Why Nichiren Shoshu is the True Buddhism ~ A Guest Post by P. Wayne Smith

[I’d like to introduce Mr. P. Wayne Smith also @PWayneSmith on Twitter which is where I made his acquaintance.  The concept of “true” Buddhism is one that is familiar to me and one that I find difficult to wrap my head around so I thank Mr. Smith for throwing his experience in the practice into the ring and I ask that anyone that wished to engage to please do so with compassion. Cheers ~ John]

First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Jack Daw for the opportunity to explain Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism from this lowly practictioner’s viewpoint.

It seems the members of various sects of Buddhism are quite ticked whenever they encounter Nichiren Shoshu’s claim to be True Buddhism. I’ve been involved as a laybeliever off and on over a 25 year period and I still try to understand it myself. I will try to explain this based on what I’ve learned from listening to the various lectures given by our Priesthood.

Nichiren Daishonin was a priest in the Tendai sect in 13th Century Japan. He had been born a fisherman’s son and became a priest in order to obtain an education. From his humble origins came a desire to help relieve the sufferings of the populace that he saw. His thirst for knowledge on all the various sutras led him to many of the different sects temples. From this research the Daishonin came to the conclusion that the Lotus Sutra was The Supreme Teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha (aka Gautama Buddha, aka Siddhartha). He then began to regard the various sutras Shakyamuni taught before the Lotus Sutra as “expediant means” taught according to the circumstances and capacity of the people Shakyamuni encountered at the time.

As one Nichiren Shoshu priest explained in a lecture, the other sutras expounded by Shakyamuni were likened to the “scaffolding of a magnificent building, the building that was the Lotus Sutra. Once this magnificent building (the Lotus Sutra) was completed, the scaffolding (the other sutras) could be discarded”.

It was the Daishonin’s conviction that the Lotus Sutra contained the very essense of all Shakyamuni’s teachings within this one Sutra. He believed that the True intent of the Buddha was to save all of humankind from itself through Buddhist practice. In Nichiren Shoshu, this practice consists of reciting portions of the Lotus Sutra morning and evening as well as the chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, derived from the title of the Lotus Sutra in Sanskrit. It is also part of the practice, as Nichiren Daishonin explained it, to “teach others even a single word or phrase of this Sutra”, that is, to propagate this teaching.

It is not the intention of Nichiren Shoshu to arrogantly proclaim itself True Buddhism for ego’s sake. It goes back simply to the conviction, taught by Nichiren Daishonin to his followers both the Priesthood and lay believers alike, that Shakyamuni Buddha’s True Intentions were to help all humankind to attain enlightenment, or Buddhahood, in this lifetime we now exist in. We do not worship the Buddha as a god outside ourselves nor do we try to get to a Pure Land far far away or strive to become One with everything. Through our daily practice we try to become like the enlightened person the Buddha was. We strive to become the enlightened men and women that the Buddha intended us all to be!  It is with this conviction that Nichiren Shoshu will continue to propagate for all the millenia to come until all people, as the Daishonin taught, chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo “many in body but one in mind” together.

http://www.nstmyosenji.org

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38 thoughts on “Why Nichiren Shoshu is the True Buddhism ~ A Guest Post by P. Wayne Smith

  1. Mr. Smith & all –
    Your comments could apply to virtually any school of Nichiren Buddhism. What distinguishes Nichiren Shoshu from other Nichiren schools, and what makes Nichiren Shoshu specifically the one, true teaching?
    Namaste, Engyo

    • I am not a Nichiren Shu practitioner but I think there is an organizational division between different schools that is more geographically determined rather than dogmatically determined. SGI, for example, simply doesn’t dig on the Monastic leadership that was inherit in the other Nichiren schools.

      I could be wrong, mind you.

      Cheers,
      John

      • SGI’s differences with Nichiren Shoshu stem from Daisaku Ikeda’s intended takeover of Nichiren Shoshu and to abolish the Priesthood. Nichiren Shoshu, however, has been around over 750 years and won’t be overtaken that easily!

