What is SGI (Soka Gakkai International)?
You may ask "what is SGI?" "what is the difference between Nichiren Shoshu and SGI?" These questions may arise out of your curiosity toward the seemingly similar practices between the two. In a nutshell, it may look similar, but it is because SGI (or originally called SG: Soka Gakkai) was founded within Nichiren Shoshu and had practiced based entirely on the tenets and doctrines of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. However, SGI was excommunicated from Nichiren Shoshu on November 28, 1991 due to their repeated slanderous acts toward Nichiren Shoshu and the High Priest.
Having lost the foundation of the orthodoxy and line of the lifeblood heritage that they used to uphold, SGI has now become an independent lay organization that has nothing to do with the correct lineage of Nichiren Daishonin's true Buddhism. Thereafter, SGI has created their version of object of worship and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo toward it, which may cause people to think that there are some similarities between Nichiren Shoshu and SGI.
However, practicing to the SGI's object of worship only causes one to accumulate negative karma, either conspicuously or inconspicuously, since it is not a legitimate Gohonzon sanctioned by the Head Temple and it was made by gravely ignoring the profound principle and doctrine with regards to the significance of the real Gohonzon, which SGI used to uphold strictly before its excommunication.
This section provides some information about the historical background in the creation of SGI leading up to its excommunication and their altered version of the formality and doctrine that they practice today.
The History of SGI's Relationship with Nichiren Shoshu
1. How and when was the Soka Gakkai founded?
In 1928, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the principal of Shirogane Elementary School in Tokyo, converted to Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism after being introduced to the practice by a Hokkeko believer, who had been himself converted by a retired Nichiren Shoshu High Priest in Tokyo.
Makiguchi joined Nichiren Shoshu and then shakubukued Josei Toda, who also converted to Nichiren Shoshu.
Makiguchi founded an educational organization called Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (Value Creation Education Society) on November 18, 1930. The organization and its membership were devoted to Makiguchi's educational theories. Both he and Toda converted like-minded educators to Nichiren Shoshu. Upon joining, these Soka Kyoiku Gakkai members became members of Nichiren Shoshu Hokkeko, the layperson's organization established in the 13th century by Nichiren Daishonin.
2. What was the original purpose of SG (Soka Gakkai) and what was its relationship with Nichiren Shoshu?
In January of 1946, after Mkiguchi's death in jail, and now under the leadership of Josei Toda, Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was renamed Soka Gakkai. Primarily for financial reasons, the organization requested that Nichiren Shoshu allow it to obtain special religious corporate status from the Japanese government. Nichiren Shoshu agreed to assist upon certain conditions, and on August 27, 1952 the special religious organization status was granted by the Tokyo metropolitan governor. The conditions President Toda and the Soka Gakkai completely agreed to without hesitation were:
2. How did presidents Toda, Makiguchi and Ikeda regard the relationship between SG and Nichiren
At the time of the founding of Soka Gakkai, second President Toda made an unconditional pledge to Nichiren Shoshu to observe the three main principles. The original bylaws of SG state:
"This religious corporation designates the Great Mandala, which Nichiren Daishonin
established for all living beings in the entire world, as the object of worship and
propagates the doctrines of Nichiren Shoshu."
(Seikyo Shimbun, June 20, 1952)
It clearly stated that the SG organization was established in order to propagate Nichiren Shoshu's doctrines, all based on the true object of worship for the Latter Day of the Law: the Dai-Gohonzon.
One of the most important doctrines of Nichiren Shoshu which President Toda and SG firmly pledged to protect is the kechimyaku: the transmission of the Law from Nichiren Daishonin to Second High Priest Nikko Shonin, and then continuing one-by-one to each successive High Pirest. A reverence for this doctrine had been at the center of both Makiguchi's and Toda's faith, and seemed to also have been cherished by the third SG President, Daisaku Ikeda as well, early on. First President Makiguchi stated:
"How is it that, as a matter of principle, a life of great fortune has come to unmistakably
characterize the existence of [common mortals] like us? In order to understand this we
must know there is a secret Law that is solely transmitted from generation to generation
at the Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple."
