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Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism
Gosho writings of Nichiren
|High Priest||Nichi Nyo Shonin|
|Buddhist temple||732|
|Liturgy||Liturgy of Nichiren Shoshu|
|Headquarters||Base of Mount Fuji|
Minobu, Yamanashi, later transferred to Taisekiji
|Members||550,000 lay members|
|Official website||Nichiren Shoshu Website|
|Part of a series on|
Nichiren Shōshū (日蓮正宗 English: Orthodox School of Nichiren) is a branch of Nichiren Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th-century Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222–1282). Nichiren Shōshū claims Nichiren as its founder through his disciple Nikko Shonin (1246–1333), the founder of the school's Head Temple Taiseki-ji, located at the base of Mount Fuji. Nichiren Shōshū has adherents around the world, with the largest concentration in Japan. The Myohoji Temple located in Los Angeles, California serves as the organization's headquarters in the United States.
The main object of worship and veneration by its believers is the Dai Gohonzon, presently enshrined in Hoando building located in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture while the official logo used is the round crane (Japanese: Tsuru-no-Maru). Both its leadership and adherents ascribe a uniquely honorific title to Nichiren, as the Dai-Shonin (Great Teacher) while maintaining that the sole legitimate successor to both his ministry and legacy is Nikko Shonin alone and the successive high priests of Nichiren Shōshū.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Hokkeko
- 3 Crest
- 4 Doctrine
- 5 Daily practice
- 6 The Dai-Gohonzon
- 7 Religious practices
- 8 List of High Priests
- 9 Offshoot lay groups
- 10 Opposing views
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Nichiren Shōshū is a school rooted in Mahayana Buddhism. Its original name is Nichiren School (Shu) of the Fuji area, branch of Taisekiji Temple. After the Meiji restoration, it was designated its own name as Nichiren Shoshu in 1912. Its head temple, the Taiseki-ji, is located on the lower slopes of Mount Fuji in Japan. Taiseki-ji is visited regularly by Nichiren Shōshū believers from around the world who come to chant to the Dai Gohonzon, which was described by Nichiren as "the essence of my Buddahood written in Sumi Ink". Unlike other Mahayana Buddhist practices, Nichiren expounded the Lotus Sutra and chanting Nam-myōhō-renge-kyō as a way for anyone to obtain Enlightenment regardless of one's position in life, condition of circumstances, gender and occupational role as well as not necessarily waiting to be reincarnated into another future existence.
Nichiren Shōshū claims over 700 local temples and additional temple-like (propagation centers) facilities in Japan.. It also claims 22 overseas official temples - six in the United States, two in Indonesia (Jakarta and Bogor), as well as temples in Brazil, France, Ghana, Singapore, the Philippines and Spain, and 10 propagation centers - two propagation centers in South Korea (Seoul and Busan) as well as others in Argentina (Buenos Aires), Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Hong Kong, Malaysia (Klang), and nine official temples and one propagation building in Taiwan. In 2002, Nichiren Shōshū claimed approximately 350,000 registered believers in Japan and approximately 200,000 registered in overseas countries.
Nichiren Shōshū claims a direct lineage of successive High Priests from Nikko Shonin called Yuijo Ichinen Kechimyaku Sojo who they believe was chosen by Nichiren to carry on the propagation of his Buddhist practice in the Latter Day of the Law, which is a focus that distinguishes the Nichiren school in general. This direct transmission of the Law is set forth in the following Nichiren documents:
- The Law that Nichiren propagated throughout his life (Nichiren ichi-go guho fu-zo-ku-sho)
- The Ikegami Transfer Document (Minobu-San-Fu-Zo-Ku-sho)
- The 106 Articles of Nichiren Shōshū (Hya-Ku-Rokka-Sho)
Nichiren Shōshū is currently led by the Sixty-Eighth High Priest, Nichinyo Shōnin (1935–). Nichiren Shōshū priests distinguish themselves from those of most other schools by wearing only white and grey vestment robes and a white surplice, as they believe Nichiren did. The colour of the robes symbolizes the way that the lotus flower grows straight and true through the mud. Since the Meiji period, Nichiren Shōshū priests, like other Japanese Buddhist sects, have been permitted to marry.
Lay believers are organized in temple-based congregations known as Hokkekō groups, designed to encourage solidarity among fellow members to study the Nichiren Shoshu doctrines and plan one's Tozan pilgrimage to the head temple in Japan. Most attend services at a local temple or in private homes when no temple is nearby. Services are usually officiated by a priest, but lay leaders sometimes fill in when no priest is available. When they gather, believers frequently study Nichiren Shōshū teachings, particularly the various writings of Nichiren, called Gosho. A leader in a local group or district is called Koto while a widely held position on a grander scale was once called So-Koto, now expired and no longer used.. The present Dai-Koto of the Hokkeko Federation is Koichiro Hoshino.
The official symbol of Nichiren Shōshū is the crane bird (Tsuru). More specifically, the posture of the crane is in a circular position (Tsuru-no-Maru). The crane, being a longstanding symbol of prowess and longevity is attributed to Nichiren, who is viewed as a Buddha for the latter age. Pious beliefs also recount the pairing of two cranes, one having an open beak while the other closed, symbolically representing the "Master and Disciple" relationship. Another notable meaning often used is the phrase "Yui Butsu Yo Butsu Nai No Kujin" which references the 2nd chapter of the Lotus Sutra, emphasizing that Buddhahood and the true nature of all phenomena can only be fully understood between already enlightened beings. Pious legends attribute that Nichiren took on this crest after seeing cranes take flight sometime after the Atsuhara persecution.
Formerly, Nichiren used the Mandarin Tachibana Orange flower as his crest which he inherited from his ancestral parents. After the Atsuhara persecution, he adopted the Japanese Tsuru crane bird which Nikko Shonin also adopted on when he left Mount Minobu and moved to Taisekiji Sohonzan.
