On Copying the Gohonzon

Is it wrong to copy the Gohonzon

Oh boy, where do I start on this one? This topic has fuelled no end of internet flame wars due to people’s inability to step outside of their particular dogma. I think the argument is complex and based on several issues;

  • What is the Gohonzon, specifically
  • How can we disrespect the Gohonzon
  • Who has the right to copy Gohonzon
  • Will a copied Gohonzon work?

I chanted at some length over this issue. It probes at the very heart of Nichiren Buddhism and the nature of the Gohonzon.

What is the Gohonzon

I’m going to assume that the readers knows the superficial answer already, but I’ll repeat myself for the sake of clarity. The Gohonzon is the paper scroll that we chant to in our daily practice. The Gohonzon is the mandala Nichiren inscribed for all humanity. The Gohonzon is the clear mirror, in which we can view the reality of our own entity. The Gohonzon’s properties to help us view our Buddhahood are no different from a mirror’s ability to show us our reflection. It has no intrinsic power of its own beyond this facility.

The Gohonzon is NOT an occult talisman, lucky charm or other item of witchcraft of voodoo. The Dai Gohonzon in Japan holds no more power to reflect my Buddhahood than the copy (and it is a copy, let’s not forget that) in my Butsudan from the SGI.

In terms of the Threefold Truth, the Gohonzon’s appearance is the beautiful paper scroll printed with Nichiren’s inscriptions – the nature of the Gohonzon is to connect us with our Buddhahood and our Ichinen Sanzen when we chant before it with firm faith in the power of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

The Gohonzon is nothing more than this. If you disagree with any of the above, then you had better stop reading, because you won’t like the rest of what I have to say.

How can we disrespect the Gohonzon?

I’m not entirely sure how you can disrespect a piece of parchment or paper, but even if you could, is this the same as slander?

If a person fails to have faith but instead slanders this sutra, immediately he will destroy all the seeds for becoming a Buddha in this world… …When his life comes to an end he will enter the Avichi hell

These are Shakyamuni’s words from the Lotus Sutra. They apply to the Lotus Sutra, not the Gohonzon that elucidates the Ceremony in the Air and our devotion to the Lotus Sutra. How can these words apply to the Gohonzon created by Nichiren more than 2000 years after Shakyamuni’s passing?

The Lotus Sutra and the Gohonzon are a teaching and a concept respectively – they are not the impermanent object we attach ourselves to in the butsudan, they are essentially emptiness – non existense.

While it is possible to slander a teaching or a concept, you cannot slander a bit of paper. What you can do is upset a lot of people’s ego’s by allowing them to witness you disrespect a sacred object. We’ve all seen this occur (thinking of the anti-islamic Mohammad cartoons). By publicly desecrating a Gohonzon you can cause massive negative Karma, I’m sure, but I don’t think you will irrevocably scorch your seeds of Buddhahood!

I’ll recount a story I heard from a reliable friend. Someone who had come to the UK seeking asylum (his life was under threat in his home country) took up the practice while in the UK. During his stay he suffered health problems, but ultimately lost his fight to stay here and was due to be deported. In the period before he was finally ejected from the UK, he was sharing a tiny room with another deportee. It was so tiny that every night they had to pack all of their daytime kit away to make room for their sleeping mats.

So this guy was unrolling his Gohonzon every day, chanting to it, rolling it back up again to go to sleep. Now at some point he recounted to his leader how tough things were, and that he was having to roll up his Gohonzon every day. His leader looked at him with incredulity, berated him for disrespecting his Gohonzon and instructed him to hand the Gohonzon to the Chapter leader for safe keeping!

So there is this guy, fighting for his life, and now chanting to a blank spot on the wall. If this doesn’t demonstrate an utter lack of compassion, then I don’t know what does. My friend told him to get his Gohonzon back, pin it to the wall, and chant to it for all he was bloody worth! Today, I’m glad to say the gentleman seeking asylum is now settled as a UK resident despite the dogmatic reaction of one SGI leader.

Which way do you burn your incense sticks in front of the Gohonzon, left to right? Do you ever turn your back on the Gohonzon when in a discussion meeting (hard if it’s a small room!)? Do you have any pictures on the wall above the Gohonzon? This is all superstitious nonsense.

A Gohonzon is manifest impermanence! Show it the same respect you would a picture of a loved one, but don’t start imbuing it with juju powers.

Who has the right to copy Gohonzon

In many ways, this is tied up with whether you believe the Heritage of the Law is embodied in the High Priest of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, or not. I don’t. In fact, if Nichiren himself actually made this clear then I wouldn’t be practicing his Buddhism. To interpose a priest class between humanity and enlightenment is so utterly against the Dharma as to be non Buddhist!

So, who should be able to copy and confer Gohonzon? Nichiren Shoshu? The SGI? Fred Bloggs with his $50 inkjet printer? All three, I believe. Did Nichiren ever imagine there would be seven billion people on earth? Nichiren would use every means at his disposal to support the bodhisattva’s of the earth – he certainly wouldn’t cut off those with a seeking spirit. The reason that the power to copy and confer Gohonzon has been so closely controlled is, well, CONTROL!

There are now so many historical Gohonzons available on the web, the choice is bewildering. This situation isn’t going to change. I would argue that this situation is the manifest effect of the causes made by a priesthood that decided to keep the Gohonzon from the world. The people who uploaded the Gohonzons to the internet didn’t do so with devilment in their hearts. They did it in the genuine hope to inform others, generate interest, and assist the practice of lay believers in Nichiren’s Buddhism.

If I visited another practitioner, and found a different Gohonzon in their butsudan, I wouldn’t dream of questioning their choice! Why would a lovingly made home made Gohonzon be any less effective than the somewhat economic scroll from the SGI? Arguably, the only thing you are going to miss out on by doing it all on your own is guidance and support from others. Although internet forums have largely nullified that argument, there is still no replacement in my view for a good group discussion meeting.

I also don’t see any evidence of the Gohonzons available on the web being desecrated. Come to think of it – the Lotus Sutra has been available in so many different formats for so many years, and yet I don’t see people burning it in the street, or otherwise trying to disrespect it. No, the whole motive behind dissuading people from copying the Gohonzon is CONTROL.

The question of whether to photograph or video someone else’s personal Gohonzon is a more personal one. Clearly, a Gohonzon that is actively used becomes a deeply personal thing, and I would respect the owner’s wishes, and would expect other’s to respect mine where photography is concerned.