        Ikeda says that the priests are “authoritarian”. Well, pot, meet kettle! The authoritarian abuses I suffered for 4 years as a member of SGI are pale in comparison to Ikeda’s whinings. SGI holds up Ikeda as the “reincarnation” of Nichiren Daishonin and so hang on every word he utters! And they expect their hapless members to fall in line and do the same! There is no Buddhism in SGI, except whatever they proclaim as Buddhism in order for new converts to come thru the doors!

        • I admit that I hear very little positive about SGI from former members. There insistance at converting others is, personally, a huge turn-off for me. A good friend spent many years as an SGI Buddhist as well and he tells plenty of tales.

          I am a huge fan of grass-roots lay sanghas but SGI is more of a corporation in my mind.

          Cheers,

          John

    • What distinguishes Nichiren Shoshu from other Nichiren schools? I’m not that familiar with other Nichiren schools except for what has been passed on to me in lectures from our priests. What I have been told by them is that the founders of Nichiren Shu seriously deviated from the Daishonin’s teachings soon after his passing. Nikko Shonin, though the youngest of the priests, had also been designated heir. This was because of Nikko’s faithful, long-standing relationship with the Daishonin since his teens. When Nikko realized these deviations and could not persuade his fellow priests to turn from them, he left the school at Mt. Minobu (Nichiren Shu–the school of Nichiren) and travelled to Mt. Fuji and started Nichiren Shoshu (the True school of Nichiren).

      The specifics that make Nichiren Shoshu the one true teaching? As I said in the article, it goes back to Nichiren Daishonin’s conviction, developed from study of the various sutras, that the Buddha’s True Intentions are contained in the Lotus Sutra. Nikko Shonin’s refusal to deviate from his master’s path and to continue his work as the Daishonin had taught him shows the bond between the Buddha’s Intentions and Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. The true teachings from the Buddha, as the Daishonin passed on to his most trusted disciple, are strictly passed on through the Priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu and are then passed on to the lay-believers. IOW, a lineage of teachings straight from the Buddha 3000 years ago to the present day!

      • Thanks for your response, Mr. Smith –

        Respectfully, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but other Nichiren schools (with the exception of SGI) do not view Nikko as the sole heir to Nichiren, and do not agree that the other senior disciples deviated from Nichiren’s teachings. Once I studied the history of what happened after Nichiren’s passing, I was unable to continue to accept that viewpoint (Nikko as sole heir) myself.

        Be that as it may, I appreciate that you are willing to post about Nichiren Buddhism here, and spread the Dharma a bit further.

        Namaste, Engyo

  2. Thank you for this post and your willingness to engage the readers here Mr. Smith.

    One issue I see is that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of arguing as to why your sect (or even Nichiren Buddhism in general) is the “True Buddhism” in this post. I wonder how one arrives at the conclucsion that they have found The True Buddhism, and that any other teachings of the dharma are NOT true? It seems to me that most arguments coming from the Nichiren’s school boil down to simply “because Nichiren said so/wrote it”.

    Personally, I find statements such as “Once this magnificent building (the Lotus Sutra) was completed, the scaffolding (the other sutras) could be discarded” to denigrate the Buddha and his 40+ years of teachings that he seemed to regard as the truth, and not as simply “expediant means” taught according to the circumstances and capacity of the people Shakyamuni encountered”.

    What is it about the Shakyamuni’s sangha that made them unable to percieve the Lotus Sutra for all of those years, and what is it specifically about us here today that makes us so much more able to “discard” the 40+ years of the Buddha’s teachings in favor of just the Lotus Sutra?

    I also find the notion of a one-world religion creepy.

    Best of luck to you in your path, it seems as though you’ve found one that speaks to you on a personal level.

    Cheers.

    • Thank you for the post Mr. Smith!
      I do not want to judge, but am quite interested in the same questions/comments as Adam. Another to add is what are your views on the association with SGI, and the common view of SGI being somewhat ‘cult-like’. I do not know enough about it and ask honestly in the spirit of open dialog. I’ve seen this view expressed multiple times over the years and would appreciate your input on the subject.

      Also, like Adam said – best of luck to you on your path.

