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Third Thesis

Fallacy of the Myth That the Chief Administrator 


Has the Exclusive Right to Transcribe Gohonzon Facts in Question

The transcription of the mandala Gohonzon, the object of devotion in Nichiren Buddhism, is traditionally regarded in Nichiren Shoshu as the exclusive realm that belongs to the authority of the chief administrator (high priest). One of the reasons why the chief administrator alone is qualified to transcribe the Gohonzon is that the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School has been orally transmitted from one high priest to another. Nichiko Hori, the 59th high priest of Taiseki-ji contends in “Comment on Teacher Nichiu’s ‘On Formalities'” (Yushi Kegi Sho Chukai), “The ultimate right to transcribe the mandala lies solely in the high priest who alone received the heritage of golden utterance through the lineage of the successive high priests of the school” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 112). Also, Nichio, the 56th high priest, remarks in “Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind” (Bennaku Kanjin Sho), “No one is allowed to transcribe the object of devotion without receiving the heritage of golden utterance through the legitimate lineage of this school.”[1] According to Nichio, in the Taiseki-ji School there has been the oral transmission of the heritage along the lineage of its successive chief administrators, and only with this heritage, is the high priest entitled to transcribe the mandala Gohonzon.

Since the ancient times we can see within the Fuji School the continual contention for the purpose of controlling the order of the school that the right to transcribe the Gohonzon should be held only by the high priest. Nichidai of the school of one of Taiseki-ji founder Nikko’s disciples, Taiyu Nichizon, describes Nikko’s admonition on the transcription of the Gohonzon in The True Record of Teacher Nichizon(Sonshi Jitsuroku), “It is Nikko Shonin’s admonition for the priests and believers of the Fuji School that only one disciple should be allowed to transcribe the object of devotion. His admonition was meant to make clear the source of the flame of the Law, thus securing the foundation of this school’s faith.”[2] Here the oral transmission is not cited as the main reason why only one successor should be assigned to transcribe the Gohonzon. Rather, in this admonition, clarification of the source of faith to which the school’s priests and believers should return is cited as the chief reason why one successor alone is commissioned to transcribe the Gohonzon. Nikko may have had the intention to make clear the legitimate lineage of the Law and Founder Nichiren’s fundamental way in the inscription of the Gohonzon by allowing his legitimate successor alone to transcribe the Gohonzon.

Incidentally, it is also written in The True Record of Teacher Nichizon that “Concerning the transcription of the object of devotion, Teacher Nichizon mentions, ‘After the Daishonin passed away, the six senior priests transcribed the Gohonzon individually, which no one opposed.’”[3] No one including Nikko spoke out against the six senior priests’ respective act to transcribe the Gohonzon after the demise of Nichiren. If what is written in this document is correct, it will follow that not only the chief administrator but also some other priests transcribed the Gohonzon in the early days of Nichiren’s order. In fact, a number of priests who belonged to the schools of the five senior priests transcribed the Gohonzon, and no record shows that Nikko reprimanded them for their behavior.[4

There is the following statement in Miscellaneous Records (the Zatsuzatsu Monsho which is said to be a collection of the ninth high priest Nichiu’s remarks), “Therefore, when it comes to this significant matter of (the transcription of the object of devotion), only the chief administrator of this school should take on this responsibility. No one else should transcribe it, as allowing two individuals to do so is as unnatural as the appearance of the two Buddhas at the same time” (CWSHP Vol. 1, p. 413). In this document as well, we cannot see the argument like the one made by Nichio in the Meiji Era, that is, the argument that the heritage received through oral transmission is the absolute condition to transcribe the Gohonzon. What we can perceive through this document is the intention to maintain the order of the school by controlling the Gohonzon-transcription style by allowing only the chief administrator of the school to transcribe the Gohonzon.

In this context, it is safe for us to cite the following two reasons to explain why only the high priest was given the right to transcribe the Gohonzon in the Taiseki-ji School.

  1. In the Taiseki-ji School, the chief administrator alone inherits through the heritage of golden utterance the teaching of the object of devotion and the correct way of transcribing it.[5
  2. The school should faithfully carry on the formal style that Founder Nichiren adopted in inscribing the Gohonzon by limiting the Gohonzon transcription right only to its successive chief administrators.

Based upon the above two points, the Taiseki-ji School conventionally holds that the transcription of the Gohonzon should be done only by its successive chief administrators and that there are no cases where ordinary priests transcribed the Gohonzon.

However, Article 77 of “On Formalities” (Kegi Sho), which is said to be a collection of guidance given by Nichiu who established the formalities of the Taiseki-ji School reads, “The chief priest of the local temple who has disciples and believers can transcribe the omamori Gohonzon. However, he should not put his signature and seal on the Gohonzon he transcribes. Only the chief administrator of this temple (Taiseki-ji) should be allowed to write his signature on the Gohonzon” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 71). Article 78 continues, “The chief priest of the local temple who has disciples and believers can transcribe the mandala. However, he should not put his signature and seal on the Gohonzon he transcribes. It is probable, however, that the chief administrator of this temple will endorse the Gohonzon transcribed by a local priest for the priests and lay believers whose faith is solid enough to attain Buddhahood in their present form. This is a very rare case” (ibid., Vol. 1, p. 71). These remarks by Nichiu indicate that there were the times when the Taiseki-ji School conditionally permitted local chief priests to have the liberty to transcribe the Gohonzon.

I would like to assert that it is very unnatural to interpret Articles 77 and 78 of “On Formalities” as meaning that Taiseki-ji’s chief administrator gives a local chief priest the permission to transcribe the Gohonzon after judging the validity of each case where the latter is requested to transcribe the Gohonzon for a believer who belongs to his temple. In those medieval days of Japan, for a local chief priest, who lived afar from Taiseki-ji, to get the permission to transcribe the Gohonzon from the chief administrator must have been as difficult as requesting the conferral of the Gohonzon transcribed by the high priest upon his believer. Because it must have been so hard in those days for the chief priest of a local temple to get the Gohonzon transcription permission from the high priest, Nichiu may have not had any other alternative but to allow the local priest to freely transcribe the Gohonzon. Nonetheless, Nichiu prohibited the chief priest from putting his signature on the Gohonzon he transcribed.[6] In this regard, I would like to point out that Nichiu’s granting to local chief priests the right to transcribe the Gohonzon was a conditional one. 

How should we understand the discrepancy between the conventional theory that no ordinary priests were allowed to transcribe the Gohonzon in the history of the Taiseki-ji School and Nichiu granting ocal chief priests the conditional right to transcribe the Gohonzon? In “Comment on Teacher Nichiu’s ‘On Formalities,’” Nichiko interprets Nichiu’s position as his generous, special consideration under the unique circumstance of the civil war period in Japan where the nation’s transportation system was indeed poor. In fact, stating that “The school’s priests and believers followed the intent of the Founder for several hundred years. Thus they faithfully stayed away from conferring or transcribing the object of devotion” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 113), Nichiko asserts that no ordinary priests ever transcribed the Gohonzon in the history of the Taiseki-ji School. Today, too, Nichiren Shoshu sternly asserts, “There is no example whatsoever in the seven-hundred-year history of the school that ordinary priests other than the successive high priests transcribed the Gohonzon regardless of their great virtue, knowledge, and chirographical ability.”[7] In actuality, Article 77 and 78 of “On Formalities,” which permits ordinary priests to transcribe the Gohonzon conditionally, are treated as dead clauses within today’s Nichiren Shoshu.

However, a close examination of the record of the mandala Gohonzon that are kept by old temples or long-time danto members in various locales reveals that there are quite a few Gohonzons transcribed by ordinary priests of the local temples who, without having received the oral transmission of the heritage, were not in position to administer the entire school. In addition, a number of the wooden Gohonzons and okatagi Gohonzon whose transcribers are not known, and the “future” Gohonzon transcribed by local chief priests are existing here and there in Japan. Also, in fact, time-honored local temples issued their own okatagi Gohonzon. These facts indicate that Articles 77 and 78 of “On Formalities” were actually being implemented in the past.

In this respect, it can be said that the formality that the high priest (chief administrator) alone has the right to transcribe the Gohonzon was not based upon the point that the high priest alone received the oral transmission of the heritage. The historical fact that the chief priests of local temples transcribed and copied the Gohonzon eloquently indicates that receiving the oral transmission of the heritage was not an absolute condition to transcribe the Gohonzon. Obviously, if one is to precisely copy the Gohonzon of Founder Nichiren or of successive high priests, one does not have to acquire the secret teachings of the Gohonzon or the method to copy the Gohonzon, for all one has to do is just to copy it.

In another sense, what would happen if you should adopt the position that the school should limit the right to transcribe the Gohonzon only to the chief administrator to carry on faithfully the traditional format of its transcription established by Founder Nichiren? In that case, there should arise no problem, even if there were historical facts that ordinary priests transcribed the Gohonzon, should we understand that in those days local chief priests were allowed to transcribe the Gohonzon, only while following instructions from the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji with regard to the way to transcribe the Gohonzon. From this perspective, it can be considered that Nichiu set all the rules in “On Formalities” regarding the local chief priests’ transcription of the Gohonzon.

In this thesis, I will use historical data to prove that the contention of the current Nichiren Shoshu that, for the past 700 and some years, only the successive high priests who received the oral transmission of the heritage had the exclusive right to transcribe and confer the Gohonzon — that this contention is no more than a fallacy. As a result, the myth of the Taiseki-ji School with regards to the transcription of the Gohonzon, which was built under the mysticism of the exclusive transmission of the heritage from one high priest to another, will be refuted. 

1. Gohonzon Transcribed by Priests Who Did Not Inherit Heritage of Law

(1) Reality of Transcription of Gohonzon in Early Days of Nichiren Shoshu
According to an existent historical document, the first disciple of Nichiren who transcribed Nichiren’s mandala Gohonzon after his passing was Nichiro, one of the six senior priests. This first transcribed Gohonzon is dated April 4 in the tenth year of Koan (1287), that is, six years after Nichiren’s demise. By the way, April 8 is the date that Shakyamuni Buddha was born. At about the same time, Nikko too transcribed the Gohonzon for the first time on October 13 in the tenth year of Koan (1287), the anniversary date of Nichiren’s passing.[8] Ever since, until he died in the second year of Shokei (1333), Nikko transcribed as many as 303 Gohonzons for the duration of forty-seven years, according to the most recent record.[9

What characterizes the Gohonzon transcribed by Nikko is the point that he wrote “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo — Nichiren Zai-gohan (“here is his signature”) down the center of the Gohonzon. This style of transcription so markedly stands out, compared to the style adopted by other schools, where the transcriber’s name is written just below Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to reveal his (not Nichiren’s) enlightened life-condition. This fact manifests Nikko’s view of the oneness of the Person and the Law. It was his belief that Nichiren is the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law and that the Person of Nichiren and the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo are one. All the Gohonzons that Nikko transcribed include words “I copied this” as a token of proof that the transcribed Gohonzon is a copy of the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren. The Nikko school inherited this style in the transcription of the Gohonzon, and this tradition is being maintained at the Taiseki-ji School even today.

As I mentioned before, there is a possibility that Nikko, in order to cherish Nichiren’s Gohonzon inscription format, intended to limit to just one person among his disciples the task to transcribe the Gohonzon. Therefore, it seems that Nichimoku, his successor, alone was allowed to transcribe the Gohonzon, but there is a record that while Nikko was still alive, one of his disciples, Nissen, transcribed the Gohonzon in February in the fourth year of Gentoku (1332). In the volume 8 of Essential Writings of the Fuji School (Fuji Shugaku Yoshu) that was compiled by Nichiko Hori, the 59th high priest of the Taiseki-ji School, there is a description that reads, “Regarding the great mandala transcribed by Nissen Shonin: It was transcribed on the equinox day in February in the fourth year of Gentoku. It was conferred upon ______ (the name of the person who received this Gohonzon is unreadable” (EWFS, Vol. 8, p. 214). Regarding this Gohonzon transcribed by Nissen, Saichio Matsumoto comments, “It is hard to figure out the reason why Teacher Nissen, who was not a chief administrator, transcribed the Gohonzon as early as the fourth year of Gentoku. … Since in those days communication between Takase and Fuji must have been no easy thing, Teacher Nissen may have transcribed this particular Gohonzon to respond to a request from a lay believer in Takase. Such a background story may have existed behind his transcription of this Gohonzon of the fourth year of Gentoku.”[10] In this way, Matsumoto presumes that Nissen chose to transcribe the Gohonzon due to the problem of inconvenience in transportation, as he lived at Takase in Sanuki of Shikoku that was very far away from Taiseki-ji in Shizuoka.

Regardless of Nissen’s motivation behind the transcription of this Gohonzon, it is a historical fact that he transcribed the Gohonzon while Nikko and Nichimoku were still alive. This historical fact shows that the experience of having received the oral transmission of the heritage was not an absolute condition to transcribe the Gohonzon in the early days of the Taiseki-ji School. This historical fact also shows us that the formality that the chief administrator alone is eligible to transcribe the Gohonzon was not yet established within the Nikko school. By the way, the Gohonzon that is said to have been transcribed by Jakunichi-bo Nikke, Nissen’s mentor, exists today at Myoren-ji in Ueno. We need to be careful in asserting the authenticity of this Gohonzon.[11] In any case, as Nichiko states, “In the formative days of this school, there was no rule about transcribing the Gohonzon. Senior priests of various schools freely transcribed the Gohonzon. No rule about the transcription of the Gohonzon existed even in the Nikko school. Nikke, Nissen and Nisshu of the Nikko school all transcribed the Gohonzon” (RS, Vol. 6, p. 381), it seems that there was no institution established with regards to the transcription of the Gohonzon in the early days of the Nikko school.

In the meantime, the Gohonzon began to be transcribed widely in the Nikko school by the priests who were not necessarily Nikko’s immediate successors. The True Record of Teacher Nichizon that I cited before reads, “After the passing of Nikko Shonin, disputes arose from within the school. Each school that splinted from the Nikko school was attached to their own views. As a result, a number of erroneous teachings emerged and various priests freely transcribed the Gohonzon.”[12] Doctrinal disputes caused the Nikko school to split, which caused factions within the Nikko school to transcribe the Gohonzon on their own discretion. Those were days of the fourth chief administrator Nichido and the fifth chief administrator Nichigyo in the Taiseki-ji School. In those days, Nichigo of Hota, Nichimyo of Kitayama and Nichiman of Sado transcribed the Gohonzon one after another. Also during the time of Nichiji, the sixth chief administrator of Taiseki-ji, Nichidai of Nishiyama transcribed the Gohonzon. Thus all these priests formed their own schools (Chart 1). This chart lists up in a chronological order all the Gohonzons transcribed in those days by priests other than chief administrators of the Taiseki-ji School. For the sake of reference, I added the wooden Gohonzon that Nichizon created based upon the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichimoku in the following year after Nichigyo took office as fifth chief administrator of Taiseki-ji.

 

Chart 1. Cases of the transcription of the Gohonzon done in the early days of the Nikko school by those other than Taiseki-ji’s chief administrators
In the Days of Nikko and Nichimoku In the Days of Nichido, Nichiyo, and Nichiji
By Nikke (2 Gohonzons in 1307)
By Nikke (1 Gohonzon in 1308)
By Nikke (1 Gohonzon in 1310)
By Nikke (1 Gohonzon in 1311)
By Nikke (1 Gohonzon in 1325)
By Nissen (1 Gohonzon in 1332)
By Nikke (1 Gohonzon in 1334)
By Nissen (2 Gohonzons in 1337)
By Nissen (1 Gohonzon in 1338)
Transformed into wooden one by Nichizon (1 Gohonzon in 1340)
By Nichigo (2 Gohonzons in 1344)
By Nichimyo (1 Gohonzon in 1344)
By Nichigo (2 Gohonzons in 1345)
By Nichigo (1 Gohonzon in 1346)
By Nichigo (1 Gohonzon in 1350)
By Nichigo (2 Gohonzons in unknown years)
By Nichiman (1 Gohonzon in 1352)
By Nichiman (1 Gohonzon in 1357)
By Nichidai (1 Gohonzon in 1364)
By another Nichidai (1 Gohonzon in 1388)

Note: The authenticity of all Gohonzons transcribed by Nikke (in red) is not confirmed. Those Gohonzons in black are cited out of Volume 8 of Essential Works of the Fuji School. Nichizon’s Gohonzon that is marked in green is exceptional as it is the Gohonzon transformed into wooden form.

We can tell from this chart that in the early days of the Taiseki-ji School seven priests including Nikke, all of whom never became the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji, transcribed as many as seventeen Gohonzons. Nevertheless, there is no record indicating that no successive chief administrators of Taiseki-ji including Nikko and Nichimoku reprimanded their transcription of the Gohonzon even though they were not in the position of the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji. Especially around the time of Nichido, the fourth high priest, and Nichigyo, the fifth high priest, Nichido remarked in a letter that he sent to Nichizon in 1335, “After the passing of Nikko Shonin, people began to expound their own teachings. Some followed Tenmoku’s doctrine that denied the recitation of the ‘Expedient Means’ chapter while others followed Kamakura people’s view of the theory that one can attain Buddhahood through the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra. I, Nichido, alone uphold the correct teaching and therefore, strong enemies are surrounding me” (CWSHP, Vol. 1, p. 287). Around that time a dispute arose within the Nikko school. It was a dispute about whether the “Expedient Means” chapter should be recited or not and whether one can attain the Way by reciting the “Expedient Means” chapter or not. Because of this dispute, hostility surrounded the Taiseki-ji School.

After this letter was written by Nichido to Nichizon, other schools’ priests began to transcribe the Gohonzon one after another. If Nichido and Nichigyo had a clear notion that “only the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji that inherited the heritage of the school through oral transmission has the right to transcribe the Gohonzon,” they must have severely attacked other priests’ presumptuous act to transcribe the Gohonzon in an attempt to protect their sole role. Furthermore, the time between the days of Nichido (fourth high priest) and the days of Nichiu (ninth high priest) was a very difficult one to the Taiseki-ji School, for it was heavily involved in the dispute over the property of the grounds of Taiseki-ji. Indeed, Taiseki-ji was going through a very critical time in those days. Yet there is no record whatsoever on the part of the Taiseki-ji School that indicates that Nichido reprimanded Nichigo of Hota, who was fiercely hostile to Nichido, and other priests of other Nikko schools for their action to transcribe the Gohonzon.

