An Open Letter to NST Priest Rev. Yuzui Murata of Washington DC Temple (Let's Discuss it in our new Soka Spirit Group)

Saturday, August 04, 2012    Miami Florida

 

To: Rev. Yuzui Murata

      NST Myosenji Temple

      310 University Boulevard, West

      Silver Spring, MD 20901-1946

 

Hello Rev. Murata,

 In order to respond to your July sermon, I am dividing it into 13 segments (See the Appendix at the end of my comments).  I hope that you will reread your own words as well as my comments which rely on references to The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin--the same Gosho books from which you quote in your sermon. It is my intention to point out how your views fail to reflect Nichiren's intent and indeed distort the very purpose of the Daishonin's teachings.

The reason I am able to clearly distinguish your words from the truth which is in the Gosho, stems from my decision two years ago to join Nichiren Shoshu under your instruction after practicing with the SGI for 35 years. I very sincerely made this decision to explore whether your sect is practicing the Correct Teaching or not. During this time I made the effort to travel to Japan to chant to the Dai-Gohonzon to further experience with my own life the reality of your sect.  So, comparing my 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 certainty that I see clearly what it means to practice the True Teaching of Nichiren Daishonin.

I bring this unique personal perspective to the comments I will make to each of the segments of your sermon. I hope you will have the courage to sincerely read what I write and to pick up your pen to engage in a dialogue about my critique. After all, don’t you preach to your members that it is necessary to refute “erroneous” beliefs in order to truly practice Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings?

 

Part 1- Entirety of the Lotus Sutra (see Appendix, Segment 1 at the end of my comments.

First let me discuss what it means to be true to the entiretyof the Lotus Sutra?  Although you raise this question in your introductory paragraph, for the rest of your sermon you insinuate that the answer lies solely in a member receiving Gojukai and knowing the difference between Shakubuku (sic) and geshu.

Since you avoid the very issue that you raise, let me address it from the outset. The “entirety of the Lotus Sutra” means its essence. This is none other than chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Simply stated: if we truly chant the daimoku with this conviction that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the essence of the Lotus Sutra, we are then true to the entirety of the Lotus Sutra at that moment. We become of the same mind as Nichiren by helping others to capture the entirety of the Lotus Sutra leading them to chant the daimoku to the Gohonzon while sharing in his vow to save all others.

On The Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, Nichiren writes:

"Simply chanting the daimoku is beyond measure. To accept, uphold, read, recite, take delight in, and protect all the eight volumes and twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra is called the comprehensive practice. To accept, uphold, and protect the 'Expedient Means' chapter and the 'Life Span' chapter is called the abbreviated practice. And simply to chant one four-phrase verse or the daimoku, and to protect those who do so, is called the essential practice. Hence, among these three kinds of practice, comprehensive, abbreviated, and essential, the daimoku is defined as the essential practice" (MWND-3, p.9).

You have failed to emphasize or mention this most fundamental point throughout your entire sermon.  I will return to this prime understanding again and again in the following comments.

  

Part Two- The Word "Truth" (see Appendix, Segment 2, at the end of my comments)

In this segment, Rev. Murata, you state, “The word ‘true,’ as Nichiren Daishonin uses it in the above passage, refers to the crucial importance of practicing Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism according to Nichiren Daishonin’s true intention.”You even underline one phrase to lend emphasis.  In this one sentence you are actually twisting the very reason for practicing Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism.

You are here directly equating the “true intention” of Nichiren Daishonin with practicing in Nichiren Shoshu. What documentary or theoretical proof do you have to support this wild and unfounded contention?

Even though you attempt to clarify the Daishonin’s true intention I cannot remember a single sermon in which you discuss the true purpose of Nichiren Daishonin's advent: none other than to empower all people to propagate Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the essence inherent in the Buddha's life and the life of all people.

To restate, Nichiren Daishonin's intention was--and remains--to empower people to the true fact that Nam myoho renge kyo is the essence of all phenomena and the essence of the entirety of the Lotus Sutra.  His true intention is to empower the common people.  In this segment you are trying to arbitrarily define and appropriate the word "True" for your own self-serving purposes. When people try to understand the meaning of “true” they should rely on the LAW and not on the opinion of Nichiren Shoshu’s distorted interpretation.

Nichiren inscribed the Gohonzon to empower all people-- not to empower a small group of priests who seek to control people and misuse the Daishonin’s intention. This is why Nichiren reiterates again and again in his writings the following point:

"Myoho-renge-kyo is only one phrase or verse, but it is no ordinary phrase, for it is the essence of the entire sutra. You asked whether one can attain Buddhahood only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and this is the most important question of all. This is the heart of the entire sutra and the substance of its eight volumes" (MW-1, p.221-222).

