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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Lotus Sutra 2nd and 16th Chapters


More six beat Daimoku


Six beat Daimoku


Seven beat Daimoku


Instant Eradication of Disease Honzon

Nichiren Mandala Gohonzon # 47: Instant Eradication of Disease Honzon

This Mandala Gohonzon is dated March 16 1278 and is kept at Nakayama [中山] Hosen-in [法宣院] [Dharma Declaration Institute] of Chiba Prefecture [千葉県]. The "nickname" of the Mandala is 病即消滅本尊. That means something like 'sudden erasure & destruction of sickness honzon." Maybe the "Instant Healing of Disease Honzon?"


This refers to one of the inscriptions seen on the mandala.

"This sutra provides good medicine for the ills of the people of Jambudvipa. If a person who has an illness is able to hear this sutra, then his illness will be wiped out and he will know neither old age or death." from the Yakuo [Medicine King] Chapter of the LS. {Watson translation}


It appears that Nichiren did not designate a recipient for this one.

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Gohonzon Gallery

Techno Ritualization The Gohonzon Controversy on the Internet by Mark Williams

CONTROVERSY THE GOHONZON BY INTERNET ...

CONTROVERSY THE GOHONZON BY INTERNET ...

I place an essay by the Japanese Religion university professor MARK WILLIAMS, about the Gohonzon controversy on the internet. Due to conditions of space and the sole purpose of the blog, I have removed the extensive footnotes and bibliography in the essay, if someone wants to read the original in English can write me requesting it to the mail: heimo57@hotmail.com I will gladly send you the file in PDF version.
TECHNO - RITUALIZACIONLA CONTROVERSIA ON THE GOHONZON ON THE INTERNETMARK WILLIAMS
The Internet is transforming the way people make religion. This essay explores the techno-ritual use of the Internet by the independent movement of Nichiren American Buddhists. American independents are mostly former members of two organizations that trace their origins to Nichiren Daishonin (1222-82):
The Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai (SGI-USA) international. Like other new religious movements in America that have emerged since the 1960s, Nichiren Shoshu and SGI-USA, while attracting many members, have also suffered high attrition rates.Some of this exhaustion was caused by the members who temporarily joined them; They experimented with Nichiren Buddhism before moving towards something new. But others chose to leave the organized Nichiren Buddhism to continue their religious practices privately.
In fact, some studies have suggested that Buddhists independently believers in Nichiren can greatly outnumber the Buddhists of the North American sects of Nichiren today. Particularly, many independents left Nichiren Buddhism organizations after the "temple war" that led to the virulent fracture between the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI in 1991.
The war started by the Gohonzon, the "fundamental object of respect or devotion", this is fundamental to worship in the Nichiren Buddhist. The Gohonzon is a mandala, a parchment with calligraphies symbolically representing the kingdom of the eternal Buddha Shakyamuni who revealed the Lotus Sutra. Written in Chinese and Sanskrit with the daimoku, the title of the Lotus Sutra (Hokke-kyo) in the center, Nichiren personally inscribed many copies from 1271 to 1282 to help his most faithful disciples in practice.However, for the tradition of the Nichiren Shoshu, one of these, inscribed on October 12, 1279, is considered as the only "true object of devotion."
Called the Dai Gohonzon (or "Great Gohonzon"), he is currently consecrated in his main temple, Taiseki-ji. According to the doctrine of the Fuji school, Nichiren, as a living Buddha, created the Dai Gohonzon to save humanity during the dark age of the last day of the law (mappô). As a priest of the Nichiren Shoshu describes it: "one becomes a Buddha by practicing this [Great] law established in the Dai Gohonzon."
The dispute over the Gohonzon began in February 1989 when the 67th prelate, Abe Nikken, increased the obligatory quotas to venerate the Dai Gohonzon and for the official copies used on the altar of the homes. This led to protests led by Daisaku Ikeda, the charismatic leader of the SGI, about what he considered to be severe priesthood policies. The crisis came on March 5, 1991, when Abe formally removed Ikeda's office and, by November 29, 1991, had excommunicated all SGI members. After that, the members of the SGI could not make a pilgrimage to the Taiseki-ji to perform the liturgy, nor could they officially receive from the priests "the opening of the eyes" and the copies of the Dai Gohonzon for their home altars.
Since September 7, 1993, the SGI has had to have its own Gohonzon reprinted from a copy transcribed in 1720 by Nichikan, the twenty-sixth supreme prelate. As the temple war continued on each side blaming the other for diverting Nichiren Buddhism, many believers decided to leave both organizations and became independent practitioners.
What makes the Gohonzon so important? Nichiren is a dominant figure in Japanese Buddhist history. Born as the son of an impoverished fisherman, Nichiren joined the Buddhist order of the Tendai school, only to leave it in 1253, at the age of 32 when he discovered a simplified form of Buddhist doctrine and practice centered on the Sutra of the Lotus. Nichiren saw himself as an enlightened teacher who could free people during the time of degeneration of the law (mappô), a time when the ancient teachings of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni were no more spiritually effective, believing that this era had begun in 1051. Nichiren was controversial. Although he shared the Mahayana faith that all beings have the Buddha nature, he accentuated an exclusive faith in the Lotus Sutra,
The keys of Nichiren for spiritual salvation are the three great secret laws (sandai hiho) those laws he discovered hidden in that sutra. The first is the Great Sanctuary (kaikan) of the true Buddhism that he prophesied would be built during the mappo period. The second is the daimoku or the "title" of the Lotus Sutra, Nam myoho renge kyo. The "mystic law" (myoho) refers to the universal law of cause and effect that is a creative force within human life. The "lotus flower" (renge) symbolizes the supreme enlightenment that is the pure unity underlying all things. Nichiren offered this simple mantra for everyone to practice.
Through chanting this mantra, people could unite with the universal law of cause and effect and thereby change their karma in a spiritually beneficial way. The third secret law is the mandala or the Gohonzon that Nichiren inscribed for his disciples since it was his desire to lead them to enlightenment. Causton explains that the Gohonzon is important because it represents symbolically the supreme enlightenment of the ideal state. It is not some magical god or talisman that grants wishes: it is simply an object that reveals from the deepest inside of us our Buddha nature. "
However, it is important because it is like an illumination having no other motivation than to bring happiness to all, Nichiren offered this Gohonzon as a way for universal salvation.
The Gohonzon, therefore, is not only a symbol, but is imbued with the enlightened spirit of Nichiren. The Gohonzon is often compared to a "clean mirror ... which perfectly reflects the state of Buddhahood inherent in life, and which could then allow all people, regardless of their circumstances, or ability, to extract and manifest this Buddha's nature that is within them. "As such, there is a mystical quality in the intonation of the mantra before the Gohonzon. An "assiduous practice" (gongyo) forms a bridge of sound and vibration merging the subject and the object together thus tuning life to the law of the universe and the inherent Buddha nature of those who intone (the daimoku).
It is not surprising, then, that the Gohonzon is "simply the most important object" in the practice of the Nichiren Buddhist. The priests of the Nichiren Shoshu and the organization of the SGI give copies to the new members, who enthrone them at their home altar. Faith means the belief in the Gohonzon as a vehicle of salvation. The practice means singing (the daimoku) regularly before the Gohonzon in his home altar for health, for material, psychological and physical benefits, lighting, as well as for the peace of the world.
An SGI spokesperson told me that "the Gohonzon is important to them because it provides a focus for their energy and determination for change and action. It is a representation of an enlightened state of life, with all the functions of the universe placed where each one creates more value. There is a definite fusion of our life force and energy with the Gohonzon when we are singing before him. It is a very powerful feeling that we experience as a sacred object that expresses the ultimate truth of enlightenment and devotion to Nichiren. "
I stumbled on this issue two years ago when a friend of the SGI visited my Japanese religions class. He explained to my students that, as a sacred object of devotion, the Gohonzon is never publicly exposed when one of my students interrupted him, saying that she had seen a Gohonzon on the Internet. Sure enough, she gave us a photocopy of what she had found, a "Gohonzon of prayer" downloaded from an American independent movement on the Don Ross Website called Nichiren's Coffeehouse.
