Appendix: Ten Questions to Mr. Nikken Abe
July 30, 2005 To Mr. Nikken Abe, the Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu
Request for Your Cooperation for My Research and Investigation
I presume that all of you are in good spirits in the middle of summer. I am engaged in the research of the doctrines and history of the Fuji Taiseki-ji School. It seems that you generally recognize me as a priest who departed from the Taiseki-ji School, but I am writing this letter from the standpoint of a researcher, as I want to have your cooperation for my study and research.
As you probably know, the theme of my research is “The Meaning in Faith of the Present-Day Taiseki-ji School’s Transfer of the Heritage of the Law through the Sole Lineage of Its Successive High Priests.” This thesis was already published in The Journal of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy #20. In response to my thesis, the Administrative Office of your school sent me a small booklet that seems to be your rebuttal against my thesis. I found out that its contents were not so academic, which somewhat discouraged me.
In this context, I do want to ask you, the current chief administrator of Nichiren Shoshu, some questions that will help enrich my research and study. Actually, I have ten questions. I know you are very busy, but would you please assist me in my academic pursuit? I would appreciate it if you could use the attached return envelope in reply to me with your answers. I will have the contents of your answers reflected in my study in the future. I will certainly report to you the outcome of my study and research. However, in case I do not receive your answers to my questions, or in case I do not receive a response in which you promise to send me your reply, I may have to look upon your silence as a way of saying that it is impossible for you to respond to my questions. Please understand what I mean, although I may sound a little offensive to you.
I also may sound arbitrary, but I would like you to reply to me by the end of August.
Sincerely,Mikio Matsuoka, PhD, and a member of the Japan Religious Study Association and Japan-India Buddhist Study Association
Note: Honorific titles are skipped in this questionnaire except the cases where individuals or those related to them are still alive.
1. The Error of Circular Reasoning
Hasn’t the contention of the current Nichiren Shoshu fallen into the circular reasoning from an academic viewpoint? According to Kojien Dictionary, circular reasoning means “a false argument where the truth that is premised and the concluded truth depend on each other” (Kojien, Vol. 5, p. 1291). For instance, you always try to justify the authoritative position of the successive high priests by using their words and documents. This is a very typical case of circular logic, a self-concluded argument where there is no chance to examine and prove the righteousness of opposing views. This type of reasoning is much closed even if we admit there is some degree of irrationality in the realm of religion. Modern people who respect rationality may regard your type of argument as equal to a cult organization’s mind-control. Are you opposed to the open-mindedness of Founder Nichiren who valued the documentary proof of the sutras and their exegeses as indispensable? I would like to know your opinion on this point. And let me say this: You and your colleagues often try to justify the absolute authority of the high priest by using the alleged words of Founder Nichiren. According to the authentically established theory of Nichiren documents’ study, however, those words you quote are all additions or manipulations by his posterity, which means you are still within the realm of circular reasoning. Consequently, please respond to my questions from yet another angle that is free from circular logic.
2. On Making a Distinction Between Cause and Effect on the Dimension of Inner Enlightenment.
Nichikan states in “The Exegesis of ‘The Essentials of the Lotus Sutra,’” “You should know this: Even though Sage Nichiren’s disciples are Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies, they are still at a cause-making stage, and they are not the ultimately enlightened Buddha that is eternally endowed with the three bodies.” When Nichikan says “the Buddha that is eternally endowed with the three bodies,” he is referring to the realm of the inner enlightenment of Nichiren Daishonin. And when Nichikan says, “they are not the ultimately enlightened Buddha that is eternally endowed with the three bodies,” he addresses the potential of inner enlightenment within every individual. Therefore, it seems that as long as even a high priest is a disciple of Nichiren Daishonin, Nichiren looks upon the inner enlightenment of the high priest as the potential (cause), not as the establishment (effect). In fact, Nichikan classified the high priest’s transcription of the Gohonzon under the category of the practice of copying within the practice of “embracing the Law.” Nevertheless you state, “Since the Daishonin is the Buddha endowed eternally with the three bodies, the high priest who transcribes the Gohonzon also embodies the Buddha endowed eternally with the three bodies in the depths of his enlightenment” (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, compiled by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, and written by A Group of Nichiren Shoshu Youthful Priests Commissioned to Refute Slanderous Teachings, hereinafter called “Response from Administrative Office”). This means you have altered Nichikan’s teaching and clarification. Hence my question: What is the basis of your alteration of Nichikan’s theory that the inner enlightenment as the effect is limited to Nichiren, as you include as the effect not as the potential the inner enlightenment of the successive high priests? Please give me a logical answer instead of using your typical circular reasoning.
