Rebutting the Nichiren Shoshu Priesthood's Condemnation of the Soka Gakkai's Conferral of the Gohonzon 
The following is a point-by-point rebuttal to charges made by the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood in a document they published called NST News, Special Issue: Soka Gakkai Announces Issuance of Counterfeit Gohonzons, in which the priesthood argues that the Gakkai does not have the right to confer the Gohonzon on its members. Any special brackets "{}" include text we have added for clarity, based upon the full text of the NST document. "NST" is the acronym for the religious corporation "Nichiren Shoshu Temples" in the United States. 
NST allegation #3 

When 35th High Priest Nichion Shonin received the Transmission of the Law, he was honored with the following words from 33rd High Priest Nichigen Shonin. He wrote: 

"Nichigen Shonin gave me the instruction, 'Once you have accepted and stored this ultimate secret Law [of the Gohonzon] within yourself, [the inner realization of] Nichiren, Nikko, Nichimoku, and all the successive High Priests up to Nichi'in, Nichigen, and including you, is all one entity. Realize that at this point in the Latter Day of the Law, it is you Nichion who is the present High Priest possessing the three virtues of sovereign, teacher and parent, so that all the Daimoku chanted by those who believe in the teachings of Taiseki-ji is the Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the secret Law of your inner realization.'" 
The 56th High Priest Nichio Shonin, further explained: 
"The Transmission of the Entity of the Law entails the legitimate entrustment of the golden utterance [of the Buddha]. If one has not been successively entrusted with the golden utterance, one is decidedly unable to transcribe the Gohonzon." How does the Soka Gakkai interpret these passages? It must be understood that the profound doctrines relating to the Entity of the Law of the Gohonzon are definitely transmitted solely from one High Priest to the next, and that complete authority concerning the Gohonzon is possessed by only one person the High Priest. 
NST News, Special Issue, p. 10). 
Rebuttal to allegation #3 

(i) "The secret Law" in Nichigen's words above refers to nothing other than the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws. It does not refer to a "secret entity" possessed only by the high priest to the exclusion of all others. There are no secrets in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. It is not a hermetic, esoteric or occult teaching. The "Three Great Secret Laws" (indicating the Dai-Gohonzon, Daimoku and the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism) are called so because before Nichiren Daishonin, they were "hidden in the depths" of the Lotus Sutra. The Daishonin revealed and clarified them for all humanity so that all people could attain Buddhahood equally in the Latter Day of the Law. 

When we have faith in the Dai-Gohonzon ["the secret Law"] and chant daimoku, we can manifest the Daishonin's life-condition, that is, the Buddha nature, from within our own lives. Thus we become "one entity" with the Daishonin. In the above passage, Nichigen encourages his successor, Nichion, that he is "one entity" with Nichiren Daishonin by virtue of his faith in the Dai-Gohonzon. 

During this time, Taiseki-ji's validity was being criticized and strongly attacked by other Nichiren sects. This statement thus instilled confidence in Nichion that he, among all the other high priests of the various sects, was directly connected to the Daishonin because of his faith in the Dai-Gohonzon. It was not intended to exclude everyone else from the possibility of having such a connection with the Daishonin. Nor was it meant to imply that Nichion, simply by becoming high priest, was automatically equivalent to the true Buddha himself, regardless of any faith or effort on his part. Nichigen's words are to emphasize the importance of accepting the Dai-Gohonzon with sincere faith, to assert the head temple's validity based on faith in the Dai-Gohonzon, and to emphasize the important responsibility of the high priest to protect the Daishonin's Buddhism. 

(ii) Immediately prior to the passage from Nichio, quoted by NST above, Nichio defines "the entity of the Law" as the Dai-Gohonzon, stating: "The entity of the Law specifically transferred is the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, which is enshrined at this temple" (Bennaku Kanjin Sho, p. 212). In fact, Nichio (56th high priest, who served from 1889-1908) was the first to ever use the phrase "heritage of the entity of the Law." "The transmission of the heritage of the entity of the Law," which the priesthood now claims is a secret entity only possessed by high priests, actually indicates the transference of the responsibility to protect the Dai-Gohonzon and preserve it for humanity. 

"The legitimate entrustment of the golden utterance" indicates those transfer documents pertaining to the Gohonzon, such as the "Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon." Here Nichio emphasizes the importance that whoever transcribes the Gohonzon understands the instructions of the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin regarding the Gohonzon. 

Gohonzon issued by the SGI are produced from a Gohonzon that High Priest Nichikan transcribed exactly following the instructions of the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. Therefore, they do not contradict in the least what Nichio states in this passage. 

(iii) The above two passages by Nichigen and Nichio were written to exalt the orthodoxy of Taiseki-ji based on faith in the Dai-Gohonzon over other Nichiren denominations. It is important to bear in mind the historical circumstances behind the writings of the successive high priests in order to grasp their intent and significance. 

(iv) Nowhere in the Gosho does the Daishonin mention a "heritage of the entity of the Law" transmitted only through successive high priests. When he writes of "the heritage" (Jpn kechimyaku) in the Gosho, the Daishonin is referring to the heritage or lifeblood of faith. He states: 

"Be resolved to summon forth the great power of your faith, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the prayer that your faith will be steadfast and correct at the moment of your death. Never seek any other way to inherit the ultimate law and manifest it in your life.... Without the lifeblood of faith, it would be useless to embrace the Lotus Sutra." 
MW-l, p. 25
The heritage of the Law the lifeblood of faith is the universal means by which all people can attain enlightenment. The concept that the heritage of the Law was intended as the exclusive property of any select "lineage" of persons is, in fact, an idea that the Daishonin vigorously fought against. 

The Daishonin wrote: "Nichiren has been trying to awaken all the people of Japan to faith in the Lotus Sutra so that they too can share the heritage and attain Buddhahood. But instead they attacked me time and again, and finally had me banished to this island" (MW-1, p. 24). The priesthood's claim of an exclusive right to the heritage of the Law is a feudal concept that clearly betrays the spirit of equality for which the Daishonin risked his own life.
 


 
 
All material is from the booklet Reaffirming Our Right to Happiness, issued by SGI-USA, and used without permission.