Another symbol is the eight wheel of Noble Eightfold Path called Rimbo (Treasure Ring) used by all Buddhist sects, as well as the tortoise crest for Nikko Shonin, who is considered by the school to be the sole and legitimate successor to Nichiren. The pine, plum and bamboo combination crest is also present in the temple altars, representing Nichimoku Shonin.
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Much of Nichiren Shōshū's underlying teachings are extensions of Tendai (天台, Chinese: Tiantai; Korean: Cheontae) thought. They include much of its worldview and its rationale for criticism of Buddhist schools that do not acknowledge the Lotus Sutra to be Buddhism's highest teaching which they believe was stated by Buddha Shakyamuni.
Nichiren Shōshū doctrine extends Tendai's classification of the Buddhist sutras into five time periods and eight categories (五時八教: goji-hakkyō), its theory of 3,000 interpenetrating realms within a single life-moment (一念三千: Ichinen Sanzen), and its view of the Three Truths (三諦: Santai). In addition, the school holds that in revealing and propagating his teachings, Nichiren was fulfilling a prophecy made by the Buddha Shakyamuni (Siddhartha Gautama; 563?–483? BC) in the 21st chapter of the Lotus Sutra which states the following:
"Like the rays of the sun and the moon that dispel the darkness of phenomena, this person will practice in the world, dispel the darkness of all humanity and lead immeasurable numbers of bodhisattvas to finally attain the one vehicle."
- (Namu Butsu) Nichiren Shōshū teaches that Nichiren is the True Buddha of the modern age corresponding to the present Buddhist age and on for eternity—for this reason by referring to him as Nichiren Daishōnin ("Great Sage Nichiren").
- (Namu Ho) The Dharma, or Mystic Law (Myōhō: mystic in the sense of profound, sublime, or unfathomable), is the True Buddha's ultimate teaching, crystallized in Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.
- (Namu So) The Sangha refers to the collective of Nichiren Shōshū priests who serve to protect and preserve the doctrines and dogma of Nichiren Shōshū.
The Three Great Secret Laws
According to the doctrinal beliefs of Nichiren Shoshu, Nichiren instituted the mastery of three Primary Disciplines:
- Precepts - designed to help practitioners replace the negative causes that they tend to make with positives ones.
- Meditation - designed to tranquil and focus the mind towards purity.
- Wisdom - designed to discern the causes of negative passions and desires and embody the Buddhist universal truth.
Ultimately, Nichiren Shoshu teaches that Nichiren revealed the Three Great Secret Laws:
- The Dai-Gohonzon as the Supreme Object of Worship, sourcing to the vow of Precepts.
- The Dai-moku of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo as the Supreme Invocation, sourcing to its meditational practice.
- The Dai-Sekiji no Honmon Kaidan (Tai-sekiji) as the Platform of the High Sanctuary of Essential Teaching, sourcing to its authoritative office of Wisdom.
Nichiren Shōshū teaches that personal enlightenment can be achieved in one's present form and lifetime (即身成仏 sokushin jōbutsu). Chanting Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō is central to their practice. Only by chanting Nam-myōhō-renge-kyō to the Gohonzon is a person believed to change, or expiate, bad karma and achieve enlightenment. In this process, the individual chooses to lead others to an enlightened state of being.
Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō is called the Daimoku (題目: "the prayer of the Nichiren sect"), since it comprises Nam and the Japanese title of the Lotus Sutra, Myōhō-Renge-Kyō. It can be understood as a sort of invocation meaning "I submit myself (or "dedicate, commit my life") to the Mystic Law containing the Cause and Effect of the enlightenment of all Buddhas." The believer's practice (gyōriki: power of practice) and faith (shinriki: power of faith) are believed to call forth the power of the Buddha (butsuriki) and the power of the Dharma (Law) inherent in the Gohonzon (hōriki). This practice and faith are thought to expiate the believer's "negative karma", and bring forth a higher life condition.
The daily practice of Nichiren Shōshū believers consists of affirming and renewing their faith by performing gongyō twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. Gongyō entails chanting a portion of Chapter 2 (Expedient Means) and all of Chapter 16 (Life Span of the Thus Come One) of the Lotus Sutra and chanting Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō|Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō to the Gohonzon, while focusing on the Chinese character 妙 [J. myō] (Eng. Mystic; Wonderful), the second character of the Daimoku.
Morning gongyō consists of a series of five sutra recitations followed by silently recited, prescribed prayers. Evening gongyō encompasses only three sutra recitations and the second, third, and fifth of the same silent prayers. This practice, particularly when shared with others, is regarded as the "true cause" for attaining enlightenment. A rin copper bell is used to announce prayers for the Buddhist protection gods of Shoten Zenjin as well as to announce the dead relatives prayed for during Gongyo services.
The logic behind this is that through thoughts, words, and deeds, every being creates causes, and every cause is to have an effect. Good causes produce positive effects; bad causes, negative ones (see karma). This law of causality is the universal principle underlying all visible and invisible phenomena and events in one's physical and spiritual daily life. Nichiren Shōshū believers strive to elevate their "life condition" by acting in accordance with this law in their day-to-day lives and by sharing their faith and practice with others, believing their Buddhist practice to be the ultimate good cause for effecting changes in life and attaining enlightenment, and achieving peace in the world.
The Dai Gohonzon (Formally: Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of Essential Teachings) is a calligraphic mandala inscribed with Sanskrit and Chinese characters on a plank of Japanese camphorwood and the supreme object of veneration for the Shōshū school. The Shōshū school claims that Nichiren inscribed it on 12 October 1279 (Japanese: Koan).