3. On the Teaching of the Oneness of the Three Treasures in Nichikan’s “On the Three Treasures”
Quoting Nichikan’s “On the Three Treasures,” you and your supporters stress the oneness of the three treasures, thereby attempting to deify the successive high priests. In “On the Three Treasures,” Nichikan expounds that the three treasures of the Buddha, the Law, and the Priest are one in the inner entity, while different in appearance or expression. He then remarks, “The treasure of the Law is placed in the center while the treasures of the Law and the Priest are placed beside it” and “The treasure of the Buddha is placed to the superior position of the right of (the treasure of the Law) while the treasure of the Priest to the inferior position of the left of (the treasure of the Law)” Then he touches upon how the three treasures should be enshrined in a very lengthy manner (CWSHP, Vol. 4, p. 394). As is clear from this, the oneness of the three treasures expounded in “On the Three Treasures” refers to the three treasures as the object of devotion. Namely, it refers to the “the three treasures of kuon ganjo” defined by Nichikan in “The Practices of This School.” In the Taiseki-ji School, the treasure of the Priest that is placed beside the Gohonzon to serve as the object of worship had been limited to Nikko, the founder of Taiseki-ji, since the early times of the school.
However, the document issued by the Administrative Office cites the portion of “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths” that reads, “For the past four hundred and more years till today, the pure water of the Law has been transferred without any disruption from the vessel of one high priest to another vessel of another high priest (along the lineage of the successive high priests of this school)” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 94), arguing, against me, that the successive high priests are included in the treasure of the Priest that is one with the other two treasures (of the Buddha and the Law), since the water of the heritage is purely transferred from one high priest to another. Let me ask you this: Do you regard the successive high priests as the treasure of the Priest that serve as the object of worship? There are three grave errors if you are to say, based upon part of the passages of “On the Three Treasures” and “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths,” that you advocate the necessity of absolute respect of the high priest’s authority even if you don’t look upon the successive high priests as part of the treasure of the Priest.
First, you are out of the original context of “On the Three Treasures” where discussion is made about the placement of the three treasures based upon the discernment of the oneness and difference of the three treasures, as you use the teaching of the oneness of the three treasures in an attempt to deify the inner enlightenment of the successive high priests. It is obviously manipulative to cite the teaching of the oneness of the three treasures expounded in “On the Three Treasures” on a level different from the teaching of the enshrinement of the three treasures. Your attempt will be branded as excerpting a piece of teaching out of its original context.
Incidentally, Nichikan states in “On the Three Treasures,” “Somebody like me, who has no wisdom and abides by no precept, is part of the treasure of the Priest” (CWSHP, Vol. 4, p. 396). When Nichikan uses the expression “part of the treasure of the Priest,” it shows that Nichikan had the thought that the high priest is not equal to Nikko, the treasure of the Priest. Since the idea of the three treasures constitutes the foundation of the school’s doctrine, we cannot simply write off Nichikan’s self-definition that the high priest is just part of the treasure of the Priest simply as an expression of his humility. It is not a simple thing, as you cannot get away with just saying that “humility is one thing and the doctrine is another.” If you are to deny what I am saying here, how would you distinguish Nichikan’s humility from his true intent? Can you make this distinction without using your circular logic? If you cannot, you as high priest who is responsible for the correct teaching should not take Nichikan’s words that the high priest is part of the treasure of the Priest as simply an expression of his humility. This one point is good enough to justify my warning that the interpretation of “On the Three Treasures” made in the document of the Administrative Office deviates from Nichikan’s true intent.
Second, if you dare to include the high priest within the realm of the oneness of the three treasures through your self-serving interpretation of Nichikan’s words, your contention is outside the boundary of the Nichikan doctrines. As I discussed in Point 2, Nichikan states that the Buddha of the ultimate effect is limited to Nichiren. From this perspective, we should understand that there is a distinction between Nichiren, the treasure of the Buddha, and Nikko, the treasure of the Priest, within the realm of the oneness of the treasures.
When you and your supporters expound that “Only the inner enlightenment of the high priest embodies the realm of the perfect enlightenment of kuon ganjo where the perfect fusion of the reality and wisdom is taking place” (“Response from Administrative Office”), it should be asserted that your view reflects your total denial of Nichikan’s teaching as you commit double errors — the overly expanded interpretation of the meaning of the oneness of the three treasures (where you include the high priest in the oneness of the three treasures), and your disregard for the distinction between the treasure of the Buddha and the treasure of the Priest and also between mentor and disciple. Your teaching of the oneness of the three treasures is inherited from the teaching of absolute faith in the high priest advocated by Nichiin, the 31st high priest. Nichiin taught to a believer in Kanazawa, “This applies to Nikko and the successive high priests of this school. Their inner enlightenment embodies the treasure of the Buddha, and their outer function is that of the treasure of the Priest. Therefore, in comparison with the treasure of the Buddha (that is, Nichiren Shonin, the great leader of Buddhism of sowing in the Latter Day of the Law), the rest of the people represents the outer function of the treasure of the Priest” (Various Records, compiled by Jundo Nose, Vol. 5, p. 301). He regards the internal enlightenment of Nikko and all the successive high priests of the Taiseki-ji School as embodying the oneness of the three treasures. Objectively speaking, it can be said that while the Soka Gakkai intends to adhere strictly to the Nichikan doctrines, you and your supporters are trying to return to Nichiin’s teaching of absolute faith in the high priest. Accordingly, if you are to expound and promote absolute respect for the high priest using the theory of the oneness of the three treasures, you should revise your current religious rules that are based upon the various writings of Nichikan, making an official announcement that you are a religious sect that is in line with the lineage of Nichiin.
