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Second Thesis

Refuting the Myth of “A Secret Teaching That Successive High Priests Alone Know”

1. The Blind Spot in the Current Argument Regarding Transmission of the Heritage of the Law

More than fifteen years have already passed since the Soka Gakkai parted from the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood in November 1991. During this time, both organizations have been engaged in various disputes with each other while still insisting on the legitimacy of their respective doctrinal positions. Their disputes cover a wide range of subjects — for example, the object of devotion (honzon), the heritage of the Law (kechimyaku), the role of the high priest (hossu), the idea of slander (hobo), and ceremonial matters (kegi), such as the validity of the funeral services conducted by lay believers and the Buddhist legitimacy of the toba tablet and posthumous name (kaimyo) for the deceased. The most fundamental issue in the dispute between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai is the heritage of the Law. This is because one’s viewpoint of the heritage of the Law determines the righteousness of the object of devotion, the meaning of the role of the high priest (chief administrator), and the definition of slander.

The Fuji Taiseki-ji School regards Nichiren as its founder and Nikko as the one who established its head temple. The school follows the lineage of Nichimoku, Nichido, and their successors. The Taiseki-ji School insists that Nichiren transferred the inner enlightenment of the True Buddha to Nikko and that this inner enlightenment of the True Buddha has been transmitted for the past seven hundred years as the entity of the Law from one high priest to another (yuiju ichinin kechimyaku sojo). On the other hand, the Soka Gakkai claims that it has actually spread Nichiren Buddhism among more than ten million people in 190 countries and territories by exactly following Nichiren’s intent. The Gakkai contends that the heritage of faith or direct connection with Nichiren is the basis of the heritage of the Law. Whereas the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood stresses the transfer of the heritage of the Law through the sole lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji, contending that that the high priest alone possesses the Living Essence of the True Buddha, the Gakkai emphasizes the heritage of faith (shinjin no kechimyaku). It seems to me, however, that there is a blind spot in this controversy over the heritage of the Law.

What I mean by this is the fact that the Soka Gakkai’s emphasis on the heritage of faith is grounded in Taiseki-ji’s 26th High Priest Nichikan’s theory about the object of devotion. Let me cite a practical example to explain what it means.

In his recent dialogue series, SGI President Ikeda stated, “Nichiren Daishonin used the Ceremony in the Air to show his enlightenment in the form of the Gohonzon.”[1]  “The Daishonin perceives the fundamental Mystic Law within him and employs the Ceremony in the Air to depict the cosmos of his own life. This is the mandala Gohonzon embodying the ten worlds of his life.”[2]

According to these statements by President Ikeda, the inner enlightenment of the True Buddha or the heritage of the Law has already been exposed to the public in the form of the mandala Gohonzon. These remarks by President Ikeda indicate that the inner enlightenment of the True Buddha that Nichiren Shoshu insists has been transferred only through the sole lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji — this inner enlightenment is already exposed to the public in the form of the object of devotion and that all people have a direct access to the inner enlightenment of the True Buddha by fusing their lives with the Gohonzon. When we base ourselves upon this premise, the heritage of faith becomes most important, as each individual can directly inherit the enlightenment of the True Buddha through his or her faith in the mandala Gohonzon. However, where did the Soka Gakkai find the idea that the mandala Gohonzon embodies the enlightenment of the True Buddha Nichiren? This idea originates in Nichikan’s theory, and has become the basis of the doctrine of the Soka Gakkai. In fact, Nichikan states his viewpoint that Nichiren is the True Buddha in “Commentary on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind’ (Kanjin no Honzon Sho Mondan)”: “Showing profound compassion, the Buddha inscribed the entirety of his enlightenment in a scroll of the Gohonzon, with which he then adorned the necks of the ignorant people of the latter age” (The Collection of Commentaries [Mondan Shu], p. 458). Nichikan also states, “The Buddha of time without beginning (kuon ganjo no jiju yushin), arousing great compassion, inscribed in the form of the Gohonzon of the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo the appearance of the Buddha of limitless joy (jiju yushin) that is equal to the three thousand realms in a single moment of life (ichinen sanzen), with which he then adorned the necks of the ignorant people of the latter age” (ibid., p. 458). The Gakkai refers to the heritage of faith within the context of Nichikan’s view of the mandala Gohonzon.

In this context, it seems to me that what is questioned through the dispute of the heritage of the Law between the Gakkai and the priesthood is which position we are going to take? Are we going to choose to adopt the Gakkai’s position where Nichikan’s view of the Gohonzon is the ultimate teaching of Nichiren? Or are we choosing to accept the current contention of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood that only the high priest of Nichiren Shoshu possesses the heritage of the Law? It is therefore necessary to examine how the Nichikan doctrine is related to Taiseki-ji’s contention, because we are pressed to choose one or the other.

What occurs to me in making this choice is that Nichikan was always serious about and open to revealing the secrecy of Nichiren Shoshu in his efforts to clarify the doctrines of Nichiren Buddhism. In discussing the Taiseki-ji School’s particular teachings of Nichiren Buddhism, Nichikan thoughtfully added such disclaimers as “No teaching in our school is as ultimate as this. Therefore, former teachers in our school did not proclaim it conspicuously” “This is a profound transfer teaching that concerns the enlightenment of the founder of our Buddhism” and “This is a secret matter of our school. You should not share it with others.” Through these remarks, we can clearly see Nichikan’s intention to reveal the contents of the heritage that Taiseki-ji’s successive high priests alone inherited. But it can be said that no efforts have been made to analyze Nichikan’s views from the perspective of the revelation of the contents of the secret heritage of the Taiseki-ji School.

Therefore, I would like to begin the task of examining Nichikan’s perspective from the viewpoint of the theoretical disclosure of the heritage that the successive high priests of the Taiseki-ji School alone allegedly possess. I will also attempt to examine how, historically speaking, the study of the writings of Nichikan led to the disclosure of the theoretical basis of the heritage of the Law that only the successive high priests of Nichiren Shoshu alone allegedly possess.

Originally, this disclosure was done for some student priests of the Fuji School and Nichikan disclosed only a few transfer documents. For this reason, it was very difficult for ordinary Fuji School priests, lay believers, and non-Fuji School individuals to read Nichikan’s works or to get an idea of the contents of the heritage that only the successive high priests of Nichiren Shoshu allegedly possess. It can be said that, to realize Nichikan’s intention to disclose the contents of these secret teachings of the Fuji School, we needed to wait for the time where his works and the transfer documents that he quoted would be wholly available to the public. Examining the process of Nichikan’s revelation of these secret teachings of the Fuji School will be vital for the modern dispute concerning the heritage of the Law between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai.

With the above said, I want to focus in this thesis on analyzing the revealing nature of the Nichikan doctrine. Based upon this analysis, I will examine Nichiren Shoshu’s current position in which it claims that the high priest alone possesses the entity of the Law. I will also examine the priesthood’s position on the Treasure of the Priest. Through this process, I will conclude how we should regard the meaning in faith of the heritage of the Law that the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji alone allegedly possess.

Incidentally, however, this thesis is geared to discussing the process of the disclosure of the doctrine that the Taiseki-ji School trusts as the sole heritage of the Law transferred from one high priest to another throughout its history.

As I articulated in the first thesis, the idea of the transmission of the heritage only from one high priest to another did not originally exist within the Taiseki-ji School. It was a foreign concept, a concept that was imported into the Taiseki-ji School. It is easy to confuse this idea with the transfer of the responsibility of leadership for kosen-rufu in the early days of Taiseki-ji from one chief priest to another. These two cases should be distinguished from each other, for their nature is totally different. At this point in time, we cannot determine whether or not the transmission of the heritage from one chief priest to another existed as a form of ceremony in the early days of Taiseki-ji. Also, there is no knowing whether or not in its formative days Taiseki-ji was conscious about the sole possession by its successive chief priests of its own heritage of the Law. It is also beyond our knowledge when it comes to the question of whether or not the secretive and strict transmission of the teaching of the school was conducted in the early times of the Taiseki-ji School. I would like to point this out before getting into the second thesis.

2. Meaning of Chief Administrator’s Sole Possession of Heritage of the Law in Terms of Believers’ Faith 

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What is the meaning of the transfer of the heritage of the Law from one high priest to another in the faith of the Fuji School? Existing historical data guides us to the following viewpoints.

The exclusive transfer of the heritage of the Law from one high priest to another within Taiseki-ji, is focused on inheriting the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism(honmon kaidan no Dai-Gohonzon), the fundamental object of devotion in faith for both priests and lay believers. In Matters to Be Observed After Nikko’s Death (Nikko Ato Jojo no Koto), which is said to have been written by Nikko, founder of Taiseki-ji, to his successor Nichimoku, Nikko writes, “Nikko shall bestow upon Nichimoku the Dai-Gohonzon inscribed in the second year of Koan [1279] [that was conferred upon me]” (from Complete Collection of Nichiren Shoshu Successive High Priests’ Writings [Nichiren Shoshu Rekidai Hossu Zensho], which is abbreviated here as CC, p. 96, and The Untold History of the Fuji School, p. 38).

Nisshu, the 14th high priest of Taiseki-ji who lived in the Warring States Era of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, writes in his “On Matters to Be Observed After Nikko’s Death” (Nikko Ato Jojo no Koto Jisho), “The Gohonzon concerns the transfer matters of Taiseki-ji, the exclusive transmission of the Law from one high priest to another. The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism (the essential teaching), which Nikko Shonin inherited from the Daishonin and transferred to Nichimoku Shonin in the era of Shoan, is exactly and perpetually the whole entity of the Law transferred along the Nichiren–Nikko–Nichimoku lineage in the Latter Day of the Law” (ibid., p. 96). Nisshu’s reference to the Dai-Gohonzon was the first reference to the Dai-Gohonzon among all the existent and publicized historical documents. Nisshu also refers to the concept that the Dai-Gohonzon is the entity of the Law that was transferred exclusively along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji. It can be said that the high priests of the Edo Era and modern times emphasized that the Dai-Gohonzon was the entity of the Law that was transferred from one high priest to another.[3]

The doctrine of the object of devotion was naturally transferred in conjunction with the transmission and preservation of the Dai-Gohonzon. It must have been very natural that in the times when the oral transmission of the secret teaching was prevalent, which was very common in the medieval Tendai sect, the Taiseki-ji School adopted this method in transferring the object of devotion and its transcription from one high priest to another. Nichiu, the ninth high priest, is said to have verbally transferred, as is written in “The Accounts of Teacher Nichiu (Yushi Dansho Monsho),” “seven articles and fourteen important points of the object of devotion” (The Essential Works of the Fuji School [Fuji Shugaku Yoshu] [EWFS], Vol. 2, p. 160). Nisshun, the 22nd high priest, wrote, “The teachings, which were verbally transmitted with regard to the object of devotion along the lineage of the Nichiren Daishonin–Nikko–Nichimoku Shonin, have been kept at this temple. In addition, Nichigen, founder of a temple in Iwamoto who followed the Teacher Nikko, orally received the transfer teachings from his mentor with regards to seven important articles of the object of devotion” (“Refuting the Teachings of Nichiyo” [Benha Nichiyo Gi], CC, Vol. 3, p. 242).

Moreover, in the Taiseki-ji School of the Edo Era, the transfer of the teachings concerning the object of devotion was sometimes referred to as the inheritance of the “one great secret Law (ichidaiji no hiho).” For instance, Nichion, the 35th high priest, recorded how he received the heritage of Taiseki-ji: “Teacher Nichigen, saying, ‘I will now completely transfer to the 35th high priest, Nichion Shonin, in front of the Gohonzon, Nichiren Daishonin, founder of true Buddhism, and Nikko Shonin, founder of Taiseki-ji, the One Great Secret Law that Nichiren Daishonin stated he secretly possessed within his mortal flesh.’ Thus he transferred the One Great Secret Law to me.”[4]

Nichikan, the 26th high priest, also states in his “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths (Montei Hichin Sho),” “The One Great Secret Law of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, is the entity of the Law in the transfer of the essence of the Lotus Sutra (ketcho fuzoku). It is also the purpose of the advent of Founder Nichiren and the ultimate entity of the Three Great Secret Laws. It denotes the true object of devotion of the essential teaching. It is the most profound, secret, and great Law hidden since time without beginning in the heart of Shakyamuni Buddha. Therefore it is called the One Great Secret Law” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 93). Within the context of the Taiseki-ji doctrines, the One Great Secret Law points to the object of devotion of the essential teaching (honmon no honzon). For this reason, transferring the One Great Secret Law signifies orally transferring the teaching concerning the object of devotion.

Then, what constitutes the contents of the teaching of the object of devotion? One aspect is about the Three Great Secret Laws that Nichiren defined as “the object of devotion of the essential teaching (honmon no honzon), the sanctuary of the essential teaching (honmon no kaidan) and the daimoku of the essential teaching (honmon no daimoku),” which were all expounded only within the Taiseki-ji School. The other aspect is considered to be about the teachings in conjunction with transcribing the mandala Gohonzon.

The teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that the Fuji School alone emphasized is recorded as follows in Miscellaneous Records (Zatsuzatsu Monsho): “There has been an anecdote that is called ‘Nichimoku’s ear-pulling teaching.’ It is about the importance of the object of devotion. In other words, it is about the Three Great Secret Laws, especially about the object of devotion of the essential teaching” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 163). It is suggested here that there was a teaching about the Three Great Secret Laws, especially about the object of devotion of the essential teaching, which was transferred directly from Nichiren to Nichimoku. However, in a philological sense, there is an issue about the legitimacy of this contention that is based upon Nichiu’s accounts (Refer to footnote #59 in the first thesis).

In the Edo Era, 22nd high priest Nisshun taught in his “First Preaching (Shodo Seppo),” “What are these Three Great Secret Laws? Doesn’t the object of devotion of the essential teaching signify the Wooden Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of this temple? Isn’t the place where this Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary is enshrined the location of the sanctuary while kosen-rufu is not yet achieved?” (CC, Vol. 3, p. 103). By saying this for the first time in the history of Taiseki-ji, Nisshu pointed out that the object of devotion of the Three Great Secret Laws is nothing other than the Wooden Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of this temple.

Furthermore, the 25th high priest, Nichiyu wrote in his “Commentary on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind’” (Kanjin no Honzon Sho Ki), “The contents of the golden teaching that was orally transmitted from one high priest to another were no more than the five major writings and the mystic meanings of the object of devotion of the Three Great Secret Laws” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 369). Nichiyu also wrote in his “Meaning of the Two Characters ‘Nichiren’” (Nichiren no Niji Sata), “The Daishonin made the object of devotion out of the Three Great Secret Laws” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 369). Nichiyu thus made clear that the contents of the verbal transmission of the heritage of the Law from one high priest to another (konku sojo) were the teachings concerning the object of devotion of the Three Great Secret Laws that resulted from Nichiren Daishonin’s five major writings (Godaibu).[5]

Moreover, 26th high priest Nichikan, when his name was Kakushin Nichinyo as a learned priest of Hosokusa Seminary (Hosokusa Danrin), lectured on the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra in 1699. In his lecture, Nichikan stated, “What the founder transferred to Teacher Nikko was the Three Great Secret Laws. What was transferred from Teacher Nikko to Teacher Nichimoku was also the same Three Great Secret Laws” (EWFS, Vol. 10, p. 131). “The Three Great Secret Laws have been orally transferred from Teacher Nichimoku all the way down to the current 24th high priest in the same manner that water is transmitted from one vessel to another. Thus, the Three Great Secret Laws exist only at Taiseki-ji. Because the time has not come yet, the actual sanctuary (ji no kaidan) is not yet in existence. Yet, since the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism exists here, this location is the high sanctuary” (ibid., Vol. 10, p. 131). In this way, Nichikan states that the heritage transferred orally from one high priest to another is nothing other than the Three Great Secret Laws that center on the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism.

As is clear from the statements of these past high priests, the object of devotion that is part of the Three Great Secret Laws has been defined by Taiseki-ji as the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary. In other words, Taiseki-ji trusted the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary to be the true entity of the Three Great Secret Laws. This teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws fundamentally defined the faith and creed of the Taiseki-ji School. In this respect, the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws is indispensable in the Taiseki-ji School’s faith.

As to the various doctrines regarding how to transcribe the mandala Gohonzon, only the school’s successive high priests were able to have access to them. Today, however, they are known to many others through such published documents as “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” (Gohonzon Hichika Sojo) and “The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon” (Honzon Sando Soden). Seven oral teachings that are mentioned in “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” are first referred to in Nissei’sThe Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators.[6] “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” was first quoted in Nichikan’s exegesis on Nichiren’s writings. They both are referred to in the documents of the Taiseki-ji School as secret teachings in the transmission of the heritage from one high priest to another. These doctrines must have been considered necessary sources of knowledge to enable successive high priests to copy the Gohonzon on behalf of Nichiren with the same compassionate mind as his.

The Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, the ultimate object of devotion for both priests and lay people in the Fuji School, was looked upon as a secret Buddha at Taiseki-ji since ancient times. This Gohonzon was not allowed to be exposed to the public until the time of kosen-rufu. However, the Taiseki-ji School claims that the successive high priests of the Taiseki-ji School copy the inner enlightenment of the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary when they transcribe the Gohonzon and confer it upon believers in accord with the principle of “dispersion of the body (bunshin santai).” As a result, the Taiseki-ji School teaches that Nichiren Shoshu believers are able to have direct access to the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary at their temple or home. The 25th high priest, Nichiu, wrote in his “Commentary on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,’” “The successive high priests have been copying the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary that enables one to erase all the sins that one has been accumulating since time without beginning. As they then confer the Gohonzon upon us, we now see the Gohonzon innate within our lives in front of us. With our doubt-free faith, we clearly perceive and grasp the Gohonzon within. Faith is the most important thing to manifest the Gohonzon inherent within our lives” (CC, Vol. 3, 374).

It is clear from these documents that there historically existed at Taiseki-ji the tradition that its successive high priests transcribe the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, and confer its copy upon believers. In this sense, we have to say that the successive high priests’ inheritance of the doctrines regarding how to transcribe the mandala Gohonzon was indispensably significant for the faith of Taiseki-ji’s priesthood and laity.

To sum up the significance in faith of the exclusive transfer of the heritage of Taiseki-ji from one high priest to another, we can come up with the following three points:

  1. To transmit and preserve the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, the fundamental object of devotion in faith.
  2. To inherit Taiseki-ji’s unique teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that fundamentally defines the school’s faith and creed.
  3. To inherit the doctrine with regard to the manner for transcribing the mandala Gohonzon.

Of course, the fundamental meaning of the transfer of the heritage from one high priest to another lies in supporting believers’ efforts to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime and promote kosen-rufu. The aforementioned three points are derived from the great objective of saving all people with the power of Nichiren Buddhism. The transfer of the heritage from one high priest to another should be based upon the heritage of faith that harmonizes with Nichiren’s vow to save all beings. In other words, discussion about the meaning of the transfer of the heritage from one high priest to another should be premised upon the inheritance of the heritage of faith. The inheritance of the heritage by any high priest who has lost the heritage of faith is meaningless under all circumstances.

Furthermore, as the Nichikan teaching came into existence, Taiseki-ji’s unique theory about the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws was then exposed to the public. Not only that, the secret transfer documents in conjunction with the object of devotion were also published, which undermined the secrecy of Taiseki-ji’s Gohonzon doctrines. Also, the lapse of time has made it unnecessary for the high priest to transcribe the Gohonzon anew. In this regard, the raison d’etre of points (2) and (3) are no longer significant in the realm of the transfer of the heritage from one high priest to another. And point (1) also needs to be reconsidered. I would like to touch upon this subject categorically in this thesis.

3. The Reasons for Nichikan’s Theoretical Revelation of Three Great Secret Laws, Taiseki-ji’s Heritage Bequeathed through the Golden Utterance

What we first need to understand is the reason why the Fuji School’s unique teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws had been kept secret for several hundred years before the days of Nichikan. You may simply say that it is because a new high priest was always instructed by his predecessor to keep this unique teaching secret. But what comes to mind (in terms of the documentary proof of the Three Great Secret Laws) is the ending sentence of Nichiren Daishonin’s writing, “On the Three Great Secret Laws (Sandai Hiho Bonjo Ji),” which reads, “I, Nichiren, conscious of the age we live in, now wish to give wide propagation to this doctrine [of the Three Great Secret Laws]. Up until now I have kept this doctrine secret within my heart. But if I do not leave behind me a written record of it, the future followers of my teachings will perhaps slander me by saying that I was without pity or compassion. And at that time, no matter how I might regret it, I would have no way to refute their charges. With this in mind, I am therefore sending you this written record of the matter” (WND, Vol. 2, p. 1023).

