"Well, your answers are quite sad to read. Instead of going back to the source and re-reading Nichiren you say, "what you say about the severe retribution for not following your brand of Shakyamuni's teachings is truly astonishing"! How is this my brand? It's Nichiren's teaching. I didn't find "passages to support (my) beliefs" and "goshos are open to interpretation, despite (my) insistence that (I) alone know the truth". Goshos are exactly as they are written, no interpretation at all when it's so clearly spelled out. You say that my statements do not "pass the rationality test". And you say "there cannot only be One Way". Sorry, that's the Lotus Sutra's and Nichiren' message, there is ONLY one way, not two or three. "There are many paths to enlightenment as there are seekers". Fine words, but they are a different teaching. They are not Nichiren's and they are not the Lotus Sutra. In case you didn't notice, Nichiren is a fundamentalist, and his is an exclusive practice, i.e. the Lotus Sutra only. Likewise, Shakyamuni says that he had "not yet revealed the truth", which is found only in the Lotus Sutra. You can't be a Nichiren Buddhist if you don't believe Nichiren's words.
Nichiren was a "scriptural Buddhist". He relied solely on the sutras. His earliest credo was from the Great Nirvana Sutra..... "Trust the Dharma, do not trust human teachers. Trust the wisdom (of the Buddha) do not trust human consciousness. Trust the sutras of final meaning, do not trust the sutras of non-final meaning." The Buddha taught three kinds of teaching: provisional, expedient, and final.
The final is the Lotus Sutra, with the Nirvana Sutra as a "gleaning". Or as T'ien t'ai said: "If something agrees with the (Lotus) sutra, then record and use it. Do not believe in oral transmissions." In the Tendai tradition of Nichiren's day, there was a "zennification" happening, which implied that there was some meaning that was higher than the text. Nichiren rejects this completely. Unfortunately, the SGI/NST philosophy is in this vein , and is completely in opposition to Nichiren.....
You rely on the opinions of Ted Morino or other Gakkai leaders....even if they contradict Nichiren. This SGI talk is simply "New Age mysticism in Buddhist robes". It is not Nichiren Buddhism. (It's easy for Ted Morino to tell you anything because you haven't looked it up for yourself. Isn't this risky, like taking a stock broker's word for an investment? I had no luck until I read everything for myself).
Like it or not, Nichiren was a strict fundamentalist. His words, "All other sutras lead to hell" is a direct quote, correctly translated. Jesus is a "bad teacher" and his teaching causes terrible suffering, especially after death......only Nichiren used the name "Honen" in this type of example. Obviously, he didn't know about Jesus, but the principle is the same. Sorry to shock you, but it's not me who says so, it's Nichiren himself. And Nichiren says that if people find him to be too strict, then they must consider Shakyamuni to be even more strict in the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren merely reiterates the teaching that Shakyamuni transmitted to him at the ceremony in the air (Chapter 11-22 of the Lotus Sutra).
Instead of going on in this vein, let me be blunt. You practice Soka-"Buddhism", not Nichiren Buddhism. Do you think that a fake honzon can give the same benefit as a real one? The answer is that you are not getting the benefits that Nichiren described. I don't doubt that you feel your practice benefits you. Christians get benefits also, even miracles. So does every religion in the world, including paganism, shamanism, even Norman Vincent Peale's positive thinking. It's not the yardstick that we can use to compare the "results". I can use my mental strength to create a miracle, because the human mind is truly remarkable. However, the human mind is not the equivalent of the Buddha mind, even though the latter is found in each of us.
Don't you see that the lack of knowledge about Nichiren (what have you been reading for 14 years? Ikeda? WT? But never the Lotus Sutra? Does this pass the "rationality test"?)....this lack of knowledge about Nichiren has fueled a philosophy that is completely removed from the original writings. You can recite the daimoku, but if it doesn't reflect the truth, then you miss the benefit. This kind of chanting will lead you to someday find the Lotus Sutra again, perhaps in a future life, but it misleads you now. Shall I quote Goshos that are specific on this point? I'm not saying this to inflame you or to give you "fire and brimstone". It's the exact teaching that Nichiren presented, and it mirrors the Lotus Sutra perfectly. If you truly believe that the Lotus Sutra is removed from Shakyamuni and the Daimoku of Nichiren, then your chanting is a provisional teaching, not the true teaching. (I'm paraphrasing a specific gosho, this is not my own invention.) I wish it were otherwise, then it would be easy to "receive and keep" this teaching. But it's very hard to believe and practice in an evil age, harder that to carry a load of dry grass through a fire without getting burned, etc.
