Rio Ventura: Mark, My issue is not with the SGI; I have already AGREED that I do not fall in line with their tactics nor their business model, so using my come-uppance to you as a thinly-veiled opportunity to spew more of your vitriolic diatribe is pointless and transparent. Also, debating me in matters of doctrine is useless and not at all impressive; I have access to all of the same texts as you do and have a nearly 30 year practice in them to draw from.
Mark R.: Good luck Rio but all the texts or years of SGI practice at your disposal will not help you in the least.
Rio Ventura: My response had NOTHING to do with the SGI. It had to do with YOU, and by your own hand you have helped to prove my point. You have:
1. vaguely admitted that you would see nothing shocking or slanderous in starting your ‘own’ brand of Buddhism because you have the “same mind as the Buddha [Nichiren]”, so the presumption (I suppose) is that everyone who asserts that they also do gets to make up it up as they go along (which justifies your gohonzon sideline), even though “some people” are not Bodhisattvas of the Earth [which is nonsense, as ANYONE who chants daimoku IS],
Mark R.: My brand is Shakyamuni Buddha's and Nichiren Daishonin's brand. "My teaching" is Shakyamuni Buddha's and Nichiren Daishonin's teachings without adding or subtracting a dot. From the writing, The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings, I am the third type of messenger, the extremely foolish one who would not think of adding or subtracting even a dot of the teachings because of my foolishness.
"The third type, being extremely foolish, will not presume to insert his own words and, being honest, will relay his lord’s message without deviating from it. Thus he is a better messenger than the second type, and occasionally may be even better than the first."
In another writing of Nichiren we read:
"In the same way, one who chants the daimoku as the Lotus Sutra teaches will never have a twisted mind. For one should know that, unless the mind of the Buddha enters into our bodies, we cannot in fact chant the daimoku."
The Buddha has entered my mind because I ceaselessly chant the Daimoku. Similarly, the term "Buddha's mind" signifies the Lotus Sutra itself or the Gohonzon. Since the Gohonzon I embrace not only has the physical aspect of a Nichiren Gohonzon but the nature or spiritual aspect of a Nichiren Gohonzon [Nichiren's abiding reverence for Shakyamuni Buddha for example], how can I possess anything less than the mind of the Buddha? On the other hand, the Gohonzon you embrace, its spiritual aspect, does not accord with the mind of Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren. It accords with the mind of the great slanderers Nichikan and Daisaku Ikeda who reject The Master of Teachings Lord Shakya of the Original Doctrine,
Rio Ventura: 2. passive-aggressively called me a “moron” in words you ‘held at your tongue’ (very enlightened of you…mind of Nichiren meets schoolyard).
Mark R.: Why don't you address the point? Let me refresh your memory:
Rio Ventura: - and NOW you yourself are taking personal, fiscal, and karmic responsibility for the transmisson of the True Object of Devotion for Observing One's Mind, the most sacred of objects, the GOHONZON [!!], and making it available for digital download?????????????? :-o Are you going to make up your own Buddhism while you're on a roll, because you're already behaving so insidiously shockingly that it seems like the next and most obvious outcropping? :-/
Mark R.: Exactly as did Nichiren. Were you too a Bodhisattva of the Earth, you could also take responsibility for the Transmission of the True Object of Worship. What do you think, Ikeda himself transcribes the Nichikan Gohonzon for the thousands of converts to the SGI every year? They too are digital downloads [as I bite my tongue in order to refrain from calling you a moron].
“This great portent [great earthquake] is a sign that our country is about to be destroyed by some other country. This will happen because the priests of the Zen, Nembutsu, and other schools are attempting to destroy the Lotus Sutra. Unless the heads of these priests are cut off and cast away at Yui Beach in Kamakura, the nation will surely be destroyed.”
