The following is the last post of a debate on the "100" passages of proof on the identity of the Original Eternal Buddha [Shakyamuni] that I had with an SGI YMD senior leader on the now defunct Nichiren Sangha debate forum. The debate proves the superiority of our doctrine and understanding to that of the Soka Gakkai's. It also proves our superiority by virtue of the actual fact of winning the debate [IMHO].
Soka Lion: Let alone giving room for historical context. And if this specific 'ancient Buddha in our minds' is so vital to Nichirens teachings, why didn't he write much and much more about it (him?)?
Mark: Namu Myoho renge kyo is the very heart of the teachings but it is only a "fourfold verse". The Flower Garland and Nirvana Sutras are much longer than the lotus Sutra. There are Fourteen Chapters of the Theoretical Section of the Lotus Sutra but the first 1/5th of the Hoben-pon is the heart and soul of the entire 14 Chapters. Same goes for the Jiga-ge and the 14 Chapters of the Essential Teachings. It is the profundity of the principle of the Eternal Shakyamuni as the Gohonzon both within the mind and as the subject of the Object of Worship which is of utmost importance. Everything has its vital point or points. Certainly Mentor-disciple is not one of these vital points. When is the last time you were taught in an SGI lecture the vital importance of Shakyamuni Buddha to faith? Once? Never? I will correct this "oversight" for your sake and for the sake of future generations.
Lion: What does Mark mean here?
He's responding to my critique of how he uses his '100 passages of proof' by confirming the relative length of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, comparing the lengths of two sutras to the Lotus Sutra and confirming the esssential sections of the Lotus Sutra. He then goes on to state that the profundity of a principle is of utmost importance. Mark is not answering the actual question here, nor the actual point of my essay. Instead he is confirming my point that he seems to interpret the Gosho according to his own reading of certain phrases.
Mark: You wrote, and I quote, "And if this specific 'ancient Buddha in our minds' is so vital to Nichirens teachings, why didn't he write much and much more about it (him?)?" I did answer your question. Just as the Buddha wrote little about Myoho renge kyo being the heart and soul of the Lotus Sutra [the Secret Law of Namu Myoho renge kyo] other than veiled references such as, "this Sutra", Nichiren rarely indicated that the ancient Buddha who exists in the mind, is Shakyamuni Buddha of the Juryo Chapter. However, he wrote enough about it and the importance of Shakyamuni Buddha that even a cursory reading of the writings reveals that what I say is true. Then you quickly jump to another argument, that of mentor and disciple [we can only make an educated guess why...because the preceding argument about Shakyamuni Buddha, you can not win]. Your [SGI's] problem is that you can not win that argument either, as we will see. Let me just leave you with a small teaching from Tientai, to understand the importance of the Master of Teachings Lord Shakya, not as a disembodied truth principle [Buddha-nature] but as the living manifestation of the Law.
"In his Miao-fa lien-hua-ching wen-chu (Textual Commentary on the Lotus Sutra), Tientai states:
"1. The Buddha is one's focus of devotion in the true sense. He is the savior who delivers human beings from their sufferings and fulfills their desires and is also the figurative parent and lord of humankind. Thus one should offer prayer and reverence to him with an attitude of total dedication and of obedience to his teaching. (This is reguarded as the "first step" view of the Buddha).
2. When considering the essence of the Buddha objectively, the discriminating person thinks of his Law (that is, of the universal, logical truth of the universe), of justice and benevolence as the basic ideal virtues of humankind, and of selfless compassion as the means of saving all sentient beings.
3. Since the second interpretation alone is not sufficient to sustain a living faith, it must be merged with the first. Thus the third interpretation unites the abstract theory of the first with the concrete practice of the second.
4. When one has at last arrived at a state of profound faith, one has attained unity with the Buddha and is always embraced by him even if one's awareness of the Buddha is not perfect (that is to say, not in complete accord with the union of theory and practice set forth above in the third interpretation). In this fourth interpretation one has already achieved Buddhahood and sees the buddha-nature in all objects and beings one encounters and venerates all those objects and beings as buddhas. It is at this point that the Buddha-land, or paradise, becomes a reality rather than an ideal or goal."
