The Importance of Tozan


Tozan, (translated as “to climb the mountain”), is the pilgrimage to Taisekiji, the Head Temple of Nichiren Shoshu at Mt. Fuji in Japan. It is part of the essential practice in Buddhism, and is the basis of daily Gongyo, shakubuku, visits to your local temple, and other aspects of practice.

During the lifetime of the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, tozan was the pilgrimage to visit him. Its original meaning encompassed directly serving the Daishonin and receiving his guidance. During his lifetime, Nichiren Daishonin himself was the center of worship, the true master who would lead all living beings to enlightenment.

What should those who were not alive during the Daishonin’s lifetime, and who became disciples and believers after his passing do? Making a pilgrimage to Taisekiji, the dwelling place of both the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary and the High Priest is the answer. It has exactly the same significance as making a pilgrimage to see the Daishonin during his lifetime.

On October 12, 1279, the Daishonin inscribed the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, the very entity of his enlightened life, as the object of worship for all living beings in the Latter Day of the Law. The Dai-Gohonzon has been solemnly protected at Taisekiji for over 750 years. The Daishonin transferred the entirety of his own enlightenment as the True Buddha to Nikko Shonin alone and appointed him as his successor after his passing. In this succession, Nichimoku Shonin followed Nikko Shonin, and Nichido Shonin followed Nichimoku Shonin.

This has continued in an unbroken line of succession down to the present High Priest. Therefore, because we didn’t live during the Daishonin’s lifetime, we make the pilgrimage to Taisekiji, single-mindedly yearning to see the Dai Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary and the current High Priest, who is the legitimate successor to Nichiren Daishonin. Herein lies the true significance of tozan in our time.

If we think of the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary, treasured at the Head Temple, as the fundamental root, then all other Gohonzons are branches and leaves. The Gohonzons enshrined in each temple and the Gohonzons that we received and to which we do Gongyo every morning and evening were transcribed by the High Priest from the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary. The great benefits arising from them arise from the power emanating from the Dai Gohonzon, the source. If we think that all Gohonzons are the same, and do not seek the Dai-Gohonzon, we will not be able to receive benefits and attain Buddhahood. It is like a branch that has been cut off, losing all access to nutrients, and thereby withering away. The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary is the source of all Gohonzons.

The Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin said this about its immeasurable benefits:

This Gohonzon bestows limitless, infinite benefit, and its unfathomable workings are vastly profound. Therefore, if you chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo with faith in this Gohonzon for even a short while, there is no prayer that will not be answered, no evil that will not be eradicated, no blessing that will not be bestowed, and no reason that will not become clear.

(Yoshu, Vol. 4, p. 213)

It is said that even our lives can be prolonged if we pray earnestly, always keeping in our hearts the yearning to see the Dai-Gohonzon. Therefore, at any possible opportunity we should make a pilgrimage to the Head Temple, where the Dai-Gohonzon is enshrined.

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(Note: This Chapter can be read in its entirety in the book: Nichiren Shoshu Basics of Practice. For more information, please contact your local temple.)