Also, in the same letter, The One Essential Phrase the Daishonin states:

"Everything has its essential point, and the heart of the Lotus Sutra is its title, or the daimoku, of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Truly, if you chant this in the morning and evening, you are correctly reading the entire Lotus Sutra. Chanting daimoku twice is the same as reading the entire sutra twice, one hundred daimoku equal one hundred readings of the sutra, and one thousand daimoku, one thousand readings of the sutra. Thus, if you ceaselessly chant daimoku, you will be continually reading the Lotus Sutra" (MW-1, p. 222).

What was really Nichiren's true intention? it is none other than aligning the people with the Buddha's life, hence aligning them to chant the Daimoku.  You use the word "true," however, to mislead people to align themselves with your self-serving interpretation. 

Part Three- Gojukai (see Appendix, Segment 3, at the end of my comments)

In this segment, you again promote your sect, this time by claiming that Gojukai and Kankai ceremonies for new converts’ initiation to Nichiren Shoshu are the first necessary prerequisites of faith.  You compare the ceremonies to preparing a field for "planting,” but in reality you are pushing people into entering a path of  dependency on priests for their faith.  From this point forward you continuously spread the notion that they must chant the daimoku and refute "erroneous teachings;" it is sad that they are unaware that what you are doing is in itself erroneous.

You are here suggesting that new believers align themselves to Nichiren Shoshu before you tell them to align themselves to the purpose of  Nichiren’s advent- hence empowering them to chant the Daimoku, which is the very reason of Nichiren’s lifelong struggle. Allegiance to Nichiren Shoshu can never lead to an allegiance to Nichiren Daishonin unless you disclose to your believers and new converts that the reason they should chant the daimoku is none other than to empower their own lives and to recognize their own Buddhahood right from the beginning. But of course trying to empower your followers would be counterproductive to your sect’s purpose and agenda and they'll realize only too quickly that they actually do not need to be dependent on priests but should rather rely on the Law.

So, to create dependency, your sect created the Gojukai and Kankai ceremonies only to bind believers into accepting the distorted views of your sect and to lead them to slander their own lives by handing over their own power to you, the priests.

In the Gosho The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law, Nichiren writes:

"Among my disciples, those who think themselves well-versed in Buddhism are the ones who make errors. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the heart of the Lotus Sutra. It is like the soul of a person. To revere another teaching as its equal is to be like a consort who is married to two emperors, or who secretly commits adultery with a minister or a humble subject. It can only be a cause for disaster" (MW-3, p. 263).

Rev. Murata, you are very much committing the slander above, “to revere another teaching as its [the Lotus Sutra’s] equal.”  Just look how in your discussion on “this Shakubuku phase” you equate encouraging a friend “to chant the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo” and “to bring them to Myosenji Temple so they can chant to the Temple’s Joju Gohonzon and discuss True Buddhism with a Nichiren Shoshu Priest.”  Equating both is treacherous logic.  In the above passage Nichiren emphasizes that chanting “is the heart of the Lotus Sutra...like the soul of a person.” Where does he indicate that this is on the same plane as talking to a Nichiren Shoshu Priest [sic]?

  

Part Four- Gojukai Vows (see Appendix, Segment 4, at the end of my comments)

In this segment you list the three points of your Gojukai vow.  All of Nichiren’s disciples must embrace the first two vows: practicing the true teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and protecting the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws throughout one’s life.

The third - Keeping the precepts of Nichiren Shoshu - is a sectarian command that has no place in Nichiren Daishonin's teachings. The third vow should read: “To devote one's life to spreading the Law to the best of one's ability without begrudging one's life.”  

Part Five- Setting Aside Other Belief Systems (see Appendix, Segment 5, at the end of my comments)

Rev. Murata, your logic in this segment is simplistic beyond belief.  It is not due to receiving Gojukai ceremony that one sets aside other belief systems. Rather, it is through inner transformation which is triggered by chanting the daimoku with the knowledge that this transformation takes the effect of discarding one's attachments to erroneous teachings.  The encouragement of those who brought a new member to the faith as well as the Buddhist sangha is vitally important in raising hope that this transformation is possible. 

Attaining enlightenment is not granted because one receives the Gojukai initiation. The attainment of enlightenment is the awakening to the fact that we all have the Buddha within our hearts through the belief that Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the Buddha's life itself which we all possess.

 

 Part Six- The Diamond Chalice (see Appendix, Segment 6, at the end of my comments)

The Gosho passage you quote in this segment about the Diamond Chalice clearly indicates the wonder of faith which has an eternal and indestructible dimension.  This precept becomes the reality of one's practice not because of any alliance to Nichiren Shoshu but rather because with this one precept one can establish the Thus Come One in one's own heart.  This does not occur through a transfer from priests but rather derives from a correct teacher who has established the Diamond Chalice in his or her own heart just as Nichiren demonstrated it in his own body, mind, heart and actions. There is no transfer that takes place in any priestly ceremony.

