The Myths of Nichiren Shoshu

By Mikio Matsuoka
Published by Ronsosha Publishing Company

- Fourth Thesis -
The Myth of the Fuji School’s Deceptive Claim of Its Pure 700-Year History

Introduction

It is said that Nikko, founder of Taiseki-ji, was very strict with the transcription and conferral of the mandala Gohonzon. “The Guidelines for Believers of the Fuji School” reads, “Among my disciples, I confer the Gohonzon I transcribed especially upon those, whether they are priests or lay believers, who devoted themselves to faith unsparingly or those who had their bodies injured, those who were banished from their home places or those who showed some sign of faith” (CWSHP, Vol. 1, pp. 21–22).

Through this statement we can tell that Nikko was very strict not only with his own manner in transcribing the Gohonzon but also with the recipient’s attitude in faith. Believers’ non-begrudging spirit was a requisite for them to receive the Gohonzon.

However, in reviewing Taiseki-ji School’s history of more than seven hundred years, we can see that Nikko’s original spirit was lost and that things became very sloppy in the Taiseki-ji School about the way the Gohonzon was transcribed, conferred, or enshrined. Disrespect for the Gohonzon and abandoning the commitment to save all people are very evident in the school’s history of seven centuries. The chief administrator’s transcription and conferral of the Gohonzon became very businesslike when the school’s spirit in faith turned into mere formality. This point is reflected in a number of lamentable instances such as when chief administrators transcribed the kind of Gohonzon that opposes the basic principle that Nichiren had in mind about the inscription of the Gohonzon; many instances where Taiseki-ji School priests and long-time danka families had no problem with the idea of enshrining the Gohonzon together with other sects’ objects of worship; the case of monument Gohonzon that have been exposed outdoors; the example of the so-called “future” Gohonzon, an unmounted Gohonzon that is folded twice and placed within a coffin with a believer’s corpse; and the many occurrences of danka families who were given many Gohonzon and do not treat them as the objects of devotion, but just keep them as if they were collectible antiques. 

In this thesis, I will reveal the historical plight of the Taiseki-ji School, a one-time fierce advocate of absolute strictness toward the act of slandering the Law, in light of formality issues involving the Gohonzon. Those who read this thesis will know that present-day Nichiren Shoshu’s shameless claim of absolute purity in faith for the past seven hundred years is no more than a myth that is filled with deception.

1. Nichio and Nikkyo Transcribed War-Supporting Mandala Gohonzon 

(1) Wooden Gohonzon Transcribed and Created in Commemoration of Victory in Sino-Japanese War
Imperial nationalism of the Meiji period is strongly reflected in the mandala Gohonzon that Nichio, the 56th chief administrator of Taiseki-ji, transcribed. Nichio is known as the priest who created a group called Hodokai in Fukagawa, Tokyo, with the aim to propagate Nichiren Buddhism in the imperialist capital of Japan. This group, just like other traditional Buddhist sects, was unconditionally supportive of the imperialism that grew in the Meiji period in Japan. In those days, various Buddhist sects were incorporated into the national regime. Nichiren Shu chose to follow the policy of the nation, sparing nothing in supporting the Japanese imperialist war against China and Russia. The Taiseki-ji School, which belonged to the Nikko School of Nichiren Shu during the time of the Sino-Japanese War and gained permission from the government to become independent as the Fuji School of Nichiren Shu before the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, was no different from Nichiren Shu when it came to its political attitude toward the war. Nichio, the chief administrator at the time, assiduously lent support to the Japanese government in the nation’s involvement in the war just as other Nichiren sects did. The Gohonzon he transcribed in those days serve as conspicuous proof of his pro-war mentality in wartime.

No overt record of Nichio’s words and activities in conjunction with the Sino-Japanese War that broke out in the 27th year of Meiji (1894) exists today, but Nichio as chief administrator of Taiseki-ji transcribed a Gohonzon to celebrate Japan’s victory of the war in the 29th year of Meiji (1898), one year after the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty was signed. Transforming this Gohonzon into wooden form, Nichio conferred this Gohonzon upon a lay believer of Gansho-ji in Fukushima prefecture. Nose Jundo’s "Various Records" reads,

“The Gohonzon (wooden) transcribed by Teacher Nichio: A bell was dedicated with a belfry to commemorate the victory of the Sino-Japanese War. The dedication ceremony was conducted on February 16 in the 29th year of Meiji. This Gohonzon is meant to be eternally enshrined at the bell and belfry quarter of Shigu-san Daigan-ji. This Gohonzon is dedicated for the recipient, associates and believers.”[1]
Gansho-ji’s lay believers made a bell in celebration and commemoration of the victory of the Sino-Japanese War. Nichio transcribed a wooden Gohonzon commemorating the successful conquest of China to enshrine at the new belfry quarter of the temple.

Incidentally, if we regard Nichiren’s “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” as a philosophy of pacifism, we can say that it is a document of remonstration that was submitted to the government with the intention to nip the occurrence of strife in the bud. Nichiren was a religious pacifist who advocated the aversion of war.[2] This was different from the notion of simply protecting the nation, as advocated by traditional Buddhist sects. The security of the land that Nichiren aimed at did not mean to protect the nation for those who governed it; his idea of the security of the nation was a Buddhist universalism that transcended the interests of the secular establishment and ultimately sought at the salvation of all humanity through Buddhist practice. Nichikan, the 26th high priest, refers to the notion of ankoku (the security of the nation) of “Rissho Ankoku,” “The term ankoku literally denotes Japan, but its ramification covers the entire world and the future" (CHPNC, p. 8). Nichikan, who lived in the Edo period, perceived that Nichiren’s true wish was to establish peace in the entire world for all eternity.

In contrast, Taiseki-ji Chief Administrator Nichio, who as a disciple of Nichiren was supposed to teach the way to avoid war and pray for the peace of the world, was intoxicated by the victory in the Sino-Japanese War that was nothing but a product of Japan’s imperialism. Not only that, he transcribed a Gohonzon in commemoration of the defeat of China, engraving his celebratory sentiment in it. 

It is said that before the Sino-Japanese War broke out Tokoku Kitamura and other Christians, though small in number in Japan in those days, stood up to advocate the total opposition to the war. Kitamura, basing himself upon the view of “brotherhood throughout the four seas of the world,” looked upon the war as “an expression of humanity’s worst shame.”[3]

The Lotus Sutra that Nichiren respectfully believed in contains the idea of humanitarian brotherhood, as expressed in such terms as “they are all my children” and numerous “Bodhisattvas of the Earth.” However, Nichiren sects in the Meiji period showed no sign of such global camaraderie. Nichiren Shu, for instance, as soon as the Sino-Japanese War broke out, offered 500 yen to the military of Japan, declaring, “This school’s priests should deeply uphold the sacred meaning of the war, devote themselves to praying for the increase of the nation’s power and for the courage and good health of our soldiers. We should also participate in supporting the justice of our soldiers, encouraging our lay believers to fulfill our duties as the subjects of the emperor and the people of the holy nation in accord with our founder’s admonitions.” Nichiren Shu’s representatives then formed a special group to support the cause of the nation’s involvement in the war.[4] Nichio’s transcription of the victory-celebrating wooden Gohonzon must have somehow connected with the direction taken by other Nichiren sects. 

Through this incident of Taiseki-ji’s chief administrator’s transcription of the Gohonzon in celebration of the victory of the war, I can deeply sense the nature of the Japanese Buddhists who  were wholly incorporated into the regime of the nation. This was as a result of their absolute obedience to the government under the danka system that the Tokugawa government had imposed for two hundred and sixty years.

(2) Gohonzon (Object of Devotion) Transcribed with Prayer for Success in Conquering Russia
The Nichiren schools’ support of the nation’s involvement in war accelerated when the Russo-Japanese War broke out in February in the 37th year of Meiji (1904). Around the time of this war, Nichiren Shu formed a special group within its administrative office to support the nation’s war cause, established the group’s chapters in various parts of the country, and made military offerings in the amount of 2,000 yen. The whole sect engaged in war-supporting activities.

Under such circumstances, the Taiseki-ji School (the Fuji School of Nichiren Shu), who just become independent of the united Nikko School, also lent positive support to the war in concert with other Nichiren sects. Nichio, who began to be recognized as the Lord of the Law (hossu or high priest) at that time, regarded the Russo-Japanese War as a battle of justice. One month after the eruption of the war, he held a ceremony to pray for the strength of imperial power and for the successful conquest of Russia. The Taiseki-ji School conferred 10,000 “Gohonzon for the victory of the war and the protection of the nation” upon those who were willing to make offerings for the war. All the money collected on that occasion was offered to the Japanese military.[5]

It is not known exactly what kind of Gohonzon this “Gohonzon for the victory of the war and the protection of the nation” was. According to some data available, Mr. Yoshinobu Kishi, a danto (temple) believer of Myoko-ji in Shinagawa, Tokyo, possesses an okatagi (wood block) Gohonzon that can be explained in the following manner:

“Transcribed by Nichio Shonin, the 56th chief administrator. It is transcribed in March in the 37th year of Meiji for the enhancement of imperial power and the successful conquest of Russia. This is conferred upon soldiers drafted to participate in the war.”[6]
It may be presumed that the Gohonzon given out to those who were willing to make offerings for the war was similar to this Gohonzon owned by the Kishi family. Nichio’s note on the Gohonzon that reads “for the enhancement of the imperial power and the successful conquest of Russia” reflects the formation of the myth of a national divine purpose in Japan in those days. In the 20’s of the Meiji period, the Japanese government attempted to propagate the myth of a national polity by promulgating the imperialistic constitution and educational order, justifying Japan’s involvement in the imperialistic war by spreading the idea of the divinity of the Great Japan Imperial Nation that is governed by the emperor with his divinity.[7] Thus, the nationalism of the nationalistic polity was born, forming the mainstream ideology of Japan in modern times. The Taiseki-ji School, headed up by chief administrator Nichio, was a willing supporter of these views, and Nichio went on to write down on the Gohonzon “for the enhancement of the imperial power and the successful conquest of Russia,” an expression of the nationalism of the nationalistic polity.

The nationalism of the nationalistic polity is, of course, opposed to Nichiren’s view of the supremacy of the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren’s mandala Gohonzon represents the idea of “the Buddha is the foundation while gods are his function.” However, the nationalism of the nationalistic polity upholds the idea of “Gods are the foundation while the Buddha is their function.” These two views are essentially opposed to each other. However, Nichio, in transcribing the Gohonzon whose appearance shows the idea of “the Buddha is the foundation while gods are his function,” added the words that enhance the consciousness of the nationalistic polity. The nationalistic influence upon Nichiren sects invaded the sacred realm of the transcription of the Gohonzon in Taiseki-ji in those days.

(3) Gohonzon Transcribed with Prayer for Victory in Great East Asian War
Another chief administrator who is well known in the history of the Taiseki-ji School as a supporter of the war is Nikkyo Suzuki, the 62nd high priest. There is a lot of evidence that shows Nikkyo’s involvement in supporting the Great East Asian War. While Nikkyo was chief administrator (high priest), the Taiseki-ji School succumbed to the pressure of the military government and chose to revise the contents of the silent prayers in gongyo to suit the national trend of Japanese imperialism. He also agreed to eliminate some passages from the writings of Nichiren Daishonin. Furthermore, he is known to have accepted on behalf of the Taiseki-ji School the Shinto talisman of the Ise Imperial Shrine, exhorting lay believers to do the same. These actions taken by Nikkyo were obviously slanderous in light of Nichiren’s teachings. Yet chief administrator Nikkyo guided the whole Taiseki-ji School in the direction of supporting the Great East Asian War by going on to distort the school’s religious creed.

I will not discuss details about Nikkyo’s support of the war. In this thesis, I will focus on the matter of the object of devotion, especially in the realm of the alteration of the formality of the transcription of the Gohonzon. Here I would like to introduce a paper Gohonzon that Nikkyo transcribed for the victory of the war.

This paper mandala Gohonzon is kept at Jozai-ji in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Nikkyo transcribed this Gohonzon in August in the 19th year of Showa (1944) as a treasure of this temple. In the column of “temple treasures” of An Introduction of Nichiren Shoshu Temples published by Nichiren Shoshu, there is the following description:

“Transcribed by Nikkyo Shonin, the 62nd chief administrator” in August in the 19th year of Showa to be treasured for the present and future at Jozai-ji. This Gohonzon was transcribed with a prayer for the victory of the Great East Asian War. It is conferred upon the daimoku group of the temple …"[8]
“With a prayer for the victory of the Great East Asian War” is a note written on one side of this Gohonzon. From this sidenote on the Gohonzon we can tell that the daimoku session was being held at Jozai-ji in those days to pray for the victory of the Great East Asian War. 

Just as Nichio did in the Meiji period, Nikkyo also transcribed the Gohonzon to pray for victory of Japan’s imperial war in the Showa era, conferring it upon Taiseki-ji believers. It is generally believed in Japan that the Great East Asian War was a reckless invasion war triggered by the Japanese military government for the imperialistic expansion of modern Japan. Viewed from this perspective, it follows that Nikkyo, transcribing the Gohonzon for the success of the invasion war, conferred it upon the chief priest and lay believers of Jozai-ji.

Of course, it is hard to believe that Nikkyo was clearly conscious about the nature of the Great East Asian War as an instance of invasion. The question is how Nichiren Shoshu coped with the situation after Japan lost in this war. After the war, the Nichiren Shu expressed apology to Founder Nichiren and the people of Japan with a sense of repentance and self-reflection in the 22nd year of Showa. In contrast, Nichiren Shoshu, for as long as sixty years all the way down to the present, has never expressed words of apology and self-reflection for the action that the Taiseki-ji School took in support of the invasion war. Not only that, it still shamelessly cherishes as a temple treasure the object of devotion transcribed by Nikkyo for the great victory of the Great East Asian War. This fact has compelled Nichiren Shoshu to be criticized as a sect with no sense of responsibility for its past involvement in the war.

Millions of people died because of the invasion called the Great East Asian War. Enormous damage was done upon Asian countries. The war miserably ended with the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, making her the first country that ever experienced the atrocity of atomic bombs. Without reflecting upon the meaning of this painful, historical fact, Nichiren Shoshu still treasures Nikkyo’s Gohonzon with the prayer for the victory of the war. This behavior on the part of Nichiren Shoshu should not be tolerated in light of human conscience. 
 
 

Material 1: An article from An Introduction of Nichiren Shoshu Temples,
published by Nichiren Shoshu, in which the mandala Gohonzon transcribed 
by Nikkyo, the 62nd, to offer prayers for the victory of the Great East Asia War,
is introduced. (Photo of this Gohonzon by Nikkyo, from page 303)
 
 
 

2. Taiseki-ji’s Slanderous Act of Issuing Gohonzon to Neighboring Shinto Shrines

Several villages in the vicinity of Fujinomiya in Shizuoka prefecture came to belong to Taiseki-ji through the execution of the jidan system enforced in the Edo period. Gohonzon transcribed by Taiseki-ji’s chief administrators were enshrined at shrines in these villages on behalf of traditional Shinto gods or local native deities. The current Nichiren Shoshu regards the existence of such shrines where Taiseki-ji’s object of devotion is enshrined as a harbinger of kosen-rufu in the future.[9]

Certainly, there is an anecdote that Nikko, the founder of Taiseki-ji, built a shrine in Omosu to invite Hachiman, a native god of Japan, as a symbol of the arrival of kosen-rufu. There is the following description in Article 99 of "On Formalities" written by Nichiu, the 9th high priest (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 74): “Nikko Shonin constructed a Hachiman shrine at Omosu. He enshrined the Gohonzon in it. This was done to set a standard for the construction of Honmon-ji at the time of kosen-rufu. This ceremonial formality is not proper for the present time, however” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 74). As to the shrine of Hachiman mentioned here by Nichiu, Nichiko, the 59th high priest, regards it as a shrine that carries the same significance of the Suijakudo (ephemeral) shrine that Nikko built at Omosu, pointing out, based upon the fact that the object of devotion enshrined at the Suijakudo shrine was the Gohonzon, “The shrines that exist in villages at Omosu in Ueno had the mandala Gohonzon as their object of devotion instead of Hachiman, a mountain deity.”

In other words, Nichiko understood that Taiseki-ji’s Gohonzon was enshrined at shrines in the neighborhood of Taiseki-ji since the medieval times to follow the example of Nikko’s enshrinement of the Gohonzon at the Suijakudo shrine that he built at Omosu. However, when it comes to the question of whether this behavior is correct in light of Nichiren Buddhism, Nichiko sounded rather negative toward this phenomenon in “Comment on Teacher Nichiu’s ‘On Formalities’” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 159), which reads in part, “‘An example of Honmon-ji temple’ means that Teacher Nikko left for the construction of Honmon-ji at the time of kosen-rufu by building a Hachiman shrine at Omosu. Therefore, Teacher Nichiu disclaimed that ‘This ceremonial formality is not proper for the present time, however’” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 159).