      …joining palms
      Kris

  3. “The transmigration of sentient beings in the 6 paths is similar to the circle on a wheel that has no beginning and no end. It is also like the father and mother and the man and woman who are together through lifetimes, owing favors to each other.
    ~Meditation on the Mind Ground Sutra
    quoted by Nichiren Daishonin in his Gosho,
    “On Women’s Attainment of Buddhahood”

    I maintain that you, John, will have the same wife in future lives.

  4. All –

    Just for the record – some folks seem to be using the terms Nichiren Shu and Nichiren Shoshu interchangeably. In fact, they are two different schools of Nichiren Buddhism. Just wanted to point this out.

    Namaste, Engyo

  5. I really really am thankful for the post. Frankly I don’t feel qualified to agree or disagree with Nichiren’s belief re the Lotus Sutra until I’ve read the whole thing. Maybe I’ll think it’s the greatest thing ever. But I’m glad that we can discuss it and don’t pre-judge it (or, vice versa, prejudge Zen, Theravada, Hinduism, or FSM…)

    _/|\_

    • Beautiful! Yes, I prefer not to pre-judge but I have no issue to talking frankly about my perceptions about certain practices with the understanding that I hope to learn more about it to elliminate those misconceptions.

      Speaking to actual practitioners is the best way of achieving this…thus these guest posts.

      Cheers,
      John

  6. Nichiren’s conclusions on Buddhism were based on a number of fallacies. One, that Shakyamuni Buddha was born 3000 years ago. No objective scholar accepts this, and leaders of the various Nichiren sects have admitted that it’s very unlikely and yet they continue to maintain it out the other side of their mouths. It’s important because it sets up the whole timeline for the Former, Middle, and Latter Day of the Law, which is the foundation upon which the Nichiren schools claim that all other forms of Buddhism are invalid. It’s the same deal as Pure Land, in the Latter Day people are so defiled that meditative practices are impotent and only faith, in either Amita or the Lotus Sutra, can bring them liberation. It’s nonsense, and the Three Periods were not even a fully realized concept until the 5 th Century CE.

    Shakyamuni did not preach the Lotus Sutra or any other Mahayana sutra. So the idea that he taught certain sutras at certain times according to the capacities of the people, as specifically laid out in Nichiren doctrine, is hogwash.

    These two points alone take all the steam out of Nichiren’s engine. The idea that one teaching or one practice alone is superior to all others is not Buddha-dharma, and flies in the face of the deep teachings of both Nagarjuna and Chih-i, whom Nichiren considered to be spiritual ancestors.

    Mr. White only presents one side of the SGI vs Nichiren Shoshu battle, although I don’t dispute his claims about the SGI or Ikeda. The truth is that since WWll both sides have been distrustful of one another and holding grudges. The SGI blames Nichiren Shoshu for the imprisonment of the first and second Soka Gakkai presidents (resulting in the death of one of them). Some years after the war, Ikeda led a group of youth division members in kidnapping the priest they held chiefly responsible and beating him up.

    What it really boils down to is a battle over control of the lay members and their money, and both sides have behaved despicably.

  7. Sorry, the above should have read “Mr. Smith only presents . . . ” instead of Mr. White (don’t know where he came from)

  8. When defining True Buddhism we must first define the word true. True in this sense is not the opposite of false. There is no false Buddhism, but only that the early sutras did not reveal the full truth. Ichinen Sanzen is the unifying theory of all the Buddha’s teachings, in that through the lens of this principle all other teachings become clear.

    When we look at earlier statements from the Buddha; there is no self; dependant co-arising, and other principles; they all become clear from the perspective of Ichinen Sanzen. Much like a car has thousands of parts, just looking at the parts you cannot see the car; however, from the perspective of the car you can see that it indeed consists of all the parts.

    True Buddhism includes Ichinen Sanzen as its core teaching, and at present there are only two major sects of Buddhism that teach it; Tendai and Nichiren. Nichiren was responsible for evolving the teachings of Tendai by revealing Actual Ichinen Sanzen as the practice of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, thus fulfilling the prophesy of the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra.

    As for Davids comments, that the Buddha didn’t teach the Mahayana sutras is wholly unprovable and part of a more than 2000 year old debate; and the reference to any perceived fallacies is completely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if there were any fallacies because no one before or since has declared themselves to be Bodhisattva Jogyo. The Three Time Periods have been acknowleged by all the Buddhist Masters since at least Chi-i and probably dating back to the Fouth Conference on Buddhism in 200 ad.

