"It is not enough to assume that Myoho Renge Kyo is the Lotus Sutra". Nor is it accurate to say that the Lotus Sutra is Shakyamuni's life in sumi ink. The energy of our practice and living movement for Kosen Rufu derives from Nichiren's wisdom of the correct reading of the Lotus Sutra. The Tendai (Tien Tai) sect of Japan did not understand the Lotus Sutra or put faith into its propogation as Nichiren did. Big difference. For Nichiren it is simply Nam Myoho Renge Kyo alone. The fact that he used Shakyamuni as a way for the people of his time to understand was simply like that of a fisherman who employs a lure to bait the fish. Those Japanese monks who saw Nichiren as a Bodhisattava underling of Shakyamuni Buddha do not understand the principle of wisdom which leads to the "equality of all Buddhas". and were simply swayed by fear of the political power structure of feudal Japan. This issue is embodied in the difference between Nikko Shonin's practice and Niko Shonin's practice in the Minobu contraversy." -- Eric Toro SGI Senior Lader
I have already refuted these concepts which derive from Dave Baldshun, SGI Vice Study Department Chief''s article:
Understanding The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin
By Dave Baldschun
SGI-USA Vice Study Department Leader
Here is the first part of my refutation, If you wish to see the entire refutation, e-mail me.
Dave Baldschun: "Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, SGI President Ikeda has said, “The Gosho are the Buddhist scripture for the Latter Day of the Law” (“The World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings,”April 2002 Living Buddhism, p. 8)."
Mark: Let us never forget that we chant Namu Myoho renge kyo, devotion to the Lotus Sutra (Myoho renge kyo), not Namu Gosho or devotion to the Gosho. The Lotus Sutra was preached for all people of this Latter Age equally without regard to their capacities. The Gosho was often preached according to the capacity of the individual recipient of the Gosho. In just this first introductory sentence of Dave Baldschun's essay, we have a grievous omission and lack of understanding.
Dave Baldschun: "Studying his writings is an essential part of our Buddhist practice. Reading them can be gratifying and inspiring; it can also be challenging and, without understanding the context in which he wrote, it can be confusing."
Mark: Yes and we should never forget the Lotus Sutra which Nichiren lived and cherished:
"The physical and spiritual which are one in essence, manifest themselves as two distinct aspects; thus the Buddha’s mind found expression as the written words of the Lotus Sutra. These written words are the Buddha’s mind in a different form. Therefore, those who read the Lotus Sutra must not regard it as consisting of mere written words, for those words are in themselves the Buddha’s mind." (On Wooden and Painted Images)
There is no doubt that, here, Nichiren is referencing the twenty-eight Chapter Lotus Sutra. To rely on the SGI to gain understanding and resolve confusion, rather than the Lotus Sutra, is a futile endeavor. Dave Baldschun hides critical information necessary to understand the teachings. Nichiren cherished the twenty-eight Chapter Lotus Sutra till the very last moment of his life.
Dave Baldschun: "Underlying everything Nichiren wrote and did was his boundless compassion and vow to relieve the suffering of all people. He was willing to endure anything for the sake of the Law. He was genuinely humble and at the same time, supremely confident. He was not arrogant. All of this is reflected in his writings. Some of his works are easy to understand, poetic in their beauty and heart rending. Others are more difficult—some because they address doctrinal distortions of his day and others because he references societal views of thirteenth century Japan that seem archaic by today’s standards."
Mark: Thanks to SGI and Taisekaji, the writings have become somewhat difficult to understand and muddled. By forging Gosho and altering Gosho or their translations, a correct understanding of the Gosho has become more difficult. Certainly however, it is not a monumental task and is accessible to everyone, even a beginner on the path. The Nichiren Lotus Sutra faith and practice enables everyone to traverse the thickets of misunderstanding and more importantly, to understand the heart of the Daishonin.
The Lotus Sutra states:
"Of yore i made a vow,
Wishing to cause all creatures
to rank equally without difference with me.
According to the vow I made of old,
Now[all] has been perfectly fulfilled....
[But] the unwitting [remain] confused
And, going astray, never accept my teaching.
I know that all these creatures
Have never practiced the fundemental goodness,
Are firmly attatched to the five desires,
And through infatuation are in distress;
By reason of these desires,
They fall into the three evil paths;
Transmigrating in the six states of existence,
They suffer the utmost misery
Received into the womb in minute form,
Life after life they ever increase and grow,
Poor in virtue and little happiness.