Nikko left Mount Minobu in disagreement with its lord’s slanderous behavior and founded Taiseki-ji in Ueno of the Fuji area. Cherishing the admonition of the Nirvana Sutra that Nichiren always taught his disciples, “One who destroys or brings confusion to the Buddha’s teachings is betraying them. If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, one is in fact his enemy. But one who reprimands and corrects an offender is a voice-hearer who defines the Buddha’s teachings, a true disciple of the Buddha” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, p. 226), Nikko was relentlessly strict with slanderous conduct on the part of the other five senior priests.

Importantly, Nichido, Nichigyo and Nichiji who were all supposed to carry on Nikko’s strict spirit against any slanderous behaviors did not show any sign of having taken issue with the transcription of the Gohonzon by the priests who severed ties with Taiseki-ji. This historical fact is indeed serious. It is a clear evidence that the chief administrators of the Taiseki-ji School in its early days did not consider other Nikko schools’ priests’ transcription of the Gohonzon an act of slander that would jeopardize the authority of the chief administrator of the Taiseki-ji School. One might say that the chief administrators of Taiseki-ji took the attitude in which they chose not to interfere with the action taken with regards to the transcription of the Gohonzon by the priests who were beyond the realm of their authority. This is, however, a very superficial view. Being absolutely strict with any slanderous behaviors was the lifeline of the Nikko school. This spirit is totally ignored in the above contention that was actually uttered within the current Nichiren Shoshu.

In short, of course, the chief administrators of the Taiseki-ji School in its early days may have had the consciousness that they should carry on faithfully Founder Nichiren’s Gohonzon inscription style within the school by limiting only to their immediate successor the responsibility to transcribe the Gohonzon. But they had no consciousness that other schools’ priests’ transcription of the Gohonzon (without the permission of the Taiseki-ji’s chief administrator) was in itself slanderous in view of the doctrine of the Taiseki-ji School. For this reason, Nichiu, the ninth chief administrator, attempted to administrate the Taiseki-ji School by giving local chief priests conditional freedom to transcribe the Gohonzon (“conditional” in that they were not allowed to write down their own signature on the face of the Gohonzon) based upon his desire to cherish Nichiren’s Gohonzon inscription format within the school.

(2) Transcription of Gohonzon by Priests Who Were Not Chief Administrators in Light of 17th Century Data of Taiseki-ji 

[1] Transcription of Gohonzon by Regular Priests, Acolytes and “High-Ranked Priests” in Later Days of 17th High Priest Nissei
As I mentioned before, “On Formalities” that Nichiu put together at the end of the 15th century includes the articles that grant a conditional right for local chief priests to have the freedom to transcribe the Gohonzon. How were things in those days? No Gohonzon transcribed by regular priests of the Taiseki-ji School in the 15th and 16th centuries was ever discovered. The data that describe the transcription of the Gohonzon by ordinary priests in that time-period do not exist, either. However, there are some data that hint at the frequent occurrence of the transcription of the Gohonzon by ordinary priests in the early period of the Edo Era, that is, in the 17th century when the political situation of Japan gained some calmness.

First, I would like to introduce a document written by Nissei, the 17th chief administrator of Taiseki-ji, which proves regular priests’ practice of transcribing the Gohonzon in the Taiseki-ji School of the 17th century. Nissei came from the Yobo-ji School in Kyoto and the Yobo-ji School came from the original Nikko School. After he grew up, Nissei came to Taiseki-ji to study. He is said to have taken office in the ninth year of Kan’ei (1632) with the strong support of Kyodai-in, a mistress of Yoshishizu Hachisuka of Awa Tokushima, a relative of Tokugawa Ieyasu who established the Tokugawa government. It is known about Nissei that he was a builder of Shakyamuni’s statues and an advocator of the recitation of the entire content of the Lotus Sutra. He is thus known as a high priest who preached teachings that differed from the mainstream doctrine of the Taiseki-ji School. Since he came from the Yobo-ji School, he was the type of chief administrator who was extremely emphatic about the exclusive right of the chief administrator, a right based upon the oral transmission of the heritage from one chief administrator to another. Despite the fact that local chief priests were allowed to transcribe the Gohonzon with conditions, as indicated by Nichiu, the ninth high priest, in his “On Formalities,” Nissei strongly insisted that the right to transcribe the Gohonzon should be limited only to the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji. 

An original document of “On the Transfer of the Heritage of This School” (Toke Sojo no Koto), which was written by Nissei on the August 12 in the ninth year of Eiho (1681), exists today at Myohon-ji in Saitama. It was written just two years before he passed away. In it he writes, “The heritage of this school contains the teaching that the other schools are totally ignorant of. Nikko alone received the heritage of the true teaching directly from the Daishonin. This heritage has been transferred through the lineage of this school” (CWSHP, Vol. 2, p. 313). In this way, he highly advocated Taiseki-ji’s chief administrator’s absolute sanctity as the sole inheritor of the heritage of the school.

However, what he wrote after the above passage in this document is interesting. Nissei writes, “However, in these days evil priests have emerged, claiming that they too did receive the heritage of this school” and “today even ordinary priests engage themselves in transcribing the object of devotion” (ibid., p. 313). As written by Nissei here, there were a number of priests or acolytes who, claiming that they too received the heritage of the school, transcribed the mandala Gohonzon. In his later years, Nissei must have been concerned about the plight of the Taiseki-ji School where its chief administrator did not have a full control over the matter of the transcription of the Gohonzon, thus writing the document “On the Transfer of the Heritage of This School” for posterity. From this work by Nissei, we come to know that there were priests and acolytes in the Taiseki-ji School who freely chose to transcribe the Gohonzon in the later years of his life.

There is another document by Nissei titled “On the Profound Transfer of the Heritage of This School” (Toke Jinjin no Sojo no Koto). It was written about the same time he wrote “On the Transfer of the Heritage of This School.” A copy of “On the Profound Transfer of the Heritage of This School” is kept at Taiseki-ji. This document was addressed to believers of the Taiseki-ji School. In it, Nissei remarks, “Because the transcription of the object of devotion is to be done only by the successive high priests of this school who received its heritage, no other priests should transcribe it” (CWSHP, p. 314), insisting that the chief administrator should have the exclusive right to transcribe the Gohonzon and that this right of the chief administrator should be firmly protected. Behind this contention by Nissei was the fact that the chief administrators of the Taiseki-ji School, beginning with Nisshu, the 14th, began to come from the Yobo-ji School that stressed the oral transmission of the heritage along the lineage of the successive high priests. As Nissei wrote in “On the Profound Transfer of the Heritage of This School” (ibid., p. 314), there was a situation where regular priests freely transcribed the Gohonzon against Nissei’s will.

From Nissei’s “On the Profound Transfer of the Heritage of This School” we can learn that “Seven Important Points of the Object of Devotion” (Honzon Hichika no Daiji) are the contents of the heritage that the chief administrator of the Taiseki-ji School inherited from one high priest to another, and that he thought that only the chief administrator was qualified to transcribe the Gohonzon. Also, we can learn from this document that there were a number of Gohonzons within the Taiseki-ji School that were transcribed by the priests of time-honored temples who claimed that they had received the heritage of “Seven Important Points of the Object of Devotion” and other transfer documents.

Based upon these writings by Nissei, it can be presumed that there were a number of cases where regular priests freely transcribed the Gohonzon in the Taiseki-ji School of the 17th century.

[2] Nisshun and (Another) Nisshun (same pronunciation but different Chinese character for “shun”) Who Transcribed Gohonzon Before Inheriting Heritage of Law
There are two chief administrators who transcribed the Gohonzon before they received the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School. They are Nisshun, the 19th and another Nisshun, the 20th.

There was a very complicated circumstance where Nisshun transcribed the Gohonzon before receiving the heritage of the school. In those days, the aforementioned Kyodai-in Nissho was a very powerful lay believer and supporter of Taiseki-ji. Her influence over the Taiseki-ji School was overwhelming. However, Nissei, the then chief administrator, developed discord with Kyodai-in. As a result, he was banished from Taiseki-ji. He was also expelled from Hosho-ji in Tokyo, where Nissei had another responsibility as its chief priest. Nissei fled to Jozai-ji temple in Shimotani in Edo. No chief administrator thus resided at Taiseki-ji for a few years. In the meantime, the Tokugawa government took a new religious direction in the eighteenth year of Kon’ei (1641), establishing the policy that the temple where no chief priest resides should be abolished. Thus Taiseki-ji fell into the crisis of possible closure. 

Under this circumstance, Kyodai-in Nissho consulted about the situation with Nichikan, who took office as chief priest of Hosho-ji after Nissei left it, and decided to appoint as the new chief priest of Taiseki-ji Nisshun, who, having come from the Yobo-ji School, was now a priest of Taiseki-ji. Nisshun thus became chief priest of Taiseki-ji in the summer of the eighteenth year of Kan’ei. We can find the following description about how things were in those days at Taiseki-ji in “On the Biography of Nisshun” (Nisshun Den) within The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrator, Part II (Zoku Kachu Sho) that was authored by Nichiryo, the 48th high priest:

“Teacher Nissei of this temple and Venerable Lay Nun Nissho, a great supporter of this school, developed a schism in their relationship, causing Teacher Nissei to leave the Fuji area and move to Jozai-ji in Shimodani of Edo. Because of this, this temple lost its chief administrator. In the meantime, a new shogun took office, which led the government to investigate the condition of each temple. Since this temple had no chief administrator at that time, it was almost ordered to shut down. Lamenting over this situation, the school’s priests and lay believers begged Lay Nun Nissho to designate a new chief administrator. In selecting a new chief administrator, Nissho asked for Hossho-ji’s Nichikan’s opinion, and Nichikan commented, ‘Priest Shun (what was later called Nisshun) is the best selection.’ Thus Lay Nun Nissho invited Teacher Nisshun to become the new chief administrator of this temple” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 269).

When Nisshun visited Jozai-ji, where Nissei was stationed, to comply with the government order in the summer of the eighteenth year of Kan’ei (1641), Nissei made a mentor-and-disciple relationship with Nisshun, but he did not transfer the heritage of Taiseki-ji to Nisshun. According to one story, it is said that at that time Nissei transferred another school’s heritage to Nisshun.[13] After returning to Taiseki-ji, Nisshun was forced to serve as its chief administrator without its heritage, until October 27 in the second year of Shoho (1645) when he finally received the heritage through oral transmission from Nissei. In this respect, The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrator, Part II, reads, “(Teacher Nisshun) called on Teacher Nissei at Jozai-ji in Shimotani, establishing the bond of mentor and disciple with him. With this done, he returned to Taiseki-ji. Soon after, Teacher Nissei and Lay Nun Nissho regained harmony between them, holding each other in trust again with mutual respect. In the early winter of the second year of Shoho, Teacher Nissei visited Taiseki-ji. At the dawn of October 27 of that year, Teacher Nisshun received the heritage of golden utterance from Teacher Nissei before the Gohonzon. Thus Teacher Nisshun officially became the 19th chief administrator of this school” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 270).

In searching for the Gohonzon that Nisshun transcribed before he received the heritage, we see that there is a record that shows he transcribed two Gohonzons before receiving the heritage. One is the paper Gohonzon that is kept at the main home of the Ide family, an old danto member of Taiseki-ji. A major collection of data, which was titled Various Records(Sho Kiroku) and compiled privately by Jundo Nose, chief priest of the Kangyo-bo lodging temple on the grounds of Taiseki-ji, are seen here and there. In Section 2 of this writing, there is a reference to the Gohonzon that the Ide family received in the seventh year of Ansei (1778). In it there is a reference to “A scroll of the Gohonzon transcribed by the 19th high priest, Teacher Nisshun, on January 8 in the second year of Shoho.”[14] Since Nisshun received the heritage on October 27 in the second year of Shoho, it follows that he transcribed this particular Gohonzon about ten months before he received the heritage. The other one is the paper Gohonzon kept by the Kasai family in Kitayama in Fujinomiya City.Various Records reads, “The Gohonzon transcribed by Teacher Nisshun (in the form of paper, and its recipient is unknown). It is transcribed on February 28 in the second year of Shoho to a believer …. of Fuji Taiseki-ji.”[15] Since this Gohonzon was transcribed on February 20 in the second year of Shoho (1645), it means that it was transcribed eight months before Nisshun received the heritage.

There must have been a certain reason why Nisshun had to transcribe these Gohonzons before receiving the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School.[16] It is presumable that as long as he was the chief priest of Taiseki-ji he must have received requests from these lay believers to confer the Gohonzon upon them by transcribing one for each of them.

Next, let’s take a look at the case of another Nisshun, the 22nd high priest. This Nisshun too transcribed the Gohonzon before receiving the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School. According to The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School (Nichiren Shoshu Fuji Nenpyo), Nisshun received the heritage of the school from Nichinin, the 21st, through oral transmission in the eighth year of Eiho (1680).[17] According to Various Records, however, there is a Gohonzon stored at Shinko-ji in Chiba with the description that “The Gohonzon transcribed by Teacher Nisshun on January 12 in the fourth year of Eiho for the lay daimoku group within Shinko-ji.”[18] This indicates that Nisshun transcribed a Gohonzon as early as in the fourth year of Eiho (1676), four years before he received the heritage, conferring it upon a lay daimoku group within Shinko-ji. It is not certain where Nisshun was when he transcribed this Gohonzon. But obviously he was not chief priest of Taiseki-ji at that time because it was upon arriving at Taiseki-ji that he received the school’s heritage from his predecessor, according to The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators, Part II (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 273). Nisshun was the first priest who, coming from Taiseki-ji, was promoted to a noke position at the Hosokusa Seminary in Chiba that was opened under the joint sponsorship of the Fuji School and the Eight Chapter School. Therefore, probably in those days, residing in the neighborhood of the Hosokusa Seminary, he must have been requested by a lay believer of Shinko-ji to transcribe and confer a Gohonzon upon him.

High Priests in near-modern times like Nichio, the 52nd high priest, say that the experience of receiving the heritage of the school is absolutely necessary for a high priest to transcribe the Gohonzon, but their contention conflicts with historical facts surrounding the matter of the transcription of the Gohonzon within the Taiseki-ji School. Nisshun, as a chief priest of Taiseki-ji, and another Nisshun, as a noke priest of the Hosokusa Seminary, transcribed the Gohonzon without receiving the heritage of the school and conferred them upon their believers respectively. 

As mentioned before, quite a few ordinary priests transcribed the Gohonzon in the Taiseki-ji School during the time of Nissei, the 17th high priest. Taking into consideration this plight of the Taiseki-ji School in those days, it is not unreasonable for Nisshun and the other Nisshun, who were high-ranked within the Taiseki-ji School, to accept believers’ request for the Gohonzon and thereby to transcribe one for them.

By the way, in order for my contention to be philologically persuasive the descriptions within 48th high priest Nichiryo’s The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators, Part II, need to be accurate in view of the study of the Taiseki-ji School in the near-modern and modern times. The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators, Part II, was written in May in the seventh year of Tenpo (1836). There is a gap of about one hundred and fifty years between the time when this document was written and the time when Nisshun and the other Nisshun transcribed the Gohonzon without having received the heritage of the school. However, the times that Nichiryo dealt with was the time-period of Nissei, the 17th high priest to another Nissei, the 50th high priest, that was rather peaceful in Japan under the Tokugawa government. In this time-period, the jidan system, where one had to belong to a particular temple, was adopted on a nationwide scale. As a result, all Buddhist schools found themselves under the full control of the government. Nissei authored The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators to describe the biography of each high priest in turbulent times that spanned from the end of the Kamakura period and the early days of the Tokugawa Era while Nichiryo tried to do the same during the much more stabilized time-period of the Tokugawa Era. Because of this clear difference in terms of their social background, we cannot treat these two documents on the same level.

When Nissei wrote The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators, the honmatsu system (the “head temple and local temples” system) was not yet established in Japan. The time period that Nissei dealt with was very tumultuous, and therefore, historical documents of his time tended to get lost. Nissei, using his imagination frequently, authored The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators to describe the history of the Taiseki-ji School. Nichiko Hori, the most learned priest of the Taiseki-ji School in modern times, was the first priest of the Taiseki-ji School who officially pointed out how erroneous the contents of Nissei’s The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators were. The errors contained inThe Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators count easily more than one hundred, judging from the notes that Nichiko put when he included this document of Nissei’s inEssential Writings of the Fuji School.

In contrast, when Nichiko included Nichiryo’s The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators, Part II, into the  Essential Writings of the Fuji School, he pointed out only one mistake in Nichiryo’s document (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 275). Therefore, it seems that Nichiryo’s The Biographies of Fuji School’s Chief Administrators, Part II, is the most reliable collection of biographies of the chief administrators of the Taiseki-ji School. Based upon this premise, I discuss the cases of both Nisshuns where they respectively transcribed the Gohonzon without receiving the heritage of the school.

[3] On the Appearance at Taiseki-ji of the Idea of Bequeathing the Golden Utterance
Why did Nissei, in opposition to the contents of Articles 77 and 78 in Nichiu’s “On Formalities,” insist that only the chief administrator of the Taiseki-ji School who received its heritage is entitled to transcribe the Gohonzon? The first thing we can think of in answering this question is that Nissei, who came from the Yobo-ji of Kyoto, may have considered it slanderous to transcribe the Gohonzon without the heritage.

Originally, the golden utterance meant the Buddha’s teaching, the transference of the Buddha’s teaching was called the konku sojo. This term appears in T’ien-t’ai’s Great Concentration and Insight (Maka Shikan). This term was naturally used in the Tendai school.

The Nikko School in Kyoto was influenced by this theory of konku sojo advocated in the Tendai school in medieval Japan. For instance, Sakyo Ajari Nikkyo, when his name at Honzen-in was Nichiju in the Juhon-ji faction of the Yobo-ji School, wrote One Hundred Fifty Articles (Hyaku Goju ka Jo). In it he wrote, “The Tendai sect always has two lines of transfer; one that is a case of teacher-to-teacher transmission (konshi sojo) and the other that is a transmission of golden utterance (konku sojo). This school also inherits these two types of transmission. Bodhisattvas Supreme Practices received the specific transmission of the Law directly through Shakyamuni’s golden utterance inside the Treasure Tower” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 245). Nichiju, later called Nikkyo, was obviously under the influence of the theory of konku sojo of the Tendai school, adopting it as the fundamental doctrine of his school.

