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 #6 

Gakkai's counterfeits constitute slander towards Nichikan Shonin. 

In an explanation of reverence for the Three Treasures of the Latter Day of the Law in his work "On the Three Robes of Nichiren Shoshu," Nichikan Shonin discussed the Treasure of the Priest as follows: 

I offer my sincere devotion to Nikko Shonin, the great master of propagation, the primary High Priest of the ten thousand years of Mappo and the founder of the Head Temple Taiseki-ji. I offer my sincere devotion to the High Priest Nichimoku Shonin, the master of the seat of the Law and to each of the successive High Priests to whom the Law is transmitted. In this way, one should single-mindedly chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and fix one's mind on the Three Treasures, fingering the prayer beads. 
In short, Nichikan Shonin taught that the Buddhism of the Heritage of the Law means chanting Daimoku with faith in the Three Treasures, which are the true Buddha Nichiren Daishonin (Treasure of the Buddha), the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary (Treasure of the Law) and Nikko Shonin and the successive High Priests (Treasure of the Priest). According to Nichikan Shonin himself, this is the direct path to attaining enlightenment. 

In other words, Nichikan Shonin revered all the successive High Priests, who each received the legitimate Heritage of the Law, as the Treasure of the Priest. There can be no worse defilement of Nichikan Shonin than for the Soka Gakkai, a dissident organization that repudiates the Heritage, to maliciously take advantage of a Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan Shonin to commit one slander after another (NST News, Special Issue, pp. 13-14). 

Rebuttal to allegation #6 

(i) In this passage, High Priest Nichikan discusses the successive high priests after Nikko Shonin as those who are supposed to protect and spread the Daishonin's Buddhism the function of the Treasure of the Priest. Actually, all believers who perform this function the protection and spread of the Daishonin's Buddhism are included in the Treasure of the Priest as Nichikan states in "On the Three Treasures": "Believers of this school shall be included [in the Treasure of the Priest] as well" (Complete Writings of the Successive High Priests, vol. 4). 

In his work "The Practice of This School," however, High Priest Nichikan clarifies that the Treasure of the Priest in which we should place our faith when chanting daimoku is Nikko Shonin alone. Nichikan states, "The Treasure of the Priest from time without beginning is the founder of Taiseki-ji [Nikko Shonin]" (Six-Volume Writings, p. 226). With regard to the remainder of the successive high priests, Nichikan revered them to the extent that they lived up to the spirit of the role of the Treasure of the Priest to protect and spread the Daishonin's Buddhism as Nikko Shonin did. 

Nichikan's statement that the Treasure of the Priest includes lay believers as well as priests is completely in accord with the original meaning of the "treasure of the priest." Actually, the Japanese character 'so', translated as "priest" in "Treasure of the Priest," fundamentally indicates the samgha, or the Buddhist Order, which included the "four types of believers": monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. 

In general, the treasure of the Priest is understood in Buddhism and even in Japanese society in general to mean "all those who uphold and propagate the Buddha's teachings." This is the definition that appears in standard Japanese dictionaries. In this sense, the SGI accords with this general definition of "Treasure of the Priest," while Nikko Shonin is the specific "Treasure of the Priest" whose exemplary faith and practice as a disciple of the Daishonin we should all emulate. Nikken and his supporters, through his behavior that has betrayed the spirit of Nikko Shonin, has severed any relationship he might have had with the "Treasure of the Priest." 

(ii) High Priest Nichikan was well aware that not all the successive high priests lived up to the spirit and role of Nikko Shonin. For example, Nichikan wrote a treatise called "Teachings for the Latter Day" to refute erroneous doctrines brought into Taiseki-ji from another Nichiren school temple by Nissei, the 17th high priest. These errors included the worship of a statue of Shakyamuni and the recitation of the entire Lotus Sutra, practices that completely countered the instructions and intent of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. 

When we study the life and accomplishments of Nichikan, there is no doubt that he would praise the SGI's decision to make available the Gohonzon he transcribed from the Dai-Gohonzon for those who seek to sincerely practice the Daishonin's Buddhism. He certainly would rejoice at the SGI's efforts to reproach Nikken's injustices and schemes in exact accord with Nikko Shonin's admonition: "Do not follow even the high priest, if he goes against the Buddha's Law and propounds his own views" (Gosho Zenshu, p. 1618).
 



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