Today the Great Earthquake is a portent that it is the priests and leaders of the Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai who are attempting to destroy the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren had many choice words for his abusers and ignorant critics and how about the choice words your mentor and his leaders have for Nikken and those "Taiten" critics of the SGI? You are very selective and you are very hypocritical. Your argument about digital downloads is moronic.
Rio Ventura: 3. taken your less-than-thimbleful of knowledge about my life and experience as a YWD AND WOMEN’S DIVISION LEADER [thank you very much], and dismissed it out of hand calling me [and I quote] “insignificant” and “a liar”, simply and I suppose because my experiences don’t support your position, (very calculated, btw), and
Mark R: If you say so.
Rio Ventura: 4. positioned yourself as a high priest of this faith instead of even directing members to one of the myriad Nichiren Shosho temples across the United States, thus masquerading yourself as some self-imposed authority figure with the power to confer gohonzon, as if you know what that responsibility even means. I have at times regarded that avenue as the most unfortunate path I could imagine, intersecting with this incredible faith through a lineage of Japanese High Priests who assert themselves as intermediaries between a believer and the gohonzon, which ultimately lies in the core of one’s life and not in “a piece of paper”. I was wrong; this is far worse. Due diligence? Laughable. Oh, the terrifying arrogance.
Mark R.: Au Contrair mon ami. I am saying that anyone can bestow a Gohonzon on another or bestow a Gohonzon on oneself. It all depends on thinness or thickness of one's faith. It is the opposite of authoritarian, something I believe you can not understand being so enmeshed in the authoritarian Soka Gakkai. I also believe in diversity, unlike the SGI which only allows for the distribution of one sole Gohonzon and not even a Nichiren Gohonzon I might add. Any Nichiren Gohonzon is a valid object of worship and even any Gohonzon inscribed by a disciple of Nichiren who shares the same faith as Nichiren is a valid object of worship. A Nin-Honzon [statue arrangement Gohonzon] too is a valid object of worship since the Gohonzon exists in [correct] faith alone.
Rio Ventura: I think you have fought so hard to discredit my position, not because in some Bodhisattva manifestation you actually are moved to ‘protect’ me from some programming you are espousing the evils of. I think you just cannot grasp that anyone with a clearly higher life-condition than yours of Anger could ‘escape the grasp of the “evil empire”’ and yet look upon it with grace and deep appreciation for the opportunity and training it has given them to practice in this lifetime.
Mark R.: I think you discredit your own position. Since you lack a mirror [a valid object of worship] you fail to see yourself. You apparently aren't even aware of your Sensei's guidance on "righteous anger", let alone the Buddha's and Nichiren's. Rather than praise the SGI, have gratitude for the SGI, you should rather censure the SGI for leading you down the path of delusion and your inability to see yourself and to see clearly.
Rio Ventura; I think you are just angry with me, railing against the notion that I didn’t “fall for it”, that I never let the SGI tell me how to act or who to be, buy publications I didn’t want, or take part in drives for membership or financial support that I wasn’t motivated to get behind. I HAVE NO “mentor-aka-Ikeda/disciple relationship”, nor have I ever, and publicly so. I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. No one harassed me; no one “cut me out”. I am sincerely sorry these things sound like they happened to you and it’s currently driving your behavior, but this is your path and all I can do is chant for your happiness and hope you don’t do too much damage whilst continuing to tumble into this abyss of bitterness and self loathing. For someone making the claims you are, even in our dialogue you have taken some pretty cheap shots, been simply caustic and nasty, unbecoming of the ‘enlightenment’ you supposedly possess. (I realize that I am just fueling your technique for the ‘next time’ you get into this with someone, helping you to ‘sharpen your tools’, so to speak, but after all, I AM NOT the one claiming to have “the same mind as Nichiren”, worthy of being a priest of this faith, which is what you’re essentially doing. I am certain this will not even live on the page long enough for the masses to read and decide for themselves, but if it reaches even one person, I will consider that enough.)
