Is Kempon Hokke Shu a legitimate Buddhist sect, or a cult?

Re: Is Kempon Hokke Shu a legitimate Buddhist sect, or a cul

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Mon May 12, 2014 6:33 pm

Rokushu wrote:Another interesting question, is there such a thing as "heresy" or "blasphemy" in Buddhism? Can anybody really say this? It would be very unusual to hear this kind of speech from most (any) Buddhists I know from any tradition. But is there? If I said that the historical Buddha wasn't really the true Buddha, but my guru or teacher or the founder of my "sect" was in fact the eternal Buddha (or implied so) would I be crossing a line? Or is Buddhism "anything goes" and this would be perfectly acceptable?

Buddhism is certainly not an anything goes teaching. "Heresy" I have heard used as translations for words that I do not know or know if there are more subtle definitions included. I think the blasphemy might have been used as translations of Sanskrit or Pali words used in Buddhism too. Saying the Historical Buddha is not a true Buddha, but that some other guru is, is certainly crossing a line. However this will not stop people from saying it.
I seem to have been like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

- Sir Isaac Newton
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Re: Is Kempon Hokke Shu a legitimate Buddhist sect, or a cul

Postby Masaru » Tue May 13, 2014 4:44 am

Rokushu wrote:Another interesting question, is there such a thing as "heresy" or "blasphemy" in Buddhism? Can anybody really say this? It would be very unusual to hear this kind of speech from most (any) Buddhists I know from any tradition. But is there?

That's a question for Nichiren and maybe medieval Japanese Buddhists in general. According to him, there is, and he drew well defined lines between what was correct and incorrect according to Buddhist scripture and doctrine.

rory wrote:Wow SGI says the Lotus Sutra has lost its power.....I'm really shocked; then why do they chant Daimoku? This is really surprising to me. I know they were very Ikeda-ish & personally viewed them as rather neo-Buddhist but denying the Lotus Sutra is a big deal..
gassho
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Myoho-Nameless wrote:I have heard the SGI in Japan is beginning to fracture as well. I wonder how this will affect the SGI abroad....If the LS has no power, what are they?


It's part of the doctrinal package they inherited from Shoshu which is part of the justification for positing Nichiren as the "true" Buddha and the high priest as an infallible vessel of the Dharma. It isn't an outright denial of the Lotus Sutra but it is a kind of doctrinal carte blanche that says the Lotus Sutra, as we know it, is merely an expedient and a relic of the Dharma of Shakyamuni, which is incomplete and no longer viable. The essence of the Lotus Sutra must supposedly be expounded again by Nichiren for the Latter Age and by the high priest throughout Mappo.

Nameless asked what happened to the SGI to bring them to their current state in the process of gradually becoming a personality cult. Basically, it's this and similar doctrinal devices being employed under a need for someone to take the place of the high priest in their inherited doctrinal scheme.

Rokushu wrote:If I said that the historical Buddha wasn't really the true Buddha, but my guru or teacher or the founder of my "sect" was in fact the eternal Buddha (or implied so) would I be crossing a line? Or is Buddhism "anything goes" and this would be perfectly acceptable?

Life is "anything goes," and we only imagine otherwise until "anything" happens. I think all that can be done is to build, like Nichiren, our criteria and arguments for what constitutes a correct and incorrect understanding of Dharma, and go from there. I, as en example, don't consider Pure Land to be a Buddhist tradition and have read that aspects of its origins go back to a time when Buddhism coexisted with Zoroastrianism. I'm sure many people disagree with my assessment.
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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Re: Is Kempon Hokke Shu a legitimate Buddhist sect, or a cul

Postby Masaru » Tue May 13, 2014 4:50 am

Rokushu wrote:Another interesting question, is there such a thing as "heresy" or "blasphemy" in Buddhism? Can anybody really say this? It would be very unusual to hear this kind of speech from most (any) Buddhists I know from any tradition. But is there?

That's a question for Nichiren and maybe medieval Japanese Buddhists in general. According to him, there is, and he drew well defined lines between what was correct and incorrect according to Buddhist scripture and doctrine.

rory wrote:Wow SGI says the Lotus Sutra has lost its power.....I'm really shocked; then why do they chant Daimoku? This is really surprising to me. I know they were very Ikeda-ish & personally viewed them as rather neo-Buddhist but denying the Lotus Sutra is a big deal..
gassho
ROry

Myoho-Nameless wrote:I have heard the SGI in Japan is beginning to fracture as well. I wonder how this will affect the SGI abroad....If the LS has no power, what are they?


It's part of the doctrinal package they inherited from Shoshu which is part of the justification for positing Nichiren as the "true" Buddha and the high priest as an infallible vessel of the Dharma. It isn't an outright denial of the Lotus Sutra but it is a kind of doctrinal carte blanche that says the Lotus Sutra, as we know it, is merely an expedient and a relic of the Dharma of Shakyamuni, which is incomplete and no longer viable. The essence of the Lotus Sutra must supposedly be expounded again by Nichiren for the Latter Age and by the high priest throughout Mappo.

Nameless asked what happened to the SGI to bring them to their current state in the process of gradually becoming a personality cult. Basically, it's this and similar doctrinal devices being employed under a need for someone to take the place of the high priest in their inherited doctrinal scheme.

Rokushu wrote:If I said that the historical Buddha wasn't really the true Buddha, but my guru or teacher or the founder of my "sect" was in fact the eternal Buddha (or implied so) would I be crossing a line? Or is Buddhism "anything goes" and this would be perfectly acceptable?

