.” Nissei, we can see, was confused not only about the meaning the object of devotion but also about the high sanctuary.
Following Kozo-in Nisshin’s erroneous Discussion About Reciting the Sutra, Nissei went on to teach that the entire Lotus Sutra should be recited as Nichiren Buddhist practice. Nissei thus tainted Fuji Taiseki-ji with the errors of Yobo-ji.
Nichiko commented: “Expanding the auxiliary practice into reciting the entire sutra opposes the special admonition of Nikko Shonin, the founder of Taiseki-ji. You should not follow this theory.”
Indeed, Nissei’s teachings go against the following admonition by Nikko Shonin:
As we discuss the phase of shakubuku now in the Latter Day, we do not recite the entire sutra. We just chant the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. Even if we may encounter the three powerful enemies, we should not hesitate to refute erroneous teachings by various teachers. (“On Refuting the Erroneous Teachings by Five Priests”).
In “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law” Nichikan- completely refuted Kozo-in Nisshin’s erroneous teachings. He did so in an effort to expunge Nissei’s errors from Nichiren Shoshu.
At the start of “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law, Part 1,” Nichikan states: “Question: Should you instruct a beginner of this practice in the Latter Day to recite the entire sutra? Answer: No, you should not.” Also, at the very beginning of Part 2, Nichikan writes: “Question: Should the disciples of Founder Nichiren in the Latter Day create statues of the Buddha with dignified physical features and regard them as objects of devotion? Answer: No, they should not.”
With these statements, Nichikan respectively refuted the very beginning of Discussion about Reciting the Sutra, Kozo-in Nisshin’s leading work, which reads: “Question: Does the round teaching of the Lotus school allow the recitation of the entire sutra? Answer: Yes, it does.” Nichikan also rebutted the beginning of Nisshin’s Discussion About Making Buddhist Statues, which reads: “Question: Does the round teaching of the Lotus school allow the erection of Buddhist statues? Answer: Yes, it does.”
Nichikan purposefully took on Kozo-in Nisshin by writing “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law” because he had to refute the Yobo-ji errors that Nissei and others had brought into Nichiren Shoshu. It is an undeniable fact that in the history of Nichiren Shoshu there were high priests like Nissei who upheld erroneous teachings!
Taiseki-ji Survives by Accepting Offerings From Slanderers
Since ancient times, it was believed that by sponsoring a memorial service of 1,000 priests, the emperor, aristocrats, shogun and feudal lords could accumulate good and beneficial causes, and further the enlightenment of their ancestors.
In his later years, Toyotomi Hideyoshi conducted a memorial service with 1,000 priests for an eye-opening ceremony for the colossal statue of the Buddha of Hoko-ji on September 25, 1595.
Priests of the Tendai, Shingon, Ritsu, Zen, Jodo, Nichiren, Ji and Ikko schools were requested to attend this ceremony.
About two weeks before it was held, each Nichiren school in Kyoto was ordered to participate. Various sects gathered at Honkoku-ji in Kyoto to discuss their attendance.
At that time, Nichio of Myokaku-ji, a temple of the Fujufuse school, insisted that they should not accept slanderous offerings, even from the leader of the nation. Rejecting Nichio, all the other schools took part in the memorial service with 1,000 priests. Nichio, who absented himself from the ceremony, submitted “A Letter of Remonstration by Hokke School” to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It reads in part:
This is already the era of Hokke. The capacity of the people of this country is suited to the Lotus Sutra. If so, the Buddhism that protects the nation should be solely the Hokke school. The lord of the country who supports Buddhism should respect the Lotus Sutra alone. If Buddhism and society match each other, the sacred age of this country will surpass the prosperous ancient ages of Togyo and Ryoshun in China. If the True Law and true teachings should spread, your respectable body will live a life of never aging and never dying.
Nichio not only refused to partake in the joint memorial service but also, at the risk of his life, urged Hideyoshi to follow the teaching of his school. The following year, he also remonstrated with Emperor Yozei by submitting “A Letter of Appeal by Hokke School.”
After these incidents, Nichiren-related sects divided into two groups—the Fujufuse school that, centered on Nichio, adamantly refused to accept offerings from slanderers; and schools that did accept those offerings.
It was 1599, one year after Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s death. Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had once supported Toyotomi Hideyori, was now establishing himself as the leader who would reign over Japan. He summoned to Osaka Castle representative priests from both sets of Nichiren schools for religious debates. Although he was the debate judge, Tokugawa Ieyasu naturally favored the schools that accepted outside offerings since they would be much easier for national authorities to control than schools that accepted offerings only from believers. Nichio of Myokaku-ji, the Fujufuse school leader was, of course, destined to lose in the debates. At the conclusion, Tokugawa Ieyasu asserted that Nichio was the devil king of the Hokke sect, declaring he would be severely punished. Nichio was stripped of his robe, his juzu beads confiscated on the spot. He was exiled to Tsushima Island half a year later and lived there for thirteen years.
The Fujufuse school was relentlessly persecuted in tandem with Nichio’s exile.
Nichiko tells us how Nichiren Shoshu Taiseki-ji fared:
Local temples were free from the disastrous effects of the 1,000 priests’ participation in the national event held at the edifice of the huge, great Buddha. Therefore, there is no record of the event in the Fuji School. (The Essential Works of the Fuji School, vol. 8)
In those days, every major Buddhist sect, including Nichiren sects, were centered on Kyoto. But Taiseki-ji of the Fuji School managed to remain free of the strife that, triggered by the memorial service participation of 1,000 priests, divided Nichiren schools into two.
As the Tokugawa Era commenced, the shogun government moved from Kyoto to Edo. Kuon-ji, the Minobu sect temple that curried favor with the Tokugawa government, slowly gained power. Under shogunate auspices, the Minobu sect consistently pressured the Fujufuse school temples.
Nichio was pardoned from exile to Tsushima Island in 1612. He returned to Kyoto, strengthening the Fujufuse school and helping to intensify the clash between the two Nichiren groups.
Nichiju of Ikegami Honmon-ji, which belonged to the “non-receiving” side, refused to accept government offerings at the funeral of the wife of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shogun of the Edo government. In contrast, Kuon-ji of Minobu, part of the “receiving” camp, accepted such offerings. Ikegami sued Minobu for receiving such offerings. The Minobu sect filed a countersuit with the Tokugawa government against Ikegami.
There was a religious debate at Edo Castle in February 1630, with six representatives from each side. The government again aligned with the “receiving” school after the precedent set by Tokugawa Ieyasu at Osaka Castle.
Again, the “non-receiving” side lost the debate, and again Nichio, its leader, was to be exiled to Tsushima and stripped of his robe. But Nichio died before the second exile began. Still, his ashes were still sent to Tsushima. The government would not pardon Nichio even in death, relentlessly persecuting the “non-receiving” school. Nichiju of Ikegami was also exiled, and many other senior priests of “non-receiving” schools were banished.
After this debate, the Minobu sect, wielding the power of the Edo government, had local temples of “non-receiving” schools submit to Minobu’s authority. Minobu twice pressured the five major Fuji school temples (Fuji Taiseki-ji, Kitayama Honmon-ji, Nishiyama Honmon-ji, Koizumi Kuon-ji, and Myoren-ji) to declare their intention to receive government offerings in July that same year. The next January and July, Minobu demanded that the five major Fuji schools declare that they belonged to the “receiving” schools.
Minobu sect oppression of the five major Fuji temples lasted for several decades under Tokugawa government protection.
Succumbing to Government Authority, Taiseki-ji Discards Nichiren Daishonin’s Original Teachings
For some time, amid a flurry of accusatory questions from the Minobu school, Taiseki-ji remained unclear what to do, since abandoning the “non-receiving” position meant going against the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin.
But in 1641, during the time of 3rd Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, Taiseki-ji accepted an offering of rice from the government, receiving 66 koku, 8 to, and 5 sho. Taiseki-ji thus chose to avoid persecution in that feudalist society rather than hold steadfast to Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. This was not the only case of Taiseki-ji’s doctrinal backsliding.
In 1665, the government transferred parcels of land to each temple, including Taiseki-ji, and requested a document of acceptance as proof. Taiseki-ji submitted the document acknowledging it would accept the offering. This was during the time of Nitten-.
In these ways, Taiseki-ji chose to abandon Nichiren Daishonin and give in to government authority. Their actions were cowardly in light of the Fujufuse school’s resolute spirit, under Nichio’s leadership, not to accept such offerings.
The document Taiseki-ji submitted to the government reads:
. . . Here is our document to your office. We have received the contribution, which we accept as an offering 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).
From this point on, Taiseiki-ji, viewing the government’s property gift as a legitimate offering, satisfied itself by accepting slanderous donations.
The government made these property offerings as a token of appreciation for the faithful role temples played in governing the people on its behalf.
Nichiju of Honman-ji in Kyoto led the “receiving” schools in sheer contrast to the “non-receiving” school of Nichio of Myokaku-ji in Kyoto. (Incidentally, it is Nichiju of Honman-ji who transcribed most of the “rinju mandala” that served as the basis for the “doshi mandala,” which will be addressed in detail in Chapter 3.)
Many actions by today’s Nikken sect, in which the priesthood enslaves believers, derive from Taiseki-ji having developed as a “receiving” sect, contrary to Nichiren’s teachings.
In the Edo Period, the Tokugawa shogunate created a magistrate of temples and shrines to govern the head and branch temples of each sect. To strictly control the people, temples became auxiliary government agencies. And by fixing the laity under the priesthood, priests’ livelihoods were secured.
The shogunate regarded this control system—with the head temple sitting atop all its branches—as absolute. Branch temples, in turn, enslaved lay believers under priesthood authority, controlling them both spiritually and secularly.
Unless guaranteed by the temple to which they belonged to, people could not marry. They could not work, nor could they travel or relocate without temple approval. And the temple had to issue a document validating their identity, to prove they were not Christians.
The temple of the Edo Period thus served as a “thought police” unit to check people’s religious beliefs and also as a governmental office to deal with family registration and residency certification. When believers wanted to visit the head temple, they needed a pilgrimage approval document from their branch temple. This, in fact, is the very system the Nikken sect demands believers follow today for their pilgrimages.
Like with the other sects, Taiseki-ji and its branch temples were placed under the Tokugawa shogunate’s temple and shrine magistrate. They served as part of the national structure to support the shogunate.
The Nikken sect, continuing the history of Nichiren Shoshu controlling its laity, regards priesthood superiority to the laity as part of Nichiren Daishonin’s original teaching.
The birth of the danka system, where the temple controls the laity, dates back to when the manorial system came to an end. It was established in the Edo Period as a social institution, a system that enables religion to control the people. The Nikken sect revives this antiquated system today.
Edo Period believers had to visit their respective temples to attend services on designated dates, to request memorial services, and to give monetary offerings in specified amounts for proof-of-identity documents.
With this authority to issue identity assurance, temples had the power to completely control people’s lives. The people would be in jeopardy if their temples did not confirm that they weren’t Christians. Under this government-sanctioned system, priests became affluent, as most lay believers chose to comply.
Taiseki-ji’s Sanmon Gate—Symbol of Cozying Up to National Authority
When you visit Taiseki-ji, you first see the majestic Sanmon Gate. This massive red wooden entryway looks superb on a sunny day with Mount Fuji soaring in the background.
The gate was built through an offering Taiseki-ji received from the government in 1712, during the time of Nichiyu-. The government offering consisted of 1200 nuggets of gold and 70 trees from property the government owned on Mount Fuji (The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School).
The Sanmon Gate has long been regarded as a symbol of the purity of the Fuji school. But actually, this gate serves as a monument to Taiseki-ji’s humiliation for having abandoned Nichiren Daishonin’s correct teachings and accepting slanderous offerings to facilitate its survival.
Temples aligned with the magistrate of temples and shrines played a major role in ruling the populace. The government controlled the people by administrating the spiritual realm through the temple that ceaselessly monitored them to prevent dangerous ideas such as Christianity to grow in Japan.
The government also prohibited people’s conversion from one religion to another. Temples of each sect were thus guaranteed a source of income. This caused corruption at the roots of faith. Lay believers were subordinated to priests, who were government agents.
At the same time, the government feared the corruption of the priests who acted as its agents, the type of corruption, that is, that would not benefit the government. In fact, the government favored priests who lived a mediocre existence without propagating their schools, who wouldn’t create societal disorder, and who wouldn’t seek to marry.
Should the people develop distrust in their priests, it could happen that Christians would multiply in Japanese society. This would prompt further distrust of government. Therefore, the government had the temple and shrine magistrate especially monitor the moral behavior of priests. Still, there were frequent examples of corrupt behavior, such as bringing in women to temple grounds. The vertical system, in which the head temple reigned over its branches, was fully employed to control priests’ behavior.
To build the Sanmon Gate, Taiseki-ji received an enormous amount of money from the wife of a Tokugawa shogun and obtained a special gift of lumber via the temple and shrine magistrate. These facts show that Taiseki-ji was an obedient agent of the government to control people.
Nichiren Daishonin never expounded the Law for the sake of the Kamakura government; he did so for the happiness of the people.
When we say we are not tarnished by the way of secular society, it means we do not accept offerings from slanderous people. We will not be defiled by secular matters, should even king or minister try to give us fief or title of governmental status. (“Miko Kikigaki [Notes Taken by Hearing the Lecture]”)
Pardoned from his exile on Sado, Nichiren returned to Kamakura, and the government intended to donate a temple to him. But he refused the offer. In contrast, Taiseki-ji priests, who were supposed to be Nichiren’s disciples, accepted the government’s offering of lumber and the large monetary gift from the shogun’s wife in order to complete construction of the Sanmon Gate.
The gate, which welcomes pilgrims to Taiseki-ji, is nothing of which Nichiren Shoshu believers should boast; it is merely a remnant of Taiseki-ji’s baseness manifested in cowardice before the Edo shogunate. It symbolizes the huge gap between Taiseki-ji and the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, who, after confronting the Kamakura government for the people’s spiritual welfare, was ready to be executed at Tatsunokuchi and then exiled to desolate Sado Island.
The gate also symbolizes the authoritarian nature of the Nikken sect priesthood, which shamelessly tells sincere lay believers that “they do not deserve an audience with the high priest.” The Sanmon Gate actually signifies that Nichiren Shoshu has deviated from the correct path of faith in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
To know the plight of Taiseki-ji in the Edo Period, we need only read a document titled “A Report,” which Taiseki-ji submitted to Magistrate Egawa Taro Saemon in Sozan, Zushu in June 1838.
Referring to a fire at Taiseki-ji on October 12, 1635, the old document reads:
The main temple, chief priest’s residence, and lodging temples have been reconstructed, but the main gate and five-storied pagoda have to yet be rebuilt.
We made a request to Honda Danjo Shoyu, magistrate of temples and shrines in 1712, during the era of the 6th shogun, Tokugawa Ienobu, about the reconstruction of the Sanmon Gate. As a result, we were offered 70 trees that had been growing on Mount Fuji. We also received 300 ryo [a great sum of money] from the Shogun’s wife, Tennei-in. The Sanmon Gate could then be reconstructed.
This document was written in 1712, during the time of Nichiyu-. His successor was Nichikan-. The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School describes the following in conjunction with the construction of the Sanmon Gate. The “70 trees” in this chronology corresponds to the description in the older document above.
The previous Sanmon Gate had burned down in 1635. Taiseki-ji received money and lumber from the government in 1712, so 77 years had passed between these two events.
This indicates how destitute Taiseki-ji had been, and that it was only through collusion with the slanderous Tokugawa government, distorting the fundamental teaching of Nichiren Daishonin, that the Sanmon Gate could be built. The gate perfectly represents a “building-first” Buddhism, where the Law is lost.
Josen-ji, a Major Tokyo Temple, Symbolizes Nichiren Shoshu’s Slander
Branch Temples Also Prosper Through Government Influence
Not only did Taiseki-ji thrive by ingratiating itself with the government and thereby maintaining control over the people. Branch temples also prospered, further distorting Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings in the process. Josen-ji in Mukojima, Edo (Tokyo) was a typical example of a temple flourishing under government authority.
The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School records: “Tendai School’s Priest, Senju-in Nichize founds Josen-ji at Ushijima in Honjo, Edo on February 7, 1596.”
Josen-ji was originally built as a local temple of the Tendai sect instead of Taiseki-ji. The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School explains that Nissei- converted Josen-ji to the Fuji school: “Nissei converted Hongyo-in Nichiyu in December 1638. Thus Josen-ji in Edo became a branch temple of Taiseki-ji . . .”
Josen-ji is referred to in an Edo Period document Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko (The History of Honjo Ward, published by Honjo Ward of Tokyo, on June 25, 1931).
The mountain name of Josen-ji, which is a branch temple of Taiseki-ji of Hokke school at Kamijo Village, Fuji County, Suruga Province, is Kuon-zan, or Mount Kuon. The object of devotion enshrined at Josen-ji is the wooden Gohonzon of the three treasures transcribed by [Nichiyu-]. The founder of Taiseki-ji is Nikko Shonin, one of the six senior priests. The founder of this Josen-ji is Senju-in Nichize.
This description concerns Nikken, 7th chief priest of Josen-ji in the middle of the Edo Period, and the treasures housed in this temple. Of course, Josen-ji was then already a branch of Taiseki-ji after having converted to Nichiren Shoshu.
The following is written in Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko. Nikken, 7th chief priest of Josen-ji, was in Kyoto, and he received patronage from Naishinno, the eldest daughter of the retired emperor, Gosuio. He offered prayers for her sake.
Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko describes these historical facts as follows:
The 7th chief priest of this temple, Nikken, was born in Kyoto. Receiving favor from the first daughter of Emperor Gosuio, Princess Mushina, he was offered the opportunity to pray for her family. When Tennei-in, a daughter of Princess Mushina, got married to the 6th shogun, Tokugawa Ienobu, in 1679, he accompanied her to Kanto, the eastern part of Japan and dwelt at this temple. Later, based on this relationship with Nikken, a prince, a princess, and their attendants were interred at this temple. Because of that, the temple received a property parcel of 3400 tsubo [nearly three acres] in 1710. In the same year, Honjo-in of this temple received a government offering of 30 koku [about 990 pounds] of rice at Kotani Nomura in Nishi-Katsujishi. In 1711, Josen-ji received its main temple and reception hall and living quarters. In 1714, Tennei-in offered to build a main temple at Josen-ji and also contribute a complete set of Buddhist altar fittings, other Buddhist goods and sutras for the reception hall. In the same year, she offered Josen-ji 1500 ryo for construction of the main Josen-ji temple.
These gifts should all be considered offerings from slanderers, including those from Tennei-in. This is because, as I will detail later, Tennei-in seems to have worshipped the statues of Kannon (Perceiver of Sounds), Bishamon (Vaishravana) and Kishimojin (Mother of Demon Children).
At any rate, with a share of wealth from the slanderous government, Josen-ji prospered greatly. The seal of the Tokugawa family, aoi (the hollyhock flower), was incorporated in Josen-ji’s main temple, reception hall, living quarters, and even roof tiles. Nichiren Daishonin, the true Buddha, holding fast to his teaching, staked his life on saving the people and remonstrating selflessly with the Kamakura government. His future disciples used the shogunate’s wealth to embellish their temples, basking in Tokugawa government authority. Josen-ji betrayed the true Buddha’s spirit.
The history of renowned old Josen-ji shows us that its prosperity resulted from Nichiren Shoshu’s collusion with the government and receipt of slanderous offerings. This is the real Nichiren Shoshu history. The pure current of the Fuji school is a fallacy.
Josen-ji Receives Enormous Support and Protection
Corroded by the Tokugawa government, Josen-ji, as a local temple, was endowed with unparalleled government offerings. Behind this extraordinary treatment was Nikken of Josen-ji’s connection with Tennei-in. At the risk of being overly repetitious, I’ll provide an outline of her life.
Tennei-in, who was a great lay supporter of Nichiren Shoshu, was born in Kyoto in 1666. Her father was Konoe Kukimaro, chief adviser to the emperor. Her mother was the eldest daughter of Emperor Gosuio. Tennei-in married Tokugawa Ienobu in 1679.
Nikken was a son of Tennei-in’s nurse, who had been cherished by Tennei-in’s mother since his early days in Kyoto. When Tennei-in moved to Edo to marry into the Tokugawa family, Nikken also moved to Edo as her attendant priest. Soon after, Nikken became 7th chief priest of Josen-ji, and Tennei-in became the temple’s major lay supporter, bringing it sustainable prosperity.
In 1710, an adopted daughter of Ienobu died and, because of the connection between Tennei-in and Nikken, was buried at Josen-ji. The government donated 30 koku of rice and a 3400 tsubo land parcel to Josen-ji on behalf of the deceased daughter.
The 1641 government offering to Taiseki-ji, Josen-ji’s head temple, was 66 koku, 8 to and 5 sho of rice, which demonstrates how extraordinary was the treatment Josen-ji, a mere branch temple, received.
In 1711, Josen-ji was given a reception hall in the main part of Edo Castle. And in 1714, Tennei-in donated 1500 ryo for its main temple construction.
Enjoying enormous support from the government and from Tennei-in, Josen-ji was allowed to use the aoi seal of the Tokugawa family in its main temple, reception hall, living quarters and roof tiles.
Tennei-in died on February 28, 1741. As instructed in her will, her belongings were donated to Josen-ji. It is recorded thusly in The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School:
* In accord with Tennei-in’s wishes, her wooden statue of the Daishonin and the memorial tablets of Prince Kyumiya Tsuneko, Motoaki Konoe, Princess Myokei Nisshin Toyo, Female Server Honjo-in, and Nyozekan-in were dedicated to Josen-ji. A financial offering of 100 ryo was given to the temple on that occasion. This was done without government interference. This should be remembered. March in the first year of Kanpo (1741).
* The mandala that Tennei-in possessed and cherished, which was personally inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin for Nissen, was sent to Josen-ji.
(quoted from The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School, vol. 8)
It seems that even more items from among Tennei-in’s belongings were dedicated to Josen-ji.
Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko (The History of Honjo Ward) states:
A sitting statue of Shakyamuni Buddha—this was made by Emperor Gosuio from the paper upon which he copied the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra. He gave this statue to his first daughter as a memento. This statue was later given to Tennei-in. Hence it was dedicated to this temple.
The statue of sitting Shakyamuni Buddha is referred to in From Edo to Tokyo (by Soun Yata, published by Chuo Bunko) as one of the items dedicated to Josen-ji upon the passing of Tennei-in.
Other treasures dedicated to Josen-ji on behalf of Tennei-in are listed in Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko:
One standing statue of Kannon (Perceiver of Sounds); one standing statue of Bishamon (that belonged to the 6th Shogun Tokugawa Ienobu as an object of worship); four statues of the four heavenly kings that were moved to this temple from Choon-ji in Asakusa around the time of Genbun (1736–41). These six statues were once enshrined separately but were all re-enshrined at the Treasure House after the Buddha’s room was repaired upon the 33rd anniversary of Tennei-in’s passing.
These statues seem to have been enshrined on the donated grounds of Josen-ji while Tennei-in was still alive. Just as in a similar case in Hanno village near the head temple, where the majority of people are Taiseki-ji lay believers, slanderous objects of worship were enshrined at Josen-ji together with the Gohonzon. Josen-ji’s prosperity was thus born out of impurity in faith.
Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko describes a Kishimojin (Mother of Demon Children) temple at Josen-ji:
The Kishimojin temple (the statue of Kishimojin donated by Tennei-in), which was originally at Myo’on-ji in Asakusa was later moved to Josen-ji.
The Kishimojin temple exists on the Josen-ji grounds because Tennei-in brought in a Kishimojin statue from Myo’on-ji in Asakusa and enshrined it.
This is another reality of the Fuji School’s “pure current,” which Nichiren Shoshu flaunts. While Fujufuse temples were oppressed relentlessly for rejecting offerings from slanderous sources, Josen-ji enjoyed offerings from the Tokugawa government, boasted about its prosperity and displayed the Tokugawa family seal all around the temple.
Josen-ji was also the site where many slanderous objects such as statues of Kannon, Bishamonten, and the Four Heavenly Kings were enshrined as offerings from Tennei-in. A statue of Kishimojin, which had been removed from a slanderous temple by Tennei-in, was also enshrined at Josen-ji.
Indeed, Josen-ji, which accepted an abundance of these offerings without regard for Nichiren Daishonin’s strict teaching. Josen-ji evidently had the same slanderous roots as the Minobu sect.
Hence, my previous statement that Tennei-in’s offerings were also of slanderous nature.
It seems Tennei-in did not understand Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. More precisely, the Fuji school of Taiseki-ji priesthood did not correctly teach its major lay supporter Nichiren’s teachings.
Nichiren Shoshu History Steeped in Slanderous Acts
In 1638, Nissei- converted Josen-ji from the Tendai sect to Nichiren Shoshu. The gravely slanderous act of erecting a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha had already been prevalent in Nichiren Shoshu under Nissei. Forty years later, various slanderous objects were enshrined at Josen-ji, a Taiseki-ji branch.
It seems, then, erecting Shakyamuni statues was likely only a tiny portion of the Taiseki-ji school’s slanders. Certainly, other branch temples must have been involved in similar terrible acts.
Tennei-in came to Edo in 1671. At Taiseki-ji, Nichinin- was chief administrator. She died in 1741 while Taiseki-ji was under Nichiin-.
The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School intentionally omits the slanderous facts of Josen-ji.
In the “Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni expounded the parable of “the jewel in the robe.”
A poor man came to his friend’s house. Embraced by the host’s hospitality, the poor man got drunk and went to sleep. His friend was suddenly called away on urgent business. Before he left, he sewed a priceless jewel inside the robe of his sleeping friend. Unaware of this, this poor man wandered from country to country struggling to support himself. Exhausted, he returned one day to his friend’s house. Astounded by the poor man’s appearance, his friend asked him about the jewel woven inside his robe. When his friend checked the inside of his robe, he was astonished to find the priceless jewel. From then on, he was able to live a wealthy life thanks to this jewel. (The Great Dictionary of Buddhist Philosophy, New Version, published by Seikyo Press)
In this parable, a man leads the life of an impoverished wanderer, unaware that a jewel had been sewn into his robe. Eventually, a man appears who alerts him to the existence of the jewel. Which man deserves veneration? The answer is very clear. (Interestingly, in Shakyamuni’s teaching, the man who told the wanderer about the existence of the jewel and the man who initially sewed it in his robe are the same person.) The message of this parable applies to the relationship between Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu.
Shakyamuni’s teaching reveals that the Buddha nature is inherent in each person’s life. Like the poor man, Taiseki-ji, immersed in slanderous acts, wandered in ignorance for 700 years. It is, of course, the Soka Gakkai that taught Nichiren Shoshu the existence of the jewel in the robe.
Nissho and Nichikai Attempt to Unite with Slanderous Nichiren Sects
Various Nichiren Shu sects staged a campaign to request from the emperor the title of “Rissho Daishi” (Great Teacher Who Established the Correct Teaching) for Nichiren Daishonin. As a result, this title was bestowed on October 13, 1922.