Mark R.: You offer more proof that by abandoning Shakyamuni Buddha you can not distinguish black from white. I am not angry at you in the least and no life could be fortunate than mine. I just don't believe you but if it were true, you will never be an SGI leader and therefore, you will never have the ability to influence others within the SGI. Perhaps for this reason, you are left to your own devices. I also believe that you are treading on dangerous grounds for excommunication. Just don't be too vocal if you wish to remain SGI. One need only see, read, and hear the SGI guidances, videos, and lectures to know that you are not in the mainstream of SGI thought, let alone the thinking of the SGI mentor and his leaders. In fact, were you to blog or widely disseminate your beliefs about the SGI, you had better boldly declare that they are not the views of the SGI [a disclaimer] if you wish to remain SGI. Let me say something about SGI financials. Go to the SGI USA official website [http://www.sgi-usa.org/] and at the bottom of every page there is a bold exhortation, Financial Contributions Support our Buddhist Movement for Peace, not an exhortation to deepen one's faith, study the Lotus Sutra or the teachings of Nichiren, nor an exhortation to demonstrate against Nuclear Weapons. Burying your head in the sand won't change the reality of SGI, their partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industrials and the LDP, for example.
Rio Ventura: The words that were removed from the original Nichikan gohonzon were simply “Daigyo Ajari Honshobo Nissho”, which was the language of conferral to one specific individual. In order to make it more universal, the name of the intended recipient for THAT SPECIFIC PIECE OF PAPER was omitted. That is the grievous slander the SGI is guilty of, thus rendering them “no-honzon” in your quippy and cleverly disparaging language? *rolling eyes* By your definition, these recipients could not chant to these Gohonzon and attain benefit because they weren't 'intended' for anyone besides the original recipient? Nonsense. On the other hand, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood has asserted that gohonzon transcription is a ‘secret transmission based on the bequeathal of the lifeblood received by only a single person’, in other words, only the high priest has the authority, by right of lineage. (I guess he forgot to check with you first.)
Mark R.: You are so off the mark that I believe you have not read one thing I wrote about Nichikan or the Nichikan Gohonzon. This is the weak Nichiren Shoshu argument, not our argument. I could give a rat's patootie that SGI removed the specific conferral on the slanderer Nichikan's Gohonzon. It is the heart of Nichikan that is rotten and by the principles of Esho Funi [Oneness of Person and the Environment] and Shiki Shin Funi [Oneness of Body and Mind], so is the Nichikan Gohonzon.
Rio Ventura: Whereas this is ALL superstitious nonsense, of course, and no more in my opinion than a doctrinal tug-of-war between the SGI and the priesthood, my problem is simply with [now PAY ATTENTION] your decision to make gohonzon available to anyone for any reason, regardless of your ability to mentor them in continued faith.
Mark R.: Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin are the only mentors. Perhaps you are not aware that Nichiren was a scriptural Buddhist? Here is what Nichiren teaches:
“Now , when the Eternal Buddha was revealed in the essential section of the Lotus Sutra, this world of endurance (Saha-world) became the Eternal Pure Land, indestructible even by the three calamities of conflagration, flooding, and strong winds, which are said to destroy the world. It transcends the four periods of cosmic change: the kalpa of construction, continuance, destruction and emptiness. Sakyamuni 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. All those who receive His GUIDANCE are one with this Eternal Buddha.” -- The True Object of Worship
“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. nevertheless, seemingly knowledgeable men of such provisional schools of Buddhism as Ch’eng-kuan of the Hua-yen, Chia-hsiang of the San-lun, Tz’u-en of the Fa-hsiang, and Kobo of the shingon tried to extoltheir own canons by stating: “The Lord of the Flower Garland Sutra represents the reward-body (hojin) of the Buddha wheras that of the Lotus Sutra the accomodative body (ojin);” or “the Buddha in the sixteenth chapter of the Lotus is an Illusion; it is the great Sun Buddha who is enlightened.” clouds cover the moon and slanderers hide wise men. When people slander, ordinary yellow rocks appear to be of gold and slanderers seem to be wise. Scholars in this age of decay, blinded by slanderous words, do not see the value of a gold in the “Lifespan of the Buddha” chapter. Even among men of the Tendai school some are fooled into taking a yellow rock for gold. They should know that if Sakyamuni had not been the Eternal Buddha, there could not have been so many who received GUIDANCE from Him.” -- The Opening of the Eyes
I too am a scriptural Buddhist.