According to this passage of Nichiren’s writing, it appears that Nichiren himself wanted to avoid the disclosure of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws. The Three Great Secret Laws were a new teaching that Nichiren himself developed. The Taiseki-ji School, while revering Nichiren as the True Buddha, worships him as the object of devotion in terms of the Person and regards Shakyamuni as a transient Buddha. Based upon this particular position, the Taiseki-ji School in discussing the Three Great Secret Laws concludes that their entity is nothing but the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary possessed by Taiseki-ji. In Buddhist society in Japan during the medieval and Edo periods, the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that Taiseki-ji advocated was an unfamiliar concept. This claim of Taiseki-ji’s as well as the school’s view of Shakyamuni, the object of devotion, and the entity of the Law must have sounded self-righteous and strange. In his “Personal Comment on ‘Essentials of the Lotus Sutra’” (Shuyo Sho Shuki), Nichikan writes, “If the founder had said himself that he should be regarded as the object of devotion, who could trust his statement? Therefore, he kept what he had to say in the depths of his heart, while using the kind of expression that would not astonish the readers of his writings. What our school needs to know is the teaching that he kept in the depths of his heart” (“Collection of Exegeses [Mondan Shu],” p. 799). As Nichikan wrote, Nichiren’s teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws was extraordinarily new to Buddhist society in Japan, as it contained the point that Nichiren himself constituted the object of devotion in terms of the Person. The Taiseki-ji School trusted that Nichiren, recognizing the unusual nature of this teaching, kept it strictly to himself.

If so, why did Nichikan choose to elaborate in detail in The Six-Volume Writings (Rokkan Sho) and other writings concerning this unique doctrine that should have been kept in secret? And as a result, why did he theoretically publicize the central doctrine that was orally transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests of the Taiseki-ji School?

In the days when Nichikan lived, the free propagation of religion was restricted by the religious policy of the Tokugawa government. Under such circumstances, various schools of Nichiren Buddhism put out great efforts in the realm of study of Nichiren Buddhism. Nichikan was no exception in this endeavor. He devoted himself to the study of Nichiren Buddhism for many years at Hosokusa Seminary, an educational institution that he created through the joint efforts of his Fuji School and the Eight Chapters School (Happon Ha). After serving as the seminary’s study master, he was invited to become study chief at Taiseki-ji. While still engaged in lecturing on Nichiren’s writings from the unique doctrinal position of Taiseki-ji, he took office as its 26th high priest. This was in the midst of an atmosphere where other Nichiren schools engaged themselves in the study of Nichiren Buddhism. Nichikan, too, must have aimed at establishing the unique Taiseki-ji doctrine. In this context, we can say that he naturally developed his theoretical systematization of the hidden teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws.

However, I would like to point out (using Nichikan’s descriptions) the following three points that necessitated him to reveal the hidden teaching of the Taiseki-ji School.

First, while the various schools of Nichiren Buddhism were involved in heated discussions about the doctrines of Nichiren Buddhism, there appeared a circumstance where Nichiren’s teachings were expounded in a manner that was quite disorderly, in light of Taiseki-ji’s doctrines that had been transferred along the lineage of its successive high priests. Let me cite some leading authors of the writings of various Nichiren schools that Nichikan referred to with his critical eyes in The Six-Volume Writings and so forth: Gyogakuin Nitcho and Ichion’in Nichigyo of the Minobu School and Enmyoin Nitcho of the Rokujo School all expounded the conformity of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra and its theoretical teaching; Chooin Nisson and Ankokuin Nichiko of the No Alms Accepting or Giving (Fujufuse) School that rigorously insists on non-acceptance of alms and non-giving of alms; Jojuin Nitchu of the Eight Chapters School that regards the essential teaching as superior to the theoretical teaching; Kozoin Nisshin and Jitsuzoin Nisshu of Yobo-ji temple in Kyoto that was under the Fuji School. They were all excellent disputants for their respective Nichiren schools who appeared four hundred and some years after the demise of Nichiren. It seems that they were all influential in the study of Nichiren Buddhism in the Nichiren schools around the time when Nichikan lived.

Nichikan must have felt it necessary for him to elucidate the theoretical basis of the Taiseki-ji doctrine that had been transferred along the lineage of its successive high priests in order to protect the school. Therefore, he dared to solidify the foundation of the Taiseki-ji School’s doctrine by clarifying the theory behind the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws. This teaching constituted the central doctrine in the oral transmission of the heritage. It can be said that Nichikan developed an indestructible basis for the school’s doctrine so that it could withstand any accusation from other Nichiren schools. To put it another way, Nichikan was prompted to develop the theoretical basis of Taiseki-ji School’s transfer teaching because the doctrinal booklets of Nichiren Buddhism were widely available among all Nichiren schools in the Edo Era.

Secondly, Nichikan was concerned that other Nichiren schools had stolen the contents of Taiseki-ji’s transfer documents that expound the comparison between Nichiren’s Buddhism of Sowing and Shakyamuni’s Buddhism of the Harvest. This can be considered to be one of the reasons why Nichikan developed the theoretical basis of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws. In “The Threefold Secret Teaching” (Sanju Hiden Sho), Nichikan states, with regard to the theory of ichinen sanzen (three thousand realms in a single moment of life) and in terms of the comparison between Nichiren’s Buddhism of Sowing and Shakyamuni’s Buddhism of the Harvest, “This teaching refers to the purpose of the advent of Founder Nichiren. It constitutes this school’s profound transfer teaching. How could I reveal it lightly?” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 50).

Then, Nichikan writes, “However, in recent years, other schools have been secretly quoting our school’s transfer teaching, which has made it impossible for us to keep it to ourselves. Therefore, I now openly quote our transfer teaching” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 50). So writing, Nichikan refers to a passage from “On the True Cause” (Honnin-myo Sho), “Question: What is the one great secret Law in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter? Answer: It is the one secret true Law. You should keep it strictly to yourself. Since the teaching expounded by the Buddha in this lifetime is theoretical, his entire Lotus Sutra just reveals the theoretical ichinen sanzen. When you view his essential teaching of the ‘Life Span’ chapter as the teaching based upon the theoretical teaching, you are referring to Shakyamuni’s Lotus Sutra as Buddhism of Harvesting. What is hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter is the Mystic Law that Shakyamuni exclusively practiced to attain Buddhahood instantly in the remote past. The actual ichinen sanzen is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo itself” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 50).

“On the True Cause,” coupled with “One Hundred Six Comparisons (Hyaku Rokka Sho), are said to be the two major transfer documents in the Nikko School. What has survived today about “On the True Cause” is a copy made by Nichiji, the fifth high priest of Taiseki-ji.[7] “On the True Cause” also exists in the form of a copy made by Kozoin Nisshin who is said to have copied it based upon another copy created by Nichizon. There also exists a version copied by Nichiga of Myohon-ji in Hota. “On the True Cause” has been regarded as a secret document in the Nikko School since the ancient times. However, the situation arose during the days of Nichikan, as he put it, that “This document was secretly quoted in other schools’ writings in recent years.” According to a comment by the 59th high priest Nichiko, “other schools” signifies the Eight Chapter School and other schools (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 50). Taking into consideration the fact that in those days the Hosokusa Seminary consisted of both Fuji School and Eight Chapter School, it is no wonder that the two transfer documents of “On the True Cause” and “One Hundred Six Comparisons” were taken into the Eight Chapter School via student priests of the Fuji School. Nichiryu, the founder of the Eight Chapter School, already established the viewpoint of the true cause in the early part of the 15th century. Some scholars even point out the relationship between his knowledge of Buddhism and these two transfer documents. With a strong sense of crisis over the fact that “On the True Cause,” which was supposed to be a secret document in the Nikko School, was leaking to other schools, Nichikan realized that it was not possible any more to keep it only to the Nikko School, and quoting the passage from “On the True Cause,” elucidated ichinen sanzen in terms of the comparison between Nichiren’s Buddhism of Sowing and Shakyamuni’s Buddhism of Harvesting. Nichikan thus revealed the contents of Taiseki-ji’s heritage or transfer teaching. Such was the circumstance when Nichikan was prompted to clarify the theoretical basis of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws using the Nikko School’s transfer documents.

Thirdly, the doctrine advocated by Nisshin of Yobo-ji was very influential in study concerning Taiseki-ji in the early Edo Era, among those learned priests of various Nichiren schools that I listed above. Nisshin’s influence was so strong that Taiseki-ji’s traditional secret transfer doctrine was almost covered up by his interpretation of Nichiren Buddhism. Why did Nisshin’s influence exert itself over Taiseki-ji’s teaching? Taiseki-ji had developed a relationship with Yobo-ji during the time of the 14th high priest, Nisshu. As many as nine high priests, from the 15th high priest, Nissho, to the 23rd high priest, Nikkei, came from Yobo-ji.

In the meantime, the 17th high priest, Nissei, propounded (just as Nisshin did) that the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha should be built and that the entire Lotus Sutra should be recited as the practice of Nichiren Buddhism.[8] This teaching by Nissei was a great deviation from the traditional teachings of the Taiseki-ji School. This is a well-known fact. The 22nd high priest, Nisshun, strove to restore the orthodox teaching of the Nikko School, and his effort is said to have borne fruit at the time of the 24th high priest, Nichiei (ibid., Vol. 8, p. 256). It was true that Nisshun and others took Yobo-ji’s incorrect teachings out of the Taiseki-ji doctrine, but it did not mean that Nisshun was thorough in his position against Yobo-ji’s teachings. On one hand, Nisshun is said to have promoted a movement to abolish the erection of Shakyamuni’s statue at local temples, but on the other hand, he wrote in his deposition to the magistrate’s office (when Kitayama Honmon-ji appealed to the government in protest of Taiseki-ji’s alleged self-righteous position), “Yobo-ji of Kyoto advocates the erection of Shakyamuni’s statue and the recitation of the entire Lotus Sutra, which Taiseki-ji does not claim is a cause for falling into hell, for the past nine chief priests of Taiseki-ji all the way down to the current one that is myself, came from Yobo-ji temple” (ibid., Vol. 9, p. 33). Nisshun thus sounded favorable to Yobo-ji, most likely to avoid persecution from the government authorities.

As is clear from Nisshun’s position toward Yobo-ji, the Taiseki-ji School did not fully part from Yobo-ji’s doctrines. In this regard, it cannot be said that Taiseki-ji became free from the influence of Yobo-ji. It is not certain whether the following happened while Nichikan was still alive or after his death, but the 25th high priest, Nichiyu criticized Nisshin’s general and specific views of the object of devotion in “Comment on ‘The Object of Devotion’” (Honzon Sho Ki), “This teaching (of Nisshin) is bothersome” and “Nisshin does not refer to the ultimate teaching that differentiates the teaching of sowing from the teaching of harvesting that is hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter” (CC, Vol. 3, pp. 381–382). But Nichiyu’s criticism of Nisshin was very limited, and the former did not substantially refute the latter’s view of the object of devotion and practice to it. We should gather from these facts that Nichikan’s relentless attack on Nisshin’s doctrines was based upon his solid determination to dispose of Nisshin’s study and make clear the superiority of Taiseki-ji’s study.

“The spring drizzle is falling ceaselessly. Quietness covers the mountains and our temple. A guest came and we had a dialogue. The guest says, ‘At the beginning of the Eroku time, Nisshin of Kyoto advocated the erection of Shakyamuni’s statue and the recitation of the whole Lotus Sutra, criticizing the position of this school. Since then, one hundred and sixty years have passed. In the meantime, there appeared many scholars of this school, but none has refuted Nisshin’s view. Why?” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 138).

This is the preface that Nichikan wrote for his “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law” (Mappo Soo Sho). Nisshin’s doctrine of the erection of Shakyamuni’s statue and the recitation of the entire Lotus Sutra temporarily confused the doctrines and formalities of Taiseki-ji. It seems that Nichikan took issue with the silence on the part of the Taiseki-ji School that showed no sign of rebutting Nisshin’s contention.[9] Nisshin came from Nichizon’s lineage within the Nikko School, and he recognized the significance of the teaching of sowing and the teaching of harvesting that is hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter, just as Taiseki-ji did. However, Nisshin expounded the oneness of the teaching of sowing and the teaching of harvesting, insisting that their beneficial power is different according to the life capacity of the people who uphold these two teachings. Consequently, Nisshin encouraged the erection of Shakyamuni’s statue while criticizing the ideas of Nichiren being the True Buddha and Nichiren’s Buddhism of Sowing being superior to Shakyamuni’s Buddhism of Harvesting.

The 17th high priest, Nissei, who was swayed by Nisshin’s idea of erecting Shakyamuni’s statue, states in his Zuigiron, “The sage (Nichiren) did not establish Shakyamuni’s statue as an object of devotion, simply because he constantly had to move from one place to another.” By writing this,[10] Nissei insisted that establishing Shakyamuni’s statue was the true intention of Nichiren, thus overshadowing Taiseki-ji’s traditional teaching that the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary should be the basis of the school’s faith. In essence, the direction of Yobo-ji’s study is completely different from that of Taiseki-ji. Therefore, it seems that Nichikan was driven to clearly show, from the standpoint of Taiseki-ji’s transfer heritage, the traditional teaching of the Fuji School that differentiates the teaching of sowing from the teaching of harvesting that is hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter. His intention unavoidably resulted in disclosing the theoretical basis of the secret doctrine that was orally transmitted along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji.

To sum up, I have cited three reasons why Nichikan revealed the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that was transmitted within Taiseki-ji along the lineage of its successive high priests. They are: 1) the study of Nichiren Buddhism was becoming popular among many Nichiren schools; 2) secret writings of the Nikko School were leaking out to other Nichiren schools; 3) it was necessary to wipe the influence of Yobo-ji’s study out of the Taiseki-ji School.

4. Theoretical Revelation of Three Great Secret Laws in Nichikan’s Study of Nichiren Buddhism

How did Nichikan reveal the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that was transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji? Let me address this question categorically.

The Teaching of Sowing that is hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter and the Nichiren–True Buddha doctrine, which had been transmitted along the lineage of the successive high priestswere sporadically a — these two concepts were addressed before Nichikan’s efforts in study by past high priests or priests who were well-versed in study. However, it is safe to say that the 24th high priest, Nichiei, the 25th high priest, Nichiyu, and the 26th high priest, Nichikan, began to delineate a systematic theory of Taiseki-ji’s secret transfer teachings by relating them to the doctrine of the Three Great Secret Laws that constitutes the core of Taiseki-ji’s heritage. Nichiei and Nichiyu (even though we don’t know whether they were under Nichikan’s influence or whether they influenced Nichikan) elucidated the meaning of the Three Great Secret Laws as the Teaching of Sowing that is hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter, discussing the teaching of oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion. Further expanding Nichiei and Nichiyu’s theory, Nichikan went on to clarify the theoretical basis of Taiseki-ji’s unique teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws.

(1) Theory of Actual Ichinen Sanzen (Three Thousand Realms in a Single Moment of Life) Hidden in “Life Span” Chapter
Nichikan established the teaching of the threefold secret teaching (sanju hiden) by quoting the following passage from “The Opening of the Eyes,” “The doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life is found in only one place, hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra. Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu were aware of it but did not bring it forth into the light. T’ien-t’ai Chih-che alone embraced it and kept it ever in mind” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 224).

The threefold secret teaching reveals the teaching of actual ichinen sanzen in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra through three kinds of comparison: between the provisional and true teachings, between the theoretical and essential teachings, and between the Teaching of Sowing and the Teaching of Harvesting. Nichikan thus contended that actual ichinen sanzen is the supreme teaching in Buddhism. In “The Threefold Secret Teaching,” Nichikan regarded as the “profound, secret, and great teaching of this school” the teaching that Nichiren indicated in “The Opening of the Eyes” which is hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter. Nichikan looked upon it as the school’s secret teaching, as he put it, “Predecessors did not articulate this” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 6).

As to the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter, “On the True Cause” refers to its meaning, “Question: What is the one great secret Law in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter? Answer: It is the one secret true Law. You should keep it strictly to yourself. Since the teaching expounded by the Buddha in this lifetime is theoretical, his entire Lotus Sutra only reveals the theoretical ichinen sanzen. When you view his essential teaching of the ‘Life Span’ chapter as the teaching based upon the theoretical teaching, you are referring to Shakyamuni’s Lotus Sutra as Buddhism of harvesting. What is hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter is the Mystic Law that Shakyamuni exclusively practiced to attain Buddhahood instantly in the remote past. The actual ichinen sanzen is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo itself” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 877).

As stressed in the above passage as “It is the one secret true Law. You should keep it strictly to yourself,” the teaching of the actual ichinen sanzen was regarded since the ancient times as ultimately secret. Therefore, Nichikan’s predecessors never openly articulated the meaning of the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter, using the contents of the “On the True Cause.” It is conceivable that the reason why the ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter was regarded as the “actual” teaching belonged to the category of Taiseki-ji School’s own secret teaching. This point is warranted by the fact that, in his “The Threefold Secret Teaching,” Nichikan regarded as an ultimate secret the reality that the Taiseki-ji School’s unique essential teaching that is hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter was named the actual ichinen sanzen (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 53). Therefore, no one ever elaborated on this doctrinal area before Nichikan did. If I dared to point out an exception in this regard, I might refer to what the 24th high priest, Nichiei, who was Nichikan’s mentor, states in his “Orally Transmitted Teaching” (Kuketsu), “This is the teaching of the five or seven characters that are the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter. The Daishonin indicated this by stating ‘The Buddha perceived his life as the five elements or Myoho-renge-kyo itself before the time of kuon ganjo(measured by the numberless major world system dust particles)’” (CC, Vol. 3, p. 318). This statement by Nichiei seems to imply that the viewpoint of fusion of reality and wisdom (kyochi myogo) at the time without beginning of kuon ganjo may be cited as the reason why the ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter is the actual teaching. But Nichiei’s statement is suggestive, not overt.

To summarize, before Nichikan appeared, no teachers fully addressed the meaning of the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter or the reason why theichinen sanzen referred to in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter was the actual teaching.[11] However, two years before his death, Nichikan drafted “The Threefold Secret Teaching.” Before he passed away, he reedited it, revealing the theoretical basis for the teaching hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter. In so doing, Nichikan interpreted the above passage from “The Opening of the Eyes” on three different levels — summary, interpretation, and conclusion (hyo shaku ketsu). He addressed ten points in conjunction with this passage, revealing his detailed thought about its contents step by step. Nichikan thus clearly proved the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter as the “unique essential teaching” (dokuitsu honmon). By quoting various transfer documents, he pointed out that the ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter is the actual ichinen sanzen because it expounds oneness of the Person and the Law (ninpo taiitsu). Thus Nichikan declared that the ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter is the teaching that was never propagated in the Former and Middle Days of the Law and should be propagated in the Latter Day of the Law. Quoting openly such transfer documents as “On the True Cause” and “Seven Transfer Articles of the Gohonzon” (which were kept within Taiseki-ji in absolute secrecy in those days), Nichikan wrote “The Threefold Secret Teaching” in order to elaborate for the first time on the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter.

Descriptions within “The Threefold Secret Teaching” naturally led to the theoretical elucidation of the Three Great Secret Laws that had been transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests. The theoretical basis for the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter was revealed in “The Threefold Secret Teaching,” and “the object of devotion in terms of the Law ” was disclosed in “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths” (Montei Hichin Sho), another vital writing that is part of Nichikan’s Six-Volume Writings. And the ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter is nothing other than the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, the entity of the Law that had been transmitted along the lineage of the high priests of Taiseki-ji. It can be said that Nichikan’s detailed explanations of the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter were the necessary first step that he had to take in order to make clear the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws.

(2) Theory of Three Great Secret Laws with Dai-Gohonzon of High Sanctuary in Center
At the beginning of “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan states, “‘Essentials of the Lotus Sutra’ (Hokke Shuyo Sho) reads, ‘Question: What are the secret Laws that Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, T’ien-t’ai, and Dengyo left behind for more than 2,000 years after the Tathagata’s passing? Answer: They are the object of devotion, the sanctuary, and the daimoku of the essential teaching.’” Nichikan then refers to the meaning of the Daishonin’s clarification of the Three Great Secret Laws:

“This is the important matter hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter. It is the secret Law that was never propagated in the Former and Middle Days of the Law. It denotes the purpose of the advent of Founder Nichiren. It is the true entity of the Buddhism of sowing in the Latter Day of the Law. It is the ultimate, unsurpassed teaching of this school. Therefore, great teachers of the past did not clearly refer to it. How could those who were not well versed in the study of Buddhism understand it? Yet I am now ready to lecture on it. I have no choice but to reveal it in summary. First, I will comment on the object of devotion of the essential teaching, then the sanctuary of the essential teaching, and the daimoku of the essential teaching” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 70).

Nichikan contends that the Three Great Secret Laws are the important matter hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter. He also contends that revealing the Three Great Secret Laws is the purpose of the advent of Founder Nichiren. Nichikan also declares that the Three Great Secret Laws are the ultimate, unsurpassed, secret teaching of this school. But in the above quote, Nichikan says he is about to reveal the theory behind the ultimate, secret teaching of the Taiseki-ji School. Nichikan clearly predicts in the above passage that “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths” reveals the theoretical basis of the secret doctrine that had been transmitted through the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji.[12] Incidentally, before inheriting the heritage of Taiseki-ji, Nichikan took the position that the high priests of Taiseki-ji alone knew about the Three Great Secret Laws hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter, as he wrote in “Personal Comment on ‘The Selection of Time’” (Senji Sho Guki), “The Founder states, ‘This sutra is hard to understand unless you have received the heritage’ — ‘Transmission through Nichiren, Nikko, and Nichimoku.’ This teaching is hard to know. Question: Then, what does it mean? Answer: The Founder writes, ‘A blue fly (if it clings to the tail of a thoroughbred horse, can travel ten thousand miles), and the green ivy (that twines around the tall pine can grow to a thousand feet)’” (CE, p. 271).