These Nichiren Shu sects, including Nichiren Shoshu, were delighted to proclaim, “Our founder is now comparable to the Great Teacher Dengyo and the Great Teacher Kobo because he now has the same title.”
It was Nissho Honda of Kempon Hokke who initiated this title campaign. Honda discussed the matter with Chigaku Tanaka, president of Kokuchukai, hoping to acquire the “Great Teacher” title in time for Nichiren’s 700th birthday in 1921.
Tanaka felt that, from the perspective of the spirit of propagation (shakubuku), we should not entreat the emperor to bestow a title of that nature, but from a secular perspective he could agree upon the idea of doing so.
Encouraged by Tanaka’s view, Nissho Honda called out to the chief administrators of other Nichiren Shu sects and initiated the campaign in league with Heihachiro Togo and Tsuyoshi Inukai, both of whom were powerful politicians.
Incidentally, it was not a sudden occurrence that various Nichiren Shu sects joined ranks in 1922. Chief administrators from various Nichiren Shu sects had assembled at Honmon-ji in Ikegami in the early Taisho Period in order to unify into one Nichiren school. A commemorative photo was taken with all the chief administrators present.
The photo was used for the cover of Nisshu Shimpo (November 22, 1914). Unfortunately we have been unable to attain a copy with a clear image, but the caption reads:
This photo was taken in commemoration of the chief administrators conference on November 8 at Ikegami.
Back row, right to left:
Ho’un Abe (Nichiren Shoshu)
Nisshu Noguchi (Kempon Hokke Shu)
Nisshin Sakai (Nichiren Shu)
Kion Kajiki (Honmon Hokke Shu)
Nichiju Sakai (Hokke Shu)
Nichikan Kondo (Hokke Shu)
Shozan Inoue (Honmon Shu)
Front row, right to left:
Nichikan Hasegawa (Honmyo Hokke Shu Chief Administrator)
Nissho Honda (Kempon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator)
Nissei Sejima (Honmon Shu Chief Administrator)
Nichiji Koizumi (Nichiren Shu Chief Administrator)
Nissho Abe (Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator)
Nichigaku Fujiwara (Hokke Shu)
Chiko Mori (Honmon Hokke Shu)
The gray robes of Nichiren Shoshu stand out in this photo. Nissho- and Ho’un Abe (Nichikai-) clearly visited Honmon-ji in Ikegami to join these other slanderous priests who were descendants in faith of the Five Senior Priests and discuss practical matters for uniting all Nichiren schools.
The first preliminary unification committee meeting was held November 24, 1914, with representatives from each sect. The basic policy toward unification had been unanimously agreed upon earlier at the Ikegami meeting on November 8. On behalf of Nichiren Shoshu, Nissho signed the document in support of unification.
Although, ultimately, these unification efforts soon collapsed, it did not mean the cessation of all efforts to unite Nichiren sects.
In the interim, Japan had won the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and World War I. The national mood was very upbeat following that series of victories, and common among all Nichiren schools in those days was that they wanted to show their unity with the emperor, responding to the great success of his ventures.
Their unity resulted not from pursuit of doctrinal purity based on Nichiren Daishonin’s original teaching; it was a product of their urgent sense that while divided they would lessen their significance in society compared to Buddhist schools such as Nembutsu, Shingo and Zen, whose efforts for the country’s welfare were better acknowledged. They were also irritated because Shintoism had been rapidly gaining momentum since the 1868 Meiji Restoration.
In other words, their unification efforts were based upon irritation and desperation to establish social status under the modern emperor system. They overtly moved toward unification, setting aside both the profound confrontation between “receiving” and “non-receiving” schools that had lingered since the Edo Period and their pronounced doctrinal differences.
The November 8 chief administrators’ conference was the first signal of their spiritual corruption.
Despite continual deadlocks, the intention to unify all Nichiren schools resurfaced again and again for the purpose of establishing themselves firmly as a singular entity in the social system headed by the emperor.
Nissho Poses for Commemorative Photo With Other Slanderous Chief Administrators
One conspicuous move that took place after the chief administrators’ conference at Ikegami was the seeking of the “Rissho Taishi” title for Nichiren Daishonin.
On September 11, 1922, in order to have Nichiren Daishonin receive the same honorific as had Dengyo and Kobo, the chief administrators of the various Nichiren sects put their signatures together on a document titled “Request for the Bestowal of the Title ‘Rissho Taishi’ Upon Sage Nichiren.”
Nichiren Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nisshin Kawai
Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Abe
Kempon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Honda
Honmon Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissei Sejima
Honmon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Ozaki
Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Tsuda
Honmyo Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nisshu Kiyose
Nichiren Shu Fujufuse School Chief Administrator and High Priest Shaku Nichige
Nichiren Shu Fujufuse Komon School Chief Administrator and Senior Priest Nitchu Sato
In response to this petition, the Imperial Bureau mailed each chief administrator a notice reading: “Please gather at the Imperial Ministry at 10 a.m. on the 13th, as the requested title will be bestowed upon Nichiren, Founder of Nichiren Shu.”
The following eight priests visited the Imperial Bureau on October 13 of that same year, the anniversary day of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing:
Nichiren Shu Chief Administrator Nichien Isono
Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator Nissho Abe
Kempon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator Nissho Honda
Honmon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator Nissho Ozaki
Nichiko Inoue on behalf of Honmon Shu Chief Administrator Nissei Sejima
Nichiji Arakawa on behalf of Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Tsuda
Junryo Renchi on behalf of Honmyo Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nisshu Kiyose
Nichiyo Washi on behalf Nichiren Shu Fujufuse School Chief Administrator Shaku Nichige
The Imperial Bureau minister presented each with a copy of a declaration that read:
To the chief administrator of each Nichiren school:
As a special consideration, the title of ’Rissho Taishi’ shall be bestowed upon Nichiren, founder of your respective Nichiren schools.
October 13 in the 13th year of Taisho
Ministry of Imperial Bureau
After receiving this declaration and an attached note, Nissho Honda, the Kempon Hokke Shu chief administrator, received the framed “imperial calligraphy” on behalf of all the chief administrators. Then, they all departed for Suikosha in Tsukiji, Tokyo.
Suikosha was an organization for the socialization and welfare of marine officers. Here, led by Nichiren Shu Chief Administrator Nichien Isono, they recited the “Life Span” chapter and chanted daimoku together.
It fully discredits the various expressions the Nikken sect has used over the years to enslave its lay believers—expressions such as “the transmission of the heritage,” “the pure water of the Law transmitted from one vessel to another through the lineage of high priest,” “the pure current of the Fuji school,” “the legitimate tradition of 700 years,” “the correct formalities and teachings of this school,” and “the strict admonition against the slander of the Law” no longer apply.
This photo, from October 13, 1922, which seems to be taken in front of Suikosha, is actual proof of Nissho- fraternizing with these slanderous priests instead of refuting their erroneous teachings.
Even if a Nichiren Shoshu high priest had received the heritage of the school through the lineage of successive high priests, it would not mean he automatically inherited the lifeblood of Nichiren Daishonin and the spirit of Nikko Shonin. What’s important is one’s faith itself!
Nissho Abe died on August 18, 1923, from a malignant tumor developed on the bottom of his chin in autumn 1922, the year he participated in entreating the emperor to bestow the title of “Great Teacher” upon Nichiren. From a Buddhist perspective, this can be viewed as a result of slander of the Law.
What is noteworthy here is that Nichiren Shoshu did not take issue with its chief administrator reciting the sutra led by a top official of the slanderous Nichiren Shu. Clearly, until the Soka Gakkai appeared, Nichiren Shoshu had no notion of “the pure current of the Fuji school.”
The Minobu sect played a chief role in obtaining the emperor’s bestowal of the “Rissho Taishi” title. Through this joint endeavor, the Minobu sect succeeded in creating the impression that it was at the center of all the various Nichiren sects.
Nichikai Signs Nichiren Shu Petition Requesting Imperial Frame
In 1931, Nichiren Shu concocted the idea of asking the emperor to bestow the title of “Rissho Taishi” upon Nichiren Daishonin just before the 650th anniversary of his passing. Behind this was the intent to use the cover of the emperor’s auspices to regain Nichiren Shu’s past prosperity.
When he was reciting from the “Life Span” chapter and chanting daimoku at Suikosha in Tsukiji, Nisshin Sakai (then Nichiren Shu general administrator, who became chief administrator in 1926) developed a plan to officially request the emperor write the characters for “Rissho” and have the calligraphy framed to hang at Nichiren Daishonin’s memorial hall at Mount Minobu.
By obtaining such an imperial frame, Nichiren Shu sought to dignify the ceremony it was planning in commemoration of Nichiren’s passing. Toward this end, the following actions were taken:
* Nisshin Sakai visited Chigaku Tanaka, president of Kokuchukai, with two other priests on June 24, 1930 to ask Tanaka to draft a petition for conferral of this imperial frame.
* Chigaku Tanaka began a draft on February 16, 1931, and completed the document on March 15.
* On March 16, Chigaku Tanaka called on Nisshin Sakai at Honmon-ji in Ikegami. After going over the document, they chose Gentei Katano, chief priest of Daiko-ji in Kamakura, to create a final, clean copy for submission to the emperor.
* On March 17, Nisshin Sakai gave final approval to the document at Honmon-ji in Ikegami.
* On March 18, Chigaku Tanaka brought the document to Kuon-ji at Mount Minobu. Kuon-ji chief priest Nikki Okada approved it and affixed his signature. They then decided to take this entreaty to the Imperial Bureau on April 3, the day of the celebration of the first emperor, Jinmu. In the afternoon, they recited the document at the tomb of Nichiren and chanted daimoku.
* On the early morning of April 3, Gentei Katano, chief priest of Daiko-ji in Kamakura, completed a final, clean copy of this 5600-word petition. Titled “Request for the Bestowal of Imperial Frame in Commemoration of the 650th Anniversary of Great Teacher of Rissho,” it was submitted to the emperor under the name of Minobu’s Nikki Okada.
The petition reads:
. . . On October 13 in the 11th year of Taisho, we came to have the heavenly honor of receiving imperial agreement on the bestowal of the title of “Great Teacher of Rissho” upon our founder. However, the condition of our country has been worsening in recent years, and the people’s decadence is also increasing. National hardships occur both inside and outside the country. People are losing their sense of security.
With this imperial frame by the emperor, Nichiren Shu sought to put itself at the center of all Nichiren schools; to substantiate the idea, with the emperor’s support, that Nichiren Daishonin’s interment site was the holiest place for all Nichiren schools.
This maneuver further showed the Minobu school of Nichiren Shu in its willingness to utilize national authority to preserve its powerful social status. In the Edo Period, Minobu, backed by the Tokugawa government, persecuted the Fujufuse school in order to usurp its head and branch temples.
The petition for conferral of the imperial frame was submitted to Kitokuro Itsuki, minister of the Imperial Bureau, on April 4, 1931. At the same time, a copy of the petition was submitted to Ryuzo Tanaka of the Ministry of Education.
Soon after, the education ministry sent a notice to Nichiren Shu, urging it to get approval from all other Nichiren school chief administrators regarding conferral of the imperial frame upon Kuon-ji of the Minobu school.
Eiju Myoritsu, general affairs director of Nichiren Shu, lost no time in visiting each Nichiren school to have the chief administrator sign a document that waived objection to the conferral upon Minobu. The document reads:
As to the request for bestowal of the imperial frame to be presented in commemoration of the 650th anniversary of the passing of our Founder, Great Teacher of Rissho, submitted by Nikki Okada, chief priest of Kuon-ji of Mount Minobu in Yamanashi prefecture, where [the founder’s gravesite] is, we are all in agreement. We each sincerely ask you to process this matter toward realization.
Nichikai of Nichiren Shoshu signed this document on June 12, 1931. The chief administrator of each Nichiren school submitted a signed memorandum of shared understanding to Ryuzo Tanaka, minister of education.
Nichikai Affirms Nichiren Daishonin’s Remains at Mount Minobu
Behind Myoritsu’s successful visit to each chief administrator was a certain situation to which Chigaku Tanaka refers in The Biography of Chigaku Tanaka (published by Shishio Bunko).
Then, we submitted a petition to the Ministry of the Imperial Bureau. I met with Minister Miyauchi. I explained clearly to the Itsuki Imperial Minister and told him that I understood the petition would come via the Ministry of Education. I asked him to execute this matter. He replied that since he was still new in his position, he wondered if there had been any precedent in this matter. I told him there were several precedents and cited examples where an imperial frame had been bestowed. For instance, the imperial frame of Great Teacher of Shoyo was given to the Dogen Zen Master during the era of the Meiji Emperor. Another imperial frame was given to Mount Obaku of Uji. He replied that as long as there were such precedents, there shouldn’t be any trouble in handling this case, and that he would try his best since he himself felt it only natural that somebody like Sage Nichiren receive such an honor.
Afterwards, the Imperial Ministry asked us if Sage Nichiren’s cemetery existed at Minobu. I replied affirmatively because in fact Sage Nichiren’s cemetery was there at Minobu. Then, the Imperial Ministry asked each school of Nichiren if they could agree with there was a cemetery of Sage Nichiren at Minobu. This prior agreement from each Nichiren school chief administrator was necessary because the schools tended argue among one another. The Imperial Ministry had to be careful in this regard. Since it is a fact that Minobu has the sage’s cemetery, all chief administrators expressed consent, which made things easier. A telegram from the Imperial Ministry announced its approval on the day of the kaibyaku-e ceremony that commemorates the Daishonin’s entry into Mount Minobu.
Before conferral, the Minister of Education considered it an absolute necessity for all other Nichiren schools to agree not only that Nichiren’s remains existed at Mount Minobu but also that the emperor was specifically conferring the frame upon the Minobu school. The minister therefore requested that each chief administrator sign a memorandum of shared understanding.
On June 23, 1931, Kitokuro Itsuki, Minister of the Imperial Bureau, sent a notice to Ryuzo Tanaka that a decision was made to confer the imperial frame upon the Minobu school.
On June 26, 1931, Masao Nishiyama, Director of the Bureau of Religion in the Ministry of Education, sent a notice of the imperial decision to Nisshin Sakai. The Nichiren Shu Minobu school then notified priesthood and laity at all branch temples to start preparations for a ceremony celebrating receipt of the imperial frame.
Overjoyed at the imperial decision, Nichiren Shu issued a notice to all Nichiren Shu priests and lay believers of under the name of the chief administrator on July 28. From this notice, you can discern the true voice of Nichiren Shu in regard to the imperial frame.
There should be only one great cemetery of our founder. Not two. Not three. This is the center of the school’s seeking spirit. It is the ultimate location of his supreme soul. Therefore, soon after the founder died, the six senior priests discussed among themselves a system to attend to his tomb. They thus served their mentor strictly. This system was later revised so that the chief priest of Mount Minobu would exclusively take care of the founder’s cemetery. The cemetery of the founder is not merely a cemetery on Mount Minobu. It is the cemetery of the entire Nichiren school.
Obvious here is the Minobu school ambition to be the center of all Nichiren schools through affirming the existence of Nichiren’s gravesite. We can also sense the upbeat mood over the news of the imperial frame. It is a historical fact that there was a man like Nichikai who supported this move by the slanderous Minobu school.
Nichikai Abe not only didn’t object to the emperor’s conferral of the “Rissho” frame but also, by signing a memorandum of shared understanding, he concurred with the idea that Nichiren’s ashes existed at slanderous Mount Minobu.
Profound Sin Committed by Faithless Nichikai
On September 19, 1931, the Imperial Bureau sent a letter of invitation to Nikki Okada, asking him to appear at the Bureau on October 1 to receive the imperial frame. On that day, Nichiren Shu priests, including Nisshin Sakai, chief administrator, and Nikki Okada, chief priest of Kuon-ji, received the frame at the Bureau. Afterward, with the frame, they joined some 6,000 Nichiren Shu priests and lay believers outside the imperial castle, and paraded together to Honmon-ji in Ikegami, where a giddy congratulatory ceremony was conducted.
The imperial frame was then carried on a chartered overnight train from Tokyo, through Fujinomiya, arriving at the Minobu Station at 3:40 a.m. At every station along the Minobu line, Minobu school priests and lay believers chanted daimoku, each person beating a celebratory drum.
On October 2, the following day, an enshrinement ceremony was conducted at the hall of the founder at Mount Minobu. Newspapers covered the ceremonial events at Ikegami and Mount Minobu extensively.
The conferral of the imperial frame upon Minobu was thus conducted on a national scale to commemorate the 650th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing. It was a grand event through which Nichiren Shu, wielding the power and dignity of the emperor, put the founder’s burial site at the center of all Nichiren schools. In contrast, a very minor ceremony was conducted at Taiseki-ji for the same occasion of Nichiren’s anniversary with some support from the local fire station.
The corruption of Nichikai Abe- becomes ever clearer as we see him so easily manipulated by the Minobu school. Where was his faith? His action was an obvious case of complacency. Not only that, he contributed to covering the sin committed by the five senior priests, who disregarded Nikko Shonin’s assignment system for attending to Nichiren’s burial site.
Nichikai should have insisted that there were no actual ashes and no legitimate burial place of Nichiren Daishonin at Mount Minobu. He should have contended that the imperial frame was therefore meaningless there. Yet, as Kuon-ji of Mount Minobu explained:
The Founder’s cemetery was built in accord with his will. The five-storied tomb, built at the time of his passing, is contained in the pagoda. His ashes are kept in the room’s basement. Since this is the tomb of the Founder, it is called the Founder’s cemetery. Believers seeking the Founder visit here ceaselessly day and night. (Mount Minobu Kuon-ji, published by Mount Minobu Kuon-ji)
In no way would Nikko Shonin, founder of Taiseki-ji, accept Nichikai’s signing of the memorandum officially approving Nichiren Shu’s claim that it had Nichiren Daishonin’s ashes on Mount Minobu.
Nichijun’s “Refuting the Theory That Founder’s Cemetery Should Be the Center” (Complete Works of Nichijun Shonin, Part 2) highlights Nichikai’s error:
There is a theory among the disciples of Nichiren Daishonin that Mount Minobu should be the center of his school because it is where he lived his life, because he built Kuon-ji there, because he said that his cemetery should be built at Minobu, and because, therefore, his spirit is at Mount Minobu. This theory is easy to accept publically since Mount Minobu possesses Nichiren Daishonin’s mementoes. I’ve seen this theory being supported in recent years.
At first glance, this theory sounds very natural to human sentiments and would not seem to cause much trouble. A deeper consideration reveals, however, that it in fact concerns whether we can maintain the integrity of the Daishonin’s doctrines. For this reason, the idea that Minobu should be the center of Nichiren Buddhism must be rooted out and dispensed with. Because, to respect Mount Minobu as the site of Nichiren Daishonin’s memory and mementoes, is to approve and uphold its confused and tarnished object of devotion and its doctrines. Such behavior, which runs counter to the Daishonin, marks the first step of slander.
According to Nichijun, then, by affirming Minobu as Nichiren Daishonin’s resting place, Nichikai took a major first step into the realm of slander.
How did other Nichiren schools react to the glory Minobu enjoyed over the frame conferral?
There is no description of the conferral in Dai-Nichiren, the Nichiren Shoshu organ. It does not touch upon Nichikai signing the memorandum to the Ministry of Education. A small article did appear, however, in Light of Myo, the newspaper of Myoko-ji in Tokyo, a Nichiren Shoshu branch.
The imperial frame is now going to be bestowed upon Mount Minobu, the head temple of Nichiren Shu. Those involved are discussing how to implement this honorable event. Because Nichiren Shu is large, and because it has been engaged in activities to benefit society, this honor will be given to the Minobu school. As priests of this legitimate school that carries the Daishonin’s correct teachings, I think we should ponder this reality seriously. (June 16, 1931, issue)
We can sense the chagrin over Minobu’s triumph. But with only about 50 branch temples, Nichiren Shoshu’s existence was so puny that Minobu didn’t care what it said.
The article’s author may have had no idea of the support that Nichikai, the chief administrator of the school he belonged to, gave to Minobu by signing the memorandum. Nichikai Abe, by submitting his agreement, essentially threw dung at the faces of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin! It was a betrayal of all the Buddha’s disciples.
How in the world did Nichikai view Nikko Shonin’s departure from Mount Minobu, an excruciating decision made with the fiercest determination to protect the purity of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism? Why would he curry favor with the slanderous Nichiren Shu?
All the priesthood and laity of Nichiren Shoshu had to suffer the same shame because of the support Nichikai, the high priest, gave the Minobu school. It took the Soka Gakkai to later erase this shame.
The Soka Gakkai, which had been carrying out a courageous propagation movement under the leadership of President Toda, extended its battlefront as far as Otaru, on Hokkaido. On March 11, 1955, the Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shu Minobu had a debate in Otaru. The Soka Gakkai emerged victorious, having thoroughly refuted the slanderous Minobu teachings.
With this Otaru Debate, the Minobu school advantage over Taiseki-ji was shattered, gone for the first time since the Muromachi and Edo periods.
Nichikai Abe, A Monstrous High Priest, Decimates the Teaching of the Law
From the Taisho to the early part of Showa era, Ho’un Abe, who became Nichikai-, and was the father of Nikken Abe, was a constant source of internal strife at Nichiren Shoshu in conjunction with the high priest position. As explained in Chapter 1, Nichikai authored the coup in which Nitchu- was brought down.
Ho’un Abe was the general administrator, the number-two Nichiren Shoshu position, in 1925. Stripped of this position by Nitchu, he also lost the priesthood rank of noke, which meant losing the chance to become high priest. He likely developed an enormous grudge against Nitchu over that.
Ho’un Abe was demoted as general administrator seemingly because of his inferior rebuttal of a comment by Ryozan Shimizu, a Komazawa University professor, in a June 1925 publication specializing in religious matters. In the world of Nichiren Shu, Shimizu was regarded a learned scholar, who seemingly had priesthood status in the Minobu school.
It was only natural for Ho’un Abe to rebut Shimizu, which he did in a six-page article in the July 1925 issue of Dai-Nichiren, Nichiren Shoshu’s magazine, under the title “Admonishing Mr. Shimizu Ryozan.” Abe’s article later became a big problem within Nichiren Shoshu.
Here is a portion of that problematic article:
Therefore, our Founder states, ‘As for my teachings, regard those before my exile to the province of Sado as equivalent to the Buddha’s pre-Lotus Sutra teachings.’ In the pre-Sado period, the Daishonin exclusively refuted only Zen and Nembutsu, refraining from referring to Shingon (including Tendai Shingon).
While Founder Daishonin was an exile on Sado, still in the period of practicing his teachings, he did not yet reveal his true teachings. Therefore, on Sado he did not even disclose the idea of the Three Great Secret Laws.
It is commonly understood among his disciples that Nichiren Daishonin engaged in refuting the Shingon teachings even before his Sado exile. It would be bizarrely erroneous to contend that he did not reveal his important teachings on Sado, which followed the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, because he was still polishing his practice. Nichiren himself says that Tatsunokuchi was the moment when he revealed his true identity as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. Yet, according to Ho’un Abe, Nichiren was still in the process of developing his own faith and practice on Sado.
There are quite a few other strange theories in “Admonishing Mr. Ryozan Shimizu.” Not only did Abe run opposite to the teaching of Nichiren Daishonin, he also became a laughingstock to other schools. It stood to reason that Nitchu had to demote him from the position of noke.
But there was an even deeper reason why Ho’un Abe was demoted as general administrator, which, it seems, was his priestly behavior.
Emblematic of this was the existence of his “love child.” In 1922, while general administrator, he had clandestinely fathered a child. He was 49, and his mistress, 26. The adulterous Ho’un Abe, was a precept-breaking priest.
But Abe did not acknowledge having a child with a woman 23 years his junior, which would have exposed his sin of a sexual affair. Six years after fathering this child behind the scenes, he was inaugurated as 60th Nichiren Shoshu high priest.
Nikko Shonin’s “Twenty-six Admonitions” states:
My disciples should conduct themselves as holy priests, patterning their behavior after that of the late master. However, even if a high priest or a priest of profound practice and understanding deviates form the [principle of] sexual abstinence, he may still be allowed to remain in the priesthood [as a common priest without rank].
Ho’un Abe trampled upon the spirit of Nikko Shonin’s admonitions. His affairs and secret fathering of a child severely dishonored the True Buddha, because Nichikai was a high priest, who automatically claimed inheritance of the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism, Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. The epithet “Law-destroying monster” is precisely applicable to Nichikai.
Another interesting fact: Ho’un Abe’s birthday was August 23, 1873, which means he was married at age 15, in 1888. About a year later, he was divorced and became an acolyte shortly after. Behind the fact his becoming a priest was a complicated issue involving another woman.
Nichikai Acknowledges Nobuo (Nikken) Upon Taking Office
It was only natural that Ho’un Abe deserved Nitchu’s rebuke for his inappropriate, adulterous behavior. Nonetheless, Abe held a grudge over his July 1925 demotion and quickly schemed to unseat Nitchu as high priest, getting a majority of assembly members to side with him. (Both Ho’un Abe and his son, Nikken Abe, shared the trait of getting easily upset when people pointed out their errors; they each responded by attacking with rage.)
In November, only four months later, with the power of an assembly majority, Abe pressured Nitchu into expressing an intent to retire. The next year, he completed his coup to oust Nitchu.
Ho’un Abe was a wickedly talented schemer and political schemer. Factional strife was much more intense within Nichiren Shoshu than today. The sect was so corrupt that intimidation and bribery were the order of the day as priests pursued the position of high priest.
Abe arranged it so that Nichiko temporarily became high priest. He finally became high priest in June 1928 through maneuvering and a corrupted election. Upon taking office as high priest, he acknowledged Nobuo as his son. Nobuo had been born on December 19, 1922, but it wasn’t until June 27, 1928, when Nobuo was 5, that Abe accepted him as his legal child. After becoming a priest, Nobuo changed his name to Shinno. Later in life, he would become the Nichiren Shoshu high priest Nikken Abe.
Nobuo had been born to Ho’un Abe and Suma Hikosaka, a woman working as a maid at Josen-ji. Nikken recalled his childhood at a daimoku session on August 8, 1979, commemorating the seventh day since the passing of Nittatsu-.
Reviewing the history of the high priest (Nittatsu), he was at Josen-ji in Tokyo before he became a priest. A few years later, he became a priest and disciple of Nissho Shonin. Later, he returned to Josen-ji, where he seems to have served. At that time, my mother was close to the Rev. Nichikai. She was working at the kitchen of Josen-ji . . .” (Dai-Nichiren, September 1979 issue).
Nittatsu was an acolyte at Josen-ji in 1922. According to Nikken’s recollection, Suma Hikosaka was then working in the Josen-ji kitchen.
Since Nikken was born that December, it confirms that Nichikai had had sexual relations with a 25-year-old kitchen worker. Obviously, this is a case of an illicit affair, and Ho’un Abe should be branded as a precept-breaking priest.
