A worldwide community for SGI Members
August 18, 2012
Rev. Shinga Takikawa
Myosetsuji Nichiren Shoshu Temple
143-63 Beech Avenue
Flushing, NY 11355
Hello Rev. Takikawa:
My name is Micha Adir and I would like to introduce myself to you. I have been a member of SGI-USA for 37 years. I was introduced to Buddhism by Soka Gakkai members in 1975 and received my Gohonzon when the Soka Gakkai was still the lay organization associated with Nichiren Shoshu.
In this, my first letter to you, I want to respond to your August monthly Myosetsuji Temple Newsletter, in particular to the high priest's address and your July Oko Sermon. Just like the other newsletters I have read in the past, this one is full of contradictions and erroneous viewpoints in the light of the Daishonin teachings. To say the least, you fail to convey the true spirit of Nichiren Daishonin in your sermons.
The reason I am able to clearly distinguish your words from the truth found in the Gosho stems from my decision two years ago to join Nichiren Shoshu under the instruction of Rev. Murata. I made this decision after a 35-year history with the SGI to very sincerely explore whether your sect is practicing the Correct Teaching or not. During this time I also made the effort to travel to Japan to chant to the Dai-Gohonzon to further see with my own life the reality of your sect. As a result, being able to compare experiences in both groups, has provided me an ability to distinguish between your sect's agenda and the SGI's global movement for kosen-rufu. Today, I can attest in all certainty that I see clearly what it means to practice the True Teaching of Nichiren Daishonin.
First, I want to comment on Nichinyo’s discussion of "counterfeit" Gohonzon in his monthly guidance. He states: "Worshipping the counterfeit object of worship issued by the Ikeda Soka Gakkai is not the correct practice. It cannot provide any benefit to anyone. On the contrary, it is great slander of the Law, and this transgression will increase indefinitely."
I must say that this is the most distorted statement a high priest who claims to practice Nichiren Buddhism can utter. To support my contention I would like to share with you my brief experience of receiving a Nichiren Shoshu Gohonzon. In October of 2010, I received your temple Gohonzon believing that it is the "Correct" Gohonzon.. Within three months I fell into the Hell of Incessant Suffering despite chanting sincerely to it and attending the October 2010 Tozan. I fell into this hellish condition not because of the physical Gohonzon but because I left the SGI, the community of believers who spread the true Law. In contrast Nichiren Shoshu lay believers follow the very same high priests who diverted from the true teaching of the Daishonin as well as their representatives at the local temples.
No matter how much I chanted to “your” Gohonzon, my life plunged deeper and deeper into hell. It was so bad that I had to seek professional intervention and was prescribed anti-depression and sleeping medication. Never before my days with Nichiren Shoshu have I ever needed medication and I was able to quickly discontinue the use of such substances when I rejoined the SGI.
I consulted Rev. Murata about my predicament. All he could advise me was "chant... chant..." He could not offer any conviction that I was going to overcome this situation based on his faith; nor did he offer any encouragement to remedy the situation I was in. It dawned on me after a while that I was going through this agony precisely because I betrayed my correct teacher Daisaku Ikeda and the people who had been helping me all these years, encouraging me to overcome many difficulties, and reminding me of the tremendous benefits I had received. I had left the True Bodhisattvas of the Earth who were working tirelessly to spread the Law throughout the land. These Bodhisattvas, I conclude, are none other than the SGI members who are fulfilling this mission.
Today, over a year and a half after my return, I must say my entire life has changed. I understand that my mission is unique and precious; I realize that I took this plunge for the sake of all of the members of SGI in order to clearly convey what is the difference between practicing with SGI and the Temple. It is a part of my mission to point my experience out to you as well as to many unfortunate temple members so that you all may avoid the destiny that results from following blindly the directions set by Nikken and Nichinyo.
From attending Hokkeko activities I witnessed that there is no real care for fellow members and that the spirit of shakubuku is non-existent despite urgent appeals from priests. I have concluded that this occurs specifically because the instructions to do shakubuku comes from the TOP as a command issued by your high priest. He simply sits on a throne instructing everyone to do shakubuku--talking the TALK while he himself does not walk the WALK of doing shakubuku himself. The high priest engages in hypocrisy and this spirit passes down through the instructions of local temple chief priests to members.