Third, the passage from “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths” that is quoted in the document of the Administrative Office appears in Nichikan’s criticism of the theory that Mount Minobu is the supreme place for the construction of the high sanctuary of the essential teaching. It cannot happen that, in his argument against other schools, Nichikan, as high priest of Taiseki-ji, touches upon the dark aspects of the lineage of the transmission of the heritage within his own school. However, I would say that Nichikan’s true intent existed somewhere else. In the document “Excerpted Rules of This School” that he left behind, he includes a sentence from Chronology of Nichiren Shonin authored by Nissei, the 17th high priest. The excerpt refers to the main and auxiliary practice of the Three Great Secret Laws. The part excerpted is extremely erroneous in light of the Nichikan doctrines. In reference to descriptions within this Chronology of Nichiren Shonin, Nichikan put such footnotes as “Teacher Nissei teaches the doctrines of other schools which are different from the original teaching of this school and are in accord with Nisshin’s teachings” and “Teacher Nissei’s teachings are those expounded in other schools. They are not just.” (RS, Vol. 9, pp. 757 and 763). Evidently, Nichikan interpreted the erroneous teaching that appears in Nissei’s Chronology of Nichiren Shonin not as Nissei’s true intent but as the product of Nisshin of Yobo-ji. However, if the erroneous teaching in Chronology of Nichiren Shonin did not come from Nissei’s true intent, why didn’t Nissei clearly show that it was Nisshin’s erroneous teaching? This is a very strange story. In the final analysis, while aware of the fact that Nissei was expounding the erroneous teaching, we have no choice but to conclude that Nichikan willingly protected Nissei. Through listening to Nissei’s teaching in Edo when Nichikan was in his teens, Nichikan resolved to become a priest of the Fuji School. Because of this background, Nichikan must have felt a great debt of gratitude toward Nissei and also because Nichikan himself inherited the heritage of Taiseki-ji, Nichikan could not have overly criticized Nissei about his erroneous interpretations.
Nichikan was careful not to directly criticize his predecessors’ words. Here is another example: Nichiu, the 9th high priest, seems to have thought that “the important thing in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter” points to “the Thus-Come-One’s secret and his transcendental powers,” a phrase in the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Nichikan, who excerpted this idea of Nichiu in writing “Notes Taken out of Nichiu Shonin’s Remarks,” thought “the important thing in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter” instead lay in “originally, I practice the bodhisattva way,” another phrase of the “Life Span” chapter. In other words, Nichikan was opposed to Nichiu in defining “the important thing in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter.” Under this circumstance, Nichikan, after referring to Nichiu’s idea, wrote, “A person states that … ” (RS, Vol. 9, p. 777), refraining from disclosing his own idea conscientiously by using such an indirect expression. Concerning this, Nichiko Hori commented, “Nichikan must have used such a humorous expression since Nichiu’s view vastly differed from his.” In any case, Nichikan, in his “Personal Comment on ‘The Opening of the Eyes,’” disclosed his own thought about the ultimate secret teaching of this school by stating, “The Mystic Law of kuon ganjo is hidden in the depths of the phrase ‘originally, I practice the bodhisattva way’” (CHPNC, p. 77). Nichikan’s indirect statement of “A person states that … ” was meant to criticize Nichiu’s understanding of the teaching hidden in the “Life Span” chapter. With regards to Nichikan’s comments in his “Excerpted Rules of This School,” we need to keep in mind Nichikan’s reservation against overtly opposing the views of his predecessors who also inherited the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School. With this understanding, we can clearly comprehend that Nichikan, though indirectly, was very critical of Nissei’s erroneous teaching in “Excerpted Rules of This School.”
Let me make clear my third point here: In “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan states, “For the past four hundred and more years till today, the pure water of the Law has been transferred without any disruption from the vessel of one high priest to another vessel of another high priest (along the lineage of the successive high priests of this school).” On the other hand, he also commented negatively on Nissei in “Excerpted Rules of This School,” “Teacher Nissei teaches the doctrines of other schools, which are different from the original teaching of this school and are in accord with Nisshin’s teachings” and “Teacher Nissei’s teachings are those expounded in other schools. They are not just.” I personally think that Nichikan was skeptical of the integrity of the heritage transferred from one high priest to another in the depths of his heart. While what he said in “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths” was meant to be heard by outsiders, what he wrote in “Excerpted Rules of This School” was his personal record. Since Nichikan would not take a position to overtly criticize his seniors, especially Nissei, his mentor, due to his sense of debt of gratitude toward them, we have no choice but to conclude that Nichikan criticized Nissei indirectly in “Excerpted Rules of This School” This is my thought, and I would like to know your opinion on this matter.