(Empirical Proof of the Life of Great Virtue: Report from the Fourth General Meeting, p. 13)
President Makiguchi also said:
"We will follow in every regard the doctrines of Nichiren Shoshu Taisekiji that have been
inherited by the founder Nikko Shonin and carry our a life of great fortune for ourselves
and for others."
(Ibid: Report from the Fifth general Meeting, p. 5)
Second President Toda reasserted his organization's complete respect for the Kechimyaku:
"Nichiren Shoshu is the teaching that has been correctly passed down since the time of
Nichiren Daishonin for more than six hundred years in an unbroken line of succession...
We learn firsthand day and night that this Buddhism is the very religion that will lead us
to true happiness."
(The Complete Works of Josei Toda, Vol. 3, p. 111)
Josei Toda also wrote:
"We are like the taxi drivers who lead ignorant people to a better place. If we see someone
who is lost, we take him to the Dai-Gohonzon by way of our vehicle. This is the only
mission of the Soka Gakkai. Whether or not we find the gold in the gold mind is the result
of our practice. Our Soka Gakkai's mission is to lead the people to the Dai-Gohonzon,
the gold mine."
(Ibid, p. 113)
Echoing the determinations of the first and the second presidents, third President Daisaku Ikeda proclaimed:
"It goes without saying that our Soka Gakkai is a lay organization of Nichiren Shohu.
Therefore, worshipping the Dai-Gohonzon and serving the high priest is the basis of
(Daibyakurenge, June 1960; "Speech at the President's
Inauguration Ceremony on May 3, 1960")
These historical statements by the Soka Gakkai's three successive presidents clarify the purpose of SG's existence and all activities. However, today's SGI no longer desires to practice as a lay organization of Nichiren Shoshu and has denied all of its previous vows and pledges.
3. How and when did Daisaku Ikeda move the Soka Gakkai toward serious doctrinal deviations from
Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism?
As the Sho-Hondo was completed in 1972, Daisaku Ikeda acted on his negative feelings towards Nichiren Shoshu. In his writings and public appearances he pressured the priesthood to recognize SG as the primer mover for kosen-rufu and insisted that the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and Hokkeko lay organization take a secondary role. By 1977, SG had subjected priests, who had spoken out against SG excesses, to a serious of "investigations." SG leaders throughout the world now spoke to all SG members criticizing Nichiren Shoshu and the priesthood as ineffective, weak and unnecessary for the attainment of worldwide kosen-rufu.
Daisaku Ikeda led this campaign declaring openly: "The Main Temple Taisekiji is a sacrifice for the Soka Gakkai. The Soka Gakkai is most important of all." (Second Headquarters Meeting, Tokyo, June 10, 1975)
SG committed grave slanders against the kechimyaku (the Heritage of Life Blood of true Buddhism) by ordering seven Gohonzon transferred from paper onto wood without receiving the High Priest's permission. This was a fundamental slander of the Heritage of the Law. Both Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin gave clear and never-changing instructions regarding the actual transcribing of the Gohonzon, to be performed only by the successive High Priests of Nichiren Shoshu.
In the Bennaku kanjin-sho, Fifty-sixth High Priest Nichio Shonin expounds:
"It is precisely through the Lifeblood of this Golden Utterance that the High Priest
transcribes the soul of the Law of the Founder and transmits the essence of the object
of worship. This is called the "true entrustment to only one person."
President Toda always gave strict and unambiguous guidance to SG members on the subject of the transcription of the Gohonzon:
"The Dai-Gohonzon is the only thing we ourselves cannot make. It is Nichiren Daishonin's
enlightenment, and exists nowhere apart from the successive High Priests, who are the only
ones to receive it."