Toward the end of his life, Nikkyo converted himself to Taiseki-ji under Nichiu. He asserted in his In Mukasa (Mukasa Sho), “The ultimate religious creed of this school lies in the core of the heritage transmitted from one high priest to another” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 273). Thus he began to advocate the teaching that prioritizes the idea of the transmission of the heritage. Nikkyo is the first priest within the Taiseki-ji School who overtly stressed the importance of the “Two Transfer Documents.” He also wrote in My Personal Views (Ruiju Kanshu Shi), “The entity of the object of devotion lies in the current high priest who inherited the heritage of this Buddhism along the lineage of the successive high priests of this school” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 309). In terms of Taiseki-ji’s written documents, Nikkyo was the first who advocated absolute faith in the chief administrator in the Taiseki-ji School based upon his philosophy that emphasized the oral transmission of the heritage.

Nikkyo’s “transfer-ism” gradually spread within the Taiseki-ji School. Nitchin, the 12th high priest, wrote “Transfer Letter to Disciples” (Futei Jo) (CWSHP, Vol. 1, p. 443). Nichiin, the 13th high priest, who received a proposal from Nisshin of the Yobo-ji School, a proposal of opening the official relationship between the Yobo-ji and Taiseki-ji Schools, wrote in his letter of response to turn down this offer, “(Our school is based on) both cases of transmission, which is konshi sojo and konku sojo. We keep the Three Great Secret Laws in our hearts, awaiting the time for the Four Sages to appear” (“Report of Nisshin of Yobo-ji” (Yobo-ji Nisshin Goho), CWSHP, Vol. 1, p. 451). Nichiin thus professed that the two transfer teachings (konshi sojo and konku sojo) both existed within the Taiseki-ji School.

Furthermore, during the time of Nisshu, the 14th high priest, the idea of konshi sojo fell off the two transfer teachings (konshi sojo and konku sojo) within the Taiseki-ji School that Nichiin professed toward all other schools. As a result, the idea of konku sojo alone began to be placed in the limelight. At 10, Nisshu copied Sakyo Nikkyo’s In Mukasa.[19] Since his childhood, he was familiar with the transfer-ism that came into the Taiseki-ji School from the Yobo-ji School. And when Nisshu was chief administrator of the Taiseki-ji School, he finally made a decision to develop an open contact with the Yobo-ji School because in those days the Taiseki-ji School suffered greatly from lack of capable priests and financial destitution, thus inviting Nissho from the Yobo-ji to become his successor. Under such circumstances, Nisshu formally conducted the oral transmission of the heritage between him and Nissho. Here is a record of this transference of the heritage between Nisshu and Nissho. It is cited here just for reference.

Acknowledgement of the Execution of the Transfer of the Heritage (Gosojo Juju Sho) written by Nisshu (CWSHP, Vol. 1, p. 463, original copy stored at Taiseki-ji)To Hoki Ajari Nissho Shonin,

With regards to what has been transmitted through the lineage of Nikko, Nichimoku, Nichido, and all the successive chief administrators of this school: I hereby have directly transferred to you, my immediate disciple, the heritage of golden utterance that I received from my mentor Nichiin, without missing even one single word. I have done so, as I would be punished by Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the successive high priests should I miss something in transferring the entire heritage to you, my successor.

Kunaikyo Ajari Nisshu (seal written here)
August 30 

Acknowledgement of the Receipt of the Heritage (Gosojo Juju Sho) written by Nissho (CWSHP, Vol. 1, p. 471, original copy stored at Ungyo-ji in Koganai)

There is no doubt that I received from Nisshu Shonin the time-honored heritage of this school in front of the Gohonzon here at Ungyo-ji in Kanai. I write this document as proof of the transmission of the heritage between us.

Taiseki-ji Nissho
September in the fifth year of Bunroku

In examining the data related to Taiseki-ji, the first record of a transfer ceremony between its two chief administrators is the one about the transmission from Nisshu to Nissho. The transfer-ism that Sakyo Nikkyo brought into the Taiseki-ji School sank deeply into the core of the Taiseki-ji doctrine. With the lapse of several decades, the Taiseki-ji School faced a situation where it was invited to open a relationship with the Yobo-ji School. The Taiseki-ji School was thus forced to confirm its own identity as a religious school. It was also necessary for the Taiseki-ji School to fully control itself. Under such circumstances, the authority on the part of the chief administrator who received the heritage of the school along the lineage of the successive high priests was stressed and cherished to the point where it constituted the core of the Taiseki-ji School’s doctrine.

Perhaps because of the way it was introduced into the Taiseki-ji School, emphasis on the transfer-ism in the school often smacked of political flavor. Nichiin, the 13th high priest, contended that the Taiseki-ji School had its own unique two transfer teachings to cope with the pressure from Nisshin of Yobo-ji, who was renowned as a great scholar of Nichiren Buddhism in the Nikko school. It seems that Nichiin’s words of transfer-ism contained his political purpose to refuse Nisshin’s offer by appealing the legitimacy of the Taiseki-ji School to him.

Nisshu, the 14th high priest, stressed the idea of sole transmission, the transmission of the entity of the Law, and the transmission of the heritage by golden utterance,[20] for by doing so Nisshu may have tried to show the authority of the transmission of the Law within the Taiseki-ji School, and also to control resistance from the school’s inner circle to the fact that Taiseki-ji opened its official channel with Yobo-ji, inviting new chief administrators from Yobo-ji. Nisshu issued Acknowledgement of the Execution of the Transfer of the Heritagefor Nissho, who came to Taiseki-ji from Yobo-ji, taking the trouble to record the fact that Nissho received the heritage through oral transmission and to indicate the significance of his inheritance of the heritage. Nevertheless, later, Nissho developed conflicts with Taiseki-ji’s priests and believers, which we can tell from “Letter to All Danto Lay People” (Yo Sodankatashuchu Sho) that Nissho himself wrote (CWSHP, Vol. 1, p. 473). It was the first incident in which the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji was openly renounced and almost ousted out of his position by its priests and believers. This incident added to the necessity of the authority of the chief administrator.

It also seems that some kind of political agenda was behind the 17th high priest Nissei’s insistence of transfer-ism. As I mentioned previously, Nissei was very sensitive to the fact that regular priests involved themselves in transcribing the Gohonzon in those days, claiming that they too received the heritage of the school. In this connection, Nissei wrote down a note to his lay believers to the effect that they should never trust those sacrilegious priests who dared to transcribe the Gohonzon on their own volition.

On the other hand, however, Nissei, in Zuigi Ron that he wrote in the tenth year of Kan’ei (1633), he insisted on the importance of building Shakyamuni’s statue as an object of worship, “Building a statue is equal to transcribing a Gohonzon. Why not erect the Buddha’s statue?” “The Sage did not enshrine a Buddha’s statue while he was alive because he did not have his final residence.” In fact, there are the data that show Nissei made Shakyamuni’s statues and that all these statutes were taken away from temples of the Taiseki-ji School after his death. As shown by these data, Nissei did not put the mandala Gohonzon in the center of his teaching.

In this context, it seems that the true intention behind Nissei’s vehement rebuke of the transcription of the Gohonzon by ordinary priests was not for the sake of protecting the absolute sanctity of the Gohonzon as the object of devotion in the Latter Day of the Law but for the sake of ensuring the absolute nature of the religious authority of the chief administrator. In other words, it is presumable that Nissei, not only because of his doctrinal belief but also because of his political motivation, criticized the transcription of the Gohonzon by ordinary priests. 

The same thing can be pointed out about the transfer-ism of Hosho-ji Nichikan, Nissei’s contemporary. According to Nichiryo’s On the Transfer of the Heritage of This School, Part II, Kyodai-in who ousted Nissei out of Taiseki-ji, consulted Nichikan about Nissei’s successor. Nichikan is said to have replied, “Priest Shun is the best” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 269). If Nichikan had been a devout believer of transfer-ism and follower of faith in the absolute authority of the chief administrator, an act for an ordinary priest to discuss with a powerful lay believer about the selection of an next chief administrator would be out of the question. Such an act must have been totally unacceptable to him. Yet, Nichikan uttered, “Priest Shun is the best” as if he were ready to say that he had the authority to choose a next chief administrator.

Naturally, after Nisshun became chief administrator of the Taiseki-ji School thanks to strong support from Kyodai-in and Nichikan, Nichikan expounded transfer-ism and absolute faith in the chief administrator in a very political and authoritarian manner that was not based upon purity in his faith. According to On the Transfer of the Heritage of This School, Part II, Nichikan, when Nisshun arrived at Taiseki-ji, sent a letter of admonition to the head of the lay group of Taiseki-ji out of his concern about the possibility that Nisshun, a still young priest, may be slighted by lay believers, “No matter what priest may become chief administrator of this school, you have to respect him as a living Shakyamuni or Nichiren as long as he has received the heritage. Respecting him so represents the true intent of the founder of Taiseki-ji and the core teaching for this school’s priesthood and laity” (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 271).

Just as Nissei did, Nichikan, a “transfer-ist” who came from the Yobo-ji School, forced lay believers to have absolute faith in the authority of the chief administrator, claiming that the chief administrator, no matter what kind priest he may be, is unquestionably sacred as long as he has received the heritage of the school through oral transmission along the lineage of the successive chief administrators. We can clearly see in Nichikan’s attitude his political intention to give invisible pressure to the lay believers of Taiseki-ji under the name of the authority of oral transmission. That Nichikan did not fully revere Nisshun even if the latter did receive the heritage of the school is shown in the fact that Nichikan did not call Nisshun with an honorific title while using a honorific title for his predecessors such as Nichiu and Nissho (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 271). The fact that he made such a description as “no matter what kind priest he may be” indicates that Nichikan, deep in his heart, was questioning the integrity of Nisshun’s quality as high priest of the Taiseki-ji School.

Let me sum up my points here. First, Nissei denounced ordinary priests’ act of transcribing the Gohonzon because he adopted as his unquestionable, fundamental principle the idea of oral transmission that Sakyo Nikkyo, the priest who originally belonged to the Nichizon school, brought into Taiseki-ji and caused it to become the fundamental creed and doctrine of the Taiseki-ji School. Secondly, it should be remembered that the transfer-ism adopted in the Taiseki-ji School was supported by the political climate within the school to protect the authority of its chief administrator. The point that the political intention was behind the transfer-ism harbored by Taiseki-ji priests who originally came from the Yobo-ji School is reflected in the unexpected action taken by Nisshu and another Nisshun, who both were originally Yobo-ji priests, transcribed the Gohonzon before they received the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School.

According to the formality adopted in the early days of the Taiseki-ji School, as I mentioned before, the conditional freedom for ordinary priests to have in transcribing the Gohonzon was an acceptable concept. It may be said that Nissei tried to compete politically with this tradition of Taiseki-ji using the foreign concept of “oral transmission.” Further detailed study of this area will determine whether my view in this regard is correct or not.

(3) Transcription of Gohonzon by Priests Other Than Chief Administrators in Light of 18th Century Taiseki-ji
As the 18th century unfolded, there appeared a number of vivid cases where priests other then the chief administrators of the Taiseki-ji School chose to transcribe the Gohonzon.

[1] Two Priests of Taiseki-ji School Who Transcribed Gohonzon as Chief Priests of Myoren-ji 
In the Fuji School, Myoren-ji in Shimojo is a time-honored temple with the same class as Taiseki-ji. Geographically and historically, Myoren-ji was on very close terms with Taiseki-ji. After World War II, Myoren-ji came under Taiseki-ji and became one of the major temples in Nichiren Shoshu. Myoren-ji’s status within the Taiseki-ji School is very high and its relation with Taiseki-ji is very strong even today. However, today, Taiseki-ji professes the sanctity of the absolute authority of its high priest while claiming he alone possesses the heritage of the school. Therefore, no matter how high Myoren-ji’s status within the Taiseki-ji School is, and even if it has been together with Taiseki-ji for centuries, the current Taiseki-ji would view the transcription of the Gohonzon by the past priests of Myoren-ji as inexcusable, for they did not have the heritage of the school.

However, there are two instances in which the priests, who were dispatched from Taiseki-ji to Myoren-ji, and became Myoren-ji’s chief priests, transcribed the Gohonzon without the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School. Not only that, the high priest of Taiseki-ji at the time never reprimanded their action to transcribe the Gohonzon, rather approving their behavior in silence. One of these two priests was later called back to Taiseki-ji, where he received the heritage of the school through oral transmission and became high priest of Taiseki-ji. The names of these two priests are Nichiju and Nichiho. Nichiho later became the 30th chief administrator of Taiseki-ji under the name of Nitchu.

Nichiju was a disciple of Nichiei, the 24th high priest. He became the 24th chief priest of Myoren-ji on March 1 in the fourth year of Hoei (1707). At that time his mentor, Nichiei, was the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji. For the next twenty years until he resigned in the twelfth year of Kyoho (1727), Nichiju transcribed the Gohonzon one after another at Myoren-ji that was geographically so close to Taiseki-ji, conferring them upon the priests and lay believers of Myoren-ji and its local branch temples. The total number of the Gohonzon that Nichiju transcribed was eleven.[21] In the meantime, Nichiei, Nichiyu, Nichikan, Nichiyo, and Nissho took office one after another at Taiseki-ji, but there is no record of their opposition to Nichiju’s transcription of the Gohonzon. And of course, Nichiei, Nichiju’s mentor, did not excommunicate him for his action to transcribe the Gohonzon. Nichiju seems to have had a close relationship with Taiseki-ji, inviting his successor from Taiseki-ji to become new chief priest of Myoren-ji after his retirement.

The priest invited by Nichiju to become his successor at Myoren-ji was Nichiho. Nichiho was a disciple of Nichiyo, the 27th high priest of Taiseki-ji. As Nichiju’s successor, he became Myoren-ji’s new chief priest in May in the twelfth year of Kyoho (1727). For five years until he retired in the seventeenth year of Kyoho (1732), he served as the 25th chief priest of Myoren-ji. When he was chief priest of Myoren-ji, Taiseki-ji’s chief administrator was Nissho, the 28th. Under such circumstance, Nichiho transcribed the Gohonzon and conferred them upon lay believers. A study document that was published privately under the title of Thoughts of the History of the Fuji School introduces some remarks that Nichiho wrote down on the three Gohonzons that he transcribed.[22

It seems that Taiseki-ji never questioned the integrity of the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichiho. It appears that Taiseki-ji viewed as a matter of course Nichiho’s act to transcribe the Gohonzon since he was chief priest of Myoren-ji, the temple that had the same status as Taiseki-ji within the Fuji School.[23] In the first year of Genmon (1736), four years after Nichiho’s retirement from Myoren-ji, Nitto, the 29th chief administrator of Taiseki-ji, transferred the heritage of the school to Nichiho. Thus Nichiho became new chief administrator of Taiseki-ji and renamed himself Nitchu, the 30th high priest.

No matter how prestigious Myoren-ji is, its chief priest is not in a position equipped with the heritage that is transmitted through oral transmission along the successive chief administrators of Taiseki-ji. However, since Myoren-ji is a major temple in the Fuji School, it has its branch temples and lay danka families. Myoren-ji’s chief priest, therefore, has no choice but to transcribe the Gohonzon to keep its believers. It seems that Taiseki-ji’s senior priests were well aware of the situation surrounding Myoren-ji, taking therefore no issue with its chief priest’s transcription of the Gohonzon. This attitude on the part of senior priests of Taiseki-ji was seemingly in agreement with the “conditional freedom given to ordinary priests to transcribe the Gohonzon” that was stipulated in Nichiu’sOn Formalities.”

However, I was not able to make sure if Nichiju and Nichiho put their signature on the Gohonzon they transcribed. But whether or not their signatures exist on the Gohonzon they transcribed does not seem to be a big issue, for Nichiu prohibited ordinary priests from putting their signatures on the Gohonzon they transcribed to make sure that only the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji should have the right to decide on the authenticity of the Gohonzon. For this reason, the Gohonzon transcribed at Myoren-ji, which is geographically so close to Taiseki-ji, did not concern Taiseki-ji so much regardless of whether the transcriber’s name was placed on the Gohonzon, because it was transcribed in accord with the will of Taiseki-ji’s chief administrator.

In the Edo Era, on one hand, Taiseki-ji, as exhibited by Nissei, who came from the Yobo-ji School, took the position that no ordinary priest should be entitled to transcribe the Gohonzon, based upon belief in the absolute authority of oral transmission, but, on the other hand, high priests like Nichiei, Nichiyu, Nichikan, Nichiyo, and Nissho, who all originated in Taiseki-ji itself, took more generous attitude, which was in parallel with that of Nichiu toward ordinary priests’ transcription of the Gohonzon without the heritage of the school.[24

Yet, it is very rare to spot the Gohonzon that were transcribed by non-high priests in the history of Taiseki-ji, especially after the Edo Era. It is because the foreign idea of oral-transmission held powerful sway over Taiseki-ji’s view of the transcription of the Gohonzon, spreading the thought within Taiseki-ji that no priests who had not received the heritage of the school through oral transmission should transcribe the Gohonzon, while overshadowing the spirit of “conditional freedom for non-heritage priests to transcribe the Gohonzon” that was granted in Nichiu’s “On Formalities.” Especially in the Meiji Era after the Edo Era, this tendency became conspicuous in the Taiseki-ji School to the point where Nichiko Hori, before he took office as the 59th high priest, remarked, “The great right to transcribe the mandala exclusively belongs to the high priest who received the heritage of the school through oral transmission” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 112).[25] It is also true, however, that Nichiko made a suggestion that the clauses of “On Formalities” (where the conditional freedom for ordinary priests to transcribe the Gohonzon is allowed) should be adopted by the modern-day Nichiren Shoshu (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 113). 

So when it comes to the right to transcribe the Gohonzon, the two contradicting schools of thought, one upheld by the absolutism of oral transmission expounded by Sakyo Nikkyo and the other upheld by the idea of conditional freedom chosen by Nichiu, were carried on to the modern-day Nichiren Shoshu.