Nichiren states in The Treasure Tower:

"Now Nichiren's disciples are doing the same. In the Latter Day of the Law, there is no Treasure Tower other than the figures of the men and women who embrace the Lotus Sutra. It follows, therefore, that those who chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, irrespective of social status, are themselves the Treasure Tower and likewise they themselves are Taho Buddha. There is no Treasure Tower other than Myoho-renge-kyo. The daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the Treasure Tower, that is to say, the Treasure Tower is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" (MW-1, p-30).

It is through the power of faith that allows one to open the door to the Treasure Tower.

  

Part Seven- The Dai Gohonzon (see Appendix, Segment 7, at the end of my comments)

In this segment, once again, you ask your believers to seek the Gohonzon or the Dai-Gohonzon outside of themselves; ultimately you are turning them into dependent and fawning worshippers instead of worthy successors--lion cubs who proudly share the Daishonin’s vow. This is the most heretical stance possible.  You continue to utter it month after month in your sermons, pounding this slander into your followers, brainwashing them to believe that the Dai-Gohonzon has the power to perform miracles only if they come within its proximity through Nichiren Shoshu’s "privileged control" of the Dai Gohonzon, duping them to believe that any Gohonzon enshrined in your temples have special powers.

In reality, the Gohonzon possesses two inherent powers - The Power of the Law and the Power of the Buddha. By themselves the Dai-Gohonzon and any Gohonzon are incomplete and untapped unless one incorporates within one's own life the other two powers which we all possess: the Power of Faith and the Power of Practice. When we chant  Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the realization that WE ARE THE BUDDHA, we activate the Power of the Law and the Power of the Buddha depicted on the Gohonzon. Simply being within the proximity of the Dai-Gohonzon or a Temple Gohonzon does not activate the Power of the Law and the Power of the Buddha. This is why Nichiren clearly states in The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon: "That is why the Gohonzon is called a mandala. Mandala is a Sanskrit word that is translated as ‘perfectly endowed’ or ‘a cluster of blessings.’ The Gohonzon is found in faith alone. As the sutra states, ‘Only with faith can one enter Buddhahood’” (MW-1, p.213).

In contrast, nowhere can you point to statements in the Gosho that support your claims that “the crucial importance of Gojukai cannot be overestimated” or “the Gojukai ceremony is the most important ceremony in the life a new believer.”  It is unbelievable that you state “when a nonmember receives Gojukai and then the Gohonzon” as if both are equivalent and share an equal importance.

However, you and your colleagues preach that believers must succumb to your interpretations.  You bring as many believers as possible to worship the Dai-Gohonzon and as a resulting collect hefty fees that contribute to maintaining your livelihood.  You continue to spread false interpretations of the Daishonin's teaching.  You prey on the ignorance of your believers and rob them of their true and rightful emancipation by leading them to seek the Law outside their lives. In so doing, I declare, you have become more slanderous than Ryokan or Hei No Saemon.

 

Part Eight- Hokkeko Membership (see Appendix, Segment 8, at the end of my comments)

Here in this segment you shamelessly continue to perpetuate a special CLUB of followers. Here are the dynamics of the co-dependency you create:

(1) You create a mystique of holiness through your rules and ceremonies such as Gojukai. 

(2) Believers then are granted the right to support your priestly position which you shamelessly claim to be one of the "Three Treasures."

By affirming their willingness to support you instead of dedicating their lives to the Law, they come to believe they can attain salvation only through your possession of the Dai-Gohonzon.

This is self-serving and pathetic.  Your sect befits Nichiren’s description of false priests in his letter On Establishing the Correct Teaching (Rissho Ankuku Ron) in which he states:

"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).

 

Part Nine- Hokkeko Membership (see Appendix, Segment 9, at the end of my comments)

Here in this segment, you cast worshiping the Dai-Gohonzon as a “PRIZE” available only to Nichiren Shoshu "Club Members." In this claim you use the Dai-Gohonzon as a possession--a piece of property--rather than the banner of propagation inscribed by Nichiren for all humanity.  You employ the techniques of fear, leading these innocent members to believe your twisted logic that without such a connection or MEMBERSHIP they could never form a relationship to the Dai-Gohonzon through physically seeing it.

By the means of your distortions you are actually holding your followers captive to you.  You demean the Dai-Gohonzon by reducing it to a tool you use for your own purposes.  You embed in your followers a slavish mentality rather than empowering them to seek the Gohonzon from within.

This is a horrifically bad cause and it is my responsibility to call you on it!!!

In the Letter to NiikeNichiren writes, “A person may be a thief, but as long as no one knows, he can live wherever he wishes. But when denounced as a thief by someone who knows him, he is forced to leave his dwelling against his will. In the same way, because I know of their vow, the gods are compelled to abandon their shrines.” (MW-1, p. 259).

