Here SG-eye lists several principles, and uses quotations to try to show that the Nichiren Shoshu teaching on these principles is correct. Since the standard of correctness in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is Nichiren Daishonin, there is no need to address any of the quotes except those attributed to him. The inclusion of quotes from various High Priests is curious, to say the least, since it is the contention of the SGI that the deviations from the Daishonin were introduced by various High Priests — so quoting them only serves to prove that point. As for the quotes from the Gakkai presidents — let’s just say, for the ten thousandth time, that yes, at one time the SGI supported the priesthood, and took instruction from the priesthood on doctrine. No one denies that; but the question is not “Who said what and when did they say it?” The question is “What is correct, and who teaches it now?”
A draft of these SG-eye pages was posted to ARBN in March 1998 by the Ipcress group.
“The Heritage of the Law passes through the lineage of Successive High
1-a “The successive Shonin are all, without exception, Nichiren.”The most obvious thing to anyone who has experienced Nichiren Shoshu members’ use of the Gosho is that the priests supply them with single sentences or paragraphs, and are loathe to let them know the context of those sentences. This is one such example. Ask any Nichiren Shoshu member what the other six “teachings on the Gohonzon” are, and you will receive no answer. They keep bringing this passage up, yet they don’t know if it’s context supports or proves the point they want to make. The priests, who obviously gave them this quote, do not want them to know the context.
The SGI has published other excerpts from this writing. It says the Four Heavenly Kings are without exception Nichiren. It says the four kinds of believers are without exception Nichiren.
The meaning of the sentence Nichiren Shoshu cherishes is not, as Nichiren Shoshu wants its followers to believe, that the High Priest of their sect has been singled out as the only one who is “without exception Nichiren.” Every character depicted on the Gohonzon possesses the life condition of the True Buddha.
This is exactly consistent with other writings of the Daishonin. In "Real Aspect of the Gohonzon" (Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 832), after describing the physical appearance of the Gohonzon, he writes:
Without exception, al the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, great sages, and, in general, all the various beings of the two worlds and eight groups who appear in the “Introduction” chapter of the Lotus Sutra dwell in this Gohonzon. Illuminated by the light of the five characters of the Mystic Law, the display the dignified attributes that they inherently possess. This is the object of worship.The essence of the Lotus Sutra, and of the Daishonin’s teachings, is that every being inherently is “without exception, Nichiren” (meaning the True Buddha).
1-b “This (oral) transmission of the law is an initiation into the secrets and is only transmitted to one person.”Ask any Nichiren Shoshu member for anything else from “The First Bath”, and again silence. This one sentence is all the priests will allow them to know about.
In the past, even Taisekiji expressed doubts that this essay was written by either Nichiren or Nikko. Its subject matter is certainly inconsistent with the lifetime of writings either left behind.
Most of the founders of the other sects extant in the 13th Century had all sorts of “miracles” and paranormal events attributed to them. One, for instance, tossed a mallet from Japan to China; another dreamt of shooting an arrow at the sun. Nichiren was associated with no such phenomena. “The First Bath” was an attempt by someone probably a disciple of Nikko — to “correct” this. It’s full of visions and celestial occurrences surrounding his birth, and is otherwise completely inconsistent with the real world teachings the Daishonin devoted his life to.
The priests know this, and
if they were to share the context of this quote with their followers,
1-c) “I have appointed Byakuren Ajari Nikko as the So-kanzu, the general chief priest, and transfer the entirety and every detail of the true doctrine of Nichiren. The top senior priests down to every disciple must regard each of the successive High Priests transferred from Nikko to each in succession to be the So-kanzu, general chief priest, without any opposition as in this time for throughout eternity in the future.Has any Nichiren Shoshu member who doesn’t read Japanese ever seen the other 105 articles? Evidently not — no one seem to know the context of this quote, either.
