The Significance of the Heritage: the Ultimate Matter of Kechimyaku

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The Significance of the Heritage: the Ultimate Matter of Kechimyaku

Reverend Jun’ei Anzawa and Reverend Hakudo Mori

“Kechimyaku” in Japanese and Chinese generally means a vein, a
blood lineage, or a genealogy. In Buddhism, it refers to the Heritage
of the Law that is transmitted down through the ages from master to
disciple and the order of succession of those who transmit the
Heritage from one generation to the next; as such, it is also called the
lineage of a school or of the Law. In English, Nichiren Shoshu has
traditionally called kechimyaku the Heritage, and sometimes the
Lifeblood, depending on the context. Though “Heritage” is closest in
meaning when kechimyaku refers to that which is transmitted, both
“Heritage” and “Lifeblood” are probably fine so long as you
understand the concept they represent as it is defined in Nichiren
Shoshu, which I will try to address.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches in the “Heritage of the Ultimate Matter of
Life and Death” that “without the Heritage, it would be useless to
embrace the Lotus Sutra,”1 and, in “The Essence of Shakyamuni’s
Lifetime of Sacred Teachings,” that “one cannot master this sutra if
one has not received the transmission [from the Buddha].”2 The
Daishonin is telling us that in Buddhist practice it is fundamental to
know of the Heritage and to exert oneself in faith under the direction
of the person who has received the orthodox transmission of it.
In his preface to a book called the Bennaku Kanjin-sho, Sixty-fifth
High Priest Nichijun Shonin wrote:
Those who practice this Buddhism must pay heed to the path of the
master and disciple, trace the orthodoxy of the master’s lineage to
verify that the flow of the Law he transmits is correct, and [only]
then partake of its pure water.
The historical rationale of this is that in the school of Nichiren
Daishonin, it is as clear as the sun is bright that the succession of the
Transmission of the Law Ñ which began when the Sacred Founder
(Nichiren Daishonin) transferred the Heritage of the Law to Second
High Priest Nikko Shonin and willed that he be the Great Master [of
Propagation], and continued when Third High Priest Nichimoku
Shonin in turn succeeded Nikko Shonin Ñ has continued down
[through the ages] to this day. Thus, when one makes it a matter of
principle to adhere to this relationship between the successive
masters and disciples, one can intrinsically partake of the orthodox
practice and faith.
Thus the Lifeblood of faith in Nichiren Shoshu lies in the Dai-
Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary and in Nichiren Daishonin’s Heritage
of the Law in the care of each of the successive High Priest. No
matter how earnestly people practice Buddhism, if they err on this
ultimate matter, not only will their practice bring no benefit, but
they will accumulate “bad karma,” that is, hindrances that occur due
to slander of Buddhism.
Today, I would like to explain the ultimate matter of this most
important Heritage, which is so fundamental to the practice of
Buddhism.
The correct, or orthodox, Heritage of Buddhism can be generally
broken down, first into the two categories of the Heritage of the
Doctrinal Aspect3 (i.e., the Heritage of the 28-chapter Lotus Sutra)
and the Heritage of Kanjin.4 Further, there is the Heritage of the
Original Buddha Nichiren Daishonin, which is the Heritage for the ten
thousand years of the age of the Latter Day of the Law (Mappo). Not
appreciating the distinctions between these is like being a child lost
in a maze: in the end, one would wind up walking the path of the
confused and unenlightened, never arriving at the truly correct
practice of Buddhism.
The lineages, or orders of succession, of the transmission of the True
Law and Correct Doctrines5 in Buddhism are as follows: 1. The
Heritage of the 28-Chapter Lotus Sutra (the Four Teachers in Three
Countries, i.e., the Heritage of the Doctrinal Aspect, or the External
Function of the Buddha) 2. The Heritage of the “Buddha of
Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom” (the Heritage from Kuon ganjo up to
Mappo, i.e., the Heritage of Kanjin, or of the Inner Realization) and 3.
The Heritage for the 10,000 years of Mappo, “entrusted to only one
person (See chart on page 22)
This is the Heritage entrusted (i.e., transferred or transmitted) by
Nichiren Daishonin to Nikko Shonin, then by Nikko Shonin to
Nichimoku Shonin, and so on down through the ages by each of the
successive High Priests to his successor.
The Heritage from Nichiren Daishonin (as defined under 2. and 3.,
page 22) can be further broken down, by content and significance,
into the following four categories:
¥ The Heritage of the Ultimate Matter of Life and Death (the
Heritage of the Original Law from Kuon ganjo and the True, Original
Buddha)
¥ The Heritage of the Entity of the Law (the Specifically Entrusted
Heritage of the Entity of the Law, the Object of Worship of the True
Sanctuary, which is entrusted to only one person)
¥ The Heritage of Doctrine (the Specifically Entrusted Heritage of
Doctrine, entrusted to only one person)
¥ The Heritage of Faith (the Heritage of the Entity of the Law and
the teaching that pulsates through the lives of the laity and general
priesthood through the Heritage that has been entrusted to only one
person)
Each of these have profound significance. Buddhism promises the
people of the Latter Day that if they strive in Buddhist practice
without deviating from the meaning of the Heritage, without fail,
they will all gain the fruition of attaining Buddhahood.