Suma Hikosaka’s mother was Bun Hikosaka. After getting divorced, she gave birth to Suma and a son from a different father. While Bun’s son was legally accepted by his father, no one acknowledged Suma.
Suma Hikosaka, it seems, converted to Nichiren Shoshu when she was 20. Before becoming a believer, she had been a member of Tenrikyo, a Christian and a member of Kokuchukai. Perhaps, because of her family background, Suma spent her late teens exploring one religion after another.
In, 1921, at age 24, Suma began to work at Josen-ji. At that time, Ho’un Abe was 48.
Nichiren Shoshu Priests Had No Intention of Abiding by Nikko Shonin’s Admonitions
A document reports on the environment at Josen-ji when Ho’un Abe was its chief priest. Amid the election campaign for high priest, the Koga Arimoto group issued a declaration against the Abe group dated March 13, 1928. It made public the following description of Abe’s behavior:
Of course, twenty or thirty years ago, regarding immature priests not well versed in this school’s doctrines, the school neither bestowed the title of noke upon them nor let them become chief priests of excellent temples. The Rev. Abe, however, shamelessly resided at Josen-ji. Relinquishing himself to his earthly desires as he comported adulterously with a maid, he disgraced Nichiren Daishonin, founder of this Buddhism, and Nikko Shonin, founder of Taiseki-ji. Acting as if not involved in any wrongdoing, he carried out an unseemly campaign to assume the roles of chief administrator and high priest. How can he judge right and wrong regarding the teachings of this school? How can he manage the priesthood and laity of this school? As we know how scandalous he behaved in the Josen-ji yard and how immature he is in his grasp of the teachings, we cannot allow him to lead this school. For him to take control of this school in the capacity of chief administrator and high priest would be a great mishap.
The Arimoto group criticizes Nichikai (Abe) as being immature and ignorant of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings, using extraordinarily intense language to point out Nichikai’s terrible behavior:
He is unable to control his compulsion to have affairs with the maids despite his relationship with his wife and child.
As of March 1928, Suma Hikosaka and Nobuo were acknowledged as Nichikai’s legal family members, and it seems they were accepted as such within Nichiren Shoshu.
But we should pay special attention to the “the maids,” which implies that Nichikai was having sexual relations not only with his wife but also with at least one other maid at Josen-ji. Rumors of this spread disdainfully throughout Nichiren Shoshu.
The Arimoto group disparaged Nichikai’s Josen-ji lifestyle as being an act of “disgracing both the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin.” This declaration takes issue with the corruption at Josen-ji, severely points out Nichikai’s unsuitability as a high priest who endeavors to hide the ugliness of his behavior.
What was Josen-ji like when Abe was chief priest?
Because the Arimoto group is publicly criticizing Abe’s behavior in a formal document, the declaration accusations must not have been groundless. Judging from this, Ho’un Abe was likely having sexual relations with more than one woman on the grounds of Josen-ji.
Suma Hikosaka, who gave birth to Nikken, became a nun in May 1935. Her Buddhist name was Myoshu. She legally became a member of the Abe family on February 10, 1938.
Even in other slanderous Buddhist sects, nuns are supposed to be unmarried. But Nun Myoshu, who became Nichiren Shoshu’s last nun, was married to none other than the high priest of her time.
The fact that the high priest was married to a nun symbolized the Nichiren Shoshu departure from the view that priests and nuns should be single and celibate. Today, no one in Nichiren Shoshu thinks that being single is a prerequisite for a priest.
Nikko Shonin states in “Twenty-six Admonitions of Nikko”: “My disciples should conduct themselves as holy priests, patterning their behavior after that of the late master.”
Nichikai and Myoshu publically trampled upon the spirit of this admonition.
Perhaps because of the bad influence of Nichikai and Myoshu, the awful priests who dwell within Nichiren Shoshu have no intention of taking Nikko Shonin’s admonitions seriously and abiding by them. The spirit of Nikko’s admonitions has long ago departed from Nichiren Shoshu.
The admonitions further read: “Those who violate even one of these articles cannot be called disciples of Nikko.”
Accordingly, the priests and their family members have long been severed from Nikko Shonin. This is indeed emblematic of a time when the Law is said to have perished; irrationally asserting superiority over the laity, Nichiren Shoshu, while assuming the appearance of priests, excommunicated the Soka Gakkai, the children of the Buddha.
Nichiren Shoshu Is Disconnected From Kosen-rufu
Strife, Conflict, and Division Abound Since the Passing of Nichimoku
Taiseki-ji has a long history as part of the slanderous Nichiren Shu, but its history is rather short as a correct school (shoshu) of Nichiren Buddhism. It was in September 1900 that Taiseki-ji separated from the slanderous Honmon Shu and became the Fuji school of Nichiren Shu.
Switching to the name “Nichiren Shoshu” took place as recently as June 1922. The notion of “the pure current of the Fuji school” is therefore a fallacy. We must not be fooled by the sanitized, revisionist history of Nichiren Shoshu Taiseki-ji.
The Nikken sect priesthood’s self-righteous insistence that it is permissible to sanitize its own historical record must be severely taken to task. In truth, the history of Nichiren Shoshu is not 700 years long. It only includes the time period since it began calling itself the Fuji School of Nichiren Shu in the early 20th century.
The Nikken sect claims that the Soka Gakkai, by being excommunicated by Nichiren Shoshu, has just become a new religion. By that logic, Nichiren Shoshu must also be a new religion for having seceded from the slanderous Honmon Shu in the latter Meiji Period (1868–1912).
While the Gakkai has been gloriously promoting kosen-rufu for 60 some years, Nichiren Shoshu, for the past 80 to 90 years, has been disconnected from the undertaking of kosen-rufu, as it has been saddled with the baggage from slanderous actions since it was part of the erroneous Nichiren Shu.
Next, I will sum up the dramatized history of Nichiren Shoshu, the record of its actions to destroy Nichiren Buddhism, and the dynamic propagation and restoration of Nichiren Daishonin’s True Law under the Soka Gakkai.
According to Nichiren Shoshu, after Nikko Shoniin died, the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin was carried on by Nichimoku, then by Nichido and the other successive high priests up to the current time. Nikko Shonin, however, had many disciples including the six senior disciples (Nichimoku, Nikke, Nisshu, Nichizen, Nissen, and Nichijo) and the six junior disciples (Nichido, Nichidai, Nitcho, Nichimyo, Nichigo, and Nichijo).
All these disciples propagated Nichiren Buddhism in their respective locales, and some even built temples. The Nikko school (Fuji school) is the overall name of the temples, including Taiseki-ji and Kitayama Honmon-ji, which Nikko and his disciples founded. The Nikko school history was a succession of internal strife, confrontation and division. The pure current of faith, which originated from Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin, was at times interrupted, and at other times diluted with the muddy flow of slander. In fact, for many years before the appearance of the Soka Gakkai, the so-called “pure current of the Fuji school” was nowhere to be found.
Soon after Nichimoku died at Tarui in Mino province, there arose a confrontation between Nichido and Nichigo about the property of Taiseki-ji. Another Nikko school incident involved the banishment of Nichidai (one of the six junior disciples of Nikko) from Omosu because of an argument he had with Nissen (one of the six elder priests) over the recitation of the “Expedient Means” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. As these examples show, the Nikko (Fuji) school was afflicted with conflicts, hostility, confrontation, battle and division. In no way was it an orderly, nationwide organization. It was nothing but a minor body of splintered schools propounding both the pure as well as slanderous teachings.
In the Edo Period, Taiseki-ji was not acknowledged as an independent religious entity by the Tokugawa government. It was regarded as a minor school that belonged to the “superior-inferior (shoretsu)” school of Nichiren Shu. Taiseki-ji was thus lumped together with the Shinmon school, the Jinmon school and others.
In 1632 and 1633, the Tokugawa government institutionalized a head-branch temple system and created a list of all head and branch temples. The original copy of this list is now preserved at the Government Library.
This is the only data available about the Kan’ei era in the Edo Period, a temple-system list dated January 1634, which contains a section concerning Nichiren Shu schools’ head and branch temples:
Kuon-ji at Mount Minobu, Koshu province, and its branch temples.
Myosen-ji and its branch temples.
Honryu-ji and its branch temples.
Honkoku-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Jakko-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Honno-ji in Rakuyo and its branch temples.
Hozen-ji in Rakuyo and its branch temples.
Myoken-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Myoden-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Yobo-ji at Nijo in Rakuyo and its branch temples.
Rippon-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Myoren-ji and its branch temples.
Taiseki-ji and its branch temples are not listed here. It is not known why. Perhaps it is because of governmental error or negligence by Taiseki-ji.
This head-branch temple list came into existence in complete form in the 6th year of Tenmei (1786). The original of this list does not exist today, but a copy is preserved at Shokokan Library in Mito.
This list includes the description, “Taiseki-ji school head and branch temples.” Taiseki-ji is listed together with Kuon-ji in Koizumi; Honmon-ji in Kitayama; Honmon-ji in Nishiyama; and Kocho-ji as being part of the Hokke “Superior-Inferior” school. In the Edo Period, Taiseki-ji was not an independent entity. (Note: The label “superior-inferior” denotes a school where the essential teachings (honmon) are considered superior to the theoretical teachings (shakumon).)
Taiseki-ji Was Still With Slanderous Nichiren Shu During Meiji Period
In 1868, all Nichiren schools were unified under two schools—the “oneness” (icchi) school and the “superior-inferior” (shoretsu) school. Then, in 1876, the superior-inferior school was further divided into five—the Nikko, Myoman-ji, Honsei-ji, Happon, and Honryu-ji schools.
At that time, Taiseki-ji joined the slanderous Nichiren Shu Nikko school, becoming one of the eight major Nikko school temples. The other seven were Honmon-ji in Kitayama, Honmon-ji in Nishiyama, Kuon-ji in Koizumi, Myoren-ji in Shimojo, Myohon-ji in Hota, Yobo-ji in Kyoto and Jitsujo-ji in Izu.
The chief administrator position of the Nikko school was assumed under a take-turn system. According to The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School, the successive chief administrators were:
|2/23/1876||Yobo-ji (Kyoto)||Nichikan Shaku|
|4/6/1876||Yobo-ji (Kyoto)||Nichikan Shaku|
|5/30/1879||Jitsujo-ji (Izu)||Nichikan Oi|
|5/14/1880||Myoren-ji (Fuji)||Nichizen Hori|
|4/27/1882||Honmon-ji (Nishiyama)||Nichigi Ju|
|9/11/1883||Kuon-ji (Koizumi)||Nichiren Fuji|
|4/7/1892||Yobo-ji (Kyoto)||Nichiju Sakamoto|
|4/24/1893||Kuon-ji (Koizumi)||Nichikai Myoko|
|5/1/1894||Honmon-ji (Nishiyama)||Nichigi Ju|
|8/21/1895||Kuon-ji (Koizumi)||Nichirei Fuji|
|6/10/1896||Honmon-ji (Kitayama)||Nichizen Ashina|
|4/8/1897||Myoren-ji (Fuji)||Nichion Inaba|
|4/2/1898||Jitsujo-ji (Izu)||Nichiju Oi|
As is clear from this list, Taiseki-ji was under the supervision of the slanderous chief administrators for many years. With Nippu and Nichio as chief administrators, the school neither moved in a correct direction nor refutes slanderous schools.
The only positive thing we can see in the article published in King of the Law, a Nikko school magazine, is that Nichio, after retiring as Nikko school chief administrator in 1890, rebuked the chief administrator of the Nikko school in a written form about “The Theory of Observing One’s Mind in the Latter Day” written by Nisshu Kio.
Nikken sect priests would likely contend that Nichiin, Nichio and other high priests repeatedly petitioned for Taiseki-ji’s independence but that national authorities would not allow separation from the Nikko school. What they cannot change, however, is the historical fact that Taiseki-ji was part of the Nikko school of the “superior-inferior” school under the slanderous Nichiren Shu.
It was recently discovered that in the Taisho Period, Nissho Abe, then Nichiren Shoshu chief administrator, participated in reciting the sutra together with chief administrators from other Nichiren schools. He also posed proudly for a commemorative photo with them. These facts astonished believers who have heretofore accepted as true the legend of Nichiren Shoshu’s consistent 700-year protection of the Law.
Today, however, some Hokkeko members, including those who belong to the Myokanko group, are shamelessly saying: “What’s wrong with taking a photo (with other schools’ high priests)? . . . Participating in gongyo together with other schools’ priests is not slanderous as long as you are not putting your palms together in respect.”
Also, during World War II, Nichiren Shoshu accepted the Shinto talisman from the military government without protest, defending this deeply slanderous act by saying it was an unavoidable compromise to protect the Dai-Gohonzon from the government’s scheme to unify all Nichiren schools (Nichiren Shoshu Jikyoku Kyogikai Document—Nichiren Shoshu and War Responsibility). The statement simply does not make sense.
Taiseki-ji belongs to the same school as the other Nichiren sects. It was under the supervision of the Nikko school, which oversaw various slanderous temples until 1900.
The Nikko school changed its name to Honmon Shu in 1899. Accordingly, Taiseki-ji became a sect within Honmon Shu. In September the following year, Taiseki-ji alone seceded from Honmon Shu, calling itself “the Fuji school of Nichiren Shu” anew, and finally becoming an independent organization.
Regarding 1900, it was the year Josei Toda, who would become the second Soka Gakkai president, was born. His birth signals the commencement of the true Nichiren Shoshu history. Until Mr. Toda’s appearance, that history was filled with slander from being part of Nichiren Shu. Nowhere did the pure current of the Fuji school flow at Taiseki-ji.
Statistics of Various Nichiren Schools Based on 1904 Survey by Internal Ministry.
|Kempon Hokke Shu||566||338||156,182|
|Honmon Hokke Shu||316||550||169,864|
|Hon Myohokke Shu||87||160||20,262|
|Fujufuse School||2||4||25,514 +|
Nichiren Shoshu Was Significantly Smaller Than Other Nichiren Schools
When Nichio- became high priest in 1889, the Nikko school issued a notice that reads, “Appointing Nichio Oishi as chief priest of Taiseki-ji, head temple at Ueno Village, Fuji County and Suruga Province” (“Komon Daikyoin Rokuji”). In other words, according to this, Taiseki-ji’s high priest had been appointed by the slanderous chief administrator of the Nikko school.
When Taiseki-ji became independent as “Fuji School of Nichiren Shu,” there were only 87 branches, 47 chief priests, and 58,000 lay believers. Let’s compare these figures with those of the other Nichiren schools. The chart on the previous page is based on figures issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. You can instantly see how puny was the Fuji school (which changed its name to Nichiren Shoshu in June 1912).
Nittatsu- even confirmed that Nichiren Shoshu had only four temples (Josen-ji, Myoen-ji, Jozai-ji and Myoho-ji) in Tokyo in the middle of the Meiji Period. Almost no one back then visited Taiseki-ji, a mountain temple in Ueno village. Thanks to the pilgrimage system created by the Soka Gakkai, 70 million people ultimately made their way to Taiseki-ji.
This was unprecedented, compared to the Meiji days. Organizational Publication for Propagation (#24) states, for instance, “We deeply appreciate 60-some people for taking the trouble to visit the head temple” for the 1891 scroll-airing ceremony. The scroll-airing ceremony is one of two major Taiseki-ji events. (The other is the oeshiki, which celebrates Nichiren Daishonin’s eternal enlightenment.) Attendance by 60 people was major news.
It is also recorded in King of the Law (#47) in conjunction with the 1893 scroll-airing ceremony: “People came to the head temple one after another. Those who came a long distance are Mr. Kato, chief priest of Josen-ji in Tokyo; plus one more person, Mr. Fujimoto, chief priest of Myoko-ji in Shinagawa; Mr. Kenji Shimoyama; and three others . . . The ceremony was most vibrant.” Only 30 people attended, but it was recorded as a most wonderful, well-attended ceremony.
We can see, then, how destitute the head temple Taiseki-ji had become before the appearance of the Soka Gakkai. It seems there was a plan to create a “pilgrimage group,” but it did not come to fruition.
Taiseki-ji seems to have conducted gokaihi ceremonies even for slanderous individuals as long as they bestowed monetary offerings. King of the Law (#55) reports that Taiseki-ji even offered the temple grounds for a party of 226 people from the Fuji Volunteer Friendship Association, conducting a gokaihi ceremony for them followed by a reception. Also, Nippo is recorded in Dai-Nichiren (March 1935) as saying “I think that the three treasures must be delighted and contented” after he conducted a gokaihi ceremony for Dr. Anezaki, a scholar of religion, and Chio Yamakawa and Chidai Nagataki, top leaders of Kokuchukai, a slanderous religious organization.
It is also recorded in King of the Law (#55) that Taiseki-ji collected a two-yen admission fee from an American residing in Yokohama for showing him Taiseki-ji’s old furniture and plates.
It is very understandable why Nichiko Hori- later told President Toda, “If it had not been for you, Nichiren Shoshu would have gone bankrupt.” The “you” here could mean the entire Soka Gakkai.
Slander Underlies Nichiren Shoshu’s Past, Present and Future
As if awaiting the birth of Mr. Toda, this foundering, slanderous religious school finally achieved independence in 1900 as Fuji School of Nichiren Shu. But independence did not mean the sudden purification of Taiseki-ji’s muddy flow.
Among the slanderous actions Nichiren Shoshu took in those days, Nichio, the high priest when the Russo-Japanese War broke out in 1904, issued a February 25 admonition to promote and support the war, which described “. . . staging the war of justice.” He also conducted “a prayer meeting for the enhancement of imperial power and the victory of the war to conquer Russia.”
In addition, Nichiren Shoshu turned over believers’ sincere offerings to the government military fund. Not only that, it distributed 10,000 Gohonzon “to ensure victory in the war,” thus committing the serious slander of deviation from the fundamental purpose of propagation of the True Law. The Fuji school of Nichiren Shu was a muddy pond, and the pure current of the Fuji school was a fallacy. So, the Fuji school officially changed its name to Nichiren Shoshu in June 1912, around the time that its slanderous deeds and deviation from Nichiren Daishonin original teachings were in full blossom.
Dai-Nichiren (volume 1, #2), which Nichiren Shoshu had just launched, carried a thesis praising Nembutsu and Shinran. The ad sections of Dai-Nichiren and Byaku Renge promoted items such as a “Statue of Sage Nichiren,” a “Golden Textile Embroidered With Nichiren Shoshu’s Original Gohonzon,” a “Secret Guide for Prayer,” “100 Sermon Points,” and a “Wooden Bell.” They also published ads for the Jodo Shinshu school, Ohtani School Assemble Bureau and Main School Hongan-ji Administrative Office.
Nichiren Shoshu’s extensive slanderous acts and cases of deviation from the correct teaching stemmed from its pursuit of profit. Even taking into consideration that Nichiren Shoshu had to cope with the condition of the Japanese society and the times, there were still too many unacceptable cases of slander. Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda began their practice of Nichiren Buddhism in 1928. Their determination to rebuke the slander of Nichiren Shoshu was the utmost in courage. Upholding Nichiren Daishonin’s correct teaching, they were dedicated to achieving its kosen-rufu.
In the same year, adulterous Nichikai Abe maneuvered to steal the seat of high priest, and his child, Nikken, became an acolyte of Nichiren Shoshu. (In those days, Nikken was called Nobuo Hikosaka, but in 1928, he changed his name to Shinno).
And it was on January 2, 1928, that Daisaku Ikeda, the great leader of global kosen-rufu, was born.
It seems that Nikken senses a mystic bond or correlation among trivial matters. But he discerned no mystic connection among such events as the birth of President Toda and the independence of Nichiren Shoshu as Fuji school of Nichiren Shu and among the birth of Honorary President Ikeda, the inauguration of Nichikai, a monster to destroy the Law, and the official entry of Nikken, Nichikai’s child and the priest of the heavenly devil, into the priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu.
Judging that kosen-rufu couldn’t be accomplished under the leadership of the old Hokkeko group, Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai in 1930.
Eighty some years have passed since then. The great wave of kosen-rufu has expanded to 192 countries and territories (as of 2010). Today, there are more than 12 million practitioners thanks to the unsparing efforts of the Soka Gakkai, with its three founding presidents as the axle, despite all sorts of oppression from the national authority as well as persecutions and plots to stop its efforts for kosen-rufu. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism today has been greatly restored and enjoys an unprecedented rise in prosperity.
No doubt, Nichiren Daishonin would praise the Soka Gakkai immensely. The Gakkai’s just movement of Buddhism, expanding the circle of support in society, will continue to be accepted by the people of the world.
In contrast, Nichiren Shoshu, seized by an insane high priest, became the Nikken sect. Nichiko’s worry that “without the Soka Gakkai Nichiren Shoshu would perish” is becoming a reality. Nichiren Shoshu’s past was slanderous, its current reality is slanderous, and its future will be slanderous as well. Nichiren Shoshu, which literally translates as “a correct school of Nichiren,” has deserved its name only for the 60 years during which it advanced with the Soka Gakkai.
 Nichiren is talking about the image of Shakyamuni of the “Life Span” chapter as it appears on the Gohonzon flanked by the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth—not the anthropomorphic statue of the historical Shakyamuni who appeared in India.
 In the Lotus Sutra, they are the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth described in the “Emerging from the Earth” (fifteenth) chapter: Superior Practices, Boundless Practices, Pure Practices, and Firmly Established Practices. They signify respectively the four virtues of the Buddha’s life: true self, eternity, purity, and happiness. In the Lotus Sutra, Bodhisattvas of Earth vowed to propagate the Law in the Latter Day.
 Nichiren specifically said “I have written out the prose section of the ‘Expedient Means’ chapter for you. You should recite it together with the verse portion of the ‘Life Span’ chapter, which I sent you earlier.” (WND-1, 486)
 The manorial system consisted of the division of land into self-sufficient estates, each presided over by a lord of the manor and tilled by residents of the local village. The lord owed military protection to the peasants. The land remained in the lord’s holding and was loaned to the person who cultivated it in return for services and dues.
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.
On December 27, 1990, Nikken-[67th], after revising the Rules of Nichiren Shoshu, abruptly dismissed Soka Gakkai Honorary President Daisaku Ikeda, the person most responsible for the promotion of kosen-rufu, as head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay societies. This signified commencement of the priesthood’s so-called Operation C—a plan to “cut” the SGI membership from the Soka Gakkai and President Ikeda.
This plot by Nikken and his cohorts was not the first case where devious priests tried to thwart the Soka Gakkai’s progress and tear apart this precious Buddhist Order.
Around 1978–79, a group of priests named Shoshinkai (correct faith association) capitalized on the Nichiren Shoshu high priest’s authority in order to oppress the Soka Gakkai. These arrogant priests forced the Gakkai to apologize for having produced wooden Gohonzon from Gohonzon scrolls, a doctrinally legitimate action in light of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. Distorting the words of High Priest Nittatsu so as to misrepresent the Gakkai, these priests claimed that such an act is slanderous. But, for the sake of kosen-rufu, no matter how irrational Nichiren Shoshu’s actions, the Gakkai strove to maintain the harmonious unity of priesthood and laity and dedicated itself with great patience as Nichiren Shoshu continued to enjoy prosperity.
In August 1979, Nikken-[67th] was inaugurated following the sudden death of Nittatsu. The Soka Gakkai committed to Nichiren Shoshu’s prosperity all the more, making enormous offerings. Nikken, however, unconcerned with kosen-rufu, went on to disparage President Ikeda and tried to usurp control of the Soka Gakkai.
Operation C was concocted primarily to oust President Ikeda. An auxiliary purpose was to sway Soka Gakkai members by excommunicating the entire Gakkai organization. The temple thought, by breaking the Gakkai apart, it could put hundreds of thousands of members under its direct control.
Nikken and his cronies preferred formation of a lay organization that was subservient to the priesthood without promoting kosen-rufu along with the spirited Gakkai members who were so strongly dedicated to it. Ultimately, what Nikken tried to gain through Operation C was money. All he and his priesthood wanted was to maintain their extravagant lifestyle and pleasure seeking.
Time and again, to preserve its authority or to save face, the priesthood betrayed the Soka Gakkai. But neither the Shoshinkai’s recriminations nor Nikken’s betrayal was the first case of Nichiren Shoshu denigrating the Gakkai.
Nichiren Shoshu betrayed the Soka Gakkai during World War II. Fearful of the violent storm of the Shinto religion’s national authority, Nichiren Shoshu went along with the Minobu sect and banned dissemination of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, even revising some of his writings. Nichiren Shoshu ordered its lay society the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai to accept the government’s Shinto talisman incorporating elements of non-Buddhist teachings. Holding fast to their practice of the true teaching, however, Soka Kyoiku Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and General Director Josei Toda refused the priesthood’s order. Fearful that their resistance would bring government persecution, the priesthood banned them from visiting the head temple for not following the directive.
President Makiguchi and other Gakkai leaders were arrested in 1943 for alleged violation of the Security Law and also for the crime of disrespect, as their action to refuse the Shinto talisman was viewed as denying the sanctity of Shinto. In an act of cowardice, Nichiren Shoshu stripped Gakkai members of believer status.
Furthermore, clearly abandoning faith in the supremacy of Nichiren Buddhism, Nichiren Shoshu ordered branch temples to enshrine Shinto talismans at the priests’ lodging quarters in an attempt to preserve it’s own peace and security while denigrating their own religion.
Some Taiseki-ji buildings were even used to house “volunteer” soldiers forcefully taken from Korea. Shinto talismans were enshrined by Japanese military officers at the Daishoin room [different from the Shoin room] near the high priest’s lodging. In June 1945, the high priest’s quarters and other major structures burned down, and Nikkyo-[62nd] died miserably in the blaze.
Nikkyo, the 62nd high priest, burned to death in a fire at the head temple.
Nichiren Shoshu priests did not offer any apology or remorse despite such serious retribution, only seeking to save face and maintain control over the laity.
The tide of kosen-rufu was surely on the rise, however; Mr. Toda was released from prison, miraculously alive, on July 3, 1945, just before the end of the war. His selfless battle to propagate Nichiren Buddhism began, eventually achieving the conversion of 750,000 households.
In April 1952, when the foundation of the Gakkai’s sacred work was being built, Taiseki-ji hosted a grand ceremony to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the founding of Nichiren Buddhism. Jimon Ogasawara—who had contributed to the Soka Gakkai’s persecution while advocating his new theory that “the (Sun Goddess) deity is essential while the Buddha transient,” and who had perverted the doctrines of Nichiren Shoshu—was allowed to visit the head temple at this time. Soka Gakkai youth division members made Ogasawara apologize before President Makiguchi’s grave on Taiseki-ji grounds.
Many Nichiren Shoshu priests, who were spiritually aligned with Ogasawara, took exception to his treatment by the youth and directed their anger at President Toda.
This chapter vividly depicts the evil deeds of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, the “Law-devouring hungry spirits” nestled within the school, amid the flow of Japanese history. At the same time, it shows the significance and necessity of the Soka Gakkai, the organization of the Buddha’s will and decree.