This why I know that the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin no longer dwells in your Head Temple. Moreover, all the benevolent forces of the universe and the Buddhist gods have abandoned your shrine of the Dai-Gohonzon.

Also, in the same Letter to Niike,Nichiren writes, “More than lay men or women, it is the priests with twisted understanding who are the Buddha's worst enemies. There are two kinds of understanding, true and perverted. No matter how learned a person may appear, if his ideas are warped you should not listen to him. Nor should you follow priests merely because they are venerable or of high rank. But if a person has the wisdom to know the spirit of the Lotus Sutra, no matter how lowly he may appear, worship him and serve him as though he were a living Buddha. This is stated in the sutra” (MW-1, p. 257).

I know this is true.  I know you. I was at Taisekiji! I witnessed it!

 

Part Ten- Planting the Seed vs Shakubuku (see Appendix, Segment 10, at the end of my comments)

In response to a comment you cite in Nichiren Shoshu Monthly you state, “Although the article in the Nichiren Shoshu Monthly is generally quite good, the quoted sentence is not in strict accordance with Nichiren Daishonin’s true intention.”  It seems as if only you, not even your superiors who publish your own publication, are able to distinguish “Nichiren Daishonin’s true intention.”

Here in this segment, you use technical language to distinguish between the terms Shakubuku and Geshu.  You assume that both are part of being a "True Believer" of Nichiren Shoshu.

In reality you and your followers recruit members, but cannot do shakubuku.  The real compassionate act of skakubuku can only spring from one’s own awakening to the inherent enlightened life. As I have mentioned many times above, you externalize the practice of attaining enlightenment rather than seeking it from within.  Therefore Shakubuku or Geshu as you define them can play absolutely no part in anyone’s salvation.  They can only contribute to your scheme to assure continuation for your own financial support.

  

Part Eleven- Planting the Seed (see Appendix, Segment 11, at the end of my comments)

On the one hand you quote from the Gosho How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way Can Attain Buddhahood through the Lotus Sutra(MW6 - p.207) in which Nichiren Daishonin states: “When we revere Myoho-Renge-Kyo inherent in our own life as the object of worship, the Buddha nature within us is summoned forth and manifested by our chanting of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.” This is the true and eternal description of the Buddha nature within us.  Then you contradict the Daishonin by stating, “It is extremely important to remember, however, that the seed of enlightenment is not our own Buddha nature, because the Buddha nature already exists within the lives of all living beings (the internal cause). The seed of enlightenment is the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws.”

In the same breath as the Daishonin’s declaration of the universality of the Buddha nature you utter your distorted view that the Dai-Gohonzon is the manifestation of a unique, special, and higher Buddha nature, e.g., the Daishonin's life of the true Buddha of Kuon Ganjo.  This destroys the very fabric of the Daishonin’s teaching as well as Buddhism as a whole. 

You create a separation between the Daishonin and our own lives and our own Buddhahood by stating that only through the Dai-Gohonzon can one plant the seed of enlightenment within the life of another human being.  Hence, in your self-serving tone, people have to come to the Dai-Gohonzon which is under your physical control to have the seed of enlightenment planted in their hearts. Nowhere in the Gosho is such a contention ever even insinuated by the Daishonin. Your interpretation of sowing the seed through physical proximity to the Dai-Gohonzon is YOUR sect’s fabrication and twisted interpretation, not the Daishonin's true teaching.

Part Twelve- “True” Shakubuku (see Appendix, Segment 12, at the end of my comments)

In this segment, you state that Shoju is not an effective way to propagate true Buddhism. Therefore, you proclaim that shakubuku is the correct way to propagate "True Buddhism." My question is this: if your assertion is correct and true, then why hasn’t Nichiren Shoshu in the past 700 years been able to accomplish Kosen Rufu by now?

The truth of the matter is that not until the appearance of the Soka Gakkai has true shakubuku taken place.  The efforts of Soka Gakkai members in only some 80 years have manifested in the accomplishment that so many people are truly practicing and propagating the Daishonin's teachings. In fact, true shakubuku was never practiced by Nichiren Shoshu priests.

 

Nichiren Shoshu has never established the true practice either.  The daily practice of Gongyo was established by the Soka Gakkai under Jose Toda.  As a result lay believers have gained benefits and spread the Law just as Nichiren foresaw. If not for the Soka Gakkai’s advent, Nichiren Shoshu would have remained a poor secluded sect that would have never been able to gain such growth on its own.

 

Now, you and Nichiren Shoshu are working relentlessly to destroy the Law and halt the growth of the true practitioners of the Daishonin.  You shamelessly attribute your authority to the "Correct Teaching" of "True Buddhism" only to lead your followers as far as possible from the True Teaching.