1. The Heritage of the 28-Chapter Lotus Sutra (Doctrinal Aspect –
External Function – Four Teachers in Three Countries)

Shakyamuni Buddha (India)
Shakyamuni Buddha was born in India to preach the Lotus Sutra as
the teaching that reveals the ultimate truth. In the Sutra of Infinite
Meanings, the prelude and therefore the introductory sutra to the
Lotus Sutra, he taught that, “infinite meanings are born of this one
Law,”6 and that “during these more than forty years, I have yet to
reveal the truth.”7 After intimating that he would be expounding the
ultimate truth of all phenomena, the source of all teachings,
Shakyamuni then went on to say that he was revealing the ultimate
doctrine of his life’s 50 years of teaching, “Honestly discarding all
provisional means, I will now reveal the supreme Way.” (Hoben
{second} Chapter, Lotus Sutra; Kaiketsu, p. 189) “Of all the sutras I
have ever preached, this Sutra of the Lotus is foremost among them.”
(Hosshi {tenth] Chapter, Lotus Sutra; Kaiketsu, p. 390) Thus he
indicated that teaching the Lotus Sutra was the purpose of his advent
into this world.
In this Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni:
a) taught the principle of ichinen sanzen (theoretical (ri) ichinen
sanzen) and that the people of the two vehicles Ñ who had hitherto
been denied the possibility of attaining Buddhahood for eternity Ñ
could attain Buddhahood;
b) elucidated, with regard to the original identity of his own
enlightenment, that he was the Buddha of the far-distant past called
Gohyaku-jindengo, the Buddha of the True Effect; at the same time,
he revealed the existence of the Lord Teacher of the True Cause, i.e.,
the Original Buddha of Kuon ganjo;
c) revealed that Bodhisattva Jogyo would make his advent as the
Votary of the Lotus Sutra in the Latter Day of the Law, in the age of
“struggle and dispute when the Pure Law will become concealed and
disappear,” to spread, while bearing persecution, the Lotus Sutra that
would benefit all existence for ten thousand years and more.

The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai (China)
The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai appeared in China during the Middle Day
of the Law (Zobo period). He classified the sutras and teachings of
Shakyamuni’s fifty years of preaching according to their depth and
breadth and organized them into the five periods and eight
teachings. He pointed out that the Lotus Sutra is the highest
(foremost) among all of Shakyamuni’s sutras, and he advocated the
Lotus Sutra through his three major works, the “Words and Phrases
of the Lotus Sutra,8 the “Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra,”9 and
the “Great Concentration and Insight.”10 He also foretold that the
fundamental Buddha and the Supreme Law would appear in the
Latter Day to benefit all beings, saying:
In the fifth five hundred years, the Mystic Way shall spread and
benefit all existence far into the future. (“The True Object of
Worship,” M.W., Vol. 1, p. 80; Shinpen, p. 661)

The Great Teacher Dengyo (Japan)
At the beginning of Japan’s Heian Period (A.D. 794Ð1192), the Great
Teacher Dengyo traveled to China to study the teachings of the Great
Teacher T’ien-t’ai. After returning to Japan, Dengyo proclaimed that
the Lotus Sutra is the true and supreme teaching among all the
sutras. He repudiated the other sects of his time through public
debate, and he established an ordination platform for the theoretical
teaching of the Lotus Sutra at Mount Hiei near Kyoto.
Nichiren Daishonin clearly indicated the Heritage (or lineage) of the
transmission and propagation of the Lotus Sutra in India, China, and
Japan in his Gosho “The Selection of Time”:
The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai trusted and obeyed Shakyamuni Buddha
and worked to uphold the Hokke school, spreading its teachings
throughout China. We of Mount Hiei inherited the doctrine from
T’ien-t’ai and work to uphold the Hokke school and to disseminate its
teachings throughout Japan . . . the Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai and the
Great Teacher Dengyo were . . . able to teach it [the Lotus Sutra] in a
manner similar to the Buddha. (M.W., Vol. 1, p. 125Ð6; Shinpen, p.
850)