Practical questions doubtlessly arise even if we accept the idea that the enshrinement of the mandala Gohonzon at these shrines in the neighborhood of Taiseki-ji was a harbinger of the arrival of kosen-rufu. The mandala Gohonzon must have been treated respectfully, cleanly, and carefully at the Suijakudo shrine that Nikko may have built at Omosu. However, when it comes to those Gohonzon enshrined at the shrines in the vicinity of Taiseki-ji, it is obvious that they have been deserted, covered by dust, or treated awfully and disrespectfully, while they have been mixed up with slanderous Shinto talisman or statues.

It is said that they were people who visited various shrines in the neighborhood of Taiseki-ji to examine how the object of worship were treated there. At one point, I had a chance to observe the result of their inspection, as it was widely spread among those who studied the Fuji School. According to a report, there were fourteen shrines where the wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Taiseki-ji’s successive chief administrators was enshrined. A total of twenty-four Gohonzon were counted in these shrines, and they were enshrined in a very poor manner. I am told that, later on, some of the wooden Gohonzon were stolen and that the wood block Gohonzon transcribed by Nikken Abe were anew enshrined on their behalf at the request of the villagers.

Another academic study will be necessary to find out the current plight of the shrines in the vicinity of Taiseki-ji. Such a research project seems no easy challenge for various reasons. However, some photos that have been available about the actual conditions of these shrines seem trustworthy to some degree even though it is not known who took these photos, as other data show similar scenes of these shrines. In this thesis, I would like to introduce some of these photos to give clues for understanding the slanderous reality of the treatment of the Taiseki-ji’s Gohonzon in these shrines.

(1) Konpira Shrine (in Hanno Area of Fujinomiya City) 
First, let me introduce the reality of the Konpira Shrine at Hanno in Fujinomiya city. There used to be Myokyo-ji, a local branch temple of Taiseki-ji, in the past at the place where this shrine now stands. After Myokyo-ji moved to a new location after going through a number of complications, this location became Konpira Shrine, and a small shrine was first built on July 25 in the 41st year of Meiji (1908).[10] Enshrined at this shrine are a plain wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nitten, the 20th high priest, a piece of munefuda (Shinto talisman written anonymously), and another black wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nichiei, the 51st high priest, with the characters gilded with gold. After entering this shrine, you will find a Konpira talisman enshrined in the center of the sanctuary and a munefuda placed obscurely behind it. Enshrined in the right altar is the statue of Nichiren (whose eye-opening ceremony was conducted by Nichiin, the 31st high priest). Enshrined in the left altar is the plain wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nitten. Moreover, enshrined beside the statue of Nichiren is the black wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nichiei with the characters gilded with gold. It seems that villagers have these two Taiseki-ji’s wooden Gohonzon enshrined here with a mixture of religious belief in the Konpira talisman.

Furthermore, many items were randomly scattered inside this small shrine as if the shrine were a warehouse. A big screen was laid over the sanctuary where these two Gohonzon, Nichiren’s statue and a munefuda Gohonzon were enshrined side by side. This warehouse-like scene was typical when I see the reality of other shrines.

It appears that some changes often take place inside the Konpira Shrine as the villagers conduct a village festival in this area from time to time and Nichiren Shoshu people visit this place once in a while. 


Photo 1. The temple that houses the Konpira shrine (above). A sealed Konpira talisman (below). (Photos from page 307 of the Japanese original book)
Photo 2. A disorderly view of the inside of the Konpira shrine where an unused shoji screen is randomly placed. 
(Photo from page 308 of the Japanese original book)

(2) Kumakubo Hachiman Shrine (at Kumakubo of Hanno Area in Fujinomiya City)
Kumakubo Hachiman Shrine that is not far from the Hanno area has the frame of “Hachiman Shrine” in the center and two wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nissei, the 53rd high priest, are enshrined at the altar in each side of the frame. The photo shows that good care has not been taken of these Gohonzon. Both of these Gohonzon were stolen after this photo was taken, and presently, the woodblock Gohonzon transcribed by Nikken Abe, the former chief administrator of Nichiren Shoshu, are instead enshrined. An offering-collection box on which the word “hono" (offering) is written is placed in front of the sanctuary. The villagers, since olden times, belong to the Rikyo-bo lodging temple of Taiseki-ji, but they are not educated in faith well enough to understand Nichiren’s admonition of “not accepting offerings from slanderers” and the teaching of “the Buddha is the foundation while gods are his function.”

Photo 3. The plate of Hachimangu is put up in the center of a Hachiman shrine in Kumakubo. (Photo from page 310 of the Japanese original book)
Photo 4. The inside scene of Hachiman Shrine in Kumakubo. In those days when this photo was taken, there were two wooden Gohonzon enshrined here; one to the left of the plate of the Hachimangu and the other to the right of the plate. These Gohonzon were transcribed by Nissei. In front of the sanctuary was a money box where people put in their monetary offerings. The front of this money box had the words which meant “to respectfully offer.” (Photo from page 311 of the Japanese original book)


Photo 5. This is a current view of Kumakubo Hachimangu, where two okatagi Gohonzon transcribed by Nikken Abe, 
the former chief administrator, are enshrined. (Photo from page 311 of the Japanese original book)

(3) Hanno Hachiman Shrine (in Hanno Area, Fujinomiya City)
Hanno Hachiman Shrine was once a genuine Shinto shrine, but at some point in the past, the Gohonzon transcribed by Nippo, the 37th high priest, and another Gohonzon transcribed by Nichiin, the 54th high priest, came to be enshrined here. The torii gateway stands at the gate of this shrine, and the whole atmosphere of this shrine is that of a legitimate Shinto shrine. The inside of this shrine is shown in a photo shown in this book. A shimenawa rope is placed in the center, and the blackened wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nippo, the 37th high priest is enshrined. However, since the divine wood of the Hachiman Shrine is conspicuously placed in the front, the entirety of Nippo’s wooden Gohonzon cannot be seen. A small shrine is put right of the wooden Gohonzon, and in this small shrine is enshrined a divine piece of wood named “koyasu dai-myojin (great god for the protection of children).” Furthermore, just like the case of Kumakubo Hachiman Shrine, a collection box is placed in front of the sanctuary. A Shinto talisman that reads, “Hachiman Shrine, for the security of the family, for traffic safety and for the protection of local residents at Hanno in Sushu province.”

These are descriptions of the inside of Hanno Hachiman Shrine based upon the photos I obtained. Somebody stole the wooden Gohonzon that was once enshrined in this shrine, as I just explained how it used to be here. Today, therefore, the wood block Gohonzon by Nikken Abe is said to be enshrined here.


Photo 6. The front view of Hanno Hachimangu. The frame of Hachimangu is placed at the upper part of the torii gate. 
(Photo from page 312 of the Japanese original book)

Photo 7. The inside view of Hanno Hachimangu. 
The shimenawa rope and money box stand out conspicuously. 
(Photo from page 313 of the Japanese original book)

Photo 8. A photo of the wooden Gohonzon that, 
transcribed by Nippo, was once enshrined at Hanno 
Hachimangu. This Gohonzon has the side note that reads, 
“This ujigami Gohonzon is dedicated to Hanno Village 
in Fuji ward, Sushu province.” Since a piece of 
divine wood is placed in front of the Gohonzon, 
believers cannot worship the Gohonzon directly. 
(Photo from page 314 of the Japanese original book.)
Photo 9. A piece of divine wood of “koyasu dai myojin” that is 
placed inside the shrine of Hanno Hachimangu.
(Photo from page 315 of the Japanese original book)

Photo 10. A Shinto talisman is placed on a pillar of 
Hanno Hachimangu shrine. This talisman was given 
to the local residents of this Shinto shrine. 
(Photo from page 316 of the Japanese original book)

(4) Monjudo in Hara (in Ichihara Area, Fujinomiya City)
A painting of Great Bodhisattva Manjushri was enshrined in the past at Monjudo Shrine in Shiraito. The shrine was burned, however, in the summer of the 17th year of Showa (1942). Based upon the view that the true entity of Bodhisattva Manjushri, and also because most of the villagers in Hara Ward were Taiseki-ji’s danto believers, the wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nikkyo, the chief administrator of the time, is said to have been enshrined at the time of the reconstruction of the new shrine building.

This does not mean at all, however, that Monjudo Shrine became a new faith facility of Taiseki-ji, for the danka families in this area still remain very much attached to their original faith in Manjushri. A small shrine of the heavenly god is still enshrined at the left side of the entrance area of Monjudo Shrine where a simenawa rope is spread.


Photo 11. A tenjin shrine that is next to the Monjudo shrine. (Photo from page 318)

A festival of Monjudo Shrine is held every year under the sponsorship of local residents. It is said that on that occasion the original painting of Manjushri is hung in front of Nikkyo’s wooden Gohonzon. Moreover, it is the priest of Hongen-ji of Nichiren Shu, not a priest of the lodging temple of Taiseki-ji, who conducts a service for the occasion of the festival.


Photo 12. A priest of Hongen-ji of Nichiren Shu greets as he led gongyo during the Monjudo festival. (Photo from page 319)

This shows that the residents of Hara ward have no consciousness that they practice Nichiren Buddhism as believers of Taiseki-ji. To put another way, Taiseki-ji has been allowing its official Gohonzon to be placed under the supervision of slanderers.

I have thus far introduced some leading cases of the mixture of Shintoism and Buddhism at some shrines in the vicinity of Taiseki-ji. The wooden Gohonzon transcribed by successive high priests of Taiseki-ji are also enshrined at other Shinto shrines in the neighborhood of Taiseki-ji such as Nishinoyama Hachiman Shrine, Shimomura Hachiman Shrine, Ekashiwa Hachiman Shrine, Sanno Daigongen Shrine, Ichiba Hachiman Shrine, Shimokaijo Hachiman Shrine, Kamikawamasa Hachiman Shrine, Sotogami Hachiman Shrine, and some more. 

It may be necessary to look at the reality of the disrespectful treatment of Taiseki-ji’s official Gohonzon at these shrines before discussing whether the enshrinement of these Gohonzon at the Shinto shrine carries significance as a harbinger of kosen-rufu. What I mean by the disrespectful, slanderous treatment of the Gohonzon are two things: one is the mixture of Shintoism and Buddhism, and the other is the reality of these Gohonzon having been neglected.

Regarding the first point, I can point out the fact that the wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nippo, the 37th high priest, which is defined as a ujigami Gohonzon, was hidden behind the piece of divine wood of Hachiman (Hanno Hachiman Shrine). The two Gohonzon of Taiseki-ji are pushed aside while the frame of the Hachiman Shrine is placed in the center (Kumakubo Hachiman Shrine).These cases eloquently show the reality of the slanderous treatment of Taiseki-ji’s Gohonzon in the form of the mixture of Shintoism and Buddhism. In addition, the mandala Gohonzon transcribed by Nippo with a written conferral statement of "This is the object of worship for this small shrine at Yamanokamiishi" is enshrined at Yamagami Shrine at Hanno. 


Photo 13. The mandala Gohonzon that Nippo, the 37th high priest, transcribed with a conferral note that reads 
“This object of worship is for Yamanokamiishi small shrine” (Hanno Yamakami Shrine). (Photo from page 320)

The object of worship for those villagers in the communities that embrace these shrines are Japanese native gods like Hachiman, not the Gohonzon of Taiseki-ji. This point is reflected in the fact that the villagers follow the Shinto style of offering prayers (clapping their palms in front of the object of worship) for the success of the festival of Kumakubo Hachiman Shrine. 
 
Photo 14. Villagers clap their palms to pray to the Hachiman shrine for the success of their festival at Kumakubo Hachimangu. (Photos from page 321)

The danka families in the neighborhood of Taiseki-ji have incorporated the mandala Gohonzon of Taiseki-ji into their faith in native ujigami. The priesthood of Taiseki-ji has been negligent in guiding them to put faith in the Gohonzon at the center of their religious belief, and have failed to point out their mistaken mixture of Shintoism and Buddhism. This slanderous behavior on the part of the priesthood of Taiseki-ji is different from the teaching of zuiho bini (precept of adapting to local customs) that allows secular customs to be incorporated into Buddhism. Taiseki-ji’s priesthood’s inaction should be regarded as acting to bend its faith in Buddhism to follow the secularism of the people. 

Neglect of the Gohonzon is so conspicuous that detailed explanations seem unnecessary. Even if Taiseki-ji’s Gohonzon are enshrined in these shrines, the residents of these communities are not practicing faith in a manner that is suitable for believers in Nichiren Buddhism. They only protect Taiseki-ji’s Gohonzon as one of many objects of worship, where only once a year at the time of the village festival do they put their palms together in front of it just ceremonially. For this reason, the Gohonzon enshrined in these shrines are buried in dust except on the occasion of the festival. Evergreens offered to the Gohonzon are not fresh more often than not, and items are scattered in the sanctuary area, which resembles a warehouse scene. Neglecting the Gohonzon in such a disrespectful manner is a case of slander where one slights the Gohonzon, the ultimate object of devotion in Buddhist faith. The chief administrator of Taiseki-ji, knowing that the Gohonzon he will confer upon such shrines will be treated disrespectfully, must be said to be committing the same sin of slander.

The Gohonzon that are enshrined at the shrines in the neighborhood of Taiseki-ji are not there as the object of devotion for Buddhist practice. They are just there as a symbol of the village festival. This reality is, needless to say, against the strict and compassionate spirit of Nichiren and Nikko upon their conferral of the Gohonzon. If Taiseki-ji does not take immediate action to withdraw all these Gohonzon enshrined at these Shinto shrines, we have no choice but to conclude that the current Nichiren Shoshu is opposed to the spirit of Nichiren and Nikko in terms of the conferral of the Gohonzon.

3. Various Gohonzon to Which One Does Not Practice

There are Gohonzon that are not conferred as an object of devotion to Buddhist practice,and  Taiseki-ji began to confer a variety of such Gohonzon upon believers in the Edo period. For instance, the so-called “future” Gohonzon, shoyo (commendation) Gohonzon, and others are good examples. In “The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,” Nichiren writes, “Shakyamuni’s practices and the virtues he consequently attained are all contained within the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. If we believe in these five characters, we will naturally be granted the same benefits as he was” (WND, Vol. 1, p. 365).

By rights, Nichiren’s mandala Gohonzon was inscribed to enable all people to practice to it to reveal their innate Buddhahood. According to the orthodox teaching of Taiseki-ji, as Nichikan writes in “Commentary on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,’” “Embracing the Law means to chant with faith in it” (CHPNC, p. 485); therefore, embracing the Gohonzon means to devote oneself to the practice of chanting daimoku with faith in the mandala Gohonzon. The mandala Gohonzon of Taiseki-ji should be the object of devotion for Buddhist practice under any circumstances.

The “future” Gohonzon and shoyo Gohonzon that Taiseki-ji issued in the past did not function as an object of devotion to Buddhist faith and practice. This is a historical fact. For instance, the future Gohonzon was conferred for the protection of the deceased. The “commendation” Gohonzon was issued as a token of appreciation for offerings made to Taiseki-ji. The shoyo Gohonzon was also issued to celebrate the inauguration of a new high priest. In the following part of this thesis, I would like to focus on various kinds of the Gohonzon that were given out by Taiseki-ji not as objects of devotion to Buddhist practice. The existence of these Gohonzon exemplifies extreme deviation from the original teachings of Nichiren Buddhism.

(1) Future Gohonzon
The “future” Gohonzon is the mandala Gohonzon that is given to new believers or children born in a danka family to promise their future enlightenment. Their posthumous names are written in the future Gohonzon they receive. It is the mandala where a person’s posthumous name is already written down before his or her death. The mandala’s appearance is the same as the doshi (funeral) Gohonzon. Bodhisattva Hachiman and Sun Goddess that appear in the ordinary Gohonzon are not written in this Gohonzon. Instead, Emma Ho’o (King Yama) and Godo Myokan (Officers of Five Paths) replace them. The format employed for "future" Gohonzon did not exist in the early days of Nichiren schools.