Through Shintoism, Priesthood Supports War Policy
Almost all Buddhist schools cooperated with the nation, playing a significant role in driving the populace to war all the way until Japan was defeated in August 1945.
Just as other Buddhist schools did, Nichiren Shoshu fell in line behind national Shintoism. It distorted Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching and supported the nation’s war policy. The laws used by the national authority to control the religious world were lèse-majesté [abolished in 1947 under American occupation] and the Security Maintenance Law.
Lèse-majesté was justified in Article 3 of the 1889 Imperial Constitution: “The emperor is sacred and transcendent.” This crime was a violation of Article 74 of the revised 1907 criminal law. Article 74 stipulates the crime of lèse-majesté: “The person who disrespects the emperor, emperor dowager, empress dowager, empress, prince or emperor’s grandchildren shall be imprisoned for more than three months and less than five years.”
The Security Maintenance Law was promulgated in 1925 and first carried a sentence of up to ten years in prison. It was revised through an urgent 1928 imperial order to result in a death sentence or life imprisonment.
Article 1 of the Security Maintenance Law stipulated the following:
Those who have established an organization to reform the national polity or who have played an executive or leadership role in such an organization shall be sentenced to death, or life imprisonment, or five years of hard labor or imprisonment. Those who, sharing the sentiments, joined such an organization or those who took action to carry out the purpose of such an organization shall be sentenced to no more than two years of hard labor or imprisonment. Those who formed an organization or those who joined such an organization or those who took action to execute the purpose of such an organization shall be sentenced to less than ten years hard labor or imprisonment.
The Security Law was originally meant for left-wing communists and anarchists. But the law was revised in March 1941 for the third time. With this revision, disrespecting the dignity of the Shinto shrine became a crime. Obviously, it was meant to control all religious schools under the national Shinto, a tool for religious persecution.
Article 7 —Those who formed an organization with the purpose of denying the national polity or disseminating the cause of disparaging the dignity of the Shinto shrine and imperial family or those who played an executive or leadership role in such an organization shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or more than four years of hard labor. Those who, sharing the sentiments, joined such an organization or took action to execute the purpose of such an organization shall be sentenced to at least one year of hard labor in prison.
Article 8 — Those who formed a group with the aforementioned purpose or those who led such a group shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or more than three years of hard labor. Those who participated in such a group with the purpose described in the previous article or those who took action to execute the purpose of such a group shall be sentenced to more than one year of hard labor in prison.
Upon entering the Showa Era, Japan went straight into militarization. Crucial events include:
Economic depression, 1927.
Assassination of Zhang Zuolin by explosion, 1928.
Manchurian War breaks out, 1931.
5/15 Incident, 1932, an attempted coup by military officers.
Withdrawal from League of Nations, 1932
2/26 Incident, 1936, another attempted coup by the military.
Sino-Japanese War breaks out, December 1937.
Japan-Germany-Italy form defense treaty, 1937.
Law for the deployment of the entire nation promulgated, 1938.
Japan-Germany-Italy military treaty established, 1940.
Association for the Promotion of Imperial Rule formed, 1940.
Pacific War breaks out, 1941.
As these unfolded, the government intensified its efforts to control religion under national Shintoism. Persecutions ensued one after another.
In 1935, the Ohmoto school religious organization saw 60 leaders arrested and 61 members prosecuted. In 1936, the mass media carried out a purge against Ohmoto, attacking it as a heretical religion and an enemy of the nation. The police bombed the Ohmoto shrine. The government forced the school to sell its 50,000 tsubo [one tsubo equals about four square yards] of property at an extremely low price. Later on, founder, Onihito Deguchi, was arrested in violation of the Security Maintenance Law and sentenced to an indefinite prison sentence.
In 1936, the Hitonomichi religious organization was persecuted with more than 10 leaders arrested. The same year, 106 members of the New Buddhist Youth League were arrested, 29 of whom were prosecuted.
In 1938, 400 members of the Honmichi religious organization were arrested, and 237 were prosecuted. Its founder, Aijiro Ouchi, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 1939, the Todaisha organization had 150 arrested, and 52 prosecuted. Junzo Akashi was sentenced to ten years at hard labor.
In 1941, when the Security Maintenance Law was strengthened through revision, new religious organizations as well as Christian churches were persecuted.
In 1942, 134 ministers of the Christian Holiness School were arrested, with 270 churches dissolved.
In 1943, the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai saw 21 people including President Makiguchi arrested for lèse-majesté in an alleged violation of the Security Maintenance Law.
During the war, the national authority relentlessly carried out religious persecution. Only a handful of people persisted in their faith under such severe persecution; the majority chose to compromise their beliefs out of fear of continued government oppression.
Nichiren Shoshu priests, except Renjo Fujimoto (a new priest who ranked third from the bottom), succumbed to pressure from the national authority. Intimidated, Nichiren Shoshu, followed the lead of Nichiren Shu Minobu school in bowing to government pressure.
Censoring of Founder’s Writings Stands Out Among Nichiren Shoshu’s Terrible Acts
Emblematic of the national authority’s pressure upon various Nichiren schools is the deletion of passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and the allegations of disrespect of the Japanese native gods on the Gohonzon mandala. The national authority demanded deletion of Nichiren’s writings that appeared disrespectful of the emperor and Japanese native gods. Also, the national authority took issue with the Japanese gods being inscribed on the Gohonzon on a rank lower than the Indian Buddha, Shakyamuni.
The Security Bureau of the Internal Ministry initiated the issue of Gosho passage deletion in October 1932. A Japanese company, Ryukinsha, published Nichiren Daishonin Goimon Kogi (Lecture on the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin) in commemoration of the 650th anniversary of Nichiren’s passing. At that time, the Security Bureau ordered this publishing company to delete certain descriptions in “Letter to Shijo Kingo” and “The Three Kinds of Treasure” in its volume 13.
In 1934, the mass media reported that Nichiren’s writings contained disrespectful words. The matter became an issue in Japan when the Security Bureau ordered deletions from Complete Works of Nichiren Shonin, Showa New Version compiled by Yorin Asai and published in April 1934.
To protest, Asai, a professor at Rissho University, wrote a thesis, “Nation and Society As Observed by Nichiren Shonin.”
There cannot be national boundaries in such a global and universal teaching as Buddhism. We are lessening the magnitude of the teaching and limiting the infinite compassion of Nichiren Shonin, who views this threefold world as his responsibility and is compelled to look upon all people as his own children. Should we limit the scope of his vision for salvation to Japan only, a small eastern country? If among our comrades, unfortunately, were those with such an erroneous view, they would actually be engaged in reducing the world’s greatest teaching into a religion for just one nation. How lamentable, especially in view of future propagation of the Lotus Sutra. (from “Nation and Society As Observed by Nichiren Shonin.”)
Nichiren Shu Minobu also took a firm stand against the Security Bureau, refusing to unconditionally accept this governmental order.
As a result, the Security Bureau ordered those responsible in various Nichiren schools to appear at the Internal Ministry.
Nichiren Shu school asked Tokyo University professors Masaharu Anezaki and Saburo Yamada; Lieutenant General Tetsutaro Sato; and Kokuchukai leader Chio Yamakawa to approach the government on this matter. The four negotiated with the Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister of Education to request withdrawal of the deletion order. The government agreed on condition that the disrespectful-sounding Gosho passages not be used in public documents.
From that point onward, Nichiren Daishonin’s writings were published with parts concerning the emperor or the Japanese native gods blackened out. In 1937, “the issue of disrespect for our nation’s god seen in the inscription of the mandala Gohonzon” came to the surface. That March, Saburo Tokushige, president of the Clergymen’s Association of Hyogo Prefecture, took issue with the location of the Sun Goddess on Nichiren Daishonin’s inscription of the Gohonzon. He even filed a suit in Kobe District Court on this subject as well as on the Shingon school’s theory of “the original entity and ephemeral transiency” [proclaiming the superiority of the emperor over the Buddha] and the Rinzai Zen sect’s particular term for bestowing the precept.
The court threw out the suit, giving the Nichiren schools a break. But the issues of deletion of Gosho passages and disrespect for the Japanese native gods in the inscription of the Gohonzon intensified in Japanese society where only Shintoism was upheld. Nichiren schools bent their beliefs to follow the trend of the times.
As militarism became its major thrust, Japan’s war zones expanded rapidly. In order to involve the entire nation in the war, on August 24, 1937, the government of Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe derived “the guideline for the spiritual deployment of the entire nation.” This policy was implemented by governmental order on September 9.
Around that time, Japan was heading into the quagmire of the Sino-Japanese War through the “Marco Polo Bridge Incident” and “Shanghai War.”
The “guideline for the spiritual deployment of the entire nation” evolved into the Association of the Promotion of Imperial Rule in 1940. A founding ceremony was held at the prime minister’s official residence on October 12. Prime Minister Konoe became its president. A chapter was established in each prefecture, and the governor of each prefecture was appointed as chapter chief.
In March 1941, Nichiren Shu Minobu dissolved its “Movement to Repay Debt of Gratitude to the Nation Through Establishing Correct Faith for the Spiritual Deployment of Entire Nation” and commenced a new movement called “Movement for Repaying Debt of Gratitude to the Nation Through Establishing Correct Faith for the Promotion of Imperial Rule [promoting the emperor].”
In May of that year, the new Nichiren school (a joint school consisting of Minobu, Kenpon Hokke and Honmon Shu) weighed the possible deletion of Gosho passages at the meeting to deliberate over religious fundamentals.
As a result, the new joint Nichiren school officially deleted 280 portions from some 70 writings of Nichiren Daishonin, reporting its decision to the Ministry of Education. The Ministry was not satisfied, however, with this degree of deletion, ordering the school to reconsider the whole thing.
Nichiren Shu chose to compromise on this matter with the adamant Ministry of Education. In August, Nichiren Shu decided to stop the printing of Selected Collection of Nichiren Daishonin’s Original Handwritings (Nichiren Daishonin Shukusatsu Ibun Shu) that had been compiled by Fumimasa Kato, banning its sale and distribution.
At that time, the Nichiren Shu Administrative Office issued “Notice #8,” which reads:
Chief Priests, Temple Chief Secretaries, Teachers, Priests and Lay Believers: We have long been using The Writings of Nichiren Shonin, edited by Fumimasa Kato and published by Unryokaku, as this school’s most fundamental scripture. Passages of his writings, however, are not appropriate in view of the current trend of enhancing the imperial polity, since they were written based upon the ideas of his Kamakura time. Certain portions do not fit the current polity in light of the relation between gods and the Buddha or the argument of what is essential and what is transient. For this reason, we are afraid that some people may misunderstand our Founder’s fundamental view of respect for the imperial family and spirit toward protecting the nation. In light of this, the Administrative Office has acquired the copyright and decided to render it out of print and prohibit distribution. Please make sure that the traditional version of The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin is now banned throughout our school. We are now making a book that collects Nichiren Daishonin’s appropriate writings, for future use.
This we notify.
August 18, 1941
Nichiren Shoshu, too, issued an Administrative Office notice, “Re: The publication of the Gosho,” to all its teachers. The content was virtually the same as the memo from Nichiren Shu. The Administrative Office of Nichiren Shu banned publication of the Gosho on August 18. Following this move, Nichiren Shoshu, too, issued a similar notice of banning Gosho publication.
Furthermore, under the name of its study chief, Nichiren Shoshu announced a decision to delete 14 passages that concern the theory of “entity vs. transiency [superiority of emperor over Buddha—passages that relate to Nichiren protecting the nation diminished the role of the emperor and were deleted].”
Among the deletions was this passage in which Nichiren Daishonin expresses his conviction as the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law:
I, Nichiren, am the foremost sage in all Jambudvipa. Nevertheless, from the ruler on down to the common people, all have despised and slandered me, attacked me with swords and staves, and even exiled me. That is why Brahma, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, and the four heavenly kings have incited a neighboring country to punish our land.” (WND, vol. 1, p. 642)
In April 1944, Nichiren Shu schools jointly decided to delete Gosho portions. Nichiren Shoshu actually predated Nichiren Shu in deleting the Gosho.
Nichiren Shu deleted 135 passages but the Hokke Shu school did not agree with this decision.
Incidentally, two days before its August 24 announcement of Gosho deletions, the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office issued a notice of revision of the silent prayers in daily practice. The first prayer would now include appreciation of the successive emperors of Japan, beginning with the Sun Goddess, the origin of the Imperial Family and the First Emperor Jinmu.
Succumbing to the national authority guided by Shintoism, Nichiren Shoshu revised the silent prayers, deleted Gosho passages and banned its publication. Committing these serious sins in faith, Nichiren Shoshu showed its essential loss of belief in Nichiren’s teachings as it bolstered Japan’s movement to spread imperial rule.
Nikkyo Distorts Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings to Promote War Participation
On December 8, 1941 [the 7th in the U.S.], Japan declared war against the United States and Great Britain. Nikkyo Suzuki-[62nd] issued an exhortation to the entire Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and laity, hoping to inspire them to support the Pacific War. The admonition begins:
I am extremely excited about today’s imperial declaration of war against the Unties States and Great Britain. More than four years have already passed since our imperial nation turned to building a new order in East Asia after defeating the violent Chiang Kai-shek government. Our efforts have been bearing fruit to where we can see increasing solidarity and shared prosperity among Japan, Manchuria and China. Contrary to this, America and Great Britain have been consistent in supporting the Chongqing government, provoking it to fight against Japan . . .
Nikkyo then articulates the necessity of this war:
Fortunately, our imperial nation is equipped with an unparalleled, obedient and brave army and navy under the dignified light of the emperor. We cannot appreciate enough their astonishing accomplishment even on the first day of the war . . . Judging from the conditions surrounding this war, however, it seems unavoidable that we will continue to fight for a long period of time. Therefore, we must be deeply resolved to persevere . . .
Here, Nikkyo urges both priesthood and laity to ready themselves for a long war. He concludes:
So, all of us priests and believers of this school, upholding the sacred idea of the emperor, should base ourselves upon the last will of our Founder. We should strengthen the faith and practice we have been forging, persevere with fortitude to overcome all obstacles to the best of our ability, and thus win without fail in this unprecedented war. This, I exhort you.
Nikkyo thus used even Nichiren’s teachings to justify the war. The January 1942 issue of Dai-Nichiren, the Nichiren Shoshu organ, conveys the nation’s excitement over the Pacific War. Kocho Kakinuma’s intense article “Heralding New Year’s Day Morning Brilliantly Through Reading the Imperial Declaration of War” reads:
Behold! A sacred fire at last flared up in a corner of Asia for the liberation of the people of East Asia. Centuries-old shackles by Great Britain and America were finally severed by the sacred sword of our Japanese comrades. The chains of Great Britain and America that have firmly bound 1 billion people in Asia have now been beautifully cut by the swords of our sacred soldiers.
Kakinuma uses Nichiren Daishonin’s writings to fuel people’s desire to participate in the war:
We are the disciples of the Daishonin who were given by the former emperor the framed characters of rissho. We belong to the school of the Founder who states: ‘I, Nichiren, am the most loyal subject in all of Japan. I do not believe that there has ever been, nor ever will be, anyone who can equal me in this respect’ (WND, vol. 1, p. 1007). We are disciples and believers admonished by the Daishonin before the battles of Bun’ei and Koan [with the Mongols]: ‘Do not let concern for wife and children or other family members deter you. Do not fear those in authority’ (WND, vol. 2, p. 333).
This Dai-Nichiren issue also contains Chief Administrator Nikkyo Suzuki’s “Joyful Greetings for New Year’s Day,” which shows how Nichiren Shoshu functioned as an agent of the national intention to drive people to support the war:
The people who do not take arms, whether old or young and whether men or women, should also consider themselves soldiers devoted to the holy war. They should not become drunk in victory. With victory, we should be ready for another victory. With the spirit of fortitude and iron-like unity, each of you should protect the place of your individual assignment. I earnestly pray that—arousing your courageous and fighting spirit and redoubling your faith—you will uphold the imperial order and carry on your ultimate sincerity to repay your debt of gratitude to this nation. Myo represents “death,” and ho, “life.” In this regard, myo means “one world” while ho, “the origin of boundless heaven.” By realizing “one world,” we can fulfill the purpose of our founder’s advent, in the spirit of “The world means Japan,” through our total commitment to repaying our debt of gratitude to the nation.
Jimon Ogaswara Aims at Controlling Nichiren Shoshu With New Theory
While Nichiren Shoshu supported the war, Jimon Ogasawara, a high-ranking priest, was advocating a new theory that placed Shintoism above Nichiren Buddhism.
Ogasawara wrote to Nikkyo about “Deity [emperor] Is Essential While Buddha Transient,” a subject Nikkyo couldn’t easily address. Ogasawara was trying to entrap Nikkyo into disparaging the Japanese native god. Ogasawara was plotting to control Nichiren Shoshu by having Nikkyo deposed.
Ogasawara’s attack on Nikkyo and the retired Nichikai through Nichiren of the World, a monthly magazine published under Ogasawara’s auspices, reflected the internal strife Nichiren Shoshu was undergoing.
Behind this dispute was a grudge over an ugly battle between the Nichikai Abe and Koga Arimoto groups in the 1928 chief administrator election.
Ogasawara had sided with Abe in the coup against Nitchu-[58th]. For this election, however, he aligned with Arimoto group, plotting against Abe, who won. This landed Ogasawara outside the temple mainstream. Nursing a grudge, he continuously worked to disrupt Nichiren Shoshu. Also lurking in the background were many years of hostility between the Renyo-an and Fujimi-an groups.
Ogasawara was connected with both military and political leaders, and he persisted in his scheme. He was ultimately expelled from Nichiren Shoshu on September 14, 1942, via an order issued by Administrative Office General Administrator Jiryu Nogi. Ogasawara’s ousting became possible with support from Study Chief Taiei Horigome (who became Nichijun-[65th]).
Even though Ogaswara was expelled, his erroneous theory of “Deity Is Essential While Buddha Transient” remained intact within Nichiren Shoshu. An internal document reads:
Special Notice: #31
To Nichiren Shoshu Odawara Temple Chief Priest Jimon Ogasawara
In accordance with Article 391 of the Rules of this school, and with approval from the chief administrator, you are hereby reprimanded. Attached here is a document of declaration of this decision.
September 14, 1942
General Administrator of Administrative Office of Nichiren Shoshu
A Document of Declaration
To: Jimon Ogasawara, in the Position of daisozu, chief priest of Odawara Temple
Ruling: We declare your expulsion from this school.
Reason: First, you refused to pay the annual assignment fee to Nichiren Shoshu from 1932 to 1942.
Second, you self-righteously abused the position of propagation director, even though it was no longer your responsibility.
Third, through Special Notice #5, issued July 30, 1941, we instructed all priests and believers to correct the improper expressions of our past publications, but you extracted such inappropriate expressions and used lay believers to publicize them.
Your actions obviously go against the Rules of this school. Specifically, the first action is in violation of Point 5 of Article 389 of the Rules. The second action violates Point 3 of the same article. The third action, even though it is not referred to in the Rules, shows that you did not follow Administrative Office direction. Not only that, you did not cooperate with the school’s efforts to renovate its study movement. Your actions intentionally disturb the security of this school. Hence, your behavior must be reprimanded most severely.
Therefore, as mentioned in the sentence, you are now expelled from this school.
September 15, 1942
Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu
In response, Ogasawara insisted that Nichiren Shoshu’s decision to expel him was invalid since the counselors meeting could not be officially held without a quorum. Ogasawara also ridiculed the Nichiren Shoshu Administration’s position:
I heard that the decision to expel me was made on the night of September 12. It is indeed mystic that a resolution was made on the same night as the Tatsunokuchi Persecution. As Nichiren Daishonin wrote, “What greater joy could there be?” I share his joy. . . At the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, there was no deliberation at all. My expulsion came with no hearing, either. It was indeed a strange decision” (Nichiren of the World, November 1942).
Moreover, in Nichiren of the World, Ogasawara attributes the fundamental reason for his banishment to his theory of “Deity Is Essential While Buddha Transient.”
I was terminated because of the three allegations in the document of declaration. But their true reason for expelling me lies elsewhere. It was written in the letter I received last year from Chief Administrator Suzuki. In it, he referred to his position that my theory of Deity’s being essential breaks from the Nichiren Shoshu tradition in which the Buddha is essential, and that therefore my theory is intolerable. However, how do they solve the problem, based upon their theory of the Buddha’s being essential, that the Japanese deities are inscribed in the Dai-mandala. (I will write about another article about this point.) In the meantime, stubborn and obsolete as they are, they proposed time and again that they should expel me while negating my theory. As a result of the explosion over Mr. Suzuki’s message, my expulsion took place” (Nichiren of the World, November 1942).
In those days, Ogasawara was attempting to seize control of Nichiren Shoshu through his “Deity Is Essential While Buddha Transient” theory. The Nichiren Shoshu Administration upheld the school’s traditional teaching, disregarding Ogasawara’s erroneous ideas. Soon after, however, Nichiren Shoshu took one action after another justifying Ogasawara’s theory.
Nichiren Shoshu Orders Worship Of Ise Shrine
Although Ogasawara, with his erroneous “Deity Is Essential While Buddha Transient,” was excommunicated, as mentioned before, Nichiren Shoshu had relinquished religious integrity by banning Gosho publication and agreeing to delete Gosho passages in 1941. We can gather from these facts, that it would only be a matter of time before Nichiren Shoshu fell under of Ogasawara’s slanderous influence.
The Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office went on to issue an order to worship the Ise Shrine:
October 10, 1942
From Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office
To All Chief Priests and Teachers
We have received from the Ministry of Education chief secretary the following order through Official Notice #334. Please make sure you understand its intention and that all members and believers also understand it.
Official Notice #334
Signed by Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Education
To Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator
Re: Worshipping Ise Shrine During Harvest Festival
Through Official Notice #378 last October 8, we notified about setting time to worship the Ise Shrine during its harvest ceremony. It is becoming urgently necessary to teach the meaning of the harvest ceremony at this time of war. Please make sure that all your school staff worships the Ise Shrine at 10 a.m. on the harvest ceremony day.
Nichiren Shoshu issued such a notice only a month after excommunicating Ogasawara. This shows that he was expelled over a factional dispute, not to protect doctrinal integrity. In fact, the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office ordered the entire priesthood and laity to worship the Ise Shrine.
Each October 17, the Kanna Festival of harvest is celebrated at Ise Shrine. It is a vital national Shinto event that was designated as an official imperial celebration in 1869. At the Imperial Court, the emperor—the living god—worships the Ise Shrine. A festival is held at one of three court palaces. Promoting the significance of these Shinto events among priests and lay believers signifies Nichiren Shoshu’s support to propagating Shinto teachings. The Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office ordered its priests to involve lay believers in Ise Shrine worship at 10 a.m. on October 17.
About a month earlier, on September 18, 1942, Taiseki-ji conducted a memorial for Nichikan. Dai-Nichiren reports on the head temple’s condition during wartime Japan:
There is a picture hung at the entrance of the Ever-Chanting Hall. It depicts a tiger roaring under the full moon. The artist is the Rev. Judo Omura of the Hyakkan-bo lodging. Seeing this dauntless picture, our fighting spirit overflows with conviction to defeat America and Great Britain. Both sides of the pathway to the Ever-Chanting Hall were adorned with senryu poems he had composed vibrantly from his heart. His words, pictures and exhortations were excellent materials guiding pilgrims to joyfully grasp the times in which we now live. Here are some of the Rev. Omura’s poems.
“Prime Minister Tojo”
With a humanistic prime minister,
The nation is now engaged
Squarely in a long-term battle.
“Family That Sends a Member to War”
We are firmly protecting our family
While our father is gone.
Everything is fine.
“At the War Front”
I take a look at
The photo of my child
In the moonlit night.
“Savoring a Few Billion Yen”
This much power.
These security notes,
Which are worth a lot,
Are capable of
Crushing America and Great Britain.
When the Rev. Jinin Ochiai began a sermon at the Ever-Chanting Hall, only a little more than ten people were there to listen. But his words, which were so eloquent since he himself had been to actual battlefields, attracted more people until the hall filled to capacity. Through his address, those gathered could discern the condition of the times, for which I deeply appreciate the Rev. Ochiai” (Dai-Nichiren, November 1942).”
Through this lengthy quote, we can vividly see how aggressively Nichiren Shoshu supported “The Movement To Promote the Total Participation of the Entire Nation” to carry out the war.
Later, on November 19, 1942, a Nichiren Shoshu body was formed to “repay the debt of gratitude to the nation”; in other words, to prompt the people to participate in the war. Similar bodies were formed in each Buddhist sect under the umbrella of the Association to Promote the Rule by the Imperial Family. A formation meeting for this body was held at a large room of the Reception Hall. The agenda:
Worshipping the Imperial Palace
Singing the national anthem
Prayer and appreciation
Reading the imperial message
Reciting the sutra and chanting daimoku
Words by Association to Promote Ruling by the Imperial Family president
Conferral of national flag
Words by the of Nichiren Shoshu Hokoku-dan (body for repayment of debts of gratitude to the nation) president
Progress report of Nichiren Shoshu Hokoku-dan
Noteworthy in this agenda is the worship of the Imperial Palace and the reading of the emperor’s message. According to the rules of this body, its headquarters is placed at the Administrative Office. Each regional organization had a headquarters at the Administrative Office branch office. The Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator was appointed president. According to the Rules, the Hokoku-dan describes its purpose thusly:
This body, carrying on the sacred intention of the emperor to build our nation, is formed to fulfill our debt of gratitude to the nation with our united dedication and efforts to overcoming all hardships of the times.
The Rules also stipulate the Hokoku-dan membership:
This body shall consist of the priests, temple members and lay believers of this school. All shall belong to this body.
The 1943 Hokoku-dan goals were:
Acquiring monetary donations and funds to purchase warplanes.
Visiting wounded soldiers and bestowing gifts for their comfort
Projects to develop Asia
Labor to repay our debt of gratitude to the nation
Nurturing lay believers
Building emergency facilities
Promoting various projects for society
The national government, with the “living god” at the top of its Shinto-based system, ordered the various Buddhist schools to provide money, materials and people in service to the war. Nichiren Shoshu naturally assented to this. The personnel of the Hokoku-dan were announced that December 8. Shodo Sakio, vice general administrator, became its chief. Jikai Watanabe, general affairs bureau chief, became vice chief.
Under Shinto Influence, Nichiren Shoshu Expels Soka Kyoiku Gakkai Leaders
Nikkyo, the 62nd high priest, praised the emperor for visiting the Ise Shrine to pray for victory in the war.
Here is part of Nikkyo-[62nd]’s prayer document at the ceremony establishing the 7th regional body in Nagoya:
The current [war] is an unprecedented war that will determine the rise or fall of our imperial nation. Through this war, we are trying to rid ourselves of the disastrous influence of America and Great Britain and accomplish mutual cooperation and prosperity in Great East Asia. Indeed, this war is unavoidable for the security and defense of the whole area. We often receive reports of our faithful and brave imperial military’s courageous battles, but America and Great Britain are tenaciously planning a major strike to attack us using their abundant resources. Our Majesty (the emperor) was compassionate enough to visit and worship at the Ise Shrine last winter, on December 12. We, the people of Japan, as his honored children, are most excited about his visit to the shrine.