When my SGI friend saw this Internet Gohonzon, he was not very happy. He quickly told us that he thought that was "sacrilege" because the Gohonzon is too sacred to be exhibited in that way. For me, it was a valuable lesson in the power of the Internet to radically transform new religious practices, and, in fact, a controversial path. I soon discovered several other independent sites on the Web that displayed Gohonzon on its pages. An example is Yahoo! Groups GohonzonInfo, a page that describes its purpose as "Distributing information about Nichiren Daishônin in a non-sectarian manner."
It archives hundreds twenty-eight existing Gohonzon that Nichiren personally inscribed for his disciples. Distribute the Gohonzon in a downloadable way in high resolution in 1200 dpi image. What everyone has to do is find the Gohonzon that "speaks to them." Another independent website that offers a similar service is that of Gerald Aitken, "Independent Practice of Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism."
A key part of the site is its "Gohonzon renovation project," a digitized Gohonzon collection available in zip files for download in a high-quality print format. The web sites such as the Gohonzon renovation project, GohonzonInfo, and Nichiren's coffeehouse.net use the Internet to challenge the exclusive authority of the Nichiren Buddhist sects by distributing the Gohonzon for free.
In fact, independents see no need for any institutional intermediary between Nichiren's Gohonzon and the potential devotee. Aitken, for example, says that your site "connects you to everything you need to practice Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism for yourself ..." You can get not only a Gohonzon, you can also get the writings of Nichiren (Gosho) , a translation of the gongyo, and a links page to get in touch with other independent Nichiren Buddhists.
Another independent, Greg Dilley, discusses in GohonzonInfo that particularly "since each organization or sect demands its members exclusive loyalty before they grant their Gohonzon to someone, one can very well wish to have a Gohonzon" free of influences "and without having that satisfy some other requirement of loyalty. "
Bold comments like those have caused enormous controversy within the Buddhist world of Nichiren. How the aforementioned controversial Yahoo! Groups Gohonzon Forum home page. The forum offers a supervised discussion "of theology and theory, information on how to receive different Gohonzon and experiences related to Gohonzon acceptance and transfers." If "posted" messages can not be "conducted with courtesy and respect," They offer a link to their brother forum called "The Gohonzon War."
This leads to two important questions. First, why does the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI find that Gohonzon on the Internet is a sacrilege? Second, why do American independents make such great efforts to provide high-resolution images so that anyone can download them for their home altars? What does it mean for Greg Dilley that the digital Gohonzon makes one "free of influence"? Answering these questions is important to understand Gohonzon's current war on the Internet. My thesis is that what divides the independents from Nichiren's institutional Buddhists is a different understanding of how technology can be used ritually.
The Buddhists of the Nichiren Sects believe that the "official rituals" administered by the institution are essential to transmit the "truth" instead of the "falsified" Gohonzon of the Internet. American independents, on the other hand, see the latest in techno-ritualistic media on the Internet to satisfy Nichiren's opinion of "practicing for others" (kosen-rufu). By distributing the Gohonzon images electronically, they use Cyberspace as a "Medium" to reach Nichiren's compassionate goal of universal salvation. The digital download, instead of the personal transcription, in printers, or photocopies, becomes the latest technology to deliver enlightenment to all humanity.
DIGITAL REPRODUCTION AS A LOSS OF "AURA".
The Internet Gohonzon is a concern for the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI. As Lorne Dawson points out, a "concern for religious organizations is the relative loss of control over religious materials ... The medium is also too fluid and dispersed to allow complete control, through the courts or other ways ... This opens up new opportunities for both the exposure and manipulation of guarded secrets, or create a competent syncretic systems. "The relativization and democratization of the computer-media-communication effect is especially worrisome for religions with a strong centralized authority.
What can the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI do to prevent the independents from reproducing images on the Internet? The power of the Internet to circulate images, according to Brenda Basher: "simultaneously creates religious diversity to exceptionally accessible and threatens in turn to undermine the value of original and unique people, places and things associated with religions."
Both the SGI and the Nichiren Shoshu condemn the online virtual exhibition of the Gohonzon. For example, an unofficial site of the Nichiren Shoshu "posts" a message from a conference of Rev. Shoshin Kawabe (a priest from Myogyoji, west of Chicago) about the "care and enthronement of the Gohonzon." In his talk, the Rev. Kawabe observes that, as a sacred object of devotion, the Gohonzon deserves special care:
"We should not spare our efforts to keep the Gohonzon in good condition. For example, we must be careful not to splash the Gohonzon with wax or water. Writing or painting on the Gohonzon is absolutely forbidden. We must also take precaution to prevent any accident caused by children or pets. The Gohonzon should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Unless you are driving the Gongyo, chanting Daimoku or cleaning the altar the altar doors should be closed to protect the Gohonzon. In addition, the following behaviors are strongly prohibited: sketching or painting and (making an image of the Gohonzon), photographing the Gohonzon, video recording the Gohonzon, and photocopying the Gohonzon. "
The same position in this regard is also indicated in the official sites of the SGI. As "Soka Spirit," a site whose purpose is "to educate people about the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin," it shows an "article of the month" by Dave Baldschun (SGI-USA Study Department) entitled:
"Are all the Gohonzon the same?"
In that article, Baldschun argues the following:
"In our time when copies of Gohonzon, something inscribed from the very hand of Nichiren Daishonin, are available on a counter or from the Internet, these examples offer a valuable lesson. Even when a Gohonzon is a Gohonzon, the source is important. We must be careful of those Gohonzon that are offered and of the unguided teaching of Nichiren Buddhism but there are some who, in fact, are propagating points of view that deflect the teachings of the Daishonin. In a letter to the lay priest Ichinosawa, the Daishonin states, (sic) "if the source is muddy, the current will not flow clearly ..."
The SGI has gone further by clarifying its position in a memo dated April 30, 2001 entitled "The Distribution of Gohonzon." This document mentions distribution over the Internet as detrimental to the true spirit of the Nichiren teachings propagated by the SGI.Receiving such a Gohonzon "would only create confusion and discord within the SGI community of believers and may serve to undermine their faith and that of others." The SGI affirms the policy "to confer the Gohonzon only by doing it within the SGI, the correct institution for the believers who hold the Daishonin's teaching today. We do not endorse or approve the distribution, receipt, or reproduction of any Gohonzon in any other way. "
In truth to his word, SGI USA and Nichiren Shoshu do not upload Gohonzon on their official website. In the case of the SGI, the new members area exhibits a virtual altar for informational purposes only. The page shows an animated image of a colored drawing of a stylized altar with its doors closed. When you "click" on the doors, they open. But what is visible is an empty parchment, not a reproduction of the sacred object of devotion.
Even in the "library section" of the same site, the Gohonzon is not displayed. There is only a schematic diagram of the Nichikan Gohonzon (particular SGI Gohonzon), described as the "treasure map of life." However, this diagram is only a schematic diagram without the Nichiren calligraphy. It is a system of empty boxes together with a key that gives an English translation and the romanized equivalents of the content of the parchment.
The iconoclasm of the SGI on the Internet also extends to members and followers.According to my research in a chapter of the SGI in Ottawa, Canada, more than 73.5% of those interviewed have a negative opinion about showing the Gohonzon on the Internet. Several respondents thought that online Gohonzon was "obscene," "sacrilegious," or "disrespectful." For example, one commented: "The Gohonzon is not an object to be enraptured but for respectful prayer." Others objected: "there (on the internet) is simply not the place for a Gohonzon online. The correct thing is that it must be placed inside a physical butsudan, and that it remain there. There are no questions about that and we would like to know who these people are who make such absurd acts by their own will. "