Nichiren states in the letter On Itai Doshin: "Though evils may be numerous, they cannot prevail over a single great truth, just as many raging fires are quenched by a single shower of rain. This principle also holds true with Nichiren and his followers" (MW-1, p.153).

Based on this admonition in the Gosho, you have self-created your own personal downfall and the fate of your sect’s demise is already sealed. It is only a matter of time.

 

Part Thirteen- “True” Shakubuku (see Appendix, Segment 13, at the end of my comments)

I have written you many letters and emails thus far and you have failed to refute my contentions even once. Therefore your statements in this last segments are the proof of your  HYPOCRISY- “Do as I SAY, NOT as I DO.” The truth is that I am refuting your erroneous interpretations and you choose to ignore my refutations and continue to spread false teachings to preserve your status and welfare. 

Thus you are not attempting to practice shakubuku but rather are reverting to some form of Shoju. You yourself quote in this segment from the Gosho On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings(MW1 – p.105): “Now, when the true and provisional teachings are utterly confused, it would be equally unnatural for one to seclude himself in the mountains, carrying out the easy practice of shoju, and avoid refuting the enemies of the Lotus Sutra. He would lose all chance to practice the Lotus Sutra.”  Sitting in the safety of your study, composing long and meaningless treatises that you force on a captive audience--that is a perfect modern-day description of “seclude himself in the mountains, carrying out the easy practice of shoju.” 

If you truly believe that  the SGI is promoting erroneous teachings, then your failure to even acknowledge one of my letters contradicts Nichiren’s injunction not to “avoid refuting the enemies of the Lotus Sutra.”  Therefore you “lose all chance to practice the Lotus Sutra.”

To close, I would like to quote the following from Letter to Niike:

“‘Knowledge without faith’ describes those who are knowledgeable about the Buddhist doctrines but have no faith. These people will never attain Buddhahood. Those of ‘faith without knowledge’ may lack knowledge but have faith and can attain Buddhahood. This is not merely my own opinion; it is stated clearly in the Lotus Sutra. In the second volume, the Buddha says, ‘Even you, Shariputra, in the case of this sutra were able to gain entrance through faith alone, not because of any wisdom of your own’” (MW-1 p, 260).

 

Based on the above teaching, no matter how knowledgeable you become in Nichiren Daishonin's teachings, your life at the best will be of no consequence.  At the worst, unless you teach your followers how to establish TRUE faith, you are creating a wave of unhappiness that engulfs them as well as you.

 

I hope you will reread everything I have written in the light of your sermon and realize that your life and life of those you responsible for may end up empty handed tormented by the incessant suffering if you do not reflect and discard your erroneous interpretations.

Truly,

Micha Adir

 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Note: The following segments are intended for quotation references only for the comments above and are referring to July 8th 2012 Oko Sermon by Yuzui Murata.

 

Appendix

 

Segment 1

 

July 8, 2012 – Oko

Rev. Yuzui Murata

Chief Priest, Myosenji Temple

“if you are true

to the entirety of the Lotus Sutra”

(Part Seven)

Sincere questions from Hokkeko members relating to the practice of Shakubuku arise all the time, questions which are honestly seeking the truth regarding the correct interpretation of our faith and practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s True Buddhism. For today’s sermon, therefore, I would like to focus on the word ‘true’ as it is used in the following passage from the Gosho, Letter to Niike (MW1 – p. 259), where Nichiren Daishonin states: “Faith in this sutra means that you will surely attain Buddhahood if you are true to the entirety of the Lotus Sutra, adhering exactly to its teachings without adding any of your own ideas or following the

arbitrary interpretations of others.”

 

Segment 2

 

The word ‘true’ has different shades of meaning in the English language. The most common meaning is when we refer to something as being in strict accordance with facts or in agreement with reality, such as: “Is it true or false?” Or, “That’s true, isn’t it?” Or, “It’s difficult to know if that’s true or not.” A variation of this meaning is used in the name of True Buddhism or the True Buddha, a shading which is meant to indicate something which is original, fundamental and containing the ultimate truth of reality. The word ‘true’ can also mean faithful,

loyal, or reliable. To a non-English-speaking person, this can be confusing. The word ‘true,’ as Nichiren Daishonin uses it in the above passage, refers to the crucial importance of practicing Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism according to Nichiren Daishonin’s true intention.

 

 

Segment 3

 

It is important that we keep this in mind as we examine two of the questions which have been raised by members of the Myosenji Chapter of the Hokkeko. Question #1: “I know I had to receive Gojukai in order to become a member of the Hokkeko and receive the

Gohonzon, but are these the only reasons to receive Gojukai?” Answer: This is a very good question. To receive the Gohonzon and become a member of the Hokkeko are very

important reasons to receive Gojukai, but these are not the only ones. To begin with, it is extremely important to understand the crucial role which Gojukai plays in the lives of members who are earnestly striving to develop a correct practice of True Buddhism. Basically, there are two phases in the development of true practitioners of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism.