[2] Existence of Gohonzon Transcribed by Anonymous Individuals
Let me cite another example of the 18th century where an ordinary priest transcribed the Gohonzon. In examining various data of Nichiren Shoshu, we encounter the Gohonzon that was transcribed anonymously. All the Gohonzon transcribed by Taiseki-ji’s chief administrators contain their signatures on the Gohonzon. Especially when it comes to the placement of the transcriber’s signature on the Gohonzon, Nichiko insisted in “Comment on Teacher Nichiu’s ‘On Formalities,” “The existence or non-existence of a high priest’s signature and seal on the Gohonzon determines whether the Gohonzon is true or tentative just like secular affairs” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 113). Therefore, the placement of the signature by the transcriber of the Gohonzon was the way to prove its authenticity within the Taiseki-ji School. This means that a Gohonzon transcribed without the placement of the signature on it is almost always transcribed by a priest other than a chief administrator. According to Various Records, the following anonymous Gohonzon is kept at Honjo-ji in Togane city in Chiba Prefecture.

This board (Gohonzon) was transcribed anonymously.
Honjo-ji, which is under the administration of Taiseki-ji, is located in Hirosa village, Shimotsukazaki, Togane, Kazusa province.
Dedicated to the Tenmangu shrine on March 25 in the 10th year of Horeki.
The rich, the poor, the young, the old, both men and women – may their faith deepen to secure peace and joy in the two existences of the present and future.[26

This Gohonzon is presumed to have been transcribed by somebody other than Nichigen, the 33rd high priest, in the tenth year of Horeiki (1760) and dedicated to a Shinto shrine. According to a report by Shukudo Takahashi who actually examined this Gohonzon, its appearance follows the style adopted in the Nikko school but has no signature and no seal of its transcriber.[27] This particular Gohonzon can be considered to have been transcribed by an ordinary priest of the Taiseki-ji School without putting his signature and seal in accord with Article 78 of “On Formalities” that stipulates “conditional freedom in the transcription of the Gohonzon,” “The chief priest of a local temple who has his disciples and lay believers should transcribe the Gohonzon for them. However, he should not place his signature or seal on the Gohonzon he transcribes” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 71). In “On Teacher Nichiu’s ‘On Formalities,’” Nichiko refers to the possible existence of the Gohonzon “that an ordinary priest first transcribed and upon which a high priest later placed his signature and seal,” saying “Such a case is very rare” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 113). This anonymously transcribed Gohonzon stored at Honjo-ji corresponds to “the Gohonzon that an ordinary priest transcribed.”

Incidentally, just like the case of this Honjo-ji Gohonzon, there are a number of cases where the Gohonzon was transcribed and dedicated to Shinto shrines in the neighborhood of Taiseki-ji to activate the divinity of the object of worship enshrined at Hachiman shrines or Tenman shrines. The validity of this tradition does not seem questioned doctrinally in the Taiseki-ji School of the middle of the Edo Era. There is an anecdote that Nikko, founder of Taiseki-ji, when he was at Omosu Seminary, constructed a suijakudo (ephemeral) temple to invite the Hachiman god to show an example of the arrival of the time of kosen-rufu in the future. Based upon this anecdote, the Taiseki-ji School, since around the time of Nichiu, the ninth high priest, is said to have transcribed the Gohonzon to invite various gods, Buddhas, and bodhisattvas. This matter needs further study and examination, for every Gohonzon transcribed and dedicated to Shinto shrines were not necessarily meant to usher in kosen-rufu in the future. They may have been transcribed simply to follow people’s conventional worship of their ancestors (ujigami). 

The fact that there actually exist anonymously transcribed Gohonzons indicates that there was the custom behind the scenes in the Taiseki-ji School that priests other than its chief administrators transcribed the Gohonzon for various needs.

(4) Transcription of Gohonzon by Priests Other Than Chief Administrators in Light of 19th Century Data from Taiseki-ji
I would like to repeat the point that Nichiu, the ninth high priest, approved the local temple’s chief priest’s transcription of the Gohonzon with the condition that he does not put his name and seal on the Gohonzon — this is spelled out in Articles 77 and 78 of his “On Formalities” that I quoted at the very beginning of this thesis. Because of this stipulation, local chief priests, after Nichiu’s time, became able to transcribe the Gohonzon formally. Because of this, it can be presumed that a number of ordinary priests (those who lived far from Taiseki-ji and would have had difficulty traveling there,[28] or who resided at temples in the neighborhood of the head temple, or who were chief priests at lodging temples on the grounds of Taiseki-ji) have transcribed the Gohonzon.

In this section, I would like to cite an example where a senior priest, who was immediately under the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji, transcribed the Gohonzon. It was the case of Nissho, the 32nd chief priest of Jakunichi-bo, a lodging temple of Taiseki-ji. He transcribed a Gohonzon on a board, dedicating it to a Shinto shrine descendent (ujiko) in Sotokami village in the vicinity of the head temple.

This board (Gohonzon) was transcribed by Jakunichi-bo Nissho. 
Established on September 25 in the sixth year of Bunsei.
This is conferred upon a Shinto shrine ujiko in Sotokami village. 
Nissho, 32nd chief priest of Jakunichi-bo (with his seal), at age 62

This description is introduced in the column titled “Gohonzon enshrined at a small Hachiman shrine in Sotokami” in Section 7 of Various Records.[29] According to Photos 1 and 2 that I actually saw,[30] the signature and seal that read, “Nissho, 32nd chief priest of Jakunichi-bo, at age 62 (with his signature here)” are written in the back of this board Gohonzon. Most likely, Nissho followed Article 78 of “On Formalities” that reads, “(The chief priest, in transcribing the Gohonzon for his disciple or believer), should not place his signature or seal on the Gohonzon he transcribes,” choosing not to write his signature and seal on the face of the Gohonzon.

Judging from this mandala, Nissho was 62 in the sixth year of Bunsei (1823), which means he was born in the eleventh year of Horeiki (1761). According to The Lineage of the Successive Chief Priests of Local Temples (Matsudera Rekidai Fu) compiled by Jundo Nose, Nissho became a priest and disciple of Mito Ajari Nichiyo, the 30th chief priest of Jakunichi-bo lodging temple. He was a chief magistrate of Taiseki-ji from the third year of Kowa (1803) to the 14th year of Tenpo (1843) under the eight high priests, that is, from Nissen, the 44th, to Nichiei, the 51st.

In the sixth year of Bunsei when Nissho transcribed this Gohonzon, Taiseki-ji was under the leadership of Nisso, the 49th high priest. Nichiryo, the 48th, was a retired high priest in those days, so two chief administrators were then at Taiseki-ji. Because of these two high priests, Nissho did not have to transcribe the Gohonzon at all for the sake of a temple member near the head temple. If so, it is only natural to think that Nissho, banking on his many years as a chief magistrate, transcribed this Gohonzon to respond to a request from the family of a temple believer.

Photo 1: Here is a photo of the front of Nissho’s Gohonzon. (photo is from the Japanese original book, p. 247)
Photo 2: Another photo of the back of Nissho’s Gohonzon. (photo from the Japanese original book, p. 248)

Incidentally, Hando Yamaguchi, in his thesis titled “On the Object of Devotion Enshrined at Hachiman Shrine and Other Places in the Vicinity of Taiseki-ji” (Taisekiji Shuhen no Hachiman Sha To no Honzon ni Tsuite), refers to this Gohonzon transcribed by Nissho as munefuda.[31] Munefuda generally means a fuda or note that is put up on a pillar of a building with a description of the reason for its construction. In the Taiseki-ji School, this munefuda takes the form of the “simplified” Gohonzon. Such a simplified Gohonzon is therefore called munefuda Gohonzon.

Judging from the facts that this Gohonzon has the phrase from the “Life Span” chapter that reads, “Jeweled trees abound in flowers and fruit/where living beings enjoy themselves at ease” and that the words of praise that read “After the Buddha’s demise,” are missing in this Gohonzon, Hando Yamaguchi may have determined that this Gohonzon was a munefudaGohonzon. However, as you can tell from Chart 1, this Gohonzon by Nissho does not include any of the phrases from the “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter of the Lotus Sutra that usually appears in a munefuda Gohonzon and reads instead, “Sage lord, heavenly being among heavenly beings, / voiced like the kalavinka bird, / you who pity and comfort living beings,/ we now pay you honor and reverence.”  The phrase, which is also usually written on a munefuda Gohonzon that reads, “It cannot be burned by fire or washed away by water” is not written on this munefuda Gohonzon. Since this Gohonzon by Nissho has such descriptions as “I transcribe this” and “I confer this upon local residents worshiping the guardian deity of Tenma Jizai (freedom) Great Shrine in Sotokami village,” I am compelled to think that he transcribed this Gohonzon with an intention to transcribe a formal Gohonzon for those residents related to this shrine.

In this context, we can justifiably say that the board Gohonzon transcribed by Nissho was made with the intention to make a formal Gohonzon of the Taiseki-ji School. Jundo Nose, the author of Various Records, regards this as a formal mandala. In including Jakunichi-bo Nissho’s board Gohonzon in his Various Records, Nose treats this Gohonzon on the same level as other formal Gohonzons, referring this Gohonzon as the Gohonzon enshrined at a Hachiman shrine in Sotokami instead of looking upon it as a munefuda mandala.[32

And even if we should regard this Gohonzon as a munefuda Gohonzon, it is still a formal Gohonzon. As we can tell from Chart 1, this Gohonzon depicts the ten worlds and three thousand realms possessed by Nichiren’s life, manifesting in its appearance the True Buddha’s inner enlightenment. This Gohonzon fulfills all the requirements in its appearance that it should have as a formal Gohonzon. 

Also, as of March 24, 1994, this board was enshrined at the sanctuary of the Hachiman shrine in Sotokami instead of being pasted on a pillar or behind the roof where the munefuda is usually placed. In this sanctuary of the Hachiman shrine were also enshrined three other Gohonzons together with this board by Nissho; the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichiken, the 36th high priest, the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichiho, the 37th high priest, and the Gohonzon transcribed by Nisso, the 49th high priest. Flowers and lights were offered alike to each of these four Gohonzons (Photo 3). If Nissho’s board had not been regarded as the Gohonzon, it is very strange that it was enshrined together with the other three Gohonzons transcribed by three high priests.

Illustration (1): The appearance of the mandala, the object of devotion, which Jakunichi-bo Nikke transcribed on a board.(from the original Japanese book, p. 250)

Photo (3): From left, the mandala transcribed by Nissho, the mandala transcribed by Nikken, the 36th high priest, and the mandala transcribed by Nichiho, the 37th high priest, and the mandala transcribed by Nisso, the 49th high priest. They are all enshrined side by side, and each has offerings of a light and evergreen. This indicates that the mandala transcribed by Nissho is treated as equal to the other mandalas transcribed by the school’s official chief administrators. (photo from the original Japanese book, p. 251)

Whether the munefuda should be regarded as the object of devotion or not has been unclear in the Taiseki-ji School. When a munefuda is satisfactory enough to be a Taiseki-ji Gohonzon in terms of appearance and therefore can be an object of devotion, there should be no choice but to regard it as a Gohonzon.[33] For this reason, the name munefudaGohonzon has been in existence in the Taiseki-ji School from the ancient times. 

Some may argue that the praising words of “This great mandala is unprecedented in Jambudvipa for 2,230 and some years after the Buddha’s passing” that are indispensable for the transcription of the Gohonzon is missing in Nissho’s board. There is an article in “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” (Gohonzon Hichika Sojo), which reads, “Writing down on the Gohonzon in exact accord with the Founder’s statement that ‘this great mandala is unprecedented in Jambudvipa for 2,230 and some years after the Buddha’s passing’ is the correct way of transcribing the Gohonzon. Omitting this remark is an ultimately erroneous way of transcribing the Gohonzon, which indicates that the transcriber did not receive the heritage of this school” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 32). Some hold that the difference between munefuda and Gohonzon lies in the existence or non-existence of these words of praise.

However, as to this particular article of “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” that, introduced in Essential Writings of the Fuji School, is based upon the copy made by Nichizan of Myohon-ji in Hota, there are some issues in terms of difference between the contents of this article and the actual appearance of the Gohonzon that the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji transcribed. For instance, Nikko and Nichimoku transcribed one Gohonzon respectively without writing down the words of praise that read “This great mandala is unprecedented in Jambudvipa for 2,230 and some years after the Buddha’s passing.”[34] According to the above article of “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon,” it follows that both Nikko and Nichimoku transcribed the very slanderous Gohonzon. On the other hand, there are some munefudas where these words of praises are written down. Take a recent example for instance. Nikken Abe transcribed a chingo (for protection) munefuda on April 24 in the fifty-fifth year of Showa (1980) while he was chief administrator of Nichiren Shoshu. In this munefuda, he wrote down, “This great mandala is unprecedented in Jambudvipa for 2,230 and some years after the Buddha’s passing.”[35] As is clear from this case, there is no clear distinction in the Taiseki-ji School between munefuda and mandala.

Furthermore, the phrase in question, which reads, “This great mandala is unprecedented in Jambudvipa for 2,230 and some years after the Buddha’s passing” belongs to the part that was later added to the original version of “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon.” We don’t know who made this addition. We don’t know when they were added, either. There are a number of questions regarding when these additions were made.[36]  Unless these questionable areas are clarified, these added articles’ philological value cannot be determined.

In the final analysis, the Gohonzon’s legitimacy remains intact even if the words of praise, which reads “This great mandala is unprecedented in Jambudvipa for 2,230 and some years after the Buddha’s passing,” are missing from the Gohonzon. It can be said that there is no room for disagreeing with the idea that Nissho’s board, which is legitimate in terms of appearance, is a legitimate Gohonzon of the Taiseki-ji School.

(5) Transcription of Gohonzon by Priests Other Than Chief Administrators in Modern Times
It seems that the doctrine of “transmission by golden utterance” that came into the Taiseki-ji School was absorbed deeply in the school after the Meiji Era. In this vein, what became conspicuous is the thought that the chief administrator alone should possess the sacred right to transcribe the Gohonzon. Nichio, the 56th high priest in the Meiji Era, insisted in “Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind,” “One who has not received the heritage of golden utterance should never transcribe the Gohonzon,” preaching the absolute authority of the heritage transmitted along the lineage of the Taiseki-ji School to Kio Nisshu of the Yobo-ji School, the origin of Taiseki-ji’s transfer-ism.[37] Nichio’s thought that no Gohonzon should be transcribed by those who did not receive the heritage of the Taiseki-ji School through oral transmission was basically the same as that of Nissei who renounced the act on the part of ordinary priests to transcribe the Gohonzon based upon his belief in the absolutism of the high priest.

Nichio was the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji for eighteen years from the 23rd year of Meiji (1890) to the 41st year of Meiji (1908). When he was at the helm of Taiseki-ji, he successfully separated Taiseki-ji from the Nichiren Shu Nikko school, exerting his great influence over the future course of the Taiseki-ji School. As a result, what became dominant in the Taiseki-ji School after the Meiji Era is the thought that no one is allowed to transcribe the Gohonzon except the chief administrator of the school. “Comment on Teacher Nichiu’s ‘On Formalities,’” is a collection of articles written by Jirin Hori (who later became Nichiko) from the 40th year of Meiji (1907) to the sixth year of Taisho (1917). In it, as I often quote, there is a passage that reads, “The ultimate right to transcribe the mandala lies solely in the high priest who alone received the heritage of golden utterance through the lineage of the successive high priests of the school” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 112).

Consequently, in the Taiseki-ji School in modern times, we see no actual example of the Gohonzon transcribed by ordinary priests as the object of devotion for lay believers. However, there are even some cases in which local chief priests transcribed the Gohonzon or took a similar action.

In the thirty-sixth year of Showa (1961) Hodo Oku and other priests of Nichiren Shoshu compiled Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshu (Nichiren Shoshu Kegi Shiryo Shu), a collection of documents of Nichiren Shoshu formalities such as The Rules of the Nikko School (Komon Shu Chisoku) and The Record of the Head Temple (Honzan Kiroku). In the section titled “On the Transcription of the Object of Devotion” (Honzon Shosha no Koto) of this formality reference book, Hodo Oku and other priests remark, “There are those priests who freely transcribe the Dai-mandala” as a result of their misunderstanding of Article 78 of Nichiu’s “On Formalities” that reads, “The chief priest of a local temple who has his disciples and lay believers should transcribe the Gohonzon for them. However, he should not place his signature or seal on the Gohonzon he transcribes” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 71).[38] This means that there were those who insisted on local chief priests’ right to transcribe the Gohonzon using the contents of “On Formalities” even in the modern times where the doctrine of oral transmission (which was advocated by Nikkyo within the Taiseki-ji School) was overpowering the Taiseki-ji’s traditional generosity toward the transcription of the Gohonzon by ordinary priests. The authors of the “On the Transcription of the Object of Devotion” of Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshu emphatically states there “(It is) a totally erroneous view,” completely denouncing the idea that even regular priests can transcribe the Gohonzon. However, the literal meaning of Articles 77 and 78 of “On Formalities” indicates nothing other than Nichiu’s acknowledgement of the conditional freedom of ordinary priests’ transcription of the Gohonzon. In other words, the authors of “On the Transcription of the Object of Devotion,” as a matter of fact, misunderstood that the foreign concept of “oral transmission” was Taiseki-ji’s traditional thought, causing Articles 78 and 79 of “On Formalities”to become empty clauses and thereby denying the traditional thought of formalities that was prevalent in the early days of the Taiseki-ji School. 

However, prohibiting ordinary priests’ transcription of the Gohonzon in order to avoid confusion with regards to technical formalities involved in the transcription of the Gohonzon is another matter. In “Comment on Teacher Nichiu’s ‘On Formalities,’” Jirin Hori seems to have held that the chief administrator who received the heritage of the school through oral transmission had an exclusive right to transcribe the Gohonzon.

 

Illustration 2: The appearance of a munefuda object of devotion that is shown in Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshu. (Illustration from the original Japanese book, p. 255)

In any case, the description within Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshu, which I quoted, shows that there were those local chief priests who, basing themselves on the descriptions within “On Formalities,” advocated the conditional freedom on their part to transcribe the Gohonzon. We cannot deny the fact that there were local chief priests who actually transcribed the Gohonzon even in the modern times.

In addition, we need to pay attention to the fact that there must have been a number of cases where ordinary priests transcribed the Gohonzon even though these cases are not introduced in the official record of Nichiren Shoshu. Here I am talking about the munefudaGohonzon and mamori (protection) Gohonzon transcribed by local chief priests.