However, toward the end of his life, Nichikan took a renewed position in his reedited version of “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” and he wrote there, “I have no choice but to reveal it in summary.” This statement can be taken as Nichikan’s determination to make a revelation of the theoretical basis for the Three Great Secret Laws hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter, as he was an individual who had received the heritage of the Law through the sole lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji.

In the first chapter of “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan addresses the object of devotion in terms of the Law, the Person, and oneness of the Person and the Law. In the second chapter, Nichikan discusses the sanctuary while addressing the actual sanctuary and the Fuji Sanctuary. In the third chapter, Nichikan discusses the daimoku, teaching that the daimoku of the essential teaching is the type of daimoku that accompanies faith and practice. Each of these three points reflects Nichikan’s attempt to theorize the fundamentals of the heritage transmitted along the sole lineage of the successive high priests. Here I would like to take a look at how Nichikan revealed the theoretical basis of the heritage that is related to the Three Great Secret Laws.

What Nichikan actually did was to discuss the theoretical foundation for the contents of the heritage in faith by declaring that the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary is the entity of the Three Great Secret Laws. As I mentioned previously, the Taiseki-ji School advocates the transmission of the object of devotion, inheriting the view of the Three Great Secret Laws with the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary in the center. This particular view on the part of Taiseki-ji was opposed to other schools’ view of the Three Great Secret Laws that was based upon daimoku, not the object of devotion. This particular Gohonzon-centered view, before the time of Nichikan, remained only within the heritage transmitted along the sole lineage of the high priests of the Taiseki-ji School. However, Nichikan took an unheard-of action to reveal the theoretical foundation for the Three Great Secret Laws.

Nichikan’s theory centers on the Gohonzon of the essential teaching, and discusses the unification and opening of the Three Great Secret Laws. Nichikan equates the entity of the object of devotion of the essential teaching to the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary. Nichikan elucidates the unification and opening of the Three Great Secret Laws in such works as “Exegesis on ‘Taking the Essence of the Lotus Sutra’” (Hokke Shuyo Sho), “Exegesis ‘On Repaying Debts of Gratitude’” (Ho’on Sho Mondan), and “Interpreting the Text Based upon Its Essential Meaning” (Egi Hanmon Sho). In “Interpreting the Text Based upon Its Essential Meaning,” Nichikan defined the place where the Gohonzon is enshrined as “the high sanctuary of the essential teaching,” and the act of chanting the Mystic Law with faith in the Gohonzon as the daimoku of the essential teaching. Nichikan thus paved the way to open the Three Great Secret Laws through the object of devotion of the essential teaching. To justify the point that the object of devotion should be placed in the center in reference to the Three Great Secret Laws, Nichikan cites “Biography of Distinguished Monks” (Ryo Koso Den), which reads, “One mind represents the whole of all phenomena,” showing that “You should know that the object of devotion embodies the entirety of all phenomena” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 106).

Thus, Nichikan established the theory that “Unification of the Three Great Secret Laws, pointing to the idea of the sole object of devotion that constitutes the One Great Secret Law” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 106). Moreover, Nichikan elucidates, “Therefore, the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism is considered to be the object of devotion where all the Three Great Secret Laws dwell” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 106). Nichikan thus defined the object of devotion of the essential teaching as the One Great Secret Law, and the center of the Three Great Secret Laws as the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism. And he indicated this Gohonzon as the Gohonzon where the whole of the Three Great Secret Laws dwell. As I mentioned before, the 22nd high priest, Nisshun, advocated that we should regard Taiseki-ji’s Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary as the object of devotion of the essential teaching. Inheriting this theory from Nisshun, Nichikan did not give any theoretical explanation to it in his “The Interpreting the Text Based upon Its Essential Meaning.” The margin note of the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary reads, “The recipient of the high sanctuary of the essential teaching.” Since the ancient times, Taiseki-ji’s Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary had been called the “Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism.” The name of this Gohonzon in itself indicates that it is the Gohonzon of the essential teaching that should be enshrined at the high sanctuary of the essential teaching. It was apparent to the Taiseki-ji School that the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary is the Gohonzon of the essential teaching. Therefore, Nisshun’s view that “Isn’t the object of devotion of the essential teaching this temple’s Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary?” must have easily satisfied Nichikan’s mind. Therefore, Nichikan probably incorporated this view of Nisshun’s without any hesitation into his theory of the unification and opening of the Three Great Secret Laws, sensing no need to question Nisshun’s contention. As a result, Nichikan systematized the theory that the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary is the Gohonzon where all the Three Great Secret Laws dwell.

This is how Nichikan elucidated the theory of the Three Great Secret Laws based on the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary. Through this revelation by Nichikan, we can say that the meaning behind the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary was cherished as a theory in the realm of Taiseki-ji’s transmission of the Three Great Secret Laws along the lineage of its successive high priests.

(3) Theory of Nichiren Being True Buddha
It is generally recognized that Nichikan established the view that Nichiren was the True Buddha. However, the teaching that views Nichiren as the original Buddha of limitless joy and the reward body (kuon ganjo jijuyuhoshin) and defines him as the object of devotion in terms of the Person (nin honzon) had been in existence within the Taiseki-ji School since the olden times. The contents of “On the True Cause” and “One Hundred Six Comparisons,” which are said to have been directly endowed by Nichiren upon Nikko, seem to indicate that Nichiren is the Buddha of beginningless time, thus hinting that Nichiren is the Original Buddha. However, these two documents cannot be proven as authentic from a philological standpoint, and therefore, I will put them aside while refraining from discussing them further in this thesis.

Through various writings it has been shown that Nikko, the founder of Taiseki-ji, was known to have offered to Nichiren those offerings he received from his disciples and believers. He did not offer these things to Shakyamuni Buddha or other Buddhas or bodhisattvas. For instance, Nikko wrote, “I offered them to the sage of the Lotus Sutra” (CC, Vol. 1, p. 197). “I offered them to the sage Buddha” (ibid., Vol. 1, p. 199), referring to Founder Nichiren. We can gather from Nikko’s writings that he placed offerings to Nichiren’s statue or to the mandala Gohonzon that he regarded as Nichiren’s life itself. Sanmi Nichijun, a disciple of Nikko and the second study head of the Omosu Seminary, seems to have trusted that Nichiren was the original Buddha. In “My Impressions” (Hyobyaku), he contends, “All of the Buddhist teachings expounded at the Eagle Peak, Mount Tendai, and Mount Hiei are the transient teachings where the true entity of the original Buddha is not revealed” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p 11). In it he also contends, “It should be known that Japan signifies the location of the original Buddha” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 11). These statements by Nichijun can be construed to hint Nichijun’s belief in the point that Nichiren is the original Buddha. In “Commentary on ‘On the True Cause,’” which is said to have authored by Nichijun, Nichijun interprets the 24th point in the 24 comparisons between T’ien-tai’s teachings and Nichiren’s teachings. These 24 comparisons are referred to in “On the True Cause.” Nichijun wrote, “He expounds ichinen sanzen and isshin sankan (threefold contemplation in a single mind) based upon the Buddha of the reward body and limitless joy, the Buddha who became a Buddha, but I expound based upon the Buddha of the reward body and limitless joy, the Buddha who (as a Buddha from time without beginning) directly chants the Mystic Law, the selfless and original Law.” Sanmi Nichijun regards Shakyamuni who expounded the “Life Span” chapter as the Buddha who gained the reward of becoming a Buddha: “The idea of the Buddha of the reward body and limitless joy at the time without beginning signifies that we should define Nichiren Daishonin, who is the teacher of the true cause, as described in the ‘Life Span’ chapter as ‘originally I practiced the bodhisattva way,’ as the Buddha of limitless joy of the time without beginning. The golden Buddha, who is the teacher of the theoretical teaching, expounds only the two transient teachings of maturing and harvesting” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 83).

This contention by Nichijun defines Shakyamuni as the Buddha who became a Buddha and as the teacher who expounded only the teachings of maturing and harvesting, and defines Nichiren as the Buddha of the reward body and limitless joy since time without beginning. This clearly shows that Nichijun regarded Nichiren as the True Buddha.

As I discussed in my first thesis, it is probable that Nichijun did not author “Commentary on ‘On the True Cause.’” It should be noted that the concept of Nichiren being the True Buddha was carried on among the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji who appeared after Nichiin, the 13th high priest. Nichiin, states, exactly as Nichijun put it, in his “Report of Nisshin of Yobo-ji” (Yobo-ji Nisshin Goho), “We should define Nichiren Daishonin, who is the teacher of the true cause, as the Buddha of limitless joy of the time without beginning. The golden Buddha, who is the teacher of the theoretical teaching, expounds only the two transient teachings of maturing and harvesting” (CC, Vol. 1, p. 84). Nisshun and Nichikan made a copy of “Commentary on ‘On the True Cause.’”

Furthermore, Nichijun used the expression in his “Pledge” (Seimon) (1342), “Nichiren Shonin, the whole body of the object of devotion” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 28). This description shows that there was a teaching in the olden days of the Taiseki-ji School that regarded Nichiren as the object of devotion. Later on, the ninth high priest, Nichiu, went on to clearly state in his “On Formalities” (Kegi Sho), “The object of devotion of this school should be limited to Nichiren Shonin” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 65). By the way, it can be said that Nichiu was the first person who attempted to give theoretical basis to the faith that Nichiren is the original Buddha by expounding the idea that Nichiren is the True Buddha from the viewpoint of the Buddhism of sowing, that is, the Buddhism that is suitable for the Latter Day of the Law.

Sakyo Nikkyo, even before he swore allegiance to the ninth high priest, Nichiu, also advocated the theory of Nichiren being the True Buddha in his “One Hundred and Fifty Articles” (Hyaku Gojukka Jo), writing “Shakyamuni, the teacher of the essential teaching, is none other than Nichiren Shonin” (ibid., p. 2, p. 230). In the latter days of his life, Nikkyo remarked in “My Personal Views” (Ruiju Kanshu Shi), “Shakyamuni, the lord of the essential teaching, is Nichiren Daishonin, who taught the true cause that is described as the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth” (ibid., Vol. 2, p. 230).

The following three views that Nichikan expressed regarding the Taiseki-ji School’s traditional theory of Nichiren’s being the True Buddha[13] seem noteworthy.

First, Nichikan looked upon the Taiseki-ji School’s traditional theory of Nichiren being the True Buddha as the secret teaching that was handed down only along the lineage of its successive high priests. In viewing writings by Nichikan in his role as the study head of Taiseki-ji, we can see the theory that Shakyamuni, lord of the teaching of the true cause, is synonymous with Nichiren.[14] Nichikan emphasizes that this theory is the very content of the heritage transmitted along the lineage of the successive high priests. To cite some examples: his “Personal Account of ‘The Selection of Time’” (Senji Sho Guki) reads, “The Shakyamuni of the true cause is Nichiren” (CE, p. 221) and “Founder Nichiren is equal to Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause of time without beginning. Keep it strictly to yourselves” (CE, p. 257). “The Exegesis on ‘Taking the Essence of the Lotus Sutra’” reads, “Founder Nichiren Daishonin of today is equal to Shakyamuni of time without beginning and of the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth. Therefore, today, in the Latter Day of the Law, the Tathagata of the ‘Life Span’ chapter is exactly Founder Sage Nichiren. Hence his orally transmitted teachings. You should keep this to yourselves” (ibid., pp. 568–569) and “This is the transfer teaching. This shall not be disclosed openly. In the final analysis, Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause, the sun, the moon and Nichiren Daishonin share the same entity and beneficial power” (ibid., p. 578).

Next, let’s turn to what Nichikan said after he took office as the 26th high priest. Just as he did before he became high priest of Taiseki-ji, he emphasized as the school’s secret teaching the theory of the oneness of Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause and Nichiren. For instance, in “The Teaching for the Latter Day,” Nichikan writes, “The ancient transfer teaching of this temple states that Lord Shakyamuni of the essential teaching is Founder Sage Nichiren” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 162). In “Exegesis on ‘The Entity of Life’ (Totai Gisho Mondan),” Nichikan writes, “Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause denotes the past, not the present time in the Latter Day of the Law, in terms of guiding people to enlightenment. The past means the time without beginning. Therefore, we can identify the practice and proof of that time. This is the secret teaching of this school. You must not expose it. We should realize that Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause is Founder Sage Nichiren, who is the sovereign, teacher and parent in the Buddhism of Sowing in the Latter Day of the Law” (CE, p. 664). In “Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind’ (Kanjin no Honzon Sho Mondan),” Nichikan writes, “The sixth Shakyamuni, lord of the teaching hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter, means Founder Sage Nichiren himself. Ponder this transfer teaching that Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause and Nichiren Daishonin bear different names but share the same entity” (CE, p. 531). In “Exegesis on ‘The Entity of Life,’” Nichikan writes, “Question: The Buddha of limitless joy at the time without beginning signifies Shakyamuni. Why does this Buddha denote Founder Nichiren? Founder Nichiren is Bodhisattva Supreme Practices among Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Why can he be called the Buddha of limitless joy at the time without beginning? Answer: This is the transfer teaching of this school. No other schools have ever known this teaching” (CE, p. 702). In this way, Nichikan regarded the view of Nichiren’s being the Buddha of limitless joy at the time without beginning as this school’s unique transfer teaching.

In short, Nichikan understood the school’s ancient teaching of Nichiren being the True Buddha. His understanding of it could be rendered as the teaching of “Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause = the Buddha of limitless joy at the time without beginning = Nichiren.” Especially after he became high priest of Taiseki-ji, Nichikan emphasized this view as the school’s transfer teaching. However, despite the fact that Sanmi Nichijun and Sakyo Nikkyo expounded the “Nichiren’s being the True Buddha teaching” as early as the formative days of Taiseki-ji, this theory in itself cannot be regarded as the contents of the heritage transmitted along the lineage of the high priests. But it seems that Nichikan looked upon Nichijun and Nikkyo’s theory as a partial revelation of the heritage transmitted from one high priest to another. To prove the correctness of this point, after he took office, Nichikan expounded the Nichiren–True Buddha theory as the vital teaching that constitutes the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws transmitted along the lineage of the successive high priests. This is the second important point about Nichikan’s attitude toward the traditional Nichiren–True Buddha theory propounded by Taiseki-ji.

The Nichiren–True Buddha theory can be seen as a component of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws. This is spelled out from the viewpoint of “the object of devotion in terms of the Person” in the chapter on the object of devotion in the essential teaching — this is within the document of “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths.” In it, Nichikan writes, “The object of devotion in terms of the Person is the most compassionate Nichiren Daishonin, who is the rebirth of the Buddha of limitless joy at the time without beginning; the sovereign, teacher and parent in the Buddhism of sowing; and the lord of the teaching of the true cause” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 77).

Nichikan then cites the reason as to why we regard Nichiren as the object of devotion in terms of the Person. He quotes the “One Hundred Six Articles,” the document that, revealing the Daishonin’s profound enlightenment, refers subsequently to the actual and documentary proofs that justify the theory of the Nichiren–True Buddha theory. As Nichikan mentioned, no other documents describe the ultimate teaching of this school more clearly than “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths.” Therefore, “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths” is regarded as the document that reveals the ultimate transfer teaching of Taiseki-ji. If that is so, it is only natural that the Nichiren–True Buddha theory that was revealed in “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths” should be regarded as part of the heritage transmitted orally along the lineage of the high priests.

As to the relationship between the Nichiren–True Buddha theory and the meaning of the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary that is the entity of the Law transmitted along the lineage of the successive high priests, Nichikan refers to it most directly in “The Practices of This School” (Toryu Gyoji Sho), writing, “What is the entity of the great Gohonzon of the essential teaching? It is Founder Sage Nichiren himself. For this reason, it is stated in the transfer teaching that ‘each of the ten worlds mentioned on either side of the main title that is written down the center signifies Nichiren himself. Hence the remark that “Nichiren’s signature is here” is attached to this object of devotion.’ It is also stated in the transfer document that ‘Founder Nichiren Daishonin is said to have remarked that “When I saw my body reflected in the Bright Star Pond, what I saw there was a great mandala.”’ It is also stated in the transfer teaching that ‘The seven characters that are chanted signify Buddhahood and we ordinary individuals who chant them signify the nine worlds. This reality truly shows the mutual possession of the ten worlds (jikkai goku)’” (EWFS, Vol. 3, pp. 217–218).

In this way, Nichikan clearly indicated that the entity of the great Gohonzon of the true teaching (the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary) is Founder Nichiren himself. To prove this point, Nichikan quotes three passages from “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” (Gohonzon Hichika Sojo). Nichikan considered this document the secret document to which only the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji were allowed access. For instance, in his “Exegesis on ‘Taking the Essence of the Lotus Sutra,’” Nichikan writes, “Seven teachings on the Gohonzon have been transmitted orally along the lineage of the successive high priests. The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion, The Threefold Orally Transmitted Teaching, and Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon are the transfer teachings transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests. How could we reveal them openly?” (CE, p. 599).

We can draw forth from these facts the realization that Nichikan doubtlessly regarded the Nichiren–True Buddha theory as part of what constitutes the vital entity of the secret teaching that was transmitted solely along the lineage of the successive high priests. In the same era that Nichikan lived, the 24th high priest, Nichiei, wrote in his “Orally Transmitted Comments,” “Nichiren today chants the daimoku that Shakyamuni chanted at the time without the beginning. Nichiren is the original teacher who propagates the Law. Nichiren is also the object of devotion” (CC, Vol. 3, p. 320). The 25th high priest, Nichiyu, wrote in “Comment on ‘The Object of Devotion,’” “Nichiren Daishonin is equal to a scroll of the Gohonzon” (CC, Vol. 3, p. 373) and “Since the Daishonin put down his signature on the Gohonzon, he is the object of devotion in terms of the Person” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 373). We here recognize that there was resurgence within Taiseki-ji that re-enhanced its traditional “Nichiren equals the object of devotion” doctrine. In the midst of this trend within the Taiseki-ji School, Nichikan advocated the Nichiren–True Buddha theory as a vital doctrine in the systematic theory of the Three Great Secret Laws.

Third and last, another important aspect of Nichikan’s intention is found in his attempt to strengthen and clarify the school’s various doctrines concerning the Nichiren–True Buddha theory. We can sense that Nichikan was influenced by Sakyo Nikkyo’s theory that Lord Shakyamuni of the essential teaching is equal to Nichiren, when Nichikan repeatedly advocated the idea of the oneness of Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause and Nichiren. This idea justifies the theoretical basis of the Nichiren–True Buddha doctrine. In this sense, Nichikan’s theory was basically a copy of the school’s traditional Nichiren–True Buddha theory; but at the same time, Nichikan disclosed his own view of the Nichiren–True Buddha theory, which we should not disregard. In “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan interpreted the passage from “One Hundred Six Comparisons” that reads, “Nichiren, the teacher of the true cause and effect ever since the time without beginning, whose original entity is the Buddha of limitless joy and the reward body, the rebirth of Bodhisattva Supreme Practices and the great teacher of the essential teaching,” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 854). In his interpretation, Nichikan established his own theory that “Nichiren is the rebirth of Bodhisattva Supreme Practices, if you look at him only in terms of his appearance and from a shorter perspective. However, if you observe his inner profound enlightenment, Nichiren is the rebirth of the original Buddha of limitless joy. Therefore, let us know that Nichiren’s original entity is the Buddha of limitless joy, his ephemeral figure is Bodhisattva Supreme Practices, and now in the Latter Day he has revealed his true entity” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 77).

Nichikan, by drawing forth the view that “Nichiren’s true entity is the Buddha of limitless joy, his ephemeral figure is Bodhisattva Supreme Practices, and Nichiren now in the Latter Day revealed his true entity,” denied the idea advocated by various Nichiren schools that Nichiren is simply the rebirth of Bodhisattva Supreme Practices. Nichikan presented the Nichiren–True Buddha theory in a new light by proclaiming that Nichiren’s true entity is the Buddha of limitless joy and that Nichiren is the rebirth of the Buddha of limitless joy. Quoting the following passage from “The Opening of the Eyes,” Nichikan cites the Tatsunokuchi Persecution as actual proof that Nichiren cast off his ephemeral entity as the rebirth of Bodhisattva Supreme Practices and revealed him as the Buddha of limitless joy and of the time without beginning: “On the twelfth day of the ninth month of last year, between the hours of the rat and the ox (11:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M.), fhis person named Nichiren was beheaded. It is his soul that has come to this island of Sado” (WND, Vol. 2, p. 269). Furthermore, Nichikan emphasizes that Nichiren is the rebirth of the True Buddha of limitless joy and that he is the object of devotion in terms of the Person by quoting Nichiren’s writings, transfer documents such as “On the True Cause,” “One Hundred Six Articles,” and even non-Buddhist documents. Some of the quotes include: “Nichiren is the rebirth of the original Buddha of limitless joy and the reward body,” “Nichiren is the sovereign, teacher and parent of the Buddhism of sowing in the Latter Day of the Law,” “Nichiren is the lord of the teaching of the true cause,” “Nichiren is the greatest in compassion,” and “Namu-Nichiren Daishonin.” In this way, Nichikan added strength to Taiseki-ji’s traditional Nichiren–True Buddha theory through citing actual and documentary proofs.