4. Regarding the High Priest’s Actual Execution of the Eye-Opening of the Object of Devotion and the Execution of the Eye-Opening, Just with His Approval
At the nationwide teachers’ seminar held at Taiseki-ji on August 28 in the 9th year of Heisei (1997), you professed, “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 saying this, you also said, “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.” Since you sound very dubious here, let me reconfirm the following one more time. “Every Gohonzon” in your above statement does not include theokatagi Gohonzon, does it? I say this because later you said that the high priest’s approval is good enough for the eye-opening of the okatagi Gohonzon that were shipped out to nationwide branch temples from Hodo-in in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. It seems to me that the joju Gohonzon (that are transcribed directly by the high priest) are eye-opened, while the printed okatagi Gohonzon do not have to go through the eye-opening ceremony, as long as they are backed up with the high priest’s approval. If so, why do you think that the okatagiGohonzon do not have to go through the eye-opening ceremony? Why does every okatagi Gohonzon come to possess the living essence of the True Buddha using only the general approval of, not with specific prayers from, the high priest? Please share your teaching on this point, in view of the principle of the enlightenment of plants. Also, would you clarify if the special okatagi Gohonzon needs to go through the eye-opening ceremony? Also, why do you have a distinction between joju Gohonzon and okatagi Gohonzon; the eye-opening ceremony by the high priest for the former and the mere approval from the high priest for the latter?
5. Concerning the Incineration of the Eye-Opened Gohonzon
Here 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 make my assertions 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 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.
6. On the Eternal Nature of the Transmission of the Heritage from One High Priest to Another Along the Lineage of the Successive High Priests of Taiseki-ji
The Administrative Office document that I cited previously reads, “Buddhism has been spread correctly through the successive transmission of the Law. All the transmissions of Buddhism, one from Shakyamuni to his twenty-four successors, one from Shakyamuni to Bodhisattva Superior Practices, the head of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, who were commissioned to propagate the Law in the Latter Day after his passing, one from Nichiren Daishonin to Nikko Shonin and down on to Nichimoku Shonin and on to successive high priests. All these transmissions of Buddhism were done on a one-to-one basis.” Here you say that the transmission of Buddhism should always be solely on the one-to-one basis. However, the lineage of the twenty-four successors that originated from Shakyamuni was terminated at the 24th. The transmission of the Law from T’ien-t’ai to Chang-an in China culminated in Mia-lo, a great restorer of T’ien-t’ai Buddhism, only to fall into formality, losing the substance of the teaching. The transmission of Buddhism in the Tendai sect in Japan that was first done between Dengyo and Gishin, and the core teaching of the Tendai sect was already altered as early as the time of Jikaku, the 3rd high priest of the Tendai sect. Nichiren held this view about Japan’s Tendai sect. T’ien-t’ai, Dengyo, and Nichiren established and propagated Buddhism without receiving the heritage of Buddhism from anybody. This is a historical truth. Judging from this fact, you need to show the solid basis of your contention as long as you contend, “The sole transmission of the heritage from one high priest to another will never become extinct within the Taiseki-ji School.” In view of the history of Buddhism and also in view of Nichiren’s understanding of the transmission of the heritage of Buddhism, I think it more adequate for you to have the perception that “The transmission of the heritage at Taiseki-ji will certainly become extinct or lose its substance at some point without fail. Then, there will appear a person who, based upon the enlightenment he achieved based upon his original life-capacity, can inherit the heritage of Buddhism within his heart on his own.”
First, please share your view of the frequent extinction in the history of Buddhism of the heritage of Buddhism that was received solely on a one-to-one basis.
Next, you assert, “The transmission of the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism will be done eternally only by the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji.” Please let me know whether your assertion in this regard is an expression of your religious belief or based upon some rational reasons. In so doing, however, please present me not with documentary proof that is only valid within the Taiseki-ji School, but with the type of argument that, based upon the Nichiren documents that are philologically acceptable, is convincing enough to most contemporaries. In short, I would like to hear from you the documentary proof and reasons that can satisfy modern people’s rational minds. You might quote “All the successive high priests are Nichiren himself” from “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” to justify the point that the inner enlightenment of the high priest is the True Buddha. But such reasoning is unacceptable, because the truthfulness or falsity of the document quoted is undecided. Furthermore, no doctrinal explanation is given about how the successive high priests can become Nichiren. Your contention along such a line would only paint you with the color of self-righteous and surreptitious mysticism.
Also, you often quote from “One-Hundred-Six Articles” “Just like the days when I was alive, all leaders and all my future disciples should unanimously respect Nikko’s successive successors as the general administrators of this order for all eternity” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 869). But Nichiko Hori asserts that this part was added later to “One-Hundred-Six Articles.” Also, even if you stress that Nichiko Hori gave the same treatment to this added part as to the original part by Nichiren, your emphasis is no more than the circular logic where one high priest justifies another high priest. This logic does not persuade a third party at all. I have to point out that you will find yourself in the pitfall of circular reasoning when you try to warrant the eternal nature of the transmission of the heritage along the lineage of the successive high priests through the citation of their various writings.
