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 #5 

“Faith based on the Dai-Gohonzon” without pilgrimage to the Head Temple is an obvious contradiction. 

As Nichiren Daishonin proclaims, “I, Nichiren, infuse my life into sumi and inscribed the Gohonzon.” The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary enshrined at Taiseki-ji is the spirit and embodiment of the true Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin. How can people who do not wish to worship the Dai-Gohonzon call themselves believers with a direct connection to the Daishonin?... We must always bear in mind that regardless of the time or circumstances, there can be no true means of attaining Buddhahood if one separates oneself from the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary and from the Head Temple Taiseki-ji (NST News, Special Issue, pp. 12-13) 

Rebuttal to allegation #5 

(i) Our faith in the Dai-Gohonzon has nothing to do with our physical proximity to it. The Daishonin inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon for all people. When we pray and dedicate our lives to kosen-rufu, our faith rests solidly in the Dai-Gohonzon because we are in complete accord with the Daishonin’s intent in revealing it. 

We may be oceans apart from the Dai-Gohonzon. Many of us have never seen it. But as long as we have faith, when we do gongyo and chant daimoku to our personal Gohonzon, or even, when necessary, to a blank wall, we are actually worshipping the Dai-Gohonzon. 

Because parents love their children and children care about their parents, they remain as parents and children. Some children live far away from their parents, but what binds or separates them as parents and children is their love or its absence. Likewise, what makes it possible for us to connect with the Daishonin’s life and tap the same Buddha nature in our own lives is nothing other than our spirit of faith to seek the Daishonin’s heart. As the Daishonin states: “The Gohonzon is found in faith alone” (MW-1, p. 213). 

To Sennichi-ama, the elderly wife of Abutsu-bo, who lived on the remote island of Sado and probably would never have a chance to see the Daishonin again, he wrote: 

“It is a thousand ri across the sea and mountains from Sado to this province. You, as a woman, have held fast to your faith in the Lotus Sutra; and over the years you have repeatedly sent your husband here to visit me in your place. Surely the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni, Taho and all other Buddhas of the ten directions know of your devotion.... Though you remain in Sado, your heart has come to this province. The way of attaining Buddhahood is just like this. Although we live in the impure land, our minds reside at Eagle Peak. Merely seeing each other’s face would in itself be insignificant. What matters is one’s heart.” 
MW-5, pp. 288-289
How enraged the Daishonin would be to learn of someone who boasts that he can sever this beautiful, heart-to-heart bond between mentor and disciple while claiming to be heir to a secret lineage! From this Gosho, it is clear that what is most important in our practice is not our physical proximity to the Dai-Gohonzon but our sincere “heart of faith” dedicated to kosen-rufu. 

In another Gosho, the Daishonin admonishes us to “Believe in the Gohonzon with your whole heart” (MW-1, 120). Yet he never wrote anything to the effect that “proximity to the Dai-Gohonzon is so crucial, you must always strive to worship it directly. Therefore, you must follow and abide by the wishes of whomever may possess it, no matter how malicious or self-serving their intention, since they alone hold the key to your enlightenment.” 

Nichiren Daishonin, whose state of life is described as that of “the Buddha of absolute freedom,” would never intend our faith to be so dependent on the whims of others. The priesthood’s intent in emphasizing that we must physically worship the Dai-Gohonzon is none other than to force our dependence upon them, since they now physically possess the Dai-Gohonzon. There is a saying that “possession is nine-tenths of the law.” When it comes to the “Buddhist Law,” however, our sincere faith and practice, not possession, is the crucial factor. 

(ii) Currently, a visit to Taiseki-ji, which is controlled by a corrupt priesthood, and worshipping the Dai-Gohonzon, involves mandatory offerings to Nikken and his supporters who slander the Daishonin’s Buddhism and contrive to dismantle and destroy the SGI. To make offerings to such people is equivalent to supporting their intent and thus complying with their offense. 

In this regard, the Daishonin wrote: “Though one may perform meritorious deeds, if they are directed toward that which is not true, then they may bring great evil but they will never result in good” (MW-6, 281). Therefore, from the standpoint of faith, SGI members have refrained from visiting Taiseki-ji, even if their desire has been simply to see the Dai-Gohonzon.

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