Some soldiers, who are willing to give their lives, wish to be dispatched again to battlefields even though they are not yet in robust physical condition. This is how committed they are, and those staying behind are also dedicated to producing war materials and perfecting the transportation system. They work unsparingly to increase the production of these materials. They waste no time in this endeavor. They support the families of deceased soldiers. And they dedicate those soldiers’ lives to the shrine with ultimate respect. Accordingly, the spirit of the people is extremely high and healthy.
Nikkyo expresses his excitement and gratitude over the emperor’s visit to Ise Shrine. He also evaluates the government act to dedicate war victims to the Yasukuni Shrine. These actions are clearly opposite Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit. The document ends:
I pray that our Founder will lend us inconspicuous support and also benefit us conspicuously, thus helping this Hokoku-dan to fulfill its great religious mission to repay the debt of gratitude to the nation. I also pray that, as the sutra states, “All others who bear you enmity or malice will likewise be wiped out. All sickness will disappear, effecting no aging and no death.’ Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Nikkyo also praised the emperor’s pilgrimage to Ise Shrine:
With due reverence, we have heard that the sacred entourage journeyed to Ise Shrine to pray for the enhancement of the power of the nation. We feel most humbled. We are now at the time when all followers of our school should arouse their valiant and courageous spirit to devote themselves to repaying our debt of gratitude to our nation. We should now thus give peace of mind to our sacred emperor and work to eternalize the Law among the people.
With Hokoku-dan formation meetings held one after another in each region of Japan, priests and lay believers were directed by Nikkyo to support the war in the name of Nichiren Buddhism.
A military festival at the Yasukuni Shrine.
Judging from Nichiren Shoshu’s condition in those days, we can easily imagine how its Administration felt toward the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, which had refused the talisman from the national Ise Shrine.
Nichiren Shoshu called on Gakkai leaders to visit Taiseki-ji. With Nikkyo and retired high priest Nichiko, in attendance, General Affairs Bureau Director Jikai Watanabe suggested to the Gakkai leaders, “Why don’t you order your members to accept the talisman?” (“The History and Conviction of the Soka Gakkai,” by Josei Toda).
Upholding Nichiren Buddhism, however, President Makiguchi rejected Nichiren Shoshu’s suggestion. Later on, Mr. Makiguchi revisited Taiseki-ji, asserted to Nikkyo at the high priest’s lodging that accepting the Shinto talisman would be a serious doctrinal error. From then on, Nichiren Shoshu banned Gakkai leaders from Taiseki-ji, afraid their influence would affect the priesthood.
Soon after, on July 6, Mr. Makiguchi was arrested in Shimoda where he was propagating Nichiren Buddhism. Mr. Toda was arrested, too, in Tokyo.
Rendai-ji area in Shimoda on Izu Peninsula where Makiguchi held discussion meetings.
Some 21 Gakkai leaders were arrested during this governmental oppression. On November 18, 1944, Mr. Makiguchi died in prison. General Director Toda was jailed for two years, until July 3, 1945, only a few days before the end of the war. On June 16, 1943 just before oppression of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai got under way, Renjo Fujimoto, a Nichiren Shoshu priest, had been arrested for “lèse-majesté and causing confusion among the people.”
The Kishi residence where Makiguchi was arrested.
Suzaki Road where Makiguchi walked handcuffed after his arrest.
Shimoda police station where Makiguchi was imprisoned.
Tokyo prison where Makiguchi and Toda were detained.
The second floor hallway of Tokyo prison.
In summer 1943, Nichiren Shoshu was astonished when the government arrested a priest of the school. To escape governmental pressure, the school expelled Fujimoto and deprived him legally of his priest status. Nichiren Shoshu also rescinded the official lay believer status of Soka Kyoiku Gakkai leaders, including Mr. Makiguchi.
Holding summer teacher-training sessions August 21–22 and August 25–26, Nichiren Shoshu ensured that all temples would enshrine Shinto talismans at their respective temple lodging quarters.
Nikkyo Issues Shinto Shrine Visit Instructions
That September 13, the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office sent notice to each regional chief regarding “The Outline for the Plan to Strengthen Support for the Military.”
The movement’s purpose was described as follows:
In view of the severe and serious situation, it is now time for all the people of Japan to devote themselves to carrying out this Great East Asia war with total unity. We now carry out this movement to strengthen the support of our military by enhancing the fighting spirit of the people. Through these efforts, we strive to increase the nation’s military power, enabling our front-line soldiers to remain confident of our continued support. We are determined to reply to the emperor’s sacred intent by strengthening our military support. (Dai-Nichiren, October 1943)
Concerning this primary purpose—to enhance the will to do battle—the notice reads:
The purpose of this movement lies in our efforts to arouse our traditional spirit of the past 3,000 years while embracing the sacred intent of the Imperial Order. It also lies in our endeavor to further strengthen the fighting spirit of those who remain behind, to enhance the spirit of protecting our military based upon our nation’s polity, and to inspire our soldiers fighting on the front lines.
The strengthening of military force and protective support are also cited. Nichiren Shoshu carried out this wartime promotion throughout the school.
That November, the Administrative Office issued another notice instructing all priests and lay believers to pay their respects at Shinto shrines:
To all priests and believers of this school:
November 1, 1943
From: Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office
Re: Congratulatory ceremonies celebrating the Meiji emperor’s birthday
Through these ceremonies, we will celebrate the birth of the Meiji Emperor and recall his outstanding achievements with our utmost respect for his sacred virtues. Also, through this celebration, we will strengthen our resolve in these severe and serious times to win the war no matter what and exert our utmost to increase the national military power. We will continue our dedication to accomplish victory in this sacred war in appreciation for those predecessors devoted to the spread of imperial power.
- Practical Matters
Time will be set aside at 9 a.m. on November 3 for a celebration by the entire nation of the Meiji Emperor’s birthday . . . Radio will simultaneously broadcast this national celebration.
(1) Each family is ordered to worship the Imperial Palace at the time of this national celebration.
(2) All governmental offices, schools, companies, factories and organizations must conduct a celebratory ceremony, offering prayers for war victory.
(3) National and other shrines will conduct ceremonies to celebrate the Meiji Emperor’s birthday, and therefore, all citizens of each city, town and village must also worship at their local shrines and pray for war victory.
Each individual of the nation must keep in mind this time of celebration of the Meiji Emperor’s birthday and, in sync with the celebration, wherever they are, worship the Imperial Palace.
On November 9 and 10, Nichiren Daishonin’s eternal enlightenment was celebrated. Each ceremony contained a war-promotion event.
“A general audience gokaihi ceremony to enhance the dignity of the nation, to eternalize the fortune of our Imperial army, and to pray for the recovery of the wounded soldiers” was conducted at the reception hall at 2 p.m. on November 9. “A sermon by the high priest and a Nichiren Shoshu Hokoku-dan grand lecture meeting” was conducted at 8 p.m. at the Mieido. The following day, “a ceremony to pray for the repose of those soldiers who lost their lives in the cause of the Great Asia War and also to pray for all other desires” was conducted at 2 p.m. at the reception hall. “A Gosho lecture and a grand lecture meeting for the enhancement of the resolute spirit for the war and the propagation of the teaching of this school” was held at the Mieido at 7 p.m.
Thus far, we have seen how Nichiren Shoshu supported the war by encouraging the priesthood and laity to support national Shintoism. But Nichiren Shoshu lent material support to the war as well. We cannot overlook the fact that Taiseki-ji offered its buildings, Buddhist goods and trees for the war.
Nichiren Shoshu’s The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School (published by Fuji Academy) describes how “Taiseki-ji became a location for the lodging and training of laborers to respond to a request from Shizuoka Prefecture.”
Training was done over a short period. The first class was completed on July 9. The second class started immediately the following day. Senior priests lectured to the trainees. In this way, Taiseki-ji was used as a site for national mobilization. The August 1943 Dai-Nichiren reports:
At this time when temples are requested to open their grounds and facilities for the war, it is most timely for us to respond to the needs of the nation by using our temples as a site for the training of the people of this nation.
In January 1944, gigantic trees that had towered over the Taiseki-ji grounds were supplied for military purpose. A Dai-Nichiren article reports:
We openly supply the excellent lumber of our sacred grounds for building ships to attack America and Great Britain. Such efforts are in tune with our Founder’s wish for the pacification of the nation based upon correct faith and also meant to contribute to the cause of the imperial government. The old cedar trees and this large bell, which had always been as if listening to the sound of the Mystic Law and carrying on the divine vibration of this school, were supplied to meet the emergency of our Imperial nation. Once they become part of a warship, they will swiftly carry the military resources of our Imperial forces. When they take on the heart of our Founder, they will become the arrows and bullets that will pierce the hearts of our enemies. If so, these old cedar trees are great bodhisattvas that will promote the natural rhythm of our sacred war and fulfill their original mission.
Korean Volunteer Army agricultural corps members were stationed at the priesthood’s lodging quarters in December 1944.
Though called a “volunteer” army, these soldiers were essentially forced into mobilization from Korea, which had been colonized by Japan. They were forcefully deployed to engage in physical labor by Japanese military order. The priesthood’s lodging quarters thus housed the Korean Volunteer Army, and a Shinto talisman was put up in the Daishoin room near the high priest’s lodging. Nikkyo later died miserably in a fire in his bedroom adjacent to the Daishoin room.
This chapter dealing with Nichiren Shoshu’s war cooperation, must include the following about Nikkyo-[62nd] continually giving believers strange posthumous names intended to inspire their enthusiasm for the war. In other words, Nikkyo took advantage of the deaths of sincere believes to arouse people’s will to fight. This is an unparalleled religious crime for a Nichiren Shoshu high priest.
Here are examples of special posthumous names, including the title of Nichi, given by Nikkyo:
Churyo-in Kensho Nichizen (Chu means “obedience”), Gachu-in Hokoku Nichimei (Hokoku means “repaying a debt of gratitude to the nation”) and Gunyu-in Taigyo Nippo (Gunyu means “military courage”) (Dai-Nichiren, June 7, 1943).
Junkoku-in Kensho Nichigi (Junkoku means “dying for the nation”), Churetsu-in Tosen Nichidai (Churetsu means “vehement obedience”), Yushin-in Gokoku Nichijun (Yushin means “courageous advancement”; Gokoku, “protecting the nation”; and jun, “martyrdom”), Kenchu-in Bintatsu Nissei (Kenchu means “firm obedience”; sei, “conquering”), and Daichu-in Shuko Nichikan (Daichu means “great obedience”; kan, “fleet”) (Dai-Nichiren, July 7, 1943).
Kosen-in Shodo Nissen (Sen means “war”). Twenty-eight more such military posthumous names are introduced in this issue. (Dai-Nichiren, August 7, 1943).
Incarceration of Makiguchi and Toda
Branch Temples Ordered to Enshrine Talisman
In June 1943, when the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai refused Nichiren Shoshu’s order to accept the Shinto talisman, the Gakkai began to be persecuted openly by the government for violating the Security Law and for lèse-majesté. Its leaders were arrested.
On June 29, Director Katsuji Arimura and Tadao Jinno, Nakano Chapter chief, were the first from the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai to be arrested. They were both detained at Yodobashi Police Station.
On July 6, President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi was arrested in Shimoda, Izu, where he’d been engaged in Nichiren Buddhism propagation. He was detained at Shimoda Police Station and sent to the station the following day. General Director Jogai (his original first name) Toda was also arrested on July 6. He was detained at Takanawa Police Station. Mr. Toda, too, was later kept at the police station.
On July 6, Inosuke Inaba and Shohei Yajima, Soka Kyoiku Gakkai directors, were arrested in Tokyo.
Detailed preparations had seemingly been made to arrest the Gakkai leaders, as President Makiguchi was arrested in Shimoda, Izu, and all central leaders were arrested almost at the same time.
The arrest of Mr. Arimura and Mr. Jinno on June 29, should be regarded as a harbinger of the ensuing arrest of President Makiguchi and General Director Toda. A weeklong investigation of Mr. Arimura and Mr. Jinno alone could not have resulted in the arrest of all central Soka Kyoiku Gakkai leaders. Thorough plans to arrest the top leaders had surely been under way for a long time.
In fact, Honma Naoshiro, a Gakkai director who was also executive director of Peace Food, Co. Ltd., which Mr. Toda owned, and one other person were arrested for a separate crime, allegedly violating the Economy Regulation Law. This happened in April 1943 when government oppression of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was intensifying.
Persecution of Gakkai leaders continued. On July 20, Vice General Director Tatsuji Nojima, Director Yozo Terasaka, Director Takeo Kamio, Director Shikaji Kinoshita and Administrator Takashi Katayama were arrested, with more taken in after July 1943. In all, 21 leaders were arrested by March 1944.
The lay Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was not alone in being persecuted by the national authority. Renjo Fujimoto, a Nichiren Shoshu priest, had been arrested for lèse-majesté and other violations on June 16 just before Mr. Arimura and Mr. Jinno were arrested.
Fujimoto had joined Nichiren Shoshu around 1927. He became a priest in 1941. Yukio Takashio, his follower, was arrested at the same time as Fujimoto, but Takashio quickly renounced his belief and escaped prosecution. As a result, Fujimoto alone was prosecuted on September 22.
Disturbed and intimidated by the news of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai leaders’ arrest, Nichiren Shoshu expelled them from laity status. Nichiren Shoshu also expelled Renjo Fujimoto, depriving him of priesthood status. Fujimoto died on January 10, 1944, in the deathly cold Nagano Prison.
In late August, when police zeroed in on priesthood and laity, Nichiren Shoshu, holding a training meeting for its teachers, ordered all branch temple chief priests’ to enshrine the Shinto talisman in their respective temple lodging quarters.
Nichiren Shoshu thus attempted to escape oppression by succumbing to national Shintoism and abandoning those who chose to follow Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching. Nichiren Shoshu executive priests took these actions simply out of fear of being arrested.
Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda were sent to the Tokyo Prison in Sugamo (then, Sugamo Prison) via the police station. This was where Class A thought criminals were detained during World War II.
The two were kept separately in a section consisting of solitary cells where political and thought criminals were detained. This was located far west of the Tokyo Prison.
Police investigations were extremely cruel. The convicted were treated as non-Japanese. Family members also had a hard time. Application of law was inconsistent, and there was no knowing when one would be released from prison. Some died in jail from malnutrition, starvation or exposure.
Makiguchi Remonstrates With Nation From Prison
The Makiguchi Investigation Record depicts how he fared during the procedure. When interrogated by the prosecutor, President Makiguchi defended the righteousness of Nichiren Buddhism and resolutely remonstrated with the nation even from prison.
Here is part of the Preliminary Investigation Record, from the August 1943 issue of Toko Geppo, a secret publication of the Special High Police.
President Makiguchi, when questioned about the removal of the slanderous objects of worship including the Shinto talisman, responded naturally to the preliminary prosecutor. But he was, in fact, remonstrating with the nation at the risk of his life. The content of his answers obviously violate the Security Law, which carries a maximum sentence of the death penalty. Even knowing that, President Makiguchi remonstrated:
What we encourage our members to do is dispose of and burn the talisman of the Sun Goddess issued by the Ise Shrine that the nation urges all communities, organizations and people to enshrine and worship; other talismans and amulets issued by the Meiji Shrine, Yasukuni Shrine, Katori and Kashima Shrines and other shrines; home shrines that house these talismans; altars where Buddhist objects of worship other than those of Nichiren Shoshu, and religious objects of worship such as Kojin, Inari and Fudo kept at one’s residence.
The Sun Goddess talisman, especially, is enshrined and worshipped by every family, and therefore, it is the primary object we encourage our members to dispose of. The reason we get rid of them is that to enshrine an object of worship other than the Gohonzon of Nichiren Shoshu confuses our faith in the Gohonzon and thereby such an act becomes slanderous. Also, enshrining the Sun Goddess talisman and worshipping it are, as I have said, acts of slandering the Gohonzon, and therefore, we dispose of it.
And of course, visiting such shrines and temples are slanderous acts in Nichiren Buddhism. Therefore, we encourage our members not to visit such locations since slandering Buddhism will invite serious punishment. We guide them not to commit this type of slander.
In response to the prosecutor’s question, “In view of the truth of the Lotus Sutra, is the nation of Japan a society in the defiled age of the Latter Day?” Mr. Makiguchi stated:
The first thousand years after Shakyamuni’s death is called the Former Day. The next thousand is called the Middle Day. And what follows the Former and Middle Days is the Latter Day of the Law, which is defiled and mixed-up and where the Lotus Sutra declines and is discarded.
President Makiguchi asserts that Japanese society is showing the plight of the Latter Day rather than the respectable land of god it should be. He also insists, based upon Nichiren’s view of human history in his “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” (Rissho Ankoku Ron), that the nation will perish should it overlook the decline of the Lotus Sutra:
The nation will see internal strife, revolution, famine, epidemics and other disasters and eventually perish. National calamities such as these actually happened in the past. I am convinced that even the current Sino-Japanese and Great East Asia wars are taking place fundamentally because ours is a slanderous country.
With Japan engaged in a holy war in the name of the emperor, the living god, Mr. Makiguchi insisted it was a form of disaster as Japan was ignoring Nichiren’s teachings. In saying this while in prison, his courage was supreme. Such a statement under those circumstances could mean eventual death. Indeed, his was the roar of a lion king carrying on the shakubuku spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.
In Oneness With Mentor, Mr. Toda Stands Up Against National Authority
General Director Toda retreated not even a step, as, holding to Nichiren Buddhism and recalling his mentor, Mr. Makiguchi, he resolutely faced investigations in prison. There, he devoted himself to chanting daimoku while reading Nichiren Daishonin writings and the Lotus Sutra.
Here are some of the letters Mr. Toda wrote from prison detailing life in his cell:
From a February 8, 1944, letter to his wife:
I was spiritually struck on January 10. Since then, I became healthy and gained some weight. My body warmed up. This experience has trained me physically and spiritually. I will return home with body and mind in excellent shape.
From a February 23, 1944, letter:
Please borrow the Gosho from somebody. Please bring juzu beads for me. Please also borrow lecture books on the Lotus Sutra from the Rev. Senju or the Rev. Horigome for me.
From a September 6, 1944, letter to his wife:
Don’t doubt our protection by the heavenly gods, the Buddha and benevolent deities. We will definitely be protected. You should not despair over not leading a peaceful and secure existence. True peace stems from pure faith. For sure, you will find yourself in absolute peace and security. Put priority on faith. Hold fast to faith especially for the sake of our children. Parents should never abandon their faith.
From a September 6, 1944, letter to his son:
You still won’t be able to see your father for a while, but let’s make a promise to each other. Every morning at a time convenient for you, face the Gohonzon and chant daimoku 100 times. At the same time, I, too, will chant 100 times. As we do this, we’ll communicate with one another through our minds as if through wireless radio communication. We can even talk to each other in this way. Let’s establish this rule between us as son and father. You can involve your mother, grandfather and grandmother as well. It’s all up to you. Please let me know the time you would choose.
His persistence in faith is amazing and impressive, as evidenced by this September 1945 letter to his sister’s husband, just a few months after his release.
. . . [I] was released from the prison in the evening of July 3. Accompanying my mentor, Mr. Makiguchi, I became involved with him in a case of persecution based on the Lotus Sutra, which resulted in my training myself in a solitary cell and going through indescribable hardships. Thanks to this experience, I can read the Lotus Sutra physically, through my actual experiences. Fathoming the depths of the Buddhist scripture, I finally saw the Buddha and knew the Law. In my life, modern science and the Law discovered by Sage Nichiren matched beautifully, and I have acquired an ultimate way to save Japan and the Orient . . . The persecution I encountered because of my faith in the Lotus Sutra, then, can be explained by the following phrase of the Lotus Sutra, “(Those persons who heard the Law) and dwelt here and there in various Buddha lands are constantly reborn in company with their teacher.”
All I did was fulfill the rule, valid since billions of years ago, that both mentor and disciple are born at the same time, lifetime after lifetime, thanks to the power of the Lotus Sutra, in order to live its heart together.
Mr. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and I are not just mentor and disciple limited to this lifetime alone. When I am the mentor, Mr. Makiguchi becomes my disciple, and when he is the mentor, I am his disciple. We were together in the past and will be in the future as well. You, as my elder brother, may feel I am just talking about a fantasy. You may even ridicule me, thinking I have lost my mind to the Lotus Sutra.
From this, we can be sure there is unfathomable meaning in the Soka Gakkai’s appearance.
Era of Kosen-rufu Opened Through the Selfless Battle of Makiguchi and Toda
A memorial service for the third anniversary of the passing of Mr. Makiguchi was held at Kyoiku Kaikan in Kanda, Tokyo, on November 17, 1946. Between 500 and 600 people attended. On that occasion, recalling his mentor, President Toda said:
Sensei, I remember it was September 9, 1943, when they took you from the police station to Sugamo Prison. It was the last time I was ever to see you. All I could say was, “Take care, Sensei.”
You made no reply, only nodded; but in your eyes, I sensed your boundless mercy and courage.
Soon after, I followed you to prison. You were old, and I chanted night and day to the Gohonzon that they’d release you as soon as possible. Perhaps my faith was lacking, or more likely, it was the Buddha’s infinite wisdom, but on January 8, 1945, I learned from the interrogator that you had returned to Eagle Peak. How can I describe my grief and loneliness? I had lost the staff I leaned on and the lantern that guided my feet. Night after night, I remembered you as tears streamed down my face.
Out of your infinite mercy, you allowed me to accompany you to prison. The Lotus Sutra states: “Those persons who had heard the Law dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, constantly reborn in company with their teachers.” I feel that I truly share an eternal bond with you. Through this blessing, I came to understand the original mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and to realize, even vaguely, the meaning of the Lotus Sutra. What immense fortune for me!
When the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was at its height before the war, I avoided becoming your successor. In many ways, I sought to avoid my responsibility. I was not worthy to be your disciple. Please forgive me. Unworthy as I am, during my two years of suffering in prison, I resolved to give my life for kosen-rufu. Please, look at me. Despite my lack of understanding and ability, I am determined to follow your will and fulfill the mission of the Gakkai so that I may deserve your praise when I see you again at Eagle Peak.
Your disciple, Josei Toda.
Mr. Toda also said on the occasion of a memorial held at the same Kyoiku Kaikan in Kanda, Tokyo, for the seventh anniversary of Mr. Makiguchi’s passing on November 12, 1950.
I remember that I met my mentor 30 years ago, when I was 19 and he was 48. From that time on, I had as close a relationship with him as a mentor and disciple, or even as a father and son.
I also accompanied him during his four persecutions. The first was when he was dismissed from Nishimachi Elementary School; the second, when he was released from Mikasa Elementary School; the third, when he was compelled to resign as schoolmaster of Shirogane Elementary School in Shiba; and the fourth, when I followed him to Sugamo Prison, undergoing military authority suppression for the sake of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism . . .
How crushed I was when told, “Makiguchi is dead!” All night long, I wept in my prison cell.
Asking how my mentor’s funeral had been held, I was told that three fellow members and a few others had attended, and that, moreover, Mr. Kobayashi had carried the body on his back from Sugamo Prison. How wretched and vexed I felt! The times were against us, and the disciples did not come for his funeral, though I don’t know whether they knew of our mentor’s death.
So I vowed to conduct his memorial service with whatever means I possessed! Since making this pledge, I am finding life worth living again.
Our mentor’s life exists eternally. Where is he now? Through Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that we, his disciples, chant, he is connected to this Buddhist ceremony. This is the Buddha’s enlightened land, and our mentor’s life is present here now with us.
It gives us, Soka Gakkai members, an infinite sense of pride to reminisce this way. We share the same faith as President Toda who, holding on to Nichiren Buddhism in the prison, fought selflessly, while seeking the way of his mentor.
President Makiguchi died at the Sugamo Prison on November 18, 1944. The previous day, he had been moved from solitary to a prison cell for the sick.
Mr. Makiguchi first dignified his appearance by changing his underwear and tabi socks. On the way to that cell for the ill, he fell down. When a caretaker tried to help him up, he refused his offer. He walked all the way on his own power. As soon as he got reached the cell, he is said to have lost consciousness, and he died the following morning.
His face was covered by a white cloth. Akitaka Kobayashi, a servant of one of his relatives, carried Mr. Makiguchi’s body from Sugamo Prison to his house in what is now Mejiro, Toshima Ward. Though he died in the jail, he appeared resolute in death, and was attired in immaculate white.
Why Did Nikkyo Have to Perish by Fire?
The Nikken sect was afraid that the story of how miserably Nikkyo-[62nd] died would be exposed to the public. This would force it to confront its doctrinal inconsistency, since it teaches that the high priest is none other than Nichiren Daishonin himself in modern times and that it is mandatory for believers to follow this “living Buddha” with absolute obedience.
The Nikken sect, therefore, wanted to have the truth of Nikkyo’s death buried in the depths of history.
Then, how did Nikkyo die?
Taiseki-ji was engulfed in flames on June 17, 1945. The fire that started at the back of a reception room spread to the reception hall, the six-compartment room, and the high priest’s quarters. It continued until around 4 a.m. and took the life of Nikkyo.
Nikkyo’s half-burnt body, found at the charred area, exemplified the strictness of cause and effect as expounded in Buddhism. He was found in the cooking furnace (kamado) located at a corner of the kitchen where Taiseki-ji employees dined. The second floor above the kitchen was the high priest’s room. Nikkyo had fallen into the kamado and died.
The previous day, Nikkyo happened to have returned to Taiseki-ji from his retirement home. He was sleeping in the chief administrator’s room on the second floor of the high priest’s quarters. Because of illness and obesity, he had difficulty walking, which hampered his escaping the flames.
Most likely, the floor of the high priest’s quarters collapsed in the fire, and Nikkyo fell right into the furnace. It seems he burned to death there, unable to free himself despite what must have been a desperate effort. This is suggested by the fact that his torso was burnt while the lower part of his body remained intact.
Nikkyo’s miserable death was clear proof of punishment visited upon Nichiren Shoshu, which, to selfishly preserve its security amid the stormy power of the military government, deleted passages of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, revised the contents of the silent prayers to suit Japan’s militarism, accepted the slanderous government-ordered Shinto talisman, and abandoned the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, the organization of the Buddha’s mandate and decree.
By the way, this narrative has not been written to disparage the successive Nichiren Shoshu high priests, as the Nikken sect insists. It was written out of a desire to acquaint readers with the strictness of cause and effect as expounded in Buddhism.
Accordingly, what is foul here is not the contents of this chapter but the way Nikkyo died. Therefore, when the Nikken sect says, “One’s writing shows one’s humanity,” the point it is making is not appropriate in this case.
