Behind the SGI's Decision to Issue the Gohonzon
On September 7, 1993, adopting a proposal from Sendo Narita, the chief priest of Joen-ji, a temple in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, the SGI announced that it would start issuing Gohonzon, reproduced from a Gohonzon transcribed in 1720 by Nichikan, the 26th high priest of Taiseki-ji, to its members worldwide.
Many SGI members who practiced without the Gohonzon since Nichiren Shoshu's refusal to grant them the Gohonzon were overjoyed at the news. And many others, filled with hope, have been looking forward to a bright future of the spread of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism and a flourishing of the Soka Renaissance toward a world that embraces truly humanistic ideals.
The significance of the SGI's decision can be seen from the following two perspectives: First, Nichiren Daishonin inscribed the Gohonzon for all people throughout the world. His fundamental intent and desire in doing so was to make the Gohonzon available to all who sincerely seek to practice his teachings, thus enabling them to establish indestructible happiness through their faith and practice.
Second, in the development of the priesthood issue, Nikken Abe, abusing his position as high priest, arbitrarily stopped granting the Gohonzon to SGI members, with the express purpose of destroying the SGI, which, since its inception, has been single-mindedly promoting kosen-rufu and had supported the priesthood. Nikken's action runs completely counter to the Daishonin's fundamental intent and spirit behind inscribing the Gohonzon.
In light of these circumstances — and based on its responsibility as the body of believers selflessly and harmoniously practicing the Daishonin's Buddhism in modern times — the SGI has decided to make the Gohonzon available to its membership. The SGI's decision was made solely to protect the Daishonin's Buddhism, to reply to the sincerity of those purely seeking the Gohonzon, and to further promote kosen-rufu, thus fulfilling the expectation the Daishonin placed in his future disciples.
The priesthood claims: "The Soka Gakkai is a group that has been excommunicated by Nichiren Shoshu, and has absolutely no relationship with Nichiren Shoshu" (NST News, Special Issue, p. 1).
Despite their denial of any relationship to the Gakkai, however, priests still seem to be obsessed and grow nervous about the SGI's every action: "The Soka Gakkai announced that they will begin to independently bestow Gohonzons and, thus declaring complete independence from Nichiren Shoshu" (ibid. p. 2). From these two statements, it is clear what status the priesthood expects us, as SGI members, to maintain: excommunicated, but dependent.
Since the SGI's recent announcement, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and the Hokkeko (a group of lay believers affiliated with the Nichiren Shoshu temples) have been propounding and spreading groundless accusations that have no basis in the Gosho or in any of the Daishonin's teachings, calling the Gohonzon issued by the SGI "counterfeit."
The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood asserts that the Gohonzon issued by the SGI are "counterfeit" because:
The SGI is the only group of believers that has brought Nichiren Daishonin's
Buddhism to the entire world, that has been carrying out the Daishonin's
will — kosen-rufu — in reality. With conviction in the SGI's profound mission
for kosen-rufu, and by further polishing our faith and practice, we can
show Nikken and his supporters, through actual proof, the great power of
the Gohonzon. As the Daishonin states: "Even more valuable than reason
and documentary proof is the proof of actual fact" (MW-6, 111).