The 59th High Priest, Nichiko Hori, was a great scholar of the Daishonin’s writings, and was absolutely essential in compiling the collected writings (Gosho Zenshu) in 1953. It is a telling fact that many of the documents Nichiren Shoshu uses to argue its legitimacy as the “true school” of Nichiren were found by Rev. Hori only in the libraries of other sects. He expressed doubts about the authenticity of many of the writings later attributed to Nichiren, and about parts of others — including this passage from “106 Comparisons.”
Despite all that — that this passage is was probably written by someone else, and that it’s context isn’t known and could (probably, given Nichiren Shoshu’s reluctance to share the rest) actually mean the opposite of what the priests want their members to believe — the passage still says nothing at all about “the enlightened life of Nichiren” being passed to each High Priest, and no one else. It says followers of the sect should regard the High Priest, not as the one and only receptacle of the Law, but as the general administrator.
No one argues that Nikken is not the current general administrator of Taisekiji.
1-d) “This Heritage and the essential matters of the Gohonzon are documents of the transmission of the Law from Nichiren to the successive Master of the Seat of the Law. They concern the transmission bestowed at the treasure tower, the transmission of the Heritage of the Law exclusively from one to the next.”Congratulations to you if you can decipher what that’s supposed to be saying. It appears that Nichiren Shoshu wants its members to believe that Nichiren wrote a secret document indicating that the real power of the Gohonzon is to be found in documents. That doesn’t seem consistent with anything else he wrote about the Gohonzon.
It is also odd that Nichiren who 1) said he was not the founder of any school, and 2) censured priests relentlessly for distorting the teachings of the Buddha and Tien-tai and Dengyo — it’s odd that he would, near the end of his life, write documents (most of which were found in the temples of other sects) demanding that his future believers uncritically accept that future high priests of his sect always spoke with enlightened wisdom.
More than laymen or lay women, it is the priests with perverse wisdom and hearts who are the Buddha’s worst enemies. —WND, p. 1028, "Letter to Niike"That last writing, the "Rissho Ankoku Ron," is especially virulent in its condemnation of certain priests.
So Nichiren Shoshu would have us believe that Nichiren was aware that the successor- priests of the great sages unfailingly perverted their doctrines — but assumed it would never happen to his doctrines. Sure.
By the way, Nichiren Shoshu members argue against this point by maintaining that the Daishonin’s condemnations were directed toward priests of other sects — as if “turning their backs on Shakyamuni”, obscuring the sutra”, teaching a secret transmission”, etc., are not evil in themselves, but only because they were done by priests of Shingon, Nembutsu, Zen, etc. The Daishonin condemns those priests for their evil acts, which he enumerates — not for the names of their sects. And those acts are acts any person, at any time, is capable of performing. Nichiren Shoshu priests were certainly not exempted from them by Nichiren: if they act that way, they are to be condemned.
1-e) “No matter what, be close to the priest who knows the heart of the Lotus Sutra, keep learning from him the truth of Buddhism and continue your journey of faith.”This is from the "Letter to Niike," quoted above — the one saying that priests, more than laity, are the Buddha’s worst enemies. Nichiren Shoshu attempts, by instructing its members on various random sentences, to make it appear this Gosho is an argument for holding priests, per se, in the very highest esteem; and for unquestioning obedience to any priest.
If the priests would allow their followers to read the entire Gosho, they would be startled to learn that its major points are the exact opposite: it is an argument against formality over substance, and makes no distinction whatsoever between priests and laity as purveyors — or perverters — of the Law.
Had the True Buddha chosen to appear in 13th Century Japan and preach the Mystic Law as a lay person, no one would have paid the least bit of attention to him. Was it because only a priest could be the True Buddha? Does anyone believe that — that the True Buddha would have preached an incorrect teaching had he chosen to be a lay member?