Nichiren Daishonin (Japan)
Nichiren Daishonin made his advent in this world as the rebirth of
Bodhisattva Jogyo at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, a
time the Daijuku Sutra predicted would be an age of “struggle and
dispute when the Pure Law will become concealed and disappear.”
He “read” the Sutra in thought, word, and deed, manifesting without
exception every word of the three pronouncements11 of the Hoto
(tenth) Chapter, the two admonitions12 of the Daibadatta (twelveth)
Chapter, the attacks with sticks, tiles, and rocks described in the
Fukyo (twentieth) Chapter,13 and the 20-line verse of the Kanji
(thirteenth) Chapter, and he established the Gohonzon of the Three
Great Secret Laws, the Original Law of Kuon ganjo.
Nichiren Daishonin declared that he is the foremost Votary of the
Lotus Sutra in all the world, saying in “The Selection of Time,” “I,
Nichiren, am the foremost Votary of the Lotus Sutra for the entire
world.”14
Praising the Great Teachers T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo in recognition of
their inheriting and transmitting the essence and Heritage of the
Lotus Sutra, he declared in a rather discreet manner that he himself
is Bodhisattva Jogyo, who was to make his advent in the Latter Day
to spread the Lotus Sutra:
When it comes to understanding the Lotus Sutra, I have only a
minute fraction of the vast ability that T’ien-t’ai and Dengyo
possessed. But in my ability to endure persecution and the wealth of
my compassion for others, I believe I would put them to shame.
(“The Opening of the Eyes,” M.W, Vol. 2, p. 80; Shinpen, p .540)
He also went on to indicate that he is the Lord Teacher who possesses
the Original Law that would save all beings for the ten thousand
years of Mappo:
If Nichiren’s compassion is truly great and encompassing, Nam-
Myoho-Renge-Kyo will spread for ten thousand years and more, for
all eternity. (“Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” M.W., Vol. 4, p. 272;
Shinpen, p. 1036)

2. The Heritage of the “Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom” (the
Heritage of Kanjin, or the Inner Realization)