To sum up, we can say the following. The school’s traditional Nichiren–True Buddha theory can be regarded as a profound teaching that supports the Three Great Secret Laws transmitted verbally along the lineage of the successive high priests. However, the Nichiren–True Buddha theory was long known to many learned priests within the Taiseki-ji School. Nichikan first introduced the school’s traditional Nichiren–True Buddha theory as its secret teaching when he was the study head of Taiseki-ji. However, after he took office as the 26th high priest, he developed a strong belief that the Nichiren–True Buddha theory is a vital part of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that had been transmitted verbally along the lineage of the successive high priests. Therefore, in the reedited version of “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan added theoretical strength to the school’s traditional Nichiren–True Buddha theory, newly featuring it as a vital part of the transfer teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws.

(4) Theory of Object of Devotion That Embodies Oneness of Person and Law
As is well known, Nichiren wrote the words “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Nichiren” in large Chinese characters down the center of the mandala Gohonzon that he inscribed in the Koan period. However, when it comes to the transcription of the Gohonzon in other schools than the Nikko School, their high priests tended to write down their names just below the word “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,” skipping the name “Nichiren” or to have their name below the word “Nichiren.” In contrast, since the times of Nikko and Nichimoku, the Nikko School, especially, the Taiseki-ji School, in principle, abode by the style where only the words “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo Nichiren Zai-gohan (meaning ‘with his signature here’)” are written down the center of the mandala Gohonzon.[15] The Taiseki-ji School was relentless since its early days in attacking other schools’ way of transcribing the Gohonzon. From this we can tell that in the Taiseki-ji School there was the belief that Founder Nichiren (Person) and Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (Law) are one (Oneness of the Person and the Law). This belief did not necessarily permeate the entire Taiseki-ji School. No effort was made either in the Taiseki-ji School to give theoretical foundation to this belief.

In the meantime, Nichikan appeared in the Edo Era. He made substantial efforts to give theoretical basis to the Taiseki-ji’s traditional view of the mandala Gohonzon of the oneness of the Person and the Law. The concept of the oneness of the Law and the Person is part of the theory of the object of devotion. It indicates that the object of devotion in terms of the Law (the natural, original law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of the actual ichinen sanzen) is one with the object of devotion in terms of the Person (Nichiren that is the rebirth of the original Buddha of limitless joy and the reward body). Nichikan elucidates this in “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” “Different in name but the same in entity (ninpo taiitsu)” (EWFS, Vol. 3, 83). Nichikan’s theory is that the object of devotion of the essential teaching is in fact the object of devotion where the Person and the Law are one. This theory of the object of devotion can be said to be the core of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that had been transmitted verbally along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji. The 56th high priest, Nichio, writes in “Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind,” “The teaching of the oneness of the Person and the Law deals with the inner enlightenment of the Buddha. It cannot be understood outside of the heritage of this school.”[16]

Different from the Nichiren–True Buddha theory, the theory of the oneness of the Person and the Law (in terms of the object of devotion) has no sign of having been discussed in the very early days of Taiseki-ji. The only indication of this theory is seen in the statement made in “Transfer of the Gohonzon’s Body and Mind” (Gohonzon Shikishin Sojo) by Nichiyo of Myohon-ji in Hota (who was under the influence of the ninth high priest, Nichiu): “According to a legend, the Gohonzon corresponds to blue in terms of color. … Because it embodies the oneness of the Person and the Law, this Buddha dwells on the blue earth” (The Writing of Study Research [Kenkyu Kyogaku Sho], Vol. 30, p. 732). One more statement that may attract some attention in this regard is Nichiga’s remark in “Secret Teachings of Formalities” (Kegi Hiketsu), “The ‘Life Span’ chapter is the object of devotion where the Nam-myoho-renge-kyo of sowing and Nichiren are one” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 277). Nichiga also mentions in “Personal View of Petition” (Moshijo Kenbun), “Nichiren Shonin is the object of devotion in the Three Great Secret Laws that should be spread in the Latter Day of the Law. You should ponder the teaching of the oneness of the Person and the Law” (ibid., Vol. 4, p. 92).

However, as early as when he was the study head of Taiseki-ji, Nichikan touched upon this view of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion. Nichikan wrote in “On the Origin” (Genshi Sho), “Ichinen Sanzen equals the Buddha of limitless joy. The Buddha of limitless joy equals Founder Sage Nichiren” (WRS, Vol. 10, p. 225). Nichikan also writes in “On the Intention behind the Recitation of the ‘Expedient Means’ Chapter” (Hobenbon Dokuju Shinchi no Koto) (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 318), “We practice to the great law hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter that is equal to the Buddha of limitless joy, that is, the object of devotion of ichinen sanzen. What we do for practice is to chant the five and seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” He also writes in “Personal Account of ‘The Selection of the Time’ Part Two” (Senji Sho Guki Ge), “The reason why this passage is quoted is to praise the object of devotion, because the Buddha of limitless joy is the law of ichinen sanzen. This should be strictly kept in secret” (CE, p. 313). He also writes in “Exegesis on ‘Taking the Essence of the Lotus Sutra,’” “Since it embodies the fusion of reality and wisdom, and the oneness of the Person and the Law, we say it is the object of devotion of the actual ichinen sanzen” (CE, p. 599). He also writes, in “Personal Comment on ‘The Opening of the Eyes’” (Kaimoku Sho Guki), “The jigage of the past denotes the Gohonzon of the oneness of the Person and the Law” (CE, p. 174).

Why was Nichikan, the study head of Taiseki-ji, able to touch upon this theory of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion, a theory that comprised the core teaching transmitted along the lineage of the successive high priests? We may presume that his mentor, Nichiei (who instituted a study seminary at Renzo-bo lodging on the grounds of Taiseki-ji and invited Nichikan to lecture on Nichiren’s writings there) allowed Nichikan to know the core teaching of Taiseki-ji to attempt to wipe out the bad influence of Yobo-ji’s doctrines within the Taiseki-ji school. In “Orally Transmitted Comment,” Nichiei remarked, “When fused, the original entity of reality and wisdom becomes the five characters of the Mystic Law. It is also the entity of the Buddha of limitless joy. The Person and the Law are one at the time without the beginning” (CC, Vol. 3, p. 321). Furthermore, Nichiei quotesThe Record of the Orally Transmitted Teaching, “Dengyo says, ‘A single moment of life comprising the three thousand realms in itself is the body that is freely received and used’ [or the Buddha of limitless joy]. ‘The body that is freely received and used’ is the Buddha who has forsaken ostentatious appearances” (CC, Vol. 3, p. 321). Nichiren’s view, as expressed above, must have served as the basis of Nichikan’s contention of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion.[17] Also, Nichikan earnestly copied the writings authored by Nichiyo and Nichiga of Hota that had been carrying on the study of the early days of Taiseki-ji. Nichikan was positive toward Nichiga’s view.[18] The writings by the Hota School must have been a great reference for Nichikan to learn the transfer teachings of the early days of Taiseki-ji.

In this vein, did any change happen to Nichikan’s view of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion after he took office as Taiseki-ji’s 26th high priest? In essence, Nichikan’s contentions are consistent before and after he became high priest. One thing that is obvious is that after he became the 26th high priest, he engaged himself in more substantial discussion about the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion, quoting the sutras, Buddhist teachers’ interpretations of them, Nichiren’s writings, and the transfer documents more extensively to justify his theory. Below are some statements that Nichikan made after he took office as 26th high priest; these quotes concern the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion.

“The Meaning in the Depths” reads, “Scholars must know, ‘The original Buddha of limitless joy equals the law of ichinen sanzen. Therefore, it is called the object of devotion of the actual ichinen sanzen. This should be strictly kept in secret” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 88).“The Practices of This School” reads, “It is said in the profound and secret transfer teaching of this school that the five elements of our body are the same five elements of all phenomena. The five elements of all phenomena are the five elements of our body” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 203).

“Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind’” reads, “The Person is the original Buddha of limitless joy and the reward body. The Law is the actualization of ichinen sanzen. The great mandala embodies the Person and the Law. The Law is one with the Person. The great mandala of the actual ichinen sanzenshall be the sovereign, teacher, and parent. The Person is one with the Law. Sage Nichiren, the original Buddha of limitless joy, is the sovereign, teacher, and parent. Though named differently, the entity of the Person and that of the Law are one” (CE, p. 459).

“Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind’” reads, “Question: What is the entity of the five characters of the Mystic Law? Answer: It is the object of devotion of ichinen sanzen. What is the entity of the object of devotion of ichinen sanzen? It is Sage Nichiren. Question: If so, can you describe your answer through an analogy? Answer: Although different in terms of their expression, the Person and the Law shares the same entity. For instance, ‘Life at each moment is endowed with the ten worlds.’ ‘Life permeates all phenomena, and all phenomena are contained in one’s life’” (CE, p. 548).

“Exegesis ‘On Repaying the Debts of Gratitude’” reads “The Lord Buddha of the true cause and limitless joy is one with the Law. Neither the Person nor the Law is superior or inferior to each other. The Person is one with the Law, and the Law is one with the Person. Therefore, the sutra states, ‘The entirety of the Buddha dwells where the sutra is located.’ T’ien-t’ai states, ‘This sutra describes the Dharma body.’ The Dharma body means the Buddha of limitless joy. Founder Nichiren states, ‘The Buddha of limitless joy equals ichinen sanzen.’ Dengyo states, ‘Ichinen sanzen equals the Buddha of limitless joy.’ Therefore, let us acknowledge that Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause or the entirety of the Buddha of limitless joy is the object of devotion of the actual ichinen sanzen, and that the entirety of the object of devotion of the actual ichinen sanzen equals Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause, or the Buddha of limitless joy” (CE, p. 435).

“Comment on ‘On Making Offerings to the Myoho Mandala’” (Myoho Mandala Kuyo Kenmon Hikki) reads, “The five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo are the entity of the object of devotion. This object of devotion consists of the Person and the Law. It is Myoho-renge-kyo in terms of the Law. It is the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies in terms of the Person; the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies is Nichiren Daishonin. The Gosho states, ‘I, Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi ink, so believe in the Gohonzon with your whole heart. The Buddha’s will is the Lotus Sutra, but the soul of Nichiren is nothing other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.’The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings reads, ‘This being the case, the term “eternally endowed with the three bodies” refers to the votaries of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law. The title of honor for one who is eternally endowed with the three bodies is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. This is what the three great concerns of the actuality of the “Life Span” chapter refer to.’ This shows the oneness of the Person and the Law. Though stemming from the same entity, the Person and the Law express themselves differently” (CE, pp. 733–734, The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 124).

Compared to his past position, Nichikan in his role as high priest of Taiseki-ji described more overtly and thoroughly the theory of the oneness of Person and Law in terms of the object of devotion. On the other hand, in “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths” (that he further edited toward the end of his life), Nichikan quotes the sutras, Buddhist teachers’ interpretations of them, Nichiren’s writings, and the transfer documents extensively to justify his theory, which emphasized the secrecy of his oneness theory of the object of devotion. In “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan refers to the object of devotion, stating, “Question: Why do you call the unique essential teaching hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter the object of devotion of the actual ichinen sanzen?” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 76). Nichikan’s response to this question is supposed to be his explanation of the object of devotion that embodies the oneness of the Person and the Law. “The Threefold Secret Teaching” reads, “Question: Why is the unique essential teaching hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter called the actual ichinen sanzen? Answer: Even though this is a secret teaching, I will explain it. It is because the Person and the Law are one” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 53). The word “actual” in terms of the ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter denotes the oneness of the Person and the Law. However, in response to the previous question quoted out of “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan would not answer the question (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 76). In that document, Nichikan refuses to answer the question by referring to the oneness of the Person and the Law. He then contends in “The Threefold Secret Teaching,” “The way of this school is to actually show the actual. Therefore, the entity of the Law is an actual thing. So, our object of devotion is called the Gohonzon of the actual ichinen sanzen” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 76). Again, in response to the question he placed in “The Threefold Secret Teaching,” which reads, “Question: If so, what is the actual entity of the Law?” Nichikan refused to answer it by stating, “Answer: I have never revealed this to anyone” (ibid., Vol. 3, p. 76). Nichikan then moved on to discuss the object of devotion in terms of the Person. In “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan stubbornly refrained from giving theoretical explanations about the actual entity of the Law that is hidden in the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. He also did not give theoretical explanations about the object of devotion that embodies the oneness of the Person and the Law. Yet, in the “Object of Devotion” chapter in the “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan is very clear in expounding the profound meaning of the oneness of the Person and the Law, to the point where he concludes, “Scholars must know that ‘The original Buddha of limitless joy equals the law of ichinen sanzen.’ Therefore, it is called the object of devotion of the actual ichinen sanzen. This should be strictly kept in secret” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 88). In this way, Nichikan eventually gave his answer to the question that he at first refused to answer. In the final analysis, in the re-edited version of “The Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan gave final assurance to the theory of oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion. He must have wanted to emphasize that the idea of oneness of the Person and the Law was the secret teaching that must never be revealed to the public and must be kept to the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji.

It can be said that Nichikan was the first who theorized the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion in the teaching of actual ichinen sanzen. It may be true that in the Taiseki-ji School before the time of Nichikan there was a teaching of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion, the type of secret teaching that was transmitted along the lineage of chief administrator, but as I introduced previously through what is written in Nichiei’s “Orally Transmitted Teaching” (Kuketsu), the idea of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion must have been very idealistic, partial and incomplete.

Toward the end of his life, Nichikan was relentless in expounding the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion in “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths.” At the same time, he was very emphatic about maintaining the secrecy surrounding the theory of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of worship. As I observe these two seeming contradictions in Nichikan’s attitude toward the theory of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion, it is clear that this theory was the issue of utmost secrecy in the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that was transmitted along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji.

5. Theoretical Disclosure of Three Great Secret Law in Modern Times

So far, I think we have confirmed the following points through the observation of Nichikan’s writings: That the heritage of Taiseki-ji that was transmitted orally along the lineage of its successive high priests focused on the school’s unique teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws, and that the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws was disclosed by the 26th high priest, Nichikan. The following theories were also disclosed by Nichikan: the theory of the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter, the theory of the entity of the Law in terms of the Three Great Secret Laws, the Nichiren–True Buddha theory, and the theory of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion. Also confirmed is the point that the 24th high priest, Nichiei, and the 25th high priest, Nichiyu (before Nichikan substantially engaged himself in establishing the study of Taiseki-ji), involved themselves in advocating the idea of Nichiren being the object of devotion and the theory of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion. It can be said that the ideological environment that was necessary for the revelation of the theoretical basis of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws (which was transmitted orally along the lineage of the successive high priests) developed at the same time as when Taiseki-ji’s study renaissance movement began to bear fruit under the leadership of Nichiei and Nichiyu. It can also be said that Nichikan gave the finishing touches to this study endeavor on the part of Taiseki-ji.

In retrospect, what I have been saying in this thesis contains nothing new. All I did through this paper is to clarify what has been implicitly understood within the current Taiseki-ji priesthood. To cite an example, The Complete Biography of Nichikan Shonin (Nichikan Shonin Zenden), published in 1975 by the study department of the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, reads, “We must be deeply appreciative of the fact that Nichikan Shonin established for the sake of posterity the great theoretical system for the Great Law that has been transmitted orally along the Nichiren–Nikko lineage.”[19] In this passage, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood shares the view that Nichikan expounded the theoretical basis for the organized doctrine of the Great Law that has been transmitted orally along the Nichiren–Nikko lineage. From a modern viewpoint, the history of study at Taiseki-ji makes it clear that Nichikan’s meritorious accomplishment was his revelation of the theoretical basis for the heritage that was transmitted orally along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji.

Yet, what needs to be noted is the fact that Nichikan’s revelation of the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws was not a thorough revelation. The problem that confronted Nichikan was environmental, because in those days study documents were not fully available to Buddhist students. In The Six-Volume Writings and “Exegeses on the Gosho” (Gosho Mondan), Nichikan quoted the Fuji school’s various transfer documents and expounded Taiseki-ji’s unique teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws. Nichikan’s minute and detailed contentions could have simply been his self-righteous opinion, if he had not backed it up with ample documentary proofs, such as “One Hundred Six Comparisons,” “On the True Cause,” Nikko’s “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” (Gohonzon Hichika Sojo), “The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon” (Honzon Sando Soden), and The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings (Ongi Kuden), and “Transfer Teachings on First Bath” (Ubuyu Sojo) and Sanmi Nichijun’s “Orally Transmitted Teaching of the True Cause” (Honnin-myo Kuketsu). The fact was that these vital documents were known only to a few learned priests during the time of Nichikan. In other words, Taiseki-ji school’s priests and lay believers had no way to validate Nichikan’s theory of the Three Great Secret Laws through documents.

In addition, Nichikan was able to quote in The Six-Volume Writings the documents of the heritage transmitted orally along the lineage of the successive high priests — that is, documents that only the successive high priests could see. As to the transfer documents transmitted orally only along the lineage of the successive high priests, “Exegesis on ‘Taking the Essence of the Lotus Sutra’” reads, “‘The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion,’ ‘The Threefold Orally Transmitted Teaching,’ and ‘Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon’ — these are the transfer documents transmitted orally only along the lineage of the successive high priests. How could we expose them?” (CE, p. 599). “Comments on ‘The Object of Devotion,’” which is the 30th high priest Nitchu’s record of Nichikan’s lecture on “The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,” reads, “’Seven Articles for Transcribing the Gohonzon,’ ‘Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon’ and so forth, are the writings that we should not refer to openly. These are the documents that only the successive high priests should know” (WSR, Vol. 13, p. 589). These documents obviously belonged to the category of the transfer documents regarding the object of devotion.

“The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion,” “Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon,” and “How to Transcribe the Object of Devotion” refer to the contents of “Seven Transfer Articles of the Gohonzon” that was included in volume 1 of The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, complied by the 59th high priest Nichiko. Also, “The Threefold Orally Transmitted Teaching” is most likely the same as “The Three Transfer Teachings of the Object of Devotion” that is also included in Volume 1 of The Essential Writings of the Fuji School. Nichikan did not allow the revelation of “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” and “The Three Transfer Teachings of the Object of Devotion,” because he regarded them as secret documents that he thought should be transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests.

On the other hand, reading The Six-Volume Writings makes us realize that Nichikan quoted “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” repeatedly to justify the most profound teachings on ichinen sanzen, in view of the comparison of the Buddhism of sowing and the Buddhism of harvesting, and the theory of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion. Each time Nichikan quoted “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon,” however, he did not disclose its name, stating “A transfer document reads …” or “A transfer document that is a secret teaching of this school reads …” This indicates that in those days no one except high priests who had access to these documents could document and objectively validate Nichikan’s contentions in The Six-Volume Writings. Not only that, Nichikan’s The Six-Volume Writings itself was long regarded as a secret document after his death in the Fuji school. Therefore, after Nichikan’s death, only the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji had access to many of his writings. According to the biography of Nichikan, written by the 48th high priest, Nichiryo, once Nichikan re-edited The Six-Volume Writings, he instructed Nissho (the study head who later became the 28th high priest) to keep the writing to himself (EWFS, Vol. 5, pp. 355–356). Since The Six-Volume Writings were a collection of Nichikan’s revelation of the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws, it was only natural that Nichikan tried to keep other schools strictly away from its contents. However, the influence of Nichikan’s revelation of the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws (that was transmitted orally only along the lineage of the successive high priests) was very limited,[20] because Taiseki-ji’s priests and lay believers had no chance to see The Six-Volume Writings.

In the final analysis, we can say that Nichikan’s accomplishment was incomplete, until the time when The Six-Volume Writings and other transfer documents that were quoted therein were made public. In this respect, the fact that the 59th high priest, Nichiko Hori, published all the transfer documents took on the great significance of completing Nichikan’s efforts.

Incidentally, in 1909, the Minobu sect published Data for the Teaching of the Object of Devotion (Honzon Ron Shiryo), which included “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon,” thus making it public for the first time. In the Taiseki-ji school of the time of Nichikan, only the high priest (chief administrator) had access to the contents of “The Great Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon (Gohonzon Hichika Dai-Sojo) since this document constituted the school’s heritage that was handed down solely from one high priest to another. Nichikan wrote in “The Exegesis of ‘The Essentials of the Lotus Sutra,’” “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. How could we reveal them openly?” (CE, p. 599). In “Comment on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind'” (Kanjin no Honzon Sho Ki), Nitchu, the 30th chief administrator who jotted down Nichikan’s lecture, records, “The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion, Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon, and so forth are the documents that are not openly discussed. Only the chief administrator is aware of their contents” (Kenkyo, Vol. 12, p. 589). The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion and Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon are included in “The Great Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon.” The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion is first mentioned in “The Great Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon,” followed as supplementary by reference to Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon.[21] What Nichikan refers to as the Threefold Orally Transmitted Teaching points to The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon that is included in Volume one of Essential Writings of the Fuji School. Part of The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon is printed as “Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion” in Data for the Teaching of the Object of Devotion (Honzon Ron Shiryo).[22] In short, all those documents that Nichikan asserted in the Edo Era as “the documents that only the chief administrator should be aware of” began to be exposed to the public in modern times. Incidentally, a copy of “Transfer Teachings on First Bath” (Ubuyu Sojo) is printed in the reference material of the Minobu Library under the different title of “With Regards to His Baby Name.” Later on in 1925, the Minobu sect, assisted by Jirin Hori (who later became the 58th high priest of Taiseki-ji, Nichiko), published The Complete Works of Nichiren Shu (Nichiren Shu Shugaku Zensho) — Volume two of this publication contained The Six-Volume Writings and “On the True Cause.” It was the first public revelation of the existence of these two writings.[23]

In the Showa Era, Nichiko Hori began publishing the Taiseki-ji school’s transfer documents while giving consideration to the doctrinal position of the Taiseki-ji school. In February 1936, Nichiko published The Essential Works of the Fuji School, Transfer Documents and Creed (Fuji Shugaku Yoshu, Soden Shinjo Bu) in a mimeographed version, through which the Fuji school’s main transfer documents such as “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” “One Hundred Six Articles” and “On the True Cause” were all finally exposed to the public.