 

The first phase is called Shakubuku, the sharing of True Buddhism with other people. This phase can also be thought of as the necessary preparation of a nonmember’s life to receive Gojukai and the Gohonzon. It is much like preparing and planting a field. The field must be cultivated to break through the crust which has developed over time and to destroy as many weeds as possible, with the crust and weeds representing the negative influences of erroneous belief systems. In other words, the field must be able to support the seed of enlightenment. Shakubuku involves a wide variety of activities and should always be carried out with a spirit of deep compassion and respect for the person we are talking with. Some of the key activities which happen during this Shakubuku phase are: to introduce the nonmember to the basic principles of True Buddhism, to refute in a compassionate and respectful manner the erroneous belief systems which they are now

practicing, to encourage them to chant the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, and to bring them to Myosenji Temple so they can chant to the Temple’s Joju Gohonzon and discuss True Buddhism with a Nichiren Shoshu Priest. These are only a few of the key activities and are not meant to be all-inclusive or mandatory. The important point is this: almost everything we do to share the True Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin with other people is definitely planting the seed of enlightenment within the nonmember’s life. Whether they receive Gojukai or reject the teachings is entirely up to them, dependent on their own karma. In either case, the seed of enlightenment has been planted and will ultimately be able to grow, if not in this lifetime, then definitely in a

future one.

 

Segment 4

 

In the Gosho, The Teaching, Capacity, Time and Country (MW4 – p.10), Nichiren Daishonin states:

 “. . . . . one should first give them instruction in the true Mahayana teaching. In that way, whether they choose to believe in the teaching or to slander it, they will still receive the seed of enlightenment.” The second phase in the ongoing development of a practitioner of True Buddhism begins when a nonmember receives Gojukai and then the Gohonzon from a Nichiren Shoshu Priest. This second phase is called Nurturing, and can be likened to the continuous nurturing and cultivation which is absolutely vital in enabling new and old members alike to realize the full merit of our practice. As any farmer or gardener knows, it is absolutely essential to keep cultivating a newly-planted field in order to keep the soil loose and to remove the weeds which will continue to grow. This allows the plants to receive the nutrients they need for healthy growth. In this second phase, we must establish a correct practice for ourselves, we need to give and receive encouragement from other Hokkeko members and we must develop and maintain a close relationship with the Three Treasures of Myosenji Temple by chanting to the Temple Gohonzon and by attentively listening to the guidance from the Priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu. As you can now understand, the once-in-a-lifetime ceremony of Gojukai actually marks the end of the Shakubuku phase and the beginning of the Nurturing phase.

 

To fully answer the member’s question, let’s again review the meaning of Gojukai.

When a person receives Gojukai and then the Gohonzon, that person is willing to make three vows or pledges to the Gohonzon. To make these vows is, in itself, an act of faith on the part of the new believer. The new believer vows to:

 

1. Practice the true teaching of Nichiren Daishonin throughout their life;

2. Protect the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws throughout their life; and,

3. Keep the precepts of Nichiren Shoshu throughout their life.

 

Segment 5

 

When a new believer makes these vows, they are pledging to embrace the Gohonzon by putting aside other belief systems and establishing a correct practice of True Buddhism. It is only by receiving Gojukai and then maintaining a correct practice that any person can truly erase their negative karma, purify their lives and experience enlightenment.

 

Segment 6

 

The third vow, to “keep the precept of Nichiren Shoshu throughout your life,” means

to embrace the Gohonzon. In the Gosho, Teaching, Practice and Proof (MW4 – p.129), Nichiren Daishonin

explains this by stating: “The five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the heart of the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra, contain all the benefits amassed by the beneficial practices and meritorious deeds of all the Buddhas throughout the past, present and future . . . . Once the practitioner embraces this perfectly endowed mystic precept, he cannot break it, even if he should try. It is therefore called the precept of the diamond chalice. Only by observing this very precept have the Buddhas of the three existences obtained the properties of the Law, wisdom and action, which are each without beginning or end.” To indicate the transfer of this ‘diamond chalice’ precept, a Nichiren Shoshu Priest places the special Temple Gohonzon on the head of the new believer while chanting the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.