In the Kejoyu (seventh) Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni
reveals that a Buddha called Daitsu-chisho Buddha had taught the
Lotus Sutra in the distant past called Sanzen-jindengo. In the Juryo
(sixteenth) Chapter, Shakyamuni further revealed his own original
attainment of Buddhahood in the even more remote past called
Gohyaku-jindengo, the practice by which he attained it, and the place
where he had dwelled since then:
¥ “Once I also practiced the bodhisattva Way, and the life which I
then acquired has yet to be exhausted. . . ” (“The True Cause”;
Kaiketsu, p. 500)
¥ “Since I attained Buddhahood, an unimaginably long period has
passed.” (“The True Effect”; Kaiketsu, p. 500)
¥ “Ever since then I have been constantly in this saha world,
expounding the Law and teaching and converting [the people]” (“The
True Land”; Kaiketsu, p. 498)
Thus he revealed the existence of the Eternal Buddha of Kuon ganjo
and the Entity of the Original Law that he possesses. This is called the
“integration of the three mystic principles.”15
In “The Opening of the Eyes,” Nichiren Daishonin reveals the concept
of “hidden in the depths” by stating “The doctrine of ichinen sanzen
is found in only one place: hidden in the depths of the Juryo Chapter
of the Essential Teaching of the Lotus Sutra.” He also clearly
elucidates the Entity of the Law that the Original Buddha of Kuon
ganjo possesses, “The ultimate essence of the doctrine of ichinen
sanzen is the Great Mandala.” (“Somoku Jobutsu Guketsu,”16 Shinpen,
p. 523)
[It (the ultimately essential Law that Buddhism teaches) is the]
Object of Worship, the Sanctuary, and the Five Characters of the
Daimoku17 of the Juryo Chapter that Shakyamuni originally
practiced to attain the ultimate truth which he has kept secret . . .
since he first attained enlightenment. (“Sandai Hiho Bonjo Ji,”18
Shinpen, p. 1593)
He furthermore elucidated that the Myoho-Renge-Kyo (Lotus Sutra)
possessed by the Original Buddha of Kuon ganjo is the seed of not
only Shakyamuni’s enlightenment, but that of the enlightenment of
all Buddhas of the ten directions throughout the three existences:
The doctrine of the sowing of the seed and its maturing and
harvesting is the very heart and core of the Lotus Sutra. All the
Buddhas of the three existences and ten directions have invariably
attained Buddhahood through the seed of the five characters of
Myoho-Renge-Kyo.19 (Shinpen, p. 1447)
Nichiren Daishonin clarifies that he is the Original Buddha who
permeates the three existences since Kuon ganjo (time without
beginning). He explains the original identity and transient identity of
the Lord Teacher of the Sowing of the True Cause whose existence is
hidden in the depths [of the Juryo Chapter]:
Nichiren, the Great Teacher of the Essential Teachings, The Lord of
the True Cause and True Effect at the level of myoji-soku since the
remote past, the rebirth of Bodhisattva Jogyo who is the transient
identity of the Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom, the original
identity. (“Hyakurokka-sho,”20 Shinpen, p. 1685)
and
The Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom is [my] original identity,
Jogyo and Nichiren are [my] transient identities. The Juryo Chapter of
my Inner Realization is the True Cause hidden in the depths of the
Juryo Chapter of the Buddhism of Harvest. The Lord Teacher [of this
True Cause] is I.(“Hyakurokka-sho,” Shinpen, p. 1685)
He further taught the importance of the Supreme Law possessed by
the Original Buddha that he would manifest as the Object of Worship
of the Three Great Secret Laws:
I, Nichiren, have inscribed this Gohonzon by infusing my life into it
with sumi ink. You must believe! The heart of the Buddha is the
Lotus Sutra; the life of Nichiren is none other than Nam-Myoho-
Renge-Kyo. (“Reply to Kyo’o,” Shinpen, p . 685)
And he described the great benefit of striving in faith based on this
Gohonzon:
Those who visit this place can instantly expiate the sins they have
committed since the infinite past and transform their illusions into
wisdom, their errors into truth, and their sufferings into freedom.
(“The Person and the Law,” M.W., Vol.1, p. 263; Shinpen, p. 1569)
Nichiren Daishonin also clarified that the Buddha of Intrinsically
Perfect Wisdom (the “Thus Come One” of Intrinsically Perfect
Wisdom from Kuon ganjo) would make his advent in the Latter Day
of the Law in the form of a common mortal: in “The Ultimate Truth of
All Phenomena,” he states:
The common mortal is the entity of the Three Bodies, or the Original
Buddha. The Buddha is the Three Bodies of the Function, or a
transient Buddha.21
And in the “Annotations on the Lotus Sutra”22 he states, “the Buddha
of the Latter Day is a common mortal, a common-mortal priest.”23
The Gohonzon is endowed with the power of the Law and the power
of the Buddha precisely because it is the Fundamental Law from
Kuon ganjo, and because Nichiren Daishonin is the Original Buddha
from Kuon ganjo. That’s why we can attain the great benefit of
attaining Buddhahood in our present form when our powers of faith
and practice integrate with those of the Law and the Buddha in the
Great Pure Law suited to the capacity of the Latter Day.
This is all very, very important for properly understanding the
ultimate matter of kechimyaku, the Heritage; so let’s review the
details once more to put these relationships into clear perspective:
¥ The practice through which Shakyamuni attained his original
enlightenment in the remote past called Gohyaku-jindengo was the
Juryo Chapter possessed by the Original Buddha of Kuon ganjo, i.e.,
Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
¥ The Original (True) Buddha who possesses the Three Great Secret
Laws of Kuon ganjo is the Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom of
Kuon ganjo.
¥ The Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom, Bodhisattva Jogyo, and
Nichiren Daishonin are all different names for the same Buddha (the
differences in the names arise depending on whether one is referring
to him with regard to his Inner Realization or his External Function,
or with regard to his transient identity or original identity).
¥ The Original Buddha of Kuon ganjo makes his advent in the Latter
Day of the Law in the form of a common mortal as a common-mortal
priest.
¥ The Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom from Kuon ganjo
appears in the Latter Day of the Law as Nichiren Daishonin and, by
manifesting the Object of Worship of the Three Great Secret Laws
from Kuon ganjo, opens the way for all sentient beings of the ten
thousand years of the Latter Day to attain enlightenment.
Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin explained this ultimate
matter of the Heritage of the True Cause of sowing in Kuon ganjo
quite succinctly in “The Meanings Hidden in the Depths,”24 one of the
Six Volume Writings:
If we approach this matter from the shallow and near-at-hand
External Function, then Nichiren is Jogyo reborn; if we approach it
from the deep and hidden Inner Realization, then Nichiren is the
Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom in his original identity
reborn. Therefore you should know this: the Buddha of Intrinsically
Perfect Wisdom is his original identity, Bodhisattva Jogyo is his
transient identity, and when he has revealed his original identity, he
is Nichiren. (“Rokkan Sho,” p. 204)