Also interesting are the reasons of the members of the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI because they believe that a Gohonzon granted by Internet is inappropriate. Some see it as demeaning or devaluing the Gohonzon. They fear that, if the Gohonzon reproduces on the web, it becomes a triviality, losing its religious value by being separated from its "source." Such fear is observed in a recent message in Esangha, an important portal of Buddhism that presents in the forum a chat about Buddhism of Nichiren. Mark, a lay member of the Nichiren Shoshu comments: "I disapprove of the Gohonzon downloaded from the Internet. It's as bad as the stores in Japan that sell Gohonzon. It does not happen to be cheap marketing of the true object of devotion. Get it from the same network that has hotels. com or e-pornography "diminishes its level of purity" since the Gohonzon is "the deepest source of inspiration and spiritual direction". Or, as one of my interviewees mentioned that adds to the above mentioned: "I think having it flashing on a screen like an ordinary image that you can turn off or browse is absolutely disrespectful."
Another reason for such fear is that it is open to everyone, that it has no supervision and without guidance, which opens up to misunderstandings. According to the SGI's Buddhist perspective, treating the Gohonzon with disrespect could have a negative karmic effect on the ignorant viewer. Therefore, allowing anyone to look at the Gohonzon without proper guidance is spiritually dangerous. Only with the proper practice and the teaching of an SGI leader can the devotee realize the beneficial karmic potential of singing. As one interviewee in my research concluded:
"The Gohonzon was inscribed in order to allow each person to be happy and satisfied.It represents the essence of life, it deserves to be treated with respect. To degrade the Gohonzon is to degrade all life. That would be a very unfortunate consequence for someone ... "
A third reason is that the Internet is not the appropriate "place" to display a Gohonzon.The Internet is a utopian space that accentuates the value of no place. The members of the SGI consider that the Gohonzon has its own special sacred place that unites intimately the home, the family, and in particular the SGI community. It must never be enthroned somewhere in Cyberspace where it can be accessed by anyone at any time under any condition. This is not good because the "place of your Gohonzon in your home becomes sacrosanct."
One interviewee in the research notes that although the Gohonzon is an "object" of devotion and not a person, the virtual Gohonzon also dehumanizes it too much: "I feel that the material presence in our home is profoundly significant. It seems to have a "life" in our home that is warm and full of beauty. It is our "object of family devotion".Another intervenes observing that the important difference could be compared to having a conversation with a friend face to face to send him the email. Of course, if you share important personal information it is better to talk face to face.
So, I think it's better for us to sing before a real Gohonzon. "That is, the sacred aura of the Gohonzon, his" life "for the devotee, is tied to his physical presence within the home and the family that devotes it; for these members of the SGI, the Internet is a cold, impersonal, public space that dehumanizes the Gohonzon, making it distant to the spectator. He has no personal connection and no potential to merge subjectively with the devotee, unless he "lives" in a family butsudan.
This leads to the final reason why the Buddhists of the Nichiren sects often cite why the online Gohonzon is inadequate. It is outside the legitimate line of the transmission group. The correct "lineage" means that the member has received the Gohonzon from the designated religious authority, in the case of the Nichiren Shoshu, the temple priest or, in the case of the SGI-USA, the lay leadership of the organization. One interviewee in the research observes: "Part of the practice is to receive a Gohonzon for the organization, almost as a journey in the ritual. This display [on the Internet] discourages this and also does not include any other important aspects of the practice. "
This rationale against the public display of the Gohonzon points to the vital role of tradition - the institutional roots, ritual, and social roots of the Gohonzon - to legitimize its sacred power and authority in the lives of practitioners. This point of agreement between the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI has often been ignored due to the bitter conflict between the two organizations. The antipathy of both groups towards Internet Gohonzon reflects the ideas that Walter Benjamin develops in his classic essay: "The Works of Arts in the Era of Mechanical Reproduction" (1955).
Benjamin argues that the mechanical reproduction of images by lithography, photography, and contemporary cinema transforms the experience of a work of art.These means are powerful because they magically create a resemblance of an object distant from its original position in space and time from where it has its own unique existence. Technology makes it circulate freely so that anyone can appreciate it.
A photograph of the Dai Gohonzon, for example, frees him from his temple sanctuary in Taisekiji where only priests and pilgrims can see him. The image can then travel via Internet to America where students in a class of Japanese religions can see it on their computer screens. The teacher can play it over and over again, downloading that image to use as part of an exam question. While Internet technology releases images to bring it closer to contemporary consumers, reproduction always lacks that essential quality of the original, that quality of presence: "The authenticity of a thing is the essence of everything that is transmissible from its beginning. , extending its substantive duration in its testimony in the history it has experienced. "
Benjamin mentions that the consumer's demand to bring objects closer to draw them, "distances the object reproduced from the domain of tradition," separating it from its particular site, from the specific historical, cultural, and religious contexts that gave it its particular meaning and values . The consequence of mechanical reproduction, therefore, is "the liquidation of tradition" - the loss of what Benjamin calls the "aura" of the object.
In the case of the Dai Gohonzon, the liquidation of the tradition occurs if, for example, a student decides to download it and put the copy on the wall of his bedroom because she thinks "it looks good" or brings a copy to the class to demonstrate what it says. This is exactly what the sectarian Buddhists of Nichiren fear. It reflects what Lorne Dawson has theorized as "the change from the offline world to the online world" that results in "two very important social consequences of the Internet: a crisis of authority and a crisis of authenticity."
RITUALLY FRAMING THE "AURA" - INSTITUTION RITES FOR THE GOHONZONE
The rejection of Nichiren's institutional Buddhism from the Internet Gohonzon is based on the theological premise that ritual in real life is essential to inculcate the aura of the Gohonzon. It was Walter Benjamin who also observed the strength of the ritual to create the aura, very often, an ancient work of art is also a sacred object: "The oldest works of art originated in the service of a ritual - first so magical, then for the religious class. It is significant that the existence of works of art in reference to their auras are never entirely separated from their ritual function. That is, the unique value of an "authentic" work of art is based on the ritual, the location of its original use value. "
Despite their differences, the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI both agree that the Gohonzon should never be displayed in public as an art object. Both also agree that the aura of the Gohonzon originates, in part, from the institutional conditions of its production and reception. In this regard the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI share a common faith with what Pierre Bourdieu called "institutional rites" that can generate this aura - the symbolically strong ritual practices of their organizations "act upon reality acting in their representation." Essential rites have a "social magic" that shapes a basic social level unequivocally so that they are recognized among those who are members and those who are not.
The rites of institution consecrate this difference and assign characteristics of a social nature. As an example, Pierre Bourdieu sees circumcision as a typical example of a rite of institution. The act is obviously divided into before and after - Circumcised children of one uncircumcised - but, simultaneously, also hidden marks create divisions too, for example between circumcised subjects (boys and men) and those who are not (girls and women ). It is the rite that consecrates and institutes this difference.
The Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI both use the Gohonzon in their "institutional rites" to mark the explicit limits between those who follow the "true teachings" and those who do not. As we have seen, it was a conflict over the handing over of the Gohonzon that led to the schism in 1991. After it lost the clerical support of the Nichiren Shoshu, the SGI was forced to create new lay rites centered on "institution rites" to confer of the Gohonzon, altar arrangement, maintenance, and specific procedures for making gongyo. In any case, the rites of the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI restrict access to the Gohonzon in such a way that they protect their aura while they identify who is a potential member.
In the Nichiren Shoshu, the priesthood presides over its "rites of institution." His priestly authority is based on the "legacy of the blood" (kechimyaku) of the high priest who traces his lineage directly to one of Nichiren's first disciples, Nikko Shonin. It is the high priest who controls the most sacred of the sacred, the Dai-Gohonzon in Taisekiji. Only the high priest or his officially appointed priests can grant official copies of the original in a special ceremony the gojukai or ceremony of surrender. It is only carried out after performing the special ceremony of "opening of the eyes" those copies acquire power by the spiritual energy of the Dai-Gohonzon, which flows from the True object of devotion towards the faithful.
This exclusively sacerdotal form for the ritual of transmission is critical to the aura of the Gohonzon and the authenticity of the religious practice of the laity in the Nichiren Shoshu. Rev. Shoshin Kawabe made this clear in his lectures on "The Delivery of the Gohonzon." He mentions the following: "" Kechimyaku, "consists of two characters -" blood "and" vein. " While the blood circulating through the body gives life to people, the beneficial energy of the Dai-Gohonzon flows through the faithful.
The Legate to the High Priest and the Great Shrine, are the heart that pumps that blood through its blood vessels, the priests, into the capillaries, the lay believers who receive the spiritual energy in the copies of the Gohonzon. "Kawabe mentions that those who deny this line of priestly transmission are those who say "I know Buddhism better than the high priest" [...] My ideas are better than the ideas of the Gohonzon. I will not follow the teachings of the Gohonzon.
However the Gohonzon has to answer my prayers, such people do not qualify as faithful.For them, no benefit exists because they have "distanced" themselves from "the vital sap" of faith. Only through a priest or a Gohonzon delivered directly by the high priest in Taisekji, who his "venerable life [...] is one with the Dai Gohonzon of the Great Sanctuary of true Buddhism, is salvation possible."
The Nichiren Shoshu, therefore, sees the Gohonzon acquired by any other source as "blasphemous falsifications" because the Dai-Gohonzon in Taiseki-ji is a true icon that incorporates the spirit of Nichiren and the reality of complete enlightenment within it. .Such a vision ensures that lay pilgrims have an intense experience of the Dai-Gohonzon aura in Taiseki-ji. With the priestly coffering of the Gohonzon, the copies are authenticated due to their direct connection with the Dai-Gohonzon.
It is the aura of the Gohonzon that the priests "pump" the faithful as the life that gives the blood and that at the same time is given through the rite of gojukai. As Bourdieu would argue, this "institution rite" is vital because it outlines the boundaries between the members of the Nichiren Shoshu and the non-members that may have Gohonzon "falsified". This would include not only the SGI, but also the independents who use the Internet Gohonzon.
After the fracture with the Nichiren Shoshu, the SGI had to develop new "institution rites" to define its own distinctive boundaries as a new religious movement (NRM).Cutting off with the priestly conferral of the Gohonzon, the SGI began printing its own Gohonzon in 1993. This Gohonzon is known as the Gohonzon Nichikan, one inscribed by the 26th High Priest Nichikan in 1720 and awarded to the SGI by the reformist priests of Joen -ji.
While the SGI has no ecclesiastical hierarchy, it still has Daisaku Ikeda at the forefront as the mentor and teacher of the "quasi-clerical hierarchy" members in charge of the distribution of the Gohonzon. Since the break, the SGI has actively sought to discredit the priestly conferment rites of the Nichiren Shoshu on the grounds that it has not been found in the scriptures. For example, the document of the SGI "A historical perspective on the transcription of the Gohonzon" mentions:
"The priesthood now affirms that that authority with respect to the Gohonzon rests only with the high priest. He alleges that only the high priest can reproduce the Gohonzon for the believers, because he can only perform the ceremony of the "opening of the eyes" and thereby inject from the Gohonzon the vital sap of life Illumination of the Daishonin that only he possesses . However, there is no passage in the Goshos that supports such esoteric rituals; the fact that the heads of priests in the temples of the Taisekiji branch have transcribed the Gohonzon also totally contradicts this reasoning. "
All that can be found in the scriptures is that, the "Daishonin granted the Gohonzon to every sincere believer of his teachings. It was never his intention that it was the possession of a few. Nikko Shonin also transcribed Gohonzon for the followers until the end of his life - until he was practically too weak to take his writing brush. The goal at the heart of the transcripts, therefore, is "to be in agreement with the propagation of the kosen Rufu, for the salvation of all mankind." With this vision, the rituals and the traditional methods of reproduction of the Gohonzon and the priestly conferral are at best understood as a "skillful means".
They invented these skillful means, "to maintain the delicate balance between maximizing the availability of the Gohonzon for those with a strong faith and and at the same time reducing to the minimum the danger of confusion and contempt towards this precious object of devotion, as Nikko Shonin instructed . The reproduction and issuance of the Gohonzon must be strictly managed by the community of believers dedicated to kosen-rufu, based on the teachings of Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. "
This quote suggests that the most important principle of Nichiren's teaching regarding the Gohonzon is kosen-rufu. The SGI elaborates four points. The first, the priestly authority over the reproduction and dissemination of Gohonzon is only a "Medium Skillful," a way to promote the extension of the faith of Nichiren to sincere believers and to ensure that the conferral of this is done properly and respectfully. .
According to the Temple Manual, says the SGI, "since the Nichiren Shoshu refuses to grant Gohonzon to the deeply faithful members of the SGI, this goes against Nichiren's goal of saving all of humanity and they are using the Gohonzon as an object to manipulate and to intimidate believers. "Secondly:" Nichiren did not recognize any distinction in capacity or faith between priests and laymen, and his fundamental intention was to encourage all people who sincerely try to follow his teaching. "
As a leader of the SGI explains:
"The purpose of the existence of the Gohonzon is to serve people - not the opposite.
Nichiren taught the fundamental equality of all people, and mentions that the Buddha is an ordinary person. In his writing "The True Aspect of All Phenomena," he categorically states: "There should be no discrimination between those who propagate the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo on the last day of the law, be they men or women." (WN, P. 385) The affirmation of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood of its superiority over lay believers betrays this clear intention, and the use of the Gohonzon as an instrument of authority is the expression of this distortion, which was the underlying cause essential part of the fracture with the Soka Gakkai. "
To understand the position of the SGI here, it is crucial to grasp its universalistic interpretation of the kechimyaku. The meaning of the inheritance or "lineage" of the faith is not based on the priesthood passing on the teachings in an exclusivist way (and it must be noted that the records of this alleged transmission are plagued with centuries of inconsistencies, important gaps , and serious doctrinal errors). The lineage is based on the community of believers who maintain the correct teaching in a spirit of many bodies but one mind. Again quoting Nichiren's writings "The inheritance of the supreme law of life":
"All the disciples and believers of Nichiren must invoke Nam Miojo Rengue Kio in union (Itai Doshin), transcending all differences that may exist between them until they become inseparable like the fish and the water in which they swim. This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the supreme Law of life and death.Here lies the true objective of Nichiren's propagation. "