This type of Gohonzon became popular in the Nichiren Shu in the early part of the Edo period. The future Gohonzon that is the oldest one that still exists today is the one issued by Honkoku-ji in 1592. It seems that the traditions of the doshi Gohonzon and the "future" Gohonzon were adopted even within Taiseki-ji in the time period of Kyoho (1716–1735). The Nichiren schools of the Edo period, by including in the Gohonzon Emma Ho’o and Godo Myokan (who represent the life-condition of hell) attempted to guarantee the enlightenment of the deceased.[11] To explain this phenomenon, we can point to the fact that, in those days, the Buddhist idea of hell and heaven widely prevailed in Japan, causing people to fear hell very much.[12] We can say that, swayed by the influence from other Nichiren sects, the Taiseki-ji School began to issue the funeral and "future" Gohonzon.

The primary problem here is how Taiseki-ji handles the "future" Gohonzon. The "future" Gohonzon, while its receiver is alive, is kept without being mounted. It will be never exposed to people to be worshipped. When its conferee passes away, it will be placed within his or her coffin. In this sense, this Gohonzon is also called the “coffin” Gohonzon. It may also happen that, instead of being placed in one’s coffin, the unmounted Gohonzon will be folded and put in the urn with one’s ashes. In other words, the "future" Gohonzon is either burned together with the corpse or is kept forever in the ash urn. 


Photo 15. A damaged future Gohonzon that is contained in a believer’s ash pot. (Photo from page 325)

The essential meaning of “the object of devotion for observing one’s mind” is totally ignored in the way this "future" Gohonzon is treated. Nikko, the founder of Taiseki-ji, states in “The Guidelines for Believers of the Fuji School,”

“Some covered and buried a person’s dead body with a mandala Gohonzon. Or some disrespectfully sold the Gohonzon.” (CWSHP, Vol. 1, p. 21)
The way the "future" Gohonzon is handled in the Taiseki-ji School is in agreement with the five senior priests’ disrespect for Nichiren’s object of devotion that Nikko refuted in this writing. Therefore, Nichiko, interpreting this passage, states, “We need to be deeply respectful in handling the future Gohonzon as well,” in effect cautioning Taiseki-ji and other schools about the treatment of the "future" Gohonzon.[13

In short, the tradition of the "future" Gohonzon that was adopted in Taiseki-ji to cope with believers' fear of hell is no different from the tradition where the Gohonzon is disrespected. The tradition of the "future" Gohonzon was carried into the Taiseki-ji School of the Meiji period, and even carried on seemingly to the times of Nittatsu, the 66th high priest. Here is an instance of a future Gohonzon that Nichikai, the 60th high priest, transcribed in the early part of Showa.


Material 2: The appearance of the future Gohonzon transcribed by Nikkai, the 60th, and the cover paper 
where the words “the future great mandala” are written. (Graphic from page 327)

Soka Gakkai members with ardent faith in the mandala Gohonzon rapidly increased within the Taiseki-ji School after World War II. Naturally, the Taiseki-ji School’s tradition of the "future" Gohonzon began to be regarded as problematic. In the 42nd year of Showa (1967), Nichiren Shoshu created a manual of the school’s formalities titled Handbook for Teacher Priests, revising it in the 44th year of Showa (1969) to ensure the establishment of the standard for the school’s formalities. In this book, it says, “In olden times at local temples, we had the custom to issue the okatagi "future" Gohonzon, but this custom is not good.”[14] With the issuance of this official acknowledgement of the error of the conferral of the "future" Gohonzon, it seems that the school’s centuries of the tradition of the "future" Gohonzon seemed to come to an end. However, according to Handbook for Teacher Priests that was republished in the first year of Heisei (1989), during the time of Abe Nikken, this particular passage was changed to “In olden times at local temples, we had the custom to issue the okatagi "future" Gohonzon, but for now we don’t do this.” Concerning the tradition of the "future" Gohonzon that Nittatsu completely denied, Nikken took the position that Nichiren Shoshu would refrain from using this tradition “for the time being.”[15] Nichinyo, the current chief administrator, carries on the same position as Nikken in this regard. This shows that Nichiren Shoshu is not truly opposed to the tradition of the "future" Gohonzon.

(2) Shoyo (Commendation) Gohonzon and Abuse of Joju Gohonzon 
Next, there is another form of Gohonzon that is called the shoyo (commendation) Gohonzon, which began to be issued after the Meiji era in the Taiseki-ji School. This is a special Gohonzon that the chief administrator may decide to issue in commemoration of the anniversary dates of Nichiren and Nikko or the completion of construction or repair work of a new building on the grounds of Taiseki-ji or in recognition of meritorious behaviors that benefit the Taiseki-ji School.

Nichiren and Nikko conferred the Gohonzon on their disciples and believers who were devoted to propagating the Law without begrudging their lives. In this respect, there is no problem in issuing the shoyo Gohonzon to respond to one’s meritorious devotion to kosen-rufu. Nittatsu, the 66th high priest, dedicated a shoyo Gohonzon to Daisaku Ikeda, the then head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay societies, to praise his initiation to build the Sho-Hondo, the Grand Main Temple. This shoyo Gohonzon was called “Sho-Hondo Shoyo Gohonzon.” This bestowal concurs with the original meaning of the conferral of the Gohonzon within the Nikko School.

However, the cases where the chief administrators of Taiseki-ji in the modern era transcribed the shoyo Gohonzon to collect monetary offerings clearly signify their deviation from the correct spirit behind the conferral of the Gohonzon. Here are some instances.

In the 6th year of Taisho (1917), Nissho, the 57th high priest solicited monetary offerings for cleaning up Taiseki-ji School’s debt, and bestowed the shoyo Gohonzon upon danka families who donated 100 yen to Taiseki-ji. One such shoyo Gohonzon is recorded in the treasure list of Josen-ji that is included in An Introduction of Nichiren Shoshu Temples:

“Transcribed by Nissho Shonin, the 57th high priest, on August 28th in the 6th year of Taisho, and conferred upon a believer in commendation of his offering of 100 yen to assist the clearance of the school’s debt.”[16]
According to my own research, Nissho conferred a shoyo Gohonzon also upon a believer of Myodo-ji in Nagoya. The conferral note of this Gohonzon reads, “Commending the sincere offering of some money for the clearance of the school’s debt.”
 
 
 
 
 

Material 3: The side note of the commendation Gohonzon that reads, 
“to commend the sincerity to donate money for the clearance 
of the debt of this school.” 
(This Gohonzon was transcribed by Nissho, the 57th high priest and 
stored at Myodo-ji in Nagoya.) (Material from page 330)
 
 
 
 
 

As a matter of fact, such a shoyo Gohonzon is seldom enshrined at one’s home, for the family already has a Gohonzon, and this shoyo Gohonzon is an additional Gohonzon. It is a common practice that many of the shoyo Gohonzon are kept folded without being mounted. Even if it is mounted, it is usually put aside in a box as a scroll.

It seems that in some cases a chief administrator of Taiseki-ji issued the shoyo Gohonzon knowing that it might not ever be worshipped. Nikken Abe, when he conferred a shoyo Gohonzon upon a chief priest, is said to have reassured, “This Gohonzon is not meant to be worshipped.” Among the shoyo Gohonzon is the type of the Gohonzon that is not suitable for being used an object of devotion.

Shoho-ji in Hakodate possesses a shoyo Gohonzon that Nichio, the 56th high priest, transcribed for the temple’s lay group on December 8 in the 26th year of Meiji (1893). This is a large-sized mandala Gohonzon. Surprisingly enough, however, some fifty names of this lay group are written on the bottom of this Gohonzon.


Photo 16. This is a shoyo Gohonzon given by Nichio, the 56th high priest, to the Hokkeko group of Shoho-ji in Hakodate. 
This photo is taken from material published by Shoho-ji in Hokkaido in 1966. (Photo from page 331)

In such a case, usually, just a representative’s name is included in the left side of the Gohonzon with the description that “this Gohonzon is also dedicated to other believers.” Otherwise, people may have the difficulty in worshipping it correctly with a focus on the main title of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the center. This shoyo Gohonzon by Nissho was not transcribed as an object of devotion but simply as an object of commendation. Strictly speaking, this shoyo Gohonzon is no different from a regular certificate of award.

Also, the joju (ever-present or eternally dwelling) Gohonzon is in theory supposed to be conferred upon the person whose faith is solid to the point where he or she will never regress in faith. However, the history of Taiseki-ji shows that the joju Gohonzon was given out very easily to believers as a token of appreciation for their offerings. It is common in the history of Taiseki-ji that wealthy danka families possess a number of joju Gohonzon transcribed by successive chief administrators of Taiseki-ji. These families, whenever they have a new head of their household, or when a new chief administrator takes office at Taiseki-ji, make it a practice to make a request for a Joju Gohonzon. Even today, the old danka families call their offerings for a new joju Gohonzon tsuketodoke (payment), saying to one another reportedly that “offering 100,000 yen is a standard for getting a new joju Gohonzon.” As a result, there are cases where old danka families keep more than ten joju Gohonzon rolled up in the Gohonzon box, treating them as antiques.[17]
 
Photo 17. Forty scrolls of successive high priests’ joju Gohonzon and letters possessed by a danka believer in Kamijo, Fujinomiya city. This photo is copied from Gakuna Asahi dated December 9, 1993. (Photo from page 332)
Photo 18. The sight of a believer’s giving air on the occasion of bon to the joju Gohonzon they possess. This photo was originally uploaded at Hoshin’s website (http://6001.teacup.com/qwetyui/bbs). (Photo from page 333)
Moreover, some danka families proudly publicize their possession of many Gohonzon in the local newspaper.

All these joju Gohonzon that were usually kept in the Gohonzon box are put up for scroll-airing on the wall of the Gohonzon room on special occasions such as bon.

Not only that, I am told that the old danka families of Taiseki-ji are not profound in their faith in the Gohonzon. There are cases where they enshrine other objects of worship such as fox shrines, Shinto talismans, Mizuko Jizo (guardian deity of aborted children) statues and other Buddhist sects’ object of worship. Since the olden times, however, the chief administrators and priesthood of Taiseki-ji rarely gave guidance in faith to those danka families, failing to encourage them to discard slanderous objects of worship. The priesthood of Taiseki-ji was not strict with them, fearing that if it were strict with them in faith they would move to Kitayama Honmon-ji or Nishiyama Honmon-ji, the rivals of Taiseki-ji within the Nikko School. In fact, Taiseki-ji conferred the joju Gohonzon on neighboring old danka families while accepting their slanderous behaviors without reprimanding their confused attitude in faith. Taiseki-ji thus issued the joju Gohonzon to them as long as they made financial offerings to Taiseki-ji.

(3) Mandala Monument
In the northern part of Japan (Tohoku), a number of “daimoku monument” exist in areas surrounding the four northern branch temples of Taiseki-ji (Hongen-ji, Myokyo-ji, Jyogyo-ji, and Myoen-ji). The daimoku monument is a monument made of a rock slab that is shaped after a toba tablet. The seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is carved there together with passages of the sutra, the date of its transcription, and the name of its builder. This daimoku monument was built even during the time of Nikko and Nichimoku in the Fuji School.[18] It is said that the format of mandala Gohonzon is adopted in this regard in Nichiren Shu.[19]

As a matter of fact, there are mandala monuments even in the Taiseki-ji School, in addition to the daimoku monument. The mandala Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan, the 26th high priest is seen on the grounds of Butsugen-ji in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, and in Kurokawa ward in Miyagi prefecture. Jishun Sugano, the 39th chief priest of Butsugen-ji, made the following report about these mandala monuments in the document that he wrote on May 15 in the 41st year of Showa (1966) under the title of “On the Tower Dedicated to the Three Treasures”[20]: 

“Juen-in Nikki, the 28th chief priest of Butsugen-ji, resolved in the 3rd year of Bunka (1806) together with Mr. Ono so and so, a believer, and Nikki’s father to transform into stone monument a Nichikan Gohonzon upon which Nichikan wrote ‘Conferring (this upon …….) branch temple in Oshu province on March 13 in the 5th year of Kyoho,’ making a total of 36 Gohonzon stone monuments, which were placed along neighboring roads near the ocean or in the mountain. Today, we have three of them in the area of Butsugen-ji and two of them in Kurokawa ward, the birth place of Nikki.”
Nikki of Butsugen-ji is the chief priest who copied and transformed into wood Nikko’s mandala Gohonzon, enshrining it at the main room of Butsugen-ji, to which I referred in my third thesis. In fact, Nikki made as many as 36 stone Gohonzon, some of which he placed on the grounds of the temple and along some open streets. Not only that, Nikki did not do this arbitrarily but with approval from, and through the eye-opening ceremony by, Nichiryo, the 48th high priest. This we can tell from the note engraved in the back of “The Tower Dedicated to the Three Treasures” that is placed in front of “The Three Teachers’ Tombs” at Butsugen-ji. "The Tower Dedicated to the Three Treasures" is also a Gohonzon monument based upon the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan. The note reads in part, 
“This great mandala that we have most respectfully constructed was originally inscribed by the 26th high priest of Fuji Taiseki-ji. … We now have built this monument most sincerely for the peace of the world, for the security of the land, for the present and future, for the fulfillment of all wishes and for the repayment of our debt of gratitude to the nation. Both of those who are faithful or hostile developed a great relationship with Buddhism, practicing correct faith. They are therefore prospering now, and they will also prosper in the future. Obtaining the effect and reward of prosperity, they will attain Buddhahood in future existences without fail. In the meantime, this monument dedicated to the three treasures of seed-sowing Buddhism originated from the will that was shared when the 48th high priest of Taiseki-ji visited this place on April 28 in the 10th year of Bunsei … This is now built while copying ….. of Fuji Taiseki-ji and this Butsugen-ji.”
A sentence that shows the eye-opening ceremony conducted by Nichiryo for this monument Gohonzon is etched on the left side of the monument. It reads, 
“I, Nichiryo, the 48th high priest of Dai-Nichirenge-zan Taiseki-ji at Fuji ward in Sushu province, opened the eye of this mandala.”
As indicated in the note that Nikki engraved in the monument, Nikki transformed a Nichikan Gohonzon into a stone monument with his wishes for peace and for the repayment of his debt of gratitude to the nation. In this vein, Nikki went on to receive approval from Nichiryo, the 48th high priest, while executing an eye-opening ceremony with him for the mandala monument of “The Tower Dedicated to the Three Treasures.” Judging from the fact that the monument mandala existed in other Nichiren schools, Nikki seems to have come up with the idea that he too should make a monument mandala.

Photo 19. The mandala monument based upon the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan, the 26th high priest. 
This monument was built by Butsugen-ji’s chief priest in the city of Sendai during the Edo period. (Photo from page 337)

The mandala Nikki created was made of stone, but it is of the same nature as a Gohonzon transformed into wood. Therefore, this stone slab Gohonzon should be enshrined at a correct  place where it can be worshipped as a legitimate Gohonzon and treated as the object of devotion for the practice of faith. However, many of the stone mandala that Nikki made are placed at public locations where many passersby who have no idea of the meaning of the Gohonzon of the Taiseki-ji School nonchalantly see and touch.


Photo 20 (at left). A monument of Nichikan mandala that is placed along a public road. 
Photo 21 (at right). This mandala monument is very much weathered. (Both photoa are from page 358)

Its surface is heavily weathered perhaps because it has been exposed to nature for centuries. Some people seem to consider this mandala monument as an ordinary tomb, watering it just as they do for regular tombs. And of course, Butsugen-ji’s priests and lay believers do not visit it to pay daily homage to it. Placing the stone mandala Gohonzon on the street is an act of extreme slander from view of faith in the Nikko School.

Non-believers visit the monument Gohonzon that Nikki built, placing offerings in front of it. This reality contrasts with the spirit of Nichiren who admonished the act of receiving offerings from those who are in essence opposed to his teaching. Concerning a woman believer whose faith was unstable, he stated, “If I present her with this Gohonzon for her salvation because I am greatly indebted to her, the ten demon daughters will certainly think I am a very partial priest” (“Reply to Niiama,” WND, Vol. 1 , p. 468).

As Nichiren refused to confer the Gohonzon on this believer, Nikki’s act to expose the monument Gohonzon to the public on the street opposes Nichiren’s spirit in faith. However, no chief administrator of Taiseki-ji has ever taken to task Nikki’s creation of the mandala monument. The Taiseki-ji School, while disregarding such a slanderous act, has been advocating strictness with regards to the matters of the Gohonzon. However, the deceitful nature of Taiseki-ji becomes obvious through its acceptance of this slanderous example of a monument Gohonzon. These monument Gohonzon abound in the neighborhood of Butsugen-ji and that proves how disorderly Taiseki-ji is in its attitude toward significant matters of the Gohonzon.

