In the Ongi Kuden we read:
“This Myoho-renge-kyo (Lotus Sutra) is not Shakyamuni’s Mystic Law, because at the time this chapter was preached, he had already entrusted it to Bodhisattva Jogyo.” (Gosho, p. 1783)
In the Kanjin Honzon Sho (The True Object of Worship), the most important writing of Nichiren Daishonin, we read,
“Having thus manifested the ten divine powers, Sakyamuni Buddha transmitted the five charecters of Myo, Ho, Ren, Ge, and Kyo to the original disciples since the eternal past, who had sprung up from under ground.” Kanjin Honzon Sho, pp 122 to 140, NOPPA 1991.
and in the Lotus Sutra we read:
“At that time the Buddha spoke to Superior Practices and the others in the great assembly of bodhisattvas, saying: “The supernatural powers of the Buddhas, as you have seen, are immeasurable, boundless, inconceivable. If in the process of entrusting this sutra (Myoho renge kyo) to others I were to employ these supernatural powers for a measurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of asamkhya kalpas to describe the benefits of the sutra, I could never finish doing so. To put it briefly, all the doctrines possessed by the Thus Come One, the storehouse of all the secret essentials of the Thus Come One – all these are proclaimed, revealed, and clearly expounded in this sutra.”(Myoho renge kyo). (Lotus Sutra Chapter 21)
You can read more about this in: “Some Disputed Writings in the Nichiren Corpus” by Jacqueline Stone. John Petry has summarized some of the salient points [edited]:
1).The Ongi Kuden is not in Nikko’s hand nor is it ever mentioned (“again”) by him. There is no authentic seal of Nichiren (colophon) except for a later legendary accretion referencing a serpent who was to have appeared to Nichiren and Nikko as he was lecturing on the Devedatta Chapter.
2). It is supposed to be based on the Chu Hokkekyo, the authentic Annotated Lotus Sutra of Nichiren, the original copy exists on Mt. Minobu. The problem is it doesn’t conform well to it. Only 23 passages of the 133 passages from the Chu Hokekyo appear in the Ongi Kuden.
3). No mention of the Ongi Kuden or the Ongi Kikagaki occurs before Nitcho’s Keiun Sho in 1503. These were competing texts used by opposing sides in the Nichiren ichi-shoretsu debates (the harmony of the 28 chapters of the Lotus Sutra versus the superiority of the essential teachings debate), held at this time. “Dueling Oral Teachings”
4). The Ongi Kuden mirrors the writings of the Tendai sect. They employ the Tendai sect formulations of Kanjin style interpretations of “progression” and “resemblance and reversal” to represent concepts found commonly in Chuko Tendai (original enlightenment) doctrine. These conflict with the authenticated writings of Nichiren, most notably, the Kanjin Honzon Sho, as seen above.
5). The text contains comments regarding events that did not exist at the time of the supposed lectures:
A). For example the Ongi Kuden refers to the “six senior disciples” but Nichiren did not designate these six senior disciples until a few days before his death, some years later
B). According to scholars and priests of the orthodox sects, it refers to Nichiren as the “eminent founder,” a term which did not come into usage until well after Nichiren and Nikko died.
C). The text of the Ongi Kuden also refers to a document which was written some 13 years after Nichiren’s death, the “K’o-chu” which is a Yuan-dynasty commentary on the Lotus Sutra by Hsu Hsing-shan dated Yuan-chen 1 (1295).
D). Finally the date it was supposedly approved by Nichiren (who then affixed his seal), is the first month of the first year of Koan but the era changed its name from Kenji to Koan on the 29th day of the second month. There was no first month of Koan.
E). Additionally during the time the lectures supposedly took place and Nikko was supposedly transcribing them, he was not at Minobu where the lectures were held. He was in the Fuji area on a shakabuku campaign.
6). John Petry wrote: “The Nichiren Shoshu has pointed to a reference in another writing in a text by a Fuji school priest in the 1600′s referencing the existence of a transcript of lectures given by Nichiren in his life time but there is nothing in that reference to indicate what document he is referring to or even whether it was simply a copy of the Ongi Kuden or the Onko Kikigaki which were known to exist at right around 1500.”
