SGI style Gohonzon?

SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby nichirenista » Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:22 am

I've only been to a few SGI meetings. I noticed their Gohonzons were very different from the one I was given by Nichiren Shu. The one I was given by Nichiren Shu is called the Shutei Gohonzon. I'm pretty sure the one below is the one I saw at SGI. It has a very different "vibe" from the Nichiren Shu Gohonzon. Anyway, does anyone know if this is the SGI Gohonzon, and if so, does anyone know its name?
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby Queequeg » Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:20 pm

It looks like the Gohonzon Soka Gakkai started issuing after the schism with Nichiren Shoshu. If so, it is a copy of one inscribed by Nichikan Shonin - a late medieval? early edo? period abbot of Taisekiji who is said to have been a reformer in the sect.
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:14 pm

Wow that one is pretty! I like how it much reflects my boxy uninspired kanji style....I honestly prefer straightforward writing styles, flowery stuff is hard to make out, I uh.....can't even read cursive :shrug:

Some gohonzons look like a seismograph had an epileptic seizure to me.
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.-The Sith Code
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby Queequeg » Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:00 pm

You should see the Gohonzon inscribed by Nittatsu Geka, the abbot of Taisekiji in the 70s-80s. Very clear, standard script. Nikken the last abbot before the present one had a freer hand.

In East Asia where calligraphy is a prized art, they say much can be realized through a person's handwriting. I think some forms of handwriting analysis in the West purport similar ideas.

The Gohonzon Shu is available online [quote=http://nichirenscoffeehouse.net/GohonzonShu/001.html]here[/quote]. These are images along with transcriptions of most of the known extant Nichiren Gohonzon. You can see how the format and his handwriting evolved over time.

If you look around online, you can find examples inscribed by many others.
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby nichirenista » Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:44 am

Do you have a copy of the Nitattsu Gohonzon? I looked for it online and can't find it. I also like the workmanlike style of this SGI Gohonzon.
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby reciproque » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:32 pm

I have a Nittatsu Gohonzon, acquired in March or April 1969. It's in excellent condition and as flat as can be.
Yes, from a physical point of view, I think it's very beautiful compared to all the ones I've seen. However, we should all not forget that developing an attraction towards the Gohonzon, over a certain level, becomes idolatry. Of course Nichiren never addresses the idea of idolotry using the term, but he does speak to the issue none-the-less. In his writing, On the True Aspect of the Gohonzon, he teaches, "Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself. The Gohonzon exists only within the mortal flesh of us ordinary people who embrace the Lotus Sutra and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo".
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby nichirenista » Sun Jun 22, 2014 10:20 am

The reason I ask this question was as follows…. I was told that the Gohonzon I was given at Nichiren Shu was a silkscreen of the last Gohonzon that Nichiren himself made; the Shutei Gohonzon. I was surprised to go to Soka Gakkai and see a Gohonzon that was not made by Nichiren. Unlike other schools of Nichiren Buddhism, Soka Gakkai teaches that Nichiren was The Buddha of our age. Guess I had figured that Soka Gakkai would therefore be doubly inclined to have a Gohonzon that was by Nichiren.
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby Queequeg » Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:28 pm

nichirenista wrote:The reason I ask this question was as follows…. I was told that the Gohonzon I was given at Nichiren Shu was a silkscreen of the last Gohonzon that Nichiren himself made; the Shutei Gohonzon. I was surprised to go to Soka Gakkai and see a Gohonzon that was not made by Nichiren. Unlike other schools of Nichiren Buddhism, Soka Gakkai teaches that Nichiren was The Buddha of our age. Guess I had figured that Soka Gakkai would therefore be doubly inclined to have a Gohonzon that was by Nichiren.


There has been a long tradition of wood block reproduction of gohonzon, as well as carving reproductions into wood (the Shoshu so-called Dai-Gohonzon is an example). Other people inscribed Gohonzon also, a practice that started during Nichiren's life. Its a matter of practicality. The volume of Gohonzon that were required during Soka Gakkai's expansion would have been impossible to have them all inscribed by hand. I think part of the reason almost all Gohonzon are printed these days is primarily practical - volume required and the lack of people with both calligraphic skill and religious training to carry it out. There may also be sectarian limitations on authority to do so. Its also an expression of ideology - some Gohonzon by Nichiren have different composition, reflecting emphasis on one aspect or another. This was often done by Nichiren to address the specific spiritual needs of the recipient, and then the various schools select one or the other to express their teachings. I have a reproduction of a Nikko Shonin inscribed Gohonzon. Kitayama Hommonji used to issue Nichiren Gohonzon, but changed to emphasize the Nikko lineage. Its a subject that is probably worth some scholarly study.
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby reciproque » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:38 pm

Virtually all Gohonzons are reproduced by some method of mechanical printing.

I understand the question your asking is actually why not just reproduce a Nichiren authored Gohonzon, instead of that of a cleric or some authority from any of the various schools? The reason that this is not done is because of the doctrine of a "person to person transmission" of the Great Dharma, from a master to his successor.

This doctrine stipulates that the head of a school is the recipient of the enlightenment of the original teacher, or master, which in this case is Nichiren. In other words (and I have heard many clerics within Nichiren Shoshu state this) the sitting master acts as an intermediary for all clergy and laity wishing to obtain the same enlightenment as Nichiren. Therefore, one of the first tasks of an incoming new the High Priest is to inscribe a new Gohonzon and that Gohonzon becomes the standard during the tenure of that particular High Priest. It has even been argued, albeit unsuccessfully, that all older Gohonzons should be returned to the Temple in exchange for a new one at each changing of the High priest.

Nichirenista, the question is a contentious one as it throws fuel on the fire of the schism that exist between the different schools claiming orthodoxy. My own view on this is that orthodoxy is a fundamental obstacle for everyone as it has no recognizable solution. If anything good might come out of this, it is that these disputes should encourage us to turn towards Nichiren's oft stated assertion that the Gohonzon can only be found within ourselves and that the responsibility of orthodoxy becomes a personal quest to move towards a greater understanding of the Original Great Dharma, an understanding realized through faith, practice and study
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby nichirenista » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:31 am

Thanks for the responses everyone. About this question being a contentious one, I'm sort of starting to understand why other schools of Buddhism may look at Nichiren Buddhism wearily. It seems EVERYTHING is potentially contentious. Frankly, it's a bit of a headache. I just finished reading an article by Jacqueline Stone about Nichiren's views on "dharma slander." She writes that people criticized him for focusing most of this writings on his thesis that his school of Buddhism was superior to others, rather than on explaining his school of Buddhism. I can't help but think this may have trickled down to the present day. Is everyone trying to "be" Nichiren?
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Re: SGI style Gohonzon?

Postby nichirenista » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:44 am

I should probably add that Stone wrote that many of Nichiren's explanations of how to practice his school of Buddhism, was transmitted orally to followers. His criticisms of other schools we're written down for nonmembers to read.
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