(Daibyaku Renge, No. 98, p. 9)
In the mid-1970's, SG taught the following points to all its members. They highlight the main aspects of its deviations from Nichiren Shoshu teachings:
・ The origin of the SG Buddhism exists in the 'enlightenment' attained by the second
President Toda when he was in jail during World War Ⅱ
・ The "intercession of masters and teachers" is unnecessary (constituting a denial of the
Daishonin's teachings of the Heritage of the Law (kechimyaku) through the successive
・ The New Human Revolution [a book allegedly written by Daisaku Ikeda] is the 'new Gosho'
of the modern age.
・ President Ikeda is the great master today who alone possesses the three virtues of sovereign,
teacher and parent.
・ A temple is a place merely for conducting ceremonies, while an SG community center
(kaikan) is the true training ground for kosen-rufu.
・ Lay believers are qualified to receive offerings. (In Nichiren Shoshu, members present
"offerings" [Gokuyo] sincerely to the Gohonzon. This is a 700 year-old tradition and is different than SG "donations," [zaimu] that are accepted by SG lay leaders.)
Indisputable evidence exists that SG planned early on, from the 1970's, to either get control of or to sever ties with Nichiren Shoshu. These are in the form of authenticated reports that were presented to President Ikeda by his closest and most trusted believers, The "Yamazaki and Yahiro Document" of April 1974 states:
"Sooner or later, we need to bury the past relationship with Nichiren Shoshu, so we need to
come up with an idea to settle the relationship at any time to the extent that we will not fall
victim to it. Another choice would be to set up a plan right now to administer the Head
Temple in order to defend ourselves."
The "Hojo Document" of June 1974 includes the following assertion:
"From a long-term perspective we have no choice other than separating from Nichiren
Shoshu... When the right time comes, we'll need to fight on to the end."
At that time, Masatomo Yamazaki was the most senior legal advisor to Daisaku Ikeda and SG, Yoio Yahiro was also an SG legal advisor and Hiroshi Hojo was Vice President of SG. Soon afterwards Hojo became the fourth SG president, handpicked by Daisaku Ikeda. When these startling documents were revealed to the public several years later, Daisaku Ikeda and his new top leaders simply defamed the character of Yamazaki, Yahiro, and Hojo, who had been Ikeda's most trusted inner circle, the top senior leaders of SG. Daisaku Ikeda claimed he knew nothing of these documents or of the intentions of these three men - his most trusted aides at the time.
Increasing criticism toward SG's deviations during the 1970's spread throughout Japan among Nichiren Shoshu priests. Many SG members in Japan and around the world, having become aware of SG's growing deviations, were unable to get satisfactory answers from their senior SG leaders. A great number of members left SG, some giving up their practice of Buddhism completely. Many threw away or even destroyed their true Gohonzons, unfortunately.
If Daisaku Ikeda had taken no further actions, SG might well have fallen apart. To prevent this from happening, he offered an apology to High Priest Nittatsu Shonin for his own slanders. He made a plea to the High Priest to settle all problems.
Furthermore, on June 30, 1978, SG published a statement entitled "The Basic Problems of Doctrine" in its Seikyo Shimbun magazine. The article acknowledged that Soka Gakkai had somehow gone astray and had not been follwoing the true teachings of the Daishonin's Buddhism, but from this dade forward, SG promised to make efforts to return to the pure faith. The content, however, was ambiguous and did not clearly assign responsibility for slanderous words or actions to President Ikeda himself. Furthermore, aorund the same time, the problem of SG's unauthorized transcription of Gohonzons was brought to light. On September 28, 1978, SG leaders decided to return the seven unauthorized wooden replicas they had made of various Gohonzons to the Head Temple. Nichiren Shoshu took possession of these counterfeit objects.
On November 7, 1978, at the "Meeting to Commemorate the 48th Anniversary of the Founding of the Soka Gakkai" (known as the "Apology Pilgrimage"), 2000 SG officials were in attendance at head Temple Taisekiji, ostensibly to apologize to the Dai-Gohonzon and to the High Priest. Since some Nichiren Shoshu priests insisted that Daisaku Ikeda take personal responsibility for all these problems, at that time he resigned from two positions: as president of SG , on April 24, 1979, and as Hokkeko Sokoto (honorary leader of all Nichiren Shohu lay believers), on April 26th.
