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 #4 

The Soka Gakkai has absolutely no qualification to confer the Gohonzon. 

The concept of "practice towards kosen-rufu" which denies the Transmission of the Heritage of the true Law from High Priest to High Priest is nothing but an empty theory far removed from the fundamental teachings of the Daishonin.... A passage from the Gosho "On the True Cause" reads: 

"[The documents of] this Heritage [of the school of the Essential Teachings of the Lotus Sutra] and [the documents of] 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 [on Bodhisattva Jogyo] at the Treasure Tower, the Transmission of the Heritage of the Law exclusively from one to the next." 
Therefore, absolutely no one is qualified to bypass the High Priest and arbitrarily manufacture and confer the Gohonzon of Nichiren Shoshu, even in the form of woodblock reproductions of a Gohonzon (NST News, Special Issue, pp. 11-12). 

Rebuttal to allegation #4 

(i) According to Nichiko, the 59th high priest and renowned Buddhist scholar, the passage quoted above was added later to the text of "On the True Cause" by someone other than the Daishonin or Nikko Shonin. (In The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 1, p. 8, Nichiko underlines this passage and adds a cautionary footnote explaining that it was appended at a later date, long after the Daishonin wrote the body of the letter.) 

(ii) The purpose of the passage quoted by NST is to assert that the Daishonin's important writings such as this Gosho "On the True Cause" and other transfer documents regarding the Gohonzon, including "Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon," had been transmitted through the high priests at Taiseki-ji. 

However, these writings were hardly "secret documents" known only to the successive high priests at Taiseki-ji. The original manuscript of "On the True Cause" does not exist. High Priest Nichiko had to compile the text of this Gosho based on a copy made by Nichiji, the fifth high priest, and two other copies made and preserved at temples of other Nichiren schools (The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 1, p. 8). Nichiko also had to rely on a copy made by a priest from a different Nichiren school in order to compile "Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon" (ibid, p. 33). It is strange that Nichiren Shoshu has been claiming exclusive possession of these documents when High Priest Nichiko himself had to go outside of Taiseki-ji to gain access to them. 

Because all of the Daishonin's important writings and transfer documents already have been published, the high priest possesses no secret teachings to which he alone is privy, nor does the priesthood in general. This passage, which was added to the end of "On the True Cause" after the Daishonin's and Nikko Shonin's time, still in no way supports Nikken's claim to exclusive authority over the Gohonzon. "Exclusive transmission" refers to the Daishonin's designation of Nikko Shonin as his legitimate successor. This was based on Nikko Shonin's faith and practice, and his courage to endure persecutions alongside the Daishonin. Because he practiced with the same spirit and intent as Nichiren Daishonin, he was qualified to inherit the Daishonin's teachings for posterity. 

(iii) Regarding the heritage of the Law, the Daishonin writes: 

"The heritage of the Lotus Sutra flows within the lives of those who never forsake it in any lifetime whatsoever whether in the past, the present or the future" 
MW-1, p. 23 
In this Gosho passage, the Daishonin clearly defines the heritage of the Law as our faith in the law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. 

In "The True Entity of Life," the Daishonin further explains the important connection of our faith to kosen-rufu: 

"No matter what, maintain your faith as a votary of the Lotus Sutra, and forever exert yourself as Nichiren's disciple. If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth. And since you are a Bodhisattva of the Earth, there is not the slightest doubt that you have been a disciple of the Buddha from the remotest past" 
MW-1, p. 93
In the passage "If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth" lies an essential aspect of our faith. Those who are of the same mind as Nichiren Daishonin are those who practice with the awareness that they are Bodhisattvas of the Earth, that is, those who fight for others' happiness for the sake of kosen-rufu. Our dedication to kosen-rufu to the peace and happiness of all people is fundamental to our faith and is the source of good fortune that permeates past, present and future. 

As the Daishonin wrote, "Without the lifeblood of faith, it would be useless to embrace the Lotus Sutra" (MW-1, 25). Even if one does gongyo and chants daimoku to the Gohonzon, if he acts counter to the "mind of Nichiren," in other words, acts to interfere with kosen-rufu or to harm those who strive to accomplish it, that person will be destroying his own good fortune. 

Without faith and practice dedicated to kosen-rufu, no one, not even a high priest, can inherit the lifeblood of faith from the Daishonin. This is Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. 

(iv) The SGI has developed to the extent it has because it is the only group of believers in modern times that unstintingly practices the Daishonin's Buddhism in harmonious unity, with the aim of accomplishing kosen-rufu. Many millions of people have changed their karma, developed good fortune and shown proof of victory in their lives by practicing together in the SGI. This is clear evidence that the lifeblood of faith from the Daishonin is alive and pulsating within the SGI. 

In this regard, Nichiren Daishonin wrote: 

"All disciples and believers of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with one mind (itai doshin), transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death. Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren's propagation. When you are so united, even the great hope for kosen-rufu can be fulfilled without fail. But if any of Nichiren's disciples should disrupt the unity of itai doshin, he will destroy his own castle from within." 
MW-1, p. 23
The Daishonin bestowed the Gohonzon upon all the people of the world. He never intended it for possession by only a few. And the role and responsibility of making the Gohonzon available for those who sincerely seek to practice the Daishonin's Buddhism naturally rest with the believers who are united in working toward the goal of kosen-rufu. With this qualification and responsibility, based on the Daishonin's Buddhism, the SGI is conferring the Gohonzon upon its members.
  



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