They are oppressed by all the distresses;
They have entered the thickets of heretical views,
Such as 'existence' or nonexistence';
Relying on these [false] views
They are deeply attatched to these false laws,
Firmly holding, unable to give them up,
Self sufficient and self inflated,
Suspicious, crooked, and faithless in mind;
During thousands and milliards of kalpas
They have not heard the name of a buddha,
Nor have they heard the True Law. (Lotus Sutra Chapter 2)
If it was so difficult to sort things out, if only one could do so through the Soka Gakkai and the teachings of Daisaku Ikeda, the Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin would be great liars.
Dave Baldschun: "Although he was absolutely confident in his teachings, he was not dogmatic about them. In the “Opening of the Eyes,” he states, “As long as persons of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false, I will never yield!” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin,p. 280).
Mark: How strange that Dave Baldschun would even bring up the idea of Nichiren Daishonin as dogmatic! Nichiren was confident because he had the Scripture of the Fine Dharma and a multitude of experiences to back up his teachings and assertions. Certainly the SGI President and leaders are not persons of wisdom to prove Nichiren's teachings false, although they have tried their best with such teachings as their person above the Law mentor-disciple rubbish and interfaith. The entire purpose of Dave's article is to alter the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin, to shoehorn the wide and deep teachings of Nichiren into the narrow and shallow mold of SGI. It is SGI teaching that "Nichiren said this but meant that."
Dave Baldschun: “In his writings,” President Ikeda has said, “the Daishonin repeatedly emphasizes the importance of the heart in Buddhist practice. While on the one hand he teaches that faith and courage are the powers and functions of the heart that enable us to open the world of Buddhahood in our lives, he also cautions against negative functions of the heart such as disbelief and cowardice, which close us off to our potential for Buddhahood. His writings are really a teaching of the heart” (April 2002 Living Buddhism, p. 9).
Mark: How bizarre! The great Nichiren being critiqued by the spiritual pipsqeak Daisaku Ikeda. No one needs Daisaku Ikeda to teach that both hell and heaven exist in the heart because Nichiren already taught that "Neither the pure land nor hell exists outside oneself; both lie only within one’s own heart." (Hell is the Land of tranquil Light).
SGI makes Buddhism appear so difficult, beyond the capacity of ordinary people to comprehend and like some endless austerity. This is to bind and enslave people to the Soka Gakkai and the "Three Presidents" which they have incorporated in their Essential Services. Nichiren, on the other hand, stated,
"A baby has no conscious understanding but, taking the mother’s breast, grows naturally." (This is What I Heard)
Chanting Namu Myoho renge kyo with a correct faith and practice to the Gohonzon is the most important cause and condition to avoid disbelief and cowardice. Reading the Lotus Sutra and writings of Nichiren Daishonin is the other cause and condition required to develop faith and courage.
As you will see, one way the SGI supports their teachings, is by taking things out of context. That is why we must read the entire Gosho again and again. That is why I put together the 100 passages of Proof demonstrating that Shakyamuni is the Original Eternal Buddha.
Dave Baldschun: '"It is important, therefore, not to take his writings out of context or in a literal sense that was not intended, as highlighted by the following questions and answers.
What does Nichiren mean by the Lotus Sutra? Once Nichiren revealed that the Law of the Lotus Sutra was Nam-myoho-renge kyo, the view of the Lotus Sutra was forever changed. In the context of Shakyamuni’s teaching, in which the Law remains hidden, the Lotus Sutra is provisional. When Nichiren writes about the Lotus Sutra, he does so based on his conviction that the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the correct teaching and practice for our age.
He states “Even if they pray to the gods, the Buddha, or the Lotus Sutra, these calamities will only be aggravated. But it is different when the votary of the Lotus Sutra offers prayers to the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra. In the final analysis, unless we succeed in demonstrating that this teaching is supreme, these disasters will continue unabated” (“The Treatment of Illness,” WND, 1114).