    • Glad you and your school are the sole definer of “true”. I really don’t understand the purpose of defining anything as “true Buddhism” as it sets up a duality that isn’t needed. There is zero reason to label any teaching as The True Teaching. You shouldn’t need such labels to validate your practice. Really, what’s the point?

  9. Maybe you’re not replying to me, but did you read my post? Yes, I have defined ‘The One Instant of Mind in Three Thousand Existential Spaces’ as a True Teaching, but that doesn’t mean that it is the only true teaching of the Buddha. They are all true!
    I specifically stated it was a unifying doctrine.

    • Then I think I might need some clarification on

      “True Buddhism includes Ichinen Sanzen as its core teaching, and at present there are only two major sects of Buddhism that teach it; Tendai and Nichiren.” Maybe it’s just a poor choice of words and I’m getting hung up on semantics, but I understand this to mean that only those two schools teach the “full truth”. Is that what you are saying? But if all of the sutras and teachings are “true” (which I personally don’t believe) then it seems as though Ichinen Sanzen is merely a tool to be used, and not put on a pedastal above any other teaching.

      The only teaching one should put up on a pedastal is the one that guides them to the escape of samsara, and for each individual, a different approach is needed. And when the time comes, one should remove said pedastal.

      Furthermore, I still don’t understand the point in declaring something “The True Buddhism”. Again, what’s the point? Does it help validate something? And if it does, is that validation needed? I suppose I find the notion of “true Buddhism” unnecessary in my practice and it is a concept that really doesn’t make much sense to me.

      And what’s wrong with the Mahayana sutras not being the words of the historical Buddha? People have used them as a tool to “reach” enlightenment, just as countless others have used the older Pali sutras to achieve the same thing.

  10. Just something else to note about the “scaffolding” around the building analogy used in the original post.

    from the Gosho :

    “Chia-hsiang expressed the same idea(“honestly discarding expedient means”), saying that when the sun rises, the stars fade from sight. Thus, since the sutras preached prior to the Lotus are the scaffolding around the tower, they are dismantled after the tower is completed. They may be brought into use once again when the tower is undergoing repair, but afterword they will once again be dismantled. This is the procedure followed by all the Buddhas of the three existences of past, present, and future when they preach the teaching.”
    -On the Proper Way to Preach the Doctrine

    “They may be brought into use once again when the tower is undergoing repair, but afterword they will once again be dismantled. “

    • Chi-i declared the Lotus Sutra to be the highest sutra over 1400 years ago, and won in National debate against all other sects. The Emperor at the time then converted to Chi-i’s doctrine. It is the Lotus Sutra that you need to get your mind around. There are those that cannot do it, and thats fine.

      It is not Buddhists that need to be convinced to practice Buddhism. It is the common person, and that requires a practice that is both shallow and deep. Chanting NMRK can be done by anyone at the most shallow (SGI), or at a level that is extremely deep.

      Buddhists all follow the same teachings, whether at a shallow or deep level. The only difference is our practice. I didn’t call it True Buddhism, and in practice I usually just call it Nichiren Buddhism. All I was attempting to do was to explain that the word true as used didn’t imply that the other teachings of the Buddha were false.

  11. May I humbly represent another view of SGI as a member and organizational leader of 12 years in Canada? I’ve never experienced or witnessed any “cult like” behaviour. Cults have a nasty habit of cutting you off from people including your family and loved ones. Since I know of many people who are married to non-SGI members/Buddhists and have harmonious families and lives, including myself, I know being a part of this organization and chanting nam myo ho renge kyo can be a perfectly wonderful way to live. Most importantly, I get to be myself, not someone else’s version of me. What I have found most beneficial to having a Buddhist community is that I don’t have to practice in isolation, that I am always encouraged and inspired and appreciated for my efforts to better myself and my community. Everyone is encouraged to read and study the gosho for their own benefit. People come and go in this organization and they are always free to do so.

    Any criticism of Pres. Ikeda or SGI can similarly be made of just about any organization, guru or teacher whether religious or secular, since the beginning of time so those who are more than just a little curious, might want to dig a little deeper than the internet. Might I suggest Richard Hugh Seager’s (non Buddhist) “Encountering the Dharma. Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism”.

