Deeply rooted in Nichiren Shoshu is the discriminatory notion that the priesthood is superior and the laity is inferior. This is diametrically opposed to the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin who taught the equality of the priesthood and laity of all practitioners. 

Nichiren Shoshu's deep-seated prejudice of its own superiority has become obvious through its own statements and behavior: 

"It is only natural that there is an original distinction between priesthood and laity in accord with the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. ... If lay believers speak as if they are equal to priests, they lack courtesy and propriety and will destroy the order between priesthood and laity." 
(Nichijun Fujimoto, General Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu, in a letter to the SGI, Jan. 12, 1991) 

"To talk about the priesthood and the laity with a sense of equality manifests great conceit. In fact, it corresponds to the five cardinal sins -- to destroy the unity of Buddhist practitioners." 
(Nichijun Fujimoto, General Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu, in a letter to the SGI, Jan. 12, 1991) 

In contrast, Nichiren Daishonin's position is one of non-discrimination and absolute equality among his followers, priest or lay person: 
"For this reason, the Buddha surely considers anyone in this world who embraces the Lotus Sutra, whether man or woman, monk or nun, to be the lord of all living beings." 
(MW-5, p. 156) 

"A passage from the Hosshi chapter ("The Teacher and the Law" chapter) reads, 'If there is someone, whether man or woman, who secretly teaches to one person even a single phrase of the Lotus Sutra, let it be known that he is the envoy of the Buddha.'" 
(MW-1, p. 10) 

"Shakyamuni who attained enlightenment countless aeons ago, the Lotus Sutra which leads all people to Buddhahood, and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate from each other." 
(MW-1, p. 22) 

In his "Record of My Disciples," Nikko Shonin refers to his disciple, Jakunichi-bo, who was a priest, stating that "he is the foremost in faith among Nikko's disciples." In the same manner, Nikko Shonin writes about Nanjo Tokimitsu, a lay believer, stating also that "he is the foremost in faith among Nikko's disciples." Nikko Shonin thus did not make any distinction between priests and lay persons. 

Nichiren Shoshu justifies its attempts to control the laity by proclaiming that the priesthood assumes the role of mentor while the laity, that of disciple. By this, they mean that the priesthood functions as an intermediary between the Gohonzon and lay believers' enlightenment. Thus they distort Nichiren Daishonin's view that people can attain Buddhahood in their present form by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. 

Even President Toda knew of the priests' attitude of superiority over lay believers, stating: 

"You can't allow chief priests to be high-handed. It is natural for us to make offerings to them and render our service to the temple. But they have had a bad habit since olden times. That is, they tend to regard lay believers as their subjects or servants." 
(at the Gohonzon enshrinement ceremony at Shomyo-ji temple in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture on Dec. 15, 1954) 


Source: Confirming Our Path of Faith: Temple Issue Handbook, SGI-USA Temple Issue Committee (Santa Monica, CA: SGI-USA {1999})