Incidentally, let me ask you just one question about the issue of your own inheritance of the heritage that is related to the topic I am now discussing in this section. It is widely insisted that you, Mr. Nikken Abe, did not receive the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School from the former high priest and that therefore the transmission of the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School became extinct at the 66th high priest. I know that you have been engaged in rebutting such an allegation very seriously. What I am truly interested in is whether a transfer ceremony was actually held as you claim. I am also perplexed that you have never mentioned the agreement of mentor and disciple that always precedes the transmission of the heritage from one high priest to another. If you had established the relationship of mentor and disciple with your predecessor, Mr. Nittatsu Hosoi, why did you destroy the Grand Reception Hall, the Sho-Hondo, and the garden that he built with all his heart? You attribute your destruction of these buildings to the slander of the Soka Gakkai, but it is Mr. Hosoi who built them all. Especially when it comes to the garden of Ooku at the head temple, it has nothing to do with the Gakkai. However, upon taking office as new high priest, you lost no time in destroying this garden and creating the type of garden you adored. These behaviors on your part are very perplexing, had you established a mentor and disciple relationship with Mr. Hosoi. Also, I wonder why you haven’t attended a gathering of Myokan-kai, a group of priests who were disciples of Mr. Hosoi, to support it positively. Please explain your thought on these matters as a disciple of Mr. Nittatsu.
7. Regarding your Objection to the Disclosure of the Contents of the Heritage of the Golden Utterance
As evidence that justify your eternal objection to the disclosure of the contents and documents of the heritage of the golden utterance, you and your supporters cite the 17th high priest Nissei’s statement that “On the profound transmission of the heritage of this school: you should not have other individuals hear even a word or half a phrase. The heritage should be known only to the chief administrator” (“On the Profound Transmission of the Heritage of This School,” (CWSHP, Vol. 2, p. 314) or the 56th high priest Nichio’s statement that “The contents of the heritage that are exclusively transmitted from high priest to high priest should not be disclosed to others even at the time of kosen-rufu” (“Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind,” p. 212). You cite these documents in opposing the point I made in the thesis I wrote at the end of last year; that is, “The heritage of the golden utterance has been completely theorized and disclosed by Nichikan.” But it seems that my contention and your argument are theoretically on a different level. My point was: “Even if the contents of the teaching and documents of the transmission of the heritage of the golden utterance in the Taiseki-ji School remains undisclosed, Nichikan already finished disclosing the doctrinal core in “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths” Therefore, I used the expression “theoretical disclosure.” My theory of the theoretical disclosure of the teaching of the transmission of the heritage of the golden utterance along the lineage of the successive high priests of the Taiseki-ji School does not contradict with your theory of the eternal objection to the disclosure of the documents of the transmission of the heritage.
Based upon this, I still have a strong suspicion toward your theory of the eternal objection to the disclosure of the documents of the transmission of the heritage. In the past, the high priests of Taiseki-ji designated some documents as documents that are only exposed to the successive high priests, while undisclosed to the public. But today you deny such a position taken by the past high priests, saying “They are not necessarily known only to the successive high priests.” One such document, for instance, is “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon.” Nissei, the 17th high priest, thought that, when this document is inherited, the high priest becomes qualified to transcribe the Gohonzon. In his reference to the biography of Nikko within The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators that he authored, Nissei wrote, “There are orally transmitted important teachings of the object of devotion. They are called ‘The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion’” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 154). Also in his reference to the biography of Nichimoku in the same writing, Nissei wrote, “He inherited the seven orally transmitted teachings of the object of devotion. Therefore, in the time periods of Gentoku and Shokei, he transcribed the Gohonzon on behalf of his mentor” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 87). With the issue of whether these statements are true or not aside, it is certain that Nissei regarded “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” as a vital document covering the subject of the transcription of the Gohonzon. Nichikan, the 26th high priest, regarded “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” as an undisclosed document that is transmitted only through the lineage of the successive high priests. In “The Exegesis of ‘The Essentials of the Lotus Sutra,’” Nichikan writes, “’The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion’ (Honzon Hichika no Kuden), the Threefold Orally Transmitted Teaching (Sanju Kuketsu), and Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon (Hippo no Daiji) are the transfer teachings transmitted only through the lineage of the successive high priests. Why should we reveal them openly?” (CE, p. 599). In “Notes Taken on Lecture on ‘The Object of Devotion’” that Nitchu, the 30th high priest, wrote, “’The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion’ (Honzon Hichika no Kuden), and Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon (Hippo no Daiji) are all secret teachings. Only the high priest should have access to them” (RS, Vol. 12, p. 589).
In this way, we can tell that the qualification for the transcription of the Gohonzon arose from inheriting the documents such as “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” and “The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon,” documents that are regarded as transfer documents, which should be kept only by the successive high priests at Taiseki-ji in the middle part of the Edo period, the era from Nissei to Nichikan. However, the Administrative Office document I cited before states, “There is a copy of ‘The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon,’ which was made by Nichizan of Hota and Nichiei Kiden respectively. There is also a copy of ‘The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon,’ which was made by Nichigen Mizuguchi. The fact that copies of these two documents exist, even though they were made by others than high priests of this school, means that even though these documents are very important they do not belong to the category of the heritage of the golden utterance that are transferred from one high priest to another of this school.” Thus the Administrative Office’s document wholly denies the words of Nissei and Nichikan. Today, if you choose to deny the words of the past high priests with regard to the important documents of the transmission of the heritage along the lineage of the successive high priests, it means that you are professing your hypocritical nature despite your insistence on the pure lineage of Taiseki-ji. Also, as I referred to previously, what phrase of the “Life Span” chapter is pointed to by the phrase “hidden in the depths”? Nichiu, the 9th high priest, and Nichikan, the 26th high priest, had a different view. I would say that the truth about the changes that took place about the contents of the teaching and documents of the sole transmission of the heritage of the golden utterance along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji will be revealed in the future. What do you think in this respect?