    For me what is most important is to recognize the Buddha within each of us.

      • To my knowledge SGI does not charge dues, at least not extravagant ones. The largest cost is that of the Gohonzon that one purchases or is provided by the sangha for there personal altar. I equate it with the cost of a good meditation cushion for most Zen Centers.

      • Our gohonzon was provided for us. Our only costs at the time were to subscribe to the World Tribune, a newspaper/study material that is published by SGI. It is a weekly publication, and costs like $20/year or so. Money/donations are never talked about at meetings. During the monthly area meeting where there a couple of hundred members gather, there is a table way in the back with books/beads/other materials as well as an optional donation box. It never gets pointed out or mentioned during the meeting. However, I have heard that this is not the norm everywhere. Depends upon location. And as I am no longer a member, I can’t speak of more recent occurances, though my wife still is and we host meetings in our home. Still have yet to hear any talk of giving/donating to the organization.

    • SGI loses too many members to be considered a cult, and doesn’t resemble a cult in any way. Just because people have faith in something doesn’t mean there is any way a cult mentality. Possibly, the only thing you could say is cult like is the mentor disciple relationship with Ikeda that they promulgate, however, this is the very reason that most people quit SGI, at least Westerners. Not a very good idea, if you ask me. 🙂

  12. If one reads the true goshos of Nichiren one will realise that both the sgi and nst are not true Buddhism for two simple reasons:
    1- for not understanding that there is no true Buddhism outside of the lotus sutra
    2-for putting Nichiren before sakyamuni in veneration.
    these two organisations have become ego driven and tend to venerate their leaders more than they do the lord sakyamuni Buddha and the lotus sutra. this is not my own twisted opinion but what both the lotus sutra and nichiren teach in eg the Gosho “The learned Doctor shan-wu-wei.
    finally all sutras are not the same. some are provisional compared to the lotus sutra which is the truth of truths and the reason for the advent of the Buddha in this saha world. it is only within the confines of the lotus sutra that these other sutras find meaning. This is what the buddha teaches in the lotus sutra.

  13. Gee, All I want to know is who said that Daisaku Ikeda claimed to be the re-incarnation of Bodhisattva Jogyo,… and that he built, through donations of the laity the magnificent temple of Sho Hondo for his throne?!! This is like believing in the tooth fairy! I didn’t find my answer, but found all of you! Happy me! Daisaku Ikeda, and his wife, are both peace seeking assets to a troubled world and have put their whole lives into peace talks, through dialogue, seemingly tireless, only have attained the deep friendships of people from around our planet (from dignitaries to the people like myself) who live here too and care about a practice of Buddhism that is for oneself, and for others. A Buddhism of action=effect. I have never heard of Daisaku Ikeda ask of anyone anything but to become happy. The kind that is indestructable within your own entity. From there, the foundation for the happiness of others is cultivated and grows.
    I have enjoyed very much reading all of your heartfelt words, like the universe, my mind has been wonderfully expanded! Cheers!

  14. Nichiren shoshu ca never be true Buddhism because it has got two very fundamental and basics of Buddhism wrong, and also contrary to the teachings of even Nichiren. First is the fact of the lord Sakyamuni Buddha as the one only true and eternal Buddha in this saha world. second is their refusal to see the lotus sutra as the ultimate teaching of Buddhism, a teaching by which all other teachings on Buddhism are evaluated and adjudged to be true or false.

    With regard to Mr Ikeda, simply Buddhism of whatever kind has no room for feeding a person’s ego. Buddhism is a religion of altruistic and selfless practice.

  15. Hi

    Please read the Lotus Sutra interpreted by Nichiren Daishonin best English translation by Burton Waston. You can find it on the internet or at your local book store.

    What is special to me is that the Lotus Sutra is the only sutra you don’t have to be a good man. Every other sutra evil people and women could not become enlightened.

  16. I will comment from a Zen Buddhist perspective. I will explain it simply so that we all can understand. Truth is more important than obsession with minor details.