Then High Priest Nittatsu Shonin declared the resolution of the entire Soka Gakkai problem, under the reasonable condition that SG must from then on strictly follow the tenets of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism as a lya organization of Nichiren Shoshu. All SG leaders and Daisaku Ikeda promised to do just that. After Daisaku Ikeda's resignation as third president, Hiroshi Hojo became fourth president of SG. Soon, in 1981 Einosuke Akiya became the fifth SG president.
4. How did Daisaku Ikeda and the SG become excommunicated from Nichiren Shoshu?
In 1984, Sixty-seventh High Priest Nikken Shonin re-appointed Daisaku Ikeda as Hokkeko Sokoto (leader of all layperson groups). This was a gesture of appreciation and understanding for Daisaku Ikeda's seemingly sincere remorse and for his actions to end all public slandering of Nichiren Shoshu. But suddenly, on November 16, 1990, Daikusaku Ikeda revealed his most negative and arrogant nature when he gave a speech slandering the High Priest and Nichiren Shoshu. It was broadcast throughout Japan by satellite from the 35th SGI Headquarters Meeting. In this speech, he declared,
"The High Priest must think about the happiness of the lay believers and not power....
At the 50th anniversary I was in the throes of defeat. I was betrayed, criticized, forced
to resign my post as president. I was severely criticized by Nichiren Shoshu."
Of course, this was a fabrication. The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood led by several High Priests had tried patiently for many years to teach SGI leaders and members how to practice true Buddhism correctly, while respecting SG's propagation efforts in both Japan and worldwide. In a single speech, Daisaku Ikeda's public remorse at the "Apology Pilgrimage" thirteen years before was now angrily denied by him, for all to hear.
As a result, on December 13, 1990, Nichiren Shohu presented a document of inquiry to SGI at their "liaison conference" to elicit the true intention of Ikeda's speech. SGI refused to accept the document. On December 16th, Nichiren Shoshu mailed the document to SGI Headquarters. SGI responded with a letter demonstrating outright hostility towards Nichiren Shoshu, instead of sincerity. At a meeting on December 27, 1990 Nichiren Shoshu relieved all Hokkeko Sokoto and Dai-Koto, including Daisaku Ikeda, of teir position.
Soon afterwards, at the beginning of 1991, SGI commenced a public 'slander and hate' campaign towards to the High Pirest and Nichiren Shoshu. (In the United States this also was conducted through hateful "members only" supplements in the SGI newspaper, World Tribune.) Tought Nichiren Shoshu repeatedly admonisted the remaining SGI members to return to the basics of their faith and practice of true Buddhism, most members never listened and instead increased their slanderous acts against the High Priest and Nichiren Shoshu. Daisaku Ikeda and SGI senior leaders in Japan carefully orchestrated this. They gave similar 'slander and hate activity' orders to all local SGI leaders around the world. Therefore, in March 1991, Nichiren Shohu decided to guide all overseas believers directly.
Nichiren Shoshu sent SGI a warning announcement in October 1991 and urged them to engage in serious reflection. SGI paid no attention and continued to slander and viciously attack the High Priest and Nichiren Shohu. On November 7, 1991 Nichiren Shoshu advised SGI to disband its organization. Even though second President Toda and even President Ikeda after he had become the third president had both warned against SG ever going against Nichiren Shoshu and the High Priest, SGI ignored this final remonstration from Nichiren Shoshu and instead escalated its slanderous behavior towards Nichiren Shoshu. Thus, on November 28, 1991, Nichiren Shoshu excommunicated the SGI organization. After Nichiren Shoshu gave Daisaku Ikeda a chance to apologize and received no reply,he was personally expelled from Nichiren Shohu on August 11, 1992. The expulsion at that time applied to SGI as an organization and Daisaku Ikeda as an individual and did not also excommunicate individual SGI members. Several years later, after an apprpriate period of time during which Nichiren Shoshu tried very hard to reach our to all SGI members so they could rejoin Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, Nichiren Shoshu excommunicated all remaining SGI members for going against the True Buddha's teachings.