SGI rejects the "first step" view of the Buddha which, according to Tientai, indicates a dead faith. Nichiren Daishonin and we embrace Tientai's and Nichiren's view of the Buddha which indicates that we experience a living faith.
Lion: "The importance of mentor and disciple Mark himself pointed out in response to an argument I made. Meaning, Mark successfully claimed that Nichiren's main points were transmitted with the help of his core group of disciples. In other words, while Mark is saying here that 'certainly Mentor-disciple is not one of these vital points', he has shown clearly that without mentor and disciple Mark's own vital point or points would not have been perpetuated."
Mark: We follow the Law, the written words of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren Daishonin. In this way, it can be said that we take the Law as mentor. From the standpoint of the oneness of person and Law, we are direct disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha and Nichiren Daishonin.
One of the most important causes of the disunity and divisiveness in the Nichiren community is following the person rather than the Law. The Six Senior Disciples themselves and those who followed them, in one way or another and to a greater or lesser degree, all failed to follow the Law rather than the person. Thus all these so-called disciples of the Daishonin created the foundation for the disunity and divisiveness in our community. Thanks to the advent of Nichiju Shonin who was born on April 28th 1314, we are able to know without a mustard seed of a doubt that the succession is through the scrolls of the Sutra and the writings of Nichiren Daishonin, not through the person, whether that person be Nikko, Nissho, Nichiju, Nichikan, Nissen, Nichinyo, Daisaku Ikeda, or Dave Cole.
Lion: Nichiren said this but meant that
When one presents Mark with Gosho passages that do not emphasize, or even contradict his point, he often retorts with accusing the other of using 'Nichiren said this but meant that.' Another way of saying that the only correct reading is a literal reading. Or is it? Because when we return to Mark's '100 passages....' how many times was this 'ancient Buddha in our minds' mentioned in that specific way? Once. Remember that this is the very passage that Shamon puts forth again and again to proof this point. What about the mentioning of Shakyamuni, or Buddha or even Eternal Buddha amongst the other '100 passages...'? If a literal reading is the way to go, how can it be that there are no other literal references to 'ancient Buddha in our minds'? If we use Mark's own standard of the '5 major works' as absolute standard and Shamon's repeated referencing, it seems as if this passage is being used to interpret all the other passages, even the entire Gosho. In other words, in those '100 passages...', when Nichiren writes Shakyamuni, or Buddha or even Eternal Buddha, does he really mean to say 'ancient Buddha in our minds'? But wait a minute. Isn't that using 'Nichiren said this but meant that'? Or are only other people held by that standard?
Mark: Honbutsu is Honbutsu. Eternal Buddha is Eternal Buddha. It always refers to Shakyamuni Buddha except in a few of the doctored SGI and Nichiren Shoshu translations. Ancient Buddha too refers to Shakyamuni Buddha who permeates both life and the environment. Here is what an SGI leader writes:
"He [Daisaku Ikeda] is like a motor spinning faster than I can imagine. When I connect my ichinen, my intention, my prayer, to his energy…I can move that much faster.
This morning as I was leading the daimoku (chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) in the Illinois Area Activity Center in Woodale (on Irving Park Rd.) I asked for Daisaku Ikeda to come and join me in my prayers…I chanted that he be with us the whole time I was chanting…and that each person chanting with me experience a closer connection to their own life than ever before…that they connect so powerfully to who they really are…that they experience a huge breakthrough from this half hour of chanting. I was chanting for President Ikeda’s energy to be right there in the room with us."
Has SGI added a new silent prayer?...
“We respectfully pray that Daisaku Ikeda the Original Holy One revealed in the Chapter of the Measure of Life of the Original Doctrine of the Lotus Sutra may be present.” [Tsutsushinde Daisaku Ikeda kanjo shitatematsuru Hommon Juryo no Honzon]
We invite aloud, the Original Eternal Buddha, to join us. The name that Nichiren Daishonin gives to this ancient Buddha is Shakyamuni Buddha. You invite Daisaku Ikeda to join you. I suggest you think deeply about the SGI faith and practice and what it is doing to the people who take faith in and practice it.