Life is "anything goes," and we only imagine otherwise until "anything" happens. I think all that can be done is to build, like Nichiren, our criteria and arguments for what constitutes a correct and incorrect understanding of Dharma, and go from there. I, as en example, don't consider Pure Land to be a Buddhist tradition and have read that aspects of its origins go back to a time when Buddhism coexisted with Zoroastrianism. Pure Land emphasizes other-power like theist religions do and also reject most of the Buddhists canon. They are non-Buddhist. Still, I'm sure many people disagree with my assessment.
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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Re: Is Kempon Hokke Shu a legitimate Buddhist sect, or a cul

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Wed May 14, 2014 2:35 am

"Heresy" and "blasphemy", or whatever the words used in the languages of yore in Asia, were probably used by Buddhist institutions and by state sponsored Buddhism to make sure everyone "believes correctly". So the words, or whatever equivalent applies, were likely used by Buddhists at one time or another. On what authority such a thing can be done, is sort of irrelevant for the reason that, religious institutions, states (whether invested in religious institutions or not), and the mentality of mobs, receive their authority, their "right", to decide this or that person, or group of people, are "heretics" by the ever potent right of might.

"POWER, is power"-Cersei Lannister.

Otherwise good and wholesome institutions and/or groups of people are also affected by this, in a way, it might be good that Nichiren Buddhism was never the state religion of Japan. What else could have pushed a pacifist, anarchist, peaceful faith like early Christianity to being all the evils it became other than state sponsorship and enforcement?

It often pays good, sweet victim status, to be a heretic.
I seem to have been like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

- Sir Isaac Newton
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Re: Is Kempon Hokke Shu a legitimate Buddhist sect, or a cul

Postby Rokushu » Thu May 15, 2014 3:19 am

Yes, many interesting and insightful responses. Some Nichiren practitioners seem to say that it's the practice that counts, not the group or organization that one belongs to (at least on Internet forums). Yet I personally know followers of (2 groups in particular that I won't name but you can guess-and no, not KHS) who say that practicing Nichiren Buddhism indepentently is not correct. To me, a Buddhist practice is just that, and much like a form of physical exercise, one reaps the benefits of one's efforts. No, they insist, one must be a member of our group, and indeed, only our group has the "real", "genuine" or whatever Buddha or scroll, all the others are not real or ??? I get confused. Why is theirs more real than somebody else's? Especially in the case of one particular group, they insist that people who don't practice Nichiren Buddhism with them are being selfish and will get no benefits. At least the people I bump into carry on like this (others may or may not, no idea since I haven't met any such people outside of cyberspace), some get rather upset and argumentative, "Oh, (teacher's name) is the most wonderous person alive, he has so many wonderful accomplishments and honors bestowed upon him, he is the equal of MLK and Ghandi, we put his picture on our altar, no, we don't worship him but he's so great, who couldn't like him? His faults? Why would you ask that? Let's eliminate nuclear weapons, oh and tonight we have another study meeting, we're reading a magazine giving the history of Dear Teacher's accomplishments. Oh, and your life is so messed up, if you join us you'll be successful, rich and good-looking like we are, you have no merit, come on and join the successful people, if you just chant 2-3 hours a day all of your material desires will be met, 100% guarantee, if not you can quit, ok, well not actually because we will never stop bothering you, but it's for your own good. Is he the incarnation of Nichiren? Well, we don't want to say it explicitly, but..."
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Re: Is Kempon Hokke Shu a legitimate Buddhist sect, or a cul

Postby Rokushu » Thu May 15, 2014 3:39 am

So funny too, when you ask them "when is the study meeting where we study the Lotus Sutra and the writings of Nichiren?" Blank stares, confused looks. Then a leader answers: "oh, reading Sensei's books are better since they explain the real meanings that we cannot understand." Hmmm....
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Re: Is Kempon Hokke Shu a legitimate Buddhist sect, or a cul

Postby Masaru » Thu May 15, 2014 7:05 am

When I was in SGI, the pioneer members I practiced with were always dismissive of my questions about the Gosho and the relationship between Nichiren Buddhism and the rest of the Buddhist tradition. Their advice was not to concentrate on all of that and simply chant with strong faith to change my life for the better. I took it as being, at best, anti-intellectualism. Now, I think back and realize that this may have been the best advice given the quarreling that takes place between SGI and Shoshu over these issues and then between Independents. Me and MarkP from ichinensanzen, who had tried to bring Nichirenites together into a non-sectarian Nichiren organization, used to wrangle a bit in person over doctrinal issues. All of this from our school when Nichiren wrote "I, Nichiren, am not the founder of any sect, nor am I a latter-day follower of any older sect."

When I've said that I might go back to SGI in the past, it's really because no one where I live is actually doing what SGI wants them to, and most of the people I met were secretly very uncomfortable with the "mentor-disciple" shift the organization had made. If there wasn't the insinuation that Ikeda is a modern day Buddha, I would be more comfortable with the organization, and if Ikeda and the organization would honor Nichiren's epistles which name Shakyamuni as the Buddha and Nichiren as Bodhisattva Jogyo of the Lotus Sutra, I would still be a member.
A certain man said to the priest Shungaku, "The Lotus Sutra Sect's character is not good because it's so fearsome." Shungaku replied, "It is by reason of its fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sutra Sect. If its character were not so, it would be a different sect altogether."
-- The Hagakure

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