8. On the Teaching of the Twelve Articles
In his preface to “Commentary on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind’” Nichikan states, “Hence there are many vital transfer teachings based upon this writing. Namely, they are three kinds and nine perspectives of the Lotus Sutra (sanshu kyubu no hokekyo), two hundred and twenty-nine orally transmitted teachings, one hundred and six articles to distinguish the Buddhism of sowing from the Buddhism of the harvest in view of “essential” and “theoretical,” orally transmitted teachings to Dengyo with regard to seven aspects of T’ien-t’ai’s three major works, comparison between T’ien-t’ai Buddhism and Nichiren Buddhism in terms of twenty-four points, transfer teachings of tenfold revelation of Great Concentration and Insight (Maka Shikan), fourfold rise and fall (shiyu no kohai), threefold orally transmitted teaching, five conditions of religion, three points of religious creed, literal and hidden in the depths (monjo montei), true entity and ephemeral form (honchi suijaku), practice for oneself and others (jigyo keta), Buddhism of sowing and Buddhism of the harvest in view of the Buddha’s appearance (keimyo shudatsu), ultimate enlightenment contained in hearing the name and words of the truth (hansetsu myoji), the Buddha who became a Buddha after many Buddhist austerities lifetime after lifetime (obutsu shoshin), the beginningless time (kuon ganjo), same in name but different in body, different in name but same in body, the actual and theoretical ichinen sanzen, observing one’s mind and the classification of the Buddha’s teachings (kyoso kanjin), orally transmitted teachings of seven points of the object of devotion, threefold transfer teachings, important points in transcribing the object of devotion, and orally transmitted teaching of the object of devotion reflected in the Bright Star Pond. All these are profound and ultimate transfer teachings in our school. They are known only to us, and no other schools are aware of them” (CE, pp. 443–444). “The Object of Devotion for Perceiving One’s Mind” is Nichiren’s revelation of the profound meaning of the object of devotion whose establishment was the purpose of Nichiren’s advent. In his lecture on this writing, therefore, Nichikan presumably listed a number of vital, secret, hidden teachings with regards to the object of devotion of the Three Great Secret Laws that constitute the heritage of the golden utterance within the Taiseki-ji School.
However, in the past you regarded these vital transfer teachings as “secret but not ultimate teachings,” adding that there still is yet another deeper realm that is transmitted only from one high priest to another through the golden utterance. You cited Nissei’s “The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators,” especially the part where he refers to the biography of Nichido, “On the occasion when he visited Kyoto, Nichimoku transferred the Law to Nichido. Namely, these transmissions of the Law are called keimyo shudatsu (Buddhism of sowing and Buddhism of the harvest in view of the Buddha’s appearance) and hansetsu myoji (ultimate enlightenment contained in hearing the name and words of the truth). In general, these transmissions of the Law are the heritage of the golden utterance that is manifested within the inheritor’s inner enlightenment and in his outer function. Specifically speaking, there are the Twelve Articles. They are the profound teachings transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests. They should not be shared with others unless their life-capacity is supreme. Nichimoku transmitted such important teachings of this school to Nichido. From this we know that Nichimoku left the matter of Taiseki-ji to Nichido. All the priests and believers of this school should be clear about this” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 216). According to your theory, the twelve teachings that are mentioned in this document of Nissei’s comprise the ultimate teachings of the heritage of Taiseki-ji School that were transferred from one high priest to another.
Here are some questions that I would like to ask you about this theory of yours.
Let me point out the fact that you cite Nissei’s “The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators” that is infamous for its erroneous information in explaining about the transmission of the heritage of the golden utterance along the lineage of the successive high priests, a subject of utmost importance for you. Nichiko Hori, your predecessor who was also an inheritor of the heritage of Taiseki-ji, commented in his note on Nissei’s reference to the biography of Nichido in “The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators,” “Many descriptions made in this document are not accurate. Not only that, they become more erroneous with misleading ideas added. This we should lament over for the sake of the future” (RS, Vol. 6, p. 198), thus expressing his skepticism about the contents of this portion of “The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators.”
For instance, you adopt Nissei’s classification of naiyu (inner function) and geyu (outer function). As Mr. Hori pointed out, Nissei misused the term naiyu for naisho (inner proof). I have never heard of the term naiyu in Buddhism. What does it mean? In what way, is it different from naisho? If naiyu means naisho, why do you use such a rare term without giving additional explanations to this strange term? In the first place, why do you rely on the document whose erroneous descriptions your senior cautioned us to be aware of? Please explain fully to me about these matters.