Personally, if a member of my family wanted a picture of me with my Gohonzon, I wouldn’t refuse – it is respectful, and it would be mean to refuse. However, if we were having a party, I wouldn’t want a photo of people who are worse for wear grinning inanely in front of an open butsudan. Not because of any occult, juju retribution – it would just feel like I am taking the piss out of something I care about.

Will a copied Gohonzon work?

So now we get down to the real nub of the issue. This “one true Buddhism” stuff really gets tiresome. I mean, haven’t Nichiren Buddhist movements learnt anything from the disaster of Churchianity? I just watched a Youtube video of an Anti-SGI Japanese guy ranting on about the quality of the paper, and the printing method used – sadly, this chap is as deadly serious as he is deluded.

So, to answer the question, Yes! Why wouldn’t your home made Gohonzon work? It is paper, and ink, and it presents the correct image to your eye – just like the Nikken Gohonzon, just like the SGI Gohonzon. What’s missing (apart from any priesthood voodoo juju)?

My Gohonzon is better than your Gohonzon. My dad is bigger than your dad. The delusion of people who come up with this stuff is beyond me in so many ways I can’t begin to explain. I’m aware of SGI members who discarded their Nikken (Priesthood) Gohonzon for the SGI’s Nichikan one. There can only be three reasons for doing this

  1. The member thinks Nikken is a slanderer, and so doesn’t want to be reminded of him when chanting (the member’s own desires and ego are causing the distraction).
  2. The member thinks the Gohonzon won’t work in some way because nasty evil Nikken created it (the member is deluded by voodoo juju).
  3. The member thinks the Gohonzon won’t work in some way because Nikken made technical errors (I’ll rule this one out as it’s pretty clear the Nikken Gohonzon is not a cock up).

How do you know, for a fact, that the guy who created your copy of the Gohonzon (regardles of your flavour of Nichiren Buddhism) didn’t have some deep dark secret? Maybe he had just been to the toilet and didn’t wash his hands? Maybe the guy who made the guillotine to trim it is a murderous psychopath. Maybe the iron the guillotine came from was fired by coal mined by child slaves? What I’m saying is, provided the pictograph of the Gohonzon is accurate enough to perceive the characters, then this is all that matters. Nothing is free from the Ten Worlds, remember? Even your Gohonzon!

A popular analogy is to consider a piece of music that moves the heart of all humanity. The sheet music itself could be transcribed any anyone, even the most evil human being alive, and yet when this music is placed before an orchestra the end result is the same – the music will still move people’s hearts.

I’ll take a Nikken Gohonzon, and I’ll chant to it, and I will pray for Nikken to remember that the Dai Gohonzon he is babysitting is the property of ALL HUMANITY. When one places the dogma of the priesthood, the SGI, or the Lotus Sutra itself above compassion for humankind, then one is on the path to ignorance and fundamental darkness.

If Nichiren could have seen me when I started to practice, he would have known my genuine intent. I read Vol 1 of WND and a boat load of other material, and chanted every day. I was totally averse to the SGI for a long time due to the bad press I had read. If Nichiren could have seen the beautiful quality of the Gohonzon I made for myself, he would surely not have snatched it from my hands and torn it up.

In fact, Nichiren would have seen me using my home grown Gohonzon to make great strides in my life, digging myself out of a lifetime of anxiety and self doubt, and going on to getting my pilot’s license. So frankly, I have first hand experience and proof of Nichiren’s Buddhism, without any help from the SGI, or a priesthood. I’m also happy to report that since enshrining my SGI Gohonzon I have continued to overcome various obstacles in my life, and have a great circle of friends in faith.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

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53 Responses to On Copying the Gohonzon

  1. kirstin November 2, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Thank you for this wonderfully refreshing perspective on the Gohonzon. I’m an SGI member and I struggle with the organisational superstitions and misplaced reverence at times. The most important message in Nichiren’s teaching is that we are all buddhas and we all have the potential to manifest our buddhahood. To inscribe your own Gohonzon lovingly and dilligently is a beautiful notion. Thank you so much for this artice.

    • steve November 2, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      Thank you Kirstin. Indeed, we are all Buddhas to be. The danger arises when we focus too much on the raft and not enough on sailing towards the other shore. Live each day with gratitude, mindful of Myo and ho in every aspect of your life, and study the teachings of the Buddha and you won’t go far wrong 🙂 Have a great day.

      • Verna Anderson-Leigh August 25, 2014 at 1:39 am #

        Is there a way to communicate with you, besides this “blog”? I am not sure I can even find this again. My other email address is kenzoku13@yahoo.com and I am currently in Portland, Oregun:).

      • steve August 25, 2014 at 9:58 am #

        You can contact me via the page:

        http://www.buddhastate.com/connect/

        I don’t advertise an email address since I received threats, but I’m always happy to reply to thoughtful emails in confidence.

  2. SYD November 13, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    I am so grateful to read such an informative, authentic posting that, for once is down to earth. I am quite new to Nichiren Buddhism and only received my SGI Gohonzon very recently. I love the practice and my life is transforming. I also love the organisation, and have made some wonderful new friends to share my faith and practice with. My life has been so enriched through discovering Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. However, sometimes the superstition and dogma of the SGI both frustrates and baffles me and I just don’t understand it.

    I am learning that to question certain aspects of the practice, philosophy (or whatever the correct term is) does not go down well with many SGI members. Some are quite rigid and literal in their interpretation of the practice and frown upon discussion that might lead to questions being asked about the necessity of things like, for example, burning incence in a certain way, making sure your Gohonzon is straight, not crooked, because (apparently!) this can impact upon one’s life and karma (yes, no joke, I was told this recently). I find the dogma and rigidity off-putting and, well, bloody annoying at times. These kinds of superstitious ideals detract from the good stuff – namely that amazing benefits and life-changing realisations are gained by chanting Nam myo ho renge kyo and adopting Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings into your life.

    Many thanks for you post. I really hope to read more from you. You’ve cheered up this baby Buddhist no end!

    • steve November 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

      I’m glad you are enjoying the practice, Syd. SGI UK is full of wonderful people. I know the folks in my district were some of the sweetest I have ever known. I wouldn’t get too distracted by the superstitious elements. It is unfortunate that human beings get so caught up in this stuff. Even the Dalai Lama wears a funny hat, but I’m sure he’d be the first to admit his hat doesn’t give him any special insight into the Dharma.

      I think the second part of your message is difficult to comment on because it depends on relative viewpoints. If you perceive the world in terms of “other power” (that your salvation depends on external things like incense sticks being at the right angle), then all these things will be important to you. If you see the world in terms of “self power”, as the Buddha taught, I believe, then these things will appear to be nonsense. It’s interesting to note that Nichiren was such an opponent of Pure Land, because it supported the idea of “other power” through praying to Amitabha Buddha to be reborn in Nirvana.

