Harman Patil (Editor)


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The Shōshinkai (正信会: "correct faith association") or Nichiren Shoshu Shōshinkai is a Japanese Nichiren Buddhist group formed in July 1980 by over 200 Nichiren Shōshū priests (mostly the disciples of the former High Priest Nittatsu Hosoi) and their followers who were critical of the Sōka Gakkai.



For several years during the 1970s, the Sōka Gakkai undertook a number of activities and propagated several notions that many in the Nichiren Shōshū priesthood and laity saw as gradually increasing deviations from traditional Nichiren Shōshū doctrine. As these incompatibilities grew, more and more Sōka Gakkai members began to quit the lay organization and associate themselves directly with local temples, and many priests began to openly encourage them to do so. Eventually sentiment within the priesthood and traditional lay organizations grew so strong that a split became imminent, and, at a special leaders meeting held at Nichiren Shōshū Head Temple Taiseki-ji on November 7, 1978, Sōka Gakkai's leadership apologized to the priesthood and promised to correct the incompatibilities and never deviate from Nichiren Shōshū doctrine again.

On April 24, 1979, Sōka Gakkai's President Daisaku Ikeda stepped down to take responsibility for the incident. At the 40th General Meeting of the Sōka Gakkai on May 3, 1979, the contemporary high priest, 66th High Priest Nittatsu Hosoi, declared his decision to accept the organization's apology and forgive the matter on condition that Sōka Gakkai observe its promise to uphold Nichiren Shōshū doctrine. Separately, he instructed priests to stop open criticism of Sōka Gakkai and to cease encouraging Sōka Gakkai members to affiliate themselves directly with the temples.

Succession dispute

On July 22, 1979, High Priest Nittatsu suddenly died without naming his successor and Shinno Abe, at that time young priest, insisted that he was given permission secretly to be the next High Priest by Nittatsu before he had died and succeeded him as the 67th High Priest, Nikken Abe. He changed his predecessor's policy and gave Sōka Gakkai a chance to cooperate with him. But the priests (who were mainly the disciples of the former High Priest) who later formed the Shōshinkai disagreed, claiming Sōka Gakkai had only taken its deviations underground.

They continued their campaign of criticism and formed Shōshinkai to organize their efforts into a movement. Despite repeated admonitions from the new High Priest Nikken and Nichiren Shōshū leadership to cease and desist, Shōshinkai went ahead with a major rally on August 24, 1980. For this defiance, High Priest Nikken and Nichiren Shōshū leadership punished a number of priests for their involvement, including five excommunications which Shōshinkai priests claims ineffective because that punishment was done by the 'fake' High Priest.

On December 13, 1980, the priests of the Shōshinkai sent a document to High Priest Nikken casting doubt on the legitimacy of his office. They then filed suit with a local court on January 21, 1981 seeking to annul Nikken's appointment on the grounds that he had never been named successor by High Priest Nittatsu. Nikken demanded that the Shōshinkai priests retract their accusations or face excommunication. Some two hundred priests refused. Upon excommunication a number of them filed a lawsuit seeking reinstatement, but the court ruled that all claims (including the petition for annulment of High Priest Nikken's status) were internal Nichiren Shoshu matters to be resolved internally.

After the excommunication

Despite this setback, Shōshinkai continued its anti-Sōka Gakkai and anti-High Priest Nikken activities, even accepting new acolytes into the priesthood and conferring initiation ceremonies for new believers. Most Shōshinkai priests continued living in their Nichiren Shōshū temples. High Priest Nikken and his priesthood insisted that these have reverted to Nichiren Shōshū as their occupants have died or been ordered by the courts to vacate. Only a few Shōshinkai priests have reverted to Nichiren Shōshū, and even so they were deprived of their kesa and koromo and had to start as complete beginners (kozo) as punishment.

Several Shōshinkai priests have initiated ties with other Nichiren schools, particularly the Nichiren Shū headquartered at Kuon-ji on Mt. Minobu. Shōshikai has also opened a research center called Kofu Danjo (興風談所) that has spawned some interest-gathering books that have attracted attention from other Nichiren Buddhist organizations for their scholarly content.

Even until recently, a number of Shōshinkai priests have not admitted that the former High Priest Nittatsu had, in fact, passed the Heritage of the Law to High Priest Nikken and his successor Nichinyo (the present High Priest). They insisted that High Priest Nikken and Nichinyo were not legitimate high priests. From the standpoint of the global history of Nichiren Shoshu (or Fuji school), High Priest Nikken and his leadership again, almost a decade later, severed the 'neck' of Soka Gakkai as they did to the priesthood of Shōshikai before. People will tell later that he is the first and only High Priest who severed the neck of the priesthood and the lay believers during the history of Nichiren Shoshu and Fuji school since Nikko Shonin.


Shōshinkai Wikipedia

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