4. Alteration and Deletion of Conferral Notes from Mandala Gohonzon

The conferral note means the name of the receiver of the Gohonzon that is written on the left side of the Gohonzon. In recent years, there has been a conflict in opinion between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai about the conferral note. The Soka Gakkai, which became independent of Nichiren Shoshu in November 1991, began to confer upon its believers in October 1993 the okatagi (woodblock) Gohonzon based upon 26th high priest Nichikan’s Gohonzon that was stored at Joen-ji temple in Tochigi prefecture.

Until then, the Taiseki-ji School had been monopolizing all the rights about the object of devotion. The school reacted fiercely to this behavior on the part of the Soka Gakkai, criticizing in many ways that the Gohonzon issued by the Gakkai is counterfeit. One of the issues that Nichiren Shoshu took with the Soka Gakkai Gohonzon is the point that the Gakkai did not include in its okatagi Nichikan Gohonzon the conferral note that was written in its original Gohonzon, insisting that “When those who did not inherit the heritage of this school and voluntarily erased the conferral note from the Gohonzon, distributing the improvised Gohonzon freely to an unknown number of people, they are committing a major slander to trample upon Nichikan’s heart.”[21]

At first, the Taiseki-ji School asserted that the Gakkai’s act to eliminate the conferral note from the Gohonzon in making its okatagi Gohonzon is slanderous. However, Nikken Abe of Taiseki-ji caused to delete conferral notes from the wooden Gohonzon at temples donated by the Soka Gakkai, including the general lodging of Taiseki-ji. This deleted conferral note read “for Daisaku Ikeda, head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay societies, and all other believers.” Because this behavior by Nikken Abe counterbalanced the Gakkai’s deletion of the conferral note from the original Nichikan Gohonzon, the Taiseki-ji School lost ground when it criticized the Gakkai from the standpoint of the conferral note. The Taiseki-ji School then changed its logic, claiming that it is a slander to delete the conferral note without the chief administrator’s permission.

There have been vehement arguments about the necessity of obtaining permission from the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji to delete the conferral note from a Gohonzon. Aside from these arguments, I would like to approach this subject from the historical realities of Taiseki-ji.

In view of various historical data related to the Taiseki-ji School, it is very common that the third party alters the conferral note of the mandala Gohonzon. As you can tell from “Notes Written on Mandala” in Essential Writings of the Fuji School, many times the chief administrators of Taiseki-ji made additions to a conferral note on a Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren or transcribed by Nikko. Also, it often happened that local chief priests put their signatures on the okatagi Gohonzon made by the successive chief administrators of Taiseki-ji. This type of okatagi Gohonzon is called “okatagi-joju” within the Taiseki-ji School. I had a chance to see such a Gohonzon with my own eyes, but there I saw no sign of approval from the chief administrator of the time.

It seems that just like the okatagi (woodblock) Gohonzon issued by the Soka Gakkai, there are Gohonzon that were transformed into wooden form where the conferral note was deleted in the process of transformation. Jogyo-ji in Miyagi prefecture houses the paper Gohonzon that, transcribed by Nikko on February 25 in the 4th year of Showa (1315), has a conferral note that reads “Nitta Saburo …”
 
 
 
 

Material 4: A description in The Essential Works of the Fuji School 
that introduces the paper Gohonzon transcribed by Nikko on 
February 25 in the 4th year of Showa with a conferral note 
that reads “Nitta Saburo….” (EWFS, Vol. 8, p. 183). 
(Material from page 340)
 
 
 
 
 

As a matter of fact, however, it seems that two wooden Gohonzon were made out of this Gohonzon in the Edo period. Presently, one of these Gohonzon is housed at Jyogyo-ji while the other is kept at Myokyo-ji in Kurihara Ward that is not far from Jyogyo-ji. A summarized introduction of the front and back of these two wooden Gohonzon is made at the end of Section 19 of "Various Records" compiled by Jundo Nose. The conferral note that reads “I, Shoyo-in Myozui Nichio, made this on October 13 in the 14th year of Genroku to have it enshrined all the time at Jyogyo-ji at Morimura in Tome ward in Oshu province” is added to the wooden Gohonzon possessed by Jyogyo-ji. 


Material 5: The front of the wooden Gohonzon that is based upon the paper Gohonzon that I shared as Material 4. 
(This graphic from page 341 Top)

However, the one kept by Myokyo-ji has no such mention.


Material 6. The back of the wooden Gohonzon that seems to have been transcribed 
based upon the paper Gohonzon transcribed by Nikko and shared as Material 4. (This graphic from page 341 Bottom)

If these two wooden Gohonzon are judged to be based upon the paper Gohonzon transcribed by Nikko on February 25 in the 4th year of Showa (and kept at Jyogyo-ji), it follows that the conferral note that was in the original paper Gohonzon was deleted in both cases in the process of transforming it into the wooden Gohonzon.

Of course, what I am saying here is my conjecture based upon the data available, and I cannot assert what I am saying is correct unless I actually look at all three Gohonzon. I suspect that the deletion of the conferral note where the name of the receiver of Nikko’s paper Gohonzon was mentioned as “Nitta Saburo ...” would have regarded as unnecessary since the two wooden Gohonzon were created to be enshrined at the temples. Also, there is no signature of the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji on these two wooden Gohonzon. This seemingly indicates that these two Gohonzon were not made by, and did not go through an eye-opening ceremony by the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji. 

As is clear from the above, we can summarize that the conferral note on the Gohonzon was flexibly treated in the history of the Taiseki-ji School. What seems to have been done rather freely in the Taiseki-ji School was for the chief administrator to make additions to the conferral note on the Gohonzon, for the regular priest to write a conferral note on the Gohonzon, and for someone to delete the conferral note at the time of transforming the paper Gohonzon into a wooden one.

5. Eye-Opening Ceremony for Mandala Gohonzon by High Priests (Chief Administrators)

Today's Nichiren Shoshu claims that all mandala Gohonzon issued by Nichiren Shoshu are conferred after the eye-opening ceremony is conducted for them. As I discussed in the third thesis of this book, we have no choice but to say that this claim of Nichiren Shoshu is very different from the reality of its history. In addition, Nikken Abe, the former chief administrator, and his priesthood admit in their written debate with me that they don’t conduct an eye-opening ceremony for the okatagi Gohonzon under the auspices of the chief administrator. Here I would like to introduce the contents of our debate exactly as it took place to maintain fairness in my argument. The point of view of Nikken's side is written by A Group of Nichiren Shoshu Youthful Priests Commissioned to Refute Slanderous Teachings.

(1) Questions Sent from Author to Nikken (Sent on July 30, 2005)
You (Nikken Abe) clearly stated at the nationwide teachers seminar held at Taiseki-ji on August 28 in the 9th year of Heisei (1997), “From the past till today, every Gohonzon, before being shipped from the head temple to branch temples for conferral, is placed in front of the Gohonzon during the ushitora (midnight) gongyo to receive prayers from the chief administrator.” Right after that, you made another statement that sounded very vague, “Somebody is presuming that there was no eye-opening ceremony conducted for those okatagi Gohonzon that used to be sent out from Hodo-in to the branch temples of Taiseki-ji, but Nichiji Shonin, Reverend Do’o Hayase, who was then the chief executive of Hodo-in, was handling the okatagi Gohonzon with permission of the chief administrator of the head temple.” Let me confirm this: When you say, “every Gohonzon, before being shipped from the head temple to branch temples for conferral, is placed in front of the Gohonzon during the ushitora (midnight) gongyo to receive prayers from the chief administrator,” you do not include the okatagi Gohonzon in your expression “every Gohonzon,” do you? I say this because you said that getting permission from the chief administrator of the head temple is good enough for those okatagi Gohonzon that were sent out from Hodo-in in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, to the branch temples. It seems to me that you think that all the joju Gohonzon that were transcribed by the chief administrator’s own hand are eye-opened, but that all the printed okatagi Gohonzon do not have to go through an eye-opening ceremony, as long as the chief administrator approves their existence. If so, why does the okatagi Gohonzon not have to go through an eye-opening ceremony? How is it that all okatagi Gohonzon come to have the living essence of the True Buddha dwell in them only due to "spiritual permission" (which is very dubious) from the chief administrator, although no prayer is offered to them by the chief administrator?

Please explain to me how you can justify such a view in light of the doctrine of the enlightenment of plants (somoku jobutsu). Also, please make clear whether an eye-opening ceremony is necessary to be conducted for the special okatagi Gohonzon. Please explain why you deal with the joju Gohonzon and okatagi Gohonzon differently, the former with the eye-opening ceremony while the latter with just the chief administrator’s permission.

(2) Contents of Nikken Side’s Response (quoted from Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions, compiled by the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, written by A Group of Nichiren Shoshu Youthful Priests Commissioned to Refute Slanderous Teachings, and published on August 24, 2005)
You (Mikio Matsuoka) are interpreting in your own way the guidance and direction of High Priest Nikken in conjunction with the Gakkai’s allegations about the eye-opening of the Gohonzon. You are repeating extremely conceited questions to the high priest based upon your delusions. Your allegations are indeed low-level and of the same nature as those made slanderously by the Soka Gakkai. All your questions are no more than a malicious attempt that you are making as the Gakkai’s agent to justify its counterfeit Gohonzon. 

As to the guidance and direction of Nikken Shonin, when you write, “Every Gohonzon, before being shipped from the head temple to branch temples for conferral, is placed in front of the Gohonzon during the ushitora (midnight) gongyo to receive prayers from the chief administrator,” you do not include the okatagi Gohonzon in your expression ‘every Gohonzon,’ do you?” You base your allegation upon his guidance with regards to Hodo-in’s handling of the okatagi Gohonzon.

In his guidance, which you quoted, Nikken Shonin clearly states, “When it comes to the matters of the Gohonzon at the head temple, all the successive high priests now down to myself, Nikken, they all offered their prayers, which embody the oneness of the mystic reality and wisdom, at ushitora gongyo, the time when all Buddhas attained Buddhahood, to the Gohonzon of the actual ichinen sanzen, in agreement with the profound principle of the enlightenment of plants for the sake of the eye-opening and based upon the justice of four mystics of the seed-sowing Buddhism of the original cause, that is, the mystic reality, the mystic wisdom, the mystic practice and the mystic position. This eye-opening event covers all Gohonzon without any exceptions including manually transcribed and mechanically printed Gohonzon.”[22

In this way, Nikken Shonin clearly states that every Gohonzon including the okatagi Gohonzon goes through an eye-opening ceremony under the solemn auspices of the high priest. Therefore your question that “you do not include the okatagi Gohonzon in your expression ‘every Gohonzon,’ do you?” is indeed pointless. It is no more than your own absurd self-created thought.

In the first place, you fatally misunderstand this particular guidance of Nikken Shonin regarding the eye-opening ceremony. If you humbly pay attention to the very guidance of Nikken Shonin, the eye-opening ceremony that he conducts at the ushitora gongyo covers every Gohonzon he has approved, which means all the okatagi Gohonzon are also included.

Furthermore, the meaning of the eye-opening ceremony that the high priest refers to is very profound, as he points out that the Gohonzon, which received the eye-opening prayers from the high priest (with the heritage of the inner enlightenment of the Daishonin that has been transferred from one high priest to another along the lineage of the Taiseki-ji School), comes to possess the living essence of the Law that transcends the limits of time and space. The high priest’s teaching to this effect is very much beyond the speculation produced by your distorted and limited brain.

Citing the statement of the high priest in conjunction with the okatagi Gohonzon that was sent out from Hodo-in to the branch temples in the past, you also question, “You said that getting permission from the chief administrator of the head temple is good enough for those okatagi Gohonzon that were sent out from Hodo-in to the branch temples. It seems to me that you think that all the joju Gohonzon that were transcribed by the chief administrator’s own hand are eye-opened, but that all the printed okatagi Gohonzon do not have to go through an eye-opening ceremony as long as the chief administrator approves their existence. If so, why does the okatagi Gohonzon not have to go through an eye-opening ceremony?” This wicked question is no more than an empty product of your illusion. Where in his guidance did Nikken Shonin say that the high priests’ permission was good enough for the okatagi Gohonzon? Such a statement was never uttered by the high priest. What he actually said was:

“Somebody is presuming that there was no eye-opening ceremony conducted for those okatagi Gohonzon that used to be sent out from Hodo-in to the branch temples of Taiseki-ji, but Nichiji Shonin, Reverend Do’o Hayase, who was then the chief executive of Hodo-in, was handling the okatagi Gohonzon with permission of the chief administrator of the head temple. Therefore, we see here no contradiction with the correct formality of the head temple.”[23]
What he means by this remark is that in the past, then high priest, Nittatsu Shonin, ordered Kanmyo-in Nichiji Shonin, who was the chief executive of Hodo-in, to handle the matter of all the okatagi Gohonzon, including their delivery to all the branch temples, and that this whole process did not contradict the correct formality of the head temple since it was done with the formal approval of the high priest, and accompanied by the eye-opening ceremony conducted by the high priest at the head temple. This particular remark by Nikken Shonin was made to refute the allegation that the okatagi Gohonzon issued by Hodo-in did not go through any eye-opening ceremony. In other words, this particular portion of his statement actually points to the fact that all the okatagi Gohonzon issued by Hodo-in went through the eye-opening ceremony by the high priest. Accordingly, the high priest has never said that there is no need for the eye-opening ceremony for the okatagi Gohonzon. Your questions are nothing but a product of your preconception and biased conjecture.

You also asked, "How is it that all okatagi Gohonzon come to have the living essence of the True Buddha dwell in them only due to 'spiritual permission' (which is very dubious) from the chief administrator, although no prayer is offered to them by the chief administrator?" This question also comes from your misinterpretation of the truth of the matter. As Nikken Shonin says, the eye-opening of the okatagi Gohonzon has been solemnly conducted at the ushitora gongyo. It is indeed silly for you to say, based upon your presumption, that the high priest’s permission enables the living essence of the Law to start dwelling in the Gohonzon.

Let us say this: The high priest’s prayer for the eye-opening of the Gohonzon is a matter that is far beyond the imagination that you, a slanderer, harbor.

Nichio Shonin states,

“A high priest receives from another high priest the transmission of this entity of the Law on a one-to-one basis through golden utterance in this school. No one can ever transcribe the Gohonzon without inheriting the heritage of the golden utterance.” [24]

“The transmission of the golden utterance is the ultimate transmission of the teaching that is capable of eye-opening the object of devotion for the attainment of enlightenment by all people, as the heart of the founder is mystically embodied in this transmission of golden utterance” (RS, Vol. 27, p. 474).

The eye-opening ceremony that the high priest conducts is done based upon his supreme life-condition that stems from his position that he fulfills with the ultimate heritage of the golden utterance, that has been transmitted from one high priest to another along the lineage of the Taiseki-ji School. The contents of the heritage are known only to the high priest who has inherited the heritage of the Law along the lineage of the successive high priests. In this way, the contents of the heritage do not need to be known by anybody else. No one except the high priest is qualified to know them.

In addition, it should be pointed out that the previous conferral of the okatagi Gohonzon by Hodo-in was not done self-righteously, but based upon the mandate of the former high priest Nittatsu Shonin, the 66th high priest of the head temple, who took into consideration various circumstances including the technological matter of printing. The okatagi Gohonzon thus received the eye-opening ceremony through the prayers of the high priest who possesses every authority of every aspect of the Gohonzon at the ushitora gongyo. All the okatagi Gohonzon, which went through the eye-opening ceremony by the high priest, were then distributed to all the branch temples and placed in front of the Gohonzon at each temple before it was conferred to a believer.

Taking up only superficial matters such as the printing and distribution of the Gohonzon, you presumed that there was no eye-opening ceremony for those okatagi Gohonzon issued by Hodo-in. Here we point out that your conjecture is indeed illusionary, since you are so ignorant of the meaning of the eye-opening ceremony and its profound significance in the relationship between the head temple and its branch temples.

Also, you say, “Please explain to me how you can justify such a view in light of the doctrine of the enlightenment of plants (somoku jobutsu).” The meaning of the eye-opening ceremony in our school is already revealed in the guidance of the high priest that we cited before. Since it is done based upon the prayers offered by the high priest who possesses the same living essence as the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin, it is beyond the realm of a third party like you.

You also asked, “Also, please make clear whether an eye-opening ceremony is necessary to be conducted for the special okatagi Gohonzon. Please explain why you deal with the joju Gohonzon and okatagi Gohonzon differently, the former with the eye-opening ceremony while the latter with just the chief administrator’s permission.” Since the premise upon which your question is based does not make sense, we do not see any reason why we have to respond to you here, but we would say that every Gohonzon approved by the high priest carries the significance that it went through the eye-opening ceremony conducted by the high priest. There is no such distinction at the head temple as the eye-opening ceremony for the joju Gohonzon and just the permission from the high priest for the okatagi Gohonzon.