    The Buddha himself achieved enlightenment through Meditating under a Bodhi Tree. Mediation was from the very beginning a core practice in achieving Nirvana for the Sangha, along with Chanting, and the Buddha’s various teachings. Others have commentated that you have Buddhism for the masses (chanting) and then Buddhism which goes deeper to a real realisation (meditation). The Buddha himself was aware that different men had different capacities and should be instructed accordingly.

    Buddhism came out of waves in India; Theravada to Sri Lanka, Thailand etc etc and Mayanmar to Tibet, China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. In all of these different countries one sees a tradition of mediation, chanting, and reading of the sutras. There was no one school. All schools can claim lineage with the original Sangha in India.

    In essence rejecting meditation, as Nichiren Shoshu does, in favour of devotion to the Lotus Sutra ultimatetly is a very strong attachment and “may” go against what the Buddha actually taught. Saying that it is the one true school of Buddhism is an attachment also and ultimately suggests that they have misunderstood buddhism. It is a statement based ultimately on faith rather than fact, as evidenced by the waves of buddhist movement.

    In Nichiren Shoshu’s school of thought devotion to the Lotus sutra is the true path of Buddhism and saying the Japanese chant “Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo” will lead to realisation. The Nichren ShoShu school in being so devoted to a certain sutra and to its founder give it a religious, potentially cultish, feel.

    This is not to say it is bad. I have been to a Nichiren ShoShu temple. It has much in common with Theravada worship among lay people in Thailand.

    Zen as you know was created by the blending of Buddhism with Taoism in China. The Buddha is seen not as God. The sutra’s should be studied and understood. Ultimately there are however just words. Nothing in them is sacred. Daily practice by oneself is important. In my opinion group practice is also important. Such is the way of Zen.

    NichiRen Shu school however is compatible. And a school I have chosen to join.

    Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo
    Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo
    Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo

  17. Question: “Is the Kempon Hokke the one true Nichiren faith?”

    Answer: It is difficult to believe and difficult to accept that the Kempon Hokke is the One True Nichiren Faith. If it were easy to believe and easy to accept, it wouldn’t be the One True Nichiren faith.

    To be a true disciple and believer of Nichiren one must necessarily,

    1). Chant Namu Myoho renge kyo to the Honzon of the Three Great Secret laws.

    2). Believe exclusively in the Lotus Sutra.

    3). Believe exclusively in Shakyamuni Buddha of the 16th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra.

    4). Tells others to do the same.

    5). Base one’s practice [shakabuku] on Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land

    Since the print [Kempon Hokke practitioner’s faith] perfectly matches the woodblock [Nichiren Daishonin’s faith], the Kempon Hokke is the One True Nichiren Faith. Since the print [other Nichiren sect practitioner’s faith] does not perfectly match the woodblock [Nichiren Daishonin’s faith], they can not lay claim to be the One True Nichiren Faith. How much less can the Nichiren Shoshu lay claim to be True Buddhism.

    Sangha is one of the Three Treasures. In the Nichiren faith, it is the Sangha of Bodhisattvas of the Earth led by Jogyo [Nichiren]. Kanjin is the spiritual contemplation of the True Object of Worship. It is comprised of Shin no daimoku or the daimoku of faith and Gyo no daimoku or the daimoku of practice. The daimoku of practice can be broken down into jigyo [chanting daimoku for one self] and keta [chanting daimoku for others]. Keta can be further broken down into: Shoju, the gentle practices of teaching others to chant daimoku and embrace faith in the Lotus Sutra; and shakabuku, the forceful practices of teaching others to chant daimoku and embrace faith in the Lotus Sutra].

    The daimoku of faith and the forceful practices or shakabuku is where the Kempon Hokke distinguishes itself as The One True Nichiren Faith. Only we share the very same faith and shakabuku practice as did Nichiren Daishonin. It certainly is not the formalization of a sect that makes one Kempon Hokke. It is the very same faith and practice of Nichiren Daishonin that makes one Kempon Hokke. Corrupted priests or laymen are not Kempon Hokke, even if they call themselves Kempon Hokke. In like manner, corrupted laymen and priests are not disciples and believers of Nichiren Daishonin, even if they call themselves disciples and believers of Nichiren.

