This section begins with a veritable panoply of Nichiren Shoshu misinformation. 
Although formed as a Nichiren Shoshu lay group by its first presidents Makiguchi and Toda . . . 
This is not exactly accurate. Mr. Makiguchi found the Daishonin's Buddhism through an associate who was a member of Nichiren Shoshu, and it was the Daishonin's Buddhism that he embraced; his conflicts with the priesthood from the very beginning have been documented by Mr. Toda in his essay "History and Conviction of the Soka Gakkai." 

In a typical example of Nichiren Shoshu trying to make one point while actually making another, its members on ARBN began posting, in 1997, an excerpt from a book by Danial Metraux, (currently Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Chairman of the Department of Asian Studies at Mary Baldwin College) The Soka Gakkai Revolution (1994 University Press of America, Inc.). 

It's not clear what Nichiren Shoshu hoped to accomplish by digging out this quote; but what it did accomplish was disprove the opening statement of this section of the SG-eye website. The excerpt is from the transcript of Mr. Makiguchi's interrogation in prison: 

Makiguchi: I do not want to be a priest. If I were to become a priest and have a temple, my activities would be limited to Nichiren Shoshu activities. I could not talk about my philosophy of Value in the temple if I were a priest. Therefore, I wanted to be a layman. This way I could infuse my philosophy into Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. This, I think, is the uniqueness of my group, the Gakkai. 

Military Police: Is the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai's idea of faith based on Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism? 

Makiguchi: All members of the Gakkai belong to a local Nichiren Shoshu temple. However, the purpose of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai is to infuse my philosophy into Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. The Gakkai is the Layman's Religious Organization, which has completely different ideas than Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism.

The SG-eye opening statement goes on: 
. . . Soka Gakkai documents from the early 70's reveal that Ikeda longed for the opportunity to head his religion. When, in the early 90's, Ikeda was reprimanded by the Nichiren Shoshu Priesthood for his arrogant views this presented the perfect opportunity for Ikeda to split the group away from Nichiren Shoshu. 
The most obvious distortion here is that is that President Ikeda "split" from Nichiren Shoshu. In fact, Nichiren Shoshu, in December of 1990, initiated a series of actions that culminated in it expelling the Gakkai a year later. 

The actual chronology of events makes it clear that the priesthood was determined to break up, or take over, the Soka Gakkai, no matter what the Soka Gakkai did. The moves leading to the separation were all unilateral, all initiated by Nichiren Shoshu. 

In November 1990, Mr. Ikeda gave a speech that Nikken used as his excuse for initiating the moves. The priests' own version of his "heretical" November 16, 1990 speech shows that the "arrogance" Mr. Ikeda showed was a concern that the Law could not be propagated correctly with the current situation in the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. 

Dai Nichiren 2, "On the SG Problem, p.11ff: 

"Right now, with Buddhism as the cornerstone, we're doing our best with the cultural activities — culture, peace. (Nikken) says 'We don't need culture', he says, 'It's heresy'. I just can't figure it out. It's because he hasn't had to suffer, doesn't know what's really going on, doesn't understand society. And that's because he hasn't done any shakubuku.... the High priest's gotta think of the happiness of the members. It's not about power ... Again, you take that difficult doctrine. You listen but you can't understand it for the life of you. Nobody understands it, it's like listening to German. And then he says 'I'm the head around here. You and the other followers are believers, believers.' That kind of thing just does not make it in this day and age...In the final analysis, the bottom line is the Gosho, it's the Gohonzon. If you understand that much, it's enough.... Hojo says 'The future looks pretty bleak, doesn't it?' I said ... 'we're going to bear the most dazzling fruits imaginable by our 60th anniversary, so buck up!' ... Hojo says 'Do you think so?' What, was he a fool? ... The Daishonin says 'the passing of my disciples' or 'our passing'. He doesn't use the words 'the passing of the believers.' No, not the Daishonin. He never says anything of the kind.... In 700 years, they weren't able to accomplish very much shakubuku. Nichijun Shonin understood this fact very well. Now they think it's a matter of course that the SG does shakubuku. And some of them are pretty pompous about it.... These days, reflecting on the times, there is no way a great religion can develop based on that kind of dogmatic standardization. They just don't know how hard we've struggled.... The movement for world peace is correct. The activities of the culture are appropriate. 