In regards to your high priest's statement about "counterfeit" Gohonzon, I must declare that there is no such thing as a counterfeit Gohonzon. This claim is your invention just as much as there is no such thing as a counterfeit LAW of gravity or a counterfeit Daimoku. What can be Counterfeit, is incorrect FAITH in the Gohonzon. The entire Nichiren Shoshu Faith is COUNTERFEIT and distorted. It lacks the true spirit of the Daishonin despite the fact that you portray yourselves to be The Legitimate Inheritors of the Law. That is COUNTERFEIT!
According to Nichiren's writings, manipulating the people to believe that the Gohonzon exists outside their lives is SLANDEROUS.
So, to refresh your knowledge, what is the main depiction on any and every Gohonzon? It is nothing other than Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the very Law and essence of the Lotus Sutra which cannot be controlled or manipulated or counterfeit by anyone, not even by Nichiren Daishonin. Nichiren stated himself that Nam-myoho-renge kyo is not his invention. He declared and revealed Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to be the Law by which ALL Buddhas attained enlightenment throughout past, present, and future existences in all the ten directions.
To illustrate how the high priest is at odds with the Daishonin, let me direct your attention to Letter to the Sage Nichimyo. There Nichiren refers to a story from the sutra which reveals the true spirit with which one should seek and spread the Law. He states, "When the boy had learned the entire verse, he inscribed it on trees and stones. This completed, he cast himself into the demon’s mouth. Sesen Doji was actually Shakyamuni in one of his past existences, while the demon was Taishaku in disguise" (MW-3, p.45).
The boy Sessen Doji had sought to learn the second half of the verse which would complete the entire Law. To do so, the boy willingly offered his body to a hungry demon in exchange for hearing the other half of the Law the demon had claimed to possess. The demon revealed the remaining verse to the boy in exchange for the boy’s flesh. Sessen Doji the boy immediately proceed to copy the completed verse on trees and stones so everyone could see it and come to know the Law for the sake of future generations. He then proceeded to cast himself into the demon’s mouth but to his surprise the demon turned out to be Taishaku, the protector of life, who caught the boy just as he was casting his body into the Demon’s mouth.
Is the above story an act of COUNTERFEITING the Law? Can there be such a thing as counterfeiting the LAW? The answer is NO! Only Nichiren Shoshu claims to "OWN" the LAW. Neither Daisaku Ikeda nor Nichiren Daishonin, T'ien T'ai, Dengyo, Shakyamuni, M'iao Lo, Nagarjuna, or Vasubandhu own the Law, control it, or be accused of counterfeiting it through acts of spreading it. It is your sect's faith that is counterfeit ,not the SGI’s Gohonzon.
In the letter On the Essence of the Juryo Chapter Nichiren writes, "As the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai says, 'They know nothing of the moon in the sky, but gaze only at the moon in the pond.' He means that those attached to the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings or the theoretical teaching of the Lotus Sutra are not aware of the moon shining in the sky, but see only its reflection in the pond" (MW-3, p. 34).
It is your current high priest and prior high priest Nikken who think they have "captured" the real “moon” (Dai-Gohonzon) in a "container" (Tasekiji) to be their possession. They do not realize that they have only captured the “reflection of the moon." Nichiren created an Object of Devotion that was open to anyone. Anyone who looks up to the Eastern sky can see the real Moon and in a like manner can reveal his or her inherent Buddhahood. Neither this nor the real “moon” can be captured, contained, controlled, or manipulated by Nichiren Shoshu priests.
It is you and your colleagues who are leading your followers to believe in your high priest's distortions of Real versus Counterfeit Gohonzon as you emphasize in your sermon:
"The Dai-Gohonzon is enshrined in the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching at Head Temple Taisekiji, and the fact that the High Priest, who has received the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, entrusted to a single person, resides there." This statement is your sect's fabrication; nowhere in the Gosho is there any support for this interpretation of the legitimate Lifeblood Heritage of the Law. Rather, the Daishonin consistently states in the Gosho that only TRUE FAITH can be the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law.
In the letter The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life Nichiren Daishonin states, “Shakyamuni Buddha who attained enlightenment countless kalpas ago, the Lotus Sutra that leads all people to Buddhahood, and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate from one another. To chant Myoho-renge-kyo with this realization is to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death. This is a matter of the utmost importance for Nichiren’s disciples and lay supporters, and this is what it means to embrace the Lotus Sutra” (MW-1, p.22).