(3) Author’s View (excerpted from my book, Ten Academic Views Criticizing Nikken Abe’s Doctrines, published on November 18, 2005)
Until today Abe (Nikken) has been explaining that all the okatagi Gohonzon were placed in front of the Gohonzon to conduct an eye-opening ceremony during ushitora gongyo. This point can be naturally justified by Abe’s statement that “Every Gohonzon, before being shipped from the head temple to branch temples for conferral, is placed in front of the Gohonzon during the ushitora (midnight) gongyo to receive prayers from the chief administrator.” However, in the response sent to me by the Abe side, called Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions, it was found out that Abe’s remark was nothing but evil-natured rhetoric. Namely, High Priest Abe did neither place the okatagi Gohonzon in front of the Gohonzon nor conduct any eye-opening ceremony for them. The Abe side, by making an unclear statement intentionally, attempts to confuse its readers. In short, Abe’s excuse is as follows. Since his points are very important, I will sum them up here in bold type. 

Nikken Abe did not conduct the eye-opening ceremony. Instead, availing himself of the occasion of the ushitora gongyo, Abe offers prayers that contain the significance of the eye-opening of the Gohonzon. However, when it comes to okatagi Gohonzon they are not placed in front of the Gohonzon in the Grand Reception Hall to receive direct prayers from Abe. The prayers that Abe offers during the ushitora gongyo reach out to a great number of Gohonzon that Abe has never seen, enabling the living essence of the True Buddha to dwell within each okatagi Gohonzon beyond the limit of time and space. This is good enough for the eye-opening of all the okatagi Gohonzon.

I think that many people believe that during the eye-opening ceremony a new stack of Gohonzon is placed in front of the Gohonzon, and that the high priest offers prayers to these new Gohonzon in accord with the principle of the enlightenment of plants. However, Abe insists that the eye of the new Gohonzon can be opened with the prayers of the high priest who conjures up the image of a certain number of okatagi Gohonzon. Here are a number of contradictions that should not be overlooked: 

First, suppose that the living essence of the Law can be simultaneously injected into millions of okatagi Gohonzon that the high priest has never seen through his prayers at ushitora gongyo. Then all eye-opening ceremonies will become useless. This reminds me of the eye-opening ceremony of the juzu beads conducted at Nichiren Shoshu temples. As far as I know, Abe, the current high priest, conducted the eye-opening ceremony for juzu beads during the gokaihi (door-opening) ceremony. Many bundles of juzu beads were formally placed on the table in front of the Gohonzon. When the prose section of the “Life Span” chapter was recited during the gokaihi ceremony, Abe picked up each bundle of juzu beads, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo while holding them up before his face. This was how he conducted an eye-opening ceremony for juzu beads. The juzu beads that went through this ceremony will be placed on sale to believers at large. Such juzu beads are called “juzu beads eye-opened by the high priest.” Conducting an eye-opening ceremony for the okatagi Gohonzon where the living essence of the True Buddha should be allegedly injected must be, in theory, the most important eye-opening ceremony among all the other eye-opening ceremonies. And yet Abe says that his prayers, even though he does not have any physical encounter with the okatagi Gohonzon, would be sufficient enough to open their eyes. In contrast, I wonder why he has juzu beads goes through such a serious ceremony. This contrast raises questions, and I see inconsistencies in Abe’s attitude toward the okatagi Gohonzon and juzu beads.

Second, Abe offers his prayers while offering the new joju Gohonzon during the ushitora gongyo. I also remember that he placed the new special okatagi Gohonzon during the ushitora gongyo. But why doesn’t he place the okatagi Gohonzon that is meant to be conferred upon general believers? Why does he make a distinction between joju Gohonzon and okatagi Gohonzon, as he directly offers his prayers to the former while he indirectly does the same to the latter? Abe never gave his doctrinal explanation to this disparity. 

Third, the Abe side’s contention that “the meaning of the eye-opening ceremony that the high priest refers to is very profound, as he points out that the Gohonzon, which received the eye-opening prayers from the high priest (with the heritage of the inner enlightenment of the Daishonin that has been transferred from one high priest to another along the lineage of the Taiseki-ji School), comes to posses the living essence of the Law that transcends the limits of time and space.” (“Response from Abe’s Side,” p. 25) is not backed up philologically and doctrinally at all. Since Abe does not live in the world of academism, he may well confine himself in his own world by stating, “it is beyond the realm of a third party like you” (ibid., p. 19). But if you don’t feel any shame in consciously committing a mistake by attempting to prove the righteousness of your logic through the use of your authority, you should refrain from rebutting me with your impromptu knowledge with which you criticize my observation and argument. If you want to venture into the world of my logic, you should first of all not escape from the world of logic itself. In this respect, let me point out one more thing: When Abe insists that “the Gohonzon comes to possess the living essence of the Law that transcends the limits of time and space” (ibid., p. 17), his argument contains an inherent contradiction. Saying that every Gohonzon comes to possess the living essence of the Law thanks to the prayers of the high priest, which is in itself a phenomenon that is limited in time and space, is not consistent with the previous expression of “the living essence of the Law that transcends the limits of time and space.”

Fourth, why doesn’t Abe conduct an independent eye-opening ceremony for the sake of the okatagi Gohonzon? Abe responded to me by stating that the meaning of the eye-opening ceremony is very profound. If he says so, shouldn’t he conduct a solemn and magnificent eye-opening ceremony aside from the ushitora gongyo that is meant for offering prayers for kosen-rufu? I also remember that Abe, during the time of gokaihi ceremony in front of the Dai-Gohonzon at the Sho-Hondo, placed a new wooden-Gohonzon that was created for a believer. This compels me to think that he performed the eye-opening ceremony for the Gohonzon, utilizing the ceremonies of the ushitora gongyo or gokaihi ceremony. Isn’t the Abe side slighting the significance of the eye-opening ceremony?

Fifth, Abe remarked at the teachers seminar held in the summer of the 9th year of Heisei (1997) that “Every Gohonzon, before being shipped from the head temple to branch temples for conferral, is placed in front of the Gohonzon during the ushitora (midnight) gongyo to receive prayers from the chief administrator.” However, since the high priest does not directly meet with the okatagi Gohonzon to conduct an eye-opening ceremony for them, how does the high priest distinguish the okatagi Gohonzon that are still prior to departure from the head temple and those okatagi Gohonzon that already departed from the head temple? For instance, does Abe offer his prayers to those okatagi Gohonzon that were sent out to branch temple each time when he receives the report from their chief priests about the number of the okatagi Gohonzon they have received? If Abe is to underline “before being shipped from the head temple to branch temples for conferral,” he ought to show a concrete procedure for conducting an eye-opening ceremony for those okatagi Gohonzon that will be shipped out from the head temple. Also, if Abe wants to stop my argument by further mystifying the prayers of the high priest, stating “they transcend the limits of time and space,” he should not use the time-limited expression of “before being shipped from the head temple to branch temples.” In the past, all okatagi Gohonzon were produced at Hodo-in in metropolitan Tokyo, far from the head temple in Shizuoka prefecture, so why does Abe have to stress the timing of “before being shipped from the head temple” for the eye-opening ceremony? In case Abe cannot give sufficient explanations to these questions, we have no choice but to think that the reason why Abe emphasized the eye-opening ceremony of the okatagi Gohonzon prior to their departure from the head temple is to give the false impression to lay believers that Abe conducts a direct eye-opening ceremony for the okatagi Gohonzon.

With all this said, here let me share my view. First of all, the formality of the eye-opening ceremony for the Gohonzon was not an important tradition within the Taiseki-ji School. It was conducted only for the eye-opening of the joju Gohonzon or wooden Gohonzon. A high priest would conduct an eye-opening ceremony from time to time, utilizing the occasion of the ushitora gongyo. When it comes to the regular okatagi Gohonzon whose number is far greater than the joju Gohonzon or other Gohonzon, Abe just offers his prayers without ever meeting them personally. In the first place, it is physically impossible to place millions of okatagi Gohonzon in front of the altar during the time of the ushitora gongyo. Abe takes advantage of the ushitora gongyo to conduct conceptual eye-opening ceremonies for the okatagi Gohonzon. Of course, it may be possible that another high priest might be sincere enough to visit the place where the okatagi Gohonzon are preserved, in order to conduct official eye-opening ceremonies from time to time — in that case, all the okatagi Gohonzon, just like the joju Gohonzon, might be able to go through a direct eye-opening ceremony by the high priest. It would be especially possible now that Nichiren Shoshu new believers have dramatically decreased in recent years. In this regard, we have no alternative but to say that Abe’s arrogant attitude shows that he has no intention to conduct a direct eye-opening ceremony for every okatagi Gohonzon. We have to conclude that the significance of the eye-opening ceremony that Abe refers to is so shallow enough to allow his negligence.

(4) Nikken Side’s Second Rebuttal (quoted from Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions that was compiled by the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, written by A Group of Nichiren Shoshu Youthful Priests Commissioned to Refute Slanderous Teachings, and published on December 13, 2005)

You (Mikio Matsuoka), in response to our refutation, remarked, "Until today Abe (Nikken) has been explaining that all the okatagi Gohonzon were placed in front of the Gohonzon to conduct an eye-opening ceremony during ushitora gongyo. This point can be naturally justified by Abe’s statement that 'Every Gohonzon, before being shipped from the head temple to branch temples for conferral, is placed in front of the Gohonzon during the ushitora (midnight) gongyo to receive prayers from the chief administrator.' However, in the response sent to me by the Abe side, called Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions, it was found out that Abe’s remark was nothing but evil-natured rhetoric. Namely, High Priest Abe did neither place the okatagi Gohonzon in front of the Gohonzon nor conduct any eye-opening ceremony for them. The Abe side, by making an unclear statement intentionally, attempts to confuse its readers. In short, Abe’s excuse is as follows. Since his points are very important, I will sum them up here in bold type.” In summing your contention, you concluded, “Nikken Abe did not conduct the eye-opening ceremony. Instead, availing himself of the occasion of the ushitora gongyo, Abe offers prayers that contain the significance of the eye-opening of the Gohonzon. However, when it comes to okatagi Gohonzon they are not placed in front of the Gohonzon in the Grand Reception Hall to receive direct prayers from Abe. The prayers that Abe offers during the ushitora gongyo reach out to a great number of Gohonzon that Abe has never seen, enabling the living essence of the True Buddha to dwell within each okatagi Gohonzon beyond the limit of time and space. This is good enough for the eye-opening of all the okatagi Gohonzon.”

Nikken Shonin once gave the following guidance:

“When it comes to the matters of the Gohonzon at the head temple, all the successive high priests now down to myself, Nikken, they all offered their prayers, which embody the oneness of the mystic reality and wisdom, at ushitora gongyo, the time when all Buddhas attained Buddhahood, to the Gohonzon of the actual ichinen sanzen, in agreement with the profound principle of the enlightenment of plants for the sake of the eye-opening and based upon the justice of four mystics of the seed-sowing Buddhism of the original cause, that is, the mystic reality, the mystic wisdom, the mystic practice and the mystic position. This eye-opening event covers all Gohonzon without any exceptions including manually transcribed and mechanically printed Gohonzon.”[25]
Your above allegation is against what we stated in Refuting Ten Foolish Questions about the above guidance of Nikken Shonin: “When you sincerely read this guidance of the high priest, the eye-opening prayers that the high priest offers during ushitora gongyo reach out to all the Gohonzon that the high priest approved, including, of course, all the okatagi Gohonzon. Furthermore, the meaning of the eye-opening ceremony that the high priest refers to is very profound, as he points out that the Gohonzon, which received the eye-opening prayers from the high priest (with the heritage of the inner enlightenment of the Daishonin that has been transferred from one high priest to another along the lineage of the Taiseki-ji School), comes to possess the living essence of the Law that transcends the limits of time and space. The high priest’s teaching to this effect is very much beyond the speculation produced by your distorted and limited brain.”[26]

In your allegation, you disparage our rebuttal as a malicious rhetoric or mere wordplay. But we never said that the eye-opening ceremony is conducted to utilize the occasion of the ushitora gongyo or that it would be sufficient if the high priest offers his prayers to the okatagi Gohonzon with their image in his mind. Disparaging the high priest with such allegations is your malicious rhetoric. Yours is indeed a case of distorting the truth.

In short, for the purpose of denying the eye-opening ceremony in this school, you have presumed that the high priest fails to meet directly with the okatagi Gohonzon in offering his prayers to them, thus attacking him with a malicious intent.

The truth is far from your assumption. Nikken Shonin, ever since he took office, made it a practice to place all the Gohonzon including the okatagi Gohonzon in front of the Gohonzon of the Grand Reception Hall during the time of ushitora gongyo to open their eyes through his prayers. Not only that, he offers his prayers even to those Gohonzon that are not yet mounted or transformed into wooden form. Not only that, to purify them, he further offers his prayers to them after they were mounted or transformed into wooden from. Your wicked allegations against his behavior are totally groundless.

Your allegation is made to justify your point that the high priest does not meet with all the okatagi Gohonzon in offering his prayers to open their eyes. Your groundless assumption is improper, unjust, and erroneous. Since your assertion is based upon your inadequate assumption, all your allegations are false.

Nikken Shonin’s very guidance cited before refers to the fundamentals of the eye-opening ceremony. Especially, the true meaning of the eye-opening ceremony is disclosed in his statement that “They (the successive high priests) all offered their prayers, which embody the oneness of the mystic reality and wisdom, at ushitora gongyo, the time when all Buddhas attained Buddhahood, to the Gohonzon of the actual ichinen sanzen, in agreement with the profound principle of the enlightenment of plants for the sake of the eye-opening and based upon the justice of four mystics of the seed-sowing Buddhism of the original cause, that is, the mystic reality, the mystic wisdom, the mystic practice and the mystic position. This eye-opening event covers all Gohonzon without any exceptions including manually transcribed and mechanically printed Gohonzon.” Since the eye-opening ceremony is a formality compared to the act of offering prayers, there can be various ways for conducting the eye-opening ceremony to suit the occasion in light of the four ways of preaching (shi-shitsudan). This view of ours naturally leads us to believing in the high priest respectfully, and therefore, we have no doubt about the integrity of his behavior. 

Moreover, you cite five reasons to point out our alleged contradictions. To sum up your points:

First, you claim, “Suppose that the living essence of the Law can be simultaneously injected into millions of okatagi Gohonzon that the high priest has never seen through his prayers at the ushitora gongyo. Then, all eye-opening ceremonies will become useless.”

Second, you argue, “Why does he make a distinction between joju Gohonzon and okatagi Gohonzon, as he directly offers his prayers to the former while he indirectly does the same to the latter. Abe never gave his doctrinal explanation to this disparity.”

Third, you contend, "the Abe side’s contention that 'the meaning of the eye-opening ceremony that the high priest refers to is very profound, as he points out that the Gohonzon, which received the eye-opening prayers from the high priest (with the heritage of the inner enlightenment of the Daishonin that has been transferred from one high priest to another along the lineage of the Taiseki-ji School), comes to posses the living essence of the Law that transcends the limits of time and space.' ('Response from Abe’s Side,' p. 25) is not backed up philologically and doctrinally at all. … When Abe insists that 'the Gohonzon comes to possess the living essence of the Law that transcends the limits of time and space' (ibid., p. 17), his argument contains an inherent contradiction. Saying that every Gohonzon comes to possess the living essence of the Law thanks to the prayers of the high priest, which is in itself a phenomenon that is limited in time and space, is not consistent with the previous expression of 'the living essence of the Law that transcends the limits of time and space.'"

Fourth, you state, “… Shouldn’t he conduct a solemn and magnificent eye-opening ceremony aside from the ushitora gongyo that is meant for offering prayers for kosen-rufu? … This compels me to think that he performed the eye-opening ceremony for the Gohonzon, utilizing the ceremonies of the ushitora gongyo or gokaihi ceremony. Isn’t it the Abe side that is slighting the significance of the eye-opening ceremony?”

Fifth, you remark, “The reason why Abe emphasized the eye-opening ceremony of the okatagi Gohonzon prior to their departure from the head temple is to give the false impression to lay believers that Abe conducts a direct eye-opening ceremony for the okatagi Gohonzon.”

Then you conclude, “With all these said, here let me share my view. First of all, the formality of the eye-opening ceremony for the Gohonzon was not an important tradition within the Taiseki-ji School. It was conducted only for the eye-opening of the joju Gohonzon or wooden Gohonzon. Abe as high priest conducts an eye-opening ceremony from time to time, utilizing the occasion of the ushitora gongyo. … In this vein, we have to conclude that the significance of the eye-opening ceremony that Abe refers to is so shallow enough to allow his negligence."

