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Switch to Forum Live View SGI vs. Nichiren Shu
6 years ago  ::  Aug 21, 2008 - 11:12AM #1
H82Diet
Posts: 29
Hi,
I am new to Nichiren Buddhism so I did not go through the breakup between SGI and Nichiren Shu.  I've read about it a bit but only from the SGI perspective.  At a community center meeting recently they made an announcement that we should chant for the Nichiren Shu to abandon their erroneous teachings.  I am not clear on what this means.  I recently read a Nichiren Shu publication and it was wonderful.  Is their no chance of reconciliation between the two groups?  Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

Lynn
To listen to Nichiren Chanting music go to:
www.AlanSmallwood.com
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 21, 2008 - 11:12AM #2
H82Diet
Posts: 29
Hi,
I am new to Nichiren Buddhism so I did not go through the breakup between SGI and Nichiren Shu.  I've read about it a bit but only from the SGI perspective.  At a community center meeting recently they made an announcement that we should chant for the Nichiren Shu to abandon their erroneous teachings.  I am not clear on what this means.  I recently read a Nichiren Shu publication and it was wonderful.  Is their no chance of reconciliation between the two groups?  Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

Lynn
To listen to Nichiren Chanting music go to:
www.AlanSmallwood.com
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 21, 2008 - 1:53PM #3
Engyo
Posts: 138
[QUOTE=H82Diet;706454]Hi,
I am new to Nichiren Buddhism so I did not go through the breakup between SGI and Nichiren Shu.  I've read about it a bit but only from the SGI perspective.  At a community center meeting recently they made an announcement that we should chant for the Nichiren Shu to abandon their erroneous teachings.  I am not clear on what this means.  I recently read a Nichiren Shu publication and it was wonderful.  Is their no chance of reconciliation between the two groups?  Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

Lynn
To listen to Nichiren Chanting music go to:
www.AlanSmallwood.com[/QUOTE]Hi, Lynn -

Respectfully, you have made a fundamental error here.  SGI was NEVER affiliated with Nichiren Shu.  SGI was once a lay organization of Nichiren SHOshu.  Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu are two VERY different Nichiren schools.

I am curious, though.  Did anyone happen to explain which specific Nichiren Shu's erroneous teachings they would like abandoned?  I ask, because I thought SGI was moving away from Nichiren Shoshu's doctrines, but the Nichiren Shoshu doctrines are the ones which conflict with Nichiren Shu. 

Here is a thumbnail of the primary differences in doctrine between Nichiren Shoshu and Nichiren Shu (there are others).  When I was last an SGI member, SGI's positions weren't too far from Nichiren Shoshu's positions listed below; I don't know what their current doctrinal stance is in detail.

Nichiren Shoshu believes Nichiren to be the Original Buddha.  Nichiren Shu reveres Nichiren as the founder of our order, and as fulfilling the role of Bodhisattva Superior Practices, or Jogyo, just as Nichiren himself wrote.

Nichiren Shoshu believes that the wooden gohonzon known as the Dai-Gohonzon is a special, superior Omandala.  Nichiren Shu considers it to be an Omandala no different than any other.

Nichiren Shoshu teaches that Nikko was the sole successor to Nichiren's teachings, and that the other five senior disciples broke faith and abandoned Nichiren's teachings.  Nichiren Shu teaches that all of the six senior disciples kept faith with their master and his teachings, and all of them are legitimate successors to Nichiren.  Studying the history of all six of Nichiren's senior disciples after his passing is worthwhile in regard to this issue.

Nichiren Shoshu teaches that the Nichiren Shoshu High Priest inherits the legitimate succession in an unbroken line from Nikko.  Nichiren Shu has no high priest; there are several abbots, and these are elected positions.  Nichiren Shu teaches that each of us inherits the legitimate succession directly from the scrolls of the Lotus Sutra.