Let's do it up big!...If all we do is get up in the morning and say 'Shingon is the ruin of the nation, and 'Zen is the work of devils', we'll just be degrading the Law, don't you think?" 

[the DaiN's insertion of "you knows" and such removed by me.] 

Nikken finds this speech scandalous, but what is in it? It's the speech of a man concerned about the propagation of the Law, who sees that the people who want credit for the propagation of the Law (the priesthood) don't have a clue as to what they are doing. President Ikeda's big "sin" was that he dared to point this out, dared to criticize the High priest. 

On December 23rd, 1990, Nichiren Shoshu amended its bylaws to 

  • a) remove SGI President Ikeda and Soka Gakkai President Akiya from positions on the inter-lay group council of Nichiren Shoshu; and 
  • b) make it an egregious error to "merely criticize" the High Priest. 
The Nichiren Shoshu Ipcress committee posted some comments from Mr. Akiya that, they evidently thought, made some negative point about the SGI — but Ipcress didn't realize the significance of the dates: 
"We (the Soka Gakkai) feel that the Shoshinkai behaviour of denying the heritage, which is fundamental to Nichiren Shoshu, of the High Priest and, moreover, of taking none other than his excellency to court is an extreme perversion of faith, nothing other than the work of demons and worthy of the greatest censure" 
—President Akiya 23rd Dec 1990 
And: 
On January 1st 1991 President Akiya wrote: 
"It is an unmistakable fact that the Shoshinkai denied His Excellency (Nikken Shonin's) inheritance. Denial of the inheritance is in itself a denial of the fundamental doctrine of Nichiren Shoshu, and would be an extremely sinful deed, wouldn't it? 

"We (the Soka Gakkai) think one could never go too far in censuring especially this. In that sense, whatever the excuse the Shoshinkai gives for it's denial of the inheritance, the essence of the thing is in the perversion of their faith, and I think it has nothing to do with the Soka Gakkai." 

After a series of demands from Nichiren Shoshu for a confession and apology from President Ikeda; after Nichiren Shoshu removed Mssrs. Ikeda and Akiya from important positions; after Nichiren Shoshu made it a "sin" to "merely criticize" the High Priest — after all that, Mr. Akiya was publicly expressing support for Nikken, was publicly disseminating a doctrine insited on by Nichiren Shoshu. 

And Nichiren Shoshu had the audacity to assert that it was the Soka Gakkai that was seeking the separation? 

Regarding the objections to the speech, it is quite well documented that, until December 23, 1990 — and beyond — the Gakkai sought to have meetings with the priesthood to discuss its objections. These were turned down. According to a "Response to Questions Regarding the Dispute With the Soka Gakkai", issued in early 1991 by the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, ".. even if they were discussed at the Communications Conferences, which Honorary President Ikeda does not attend, it is doubtful that there would be any resolution." From the point-of-view of the priesthood, once a lay person has any sort of criticism of the priesthood, the only satisfactory conclusion must be for the lay person to "confess and apologize". It doesn't matter if the lay person's criticism arise from a concern for kosen-rufu — if the priests don't like it, "confess and apologize", no discussion needed. 

So there were no discussions. Instead, on January 6, 1991, Nichiren Shoshu issued "Six Guidelines for Temples In Response to the Problems Between the Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu". These included: 

1. . . Priests are to inform general members so that they can become fully aware that we are asking Honorary President Ikeda to apologize for his errors.

5. Any member who withdraws form the Soka Gakkai may become a direct member of a temple and may be accepted into the Hokkeko. This is the same as in the past, but until the present, we have acted upon this with a passive attitude. From now on, we will take positive action to receive these members. . . 

Would someone who did not want to engender a split — who wanted an amiable solution — be referring to "the Soka Gakkai Problem", be taking "positive" actions to separate members form the Gakkai, one week after issuing its first response (in the form of the amending of its bylaws) to requests to talk? 

Up to this point, what had happened was that the priesthood had objected to the speech, and the Gakkai had asked for the opportunity to talk about it — and, Mr. Akiya had made statements in support of Nikken. There was no other action by the Gakkai, no indication that President Ikeda had been looking for "an opportunity to split the group from Nichiren Shoshu". The tearing had begun, but every rip was initiated by actions of the priesthood. 