Different from the Gohonzon that is given to particular believers for their lasting enshrinement, the munefuda Gohonzon tends to be disregarded in terms of recording their existence in the record book or treasure item record of local temples. Since the munefuda Gohonzon is put up on a pillar of the building, it is seldom returned to a local temple. For this reason, it is hard to find an actual example of themunefuda Gohonzon, but the munefuda Gohonzon’s appearance is legitimate enough to be recognized as the official Gohonzon of Nichiren Shoshu. Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshuthat I referred to previously shows the appearance of the munefudaGohonzon.[39] We should justifiably presume that there are a number of munefuda Gohonzon that, transcribed by ordinary priests, are not recorded in the official documents of Nichiren Shoshu. It is well known to believers of Nichiren Shoshu that local chief priests’ free transcription of the munefuda Gohonzon ended only recently in the 30s of the Showa Era.

Let me cite just one example here. 

 

Photo 4 shows a munefuda Gohonzon transcribed on December 25 in the thirty-sixth year of Showa (1961). This munefuda Gohonzon was given to a believer of Kunitachi Daisen-ji temple of Nichiren Shoshu. In those days, Jiun Sugano (who is now called Nichiryu Sugano) was chief priest of Daisen-ji. Since this Gohonzon is not signed by Nittatsu Hosoi, chief administrator of Nichiren Shoshu in those days, this munefuda Gohonzon seems to have been transcribed by Chief Priest Sugano. As this example shows, only forty years ago, local chief priests were occasionally requested by their believers to transcribe the munefuda Gohonzon and conferred it upon them. I am now talking about the munefuda Gohonzon transcribed by local chief priests, but there is no doubt that even the munefuda Gohonzon is a Gohonzon.Likewise, as to the omamori Gohonzon, it is very presumable that local chief priests transcribed it not only in modern times but also over the past years since the early days of Taiseki-ji. The mamori Gohonzon tends to be kept by its receiver and his or her family for a long time. I myself have never seen an omamoriGohonzon transcribed by an ordinary priest, but if you carefully examine what Hokkeko members (who have centuries of relationships with Nichiren Shoshu priests) possess, you will encounter a case where theomamori Gohonzon was transcribed by a ordinary priest other than a chief administrator of Nichiren Shoshu.Here I introduce data that suggest that modern and contemporary Nichiren Shoshu regular priests transcribed the munefuda and omamori Gohonzon. A pamphlet titled For Restoring the Way of the Founder and Establish Truly Correct Faith (Sodo no Kaifuku to Shin no Shoshin Kakuritsu no Tameni) was published within Nichiren Shoshu in the fifty-fifth year of Showa (1980). In it, the “conscientious priests of Shikoku” contribute an article titled “Rectifying Wrong Ideas in Shoshinkai Priests’ Open Letter of Questions” (Shoshinkai Shoshi no Kokaiseru Shitsumonjo no Hi o Tadasu). In this article, there are following descriptions:

“Since the early days of this school there were a number of Gohonzons that were copied based upon the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin or transcribed by Nikko Shonin or Nichikan Shonin. Also, there were many Gohonzons that were transformed into wooden form. The Gohonzon used as their originals were the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin or transcribed by Nikko Shonin or Nichikan Shonin. The high priest of the time approved their authenticity by conducting an eye-opening ceremony for many of them. In the early growing days of the Soka Gakkai, some local temples issued an ‘okatagi, future’ Gohonzon. They also produced munefuda Gohonzon. Throughout Japan we can point out many cases where anokatagi Gohonzon was created in accord with the description of “On Formalities” that reads, ‘The chief priest of the local temple who has disciples and believers should be able to transcribe the omamori Gohonzon.’ Because this school had to cope with a rapidly growing number of people who wanted to receive the Gohonzon thanks to the nationwide propagation drive by the Soka Gakkai, this school resulted in creating regulations that were instrumental in establishing the high priest’s great authority over the conferral of the Gohonzon.”[40


Photo 4: The munefuda object of devotion that seems transcribed by Jiun Sugano who is the chief priest of Daisen-ji in Kunitachi city in the 30’s of Showa. (Photo from the Japanese version of this book, p. 256)

We can draw the following conclusions from these remarks:

  1. There were a number of ordinary priests ever since the early days of this school who were engaged in copying or transforming into wooden Gohonzon the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin or transcribed by Nikko Shonin or Nichikan Shonin. Many of these Gohonzons were at first in existence randomly, but later on, the high priest came to hold an eye-opening ceremony for such copied or transformed Gohonzon to authenticate them. The statement that “the high priest of the time approved their authenticity by conducting an eye-opening ceremony for many of them” indicates that there were many Gohonzons that, transcribed by ordinary priests without permission from the high priest, were treated by lay believers as their object of devotion without receiving any eye-opening ceremony from the high priest.
  2. In the early developing days of the Soka Gakkai, or in 1950’s after World War II, there were chief priests of some local temples that issued an okatagi, “future” Gohonzon ormunefuda Gohonzon. Judging from the fact that these conscientious priests of Shikoku discuss the future Gohonzon or munefuda Gohonzon in parallel with the Gohonzon copied or transformed into wooden form by successive high priests, it is known that they recognize such future Gohonzon and munefuda Gohonzon as legitimate Gohonzon of this school. 
  3. In accord with Article 77 of “On Formalities,”which reads, “The chief priest of the local temple who has disciples and believers should be able to transcribe the omamoriGohonzon. However, he should not put his signature and seal on the Gohonzon he transcribes. Only the chief priests of this temple (Taiseki-ji) should write down their signature and seal on the Gohonzon they transcribed” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 71), regular priests of local temples transcribed omamori Gohonzon or okatagai Gohonzon, and they have survived even today in Tohoku, Shikoku, and other areas.
  4. The high priest’s ultimate right to transcribe the Gohonzon was established after World War II, as it became necessary to establish uniformity in dealing with the rapidly increasing demand for the conferral of the Gohonzon as a result of the Soka Gakkai’s enormous efforts to propagate Nichiren Buddhism in Japan. In other words, these Shikoku priests’ view was that Nichiren Shoshu was not clearly conscious about the point that the right to transcribe the Gohonzon should exclusively belong to the high priest.

These contentions by the “conscientious priests of Shikoku” accord with the outcome of the research I conducted about the historical data of Nichiren Shoshu. The “conscientious priests of Shikoku” included the late Enkai Akiyama, a noted senior priest of Nichiren Shoshu in those days, and other senior priests such as Jisei Hibino, Hitsudo Irie, Jun’ei Anzawa, and others. These contentions are the official joint views upheld by the priests of Nichiren Shoshu in Shikoku. At the same time, these descriptions are grounded in their experiences and knowledge as Nichiren Shoshu priests. There is no record that indicates the Administration of Nichiren Shoshu took issue with their views.

In short, some priests of Nichiren Shoshu who live today are officially expressing their agreement that there were cases in the modern history of Nichiren Shoshu where regular priests transcribed various kinds of Gohonzon.

2. Gohonzon Copied or Turned into a Wooden One by Priests Other Than Chief Administrators

(1) Copying Nichiren or Nikko or Nichikan Gohonzon or Turning Them into Wooden Ones by Regular Priests
Until this point, I cited as many cases as possible where priests other than the chief administrators of Taiseki-ji transcribed the Gohonzon over the past years between the early days of Taiseki-ji and in modern times. Ever since Nichiu, the ninth high priest wrote On Formalities, ordinary priests were in principle granted the right to transcribe the Gohonzon. However their right to transcribe the Gohonzon was conditional in that their Gohonzon had to be treated as a temporary Gohonzon, until an official Joju-Gohonzon, that is, the Gohonzon with the chief administrator’s signature on it, was later issued to the holder of the temporary Gohonzon. Probably because of this arrangement, the Gohonzon that were transcribed by ordinary priests are few in number.

However, it seems that there are a number of cases where the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren, the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, the Gohonzon transcribed by Nikko, the founder of Taiseki-ji, and the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan, a restorer of the Taiseki-ji School, were copied or transformed into wooden form by ordinary priests. As to a general method of copying the Gohonzon, you put a sample Gohonzon in front of you and copy it. This method is called rinsha. Another way is for you to put a thin piece of paper on top of the Gohonzon and go over each character with a brush. Based upon the Gohonzon copied in one of these manners, the original Gohonzon is carved on a board to create a wooden Gohonzon.

Copying the Gohonzon is a technical matter. Therefore, you don’t have to receive the orally transmitted teaching including the method of copying the Gohonzon. There are various cases where the Gohonzon that were originally made by men of virtue such as Nichiren, Nikko, and Nichikan were later copied, and transformed into wooden ones or okatagi or wood-blocked ones.

The important thing is the fact that all these copied Gohonzon on a board and wood-blocked Gohonzon are acknowledged as official Gohonzon of the Taiseki-ji School and kept at many local temples. The document written by the “conscientious priests of Shikoku,” which I cited earlier, reads, “Since the medieval times of this school, there were many examples of the copying, or transferring into wooden form, of the Gohonzon inscribed by the Daishonin or transcribed by Nikko Shonin and Nichikan Shonin. In many cases, the high priest of the time acknowledged the existence of such Gohonzons, conducting an eye-opening ceremony for them.”[41] According to this description, many ordinary priests in the Muromach and Edo Eras copied and transformed into wooden form those Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren or transcribed by Nikko and Nichikan. The document also says that the chief administrator of the time conducted an eye-opening ceremony for these Gohonzon to acknowledge them as the school’s official Gohonzon. The eye-opening ceremony for the Gohonzon was a ceremonial process to regard it as a legitimate one. 

There is no denying the fact that ordinary priests in many different temples copied and transformed into wooden form the Gohonzon. There are some cases where chief administrators themselves copied and transformed into wooden form the Gohonzon. In such cases, they always put their signatures on the copied and transformed Gohonzon.

For instance, let’s take a look at the case of transforming into wood, the “Shishinden” Gohonzon, the Gohonzon that is said to have been inscribed by Nichiren dedicated to the emperor when he converts to Nichiren Buddhism. The wooden Gohonzon of the “Shishinden” Gohonzon was enshrined at five different Nichiren Shoshu temples, which are Myoho-ji (with no signature of the chief administrator who transformed the Gohonzon into wooden one), Mangan-ji (with the signature of Nitchu, the 30th high priest, on the front of the Gohonzon), Koen-bo (with neither signature nor seal), Shingyo-ji (with the signature of Nichiei, the eighth high priest, on the front of the Gohonzon) and Renjo-ji (with the signature of Nichiu, the ninth high priest, on the front of the Gohonzon).[42

The wooden “Shishinden” Gohonzon enshrined at Myoho-ji and Koen-bo can be presumed to have been copied and transformed into wooden form by ordinary priests since they do not have the signature of the chief administrator on the Gohonzon.[43

(2) Nikki of Butsugen-ji Who Recorded Historical Facts Behind the Copying of Gohonzon or the Creation of Wooden Gohonzon
Also, there is a case in which an ordinary priest, who copied and transformed a Gohonzon into wooden form, wrote down the background story of his work on the back. The back of the Gohonzon that was recreated in wooden form was based upon a Gohonzon that was originally transcribed by Nikko on February 13 in the second year of Kangen (1303) for Shiyo Matsumaro, a disciple of Nichimoku. It is now kept at Butsugen-ji in Sendai and it reads:

“A scroll of the great mandala transcribed by Nikko Shonin was dedicated to Horyu-zan Butsugen-ji by Ono Mohei Masashige, the seventh heir to the Ono family. … I, the chief priest, who received this Nikko Shonin Gohonzon, had it transformed into wooden one. Retiring the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichiho, Nichii’s mentor who was the 37th high priest, from the reception hall, I caused this wooden Gohonzon to be enshrined there. I, Juen-in Nichii (with signature), the 28th chief priest of this temple, wrote this on this day, February 7 in the seventh year of Tenpo, at age 76.”[44]

In February in the seventh year of Tenpo (1836) when Nichii copied and transformed into wooden form the mandala Gohonzon that was originally transcribed by Nikko, Nissei, the 50th high priest, was the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji. Nichiryo, the 48th, was also present as a retired high priest. However, there is no mention of Nissei and Nichiryo in the note written in the back of this transformed Gohonzon. Therefore, it is very probable that Nichii did everything by himself including the work of copying this Nikko Gohonzon, coordinating to transform it into wooden form and conducting an eye-opening ceremony for it. The stone monument of a Nichikan Gohonzon that Nikki constructed, which I will refer to in the fourth thesis, has a note engraved on it. The note reads that Nichiryo, the fourth high priest, conducted an eye-opening ceremony for this mandala monument. Therefore, we can presume that the wooden Gohonzon of Butsugen-ji, which has no record of an eye-opening ceremony by Nissei or Nichiryo, must have undergone no eye-opening ceremony by the chief administrator of the time.

As written by Nikki on the back of the Gohonzon, “I myself copied this Gohonzon and ordered another to carve it into wooden form,” it is a fact that Nikki himself copied and transformed it into wooden form. Not only that, Nikki intended to convey to the posterity the record of his creation of this particular Gohonzon. Judging from this, we can say that it was possible that Nichiren Shoshu openly permitted ordinary priests to copy and transform the Gohonzon into wooden form in those days.

The wooden Gohonzon copied and created by Nikki is even today enshrined at the main Gohonzon room of Butsugen-ji as the object of devotion for its priests and lay believers.[45

(3) Wood Block Gohonzon Copied and Issued by Regular Priests
There is the following description within the previously cited document by the Shikoku priests: “Here and there in this school we see the Gohonzons copied from the original Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin or transcribed by Nikko Shonin and Nichikan Shonin. There are many cases in which the high priest of the time treated them as the legitimate Gohonzon after conducting an eye-opening ceremony for each of them, taking into account the condition of the times he lived in out of his consideration to share compassion with the people. All the existent okatagi (wood block) Gohonzon need to be treated as false ones should we refute such behavior of the past high priests.”[46]

There was a tradition within the Taiseki-ji School to create and issue a wood-blocked Gohonzon based upon the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren, transcribed by Nikko or transcribed by virtuous high priests such as Nichikan. As far as I personally observed, the wood-blocked Gohonzon created by the time of the middle of the Meiji Era were all based upon either Nichiren’s Gohonzon, Nikko’s Gohonzon, or Nichikan’s Gohonzon. According to the Shikoku priests, these copied and transformed Gohonzon were classified as “false” Gohonzon, as they were made by priests other than Taiseki-ji’s chief administrators.

Here is a concrete example. It is said that there is a copied Gohonzon at Jozai-ji temple in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. This paper Gohonzon is a copy of the Gohonzon that Nikko transcribed on October 13 in the third year of Shoo (1290), on the occasion when he transferred the office of chief administrator to Nichimoku. It is unknown who copied the “Nikko-Nichimoku transfer” Gohonzon to create this Gohonzon.[47

However, the Shikoku priests emphasize that even a “false” Gohonzon can be regarded as the correct object of devotion in Nichiren Shoshu once it goes through an official eye-opening ceremony by the chief administrator. They go on to claim that all the wood-blocked Gohonzon become false ones unless these “false” Gohonzon are given a chance to become official through an eye-opening ceremony conducted by the chief administrator. This claim by the Shikoku priests points to the fact that all the wood-blocked Gohonzon of Nichiren, Nikko, and Nichikan were created and issued through the process where ordinary priests first copied an honored Gohonzon, created its wood block, printed it using the wood block and made a wood block Gohonzon.

Certainly, all the wood block Gohonzon that were based upon the Gohonzon by Nichiren, Nikko, or Nichikan only contains their signatures. No other high priests’ signatures are seen in any of the wood block Gohonzon. It is then obvious that it was not the successive high priests but ordinary priests who copied the Gohonzon by the above three teachers to create their wood-blocked Gohonzon.

For reference, I would like to list all wood block Gohonzon that were created based upon the Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren and transcribed by Nikko or Nichikan. These data come from Various Records, The Introduction of Nichiren Shoshu Temples, and The History of Myoko-ji that was published my Myoko-ji in Shinagawa, Tokyo, in the 49th year of Showa (1974). All these wood block Gohonzon were created by ordinary priests other than the chief administrators of Taiseki-ji. Incidentally, Shukudo Takahashi, in Our Study of Nikko Shonin’s Writings, asserts that “No okatagi Gohonzon based upon the Daishonin’s Gohonzon exists.”[48] This is a totally false statement.