3. The Heritage for the Ten Thousand Years of Mappo that is
Entrusted to Only One Person

The Heritage and its Transmission
The Heritage of the Ultimate Matter of Life and Death
Nichiren Daishonin, the Original Buddha who appeared in the world
in the defiled, evil age of the Latter Day of the Law, established the
Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teachings as the
source for all people to attain enlightenment.
Prior to passing away, the Daishonin transferred all of Buddhism to
Nikko Shonin. At that time, he wrote in “The Entrustment of the Law
that Nichiren Propagated Throughout His Life”25:
I, Nichiren, transfer the entirety of the Law that I have propagated
throughout my life to Byakuren Ajari Nikko, and designate him the
Great Master of Propagation of the Essential Teachings. When the
sovereign accepts this Law, establish the High Sanctuary of Honmonji
(Temple of the Essential Teachings) at the foot of Mt. Fuji. You must
simply wait for the time. This is the True Law of Precepts. Above all
else, my disciples should obey this document.
The ninth month of the fifth year of Ko’an (1282)
Nichiren (signature mark)
The order of the Heritage: from Nichiren to Nikko
(Shinpen, p. 1675)
And in the “Minobu Entrustment Document” he wrote:
I transfer Shakyamuni Buddha’s fifty years of teachings to Byakuren
Ajari Nikko. He is to be the head priest of Minobu-zan Kuon-ji. Any
laity or priests who defy this have gone against the Law.
The thirteenth day of the tenth month of the fifth year of Ko’an
(1282)
Ikegami, Musashi Province
Nichiren (signature mark)
(Shinpen, p. 1675)
He thus performed the extremely important transfer of his teachings.
In relation to this transfer he purposely wrote, “The order of the
Heritage: from Nichiren to Nikko.” Herein lies the important matter of
the transmission and transfer of Buddhism.
In “Admonitions Against Slander” Nichiren Daishonin indicates that
the transfer, or transmission, of the Heritage occurs in two senses: a
general entrustment and a specific entrustment:
Moreover, within this [transfer] there are two paths: the general and
the specific. If one transgresses between these two paths of the
general and specific even in the least, one will be unable to even
think of attaining Buddhahood, and will remain mired in an endless
cycle of birth and death.26 (Shinpen, p. 1039)
In the “Heritage of the Ultimate Matter of Life and Death,” he wrote:
The Heritage of the ultimate matter of life and death is nothing other
than Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Thus, the two Buddhas, Shakyamuni and
Taho, transferred this to Bodhisattva Jogyo at the Treasure Tower;
these five characters of Myoho-Renge-Kyo are the Heritage that has
never stopped flowing for even the slightest time ever since the
remotest past.27 (Shinpen, p. 513)
This passage indicates the root source of the Heritage of the ultimate
matter of life and death that flows without cease, from Kuon ganjo
and throughout the ten thousand years of Mappo. If one wishes to
understand the significance of the Heritage correctly, it is first vital
to understand what this passage teaches.