The religious importance of this item is that it proclaims the ninpō-ikka or "unity of the Person and the Buddhist Law" and the Dai Gohonzon is revered as the personification of Nichiren himself. Every Nichiren Shōshū temple and household possesses a gohonzon that is a transcription of the Dai Gohonzon.
The Dai Gohonzon is enshrined at the Hoando building within the Taiseki-ji Grand Main Temple complex grounds at the foot of Mount Fuji, which is the headquarters of the Shōshū school. The image was previously enshrined in the Shohondo modern-style building at exactly the same site, which was ultimately destroyed in 1998, replacing a more traditional style building.
Nichiren Shōshū adherents are not daily exposed to view the Dai-Gohonzon except on major events held as holidays by the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, who remain as both owners and custodians until today. Accordingly, the temple priesthood will only expose the image for constant public veneration once Kosen-rufu is achieved, maintaining the beliefs of Nichiren Shōshū as the primal religion in the world. Contrary to most Gohonzons, it is not enshrined with Shikimi Japanese evergreen leaves, only brass Lotus flowers plated in 24 karat gold. The image is approximately the size of a modern wooden door, with wider sides and is made in black glossy finish, styled with golden calligraphy.
As Supreme object of main worship
Transcriptions of the Dai Gohonzon, made by successive High Priests of Nichiren Shōshū, are called gohonzon (go, honorific prefix indicating respect). Most gohonzons in temples are wood tablets in which the inscription is carved; the tablets are coated with black urushi and have gilded characters. Gohonzons enshrined in temples and other similar facilities are personally inscribed by one of the successive High Priests.
In Nichiren Shoshu, the second recitation of the Lotus Sutra is offered and dedicated in honor of the Dai-Gohonzon. Out of the five authorised prayers by Nichiren Shoshu, the second silent prayer is considered the most auspicious and most significant.
I (name), express my sincere devotion to the Dai Gohonzon—the Soul of the Juryo Chapter of the Essential Teachings and the Supreme Law concealed within its depths, the fusion of the Realm of Original Infinite Law and the inherent Wisdom within the Buddha of Kuon Ganjo, the manifestation of the Buddha of Intrinsic Perfect Wisdom—the Eternal Co–existence of the Ten Worlds, the entity of Ichi-nen-San-Zen, the Oneness of the Person and the Mystic Law, and the Supreme Object of Worship of the Most High Sanctuary. I also express my deep and heartfelt gratitude for its Beneficence, and pray that it's profound Benevolent Power may ever more widely prevail. (Dai-Moku San-Sho 3x times. )
Individual believers may make a request to receive a personal gohonzon to their local temple chief priest. These gohonzons are facsimiles printed on paper and presented as a small scroll, measuring approximately 7” x 15” inches. The local chief priest sends all requests to the Head Temple. As these requests are granted, gohonzons are then delivered to the recipient’s local priest and he bestows them on the individual members. In this ritual, the recipient vows to sincerely believe in Nichiren's teachings and to practice and uphold the gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws.
Buddhist piety and religiosity is a highly held virtue in Nichiren Shōshū Buddhism. Visitors who enter the temple may consider becoming a member by accepting the Gojukai ceremony which the lay believer accepts the precepts of Nichiren Shōshū and vow to defend and venerate the Dai-Gohonzon in their present existence and future existences if reincarnated once again. Nichiren Shoshu claims this tradition from the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra dedicated to the goddess Kannon, where the Shakyamuni Buddha passes his vow to the Jogyo Bodhisattva and his "infinite followers" all the merits of the Seven Jewels of the Treasure Tower.
For former members which have not been active, they are allowed to receive the Kankai or reaffirmation vows. Special Gokuyo or monetary offering is suggested depending on religious services such as the following:
|Gojukai||Ceremony for the initiation of a new member taking on the Precepts of Diamond Chalice.|
|Kankai-Kishi||Re-initiation ceremony for a formerly practicing member.|
|Gohonzon||Conferral of the Nichiren Shoshu Object of Worship with the discretion approval of a Temple priest.|
|Kantoku||Transfer ceremony of an heirloom or ancestral Gohonzon from a deceased member to a practicing descendant.|
|Toba||Ceremony for making memorial offerings for the deceased in hopes of their next reincarnation as Hokkeko or achieving Buddhahood.|
|Ushitora Gongyo||The distanced recitation of Gongyo at 2:30 AM with the High Priest at the Dai-Kyakuden window for the Dai Gohonzon.|
|Kaigen||Ceremony for infusing the soul of the Gohonzon into Buddhist paraphernalia, namely the Buddhist O-Juzu / O-nenju prayer beads.|
|Gokaihi||Selected prayer offerings for the Dai Gohonzon to erase slander, the conversion of the Japanese Emperor and usher the construction of the national platform temple (Honmon Kaidan)|
|Kakocho||Ceremony for the enshrinement of deceased ancestors into a Memorial Register book.|
|Gokuyo||Regulated offerings of either priesthood or laity to the Gohonzon, belonging to three types: A. Daimoku and Gongyo Recitation B. Physical labor to assist the temple, or C. food / monetary offerings for the propagation of the Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism.|
|Oeshiki||Commemorative funeral ceremony for Nichiren Daishonin as the True Buddha of Mappo, accompanied by the recitation of select portions of the Risshō Ankoku Ron (立正安国論).|
Donations to a Nichiren Shōshū temple is highly regarded as a personal issue and is therefore always contained in small white envelopes labeled Gokuyo offering with a checklist that labels the purpose of ones donation. In addition, monetary donations from non-members is also trivialized and strongly prohibited.