      Ritual as an aid to focussing the mind is one thing, but when doing it wrongly or forgetting it becomes a stick to reprimand people with then it’s probaby doing more harm than good.

      I touched on the ignorance of dogma here the other day:
      http://buddhastate.com/2012/11/fixing-the-dharmic-plumbing/

      For now, concentrate on your chanting, and most importantly develop your compassion and daily practice (i.e. living the Daimoku in daily life). Wisdom will arise in it’s own sweet time.

    • ema January 17, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

      question everythhing! get answers! no person in the SGI. has the right to question your questioning. If they slow down their own growth with superstition, that is not the intnetion of the SGI, nor should it sully any organization. But, alas, we are all human.
      Hey, if you’re struggling with something that is truly outside of yourself, let it go! That includes an attachment to anything that is between you and your happiness.

      I was introduced to is Buddhism when Nichiren Shoshu was nacent in America. I support the SGI now because I find the resources I need for my practice, but that doesnt mean that there aren’t fools in the midst of the good, or those who revere individuals in a cultish manner instead of studying and doing their own deep personal work. Dont let any silly thing or person keep you from your journey or the pace of it.

      Put those gohonzons up and chant! Have fun!

      BTW, how about a gohonzon on your ipad? shhh! :-). i think its cool.

      • Kissifusita June 30, 2017 at 6:22 am #

        Thankyou
        Very encouraging and helpful

    • ema January 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

      … how wonderful it would be for you to, in timely fashion, and when needed, challenge some of their silliness in a discussion! I’ve been at this practice for 50+ years and I’ve seen and heard plenty of silliness…

      The SGi can be an imortant group for you, but challenge those silly ideas for what they are — and stay true to your sensible wisdom.

      As Steve says, don’t be distracted by someone else’s superstiton. Do, however, let evrything you do in your daily life be full and meaninful. Every little micro bit of your existence matters, as does that of every other individual, whether they realize it or not.

      ( yes, i know i’m two years behind schedule on this… but, well, it could help someone who reads it…)

  3. Joseph November 29, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    Interesting post. Your views expressed are certainly not from a Japanese perspective.

    I’m half Japanese. My mother is Japanese. I grew up in “Nicheren Shoshu/NSA” in the 70’s and 80’s. I did the whole Junior Pioneer stuff ad naseaum. My parents were “leaders” in the movement and as a child, I was dragged here and there doing “Shakabuku” and the rest. We’d even pick up strangers and hitchikers off the street, trying to drag them to meetings. We had tons of World Tribunes to give away. I did tons of 1,000,000 daimoku marathons and the whole shebang. I know SGI through and through…

    I was taught never to take a picture of the Gohonzon or copy it. If you did, you would get “bachi” or “bad luck” or even “retribution.” Also, other “good luck” items were forbidden like Japanese Daruma dolls that would pull your hair at night if you had a Gohonzon. Not sure…maybe it was the other way around. LOL! I have a picture of my father standing in front of the open butsudan where the Gohonzon is clearly visible and my mom alwasy said that was a reason for some of my dad’s problems. Growing up, we had a “relic” from the Gohonzon. It was a piece of tissue (like kleenex) that was used to clean the Dai Gohonzon (while it was in the Taiseki-ji, not the Sho-Hondo). My mother was told that in the event of a life-threatening emergency to consume the tissue that had cleaned the Gohonzon, and that it would save your life. Wow! That Dai Gohonzon must be some pretty powerful stuff!

    To the author of this Blog, (Steve, I take it…) you have a truly contemporary and somewhat of an un-orthodox approach to SGI Buddhism and the Gohonzon. It’s been almost 35 years since I’ve opened up a “gongyo book,” but in the back, I remember the Gohonzon being described as the “Supreme Object of Worship.” Your treatment of the Gohonzon reduces it to something far less awe-some – just a piece of paper with some Japanese calligraphy. Personally, I don’t really care. I’d prefer to see every Gohonzon torn apart and in a trash can. I think that idol is evil. NSA, SGI, Soka Gakkai, Nicheren Shoshu, whatever it’s called these days across the globe is an evil cult that that ruins lives. My mom and her friends are living proof of what 60+ years of “practice” and daimoku will do: F- up your mind and rationale. And, besides, REAL Buddhist theologians hardly take SGI’s or Soka Gakkai’s interpretation of Buddhism seriously.

    I’m sad my mom still clings onto her misery and her Gohonzon, which I hope will not drag her into hell, but I’m glad I left it behind.

    My two-cents.

    • steve November 30, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      Hi Joseph, thanks for writing. I guess anyone’s views are ultimately their own – not Japanese, British, American or anything else, but yes, culturally I’m British and I guess that makes me less comfortable with the cult of personality.

      Your story reflects what many people have written to me, whether privately or in blog comments, so I know you are far from alone. To be fair, I feel your experience is far more typical of NSA than the SGI in the UK. While I’m sure there are zealots in the UK, SGI UK as a whole appeared (when I was still practicing within it) to be far less “caught up” in dogma than the US. Your story about the tissue paper just confirms the danger of living in a world filled with superstition and fear.

      My unauthodox approach to the SGI was based on my difficulty in accepting it as a spiritual organisation for reasons that are just too many (and pointless, really) to explain here. I would still call myself a Mahayana Buddhist, but my practice now lies outside the SGI.

      I did think about removing this blog completely, as I have mixed feelings about it now – but it’s interesting to read back over it to see how quickly I became disolutioned with the SGI after I joined it. It’s pointless to debate with members – despite everything Buddhism teaches, the SGI sees its view as ultimately right, and everyone else as wrong – like so many other “religions” it will warn of dire consequences for straying from the path. I’m also glad I left it behind.

      Do you still practice any kind of Buddhism at all – you don’t say. A lotus for you. Steve.