This is crucial for the analysis, because the disciples united with the same mind to fulfill the vow of the Buddha that validates the inheritance and the awakening to life, the Gohonzon, in this way, becomes the "banner of propagation" which is the symbol of this unit. Therefore, there is nothing intrinsically wrong if the SGI reproduces its own copies of Nichikan since it is a community of believers united in devotion to the teachings of Nichiren. The Gohonzon it distributes becomes part of its "global efforts to inform people about the faith and to promote mutual respect and understanding between individuals and communities."
Third, the fact is that the priestly rites and the procedures for propagating the gohonzon have changed with the needs of kosen-rufu. While transcribing gohonzon by some disciples may have been appropriate in Nikko Shonin's time, times have changed. From that time until now: "The method of reproducing the Gohonzon has changed according to social conditions, such as advances in transportation, communication, and printing technologies - and, more importantly - the conditions and progress of the kosenmovement -rufu . "
The SGI's own style of conferring in the form of okatagi (block of wood, but actually means copies usually printed) also means a means to reach a larger number of faithful for their salvation. These copies have the same energy as the original because of the sincerity and faith of those who sing (daimoku). The SGI mentions that the distribution of their Gohonzon is a compassionate act that responds "to the spirit that ordinary people seek in the last days of the law." Fourth, Nichiren himself inscribed the Gohonzon for everyone "to make the Gohonzon available to all those who sincerely try to practice their teachings, thus allowing them to establish an indestructible happiness with their faith and practice. "The SGI, therefore, is particularly critical of what it calls the" insular doctrine of the priestly heritage. "
Exercising clerical control over lay followers, the priesthood goes against Nichiren's willingness to work compassionately for the happiness of humanity by warning lay followers to share their faith with others (kosen rufu) freely. The SGI considers its own worldwide proselytizing effort as a replacement for what they see as exclusive institution rites of the Nichiren Shoshu, because it prevents people of faith from receiving the Gohonzon.
Still, the SGI still insists that "the reproduction and issuance of the Gohonzon must be strictly managed by the community of believers." This community or Buddhist sangha is established through the institution's own rites that the SGI has, rites designed to inculcate the aura of his Gohonzon Nichikan to the new members. The bestowal (of the Gohonzon) occurs only after a complex process of initiation of nine steps:
You must be over eighteen and fill out the Gohonzon membership and management forms, have a "good friend" as a sponsor who signs the application, attend a meeting a month, subscribe to the World Tribune, participate in a seminar for new members , and will have to meet with those responsible for the chapters and headquarters, those responsible will review your request for final approval.
The aspirant finally receives the Gohonzon only after a special bestowal ceremony when he makes the commitment "to comply with the guidance of SGI and its relation to the practice of faith." This means that the new member acknowledges "complying with the guidance of SGI and its relation to the practice of faith, which means that the new member acknowledges "staying true to the SGI
Buddhism of the Daishonin ... "As this bestowal occurs within the community, it ensures the" delicate balance "between the distribution of the Gohonzon available for salvation and maintaining respect for it as a sacred object. the initiated members of the SGI and those who are not.
For the SGI, a "true" Gohonzon is the one at the center of the practice. Copies of the Gohonzon to which "we pray for each day in our homes, or in the community centers of the SGI are endowed with exactly the same power of law inherent in the Dai-Gohonzon." They are the same as the original, because the aura of a Gohonzon is derived from the internal spirituality of the believer. The position of the SGI follows Nichiren's opinion "Never look for the Gohonzon outside of yourself." Otherwise, according to Daisaku Ikeda, it is to believe that the Gohonzon as something that is outside (in Taiseki-ji), instead of understanding its true nature, which is a mirror that reflects the supreme enlightenment in the heart of every believer. .
Many of my SGI respondents describe the Gohonzon as follows: "Just as ordinary people use a mirror every morning to get ready for the day, the Gohonzon is a spiritual mirror. Its use in daily practice allows the members of the SGI to make their life more beautiful by seeing the true Buddha nature hidden within them. " The Gohonzon is considered subjectively, as a very personal and intimate part of his life. As one of the interviewees pointed out:
"It is a physical manifestation of my life, everything that surrounds it in the area where it is enthroned (that is, the altar area) is a way of respecting the Gohonzon and therefore my life. It's real and it's in my house It's like talking to a friend in person, instead of a phone or email There are many more dimensions in this real contact for me. "
This perspective avoids objectification, a spiritual trap with very negative karmic consequences. Seeing the Gohonzon as "completely alien" leads to the erroneous conception that it is like an external sacred object that needs priests to serve as spiritual intermediaries. The believer ends up acting slavishly towards the Gohonzon as if it were a transcendent being or external force. Such a practice is to be deceived and not enlightened according to the SGI.
In sum, the SGI draws a line between itself and the Nichiren Shoshu, appealing to the superior authority of Nichiren's writings and the belief that what endows the Gohonzon with an aura is the internal spiritual reality that the believer realizes through of personal practice in your home or a meeting center. For the SGI it is daily ritual to chant (daimoku) and the gongyo done with deep faith, which creates a border between the members of the SGI of others who are not.
In fact, this demarcation is carried out by the SGI in seminars, group meetings and a variety of publications that describe in detail the procedures of the appropriate ritual. In addition, the aura of the Gohonzon is also a community reality, as well, created by the "community of believers" who are united in their common devotion to Nichiren.According to Tony Meers, General Director of the SGI of Canada, this aura generated within the SGI community is what makes the SGI and the independent believers different:
"This community of believers is essentially absent in the model of the" independents, "so their claim to a" do-it-yourself "approach contradicts the fundamental practice of the Nichiren teachings, which advocates practice for oneself and for others as essential to achieve enlightenment. "
Citing Nichiren again from "The true aspect of all phenomena":
"Strive for the two forms of practice and study, without practice and study, there can be no Buddhism, you must not only persevere, you must teach others, both practice and study arise from faith. to the best of his ability, even if it is a single sentence or a phrase. "
In this context, the manifestation of the Buddha's promise for all living beings to attain enlightenment can only be achieved by the collective efforts of his disciples, united in this purpose and in overcoming their differences. The material Gohonzon is less important than the "interior" Gohonzon, however, the material Gohonzon that is used by this community of believers comes to represent for them and their joint efforts, as the "banner of propagation."
The respect for the Gohonzon and its bestowal by this community of believers, in order to welcome the new believer into the community, is the expression of Nichiren's Buddhist practice for himself and for others. It is ultimately, in respect to people, that is, that one respects the Gohonzon. The use of Gohonzon images on the Internet completely ignores this essential principle ...
So far we have seen the different rites of institution of the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI to confer the Gohonzon to differentiate it as the Gohonzon from a religious organization.However, while ecclesiastical rituals are attacking each other and claiming their legitimacy, they agree on the Gohonzon issue on the Internet. Both refuse to accept the Gohonzon on the Internet as an object of worship, describing them as "sacrilegious falsifications."
They do so because they share a common belief that the "aura" of a Gohonzon is instilled through ritual in real life. As "traditionalists", they consider that digital reproduction technologies must be regulated, and, therefore, they are outside the authority and authenticity of their traditions. One way to summarize your belief is a list of what they see as the different characteristics of the "original" Gohonzon of a "copy" of the Internet ":
Digital image on the internet ------- original gohonzon (home altar)
Inauthentic --------------------- AuthenticNo Ritual / Without Worship ------------- Ritual / With Cult Without Lineage ----- -----------------