As to The Six Volume Writings, copies of it began to be gradually disseminated. In 1904, the 56th high priest, Nichio, published “The Threefold Secret Teaching” under the auspices of Hodokai in Tokyo. Taking this into consideration, Nichiko Hori states in Primary Teachings of Nichiren Shoshu (Nichiren Shoshu Koyo), “This [The Six-Volume Writings] and “Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind’” were secret documents that did not go beyond the boundary of this school and only Nichiren Shoshu high priests had direct access to them. But as time went by, copies of them began to gradually spread, to the point where their existence began to be known publicly. Whether this situation was good or bad, I personally feel this is the way things would be with the lapse of time.”[24]  And finally, in 1925, The Complete Works of Nichiren Shu was published with Hori’s support, and its Volume four contained The Six-Volume Writings, which established the writing’s complete disclosure. Later on, The Six-Volume Writings was contained in The Essential Works of the Fuji School, School’s Teachings, Part III (Fuji Shugaku Yoshu, Shugibu no San), which Nichiko Hori himself compiled.[25]

Likewise, Nichikan’s exegeses on the Gosho were gradually released to the public in modern times. According to Nichiko, just before 1900, it was believed that the originals of Nichikan’s exegeses did not exist. However, through Nichiko’s private investigation, Nichikan’s originals of his exegeses on the Gosho were discovered in the Treasure House (hozo) of Taiseki-ji.[26] Through this discovery, the contents of Nichikan’s original exegeses on the Gosho became available. Thus, Nichiko released the entirety of Nichikan’s “Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,’” which was once regarded as a secret document within Taiseki-ji. This exegesis was only available to the high priests. Nichikan’s other vital exegeses were also published as part of Volume four of The Complete Works of Nichiren Shu and The Essential Works of the Fuji School, Interpretations Part II (Fuji Shugaku Yoshu Joshakubu Ni).

Because of the condition of the times, and also because of Nichiko Hori’s efforts, the Fuji school’s secret documents were openly published one after another, and Nichikan’s The Six-Volume Writings and exegeses on the Gosho became available to the public. The release of these publications signaled the maturity of environmental conditions for the revelation of the theoretical basis of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that had been transmitted orally only along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji. Kiyosumi Takeo, who was well-versed in the pre-war affairs of the Taiseki-ji School, remarked “Only a limited number of priests possessed The Six-Volume Writings. They had this writing not in a printed form but in a format that was hand-copied by a mentor for his disciples. Especially “Transfer Teachings on First Bath” and “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” were understood as the transfer documents that only the chief administrator should be aware of their contents. Their disclosure was indeed shocking. … Their revelation inEssentials Writings of the Fuji School gave us an impression that a huge candle was suddenly lit up in the darkness.” Takeo thus stressed the meaning of the disclosure of the secret documents of the Fuji school in pre-war times.[27] However, because only a few copies of The Essential Works of the Fuji School were published by Nichiko before World War II in a mimeograph, its availability was very much limited to some priests and lay believers. Its circulation was very minimal. In those days, those who cherished The Essential Works of the Fuji School and who discussed Nichikan’s study were very few in number within the Fuji school. It was the Soka Gakkai’s enormous postwar efforts in publication and study that enabled The Essential Works of the Fuji School, the Fuji school’s transfer documents, and Nichikan’s theories to gain public attention.

During the postwar period, Josei Toda, second president of the Soka Gakkai, lent powerful support to Nichiko’s efforts to re-edit The Essential Works of the Fuji School. He succeeded in publishing eight volumes of it before he died in 1957. The remaining two volumes were successfully published the following year on the occasion of the first anniversary of Nichiko’s death. Before he passed away, Nichiko also took part in the publication of the Soka Gakkai’s The Collected Works of Nichiren Daishonin (Nichiren Daishonin Gosho Zenshu), where he included the Fuji school’s transfer documents such as “One Hundred Six Comparisons,” “On the True Cause,” “The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings,” and “Transfer Teachings on First Bath.”[28] As a result, Nichikan’s Six-Volume Writings, exegeses on various Gosho, and other transfer documents that had been kept in secret within the Fuji school were all available to even ordinary lay believers for the first time. However, Nichikan’s exegeses were only partially covered in The Essential Works of the Fuji School, for it was photographically reproduced. “Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind’” was not included. It was not until the publication in 1980 of The Collection of High Priest Nichikan’s Commentaries (Nichikan Shonin Mondan Shu), under the auspices of the Study Department of the Soka Gakkai, that the entirety of Nichikan’s Six-Volume Writings was introduced in modern language, which enabled ordinary people to easily understand its contents.

In reconstructing the Soka Gakkai after World War II, President Toda devoted himself to enhancing the study of Nichiren Buddhism, especially the study of the writings of Nichikan, among the leaders and members of the Soka Gakkai. This was accomplished through conducting both general and advanced lectures and promoting periodic study exams. The 65th high priest, Nichijun Horigome, was very supportive of the Soka Gakkai; to the point where he visited the Gakkai headquarter building almost every month to lecture on Nichiren’s writings for Gakkai leaders. His efforts continued for as long as ten years, until November 1956. This fact is indeed noteworthy.[29] It is through these lectures by Nichijun, who was versed in the study of The Six-Volume Writings, that the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws (which constituted the contents of the heritage transmitted along the sole linage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji) became known to the membership of the Soka Gakkai. In effect, the essence of the transfer teachings, of which only the successive high priests and a limited number of scholastic priests were aware, came to be studied routinely in daily life by millions of lay believers. Today, Nichikan’s Six Volume Writings and Nichiko’sEssential Works of the Fuji School have come to be studied, discussed, and lectured upon on a global scale, thanks to the global expansion of the Soka Gakkai’s propagation efforts and the enormous development of information technology.

We have arrived at a time where Nichikan’s revelation of the theoretical basis for the Three Great Secret Laws (that had been transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji) has now come down to the level of ordinary lay believers. This is thanks to Nichiko’s publication of the entire secret and transfer documents, President Toda and Nichijun Horigome’s efforts to educate Gakkai leaders and members about the study of Nichikan’s writings and the Soka Gakkai’s efforts to propagate Nichiren Buddhism. In this regard, we should say that we are living in the age when the theoretical basis for the Three Great Secret Laws has been clarified in the true sense.

Lastly, to help solidify this reality, I would like to confirm that it is possible today to fully explain through the use of published data what Nichikan indicated as “many vital transfer teachings (juju no sodden)” in his “Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind.’” Coupled with The Six-Volume Writings, “Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,’” was regarded as the secret document that was only known to the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji. This commentary contains Nichikan’s lecture on “The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind.” He gave this lecture to forty-some ardent student priests in the summer of 1712, after he resigned from the position of Taiseki-ji’s high priest.

Nichikan seemed well prepared for this lecture series, and it is said that a celebration party was held for Nichikan after his lecture series was done (EWFS, Vol. 8, p. 258). This lecture series was taken very seriously, because Nichikan regarded “the Gohonzon of the oneness of the Person and the Law” that is revealed in “The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind” as nothing other than “the purpose of Sage Nichiren’s advent,” “the true entity of the Three Great Secret Laws of the essential teaching,” and “the Buddhism of Sowing in the Latter Day of the Law.” After Nichikan resigned as high priest, he located himself in the study seminary. There he lectured on the contents of “Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind.’” His lecture on the profound meaning of the object of devotion whose inscription was the purpose of Sage Nichiren’s advent was done as an individual who was involved in the transfer of the heritage of the Taiseki-ji school. As such, we can naturally say that “many vital transfer teachings” serve as the basis for the doctrine related to the teaching of the object of devotion that had been transmitted only along the sole lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji.

Nichikan states: “There are many vital transfer teachings. Specifically, 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 harvesting in view of “the essential” and “the 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 the tenfold revelations of Great Concentration and Insight (Maka Shikan), fourfold rise and fall (shiju no kohai) teachings, threefold orally transmitted teachings, five conditions of religion, three points of religious creed, literal and hidden in the depths (monjo montei) teachings, true entity and ephemeral form teachings (honchi suijaku), practice for oneself and others teachings (jigyo keta), comparison of the Buddhism of Sowing and the Buddhism of Harvesting in view of the Buddha’s appearance, teaching on the ultimate enlightenment contained in hearing the name and words of the truth, the Buddha who became a Buddha after many Buddhist austerities for lifetime after lifetime (obutsu shoshin), the time without beginning (kuon ganjo), same in name but different in body, different in name but same in body, the actual and theoreticalichinen sanzen, observing one’s mind and the classification of the Buddha’s teachings (kyoso kanjin), orally transmitted teachings of the seven points on 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 aforementioned contents of the “many vital transfer teachings” are all explainable in the present-day times, because the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that had been transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests has been completed and revealed. Now you don’t have to be a high priest to know all these transfer teachings.

With regard to the three kinds and nine perspectives of the Lotus Sutra, Nichikan clarifies in his “Personal Comment on ‘The Selection of the Time,’” “The Lotus Sutra that is referred to is the ‘core’ of the Lotus Sutra, neither the ‘whole’ of the Lotus Sutra nor the ‘outline’ of the Lotus Sutra. Also, it is the ‘intent’ of the Lotus Sutra, not the ‘words’ of the Lotus Sutra, nor the ‘theory’ of the Lotus Sutra. It is also the Lotus Sutra of ‘sowing,’ not the Lotus Sutra of ‘maturing,’ nor the Lotus Sutra of ‘harvesting’” (CE, p. 221). In other words, the three kinds and nine perspectives of the Lotus Sutra refer to these three approaches to the Lotus Sutra and a total of nine perspectives of the Lotus Sutra. The third edition of The Great Dictionary of Buddhist Philosophy, published by the Soka Gakkai, cites part of Nichikan’s three kinds and nine perspectives of the Lotus Sutra, which also contributes to making this teaching available to the public.[30] The two hundred and twenty-nine orally transmitted teachings refer to “The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings” (Gosho Zenshu, pp. 708–803). The one hundred and six articles that distinguish the Buddhism of sowing from the Buddhism of harvesting in view of “the essential” and “the theoretical” are also included in The Collected Writings of Nichiren Daishonin (Gosho Zenshu, pp. 854–869). The Gosho Zenshu also contains “On the True Cause,” the orally transmitted teachings to Dengyo in regard to seven aspects of T’ien-t’ai’s three major works (GZ, pp. 870–872), the comparison between T’ien-t’ai Buddhism and Nichiren Buddhism in terms of twenty-four points (GZ, pp. 875–876), the transfer teachings of the tenfold revelation of Great Concentration and Insight (GZ, pp. 872–875).

The fourfold rise and fall refers to the classification of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism into the four categories of the provisional teachings, the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra, the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, and the teaching for perceiving one’s mind. This classification is expounded in T’ien-t’ai’s Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra. Nichikan’s reference to the fourfold rise and fall in his “Meaning Hidden in the Depths” indicates that the rise of the Mystic Law of the Three Great Secret Laws denotes the fall of the essential teaching of the “Life Span” chapter. The threefold orally transmitted teaching signifies the threefold secret teaching of the theoretical basis for the Lotus Sutra, the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, and the teaching hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter. The five conditions of religion signify the five guides for propagation (go ko), that is, the teaching, the people’s capacity, the time, the country and the sequence of propagation. The three points of religious creed denote the Three Great Secret Laws of the object of devotion of the essential teaching, the sanctuary of the essential teaching and the daimoku of the essential teaching. The terms “literal” and “hidden in the depths” denote two ways of reading the Lotus Sutra. Reading the “Life Span” chapter from the viewpoint of the true effect is a literal way of reading the sutra, while reading the same chapter from the standpoint of the true cause means reading the chapter’s hidden meaning.

The true entity and ephemeral form, the practice for oneself and others, the Buddhism of Sowing and Buddhism of Harvesting, the Buddha who became a Buddha after many Buddhist austerities for lifetime after lifetime, and the time without beginning — all these are concepts that distinguish the True Buddha from the ephemeral Buddhas, which Nichikan discussed in his various writings. For instance, in “The Teaching for the Latter Day,” he writes, “Question: What is the difference between the original Buddha of limitless joy and the Buddha of limitless joy who became the Buddha through his lifetime after lifetime austere practice? There are many differences between them. I will cite several examples: First, the former reveals his true entity while the latter is ephemeral. Second, the former is the Buddha who expounds his teaching based on his own volition while the latter expounds his teaching in accord with the capacity of the listeners of his teaching. Third, the former is an ordinary person at the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth while the latter embellishes himself with many features to attract people’s attention. Fourth, the former is one with the Law while the latter is inferior to the Law. Fifth, the former is the teacher of the Buddhism of Sowing while the latter is the teacher of the Buddhism of Harvesting” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 174). From the viewpoint of the Buddha’s appearance, comparisons between the Buddhism of Sowing and Buddhism of Harvesting signify comparing these two forms of Buddhism in terms of the Buddha’s appearance. The ultimate enlightenment contained in hearing the name and words of the truth means that the ultimate stage of enlightenment is included in the stage of hearing the name and words of the truth. “Same in name but different in body” signifies that the same name can denotes different entities. In his “Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,’” Nichikan refers to six kinds of Shakyamuni, who respectively expounded the teaching of the Tripitaka teaching, the connecting teaching, the specific teaching, the theoretical teaching, and the essential teaching. “Different in name but same in body,” for instance, signifies the case of Shakyamuni and Nichiren, who, although named differently, share the same entity as the teacher of the true cause.

The phrase “actual and theoretical ichinen sanzen” usually refers to the difference between the ichinen sanzen of the theoretical teaching and the ichinen sanzen of the essential teaching. However, on a deeper note, this difference can be taken as the difference between Shakyamuni’s Buddhism and Nichiren’s Buddhism. In other words, both the ichinen sanzen of the theoretical and essential teachings of Shakyamuni can be regarded as theoretical when compared with the ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter, as described in “On the True Cause.” In “observing one’s mind and the classification of the Buddha’s teachings,” the classification of the Buddha’s teachings seems to signify Shakyamuni’s Buddhism while the teaching for observing one’s mind indicates Nichiren Buddhism, and the latter is superiority to the former.

The orally transmitted teachings on seven points of the object of devotion, the threefold transfer teaching, and the important points in transcribing the object of devotion respectively seem to point to “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 31) and “The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon” (EWFS, Vol. 1, pp. 35–42).[31] The orally transmitted teaching on the object of devotion reflected in the Bright Star Pond is included in “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon.” While regarded as a transfer teaching orally transmitted between Nichiren and Nikko, this teaching is said to have been Nichiren’s revelation that he was the entity of the object of devotion. In closing his discussion about “many vital transfer teachings,” Nichikan stated, “All these are profound and ultimate transfer teachings in our school” (CE, pp. 443–444). In his “Meaning Hidden in the Depths,” Nichikan clearly asserts that nothing is more ultimate and profound in the Taiseki-ji School than the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws. To Nichikan, the ultimate teaching of the Taiseki-ji School was nothing other than the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws.

Explaining all these doctrinal concepts and documents are only possible when you refer to all those Gakkai publications, such as The Collected Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, The Essential Works of the Fuji School, Lecture on the “Six-Volume Writings”, and Great Dictionary of Buddhist Philosophy. This amazing fact may be taken as a matter of course these days, but isn’t it an awesome reality? This is the age where, not only the high priest of Taiseki-ji, but also every individual has an opportunity to have the same level of understanding of the heritage of Taiseki-ji. How has this reality been created? First, because of Nichikan’s theoretical revelation of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws; second, because of Nichiko’s publication of the Fuji School’s transfer documents; and third, because of the Soka Gakkai’s postwar efforts as an organization of lay believers to grasp the study of Nichikan. The revelation of the theoretical basis of the primary doctrines within the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School had previously been transmitted orally only along the lineage of the successive high priests — the task of widespread dissemination of these teachings has been completed today, 200 some years after Nichikan’s time. It can be said that we have arrived at the stage where the contents of the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School are exposed to the public.

6. No Necessity of Chief Administrator’s Involvement in One’s Attaining Buddhahood through Practicing to the Object of Devotion

We have thus come to the realization that the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws, which constitutes the central doctrine transmitted orally along the lineage of the successive high priests, has already been disclosed in modern times. This means that the Taiseki-ji school’s way of practicing faith needs to change.

The Taiseki-ji school expounds that one can instantly tap Buddhahood by chanting the Mystic Law of the time without beginning, and teaches that not only the high priest and some high-ranked priests but also all believers have the potential to achieve the significance contained in the object of devotion. As Nichikan writes in his “Exegesis on ‘The Entity of Life,’” “If one discards the provisional teachings and chants Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with wholehearted faith in the Lotus Sutra … one is able to embody the object of devotion” (CE, p. 683). As to how one embodies the object of devotion in terms of both the Person and the Law, Nichikan states, “By embodying the object of devotion in terms of the Person, one can manifest oneself as Sage Nichiren … and by embodying the object of devotion in terms of the Law, one manifests oneself as the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism” (CE, p. 683).

On the other hand, the Taiseki-ji School seems to have also considered that the high priest’s involvement was necessary for ordinary priests and lay believers to embody the object of devotion. In his “Exegesis on ‘Repaying the Debts of Gratitude,’” Nichikan writes, “Even if they belong to this school, the laymen and laywomen who lack wisdom are ignorant of the threefold secret teaching” and “These ignorant laymen and laywomen chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with wholehearted faith in the object of devotion of the essential teaching” (CE, p. 322). In this way, Nichikan described how the Fuji School’s ordinary lay believers were ignorant of the school’s transfer teachings in those days. Since it was impossible for the ignorant lay believers to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on their own volition with wholehearted faith in the object of devotion of the essential teaching — because they did not have any understanding of the threefold secret teaching — they needed to have the high priest who understood the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws or other priests who shared the same understanding as their guides in faith.

In those days, almost no lay believers of the Taiseki-ji school were so devoted to the practice of propagation and the study of the school’s doctrines. Takeharu Fukuhara, a lay believer in Kanazawa, was exceptional in this regard. However, even he seems to have been indirectly reprimanded by Nichikan for his distorted understanding of the Fuji School’s study.[32] It can be said that when it came to such topics as the transcription of the mandala Gohonzon or the righteousness of the Gohonzon, lay believers had no choice but to solely depend upon their high priests, who alone were in the possession of the school’s heritage. In other words, every Taiseki-ji believer was theoretically open to the possibility of embodying the object of devotion at that time, but in actuality, his or her attaining Buddhahood or embodying the object of devotion was dependent upon the involvement of the high priest, who alone was in the possession of the heritage of the Fuji School.

Things stand quite differently at the present, where the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws (that had been transmitted orally only along the sole lineage of the successive high priests) is now disclosed to the public. The lay believers of this era are different than the laymen and laywomen of the past who were ignorant of the transfer teachings. People today possess Nichikan’s Six-Volume Writings in their homes and study Nichiren’s writings every day — they are spontaneously devoted to propagating the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws. Even without guidance from the high priest, they are aware of the correct way of practicing Nichiren Buddhism, based upon their correct understanding of how to embody the object of devotion whose basis is the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws transmitted in secrecy along the lineage of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji.

Furthermore, the high priest’s involvement is becoming even more unnecessary with regard to the transcription of the mandala Gohonzon. The modern-day lay believers who practice Nichiren Buddhism as Nichiren did do so with a good grasp of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that at one time only the successive high priests inherited. Lay believers today also have the opportunity to view all Gohonzon that Nichiren inscribed in the periods of Bun’ei, Kenji, and Koan as Gohonzon that carry the same significance as the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary.[33] In addition, all the Gohonzon transcribed by the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji are based upon the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary and are thus regarded as the dispersed entity of the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary. The modern-day priests and lay believers may be able to even identify mistakes that could be committed by a high priest in transcribing the Gohonzon, thanks to the publication of the Gohonzon transfer documents.

Here is an old example: High priest Nikkai Abe inherited the heritage of the Taiseki-ji school in June 1928. In transcribing a Gohonzon, he mistakenly wrote “2220 and some years after the Buddha’s demise” instead of “2230 and some years after the Buddha’s demise.” When questioned about this mistake, Nikkai was forced to apologize for this error, with the remark that “I just wrote so absent-mindedly. I am so sorry.” One of the articles in “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” reads, “How about writing ‘after the Buddha’s demise’ on the Gohonzon? The mentor said, ‘This is a great mandala that is unprecedented 2230 and some years after the Buddha’s demise.’ Copying this statement by our mentor is in accord with the correct way of transcribing of the Gohonzon. Summarizing it in the transcription of the Gohonzon is a greatly erroneous view that is not based upon the transfer teaching of this school”[34] (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 32). Thanks to the publication of the transfer document, other priests were able to call this error to the attention of Nikkai Abe and he apologized. This incident was unheard-of, especially before the publication of the transfer documents. The reason why the regular priests were confident in reprimanding the high priest, who had received the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School, was that they had the basic knowledge of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws and the “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon.” This Nikkai incident was symbolic of the arrival of the time where the high priest is not the only person that possesses the expertise and authority for the transcription of the Gohonzon.