The difference between a Nichiren Shōshū gohonzon granted to lay believers by the priesthood and all other types is that they are the only ones specifically sanctioned and issued by Nichiren Shōshū. The following gohonzons are issued if deemed worthy of the lay believer upon application:
|TYPE OF GOHONZON||RECIPIENT|
|Joju||Either an oversized scroll, or a large carved wooden platform with a special commemorative inscription that is reserved for families that have historically protected the Dai Gohonzon, or towards grand temples and buildings.|
|Okatagi||Ordinary woodblock type commonly issued to practicing members.|
|Okatagi Tokubetsu||An enlarged woodblock type with ornamental scroll mounting issued to members with at least ten years of practice, along with other commendable qualifications designated by a temple Chief priest.|
|Omamori||A pocket sized Gohonzon issued to members who request specialized protection and also have a dire need to travel on a regular basis.|
Regardless of their type, all gohonzons issued by Nichiren Shōshū have been consecrated by one of the successive High Priests in a ceremony conducted in the Hoando building of Taisekiji temple. It is believed that this ceremony endows a gohonzon with the same enlightened property of the Dai Gohonzon, thus giving it the same power. Upon death, the gohonzon must be returned to a Nichiren Shōshū temple. Unauthorized reproduction or photography of the gohonzon is prohibited to believers.
Regarding Honzon scrolls used by Soka Gakkai, the temple requires that former SGI members return their Honzon back to their former organization before becoming a full–fledged member, since they deem the image a counterfeit copy that brings no auspicious benefits nor sanction from the high temple.
Juzu or Buddhist prayer beads may be used in various bead colors and material providing that they are in the 5 structure used by Nichiren Shōshū, while the cords and dangling Pom-Pom ornaments are strictly in white color. The long tasseled Juzu beads are reserved for priests, who use them to officiate special ritualized blessings which have also come to represent their primary role in priestly service. Juzu sold at the temple bookstore are automatically shipped every week from Tozan pilgrimages from Japan and have automatically received the eye-opening ceremony. Members who choose to purchase Juzu outside of the temple may still use them providing that they have received the eye-opening ceremony performed by ones local priest. The rubbing of Juzu prayer beads is prohibited during both Gongyo and Shodai services.
No statues or other religious images are used or allowed in an altar of a Nichiren Shōshū believer, while photographs of relatives and friends are also discouraged from the main altar as they form possible distraction during Gongyo prayers. Instead, a Kakocho memorial booklet is granted to a member by the Nichiren Shōshū temple priest that is held by a paperweight commonly inscribed with the names of alive or deceased relatives being prayed for. Only a Nichiren Shōshū priest may inscribe names within the book, and members are required to provide both the anniversary death and birth to the temple for further remembrances.
Religious pilgrimages are referred to as Tozan where a lay believer makes an offering to a "Temple Stay" which includes food, board and lodging for a consecutive amount of days in the Taisekiji temple. A group Tozan pilgrimage is less costly than a personal pilgrimage, where the lay believer will shoulder all the cost. Members get to tour the Taisekiji temple grounds and if permitting be able to witness the Dai Gohonzon or the various ceremonies carried throughout the calendar. The visitation, but not participation of services of other Nichiren Shu historical temples is also permitted, especially for pious purposes in wanting to see the historical artifacts related to Nichiren which many are held under the custody of the Nichiren Shu sect.
Personal gohonzons are enshrined in a butsudan altar. Not all butsudan shrines are required to have doors, but a white cloth is required to cover an open butsudan if not being used. Home altars generally include a candle, a rin copper bell, incense, a vessel containing water and an offering of fresh evergreens and fruit, sometimes wine or cooked rice depending on special occasions. Food offerings are allowed to be consumed by lay believers. The most popular offerings left by lay believers in Nichiren Shōshū high altars are various fruits and sacks of rice.
List of High Priests
|Rank||High Priest||Date of Birth||Date of Death|
|1||Nichiren||16 February 1222||13 October 1282|
|2||Nikko Shonin||8 March 1246||7 February 1333|
|3||Nichimoku Shonin||1260||15 November 1333|
|4||Nichido Shonin||1283||26 February 1341|
|5||Nichigyo Shonin||Unrecorded||13 August 1369|
|6||Nichiji Shonin||Unrecorded||4 June 1406|
|7||Nichi a Shonin||Unrecorded||10 March 1407|
|8||Nichi-ei Shonin||7 November 1353||4 August 1419|
|9||Nichiu Shonin||16 April 1402||29 September 1482|
|10||Nichijo Shonin||Unrecorded||20 November 1472|
|11||Nittei Shonin||Unrecorded||7 April 1472|
|12||Nitchin Shonin||1469||24 June 1527|
|13||Nichi-in Shonin||1518||6 July 1589|
|14||Nisshu Shonin||1555||17 August 1617|
|15||Nissho Shonin||1562||7 April 1622|
|16||Nichiju Shonin||1567||21 February 1632|
|17||Nissei Shonin||1600||5 November 1683|
|18||Nichi-ei Shonin||3 March 1594||7 March 1638|
|19||Nisshun Shonin||1610||12 November 1669|
|20||Nitten Shonin||1611||21 September 1686|
|21||Nichinin Shonin||1612||4 September 1680|
|22||Nisshun Shonin||1637||29 October 1691|
|23||Nikkei Shonin||1648||14 November 1707|
|24||Nichi-ei Shonin||1650||24 February 1715|
|25||Nichiyu Shonin||1669||28 December 1729|
|26||Nichikan Shonin||7 August 1665||19 August 1726|
|27||Nichiyo Shonin||1670||4 June 1723|
|28||Nissho Shonin||1681||25 August 1734|