At present, any SGI members who wish to quit SGI and renounce its slanders may join or
rejoin Nichiren Shohu. The first thing to do is to quickly remove the counterfeit SGI object
from your home. Begin to practice the authentic Nichiren Shoshu Gongyotwice per day.
Next, you can request either the Reaffirmation [Kankai] Ceremony if you have previously
receive the Nichiren Shoshu Gojukai Ceremony, or you can receive the Gojukai ceremony
if you have not received it before. We have regular ceremonies and activities at our temples
as well as weekly discussion meetings in many members' homes. These are part of the 700
year-old practice of Nichiren Shoshu, as taught by the True Buddha.
1. Why is the object of worship that is now sold by SGI not correct?
Since 1993, SGI has distrubuted its own fabricated copies of a true Gohonzon that was originally inscribed on June 13, 1720 by the Twenty-sixth High Piest of Nichiren SHoshu, Nichikan Shonin.
In order to produce this fabrication, SGI first defaced the original Gohonzon, erasing the High Priest's inscription, the words of conferral to: "Daigyo Ajari Honshobo Nissho, of Honnyozan Joenji Temple of Kokusuri Village of Shimotsuke Province." In the everyday world, altering a document and then claiming it is genuine constitutes fraud. Altering a religious object for one's own ends is equally fraudulent. But fraudulently defacing Nichikan Shonin's Gohonzon goes beyond the intellectual or legal definition of fraud and is, indeed, a graet slanderous act against the true Law.
Since 1993, Daisaku Ikeda and SGI have taught SGI members that it is entitled to reproduce this forged copy of a real Gohonzon, claiming an imaginary direct connection to the Daishonin. However, Nichiren Daishonin said he transferred the entirety of his Buddhism only to Nikko Shonin and then to the successive High Priests - and the True Buddha placed his enlightened life in the Dai-Gohonzon. Nichiren Daishonin was very precise about the transmission of true Buddhism. He said exactly what he meant, which is not open to 'revision' by a lay president of SGI or anyone else.
Nichiren Shoshu and the 68 successive High Priests have not, and will never permit the defacing of a Gohonzon. Since SGI has manufactured defaced copies of true Gohonzons for its own purposes, the SGI object and all copies of it that SGI sells are counterfeit.
The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching is the fundamental object of worship in true Buddhism. This has never changed. Each High Priest in turn has received the innermost enlightenment of the True Buddha. The Daishonin's Buddhism was entrusted to Nikko Shonin alone, as the only disciple after the Daishonin's passing authorized to transcribed copies of the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctruary of the Essential Teaching. Nikko Shonin warns in "Guidlines for Believers in the Fuji School" "Fuji Isseki Monto Zonchi no Koto": "To directly defile the Sage's brush with the brush of a common mortal is most fearful." (Shinpen, p. 1872)
Josei Toda gave clear guidance concerning the Gohonzon, which present-day SGI ignores:
"The Dai-Gohonzon is the only thing we ourselves cannot make. It is Nichiren
Daishonin's enlightenment, and exists nowhere apart from the successive High
Priests, who are the only ones to receive it. Therefore the objects of worship issued
by the followers of the Butsuryu sect and Minobu have absolutely no power. Since
they are counterfeit, they have absolutely no power. Instead, devils inhabit them.
They are inhabited by the power of devils, and are to be feared."
(Daibyaku Renge, No. 98, p.9)
Of course, were he alive today, President Toda would be furious with Daisaku Ikeda and the present0day SGI leadership. By cynically directing SGI members to venerate a fake object of worship, SGI has guaranteed negative results in its members' lives - not the enlightenment or happiness they were originally promised by Ikeda and SGI. On the other hand, Toda devoted his life to supporting the three treasures of Nichiren Shoshu - the Buddha, the Law and the priest (Nikko Shonin and the successive High Priests) - through the SG lay believer's group. The fact that his disciples, especially Daisaku Ikeda and his handpicked present-day SGI leaders are now destroying the faith and practice of SGI's own membership, would break his heart.
