Lecture By Nittatsu Shonin, 66th High Priest
Recently, there have been a number of disputes between the Gakkai and the priesthood. We, the priesthood, have no intention of crushing or dismantling the Gakkai. Over the years the Gakkai has become prone to making mistakes in the Nichiren Shoshu doctrine. We merely wish to correct their mistakes and bring them back to the pure faith of the old past days. Of course, during this period, the Gakkai contributed greatly to the priesthood. This was a great achievement.
Even though the contribution was great, it will come to be of no value if they embrace the wrong doctrine and deviate from the guidance of the priesthood. We wish only that they will stop making such kinds of mistakes. That is why we are now pointing out various things to somehow try to reform the Gakkai. Some young people have united, although "united" might not be the word. The purpose of their movement, to point out the Gakkai's mistakes, indicates our sentiment that we do not want all the contributions of the Gakkai over the years to have been in vain. We are not ridiculing or criticizing them to increase the number of direct supporters of the temples. Reverends of the local temples, also members of the Gakkai, as well as those who have become danto and Hokkeko members, please understand this point. From now on, if anything goes wrong, it will be freely pointed out. Even now, should the Internal Affairs Department discover a mistake, it will actively investigate the matter. I am convinced that only in so doing can we elevate Nichiren Shoshu as disciples and believers of the Daishonin. Indeed, in the Gakkai it is being said: "...We don't recall having said President Ikeda is the Buddha. That would never happen in the Gakkai." When we look back, however, it was around 1975 that a few people in the Gakkai published a booklet entitled, Hi no kuni (Land of Fire). A passage in this text clearly states: "The President is a Buddha."
We recently discovered that back in 1963 and 1964, before this incident ever occurred, Gakkai graduates and seniors of the study department were already saying: "The President is a Buddha." We were not aware of this when they went to their districts and gave Gosho lectures. It was learned that they went to a certain district and made the following explanations of frequently quoted parts of the Gosho. For example, a passage in the Gosho, "Admonitions Against Slander" reads: " In general, this transfer was made to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, but specifically, to Bodhisattva Jogyo himself. If you confuse the general with the specific even in the slightest, you will never be able to attain enlightenment...." This is a frequently-quoted part of the Gosho. Their interpretation of it is as follows: "'General' refers to the transfer of the heritage. Specifically, the transfer is to President Ikeda, our Master in faith." This was stated in 1963 and 1964. We did not know anything about this. Young people who called themselves graduates [of Soka Gakkai Study Department] went to the districts and earnestly said such things to convince the members.
However, "general" and "specific" should not be interpreted this way. The use of such words as 'general' and 'specific' cleverly twists the meaning of Buddhist terminology. They insist that "'general' refers to the transfer of the heritage." Why would the transfer of the heritage be general? That is utterly ridiculous. They also say, "The specific transfer is to President Ikeda, our great Master in faith." Based on these statements, they claim that President Ikeda received the transfer of the Heritage of the Law and that the heritage exists in the Gakkai. Further, the Gosho, "Letter to Niike" says: "No matter what, be close to the priest who knows the heart of the Lotus Sutra, keep learning from him the truth of Buddhism and continue your journey of faith." Their explanation is as follows: "Seven hundred years ago, this referred to the Daishonin. At the present time, it is President Ikeda." It is their contention that the priest who knows the heart of the Lotus Sutra is the Daishonin. If at the present time, he is President Ikeda, does that mean in the final analysis, that President Ikeda is Nichiren Daishonin? These were the things the Gakkai had already started saying in the districts in 1963 and 1964.
Foolishly, we didn't know. It is indeed regrettable. Sixteen or seventeen years have already passed since that time. The erroneous doctrinal interpretations over this period of time are difficult to correct overnight. This is why, now, we are enmeshed in the present dispute. The priests, therefore, must firmly determine to point out the mistakes in the doctrinal analyses and, also, to resolutely provide guidance to the people. In this regard, the priests must correctly internalize Nichiren Daishonin's teachings. It is, of course, necessary to know about Buddhism in general, to strongly protect the temple and to instruct the believers. Do not give instruction on trivialities such as whether or not one receives benefits. I hear that some priests teach in this way, but do not talk about such insignificant things. Instead, please cultivate a strong foundation in Buddhist study. In the past, at the Rissho, (a well-known school run by the Minobu sect), Buddhist study was introduced at the high school level. Even the Rissho Ankoku Ron was taught to the high school students. Today, however, such a lecture is unavailable until one reaches the university level. That is why the people in the past had a dear understanding of general Buddhism. Today, for the most part, Buddhist study has been neglected. For this reason, please attend a university even now and absorb the available lectures on Buddhist studies, even if they involve other sects. Redouble your efforts to study the teachings of our sect to correctly prepare yourselves.
Always remember that, if someone says something wrong, even though he is the president or vice-president, if you do not firmly point out the error, you will not be fulfilling your responsibility as a Nichiren Shoshu priest. Please make this determination. Those who are members of the Myokan-kai must embrace this spirit. Do not get into superficial arguments. This must be done to pay back the contributions of the Gakkai in the past. The Gosho states, "The debts of gratitude to the white crow are repaid to the black crow." This is indeed the case. I would like to impress upon the priests of the Myokan-kai that we must embrace the spirit of leading the people through the tenets of the True Law, teaching all people and protecting the priesthood. Please keep this in mind as you redouble your efforts in your studies, in deepening your faith, and in protecting the priesthood. I will conclude my remarks on this occasion by asking this of you today.
Thank you very much.
66th High Priest Nichiren Shoshu