The SGI just ran their annual April attack on Nichiren Shu and Nichiren’s disciples in “Living Buddhism.” In the process, they tell bald faced lies about Nichiren and his Six Senior Disciples, including Nikko Shonin. Yes, they praise Nikko, but by misrepresenting him, they also discredit him. Here is a segment, courtesy of Byrd:

“The doctrine of the Fuji School is understood through the concept of the three treasures. Nichiren Daishonin is regarded as the Treasure of the Buddha, The Gohonzon as the Treasure of the Law, and Nikko as the Treasure of the Buddhist community.”

“In contrast, the five senior priests did not view Nichiren Daishonin as the original Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. Contrary to Nichiren’s own teachings, they declared themselves to be priests of the Tendai School and eventually propounded their own teachings that are not consistent with those of Nichiren Daishonin. Nikko refuted those erroneous doctrines in writings such as “The Guidelines for Believers of the Fuji School (Gosho Zenshu pp1601-09) and “On Refuting the Five Priests” (GZ, 1610-17)”

We don’t have a translation of the two documents cited. The first is apparently authentic, and if I understand correctly, says nothing of the sort. The second is considered a forgery, and is probably the source of the slanderous comments.

Nikko Shonin had some issues with his colleagues, but he never taught the kind of nonsense SGI and Taisekiji attribute to him. Here is an actual quotation from Nikko:

“The Lord of Teachings of Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, Shakyamuni Buddha enlightened from remote ages past; … is the reason for Sage Nichiren’s Advent in this World.”

As we have gone over here ad nauseam, the Nichiren as the True deviation Buddha is nothing but a minority view created by some loopy nationalistic medieval Hokke Shinto monks in Nikko’s lineage. Taisekiji dogma is basically crypto-shintoism; posing as Buddhism. Even the evergreens on the altar are of Shinto origin; real Buddhists offer flowers.

There is nothing wrong with Hokke Shinto; it is found in all forms of Nichiren Buddhism that I have encountered. In the benign form, the kami of Japan are accepted as minor local forms of Buddhist Divinities; just as I like to accept Jesus and Mary as emanations of Samantabhadra and Avalokitesvara.

However, in the malignant nationalistic form of Hokke Shinto, the Kami are seen as the original or true divinities; while the Vedic forms are seen as provisional. Nichiren is identified with the Japanese Sun Goddess; who is seen as the original identity of Shakyamuni. The rationale for this hokum is derived from puns, meanings of Chinese characters used to transliterate Sanskrit names or terms, and similar nonsensical psycho-babble.

The acorn {SGI} has not fallen far from the Taisekiji Oak Tree. These next quotations are from Nichiren Shoshu web-sites:

“The Dai-Gohonzon that Nichiren Daishonin inscribed in the form of a mandala is the enlightened life of the True Buddha Himself, possessing the Three Virtues of Sovereign, Teacher and Parent.” — Myosetsuji Temple

“the Gohonzon is the Buddha of limitless joy and the original Buddha of the Three Properties . The Gohonzon is the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin. In fact, if you look carefully at the Gohonzon, you will notice that down the center of the Gohonzon there is written not only “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,” but “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo – Nichiren.” This has great significance.” —

“The Gohonzon of Honmon” is the life of the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, inscribed by his own hand. We can fuse with the Gohonzon and attain the life of the Buddha by the practice called “Gongyo and Shodai” to the Gohonzon, the very entity of the True Buddha. Nichiren Daishonin indicates that the Gohonzon of Honmon itself is the ultimate reality of Buddhism.” — The Nichiren Shoshu Temple in Washington D.C.

So what did Nichiren have to say? Here is a sampling:

“Shakyamuni, the World-Honored One, is our august sovereign. It is he who is to be regarded as the supreme object of veneration.”

“Shakyamuni, the World-Honored One, who is our father and mother and is endowed with the three virtues of sovereign, teacher, and parent.”

“Shakyamuni is the original teacher for all people, as well as their sovereign and their parent.”

“Strangely enough, they do not follow Shakyamuni, who is their sovereign, teacher, and parent. “

Soooooooo, does it really matter which Buddha we place in the center? Perhaps it does not. Maybe Nichiren should have chilled a bit on that issue. But let us at least be honest about what Nichiren taught!

Oh, and I do think it is important. My take is that following the Dharma is primary, but not enough. We also need the personal example of perfected humanity that the historical Buddha displayed. There is, of course, more to it than that; but the Lotus Sutra does not replace the historical Shakyamuni with some mythical being. It declares that Shakyamuni’s true enlightenment is Eternal, it was not acquired for the first time under the Bo tree. The Buddha of Juryo states that his teaching of three vehicles and parinirvana were expedients. Clearly, that means during his life as Gotama. Moreover, Nichiren wrote:

“The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being”