Also on January 6th — the same day the "Six Guidelines" were promulgated by the Head Temple — High Priest Nikken gave a very disingenuous sermon that the Grand Reception Hall, in which he announced that the roots of the problem were actually in the attitude President Ikeda had taken toward the building of the Sho Hondo during the late Sixties! 

Attacks on President Ikeda had begun, from the very highest source within Nichiren Shoshu. It was not the November speech that was causing the problem; from the viewpoint of the Daishonin's Buddhism, really, there was nothing slanderous about it at all, and it would have made a good basis for discussions between the Gakkai and the priesthood about their respective roles as the 21st Century began. No, the problem was that Nikken was trolling for a justification to begin his campaign to separate Gakkai members from their leadership. 

On March 5th, 1991 — still with no action by the Gakkai except objections to the unfair and misleading statements the priesthood had made to that point — the Head Temple unilaterally declared that the SGI should not be permitted to give guidance to, and care for, members outside of Japan. Two months later, the priesthood withdrew the Gakkai's right to organize pilgrimages. 

President Ikeda was "looking for an opportunity"? Nichiren Shoshu invented its opportunities, and took the action it had decided on, whether events justified them or not. 

The SG-eye introduction then goes on to say: 

Any new religion needs adherents and Mr. Ikeda's new religion . . . 
The religion the SGI practices is that founded by Nichiren Daishonin, and taught by him throughout his lifetime. It is "new" in the sense that, while it was supporting the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, SGI accepted some of the traditions and practices that had been introduced in the intervening 700 years by that very priesthood. In fact, since many of Nichiren Shoshu's doctrinal teachings (the heritage of the Law to only a single person, the power of the High Priest to make the Gohonzon effective, the necessity of a priest conducting memorial prayers for the deceased, etc.) have no basis in the actual writings of Nichiren but originate with subsequent priests, it could easily be said that the religion practiced by the Gakkai is older than that practiced by Nichiren Shoshu. 
. . . needed justify (sic) his actions to the members by painting a ugly (sic), distorted picture of Nichiren Shoshu, its priesthood & High Priest Nikken Shonin. 
The events leading to the split — the actual events, not their subsequent rationalizations — are exactly as outlined above and below (in the section replying to SG-eye's "Deja Vu" page). There is no need to characterize them — they are what they are. It is Nichiren Shoshu's burden to paint these actions as initiated by President Ikeda, to "paint him" as an aggressor and apostate. That in itself makes Nichiren Shoshu the aggressor, justifying its actions by trying to escape its own responsibility for them. 

1) "Geisha Airbrushing" 

Addressed elsewhere. (see "AntiSocial")

2) "Deja Vu" 
This section is just the Nichiren Shoshu rewriting of events in the 1970's. Before 1972, the Soka Gakkai in Japan donated many temples to the priesthood, with special emphasis, of course, on the construction of the Sho Hondo at Taisekiji. With the completion of that project — and with the understanding of the 66th High Priest, Nittatsu Shonin — SGI turned its attention to its own infrastructure. The resulting slowdown in the number of temples being built caused some consternation within the priesthood, especially among younger priests. 

Gakkai utterances were examined with a fine-tooth comb, and of course some deviations from strict dogma were found. For instance, there is a very difficult concept called "oneness of the Person and the Law", which is an attribute of the state of Buddhahood. As the Gakkai was spreading the Daishonin's Buddhism among lay people in society, it sought a) to make Buddhist concepts relevant to daily life, and b) to make them understandable. In this case, "oneness of person and law" was explained in terms of a job — if one has a position, he must perform the function of that position. In a strict sense, the priesthood said, this concept should only be explained in terms of the Gohonzon. 

There was a movement within the priesthood, then, to disband the Gakkai. The "Kawabe Memo" records events from around this time: a Gakkai leader was offered a special Gohonzon if he would quit the Gakkai, and Rev. Kawabe and Rev. Abe (later to become the current High Priest Nikken) held a series of conversations on the ramifications of doing away with the lay organization. 

Nichiren Shoshu points to a document written around this time, that it calls "The Hojo Memorandum", after its author, a Soka Gakkai vice-president (and later president of the Japanese organization). Because the memo talks about going it alone, without a connection to Nichiren Shoshu, Nichiren Shoshu says this proves that the Gakkai was planning on "taking over the priesthood". 