Of course not. But until that time, Buddhism had been the exclusive property of priests. So the Daishonin became a priest so that he could teach a Buddhism that removed an individual’s dependence on a priesthood. Naturally, to learn this new Buddhism, one had to be close to a “priest” — a specific priest, Nichiren Daishonin. And he describes the kind of priest one must be close to: “who know the heart of the Lotus Sutra.” (WND, p. 1026) And later in the same Gosho he says:
“More than lay men and lay women, it is priests with twisted understanding who are the Buddha’s worst enemies”and
“No matter how wise a person may appear to be, if his assertions are warped you should not listen to him. Nor should you follow priests merely because they are venerable or of high rank. But if a person has the wisdom to know the true meaning of the Lotus Sutra, no matter how lowly he may appear, pay respect to him and make offerings to him as though he were a living Thus Come One. That is why the Great teacher Dengyo says that the men and women who believe in this sutra, even if they lack knowledge or violate the precepts, should be seated above priests who observe all 250 precepts of the Hinayana teachings, and never be seated in a humble position, and that this is all the more true of the priests of this Mahayana sutra.” —WND, p. 1028Nichiren says that one’s honor is directly proportionate to his “knowing the spirit of the Lotus Sutra” - and he does not exclude laity from that group
1-f) “One cannot master this sutra if one has not received the transmission.”Well, no one is quite sure what “Shinpen” is — at least, not the Nichiren Shoshu members who frequently post this quotation. It seems to be a collection of writings by various priests, including Nichiren, that Nichiren Shoshu uses as source material. Of course, it has never been translated into English, so obviously these snippets were provided to Nichiren Shoshu’s internet committee by the priests in Japan. And the people who quote a few selected sentences have no idea what surrounds those sentences — or even what “Shinpen” is.
Be that as it may, this sentence was obviously not written by Nichiren, for it reverses what he said about mastering the Lotus Sutra. In "The Selection of Time" he calls Nam-myoho-renge-kyo “the heart and core of the Lotus Sutra” (WND, p. 540); and in "The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra," he says: “In this single character kyo are contained all the sutras in the worlds throughout the ten directions.” (p. 145). In other words, there is not a “transmission” that precedes being able to master the Lotus Sutra: chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is mastering the sutra, and is itself the “transmission.”
1-g) “Moreover, within this [transfer] there are two paths: the general and the specific. If one transgresses between these two paths of the general and the specific even in the least, one will be unable to even think of attaining Buddhahood, and will remain mired in an endless cycle of birth and death.”For some reason, the priests told their followers that these were different passages, and their followers go along with the charade. Why? Who knows?
They are the same passage — one expanded a bit — translated differently.
In the new SGI-published collection, the Gosho is called "Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood." In the previous anthology published by the Gakkai, it was called "Admonitions against Slander." Before it was translated and published, the priests referred to it as "Reply to Lord Soya" — and used this passage to censure the Gakkai during the controversies of the late Seventies.
The Gosho — including this passage — is not in any way about the “heritage of the Law passes through the lineage of successive high priests.” Anyone who has read the Gosho knows that — because immediately following the snippet Nichiren Shoshu wants to believe is the entire writing, Nichiren says “For example.” How very telling that the True Buddha makes clear his meaning for his readers, and Nichiren Shoshu chooses to not include it!
This is a discussion of the Ceremony In the Air in the Lotus Sutra, when the Bodhisattvas of the Earth emerged, led by Superior Practices (Jpn: Jogyo). Nichiren says
The inner enlightenment of the Buddha is far beyond the understanding of voice-hearers and pratyekabuddhas (those among the assembly at the start of the preaching of the Lotus Sutra).Then:
What then are the two elements of reality and wisdom? They are simply the five characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Shakyamuni Buddha called forth the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and entrusted to them these five characters that constitute the essence of the sutra.Then comes the passage Nichiren Shoshu likes to quote, and then the “for example”:
For example, the voice-hearers in Shakyamuni Buddha’s lifetime received the seeds of Buddhahood from Shakyamuni in the distant past when he was the sixteenth son of the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence. Therefore, they could not attain enlightenment by following Amida, Medicine Master or any other Buddha. . . In the same way, to forget the original teacher who had brought one the water of wisdom from the great ocean of the Lotus Sutra and instead follow another would surely cause one to sink into the endless sufferings of birth and death. —p. 747And the Gosho concludes:
Above all, be sure to follow your original teacher so that you are able to attain Buddhahood. Shakyamuni Buddha is the original teacher for all people . . . Because I have expounded this teaching, I have been exiled and almost killed . . . The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower and the people like the field. If you deviate from these principles, not even I can save you in your next life. —p. 748Now, why doesn’t Nichiren Shoshu share the rest of this Gosho with its followers? Because the Gosho is about practicing the Lotus Sutra by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is the specific thing mentioned in that passage, and not any other form of Buddhism. It is not about what Nichiren Shoshu wants it to be about, and that’s why they try to obscure the rest of it.