All your wicked allegations are nothing but rhetoric created to deny the significance of the eye-opening ceremony. This is because you are so doubtful about the profound meaning of Nikken Shonin’s guidance of the ultimate teachings of the eye-opening based on the principle of the enlightenment of plants. Because we have already referred to the behavior of Nikken Shonin in terms of the eye-opening of the Gohonzon, we do not rebut each of your points one by one. However, your third allegation, which constitutes the basis of your allegations, reveals your shallowness and errors, so we will take the trouble to refute what you say there.

Nichiren Daishonin, quoting Mia-lo’s The Annotations on ‘Great Concentration and Insight,’ states in the final section of his reference to “observing one’s mind” in “The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,” “one’s body and mind at a single moment pervade the entire realm of phenomena” (WND, Vol. 1, p. 366). 

The prayers of actual ichinen sanzen, which are stated in Mialo’s comment, provides a philological and doctrinal basis to justify the high priest’s prayers that permeate all phenomena transcending the realms of time and space. The profound meaning of this quote is beyond your comprehension since you have no faith, as Nichiren Daishonin writes, “The heavens and one’s eyelashes are alike. People can see neither their own eyelashes, which are so close, nor the heavens in the distance” (WND, Vol. 1, p. 903).

In the first place, even if the time for the eye-opening of the Gohonzon is limited during the occasion of ushitora gongyo, the beneficial power of the Gohonzon is limitless and endless. This is why the high priest’s prayers for the eye-opening of the Gohonzon is beyond the realm of time. Also, even if the high priest meets with the Gohonzon whose eyes will be opened by him, there is a physical distance between them and the high priest. It does not matter how long this distance is, whether it is several meters or thousands of kilometers. This is so because the prayers offered by the high priest for the eye-opening of all the Gohonzon transcends the realm of space. In other words, his prayers belong to the realm of ku (non-substantiality) that encompasses the realms of time and space. This view is indeed in agreement with the profound truth of the Middle Way expounded in the Lotus Sutra. Since you are attached to the concepts of existence and non-existence without grasping the realm of ku, your understanding of Buddhism is even inferior to that held by a beginner of Buddhist practice.

With regards to your fourth allegation, you refer to the ushitora gongyo as an event focused on kosen-rufu, the time of ushitora is a very fitting occasion for the holding of the eye-opening ceremony since it is the time, as taught by Nikken Shonin, when all the Buddhas attained Buddhahood.

(5) Open Letter and Questions to Nikken [quoted from Open Letter of (Seventy) Questions to Nikken Abe that was published on January 2, 2006]
As follows, Nikken and his supporters gave me a total denial of my assertion that “High Priest Abe did neither place the okatagi Gohonzon in front of the Gohonzon nor conduct any eye-opening ceremony for them.”

“Ever since he took office, he made it a practice to place all the Gohonzon including the okatagi Gohonzon in front of the Gohonzon of the Grand Reception Hall during the time of ushitora gongyo to open their eyes through his prayers. Not only that, he offers his prayers even to those Gohonzon that are not yet mounted or transformed into wooden form. Not only that, to purify them, he further offers his prayers to them after they were mounted or transformed into wooden ones.”[27]

I never imagined that he would tell such a sheer lie. As a matter of fact, he can tell a plain lie even in court. He has shown himself to be shameless enough to change his contentions time and again in court. Indeed, he is a big liar. This particular lie that he had been conducting an eye-opening ceremony for all okatagi Gohonzon while placing them in front of the Gohonzon of the Grand Reception Hall will make him a laughingstock in the minds of all Nichiren Shoshu teachers.

I assert that while I was at the head temple there was no occasion whatsoever when all unmounted okatagi Gohonzon were placed in front of the Gohonzon in the Grand Reception Hall during the time of the ushitora gongyo. Also, it was absolutely improbable that all the scrolls of the mounted okatagi Gohonzon were offered to the Gohonzon in the Grand Reception Hall during the time of the ushitora gongyo to purify them. An enormous number of okatagi Gohonzon were conferred upon Soka Gakkai new members before Nichiren Shoshu severed ties with the Gakkai. Placing hundreds of thousands of okatagi Gohonzon twice in front of the Gohonzon in the Grand Reception Hall — once before there were mounted in the form of mere paper and for the second time after they were amount in the form of scrolls — requires formidable physical labor each time a certain number of paper Gohonzon or mounted scroll-Gohonzon were ready to be placed for the eye-opening ceremony for them. Nikken, why do you tell such a childish lie? I am compelled to ask you to clarify the following points.

  • Can you disclose how many okatagi Gohonzon you conferred during the time of your tenure as high priest?
  • Who carried these enormous numbers of okatagi Gohonzon to the altar in the Grand Reception Hall where the ushitora gongyo was conducted? What was the procedure to accomplish the major work of carrying that many mounted scroll-Gohonzon to and taking them down from the altar in the Grand Reception Hall?
  • How often on the average per year did you have this work done during the time of the ushitora gongyo?
  • Why didn’t you conduct eye-opening ceremonies with new okatagi Gohonzon by placing them in front of the altar in the Grand Reception Hall during the time of the ushitora gongyo in those days when all the okatagi Gohonzon were shipped out from Hodo-in in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, to all branch temples of Taiseki-ji?
  • Since you may try to get away with the statement that “Since the eye-opening ceremony is a formality compared to the act of offering prayers, they can be various ways for conducting the eye-opening ceremony to suit the occasion in light of the four ways of preaching (shi-ishitsudan)."[28] I would say to you that you should show what is daiichigi-shitsu (revealing the ultimate truth directly) in terms of the eye-opening ceremony for the Gohonzon and that you should clearly show Nichiren Daishonin’s writing that justifies your view that only the high priest is qualified to perform an eye-opening ceremony for the Gohonzon. In case Nikken opts not to respond to my questions claiming that he alone possesses the secret Law, I will declare he is opposed to the Daishonin’s teachings that “If there is no reasoning to support it, if they are simply claiming that ‘this very body is the Buddha’ without any justification, point out that it must then be the teaching of the heavenly devil” (WND, Vol. 2, p. 17) and “One should accept what is clearly stated in the text of the sutras, but discard anything that cannot be supported by the text” (WND, Vol. 1, p. 109).
Nikken is required to answer all my questions in detail as long as he disparages my testimony that is based upon my own experience and reasonable conjecture as wholly groundless or false. We are talking about the significant subject of the eye-opening ceremony for the Gohonzon. You should know that if you remain silent about this matter you are committing the sin of slighting the Gohonzon. 


This is the whole argument between Nikken (and others) and myself regarding our dispute over the issue of the eye-opening ceremony of the object of devotion within Nichiren Shoshu. I wrote and sent Open Letter of (Seventy) Questions to Nikken Abe dated January 2, 2006, to Nichiren Shoshu. The Nikken side remained silent for about three weeks and sent me “A Letter of Notice” dated January 24 to declare the end of the debate with the statement that “From now on we will never respond to what you call questions.”

While the Nikken side continued to slander my argument for the sake of protecting its doctrines, I intended to share with them my academic views as a scholar of the Taiseki-ji teachings except for the last open letter of questions. Even in the open letter of questions, I presented five questions in a very logical manner based upon the development of the debate, although I used a strong expression to repudiate their wrongs in just a segment of the letter. Nevertheless, the Nikken side, without responding to any one of my questions, sought to put an end to our debate.

Because of Nichiren Shoshu’s voluntary withdrawal from this debate, it can be said that my contention that “When I was serving at Taiseki-ji, I had never seen all printed paper Gohonzon that would be later mounted offered in front of the Gohonzon of the Grand Reception Hall during ushitora Gongyo. It was totally impossible for all the mounted and scrolled okatagi Gohonzon to be offered for their purification in front of the Gohonzon in the Grand Reception Hall during the ushitora gongyo” was ascertained as an undeniable fact. After the issue of the eye-opening ceremony came to the surface, Nichiren Shoshu may perhaps have started doing an eye-opening ceremony merely to defend its position during the time of the ushitora gongyo by offering the okatagi Gohonzon in front of the Gohonzon in the Grand Reception Hall. If that is the case, how do they explain the fact that in the past Nikken did not conduct any eye-opening ceremony for any of the new okatagi Gohonzon. It also follows that the chief administrators of Taiseki-ji in pre-modern and modern times, who failed to conduct an eye-opening ceremony for the new okatagi Gohonzon, did not show a great example in fulfilling the formalities in conjunction with the activation of the Gohonzon. Or do they claim that Nikken was the first chief administrator who performed the true eye-opening ceremony in pre-modern and modern times? The more Nikken tries to justify himself, the more the dignity of the successive high chief administrators is denied.

As is clear from this series of arguments, at the Taiseki-ji School, after World War II till recent years, the chief administrator never conducted an eye-opening ceremony for the new okatagi Gohonzon, and believers received via the local temples the paper Gohonzon that was printed and mounted by professional companies. The theory that the Gohonzon needs to go through an eye-opening ceremony by the chief administrator was never mentioned by Nichiren, Nikko, and other famed chief administrators such as Nichiu, Nichikan, Nichiko, and Nichijun.

Nichiren states, “It is the power of the Lotus Sutra that can infuse such paintings and statues with a ‘soul’ or spiritual property” (WND, Vol. 1, p. 684).

According to Nichiren, the Lotus Sutra is the entity that opens the eyes of an object of worship. In itself, the object of worship is not something whose eyes need to be opened. In view of Taiseki-ji’s faith, the Lotus Sutra points to the mandala Gohonzon. Namely, the mandala Gohonzon of Taiseki-ji plays the function of the performer of the eye-opening ceremony. This is a philological issue, but it is recorded in “The Record of Notes Taken Out of Lectures” that “There are no other eyes except this Gohonzon” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 841). Opening the eye of the mandala Gohonzon that is daimoku itself does not make sense at all in light of the essence of Nichiren Buddhism.

The priests and believers of the Taiseki-ji School should think in light of the passage from “On Consecrating an Image of Shakyamuni Buddha Made by Shijo Kingo” and “The Record of Notes Taken Out of Lectures” that it is totally unnecessary for the object of devotion to go through an eye-opening ceremony by the chief administrator. It is also true that Nichikan’s idea that one taps the power of the Buddha and the Law that is inherent in the Gohonzon through the power of faith and practice is part of Taiseki-ji’s teaching. In this sense, we may be able to say that the mandala Gohonzon’s eyes are actually opened by the power of believers’ faith and practice. 

6. Current Practice of Incineration of Eye-Opened Gohonzon in Nichiren Shoshu

As to the topic of the eye-opening ceremony of the object of devotion, I have to point out that there are major inconsistencies in the behavior of the current Nichiren Shoshu. Nikken Abe and his supporters of the current Nichiren Shoshu teach, “The eye-opening ceremony that the high priest conducts is done based upon his supreme life-condition that stems from his position that he fulfills with the ultimate heritage of golden utterance that has been transmitted from one high priest to another along the lineage of the Taiseki-ji School. Therefore, all the Gohonzon endorsed by the high priest through his prayers for their eye-opening contains the living essence of the True Buddha beyond the limit of time and space.”[29]

On the other hand, at a facility on the grounds of Taiseki-ji they periodically incinerate large volumes of “eye-opened Gohonzon” that are supposed to contain the living essence of the True Buddha. This reality has become clear through the exchange of written debates between the Nikken side and myself. I would like to introduce the arguments of both sides, leaving our debates in the annals of the clarification of the myths of Nichiren Shoshu. 

(1) Questions Sent from Author to Nikken (on July 30, 2005)
Here, furthermore, I would like to ask you about some concrete facts. As I mentioned before, you claim, “The Gohonzon takes on the living essence of the Daishonin through the eye-opening ceremony conducted by the high priest.” In the past, however, Taiseki-ji had acolytes incinerate returned Gohonzon, and you unobtrusively installed an incinerator in a storage room close to the West Dormitory of Dai-bo on the grounds of Taiseki-ji. When I myself was at Taiseki-ji as a priest, I had a chance to join them in incinerating the Gohonzon. Of course, I will not argue based only on my own experience, since I am a professional researcher. In this vein, therefore, let me ask you again if you still incinerate the returned Gohonzon sent to Taiseki-ji from nationwide branch temples? Please answer this question only with yes or no. If you are still incinerating the returned Gohonzon, it follows that you incinerate volumes of returned Gohonzon where the living essence of the Daishonin still dwells. What do you think of this dilemma? If you say the Gohonzon can be incinerated because the incineration of the Gohonzon is done with permission from the high priest, please explain the concrete procedure of how the high priest gives such a permission. Moreover, why do you not conduct an eye-closing ceremony before incinerating them, just as you eye-open them to activate them. Please give me the philological and logical basis that you adopt to justify your contention.

(2) Contents of Nikken Side’s Response (quoted from Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions, compiled by the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, written by A Group of Nichiren Shoshu Youthful Priests Commissioned to Refute Slanderous Teachings, and published on August 24, 2005)
Here you are trying to find fault with the act of incineration of returned Gohonzon at the head temple. You say that the head temple unobstrusively installed an incinerator in a storage room close to the West Dormitory of Dai-bo. But it is a well-known fact that the Gohonzon returned from branch temples have been respectfully incinerated at a proper facility at the head temple. Your statement is nothing but your manipulative attempt to give an impression that Nichiren Shoshu has been doing something inadequate. Your absurd and accusatory question is a case of your innuendo toward our allegation that “How did the Soka Gakkai treat the exchanged Gohonzon? We have received the information that the Soka Gakkai burned in drum cans the Gohonzon that should be respected as the Daishonin’s life itself. Such a behavior is very fitting for the slanderous organization of the Soka Gakkai that has no faith. We pointed this out three years ago in our Crushing Wicked Allegations by New Religion Soka Gakkai and Seceded Priests. We have not received any response from either of you. If our information is correct, your behavior is truly outrageous. You are committing an ultimate slander, causing yourself to fall into hell![30]

However, your criticism is wholly pointless. The ultimate problem is that the Soka Gakkai, without permission from the high priest, unilaterally issued volumes of counterfeit Gohonzon and then maliciously incinerated the Gohonzon transcribed by the current high priest. The high priest alone possesses the right to handle the matter of the Gohonzon. It is an absolute slander to incinerate the Gohonzon unilaterally against the will of the high priest.

You are also disrespectfully raising questions such as “The Gohonzon takes on the living essence of the Daishonin through the eye-opening ceremony conducted by the high priest, but what do you think of Taiseki-ji’s practice of incinerating such significant Gohonzon?” “Please explain the concrete procedure of how the high priest gives such permission” or “Why do you not conduct an eye-closing ceremony for the returned Gohonzon before incinerating them?” The solemn incineration of the returned Gohonzon at the head temple and the slanderous incineration of the Gohonzon in a drum can committed by the Soka Gakkai are on two totally different levels. The practice of the incineration of the returned Gohonzon at the head temple is conducted most respectfully with permission from the high priest. The living essence of the Law that dwelled within an okatagi Gohonzon that fulfilled its mission returns to the Daishonin through the incineration of it, conducted with permission of the high priest, and also through the profound prayers of the high priest at the time of ushitora gongyo.

The incineration of the returned Gohonzon at the head temple is totally different from the way the Soka Gakkai maliciously incinerates an okatagi Gohonzon that is still active with the living essence of the Law in it.

Furthermore, it should be remembered that the original significance in the conferral of the Gohonzon lies in the fact that it was lent out to a believer thanks to the compassion of the high priest. Consequently, according to the time-honored tradition of the head temple, the Gohonzon that finished its role because of the passing of its conferee or because of the non-existence of the person who will inherit it in his or her family should be returned to Taiseki-ji, the great holy place where the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching is enshrined. The treatment of the returned Gohonzon is up to the high priest who possesses every right to handle the matter of the Gohonzon, and it is none of your business, as you are a mere outsider of such a vital subject.

(3) Author’s View (quoted from Ten Academic Views Criticizing Nikken Abe’s Doctrines that was published on November 18, 2005)

Let me cite a few points in light of answers given by the Nikken Abe side.