First, we need to be clear about this point: No one can poetically describe the corpse of a person who burned to death after falling into a furnace and whose upper body was blackened while his lower portion remained intact.
Looking now at Shan-wu-wei’s remains, one can see that they are gradually shrinking, the skin is turned black, and the bones are exposed. Shan-wu-wei’s disciples perhaps did not realize that this was a sign that after his death he had been reborn in hell, but supposed that it was a manifestation of his virtue. Yet in describing it, the author of the biography exposed Shan-we-wei’s guilt, recording that after his death his body gradually shrank, the skin turned black, and the bones began to show. We have the Buddha’s golden word for it that, if a person’s skin turns black after he dies, it is a sign that he had done something that destined him for hell. (“On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” WND-1, p. 718)
How does the Nikken sect regard these sacred descriptions by the True Buddha? Does it still insist that “one’s writing shows one’s humanity,” thus denigrating even Nichiren Daishonin?
Even Nichiren finds it necessary to vividly convey the misery of an unenlightened one’s death in order to show the strictness of cause and effect expounded in Buddhism. One instance after another, Nikkyo committed slanders that a high priest must never commit. It was only natural, then, that he would undergo such ultimate retribution.
Even a high priest, if he commits slander and persecutes the Buddha’s children, will show the actual proof of falling into hell at the time of his death. In other words, despite his position, he will not attain Buddhahood.
Therefore, for the sake of learning Buddhism correctly, it is very important to exactly know how Nikkyo died.
What was the cause of the fire? It was triggered by an acolyte being careless with a cigarette.
Nikkyo, Like Devadatta, Fell Into the Hell of Incessant Sufferings
The fire started in a closet of the room next to the high priest’s quarters, north of the hallway leading to the high priest’s reception room. Join Masuda, an acolyte, was smoking secretly in the closet, which caused a small fire. He thought he had extinguished it fully, but it flared up about an hour later.
There is another story in which the same acolyte was drying his tabi socks or something over a candle and fell asleep. But this turns out to have been an excuse concocted by Masuda.
It seems to have been common knowledge at Taiseki-ji right after the fire that it was caused by an acolyte. At some point, however, the incident came to be regarded as a case of arson at the high priest’s reception room, committed by a Korean solider who held a grudge against his Japanese officer staying at the facility.
Nichiren Shoshu has openly insisted on this false arson theory even today, blaming the Koreans for the fire. Such discriminatory, groundless hearsay is intolerable from a humanitarian perspective.
Please take a look at the above drawing of the priesthood quarters. Judging from various data, the fire seems to have originated at a room across the northern hallway by the high priest’s reception room. Allegedly breaking out around 10:30 p.m. on June 17, 1945, the fire engulfed the high priest’s reception room and his two-story wooden lodging almost at the same time. Later, the fire spread southeast, reaching the Daishoin building, the six-compartment room and the reception hall.
The Shinto talisman was enshrined at the 250-tatami-mat Daishoin room, where 200–300 Korean soldiers were sleeping. These Korean soldiers, who were also housed in the reception hall, had been forced to come to Japan and engage in farming in the vicinity of Taiseki-ji.
The entire high priest lodging, except his private space, was being used freely by the Korean soldiers.
Taiseki-ji priests were feeling diminished, living amid these many Korean soldiers. It is said that Nikkyo was away from Taiseki-ji in those days due to illness, but it seems he chose to stay away because of the Korean soldiers.
At the mercy of the behavior of the Korean soldiers who dominated Taiseki-ji, Nikkyo seems to have had no intention to stay there and risk his life to protect the Dai-Gohonzon.
As you can tell from the drawing, the Daishoin, where the Shinto talisman was enshrined, was a vital Taiseki-ji structure since it was adjacent to the high priest’s private area.
It was also very close to the Treasure House where the Dai-Gohonzon was kept. In fact, the slanderous Shinto object was enshrined at the center of Taiseki-ji. Nichiren Daishonin must have been disheartened at his future disciples’ loss of faith.
The hellish fire that enveloped Taiseki-ji was finally extinguished around 4 a.m. on June 18, the following day. Nikkyo’s charred body was found in the remains of the high priest’s quarters.
Nikkyo was the lone causality of this fire.
Since the contents of this book were first published in newsletter form, the Nikken sect has been criticizing our account of Nikkyo’s death, alleging that it is based upon the work Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit, by Bentetsu Yasunaga, a slanderous Nichiren Shu priest.
The truth of the matter, however, has now become clear with the lapse of time. Perceiving Nikkyo’s death humbly as a case of retribution in light of the strict Buddhist law of cause and effect is important for the Buddha’s disciples.
Kosei Nakajima, then acting chief administrator, spoke about Nikkyo’s death at an equinox meting at Myoko-ji, a temple in Tokyo, in September 1945. He cited a series of mishaps:
In the Shoin room, there were 300 farmer soldiers, but for some reason, they could not cooperate to extinguish the fire. A fire engine stationed at the gate was unusable because it needed repair. The car of the nearby military school that came from the Kamiide district was also useless because it lacked gasoline. There were available fire engines in Fujinomiya city ready to come to Taiseki-ji, but the fire station chief was absent and the fire fighters could not receive his instruction. When the firefighters finally arrived at the scene per emergency request from the Ueno Police Station, the fire had already spread to the reception hall and was out of control. All this bad news contributed to High Priest Nikkyo’s miserable death. Indeed, it was his destiny.
With that said, Nakajima accepted Nikkyo’s death, referring to it sincerely at the equinox meeting in front of Nichiren Shoshu priests and members as Nichiren’s most compassionate admonition. Indeed, it is rare that so many unfortunate things befell Nikkyo. His death was truly a case of Buddhist punishment.
Nakajima’s speech shows that in those days the central Nichiren Shoshu leaders must have somewhat regretted their past slanderous behavior amid the severe reality of the head temple fire and the high priest’s miserable death.
Still, by hiding the truth of the matter under the authority of the high priest, Nichiren Shoshu foolishly tried to cover up Nikkyo’s death. Such folly must be curtailed. Those seeking the Buddhist way should acknowledge such doings and learn the essence of Buddhism.
Incidentally, it was Jimon Ogasawara, a Nichiren Shoshu priest, who offered information to Bentetsu Yasunaga, a slanderous Nichiren Shu priest, for his book, Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit. That book revealed many years of conflicts among priests within Nichiren Shoshu.
Those for whom it is hardest to attain Buddhahood in the Latter Day of the Law are those who take advantage of the Law—the priesthood.
Nichiren Shoshu Knowingly Lies About Origin of Fire
That September 1945, in a recorded sermon at Myoko-ji, Kosei Nakajima acknowledged that the fire was caused by an acolyte who was smoking carelessly.
In addition, some priests well versed in Taiseki-ji circumstances of those days wrote recollections stating that the fire was caused by a careless acolyte. One recollection names the acolyte as Join Masuda.
Over time, however, Taiseki-ji insisted that the fire resulted from arson at the high priest’s reception room. Since it would not sound right if a priest within Nichiren Shoshu had caused it, Taiseki-ji tried to pin it on the Korean soldiers who were forced to come to Japan by the Japanese government.
The source of this demagogy is Refuting the Evil Book, “Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit,” a refutation of Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit. The editor and publisher of this book was the Nichiren Shoshu Propagation Association. It was created by Dai-Nichiren Editorial Office and published on September 30, 1956.
This official Nichiren Shoshu view of the fire was a sheer lie. But after this book came out, the Korean soldiers began to be held accountable.
The following description is found in Refuting the Evil Book:
The Taiseki-ji chief administrator’s living quarters were in the two-story structure. His reception room was about three ken away from it. The war was getting serious and vehement, and the stationed army deployed Korean soldiers at various lodgings throughout Japan. Taiseki-ji was designated as one such lodging place. Therefore, several hundred Korean soldiers were staying at the reception room and Shoin room on the Taiseki-ji grounds. Also, twenty-some Japanese officers were then staying at Taiseki-ji to train these Korean soldiers. On a night when Shizuoka Prefecture was bombed, some Korean soldiers set a gasoline fire at the rear of the reception room near the chief administrator’s lodging quarters. It instantly engulfed the entire building, spreading so quickly that all the officers could do was take their belongings and escape by jumping to the ground. The first place the fire spread to was the chief administrator’s lodging. The high priest’s attendant priest was sleeping downstairs and barely escaped by jumping out a window. Many people on the head temple grounds that day reached the fire’s origin around that time, but it was already out of control. Very quickly, the chief administrator’s two-story structure burned down. They tried to stop the fire but it spread to the reception hall, Shoin room and storage structure, destroying all very rapidly.
Though we see false descriptions here and there in Refuting the Evil Book, the sentence that describes the high priest’s reception room and adjoining lodging rapidly engulfed by in flames seems correct.
Kosei Nakajima was recorded at the Myoko-ji equinox service as saying:
The fire started in a closet, which was located downstairs of the chief administrator’s room. The farmer soldier officers were sleeping at the reception room next to the three-shaku-wide hallway. Because the fire spread so quickly, they had to just get out without even taking their military uniforms.
Also, there was a Japanese army officer who recalls that he lost his service uniform and military sword—his life as a military man—in the fire. It is very conceivable that the high priest’s reception room and his lodging quarters next to his reception hall burst into flames at almost at the same time.
What Nakajima refers to as the high priest’s living room seems to be a room on the second floor of the high priest’s quarters. In other words, the fire started right below him, which shows how difficult it was for Nikkyo to escape.
Also, as mentioned earlier, Nikkyo was a large man with weak body and legs, which made it hard for him to walk. Additionally, he had a hearing problem. A believer who met with Nikkyo wrote about his hearing impairment:
The house in Okubo burned down in a huge Tokyo air raid in May 1945. On June 8 of that year, I went to the head temple and sought audience from the high priest. At that time, I asked him the meaning of the words he wrote for me on a tanzaku (long strip of paper). He responded that he put no deep meaning into it and that he just wanted to give it to me with little significance attached. Since he had a hearing problem, I wrote my question on a piece of paper and showed it to him for his response. He asked, ‘Are you talking about remonstration?’ In those days, whether we would remonstrate with the government was a big issue. This was only nine days before his death. (from “Yuishin Yuigyo [Devoted Faith and Practice]”)
Refuting the Evil Book, reads:
We can take the high priest’s death as his will to take his life, as he may have thought it beyond his power to deal with the plight of Taiseki-ji, which was like a battlefield with soldiers and their weapons. As chief administrator, and embodying the spirit of Rissho Ankoku, he devoted himself to praying day and night for the peace of the nation, promoting the teaching of this school with a profound wish for the security of the people. With a sure defeat in the war just around the corner, he must have felt powerless, attempting to diminish the karma of the nation with the burning of his body. Therefore, we can take his death as a case of honorable suicide.
But these descriptions are only a cover up of the story of Nikkyo’s death. What actually happened was that he failed to escape. First, he died in the high priest’s lodging. The high priest’s reception hall and lodging burned almost simultaneously. Afterward, the fire spread to the Daishoin room and reception hall. Starting around 10:30 p.m. on 17th, the fire lasted until 4 a.m.—about five and a half hours. When Nikkyo died, only the high priest’s reception hall and lodging quarters were on fire. It had not progressed to where Nikkyo might have thought about “taking responsibility” by perishing in the flames.
Nikkyo simply could not escape from the fire as evidenced by the fact that he died at his lodging quarters in the fire’s early stages, when it had not yet spread to other structures. It couldn’t have been suicide because of the location where he died. If it had been at the reception hall, perhaps he could have chosen to throw himself into the flames out of a sense of responsibility over this catastrophe happening at the head temple.
But the place where his semi-charred body was found nullifies this theory. Had he chosen to kill himself over feeling responsible at the early stage of the fire, it would have been a hasty decision indeed.
Also, someone determined to kill himself to take the responsibility for the mishap wouldn’t have done so in the kamado (wood or charcoal stove or oven).
According to Refuting the Evil Book:
We found the high priest’s body in the ashes. We found him not in his bedroom, but in the Gohonzon room. By his position, he was bowing to the Gohonzon in death.
But this is a total fabrication, as absurd as the story of the Korean soldiers’ having set the fire.
Nichiren Daishonin states, “[A] sage never dies an untimely death” (WND-2, p. 616).
Nikkyo died miserably because of the severity of the Buddhist law of cause and effect. No high priest is sacred simply because he assumes that role.
Ogasawara Incident and Ogasawara’s Reinstatement
The Ogasawara Incident took place on the evening of April 27, 1952, when a grand ceremony was conducted at Taiseki-ji to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. At that time, Soka Gakkai youth division made Jimon Ogasawara, whom they did not know was still a priest of Nichiren Shoshu, write a letter of apology.
Ogasawara wrote this letter of apology in front of the head temple tomb of first Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, acknowledging his erroneous teaching and behavior during World War II, which the youth division of the Soka Gakkai pointed out. The following is his letter of apology:
A Letter of Apology
My theory that “Deity is essential while Buddha transient” is an illusion. I confused Nichiren Daishonin’s pure teaching. My behavior was indeed non-Buddhist. I deeply apologize for having been a parasite within the lion king of Nichiren Shoshu. I will be more careful about my behavior from now on.
To Nichiren Daishonin
Ogasawara’s manipulative actions doubtlessly and directly caused the arrest of Soka Kyoiku Gakkai President Makiguchi and General Director Toda in July 1943. For this reason, he was an archenemy of Mr. Toda, whose adored mentor, President Makiguchi, died in prison.
During World War II, in addition to advocating his new theory, Ogaswara exerted himself to help merge Nichiren Shoshu with the Nichiren Shu Minobu sect. It is said he might have been appointed Nichiren Shu General Administrator, Taiseki-ji’s Chief Administrator (high priest) or Seicho-ji chief priest had his plot succeeded. Toward realizing his ambition, Ogaswara schemed to have Nikkyo arrested for lèse-majesté.
Nichiren Shoshu somehow succeeded in avoiding the arrest of High Priest Nikkyo, but, fearful of government authority, it violated the school’s essential anti-slander admonition and accepted the Shinto teaching. On September 14, 1942, Nichiren Shoshu expelled Ogasawara from the school, but Ogasawara did not give up his ambition, tenaciously pursuing his selfish quest in an even-dirtier manner under the protection of the contemporary “movement of the promotion of the imperial rule” in Japan.
After disposing of Ogasawara, Nichiren Shoshu, fearing national authority intervention, issued an official notice urging the entire priesthood and laity on October 10, 1942, to worship the Ise Shrine.
Ogasawara’s manipulation prompted Nichiren Shoshu to step further into slanderous actions and to trigger government persecution of the Soka Gakkai. In a sense, we can say that Ogasawara’s corruption led to the head temple’s major fire, Nikkyo’s miserable death and Taiseki-ji’s decadence. Ogasawara was an unforgivable enemy of the Soka Gakkai, and, in light of Buddhism, he was also an enemy of Nichiren Shoshu.
President Toda must have thought that not only did Ogasawara need to apologize for his past behavior but also that it was essential for Nichiren Shoshu’s future that the roots of his evil be severed.
About a year earlier, the May 1, 1951, issue of Seikyo Shimbun carried an article on Ogasawara in the form of a believer’s statement that read:
In retrospect, there was an evil priest. He sold Taiseki-ji to Minobu on conditions that he would become Seicho-ji’s chief priest. Controlling the Suigyo-kai group, he curried favor with the government with his strange theory, causing trouble for High Priest Nikkyo. Such an evil priest is still at the head temple. Because of him, the government persecuted Mr. Makiguchi of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai. I am sorry for the high priest, too. He had to put protection of the head temple before remonstration with the government. Are these things in sync with Nichiren Daishonin’s heart? Neither priests nor lay believers acted correctly in those days.
This article led to a statement by Mr. Josei Toda at his inauguration ceremony two days later.
Why Was Ogasawara Reinstated As a Priest?
On May 3, 1951, President Toda was inaugurated as second Soka Gakkai president at a meting held at Josen-ji in Sumida Ward, Tokyo. At this meeting, he expressed his profound resolve, saying, “Under my leadership, I will bring 750,000 households to faith in Nichiren Buddhism.”
The Gakkai’s membership was then only around 5,000. President Toda and Director Kashiwabara requested of Seido Hosoi, the Nichiren Shoshu general affairs bureau chief who later became Nittatsu-, something to the effect:
It seems that Jimon Ogasawara, an evil priest who, with his new theory of “Deity is essential while Buddha transient,” caused trouble to the high priest and triggered a major persecution of the Soka Gakkai by the authorities, is still registered as an official Nichiren Shoshu priest. Now that the Soka Gakkai is carrying out an unsparing nationwide propagation campaign, it is our hope that the head temple will be considerate enough to lend protection and understanding toward the future of the Soka Gakkai and not allow such a villain to disturb our unity. (Seikyo Shimbun, May 10, 1952)
Mr. Hosoi responded: “Such a priest no longer exists in Nichiren Shoshu. Ogasawara has been ousted from this school” (Seikyo Shimbun, May 10, 1952).
This was seemingly not just his personal statement but one reflecting that of the entire school. This is because the general affairs bureau of the Administrative Office published the following disclaimer in its magazine, Dai-Nichiren, dated May 3, 1951, denying the contents of the believer’s article that had appeared in the Seikyo Shimbun:
* It seems that so-and-so Takase, calling himself a Nichiren Shoshu priest and wandering around Fukushima Prefecture, is visiting our temples or believers’ homes. Please make sure that no such priest exists in our school.
* It is written in the May 1 issue of Seikyo Shimbun that the priest who sued High Priest Nikkyo Suzuki and tried to disband Nichiren Shoshu is still at the head temple. This is to clarify that no such priest exists among the priests of Nichiren Shoshu.
May 3, 1951
General Affairs Bureau of the Administrative Office
This disclaimer served as an indirect cause for the Ogaswara Incident.
One year later, in April 1952, a grand ceremony was conducted at Taiseki-ji to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The Soka Gakkai published the Gosho in commemoration of this grand ceremony. The Gakkai also lent it dignity through the pilgrimage of 4,000 members. It happened that Ogaswara wrote his apology in front of the tomb of President Makiguchi on April 27 amid this ceremony.
On the following day, some Soka Gakkai youth division volunteers posted this announcement on the front of the Rikyo-bo lodging gate:
Jimon Ogasawara is the one who, during wartime, aligned himself with the military government with his new theory that “gods signify the essence while the original Buddha their function.” He thus tarnished the pure lineage of the Law. As a result, he caused major persecution of the Soka Gakkai and the death of its first president, Mr. Makiguchi. We have seen him at the head temple, and, accordingly, we, Soka Gakkai youth division representatives, out of our irresistible desire to protect the purity of the Great Law, challenged him to reveal the truth of the matter on behalf of the Buddhist gods. Since Ogasawara apologized for his erroneous act, we let him go, as he promised to behave himself from now on. This is what happened during the so-called Ogasawara Incident.
On the day of the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
Soka Gakkai Youth Division Representatives.
But Nichiren Shoshu reacted harshly to the Gakkai’s action against Ogasawara, declaring: First, it is intolerable that the Gakkai caused an incident during the auspicious 700th anniversary ceremony. Second, it is the high priest’s exclusive right, not the lay Soka Gakkai’s, to judge whether Ogasawara’s idea of “Deity essential while Buddha transient” is erroneous in light of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Third, whoever wears a robe is a disciple of the high priest. Lay believers are not in a position to bully him.
Nichiren Shoshu felt that the Gakkai’s questioning of the priest undermined the high priest’s authority.
As these allegations by Nichiren Shoshu did not sound right, for Nichiren Shoshu had declared during President Toda’s inauguration one year earlier that Ogaswara was no longer within Nichiren Shoshu, accordingly, to the Soka Gakkai, the second and third reasons cited by the priesthood did not seem appropriate.
Astonishingly, however, Nichiren Shoshu announced that Ogasawara had been reinstated as a Nichiren Shoshu priest on April 5, right before the 700th-anniversary ceremony.
Not only that, this announcement was made through a Dai-Nichiren issue allegedly printed in April, after the Ogasawara Incident took place. The periodical was distributed to both temple and Soka Gakkai members in mid-May. The Gakkai knew nothing about this news until then.
Priesthood Cares Only About Authority
The April 30, 1952, Dai-Nichiren issue reports Ogasawara’s reinstatement as follows:
Jimon Ogaswara, gon no daisozu in the hierarchy of priesthood
Mino-cho, Bugi-gun, Gifu prefecture
In pursuant to Articles 386 and 387-2 of the Rules of this school, the above-mentioned individual shall be granted a special pardon and returned to this school in this month of April 1952. Recognized as chief priest, he is granted no other rights.
April 5, 1952
Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator
Reason for Special Pardon
To Jimon Ogasawara
Mino-cho, Bugi-gun, Gifu prefecture
The above individual had been expelled from this school on September 14, 1942, but his self-reflection has been apparent since then. Taking into consideration that he is aging physically, and because of a strong request from believers concerned, and also because this year marks the auspicious 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I grant him a special pardon based upon Articles 386 and 387 of the Rules of this school, allowing him to return to this school and the right to be a chief priest again. No other rights shall be granted to him at this time.
April 5, 1952
Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator”
This announcement was a surprise to the Soka Gakkai, which had confirmed with Nichiren Shoshu around the time of President Toda’s inauguration the previous year that Ogasawara was no longer a Nichiren Shoshu priest. Nevertheless, Nichiren Shoshu made Ogasawara’s reinstatement on April 5 before the Gakkai reprimanded him on April 27.
Viewed from the Gakkai’s perspective, one reason the Gakkai publicly tried to reform Ogasawara was that he was shamelessly present, clad in a robe, at the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo even though he was no longer a priest. The announcement of Ogasawara’s reinstatement through Dai-Nichiren took away the Gakkai’s rationale for criticizing Ogasawara.
In a document dated June 27, 1952, that President Toda submitted to the Administrative Office of Nichiren Shoshu, he refers to the surprise of Ogasawara’s reinstatement:
Since we learned right after the incident that Mr. Jimon Ogasawara had returned to the position of priest based upon a special pardon on the auspicious occasion celebration, we had been confirming if and on what basis the Administrative Office issued an official notice of this matter. An announcement was published in Dai-Nichiren #74 dated April 30, an issue distributed in the middle of May. It is hard to understand why such a heretical priest is still at the head temple as an official priest.
We can tell from this document how chagrined President Toda felt toward Nichiren Shoshu’s callousness. This Dai-Nichiren announcement was so shocking that the Soka Gakkai was forced to go on the defensive over the Ogaswara issue.
Here arises a suspicion that the news of Ogasawara’s reinstatement was created right after the April 27 Ogasawara Incident at the head temple.
In those days, Dai-Nichiren was printed on the seventh day of each month. But this April 1952 issue had been published on April 30, according to the date of printing shown inside. Clearly, the issue was printed belatedly.
To fulfill government postal regulations that Dai-Nichiren, as a monthly magazine, had to put out an April issue, April 30 naturally became the ultimate published deadline. In point of fact, the issue might have been printed a little later than that. It was highly irregular that the Dai-Nichiren issue was printed at the end of April right before the busy time of the 700th anniversary ceremony.
Since this issue contained special coverage of the 700th-anniversary ceremony, we can surmise that the publication of the April issue had been delayed. Thus, the editorial work would have been carried out alongside that for the May issue scheduled to come out on May 7. First, we can confirm the truth of the printing and publication of the April issue of Dai-Nichiren in May. Also, it is quite possible that Ogasawara’s reinstatement was hastily done and backdated to April 5, after Mr. Toda submitted his apology for the Ogaswara Incident.
There was another priest who enjoyed a special pardon, Rindo Iguchi, whose rank was that of gon no sozu. Iguchi had been demoted six ranks lower on suspicion of his April 1947 role in the sale of the head temple’s mountains and trees. Iguchi’s case was also dated April 5 like Ogasawara’s. His was made public through the Administrative Office’s Order #30. Ogasawara’s case followed as Order #31.
The sequence of these two Orders is questionable, however. Hierarchy is absolute in the priesthood world and is respected in the treatment of ordinary matters. Nevertheless, the announcement of Iguchi’s being promoted back to gon no daisozu preceded Ogasawara’s reinstatement as dai-sozu, a higher position than gon no daisozu. This is very unusual that a priest of higher status would be pardoned after a priest of lesser status.
This will be discussed later, but Ogasawara’s reinstatement had already come about as a special pardon in March 1946. Nichiren Shoshu’s decision to reinstate Ogasawara and announcement of it through Dai-Nichiren were intentionally done to punish President Toda—shameful behavior, indeed, on the part of the priesthood.
Through this case, we see the priesthood’s corrupted, wicked wisdom to protect only their own authority. Whether one is right in light of Buddhism is secondary to the corrupt priesthood mind. Priests may say noble things on the surface, but they are simply concerned about preserving their status. They are ignorant of how the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin would feel toward their behavior.
Without Questioning Ogasawara’s Slander, Priesthood Accuses Soka Gakkai
Nissho’s rage at the Ogasawara Incident was reportedly tremendous. The fabricated Dai-Nichiren story of Ogasawara’s reinstatement could not have come about by general affairs bureau decision alone. It appears Nissho’s strong will to punish the Soka Gakkai was behind it. The high priest’s fury spread throughout Nichiren Shoshu. Criticism of the Soka Gakkai intensified within the school after the announcement of the fabricated special pardon.
A resolution signed by twelve Nichiren Shoshu 8th district chief priests was made to criticize the Gakkai’s behavior at its general meeting. The 8th district covers Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hyogo Shiga and other prefectures in Kansai. The resolution reads in part:
- We assert that the action taken by (the Soka Gakkai youth division) during the auspicious 700th anniversary of the establishment of this Buddhism and also during the sacred time of the high priest’s Gosho lecture, the kind of action that tarnished the pure grounds of the head temple and disturbed the faith of many pure-hearted believers from across the country, cannot be tolerated by either the Buddhist gods or the people regardless of its righteousness.
- This indecent incident is not a matter between Soka Gakkai and the Rev. Jimon Ogasawara. It occurred in total disregard of the authorities of this school. Therefore, it is most distasteful to all priests and lay believers of this school. This we assert.
This resolution was unilateral and punished only the Soka Gakkai without questioning Ogasawara’s slander of Nichiren Buddhism and destruction of its righteousness. The high priest’s fury resulted from his reasoning that the laity has no right to reprimand the priesthood’s error.
Ogasawara issued a pamphlet on May 23 expressing his intention to file a lawsuit stating that President Toda and others had physically attacked him. Also, he justifies his erroneous theory that “Deity essential while Buddha transient,” saying:
I took up this theory of ‘Deity is essential while Buddha transient’ during wartime because I thought this idea would gain us the upper hand over all other Nichiren sects. It was quite regrettable, however, that I was attacked in our school based upon ignorance of my true intent behind this theory.
And he irrationally attacks the Gakkai’s accusation of his attempt to have Taiseki-ji absorbed into the Minobu school during World War II, saying: “This allegation misses the point. I tried to put Minobu under Taiseki-ji. This did not happen because all of you opposed my idea.”