There is another writing called "The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life and Death" that deals with “transmission” in great detail; in fact, Nichiren says “I have answered in complete detail” (WND, p. 217) after praising his correspondent for asking about receiving the transmission. One would think that, in arguing for a special transmission apart from the “general”, Nichiren Shoshu would quote heavily from this writing. But it never quotes it. Why?
Because it is embarrassing for Nichiren Shoshu to do so, since it, “in complete detail”, summarized the heritage, transmission and inheritance of the Law — without once even hinting at a special, private transmission. Receiving the heritage is a function of action in this case, faith manifested through practice.
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.—WND, p. 2162) “Quotes about slandering the Priesthood”
One very good example of how out of touch Nichiren Shoshu is, is its attitude that any criticism of a priest of its sect is “slander.”
Therefore, as a matter of course, it has been an unpardonable act to libel, slander, or even merely criticize the High Priest. Since times past, it has been clearly written in the provisions for the disciplinary punishment of priests, “Should anyone libel or slander the chief administrator, either through speech, written word or caricature”, but when we saw that all that was written in the provisions for the disciplinary punishment for lay members was “should anyone write oppressive literature, make drawings of or through speech or conduct, insult a priest of this sect or a member of his family”, because there was nothing clearly stated in the provisions regarding the High Priest, we added a new amendment to the Rules And Regulations to make up for that inadequacy at this time.That describes the priesthood’s meeting of December 23, 1990. The High Priest is incapable of error — or at least, in Nichiren Shoshu, the priestly and lay followers, as of this meeting, were incapable of pointing out that the High Priest might be in error. To “merely criticize” the High Priest had been slander for priests, and now they made it slander for laity — which was already forbidden to “write oppressive literature” about any priest.
2a) “The sutra explains that people in the latter day of the law will be arrogant, though their knowledge of Buddhism is trifling, and will show disrespect for the priest, neglect the law and thereby fall into the evil paths. If one truly understands Buddhism, he should show this in his respect for the priest, reverence for the Law and offering to the Buddha. Shakyamuni is not among us now, so you must respect the person with enlightened wisdom as you would the Buddha himself. If you sincerely follow him, your blessings will be bountiful. If one wishes for happiness in his next existence, he should renounce his desire for fame and fortune and respect the priest who teaches the Lotus Sutra as a Living Buddha, no matter how humble that priest’s station. Thus it is written in the sutra.”This is from the "Niike Gosho," mentioned above (in WND, it begins on p. 1026). That Gosho is also the source of 2-c, below, and more will be said there.
2-b) “If people slander the True Law, they will ruin the nation and fall into hell. Slander of the Buddha and Slander of the Priest constitute Slander of the Law. This is because the Three Treasures exist as One Entity. This concept is found in the Nirvana Sutra.”The Nirvana Sutra may indeed state that slander of one of the Three Treasures is slander of them all. But Nichiren Shoshu includes this here to indicate that they are one and the same thing — and no sutra or Gosho says that. The basis of everything is the Law, which the Buddha takes as its master. Nichiren said that those who slandered him were slandering the Votary of the Lotus Sutra — not “a priest” — and that is why they would suffer the effects of the terrible causes they were making:
Although not worthy of the honor, I, Nichiren, was nevertheless the first to spread the Mystic Law entrusted to Bodhisattva Superior Practices for propagation in the Latter Day. I was also the first, though only Bodhisattva Superior practices is so empowered to inscribe the object of devotion . . . Therefore, to have exiled me, Nichiren, to this remote island is, I believe, an offense that can never be expiated.And, again, an equally fundamental distortion is Nichiren Shoshu’s depiction of the Third Treasure as “priest” — by which they mean “male clergy”, not anything more inclusive than that — when it fact it includes the four kinds of believers: monks and nuns, laymen and lay women.