 

Major Okatagi Gohonzons Created Based upon Gohonzon Inscribed by Nichiren
Kept at Honjo-ji, Chiba prefecture:Carved. No sidenote. The original Daishonin’s Gohonzon was inscribed in June in the third year of Bun’ei. The authenticity of this okatagi Gohonzon is questionable.
Kept at Kanno-ji, Morioka City, Iwate prefecture: The original Daishonin’s Gohonzon, which was inscribed in September in the second year of Kenji, is called “the Gohonzon that dispels sickness and brings about no aging and no dying.”
Kept at Jozai-ji in Ikebukuro, Tokyo and Honko-ji, Shizuoka prefecture: 

  • The original Daishonin’s Gohonzon was transcribed in April in the third year of Koan. Note: The authenticity of this okatagi Gohonzon is undecided.
  • The original Daishonin’s Gohonzon was transcribed on March 16 in the first year of Ko’an.
  • The original Daishonin’s Gohonzon was transcribed on November 10 in the first year of Bun’ei.
Kept at Kyodai-ji, Tokushima prefecture: 

  • The original Daishonin’s Gohonzon was transcribed in April in the fifth year of Ko’an.
  • Those okatagi Gohonzons that are widely spread throughout Japan.
  • One of the original Daishonin’s Gohonzons in this category is commonly called “the Gohonzon for the salvation of ten thousand years” that was inscribed in the 11th year of Bun’ei.
Major Okatagi Gohonzons Created Based upon the Gohonzon transcribed by Nikko
Kept at Kujo-bo lodging temple on the grounds of Taiseki-ji: Copied by Taiyu Ajari Nichizon. The original Nikko Gohonzon was transcribed on December 13 in the first year of Kareki. 
Note: The same okatagi Gohonzon of Nikko copied by Nichizon on December 13 in the first year of Kareki is kept also at Juhon-ji in Kyoto.
Kept at Nissho-ji in Hokkaido: The original Gohonzon was the one transcribed by Nikko in November in the third year of Gentoku. 
Note: Several copies of this okatagi Gohonzon are kept at Myoko-ji in Shinagawa, Tokyo. The original Gohonzon was the Gohonzon that Nikko transferred to Nichimoku on the occasion of the transfer of the seat of chief administrator between them.
Kept at Myoen-ji in Miyagi prefecture: The original Gohonzon was the one transcribed by Nikko on February 25 in the fourth year of Showa.
Kept at Hongen-ji in Miyagi prefecture: The original Gohonzon was the one transcribed by Nikko on September 22 in the ninth year of Shochu.
Kept at Jozai-ji in Ikebukuro, Tokyo: The original Gohonzon was transcribed by Nikko in March in the fourth year of Kagen.
Kept at Myoko-ji in Shinagawa, Tokyo: The original Gohonzon was transcribed by Nikko on September 22 in the second year of Shochu at age 80 to confer it upon Shinno-bo in Ohshu. 
Note: Precisely speaking, this okatagi Gohonzon is kept at the residence of Mr. Ryozo Fujinami, a believer of Myoko-ji. The original of this okatagi Gohonzon is kept at Butsugen-ji in Sendai. It is said that the same okatagiGohonzon is kept at Shingyo-ji in Tochigi prefecture and at the residence of Mr. Murayama, a believer of Myokyo-ji in Miyagi prefecture.
Kept at Honko-ji in Shizuoka prefecture: The original Gohonzon was transcribed by Nikko in March in the fourth year of Kagen. 
Note: The same okatagi Gohonzon is kept at Renko-ji in Shizuoka prefecture and Juhon-ji temple in Kyoto.
Kept at Shoko-ji in Shizuoka: The original Gohonzon of this paper okatagi Gohonzon was transcribed by Nikko in February in the fourth year of Kagen. 
Note: The same wooden okatagi Gohonzon is kept at Renjo-ji in Fukushima prefecture.
Kept at Myoki-ji in Ishikawa prefecture. The original Gohonzon was transcribed by Nikko on February 3 in the second year of Sho’o.
Kept at Genryu-ji in Osaka. The original Gohonzon was transcribed by Nikko on November 4 in the third year of Gentoku.
Kept at Myoun-ji in Shimane prefecture. The original Gohonzon was transcribed by Nikko on October 18 in the first year of Kareki.
Kept at Kyodai-ji in Tokushima prefecture. The original Gohonzon was transcribed by Nikko Shonin in February in the fourth year of ___. Note #1:The era name cannot be fully identified.Note #2: It can be confirmed through the katagi Gohonzon or transformed Gohonzon section of Collection of Gohonzons Transcribed by Nikko Shonin (Nikko Shonin Gohonzon Shu) that Nikko’s okatagi Gohonzon is kept at Yamazaki family (Shizuoka prefecture), Dobashi family (Shizuoka prefecture), and Sakamaki family.
Major Okatagi Gohonzons Created Based upon Gohonzon Transcribed by Nichikan
Kept at Jozai-ji in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. The original Gohonzon of this wooden okatagi Gohonzon was transcribed by Nichikan in June in the third year of Kyoho.
Note: The original Gohonzon of this wooden okatagi Gohonzon was transcribed by Nichikan. The date of the transcription of this Gohonzon is unknown.
Kept at Juhon-ji in Kyoto. The original Gohonzon of this wooden okatagi Gohonzon was transcribed by Nichikan. This okatagi Gohonzon is dated March in the 19th year of Meiji.
Note: The date when this Nichikan Gohonzon was transferred into wooden form was added by somebody at a later date.

Further Notes: For a certain period of time after World War II, the okatagi (wood block) Gohonzon in paper form was widely conferred upon new members of the Soka Gakkai whose number grew rapidly in those days. This okatagi Gohonzon was printed at Hodo-in in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. The original Gohonzon of this okatagi Gohonzon, which was transcribed by Nichikan, had the date information on its bottom right side that read “Kyoho san ryoshu inui rin __” (two more unidentifiable Chinese characters were here). The original Nichikan Gohonzon used for the creation of this okatagi Gohonzon is said to be kept at Jozai-ji. According to the list of treasures that Jozai-ji possesses, this temple has seven original Nichikan Gohonzons. Among them is the Nichikan Gohonzon (77 centimeters by 41 centimeters) that has the descriptions of “to be eternally enshrined at Mount Eagle Peak Jozai-ji” and “June in the third year of Kyoho.” It is somehow presumed that the paper Gohonzon that was conferred upon Gakkai members in its early days are the Gohonzon printed in a reduced size based upon the wood block of this particular Nichikan Gohonzon. In any case, regardless of which Nichikan Gohonzon was used to produce the Gohonzon that was conferred upon the Gakkai members in the early days after World War II, it is clear that the original Nichikan Gohonzon of the third year of Kyoho that was used to produce the Gohonzon that was later given out to Gakkai members had descriptions that were not included in its wood block. Today, Nichiren Shoshu denounces the act of excluding side notes in creating an okatagiGohonzon out of a renowned, legitimate, original Gohonzon of Nichikan, but before engaging itself in such denouncement, Nichiren Shoshu had better reflect upon its own historical behavior. There is no doubt that the original Nichikan Gohonzon of the Nichikan okatagi Gohonzon that the Gakkai members received in the past right after World War II had a description in the upper-right corner, which was deleted in making a wood block of this particular original Nichikan Gohonzon. It was only in recent years after the Edo Era that the description of “I confer this (Gohonzon)” began to be mentioned in the Gohonzon by the high priest of Taiseki-ji. In this regard, when it comes to the production of the wood block of the original Gohonzon of Nichikan who lived in the Edo Era, we can say that the description of conferral was intentionally omitted in creating the wood block of the original Nichikan Gohonzon.

(4) Historical Facts of Eye-Opening Ceremony for Mandala Gohonzon
Here, let me refer to the subject of the “eye-opening” ceremony for the mandala Gohonzon within the Taiseki-ji School. The Shikoku priests’ document, which I took up in this thesis, explains that the copied and carved Gohonzon or wood-block Gohonzon have been approved as official object of devotion within the Taiseki-ji School by going through an “eye-opening” ceremony conducted by the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji.

However, as I examined all data available, I can tell that there is only one copied and carved Gohonzon with the signature of a chief administrator as proof of his performing an eye-opening ceremony for it. This wooden Gohonzon is enshrined as the Joju-Gohonzon of Ueno-bo on the grounds of Honmon-ji in Sanuki.[49] There are some cases where the chief administrators put their names on the copied Gohonzon only to give approval to them without referring to any act on their part to conduct an eye-opening ceremony for them. Also, there are a number of copied Gohonzon that did not receive either an eye-opening ceremony or approval from any chief administrators.[50]

Just like the case of copied and carved wooden Gohonzon, there is only one case of the wood block Gohonzon, as far as my research goes, from which we can tell that there was an eye-opening ceremony for this particular wood block Gohonzon. What I am referring to is the wood block Gohonzon that is kept at Myoko-ji temple in Shinagawa. This Gohonzon is based upon the Gohonzon, which, transcribed by Nikko on September 22 in the second year of Shochu, was conferred upon Shinno-bo in Ohsu. This Gohonzon has a note on its back, which reads, “eye-opened on July 1 in the 43rd year of Meiji” by Nichio.[51] However, as far as my nationwide research goes, I cannot spot any other wood-blocked Gohonzon that show any sign of the eye-opening ceremony conducted for them. This indicates that there was almost no eye-opening ceremony conducted by the chief administrator when it came to the wood block Gohonzon.

Historically speaking, the wood block Gohonzon that is issued to a new believer has been looked upon as a temporary Gohonzon. According to Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshu that I cited previously, when new believers desired to receive the Gohonzon, Nichiren Shoshu in modern times had an understanding that they should temporarily have a wood block Gohonzon. After observing how these new believers would carry on their faith sincerely for first several years, and when they are regarded as solid in their faith, ajoju Gohonzon or omamori Gohonzon transcribed by the chief administrator specifically for them were conferred upon them. This was the internal system of the Taiseki-ji School as to the conferral of the Gohonzon.[52

From this fact, we can say that the wood block Gohonzon was a trial Gohonzon given to new believers for a few years to find out how true their faith was. Hence there was no reason why the chief administrator should take the trouble to conduct an eye-opening ceremony for the temporary Gohonzon. 

Shaku Nissho, who was assigned to the position of the study head under Nichio in the 35th year of Meiji (1902), traveled to the Korean peninsula in September in the 39th year of Meiji (1906) to observe religious matters over there.[53] According to Nichiko Hori’s record, Nissho, in traveling to Korea, photocopied Nichiu’s copy of Nichiren’s “Shishinden” Gohonzon in a shrunk size, conferring it upon new believers there (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 113). In other words, Nissho, reducing Nichiu’s copy of Nichiren’s Gohonzon and making a stone block based upon this Gohonzon, conferring its prints upon various new believers in Korea. There is a high possibility that these stone-blocked Gohonzon by Nissho did not go through an eye-opening ceremony by Nichio. We can say this because, after returning to Japan from his Korean trip, he questioned Nichiko Hori about whether he should put his signature and seal on this stone-blocked Gohonzon (ibid., p. 113). Since Nichiko Hori was a renowned scholar within the Taiseki-ji School, Nissho must have asked his opinion about whether he should put his signature and seal on his stone-blocked Gohonzon that did not go through an eye-opening ceremony by the chief administrator of his time.

It is safe to say that there was in principle no practice of the high priest’s conducting an eye-opening ceremony for any wood block Gohonzon in the Taiseki-ji School in modern times. This fact became even more obvious in the Showa Era. For instance, Myoko-ji in Shinagawa used to issue a wood block Gohonzon based upon the Gohonzon transcribed by Nippu, the 55th high priest. Jisai Watanabe, who was working at this temple right after World War II, states, “In those days I saw a 20-30 centimeter bundle of paper Gohonzon printed based upon the wood block Gohonzon of Nippu Shonin at the temple. We sent out these paper Gohonzons to a scroll-mounting company to mount them all, and we conferred the mounted Gohonzon to new believers” and “These Gohonzons did never go through an eye-opening ceremony or gain endorsement from the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji.”[54] As the Soka Gakkai promoted shakubuku immensely, increasing demand for the Gohonzon for new believers, the wood block Gohonzon became insufficient in number. Wood block Gohonzon issued by Myoko-ji and other temples were too few to meet the demand of the Gohonzon in those days. In the meantime, wood block Gohonzon by Nichikan, Nittatsu, the 65th high priest, or Nikken Abe began to be issued from the Dai-Nichiren editorial office within Hodo-in in Tokyo. Naturally, these enormous numbers of the wood block Gohonzon were never carried to Taiseki-ji in Shizuoka to go through the eye-opening ceremony by Nittatsu or Nikken.

(5) Formality of Eye-Opening Ceremony in Taiseki-ji School
What about the eye opening for statues or paintings of Nichiren and Nikko within the Taiseki-ji School? Different from the cases of copied or wood block Gohonzon, the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji School have been very intent on conducting an eye-opening ceremony for them, writing down a record of the execution of the eye-opening ceremony for them. This is obvious when you read through Various Records and The Introduction of Nichiren Shoshu Temples (Nichiren Shoshu Jiin Shokai) published by Nichiren Shoshu.

Also, as stipulated in Handbook for Teacher Priests (Kyoshi Hikkei) that was created by Nichiren Shoshu after World War II, the Taiseki-ji School commonly did an eye-opening ceremony for juzu beads. The eye-opening ceremony for juzu beads can be conducted by regular priests in Nichiren Shoshu in addition to its chief administrator.

After all, in Nichiren Shoshu, the eye-opening ceremony did not denote the eye-opening of the mandala Gohonzon but the eye-opening of the statues, paintings, and juzu beads. Please refer to the Chart 2 that I prepared for the principle of the formality of the eye-opening ceremony that has been adopted within Nichiren Shoshu.

Chart 2 

 

Basic Rules of Taiseki-ji Regarding the Execution of Eye-Opening Ceremony 
(with some exceptions)
Gohonzon

No eye-opening ceremony by the chief administrator
No eye-opening ceremony by local priests

Nichiren or Nikko’s Statue

The chief administrator can conduct an eye-opening ceremony
Local priests are not entitled to conduct an eye-opening ceremony

Paintings of Nichiren, Nikko, or Nichimoku

The chief administrator can conduct an eye-opening ceremony
Local priests are not entitled to conduct an eye-opening ceremony

Juzu Beads

The chief administrator can conduct an eye-opening ceremony.
Local priests are also entitled to conduct an eye-opening ceremony. 

Nichiren himself wrote, “In the eye-opening ceremony for Buddhist wooden and painted images, only the Lotus Sutra should be used” (“Questions and Answers on the Object of Devotion,” WND, Vol. 2, p. 789). He stressed the importance of the power of the Lotus Sutra in conducting an eye-opening ceremony. Nichiren’s teaching was that the principle ofichinen sanzen expounded in the Lotus Sutra for the land’s attainment of enlightenment is the correct way to help the Buddhahood of the statutes and paintings to be manifested.

Also, because the Lotus Sutra is the Law that produced the Buddhas of the three existences and ten directions, Nichiren expounds that the eye-opening ceremony should be conducted with the Lotus Sutra. In “Questions and Answers on the Object of Devotion,” Nichiren also writes, “The Lotus Sutra is the father and mother of Shakyamuni Buddha, the eye of the Buddha. Shakyamuni, Mahavairochana, and all the other Buddhas of the ten directions were born from the Lotus Sutra. Therefore, as the object of devotion I now take that which is capable of bringing forth such life force” (WND, Vol. 2, p. 788–789) and “The Buddhas are beings who are given birth, and that the Lotus Sutra is that which is capable of giving birth. The Buddhas are the body and the Lotus Sutra is the soul” (WND, Vol. 2, p. 789).

Regarding the meaning of the Lotus Sutra, which are the eyes of all Buddhas, “Notes Taken of the Founder’s Lecture,” which was recorded by Nikko, reads, “Concerning the point that we regard Myoho-renge-kyo as the eyes: The character eye signifies the teaching of ichinen sanzen. The entire 69,384 characters are contained in the single word eye. … The eye means what is called the unprecedented great mandala. There is no greater eye than this Gohonzon” (Gosho Zenshu, p. 841). The eyes here means the teaching of ichinen sanzen. It can be said that the Gohonzon, the entity of actual ichinen sanzen, is the eyes themselves.

In short, the Lotus Sutra is the teaching of ichinen sanzen that enables all grasses and plants to attain Buddhahood. They are the source of enlightenment for all the Buddhas of the three existences and ten directions. It is the eyes of the Buddha themselves.

However, the Lotus Sutra also consists of grasses and trees. Then, why is it said that the Lotus Sutra alone does not need to go through an eye-opening ceremony? Nichiren writes in “Opening the Eyes of Wooden and Painted Images,” “A person can know another’s mind by listening to the voice. That is because the physical aspect reveals the spiritual aspect. The physical and spiritual, which are one in essence, manifest themselves as two distinct aspects; thus the Buddha’s mind found expression as the written words of the Lotus Sutra. These written words are the Buddha’s mind in a different form. Therefore, those who read the Lotus Sutra must not regard it as consisting of mere written words, for those words are in themselves the Buddha’s mind” (WND, Vol. 1, p. 86). In accord with the principle of oneness of body and mind, the Buddha’s intent (mind) is manifested in the characters of the Lotus Sutra (body). Also, the characters of the Lotus Sutra change into the Buddha’s intent as they are. This reflects Nichiren’s enlightened perception. Therefore, Nichiren’s mandala that consists of characters, which are defined as the Lotus Sutra of the Latter Day of the Law, leads to the reason that “It is my (Nichiren’s) life” (WND, Vol. 1, p. 412).

In this context, the Taiseki-ji School’s people should believe that the True Buddha’s life is innate in the characters of their object of devotion, Nichiren’s mandala Gohonzon. For this reason, when it comes to the conducting of an eye-opening ceremony for statues and paintings, Nichiren Shoshu should do so with the mandala object of devotion. The current Nichiren Shoshu’s contention that the character-based mandala takes on the life of the True Buddha thanks to the high priest’s prayer to it is opposed to Nichiren’s thought that the characters of the Lotus Sutra equal the Buddha’s will.[55]

Here I will point out that the current Nichiren Shoshu’s contention that it should be the high priest who opens the eyes of the mandala Gohonzon is invalid in light of Nichiren Buddhism. The current Nichiren Shoshu asserts that the high priest (chief administrator) alone is qualified to open the eyes of the mandala Gohonzon. There are two documents that the current Nichiren Shoshu brings up to justify their assertion.

Their first document is part of a letter that Nichiin, the 31st high priest wrote, “Buddhist wooden and painted images are in essence grass and wood. Opening their eyes, causing them to manifest themselves as the living enlightened Buddha, is a secret teaching of ultimate importance. This secret teaching has been handed down without any confusion for the thirty-one generations, all the way from Nichiren Shonin to myself, Nichiin, the 31st chief administrator of this school” (the source of this letter is unknown). It seems that what Nichiin means by “Buddhist wooden and painted images” is not the mandala Gohonzon but the statues or paintings of the two founders of Nichiren and Nikko. This is the only possible interpretation of what Nichii meant by “Buddhist wooden and painted images” as long as we follow Nichiren’s view of the eye-opening. This interpretation alone can be said to be reasonable as a result of my study of Nichiren Shoshu’s historical documents. As Nichiyu, the 25th high priest, described, “The contents of the heritage transferred through golden utterance are no more than the Five Major Writings and the mystic meaning of the object of devotion of the Three Great Secret Laws” (“Comment on ‘The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind'” [Kanjin no Honzo Sho Ki], [CWSHP, Vol. 3, p. 369]). “This secret teaching has been handed down without any confusion for the thirty-one generations, all the way from Nichiren Shonin to myself, Nichiin the 31st chief administrator of this school” is within the realm of the Taiseki-ji School’s unique teaching of the object of devotion of the Three Great Secret Laws.” Therefore, what Nichiin wanted to make clear was that the eye-opening of the statues and paintings should be done with faith in the mandala Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws. This point can be justified by Nichiin’s statement in his “Notes of the Lecture on ‘Opening the Eyes of Wooden and Painted Images’” (Mokue Nizo Kaigenji Koki) that “The eyes of Buddhist wooden and painted images, when opened based upon the Mystic Law, manifest themselves as the living Buddha” (RS, Vol. 15, p. 377). 