  1. Abe did not deny my description that “Taiseki-ji had acolytes incinerate returned Gohonzon, and you unobtrusively installed an incinerator in a storage room close to the West Dormitory of Dai-bo.” Therefore, I assert that, using acolytes, Abe had incinerated the returned Gohonzon unobtrusively on the head temple grounds. This is a matter of course, but an incinerator is something that is supposed to be installed outdoors for the sake of safety. Abe had it installed indoors in a storage room that was equipped with a vent so that Taiseki-ji could incinerate returned Gohonzon using an incinerator that was out of sight. Such behavior on the part of the priesthood is indeed secretive, avoiding public attention.
  2. Abe could not give me clear answers to the questions that I raised about the procedure where the high priest gives permission to incinerate the returned Gohonzon. And he could not show me the reason why he does not conduct an “eye-closing” ceremony for the returned Gohonzon. From this we know that Abe neither took a direct look at the returned Gohonzon, nor did he issue his permission to have them incinerated, nor did he conduct an eye-closing ceremony for the returned Gohonzon.
  3. In short, Abe as high priest was not involved at all in the incineration of the returned Gohonzon, leaving every aspect of this matter to other priests below him. Abe is quite irresponsible about the matter of the returned Gohonzon, and it is indeed deceptive to refer to the incineration of the returned Gohonzon as “done with permission from the high priest” or “based upon the judgment of the high priest.”  The precise reality of the head temple is that Abe as high priest, having no interest in the way the returned Gohonzon will be handled, ignores the fact that the returned Gohonzon are periodically incinerated at the head temple while he was not aware of how they were actually incinerated at the head temple.
Next, we can see the core points that Abe is making in his response, which reads in part, "The living essence of the Law that dwelled within an okatagi Gohonzon that fulfilled its mission returns to the Daishonin through the incineration of it, conducted with permission of the high priest, and also through the profound prayers of the high priest at the time of ushitora gongyo" (“Response from Abe’s Side”, p. 30). I will point out problematic areas in this statement.
  1. The Nikken side refers to “the okatagi Gohonzon that fulfilled its mission,” but how does Abe judge whether a Gohonzon has completed its mission or whether another has not yet? I don’t think the high priest takes a look at each Gohonzon to determine if it has fulfilled its mission or not. The Abe side states in “Response from Administrative Office,” “The Gohonzon that finished its role because of the passing of its conferee or because of the non-existence of the person who will inherit it in his or her family should be returned to Taiseki-ji.” However, the fact is that the examples cited here are much rarer than the cases where the Gohonzon were returned to the temples by those who stopped practicing to the Gohonzon. The Gohonzon returned by those who backslide in faith are, more often than not, relatively new okatagi Gohonzon. Since these Gohonzon were returned before saving their holders, it cannot be said that these Gohonzon fulfilled their mission. Abe, without distinguishing them from other old returned Gohonzon, allowed all the returned Gohonzon to be incinerated at the head temple. My point proves the inconsistency of Abe’s strange theory that only the Gohonzon that fulfilled its role can be incinerated.
  2. Also, why do those returned Gohonzon that fulfilled their roles have to be incinerated? As the Abe side refers to “the living essence of the Law that dwelt within the okatagi Gohonzon that fulfilled its mission,” Abe must think that the living essence of the True Buddha still dwells in the returned Gohonzon. It must be a very disrespectful behavior in the eyes of Abe to incinerate the returned Gohonzon that are so noble. If so, what is the matter with his position where he allows a huge number of returned Gohonzon to be incinerated. Indeed, his action and words do not match. Many Gohonzon, including the original ones inscribed by Founder Nichiren and transcribed by Nikko and the joju Gohonzon transcribed by successive high priests, no matter how worn out they may be or even if their inheritors are absent, have been traditionally kept at Taiseki-ji as temple treasures. They are never regarded as Gohonzon whose roles have ended. The joju Gohonzon by successive high priests and all returned okatagi Gohonzon must be the same in that they allegedly possess the living essence of the True Buddha. If so, no matter how many returned Gohonzon Abe may possess, he should not incinerate any of them if he is to stick with the idea that every Gohonzon possesses the living essence of the True Buddha. He should respectfully keep them as temple treasures. This should be said in light of Abe’s theory.
  3. Abe states that the living essence of the Law that dwelt within the okatagi Gohonzon that fulfilled its mission returns to the Daishonin through its incineration, conducted with permission from the high priest, and also through the profound prayers of the high priest at the time of the ushitora gongyo. This is a new theory that no other high priests in the past ever advocated. Can Abe justify this view based upon the documentary proof of Nichiren’s writings? Abe might say that there is the secret teaching that only the successive high priests of this school know. However, even if there should be a teaching that only the high priest is aware of, such a teaching should be a teaching that helps understand correctly the teachings of Nichiren. Namely, in terms of kyo shaku ron (sutra, interpretation, and opinion), Nichiren’s teaching is compared to the sutra, the interpretation and guidance of the successive high priests correspond to interpretation and view respectively. The interpretation and view that does not correlate to the basis of the sutra does not deserve to be called correct interpretation or view. In other words, such an interpretation or view that is not based upon the “sutra” of Nichiren’s teachings is no more than the high priest’s own teaching. Therefore, if Abe is to advocate a new teaching (interpretation and view), I am saying that he should show us Nichiren’s corresponding teaching and words (sutra).
  4. As to the incineration of the returned Gohonzon, Abe uses expressions such as “politely incinerated them” and “the ceremony to incinerate them respectfully” that sounds respectful for the Gohonzon (“Response from Administrative Office,” pp. 29 and 30). However, if the incineration of the Gohonzon is as vital as he indicates, why did he leave this important ceremony up to immature acolytes? As far as I witnessed, some of them were handling this task in a very business-like manner, without getting any guidelines from their seniors, and without even wearing their formal robe in doing it. They were burning the Gohonzon just as if they were burning pieces of wood, without chanting any daimoku in the whole process of incineration. If Abe is to insist that the act of incinerating the returned Gohonzon is a vital ceremony through which the living essence of the Law that dwelt in the Gohonzon returns to the Daishonin, shouldn’t Abe himself as high priest, wearing his official robe, incinerate the Gohonzon one by one most politely? As far as I observed, no one, including Abe, the head temple’s secretary, directors of the internal affairs of the head temple, or lodging temples’ chief priests, were involved in the act of incineration at all. Incinerating the returned Gohonzon was regarded as a lowly chore at Taiseki-ji. For this reason, the most low-level priests were assigned to this task.
In the above section, I pointed out problematic areas in Abe’s contention. I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to touch upon the conferral of the Gohonzon. Abe considers that original meaning of the conferral of the Gohonzon lies in the point that the high priest lends the Gohonzon to believers. This notion is different from what Nichiren had in mind. In “Reply to the Lay Priest Takahashi” Nichiren states, “Bodhisattva Superior Practices will make his appearance in the world and bestow the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo upon all the living beings of Jambudvipa” (WND, Vol. 1, p. 606). In the doctrines of the Taiseki-ji School, Bodhisattva Superior Practices means a transient aspect of Nichiren, and “the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo” denotes the mandala Gohonzon that Nichiren inscribed. In short, it is Nichiren, the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, who confers the Gohonzon upon all people of the entire world. I would like to reassure them that the theory that the high priest who possesses the living essence of the True Buddha shares the entity of the True Buddha as the conferrer of the Gohonzon has no logical and philological basis. The only thing that exists in this contention is the circular logic where the justification of the high priest is done by the high priest. As Nichiren states, “bestow … upon all the living beings” the Gohonzon was given to all people by Bodhisattva Superior Practices, or the original Buddha of kuon ganjo. The Gohonzon is not something that is lent out to believers, as Abe contends. “To confer” means for a senior to bestow something upon a junior.[31] The notion of “lending” is not involved in the act of “conferral.” 

(4) Nikken Side’s Second Rebuttal (quoted from Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions that was compiled by the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, written by A Group of Nichiren Shoshu Youthful Priests Commissioned to Refute Slanderous Teachings and published on December 13, 2005)
As to the returned Gohonzon, we stated in “Refuting Ten Foolish Questions” 

“You insist that we secretly installed an incinerator in the storage room near the West Dormitory of Dai-bo, but it is well known that the head temple has been politely incinerating the Gohonzon returned from all branch temples at an appropriate facility. Your allegation is very false, painting a shameful image of the head temple.”

“How did the Soka Gakkai treat the exchanged Gohonzon? We have received the information that the Soka Gakkai burned in drum cans the exchanged Gohonzon that should be respected as the Daishonin’s life itself. Such a slanderous behavior is very fitting for the slanderous organization of the Soka Gakkai that has no faith. We pointed this out three years ago in our Crushing Wicked Allegations by New Religion Soka Gakkai and Seceded Priests. We have not received any response from neither of them. If our information is correct, your behavior is truly outrageous. You are committing an ultimate slander, causing yourself to fall into hell.”[32

Your allegations must have been meant to be an innuendo toward our refutation. However your allegation is totally off the point. The problem is that the Gakkai issued a large number of counterfeit Gohonzon without any permission from the high priest while burning the Gohonzon of our school with a malicious intent against it. Namely, when it comes to the issue of the Gohonzon, only the high priest has the authority to handle it. It is a grave slander to incinerate the Gohonzon without approval from the high priest.

You also make accusatory remarks, writing that “What do you think of the act where you incinerate a large volume of Gohonzon where the living essence of the Daishonin still dwells?” and that “What procedure do you take to allow the incineration of the Gohonzon?” and that “Why do you not do the eye-closing ceremony before incinerating volumes of Gohonzon?” There is a huge difference between the solemn ceremony of the incineration of the returned Gohonzon at the head temple and the burning of the Gohonzon by the Soka Gakkai in the drum can. The ceremony of the incineration of the Gohonzon is solemnly done at the head temple with the high priest’s permission. The living essence of the True Buddha returns to the Daishonin thanks to the profound prayers of the high priest during the time of the ushitora gongyo.

The incinerating ceremony of the returned Gohonzon that takes place at the head temple is very different from the malicious burning of the okatagi Gohonzon that still contains the living essence of the True Buddha with a role that has yet to be fulfilled.[33]

Despite our correct view, you rebutted:

1. Abe had an incinerator installed indoors in a storage room that was equipped with a vent so that Taiseki-ji could incinerate returned Gohonzon using an incinerator that was out of sight. Such behavior on the part of the priesthood is indeed secretive, avoiding public attention.

2. Abe neither took a direct look at the returned Gohonzon, nor did he issue his permission to have them incinerated, nor did he conduct an eye-closing ceremony for the returned Gohonzon.

3. Abe is quite irresponsible about the matter of the returned Gohonzon, and it is indeed deceptive to refer to the incineration of the returned Gohonzon as “done with permission from the high priest” or “based upon the judgment of the high priest.” 

Regarding the first point, it is only natural to give the consideration that the sight of the incineration of the Gohonzon, even though it is done at the holy grounds of the head temple, be visible only to those who take on this vital role. Taking this consideration as “a shameful behavior” is an abnormal view, which is a typical case of a saying that “the inability of the vulgar to perceive the sacred.”

Concerning the second point, the terminology “eye-closing” does not exist in the vocabulary of this school. In referring to the eye-opening ceremony, the ceremony in itself is important but, more importantly, we should know that the real meaning of the eye-opening lies in the prayers offered by the high priest. Likewise, through the incineration of the Gohonzon, the living essence of the True Buddha that dwelt within it returns to the Daishonin through the high priest’s profound and boundless prayers.[34]

When it comes the meaning of the living essence that dwells in the Gohonzon, it should be simply accepted with profound faith in it.

Your words related to the matter of the Gohonzon are so ruthless that your act is no different from tramping into a prestigious drawing room with your muddy shoes. We don’t perceive any sense of respect for the Gohonzon in your statement. In short, you have no faith. Since the high priest possesses the inner enlightenment of the Daishonin within his heart, it is only natural that the living essence of the True Buddha will return to the Daishonin through the prayers of the high priest.

As to the third point, the matter of the Gohonzon belongs to the authority of the high priest. It is well know that nobody should handle matters of the Gohonzon without the permission of the high priest or without being based upon the judgment of the high priest. The incineration of the Gohonzon on the grounds of the head temple is not arbitrarily done by those priests working at the head temple. Your conceptualization is exactly the same as harbored by the Soka Gakkai that arbitrarily produces the counterfeit Gohonzon.

You also mention, “The Gohonzon was given to all people by Bodhisattva Superior Practices, or the original Buddha of kuon ganjo. The Gohonzon is not something that is lent out to believers, as Abe contends." “To confer” means for a senior to bestow something upon a junior. The notion of “lending” is not involved in the act of ‘conferral.’” But why don’t you return to the original meaning of the Gohonzon? Does the person upon whom the Gohonzon was conferred by Nichiren Daishonin insist on its ownership? The Gohonzon is conferred upon the believer’s faith. It should not be taken in the same light as material possession in the secular world. If so, doesn’t it stand to reason that the Gohonzon, whose possessor became unable to practice to due to his death or due to the change in his attitude toward faith, return his Gohonzon? The conferral of the Gohonzon is done upon the believer’s faith, and it is different from granting a material object to an individual. Therefore, the conferral of the Gohonzon carries the meaning of “lending it to the believer.”[35] Your wicked allegation is indeed off the point.

Then, you say, “The point that Abe made in his response was: The living essence of the Law that dwelt in the okatagi Gohonzon that fulfilled its role returns to the Daishonin thanks to the profound prayers of the high priest during the ushitora gongyo while we incinerate such Gohonzon with the high priest’s permission” (“Response from Abe’s Side, p. 30). You thus cite the following four points in summary.

  1. You refer to “the okatagi Gohonzon that fulfilled its mission,” but how does Abe judge whether a Gohonzon has completed its mission or whether another has not yet?
  2. Why do you have to incinerate the returned Gohonzon that has fulfilled its role?
  3. Abe says that the living essence of the Law that dwelt in the returned Gohonzon will return to the Daishonin thanks to the profound prayers of the high priest. This is a new theory that no other high priests in the past advocated. … If Abe is to expound a new teaching based upon his own interpretation, please show me the “sutra” of Nichiren’s words that will back up your new view.
  4. As to the incineration of the returned Gohonzon … if you are to insist that the incineration of the returned Gohonzon is a vital ceremony through which the living essence of the Law that dwells in the Gohonzon will return to the Daishonin, why does not Abe, wearing his formal role, conduct an incinerating ceremony for each Gohonzon one by one, no matter how cumbersome it may be for him to do so?
As to the first point, that a Gohonzon is returned to the head temple signifies that it has finished its role, doesn’t it? There will be no need to explain that your points that “some of the incinerated Gohonzon are relatively new” or “some of the Gohonzon are returned before fulfilling their roles” are made just for point-making’s sake. There is no value in your contention.

As for the second point, incineration is the most adequate formality.

With regards to the third point, you should know the profound meaning of the “One body and mind at a single moment pervade the entire realm of phenomena” that the Daishonin cites from The Annotation on ‘Great Concentration and Insight in his “The Object of Devotion for Perceiving One’s Mind.”

Regarding the fourth point, no other priests will be necessary if the high priest can do everything on his own. Your allegation really sounds childish. Don’t become a laughingstock by saying such an absurd thing.

The above is our sane rebuttal against your insane allegations, although we know that it may be absurd for the sane to respond to the insane.

(5) Open Questions from the Author to Nikken [quoted from Open Letter of (Seventy) Questions to Nikken Abe that was published on January 2, 2006]
Pointing out the fact that large volumes of okatagi Gohonzon whose eyes must have been opened by the high priest are incinerated at Taiseki-ji, I sent several questions to Nikken. Nikken responded to portions of my questions, and his response did not convince me. Therefore, I would like to ask you the following questions one more time.