2c) “Everyone appears to believe sincerely when he first embraces the Lotus Sutra, but as time passes, he tends to become less devout; he no longer reveres nor serves the priest and arrogantly forms distorted views. This is most frightening.”It is ironic that Nichiren Shoshu uses this Gosho to argue for a special status for priests, when the same Gosho contains this passage:
Becoming a Buddha is nothing extraordinary. If you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with your whole heart, you will naturally become endowed with the Buddha’s thirty-two features and eighty characteristics. As the sutra says, “hoping to make all persons equal to me, without any distinctions between us”, you can readily become as noble a Buddha as Shakyamuni. —WND, p. 1030The Daishonin’s meaning is clear when one take into account the entire Gosho, including the passages quoted earlier:
More than laymen or lay women, it is the priests with perverse wisdom and hearts who are the Buddha’s worst enemies. —WND, p. 1028, Letter to Niike"Letter to Niike" is unabashedly a refutation of the notion that there is some special status according to position, rank or formality. It’s clear and forthright message is that, in Buddhism, it is one’s actions in behalf of the Law that makes one respectworthy, without regard to ones job.
2d) “the fourth volume of the Lotus Sutra states, ‘The offense of even uttering a single derogatory word against the priests or laity who believe in and preach the Lotus Sutra is even graver than that of abusing Shakyamuni Buddha to his face for an entire kalpa.’“ —MW Vol. 3, p. 208That is from "The Fourteen Slanders" (WND, p. 755; this quote is on p. 756). That particular quote is an odd one for inclusion in a website whose overwhelming purpose is derogatory words about an entire lay organization. And it is another odd choice of Gosho for someone trying to argue a special status for priests. It is as if Nichiren Shoshu did a word search for “priest” in the Gosho, and believes that every time the word is used it means “there is a special heritage given to priests, and no one must ever criticize them.”
“But how great is the difference between the blessings received when a sage chants the daimoku and the blessings received when we chant it?” To reply, one is in no way superior to the other. The gold that a fool possesses is no different than the gold that a wise man possesses; a fire made by a fool is the same as a fire made by a wise man. However, there is a difference if one chants the daimoku while acting against the intent of the sutra.—WND, p. 756Again — in the Daishonin’s Buddhism, it isn’t title or ceremony that is important, it is one’s heart.
Other parts of The Fourteen Slanders that, evidently, the priests haven’t shared with their followers (these are from the paragraphs immediately following the sentences Nichiren Shoshu does allow its believers to see):
When one chants the daimoku bearing in mind that there are no distinctions among those who embrace the Lotus Sutra, then the blessings one gains will be equal to those of Shakyamuni Buddha. —p. 756This is followed by several pages recounting the story of the boy Snow Mountain, who really did give his life to an ugly, viscious — but sutra-expounding demon. High Priest of Nichiren Shoshu, or animal or demon it is one’s actions, not his status, that determines he worthiness.
At the end of the Gosho, Nichiren writes:
As a lay believer, the important thing is for you to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo single-mindedly and to provide support for the priests. —p. 760There is no exposition of what he means by “support.” But, given the tenor of the rest of the Gosho, it most certainly does not mean “never criticize, just give unquestioned obedience.” Most likely, he meant material support, as this was the norm of the times. He does tell the recipient that, in addition to chanting and supporting, he should work to spread the teachings which is a function of the Third Treasure, the community of believers.