The second document that the current Nichiren Shoshu often brings up to justify its position is the statement made by Nichio, the 56th high priest, “The secret Law within the founder’s heart is manifested in the transmission of the heritage through golden utterance. In other words, this transmission is the ultimate transfer of the heritage that is capable of opening the eyes of the object of devotion for the attainment of Buddhahood by all people” (RS, Vol. 27, pp. 474–475). Because of this remark by Nichio, the current Nichiren Shoshu contends that the eye-opening of the mandala Gohonzon should be done based upon “the ultimate transfer of the heritage.”

However, as I pointed out in the second thesis, the core of “the transmission of the heritage through golden utterance” that Nichio refers to here is the Taiseki-ji School’s unique teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws that was theoretically disclosed by the writings of Nichikan, the 26th high priest and revealed to the public through their publication. Now that the theoretical revelation and disclosure of Taiseki-ji’s orally transmitted heritage have been completed and thereby the meaning of the sole inheritance of the school’s heritage by its successive high priests has been lost, the “the transmission of the heritage through golden utterance” that Nichio stresses is no more possessed by the high priest of Nichiren Shoshu alone. 

Conclusion

As Nichiko Hori states, we can presume that there was no regulation about the transcription of the Gohonzon in the ancient days of the Nikko School. For those days, however, limiting the right to transcribe the Gohonzon to the chief administrator of the school must have been the most desirable way to uphold and convey Founder Nichiren’s Gohonzon style as a Buddhist order. This idea of giving the chief administrator the right to transcribe the Gohonzon was no more than the best possible “means” to spread and uphold Buddhism. The formalities or regulations as a means are changeable matters.[56] Flexibility is meaningful according to the condition of the circumstance when it comes to using such a means.

Therefore, in examining the history of the Taiseki-ji School, it is obvious that there were the times when, because of the circumstances surrounding the Taiseki-ji School, ordinary priests were allowed explicitly or implicitly to transcribe the Gohonzon. The same is true with copying or transforming into wooden form the existent Gohonzon. The chief administrator of Taiseki-ji played the role of giving an official approval to the Gohonzon copied or carved into wood form by regular priests. It seems that the eye-opening ceremony for the Gohonzon by the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji was conducted in this context. In other words, the eye-opening ceremony was conducted by the chief administrator to authorize those Gohonzon that were copied or carved by local chief priests. However, no record exists of this except in just one case where the chief administrator performed the eye-opening ceremony of a wood block Gohonzon copied by regular priests. Within the Taiseki-ji School in modern times, the wood block Gohonzon was treated as a temporary Gohonzon for new believers whose faith were not yet stable. When their faith was acknowledged by the priesthood as solid, they were given the Joju-Gohonzon that the chief administrator personally transcribed. Since the wood block Gohonzon did not have to go through the process of approval by the high priest, its eye-opening ceremony was not held as a matter of course.

On the other hand, the “transfer” view took on significance in the history of the Taiseki-ji School — that is the view that only the chief administrator with the heritage inherited through oral transmission is qualified to transcribe the Gohonzon. Sakyo Nikkyo, a priest of the Juhon-ji faction of the Nichizon school in Kyoto, brought into Taiseki-ji “transfer-ism” at the end of the 15th century, producing a myth that the successive high priests of Taiseki-ji had been transmitting ceaselessly through konshi and konku sojo the teaching of the Three Great Secret Laws. This “transfer-ism” was coupled with Taiseki-ji’s unique doctrinal creed. As a result, Nisshu, the 14th high priest, advocated the authority of yuiju ichinin and konku sojoat the end of the 6th century just before Taiseki-ji started to accept priests from the Yobo-ji School. Nissei, the 17th high priest, who also came from the Yobo-ji School, fiercely denounced the transcription of the Gohonzon by ordinary priests other than the chief administrator who exclusively received the heritage of the school through oral transmission. 

Thus within the Taiseki-ji School, during and after the Edo Era, there appeared a situation where two streams of thought were parallel and competed with each other: one is the traditional rules where the transcription and approval of the Gohonzon should be limited to the function of the chief administrator as an effective regulation to spread and uphold Nichiren Buddhism, and the other is the foreign “transfer-ism” where all the authorities regarding the Gohonzon should be given to the chief administrator based upon the idea of oral transmission. These two contradicting thoughts are still alive today within Nichiren Shoshu.

As I confirmed by examining a variety of data, within the Taiseki-ji School there were a number of cases where ordinary priests transcribed various Gohonzon or copied them or transformed them into wooden form based upon the school’s traditional rules. However, once “transfer-ism” became the mainstream idea within Taiseki-ji, the transcription of the Gohonzon by ordinary priests was erased from the official record of the Taiseki-ji School. This is my conclusion as the author of this thesis.

Supplement: Contradictions in View That Chief Administrator Exclusively Possesses Living Essence of True Buddha

The current Nichiren Shoshu contends that the high priest (chief administrator) of Taiseki-ji carries on the Living Essence of the True Buddha Nichiren within his life through his inheritance of the entity of the Law and, because of this inheritance, he alone possesses the supreme right to transcribe the Gohonzon. In actuality, however, there are Nichiren Shoshu temples throughout Japan that keep Gohonzon that were copied, or transformed into wooden form, or wood-blocked by ordinary priests who did not receive the heritage of the school. All these Gohonzon are respectfully enshrined or kept at various local temples.

Also, if the possession of the Living Essence of the founder that was received by the chief administrator through oral transmission is absolutely indispensable, it will mean that the former high priest, who is now retired, is not supposed to transcribe the Gohonzon any more. At the moment when a high priest transfers the Living Essence of the True Buddha to his successor, he is now devoid of his mysticism as he is no longer a holder of the Living Essence of the True Buddha.

In the history of Nichiren Shoshu, however, there are a number of cases where retired high priests transcribed the Gohonzon. According to the authors of “On the Transcription of the Object of Devotion” in Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshu, “The retired high priest transferred the water of the heritage of the Law to his successor from the vessel of his life to the vessel of his successor without losing even a single drop of water. Therefore, when it comes to the transcription of the Gohonzon, it should be limited to the high priest of the time alone.” According to these authors, however, even though the transcription of the Joju-Gohonzon should be done by the high priest of the time, when it comes to the transcription of the omamori or “future” or other types of Gohonzon, the contemporary high priest can ask the retired high priest to transcribe such Gohonzon on his behalf.[57]

There are too many logical inconsistencies in the argument that even the retired high priest whose possession of the Living Essence of the True Buddha is over is still qualified to transcribe the Gohonzon, but only on behalf of the current high priest. According to the theory of the transmission of the Living Essence of the True Buddha or the entity of the Law, the former and now retired high priest does not possess the Living Essence of the True Buddha or the water of the Law. But why can he still transcribe the Gohonzon on behalf of the current high priest? Is the Living Essence of the True Buddha being mysteriously shared with the retired high priest by the current high priest? If so, they don’t have to be too much attached to the way of the sole possession of the heritage. Just as Founders Nichiren and Nikko did, designating some six senior disciples and sharing with them all the spirit of the True Buddha and the water of the Law for the eternal propagation of the Law — this method can be said to be a much surer and safer way of protecting and transmitting the Law.

The view of the transmission of the Living Essence of the True Buddha or the entity of the Law in the life of the high priest of Taiseki-ji is obviously an illogical fiasco in light of many realities that color the history of the Taiseki-ji School.


Footnotes

1. Nichio Oishi, “Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind” (Bennaku Kanjin Sho), p. 212.

2. Complete Works of the Nichiren School (Nichiren Shu Shugaku Zensho), Vol. 2, p. 418.

3. Ibid., p. 418.

4. Regarding the point that Nikko did not show any sign of opposition to the other five senior priests’ transcription of the object of devotion, Shukudo Takahashi presumes that the fact that Nikko did not show any sign of opposition indicates Nikko’s disregard of their transcription of the object of devotion since they were slanderous anyway (Shukudo Takahashi, A Study of the History of Nichiren Shoshu [Nichiren Shoshu Shi no Kenkyu], 2002, published by Myodo-ji Office, p. 437). In general, Takahashi’s argument is too dogmatic. It lacks a neutral perspective that is vital in writing an academic thesis. To be a little more concrete, in structuring his logic, he places absolute value upon the current Nichiren Shoshu’s view of the transmission of the heritage that is not proven academically as valid. Not only that, Takahashi’s discussion seems to be failing in protecting the orthodox teachings of Nichiren and Nikko. If Nikko was just negligent in pointing out the five senior priests’ slanderous behavior of transcribing the object of devotion, Nikko’s behavior in this regard falls into the category of the slander of complacency, which means Nikko was also a slanderer. I wonder if Takahashi is satisfied with this characterization of Nikko.

5. The inheritance of the heritage through golden utterance (not the inheritance of the entity of the Law or the embodiment of the entity of the object of devotion in the life of the high priest) was taken seriously as the qualification to transcribe the object of devotion in the Taiseki-ji School after the Edo Era. The idea of regarding the inheritance of the entity of the Law as the qualification to transcribe the Gohonzon is not seen in various writings of Nichio, the 56th high priest. Nikken Abe of the current Nichiren Shoshu and his priesthood arbitrarily began to insist on this new teaching. Also, I made it clear in my Theses 1 and 2 that by the inheritance of the entity of the Law Nichio did not mean that a high priest receives the entity of the object of devotion from his predecessor, possessing it in his life.

6. In “On Formalities,” Nichiu, the ninth high priest, prohibited an ordinary priest other than a high priest from putting his signature in the Gohonzon that he transcribed. However, in the Gohonzon that Jakunichi-bo Nikke, a regular priest, transcribed the Gohonzon on June 3 in the second year of Shochu (1325), we can identify his signature below the name of Nichiren. We can also see Settsu Nissen’s signature in the Gohonzon he transcribed when he was a regular priest. These cases indicate that an ordinary priest’s putting his name in the Gohonzon seems acceptable in the pre-Nichiu, early days of the Fuji School. Nikken Abe, who served as chief administrator of Nichiren Shoshu until the end of 2005, insisted that the chief administrator alone is entitled to putting his signature in the Gohonzon he transcribes, stating “Transcription by the ordinary priest is permissible in general, but putting his signature in the Gohonzon cannot be tolerated by all means” (Refuting Soka Gakkai’s Fabrication of the Object of Worship [Soka Gakkai no Gizo Honzonngi o Hasu], by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office in 1997, p. 17). However, as I mentioned above, no one took issue with the ordinary priest’s putting his signature in the Gohonzon he transcribed in the days of Nikko and Nichimoku. Nichu’s regulation on formalities that reads in “On Formalities,” “The ordinary priest should not put his signature in the Gohonzon he transcribed” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 71) can be considered to be a changeable formality that was created in his days.

In “Comment on Teacher Nichiu’s ‘On Formalities,’” Nichiko Hori, in modern times, states that this school has been in a position to disallow the regular priest to put his signature in the Gohonzon he transcribes to make it clear which Gohonzon is genuine and which Gohonzon is temporary (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 113). In other words, what is meant by Nichiko’s statement is that the Gohonzon transcribed by an ordinary priest should be treated as a temporary Gohonzon. Nichiko did not articulate what the temporary Gohonzon means. In the pertinent section of “Comment on Teacher Nichiu’s ‘On Formalities,’” Nichiko is shedding light on the confusion in conjunction with the formalities related to the Gohonzon. According to his descriptions, it seems to me that the righteousness of the appearance of the Gohonzon transcribed by an ordinary priest cannot be officially judged without the approval of the chief administrator who formally received the heritage including the matters of the Gohonzon. According to this view by Nichiko, the temporary Gohonzon means the Gohonzon that exists prior to being approved as an official Gohonzon. It follows that the temporary Gohonzon is in no way different in quality from the formal Gohonzon transcribed by the chief administrator. 

7. Refuting Soka Gakkai’s Counterfeit Object of Worship –– 100 Questions and Answers compiled by Nichiren Shoshu Teachings Research Committee and published by Taiseki-ji Internal Affairs Department in 1994, p. 125. However, at the nationwide teachers’ seminar in 1997, Nikken Abe, then chief administrator of Nichiren Shoshu, remarked, “An overall perspective of the entirety of the formalities in view of the transcription of the Gohonzon confirms first of all the absolute existence of the heritage that was transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests of this school. A permission to transcribe the Gohonzon was given as an expedient means to the ordinary priest at some point in time in order to meet the needs of the Gohonzon (Refuting Soka Gakkai’s Fabrication of the Object of Worship, p. 24). Acknowledging that the local chief priest transcribed the Gohonzon in the past with permission from the chief administrator of the time, he withdrew the view of Nichiren Shoshu that was presented in Refuting Soka Gakkai’s Counterfeit Object of Worship – 100 Questions and Answers. As is clear from this fact, the current Nichiren Shoshu has not yet established its final view of this topic.

8. Refer to page 179, Essential Works of the Fuji School, Vol. 8. This object of devotion is stored at Jogyo-ji in Miyagi prefecture.

9. For details, refer to “Observation of Gohonzon Transcribed by Nikko Shonin and Supplement to Collection of Gohonzon Transcribed by Nikko Shonin,” Kofu #11, published by Kofu Seminary, 1997, pp. 333 and 369. Photos or illustrations of one hundred and sixty-one Gohonzon transcribed by Nikko are introduced in Collection of Gohonzon Transcribed by Nikko Shonin published by Kofu Seminary.

10. Saichiro Matsumoto, Collection of Gohonzon Transcribed by Nikko Shonin, p. 506.

11. According to Detailed Accounts of Nikko Shonin of the Fuji School, p. 575, the treasure list of Fuji Myoren-ji includes the seven Gohonzon transcribed by Nikke, and six of them were transcribed while Nikko was still alive. However, Nichiko is of the opinion that these Gohonzon by Nikke should be examined to determine their authenticity. A photo of the Gohonzon that Nikke transcribed on June 3 in the second year of Shochu (1325) is carried in Kodo Yanagisawa’s Research of Taiseki-ji’s Gohonzon (published by Hachisu Bunko, 1997, p. 30). This Gohonzon is transcribed in accord with the Gohonzon transcription formality of the Nikko school.

12. Complete Works of the Nichiren School, Vol. 2, p. 418.

13. I have a document interpreting the note that Nissei himself wrote in the fourth year of Keian (1651). This document is titled “Teacher Nissei’s Note on His Discord with Teacher Nisshun.” This note written by Nissei is not included in any of Nichiren Shoshu’s comprehensive documents such as Complete Works of Successive Chief Administrators of Nichiren Shoshu, Essential Works of the Fuji School and Doctrinal Study Writings. In other words, it is what is called an undisclosed document, and therefore, it is difficult to regard it as authentic unless we actually see his actual handwriting. Notwithstanding, this Nissei note refers to the fire that took place on October 12 in the eighth year of Kan’ei (1631) that destroyed various temples on the grounds of Taiseki-ji. It also touches upon the passing of Nisshu in February of the following year. It also refers to the reconstruction of the damaged temples thanks to the protection from a great lay believer. These facts accord with the descriptions of The Chronology of the Fuji School. This means that we can somehow trust the contents of this note by Nissei. In this connection, I took interest in the following descriptions in the part of the note where Nissei wrote about his transmission of the heritage to Nisshun:

1. Concerning the transmission of the heritage: When Nisshun came to Taiseki-ji as its chief administrator, I assembled priests and lay believers for him to exchange a document of lasting promise with me. I still questioned his sincerity in the depths of his heart, so in the meantime I transferred another school’s heritage to him.

Suppose we adopt the above statement by Nissei, when Nissei and Nisshun made a pledge of mentor and disciple in the summer of the 18th year of Kan’ei (1641) (as On the Transfer of the Heritage of This School, Part II, describes) it follows that Nissei, because of his distrust of Nisshun, transmitted another school’s heritage to Nisshun. Whether Nisshun was aware of this fact or not, Nisshun, as a matter of fact, served for as many as four years as chief priest of Taiseki-ji under the influence of another school’s heritage. Moreover, as I will mention later, Nisshun transcribed the Gohonzon based upon another school’s heritage. This document titled “Teacher Nissei’s Note on His Discord with Teacher Nisshun” contains a message that is so significant as to destroy the “myth of the heritage” created by the current Nichiren Shoshu. A further serious examination of the authenticity of the contents of this document is in order.

14. Section 2 of “Various Records” compiled by Jundo Nose, publication year is unknown, p. 101.

15. Section 3 of “Various Records” compiled by Jundo Nose, publication year is unknown, p. 101.

16. With regards to this matter, the current Nichiren Shoshu looks upon the “mentor-disciple promise” made between Nissei and Nisshun in the summer of the 18th year of Kan’ei (1641) as the transference of the lifeblood of Buddhism and the actual transmission of the heritage and regards the transfer of the heritage from Nissei to Nisshun in October of the second year of Shoho (1645) as a mere ceremony (Refuting Yumo Matsuoka’s Slanderous “Refutation of Faith in the Absolute Authority of High Priest,” complied by Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office, September 2005, p. 21). I would like to point out that Nisshun himself, in his “Notes (shofu)” (the copy is stored at Taiseki-ji), wrote down just “I met with Teacher Nissei” about his meeting with Nissei in Edo after he took office as its chief administrator and clearly referred to “the transmission of the heritage” about another meeting he had with Nissei in October in the second year of Shoho (CWSHP, Vol. 2, p. 329). Also, in On the Transfer of the Heritage of This School, Part II, Nichiryo describes regarding the transmission of the heritage from Nissei to Nisshun in October in the second year of Shoho, “Inheriting the important matter of the heritage that has been transmitted through golden utterance in this school, Teacher Nisshun thus became the legitimate 19th chief administrator of Taiseki-ji (EWFS, Vol. 5, p. 271). Judging from this description in On the Transfer of the Heritage of This School, Part II, it is inconceivable to think that Nichiryo regarded this transmission of the heritage from Nissei to Nisshun as a mere ceremony. Also, the expression “mentor-disciple promise” does not necessarily imply the transference of the lifeblood of Buddhism and the actual transmission of the heritage. The mentor-disciple promise is no more than a contract made between them, as one will fulfill the role of mentor and the other the role of disciple. Furthermore, if the actual transmission of the heritage was done when they made a mentor-disciple pledge, it does not make sense that they performed the important transmission of the heritage again four years later. The current Nichiren Shoshu’s view of the truth of the Nissei-Nisshun transmission of the heritage must be branded as illogical and intentionally biased in interpreting the historical data. 