    “It is not as the Three Worlds see the Three Worlds.” (Lotus Sutra Chapter 16) It is all for saving the masses of beings. Just as the Lotus Sutra is the living body of Shakyamuni, the Gosho is the living body of Nichiren. We choose to read the Lotus Sutra as Nichiren did and we are criticized, as was he.

    Most so-called practitioners of the Lotus Sutra are disciples and believers of Nichiren in name only. Conceitedly, they read the Lotus Sutra in their own manner while leading others astray. They change the very fundamentals of his teachings: They throw out Shakyamuni of the 16th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra; they chant Namu Myoho renge kyo while asserting Myoho renge kyo has lost its power; they proclaim that it is no longer the Latter Age; and they curry the favor of both the religious and secular authorities. On the other hand, we believe in Shakyamuni Buddha of the 16th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the Lotus Sutra [myoho renge kyo], and we admonish, remonstrate, and rebuke both the religious and secular authorities. We also treat each other, Kempon Hokke believers and disciples alike, with the very same consideration and respect that Nichiren Daishonin afforded his believers and disciples.

  18. What Is Planned Giving?

    Planned Giving is the making of a gift to SGI-USA by including SGI-USA as a beneficiary in a provision of your will, estate document, or transfer during life. The gift may be money, real estate, shares of stock, life insurance proceeds, proceeds from pension funds, IRAs or 401(k) plans or other property which can be readily sold. The gifts can take effect either during life or after death.

    As the name implies, Planned Giving requires making a plan and thinking clearly about how you want to distribute your assets. Outlined below are several ways you can insure that your desires are carried out. SGI-USA has a national staff of professionals who are available for consultation on a confidential basis.

    What Is the Most Common Way to Make a Planned Gift to SGI-USA?

    The “bequest in a will” is the most common and easiest way to make a gift to SGI-USA. A bequest is property specified in a will naming a beneficiary (recipient) of the specified property. A “will” is a signed legal document that states the details of the will maker’s decisions as to the distribution of his or her property upon death. A will must be written, signed and witnessed according to the law of your State. A will can be changed at any time before death.

    Examples of bequests: Long Tom Member has practiced Nichiren Buddhism for twenty years. Although he was broke at the beginning of his practice, he has since accumulated a comfortable amount of assets and job security. Long Tom attributes his change in fortune to changing his attitude towards work and his relationships with others. Following President Ikeda’s guidance, he became “indispensable” at his work place. He “created harmonious relations with his colleagues and superiors, using wisdom and discretion along the way.” As a result of his practice, he was promoted four times and became the third ranking executive at his company.

    With his children grown and he and his wife comfortably set, Long Tom amended his will (a codicil) by making a bequest to SGI-USA, using the services his family lawyer. His bequest reads:

    I give, devise and bequeath to the Soka Gakkai International-USA of 606 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, California 90401, a not-for-profit-corporation of California and an exempt religious organization under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code the amount of $xx,xxx (xx,xxx dollars). I further direct that interest or other income that may be earned by said bequest shall also be paid to the Soka Gakkai-USA from the date of my decease until distributed.

    Jane Nan Member, Long Tom’s wife, is not a Nichiren Buddhist but appreciates his practice because he has gone from an angry man who changed jobs on a regular basis, to a valued, respected executive and loving husband and father. John also was a great help to Jane’s father during his final illness. Jane decides to leave (devise) a piece of land she got as a child to SGI-USA. Jane’s bequest reads the same as John’s except that instead of “$xx,xxx (xx,xxx dollars)” the legal description of the land is used:

    “lot 4, block 2 in the Cinder Block subdivision, commonly know as 888 Tarantula Place, assessor’s parcel number 7711, all within the City of Nukedville, NV 89111.”

    I don’t have a will but it sounds like a good idea. How do I make a valid will or other estate plan?

    1. Make a complete list of all of your property. Include identifying and descriptive information such as account numbers (for bank accounts, IRA and 401K accounts, pension funds, insurance policies), serial numbers of especially valuable items, vehicle identification numbers, legal descriptions of real estate etc. It is a good idea to check the beneficiaries of all your various accounts and policies. Many times a divorced spouse unintentionally remains as the beneficiary. Also check free term life insurance policies offered by banks, credit unions and credit card companies. These are usually in the amounts of $1,000 or $2,000 and remain in effect for as long as your account is current.