  4. jim January 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Steve, thank you for this great article. I live in Bershire. I practised what was still being referred to as Nichiren Shoshu between 1986 and 1992. I was a youth division chapter chief for three of those years and was at a senior leaders meeting at Taplow Court when the excommunications were announced in ’91. I recall the party line being spun at the time being priesthood corruption and that all SGI members (not just officials) were already implicated in the ruling. Certainly none below central committee level were in possession of anything approaching a true picture of events in Japan, the years of conflict between Nikken and SGI or the sheer numbers of people who already practised Nichiren Buddhism without the umbrella of SGI.
    I have to say that, even in the UK, although I dearly loved the practise, I could never reconcile this beautiful sutra with the awful cultish VCG uniforms and the sycophancy/cult of celebrity surrounding Ikeda. I remember a summer course as early as 87 or 88 where we spent hours studying a ‘poem’ he’d written about the UK with all the reverence befitting a major writing. I kept these reservations to myself. Why rock the boat, I knew what the guidance would be!
    It is amazing and saddening to actually read twenty years after I ceased to practise the vast cornucopia of information members were denied at the time due to nothing less crass than raw politics. When I look at the mindless vandalism that was Nikken’s destruction of Sho Hondo, or the court cases, or Ikeda putting himself up on a parapet next to Gandhi and Martin Luther King I see two adversaries completely devoid of Buddhist humility. How saddened Josei Toda would have been!
    I still have my old Nikken Gohonzon rolled in silk and foil with incense and envelope where it has remained since. In my heart it has lost none of its magic. I wondered – as it sounds as though you have not joined Nichiren Shu – do you
    a) practise old style Nichiren Shoshu prayer on your own – or with a few others?
    b) practise Buddhism as taught by SGI on your own?
    c) is there currently any organised Nichiren alternative to SGI or Nichiren Shu in the UK?

    • steve January 12, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      Hi Jim, thanks for writing. I tend to agree with your sentiments. However, and I may be wrong here of course, in order for the priesthood and Ikeda/SGI debacle to have developed into what it became, the teachings must have provided enough rope for such confusion to follow. Nichiren wrote a lot of material, and trying to re-assemble Buddhism from it, I think, has proven to be problematic at best.

      I still think the Gohonzon is a useful aid to meditation. I haven’t used it regularly for some time (although I still have my SGI scroll safe in it’s packaging). I’m still unsure if anyone will ask for it back, so I’m loath to use it for now, instead using my original “diy” one when required. Like you, I still feel the Gohonzon and Daimoku is a wonderful and powerful practice – but for me, it’s meaning has deepened and broadened vastly since I became exposed to more traditional Mahayana teachings.

      As far as I know there is no credible organised alternative in the UK to NS or SGI. I practice mainly silent meditation now, in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, although I still recite ch2 and ch16 of the Lotus from time to time at home. I feel I’m am practicing more honestly now that I do not have to feign adulation/veneration to leaders I feel no bond with.

  5. alessia March 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Thank you a lot for this analysis, it’s wise and very open minded. at the centre of your practice there is your heart and compassion, i can feel it!
    your point is not to be right or wrong and not to have the ultimate word, but to truthfully open your heart and share your ideas.
    i really want to respect my gohonzon. when i started chainting i didn’t want a cult object but then i attended my first meeting and i chainted in front of the gohonzon and.. wow… it was wonderful. so, i had to face my prejudices that came for all the hollows of catholic curch gere in italy. i truly embraced the gohonzon, my mirror, my life. i respected and i felt the connection with the organization that gave me this object because i could feel that the law was being trasmitted. the one i own is just one of the millions gohonzon existing, not better, not worse. we follow the law, not the people, but if the people are brilliant we could join them and do great things together.

    Alessia,
    an italian member of SGI, very happy about her life (and troubles) and her sgi membership!

    ps don’t close the blog, it’s useful!

    • steve March 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

      Dear Alessia, thank you for your comment. I’m glad that your practice has helped you to become happier. I’ll keep the blog open. For some time I felt like closing it, because people just can’t avoid attachment to dogma and this blog isn’t going to change that. Then I figured it’s probably better to make a little change than none at all. Thanks.

  6. Alex April 27, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    Wonderful post, I am a former SGI member myself. Chanting changed my life and in the end I created my own mantra but at times I miss being in an organization and even the Lotus Sutra although I might as well still be a Nichiren Buddhist by how I believe(mutual possession of the 10 worlds, 3000 realms in a single moment of life, simultaneaty of cause and effect, Karma, reincarnation, Buddhahood is everyone’s birth right, symbiotic relationship between self and environment). When I left SGI I joined the Kempon Hokke due to SGI members not studying the Lotus Sutra or the Gosho in many cases. They seemed more concerned with President Ikeda and this to me I refused to be part of. Why did they not venerate the Lotus Sutra more than Ikeda? Many members hadn’t even read it and that really bothered me as I took my practice dead serious and was more concerned with theology than what I could get(although I did get a lot of benefits and overcame life threatening problems by chanting for countless hours). In the Kempon, being that it is a fundamentalist Nichiren sect, I got what I thought I wanted. I couldn’t deal with Nichiren’s claims that if a person chanted a different mantra that they were slandering the Lotus Sutra and in the afterlife would spend many Kalpas in the Avichi Hell which sounded like the Baptist hell although not eternal. Also when Nichiren would denounce the 8 fold path(to me that is more or less denouncing the 12 steps, NLP, so on and so forth) because when people chant they get the benefits of the 8 fold path without practicing the 8 fold path. I also had believed that it wasn’t what I was chanting but just the fact I was chanting something and focusing on a point. Not here to debate, but just wondering how you came to terms with the claims about the afterlife that Nichiren made? What bothered me a lot about SGI was when I would have an issue with many of the types of claims Nichiren made(the emporer should be executed because he is supporting Shinto, Zen, Nembutsu, etc) and they would say the same thing many Christians say about “that was then and this is now” basically despite the fact that according to the teachings this IS the latter day of the Law. They would also say “that is for a Buddhist country” ignoring the obvious thing that Japan was traditionally a Shinto country. Neatly evading the obvious and ignoring my question instead of just being honest I think. Also I believed that Nichiren was not a Pantheist, he was a Polytheist yet today his teachings are practiced in a Pantheistic sense(and I do consider myself a Pantheist). I used to think the practice was Atheistic and back then I was proud of that but have changed over time. I did think about becoming an independent practitioner but couldn’t deal with the dogma(aside from what I kept which to me isn’t dogma persay, but obvious truth that is difficult to see). Just wondering how you reconciled the dogma that most people would have as much trouble agreeing with as they would Christian dogma? If I was ever a card carrying member of a religion again it would be Nichiren Buddhism despite what I was asking about above. Thank you.

