Official SGI Policy Concerning
the Prayer Gohonzon

April 30, 2001
Memo No. PLN-030


All Region, Zones and Office Managers

Distribute to:

All SGI-USA Members


SGI-USA Member Services Center


Distribution of Gohonzon

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Margie Hall in the Member Services Center via email at

Thank you very much. It is hoped that the following will help all SGI-USA leaders share a correct understanding about the distribution of Gohonzon.

Heritage of Faith Is Key to Bestowal of Gohonzon

In recent months, some SGI-USA members have received or distributed reproductions of Gohonzon from various sources, including Internet sites. Some have also scanned these Gohonzon, including the Nichikan- and Nikken-transcribed Gohonzon, and uploaded them to their own Web sites.

While Internet distribution of the Gohonzon is a fairly recent development, Gohonzon from several Nichiren sects have been available in Japan for decades. Since before second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda's time and continuing today, many of these sects have sold Gohonzon at their temples. These groups do not respect the Gohonzon as the ultimate object of devotion in the Latter Day of the Law but rather view the Gohonzon merely as a good luck charm of sorts that can be commercially sold.

In the United States, we have had little opportunity to encounter these various Nichiren schools, though some of their supporters have now become active on the Internet. In Japan, however, Soka Gakkai members have witnessed a stark contrast between the advancement of the SGI and these other groups and between the benefit of their respective followers. Because these groups mostly descend from the "five senior priests," who betrayed the Daishonin and his teachings soon after his death, they therefore misinterpret the Daishonin's Buddhism, and their followers misunderstand the Daishonin's intent. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that any Soka Gakkai member would receive or pray to a Gohonzon from such sources—even if it were a replica of a Gohonzon inscribed in the Daishonin's own hand.

The Daishonin himself very carefully chose those believers for whom he inscribed and conferred the Gohonzon. "Faith like yours is so extremely rare that I will inscribe the treasure tower [Gohonzon] especially for you," he wrote his disciple Abutsu-bo, "You must never transfer it to anyone but your son. You must never show it to others unless they have steadfast faith. This is the reason for my advent in this world" (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p. 300).

In Reply to Niiama, he writes, "Because your resolve does not seem to wane, I will give you the Gohonzon" (WND, 469).

The Daishonin granted the Gohonzon only to those who demonstrated a high degree of commitment. His successor, Nikko Shonin, also maintained this strictness. The Daishonin's community of believers understood that such strictness was an expression of his compassion. To save people from slandering the Gohonzon by taking it lightly, the Daishonin did not want to give it to people unaware of its deep significance.

Today, the SGI has accepted the responsibility to confer the Gohonzon in this strict and compassionate spirit. As part of this body of believers dedicated to fulfilling the Daishonin's will, each of us share in that responsibility.

When it comes to matters concerning the Gohonzon, faith is most important. As Nichiren Daishonin states: "Never seek this Gohonzon outside yourself…. This Gohonzon also is found only in the two characters for faith" (WND, 832). For us, this means the heritage of faith we share as members of the SGI. The Daishonin describes this heritage in part as unity. "All disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren should chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with the spirit of many in body but one in mind, transcending all differences among themselves to become as inseparable as fish and the water in which they swim," he writes. "This spiritual bond is the basis for the universal transmission of the ultimate Law of life and death. Herein lies the true goal of Nichiren's propagation. When you are so united, even the great desire for widespread propagation can be fulfilled. But if any of Nichiren's disciples disrupt the unity of many in body but one in mind, they would be like warriors who destroy their own castle from within." (WND, 217)

The Gohonzon that we pray to together is, in one sense, a focal point for the unity the Daishonin is referring to.

As SGI members, we honor, support and share in the responsibility to protect and propagate the Gohonzon and correct faith in it. As the most responsible and diverse group of believers in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism, we have spread his teachings to 163 countries and territories; we have made his writings and other study materials widely available; we have built community centers throughout the world—all carried out in the spirit of realizing the Daishonin's will for kosen-rufu, the eternal happiness and security of humanity. This proves that the SGI possesses the heritage of faith. No other body of Buddhist practitioners today is doing so.

Other groups or interests engaged in distributing Gohonzon fail to regard the Gohonzon with the spirit and faith the Daishonin intended. To receive or distribute the Gohonzon from such sources is tantamount to supporting their misconceptions. To do so would only create confusion and disharmony within the SGI's community of believers and thus may serve to undermine one's own faith and that of others.

Therefore, out of reverence for the Gohonzon and concern for the happiness of those who receive it, SGI-USA wishes to clarify that it supports the conferral of Gohonzon only as done within the SGI, the correct body of believers upholding the Daishonin's teachings today. We do not support or condone the distribution, receipt or reproduction of any Gohonzon in any other manner.

Ernesto's Open Letter to SGI
Reflections on May 3rd, 2001 Don
Buddhajones on the PG Controversy 4/01 on "Internet" Gohonzons 9/03
New Don Ross on the Prayer Gohonzon Buddhajones, 2/04

Carmen's Reply to SGI

"Other groups and interests engaged in distributing Gohonzon fail to regard the Gohoznon with the spirit and faith the Daishonin intended."

This statement is slander! I reject it and admonish it's authors for making it.