Anyway, if there happens to be a specific list of "erroneous teachings", I would be very interested in learning what they are.  Thanks very much in advance.
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 21, 2008 - 10:56PM #4
H82Diet
Posts: 29
I thought that when they said Nichiren Shu that they were abbreviating Shoshu. So I misunderstood the two to be one group.  From what you described, I would say that SGI is closer to Nichiren Shu and not Shoshu.  I could be completely confused because I read literature that is not from SGI.
I have read Nichiren to be both the Original Buddha and Jogyo and I don't know where that came from.  I also read the two different stories about the disciples...  I believe that the erroneous teachings mentioned go something like... the priesthood tells members that they need to go through the priests to obtain enlightenment.  I live very far from either an SGI community center or a temple so 99% of my information comes from books that I order from the library and from the other newbies in our group.  I did order the SGI publication The World Tribune and have noticed on more than one occasion writing that hinted at resentment toward a priesthood.  This information makes our one Pre-breakup member very sad.  Clearly, from your response, I am more confused than I thought.
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 21, 2008 - 11:22PM #5
austex
Posts: 88
I'm not sure that a lot of SGI members are even aware there is such a thing as Nichiren Shu.  I mentioned I was Nichiren Shu to an acquaintance who is an SGI member once, and he thought I was talking about Nichiren Shoshu - I'm not sure he knew there was a difference.  So maybe these people thought the same thing you did - that Nichiren Shu is just shorthand for Shoshu?  If Nichiren Shu isn't active in your area, I don't know why they would be talking about it.
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 22, 2008 - 7:38AM #6
Engyo
Posts: 138
[QUOTE=H82Diet;708074]I thought that when they said Nichiren Shu that they were abbreviating Shoshu. So I misunderstood the two to be one group.  From what you described, I would say that SGI is closer to Nichiren Shu and not Shoshu.  I could be completely confused because I read literature that is not from SGI.
I have read Nichiren to be both the Original Buddha and Jogyo and I don't know where that came from.  I also read the two different stories about the disciples...  I believe that the erroneous teachings mentioned go something like... the priesthood tells members that they need to go through the priests to obtain enlightenment.  I live very far from either an SGI community center or a temple so 99% of my information comes from books that I order from the library and from the other newbies in our group.  I did order the SGI publication The World Tribune and have noticed on more than one occasion writing that hinted at resentment toward a priesthood.  This information makes our one Pre-breakup member very sad.  Clearly, from your response, I am more confused than I thought.[/QUOTE]Hi again, Lynn -

Don't worry, it's not a big deal, I just like to help people understand clearly as best I can.

Nichiren as Original Buddha is a conception of some of the Taiseki-ji High Priests - Nichiren never wrote anything like this, nor did any of his six senior disciples.  I can't say whether it was the 9th (Nichiu) or the 26th (Nichikan) or somewhere in between - I would have to look that particular point up.  It doesn't show up in the historical record until a couple of hundred years after Nichiren's passing, though.  Soka Gakkai and later SGI absorbed that concept from Nichiren Shoshu during their 60 year association.

I don't know where Nichiren Shoshu teachings stand today, but it seems the role of ministers in Nichiren Shu is being significantly misunderstood.  Nichiren Shu ministers take vows to protect the Dharma, teach it correctly  and serve their congregations.  In North America, ministers are employees of their temples under contract - and can be removed for cause if necessary.

I hope this helps clarify somewhat.
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 25, 2008 - 4:02PM #7
sgi_chris
Posts: 124
Hey H82diet,

There are differences with the SGI and the Shoshu school. But, believe that through dialogue there can be peace between the schools.

The SGI was excomminicated because of differences with the Nikken Preisthood.Nichiren Shoshu's message, by contrast, is that we have to have priests - especially the high priest - to attain Buddhahood. We are incapable of doing it on our own, incomplete without that priestly intervention. But this idea is found nowhere in the Daishonin's writings. It's at odds with the Daishonin's writings, almost all of which were written to ordinary people, not to priests. Yet the priests suggest that Nikken is the only real Buddha, that he's the only one who can really understand this Buddhism, that ordinary people never can.