Lineage (priestly or Goshos de NichirenMuchos --------------------------- One (Dai-Gohonzon or the Copy of

NichikanCercano -------------------------- Distant (Taisekiji or exclusive SGIProfano ----------------- --------- SacredSin

Aura ------------------------- AuraSin Tradition -------------------- Imbued with Tradition
This list clearly shows the refusal of institutional Buddhism to characterize the Nichiren Gohonzon of the Internet. Since they are not consecrated or legitimized through the rites of institution, the Internet Gohonzon is false. Like the medium in which they appear, Internet Gohonzon are public and not private, de-ritualized rather than ritualized, independent and not institutionalized, and, finally, a sacrilege instead of a sacred and cult object. The position of the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI highlights James Beckford's assessment that "among the most visible and controversial aspects of religion today are the attempts of religious inspiration to bring the force of science, technology and the bureaucracy under human control. "
Like Scientology and other "initiation religions," Nichiren's sectarian Buddhism favors its own authoritative rites of institution that guarantee salvation. As William Bainbridge observes, the Internet threatens these organized groups, since "the initiation system would collapse if everyone had free access to all parts of the sacred culture." The Internet Gohonzon threatens the aura of the cult object of the Nichiren Shoshu and the SGI, and, by extension, the viability of the ecclesiastical cult organization that distinguishes them as religious institutions.
THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS AND THE INTERNET - THE AURA OF THE DIGITAL GOHONZON
American independents have a vision that the Internet Gohonzon is radically different from that of the Nichiren Buddhist institutions. They reject their binary model that demembers the Internet Gohonzon as falsified images. For the independents, the internet gohonzon are authentic and sacred.
A key spokesperson for the independent point of view is Don Ross, webmaster of the most important independent site on the Net, Nichiren's Coffeehouse. According to its homepage, Nichiren's Coffeehouse is "an independent website that provides information and resources on various movements based on the Lotus Sutra, as well as the study of the Buddha's teachings in many traditions."
It is a huge site that contains archives of articles and letters about the Nichiren Buddhism of other independents, links also to the main branches of Nichiren Buddhism such as the SGI, the Nichiren Shoshu, the Nichiren Shu, the Reiyukai, etc., the Sangha of Buddhist prisoners, independent announcements from the community, explanations of the writings of Nichiren Buddhism in accessible terms (such as "Ross 12 Steps Program for Nichiren Buddhists"), daimoku, screen savers, etc. As an Amazon.com associate, he has had 1,430,580 successes since 1997 and Ross' Webring Lotus Sutra Net, created June 6, 2001 for "Any website that honors the Buddha Dharma in its different forms", has 148 active sites with 46,356 page views, with its global directory of independent groups,
It is also important because it offers the most complete "virtual gallery" of the Gohonzon to download on the Internet. As such "there is no way to know, how many people have printed a Gohonzon image off the Ross website, and this alarmed its critics", among these the Nichiren Buddhist institutions.
Ross's spiritual autobiography is crucial to understanding why he created his site. It also offers a window to what motivates many independents to access their website.
The story of Ross reflects in many ways the generation of the baby boom of incessant search of a force or personal energy to give meaning and direction to life. Wade Clark Roof argues that for baby boomers like Ross the theme of spiritual search is at the center of his personal narrations. Suspects of traditional institutions, many of their generation leave them behind to look for new "spiritual markets", such as the Internet, of new suppliers of products to meet their individual needs. When they talk about religion, they mark it as their personal journey of discovering a sacred force or energy that will ultimately transform them positively.
Ross places two autobiographical pieces on his website that relate his own spiritual search. In his "Adventures with Consciousness, From Baptist to Buddhists and Beyond, or the Tales of a Spiritual Devout," Ross talks about his childhood in a Southern Baptist family, then Lutheran, and, in a 17-year-old with "itching for freedom", who liked to "deal with everything that one or more times made him feel good".
When he came out of the closet as gay, he also fell into drug and alcohol abuse, methamphetamine and unprotected sex led him to be HIV positive in 1981-2 and, finally, he had a mental crisis. During the next few years he lives homeless in "the region of the abyss," Ross experimented with various new age practices, becoming for a time a psychic / channeler until he discovered his "light in the dark": Nichiren Buddhism.
The second half of his story, Ross calls it "My song of the human revolution", in reference to the idea of ​​the SGI president, Daisaku Ikeda, that "a human revolution in a single person, will allow a change in the destiny of All of humanity. "His conversion to the SGI began with a miracle of personal healing.After suffering an epileptic seizure, which left Ross in a coma, frustrated because he could not do anything to help his doctor, he decided to invoke Nam Myoho Renge Kyo . Miraculously, Ross woke up the next day and finally joined the SGI, with his new partner Wes Goetzel in 1984.
Although Nichiren Buddhism was the center of his life, Ross soon felt ambivalence about his place within the SGI. These feelings intensified in 1986, when Ross and his partner went on positive HIV tests. At that time, AIDS was misunderstood as a social stigma attached to its victims. The leaders of the SGI encouraged him to sing the daimoku seven hours a day, until reaching 25 million daimoku in 1992.
He attributes to this intonation (of the daimoku) giving him the ability to overcome any disease, especially in eliminating HIV infection. However, Ross also experienced discrimination from the management of SGI San Francisco, which prohibited him from attending meetings in order to "protect the members." In the heat of the war against the temple (Nichiren Shoshu) in 1991, Ross worked hard to defend the position of the Gakkai. However, he realized that the more he fought for SGI the more his immune system deteriorated. He began to see a connection between the deterioration of his health and health with the institutions with which he is associated:
"The tendencies to oppression and division have been present in the religions of the world and in politics for a long time, it is human nature, in many ways I see HIV as similar: insidious, it is the virus in the body of the lion that causes the lack of harmony and, in short, a weakening of the body.It has been my determination to overcome HIV by overcoming these influences, both for myself and in my environment. "