Nichiren in the same letter continues:
“Be resolved to summon forth the great power of faith, and chant Nam-
myoho-renge-kyo with the prayer that your faith will be steadfast and correct at the moment of death. Never seek any other way to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death, and manifest it in your life. Only then will you realize that earthly desires are enlightenment, and that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana. Even embracing the Lotus Sutra would be useless without the heritage of faith” (MW-1, p.25).
These statements from the Daishonin clearly rebuke your description of the transmission of the Law. Based on your sect clear distortions of these above words of the Daishonin, Nikken went on to excommunicate Daisaku Ikeda and the entire SGI. He did not realize that through his actions he actually excommunicated himself as well as the entire Nichiren Shoshu school from the spirit of faith of all the Buddhas in the ten directions including the spirit of the person you claim to be following - Nichiren Daishonin.
There is a saying in Hebrew, הדג מסריח מהראש ("Hadag masriach meharosh "), which means “The fish stinks from the head.” Your trail of distortions starts from the Head Temple. Truly, Rev. Takikawa, as a Nichiren Shoshu priest, you don't have the freedom to convey what is really the spirit written in the Gosho even if you do recognize it in fact. All you can do is carry out the instructions you receive from your superior priests to prevent losing your priestly rank or status.
It is clear that in your sermons, no matter how much you try to convey Nichiren’s words, in the long run you only reveal how misleading is your reasoning. As I mentioned above, your goal is to lead people to the "Container" (Taisekiji) where you think you have "captured" and "own" the “moon” (Dai-Gohonzon). In reality it is only in TRUE FAITH where one can find the Gohonzon within one's life. The voice (practice) of chanting sincere Daimoku is depicted on the Dai-Gohonzon and on any other Gohonzon. Such TRUE FAITH cannot be manipulated nor can it be counterfeit. Sincere faith is none other than the real VOICES of those who chant the Daimoku sincerely, be they humble or high in rank. This Voice of the Buddha can only be shared and planted as a seed to those who seek it to be transferred from heart to heart for all people.
The act of planting the seed is not an obligation nor an obedient response to an order issued by a high ranking priest from up above who, in turn, resorts to a hierarchy of priests collectively working night and day to satisfy their livelihoods by manipulating innocent lay believers to support any and all of your cravings. This is not truly spreading the Law.
I now want to turn my attention to your sermon. You cite a section from the Gosho that discusses how rare it is to be born as a human being and how it is even rarer to encounter and hear the teaching of Buddhism. You quote that it is "much rarer than it is for a turtle with only one eye to be able to find a piece of driftwood on which to rest." Why is it, I wonder, that you point to a page number to the cited Gosho text without supplying the source. No one can go and verify your citation this way. I wonder, if you trying to keep your followers away from the actual text.
Regardless, this statement about the difficulty of encountering the Law is true. I want to point out, however, that it is even rarer to find a true and good teacher who uncovers the correct intent of the teaching and leads others to the same enlightenment that the teacher has set for himself to attain. You are under the assumption that the Nichiren Shoshu high priest is that teacher. However, no Good teacher will hold the Law to be as his possession nor would he condemn others for not following him. He must lead by example!
I believe that none of you priests lead by example. I believe you lead by perpetuating guilt, fear, manipulation and control. I have witnessed it by being engaged in your activities and at my last visit to the head temple. You actually want to instill in your listeners a fear that if they miss the chance of following your words and the statements you clip from the Gosho, that it will take them long time into the future to encounter "your" Buddhism again. Is this not the underlying implication when you say:
"Unfortunately, however, the turtle only can reach the surface of the water
once every 1000 years. Moreover, even if the turtle succeeds in getting to the
ocean’s surface, it finds it extremely difficult to encounter a piece of sandalwood
of driftwood that is ideal in size and shape to cool its belly and warm the shell on its back."