Rio Ventura: You have no bounds. I doubt you have the ability, the commitment, hell, even the infrastructure it would involve to make a lifelong commitment to mentoring each one of these individuals you are granting this solemn privilege to, regardless of their lack of understanding of the significance. If someone wants “to create [their] own little corner of the multiverse”, they don’t need a gohonzon to do it, because that’s not the solemn, lifelong oath they are taking to protect and propagate this faith in receiving one of your Hobby Lobby knock-offs.
Mark R.: It is a great slander to call the Nichiren Gohonzon a "Hobby Lobby knock off". Perhaps it is because you are a slanderer that you diminish the Nichiren Gohonzon or perhaps you don't really believe the teachings that "I am Myoho renge kyo" or "I am a Buddha". Were you to really believe these teachings, of course you would KNOW that you too are eminently capable of bestowing Gohonzon.
Rio Ventura: This is a grave slander and you should know better. What do you think will happen to these individuals, never taught how not to slander the gohonzon, never supported when their practice gets tough and inevitable challenges arise, when you have helped to facilitate Nichiren’s gravest [and as you said, “punishable”] fear, that this practice might be LOST because the bonus gift they receive by shopping at your gohonzon store is the mere cliff notes version of this practice??
Mark R.: And you accuse me of being presumptive! SGI gives out Gohonzon like Las Vegas escort fliers. I have given out fourteen Gohonzon in the last three years and mounted several more. The average length of time that these believers have practiced is SEVEN YEARS with the SGI, the Nichiren Shu, or as an independent and I insist that the new new member practices for at least 90 days, day and night and that he or she demonstrates a faith of "Not sparing their bodily lives" and all must sign one or both of the following oaths:
A DECLARATION OF FAITH IN THE HOKKE SECT
I, __________________________________, declare my faith in the doctrine of the Hokke sect:
1. I believe and accept the Hokkekyo or Lotus Sutra to be the Supreme Teaching of Buddha (The Jewel of the Dharma).
2. I believe the Eternal Buddha, Shakyamuni, revealed in the sixteenth Chapter of the Hokekyo, to be the True Object of Worship (The Jewel of the Buddha).
3. I accept the teachings of the Messenger of the Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, the Earthly Manifestation of the Bodhisattva Jogyo, just as they are stated in his own writings (Jewel of the Sangha).
4. I accept the Direct Succession of the Dharma through the Scrolls of the Sutra. Having sincere faith in these teachings, I request that a Gohonzon Mandala be bestowed on me and I solemnly undertake to treat it always with proper reverence and, should it become damaged or worn, I will return it to a priest for burning in the proper way.
Date: ___________________ Signed: __________________________
A DECLARATION OF FAITH IN THE HOKKE SECT
I, ______________, do hereby affirm the following:
“I am a member of Hokke Sect of Buddhism, I am chanting the Daimoku of the Lotus Sutra (the Primary Practice), as well as, chapters 2 and 16 of the Lotus Sutra (Secondary Practice) on a regular basis (daily).”
“I believe that the Mandala Gohonzon represents the land of Shakyamuni Buddha, the Eternally Enlightened Original Buddha, at the time of His transmission of the Law of Namu Myoho Renge Kyo to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth (Ceremony in the Air).”
“I also make the following renunciations:”
“I hereby completely reject the teachings of all non-Buddhist religions. I hereby reject the teachings of non-Hokke Buddhist religions.”