In my previous question, I asked, “How does Abe determine if the returned Gohonzon has fulfilled it role or not?” Nikken’s response to this question was “that a Gohonzon is returned to the head temple signifies that it has finished its role, doesn’t it?”[36] In that case, I have the following questions:

  • If you judge that the Gohonzon that were returned to the head temple before saving their conferees fulfilled their roles, what in the world do you mean by the role of the okatagi Gohonzon? Define it clearly.
  • Those Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin and transcribed by Nikko Shonin, even if they were dedicated to the head temple as the school’s treasures, are still considered as the genuine Gohonzon whose roles have not yet been fulfilled. They will be cherished as the school’s treasures and as the objects of devotion for all priests and believers at the head temple. The joju Gohonzon and returned okatagi Gohonzon are all the same in that they all allegedly possess the living essence of the Law. But why does Nikken discriminate against the returned okatagi Gohonzon by regarding them as having fulfilled its role? Why does he insist that incinerating them is the most suitable treatment? As long as you say that even the okatagi Gohonzon possesses the living essence of the True Buddha, it should be treated respectfully as the temple treasure. Isn’t keeping the returned okatagi Gohonzon with utmost respect for them as the temple treasure the most appropriate treatment for them?
  • Nikken contends that the living essence of the returned Gohonzon will return to the Daishonin thanks to the prayers of the high priest during the time of the ushitora gongyo. To back up your contention, you cite Mia-lo’s words that “One’s body and mind at a single moment pervade the entire realm of phenomena.” However, Nichiren Daishonin does not expound the theory of the Gohonzon’s alleged living essence’s returning to the Daishonin based upon this phrase. What I wanted you to do was to present me with a specific passage of documentary proof that clearly elucidates the theory of the return of the living essence of the Gohonzon to the Daishonin through incineration. Isn’t it indeed shameful to escape from the point made in my question? Don’t you think so?
Also, if you call the body and mind of the True Buddha the living essence of the Law, you don’t have to have the living essence of the Law return to the Daishonin since it originally permeates the entire universe. What do you think, Nikken? Furthermore, every human being and all existences are part of the universe where the living essence of the Law permeates universally. Therefore, does it stand to reason to say that the high priest alone possesses the living essence of the Law? Belief in the absolute sanctity of the high priest, which Nikken expounds, collapses here. Do you know what I mean?
  • In response to my question that “if you are to insist that the incineration of the returned Gohonzon is a vital ceremony through which the living essence of the Law that dwells in the Gohonzon will return to the Daishonin, why does not Abe, wearing his formal role, conduct an incinerating ceremony for each Gohonzon one by one, no matter how cumbersome it may be for him to do so?” Nikken and his supporters gave a very childish reply that “No other priests will be necessary if the high priest can do everything on his own.” I did not question whether or not the high priest can execute the physical act of incinerating the Gohonzon all by himself. Mine was an accusation of the absurd reality that Nikken never even once carried out the task of incinerating the returned Gohonzon during his twenty-seven-year tenure as high priest. He preferred to order acolytes, the lowest-level priests, to take on this task. Isn’t your example the utmost case of disrespecting and slighting the Gohonzon? I ask you, Nikken, one more time, why didn’t you yourself execute even once the ceremony of the incineration of the Gohonzon through which you claim you return the living essence of the Law to the Daishonin? Moreover, why didn’t you have your more high-ranked representatives such as the secretary of Taiseki-ji, the chief priests of the lodging temples, or teachers residing at the head temple conduct the most important ceremony of the incineration of the Gohonzon on your behalf? Why did you assign the acolytes, who are not yet full-fledged priests, to this vital function? Give me your straight answers to all my questions.
Just like the case of the debate about the eye-opening ceremony of the Gohonzon, Nikken and his priesthood have been remaining quiet even to this date refusing to respond to my open questions. Here let me cite the truths that came to the surface through this written debate.
  • The current Nichiren Shoshu officially acknowledged the fact that it put away large volumes of “eye-opened Gohonzon” by incinerating them on the grounds of Taiseki-ji, calling this act of Taiseki-ji “gokachu" (in the fire).
  • The current Nichiren Shoshu newly advocates a new occult view of the object of devotion, claiming that the living essence of the True Buddha that dwelled in the object of devotion returns to the True Buddha Nichiren thanks to the chief administrator’s prayers.
  • The current Nichiren Shoshu thinks that the object of devotion has a role and that those Gohonzon whose roles are done can be incinerated. But it has not clarified the role of the object of devotion.
  • The current Nichiren Shoshu allows the acolytes, not the chief administrator or senior priests, to incinerate the eye-opened Gohonzon.
What comes to the surface through these facts is the reality of the current Nichiren Shoshu’s disrespect for the Gohonzon. The Nichiren Shoshu Administrative office officially admitted in its written debate with me that they dispose of the mandala Gohonzon by incinerating them on the grounds of Taiseki-ji. The current Nichiren Shoshu advocates the view that “the Gohonzon that has finished its role” or “the Gohonzon from which the living essence of the Law is gone.” These strange ideas never existed in the history of the Taiseki-ji doctrines. These ideas have no room for justification in the faith of the Taiseki-ji where every mandala Gohonzon of the school represents the life of the True Buddha.

If the current Nichiren Shoshu is to insist on the idea of “inserting of the living essence of the True Buddha into the Gohonzon through the chief administrator’s prayer," it cannot justify the fact that they incinerate the Gohonzon. If they want to justify that fact, they either have to deny the idea of “inserting the living essence of the True Buddha into the Gohonzon through the prayer of the chief administrator” or they have to come up with a new theory. Regarding Taiseki-ji’s most significant issue of the object of devotion, Nikken Abe, the former chief administrator, is now truly cornered. I wonder if Nikken will continue to be silent on this vital matter. If he does, his choice will be resented by future believers of the Taiseki-ji School.

In any case, it is undeniable that Nikken Abe, who left the important business of Gohonzon incineration to young acolytes, lacked strictness toward the handling of and respect for the Gohonzon. The custom of disrespect for the Gohonzon that has been building up within Taiseki-ji is manifested in these facts as well.

Conclusion

In concluding this thesis, I will sum up my points here.

“The Gohonzon that our Founder inscribed has not yet spread in Jambudvipa. This is the object of devotion that was not propagated in the Former and Middle Days. It has yet to be propagated in the Latter. Since this object of devotion is so precious, those of my disciples who possess it should keep it firmly without giving it away to their children and grandchildren or bestowing it upon their disciples. It should be enshrined at one place all the time, and six of us must protect it” (“The Guidelines for Believers of the Fuji School,” CWSHP, Vol. 1, p. 22).

It can be said that Nikko, the founder of Taiseki-ji who is said to have spoken the above statement, tried to establish a strict way of handling the matters of the object of devotion. However, with the lapse of time, the priests and believers of Taiseki-ji veered off Nikko’s strict spirit toward respect for the object of devotion, causing all sorts of confusion. As I concretely discussed in this thesis, we can easily cite various disrespectful instances about the treatment of the Gohonzon: the sensho (war-praising) Gohonzon, the ujigami (Shintoism-mixed) Gohonzon, the “future” Gohonzon that is kept in the ash pot, the shoyo (award) Gohonzon that is conferred in proportion to the amount of offerings, the joju Gohoznon that is given out in volumes to old danka families, the “monument” Gohonzon deserted on open streets. It appears that the original strictness toward the handing of the Gohonzon that Nikko taught fell into a mere formality within the Taiseki-ji School.

The current Nichiren Shoshu, whether or not they are aware of this muddiness in its history, boasts that the purity of faith has been protected within the school for the past seven hundred years under the leadership of its successive high priests. However, this claim is no better than a torn-up myth that can only fool blind followers. In fact, Nikken Abe slighted the okatagi Gohonzon in contrast to the joju Gohonzon and officially admits that he did not conduct an eye-opening ceremony for any of the okatagi Gohonzon. Furthermore, without paying attention to all the returned Gohonzon, he nonchalantly allowed the acolytes to incinerate them on the grounds of Taiseki-ji. Nichiren Shoshu has been publicly professing that any Gohonzon including the okatagi Gohonzon is no different from the fundamental Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary in terms of benefit in faith. If so, even the returned okatagi Gohonzon should have been treated with the same respect as shown to the joju Gohonzon. The myth of the purity of the seven hundred years that Nichiren Shoshu boasts of is full of deceptions and contradictions.
 



Footnotes

1. "Various Records," compiled by Jundo Nose, Section 8, publication date unknown, p. 202. 

2. For more details, refer to my article, “Nichiren’s Pacifism and Action,” The Journal of Institute of Oriental Philosophy, Vol. 21, December 2005, pp. 4–6.

3. Study of Modern Philosophy of Japan, by Saburo Ienaga, Tokyo University Publication Association, 1996, p. 267.

4. “The Rise of National Spirit and the Guiding of Philosophy” by Chisho Niima, Nichiren Shu, at Modern Times and Today, Nichiren Shu Administrative Office, 1996, p. 60.

5. The Way of the Law (April in the 37th year of Meiji, pp. 17–18). According to this magazine, a prayer meeting for Japan’s victory in the Japan-Russo War was conducted at Myoko-ji in Shinagawa and Jozai-ji in Shimodani, Tokyo.

6. The History of Myoko-ji, compiled by Editorial Committee for the Publication of the History of Myoko-ji, and published by Myoko-ji, 1974, p. 84. The Way of the Law (April in the 37th year of Meiji) reports that three priests of Nichiren Shoshu, who are Gido Miyamoto, Kofuku Fujimoto, and Kodo Oishi, were drafted to participate in the Japan-Russo War that had just broke out.

7. National Shintoism, by Shigeo Murakami, Iwanami Shoten, 1970, p. 141.

8. An Introduction of Nichiren Shoshu Temples, p. 206.

9. “On the Object of Devotion Enshrined at Hachiman Shrine and Other Locations in the Neighborhood of Taiseki-ji” by Hando Yamaguchi, The Seeking Spirit, #12, p. 50.

10. The Chronology of the Fuji Nichiren Shoshu, revised version, p. 389.

11. Nichikan, the 26th, who lived in this time era, also transcribed a doshi (funeral) Gohonzon. I once saw his doshi Gohonzon in the neighborhood of Fujinomiya.

12. The Study of Ceremonies of Nichiren Shu, by Jugen Matsumura, p. 77.

13. Detailed Accounts of Nikko Shonin of the Fuji School, by Nichiko Hori, p. 397.

14. Handbook for Teacher Priests of Nichiren Shoshu, revised and second version, by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, 1969, p. 78.

15. Handbook for Teacher Priests of Nichiren Shoshu, revised and fifth version, by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, 1989, p. 80.

16. An Introduction of Nichiren Shoshu Temples, p. 181.

17. I will present a historical fact here in conjunction with this matter. According to a list of Gohonzon written in the 7th year of An’ei (1778), which is possessed by the Ide main family, the head of all danka families of Taiseki-ji ("Various Records"), the family had as many as 14 joju Gohonzon transcribed by successive high priests of Taiseki-ji. They received another one in the 10th year of Kansei (1798), which meant that the family possessed a total of 15 joju Gohonzon at that point. The following account tells of the reality of the possession of many Gohonzon by an old danka family of Taiseki-ji: 

“My family was evacuated to a place close to the head temple, Taiseki-ji, before World War II. The place was called Ueno Village in those days. I opened a beauty parlor in front of the bus stop of Taiseki-ji in the 24th year of Showa (1949). I became a member of the Soka Gakkai in the 29th year of Showa (1954). I witnessed how much Taiseki-ji prospered under the protection of the Soka Gakkai. … When I joined the Soka Gakkai, there were not so many members in my neighborhood. I tried to share Nichiren Buddhism with people in my vicinity, only to find out that some danka families of Taiseki-ji possessed Shinto shrines, Shinto talismans, or statues of the fox. One day I visited a person living next to my house to share Nichiren Buddhism. I was astonished to find that there was a wooden Gohonzon by Nikko enshrined in this home. I thought this family must have been very strong in the practice of faith. But a family member told me that they used to have 15 or 16 of such Gohonzon but that they had sold them one by one. The wooden Gohonzon of Nikko was the only one that they still kept. This person also mentioned that she invited a practitioner of another sect of Buddhism to have him offer his prayers for the recovery of her daughter from sickness. The families I visited to share Nichiren Buddhism usually possessed a Gohonzon box. I saw many Gohonzon contained in this box together with a scroll of Sun Goddess or Shinto talismans. I also saw a Gohonzon that was almost torn up because it had been bitten badly by insects” (Chiyoko Sotoyama, “The Vicinity of the Head Temple Where Slanderous Objects Abound” in Collection of Women’s Division Members’ Testimonies, Vol. 10, Shizuoka section, 1, Daisanbunmei Sha, 1992, pp. 36–37, compiled by Committee of the Publication of Women’s Division Testimonies).
Material 7. A list of Gohonzon stored at Ide main family created in the 7th year of An’ei
Gohonzon
Letter
Gohonzon
Gohonzon
Gohonzon
Gohonzon
Gohonzon
Gohonzon
Gohonzon 
Gohonzon
Gohonzon 
Gohonzon 
Gohonzon 
Gohonzon 
Gohonzon 
Okatagi Gohonzon of Mannenkugo no Gohonzon
by Teacher Nikko, the 2nd high priest
by Teacher Nikko, the 2nd high priest
by Teacher Nichiu, the 9th  high priest
by Teacher Nissho, the 15th high priest
by Teacher Nichiju, the 16th high priest
by Teacher Nissei, the 17th high priest
by Teacher Nisshun, the 19th high priest
by Teacher Nisshun, the 19th high priest
by Teacher Nisshun, the 22nd high priest
by Teacher Nikkei, the 23rd high priest
by Teacher Nichiei, the 24th high priest
by Teacher Nissho, the 28th high priest
by Teacher Nitto, the 29th high priest
by Teacher Nikkyo, the 32nd high priest
by Teacher Nichiin, the 31st high priest
Transcribed on April 8 in the 1st year of Genko
Written on January 3
Transcribed on February 18 in the 3rd year of Hotoku
Transcribed on October 22 in the 3rd year of Genwa
Transcribed on April 7 in the 9th year of Genwa
Transcribed on April 17 in the 11th year of Kan’ei
Transcribed on January 8 in the 2nd year of Shoho
Transcribed on March 13
Transcribed on April 17 in the 9th year of Eiho
Transcribed on August 3 in the 2nd year of Genroku
Transcribed on June 8 in the 2nd year of Shotoku
Transcribed on July 9th in the 12th year of Kyoho

Transcribed on July 21st in the 4th year of Horeki
Transcribed on June 15 in the 31st year of Enkyo

Note: A total of 17 Gohonzon.
Also, Gohonzon by Teacher Nippo, transcribed in July in the 10th year of Kansei and a note added by Nichiryo.
This information is written down in "Various Records," Section 2, pp. 101–102.

18. For instance, there is a monument of daimoku that Nichiko Hori assumes was written by Nichimoku and built on April 13 in the 2nd year of Shoan (1300). This daimoku monument is located at Nakata-cho in Tome-gun, Miyagi prefecture (Nichimoku Shonin, Keimyo Shinbun Sha, 1998, p. 332).

19. The Study of Buddhist Archeology, by Ki’ei Ishimura, Yuzankaku, 1993. Refer to the section on “Daimoku, Names and Titles, and Board Monument of Thirteen Buddhas.”

20. I was able to encounter this sentence through the two-page report excerpted by a person from a book that the late Jishun Sugano left.

21. Refuting Soka Gakkai’s Counterfeit Object of Worship – 100 Questions and Answers, compiled by Nichiren Shoshu Doctrinal Research Committee, p. 179.

22. Refuting Soka Gakkai’s Fabrication of the Object of Worship, by Nikken Abe, p. 59.

23. Ibid., p. 62.

24. "Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind," by Nichio Oishi, p. 212.

25. Refuting Soka Gakkai’s Fabrication of the Object of Worship, by Nikken Abe, p. 59.

26. Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions, compiled by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, written by A Group of Youthful Priests Commissioned to Refute Slanderous Teachings, and published by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, 2005, p. 25.

27. Refuting Yumo Matsuoka’s Ultimately Wicked Ten Misleading Questions, compiled by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, written by A Group of Youthful Priests Commissioned to Refute Slanderous Teachings and published by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, 2005, p. 44.

28. Ibid., p. 45.

29. Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions, p. 25.

30. Crushing Wicked and Misleading Views Advocated by Seceded Priest Yumo Matsuoka against the Sole Transmission of the Heritage along the Lineage of the Successive High Priests of This School, p. 135.

31. Kojien (5th edition), p. 1074.

32. Crushing Wicked and Misleading Views Advocated by Seceded Priest Yumo Matsuoka against the Sole Transmission of the Heritage along the Lineage of the Successive High Priests of This School, p. 135.

33. Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions, p. 29.

34. Ibid., p. 30.

35. It seems that Nikken and his priesthood call the conferral of the Gohonzon okashiage (“lending out” for believers who want to practice faith). The expression that Nikken and his priesthood use is the type of expression in which they insist on their ownership of the Gohonzon. In their minds, the conferral of the Gohonzon is on the same level as the granting of a material. In view of the orthodox faith of Taiseki-ji, the mandala Gohonzon is the “Buddha’s material” that the True Buddha confers upon all people. The Gohonzon, which is something that is conferred upon the people, should be regarded in view of faith as possessed by the Buddha. In this sense, the concept of “possession” does not exist in the realm of the Gohonzon. In the final analysis, it should be said that everybody including the chief administrator and all lay believers is a keeper of the Gohonzon. I contend that the Gohonzon is something that is conferred upon, not lent to, the people since in view of faith, the Gohonzon is not owned by anybody but can be kept by every individual.

36. Refuting Mikio Matsuoka’s Arrogant and Conceited Ten Foolish Questions, p. 52.
 
 
 


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