Matsuoka Queries

Open letter to Nikken Abe with 70 questions--Queries: 16-20

16.  I asked Nikken why he, in his role as high priest, conducts the important ceremony for “respectfully incinerating the Gohonzons” to return their “Soul and Law” to the True Buddha? In response, Nikken and his associates answered with following childish excuse: “If high priest Nikken Shonin alone can conduct entire services, there would be no need for the other priests” (ibid). My point, however, was not about whether high priest “alone can conduct services incinerating the Gohonzons respectfully” or not.

In fact, I pointed out the contemptible fact that Nikken — as high priest for last twenty-seven years — never actually involved himself in “respectfully incinerating the Gohonzons.” He assigned that task to the young acolytes, the lowest ranking priests. Isn’t this the ultimate act of disdaining the Gohonzons? I will ask Nikken again now: Why you have never conducted a ceremony of “respectfully incinerating the Gohonzons” by yourself, which (as you have said) would return their Soul and Law to the True Buddha? Moreover, why have you never asked a steward, priests in residence, or teachers at head temple — who are supposed to assist you in your role as high priest — to perform this most important ceremony, “respectfully incinerating the Gohonzons”? Why did you assign young acolytes — who are trainees, only half way to being priests — to be involved in such an important ceremony, that of respectfully incinerating the Gohonzons? You must answer straight to the point.

As I mentioned before, the way that returned Gohonzons were treated was very disrespectful during Nikken’s tenure at Taiseki-ji. Here is one example of Nikken’s unforgivable treachery: On the occasion of a “question and answer” session at the Nationwide Meeting of Senior Priests in April 1990, Nikken made the following surprising and troublesome comments.

When a priest from Gifu Prefecture asked about the use of printed wooden memorial tablets (or stupa tablets), General Affairs Bureau Chief Gikan Hayase (who is presently High Priest Nichinyo) answered, saying that “since the head temple started using printed wooden memorial tablet, why don’t local temples do the same?” At that time, as if responding to the question, Nikken interrupted and explained the reason behind the use of printed memorial tablets, saying that it was “due to the large volume of requests for memorial tablets, numbers which Taiseki-ji can’t handle, accumulating to near 100 thousand pieces.” Then, Nikken surprisingly stated that “all those accumulated requests (for memorial tablets) were written off by building one large memorial stupa.”

In other words, Nikken received more than 100 thousand request for memorial tablets, but he did not perform the services based upon these requests. He simply finished off his obligation by building one 9-foot-long large memorial tablet. Nikken’s negligence and treacherously evil conduct tramples on the sincere hearts of members who are requesting memorial tablets for their loved ones. This abuse of offerings can never be pardoned.

Nikken please carefully answer the following questions:

  • You stated “When a high priest builds one large memorial tablet, it is equivalent to building 100 thousand smaller memorial tablets.” What kind of reasoning is this and where do you find documentary proof for this idea in Nichiren Daishonin’s writings? You must clearly show it. If you cannot, you should immediately make a public apology for your erroneous teachings which has deceived numerous believers. Moreover, if such self-serving reasoning is to be accepted, why doesn’t Taiseki-ji just build one large memorial tablet every day and let local temples essentially stop offering memorial tablets? Why doesn’t the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood do it this way?

The participants of the Nationwide Meeting of Senior Priests directly heard Nikken’s “Memorial Tablet Scam.” It appears likely that there were people who recorded the contents of this meeting by tape-recorder. And there were those who set the Memorial Tablet Scam into action, based on Nikken’s direction. Therefore, if Nikken renders a false account of what he said, people among the priesthood will ridicule him behind his back. It will add momentum to the movement to delete Nikken’s name from the list of high priests (in the Fuji school) after his passing.

In this open letter, I had at first decided not to ask doctrinal issues. However, Nikken’s December 13th, 2005, statement (which he submitted prior to his resignation), had too many expressions of doctrinal deviations to ignore. Here I will only point out one instance.

Nikken, in your letter you stated that you consider only the “Dai-Gohonzon” as “the ultimate entity of the Law.” However, you wrote “the transmission of the entity of the Law includes the transmission of the entity of the Honzon, together with the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary of the essential teaching” (p. 80).

Your mind must have been elsewhere when you wrote “transmission of the entity of the Honzon together with the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary of the essential teaching….” Aren’t you saying there that there are “two religious objects”? What are they? And it is very controversial to say that “the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary of the essential teaching” alone is an empty shell without having “the entity of the Honzon,” whatever that means! I will ask Nikken following questions:

18. Within the phrase “Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary of the essential teaching,” does any separate “entity of the Honzon” exist or not?

19. If it exists, why have you stated “transmission of the entity of the Honzon along with the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary of the essential teaching,” thus expressing them as two separate things: “Dai-Gohonzon” and “entity of the Honzon”?

And please stop giving such a childish excuse as “we used the expression ‘together with,’ since Dai-Gohonzon and entity of the Honzon are one.” Of course, the word “together” has the meaning of “becoming one” or “in union” (Kojien Japanese Dictionary). However, a phenomenon such as “becoming one” presupposes that there exist two separate things or matters. In other words, when Nikken talks about oneness of both, it is based on his idea of regarding them separately! There must exist a secret belief on the part of the high priest, that the “high priest is ‘entity,’ while Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary is ‘function.’”  

This is evident in Nikken’s statement, where he states that “even for the Honzon of the true teaching, there is no benefit once you are separated from a high priest who holds Yuijyu ichinin Kechimyaku Sojo or ‘the transfer of the heritage of the Law through the sole lineage of the successive high priests.’” However, it’s obvious that this belief in a high priest that Nikken has been preaching is full of contradictions. Nikken, can you answer the following questions?

20. Nikken, when you became a retired high priest, do you still have the “entity of the Honzon” with you? If so, because current high priest Nichinyo Hayase must also have the “entity of the Honzon,” there must be two “entities of the Honzon.” Needless to say, “entity” should be one. Now, at present, who holds real “entity of the Honzon”? Is it Nikken or Nichinyo?