Moreover, we should never lose sight of the fact that, in modern times, the high priest does not necessarily transcribe the Gohonzon any more. The Gohonzon enshrined in the homes of Taiseki-ji believers is usually either a Gohonzon based on the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary by the hand of a past high priest (this Gohonzon is called Joju-Gohonzon), or a Gohonzon reproduced through the use of a woodblock based upon an original Gohonzon transcribed by a high priest (this Gohonzon is called the “woodblock (okatagi) Gohonzon”). According to the Taiseki-ji school’s traditional view, the “woodblock” Gohonzon was looked upon as a temporary Gohonzon. Only after the believer’s faith was recognized as solid, did the Taiseki-ji school allow the temporary Gohonzon to be exchanged with the Joju-Gohonzon that, transcribed directly by the hand of the high priest, has its recipient’s name written on its face.[35]

After World War II, however, the Soka Gakkai made great efforts for the propagation of Nichiren Buddhism and millions of Gohonzon were conferred upon new believers. It became physically impossible for every individual with solid faith to receive the Joju-Gohonzon transcribed by the direct hand of the high priest. Under such circumstances, the formality of faith began to change, to the point where the printed “woodblock” Gohonzon was regarded as the genuine Gohonzon. Eventually, the idea of the creation of the “Special Okatagi(Woodblock) Gohonzon” was implemented at the time of the 66th high priest, Nittatsu.[36] The Special Okatagi Gohonzon is a printed Gohonzon with the same significance as that behind the Joju-Gohonzon. It is a Gohonzon that is mounted in a more dignified manner than in the case of a regular woodblock Gohonzon.

The woodblock Gohonzon that came into existence as early as in the Edo Era was originally of so poor a quality (in terms of appearance) that it could not help but be regarded as a temporary Gohonzon. However, in modern times, the technology in the world of printing and mounting has made tremendous progress, and even the regular woodblock Gohonzon can maintain similar clarity and beauty as its original one. Therefore, even the regular woodblock Gohonzon looks quite dignified these days. When it comes to the special woodblock Gohonzon, we can say it looks as majestic as the Joju-Gohonzon. Not only that, the original copy of the woodblock Gohonzon can be kept almost permanently, which means we don’t have to ask the high priest to make another original one for the special woodblock Gohonzon. As early as the time before World War II, Nichiko Hori predicted in his “Comment on ‘On the Formalities,’” “When the time comes where the fortune of our school gradually opens up and we see the Mystic Law chanted all over the world, how could it be the case where we only depend on the high priest to confer the Gohonzon upon believers? What is written in this article may actually happen. Or we may have to use the woodblock Gohonzon” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 113). His prediction has basically come true within a period of less than one hundred years. We can now say that the age where the high priest’s transcription of the Gohonzon was indispensable has come to an end — which means that the existence of a high priest who can doctrinally understand the formalities of the transcription of the Gohonzon is no longer necessary or essential at all. Needless to say, the entity and appearance of the Gohonzon is, in essence, widely open to everyone, whether we give doctrinal explanations to them. I would dare to say that when the entity and appearance of the Gohonzon is copied in accordance with the way Nichiren Daishonin inscribed it and Nikko Shonin transcribed it, the priests and lay believers of the Fuji school can correctly and fully practice to this correctly transcribed Gohonzon with a correct grasp of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws. In addition, in modern times, the Gohonzon does not have to be transcribed anew any more. And transfer documents such as “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” have been made available to the public, which compels me to say that the high priest’s inheritance of the doctrine (in regard to the formalities related to the transcription of the mandala Gohonzon) has lost its meaning in faith.

As mentioned above, the contemporary priests and lay believers of the Fuji School, without the guidance of the high priest, base themselves upon the correct object of devotion of the Three Great Secret Laws, chant the Mystic Law of the time without beginning in their present form, embody the Buddhahood of the Gohonzon instantly, and confer and spread the woodblock Gohonzon that carries the same significance as a Joju-Gohonzon. We are living in times when the high priest’s involvement in the faith of the people and in their ability to embody the object of devotion has become unnecessary. In other words, posterity will recognize the time when we now live as the time when the role of the high priest in the transfer of the heritage of Taiseki-ji school came to an end.

7. On Transmission of the Entity of the Law

In conjunction with the topic of “embodying the object of devotion,” I here touch upon the subject of the transfer of the entity of the Law.

The term hottai sojo or the transfer of the entity of the Law was coined by the 56th high priest, Nichio. In his “Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind,” Nichio writes, “There are two aspects in the transfer of the heritage of this school along the sole lineage of the successive high priests. One is the specific transmission and the other is the general transmission. The specific transmission is the transmission of the entity of the Law and the specific transmission is the transmission of the teachings. In this context, the mentor who has gone through the specific transmission of the entity of the Law should be respected as the great leader who solely has received the heritage of this school, along the correct lineage of the successive high priests” and “In receiving the entity of the Law, the high priest also inherits the heritage of this school through the oral transmission, along the correct lineage of the successive high priests.”[37] In this way, Nichio contends that the specific transmission of the entity of the Law that accompanies the oral transmission of the heritage is the true transfer along the sole lineage of the successive high priests. The term konku sojo, which literally means “transmitting orally” is a traditional term that was used by high priests before Nichio. “Transmitting orally” obviously meant to transfer the school’s secret teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws orally or through documents. Since Nichio did not clearly define the transmission of the entity of the Law that is done after the phrase “oral transmission,” he left some room for various interpretations of what he meant by the transmission of the entity of the Law.

For instance, the current Taiseki-ji priesthood overly stresses the dignity of the high priest’s inner enlightenment and it understands the inheritance of the entity of the Law as his embodying the object of devotion. Not only that, the priesthood puts under the authority of the high priest the possibility for every individual to embody the object of devotion. The current priesthood of the Taiseki-ji School contends that, “The inheritance of the heritage by the successive high priests is called the inheritance of the entity of the Law. Because the high priest had inherited the entity of the Law, the entity of the Gohonzon, which is the soul of Nichiren Daishonin, is innate in the high priest’s inner enlightenment.”[38] The logic that “the entity of the Law equals Nichiren’s soul that also equals the entity of the object of devotion” is not erroneous because it is in accord with the school’s secret teaching of the oneness of the Person and the Law, in terms of the entity of the object of devotion. However, the priesthood is going beyond the boundary of Nichiren Buddhism in interpreting Nichio’s idea of the inheritance of the entity of the Law on the level of “embodying the entity of the object of devotion” and placing under the sole authority of the high priest the possibility of everyone embodying the object of devotion.

First of all, interpreting the inheritance of the entity of the Law as inheriting the entity of the object of devotion is opposed to Nichio’s idea of the inheritance of the entity of the Law — Nichio denoted the physical inheritance of the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary. In his “Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind,” Nichio writes, “The entity of the Law through the specific transmission indicates the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism that our temple keeps in secrecy.”[39] What Nichio called the inheritance of the entity of the Law was the fact that the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary that physically exists at Taiseki-ji had been preserved along the sole lineage of the successive high priests. Therefore, in the ensuing part of “Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind,” Nichio quotes in part “Articles Regarding the Succession of Nikko” (Nikko Ato Jojo no Koto), through which Nikko entrusted the administration of his school upon Nichimoku, “Nikko shall bestow upon Nichimoku the Dai-Gohonzon of the second year of Koan [1279] that was conferred upon me. It should be enshrined at Honmon-ji” (CC, Vol. 1, p. 9).[40]

Incidentally, in his thesis that Nichio contributed to The Way of the Law (Ho no Michi) magazine, he remarked, “This school inherits the heritage of the Law and preserves the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism whose inscription was the purpose of the Daishonin’s advent,” and “Their school does not possess the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism whose inscription was the great purpose of the Daishonin. They don’t have the heritage that stems directly from the Daishonin, either,” and “Inheriting the orthodox heritage of the Law through the lineage that originates from the Daishonin, this school preserves the school’s ultimate treasure, the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism, whose inscription was the great purpose of the Daishonin’s advent.”[41] Through these remarks by Nichio, we can sense his belief and pride in the fact that Taiseki-ji inherits the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism and preserves the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary. It is not improper to acknowledge that, due to such belief on his part, he put thekonku sojo (the inheritance of the Law along the succession of the high priests) and the hottai sojo (the mission to protect the Dai-Gohonzon) on the same level side by side. Furthermore, we can see in his writings the statement in which he compared the transfer history of the Taiseki-ji School (where the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary is regarded as the entity of the Law transmitted from one high priest to another) to the history of the Japanese imperial family (where sacred treasures were transferred from one emperor to another). Nichio’s idea of the transmission of the heritage of the Law is compared to the physical transmission of the sacred treasures.[42] In this sense, what Nichio meant by the transmission of the heritage of the Law was the transmission of the responsibility to physically preserve the ultimate treasure of the school, the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary.[43]

Based on Nichio’s theory of the entity of the Law, the priesthood cannot put under the sole authority of the inner enlightenment of the high priest, the possibility of every individual’s possibility to embody the object of devotion in his or her life. Doctrinally speaking, every individual can embody the object of devotion within by chanting daimoku to the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, with faith in it. This can happen regardless of the intent of the high priest. However, the viewpoint that the high priest can monopolize the entity of the Law, cause the power of the Gohonzon to arise by sharing his monopoly with the Gohonzon he transcribes, and thus cause believers to embody the object of devotion in their lives — if you believe in this viewpoint, it means you are accepting a non-Buddhist view and one-dimensional dogma. According to our study of the writings of Nichikan, the beneficial power of the object of devotion will materialize in accord with the power of faith and practice on the part of believers. When we say that the beneficial power of the object of devotion can be manifested in everybody’s life through the power of his or her faith and practice, our view is in accord with the nature of the Mystic Law that permeates the whole universe. The uniqueness of the role of the high priest lies not in his monopoly of the possibility of embodying the object of devotion, but in understanding the profound meaning of the object of devotion through his inheritance of the heritage and in providing a correct environment for believers to help them attain Buddhahood. However, the uniqueness of the role of the high priest has already vanished due to the revelation of the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws and the publication of the transfer documents of the object of devotion.

One thing I would like to add is that the uniqueness of the role that Nichiren played as the Lord of the Law in the Latter Day of the Law will never vanish as long as we read, understand, and implement the study of the writings of Nichikan. Nichikan writes that the possessor of complete enlightenment from the time without beginning, enlightenment that embodies the fusion of the reality and the wisdom, is limited only to Nichiren. In his “Exegesis on ‘The Entity of Life,” Nichikan discusses the original fusion of the reality and wisdom at the time without beginning, in view of the practice of faith, showing that, “Wisdom is the source of enlightenment. It refers to the mystic truth. Because one can replace wisdom with faith, wisdom equals faith” (CE, p. 571). Nichikan holds that no one other than Nichiren is capable of possessing the wisdom of “the original fusion of the reality and wisdom” that the original Buddha of limitless joy had acquired at the time without beginning that. However, Nichikan teaches that ordinary individuals in the Latter Day of the Law can achieve the same original Buddhahood of the fusion of the reality and wisdom by replacing the True Buddha’s wisdom with the power of faith.

In addition, Nichikan discusses the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies in his “Exegesis on ‘Taking the Essence of the Lotus Sutra,’” making a threefold classification of the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies. Namely, all people are (in theory) the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies, but in actuality, only those of Nichiren’s disciples who believe in the True Buddha who is eternally endowed with the three bodies are the Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies. Ultimately, however, Nichiren alone is the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies. In this regard, Nichikan writes:

“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 eternally endowed with the three bodies. Only Sage Nichiren is the ultimately enlightened Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies. In terms of the theory of the six stages of practice, all the people are in theory Buddhas eternally endowed with the three bodies and they are at the stage of being a Buddha in theory. Sage Nichiren’s disciples belong to the fourth stage of practice, that is, the stage of resemblance to enlightenment. Sage Nichiren’s being the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies means he is at the stage of ultimate enlightenment. Therefore, the Buddha of ultimate and perfect enlightenment whose original entity is eternally endowed with the three bodies is none other than Sage Nichiren Daishonin” (CE, p. 571).

In the above quote, Nichikan uses the traditional theory of the exoteric teachings to classify the Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies into two categories: one that is the cause-making Buddha and the other that is the accomplished Buddha. Nichikan asserts also that the ultimately enlightened Buddha eternally endowed with the three bodies is none other than Sage Nichiren. By using the term “ultimately enlightened” repeatedly, Nichikan may have wanted to stress that perfect enlightenment was Nichiren’s sole possession and that his disciples were still at the cause-making stage, their enlightenment being still partial.

It is true that two events (the revelation of the theoretical basis of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws and the publication of the Gohonzon transfer documents) have terminated the exclusiveness of the role of the high priest, but it does not mean the denial of the uniqueness of the True Buddha Nichiren. Modern priests and lay believers of Nichiren Buddhism are making their mentor-and-disciple relationship with Nichiren their driving force in the practice of faith. Ultimately, they seek to become one with the inner enlightenment of Nichiren, as they embody the object of devotion. In this pursuit lies the true world of faith where the equality of truth and the supremacy of the True Buddha are perfectly fused and the oneness of each person and the Law occurs.

8. Influence Over the Theory of the Treasure of the Priest

We here need to point out that the revelation of the theoretical basis of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws (that has been transmitted along the lineage of the successive high priests) has affected the interpretation of the treasure of the Priest in the discussion about the three treasures (the Buddha, the Law, and the Priest) that the Taiseki-ji School has been defining within its tradition.

The theory of the three treasures of the Taiseki-ji School was established by Nichikan. It is discussed in Nichikan’s “The Practices of This School” as “the three treasures of time without beginning.” According to Nichikan, the treasure of the Buddha of time without beginning is Nichiren, the treasure of the Law of time without beginning is the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, and the treasure of the Priest of time without beginning is Nikko Shonin. Again, according to Nichikan, these three treasures of time without beginning appear in the Latter Day of the Law to benefit the people. Nichikan advocated the three treasures of the Latter Day of the Law that should be distinguished from the three treasures of Shakyamuni’s time that can be drawn forth from the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra. To be precise, the three treasures of the Buddhism of Sowing in the Latter Day of the Law are: Nichiren who is the Buddha of limitless joy of time without beginning (the treasure of the Buddha), the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary (the treasure of the Law), and Nikko who succeeded Nichiren with the inheritance of the Law from Nichiren (the treasure of the Priest).

As to the treasure of the Priest of the Buddhism of Sowing in the Latter Day of the Law, Nichikan hints that the coverage of the treasure of the Priest can go beyond Nikko. In his “The Three Robes of This School” (Toke Sanne Sho), Nichikan writes, “Speaking about devotion to the Buddha, devotion to the Law, and devotion to the Priest …” and then he continues regarding the treasure of the Priest, “Devotion to Nikko Shonin, who is a great leader of the propagation of the essential teaching, head of all priests of ten thousand years in the Latter Day of the Law, the founder of Taiseki-ji, and the successor. Devotion to Nichimoku Shonin who is the lord of the chair of Jambudvipa and the propagator of the Law. Devotion to all the successive teachers who received the heritage of the Law” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 238). In this way, Nichikan refers to the treasure of the Priest with Nichimoku and all other successive high priests in sight. Furthermore, in his “On the Three Treasures,” Nichikan expands the idea of the treasure of the Priest by writing that, “The treasure of the Priest means Nikko Shonin. Because he is clearly the immediate successor of Nichiren Daishonin, we revere him as the treasure of the Priest of the Buddhism of sowing in the Latter Day of the Law. Also, Nichimoku, Nichido, and all the successive high priests comprise the treasure of the Priest. Moreover, all the priests of this school constitute the treasure of the Priest” (CC, Vol. 4, p. 390).

According to Nichikan, Nikko received the heritage of the Three Great Secret Laws directly from Sage Nichiren. He is foremost within the Taiseki-ji School as the treasure of the Priest of the Buddhism of sowing in the Latter Day of the Law. But in view of the time after Nikko, Nichimoku, the successive high priests, and even ordinary priests are counted as part of the treasure of the Priest within the Taiseki-ji School. What underlies Nichikan’s view of the treasure of the Priest is emphasis upon the meritorious deeds of inheriting or propagating the Law, regardless of the status of successors, propagators or inheritors. To justify the rationale of this viewpoint, Nichikan refers in “The Practices of This School” to the reason why Nikko is the treasure of the Priest, “The meritorious deed of the founder of Taiseki-ji who inherited and transmitted the heritage of the Law” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 214). It is also clear from the following statements by Nichikan in “On the Three Treasures” that his emphasis was on the meritorious deeds of the priests, not on their status as priests, “The act of inheriting and transmitting the heritage of the Law underlines the significance of the treasure of the Priest” (CC, Vol. 3, p. 214) and “Direct transmission along the lineage of the successive high priests forms the treasure of the Priest” (CC, Vol. 4, p. 372).

Based upon this point of emphasis in Nichikan’s view of the treasure of the Priest, we must consider (in addition to the high priest or other priests of the Taiseki-ji School) lay believers as part of the treasure of the Priest in modern times. This is especially true now that the theoretical basis of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws (that was previously only available among the successive high priests) can be grasped through the publication of The Six-Volume Writings and other transfer documents. For example, “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” was considered in Nichikan’s times to be the secret document that only the successive high priests were allowed to have access to, and other transfer documents are now also published and available to the public. This means that the significance of the exclusive role of the high priest who understands the formalities of the mandala Gohonzon has lost its basis. Lay believers were not included as part of the treasure of the Priest in “On the Three Treasures,” because in Nichikan’s time, lay believers generally had no access to the threefold secret transfer teachings and were regarded as ignorant. It is extremely anachronistic to measure the integrity in faith of lay believers today, who are well versed in the threefold secret transfer teachings, simply based upon the archaic image of lay believers during Nichikan’s time. The 56th high priest, Nichio, writes, “The heritage of this school is reasonably transmittable to either a layman or laywoman” (WSR, Vol. 27, p. 514). Since the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School is originally transferable even to a layman or laywoman, according to Nichio, it is only natural to regard lay believers as transmitters of the Law and hence to admit them into the realm of the treasure of the Priest.

In the past, the high priest monopolized the secret transfer teachings, sharing only part of them with other priests. Within the context of this tradition, there appeared a hierarchy among priests, where the notion that “the high priest is above all other priests” prevailed in the Fuji school. However, we live in an age where anybody can study The Six-Volume Writings that explains the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws (that had been transmitted previously only along the lineage of the successive high priests). Accordingly, aside from Nikko who is defined as the person who appeared in the Latter Day of the Law with his entity as the treasure of the Priest of time without beginning, we should not create a hierarchy in discussing the contents of the treasure of the Priest. We should not put the high priest above ordinary priests. Nor should we put lay believers in the bottom under the priesthood. In other words, in discussing the weight of the treasure of the Priest, evaluation should be made in terms of one’s meritorious deed for the Law, not in terms of one’s position in the hierarchy. And of course, any high priest who does not fulfill his responsibility for the propagation of the Law is not qualified to be part of the treasure of the Priest. In the “Twenty-six Admonitions of Nikko,” which is regarded as the highest ethical standard in the practice of faith within the Taiseki-ji School, Nikko writes about the fallibility of future high priests (chief administrators), “Do not follow even the high priest if he goes against the Buddha’s Law and propounds his own views” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 1618). As long as we have this article within “The Twenty-six Admonition of Nikko,” we cannot affix the meaning of the treasure of the Priest only to the high priest of Taiseki-ji.

Looking at the situation with the current priesthood of the Taiseki-ji School, it seems to me that Taiseki-ji priests are very much attached to the idea of giving a special place to the high priest as the treasure of the Priest, based upon its traditional premise that the high priest is in a position of guiding believers, while all other believers are in a position to be guided by the high priest. It is understandable that the Taiseki-ji School would try to put the high priest above ordinary priests and lay believers, since the high priest was (in the past) the only person who could inherit and transmit the Law. In those days, there was no possible revelation of the theoretical basis of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws — as it was transmitted solely along the lineage of the successive high priests. Under today’s circumstances, giving the position of the treasure of the Priest to the high priest opposes Nichikan’s rationale that entry into the world of the treasure of the Priest depends on one’s meritorious deeds for the propagation of the Law, not on the status one possesses in the hierarchy of the priesthood. Not only that, putting the high priest on such a pedestal could cause the destruction of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws.

Concretely speaking, the current priesthood of the Taiseki-ji School elucidates three ways of looking at the three treasures. They are the three treasures in terms of entity (ittai), separation (bettai), and actual existence (juji). By viewing them this way, the priesthood puts in the center the supremacy of the high priest, who takes the position of the treasure of the Priest in terms of juji. Based upon the philosophy of the oneness of the three treasures, the priesthood puts its ultimate emphasis on the supremacy of the high priest. What is problematic is overemphasis upon the high priests’ supremacy as the treasure of the Priest in terms of juji.