  7. David June 19, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    Dear Alex can you please explain the statement below in more detail please

    ‘Also I believed that Nichiren was not a Pantheist, he was a Polytheist yet today his teachings are practiced in a Pantheistic sense’

  8. nena August 7, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    I just like to express that to me Buddhism is about tolerance. To continue on with the ‘you have to do it this way or that way’….after awhile it becomes mechanical with all it’s formalities, losing the true intent which for me is to have faith because that is what allows us whom practice to attain Buddha hood.I pray that some day all the sect of Nichiren Buddhism joint together putting aside differences. I personally do not get myself rapped up in it all. Buddha sees everyone’s heart whom has faith and chants with a sincere heart. peace and Love to All

  9. Dj November 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Thank you for your realistic views. I very much agree on your stand point regarding using a copy of the Gohonzon. It is truly about control and who is right and wrong. I guess what ever happened to the phrase ” why can’t we all just get along”. Nichiren I do not believe would discriminate the use of a copy considering it was created for all of humanity! Thanks again

  10. John Werner November 14, 2013 at 2:43 am #

    hello, brilliant posts; thank you original poster please leave it up. I was in the SGI for 25 years and still chant with a small circle of members. As all of you above are struggling with, the paradox is brutal. Chant with others if you can tolerate them. Otherwise go it alone ! Good Luck it’s BRUTAL. one love, freedom, joy , Christic Consciousness read Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You ; be utterly free of dogma and debilitating cult psychology! Don’t believe the hype; study, love, serve, down with cults !

  11. Max December 22, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    Gohonzon is a symbol. And symbols has an inherent power when were maked by a sacred rite. You think faith is a individual and psychological thing, but is not… is more than this.

    • steve December 22, 2013 at 8:50 am #

      Dear Max, I don’t think any writing directly attributable to Buddha ever stated this. Fetishes, talismans, charms and images that have been “empowered” through some rite or other are the purview of pagan traditions – which is fine – but it shouldn’t be confused with Buddhism. I meditate in front of a statue of the Buddha. The statue has no innate power other than that which I give it – insofar that I use it as an aid to my practice. The same can be said for the mandalas created by Tibetan Buddhism. Don’t presume to know how I think of faith – of course it is more than individual psychology – but it isn’t about superstition and witchcraft. I have a full set of Runes, cut in the Northern Tradition of Asatru, stained with my own blood – made many years ago when I took an interest in that path – they are powerful symbols too (to many, including the high priestess who attended) – who has the best symbols? The most powerful? Because that’s what’s it’s about isn’t it – the relinquishment, of our own ability for concentration and insight, to an external force – the Mystic Law. The means to the most efficacious way to do something – to achieve something – this isn’t what Buddha taught. That’s what Nichiren taught. Buddhism is about self-power – Nichiren taught other-power – very subtly, but that’s what it was. Sorry to be blunt – this isn’t the best time of year for me, and I’m saddened when I read comments like this. Good luck in your practice – I hope you find what you seek.

  12. marie March 7, 2014 at 6:59 am #

    Hello,

    I was introduced to SGI about 6 months ago. I love chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. It centers and grounds me , however I find it quite difficult to recite the Sutra except the section which means Time Without Beginning… I do not have the Gonhonzon and I just chant on line or I go to the SGI center- which has limited hours. Well, my friend really encourages me to buy the Gonhonzon, for $50.00 I have recently thought that I might buy it and was excited about it at first… but now I am having second thoughts. Now more so, because I find out from reading here it’s on parchment paper? $50 is a lot of money for parchment paper. I didn’t know that I had to buy this Gonhonzon in order to study Nichiren Buddhism well, according to the members at this SGI center anyway. Does anyone have any advise? I was always under the impression a person didn’t have to pay money to become a buddhist. Thanks in advance for your response : )

    • steve March 7, 2014 at 8:40 am #

      Dear Marie. Reciting Gongyo takes time – I remember it took me a few months of daily practice before I found I was no longer looking at the booklet. I have never heard of being charged for a gohonzon before, so unless things have changed radically in the SGI then I would say your local group needs to be looked at carefully. I am aware of other Nichiren based groups who charge in this way, but they are not SGI (whether that is good or bad for you is not for me to say). I think if the Gohonzon really does cost that much to make (i.e. you are not funding an organisation without knowing it) and you feel comfortable with how it is made, the people who made it, and why you are paying for it, then it’s up to you. I’ve paid more for things I hang on the wall – but I am always sure of what I’m buying. Being “encouraged” to buy a Gohonzon doesn’t sound right though.

      Whilst I practice Zen, now, I’m still not unattached to the world, and my desires. If Thich Nhat Hanh happened to drop by, and he knew me well enough to consider me his student and wanted to leave some of his art for me, then I’d be only too happy to fork out for some paper, ink and brushes so he could fulfil his wish. While this is not quite the same situation for several reasons, I can see how paying for a gohonzon, or at least covering the cost of it’s production would not always be wrong.

  13. Berta Elisa March 14, 2014 at 3:34 am #

    Hi,
    It really saddens me to read so much lack of respect,understanding and compassion. I understand where you may have misguided ideas of things that may seem ritualistic or superstitious. I even understand the pain, resentment and anger many fortune children raised during the NSA days may have. I know this personally because I have meet many of them over the years.

    But I would like all of you to remember a few things…..
    1. Many pioneer members have worked tirelessly for you to have just the opportunity to hear the words Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. They did it with the pure intention of helping each and everyone of you obtain ABSOLUTE Happiness despite their incredible language barrier. Many things I have learned are lost in translation. LOL

    2. Fortune Children please be grateful and proud that your parent(s) put so much effort into sharing this Buddhism, had it not been for them people from 192 countries and territories would not be practicing today, let alone ever heard the words Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Just as an FYI …. the reason you were borne a fortune baby was because in your past life you chanted your ass off to be borne one in this life time and we all know that a parents dimoku (chanting) is like a super bubble that is invisible but always there to protect you and adds to your life’s fortune.

    3. Please remember that the Gohonzon is not just a piece of paper, it is you. How you feel about your Gohonzon directly reflects how and what you feel and believe about yourself. It is important to note that the appreciation and sincerity we show the Gohonzon is synonymous with showing respect for those qualities within our own lives and, accordingly, will be reflected in our lives as benefit.

    4.To me copying the Gohonzon is like using someone else used toothbrush. We are all born with a unique mission and karma and no two are alike. Therefor we each need our own Gohonzon that was created just for you. Yes, ALL SGI Gohonzons are the same and are based on one originally inscribed by Nichiren on October 12, 1279, known as the Dai-Gohonzon, but I can assure you that a Niken Gohonzon is not the same as an SGI Gohonzon. It is visually different and created with a different intention.