“I hereby also reject all heretical teachings that have infiltrated Nichiren’s Buddhism, such as the belief that Nichiren is the Eternally Enlightened Original Buddha; belief in the so-called Dai Gohonzon; worship of various supernatural entities as independent beings, etc.”
Signed and dated:
Rio Ventura: What you are doing is tantamount to gifting them a lucky rabbit’s foot and wishing them good-luck-and-godspeed. You, nor any support of ANY organization or community of believers, regardless of which we decide to align ourselves OR take exception with, will not be on deck to help them not abandon their faith at their crucial moments. They’re on their own with YOUR “object of worship”, not Nichiren’s. That is the difference I have a problem with.
Mark R.: SGI has done such a fantastic job. Of the nearly 600,000 people who received the SGI/NSA Gohonzon, at most 40,000 continue to practice [according to the inflated World Tribune circulation figures]. Not one of the people to whom we [not I alone] have bestowed Gohonzon have stopped chanting. You are wrong. You are deluded and blind [to the truth].
Rio Ventura: As Nichiren Daishonin put it, “…since the Law is respectworthy, the Person who spreads the Law is also worthy of respect.” In that, I have the deepest respect for your efforts in expounding the True Law far and wide. In the 26th Admonition of Nikko Shonin, he states: “You should treasure those practitioners who are skilled in difficult debate, just as the late master did.” We are both treasured in the eyes of Nikko Shonin, who is ALONE, ‘the Treasure of the Priest’.
But in Article #1 of those same Admonitions, he states: “The doctrines of the Fuji school must not differ in the least from the teachings of the late master.” To that end, NO WHERE in Nichiren’s teachings have I ever read that one should just go ahead and inscribe their own gohonzon, or just have a friend provide them with one… I would be [rhetorically] interested in knowing where you got the notion that it would be ok for YOU to start doing it, for all the reasons I have previously stated and that Nichiren Daishonin himself intended. You are simply not qualified, and either dangerously deluded if you believe yourself to be or willfully distorting the teachings for your own purposes, which is even worse if you ask me…but no one was asking, really, so I will say this in closing:
Mark R.: You would do well to read Pedro Ramo's criticism:
Ms. Ventura, do you realize you are quoting from apocryphal writings of no study value whatsoever outside your sect, and that puts you in a really sticky position?
First you quote from "On Attaining Buddhahood", not a Nichiren text by any credible scholarship standards and now from the 26th Admonition of Nikko Shonin?
Sorry, but you could chant less and get some facts straighten up before entering a discussion like this.
and Dr. Jacqueline Stone's Thesis, Some disputed writings in the Nichiren corpus:
More importantly, the transmission is through the scrolls of the Sutra and authentic writings of Nichiren Daishonin, not the edicts of the corrupt preists of Taisekeji.
Rio Ventura: Arguing with someone who is clearly not of sound mind is tantamount to being oneself insane. I will simply leave THIS here for you in case you perhaps one day experience a moment of lucidity:
Your delusions of grandeur and megalomania are out of control. I implore you to seek the guidance of a medical professional. Mostly, I will chant for the people whose karma led them to you as an access point for this beautiful and profound practice, and for the happiness of those you might infect in the future. You spoke of there indeed being “tragedy” in this world; in this I stand corrected. Your adept distortion of the sutra and the Major Writings for your own gain in the pursuit of that warm feeling of self-righteousness is indeed tragic. You and your counterfeiting are the worse type of charlatanism, even more alarming because I think you actually BELIEVE IT, and that actually trumps the priesthood and their atrocities towards the practice in my book. I never even considered it could get worse than that; there I go, being wrong again. You are your very own Devil King of the Sixth Heaven, and that’s impressive in the most unfortunate of ways. I wish you better things.
Mark R.: Your SGI cult nature is coming out. Bull baiting a votary of the Lotus Sutra is cause for regret.