Admonitions Against Slander

The Lotus Sutra teaches us: "In lifetime after lifetime they were always born together with their masters in the Buddha lands throughout the universe," and "If one seeks out the teacher of the Law, he will soon attain the way of the Bodhisattva. If he follows and studies under this teacher, he will be able to see Buddhas equal in number to the sands of the Ganges River." T'ien-t'ai interprets this, saying, "One who first began to aspire for enlightenment when following this Buddha will follow him again and attain a stage of faith from which he can never backslide." Miao-lo adds, "One who first hears about the Law from some Buddha or bodhisattva will return to the same Buddha or bodhisattva to attain enlightenment." Above all, follow no one but your original teacher and go on to attain Buddhahood. Shakyamuni is the original teacher for all people, as well as their sovereign and their parent. Because I have expounded this teaching, I have been exiled and almost killed. As the saying goes: "Good advice is harsh to the ear." But still I am not discouraged. The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower and the people like the field. If you go against these principles, in your next lifetime, not even I, Nichiren, can save you.

With my deep respect,

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Don's Thoughts on 5/1/01

I feel a sublime peace contemplating SGI's official statement concerning the unauthorizied reproduction and distribution of gohonzon and I am astonished at the timing of it! As many of you know, I have focused many hours of daimoku on living to see May 3rd, 2001. I estimate that I have chanted at least 25 million daimoku consciously focused on sending my lifeforce to support the events which would unfold this week. The SGI once again honors me with a direct renunciation of my actions to spread the Fine Dharma of the Lotus Flower Teachings beyond sectarian bounds. Thank you very much!

There was a second part to this memo denouncing IRG, the SGI-USA Independent Reassessment Group. Discussion of this can be found in IRGdaimoku. Discussion concerning SGI's new stance on the Gohonzon, can be found in the Gohonzon Forum.

Someone asked me on a Yahoo club what I thought of this Memo. Here is my response to her.

It is lighter than I expected. My feeling is that this is merely frothe on my latte, or to use a more common metaphor, it is just foam on the ocean.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I believe SGI members should stick with the Gohonzon issued by their Sect. Anything other than that is bound to bring suffering. Let's not give SGI members the Prayer Gohonzon unless they clearly demonstrate the strength to withstand the crap dished out by their leaders. This is for their sake.

Am I upset? Heavens no! SGI-USA just opened the exit door wide for all those who think differently than they. Let's keep our hearts & mind open and based on compassion. I suspect some are about to smell the smoke of the burning house and may at last run for the door.

The exit sign is here! The Buddha is Awake.
Namu Myoho-renge-kyo, Don Ross
Independent Hokke-shu

Don's Experience on 5/6/01

As some of you know, I have been wanting to attend some local meeting to commemorate May 3rd with the SGI. Since there were no local activities on that day, I decided to go to Kosen Rufu Gongyo this morning at the San Diego Community Center [KMCC], hoping to hear some experiences from the past few days at SUA [which is only one hour away from here].

I chanted all the way there to be able to keep my heart open and to make myself available if anyone wanted to talk to me about the memo which came out less than a week ago, though I had no intentions of initiating any conversations concerning "forbiden" topics myself. I arrived about 15 minutes early to chant daimoku and took a seat near the front of the room [just as I used to], right behind my former territory leader. He nodded hello politely. [On my way in I checked their bulletin board and other info areas, and noted that THE memo was not there. Only an older memo and other miscellanous items. So my first thought upon walking in was, "Well, that's a good sign..."]

A few minutes before 10 AM, the territory leader got up and left, but I didn't think anything of it. Then 10 AM, straight up, my former chapter leader came up to me and asked if he could please speak to me? [Notice the "to," not "with."] As we were heading out, I noticed most of my former territory leaders ranged about at key positions in the kaikan. I laughed lightly and said to him, "I am sure this is about the memo which came out earlier in the week, isn't it?"

"Yeah, let's talk about it outside though," he responded, as I was escorted out of the building by two big black guys, both of whom I have partied with on a number of occassions since I left the Gakkai 18 months ago. [I've had a strange karma since being in San Diego. It seems whenever I go to a party, I'm either the only white boy; or I am the only male, period, in a group of lesbians... LOL, such is my karma, although that pattern is beginning to change as I hang out with Gakkai members ever less.]

Clearly, he was agitated and didn't like being put in that position, but he played the perfect follower in carrying out the organizational bidding. The first words out of his mouth upon leaving the building were, "I'm sorry but I have to ask you to please leave now. You are not welcome here."

I cocked my head and asked "And why is that?" "It is because of your activities since leaving the SGI. If you want to be here, you will need to make a clear delineation with the past. You are welcome here only if you are an SGI member."

Part of me was stunned they were so direct about it. He was kind, but not mincing any words. Immediately, various arguments sprung to my mind and I said, "Do you mean that SGI..." and I stopped mid-sentence and collected my composure, remembering why I had come there in the first place. I wanted to know what they thought and what they would do about it. I was very clearly and definitively given an answer.

I bowed ever so slightly and said, "I won't give you a problem about it. I would be happy to leave. I came here to celebrate May 3rd, 2001, with the SGI. Where else would I want to be? I also came here to talk with anyone who wanted to talk to me about the Memo. You have made yourself very clear. Thank you very much." They thanked me in return and I left the premises.
Posted on IRGdaimoku

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