Q: The Nichiren Daishonin states, "If you confuse the general with the specific even in the slightest, you will never be able to attain Buddhahood and will wander in suffering through endless transmigrations of births and deaths" (WND, 747) Based upon this passage, the Nichiren Shoshu claims that since the high priest alone has received the heritage of the Law (the specific heritage), our claiming to receive the heritage independent of him prevents us from attaining enlightenment. Is this true?
A: No, this is not the intent of the Daishonin's statement regarding the general and specific. Nikken and his priesthood assert that "general" refers to all believers and "specific" refers to priests, particularly the high priest. But "general" and "specific" in this passage actually refer to the heritage transferred from Shakyamuni Buddha to the Bodhisattvas of the Earth in the Lotus Sutra. The Bodhisattvas of the Earth, led by Bodhisattva Jogyo, received the specific transfer while all the other bodhisattvas assembled received the general transfer.
The Daishonin's statement here is emphasizing the specific mission that the Daishonin and his followers, in their role as Bodhisattvas of the Earth, have in propagating the essence of the Lotus Sutra. This Gosho passage is not in any way referring to a distinction between priesthood and laity. The temple takes the above Gosho passage out of context, and misinterprets it to assert their own authority.
Nichiren Daishonin writes: "Shakyamuni Buddha who attained enlightenment countless kalpas ago, the Lotus Sutra that leads all people to Buddhahood, and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate from one another. To chant Myoho-renge-kyo with this realization is to inherit the ultimate Law of life and death" (WND, 216). Nikken’s misuse of the concept of specific and general to create distinctions and separation between priests and believers is a gross contradiction of the above statement by the Daishonin.