|29||Nitto Shonin||3 March 1689||1 December 1737|
|30||Nitchu Shonin||1687||11 October 1743|
|31||Nichi-in Shonin||17 October 1687||14 June 1769|
|32||Nikkyo Shonin||1704||12 August 1757|
|33||Nichigen Shonin||15 August 1711||26 February 1778|
|34||Nisshin Shonin||1714||26 July 1765|
|35||Nichi-on Shonin||1716||3 July 1774|
|36||Nikken Shonin||1717||3 October 1791|
|37||Nippo Shonin||23 January 1731||26 May 1803|
|38||Nittai Shonin||1731||20 February 1785|
|39||Nichijun Shonin||1736||30 July 1801|
|40||Nichinin Shonin||1747||25 August 1795|
|41||Nichimon Shonin||1751||14 August 1796|
|42||Nichigon Shonin||1748||11 July 1797|
|43||Nisso Shonin||1759||3 December 1805|
|44||Nissen Shonin||1760||7 January 1822|
|45||Nichirei Shonin||Unrecorded||8 May 1808|
|46||Nitcho Shonin||1766||27 January 1817|
|47||Nisshu Shonin||1769||22 September 1816|
|48||Nichiryo Shonin||18 February 1771||29 May 1851|
|49||Nisso Shonin||1773||8 May 1830|
|50||Nichijo Shonin||1795||1 May 1836|
|51||Nichi-ei Shonin||1798||9 July 1877|
|52||Nichiden Shonin||25 August 1817||24 June 1890|
|53||Nichijo Shonin||11 October 1831||25 June 1892|
|54||Nichi-in Shonin||16 March 1829||2 June 1880|
|55||Nippu Shonin||5 February 1835||4 March 1919|
|56||Nichi-o Shonin||1848||15 June 1922|
|57||Nissho Shonin||24 May 1865||26 January 1928|
|58||Nitchu Shonin||18 December 1861||18 August 1923|
|59||Nichiko Shonin||24 February 1867||23 November 1957|
|60||Nichikai Shonin||23 August 1873||21 November 1943|
|61||Nichiryu Shonin||10 August 1874||24 March 1947|
|62||Nikkyo Shonin||18 September 1869||17 June 1945|
|63||Nichiman Shonin||5 March 1873||7 January 1951|
|64||Nissho Shonin||24 September 1879||14 October 1957|
|65||Nichijun Shonin||10 October 1898||17 November 1959|
|66||Nittatsu Shonin||15 April 1902||22 July 1979|
|67||Nikken Shonin||19 December 1922||(Living, Retired)|
|68||Nichinyo Shonin||25 February 1935||Current High Priest (Incumbent)|
- The dates denote the date of death of each high priest.
Offshoot lay groups
In chronological order, the following groups were previously associated with Nichiren Shoshu:
The Ken-shokai (True Revival Group)
In 1974, a lay group called Myōshinkō from the Myokoji Temple in Shinagawa ward in Tokyo, later transferred to the Myoenji temple in Sumida, Tokyo was expelled by High Priest Nittatsu Hosoi from Nichiren Shōshū after holding a public protest against Soka Gakkai for claiming that the Shohondo building as the true and permanent national sanctuary of the Dai Gohonzon as mandated by Nichiren, even without the conversion of Emperor Showa.. The group was known for being brazen in confronting the Soka Gakkai and being confrontational with the late Nittatsu Shonin, resulting in a lawsuit against him amidst public protest. They are known for reciting two Hiki-Daimoku and one regular, a developed practice that has unknown origins. The group is highly devoted to the Dai Gohonzon enshrined at Taisekiji even without the support or affiliation of Nichiren Shōshū.
The group later changed its name to Fuji Taisekiji Kenshōkai (English: Revival True Group). Kenshōkai is oftentimes described as one of the fastest growing denominations of Buddhism in Japan. Some Kenshokai members are also members of the Hokkeko Rengai Federation and are permitted access to enter the Head Temple Taisekiji and see the Dai Gohonzon.
The Sho-shinkai (Correct Faith Group)
In 1980, a group of Nichiren Shōshū priests and supporters called Shōshinkai (English: Correct Faith Group) were expelled from Shōshū for questioning the legitimacy of the new head abbot Nikken and for criticising Soka Gakkai's influence on temple affairs. At the time, Soka Gakkai supported Nikken's claim as the rightful successor of Nittatsu Hosoi as high priest. Shōshinkai continues to refer to itself as the true Nichiren Shōshū. In later years, the Shoshinkai sect would be famed for founding a dissident association of Nichiren Shoshu priests seeking reformation and for transcribing their own creative version of the Gohonzon, as opposed to taking a transcribed copy from one of the lineage of Nichiren Shōshū high priests.
The Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society)
Nichiren Shōshū formerly chartered Soka Gakkai and Soka Gakkai International (SGI) as part of its lay organizations which it consequently expelled (Japanese: Hamon literally: Expelled) on 28 November 1991 in a public schism due to doctrinal dispute over the role of future modern Nichiren Buddhism and the traditionalist roles of the priesthood as sole custodians and arbiters of Buddhist doctrine along with its strong emphasis on Buddhist piety and religiosity.
The organization Sōka Gakkai (English: Value Creation Association) emerged as a lay organization affiliated in one of the temples located in the Taiseki-ji land complex and was founded by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who was converted by Sokei Mitani, the principal of Mejiro Kenshin Commercial High School to Nichiren Shoshu in 4 June 1928. Makiguchi took his Buddhist vows in the Jozai-Ji temple in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Makiguchi died in prison for his opposition to Japan's military government's attempts to impose the doctrine of State Shinto through strict control of religions and thoughts inimical to its war effort. In 1943, due to his refusal to accept the talisman and support the war, he was arrested and imprisoned as a "thought criminal" together with Jōsei Toda and 20 senior leaders of Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai for violating the Peace Preservation Law while the majority of the Nichiren Shoshu temple install the state talisman and support the war effort.
The organization grew under second president Jōsei Toda which continued to base its teachings of Nichiren Shōshū until the development of serialized doctrinal conflicts.