They say that it is an obligation of a nation’s people to follow its wartime policy. No other choice. From this perspective, I thought we could not help but come together with Minobu. And of course, after the war is over, we would separate from one another. I intended to bring Taiseki-ji many souvenirs from Minobu after our separation. This, I thought, should be the correct teaching and cause of this school.
No matter how base Ogasawara’s mind, Nichiren Shoshu claimed the laity should absolutely respect him as long as he maintained priest status. If not for the Ogasawara Incident, he could have towered over the laity as a priest with the title of daisozu.
The Buddhist standard of right and wrong was nonexistent in the Nichiren Shoshu priests’ consciousness. Instead, there was merely discrimination against the laity.
On June 1, the Yomiuri Shimbun Shizuoka edition published a fabricated story headlined: “President Now Prohibited From Head Temple. Taiseki-ji Former Chief Administrator Attacked. Anti-Soka Gakkai Decision Guided by Former Communist Party Member? Confrontation Between Head Temple and Gakkai Whose Membership is 20,000.”
The Japan Communist Party was then an illegal organization under the Anti-Subversive Activities Law. On May 1, right after the Ogaswara Incident, the bloody May Day incident followed. The Korean War broke out in June 1952, and the Red Purge incident took place that July.
Under such circumstances, an individual tried to have the Soka Gakkai oppressed, alleging to the media that a Communist had slipped into the Gakkai membership. The Yomiuri Shimbun was taken in by this manipulation. The Yomiuri Tokyo headquarters heeded the Gakkai’s protest, urging Gakkai representatives to visit its Shizuoka office, which they did in order to explain the situation.
Because of the Gakkai’s tenacious efforts to find out the truth of the matter, the individual who had manipulated Yomiuri Shimbun was revealed, and about a month later this person, who will be indentified here later, officially apologized for his behavior. It was already July. While the Gakkai’s pursuit of the truth continued, the situation became increasingly unfavorable to the Gakkai.
Josei Toda Confronts Priesthood Consensus
Nichiren Shoshu’s internal criticism of the Soka Gakkai intensified around June 1952 after the Ogasawara Incident. President Josei Toda squarely confronted the priesthood, and the Gakkai issued a declaration under its president’s name on June 10. In it, the youth division thoroughly rebuked Ogasawara in light of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, asserting: “Jimon Ogasawara is a follower of the heavenly devil, not a sacred priest.”
The declaration ends with Mr. Toda’s statement:
In order to protect the purity of Nichiren Shoshu, I am determined to wage a battle against Jimon Ogasawara, an embodiment of the heavenly devil that destroys Buddhism, until the day we break through his devilish influence while abiding by the true intent of the Gohonzon and the admonition of Nikko Shonin, the founder of Taiseki-ji. This I declare for the protection of Buddhism.
The priesthood moved to punish President Toda as if ridiculing his determination.
A four-day Nichiren Shoshu assembly meeting was held June 26–29. The revision of the Rules of Nichiren Shoshu and a draft of the Bylaws of Nichiren Shoshu were discussed. Another important topic of the incident during the 700th anniversary ceremony was also discussed.
General Affairs Bureau Chief Seido Hosoi introduced President Toda’s summation letter of the incident on June 27, the second day.
President Toda’s summation refers to the points that the Gakkai did not think Ogasawara was still a Nichiren Shoshu priest, that Ogasawara’s plotting based upon his theory of “Deity is essential while Buddha transient” was intolerable, and that Ogasawara did not acknowledge the erroneousness of his theory even on the day of the incident.
Furthermore, stating that since other Gakkai leaders did not act violently against Ogasawara, President Toda contended that the religious debate with Ogasawara was done in a nonviolent manner:
When this fact is challenged in the future, its truth cannot be proven without witnesses. I hope you will hear from the Rev. Abe of Otaru Temple, the Chief Priest of Myodo-ji in Nagoya, and an acolyte of Jakunichi-bo, whom we asked to be present here with us.
Stating that it was very difficult for him to understand that Ogaswara still belonged to Nichiren Shoshu as a priest, he concluded: “For that reason, the issue between Mr. Jimon Ogasawara and us is not over yet. Therefore, this letter of summation is not complete, but we brought it here with us anyway per your order.”
The assembly then held its closed-door session, and the meeting continued until late in the evening.
Early the next morning, the Bylaws of Nichiren Shoshu were discussed. Around 7:30 p.m., a resolution, drafted by the entire assembly, was presented and unanimously supported. In this resolution, the assembly reserved its opinion regarding the treatment of Ogasawara by simply stating, “It is hoped that a proper action will be taken in light of the Rules and Bylaws of this school.” The assembly’s conclusion was very strict, however, with President Toda:
Mr. Josei Toda, a lay leader, is accountable for the ugly incident, of a type unheard-of since the founding of Taiseki-ji. In this incident, Mr. Toda ignored Article 30 of the Rules of this school, took a violent, seemingly premeditated action again the Rev. Jimon Ogasawara on April 27 this year; caused trouble for the high priest who was involved in the commemorative ceremony; and disturbed the faith of believers on pilgrimage to the head temple. In light of this, we take the following measures to prevent him from ever again causing such an incident, either as an individual or an organizational leader:
* He must submit a letter of apology through the chief priest of the temple to which he belongs.
* He is to be stripped of the position of the lay leader of this school.
* He is now prohibited from pilgrimage to the head temple.
President Toda had presented three witnesses to rebut the Soka Gakkai youths’ alleged act of violence. The assembly showed no interest in hearing their accounts. It did not listen to what Mr. Toda himself had to say, unilaterally asserting through its closed-door session that the incident had seemed premeditated.
Among the assembly members there were many who, just like Ogasawara, had departed from Nichiren Daishonin’s original teaching and devoted themselves to war-supporting activities. How ironic that Jikai Watanabe, who had ordered President Makiguchi and General Director Toda to accept the Shinto talisman in June 1942, was a member of the assembly judging Mr. Toda on this matter. Many years later, Watanabe would express his admiration for the Soka Gakkai and its spirit of propagation.
After the assembly decision, three executive priests, including the General Administrator, expressed their intention to resign. Mr. Hosoi, the general affairs bureau chief who understood the Soka Gakkai best and was caught between the high priest’s fury and his own respect for the Gakkai’s position, shared his regret:
I made it clear that the Rev. Ogasawara had deceived me. Therefore, I gave the impression that I was favoring the Soka Gakkai. Under such circumstances, the people of this school may not think my actions from now on will be fair. Thus, I feel I had better resign from my current position, and I ask you on my behalf to select somebody you can trust.
The executive priests’ intent to resign went on hold prior to the assembly’s decision on the fourth day of the meeting. As a result, none had yet resigned from their respective executive positions. General Affairs Bureau Chief Hosoi, when asked to remain in his position by the assembly, availed himself of the opportunity to speak at the meeting, and dared to say, “I would like to ask you to take as generous an action as possible for the Gakkai.”
All things considered, Mr. Hosoi’s statement was a very bold one in favor of protecting the Soka Gakkai, likely based upon his sense of humility, as he knew the truth of the matter.
Assembly Members Prioritize Priests’ Authority
Two assembly members’ remarks made on the last day of the assembly meeting overtly show the priesthood’s cunning. One such statement was made by Kocho Kakinuma, one of the senior priests who had promoted Nichiren Shoshu’s involvement in supporting the war. He said:
Let’s not talk about things on a purely theoretical level. I will further train myself, since I feel the incident that happened stems from an indecency in our character as priests.
In this statement, Kakinuma is taking pre-cautionary measures to deflect Nichiren Shoshu’s interest in various mistakes it made during the war by considering the validity of the “Deity is essential while Buddha is transient” theory. He is preserving his status through his clever remark. Jishu Akita, another assembly member, made a similar remark just before the session closing. In 1950, two years before, Akita aggressively promoted Taiseki-ji as a tour attraction. He presumably bore President Toda ill will since his plan was halted because of Mr. Toda’s pilgrimage idea. At that time, he made seemingly nice remarks and said nothing specific against Mr. Toda.
I think that the incident can be attributed to our inability as priests to guide in faith. We, the members of the assembly, have written a letter of apology, as we want to apologize to the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary, through the high priest, with our pledge to establish harmony in this school by making further efforts to guide lay believers correctly in faith.
But behind the scenes, he was scheming cunningly against President Toda.
In fact, Akita, the priest who spoke eloquently in public, was providing false information behind the scenes for the mass media. Pressed by the Soka Gakkai youth division after the assembly session on July 12, he admitted with his apology that he was the source of information for the fabricated Yomiuri Shimbun Shizuoka article mentioned above.
The Soka Gakkai youth, knowing the assembly’s punitive decision against President Toda, visited assembly members to convince them of the truth of the matter. Some realized that their assembly decision was wrong, and others would not listen to the youth, justifying the assembly decision.
What, expectedly, became clear in this process was that assembly members, wielding their religious authority as priests, gave no thought to promoting the great Law.
Most symbolic was the behavior of assembly chairperson Shindo Ichikawa. When pressed by the Soka Gakkai youth division, he abandoned a dialogue with youth representatives, and instead setting someone from among his temple’s believers to confront Gakkai youths with physical violence. The July 20, 1952, Seikyo Shimbun reports:
Mr. Ichikawa suddenly stood up and went out to another room. At that time, a Gakkai member shouted, “Reverend! You can’t escape. You are being irresponsible. Please come back.” As soon as he said this, a thug jumped on him, shouting, “This bastard!” Many people present stood up and surrounded this Gakkai member. Then, several other thugs came into the room, shouting: “We’ll take care of this quarrel.” “Get out. Get outside.” All were apparently yakuza members. Wearing casual aloha shirts, sporting tattoos and keeping their shoes on, they did not look like normal citizens . . . Because some policemen appeared, we could restore order. One thug even tried to throw a hammer at us. They also attacked us with clubs.
This priest’s lowly ethical standard, as indicated by this incident, is dumbfounding. It is all the more so since he assumes the responsibility of assembly chairmanship.
Ichikawa read a document of apology similar in nature to his speech at the assembly closing, where President Toda’s punishment was decided:
I think that the incident can be attributed to our inability to guide in faith as priests. We, the members of the assembly, have written a letter of apology, as we want to apologize to the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary through the high priest with our pledge to establish harmony in this school by making further efforts to guide lay believers correctly in faith.
While apologizing to the Dai-Gohonzon, he was using violent criminals against pure-hearted believers. President Toda pointed out the absurdity of the priesthood’s actions in his column “Suntetsu” in the July 20, 1952, Seikyo Shimbun.
- Why does an assembly member initiate a fight against Gakkai members determined to advance propagation and protect the head temple?
- There may be further turmoil since not only youths are angry, but even older people are readying themselves.
- The current assembly engages in behavior worse than the politics of barbarism. Its decision devoid of examining the facts is terrible. I feel that its members now resemble those from 700 years ago.
- It is right that they should recall the days of 700 years ago. They should remember how Nichiren Daishonin carried out shakubuku. They should not emulate Hei no Saemon.
- Are the assembly members the rebirth of Hei no Saemon? They punished us without examining the circumstances of the incident or clarifying the truth of it.
- Hei no Saemon has manifested as the members of the assembly. They vastly owe debts to the Buddha, but they are all opposed to the Buddha’s intent. They have appeared within the Daishonin’s Buddhism. They bear grudges and jealousy against one great believer. Their life-tendency is horrid.
Mr. Toda’s criticism of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood applies to the Nikken sect priesthood today. All Buddhist enemies of the past have seemingly lined today up in a timely manner.
Priests Who Try to Fracture the Gakkai Are Devil’s Disciples.
Writing around the time of the 1952 Ogasawara Incident, President Toda was very critical of the overall corruption he saw in Nichiren Shoshu. In the foreword to the April 1952 issue of The Daibyakurenge that he wrote two days before the Ogasawara Incident, he states:
There are those who act like bosses, treating members as their followers and exploiting their faith in the Gohonzon. Shakubuku is an act of true compassion, but these people think they have become great bosses. Their thinking is wrong. It may be their instinct to develop such ideas and behavior, but it is merely a manifestation of arrogance. I will fight without rest against such arrogant people. People of this type are occasionally found within the temple. They also emerge within our organization. They are just like poisonous mushrooms. Influenced by such poison, one may amass a following of 40 or 50 members. Colluding with a priest, this sponsor may want to become independent from the Gakkai. Such sponsors are huge enemies in our great march of shakubuku in the Latter Day. I would assert that a priest who allows this type of sponsorship is a devil disguised as compassionate. Since the priesthood is supposedly worthy of respect, I hesitate to point this out.
Here, President Toda asserts that those priests who try to break apart the Soka Gakkai organization are the disciples of the devil. Another quote from Mr. Toda’s “Suntesu” column, this time from the May 10, 1952, Seikyo Shimbun reads:
- Don’t repeat the Ogasawara Incident. Don’t do things that cause such an incident. Who is wrong in this incident, those who created it or the priest who became its target? Humbly ask Nikko Shonin to share his opinion.
In the July 1 Seikyo Shimbun, he writes in “Suntetsu” about the Ogasawara Incident:
- Was the ‘raccoon festival’ (Ogasawara Incident) in the wrong? Or is it those who allowed the raccoon to be accepted by the head temple who are wrong?
- Was capturing the raccoon wrong? Or is it the raccoon who deceives the believers that is wrong?
- Do those complaining about how we captured the raccoon feel compelled to keep the raccoon?
In “Suntetsu” of the July 10 Seikyo Shimbun, President Toda writes:
The assembly has decided that our president is now prohibited from visiting the head temple. The head temple is no longer a tranquil place.
Nichiren Daishonin states, “Therefore, from the very day you listen to [and take faith in] this sutra, you should be fully prepared to face the great persecutions of the three types of enemies that are certain to be more horrible now after the Buddha’s passing.” (WND-1, 391) One thing that the three types of enemies do is to oust the votary of the Lotus Sutra from the temple. Evil priests do such a thing.
Mr. Toda’s remarks are sharp and accurate. The persecution of ousting one from the temple exactly corresponds to the implementation of Operation C, an undertaking done exactly as the Buddha foretold, by the three kinds of evil individuals.
President Toda stated at the 9th Soka Gakkai General Meeting on November 22, 1957:
Just now, Ms. Kashiwabara referred to the idea of breaking the unity of the priesthood (Buddhist order). A priest in Buddhism denotes “one who is qualified to guide society and save people.” The term does not refer to one who, holding hatred toward others, simply wears a robe while maintaining a cunning attitude like a cat waiting for a mouse. Gakkai unit and group leaders who are working so hard for others’ happiness are truly manifesting the virtue of a priesthood. Whoever tries to destroy this unity will surely receive punishment. If you think what I am saying is untrue, just go ahead and try to break our unity.
Ogasawara Praises Soka Gakkai in His Later Years
Situations surrounding the Soka Gakkai gradually changed thanks to the Soka Gakkai youths’ religious debate and persuasiveness.
The three punishments of President Toda, agreed upon at the assembly, did not come to fruition. On July 24, Nissho-[64th] issued a document of admonition to President Toda to cap the Ogaswara Incident. Nissho first protects the priesthood, transcending the standard of right or wrong in light of Buddhism. He states:
All teacher priests and even plain-robed acolytes are my disciples and children of the Law. Should you criticize and despise these teacher priests, it is I, as high priest, who should be criticized, and spit at. This is how my heart aches when my disciples are being ridiculed.
Nissho then refers to President Toda’s continued role as a head of the laity.
Regarding the position of a lay leader of this school, if you feel ashamed of your behavior while apologizing to the Dai-Gohonzon, you should immediately resign. But if you feel otherwise, you should then renew your determination to piously protect the head temple and devote yourself to spreading the Law while taking the Law more seriously than your body.
President Toda wrote and submitted a reply. Though titled an apology, it was filled with his spirit to sever the roots of Nichiren Shoshu’s slanderous deeds.
We tend to be very resolute because we see even within this school a slanderous tendency or weak faith in the Great Pure Law; and, of course, because we keep deep in our hearts the teaching of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin toward refuting wrong ideas in the minds of those who don’t practice this Buddhism. I will carefully guide our members so that they won’t be so extreme in this regard, but since I am teaching them day and night that the true believers of Nichiren Shoshu should be burning with the spirit to selflessly protect the Law, they may go to that extreme as they seek no fame and even martyr themselves to propagate the Law. As we, the people of the Latter Day of the Law, represent the mutual possession of the ten worlds and tend to be foolish, I ask you to guide us with your vast compassion without abandoning us.
Though polite in expression, Mr. Toda’s words show his firm resolve. Concerning the position of head of the laity, he shows no sign of retreat:
In your admonition, you stated that I should resign should I feel ashamed of my behavior. I am sorry that I troubled the heart of the high priest, but because I believe that the action we took is exactly in accord with the golden teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin, I feel no shame before the Gohonzon as a believer of Nichiren Shoshu. Hence, I will not resign from the position of Hokkeko lay leader.
This shows his strong sign of indignation toward Nichiren Shoshu, which does not base its actions upon Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Mr. Toda implies that Nichiren Shoshu does not concern itself with what is right or wrong in view of Buddhism.
On July 26, the Soka Gakkai issued a cessation order under its president, Josei Toda.
Ogasawara, incidentally, had filed a lawsuit against President Toda and other Gakkai leaders. On September 2, the Fujinomiya district police station, which was under the national police headquarters, ordered President Toda and 11 other leaders to appear at the station. Director Satoru Izumi was detained for a whole day of investigation on September 2. President Toda, too, was detained for a full day on September 3.
This investigation was based upon a fabricated medical record Ogasawara had asked a doctor to come up with to prove alleged injuries owing to violence by Gakkai leaders. (Ogasawara had helped this doctor by renting him office space at the temple where Ogasawara was chief priest.) Also, his lawyer was Shigeya Miyake, with whom he had been close to since wartime.
During World War II, Miyake belonged to the Minobu school of Nichiren Shu. Together with Ogasawara, he worked aggressively behind the scenes to unite all Nichiren schools into one entity under the emperor-centered political system.
Nissho sent Ogaswara a document of admonition on September 9. Ogasawara sent a reply in which he hinted at filing a suit against Nichiren Shoshu for infringing upon his human rights.
Ogasawara’s letter was not opened to the public, but he must have been harboring negativity about the public announcement of the official date of his reinstatement being April 1952 despite the fact that it had actually occurred in March 1946. He would have been further outraged by the admonition he received from the high priest. Ogasawara, knowing Nichiren Shoshu’s weak points, must have sensed his opportunity to take advantage.
General Affairs Bureau Chief Seido Hosoi had a dialogue with Ogasawara at the latter’s temple, Hongen-ji in Gifu prefecture, to reason with him. It was then that lay believers belonging to Hongen-ji first learned that Ogasawara was ready to sue even the high priest. As a result, they reprimanded him. Isolated, he offered an apology, withdrawing all legal actions.
Yet, despite all his disturbing actions, Nichiren Shoshu did not actually punish Ogasawara. Here, too, we sense something dubious about the way the reinstatement was handled.
Interestingly, in the intervening years, Ogasawara became impressed with President Toda’s behavior, to the point that he developed respect for and came to feel close to Mr. Toda.
A book written by Ogasawara, titled Introduction to Nichiren Shoshu, was published on May 25, 1955. In the foreword, Ogasawara comments on the Soka Gakkai and President Toda:
Gakkai members’ earnest determination and great vision have rapidly invigorated our school that had long ago sunk into decline. Throughout Japan today, we see believers of our school everywhere. I am ceaselessly appreciative of this reality that is heralding kosen-rufu. Because of my lack of virtue and foolish behavior, I caused an unfortunate dispute with the Soka Gakkai in the past, for which I deeply apologize. In the meantime, I became clearly aware that I was wrong. Following the principle of ‘opposition leading to obedience,’ I have come to propose that the priests of Nichiren Shoshu master the Gakkai spirit and advance based on this spirit. If I say this, you may feel that I am currying favor with the Gakkai, but the truth is that what I am saying stands to reason and therefore I cannot stop saying this.
Ogasawara’s statement proves the greatness of President Toda. He died on December 3, 1955, at 80. In the latter part of his life, he praised Soka Gakkai’s efforts in propagation, offering his help unsparingly. The Soka Gakkai youth division presented 10,000 yen to his family on the occasion of his funeral.
Ogasawara awakened to correct faith mainly thanks to the youth division’s robust refutation. When we reminisce about Ogasawara’s entire life, his erroneous wartime theory of “Deity is essential while Buddha transient,” the Ogasawara Incident, and his later years, we naturally think about the greatness of President Toda and the profound meaning of Buddhism.
Ogasawara’s Post-war Reinstatement Was Well Known in Nichiren Shoshu
Behind Ogasawara’s reinstatement was a scheme involving the entire Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, a scheme that went beyond the lay believers’ imagination. The reinstatement did not take place in April 1952, just prior to the grand ceremony celebrating the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Rather, it was in 1946, right after World War II ended. This fact was well known among Nichiren Shoshu priests but never leaked to lay believers.
Knowing this, we can now see how maliciously such events as the fabricated Dai-Nichiren announcement of Ogasawara’s reinstatement, the assembly’s decision to punish President Toda, and the Nichiren Shoshu administration’s admonition of President Toda were carried out.
Evidently, Nichiren Shoshu priests unite for the sake of shared profits more than for their Buddhist principles.
The priests, who do not engage in propagation, validate their existence only through the hierarchy in which they are located above lay followers. Sensing this superiority in their very beings, they resent the rise of the lay organization.
Let us briefly go back and see how well known Ogasawara’s reinstatement was within Nichiren Shoshu after World War II. This effort to confirm what priests knew about Ogasawara’s reinstatement process is also an undertaking to reveal the baseness of the priesthood that distorts facts and thereby punishes lay believers in order to protect its authority.
There was a ceremony at Kyodai-ji in Tokushima Prefecture to celebrate the temple’s reconstruction on November 13, 1951, about half a year before the Ogasawara Incident occurred.
This event is reported in the November 1951 issue of Dai-Nichiren:
At noon, on the auspicious day of November 13, with the sun shining in the blue sky since early morning after the previous day’s rain had let up, the Gohonzon-enshrinement ceremony for the occasion of completion of the main temple reconstruction was conducted, with all preparations done.
Noon – Commencement
Completion of Gohonzon Enshrinement
Recitation of the Sutra
Report to the Gohonzon
2:00 p.m. – Commencement
Recitation of the Sutra
Reading of Remonstration
Prayer for the Deceased
The Rev. Jimon Ogasawara, Hongen-ji
The Rev. Tetsugen Fujikawa, Jozan-ji
The Rev. Enkai Akiyama, Rissho-ji
The Rev. Jihon Akiyama, Daijo-ji
Mr. Jitoku Kawabe, Hon’inmyo-ji
Two guests from Kobe. One guest from Awaji. Several pilgrims from Kochi.
It was indeed impressive how beautifully this ceremony could be held, the main Gohonzon room filled with people enjoying profound protection from Buddhist gods.
Jimon Ogasawara of Hongen-ji tops the list of distinguished guests at this celebration.
We learn from this article that four other senior priests were also present: Teigen Fujikawa of Jyozan-ji, Enkai Akiyama of Rissho-ji, Jihon Akiyama of Daijo-ji, and Jitoku Kawabe of Hon’inmyo-ji.
The August 1950 Dai-Nichiren published an ad for a book by Ogasawara titled Ichinen Sanzen—The Profound Principle of the Lotus Sutra. The ad copy reads: “Based on his many years of study of the Lotus Sutra he reveals its secret teaching. This masterpiece is a clarification of the excellence of this school’s traditional enlightened teaching.” Here, Ogasawara is credited as “former lecturer at Nihon University Religion Department and editor-in-chief of Dai-Nichiren.”
Also, the March 1950 Dai-Nichiren reports on a celebration for a reproduction of a large Buddhist temple (bonsho) bell at Honmon-ji in Sanuki:
Recreation of Buddhist Bell at Major Temple Honmon-ji
Honmon-ji in Sanuki conducted a ceremony at noon on February 5 to celebrate the recreation of the Buddhist temple bell that had been decided upon last fall. This accomplishment resulted from believers’ dedicated efforts in the unity of “many in body but one in mind.”
First bell ringing: 11:00 a.m. (Participants gather in front of the reception hall gate.)
Second bell ringing: 11:30 a.m.
Guides: 5 elderly people
Honmon-ji Chief Priest (to be carried by palanquin [kago])
Bell master technician: Sahei Ochi
The Rev. Jimon Ogasawara
Chief priests of lodging temples
Committee chairperson: Mr. Isaburo Manabe
Lay representative: Mr. Hidenobu Ando and four others
Bell Committee members: Mr. Ichiro Fukuoka and 10 people
Committee adviser: Mr. Satsuchin Ohira
Mr. Shigeru Mr. Maekawa and 30 others
General participants: 50
Here we learn that Ogasawara hit the bell right after the Honmon-ji chief administrator at a ceremony held on February 5.
Also, Shuho, the Nichiren Shoshu newspaper, ran a column titled “News from Minomachi Town” in its September 1947 issue. An Ogasawara item appears in this column, explaining that there was a service held at Hongen-ji on August 18 with four visiting chief priests of other temples and that, in his speech, Chief Priest Ogasawara reminisced about Nissho-[57th]. The item reads:
News from Mino-cho: Hongen-ji was opened by Nissho Shonin. A memorial ceremony was conducted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his passing at this temple on August 18. Chief Priests Ogawa, Motoe, Ohta and others attended the ceremony. Editor-in-chief Ogasawara spoke about Nissho Shonin in his speech. It was a rare occasion in recent years for priests and lay believers in this same district to come together in such a manner. Special celebratory red rice was served for all the participants.
This Shuho issue also carried an article signed by Seido Hosoi, general affairs bureau chief who later became Nittatsu-[66th]. Titled “Journey to Sanuki,” this article refers to the scroll-airing ceremony conducted at Honmon-ji. On hand at this ceremony were Ogasawara and four other guest priests as well as other priests who belonged to Honmon-ji. Ogasawara lectured at that ceremony.
Mr. Hosoi was also general affairs bureau chief when Ogasawara’s reinstatement became an issue during the Ogasawara Incident in 1952. Thus, we can tell he was deeply involved in the false announcement of Ogasawara’s reinstatement on April 5, 1952, and that he was well aware of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans regarding the April 1952 Dai-Nichiren issue used as a vehicle to hide the truth of Ogasawara’s reinstatement. For this reason, his article is noteworthy. Here we can see commonality between the Ogasawara reinstatement issue and the wooden-Gohonzon incident that arose during the first temple issue in the 1970s. In other words, the priesthood’s authority is placed before the truth of the matter.