Secondly, when I straightforwardly read the part where Nissei refers to Nichido, the 5th high priest, your interpretation of it is very illogical. The part you quote reads, “Namely, these transmissions of the Law are called keimyo shudatsu and hansetsu myoji. In general, these transmissions of the Law are the heritage of the golden utterance that is manifested within the inheritor’s inner enlightenment and in his outer function. Specifically speaking, there are the Twelve Articles.” This segment means that keimyo shudatsu and hansetsu myoji are in general related to naisho and geyu. Specifically, they refer to the teaching of the Twelve Articles. In other words, the passage you cite should be interpreted as meaning that the teaching of the Twelve Articles are related to keimyo shudatsu and hansetsu myoji. Your interpretation that there is the teaching of the Twelve Articles in addition to keimyo shudatsuand hansetsu myoji is very unreasonable. How come can you arrive at such a conclusion that ignores the context to which the part you cite belong? Please explain well about your position in this regard while clarifying what “this” that appears twice in this citation means.
For the sake of your reference, I add this. In reference to the biography of Nikko, Nissei writes in “The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators,” “He transmitted both transfer documents to Nichizon. There are keimyo shudatsu and hansetsu myoji in this transmission. They were not transferred to other arrogant people except to Nichizon, Nichimoku, Nichidai, and Nichijun” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 170).
Based upon this quote, you say that keimyo shudatsu and hansetsu myoji are the transfer teachings given to many disciples and that they do not correspond to the heritage transferred from one high priest to another. Your theory is not convincing at all, for the description of Nichido in Nissei’s “The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators” can only be interpreted as meaning that “the transmission of keimyo shudatsu” and “the transmission of hansetsu myoji” are the contents of the teaching of the Twelve Articles. If so, Nissei, on one hand, says that Nikko transferred keimyo shudatsu and hansetsu myoji along the lineage of his disciples, i.e., from him to Nichimoku, Nichidai, Nichijun, and Nichizon, and on the other hand, says that Nichimoku transferred them only to Nichido. Therefore, using Nissei’s reference to Nichido in his “The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators” to justify the transmission of the heritage solely along the lineage of the successive high priests — using this reference to justify that is even opposed to Nissei’s contention. If you honestly follow Nissei’s theory, you can interpret it as meaning that the teaching of the Twelve Articles contain keimyo shudatsu and hansetsu myoji, which are not the secret teachings possessed only by Taiseki-ji, and also as meaning that it is transferred along the lineage of Nichidai, Nichijun, and Nichizon, which is different from the lineage of Taiseki-ji. Of course, this reasoning is very inconvenient to the Taiseki-ji School. It stands to reason that Mr. Hori lamented over Nissei’s description of the teaching of the Twelve Articles by saying “The descriptions made in this document are not accurate. Not only that, they become more erroneous with misleading ideas added. This we should lament over for the sake of the future.”
Thirdly, I have a question about the teaching of the Twelve Articles. As I explained before, the teaching of the Twelve Articles refers to the transmissions of keimyo shudatsu andhansetsu myoji. This is Nissei’s view. Also as I quoted at the very beginning of this section, we can see reference to keimyo shudatsu and hansetsu myoji in the “many folds of transfer teachings (juju no sodden)” that Nichikan showed in his preface of “Commentary on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind’” If so, Nissei’s teaching of the Twelve Articlesand Nichikan’s “many folds of transfer teachings” both contain keimyo shudatsu and hansetsu myoji. In other words, there is an overlap between “the Twelve Articles” and “many folds of transfer teachings.” Probably, you must have heard from Mr. Hori about the existence of the teaching of the Twelve Articles that was transferred only from one high priest to another. Upon discovering reference to the teaching of the Twelve Articles in Nissei’s “The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators,” you jumped on it. Am I correct? But your attempt will only contribute to disseminating the fact that the teaching of the Twelve Articles was already disclosed theoretically by Nichikan.
By the way, you heard of the teaching of the Twelve Articles at a teachers’ meeting in the past. Since it was mentioned in public at that time, why don’t you disclose its contents for the sake of the future? I understand that Mr. Hori said that “If an incapable priest should receive the heritage, the teaching of this school will be limited. If the Twelve Articles were discussed in the past, most of the high priests might have not known how to deal with them.” Yours as well as mine are no more than subjective statements. The bright scholars of the future will determine which testimony, yours or mine, is more truthful. There are the people, both inside and outside Nichiren Shoshu, who, just as you did, heard of the teaching of the Twelve Articles directly from Mr. Hori. If you have something to testify on this, please share it with me on this occasion.
9. On “Excerpted Rules of This School” by Nichikan
In recent years, you often quote Nichikan’s “Excerpted Rules of This School” to point out that Nichikan too held absolute belief in the authority of the high priest. In your recent document from the Administrative Office, you repeatedly cite from it Sakyo Nikkyo’s statement that “The entity of the object of devotion lies in the life of the current high priest” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 309) to create the image of Nichikan’s absolute belief in the integrity of the position of high priest. However, “Excerpted Rules of This School” is no more than a memo written by Nichikan. It is not an official document in which Nichikan insisted on a particular point. This note cannot be considered a vital document that Nichikan attempted to leave for posterity, even if this excerpted note has been secretly kept at Taiseki-ji and even if Nitto, the 29th high priest, impressed by what is written on this note, placed his signature and seal on it with the word “I respectfully saw this.” Regarding “The Six-Volume Writings,” Nichikan emphatically stated in “The Three Threefold Secret Teaching,” “I wrote this simply to eternalize the Law” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 4), and in “The Interpreting the Text Based upon Its Essential Meaning,” “I have written this simply for kosen-rufu” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 103). Hence the time-honored statement, “The important document of this school — The Six-Volume Writings” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 355).