The Taiseki-ji School began an unprecedented emphasis upon the theory of the three treasures around the time when the danka (parishioner) system was adopted in Japan during the Edo Era. According to Mr. Masahiro Kobayashi, one source of this emphasis was Nisshun, who took office as high priest of the Taiseki-ji school in 1680, one year after each temple began to implement the danka system. He began to stress the theory of the three treasures, especially the treasure of the Priest. Nisshun wrote in his “First Preaching” (Shodo Seppo),[44] “Priests are the treasure of the Latter Day of the Law. They should be respected and cherished” and “The true treasure of the Priest should be limited to the descendants of the Buddha of the essential teaching of the ‘Life Span’ chapter or the future disciples of Nikko” (CC, Vol. 3, p. 81). In this way, Nisshun instructed temple believers to worship the successive high priests and other priests as the treasure of the Priest. Nisshun’s emphasis on the significance of the priesthood seems to have been adopted as a means to justify the new danka system, by forcing lay believers to revere the priests who reside close to them.

Incidentally, the classification of the three treasures in terms of oneness, separation, and existence was an ideology adopted by Buddhism in general. In terms of juji, the concept of the three treasures means the three treasures that will be perpetuated in this world.[45] One may conjure up images of priests who actually exist through the term juji. In addition, juji also means the chief priest of a temple. In this regard, juji is a term that is very convenient to enhance the priesthood. In any case, with the danka system in place, the theory of the three treasures as a means to enhance the priesthood came to be emphasized within the Taiseki-ji School.[46]

The 31st high priest, Nichiin, went on to state, “The entity of the priesthood of this school equals the three treasures of the Buddha, the Law, and the Priest” and “Making offerings to the treasure of the Priest is the same as making offerings to the Buddha” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 192). The Taiseki-ji School today advocates the worship of the priesthood in the spirit of the oneness of the three treasures that was stressed at the time of Nichiin. We are astounded at the fact that the current priesthood of the Taiseki-ji School has the same contention as Nichiin’s. Mr. Nikken Abe, at the nationwide teachers’ meeting held in August 1997, stated in conjunction with a passage from Nichikan’s “On the Three Treasures,” “That the Soka Gakkai’s despises the contemporary high priest as unworthy of worship should be said to be an act of great slander that opposes the spirit of the Daishonin and Nichikan Shonin who expounded the oneness of the three treasures.”[47] Mr. Abe’s contention is no different from that of Nichiin that “The entity of the priesthood of this school equals the three treasures of the Buddha, the Law, and the Priest.” Both elucidate the theory of the oneness of the three treasures to justify the worthiness of the priesthood.

In addition, when Mr. Abe advocates worshipping the high priest, based upon the theory of the oneness of the three treasures as introduced in “On the Three Treasures,” this is a case of deviation from the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism that should not be ignored. Nichikan teaches the meaning of the theory of the oneness of the three treasures as follows in “On the Three Treasures”:

“Question: Is any one of the three treasures superior or inferior to the other two? Answer: They should be distinguished from one another. As a matter of fact, they are one in terms of their entity. The entirety of the treasure of the Law is the treasure of the Buddha. Therefore, it is said that ichinen sanzen is equal to the Buddha of limitless joy. Also, it is said that the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds is the perfect Buddha. Also, since water in a vessel is transferred to another vessel, the mentor is one with the disciple. Therefore, the three treasures are one. The three treasures are not one, however, in terms of their appearance. Namely, the Buddha follows the Law as his mentor. The priest follows the Buddha as his mentor. Therefore, the treasure of the Law is enshrined in the center while the treasures of the Buddha and the Priest are placed in each side of the treasure of the Law” (CC, Vol. 4, p. 392–393).

According to Nichikan, the respective superiority of the three treasures of the Taiseki-ji School should be defined in the following order: the Law, the Buddha, and the Priest. However, he expounds the oneness of the three treasures as they share the same entity. Based upon this theory of the three treasures, the current priesthood of the Taiseki-ji School deviates when it follows Mr. Abe’s contention that the high priest who carries the significance of the treasure of the Priest (along with the heritage that he received based upon the lineage of the successive high priests) is in essence one with the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary (the treasure of the Law) and the True Buddha Nichiren (the treasure of the Buddha). However, the priest that is referred to in “On the Three Treasures” denotes the treasure of the Priest, or Nikko who is the treasure of the Priest of the Buddhism of sowing in the Latter Day of the Law. Their images are supposed to be enshrined alongside the mandala Gohonzon as an object of devotion. However, Mr. Abe uses Nichikan’s words where Nikkan discussed the oneness of the three treasures as an object of devotion, and thus forces believers to worship him. Mr. Abe’s action should be said to be an awful case of deviation from and misinterpretation of the writings of Nichikan.[48]

In “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law,” Nichikan writes, “How can it be said that the successor (hosho) is always free from making any mistakes?” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 142). The successor in this statement by Nichikan, concretely speaking, points to Nichidai who was given the responsibility of the chief priest of the Omosu lodging temple. Through the above statement Nichikan may have tried to expound that the authority of the legitimate successor including the chief priest of Taiseki-ji was not absolute. In “The Practices of This School,” Nichikan states that Nikko, receiving the “Two Transfer Documents,” became the successor or chief administrator of Mount Minobu (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 215). Nichikan also quoted from Sakyo Nikkyo’s “My Personal Views,” “Nichiren Shonin designated his successor at the time of his passing. Since then, his successive successors transferred the heritage to their next successor. The entity of the Gohonzon is now embodied by the current high priest of Taiseki-ji” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 309). According to this statement quoted by Nichikan, Nichikan viewed the role of high priest, or the role of the chief priest of Taiseki-ji, on the same level as the successor of Mount Minobu, or the chief administrator of Mount Minobu. In this light, it is fully possible to perceive that Nichikan held that the legitimate successor including the chief priest of Taiseki-ji could make an erroneous interpretation of Nichiren Buddhism. If we should include the successive chief administrators of Taiseki-ji in Nichikan’s theory of the oneness of the three treasures, we may contradict with Nichikan’s remark in “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law” that “How can it be said that the successor (hosho) is always free from making any mistakes?”

In view of the tradition of the Taiseki-ji School, it may be permissible to try to acknowledge the dignity of the high priest within the context of the oneness of the three treasures, when he is truly devoted to transmitting the Law.[49] Even so, it is opposed to the reality surrounding Nichiren Buddhism and the Taiseki-ji School today to insist on the supreme dignity of the high priest, within the context of the high priest’s being on the same level of the treasures of the Law and the Buddha. Today, we live in an age where both priests and lay believers can understand with faith the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that only the successive high priests had access to in the past. They can also read openly the published version of the transfer documents of the object of devotion and fulfill their mission to transmit the Law to others on their own volition. If you suppose that transmitting and propagating the Law constitute both sides of a coin, the actual transmitter of Nichiren Buddhism in modern times is none other than the Soka Gakkai, who proclaims and propagates the Three Great Secret Laws throughout the world.

It must be the lay believers of the Soka Gakkai who deserve the kind of respect that corresponds to the theory of the oneness of the three treasures. If the priests of the Taiseki-ji School maintain their rigid attitude in which they (still clinging to the remnants of the old danka system) claim that “Because the three treasures are one in essence, you should respect and worship the high priest of the time,” they are actually denying Nichikan’s rationale that one’s meritorious deed is the basis for one’s being part of the treasure of the Priest. The current Taiseki-ji School must realize that it has arrived at the point where it should establish a new theory of the treasure of the Priest, one where emphasis is upon one’s ability to transmit and propagate the Law, while maintaining its traditional belief that Nikko is the treasure of the Priest of time without beginning.

Conclusion

The heritage of Nichiren Buddhism that had been transmitted along the lineage of the successive high priests was sacred and indispensable in the past for the practice of faith on the part of the priests and lay believers of the Taiseki-ji School. It has been frequently contended that because of the traditional transmission of the heritage from one high priest to another, the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, the fundamental object of devotion in faith had been preserved, the Taiseki-ji School’s unique teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws (that constitutes the basis of faith and creed for the school’s priests and lay believers) had been upheld, and various doctrines that were necessary for the transcription of the Gohonzon had been carefully handed down.

However, as I showed in my first thesis, regardless of how these contentions match the historical facts of the Taiseki-ji School, it should be pointed out that things have dramatically changed in view of the environment that surrounds the Taiseki-ji School today. The Fuji School’s study of its traditional transfer documents began to be enhanced under the auspices of the 24th high priest, Nichiei, and other ensuing high priests. The 26th high priest, Nichikan, made a revelation of the theoretical basis of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that had been considered to be the secret teaching that only the successive high priests of the school had access to. Furthermore, the Taiseki-ji School found itself in the environment where the 59th high priest, Nichiko, published the school’s secret transfer documents and exposed them to the public. After World War II, the Soka Gakkai carried out a massive movement in which its members had the opportunity to freely study Nichikan’s writings and other secret transfer documents of the Taiseki-ji School. As a result, the Taiseki-ji School today finds itself in a situation where the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws has already been widely publicized and the sole transmission and inheritance of the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws along the lineage of the high priests carries no special significance today.

At the same time, the high priest’s role in transcribing the Gohonzon, which is part of his practice for others,[50] has come to an end, due to the enormous increase in the number of lay believers and the fast development of printing technology. Consequently, various explanations of the Taiseki-ji doctrine regarding the procedure to transcribe the Gohonzon were no longer indispensable to the practice of faith on the part of the priests and lay believers of the Taiseki-ji School. Nichikan regarded “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” and “The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon” as the secret transfer documents that only the successive high priests could have access to. In modern times, all these documents are already exposed to the public through Nichiko’s publication of them. And even if there are some unlisted items regarding important matters concerning the Gohonzon,[51] we have already entered into an age where they do not function as a vital element that justifies the exclusive transmission of the heritage along the lineage of the successive high priests.

Under the circumstances where the theoretical basis for the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws has been revealed to the public, the secret transfer documents of the Gohonzon have been published, and the high priest’s involvement in the transcription of the Gohonzon has not been required, we don’t find any reason why we should continue to entrust the protection of the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary solely upon the high priest. It is only natural that we move in the direction where the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary will be preserved by the entire Buddhist Order.

In conclusion, the meaning in faith of the transmission of the entity of the Law from one high priest to another has vanished in every sense.[52] The myth of the Taiseki-ji School that there are the secret teachings that only the high priest knows, the myth that was created in the Edo Era, is about to collapse. The emergence of such an environment in faith in the modern day Taiseki-ji School has made it possible for lay believers to embody the object of devotion without involving the high priest and other priests. It is now clear that the high priest’s inheritance of the entity of the Law lies in protecting the Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary. We have also developed the perspective that the treasure of the Priest, headed up by Nikko, should be evaluated in view of one’s ability to transmit and propagate the Law, not in view of one’s status in a religious hierarchy.

Considering the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism, we are living in an era where the heritage of faith is what counts most. I often come across Nichiren Shoshu believers who insist that “Even if you stress the heritage of faith more than anything else, it is the high priest who determines if one’s faith is correct or not.” Beneath such a contention lies the endorsement of the myth that there are the secret teachings that only the high priest knows. However, today, Taiseki-ji’s teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws has been exposed to the public, and this myth has collapsed. The only standard with which to determine in the Taiseki-ji School if one’s faith is correct or not solely depends on whether or not it is in accord with Nichiren’s writings. Faith in direct connection with Nichiren is what we should seek. The current priesthood of the Taiseki-ji School is extremely insensitive to the facts that the surrounding environment has dramatically changed and that the medieval surroundings Taiseki-ji once had are no more existent. The school’s insensitivity and foolishness are so comical that they can be compared to a group of samurais with their hair done up and in old-fashioned dress, isolating themselves from the mainstream society in modern times. It seems that the Taiseki-ji School is attempting to force a magnificent global organization to follow it with absolute obedience, using the obsolete hierarchical logic of the Edo Era to justify all unreasonable actions that they have taken. The doctrinal dispute between the Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu seems to me a dispute over the difference between their respective conceptions of the reality of the time we live in today. Disputed issues include whether we should acknowledge as legitimate those current priests of the Taiseki-ji School who are living a married existence, eating meat, possessing personal assets, receiving monthly salaries and periodic bonuses from their temple’s accounting system, and conducting only religious rituals without also propagating the Law. Our interest in how we should perceive the reality of the time is a short cut in grasping the essence of the dispute between the Soka Gakkai and the current Nichiren Shoshu.