The following is excerpted from Hosoi’s article:
“Journey to Sanuki”
Staying over one night at Rissho-ji, whose chief priest is Enkai Akiyama, my old friend, I attended my first scroll-airing ceremony at Honmon-ji. It was conducted smoothly, with many priests connected to Honmon-ji in attendance—the Rev. Jimon Ogasawara of Hongen-ji, the Rev. Jiken Ono of Hon’o-ji, the Rev. Enkai Akiyama, the Rev. Jihon Akiyama from Kochi, and myself. Led in [sutra recitation] by the Rev. Nippo Soma, the ceremony was conducted solemnly. Following the sermon by the Rev. Ogasawara, I was also honored to speak. (Reported by Hosoi on August 3, 1947.)
So, Hosoi lectured after Ogaswara at this ceremony.
Reinstatement Shows Nichiren Shoshu Began Post-war Era Without Wartime Slander Reflection
Shocking facts continue.
The June 1947 Shuho covers results of the Nichiren Shoshu assembly member election announced on April 29, 1947.
There were 21 candidates, and 16 were elected. Ogasawara, who received 44 votes, was not elected. He ranked 17th and came in just behind the last successful candidate. Because he was running for an assembly seat, it means that every Nichiren Shoshu priest knew Ogasawara had been reinstated.
From this, we can tell how manipulating and cunning the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood was to have punished the Soka Gakkai and President Toda. It conveyed to the Soka Gakkai for the first time that Ogasawara’s reinstatement took place April 5, 1952.
The 2nd issue of Shuho, published June 16, 1946, carried an article titled “Sanuki Honmon-ji Entourage Visits Head Temple and High Priest,” which recounts how Nichiman-[63rd] conducted a small reception for an entourage of priests from Honmon-ji, with Ogasawara in attendance:
There was a small party with guests invited by the high priest at 6 p.m. on that day. Present at this party was the Rev. Jimon Ogasawara, who came from Tokyo after being reinstated on special pardon. Also present were Daisei Temple lay representatives, Ruio Okamoto and Mokukichi Suzuki.
Note here, “. . . reinstated on special pardon.”
When had Ogasawara been reinstated after being expelled on September 14, 1942? The first issue of Shuho, dated May 15, 1946, announces the reinstatement:
Jimon Ogasawara, former daisozu in the rank of priesthood
Shimo-takase village, Mitoyo-gun, Kagawa prefecture
In pursuant to Article 394 and 394 (sic) of the Rules of this school, the above-mentioned individual is hereby reinstated on special pardon.
March 31, 1946
The above-mentioned individual, who was once expelled from this school pursuant to Article 389-32 of the Rules of this school on September 14, 1942, shall be reinstated pursuant to Articles 394 and 395 of the Rules of this school based upon our acknowledgement of his remarkable self-reflection and renewed attitude.
The reinstatement was conveyed as Order #22 on March 31, 1946, soon after World War II ended.
This symbolically shows that Nichiren Shoshu began its post-war era without having reflected on its serious wartime slander.
Although Ogasawara had already been reinstated via special pardon through Order #22, issued in March 1946, Nichiren Shoshu issued another order (Order #31) in April 1952, under its chief administrator, in order to save face and punish President Toda. The priesthood’s manipulative nature, vivid in this plot, is disgusting.
When Law Has Perished, It Is Time for its Propagation
Nichikai Defeated in Debate With Minobu; Transcribes Gohonzon Erroneously
The year 1928 became very special one in the flow of kosen-rufu. Nichikai, Nikken’s father, was inaugurated as 60th high priest that June. Later, Nichikai committed a grave slander by erroneously transcribing the Gohonzon. When his mistake was pointed out, he took offense, asserting the authority of the high priest.
As Ho’un Abe, the Administrative Office general administrator, he had engaged in a debate with Ryozan Shimizu of the Minobu school. Defeated and silenced by Shimizu’s disciple, he brought shame upon Taiseki-ji. Then-high priest Nitchu-[58th] became so riddled with anger and disappointment that he demoted Abe in priesthood rank and took away his general administrator position.
Developing a deep grudge, Abe plotted behind the scenes to pull Nitchu down from the position of high priest. Abe was also rotten in his personal life. As Nichikai, he was the type of high priest who symbolized the “age of the ‘lost’ Law,” the time when Nichiren Shoshu disconnected the school from the Law. With Nichikai’s inauguration, Nichiren Buddhism found itself in tremendous crisis. But this great evil was a harbinger of great good. True Bodhisattvas of the Earth connected themselves with Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
The year 1928 was indeed meaningful in that Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda both joined Nichiren Shoshu around June. Daisaku Ikeda was born on January 2 of the same year.
It indeed signified a year of daybreak for the Soka Gakkai, the organization of the Buddha’s will and decree. At the dawn of the Soka Gakkai, Nichiren Shoshu had a new high priest who would later make a mistake transcribing the Gohonzon. Nichiren Shoshu’s darkness and the brightness of the Soka Gakkai contrasted vividly in 1928.
Afterward, as the priesthood grew darker, the Soka Gakkai, holding high the torch of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings, illuminated the darkness of Nichiren Shoshu and Japanese society. The war ended in 1945, signifying the time when the Law was lost in Nichiren Shoshu but began to be propagated by the Soka Gakkai.
President Toda spoke in 1953 about the significance of the Soka Gakkai’s emergence:
Criticizing the integrity of the Soka Gakkai is not good at all. Apart from the Gakkai, you won’t get any benefit from this practice. I may sound arrogant, but High Priest Nichiko once told me, “If you had appeared 400 years ago, Nichiren Shoshu would have not been this destitute.” I replied, “Because you are alive now is why I have appeared later.” In fact, this high priest did appear in order to make the Gakkai stronger . . . The Gakkai is so strong in study because of his existence. In this way, High Priest Nichiko has appeared for the emergence of the Gakkai” (2nd Adachi Chapter General Meeting, May 17, 1953).
President Toda is talking about his relationship with Nichiko-[59th]. Noteworthy is the directness of his expression that “High Priest Nichiko has appeared for the emergence of the Gakkai.”
In recent years, Nikken would respond to such a statement from a great believer, by saying, “You are committing the slander of arrogance!” This is the degree to which the priesthood’s authority and power—qualities that have nothing to do with faith—have become rampant throughout today’s Nichiren Shoshu. Because President Toda’s remark is grounded in the profundity of Buddhism, it touches people in the depths of their lives.
President Toda also said:
This is the time when the Law has perished. Nichiren Shoshu was on the verge of extinction, as its branch temple roofs were falling and tatami mats were torn up. It was the Soka Gakkai that upheld the crumbling Nichiren Shoshu. High Priest Nichiko once said to me, “Mr. Toda, without you, Nichiren Shoshu would have collapsed.” The Gakkai emerged when Nichiren Shoshu was on the brink of bankruptcy (Headquarters Leaders Meeting, September 30, 1954).
President Makiguchi, “Man of Propagation” and “Man of Action”
The Soka Gakkai was born because of its first president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi.
Nichijun Horigome-[65th], just before he took office, gave a lecture at the second Soka Gakkai general meeting in 1947. He reminisced about President Makiguchi:
Mr. Makiguchi was a very compassionate person. He often quoted a Gosho passage that came from the Nirvana Sutra. It reads, “If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, one is in fact his enemy.” This quote exactly reflected his life condition. He must have deeply felt it in his heart (October 19, 1947, from Complete Works of High Priest Nichijun).
He treated everyone equally and respectfully, including those whom he met for the first time. He always had a compassionate attitude toward people . . . On the other hand, he was very strict in his judgment and manner when handling issues. (Ibid.)
He was full of compassion but strict in dealing with others. (Ibid.)
Nichijun pointed out “compassion” and “strictness” in President Makiguchi’s character. Also, in Nichijun‘s eyes, Mr. Makiguchi was a man of propagation and a man of action:
As to Mr. Makiguchi and the topic of shakubuku (propagation), shakubuku was Mr. Makiguchi, and Mr. Makiguchi was shakubuku. The relationship between Sensei and shakubuku was important, but this is because Mr. Makiguchi had a tremendous capacity for compassion. He carried out shakubuku out of his irresistible desire to save people. He was true and faithful and strict in his shakubuku method. Nichiren states, “One who rids the offender of evil is acting as his parent.” This passage was his spiritual mainstay. Mr. Makiguchi gazed at the world of action in terms of value, so he seemed little interested in idealism. I think his act of shakubuku was a natural expression of his essential nature. Needless to say, Mr. Makiguchi pursued Nichiren Daishonin’s manner of shakubuku, putting faith in the Mystic Law. So it may be more accurate to say that his essential nature was revealed by the Mystic Law. (Ibid.)
Lastly, Nichijun spoke about President Makiguchi from an essential Buddhist perspective touching on the ultimate significance of the Gakkai’s emergence:
I am inclined to view Mr. Makiguchi from the view that he did not change simply because he encountered the Lotus Sutra, but rather he revealed his true self as, essentially, a messenger of the Buddha. I sense an indescribable dignity in him. He had many supporters, but he also had several enemies. I am compelled to put my palms together in respect for his spirit to fight through so many thorny paths and his humility toward truth and justice. (Ibid.)
President Makiguchi lived his life in exact accord with Nichiren’s teachings. From the depths of his life, Nichijun had a profound respect for Mr. Makiguchi. There is no boundary between priesthood and laity in his sincere sentiment.
Nichijun had deep respect for President Toda as well. He became 65th high priest in 1956. President Toda died on April 2, 1958. Right after that, Nichijun spoke about President Toda and the Soka Gakkai at the Gakkai’s 18th General Meeting:
As you know, the Lotus Sutra is expounded at Eagle Peak, where a huge number of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, headed by Bodhisattva Supreme Practices and followed by the three other leaders, vowed to propagate Myoho-renge-kyo without fail in the Latter Day of the Law. They have now emerged as you, which was a promise made at Eagle Peak. Mr. Toda took the initiative to call forth all of you to make the Soka Gakkai. Making the five and seven characters of Myoho-renge-kyo his 750,000 household propagation goal, he called forth all these Bodhisattvas of the Earth on this planet. (May 3, 1958, Complete Works of High Priest Nichijun)
In this way, with clear expression, Nichijun defined the Buddhist significance of President Toda and the Soka Gakkai.
Moreover, he spoke in the following manner, making clear that the Soka Gakkai is the entity that promotes kosen-rufu, realizing the words of the Buddha; and that it is the organization of the Buddhas who emerged in a most timely manner. (Please keep in mind that this speech was given right after Mr. Toda’s passing, at a time when Japanese society was ridiculing the Soka Gakkai. The sentiment prevailed that the Gakkai would vanish into thin air with President Toda’s demise.):
The True Law will not spread widely without faith. This was the vow that the Buddha made. The sutra says, “In the last five-hundred-year period, the mystic way will spread and benefit humankind far into the future” (WND-1, p. 398). Without realization of this vow, it follows that the Buddha did not necessarily reveal the truth. Therefore, we are now at the stage where we will advance substantially toward kosen-rufu. President Toda built the foundation of this movement, and I think we will now make a further vigorous advance . . . Just a while ago, senior leaders, staff, and some of your representatives spoke with the same mind about your future promise. I think this is exactly what the Lotus Sutra refers to as “the gathering at Eagle Peak has not yet been dispersed.” In other words, your gathering is no different from the one that took place at Eagle Peak. Because of this, I deeply respect you. (Ibid.)
Here, he speaks about the idea of time expounded in Buddhism, referencing the life of Nichiren Daishonin and the era after his demise. Nichijun then praises the Soka Gakkai in light of the Lotus Sutra passage, “The gathering at Eagle Peak has not yet been dispersed.”
He wraps up with:
Nichiren Shoshu, in accord with your rhythm, is determined to work hard to respond to President Toda’s big undertaking. I conclude my speech by expressing my best wishes for your further great endeavors. (Ibid.)
Unfathomable compassion permeates his speech. No sign of authoritarianism or pursuit of power are seen in his remarks.
Nichijun contributed his New Year’s message to the January 1, 1959, issue of Seikyo Shimbun, asserting, “Without being a Bodhisattva of the Earth, he could not have accomplished all his great undertakings.”
Nichiren Shoshu Priesthood Commits One Wartime Slander After Another
Nichiren Daishonin writes:
Now, the Latter Day of the Law, is the time when only the seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—which is the heart of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra that Shakyamuni Buddha, who achieved enlightenment in the remote past, Bodhisattva Superior Practices and others must spread—will spread throughout this country; and there will be advantage and benefit for all people, and the blessings of Bodhisattva Superior Practice will flourish. This will happen because it is clearly stated in the sutra. Those who are firm in their aspiration for the way and sincere in their resolve should inquire about this matter in detail. (WND-1, p. 878)
The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood turned rapidly corrupt with the 1873 government decree granting freedom of marriage to Japanese priests. Dark battles for the position of high priest were already being seen in the Meiji Period.
Powerful Nichiren Shoshu priests staged a successful coup against Nitchu-[58th] in the Taisho Period.
After the Showa Era unfolded, Nichiren Shoshu committed a string of slanders, including Nichikai’s erroneous Gohonzon transcription, deletion of Gosho passages, acceptance of the Shinto talisman, instructing lay believers to worship Shinto shrines, cooperating with the war effort, etc.
Nichiren Shoshu allowed military officers to enshrine the Shinto talisman at the Daishoin room of the head temple. Nikkyo-[62nd] perished in the high priest’s lodging quarters fire on June 17, 1945.
The national authority extensively persecuted the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, the only organization that proudly upheld Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings exactly as he taught. President Makiguchi became a prison martyr on November 18, 1944.
Nichiren Shoshu was on the verge of extinction, having completely lost Nichiren’s correct teaching.
The first step toward propagation of this great Law started simultaneously with the near evaporation of its teaching. On July 3, 1945, Soka Kyoiku Gakkai General Director Josei Toda was released from the Toyotama Prison, where he had recently been transferred. A powerful intention to spread the True Law was burning in his heart, as he writes:
Around the time Mr. Makiguchi died, I was close to the accomplishment of chanting 2 million daimoku and had acquired a sublime life condition thanks to the great mercy of the Gohonzon. After that point, I lived my life with an incredible sense of joy of the Law that I mastered through reading the Lotus Sutra in the truest sense, while spending much of my time either dealing with the interrogation or chanting daimoku. Through the investigation in prison, I learned that all my comrades were quitting their practice. I felt so vexed. At the same time, I had an upsurge of appreciation to the Gohonzon. I made a determination to dedicate my entire life to the Buddha. (“The History and Conviction of the Soka Gakkai,” Complete Works of Josei Toda)
Nichiren Shoshu, which should have inherited the mainstream of Nichiren Buddhism, had become destitute as a result of the general punishment the entire school experienced.
The financial recovery of Taiseki-ji would begin in 1952, thanks to a new pilgrimage system launched under President Toda’s auspices.
With tremendous vigor, the Soka Gakkai, led by President Toda, was taking forward steps toward kosen-rufu, defying the impurities of society and the decline of Nichiren Shoshu.
Taiseki-ji grounds as they appeared before President Toda initiated a pilgrimage system to support the destitute school.
Unprecedented Commitment to Propagation Marks President Toda’s Inauguration
In his May 3, 1951, inauguration speech as second Soka Gakkai president, Josei Toda remarked:
Some think that we can achieve kosen-rufu by having the emperor embrace the Gohonzon and let him issue an official order to the nation to embrace Nichiren Buddhism. This is a ridiculous thought. What we mean by the term kosen-rufu is, according to today’s standard, that we convert each person from attachment to heretical teachings to the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism . . .
In other words, we achieve kosen-rufu through one-to-one propagation . . . Let’s devote our lives to serving the Gohonzon by introducing it to as many people as possible. (May 3, 1951, Complete Works of Josei Toda)
Also at this inaugural, he expressed his determination as the new Soka Gakkai president:
Now, gaining great conviction through a wonderfully profound experience, I am determined to assume responsibility as president of the Soka Gakkai. Nichiren Daishonin, after establishing Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, wrote the “Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.” Since then, some 700 years have passed. Today, Asia is in the midst of war, as the Chinese Communist power prevails on the continent and world military power is gathering in Korea.
If we do nothing to better the world under such circumstances, we will be rebuked at the meeting on Eagle Peak. We will unavoidably fall into hell. I will make many tough requests of you from now on, but please live up to them for kosen-rufu.
While I am alive, I will accomplish the conversion of 750,000 households under my leadership. If my vow cannot be fulfilled during my lifetime, don’t have a funeral for me. You can merely throw my ashes into the sea off Shinagawa. (Ibid.)
He declared the conversion of 750,000 households to Nichiren Buddhism would occur toward the achievement of kosen-rufu. Incidentally, it is reported that those who had signed to recommend Mr. Toda to the presidency of the Soka Gakkai numbered only some 3,800.
In November, President Toda called to Gakkai members at the 8th anniversary ceremony of President Makiguchi’s passing, at Kanki-ryo in Nakano, Tokyo:
Your fortune is great, as you stood up when Nichiren Shoshu was on the verge of extinction. Let’s believe in the Gohonzon and gain benefit. (November 18, 1951, Complete Works of Josei Toda)
Nichiren Shoshu was perishing but then experienced a prosperity the school had never seen before thanks to support from the Soka Gakkai. The Nichiren Shoshu administration says, “Because the Law is supreme, it is a matter of course that Nichiren Shoshu prospers.”
Not only did Nichiren Shoshu fail to appreciate the Soka Gakkai’s vast support, but it went on to implement Operation C, a grand attempt to dissolve the Gakkai and take its members, putting them under its direct control as temple members.
Nichiren Shoshu’s actions are disrespectful and inhumane. Its administration cruelly disregards the selfless dedication lay believers employed in service of its prosperity. The priesthood takes such sincerity as a its just due, becoming more arrogant than ever.
Soka Gakkai Commences Great Advance in Sync With Establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
President Toda repeatedly mentioned that the time of kosen-rufu was right at hand, especially when Nichiren Shoshu was on the decline and Nichiren Buddhism was about to perish.
In view of the Law, when Nichiren Daishonin appeared, T’ien-tai’s Lotus Sutra was almost dead. Now when the Soka Gakkai is about to flourish, Fuji Taiseki-ji was on the brink of death. Few believers were willing to protect the head temple or respect the local temple to which they belonged. Remaining were only selfish, less-motivated believers. In some awful cases, Nichiren temples only had six or seven member-households. To survive, priests still had to eat. Their temple roofs had fallen. Their tatami mats were torn up. Their main temples were in such horrible shape. It was a hard sight to see. Even today, when we go to outlying areas, we see many Nichiren Shoshu temples that look so pathetic. Just as the Lotus Sutra says, when the Law is perishing, it is the time for the propagation of the Law. (September 19, 1954, Complete Works of Josei Toda)
Buddhism supports President Toda’s great conviction, arrived at in prison, that the sign of the Great Law’s rise appears especially when the teaching is about to perish.
The 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is very significant in the movement to spread Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. President Toda shared his vow at the 6th general Soka Gakkai meeting, November 1951, with that auspicious anniversary soon to come.
President Toda’s great conviction and passion, expressed just before the 700th anniversary, wiped out all the obstacles and devilish functions and opened up the time of kosen-rufu.
Just before his own inauguration, Nichijun- commented on the Soka Gakkai’s great progress in rhythm with the 700th anniversary:
Some 900 years have already passed since the Latter Day began . . . Of course, the Latter Day of the Law does not end after the passing of 1,000 years. But the first 1,000 years of the Latter Day is coming to a close, and we have entered into the great time of kosen-rufu with the 700th anniversary of the establishment of this Buddhism as our turning point. I feel there is a profound promise behind the undertaking of propagating the True Law. In this regard, I sense that the Soka Gakkai’s connection with the Buddha is unfathomably profound. (January 1, 1956, Seikyo Shimbun)
On June 30, 1952, the year of the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, President Toda wrote “The Significance of 700th Anniversary,” which reads in part:
Today, 700 years after the days of Nichiren Daishonin, the seven characters of the Lotus Sutra will doubtlessly save the people of Japan, Korea, China, India (and the world). In the Former and Middle Days of the Law, Buddhism traveled from west to east. In the Latter Day, Nichiren Daishonin predicts it will travel from east to west. This prediction must be realized without fail because the True Buddha made it. And I would assert that now, the 700th anniversary . . . is the time for propagating Nichiren Buddhism for the sake of kosen-rufu . . .
Today, the seven disasters are happening in Japan. The entire nation suffers from famine. She is also more visibly experiencing internal strife. I assert that this is the time when the fighters of shakubuku, who are deeply connected with the Daishonin, must emerge to fulfill their mission . . .
Under such circumstances, our Soka Gakkai, honorably, was born . . . We, the Soka Gakkai members, are the people selected by Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha in the Latter Day. We are his disciples, his subjects, his children. Let’s take the initiative to herald the reality of kosen-rufu by living up to the Buddha’s mandate, respond to the Buddha’s compassion, and practice the Buddha’s teaching. I also assert that our fortune will thus become boundless. Nichiren Daishonin will truly delight at our action to propagate his Gohonzon” (June 30, 1952, Complete Works of Josei Toda).
The profound message of Buddhism shines brilliantly in this thesis by President Toda.
Similarly, on the day after the Nichiren Shoshu Assembly took its disgraceful action to punish President Toda in light of the Ogasawara Incident, Mr. Toda revealed his unfathomable conviction in another thesis, titled “The Meaning of 700 Years.”
Bond of Mentor and Disciple Is the Foundation of Soka Gakkai
Nichijun-[65th], who was then General Administrator, addressed the 7th Soka Gakkai general meeting near the end of 1952, the 700th anniversary year, saying:
It is so noble that the Soka Gakkai has been steadily realizing the happiness of self and others for the sake of humanity’s happiness. The nobility of your endeavor is indescribable. The Gakkai is dedicated to such noble activities day and night with a great desire to establish correct faith in everybody’s heart . . . Nichiren Daishonin teaches that we can achieve the bodhisattva’s fundamental vow to chant daimoku, and practice the Law for ourselves and others. This bodhisattva way is not an easy one, but there is no other way than striving together every day for this great cause. I ask the Gakkai members to take responsibility for the great shakubuku movement for kosen-rufu.” (December 7, 1952, Complete Works of High Priest Nichijun).
Nichijun, who became high priest in March 1956, placed great expectations and utmost trust upon the Soka Gakkai. On the meeting’s second day, he said:
I have been deeply moved by your research presentation, experiences, nationwide activity reports and determinations. To sum up all my impressions, I would say that Nichiren Daishonin’s soul is so vibrant within your lives. I feel you are inheriting the entirety of his life, and that we are going back to the days of the Daishonin who chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo without any complaints, as you guide the whole nation of Japan correctly.
Nichiren Shoshu is a school of Buddhism that should be the religion for all humankind. It is President Toda who shoulders this important Nichiren Shoshu. (December 8, 1952, Complete Works of High Priest Nichijun)
The Soka Gakkai is an organization devoted to accomplishing kosen-rufu, Nichiren Daishonin’s mandate. The bond of mentor and disciples is its foundation. With the oneness of mentor and disciple, we can break through all obstacles and devilish functions that stand in the way amid the battle for kosen-rufu, and all Soka Gakkai members can advance along the correct path of faith that enables them to attain Buddhahood.
For this very reason, obstacles and devilish functions aim to sever the ties of mentor and disciple.
Nichijun commented on the oneness of mentor and disciple right after President Toda’s passing:
What is the basis of faith in the world of the Soka Gakkai? It is the relationship between mentor and disciple. First confirming this relationship and thereby deepening one’s faith are most important. The strong faith of Soka Gakkai members derives from this very point. President Toda, I believe, taught this pivotal point in faith. When members believe in the mentor and the mentor guides them in faith, then there is no doubt that all correctly understand Buddhism. Therefore, the “Supernatural Powers of the Thus Come One” chapter [of the Lotus Sutra] states, “Such a person assuredly and without doubt will attain the Buddha way.” This passage indicates that your devotion to the way of mentor and disciple enables you to achieve this great life condition of Buddhahood. President Toda put this principle into action. I don’t think anybody other than Mr. Toda thought so much about President Makiguchi. He lived his life together with President Makiguchi more than he did with his parents. You will understand Buddhism especially when you pursue the way of discipleship toward your mentor. Through both first and second presidents, you can gain a correct way of practice and advancement. I sincerely wish that with the power of your unity you will respond to your current president’s earnest resolve. (June 1, 1958, Complete Works of Nichijun Shonin)
Nothing is as important in Buddhism as the bond of mentor and disciple.
President Toda: “Uphold the Third President. Then, You Can Achieve Kosen-rufu.”
I will entrust the third presidency upon the youth division, not to the disciples of Mr. Makiguchi, for they are already old. The third president will be just one person, but you should never be split under his leadership. Just as Mr. Makiguchi’s disciples are supporting me, my disciples should uphold the third president. I will entirely dedicate my life to kosen-rufu. You can throw my body in the offing of Shinagawa after my death. Or you can abandon it at any place you like. As long as you uphold the third president, you will be able to achieve kosen-rufu without fail. (February 17, 1952, Complete Works of Josei Toda)
As early as 1952, President Toda made reference to the importance of the future third Soka Gakkai president. To foster a gap between President Ikeda and us, his disciples, some deny that President Toda designated Daisaku Ikeda as the third president. This is groundless.
It could not happen that President Toda was dubious about designating the third president. It is a distorted view to claim he had possibly designated somebody other than President Ikeda.
The vast accomplishments under Honorary President Ikeda’s leadership since his 1960 inauguration as third president are beyond reckoning. No other leader could have achieved so much. We should view this reality humbly and open-mindedly. Kosen-rufu is progressing assuredly under Honorary President Ikeda.
All the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, centering on Honorary President Ikeda, the great general of propagation, will definitely overcome every sort of persecution and unsparingly spread the Great Law throughout the world.
 A group of priests within Nichiren Shoshu that were critical of the Soka Gakkai. After the death of Nittatsu (66) they challenged the legitimacy of Nikken as the next high priest. In January 1981, Shoshinkai priests filed a lawsuit against Nikken, seeking to nullify his status as high priest. The following year, Nikken expelled about 180 Shoshinkai priests from the priesthood.
 One who preaches the Buddhist Law, or teachings, out of the desire to gain fame or profit is reborn as a Law-devouring hungry spirit. They are so greedy that they expound teachings to the people for the purpose of earning a livelihood and accumulating riches.
 A new religion founded in 1924 in Japan. The name was later changed to the Church of Perfect Liberty.
 Bloody May Day (May 1, 1952)Every year on May 1, Japanese labor unions and political parties of the left hold big demonstrations that also serve as opportunities for political protest. The 1952 demonstrations in the public plaza in front of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo were the first after the San Francisco Peace Treaty had been signed. Demonstrators opposed to the treaty terms entered the Imperial Palace grounds, which were off-limits, and clashed with police. A bloody battle ensued, in which police used teargas and fired pistols at the unarmed demonstrators, causing many deaths and injuries.
 Red Purge incident— a major sweep of Japanese Communist Party members and its supporters during the U.S. occupation of Japan. In 1949, mass dismissals of JCP members and union activists took place in government offices and private companies. Within the next year, the wave of unjust sacking covered all industries in Japan, ousting nearly 40,000 workers from their workplaces as “subversives.”