In June of 1999, he had the "great luck" of being the first member of the SGI to receive a large copy of an authenticated mandala called Gohonzon of Prayer (Gohonzon of Medicine) inscribed by Nichiren in 1277 for his first disciple, Nissho. On this Gohonzon there are special characters written by Nichiren: "This sutra is really a splendid medicine for the diseases of the people of Jambudvipa.A sick person who hears this will be immediately cured of his disease.They do not grow old or die prematurely."
Ross received the copy of Bruce Maltz, another independent who, Ross explains, "played a decisive role in spreading the truth about Nichiren Buddhism through the Internet in the 1990s in order to counter the spread of misinformation from the Soka Gakkai and the Nichiren Shoshu. " When Ross saw him for the first time, "his heart sang to him," he begged Maltz to get a copy.
The Japanese priest who copied the Maltz mandala finally accepted "Just because this particular Gohonzon included the sutra passages was for the healing of karmic diseases and because he had HIV / AIDS." So it was this strange quirk of circumstance that changed his mind "No" (because I was a member of the SGI) for the "Yes", because of his great compassion for me, and all those who have an illness. "
In 1999, Ross decided to print and distribute his own copies to those who "sincerely wish it", to make the Gohonzon of prayer an "Icon" of the independent movement to be freed from Orthodox Buddhism. people and Buddhist temples around the world, making it "the first Nichiren Mandala to cross all truly sectarian boundaries, gathered in varying degrees of acceptance and rejection." Ross also created the Nichiren's Coffeehouse:
"The largest religious study center in Nichiren and Tendai Buddhism in the world (which will remain online, even if I die)." Ross points out that the controversy that arose over his website led to his eventual resignation from the SGI on November 29, 2001, the ninth anniversary of the break with Nichiren Shoshu. "
However, it was this very act of independence, which also freed him: "
It seems ironic that the reverse of my immune system coincides exactly with the moment when I stop fighting against the Nichiren Shoshu in the name of SGI and it became my focus to stop the war against the temple within me and with my environment, through the Internet, the intersecting dialogue, and facilitate the Nichiren Gohonzon to those who wish it. "A key part of Nichiren's Coffeehouse is the Gohonzon of Prayer to download, the" Gohonzon of the independent movement ", along with almost all (130) of the existing Gohonzon in the Nichiren's Coffeehouse's.
"The Gohonzon Gallery" includes downloadable images of the Gohonzon Shu, a Rissho Ankokukai book originally published in 1947 with photographs of the 125 Nichiren Gohonzon from 1271 to 1282 existing, including the only published photo of the Dai Gohonzon enshrined in the Hoanden in Taisekiji .Ross also includes links to other sites where you can obtain downloadable Gohonzon, such as the Gohonzon Restoration Project and Gohonzon Info, or buy the Japanese silk scroll for the Gohonzon through Gohonzon Kaiundo Co., and a virtual altar: "CampRoss-ji, The Cyber ​​Temple Constant Intonation," which opens and closes with a lit candle, and chanting the daimoku "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo"("I devote myself to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra") with intermittent syllable by syllable on the screen to help the spectator sing. In the section "How to Acquire a Gohonzon out of sectarian Buddhism".
Ross points out that:
"Modern technology has reached the place where many homes can print their own Gohonzon, all you need is a photo-quality printer and photo paper ... Enjoy your sense of freedom and good luck on your way! " .
Do Ross and other independents understand the Internet Gohonzon as a religious way to practice Nichiren Buddhism? Independents see the Internet Gohonzon in five important ways. First, they see cyberspace as an information tool. Their sites are typical "online religions" that offer basic information to educate people about what the Gohonzon is about in much the same way as SGI-USA.org.
Where the Nichiren's Coffeehouse and other independent sites differ, however, is the understanding of their sites about an "online religion." For example, Ross uses the Internet as a means to the "human revolution". The Nichiren's Coffeehouse offers a virtual public space that transcends the conflict of the sectarian division found in the real world. All the Gohonzon of the different sects of Nichiren Buddhism appear in their place equally and harmoniously arranged.
Her virtual gallery offers a visual theology that reveals, as the independent Lisa Jones says that "a Gohonzon inscribed from the very hand of Nichiren, regardless of who makes it available, is as valid as any other Gohonzon ..." Nichiren's Coffeehouse shows extensively the existing nichiren Gohonzon offers a vision of a universal Nichiren Buddhism, which counteracts the negative karmic energy of the temple war.
Second, Ross and other independents go one step further to the SGI's arguments about reproductive technologies. For the independents, the Internet is the new "skillful means" to spread the salvation of Nichiren to the majority. One echoes this independent idea in his comment that "nothing can be used as a vehicle, I believe [...] why not?" Rjm12212, the webmaster of Yahoo! Groups GohonzonInfo sees the Internet as the key to its "mission" to "free the Gohonzon from the control of the sects, I wanted to make a quality Gohonzon, available to those who want to practice independently ... I just want there to be options available for those wishing to use them "Another independent called Robby adds:
"It's funny how the" orthodox "see" without their eyes open "
The Mandala of the Gohonzon as only paper, but then they talk about how terrible it is to download an image and print it. Sectarian warriors! trash! That's fine, we're all baby buddhas. Currently, copying the Mandala is a way to gain merit. Traditionally, one lacked the ability. Modern printing methods have made it moot. The main sects do it in a printing press. I have several that I use, I have made some, some gave it to me. Believe me, they are all works as good as those issued by the sects. "
In short, like calligraphy, transcription, and blocks for printed works to bring Nichiren's salvation to the needy, the Internet now has the power of a more humane revolution. The Internet can fulfill Nichiren's mission of freeing the Gohonzon from sects that prevent its distribution through its antiquated institution rites. The Internet offers the Gohonzon to all those who sincerely want to access Nichiren's means of salvation. Such use of the Internet corroborates the observation that the new spiritual market emphasizes "the" accessibility, "a direct relationship between the consumer practitioner and the consumption of spiritual goods in a deregulated and religiously demonopolized world ".
Third, the virtual nature of Internet Gohonzon highlights a fundamental teaching of Nichiren according to the independents. In "The true aspect of the Gohonzon," Nichiren wrote: "Never look for this Gohonzon outside yourself." The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and invokeNam-myoho-renge- Kyo . "
