This website is meant, first, to be a resource for those interested in learning the actual differences between The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and Nichiren Shoshu. It is also a response to the massive Nichiren Shoshu public relations campaign on the Internet: it will demonstrate that that sect is built on sand, in both its doctrinal deviations as well as its spurious and baleful characterizations of the SGI.

This Introductory page gives some of the background of the split between Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI; and discusses email concerning this site.

Twisting Tolerance refutes the basic Nichiren Shoshu justification for its attacks on the SGI.

Foul Behavior Online analizes how Nichiren Shoshu uses the Internet to actively and deliberately use any means (other than actual dialogue) to slander the SGI. 

What The Gosho Says examines the teachings and practices of the SGI and Nichiren Shoshu as they compare to the actual teachings of Nichiren Daishonin.

The Third Treasure, Direct Connection, Nikken as the Daishonin, and Nikken
and Laity examine important points of doctrine in greater detail.

About SG-eye is an analysis of a typical Nichiren Shoshu anti-SGI website. There are also links to point-by-point refutations of the charges in each of SG-eye's sections.

The Soka Gakkai is an organization of laity practicing the Buddhism taught by Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1282). It began as a group of educators in Japan where, especially after World War II, it eventually embraced people from all walks of society — in keeping with the intent of Nichiren, who declared that he wished to "awaken all the people of Japan" to their innate Buddhahood. After 1960, Soka Gakkai's third president, Daisaku Ikeda, established affiliate organizations in the United States and other countries. In 1975, representatives of over one hundred nations met in Guam to form the Soka Gakkai International (SGI). The organization in the United States is called SGI-USA.

From 1930 to 1991, all Soka Gakkai and SGI members were also members of Nichiren Shoshu, a sect based at Taisekiji Temple near Mt. Fuji. In late 1990, its High Priest initiated a series of actions that resulted, a year later, in the excommunication of the SGI and all its members. 

As an organization that is active in society (on many levels including educational, cultural and social — and, in Japan at one time, political) Soka Gakkai has always had critics. Since the split, however, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood has fanned the flames of criticism, and has conducted a campaign to undermine confidence in the SGI, using any means it thinks will forward its agenda. Nichiren Shoshu uses its lay organizations for this campaign, taking advantage of the natural negativity held by established institutions (especially in Japan) toward the revolutionary success of the SGI in society; thus, the priesthood insulates itself from the questionable and (often) overtly unscrupulous tactics necessary to paint the most unsavory picture of the Soka Gakkai.

For example, one of these lay groups in Japan, called Myokanko, has been accused in various court proceedings of wiretapping perceived enemies of Nichiren Shoshu, including some of its own priests. Myokanko also engages in well-organized propaganda campaigns, gathering accusations against the Soka Gakkai from Japanese tabloids, and distributing them repeatedly on the Internet, long after the accusations have been proven false. It responds to criticism by bringing up a new subject and criticizing the critic.

Similar tactics are being used by members of Hokkeko, the main Nichiren Shoshu lay organization (called in the United States NST, or "Nichiren Shoshu Temple") who browse the Internet. A significant portion of this paper will be addressing one of these Hokkeko websites. 

The split between the SGI and Nichiren Shoshu, of course, is about more than accusations of impropriety. There are also differences in the application of the religion founded by Nichiren, and its basic doctrinal tenets.

When the SGI was introduced to the United States, most (if not all) of its original practitioners here were Japanese immigrants. Quite naturally, the methods they used, and the organization they developed, was based on what they knew — the Japanese organization, and the teachings of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. As the organization grew, efforts were made to adapt to more American norms; but this took the form, mainly, of adopting the symbols of America — for instance, NSA, as it was then called, made the American Bicentennial the theme of many of its campaigns in the Seventies. But while American symbols were used, Japanese customs prevailed in the culture of the organization itself. The most conspicuous Japanese custom was sitting on the floor, and it was also the most benign. Functionally it was a "top-down" organization, and leaders, at any level, set the pace and gave directions that were not to be questioned. Elements of Nichiren Shoshu's transference theory seeped in — physical proximity to the leader, for instance, would cause one to absorb some of his assumed leadership qualities. Complaints, and even suggestions, were labeled "slander".

This is not to say that there wasn't also much good about NSA; these things are brought up merely because they became the source for disillusionment for many who later became Hokkeko members they use these old criticisms as the basis for ever escalating criticism of the SGI. Most of the NSA leaders did not abuse the authority granted them by the members, and were indeed motivated by true concern for the members under their care; stories of the extraordinary efforts made by some leaders to help people through difficult times abound, even within some areas of the Hokkeko. And, it worked: from the few who were practicing in 1960, NSA/SGI-USA grew exponentially, and by 1990 there were local organizations and community centers in virtually every large city in the country.

Also by 1990, there were far more American members than Japanese, and the membership was estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. That year — before the split with Nichiren Shoshu — SGI President Daisaku Ikeda initiated efforts to truly modernize the organization, to make it reflect the realities of American culture and personality.

The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin is a truly liberating and invigorating teaching, entirely consistent with American values and aspirations. The SGI is a truly exciting organization, whose ideals are entirely consistent with those of America — and humanity in general — at its best. Those who have had the chance to experience SGI intimately and over time — from Linus Pauling to Rosa Parks to millions of ordinary people the world over — are aware of this. It is for those who have not had that chance, due to the relentless propaganda of Nichiren Shoshu, that this website is addressed.

On Internet inter-sect discussion boards (specifically, alt.religion.buddhism.nichiren [ARBN]), whenever points are raised refuting the temple's charges or doctrine, the temple members invariably steer the discussion elsewhere. For instance, if an SGI member raises the issue of Nichiren Shoshu's new version of Nikko's 26 Admonitions (changing "do not follow the high priest if he is in error" to "the high priest shouldn't have people around him who are in error"), a temple member may respond with "SGI-USA accepted an award from a Christian university" — and then the discussion veers into the difference between acknowledging other sects and accepting their doctrines, from whence it veers into something else entirely. True, in-depth examination of issues are next to impossible in that atmosphere; so another reason for this website is so that what must be said can be said, without diversions into irrelevant side issues. Also on this site are specific, point-by-point discussions of issues raised on NST-sponsored anti-SGI websites. Many specific points will be addressed concerning:

  • the beliefs and practice of the SGI, 
  • Nichiren Daishonin's actual teachings, 
  • the methods and teachings of Nichiren Shoshu, and 
  • clarifications of news items concerning the two sects. 

Neither the SGI, nor any of its affiliates, were involved in any way in writing the content of this website, or in building it (other than that SGI publication are quoted without permission). None were even aware it was being created. None asked that it be created. No local leaders were aware of it . No SGI members, other than the author and designer, were involved in, or aware of, the project or its contents until it was completed and the website constructed and running. In short, this website is in no way sponsored, sanctioned, or approved by the SGI or SGI-USA. 

The author of this site, Jim Celer, has been an SGI member since 1972. I currently hold two volunteer positions within the organization, neither of which entails work on the Internet, or massive refutation of Nichiren Shoshu such as this site represents. Since about 1994 I have been quite active encountering and engaging the Nichiren Shoshu Internet smear campaign.

Questions, comments, complaints, criticisms and suggestions can be directed to JimCeler@yahoo.com. Sincere letters will be answered as quickly as possible; spam from temple members will be read with interest and joked about over coffee with friends; email concerning this website sent to any other address will be deleted without being read. This may seem harsh, but anyone with experience putting anything negative on the Web about Nichiren Shoshu will understand immediately why it's necessary.