As early as 1956, such doctrinal conflicts simmered, evident by the alleged declaration of second president of Soka Gakkai, Josei Toda to the 65th High Priest Nichijun Shonin during the re-construction of Myoden-ji Temple, which is also strongly disputed by the Soka Gakkai Organization today:
On 10 May 1974, the Vice-President of Soka Gakkai, Hiroshi Hojo, submitted a written report to Daisaku Ikeda proposing a schism to Nichiren Shōshū, specifically expressing the verbatim example of "Protestants and Roman Catholics" as "differences". In response, High Priest Nittatsu Hosoi refused the proposal to create a board committee that would overlook temple affairs and its bookkeeping practices, while mentioning his gratitude for the construction of the Shohondo building. Furthermore, Nittatsu acknowledged the possibility of the split, and specifically threatened to place the Dai-Gohonzon back into the Nichiren Shōshū treasury building (御宝蔵: Gohōzō) where only a select few faithful would be able to venerate the image. The climax which ultimately led to the resignation of third president Daisaku Ikeda in 1979 from his post as Sokoto or lay leader went hand in hand with the formal excommunication by High Priest Nikken further escalated the public schism.
These and other conflicts based on the traditionalist role of Nichiren Shōshū priests resulted in a complete and formal disassociation of the two sides after Nichiren Shōshū excommunicated the leaders of the Sōka Gakkai and stripped it of its status as a lay organization of Nichiren Shōshū in 1991. Ultimately, Daisaku Ikeda was excommunicated as his role of Sokoto or lay leader by High Priest Nikken, while the formal decree of excommunication invalidated the tax exempt status of Soka Gakkai under Japanese law due to its lack of temple affiliation.
Further causes of conflict came when the temple priesthood began to notice the construction of Community Centers instead of funding construction of new Nichiren Shōshū temples. On 30 September 1997, Nichiren Shōshū finally excommunicated all remaining SGI members in order to preserve their doctrinal tenets from further dismantlement which Soka Gakkai insisted via public rebellion through its local meetings.:69
The modern Shohondo building which previously housed the Dai Gohonzon was ultimately demolished, being replaced by a traditional style Hoando on 14 June 1998. Primary reason was the discontent of the Temple priests to have any reminder of a memorial owing to the Soka Gakkai funds, although the building was also funded by Nichiren Shōshū members, Kempon Hokke Shu members, and relatives of Temple priesthood.
Further installation of a bas-relief of a man and woman reclining half-naked on the left side of main altar below the Dai Gohonzon platform further aggravated the sentiment as sacrilegious. Furthermore, the latent discovery of ocean sand mixed in the mortar of the building by Kempon Hokke engineers revealed rust on the pillars and risking danger to the safety of the Dai-Gohonzon, which prompted immediate measures to rehouse the ancient venerated relic.
Among other issues contended are whether laypersons can receive Buddhist offerings or Gokuyo, the conducting of Urabon and Higan-E rituals by Soka Gakkai leaders without Nichiren Shoshu priests officiating the ceremonies. Most significant dispute which arose between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai were the several woodcarved gohonzons utilized by Ikeda in their own headquarters. Ikeda justified his decision to transcribe the gohonzons into wooden platforms due to the aging of the paper material of the original gohonzons, allegedly claiming that they were authorised by High Priest Nittatsu Shonin. The earliest gohonzon transcribed into wooden platform without permission was enshrined at the seventh floor of the Soka Gakkai building at Shinjuku, Tokyo in December 1973. In later years, the following gohonzon's transcribed into wood platform were:
|Designated Location||Date of Gohonzon||Authorising High Priest||Status|
|Soka Gakkai Tokyo Headquarters||19 May 1951||64th H.P. Nissho Shonin||Granted|
|Kansai Headquarters||13 December 1955||64th H.P. Nissho Shonin||Confiscated|
|The European Headquarters||13 December 1964||66th H.P. Nittatsu Shonin||Confiscated|
|Soka Gakkai "Bunka" Hall||15 June 1967||66th H.P. Nittatsu Shonin||Confiscated|
|The Presidential Room||1 May 1967||66th H.P. Nittatsu Shonin||Confiscated|
|The American Headquarters||29 June 1968||66th H.P. Nittatsu Shonin||Confiscated|
|The Omamori Gohonzon of Daisaku Ikeda||3 May 1951||64th H.P. Nissho Shonin||Confiscated|
Upon the widespread discovery of the woodcarved platforms, Nittatsu denied giving permission to the reproductions, resulting in Soka Gakkai apologizing publicly and ultimately confiscated all the Gohonzons except for one Gohonzon transcribed by Nissho Shonin which the inscription dedicated for widespread propagation. Other issues of contention were the overtaking of the Higan and funeral ceremonies by Soka Gakkai leaders without the officiation of Nichiren Shoshu priests, culminated by the 35th anniversary speech of Daisaku Ikeda deemed highly vulgar to the dignity of the priesthood. Ultimately, the 67th High Priest Nikken Shonin expelled the Soka Gakkai and its senior leaders on 28 November 1991.
On September 1993, the Soka Gakkai officially manufactured its own version of the Honzon scroll for widespread Gohonzon distribution, citing the refusal of Nichiren Shoshu to grant the expelled organization any more Gohonzon's from the head temple. The Jo-En-Ji Temple in Tochigi Prefecture, headed by Chief Priest Sendo Narita ultimately granted a woodblock copy of the gohonzon transcribed by the High Priest Nichikan Shonin. The recipient of this original Gohonzon, which reads "Daigyo Ajari Honshobo Nissho of Honmyozan Joenji in Ogusurimura, Shimotsuke Province" is removed, while its Sanskrit characters are stretched and splattered ink marks removed using modern technology. It was first publicly issued on 3 October 1993 and is composed of one single piece and is printed with peony and Fenghuang phoenix background..