 

Segment 7

 

The crucial importance of Gojukai cannot be overestimated. Although the seed of enlightenment is being

planted within the life of a nonmember whenever we do Shakubuku, the seed remains dormant, or sleeping. It has become an Internal Cause within the nonmember’s life, which means that it has also become a Latent (or dormant) Effect. In other words, nothing will happen unless the nonmember fuses with the correct External Cause, which, in this case, is the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws. When a nonmember receives Gojukai and then the Gohonzon, the new believer is finally able to worship the Dai-Gohonzon, which is the seed of enlightenment and which illuminates and activates the Buddha nature inherent within life. This is why the Gojukai ceremony is the most important ceremony in the life of a new believer. Without the Dai-Gohonzon, True Buddhism would only be a theory. By enabling us to fuse our lives with the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, every human being can eradicate their negative karma, purify their deluded life, overcome their sufferings and experience the indestructible joy of supreme enlightenment. This is the true meaning behind the Gojukai ceremony.

 

Segment 8

 

To give a more complete answer to the question asked by the above member, it is important to emphasize the importance of becoming a member of the Hokkeko at the time of Gojukai. To be a member of the Hokkeko is vitally important as the new believer develops their faith and practice of True Buddhism. By becoming a member of the Hokkeko, the new believer is affirming their willingness to not only share the True Teachings of Nichiren Daishonin with other people, but to also share their experiences with members and nonmembers alike.

 

Most importantly, however, they are able to make sincere offerings to the Three Treasures – the True Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin and the Priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu.

 

Segment 9

 

It is a fact that Nichiren Shoshu will only accept offerings from members of the Hokkeko; they will not accept offerings from non-Hokkeko members. It should also be mentioned that the term ‘Re-Shakubuku’ applies to those people who have already received Gujukai, but who have since abandoned a correct practice of True Buddhism and who are not members of the Hokkeko. Most members of the SGI belong in this category, as do those who have no current affiliation with the Hokkeko. The Kankaishiki Ceremony is conducted for those who decide to return to a correct practice of True Buddhism. This ceremony not only allows them to reaffirm the vows they made when they initially received Gojukai, but to also directly worship the Dai-Gohonzon.

 

Segment 10

 

Question #2: “I thought that geshu and Shakubuku were the same basic thing, but then I read an article in the Nichiren Shoshu Monthly which seemed to say something different. What is the truth? Were they confusing geshu with shoju?”

Answer: This is another excellent question. The sentence which puzzled this member can be found in the

previous issue of the Nichiren Shoshu Monthly, within the article titled, ‘On Recommending This Teaching.’

The sentence reads: “In America, common sense must guide us in choosing between geshu (introducing the practice) and shakubuku (refuting incorrect beliefs).” After reading this sentence, I could understand the member’s confusion. Although the article in the Nichiren Shoshu Monthly is generally quite good, the quoted sentence is not in strict accordance with Nichiren Daishonin’s true intention. Strictly speaking, the word geshu should not be translated as ‘introducing the practice.’ The word geshu means ‘to plant a seed’ or ‘planting the seed.’ In common everyday language, we often say things like: “He is planting the seeds of discord.” Or, “I have planted the seeds of interest in the person I’m trying to sell health insurance to.” Or, “We have to plant seeds before we can harvest a crop.” There is actually no difference between ‘introducing the practice’ and ‘refuting incorrect beliefs.’ Both of these concepts are part of the same process, which is called Shakubuku, and both of these actions will plant the seed of enlightenment within the life of a nonmember. To imply that there is a difference is simply not accurate.

 

Segment 11

 

We need to be careful, however, when we use the word geshu. I have often heard Hokkeko members say things like, “I did two geshu this week.” Or, “I brought a geshu to the meeting last night.” Or, “I was geshued on Park Avenue.” To use the word geshu in a careless or casual manner can have the effect of trivializing the concept of ‘planting the seed of enlightenment.’ It can even be misleading, giving members and nonmembers alike a false impression of what it means to plant the seed of enlightenment in the life of another human being. We should not refer to our ‘guest’ as a ‘geshu,’ and it would be a rare occurrence indeed to receive the seed of enlightenment during a brief sidewalk encounter on Park Avenue. To avoid unnecessary confusion, it is much better if we use plain English when talking about things like this. We could say, for example, “I talked to two people about True Buddhism this week.” Or, “I brought a guest to the meeting last night.” Or, “I first heard about True Buddhism on Park Avenue.” In the Gosho, Letter to Akimoto (MW7 – p.194), Nichiren Daishonin states: “The doctrine of the sowing of the seed and its maturing and harvesting is the very heart and core of the Lotus Sutra. All the Buddhas of the three existences and the ten directions have invariably attained Buddhahood through the seeds of the five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo.”