Written in 1974, the "Hojo Memorandum" was an internal memo, summarizing the thoughts of Mr. Hojo. Until Nichiren Shoshu was given a purloined copy, it remained an internal memo — its recommendations were never considered by the Gakkai, and, most tellingly, were never acted on. 
Ever. 

But Nichiren Shoshu now says it "proves" that as long ago as 1974, the Gakkai was planning to secede from Nichiren Shoshu. 

The absolute absurdity of that notion is obvious, if one examines the actual events between 1975 and December 1990. In every case where there was a conflict, the Gakkai is the party that made concessions. 

Consistent with the priesthood's doctrine that, when there is a conflict between a lay person and a priest, the only acceptable solution is for the lay person to "confess and apologize", the Gakkai leadership did just that, again and again. These "confessions" Nichiren Shoshu now say were "insincere" and "expedient"; but the truth is that the priesthood, then as in 1991, would allow no discussion, no entertaining of the idea that whatever the priesthood said was not ex cathedra — basically that the priests were holding kosen-rufu hostage: "No discussion of whether you are right or wrong; just say you were wrong and apologize, or else we will sever ties between the priesthood and the lay organization that is doing so well." The Gakkai chose to submit to these demands in order to preserve the kosen-rufu movement — up to and including the most demeaning concession, of forcing its president to resign, as the (supposedly) ultimate apology. (At the time, Mr. Ikeda was president of both the Soka Gakkai, the Japanese lay organization; and of the Soka Gakkai International, a position he was allowed to keep.) Mr. Hojo became the fourth President of the Soka Gakkai, and two priests appointed by the head temple were placed on the Soka Gakkai board of directors and its doctrinal committee (June 1979 Seikyo Times, p. 16). 

Nittatsu Shonin, the 66th High Priest, understood the nature of the charges against the Gakkai, finally stating unequivocally in his instructions to the priests that the Gakkai had been guilty of no major doctrinal errors — and that even the "wooden Gohonzon" issue was resolved — and that there was to be no more criticism of the Gakkai over it. 

Nonetheless, criticisms continued within the priesthood after Mr. Abe became the 67th High Priest Nikken. One group of young priests, calling themselves "Shoshinkai," even questioned the legitimacy of Nikken's accession, and continued to use the Hojo Memo to attack the Gakkai. To exert and consolidate his authority, one of Nikken's first acts was to demand a further concession from the Gakkai in the form of a written, and published, apology from President Ikeda — despite the fact that he had already taken the extreme step of resigning, despite the fact that Nikken knew full well that Mr. Ikeda had already reprimanded Mr. Hojo, and that his Memo had been rejected by the Gakkai leadership. 

If the Gakkai had ever planned to leave Nichiren Shoshu, the years 1979-1980 certainly provided justification for doing so. But instead, the Gakkai continued doing whatever was necessary to maintain unity between the priesthood and laity — in this case, issuing "Thoughts on the 23rd Anniversary of My Late Master," the "apology" from President Ikeda demanded by Nikken. 

The Gakkai had already issued apology after apology; President Ikeda had resigned; Gakkai executives had acceded to the demand allowing priests to monitor their own activities, as well as those of the study department. As far as redressing the disagreements of the past, the priesthood had everything it wanted. 

Obviously, the demand for a further apology from the resigned president was purely political, and served nothing but the interests of High Priest Nikken, both in his relations with the priests of his sect and with the lay organization. 

First, it allowed him to demonstrate to those dissident priests that he controlled the Gakkai and controlled President Ikeda. Nonetheless, the Shoshinkai continued in its criticisms of both Nikken and the Gakkai, and were eventually expelled from the sect. 

Second — and most relevant to today's events — Nikken supposed that if President Ikeda ever dared to speak out again in a way inconsistent with Nikken's agenda, he could just whip out this "apology" and silence him. 

Nichiren Shoshu does whip out all these past events now, as if to justify their actions in attacking the Gakkai incessantly. All it actually proves is the Gakkai's sincerity in wishing to preserve the unity necessary to achieve kosen-rufu. 

It was entirely actions of Nichiren Shoshu — not those of the Gakkai — that disrupted that unity. To its credit, the Gakkai is proceeding towards kosen-rufu without the priesthood, which has chosen to be left behind.

Other "Temple Issue" Topics:

  • The Kawabe Memo
  • The Seattle Trial
  • Zen Cemetery
  • Shinto Talisman
  • Truth About the Heritage