Josei Toda and SG once taught:
"The Daishonin's soul would never reside within a Gohonzon he inscribed but which
is in the possession of those who commit the slander of turning their backs upon Fuji
(Shakubuku kyoten [Shakubuku Manual] p. 340)
Daisaku Ikeda was also at one time very clear about the transcribing of the Gohonzon:
"The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of true Buddhism at the Nichiren Shoshu
Head Temple, Taisekiji, is the basis of all Gohonzons. The Gohonzon, which we are
allowed to receive so that we can pray in our own homes, can be inscribed only by
one of the successive High Priests who inherit the true lineage of Nichiren Shoshu."
(Buddhism in Action, Vol. 1, p. 21)
The object of worship sold by SGI is a fake object that will ultimately destroy the sincere faith, efforts and the very lives of all SGI members. Please do not venerate this counterfeit object of worship. Get it out of your home immediately and never again pray to a counterfeit object.
Supposed someone duplicates paper currency on a sophisticated color-copying machine and, in so doing, manufactures currency. No matter how indistinguishable it is from genuine currency, the copies would still be counterfeit currency, and using them would be punishable by law.
There are three reasons why this is so:
1) They do not have the sanction of the legitimate government.
2) They have not beein issued by the Bank of Japan (or the respective country's Federal Bank).
3) They have been arbitrarily created by someone.
The "counterfeit ofject of worship" reflects the above principles.
4) It does not receive the sanction of the High Priest.
5) It is not bestowed by the Head Temple.
6) It is arbitrarily manufactured by the Gakkai.
Gakkai leaders insist, "We are a group of united priests, so we are qualified to bestow the Gohonzon." However, from whom did they receive this "qualification"? Among all the High Priests of Nichiren Shoshu, none of them has ever made such a bestowal upon the Soka Gakkai. If what they say is true, that "Our wish is for kosen-rufu, so that makes us qualified," then anyone can arbitrarily manufacture an object of worship at any time. The Daishonin's Buddhism would then fall into a state of confusion and perish. Counterfeit currency is punishable by law. The at of creating a counterfeit object worship is the great slander of destroying Buddhism, and it will definitely incur actual punishment.
2. Why does Nichiren Shoshu say that the object that is a copy of Nichikan Shonin's Gohonzon "is
not Nichikan Shonin's object of worship" and "is a great slander that turns its back upon Nichikan
What Nichiren Shoshu calls "Nichikan Shonin's Gohonzon" is the Gohonzon that has been transcribed correctly from the standpoint of the bequeathal of the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law of the Daishonin's life, as stated in the Gosho:
I, Nichiren, with sumi, have inscribed the Gohonzon by infusing my life into it.
(Gosho, p. 685)
However, even though the object that the Gakkai has copies and manufactured has features exactly the same in form and appearance as Nichikan Shonin's own handwriting, it does not have the sanction of the High Priest, who has inherited the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law. Thus, the Daishonin's "life" has not been transcribed into it and it cannot be said to be "Nichikan Shonin's Gohonzon."
For example, it is exactly the same as someone arbitrarily photographing a Gohonzon and worshipping the photograph. This would be a great slander. Furthermore, the Gakkai has arbitrarily obliterated the words of conferral, "Daigyo Ajari Honshobo Nissho," that were inscribed onto the Gohonzon by Nichikan Shonin himself. Thus, the Gakkai has defaced Nichikan Shonin's Gohonzon. This is quite naturally the "great slander of turning against Nichikan Shonin's heart."
1. Every Soka Gakkai member also must belong to a Nichiren Shoshu temple and be registered as a Nichiren Shoshu believer.
2. The Soka Gakkai will follow the doctrines of Nichiren Shohu as taught by the Head Temple.
3. The Soka Gakkai will protect the three treasures of Nichiren Shoshu: the Buddha, the Law, and the priesthood.