Footnotes

  1. The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, Vol. 1, p. 107.
  2. The World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings, Vol. 2, p. 182.
  3. The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism that Nichiren inscribed on October 12, 1279, came to be defined in the Taiseki-ji School in the Edo Era as the ultimate Gohonzon among many other original Gohonzon by Nichiren. This definition is still upheld even today in the Taiseki-ji School.
  4. The History of Fuji School’s Believers and Its Teachings (Fuji Monto no Enkaku to Kyogi), Saichiro Matsumoto, Taisei Shuppan Sha, 1968, p. 95. Nichikan’s “On the Three Treasures” also reads, “The One Great Secret Law was not transferred to the other five senior priests, much less to all other priests under them. It was transferred only to Nikko. Hence it is called the sole transmission of the Law from one individual to another” (CC, Vol. 4, p. 385).
  5. In this thesis, the entirety of the transmission from one chief administrator to another including the transfer of the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary as a treasure of the school is called yuiju ichinin sojo (the transmission of the heritage only from one high priest to another). The oral transmission of the teaching or its transmission through written documents is called konku sojo. Konku means the Buddha’s mouth or his teachings.
  6. As I cited in this thesis, “The Accounts of Teacher Nichiu” (Yushi Dansho Monsho) reads, “There are seven important and fourteen vital, orally transmitted teachings of the object of devotion” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 160). Whether these seven important points of the object of devotion cannot be automatically determined as part of the contents of the teachings transmitted orally only from one high priest to another, the first document that clearly mentioned that these seven orally transmitted teachings of the object of devotion constitute the teachings transmitted orally from one high priest to another was “On the Profound Transmission of This School” (Toke Jinjin no Sojo no Koto) by Nissei, the 17th high priest.
  7. As I mentioned in my first thesis, the authenticity of Nichiji’s copy of “On the True Cause” is not fully proven.
  8. The current priesthood of the Taiseki-ji School contends that Nissei, in his Chronology of Nichiren Shonin (Nichiren Shonin Nenpu) refuted Nisshin’s view of the object of devotion. This contention by the priesthood is a very misleading interpretation of the historical data. I would like to take up this subject in a different thesis in the future, but in thisChronology of Nichiren Shonin, Nissei opposes “Kai Sho,” in which the object of devotion just in terms of the Law is emphasized with the statement that “We should designate the Lotus Sutra as the object of devotion” on the basis of Nisshin’s theory that the Dai-Gohonzon is the Gohonzon for the general while other Gohonzon (where the Person is Shakyamuni who attained Buddhahood in the remote past and the Law is the actual Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) are for the specific” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 118). However, Nisshin’s view of the object of devotion does not lead to the clarification of the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion that the Taiseki-ji School regards as the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism. Therefore, Nichiko Hori commented on Nisshin’s view of the object of devotion that Nissei adopted as it is, stating, “Teacher Nisshin’s view of the object of devotion in terms of the Law in both general and specific sense does not capture the Fuji School’s correct teaching” (ibid., p. 118). Adoption of Nisshin’s idea of regarding Shakyamuni who attained enlightenment in the remote past as the object of devotion in terms of the Person leads to the Nichiren = True Buddha teaching. Therefore, Nichiko made another comment, “Teacher Nisshin’s building Shakyamuni’s statues is a wrong teaching that is manifested in his view of the meaning the object of devotion. We should not be misled by his teaching” (ibid., p. 118).
  9. Right after this quote, Nichikan states, “Since this teaching does not sway myself, I do not refute it.” This expression on the part of Nichikan seems to show humbleness toward his seniors in faith who were swayed by Nisshin’s doctrines. I can say this because in his “Excerpts of This School’s Principle” (Toke Hosokumon Bassho), Nichikan cites the part where Nissei discusses his view of the object of devotion and the practice of faith that was based upon Nisshin’s view, criticizing it indirectly, “Teacher Nissei was confused by another school’s view. His is the same as Nisshin’s view. Therefore, Teacher Nissei’s view is not in accord with the original teaching of this school” and “Teacher Nissei’s view in this regard is also based upon another school’s view. It is not a correct view” (WSR, Vol. 9, pp. 757 and 763). This statement by Nichikan shows Nichikan’s negative reaction to Nissei’s confusion with another school’s view. It is one piece of evidence that shows Nichikan was concerned about the negative influence of the Nisshin doctrine within the Taiseki-ji school.
  10. The document titled Zuigiron gives the impression that Nissei wrote this document to advocate the creation of Shakyamuni’s statues as an expedient means of faith. Nichiko, however, comments, “Somebody may have given the title to this document since it did not have any title” (EWFS, Vol. 9, p. 69). From this statement by Nichiko, we can tell that Nissei’s original of this document did not carry any title. The person who titled this document as Zuigiron may have intended to justify Nissei’s theory of building Shakyamuni’s statues as part of the legitimate theoretical teaching.
  11. The current Nichiren Shoshu rebuts my view, stating “Nichijun, second study head of the Omosu Seminary, as many as three hundred fifty years earlier than Nichikan, referred to the teaching of ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter” by quoting him from “Commentary on ‘On the True Cause,’” “The actual and theoretical ichinen sanzen, the Law hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter shall be eternally the True Law for the time of the Latter Day” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 70) and “The actual ichinen sanzen that is so true and solely brilliant is the mystic principle of enlightenment” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 72) (from Refuting Former Nichiren Shoshu Priest Yumo Matsuoka’s Slanderous Remark of the Heritage of Nichiren Shoshu That Has Been Transmitted Solely Along the Lineage of the Successive High Priests of This School, compiled by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, written by Youthful Priests’ Group Formed to Refute Slanderous Views, and published by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office in 2005, pp. 55–56). However, as I discussed in my first thesis, there is no powerful basis to assert that “Commentary on ‘On the True Cause’” was authored by Nichijun. In the two quotes cited by the current Nichiren Shoshu, Nichijun only mentions the title of the actual ichinen sanzen without delving into the meaning of the actual ichinen sanzen hidden in the depths of the “Life Span” chapter and the reason why the ichinen sanzen expounded in the “Life Span” chapter is regarded as “actual.”
  12. While the current Nichiren Shoshu prefers to keep Nichiren Buddhism as a secret teaching within the life of its high priest, it seems to want to interpret Nichikan’s revelation in “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths” not as an ultimate revelation. However, by analyzing the terms he is using at the very beginning of “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths,” he is clearly saying that “I will now reveal the ultimate, core teaching of the Taiseki-ji School.” And he went on to reveal in a systematic manner the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that was looked upon as the ultimate secret teaching of the Taiseki-ji School.
  13. As we look at what was expounded in Nikko schools other than the Taiseki-ji School, we can tell that Nichiyo and Nichiga of Myohon-ji in Hota, advocated the teaching that Nichiren is the True Buddha even before Nichikan did. For instance, in “Draft of Six Senior Priests’ Teachings,” Nichiyo wrote, “The unprecedented great mandala means the object of devotion of the Latter Day. This object of devotion is the Sage himself” (EWFS, Vol. 4, p. 71). In “Excerpts from ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,’” Nichikan writes, “The object of devotion for perceiving one’s mind in the Buddhism of Harvesting is Shakyamuni. The object of devotion for perceiving one’s mind in the Buddhism of Maturing is T’ien-t’ai and the object of devotion in the Buddhism of Sowing is Nichiren. … [When it comes to the object of devotion in the Buddhism of Sowing,] Shakyamuni Buddha of the Buddhism of Harvesting, Many Treasures Buddha, and leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth attend to “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo-Nichiren” that contains all phenomena. The meaning of the object of devotion for perceiving one’s mind lies in perceiving that all the sacred ten worlds depicted in this object of devotion are innate in “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo-Nichiren” (EWFS, Vol. 4, p. 139). Nichiko Hori states, “The theory harbored by Teacher Nichiu became the theory of Teacher Nichikan. Before reaching Teacher Nichikan, the theory of Teacher Nichiu reached Boshu, where Nichiyo and Nichiga adopted Teacher Nichu’s theory as their own” (“Comment on Essential Writings of the Fuji School,” part 4, Daibyakurenge #97, June 1959, p. 32). It is said that while Nichiyo and Nichiga were closely related in their study to the teaching of the Taiseki-ji School, their theories gave influence to the Nichikan theory
  14. In “On the Origin” (Genshi Sho) that he wrote when he was the study head of the Taiseki-ji School, Nichikan explains the idea of “different in name but same in entity” between Shakyamuni and Nichiren, “The Lord Shakyamuni of the Essential Teaching is the Lord of the teaching of the true cause. The Lord Shakyamuni of the true cause is Sage Nichiren Daishonin. Therefore, ‘The Transfer Document’ (Kechimyaku Sho) reads, ‘The lord of the teaching of the true cause, who is Nichiren.’ This is what is called the object of devotion that is ‘different in name but same in entity.’ Although Shakyamuni and Nichiren are two different names, they share the same entity as the Lord of the teaching of the true cause” (WSR, Vol. 10, p. 228).
  15. The 17th high priest Nissei may have been under the influence of other schools in terms of the way he transcribed the Gohonzon, for Mr. “Hoshin” introduced on the Internet a photo of a part of Nissei’s Gohonzon where Nissei put his own name under “Nichiren Zai-gohan” while putting the words “Nikko Shonin” just below and to the left of “Nichiren.” This type of transcription of the Gohonzon is unheard-of in the Taiseki-ji School.
  16. “ClarifyingIllusion and Observing One’s Mind,” (Nichio Oishi, Dai-Nichiren Editorial Office, 1971, first edition in 1894, p. 158).
  17. Other than Nichiei, we can think of the 25th high priest, Nichiyu, who is considered to have given influence upon Nichikan’s view of the oneness of the Person and the Law as his predecessor. In his “Comment on ‘The Object of Devotion,” Nichiyu describes, “The Person that gains the Law and the Law that gains the Person constitute the object of devotion that is the entity of the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds,” “While putting aside the object of devotion of the theoretical ichinen sanzen of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism of Harvesting that features the superficial magnificence of the Buddha’s appearance, we should select the object of devotion of the actual ichinen sanzen of the Buddhism of Sowing in the Latter Day of the Law that, embodying oneness of the Person and the Law, is hidden in the depths of the ‘Life Span’ chapter” (CC, Vol. 3, pp. 378–384). In this way, Nichiyu stresses the oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion. However, it is not known when the “Comment on ‘The Object of Devotion” was written, and this writing by Nichiyu sounds so similar to the Nichikan doctrine. Also, Nichiyu was four years younger than Nichikan, and he lived three years longer than Nichikan, which we can see through The Chronology of the Fuji School (Fuji Nenpyo). If so, it is possible, conversely speaking, that Nichiyu was the one who was under the influence of the Nichikan doctrine and put his theory of oneness of the Person and the Law in terms of the object of devotion in his “Comment on ‘The Object of Devotion.’” In this connection, we cannot assert how they influenced each other.
  18. For instance, Nichikan gave some credit to Nichiga’s understanding of Nichiren Buddhism in “Commentary on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,’” “The ultimate teaching of this school is beyond the comprehension of other schools since it has been transmitted only in our school. … However, Nichiga in Boshu alone is aware of the outline of our ultimate teaching even though his explanation of our ultimate teaching is not perfect in the strict sense.”
  19. The Biography of High Priest Nichikan (Nichikan Shonin Den), Study Department of the Administrative Office of Nichiren Shoshu, 1975, p. 51.
  20. The current Nichiren Shoshu insists that “The Six-Volume Writings is, specifically speaking, a vital transfer document that was transmitted from one high priest to another along the lineage of the Taiseki-ji School but that it was, generally speaking, exposed obviously to other individuals. So insisting, the current Nichiren Shoshu disagrees with my theory which I based upon the 48th high priest Nichiryo’s Biography of Nichikan that The Six-Volume Writings was a secret document of the Taiseki-ji School (Criticism of Theory of Disclosed Heritage, p. 90). It may be true that manuscripts of The Six-Volume Writings were rarely allowed to be viewed by individuals other than high priests. Nichiko Hori writes in “General Preface to Interpretations of The Six-Volume Writings,” “When Nichikan’s lectures as study head were collected to make a book of The Six-Volume Writings, their manuscripts may have been allowed to be viewed by some student priests” (EWFS, Vol. 3, p. 2). As Nichiko conjectures here, we can sense that even the manuscripts ofThe Six-Volume Writings were strictly kept in secret. In this regard, there is no telling whether The Six-Volume Writings was openly disclosed to regular priests for their education. The current Nichiren Shoshu also states, showing the existence of a recopy of “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law” (part of The Six-Volume Writings), which was created by an ordinary priest in 1803, seventy-eight years after the completion of The Six-Volume Writings, “This indicates that in those days Nichiren Shoshu regular priests were allowed to see and study The Six-Volume Writings” (Criticism of Theory of Disclosed Heritage, p. 90). This position by the current Nichiren Shoshu is extremely illogical. A mere existence of a recopy of the manuscript of one of the six documents of The Six-Volume Writings does not justify at all the current Nichiren Shoshu’s claim that the priests of the Taiseki-ji School were engaged in opening, viewing, and studying The Six-Volume Writings. Not only that, the recopy was created as many as seventy-eight years after the completion of The Six-Volume Writings. Disregarding the gap of seventy-eight years is no different from identifying the current Nichiren Shoshu as the Nichiren Shoshu of the beginning of the Showa Era. Conclusively speaking, the following view by Nichiko Hori sounds very correct to me: “This document [The Six-Volume Writings] and ‘Commentary on “The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind”’ were the secret transfer documents that were never exposed to the world outside the Taiseki-ji School, but as the time went by, they began to be copied and disclosed gradually without notice” (Nichiren Shoshu Doctrines by Jirin Hori, published by Sessen Shobo in 1922, p. 67). The recopy of “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law” [that is part of The Six-Volume Writings] was a very minor reference material that even Nichiko did not pay any attention to. The current Nichiren Shoshu’s reference to the existence of this recopy is way off the mainstream discussion about the original nature of The Six-Volume Writing.
  21. Data for the Teaching of the Object of Devotion (Honzon Ron Shiryo), published Sozan Gakuin Shuppanbu in 1909, pp. 367–370.
  22. Ibid., p. 364.
  23. Data for the Teaching of the Object of Devotion, p. 365.
  24. The Basic Teachings of Nichiren Shoshu (Nichiren Shoshu Koyo), Jirin Hori, Sessen Shobo, 1922, pp. 67–68.
  25. As to the publication matter of the Taiseki-ji School, I referred to The List of Books and Magazines Published by the Fuji School after the Meiji Period (Meiji Iko Shunai Shoseki Zasshi Somokuroku), Wato Editorial Office, 1971.
  26. “Hearing from Hori Shonin about the History of the Fuji School, Part 1” (Hori Shonin ni Fuji Shumonshi o Kiku), Part 1, Daibyakurenge, #66, November 1956, p. 21.
  27. Hatakege Diary by Kiyosumi Takeo, published in 1980, p. 37.
  28. Mr. Jisai Watanabe’s “Nichiren Shoshu Rokujitsu no Shin’in” (Daisan Bunmei Sha, 2000, pp. 82–90) is a good reference material for knowing the environment where Nichiko, with support from the Soka Gakkai, engaged himself to republishing The Essential Works of the Fuji School and helping edit and publish The Collected Writings of Nichiren Daishonin after World War II. The author,  Mr. Watanabe, was Nichiko’s secretary in those days and lived together with him to assist him.
  29. The Biographies of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda (Nenpu Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda), Daisan Bunmei Sha, 1993, p. 370.
  30. Great Dictionary of Buddhist Philosophy (Bukkyo Tetsugaku Daijiten), Soka Gakkai, 2000, p. 573.
  31. In his reference to the manifold transfer, Nichikan cites, aside from “The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion,” “Transfer Teaching of Bright Start Pond” (Myojo Chokken no Denju) that is included in the added three articles within the current “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” From this we can see that Nichikan treated the seven main articles of “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” and the added three articles separately. In that case, the two articles (other than “Transfer Teaching of Bright Star Pond”) which read in part, “‘After the Buddha’s demise’ should be written down …’” and “‘Nichiren with his signature’ and the ‘signature of the transcriber should be mentioned,’” must have had a title, which corresponds to the transfer document of “Important Points for Transcribing Gohonzon” (Hippo no Daiji). Incidentally, in “Reference Materials for the Object of Devotion” (Honzon Shiryo Hen) published by Kuon-ji Temple of the Minobu sect, the part that starts with “As to the transcription of the object of devotion” can be justifiably considered to be an added part that constitutes “Important Points for Transcribing Gohonzon.” As for the threefold transfer teachings, they refer to the threefold transfer teaching regarding the object of devotion. It seems reasonable to consider that they correspond to the “The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon.” Great Dictionary of Buddhist Philosophy, New Edition (Shinpan Bukkyo Tetsugaku Daijiten, Study Department of the Soka Gakkai, 1985), clearly states that the threefold transfer teaching refers to “The Transmission of Three Points on the Gohonzon.” In those days, the priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu did not oppose this view of the Gakkai’s.
  32. The Biography of High Priest Nichikan (Nichikan Shonin Den), pp. 64–65.
  33. The Basic Teachings of Nichiren Shoshu (Nichiren Shoshu Yogi), Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, 1978, p. 201, reads, “The profound significance of the object of devotion shall be transferred from one high priest to another just as the water of the Law in one vessel is transferred to another for the eternal propagation of the Law. Therefore, with the permission from the high priest of the time, any Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin in either format, comprehensive or abbreviated, during any one of the time period whether in Bun’ei, Kenji or Ko’an, is the Gohonzon that, based upon the ultimate Dai-Gohonzon, enables all people to attain Buddhahood in their present form for the present and for the future.” Since the Three Great Secret Laws that constitute the core of the profound significance of the object of devotion has been theoretically revealed to the public, the description within The Important Teachings of Nichiren Shoshu (Nichiren Shoshu Yogi), that is, “with the permission from the high priest of the time” may have to be replaced with the expression “in accord with our understanding of the Three Great Secret Laws that has been transmitted orally or through documents from one high priest to another.”
  34. The Doctrinal History of the Nichiren Sect, Vol. 2, p. 43.
  35. In the Taiseki-ji School of the Meiji Era, new believers seemed to be first temporarily given a katagi (woodblock) Gohonzon and become qualified after a couple of years later to receive a Joju-Gohonzon that was transcribed by a high priest’s own hand, should their faith be acknowledged to be firm by the priesthood. More details of this point are referred to in the third thesis.
  36. “Tokubetsu Okatagi Gohonzon” was bestowed by Taiseki-ji upon the Soka Gakkai, and its conferral ceremony was conducted at Gakkai’s facilities instead of Nichiren Shoshu temples. According to the Seikyo Shimbun, the first conferral ceremony of the Tokubetsu Okatagi Gohonzon was conducted at the Soka Gakkai headquarter building and Soka Gakkai Culture Center in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, on December 14, 1975. Nowadays, the name “Tokubetsu Okatagi Gohonzon (special woodblock Gohonzon)” is called “Tokuso Gohonzon (specially-mounted Gohonzon)” in the Soka Gakkai.
  37. “ClarifyingIllusion and Observing One’s Mind,” pp. 211–212.
  38. This Much the Soka Gakkai Is Wrong (Soka Gakkai to Iutokoro wa Konnani Machigatte Iru), Taiseki-ji, 2000, p. 18.
  39. “ClarifyingIllusion and Observing One’s Mind,” p. 212.
  40. “Nikko shall bestow upon Nichimoku the Dai-Gohonzon of the second year of Koan [1279] that was conferred upon me. It should be enshrined at Honmon-ji.” From this statement we can figure out that Nichiren assigned Nikko to protect the Dai-Gohonzon.
  41. “Regarding What Is Called Unification” by Jikan Tsuchiya, The Way of the Law (Ho no Michi), Hodo Kai of Nichiren Shoshu, March 1903, pp. 5, 6, 8.
  42. The Way of the Law (Ho no Michi), Hodo Kai of Nichiren Shoshu, April 1903, pp. 17–18.
  43. The current Nichiren Shoshu seems intent on interpreting Nichio’s theory of the transmission of the entity of the Law as the transmission of the entity of the object of devotion. Nichio states, “The entity of the Law specifically entrusted to the successive high priests is the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism kept in secrecy at our temple” (“ClarifyingIllusion and Observing One’s Mind,” p. 212). Regarding this statement by Nichio, the current Nichiren Shoshu interprets it as meaning “High Priest Nichio’s statement indicates that the entity of the Law denotes in an explicit sense the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of True Buddhism, while it means, in an implicit sense, what is hidden in the inner enlightenment of the high priest” (Criticism of Theory of Disclosed Heritage, p. 152). The current Nichiren Shoshu’s interpretation of the above statement of Nichio is a case of total disregard of the context where it was made. This position taken by the current Nichiren Shoshu is indicative of its inclination toward “esoteric Nichiren Buddhism,” the type of Buddhism that Nichiren did not intend to expound. Nichio also states, “The same is true with the case of the Founder Daishonin. Nikko Shonin was unsurpassed in his understanding of the original entity of the life of Nichiren Daishonin. Nichimoku Shonin was unsurpassed in his understanding of Buddhism among all the disciples of Nikko Shonin. Nichido Shonin was most outstanding among the all the disciples of Nichimoku Shonin. The successive high priests who inherited the water of the Law along the lineage of this school are equal to Nichiren Daishonin. The entity of the Law has been thus kept in the depths of the lives of the successive high priests” (“Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind,” p. 96). Using this passage as the basis of its contention, the current Nichiren Shoshu claims, “Nichio Shonin clearly teaches that the entity of the Law has been transmitted from one high priest to another in the form of his inner enlightenment” (Criticism of Theory of Disclosed Heritage, p. 152). Importantly, however, what Nichio means by the above statement and what the current Nichiren Shoshu contends are two different things. What Nichio emphasized was the profound teaching where one reveres Nichiren as the True Buddha. Namely, Nichio referred to the meaning of “the successive high priests’ being equal to Nichiren” within the context of his contention that the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji alone have been inheriting the doctrine of “Nichiren being the True Buddha,” not within the context of the idea that the entity of the Gohonzon exists within the inner enlightenment of the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji. As I observed in my first thesis, the theory of “the successive high priests being equal to Nichiren” within the Taiseki-ji School has two kinds; one that stems from the ninth high priest Nichiu’s thought where faith counts and the other that stems from Sakyo Nikkyo’s teaching of the absolutism of the high priest. Nichio’s position toward the theory of “the successive high priests being equal to Nichiren” comes from Nichiu’s faith-transmission theory. Hence in the same writing, Nichio proudly proclaims that within the Taiseki-ji School even acolytes maintain correct faith in the point that Nichiren is the True Buddha. Taking into account the fact that Nichio was a chief administrator of Taiseki-ji in modern times, however, we cannot simply deny that the transmission theory of Sakyo Nikkyo that the high priest embodies the entity of the Gohonzon may have been mixed up within Nichio’s understanding of Nichiren Buddhism. However, Nichio’s reference to the idea of “the successive high priests being equal to Nichiren” should be understood within the context of the faith-oriented transmission theory that is derived from Nichiu’s thought.
  44. Thoughts of the Temple Issue (Shumon Mondai o Kangaeru),Masahiro Kobayashi, Daisanbunmei Sha, p. 1991, p. 130.
  45. Great Dictionary of Buddhist Terms (Buppo Yogo Dai-Jiten), Hajime Nakamura, Tokyo Shoseki, 1981, p. 665.
  46. Let me add that Nichikan, in his “On the Three Treasures,” discusses the three treasures in terms of the priesthood. What is characteristic of Nichikan is his emphasis on the view that “The three treasures of beginningless time have now appeared in the Latter Day of the Law” (CC, Vol. 4, p. 371). Since the treasure of the Priest in terms of the priesthood carries the meaning of his appearance in the Latter Day of the Law, we can say that the treasure of the Priest even in terms of the priesthood denotes, in essence, only Nikko, who, as the treasure of the Priest of beginningless time, appeared in the Latter Day of the Law. Of course, in this writing, Nichikan includes within the significance of the treasure of the Priest the successive high priests and other priests of the Taiseki-ji school. However, it is too much to give the high priests and other priests the significance of the emergence of the treasure of the Priest of beginningless time. In other words, Nichikan’s inclusion of the high priests and other priests within the domain of the treasure of the Priest is an extension of his emphasis upon the role played by Nikko as the real treasure of the Priest. In this way, Nichikan distinguished Nikko from other high priests and ordinary priests since he acknowledges Nikko as the treasure of the Priest of beginningless time in his discussion about the treasure of the Priest in terms of the priesthood in general. From this we can see that Nichikan did not have an intention, as Nisshun and others did, to demand lay believers to worship the priesthood.
  47. Refuting Soka Gakkai’s Slander Views That Destroy Buddhism (Soka Gakkai no Buppo Hakai no Janan o Funsai su), Nikken Abe, Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, 1997, p. 218.
  48. I would like to address this subject from another perspective: what is a necessary element to justify the theory of the oneness of the three treasures? According to Nichikan’s “On the Three Treasures,” the three treasures are one in terms of their inner entity, but they are different in terms of their appearance. In this view, we cannot argue the oneness of the three treasures in terms of their inner entity independently and in disregard of their outer differences. In other words, in this view, the outer appearance and the inner entity are the “front and back of the three treasures.” When we focus on the outer difference, we can say, “The Buddha makes the Law his mentor, and the priest makes the Buddha his mentor.” Put another way, unless the Buddha makes the correct Law his mentor, and also unless the priest makes the correct Buddha his mentor, the idea of the oneness of the three treasures in terms of the inner enlightenment cannot be justified. In this regard, the axle that is a requisite to achieve the oneness of the three treasures is the Law. The priest who is opposed to the Law does not meet a condition that is necessary for the fulfillment of the oneness of the three treasures. Therefore, such a priest is not achieving the oneness of the three treasures in his life-condition. Nikken, however, skillfully hiding the necessary conditions for the oneness of the three treasures, fabricated a theory that “Any (high) priest embodies the oneness of the three treasures; and he is equal to the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary (Law) and Nichiren (Buddha). This means Nikken’s elucidation of a new theory with regards to the oneness of the three treasures, a theory where the current high priest plays a chief role. In this theory, the current Nichiren Shoshu takes the position that since the three treasures are one, the current high priest’s interpretation of the teaching is always correct and absolute. In this theory, obviously, Nikken Abe and his cohorts abuse the fact that Nichiren (the treasure of the Buddha), the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary (the treasure of the Law) and Nikko (the treasure of the Priest) are all “silent” existences. The essence of the matter lies in the fact that the current high priest, who is no more than a part of the treasure of the Priest, is the only one who can “speak out.” Under such circumstances, the current high priest, armed with the authority of the oneness of the three treasures, can use the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary at his own discretion, and interpret to suit his needs Nichiren’s writings and the teachings of Nikko and other successive high priests. The three treasures, that have no ability to speak, cannot oppose the current high priest regardless of the nature of the action he loves to take. Once the current high priest is included in the teaching of the oneness of the three treasures, the current high priest comes to have full control over the functions of the three treasures. In contrast, what is shown in Nichikan’s “On the Three Treasures” is the theory of the oneness of the three treasures where the treasure of the Law is placed in the center. In this theory, the high priest who alone is in a position to speak out is not included in the discussion about the oneness of the three treasures. Making the Lotus Sutra his mentor, Nichiren spared nothing out of his life to practice it. Making such a Nichiren his mentor, Nikko devoted his life to following Nichiren’s example. With this correct definition of the oneness of the three treasures established, the people of the Latter Day of the Law have the correct object of devotion.
  49. The Taiseki-ji School’s tradition where its high priest is supremely respected as the carrier of the entity of the three treasures is exemplified in its priests’ and believers’ practice of bowing to the high priest. Also, an article within “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon,” which reads, “What is the meaning of the Daishonin’s statement that in transcribing the Gohonzon the high priest should write ‘Nichiren with his signature’ and ‘with the signature of the transcriber’? The mentor replies, “This is profound. It means that each successive high priest is Nichiren himself” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p 32). This phrase discusses the dignity of each high priest within the context of transcribing the Gohonzon, as we see Nichiren’s behavior within the behavior of each high priest in transcribing the Gohonzon on his behalf. However, this supreme mission on the part of the high priest must be understood as a relative supremacy that is attached to the high priest’s role in transcribing the Gohonzon, not an absolute supremacy that warrants him to be regarded as an object of devotion. We cannot see any semblance of significance attached to the oneness of the three treasures in the high priest who opposes Buddhism as indicated in Nikko’s “Twenty-six Admonitions.” This awareness is vital in discussing the sacred dignity of the high priest that arises within the context of transcribing the Gohonzon,
  50. In his “Exegesis on ‘The Object of Devotion,’” Nichikan refers to the Taiseki-ji School’s practice of embracing the Gohonzon as an act to encompass the five practices (to embrace, read, recite, expound, and transcribe the Lotus Sutra) expounded in the “Teacher of the Law” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, and mentions with regards to the school’s all-encompassing act to embrace “Transcribing the Gohonzon is a practice for others” (CE, p. 486). In other words, Nichikan holds that the high priest’s act to transcribe the Gohonzon should be understood within the context of a cause-making act or practice for others, not within the context of a mysterious act under the overarching practice of embracing that gives absolute authority to the high priest. The current view that is upheld within Nichiren Shoshu about the high priest’s act to transcribe the Gohonzon, that is, the view that the high priest copies the mysterious soul of the Gohonzon in transcribing one, does not make sense in view of Nichikan’s understanding of the original meaning of the act to transcribe the Gohonzon.
  51. In conjunction with this, I would like to add that the 66th high priest, Nittatsu, once stated in front of many priests and lay believers, “Since Hori Shonin (Nichiko) published everything about the teachings of our school, we have no special teaching left.” Refer to “Refuting High Priest Nikken’s Erroneous View of the Heritage and High Sanctuary” (Kechimyaku, Kaidan ni Kansuru Nikken Geika no Mogen o Hasu) (Daibyakurenge, #506, January 1993, p. 42).
  52. Even though I did not touch upon this, we can say that the contents of the transfer teachings that are inherited from one high priest to another may include some teachings of formalities. However, since formalities are what are already exposed to the public, they are changeable with the lapse of the time. According to the 31st high priest, Nichiin, for instance, the transfer teachings about the juzu beads were lost at the time of Nissei or Nitten and what the Taiseki-ji school did under this circumstance was to adopt the formalities transmitted at Yobo-ji or Mount Hiei” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 378). Since Buddhist formalities arise from Buddhist doctrines, we have no reason whatsoever why the high priest alone is given the authority to define the school’s formalities since we live in an age where the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that has been transmitted in secrecy along the lineage of the successive high priests has been revealed to the public.

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