You continue, "This shows how difficult it is for us to encounter Nam-Myoho-renge-Kyo, even if we come across the Lotus Sutra." The Daishonin's words about how rare it is to encounter the Daimoku are True! But you fail to tell your listeners that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the very life of all Buddhas which they all possess. This belief is what is difficult to encounter and believe! It is analogous to not being able to see our own eyebrows, so close to our eyes, unless we have a mirror. It is through faith in the Gohonzon (the mirror) that we can see our Buddha nature which is depicted on the Gohonzon. You lead your followers to believe that without their alliance to Nichiren Shoshu, the group that “controls” and “possesses” the Dai-Gohonzon, they cannot manifest this Buddha nature and develop it to its full capacity. This is a sheer distortion and a slander of Nichiren's very purpose for inscribing the Gohonzon.
This lie bares your sect's evilness! It shuns Nichiren Daishonin's prime goal and the cause for which he devoted his entire life - empowering all people to see their potential to become Buddhas just like him. This is the only reason a Buddha appears in this world - to open the doors for all people to see the Buddha in their lives. This means ALL people, not just Nichiren Shoshu believers.
Your high priest, together with the entire Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, refrain from teaching this very point that Nichiren describes extensively in Gosho passages that refer to the Lotus Sutra. Instead, you seem to care about preserving your "Legitimacy" which is, in fact, illegitimate.
So to create the notion that your sect is aligned with the Daishonin you state:
"Furthermore, the Daishonin explains that the description of the turtle mistaking
east for west and west for east signifies how people may pretend to be intelligent,
but they still judge something that is superior to be inferior and consider something inferior to be superior. They may look upon a doctrine without merit as being full of merit, and a teaching that is not appropriate for the capacity of the people to be quite appropriate."
Yet, you fail to convey what doctrine leads people to attain Buddhahood in one's present form; you simply fail to attribute it to chanting the Daimoku. This is crystal clear in Nichiren's writing On Attaining Buddhahood: "If you chant myoho-renge-kyo with deep faith in this principle, you are certain to attain Buddhahood in this lifetime. That is why the sutra states, 'After I have passed into extinction, [one] should accept and uphold this sutra. Such a person assuredly and without doubt will attain the Buddha way.' Never doubt in the slightest. Respectfully. Maintain your faith and attain Buddhahood in this lifetime" (MW-1, p-5).
Can you point to any part in any of your sermons in which you have ever stated this very principle again and again to lead your followers to this One Doctrine? I say, NEVER have you or will you do so!!!
This is why your high priest and your cohorts of chief priests reveal themselves as counterfeit and fake teachers, cowards who are misleading their followers in order to gain the followers' monetary support. This is regrettable. As Nichiren quotes from the Nirvana Sutra:
"In the Nirvana Sutra, the Buddha says: 'After the Former Day of the Law has ended and the Middle Day of the Law has begun, there will be monks who will give the appearance of abiding by the rules of monastic discipline. But they will scarcely ever read or recite the sutras, and instead will crave all kinds of food and drink to nourish their bodies. Though they wear the clothes of a monk, they will go about searching for alms like so many huntsmen who, narrowing their eyes, stalk softly. They will be like a cat on the prowl for mice. And they will constantly reiterate these words, ‘I have attained arhatship!’ Outwardly they will seem to be wise and good, but within they will harbor greed and jealousy. [And when they are asked to preach the teachings, they will say nothing,] like Brahmans who have taken a vow of silence. They are not true monks—they merely have the appearance of monks. Consumed by their erroneous views, they slander the correct teaching'" (MW-2, p. 16).
I hope you have the courage to prove me wrong and reply to my letter. After all you and your high priest preach to your supporters that they should "refute" those who embrace "erroneous" teachings. You should respond to my letter if you think what I have written is erroneous in any way.
I doubt that you will. Most likely you will follow the path of Rev. Murata who cannot refute my letters in the light of the Daishonin's writings.
cc. Rev. Yuzui Murata
WOW! Awesome. Thanks & Blessings
Did you get any reply Micha?
Thank you for joining and reading this letter.
At 2012 I wrote to three NSS priests from Washington, New York and Chicago over 30 letters. They never replied to my letters. Some of the letters were stamped, "returned to sender".
They are obviously cowards while misleading their followers to preserve their "livelihood".
Micha - Thanks again. I have no doubt that your intuition is 100% accurate. What else can one think of a libelous slanderer of Buddhas & Bodhisattwas, when they refuse to reply and respond to faithful, courageous defenders? So, sad, eh? We can only pity such doomed & demented, self-damned fools - chant for them - and be infinitely, blissfully grateful for Nichiren and his 3 Great Successors (of SGI). NMRK, NMRK...