    5. Nichiren made it clear that the essential teaching of Buddhism is expressed in the phrase “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” This is why the Gohonzon should not be viewed as an object containing mystical and magical powers, but, rather, as a manifestation of Nichiren’s will and desire for all of humanity to attain happiness. This can be achieved through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and making steadfast efforts toward improving oneself and helping others do the same.

    6. Maybe the most important point to me, in order to truly understand this practice you have to have the three legs of the stool …. Faith, Practice and Study and more importantly to have the seeking spirit to build a strong, unshakable bond with my mentor President Ikeda.
    a. Faith is based on actual proof…this took me a while to get but I can tell you once you get this your entire practice & pray changes therefore your environment is more responsive to your needs. I know this from my own personal experience.

    b. Practice is happily chanting and doing morning and evening Gongyo. Meaning that you do it out of joy. Yes, I know it may be very difficult at first but you muster every ounce of joy that you can until you can bring about and maintain a high life condition, which allows you to establish absolute happiness….simply your life is so strong that you can take on any crap that comes your way.

    c. Study is the last piece that makes a strong sturdy stool. It is reading the Gosho, Nichiren writings, in order to correctly understand the Buddhist teachings so that we can apply them effectively to our lives. This is what allows us to distinguish the truth from crap.

    d. Reading President Ikeda writings is what builds a strong mentor & disciple relationship. We do this so that we can learn, understand and build the same spirit and heart as our mentor which is the same spirit and heart that Nichiren Dishonin had.

    Thank you so much for allowing me to give my two cents. I sincerely hope that all of you find your way to your absolute happiness. As you learn to value, love, respect, have faith and believe in your TRUE Self you are able to realize that you are the Gohonzon and Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.

    Writing this to all of you has helped me realize this to be true in my own heart and I am immensely grateful to have the opportunity to do so.

    I wish you all the best and am grateful I came across this today.
    Berta Elisa

    In case you are wondering this is my 14th year of practicing SGI Nichiren Buddhism in sunny San Diego California.

    • Roberto Filacchione August 7, 2014 at 3:50 am #

      Awesome reply Berta. You really get understand every bit of the practice of Nichiren Daishonin and the Gohonzon I’ve been practicing since the 90’s and blogs like this one are not new or surprising at all. I’m just waiting for the author, Steve, to answer to reply to your input.
      The part that really saddens me too is that Steve, after suffering for so many years, finds the practice and a supportive community that helped him overcome what he didn’t overcome before and now: A) he has become an “expert” in Buddhism, after only two years, and B) dedicates this blog to refute those things that pulled him out of the emotional dungeon. Just a reminder to Steve: “The reason why you encountered this mantra, this practice, the wonderful “Taplow Court”, and much more, is because someone with real guts, and without the intellectual pride that fill so many comments here, took the pains and risks to bring it to this side of the Earth and share it with all of us.”
      Think about it. 😉
      Roberto Filacchione
      Weston, Florida, USA

      • steve August 7, 2014 at 7:38 am #

        Dear Roberto. The reason I didn’t reply to Berta is that I saw no benefit in answering, either to Berta or myself. And I see no point in arguing with the point you seem to be making now, which is that I am a prideful, self confessed expert (apparently). That is your view. I don’t remember anywhere saying that this blog is authoritative in any way, other than that it is, reespectively, my view.

        My interest in Buddhism has extended somewhat longer than 2 years, and while that isn’t really important, my practice was never strictly SGI, or even Nichiren.

        I never wrote about the non SGI elements when I started this blog due to peer pressure (and a childish desire for acceptance from other members – probably due to the vulnerability I felt at the time) – I simply leave the blog here to remind myself of a time in my life when I truly had felt and still feels like an awakening. My victory a few years ago with learning to fly etc, were not due to Nichiren – I also meditated, saw a wonderful shrink, had the support of my wonderful family and friends and an instructor who had more humanity in his little finger than many so called Buddhists.

        I rarely post any more, because there’s no point in refuting Nichiren – people will make their own minds up without my help (just as I did).

    • France November 4, 2014 at 2:27 am #

      Berta, well spoken with deep sincerity. Your post is solid, inspiring, irrefutable and coincides with the laws of science, with nature and the Mystic Law of the Universe.
      The Law of Cause and Effect, the power of the Gohonzon is absolute and Truth will function of its own accord to validate itself without the need for help from anyone. It just is…Truth in its purest form.

      After 40 years of practicing this Buddhism of absolute freedom within the SGI, choosing to be a disciple of Daisaku Ikeda, there is no doubt in my heart that this is the absolute True Buddhism and correct path to enlightenment. The acts of respect to care for the Gohonzon will be reflected in our respective lives, It can take a long time or short time to manifest effects depending on our triggers in our respective life. The greatest challenge we may have on this journey is to defeat the workings of our own mind “which is both subtle and profound.” Perhaps not so much in the early years but after decades of practice, if we continue, we may meet more challenges in the form of illusions which appear to be favoring us, but in fact are determined to deter us from the correct practice. These obstacles will appear in many forms, even those closet to us. This is all very profound and myoho (mystic) , beyond the comprehension of our mind. It cannot be explained on a superficial level. Dialogue is valuable, however,the internet is not the correct place to learn about Buddhism, the answers online in blogs or chats are usually unsubstantiated and incorrect. Buddhism is over 3000 years old much too deep and profound to explain in a few paragraphs online, even over time. It requires genuine participation, and faith, practice and study from the original and True Buddhist scriptures. “The portal to enlightenment is an open door, but only with continuing faith can one enter.” Do not allow anyone to steal your Treasure in this lifetime. If you want to practice Buddhism go to a true meeting place for answers. I became a Buddhist before there was an internet. These blogs or chats are not where to find the Truth. The reason there are so many schisms in our religions is because of persons who break away and create their own “Ism” which has nothing to do with the original founder’s teachings. Be very wary of these misguided teachers. (Jim Jones comes to mind whose followers all committed suicide with him in Guyana) Never, never follow a person, Follow the correct teaching. Thank you for taking the time to read my comment.

  14. Priyal July 13, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    Hi steve,
    I live in india and i am into this wonderful practice past 2 months .. I felt really happy reading your blog, but somehow i am still confused with the concept of chanting to copied gohonzon.. Can i take a print out of the gohonzon from the internet and chant to it? Please help me with this one . Thanks .

    • steve August 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

      Dear Priyal,

      Thanks for writing. There are many different copies of the Gohonzon inscribed by various priests. Whether you should chant in front of a DIY Gohonzon or receive one from a Nichiren Buddhist organisation is really up to you to decide based on your understanding of the history of the Gohonzon. I’m sorry to be non-committal, but you will get a different answer depending on who you ask. I think I have made my own opinion perfectly clear in this post. I think the primary danger in making your own and practicing alone without any guidance is that you simply won’t get as much out of the practice.

