"I'd like to share my experience and understanding, gleaned from my involvement with various Buddhist groups.
Regarding the so called pure lineages from the Nichiren Daishonin's priesthood, I think of the story of an old man who treasures his boyhood penknife with all the memories of the many tree-houses it helped build in his youth. He relishes the fact that his knife had been through everything with him for many years, hence his emotional attachment to it. But on closer examination, the penknife's handle had been replaced three times and the blade itself had been replaced twice and even the binding had been updated in recent years. So you see, the old penknife that he is so attached to isn't even old and certainly had no part in building his tree-houses!
Maintaining purity and keeping the true flame of the buddha's teachings from being extinguished in this world is even more difficult, more so because of the constant battle between two forces in life in order to maintain the equilibrium. We can see this happening down to the tiniest atom reaching to the macrocosm of the movements of the planets and I'm guessing higher into the universes beyond.The purer the teaching and the closer to the source it is, the more inevitable will be the obstruction and the sly infiltration and contamination of it.
I compare the priesthood to vessels, over the years attempting to carry the pure source of the buddha down through the decades. So we quite rightfully wonder about the corruption and disease of those vessels and also if indeed they are still carrying the pure source water at all! I know this because I have been fortunate from a young age to have quite honourable motives, yet I have seen too clearly my battle and struggle with my lower motives.
Regarding Gohonzons, for me, the biggest challenge is finding a priest who I can trust has a strong faith. Sorry, but I'm not going to take people's word for it that someone has deep faith! Whether they wear silk robes or not! Over many years I chanted to three gohonzons in total ( a mix of a Nichiren Shoshu and SGI ones) and I ignored my gut feelings about the atmosphere and energy on these objects to my detriment.
Personally, until I'm sure I will not commit to a Gohonzon, although I am testing ones out that are prints of Nichiren's. I am grateful to this group that supports my slow yet thorough pace as regards to this. Although, at the moment I chant to the sky, knowing my most powerful experience ever was chanting without a Gohonzon.
We can never ignore how incredible an effect an object of our focus influences our emotion and echoes into our environment.
What we focus on we give energy to, take energy from and we also mirror that energy around us. If not, then why are we even chanting to it? I handed over my energy to a control structure, while ignoring my own Buddha wisdom's efforts to warn me and I paid the price. We people do hand our power to people dressed in clean robes, mainly because we are lazy and can't be bothered to research the true teachings ourselves and/or we are denying our Buddha nature within. And then in dumping the responsibility on a priest or leader we can blame them when things go wrong!
I know the horrible depths I've hit in the struggle of life and still tried desperately to see the Buddha and I'm sorry as regards to a stranger doing an eye opening ceremony, No! I cannot take anyone's word for it that their faith has been tested like I know mine has been tested. Something I've noticed through my journey is that often the people who have had the worst horrors and traumas, suffer and battle silently and none one can judge another's faith.
So, trust the law not the person is the only way. The way around this, is to chant 'Namu myo ho renge kyo' to reveal our own courage, compassion and wisdom under the many layers of delusion. And in so doing, like attracts like, (as it surely does) allowing us to spot the truth.
I was in a couple of Buddhist organisations and I will never be part of one again. Most organisations are contaminated and infiltrated by the ego of individuals and often organised groups with motives for control (which boils down to ego too)
It's not just organisations, I have witnessed individuals who are in the habit of vamping energy and destroying (in the most underhanded way) the lives of people who try to align themselves with the Law. These destructive individuals appear to work alone but they are equally lethal because through their jealousy (and low vibrations ) they are aligned with a malignant force that seems to have a foothold in this world. When dealing with these people I am trying to learn true COMPASSION, not the patronising pity of looking down on someone, not the condoning of destructive actions and turning a blind eye, which really is based on cowardliness of not wanting to rock the boat. Compassion is NOT succumbing to the strong willed and becoming a doormat just to keep an air of tranquility in the situation.
TRUE compassion can be hard, strict and zero tolerance. I've seen the most eloquent people, hiding behind kind words (and through private communications ) deliver the most underhanded destructive attacks on honourable motivated people. And I have seen people who speak hard and in a direct manner who are doing the most kindest and compassionate acts.
I look at mine and people's motives and actions always, not what we say or what we say we do, BUT what we actually do! Do we undermine? Do we try to push our authority forward undermining other's judgement? Do we put the seed of doubt into people's minds about another's efforts? Do we spread doubt or fear?
Everyone has the potential to reveal their Buddhahood, and the law of allowance must always be respected. Yet, we also cannot condone destructive behaviour (even if secretly done) In fact to shyly keep things pleasant with people who are destructive, not wanting to attract their hostility IS denying their Buddha nature ! Buddha nature is far deeper, eternal and powerful than a mere personality people adopt for this lifetime!
People do not like their values challenged, because they would have to reassess their whole life's choices. Their work, relationships, religion, cult, home and offspring are all built on that life belief system. To show a fault in the belief at the foundations of their 'house of life' could pull down their entire world! And usually they will hate you for it.
I understand, my life was built on my erroneous beliefs and attachment to the corrupt buddhist organisations and I had to experience the collapse and loss of all that was not 'true' in my life. Yes painfully, yes shocking, but worth it, yes, although I'm still recovering. I'd rather be slapped in the face with the truth than kissed with a lie!
Some layers that cover my Buddha nature have been painfully burnt and peeled away like layers of an onion but that was needed for me to have clearer vision. We can't see truth if our own glasses are muddy. In fact, I'm highly suspicious when I come into people who are continually pointing a finger for others to change, when In fact they are desperately trying to account for the very things they are ignoring within themselves that are clouding their Buddha nature and vision! They protest too much /-:
Knowing what I've been through I would have loved it if someone gave me some harsh truths at the time in my life when my erroneous beliefs were just budding, which is better than needing a lumberjack once that erroneous belief has grown in to an oak tree!
I have had to build up again starting with pure gold foundation bricks. The only thing I'm certain of in this moment of my life is the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren's promotion and sacrifice for the Lotus Sutra. I'm weary of anything if I'm emotionally attached to it, because then vision and objectivity is diminished."