My disagreement with the SGI is soteriological and I will attempt to prove that homage and reverence of the Original Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni and not another “archetype”, is a fundamental component of the doctrine of salvation of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin. To reject this Buddha for an impersonal Buddha-nature or another archetype and thus to take this particular Buddha out of the Law, is a serious mistake and a cause for descending into the Lower Worlds according to Nichiren.
“The Lotus Sutra states, “I alone can save them” (Chapter 3) and “I likewise am the Father of the World, The One who saves from the various sufferings and travails.” (Chapter 16)
“Bear in mind that the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra contain only a few passages elucidating the truth, but a great many words of praise.”
In the same work, Nichiren writes:
“Only the Lotus Sutra represents the wonderful teaching preached directly from the golden mouth of Shakyamuni Buddha, who is perfectly endowed with the three bodies. Therefore, even Universal Worthy and Manjushri were hardly able to expound so much as a single phrase or verse of it. How much more difficult then must it be for us, who are no more than ordinary people living in this latter age, to embrace even one or two words of this sutra! (The Blessings of the Lotus Sutra)
Is it possible that salvation will take place in one who lacks gratitude? Can one possible obtain the fruit of Supreme and Perfect Enlightenment by rejecting or failing to recognize one’s loving father while praising and acknowledging a stranger as one’s real father? Is not gratitude an essential component to the doctrine of salvation?
Nichiren states over and over, “Shakyamuni is the only Buddha endowed with all three virtues and to whom we owe a profound debt of gratitude.” (Encouragement to a Sick Person)
and again, referring to Shakyamuni Buddha
“The debt of gratitude we owe him is deeper than the ocean, weightier than the earth, vaster than the sky.”
Is not the vertical gratitude to Shakyamuni Buddha in enabling us to encounter the Law and to obtain Buddhahood fundamental to the horizontal transmission of the Dharma in gratitude to all people?
One who lacks gratitude for Shakyamuni Buddha is no better than an animal according to Nichiren Daishonin and his attainments can not possibly go beyond that of the World of Animality.
Nichiren, warning of the effect of embracing an archetype other than Shakyamuni Buddha writes,
“All the four directions will be afflicted by drought, and evil omens will appear again and again. The ten evil acts will increase greatly, particularly greed, anger, and foolishness, and people will think no more of their fathers and mothers than does the roe deer. Living beings will decline in numbers, in longevity, physical strength, dignity, and enjoyment. They will become estranged from the delights of the human and heavenly realms, and all will fall into the paths of evil. The wicked rulers and monks who perform these ten evil acts will curse and destroy my correct teaching and make it difficult for those in the human and heavenly realms to stay there. At that time the benevolent deities and heavenly kings, who would ordinarily take pity on living beings, will abandon this impure and evil nation, and all will make their way to other regions.” (On Establishing the Correct Teachings)
He also writes, referring to the Lotus Sutra:
“Thus it was revealed that Shakyamuni had long been the Buddha since the eternal past and it became clear that various Buddhas in other worlds were all manifestations of Shakyamuni Buddha. Now, however, as Shakyamuni was proved to be the Eternal Buddha, those Buddhas in the Flower Garland Sutra, or Buddhas in the Hodo, Hannya, or Great Sun Buddha sutras all became subordinates of Shakyamuni Buddha.” (Kaimoku Sho, p. 174, translated by Kyotsu Hori, 1987)
“Since Shakyamuni Buddha is eternal and all other Buddhas in the universe are His manifestations…” (Kaimoku Sho, translated by Kyotsu Hori, p.176).
“Since Sakyamuni Buddha is eternal and all other Buddhas in the universe are His manifestations, then those great bodhisattvas converted by manifested Buddhas are also disciples of Lord Sakyamuni Buddha. If the “Life Span of the Buddha” chapter had not been expounded, it would be like the sky without the sun and moon, a country without a king, mountains and rivers without gems, or a man without a soul.” (Noppa, pg. 176, Kaimoku Sho)
“Shakyamuni Buddha, the Lord-preacher of this pure land, has never died in the past, nor will he be born in the future. He exists forever, throughout the past, present and future.” (P.100)
The True Object of Worship reads,
“Many wooden statues and portraits were made of Shakyamuni Buddha as He preached Hinayana and quasi-Mahayana sutras, but statues and portraits of the Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha revealed in the Juryo Chapter of the Lotus Sutra were never made. Now, in the beginning of Mappo, is it not the time that such statues and portraits are made?” (P.104 NOPPA)
I can supply ninety or so similar passages.