Accordingly, aside from the Gohonzon transcription of 26th High Priest Nichikan Shonin used for ordinary propagation, the last remaining Joju wooden Taisekiji Gohonzon is a transcription by 64th High Priest Setsu Mizutani Nissho Shonin which is enshrined in the Dai-Sei-Do Hall of Soka Gakkai in Shinanomachi area, Shinjuku, Tokyo, the main headquarters today of Soka Gakkai International.
Various modern changes continued to occur within the practices of Soka Gakkai, namely the following:
- The removal of sutra recitation of the prose section of the 16th chapter of the Lotus Sutra in August 1994. (Commonly known as Part "B").
- Adding SGI three colored beads on the Juzu prayer beads in 1992, while since 2014, permitting to both manufacture and commercially sell Juzu prayer beads that have colored cords, colored pom-poms which may also contain long colored tassels. In March 2017, Juzu with long colored tassels were removed from the inventory storefront.
- The removal of the expressed prayers for the Buddhist protection gods of Shoten Zenjin in the first portion of "The Silent Prayers".
- Replacement of gratitude towards the first three SGI presidents instead of the Nichiren Shōshū high priests.
- The formal rejection of the Dai-Gohonzon as the supreme object of worship
- The removal of Hiki-Daimoku used to enunciate slowly the Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō
- Altering the Morning Gongyo and Evening Gongyo to be both same in formula.
Present lay members of Nichiren Shōshū remain due to their affiliation with priests and the desire to follow the Dai-Gohonzon, rather than following the money or donations offered by the Soka Gakkai organization at the expense of tampering with traditional doctrines while Soka Gakkai members remain distant with Nichiren Shōshū believing that their monastic methods and formal rituals are no longer needed or palatable to modern Buddhism, in addition to finding no pressing need for a lineage of formal monastic priesthood.
Various criticisms of Nichiren Shoshu are often published by its former lay organization, the Soka Gakkai. In its dissenting group Soka Spirit that questions and opposes Nichiren Shoshu doctrines, the Soka Gakkai rejects both the priestly authority of the High Priest of Taisekiji and the intermediary role of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood as relevant or necessary in practicing Buddhism for a contemporary age.
Former practitioners often cite the orthodox beliefs of Nichiren Shoshu that places great emphasis in religious piety and religious ceremonies that prohibit tolerance for other cultures and foreign religious values under an atmosphere of orthodoxy. Chief among this is the prohibition of members to attend other religious venues, the purchase of buddhist religious articles outside of the Taisekiji vicinity. Most significant is the alleged monopoly of Nichiren Buddhism through the devotional Tozan pilgrimages to the Dai Gohonzon. The donations, while voluntary, are granted for Toba memorial tablets, Kakocho ancestral books and the overwhelming Japanese conservative customs and mannerisms associated with Buddhist practice.
Furthermore, allegations of accepting Ofuda and Omamori Shinto talismans during the Second World War to support the Japanese Emperor Showa's patriotic war effort to maintain immunity from persecution was supposedly contradictory to its doctrinal beliefs to reject other religions, though both the temple priesthood and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi in his writings at the time did lend support for the world war effort as dictated by the Japanese Emperor. The first talisman dedicated to the solar goddess Amaterasu-Omikami enshrined at the Dai-Kyakuden Hall was installed by the Japanese Imperial Army.
The most prominent of this criticisms is the posterior elevation of the High Priest of Nichiren Shoshu as the sole inheritor of the enlightened entity of the Buddha called the "Living Essence" or the Heritage of the Law, referring to its doctrinal office of Taisekiji while the Soka Gakkai claims to be the inheritor of Heritage of the Faith without any distinct priestly lineage. A longstanding negative sentiment is crystallized in the destruction of the Sho-hondo and other Soka Gakkai funded buildings which came from the member donations during the 1970s. In addition, the alleged manipulation of Nichiren's writings called Gosho by either abbreviating or manipulating its interpretative meaning to suit a hierarchical sentiment is criticised against the priesthood and its school.
Outside researchers such as author Daniel Metraux view the issue of perceived authority as the central point of the conflict:
"The priesthood claims that it is the sole custodian of religious authority and preservation of dogma, while the Soka Gakkai leadership claims that the scriptural writings of Nichiren, not the priesthood, represent the ultimate source of authority, and that any individual with deep faith in Nichiren’s teachings can attain enlightenment without the assistance of a Nichiren Shōshū priest”.
According to Ian Reader, another researcher of Japanese religious studies, "it is clear that there has been corrupt and scandalous behavior on both sides."
- Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, Kenkyusha Limited, Tokyo 1991, ISBN 4-7674-2015-6
- Stone, Jacqueline (2012). "The Sin of "Slandering the True Dharma"". Sins and Sinners: Perspectives from Asian Religions. Brill. p. 147. ISBN 9004229469.
- Shoshū Hashaku Guide (Jp: 諸宗破折ガイド: Guide to refuting [erroneous teachings of] other schools). Taiseki-ji, 2003 (no ISBN); pp. 178–79.
- 日蓮正宗(にちれんしょうしゅう) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LetzGCgSxuE&t=33s
- Daisaku Ikeda biography
- McLaughlin, Levi (2012). "Did Aum Change Everything? What Soka Gakkai Before, During, and After the Aum Shinrikyo Affair Tells Us About the Persistent "Otherness" of New Religions in Japan". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. 39 (1): 51–75. Archived from the original on 2013-12-23.
- Current location: Dai-Sei-Do Hall, SGI Tokyo Headquarters, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
- The Liturgy of Soka Gakkai, Revised edition 2016, Gongyo portion.
- 14 November 2014, SGI President - Minoru Harada, Seikyo Shimbun Publications., Page 6. - http://3ym1xk32a2xwmv4jh1g7cpz1.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/sokagakkai-denies-Dai-Gohonzon.pdf
- The Liturgy of Soka Gakkai, Revised edition 2016, Gongyo portion. Morning and Evening Gongyo are now completely identical with no differentiation.