Mark: Let me put this passage in context for the sake of the future Bodhisattvas of the Earth since the SGI is loathe to do so:
"The three calamities and seven disasters of these past thirty years or more, however, are due solely to the fact that the entire country of Japan hates me, Nichiren. In province after province, district after district, and village after village, everyone from the ruler on down to the common people seethes in anger against me such as the world has never seen. This is the first time that the fundamental darkness has erupted in the lives of ordinary people caught in the illusions of thought and desire. Even if they pray to the gods, the Buddha, or the Lotus Sutra, these calamities will only be aggravated. But it is different when the votary of the Lotus Sutra offers prayers to the essential teaching of the Lotus Sutra. In the final analysis, unless we succeed in demonstrating that this teaching is supreme, these disasters will continue unabated"
Here, what Nichiren Daishonin means by the "essential teaching" is a bodily reading of the Lotus Sutra, the twenty- eight Chapter Lotus Sutra. Thus he states, in the next sentence, " Some people practiced them to an extent but encountered few difficulties because there were no powerful opponents." "Powerful opponents" derive from Chapter 13 of the Lotus Sutra. Apart from the twenty-eight Chapter Lotus Sutra, there is no votary. He is also teaching that even should the SGI chant the Daimoku or invoke the gods or the Buddha, because they have a warped faith and hate the True Votary of the Lotus Sutra (they hate Nichiren because they alter his teachings), their prayers will remain unanswered.
In one fell swoop, Dave Baldshun calls the entire Lotus Sutra provisional, He would have us throw away the entire Lotus Sutra when Nichiren taught that we can not even discard the Theoretical Section represented by the Hoben-pon, let alone the Essential section represented by the Juryo-hon. Is he not an extremely evil man, walking in the footsteps of his master, Daisaku Ikeda?
Here too is the perfect example of the SGI withholding information, hiding the teachings of the Gosho, and doing that which they advise us not to do: '"It is important, therefore, not to take his writings out of context or in a literal sense that was not intended, as highlighted by the following questions and answers." But that is exactly what he did. He took this passage out of context. Apparently, The SGI leaders are incapable of doing what they say, thus not even realizing one of the very initial stages of Buddhist Enlightenment, the stage where one does as one says.
Fortunately, not everyone accepts what the SGI teaches uncritically. I advise everyone to study the Lotus Sutra and the Gosho on their own and in their entirety. I advise everyone also, to not to accept what we say here uncritically. If you examine side by side our [The Bodhisattvas of the Earth] teachings with the SGI teachings in light of the Lotus Sutra and Gosho, you can determine for yourselves the relative merits of both.
Dave Balsdchun: Nichiren used the imagery and principles of the Lotus Sutra as the basis for his inscription of the Gohonzon. Therefore, when he refers to the Lotus Sutra, he is often, in fact, referring to the Gohonzon.
Mark: This is patently untrue. When Nichiren states, "Lotus Sutra", he means Lotus Sutra. Rarely, if ever, when Nichiren states, "Lotus Sutra", does he mean Gohonzon or Namu Myoho renge kyo. Study the Sutra. Study the Gosho, particularly the Five Major Works. They are not called the Five Major Works for nothing. I suggest, if Dave is going to throw out the Lotus Sutra (Myoho renge kyo) that he doesn't chant Namu (Myoho renge kyo). In his heart, I think, he chants something else. One other thing, I have heard the SGI say, "The Gosho is the Lotus Sutra of the modern age." I have also heard them say, "The Human Revolution is the Lotus Sutra [or Gosho] for the modern age." I must point out for their sake as well as for those who would be bamboozled by their ornate but meaningless rhetoric, that we do not chant Namu Gosho nor Namu Human Revolution. We chant Namu Myoho renge kyo (Lotus Sutra).
Dave Baldschun: What does it mean when Nichiren refers to himself as a votary of the Lotus Sutra? When Nichiren identifies himself as a votary of the Lotus Sutra, he is stating that he is a votary of the Lotus Sutra of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the context of his teaching. Nichiren used the Lotus Sutra like a blueprint for the inscription of the Gohonzon and it is often used as a metaphor for the Gohonzon. Therefore, he is stating that he is a votary of the Gohonzon. He is not a votary of Shakyamuni’s Lotus Sutra in which the Law and the Gohonzon remain hidden and theoretical.
Mark: How duplicitous is the SGI! They pay Burton Watson hundreds of thousands of dollars to translate the Lotus Sutra and they promote it, making a lot of money off it, the Intitute of Oriental Philosophy buys priceless ancient fragments of the Lotus Sutra and goes around teaching the scholars in India how wonderful the Lotus Sutra is but, to their members, the recipient of this writing by Dave Baldschun, they say, "close, ignore and abandon" the Lotus Sutra. It is frightening [Dave Baldshun's and Daisaku Ikeda's fate]. The Daimoku (Namu Myoho renge kyo) is the heart of the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra is the body. If you kill the body, the heart dies and visa versa. SGI is killing both the Lotus Sutra and it's heart.
When Nichiren says, "Gohonzon" or "mandala", he means Gohonzon or mandala and when he says "Lotus Sutra", he means Lotus Sutra (Myoho renge kyo).