7). Nichiren disparaged oral teachings. Since the core Taisekaji doctrines can not be found in the authentic Gosho, the Oral Teachings as well as many forged Gosho were invented by them. [above 7 points paraphrased by John Petry]
Here are the words of Nichiren, from Repaying Debts of Gratitude, on the Secret Dharma of the Object of Worship:
“The first is the object of worship (honzon). All the people in Japan as well as the rest of the whole world should revere the Lord Buddha Shayamuni (Original and eternal Buddha) revealed in the essential section (honmon) of the Lotus Sutra as the object of worship (honzon)…”
Then again in the True Object of Worship, we read:
“Shakyamuni 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.”
In the “Senji Sho”, Nichiren says, regarding his ability to have made his predicition about the Mongol invasion:
“It was not I, Nichiren, who made these three important predicitions. I believe it was solely the spirit of Shakyamuni Buddha, entering my body, who made them.”
“The number of such quotations number in the hundreds and they are all in Nichiren hand. Nowhere does Nichiren ever make the claim that he is the Original and Eternal Buddha. For this reason, the Taisekiji Gosho Zenshu has added exerpts from the 16th century “Ongi Kuden” to make this claim. They also lump the questionable Gosho with the authentic Gosho, unlike the Showa Tehon, in order to confuse the believers. However, the Ongi Kuden and many forged Nichiren Shoshu Gosho, like the Dai-gohonzon, only appears hundreds of years after the death of Nichiren and the other six disciples, including Nikko. Taisekiji has invented a new religion, created in the later Muromachi period (15th to 17th centuries) but has taken Nichiren’s name for the sake of credibility. Little of its “theology” can be found in the original writings of Nichiren or his immediate disciples. The Dai-Gohonzon is a later invention, the Nichiren-is-True-Buddha is a later invention (Nichigen’s theory). Many words and phrases the SGI and Nichiren Shoshu utilize (the so-called “buzz words” such as, “The Mystic Law of the Universe”, “getting in harmony with the universe”,”hosshaku kempon”, ‘Esho Funi”) mostly derive from “chuko tendai” original enlightenment jargon from the Muramachi period in Japan. Let’s go back to Nichiren himself. There is no honest alternative
The only parts of the Ongi Kuden of any worth are the first few sentences of the Introduction, Preface and scattered about specific teachings:
“Namu derives from Sanskrit, and here [in Japan] it is rendered as kimyo , meaning ‘to devote one’s life.’ This means to devote one’s life to the Person and the Law. Devotion to the Law means to devote one’s life to the Lotus Sutra. Devotion to the Person means to devote one’s life to Shakyamuni.”
The SGI’s doctrines and religious worldview derive principally from the Ongi Kuden, the Shoho Jisso Sho [The True Aspect of all Phenomena], the writings of Nichikan Shonin, Josei Toda and Daisaku Ikeda. I have already demonstrated that the Soka Gakkai confuses the general with the specific, that the Ongi Kuden should be read in light of the Lotus Sutra [not the Lotus Sutra in light of the Ongi Kuden], in light of the Five Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, and in light of the entire body of writings of Nichiren Daishonin.
The teachings of the Lotus Sutra, the Five Major Works, and the entire body of Nichiren’s writings contradict the Ongi Kuden. Who are we to believe? The SGI who says the profound principles of Buddhism are to be found in the Ongi Kuden or the Kempon Hokke who says the Ongi Kuden is a cunning expedient invented by the Nichiren Shoshu to promote their heretical brand of Buddhism? You would be wise to adopt our criteria and the Nichiren Gohonzon that contains the power of the Buddha.
Does that which accords with our mind (the Ongi Kuden) deserve our praise while that which accords with mind of the Buddha (the Lotus Sutra, the Opening of the Eyes, and the True Object of Worship) deserve our censure?
In the first part of this commentary, we proved that the Ongi Kuden is a forgery. In light of this, one must be very careful coming to any conclusions whatsoever regarding the utility of the Ongi Kuden.