The Heritage of the Entity of the Law
In “On the True Cause,”28 Nichiren Daishonin indicates that in the
Latter Day, the fundamental basis of the Heritage is the Entity of the
Law of the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, which the Daishonin
manifested based on the Heritage of the ultimate matter of life and
death that has flowed ever since Kuon ganjo:
Now, as for the essential matter of this Heritage and the Gohonzon,
[this is contained in the] documents of the transmission of the Law
from Nichiren to the successive master of the Seat of the Law; this is
the transmission received [by Bodhisattva Jogyo] at the Treasure
Tower, the transmission of the Heritage that is entrusted to only one
person. Above all else, you must keep this secret and you must
transmit it. (Shinpen, p. 1684)
The ” Lecture on the Lotus Sutra”29 explains:
The Bestowal of the Entity of the Law: The [Daishonin’s] teachings
state: This passage is the secret passage, “only between Buddhas. . . .”
This is a doctrine that must not be spoken about lightly. This is the
secret passage about the bestowal of all phenomena of the ten worlds
and three thousand realms within a single world. (Shinpen, p. 1860)
The phenomena of the ten worlds and three thousand realms, which
are infinite in number and boundless in extent, are all hidden within
the essential matter of the transmission of the Heritage. This is
something we must never forget.
Nikko Shonin wrote of this transmission as follows when he
transferred the Daishonin’s Buddhism to Third High Priest Nichimoku
Shonin:
I, Nikko, transfer to Nichimoku the Dai-Gohonzon of the second year
of Ko’an which was transferred to me. It should be enshrined at the
Temple of the Essential Teachings. (“Articles to be Observed after the
Passing of Nikko,”30 Shinpen, p. 1860)
As is already clear from the two transmission documents from
Nichiren Daishonin to Nikko Shonin, this shows that when Nikko
Shonin transferred the Entity of the Law (i.e. the Dai-Gohonzon of the
High Sanctuary, the life of Nichiren Daishonin) he also transmitted all
of Buddhism and all its doctrines at the same time. When the
successive High Priests who have received the transmission of the
Entity of the Law transcribe the Gohonzon:
The successive Shonin (High Priests) are all, without exception,
Nichiren. (“Seven Teachings on the Gohonzon Transmitted from
Master to Disciple,” Seiten, p. 379)
From the standpoint of faith, it is of the utmost importance that we
deeply revere and accept the importance of the meaning of this
passage.

The Heritage of Doctrine
In general, it can be said that all those who read the Gosho (writings)
of the Daishonin are able to inherit the Heritage of Doctrine. However,
this is only in a general sense. In the Hoben Chapter, Shakyamuni
Buddha teaches that in the strict sense, “The ultimate truth of all
phenomena can only be understood and shared between Buddhas.”
(Kaiketsu, p. 154) And Nichiren Daishonin teaches, “The scholars in
the world today cannot understand this because they have not
learned the transmission of the Heritage.” (“Rissho Kansho,” Shinpen,
p. 770) “One cannot master this sutra if one has not received the
transmission [from the Buddha].” (“Ichidai Seikyo Tai’i,” Shinpen, p.
92)
It is not easy to accurately arrive at a true grasp of the profoundly
deep principles of Buddhism. Reading the Gosho without the
transmission of the Heritage will lead to the slander of arrogance and
the slander of shallow understanding, two of the fourteen slanders.
In the end, it will result in deviation from the correct path of
Buddhism.
Second High Priest Nikko Shonin admonishes us to study and practice
the Gosho based on the relationship between master and disciple, “In
this school, imbue one’s heart and mind with the Gosho and pass
down the ultimate principles from the master.” (“Nikko Yuikai
Okimon,” Shinpen, p. 1884)
In the “Letter to Ichinosawa Nyudo,” the Daishonin strictly
admonishes:
And though people may claim to be disciples of Nichiren, if they do
not possess some proof of that fact from my hand, you must not trust
them. (M.W., Vol. 6, p. 107; Shinpen, p. 830)
This shows how important it is to correctly judge where the
transmission of the Entity of the Law flows. At the same time, this
teaches us that the “difficult to believe and difficult to understand,”
profound, and subtle doctrines of the Original Buddha can only be
completely understood from the life state that is “only understood
and shared between Buddhas.” One must understand that Nichiren
Daishonin’s strictness about this is for the sake of preventing the
Great Pure Law from becoming disordered, for the sake of
transmitting it throughout the ten thousand years of the Latter Day,
and for the sake of realizing the great aspiration for Kosen-rufu.
This passage is from “The One Hundred and Six Articles”:
Byakuren Ajari Nikko is to be the overall Chief Abbot. I, Nichiren,
have entrusted him with all the correct doctrines without leaving out
even a single bit. Into the most distant future, without putting forth
differing ideas, all those below the leader and all successive disciples
must respect Nikko, the overall Chief Abbot, as the Shonin (High
Priest) who is the legitimate heir to the Law just as [they did me]
when I was alive. (Shinpen, p. 1884)
This sets forth the fundamental criterion for the transmission and
propagation of the True Law into the eternal future. Priests and lay
believers of Nichiren Shoshu should never forget this instruction of
our founder for an instant.