    2. Consider how you want your assets distributed either during life or after death. A will or other estate document is a declaration of your values in life, of your relationships and loyalties. For example, a life partner who is not married to you will get nothing without your valid will. Your family may decide you need a good Baptist funeral and burial. Your pets will probably be destroyed if you do not make arrangements for them and set aside funding for their care. A will is one way to insure you accomplish your wishes. There are several others, such as trusts, that might be appropriate for a person in your circumstances.

    3. Talk with your lawyer about drafting a will or trust document. If your lawyer does not practice estate planning, have him refer you to one that does. If you do not have a lawyer, ask your friends for recommendations. Please remember, your lawyer works only for you. His or her job is to advise you and to draft the appropriate documents to effectively carry out your intentions. A good lawyer will save you and your beneficiaries money, time and aggravation.

    4. Do-it-yourself will and trust documents are not quite as bad as do-it-yourself dentistry, but almost. In many areas, a lawyer will advise you and draft a will for about $100-$200. A do-it-yourself will or trust kit will cost between $10 and $20. If you make every optimal decision and do everything right, which is doubtful, you might save $150, the cost detailing your car or a case of cheap wine.

    Is There a Simple Way of Making a Gift to SGI-USA Using Life Insurance?

    Yes. You can name SGI-USA as the beneficiary of a new or existing policy. For an existing policy , ask your insurance agent how to change the beneficiary of a policy . This usually involves filling out a form and submitting to your company. Upon death, SGI-USA receives the proceeds from the policy. For a new policy, simply make SGI-USA a beneficiary or partial beneficiary.

    There are two basic types of Insurance: “whole life” and “term.” Insurance policies are contracts between the insurance company, “insurer,” and the policy owner or “insured.”

    In a “term” policy, the owner pays a relatively small amount of premium for a large amount of coverage. If the owner stops paying the premium, the policy is cancelled. Nothing is due the owner from the insurance company. Depending on the wording of a term policy, the policy may or may not be cancelable by the insurance company. As the owner grows older, the premiums go up.

    In a whole life policy, the owner of the policy pays a higher premium and creates a “cash surrender value” for the policy. Generally, the insurance company may not cancel whole life policies. Eventually, the whole life policy will be “paid up” meaning that no more premium payments are due, yet the face amount of the insurance is paid the beneficiary upon death of the insured.

    Whole life policies upon which premiums have been paid for a number of years may still have value to the owner, even if the owner stopped making premium payments.

    You can make a gift of a “paid up” or partially paid up whole life policy to SGI-USA by transferring the ownership of the policy. Since this gift is made during life, it qualifies for an income tax deduction.

    Is there a way of making a gift to SGI-USA during my lifetime and maybe save on income taxes?

    Yes. Because SGI USA is a tax-exempt organization under section 501 (c) (3), your gifts generate an income tax deduction. The specific amount of your deduction is governed by the tax code and depends on the type of gift you make. If you are interested in these options or other options that may be available, please talk to our National Planned Giving Staff.

    Here are examples of gifts made during life.

    Gift Annuity Agreements — The donor transfers cash, securities or property to SGI-USA now and SGI-USA agrees by contract to pay the donor a fixed income for life. This annuity is qualified for an income tax deduction. In addition, part of the annual income paid to you by SGI-USA also qualifies for an income tax deduction.

    Life Estate Agreements — The donor transfers a farm or residence to SGI-USA now and reserves a life estate for the donor and the donor’s spouse. The donor and the donor’s spouse continue to have full enjoyment of the property for the life. The value of the real estate qualifies for a current income tax deduction.

    Sale of Real Estate to SGI-USA at Less-than-fair Market Value — The donor sells real estate at less than fair market value to SGI-USA. Generally, the donor receives an income tax deduction for difference between the fair market value and the sale price.

  19. Then let us not forget the Sustaining Contribution Plan, taking money directly out of one’s bank account on a monthly basis, the endless “may” Contribution Campaign, the special campaings such as the special donation for the Sho Hondo debacle… and now the earthquake. Of course with ZERO financial transparency.

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