ON THE NEW YEAR'S DEPARTURE
President Ikeda was dismissed from his position as Sokoto by the Nichiren Shoshu Council based on lies, subterfuge and slander of character by the high priest. For years the SGI members were never permitted to say anything about the high priest because it was considered a supreme slander. But we immediately launched an attack against the high priest denouncing his actions and conducting an inquiry, which became public. In this way we could uncover the deception behind the high priest's false accusations against President Ikeda, so the members could have information about what was truly going on and we could clear his name in the public arena. We went even so far as to expose the high priest through lawsuits regarding his encounters with prostitutes. Of course, it is despicable that the high priest of True Buddhism should be consorting with prostitutes when he was a priest because he was supposed to be the true representative of Nichiren Daishonin. Then True Buddhism would appear to the world as a corrupt faith, should they learn of his shameful actions. That's why the responsibility of the high priest is so serious and his actions are so critical. After he dismissed President Ikeda he finally committed the ultimate slander by means of his unchecked authority to position himself as the intermediary, claiming that enlightenment can only be achieved through him.
President Ikeda did his best to work it out with the priesthood but would not bow to their authoritarianism when he found they would not be held accountable to anyone but themselves. At that moment when President Ikeda stood up resolutely against the high priests authoritarian behavior, there was a momentous paradigm shift. This was the crucial shift from just chanting about injustice and looking within ourselves, while remaining silent. Now, we would not only chant, but speak out about injustice and expose it as well. This is one of the significant events which marked a change in our practice from Honga-myo to the practice of Hon'in-myo. Instead of just looking at ourselves and our surroundings with a past oriented attitude as the victims of our past karma, we would now liberate ourselves and change our circumstances by speaking out and taking action against unjust authority that would keep us down. We would never have to be silent again or fall victim to the schemes of would-be oppressors wherever they might appear, even if this arises in our own organization where the Bodhisatvas of Justice for the Mystic Law, have pledged to fearlessly pursue the path to unmask self-serving authority.
So it became evident that when Pres Ikeda was unjustly accused, and dismissed for finally challenging the intrinsic nature of authoritarianism in the priesthood, the majority of the membership did everything possible to investigate and expose the priests behavior in the name of Justice to set the record straight, expose the self serving authority of the priesthood and protect the dignity of the law. However in contrast, when we were dismissed from our positions in the SGI, and asked for an inquiry into the manner in which we were unjustly treated and lies were spread, no one would come forward and investigate. When we mentioned to one leader that the actions taken against us when we stood up to challenge the actions of abuse of authority of leaders, was following the same pattern of deceptions used to try to undermine President Ikeda, we were reprimanded that it is preposterous for us to compare our situation to the scale of the persecutions that President Ikeda has endured. Nevertheless, we were falsely accused, ostracized, demonized and dismissed. Of course it was not on the same scale as President Ikeda, but the deceptive actions and the authoritarian practices utilized were the same in essence. The authoritarian procedures used to undermine the people's character and to discredit them always follow the same ruthless pattern whether it affects President Ikeda, Nelson Mandela, Rubin Carter, an SGI member, or anyone else regardless of status.
After President Ikeda was forced to apologize to the high priest in the late 70's while he was innocent of all wrongdoing, he came home one night and wrote the single word, "Justice" in calligraphy. As we mentioned in Victorious America:
"At the time of the trouble in the 70s, some of his top leaders approached President Ikeda asking him to sign an apology to the priesthood even though he was innocent because they felt it would ease the tensions. President Ikeda said I will do so for the members' sake but I will never forget you forced me to do it. At that moment it must have occurred to him, being a man of justice, that even though he was willing to sacrifice his own integrity to prevent disunity and protect the members it would only promote more disunity. You can never really work together or protect those who are habitually entrenched in lies or act in an unscrupulous manner be it Nikken or anyone else. You can only put yourself in harms way out of necessity to protect the people only for so long. But such a unity can only result in the blackmail of the people themselves."
When President Ikeda stood up to the high priest, he set an example for all of us. He was telling us that when there is wrongdoing, deceitful behavior and cover-ups that threaten people's integrity, everyone must stand up and fight against such actions. For this is the fundamental basis of Buddhist doctrine, which is the compassion to relieve the suffering of those who have been treated unjustly and to stand on their side.
What happened to President Ikeda is outrageous, but the authoritarian process is the same for whomever it affects wherever there is character defamation, false accusations, deceit and lies. In such circumstances all are equal under the great blanket of Justice. Justice is Justice for all. It has no position. It regards all as equal regardless of status. In light of this, we should have been encouraged to stand up against the injustice we received according to the example that President Ikeda was trying to set for all of us when such events occur.
Such authoritarian practices affect everyone equally and can only occur in a system where the people are not mandated in official policy or procedure to make their leaders accountable. If the lay members of Nichiren Shoshu were originally mandated by procedure to hold the high priest accountable in the by-laws of Nichiren Shoshu, the hideous persecution of President Ikeda might have been obviated.
In Nikken's case, authoritarianism and belittling the Law go hand in hand.
They cannot be separated. Both functioned simultaneously to corrupt the Law.
Authoritarianism has no place in Buddhism. It can only lead to a distortion
of the doctrine.
January 5, 2001