In contrast to that statement Nichiren says:

"becoming a Buddha is nothing extraordinary. If you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with your whole heart, you will naturally become endowed with the Buddha's thirty-two features and eighty characteristics. As the sutra says, 'hoping to make all persons equal to me, without any distinction between us,' you can readily become as noble a Buddha as Shakyamuni." (WND, p. 1030).

The other issue at hand was the benefit of prayers to the Dai-Gohonzon"

The Daishonin established the Dai-Gohonzon for all humanity. It is the object of devotion dedicated to the happiness of all people, bestowed by the Daishonin on humankind as a whole. Because Nichiren Shoshu's current high priest has trampled on this far-reaching compassion of the Daishonin, cutting off access to the Dai-Gohonzon, he is arrogantly treating the Gohonzon as his personal possession.

Nichiren Shoshu says, "There is absolutely no benefit in refusing to visit the Dai-Gohonzon...and worshipping just a household Gohonzon, which is a transcription of that Dai-Gohonzon" (100 Questions and Answers, p. 9)

These statements are found no wear in the Daishonin's writings. As a matter of fact when he tells one of his followers to believe in the Gohonzon with their whole heart, since he inscribed his life in it, he was not refering to the dai-Gohonzon, but another Gohonzon he drew up. Good luck!

-sgi_Chris
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 25, 2008 - 7:46PM #8
H82Diet
Posts: 29
Thank you for your informative responses.  I understand all of this better.  Are either Nichiren Shoshu or Nichiren Shu largely active in the US?  I found one of their websites...and read a very excellent book of theirs.
About the Gohonzon... why don't they reproduce the ones that Nichiren inscribed rather than someone elses?
Why do SGI members keep their Gohonzons hidden and not out in the open where guests to your house can see it and ask questions? 
Thanks!
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6 years ago  ::  Aug 25, 2008 - 9:03PM #9
austex
Posts: 88

H82Diet wrote:

Thank you for your informative responses.  I understand all of this better.  Are either Nichiren Shoshu or Nichiren Shu largely active in the US?



I practice with Nichiren Shu (as does Engyo) - we're growing fairly rapidly at the moment, though we are still very spread out across the US.  I think Nichiren Shoshu is probably pretty active in the US as well.

why don't they reproduce the ones that Nichiren inscribed rather than someone elses?

Nichiren Shu does reproduce the ones Nichiren inscribed - I'm not that familiar with SGI or Nichiren Shoshu, though.

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6 years ago  ::  Aug 25, 2008 - 9:09PM #10
Engyo
Posts: 138
[QUOTE=H82Diet;714576]Thank you for your informative responses.  I understand all of this better.  Are either Nichiren Shoshu or Nichiren Shu largely active in the US?  I found one of their websites...and read a very excellent book of theirs.
About the Gohonzon... why don't they reproduce the ones that Nichiren inscribed rather than someone elses?
Why do SGI members keep their Gohonzons hidden and not out in the open where guests to your house can see it and ask questions? 
Thanks![/QUOTE]Hi again, Lynn -

Nichiren Shoshu has 6 temples in the USA.  Nichiren Shu has at least 10 temples in continental North America; some of them have been in existence for almost 100 years, and some brand new ones are petitioning to join at this year's Convention of the Nichiren Order of North America.

Nichiren Shu does offer a replica of a Nichiren original gohonzon to it's members as one of the choices.  It's an exact replica, though, including discolorations, fold marks and fading.  Some prefer a new image, which is also available, but it's not a Nichiren replica.  Nichiren Shoshu issues Omandalas inscribed by their current High Priest.

I think the SGI penchant for keeping the Omandala inside a butsudan and the butsudan closed comes from Nichiren Shoshu, but I can't say for sure.  It's not a requirement within Nichiren Shu, although many people do have altars set up this way.  The choice of butsudan or not, and of open or closed if a butsudan is used are up to the believer.

Nichiren Shu also uses other forms of representing the Assembly in the Sky besides the letter mandala, although these are most often found in temples rather than in believers' homes.  They include statue arrangements from simple to complex, and often a combination of Omandala and statue(s).
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