17. The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School (revised version), p. 257.

18. Section 7 of “Various Records,” compiled by Jundo Nose, publication year is unknown, p. 254.

19. The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School (revised version), p. 201.

20. The Nichiren Shoshu’s historical data that first referred to the existence of the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary and its transmission is Nisshu’s “On ‘Matters to Be Observed after Nikko’s Death'” (Nikko Ato Jojo no Koto Jisho) (the original of this document is stored at Taiseki-ji). In this document, Nisshu described about the transmission of the entity of the Law in terms of the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching (CWSHP, Vol. 1, p. 459).

21. On the History of the Fuji School, #4, compiled by Mitsuaki Osawa, 1982, p. 9.

22. Ibid., p. 10.

23. As to this point, Shukudo Takahashi, a current Nichiren Shoshu priest, presumes, “As I discussed before, Nichikan Shonin made it clear that the ultimate right to transcribe the Gohonzon belongs to the high priest. It is hard to think that Teacher Nichiho, who received his lecture, transcribed the Gohonzon to respond to a request from a lay believer. His transcription of the Gohonzon must have been done with a permission from the 28th high priest, Nissho Shonin (A Study of the History of Nichiren Shoshu, p. 444). When Takahashi claims that Nichikan made it clear that the ultimate right to transcribe the Gohonzon belongs to the high priest, he points to Nichikan’s statements such as “The Seven Orally Transmitted Teachings of the Object of Devotion, the Threefold Orally Transmitted Teaching, Important Points for Transcribing the Gohonzon and so forth — all belong to the heritage of this school that has been transmitted only along the lineage of the successive high priests of this school. Why are they to be revealed?” (“The Exegesis of ‘The Essentials of the Lotus Sutra,’” in The Collection of Commentaries, p. 599). However, the quoted part of “The Exegesis of ‘The Essentials of the Lotus Sutra,’” only points out that the transfer documents of the object of devotion are the sole responsibility of the chief administrator who received the heritage of the school. It is not meant to confirm authoritatively that “the ultimate right to transcribe the Gohonzon belongs to the high priest.” Also, another question is how come the chief priest of Myoren-ji could transcribe the Gohonzon if only he had permission from the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji? What would happen to Nichio’s assertion that “No one without receiving the heritage of the Law through oral transmission along the lineage of the successive chief administrators of this school is eligible to transcribe the Gohonzon”? Takahashi needs to be more logical. Taiseki-ji and Myoren-ji are one geographically and in terms of faith. If in those days Taiseki-ji had the firm faith that “No one without receiving the heritage of the Law through oral transmission along the lineage of the successive chief administrators of this school is eligible to transcribe the Gohonzon,” Nichiho, who came from Taiseki-ji, must have refrained from transcribing the Gohonzon while asking the chief administrator of the time to transcribe the Joju-Gohonzon for his lay believer. Thinking this way is most natural, and Takahashi’s logic does not stand on solid footing. 

24. I would like to point out that along this line there was a movement at Taiseki-ji to restore the study of the teaching of its early days around the time of Nichiei, the 24th high priest, and that under such circumstances, Nichikan engaged himself in copying the various writings that focused on Nichiu’s remarks. It seems that Nichikan and his contemporaries were eager to carry on the original, orthodox teachings of Taiseki-ji. This is just my presumption, but they most likely were well aware of the contents of Nichiu’s “On Formalities,” the original of which exists at Taiseki-ji. They also must have been aware that “On Formalities” contained a clause that grants the ordinary priest a conditional right to transcribe the Gohonzon. That illustrates the difference between Nichikan and his contemporaries and Nissei who was strongly attached to the “transfer-ism” of the Yobo-ji School and absolutely prohibited any regular priests to transcribe the Gohonzon.

25. Right after the quote I cited, Nichiko states, “Other schools’ priests, without inheriting the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism, randomly transcribe the Gohonzon. They don’t take their behavior as presumptuous and slanderous. Not only that, the way they transcribe the Gohonzon is wholly self-righteous and erroneous” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 112). According to this statement, Nichiko was cognizant of the importance of the transmission of the heritage through the golden utterance from the viewpoint of avoiding a self-righteous and erroneous way of transcribing the Gohonzon. Nichiko’s view of the transmission of the heritage through the golden utterance was different from the current Nichiren Shoshu’s mysterious view that the entity of the object of devotion is carried into the life of the high priest through the reception of the heritage through the golden utterance. Nichiko’s attitude toward the confusion of the format in transcribing the Gohonzon was also seen in the formative days of the Taiseki-ji School. For instance, in On Refuting the Erroneous and Establishing the Correct (that Nichijun, Nikko’s disciple, wrote in March in the fifth year of Shohei [1350]), there is a statement that was very critical about the Gohonzon that Nichizo, a disciple of Nichiro, transcribed: “Regarding the signature he placed under daimoku in the Gohonzon he transcribed and other issues: The more serious problem that is spotted in view of the Gohonzon he transcribed is that it does not look like the Gohonzon that the Sage inscribed. It embodies something different (from the Sage’s life). It embodies insanity and slander” (EWFS, Vol. 2, p. 50). Even if strictness toward the appearance of the mandala Gohonzon is a time-honored tradition of the Taiseki-ji School, it does not mean that this tradition stems from the idea of the transmission of the heritage through golden utterance. Philologically speaking, it is more convincing to think that the Nikko School had is own view of the appearance of the mandala Gohonzon based upon the founder’s teaching of the Gohonzon, which later became mixed with the Yobo-ji School’s idea of the transmission of the heritage through golden utterance — this was to the point where the idea developed that there will be confusion about the Gohonzon unless the transmission of the heritage through the golden utterance proceeds along the lineage of the successive high priests.

26. Various Records, Section 7, compiled by Jundo Nose, p. 226.

27. A Study of the History of Nichiren Shoshu written by Shukudo Takahashi, p. 443.

28. The current Nichiren Shoshu explains that the Articles 77 and 78 of “On Formalities” were created to allow local chief priests to transcribe the Gohonzon for the lay believers who resided faraway from Taiseki-ji. For instance, Nikken Abe states, “Nichiu Shonin, in his ‘On Formalities,’ temporarily permitted the chief priests of local temples to transcribe the Gohonzon or omamori Gohonzon because in those days the country was in the chaotic times of war, and the national communication system was very behind, which made it much more difficult for faraway believers to apply for the conferral of the Gohonzon than today. In any case, the permission that Nichiu Shonin gave to the chief priests of local temples was of a temporary nature” (Refuting Soka Gakkai’s Fabrication of the Object of Worship, by Nikken Abe, p. 17). However, nowhere in “On Formalities” is the statement that the chief priests of local temples are allowed to transcribe the Gohonzon in view of transportation difficulties in distant areas. Nikken’s view is no more than a speculation. The transcription of the Gohonzon by priests other than the successive chief administrators of Taiseki-ji was not viewed as slanderous in the early, formative days of the Taiseki-ji School. For this reason, it seems that the conditional, free transcription of the Gohonzon by priests other than the high priests of Nichiren Shoshu were naturally allowed in “On Formalities” that came into existence by categorizing Nichiu’s guidelines.

29. Various Records, Section. 7, by Jundo Nose, p. 355.

30. These photos were sent to me via a person around 1994. I personally did not take these photos.

31. “On the Gohonzon Enshrined at Hachiman Shrine and Other Locations in Taiseki-ji’s Neighborhood” by Hando Yamaguchi. Published in The Seeking Spirit #12, 1997, p. 49.

32. Reference to munefuda is usually made in case the instances of munefuda are mentioned in Various Records compiled by Jundo Nose.

33. Nichikan, the 26th high priest, states, “The five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo is the true entity of Myoho-renge-kyo. This object of devotion has the two aspects of the Law and the Person. 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 himself” (EWFS, Vol. 10, p. 73). The true entity of the object of devotion, when viewed from the doctrine of the Taiseki-ji School, is “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo-Nichiren-Signature” that is written down the center of the Gohonzon. For this reason, the minimum condition for an object of devotion to be regarded as the Gohonzon in the Taiseki-ji School is that the daimoku of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the name of Nichiren is written there. In this regard, the mandala transcribed by Nissho, which is equipped with the ten worlds with the daimoku and the name of Nichiren down the center must be regarded as a legitimate object of devotion in the Taiseki-ji School. Following the above viewpoint, I would hold that the mandala Gohonzon called the doshi (leader) Gohonzon with the descriptions of “Emma Ho-o (King Emma)” and “Godo Myokan” (an officer to judge in hell the people of the five paths), which came to be produced even in the Taiseki-ji School from around the Edo Era should be regarded as a legitimate Gohonzon. However, the current Nichiren Shoshu’s contention that the deceased will not attain Buddhahood unless the doshi Gohonzon is enshrined at the time of their funeral is not rooted in Nichiren’s writings at all. I agree with the theory that even the doshi Gohonzon is a correct object of devotion, but I don’t agree that the doshi Gohonzon is a requisite for the deceased to attain Buddhahood. It may be presumed that Taiseki-ji came to produce the doshi Gohonzon because of influences from other schools, but it seems that how it began to be created within the Taiseki-ji School is not known even to the school (Jugen Matsumura, A Study of Ceremonies of Nichiren School, published by Heigaku-ji Publishing Co., 2001, p. 69).

34. These Gohonzon are the one transcribed by Nikko on February 12 in the third year of Showa (1314). Its conferee’s name is “Blind Person Kiseki-bo.” This Gohonzon is stored at Seson-ji in Niigata and the other transcribed by Nichimoku in April in the second year of Shochu (1314). Its recipient note reads, “To be conferred upon Saiso Ajari Nichigo.” This Gohonzon is stored at Koizumi Kuon-ji in Shizuoka.

35. The picture of this munefuda transcribed by Nikken Abe was uploaded on the Internet by Cyeokunoken on February 28, 2006 (http://8004.teacup.com/cyeokunoken/bbs/). My description is based upon this information.

36. An added description in “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” (that is contained in Essentials Works of the Fuji School) has a stipulation that reads, “No mention of ‘Nichiren Zai-gohan (with his signature) in the transcribed Gohonzon’ means that both heavenly and earthly deities will not trust such Gohonzon” (EWFS, Vol. 1, p. 32). However, among the mandala Gohonzon that Nikko transcribed in his early days (Shoho Era) are two Gohonzon where he transcribed down the center “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo-Nichiren Shonin” (without a mention of his signature) (refer to Collection of Gohonzon Transcribed by Nikko Shonin, pp. 44 and 52). Also, “Nichiren Shonin,” not “Nichiren Zai-gohan” is written in the Gohonzon transcribed by Nichimoku, the third chief administrator of Taiseki-ji, in April in the third year of Shochu (1326) for Nichigo. In this regard, there is no denying the possibility that the added part of “The Transmission of Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon” came into existence after the passing of Nikko and Nichimoku.

37. Nichio Oishi, “Clarifying Illusion and Observing One’s Mind,” p. 212.

38. Hodo Oku, Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshu, published by Shokyo-ji, 1980, p. 13.

39. Ibid., p. 38

40. For Restoring the Way of the Founder and Establishing Truly Correct Faith, 1980, p. 13.

41. Ibid., p. 13

42. Various Records, Section 19, compiled by Jundo Nose (publishing date is unknown), refers in its appendix to “Old Temples’ Wooden Gohonzon.” 

43. Shukudo Takahashi rebuts my contention, saying: “It is confirmed that the object of devotion enshrined at Myoho-ji was transcribed by Nichiu. It is erroneous to judge that this object of devotion was not transcribed by High Priest Nichu simply because his signature is not written there” (A Study of the History of Nichiren Shoshu, p. 448). As to this subject, what I said was, “it is presumable,” not “it is judged.” A solid examination of historical data is in order to judge historical matters. Unfortunately, at this point in time, I am not in a position to investigate in person the “Shishinden” Gohonzon enshrined at Myoho-ji. If Takahashi has had a chance to investigate it, it would be worthwhile to listen to what he has to say, but I wonder how in the world he confirmed that the object of devotion enshrined at Myoho-ji was transcribed by Nichiu. Why does the “Shishinden” Gohonzon enshrined at Myoho-ji not have Nichiu’s signature? Takashi answers none of these vital questions about this object of devotion. As long as he asserts that my presumption is erroneous, he should not lose any time in disclosing the academic basis upon which he denies my assumption.

44. Various Records, Section 8, complied by Jundo Nose, p. 215. Its publication year is unknown. 

45. An Introduction of Nichiren Shoshu Temples, published in 1992. Author’s name is unknown. In the section on Horyu-zan Butsugen-ji, there is a mention that “the wooden Gohonzon enshrined at the main Gohonzon room is a copy of the Gohonzon transcribed by Teacher Nikko on February 13 in the second year of Kangen for Disciple Shiyo Matsumaro Kyoko (p. 29). An Introduction of Nichiren Shoshu Temples is a collection of articles of seventy-eight Nichiren Shoshu temples that were published in the Renge magazine, an organ of Nichiren Shoshu, from its August 1973 issue to December 1978 issue. 

46. For Restoring the Way of the Founder and Establishing Truly Correct Faith, p. 28.

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

48. Observation of Gohonzon Transcribed by Nikko Shonin, published by Bussho Kankokai, p. 230.

49. This one example is the wooden Gohonzon that was based upon the Gohonzon transcribed by Nikko in March in the fourth year of Kagen (Various Records, Section 15, p. 445). “Eye-opened and signed by Nichiryo, the 48th of Taiseki-ji” is written in the back of this Gohonzon. This indicates that an ordinary priest created this wooden Gohonzon and Nichiryo endorsed it at a later time.

50. The following is a list of those Gohonzon that show no sign of acknowledgement by Taiseki-ji chief administrators (Various Records, Jundo Nose). 

  • Myoen-ji, Miyagi prefecture

Wooden Gohonzon based upon a Gohonzon that Nichiren inscribed in Koan Era. No date is mentioned. No recipient name is written (Various Records, Section 8, p. 241).

  • Shinko-ji in Chiba prefecture

Wooden Gohonzon based upon the Gohonzon that Nikko transcribed on August 13 in the second year of Kangen (Various Records, Section 19, appendix).
Wooden Gohonzon based upon the Gohonzon that was transcribed by Nikko in February in the fourth year of Kagen and is now enshrined at the reception hall (Various Records, Section 15, p. 441).

  • Joshodo Temple at Taiseki-ji

Wooden Gohonzon transcribed by Nichikan. No mention of the transcription date and recipient name. No note on the back of the Gohonzon (Various Records, Section 1, p. 108).

  • Renjo-ji in Fukushima prefecture

Wooden Gohonzon based upon the Gohonzon that Nikko transcribed in March in the fourth year of Kagen (Various Records, Section 19, appendix).

  • Renko-ji in Shizuoka prefecture

Wooden Gohonzon based upon a Gohonzon that was transcribed by Nikko on January 30 in the fourth year of Kareki and is now enshrined at the main Gohonzon room. No mention of the recipient’s name on the Gohonzon (Various Records, Section 7, p. 199). 

  • Jogyo-ji and Myokyo-ji in Miyagi prefecture

Wooden Gohonzon based upon the Gohonzon that was transcribed by Nikko on February 25 in the fourth year of Showa (Various Records, Section 19, appendix). 

Note: There are two wooden Gohonzon based upon the Gohonzon transcribed by Nikko on February 25 in the fourth year of Showa. Each temple keeps one. According to Various Records, Jogyo-ji also keeps its original paper Gohonzon.

51. The 100-Year History of Myoko-ji compiled by the Compilation Committee of The 100-Year History of Myoko-ji, 1996, p. 164.

52. Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshu, pp. 32–37.

53. The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School (revised version), pp. 385, 387.

54. Jisai Watanabe, The True Cause for the Downfall of Nichiren Shoshu, p. 67.

55. Incidentally, Nichiren also had the idea that the words are the ultimate reality (“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” WND, Vol. 1, p. 383).

56. There is a record that indicates that Nichiko Hori regarded the transcription of the Gohonzon in the Taiseki-ji School as a matter of formality. At the summer seminar held from August 19 to August 23, 1939, Nichiko lectured under the title of “The Decline of the Study of the Fuji School.” Still in existence are the notes that Kodo Sugitani, a Nichiren Shoshu priest, took. According to Sugitani’s notes, Nichiko stated, “In the middle age, the chief administrator of Taiseki-ji did not engage himself in making (hi)fu or transcribing the omamoriGohonzon, either, for believers who lived faraway from the head temple. Matters of formality should be changeable in accord with the changing times.” Regarding the decline of the study of the Fuji School, Nichiko shares an interesting view, which I would like to introduce here for future generations’ reference:

“Even if he had read ‘On the Receiving of the Three Great Secret Laws,’ Nitcho did not specify any location for the construction of the high sanctuary of Nichiren Buddhism. Nichijun, who studied at Mount Hiei, asserted that Mount Fuji should be the place for the high sanctuary of the essential teaching, as opposed to Mount Hiei where the high sanctuary of the theoretical teaching was built. Nichijun disclosed this idea in ‘On Refuting the Five Senior Priests,’ The true perspective of Founder Nichiren was that the high sanctuary is equal to the place where the Gohonzon is enshrined. According to the Hiei School, the place where people chant daimoku is equal to the high sanctuary. The object of devotion is not correctly respected in this theory of the Hiei School, where the correct view of the high sanctuary is lost. Buddhism that does not fully guide people is not a true teaching. The correct teaching means that the Buddha guides the people to the higher life-condition. The purpose of the Buddha’s advent can be said to have been achieved only when those guided by the Buddha establish the same life-condition as the Buddha’s. It can be said that the Atsuhara Incident, which took place in the second year of Koan (1279), and where the farmers displayed death-defying faith, signifies the accomplishment of the purpose of Founder Nichiren’s advent.”

In this remark, Nichiko considers the construction of the general sanctuary that Nichikan refers to as the true intent of the Founder. Nichiko finds the fulfillment of the purpose of the advent of the Founder in the appearance of the believers who truly shared the Buddha’s intent in their lives. These views shared by Nichiko makes us wonder if Nichiko had his own views of the high sanctuary and the fulfillment of the purpose of the founder’s advent that went over the boundary of Nichikan’s ideas. Those who specialize in the matters of Taiseki-ji need to look into these remarks by Nichiko, including the accuracy of Sugitani’s note.

57. Collection of Data of Formalities of Nichiren Shoshu, pp. 40-41.

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