1. The Pioneer Days

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Preface

In recent times, the Soka Gakkai changed the provisions of its Regulations.

Along with this, they drastically revised many parts of the “Rules of ‘the Soka Gakkai,’ a religious organization,” including the third Article: “Purpose.” Certified by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the amended rules have become effective. Although these changes made by the Gakkai, which was excommunicated by Nichiren Shoshu, have nothing to do with the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and laity, the Soka Gakkai is the power base for the Komeito party and has considerable political influence. Thus, the adverse effect the Soka Gakkai has on Japanese politics is immeasurable, considering their ideas are based on deceptive purposes and doctrines.

Originally, the Soka Gakkai was established as a lay organization of Nichiren Shoshu. Since the primary cause for the Gakkai to become such a huge religious organization was deeply involved with members’ faith and practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, we need to point out the Soka Gakkai’s errors in transforming the basic provisions, especially parts which oppose Nichiren Shoshu doctrine.

In the main section of this series, we will trace the history of the Soka Gakkai, from its pioneer days to the present. Then, concerning the changes in the rules and regulations, we will use the perspective of legitimate Nichiren Shoshu doctrines to refute their arbitrary views and sophistry regarding their “Purpose” and “Doctrines.”

Chapter 1: The History of the Soka Gakkai

Section 1: From the Pioneer days to Daisaku Ikeda’s Assumption of Office as the third President

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s Encounter with Nichiren Shoshu

In 1928, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi embraced Nichiren Shoshu. He was introduced and sponsored by Sokei Mitani, who was a Hokkeko believer of Jozaiji temple at Ikebukuro in metropolitan Tokyo. Makiguchi, an educational reformer, founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (“Value-creating Education Society,” the forerunner of the Soka Gakkai) in 1930 and became the first president. The organization was founded on an educational philosophy where Makiguchi incorporated Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism into his own theory of life’s values: beauty, gain, and good. In 1937, the official inauguration ceremony of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was conducted.

Josei Toda’s Encounter with Nichiren Shoshu

Josei Toda was also an educator, and he became acquainted with Makiguchi. In 1928, Toda took faith in Nichiren Shoshu, following Makiguchi. He became an enthusiastic supporter of Makiguchi and the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai. He came to run the organization as an administrative director. Toda not only encouraged those who appreciated the philosophy of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai to take faith in the Daishonin’s Buddhism, but also did shakubuku to the general public.

Reconstruction of the Soka Gakkai by both Makiguchi and Toda

In 1941, toward the beginning of the Second World War, the Japanese military fully imposed imperial decrees on the Japanese people. These decrees were based on state Shintoism. In July 1943, Makiguchi was arrested and imprisoned for violating the Peace Preservation Law and lese majesty. Subsequently, Toda and other Gakkai leaders were arrested on the same charges. Makiguchi died in prison on Nov. 18, 1944, while Toda was released on July 3, 1945. After that, Toda made efforts in reconstructing the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, renaming it the Soka Gakkai in January 1946. On May 3, 1951, Toda became the second president of the Soka Gakkai and vowed to achieve a shakubuku result of 750,000 households.

Daisaku Ikeda’s Encounter with Nichiren Shoshu

As the number of the Gakkai’s lay members increased during the postwar chaos, on Aug. 24, 1947, Daisaku Ikeda took faith in Nichiren Shoshu through his sponsor, Yoshihei Kodaira, a Gakkai official at the time.

Later, Ikeda mentioned in his Human Revolution that when he first met president Toda, he composed an impromptu poem as if he were a “Bodhisattva of the Earth,” which led him to join Nichiren Shoshu. However, Ikeda made up this story to glamorize himself.

The truth about Ikeda’s entering Nichiren Shoshu is the following:

As I disliked Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, I opposed quite a bit. However, I was reasoned down, and I had no excuse but to take faith in Nichiren Buddhism. I felt so aggravated….[After receiving the Gohonzon and] coming home, I did not chant for three days. On the third day, it thundered strongly. I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky on top of me and I felt it was aiming for me. Accidentally, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo popped out of my mouth.

(Psychology of One’s Faith and Religion, vol. 4, pp. 57-58;
Iichi Oguchi)

As Ikeda himself mentions, his conversion to Nichiren Shoshu was nothing like the way it is described in The Human Revolution.

Obtaining Certification as a Religious Institution and the Three General Principles

In 1951, second president Josei Toda decided to obtain certification as a religious organization for the Soka Gakkai in order to help the institution in its propagation activities and protect the Head Temple. In response, Reverend Hosoi, Chief of the General Affairs Department of Nichiren Shoshu (who later became Sixty-sixth High Priest Nittatsu Shonin) presented the Soka Gakkai the following three general principles as a condition for establishing a lay religious organization:

  • A person who joins the Soka Gakkai through shakubuku also shall belong to a temple as a Nichiren Shoshu believer.
  • The Soka Gakkai shall follow Nichiren Shoshu doctrines of the Head Temple.
  • The Soka Gakkai shall protect the three treasures of the Buddha, the Law, and the priesthood.

Making a commitment to these three general principles, on Aug. 27, 1952, the Soka Gakkai was certified as a lay religious institution with corporate status by the Tokyo Metropolitan Governor, under an exceptional measure. In September of the same year, the registration was completed.