As we have seen, this is echoed by a GIS teaching not to objectify the Gohonzon as an external force or a transcendent god, but rather to see it as a mirror that reflects "the Buddha nature, which is already inherently possessed". Mirrors are convenient devices to see who we really are, in the same way, as Engyo, collaborator of an online inter-religious forum on Nichiren Buddhism, concludes: "The object of devotion [is] a skillful means, [.. .] a sign that directs me to the Eternal Buddha Dharma. They no longer see it as a physical manifestation of eternal Law. "
Another collaborator, Dharmajim (who is well known among Nichiren Buddhists on the Internet), agrees, [...] "the web is a fact of life and in many ways I think online Gohonzon are as valid as any Depending on how they are used, the relationship that a person establishes with them, the intention of the believer, makes the difference. "As an object for meditation, the special power of the Internet Gohonzon, like all Gohonzon, is that of to really reveal that deep universal spiritual interior.
Fourth, independents think that Internet Gohonzon recasts Nichiren Buddhism into a more dynamic, self-reflective activity. It is an active process of meaning construction and personal choices that combine symbols, practices and technologies in the on-line search engine of a very personal search for an authentic spiritual identity. As Roof points out, in a new religion of the spiritual market subject to recasting to meet the needs perceived individually.
Nichiren's Coffeehouse, for example, reveals this with its many homemade altars photos of the independents. "One sees Ross's personal page" CampRoss-ji, San Diego, Ca, "with a photograph of his altar in his house. as it developed after his declaration of independence in 1999. The title of the page indicates Ross's sense of personal freedom as an independent, his home altar is his "ji" temple for practice, a place he can design to his liking without sectarian censorship.
Another example of this new type of Internet based on custom religion is the "Native American Buddhist altar" somewhere in Florida, an altar with an inventory of objects like an ancient Thai clay Buddha, a pearl of wisdom, sweet grass , medicine for bear, and a silver crane of the SGI, candles and a rosary.
In other words, Nichiren's Coffeehouse, like other independent sites, emphasizes the importance of personal preferences. One of the visitors in Esangha, "Void", shows us the liberating power of Gohonzon's techno-conferral. He asks: I made a laser copy of a Gohonzon for my altar, and I have a copy of the opening ceremony of the eyes so now I can do it myself.
It looks good? ", the moderator of the answers in the chat:" What matters is that you feel good, since you are an independent organization, only you can decide what is the right way to do this for you. " Techno-ritual is freedom, therefore, it is Nichiren's new way of being Buddhist in the world of the Internet.
Fifth, independents see cyberspace as a priestly tool for kosen Rufu or "practice for others." Again, this idea extends the teachings of the SGI. Causton, for example, explains that the term literally means to declare and spread "widely," that is, to propagate Buddhism throughout the world. "This kind of practice" is based on deep compassion "jihi" - the desire to help to others to overcome their suffering and obtain lasting happiness through the practice of this Buddhism ... "
Independents see in this medium the first meaning that to extend that compassion is through the "exoteric power" of the Internet to transmit the Dharma to anyone who has a modem and the aspiration to follow the teachings of Nichiren. The Internet is not only information, it is also a means to teach others about Nichiren Buddhism, a techno-ritual means to encourage religious practice. As we have seen, independents believe that when downloading high resolution images of the Gohonzon in Internet is a "skillful medium", the basic idea in the Lotus Sutra is that Buddhas can use any "device" to save beings from suffering.
The Internet, by definition, is open to anyone, and therefore a perfect medium for independents, such as Don Ross who wants to spread "the true teachings" of Nichiren in a non-sectarian way. By providing a spiritually charged Gohonzon to download, the Internet also serves as a new spiritual link (kechimyaku). The electronic magic of the Internet eliminates all intermediaries, all obstacles between teacher and disciple, the enlightened Buddha and the one who is suffering, Nichiren as the savior and the Internet user as a patient in need of salvation.
The Internet, therefore, is a sacred tool in the ritual process of effecting the spiritual transformation of an individual on a global scale. This is undoubtedly Ross's reason, especially, by making the Gohonzon of prayer available for download In Internet.
It is obvious that Ross, a victim of HIV itself, a person who has worked for years as an AIDS educator, someone whose partner died of the same disease, while chanting daimoku even with his last breath, finds the spread of The Gohonzon of prayer through the Internet as a way to realize Nichiren's own vision of the universal salvation of suffering at a time of degeneration of the law. That the Gohonzon is spreading in this way is a cause "for celebration and not for alarm".
As for the people who can print or download the image without understanding its meaning, the defenders argue that some kind of relationship with the Gohonzon is better than no relationship. The Internet Gohonzon, therefore, represent a form of techno-liberation, of making merits and distribution of salvation that is at the heart of Nichiren's ritual practice for others and the goal of "human revolution".
To conclude, it is evident that the knowledge of the Internet Gohonzon independents contradicts Benjamin's thesis about the "work of art in an era of reproduction in a technical way". Digitization is not "liquidating tradition." What it does is liquidate the traditional institutional Nichiren Buddhism, but, at the same time, it restores what it sees as Nichiren's ideal of kosen rufu. The detachment and mobility of the image are, by Buddhists independent of Nichiren, the essential practices to save others. On the other hand, independents do not see the reproductions made mechanically of the Gohonzon as lacking an aura.
Technology has religious power, since it can reproduce the Gohonzon, which is a skillful medium for spiritual transformation. The "objective" virtual reality of the Internet Gohonzon is a convenient means to reflect a hidden subjective spiritual reality of supreme enlightenment. And yet, on the Internet, the hyperreal Gohonzon are not significant. They are as real and authentic as the originals, as mirrors that reflect the true Buddha that emerges from the heart of the believer.
The Internet, therefore, offers a ritual practice to help achieve enlightenment, a sacred technology that liberates in several ways. That is their power and power that will affect Nichiren Buddhism profoundly in the future.