You're happy with SGI's version of Nichiren, but don't fool yourself into thinking that the benefit "is all the same". And don't expect me or anyone else who has walked both roads to buy into the SGI"crock". I've been there and back. So have many others. As for the "world peace" angle, more people have quit SGI than have stayed . Conservatively, 600,000 Gohonzons have been sold in this country but the membership today is probably under 20,000. Do the math for yourself. If there is so much benefit via the SGI way, why have so many left? People don't leave if they are benefitting from something. Realistically, the Gakkai is a means to drive people away from the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren. How many Americans have a bad taste in their mouth for Nichiren, just because they were shuttled through the SGI? How many people can tolerate the heavy handed "senior leader" tyranny? How many lives have been ruined, marriages broken up, and careers wasted? How many people have been crushed by the demands of insane activities, min-ons, conventions and inane [or insane] "guidances" In order to create "world peace" SGI would have to go back and win these people back again. It won't happen.
Don't bother to convince me otherwise on these points, I saw more in my years with SGI than you can even imagine. And I talk to new people every day, who left five or more years ago. It hasn't changed and the horror stories are still the same. My e-mail is full of posts from people who write about their pain over the SGI experience. Do you think that these people are lying to me, and would waste their time in writing if they hadn't been spiritually duped or abused by "leaders"? Shall I believe you and tell these people that they must be mistaken? Shall I adopt the stance of "denial", and lie to myself about what I went through? I see very clearly the pattern that my life had in SGI. It's only because I practice the orthodox way that I can see with crystal clarity what my own life is about, and what it was about then. I am being specific here, and the precise experiences that I refer to are the basis of my spiritual convictions. They are significant and substantial, not just "feelings".
Are you saying that this "actual" proof of mine is invalid? Or that I can't compare the differences between then and now? Are you doubting my experience that the real benefit did not happen until I "parted from the false and adopted the true"? (That's from the sutra.)
If you find Nichiren's words too harsh to accept at face value, then stay with Ikedaism. But don't try to convince me that "it's all the same". The "results" are completely different and the final destinations are in opposite directions. I'm sorry you don't study for yourself but rely on "scholars" like Ted Morino .........it's lethal. You can accept the New Age philosophy without much personal damage....but when you use new Age to destroy the teaching of Nichiren, then there's a different effect. As Nichiren says, "You can strike mud with your fist without damage but if you strike a rock, then your hand will break. To attack other teachings is as if striking mud. To attack the Lotus Sutra which SGI says has no power is to strike a rock. It doesn't matter if you do so in ignorance, your hand will still break. It doesn't matter if you give the order to kill people or if you are the soldier who carries out the order, the retribution is the same. Teacher and disciple fall to hell together. Do you recognize these last two statements? They're directly from Nichiren.
I sincerely hope you consider both sides carefully. We are a network, not a "leader-based' organization like SGI, so don't think that I'm trying to get you to switch for the sake of "our side". The purpose of this post is not to drum up membership, like some "shakabuku campaign".
The issue is doctrine only and the truth. Not some interpretation (based sadly on lies)......all "benefits" flow from the truth. The philosophy that you described in your letter (SGI new-age Buddhism) is not Nichiren. No amount of rationalization will make it so. At least admit to the "revisionism" of SGI and consider seriously if it hasn't altered the truth. Then consider what benefit can come from adopting the truth, and what harm comes from accepting a lie. Base it on the words of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren only. Don't make "us" the issue. It's cult mentality to attack the messenger, to see things as "us" vs. "them". Remove "us" from the discussion and look at the issue of doctrine only. If you don't study the doctrine you can be duped." -- Stephanie Maltz