The Heritage of Faith
In the “Heritage of the Ultimate Matter of Life and Death,” the
Daishonin teaches:
Generally, the Heritage of the ultimate matter of life and death is
when the disciples and lay supporters of Nichiren, without any
concern about self versus others or extraneous matters, enter into a
state of oneness as close as fish and the water in which they swim
and chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo in itai doshin. (Shinyo 6, p. 42;
Shinpen, p. 514)
When we strive to chant Daimoku in itai doshin, this is the Heritage
that enables us to “attain Buddhahood in one’s present form.”
However, it is a great error to interpret this passage as referring to a
Heritage that is directly connected to the Daishonin.
Here is what Ninth High Priest Nichiu Shonin said about the
relationship between faith and the “water of the Law” of the
Heritage:
That which we call “faith” and that which we call the “water of the
Law” are the same thing. If one’s faith is unshakable, then its
connection to the lineage of Buddhism will not deviate. If it does not
deviate, then it will be no different from the water of the Law of the
Heritage . . . When one does not deviate from the faith [passed down]
ever since our Exalted Founder, then one’s mind and form become
the mind and form of Myoho-Renge-Kyo. (“Kegi Sho” (On the
Formalities of this School), Seiten, p. 977)
This teaches that when their efforts in faith are connected to the
correct lineage of Buddhism, the minds and bodies of living beings
themselves become the entity of Myoho-Renge-Kyo; this is the
Heritage for attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form. These
passages must not be interpreted to mean that a separate Heritage
can exist apart from the Heritage entrusted to only one person and
passed down ever since the Daishonin.
The ultimate principles of Buddhism and the Heritage of the Entity of
the Law are of truly immense importance. For this reason, the
greatest, most fundamental governing truth of Buddhism is this
transmission “shared between Buddhas” that is entrusted to only one
person based on the relationship between master and disciple.
This transmission is the oral transmission from Nichiren to one
legitimate disciple, the secret transmission entrusted to only one
person. (“Transmission Concerning the First Bath,” Shinpen, p. 1710)
and
The entrustment of the direct bestowal of the coalescence of
essentials is to only one person. (“The One Hundred and Six Articles,”
Shinpen, p. 1702)
and
This is only between me (Nichiren) and you (Nikko). (“Honnin-myo
Sho,” Shinpen, p. 1684)
As these passages clearly show, the Heritage of faith exists based on
the foundation of the transmission (specific entrustment) of the
Heritage that is “understood and shared only between Buddhas.” This
means that the Heritage of Nichiren Daishonin will only flow into us
when we exert ourselves in chanting the Daimoku of itai doshin
founded in the Heritage that is entrusted to only one person.
The Heritage of the Entity of the Law (the Dai-Gohonzon of the High
Sanctuary of the Essential Teachings) and the Heritage of Doctrine are
maintained by each of the successive High Priests, from Nikko Shonin
on down. This means that the High Priests are the ones who have the
“capacity to teach.” Those who “are taught” are their disciples, we
priests and lay believers. It is when we strive in faith under the
direction of the High Priest that the Heritage from the Daishonin
flows into us and we are endowed with the merit and benefit of
attaining Buddhahood in our present form.
In this connection, the claim to be “directly connected to the
Daishonin” and “directly connected to the Gosho,” as asserted by the
Soka Gakkai in recent years, is an idea that is contrary to the
Daishonin’s Buddhism. This idea is a repudiation of the essential
matter of the Heritage and a denial of the fundamental principles of
Buddhism. It is very important that we understand that this idea is
“antagonistic to the spirit of the master” Ñ that is, it violates the
spirit of the Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom of Kuon ganjo,
the spirit of Shakyamuni Buddha, the spirit of the Great Teacher
T’ien-t’ai, and the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin himself.
Sixty-sixth High Priest Nittatsu Shonin explained:
The Taisekiji school is the denomination which received its
transmission from the Daishonin, so the followers of this school must
be sufficiently versed in the Gosho. The doctrines in the depths of the
Gosho are handed down by the successive High Priests, the great
principles of those teachings must be learned from a teacher, and the
disciples must not even for a moment adhere to their own views.
(Nichiren Shoshu Monthly, May, 1995)
The current High Priest, Nikken Shonin, has said:
It goes without saying that the foundation for our faith lies in the
inheritance of the True Law and Correct Doctrines based on the
transmission of the Heritage bestowed on only one person. (“Decree,”
Dai-Nichiren, No. 432)
All principles of Nichiren Shoshu encompassed within Myoho-Renge-
Kyo are taught in accordance with the entrustment [of the
Daishonin’s Buddhism]. These are set forth to suit particular occasions
and circumstances. When people oppose them, do not believe them,
or even slander them, one must view this as giving rise to great
slander. (Dai-Nichiren, No. 419)
Nikko Shonin mastered the Daishonin’s Buddhism by faithfully
following the Daishonin and constantly serving him. This is the
shining example for all followers of the Daishonin’s Buddhism and
the heart of the practice of Buddhism. The basis for faith in Nichiren
Shoshu is to carry out faith, practice, and study within the master-
disciple relationship based on the “water of the Law” of the Heritage,
as symbolized by Nichimoku Shonin’s poem, “I grasped the Lotus
Sutra through serving my master Ñ by cutting firewood, gathering
greens, and drawing water.” When we exert ourselves in faith by
faithfully following in thought, word, and deed the direction of the
High Priest who has inherited the Heritage, then the Heritage of the
Daishonin will circulate in our lives and we will be endowed with the
fruition of Buddhahood, “attaining Buddhahood in our present form.”
Let’s engrave this in our hearts and pledge to strive even more along
the path of our Buddhist practice.