2e) “As for the debt owed to the Priesthood, both the treasure of the Buddha and the treasure of the law are invariably perpetuated by priests. To illustrate, without firewood, there can be no fire, and if there is no earth, trees and plants cannot grow. Likewise, even though Buddhism existed, without the priests who studied it and passed it on, it would never have been transmitted throughout the two thousand years of the Former and Middle Days into the Later Day of the Law. Therefore, the Daijuku Sutra states, ‘Suppose that, in the fifth five-hundred-year period, there should be someone who harasses unlearned monks without precepts by accusing them of some offense. You should know this person is extinguishing the great torch of buddhism’. Difficult to recompense indeed is the debt we owe to the Priesthood!”—MW, Vol. 5 p.11This passage is dependent on the translation of the word “sangha”; in The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin the phrase “Buddhist Order” is used instead of “priesthood.” And, again, “Buddhist Order” is the traditional meaning; Nichiren Shoshu is one of the few sects of Buddhism who regard it as only male clergy.
3) “About using Counterfeit Gohonzons, nb: New Gakkai honzons do not have an Eye Opening ceremony”
“Unless one who has grasped the essence of the Lotus Sutra conducts the eye opening ceremony for a wooden or painted image, it will be as if a masterless house were to be occupied by a thief or as if, upon a person’s death, a demon were to enter his body.”There are many Gosho in which the Daishonin says that the “essence of the Lotus Sutra” is its title, Myoho-renge-kyo, and that say that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is “mastering” the Lotus Sutra. Two have been mentioned earlier: In "The Selection of Time" he calls Nam-myoho-renge-kyo “the heart and core of the Lotus Sutra” (WND, p. 540); and in "The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra," he says: “In this single character kyo are contained all the sutras in the worlds throughout the ten directions.” (p. 145).
Just one more for now: "The One Essential Phrase" says:
“Everything has its essential point, and the heart of the Lotus Sutra is its title, or the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Truly, if you chant this in the morning and in the evening, you are correctly reading the entire Lotus Sutra.”Is there even one gosho that says that chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is something only the high priest of Nichiren Shoshu can do? Au contraire — instead we find
“According to the principle of the perfect and immediate enlightenment, there is no essential difference between the earlier and later stages of practice, and the blessings of the advanced stages are inherent in the initial stages as well. To carry out one practice is to carry out all practices, and there is no blessing that is not included therein.”Whatever “power” the high priest has derives from his invocation of the daimoku —- which is the same invocation, and thus the same power according to the gosho, chanted by the newest member. “The life of Nichiren Daishonin” is not present in the Gohonzon just to make it look pretty. It is there to benefit all humanity — and it can only do so when humans chant to it! Nichiren Shoshu separates the four powers (those of the Buddha, the Law, of faith and of practice); this reduces the Daishonin’s Buddhism to a practice of idolatry.
There is no “mastering the Lotus Sutra” apart from chanting its title, and “chanting its title” is the right of every human being on the planet.
If Nichiren Shoshu members cared about the whole Gosho, and not just selective snippets, they would know that this Gosho teaches that the Buddha’s “spiritual property” is expressed in his “pure and far-reaching voice”, which cannot be included in a statue of painting. It can, however, be included in the Gohonzon, provided by the practitioner who chants the daimoku inscribed down its center. That’s why, no matter how many “eye-opening ceremonies” a mandala undergoes, if it is not being used in one’s practice, it is not conforming to the intent of the Buddha, i.e., his “spiritual property.” The four powers cannot be separated from each other.
4) “Do Not Invent New Doctrines”
“No matter how sincerely one believes in the Lotus Sutra, ***any violation of its teachings*** will surely cause him to fall into hell, just as one crab leg will ruin a thousand pots of lacquer.”Nichiren Shoshu is never very clear about what “new doctrines” the SGI is supposed to have invented; they rail against the terms “human revolution” and “humanism.” But these mean nothing but (respectively) the inner transformation of one’s life through Buddhist practice, and respect for human life as a fundamental value. Basically:
If we understand that our life at this moment is myo, then we will also understand that our life at other moments is the Mystic Law .Nichiren Shoshu also seems to believe (as mentioned elsewhere) that the SGI’s returning to the doctrines of Nichiren Daishonin, and its jettisoning of the traditions of the priesthood which supplanted those doctrines, constitutes “inventing new doctrines.”