 

In True Buddhism, geshu refers to the act of sowing or planting the seed of enlightenment within the life of each human being, an act which occurs when a Priest of Nichiren Shoshu or a member of the Hokkeko shares True Buddhism with nonmembers, or does Shakubuku. It is extremely important to remember, however, that the seed of enlightenment is not our own Buddha nature,

because the Buddha nature already exists within the lives of all living beings (the internal cause). The seed of enlightenment is the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws (the external cause or relation), which illuminates and activates our inherent Buddha nature. In the Gosho, How Those Initially Aspiring to the Way can attain Buddhahood through the Lotus Sutra (MW6 - p.207), Nichiren Daishonin states: “When we revere Myoho-Renge-Kyo inherent in our own life as the object of worship, the Buddha nature within us is summoned forth and manifested by our chanting of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.” In another Gosho, Admonitions against Slander (MW1 – p.166), the Daishonin further states: “The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower and the people like the field.”

 

We, as Priests and Laity of Nichiren Shoshu are actually messengers of the Dai-Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws. The Dai-Gohonzon – the oneness of the True Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and the True Buddha of Kuon Ganjo, Nichiren Daishonin – is the true seed of enlightenment. In the final analysis, it is only because of the Dai-Gohonzon that we can plant the precious seed of enlightenment within the life of another human being.

 

Segment 12

 

Perhaps the intention of the previously-quoted sentence from the Nichiren Shoshu Monthly was to distinguish between the concepts of Shoju and Shakubuku, but this is not clear, either. Shoju refers to a method of propagating Buddhism by gradually leading a person to the True Law without refuting their attachment to an erroneous belief system. Shoju also refers to a mind-set which is more focused on realizing one’s own enlightenment instead of propagating Buddhism to others. Because many people had already received the ‘roots of goodness,’ this method was used during the Former and Middle Days of the Law. Many people during this time had very little or no prejudice against or disagreement with fundamental Buddhist principles. This is not the case, however, for the people of Mappo, the Latter Day of the Law. How many people do you know who have little or no prejudice against or disagreement with Buddhist principles? Very few, I think. This is why the method of Shoju is not an appropriate way to introduce True Buddhism to people who have established an adherence to erroneous belief systems. Why? Because these belief systems are, by definition, opposed to either some or many of the key principles of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. If we reflect on the great difficulty many Hokkeko members still have in discarding the remnants of their past adherence to erroneous belief systems, we can conclude that the method known as Shoju is not an effective way to propagate True Buddhism.

 

Segment 13

 

In the book, The Doctrines and Practice of Nichiren Shoshu (p. 299) it reads: “The Lotus Sutra teaches the

greatness of the practice of shakubuku. Even if we choose the method of shoju, it does not mean that we comply with incorrect teachings. The fundamental method of propagation in the Latter Day of the Law is shakubuku. We must never forget that wherever the benefit of the Dai-Gohonzon exists and manifests, people can truly be saved.” In the Gosho, On Practicing the Buddha’s Teachings (MW1 – p.105), Nichiren Daishonin states: “Now, when the true and provisional teachings are utterly confused, it would be equally unnatural for one to seclude himself in the mountains, carrying out the easy practice of shoju, and avoid refuting the enemies of the Lotus Sutra. He would lose all chance to practice the Lotus Sutra. Now, in the Latter Day of the Law, who is carrying out the practice of shakubuku in strict accordance with the Lotus Sutra?” In this passage, Nichiren Daishonin clearly refutes the idea that Shoju is an acceptable method to propagate True Buddhism during this present age.

Without question, Shakubuku is our most noble pursuit, and is always based on deep compassion and respect for those we are talking with. To help you more clearly understand the meaning of Shakubuku and how we can best do it, I will continue this important subject next month, again focusing on the single word ‘true’ – the importance of practicing True Buddhism according to Nichiren Daishonin’s true intention.

Thank you for your kind attention.

 

 

Views: 226

Reply to This

Latest Activity

Toshizo Saejima left a comment for Marceen Taylor
"Welcome aboard, Marceen!"
Feb 2
Marceen Taylor is now a member of SGI Buddhism (.net)
Feb 2
Toshizo Saejima left a comment for Kenneth Andrew Pennells
"Welcome aboard, Kenneth!"
Jan 28
Kenneth Andrew Pennells is now a member of SGI Buddhism (.net)
Jan 28
Toshizo Saejima left a comment for Patricia PRUNIER
"Welcome aboard, Patricia!"
Jan 6
Profile IconPatricia PRUNIER and Shannon joined SGI Buddhism (.net)
Jan 6
Toshizo Saejima left a comment for Shannon
"Welcome aboard, Shannon!"
Jan 6
Toshizo Saejima posted a photo
Dec 31

SGI Buddhism is a community created by members of SGI. SGI Buddhism is not an official site of SGI.

SGIBuddhism.net Admin

If you have questions or need to report site issues please contact me through one of these social networks.

LinkedIn / Instagram
Facebook / Help the Homeless

Thanks
Chris Tinney 
SGI Profile

Sponsors: Purium Brand PartnerHempworx Distributor, Young Living Essential Oils, Las Vegas BarterSpreadPeace.org network marketing,

© 2023   Created by Chris Tinney.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service