1. M.W., Vol. 1, p. 25; Shinpen, p. 515
2. “Ichidai Shokyo Tai-i,” Shinpen, p. 92.
3. kyoso; A literal interpretation of a teaching, a teaching (sutra) in
its literal sense; the “appearance” of a teaching.
4. kanjin; literally, “to observe the mind”: a way of interpreting a
teaching from the standpoint of the Buddha’s true intention, i.e., the
true teaching hidden in the depths (between the lines) of a sutra’s
passages. This could also be called the inconspicuous, concealed,
hidden, or even secret (as opposed to public) teaching, in the sense
that it can only be shared between Buddhas.
5. i.e., the orthodoxy of Buddhism
6. Kaiketsu, p.84
7. Ibid., p.88
8. Hokke Mongu
9. Hokke Gengi
10. Maka Shikan
11. Three pronouncements: sanka no chokusen. In the Hoto Chapter,
Shakyamuni makes three pronouncements, asking for his followers
to uphold the Lotus Sutra after his passing. The first time he states
his desire to entrust the Lotus Sutra to someone before his passing.
In the second pronouncement, he asks his followers to vow to protect
the Lotus Sutra after his passing. After describing the difficulties of
upholding the sutra after his passing (using the six difficult and nine
easy acts) in the third pronouncement he asks his followers to accept,
uphold, read and recite the sutra after his passing.
12. Two admonitions: nika no kangy o. In the Daibadatta Chapter,
Shakyamuni predicts that Devadatta (representative of evil people)
will attain Buddhahood in the future, and the dragon king’s daughter
(representative of women) attains Buddhahood in that chapter. A
Dictionary of Buddhist Terms and Concepts explains that by showing
the great power of the Lotus Sutra, these things, “in effect admonish
the assembly to embrace and propagate it.” (p. 490)
13. The Fukyo Chapter describes how Bodhisattva Never-Disparaging
(Bodhisattva Fukyo) was beaten and pelted with sticks, tiles, and
rocks by arrogant people.
14. M.W., Vol. 3, p. 111Ð112; Shinpen, p.845
15. sanmyo goron: The Three Mystic Principles are the True Cause,
the True Effect, and the True Land; cf. Dict. of Buddhist Terms and
Concepts, p. 460Ð461)
16. “Oral Teaching of the Attainment of Enlightenment by Insentient
Beings”
17. honzon, kaidan, daimoku no goji: i.e., the Three Great Secret Laws
18. “On the Three Great Secret Laws”
19. The wording of the translation has been changed slightly.
20. “The One-Hundred and Six Articles”
21. Shinpen, p. 665; for reference, see M.W. Vol. 1, p. 90.
22. The “Ongi Kuden”: a full translation of the formal title is, “Oral
Transmission of Annotations on the Lotus Sutra.”
23. Shinpen, p. 1779
24. “Montei Hichin Sho”
25. “Nichiren Ichigo Guho Fuzoku Sho”
26. For reference, see M.W., Vol. 1, p. 164.
27. For reference, see M.W., Vol. 1, p. 21.
28. “Honnin-myo Sho” The full title is “Hokke Honmon-shu
Kechimyaku Sojo-sho” (Transmission of the Heritage of the School of
the Essential Teaching of the Lotus Sutra.)
29. The “Oko Kikigaki,” the record of the Daishonin’s sermon on the
Lotus Sutra kept by Niko.
30. “Nikko Ato Jojo no Koto.”

©1995 Nichiren Shoshu Monthly. All rights reserved