      I no longer practice Nichiren Buddhism on a daily basis, so my Gohonzon has been rolled up in storage for some time.

  15. Roberto Filacchione August 8, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    The reason, Steve, you have not responded to such a thorough response as Berta is because I don’t think you can refute a single point expressed by her. I find interesting that you don’t see the benefit for you or for Berta, but I can clearly see that you can’t see any benefit for yourself either. Berta obviously does not need a benefit by being replied to. At any rate, since you seem to be a person with seeking spirit, I recommend studying and getting to understand the concept of mentor and disciple (formerly called in SG as master and disciple) and see that Daisaku Ikeda is not someone we worship.
    I found your blog because I was looking for Sensei’s explanation of why we have a Gohonzon, why we chant to a “piece of parchment paper”(http://www.buddhastate.com/2012/05/on-copying-the-gohonzon/).
    and my benefit was to find Berta’s comment and, in it, the wonderful, intellectual-pride free understanding of the Gohonzon and this practice.

    Kindly,
    Roberto Filacchione

    • steve August 8, 2014 at 6:56 am #

      🙂 Have a great week, Roberto. I’m glad you found something here that didn’t irritate you!

  16. Kristy August 17, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    I know this post is years old but thank you very much for this refreshing post. I just came across Nicheren Buddhism and initially it sounded beautiful. Until I delved a little further into researching. Some of the other blogs I found were disturbing. There are some huge egos and little compassion, both of which goes against the very tenets of Buddhism (I have studied other forms). Some of the egos have made an appearance here in the comments. (which you have handled beautifully btw). Coming from a background in Christianity the more I read about SGI, the more I am reminded of Christian tenets and the reasons why that faith no longer felt right to me years ago.

    To all the critics posting here, I say that we are all on own paths. What may feel right to you will not be right to me (or Steve). There is no one right way and Buddha teaches us to have compassion and understanding for others regardless of the current path that they may be on in this life.

    • steve August 25, 2014 at 9:48 am #

      Thank for writing Kristy. The important thing is to keep an open mind, and to explore. Amongst the various spiritual (not religious) traditions of the world, there is a core of wisdom that shines through – and it isn’t prescriptive or dogmatic.

  17. Deborah Golden August 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    Dear Steve,
    I am new to studying Nicheran Buddhism and I am currently a member of SGI and I have to say I really enjoyed your blog.
    Thank you

    • steve August 25, 2014 at 9:50 am #

      Thanks Deborah. I hope you find it of benefit.

  18. Maja September 12, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    Dear Steve,

    I do not normally add my thoughts to online discussion but having stumbled across your blog and the comments following a pure and honest articule, had to.

    You are what buddhahood is about, your honesty, your humility and gentleness.

    Berta and Roberto for all their dedicated practice read as sanctimonious aggressive and decidedly ego defensive. All in all rather unpleasant.

    You shine, your energy is light and there will always be the darkness to show you just how bright you are.

    Namaste

    • steve November 19, 2014 at 8:55 am #

      Thanks Maja, I don’t have much hair left, so I am quite shiney 🙂

  19. Cecilia April 27, 2015 at 7:40 am #

    Hi Steve, I came across this, because I am looking for answers about the SGI. have been chanting for about 4 years, but on my own basically. I learned it from a friend who practices for years in another country. I heard about the SGI and got very excited about sharing and learning more, so I started attending. However, i have all sorts of doubts and questions when I go to meetings, I feel they are so dogmatic. Meetings center on sharing “success stories” about achievements through chanting… I thought we would study Buddhism,, delve deeper into the philosophy, etc.. but we only read the magazine articles of Ikeda (to praise). I feel confused and dissapointed… so I come and go… people are nice and supportive… and I would really like to feel good there and learn, but I keep on getting the idea of a cult, and I cannot fit in. However, I like to chant, it calms me and focuses me. And, reading your very honest thoughts and the words of some other SGI members here has convinced me I shall pursue this solo. “there is not one right path or way”: Thank you.

    • steve May 1, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

      Dear Cecillia, Sorry for the delay in replying. Your comment made me smile. Chanting isn’t an invention of the SGI, and neither is daimoku. Buddhism is a never ending journey, so in a way you are right – there is no “right way” – but the more you practice, the more you will come to understand that there are plenty of “wrong ways”. I met a lot of lovely people in the SGI, but, like you, I was disappointed with the happy clappy mentality, and found that it was more a faith based buddhism that, no matter how it was otherwise couched by members, was essentially about obtaining power from outside yourself, and venerating (more like worshiping) Ikeda. It wasn’t for me. I now follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, and he is a human being whom I love dearly – but nobody asked or expected me to – that’s the difference. Carry on practicing, and studying – meet different buddhist groups – and most of all, go back to the buddha’s original teachings – once you break out of the Gosho, and look at other works, you might be surprised how your practice develops. Have a wonderful week.

  20. Geraint May 8, 2015 at 3:17 am #

    Awesome post Steve. Brilliantly put and very amusing but so true as well

  21. Anna May 15, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    Hiya Steve,

    This is a super blog and i have enjoyed reading this thread. Thank you for your efforts and words. I myself have been a member of the SGI for nearly 30 years and for the last 5 of those have started to retreat from the constant single pointed direction of the organization.

    I feel no need to allow myself to be judged by other members (or to judge them too), and i find that alone has allowed me to really experience and accept others and their practices, even if they differ from the prescribed SGI way.

    I too have always thought “cant we all just get along?” I love chanting and meditation. I love focusing on the beauty in this saha world, and to see the inherent majesty that is humanity (with all its faults and foibles). So much so that i see little sense in using how many meetings someone attends as a measure of their faith, or any other way to identify their relative value.

    As a result i do not feel the need to be so “dogged” about the whole thing. This is not popular with my co members and so i have stepped back from the gakkai. This action in itself caused many to heap tales of impending woe on me and dire warnings of hell and slander etc (lol).

    But i am very happy to practice nam myoho renge kyo with a friendly, positive, inclusive and accepting state of mind. I have nothing against the SGI, as im grateful for the chance to meet this practice, but they no longer represent the way i see the world and in fact this Buddhism. My personal opinion based on nearly 30 years of solid practice, is that they have now become a hindrance to themselves, and that is a great shame.

    I dont expect people to agree with me. But one good thing Ikeda said was “always be true to whats in your heart”. I dont think he realized that for some of us that would mean not being part of the monolithic hardened organization that the SGI has become.