In this context, I would like to say the following to you: “The idea of ‘The entity of the object of devotion lies in the life of the current high priest,’ which Nichikan took note of, and kept in mind, was not adopted at all in the revised and final version of The Six-Volume Teachings, whose creation could be regarded as the ultimate purpose of his advent. Doesn’t this prove that he denied faith in the absolute authority of the high priest?” As a matter of fact, Nichikan was not aware that “this sentence that teaches the high priest embodies the entity of the Gohonzon” had been authored by Sakyo Nikkyo. The only thing he knew about this sentence was that it had been cherished within the Taiseki-ji School as “the rule of this school.” It was Nichiko Hori in modern times who asserted that the sentence had been written by Sakyo Nikkyo. No one in the Edo period knew this fact. Therefore, it is entirely possible that Nichikan thought that the sentence (which expounds that the inner enlightenment of the high priest is the entity of the object of devotion) had been written by one of the successive high priests. Nevertheless, Nichikan never quoted this sentence in The Six-Volume Writings. In view of the teachings on the object of devotion and the three treasures that Nichikan discussed in The Six-Volume Writings, the doctrine that the high priest embodies the enlightenment of the object of devotion is in opposition to the fundamental frame of the Taiseki-ji School doctrine. Nowhere in The Six-Volume Writings do we find the teaching that we should regard the inner enlightenment of the high priest as the entity of the object of devotion. Even in view of the teaching of the three treasures, what Nichikan wanted to emphasize is seen in “The Three Robes of This School” that reads, “The practitioner of Buddhism should be humble enough to understand the correct order of the three treasures” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 239). In “The Practices of This School” and “The Three Robes of This School” that were to be handed down to the posterity in the long future, Nichikan completely excluded the teaching of the oneness of the three treasures that is seen in “On the Three Treasures.” In The Six-Volume Writings, Nichikan was wholly devoted to making a distinction among the three treasures.
I firmly believe that the ultimate teaching of Nichikan lies in The Six-Volume Writings. If you think otherwise, let me know the solid basis upon which you base your contention.
10. On the Perception of “Lay Priests”
Here is my final question: Do you think that you are a priest (shukke, which literally means “leaving one’s home” or “abandoning family life to seek the way”)? Or do you think that you are, in fact, a lay person (zaike, which literally means “staying at home” or “living an ordinary family life”)? Shukke literally means “to leave one’s home.” According to Great Dictionary of Buddhist Terms complied by Hajime Nakamura, shukke is explained as meaning, “abandoning one’s ordinary family life to practice wholeheartedly to achieve the way” (p. 671). Presently, you and your priesthood, while living your respective family lives, do activities at your respective temples as priests. This compels me to call you “lay priests,” a form of irregular priesthood. Do you agree on my way of thinking?
If you agree that you are lay priests, the question is what is the meaning of the priest? It seems that at Taiseki-ji one who is devoted to spreading the correct Law and the correct teaching is defined as the priest. As I pointed out, however, when we presume that the core teaching of the heritage of the golden utterance has already been disclosed to the public, the lay people (just like those who take on the appearance of the priesthood) are also capable of studying and transferring the core teaching of Nichiren Buddhism. If so, can’t it be said nowadays that both priests and laymen are called “lay priests” as long as they devote themselves to Buddhist practice. You may be attached to the theory that the high priest of Nichiren Shoshu alone is aware of the contents of the heritage of the golden utterance and that therefore it is not disclosed to the public. If you are adamant about your position, we will eternally find ourselves in a parallel views, where we will never see any agreement, producing little value in view of my research and study. In case we both accept that the heritage that was transmitted from one high priest to another along the lineage of the successive high priests of the Taiseki-ji School has already been disclosed in theory, do you agree to regard both priests and devoted laymen as lay priests in modern times? Or if you do not, what is the difference between priests and laymen devoted to Buddhist practice in modern times? Please respond to these particular questions from me.
Furthermore, the high priests, who eat meat, are married, and have their own families, have been transcribing the Gohonzon at Taiseki-ji ever since the Meiji period. Especially when it comes to you, you transcribe the Gohonzon in your lodging quarter at the head temple where your wife and children freely enter. Can we say that lay individuals have been transcribing the Gohonzon within Nichiren Shoshu ever since the time of Nichio in the Meiji era? Today all priests and lay believers with devout faith and good understanding of Buddhism can be regarded as “lay priests.” Show me under such circumstances the basis (if any) of the contention that you may still adhere to, the contention that “still, the ‘lay high priest’ should have the exclusive authority over every aspect of the object of devotion.” I may sound repetitious, but please refrain from using your circular reasoning in this case as well.