- D. Metraux, "The dispute between the Sōka Gakkai and the Nichiren Shōshū priesthood: A lay revolution against a conservative clergy", Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. Vol 19 (4), p. 326, 1992. Archived from the original
- Reader, Ian (1995). "Review of "A Time to Chant" by Wilson and Dobbelaere". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 22 (1-2), 223
- Richard Causton — Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, Rider & Co, London 1988. ISBN 0712622691
- Basic Terminology of Nichiren Shoshu, Vol. 1 — Nichiren Shōshū Shumuin, eds. Dainichiren Publishing Co., 2009. ISBN 978-4-904429-28-0
- Nichiren Shoshu Basics of Practice, Nichiren Shōshū Temple, 2003 (revised). [
- Introduction to True Buddhism, Nichiren Shoshu Temple, Myohoji 1999
- Introduction to Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism", Seiganzan Myoshinji Temple, 2007
- The Gosho of Nichiren Daishōnin, Vol. 1, Nichiren Shōshū Overseas Bureau, trans. Dainichiren Publishing Co., 2005. ISBN 4-904429-26-5, ISBN 978-4-904429-26-6
- The Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 2: Rissho Ankoku Ron, Nichiren Shōshū Shumuin, trans. Dainichiren Publishing Co., 2009. ISBN 4-904429-26-5, ISBN 978-4-904429-26-6
- The Doctrines and Practice of Nichiren Shōshū, Nichiren Shōshū Overseas Bureau, 2002
- Collected Sermons, High Priest Nikken Shonin 1992-2002 Dai Nichiren Publishing 2002
- Refuting The Soka Gakkai's "Counterfeit Object Of Worship, — "100 Questions and Answers", Dai Nichiren Publishing 1996
- Shinyo Magazine (Numerous issues 1991-2005) — Dai Nichiren Publishing
- Myodo Magazine (2 issues) 1991 — Published by Seiganzan Myoshinji Temple San Francisco.
- Taisekiji: Shoshū Hashaku Guide (Jp: 諸宗破折ガイド: — "Guide to refuting [erroneous teachings of] other schools"). 2003 (no ISBN); pp. 160–164. Published by the Buddhist school formerly associated with Sōka Gakkai and presents details of Sōka Gakkai's gradual distortion of the school's teachings and reasons for its severing of ties.
- Gosho Heisei Shimpen — 平成新編日蓮大聖人御書 Dainichiren Publishing Co. 1994 ISBN 978-4-904429-22-8
- Nichiren Shōshū yōgi — (日蓮正宗要義: "The essential tenets of Nichiren Shōshū"), Taiseki-ji, 1978, rev. ed. 1999
- Nichiren Shōshū nyūmon — (日蓮正宗入門: "Introduction to Nichiren Shōshū"), Taiseki-ji, 2002
- Dai-Nichiren (大日蓮) — monthly magazine published by Nichiren Shōshū. Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, Japan (numerous issues)
- Dai-Byakuhō (大白法) — the Hokkekō organ newspaper. Tōkyō (numerous issues)
- History of Nichiren Shoshu — 日蓮大聖人正伝 改訂版 Dainichiren Publishing Co.. 1994 ISBN 978-4-905522-04-1
- Fuji Chronology 富士年表 — Dainichiren Publishing Co. 2008 ISBN 978-4-904429-04-4
- Shakubuku — Faith and Correct Religion Professor Hiroshi. Dainichiren Publishing Co. 2007 ISBN 978-4-904429-05-1
- Sermons on the Juryo Chapter Expanded Edition — Dainichiren Publishing Co. 2014 ISBN 978-4-905522-22-5
- Essential Gosho Quotations on Practice — Dainichiren Publishing Co. 2014 ISBN 978-4-905522-23-2
- Lectures on the Seven Characters of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo by Nikken Shonin — (2 volumes) 妙法七字拝仰 Dainichiren Publishing Co. 1996 ISBN 978-4-905522-15-7 ISBN 978-4-905522-13-3
- Sermons on the Kanjin no Honzon Sho 観心本尊抄講話 — (5 Volumes). Dainichiren Publishing Co. 2010 ISBN 978-4-904429-85-3 ISBN 978-4-904429-89-1 ISBN 978-4-904429-91-4 ISBN 978-4-904429-98-3 ISBN 978-4-905522-02-7
- The Six Volume Writings of 26th high priest Nichikan Shonin — 六巻抄 Dainichiren Publishing Co. 1996 ISBN 978-4-904429-34-1
- Notes on the One Hundred-Six Articles — 百六箇種脱対見拝述記 Dainichiren Publishing Co. 2007 ISBN 978-4-904429-00-6
- Nichikan Shonin's Exegeses on Selected Gosho — 日寛上人御書文段 Dainichiren Publishing Co. 2001 ISBN 978-4-904429-36-5
- Useful Gosho Quotes — 祖文纂要 Dainichiren Publishing Co. 1994 ISBN 978-4-904429-45-7
- Benn'Aku Kanjin Sho — 弁惑観心抄 Dainichiren Publishing Co. 1994 ISBN 978-4-904429-46-4
- The story of Nikko Shonin leaving Mount Minobu — 日興上人身延離山史 Dainichiren Publishing Co. 2006 ISBN 978-4-904429-56-3
- 法乃道 — (A book about propagation efforts in the 1920s and 30's) Dainichiren Publishing Co. 1962 ISBN 978-4-904429-57-0
- 日寛上人と興学 — (A book regarding Nichikan Shonin and an exegesis on his 6 volume writings) Dainichiren Publishing Co.
- A History of the Fuji Schools: Omosu — 富士門流の歴史 重須篇 Dainichiren Publishing Co. 2007