    I would say to anyone that anything which gets you closer to feeling true compassion, love and understanding of the world and its inhabitants is what you should follow, and anything that teaches you to be afraid of living without it, should be considered very carefully.

    Thanks,

    Anna

  22. Hangman's Lotus August 25, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    if someone is of pure faith with a desire to practice Nichiren Diashonin’s Buddhism that is wonderful. whatever duration one has practiced if they were sincerely they’d be worthy of the Buddhas praise. In the later day of the Law Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is the only vehicle to attain enlightenment in this lifetime. The Gohonzon is already extant thankful to Nichiren and shouldn’t be held captive by anyone. Were it simple one could transcribe it for themselves, this would be an awesome act. Printing and making a scroll for oneself also is praiseworthy. Based upon circumstances I doubt the Diashonin would disapprove. What it All comes down to is sincerity and ones ultimate intent, if someone has the desire to attain enlightenment in this lifetime that is glorious.

    • steve September 12, 2015 at 8:07 am #

      Thank you. If we are deprived of our Gohonzon scroll, whether that be self-created or one conferred upon us by the original Buddha, should we thereby suffer? And if we should not suffer by its removal, then why should be benefit from its receipt? The real Gohonzon does not exist in the conventional sense. This is what I now believe and was clumsily heading towards when originally writing this piece.

      • Hangman's Lotus February 4, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

        There has been lots of established misunderstandings of Nichiren’s Buddhism. One does not need a priest or a lay organization to confer a Gohonzon. You have raised many interesting points in the original posting and throughout the thread.

        Nichiren clearly states the real aspect of the Gohonzon is that it exists deep within our own lives. The way one may benefit isn’t dissimilar than using a mirror to comb our hair. It is a tool for reflection, to aid one in examining the Buddha nature. Suffering doesn’t come one’s problems, it comes from the lack of wisdom to solve the problem. Buddhism allows one the ability to change problems into a source of potential enlightenment at any given moment. Wether we choose to suffer or benefit is purely a product of our own minds or life condition.

  23. Norman Flecha November 30, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    Luv this article, I am one of the first people to get a Gohonzon in PR prison. After all the hardship it took to get my Gohonzon into my cell, I was released and through the everyday struggle i lost it due to my own negligence while being in the free world.

    Since that, i have not ever chanted or even mentioned the words NAMMYOHORENGEKYO due to me shame.. after all me & my Gohonzon be through i get freed and i lose it no words could describe the guilt i have felt.. Embarrassed to even share with others making my buddhism something of the past.

    Until today, really don’t know why i came upon this post but yes I cried to learn that i have not done nothing wrong to comprehend that it was not my fault.

    I didn’t disrespect my Gohonzon matters took a spin not me my mindset was same why did i feel so much guilt.

    Thank You!

    • steve February 11, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

      Dear Norman, what a story! Please forgive my slow reply. I think it is such a terrible thing that somebody, who so evidently gained so much from the practice, felt shame simply for losing what is after all an impermanent representation of the “ceremony in the air”. I am not part of the SGI or any other Nichiren Buddhism sect, so it could easily be argued I have no authority to tell you that you had done nothing wrong – but it begs one to question the nature of an organisation that supports teaching methods that would lead one to feeling the way that you do – a way that the Buddha would surely never have wanted for you. I do hope that you can find a way to practice again, and regain some of the internal peace that Buddhism so clearly gave to you. Take care, and thank you for writing.

    • Hangman's Lotus March 5, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

      Norman the short of your story is very interesting. Losing your Gohonzon while it may be unfortunate is not something that should make you feel despair. One can view it as opportunity to reinvigorate your desire to attain enlightenment in this lifetime. Guilt is not a fit concept with Buddhism, look at your experience as springboard. Ultimately you have the choice to as Lotus Sutra says “Turn poison into medicine.” The true aspect of the Gohonzon is it’s there to remind us of the joy that Buddhahood is our potential.

  24. Sourabh March 7, 2016 at 7:17 am #

    If a paper having written on it the number ‘6’ is put between 2 persons sitting in front of each other and when questioned to both the persons about which number is written on the paper. Obviously, both of them will answer differently. One would say 6 and other would say 9.

    This is called Perception based on our own experiences. Nature has so many examples to teach us.

    Every life is noble and every life is sharing their experiences only. There is no point of argument and to prove ourselves right in front of others.

    Having Gratitude for everything (good/bad experiences) is the most important cause.

    I am an SGI >> BSG member.

  25. B.F.Goh August 31, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    Dear Steve,

    I am a Malaysian. I happen to stumble upon this site and am attracted to the very open discussion on buddhist practice and life. Your comments and response is especially very enlightening. The SGM (the SGI representation in Malaysia) to which I belong, is undergoing a period of leadership crisis and as a member I am terribly disturbed by what is going on and this has affected my sense of direction in practice. I feel the buddha wisdom, and humility in your responses and this has given me much relief in the quest for answers to the happenings in the organisation. Please keep this site going for as long as it takes Steve, for you never know there will be many people like me who may need it. Thank you.

    B.F.Goh

  26. Emma October 14, 2016 at 8:14 am #

    Hi Steve I loved reading this post. I was an active SGI member for many years in the Uk as part of youth division. The longer I was in the organisation and the more responsibility I was given I started to become more disappointed by aspects of the organisation such as the rigid dogma and surprising lack of compassion. I know in my heart NMRK works but found the same dissolution that you have, especially around the cult of personality – in fact I was talking to another ex SGI friend about this very thing last night. I haven’t chanted regularly now for a couple of years. I deeply have felt the affects of NMRK in my life but it is so tainted now with the awful experience of the organisation (think of Pavlov’s dogs!). I want to practice on my own but I feel I need to un-doctrinate myself from years of ‘if you are not with sensei you are against the law’ etc etc. I wondered if you still chant outside the organisation and how you reconciled doing this? Thanks so much!

  27. Kathy August 23, 2017 at 5:41 pm #

    Wow, this is one of the most interesting blogs I have read in a while. All points are valid in the replication of the Gohonzon. It comes to choice.

    Whether someone holds value in a Xerox copy, hand copied, a photogragh or a professional copy.

    I am no Rhembrant so. I prefer one done by one.

    Using the following example is not to say there is a monetary value to the Gohonzon, only the intricate details of the contents on the Gohonzon.

    Best example I can use because of its authenticity is,..

    Would you prefer a photo copy, amateur copy or a copy from the treasury department. of a 100$ bill.

    Perception in value and accuracy.

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