NST instructs its members to build a wall of science to inure themselves from contacts with SGI members. Daido Nakamoto has instructed his congregants: “Don’t talk to SGI members!”
On two occasions I have come face-to-face with one of the “So-Koto’s” (lay leader) of NSTNY. Both times I stuck out my hand to shake his. He quickly withdrew his hand and placed it behind his back. Many people observed this very strange action.
Of course, this defies social conventions. Even vitriolic opponents like Hillary and Barack shake hands after a debate. Contentious lawyers shake hands before and after legal proceedings. Boxers shake hands, too! So why does this NST leader refuse a shake? What goes on in his thinking?
Nichiren writes, “Each of you should summon up the courage of a lion and never succumb to threats from anyone. The lion fears no other beast, nor do its cubs. Slanderers are like howling jackals, but Nichiren’s followers are like roaring lions.“
Is the refusal of a handshake reminiscent of a roaring lion or a howling jackal? A handshake is a token gesture that symbolizes an opening, a step towards dialogue. Emerson once stated, “Wise, cultivated, genial conversation is the last flower of civilization and the best result which life has to offer us.”
Perhaps this lay believer should read from his own The Doctrines and Practice of Nichiren Shoshu (Chapter 44) which states, “By your complicity in the act by failing to take steps against [slander], you are as guilty of the act as the people who actually commit it, even though you have no intention of committing the act and take no action to forward it.” Failing to shake a hand–to open a dialogue–is therefore slanderous from the standpoint of Nichiren’s Buddhism.
When did Nichiren ever refuse to engage in a public debate with someone he regarded as a slanderer of the Law?
The irony of the most recent situation was that the most recent Great Handshake Refusal took place right before the NST celebration towards the 750th anniversary of the Rissho Ankoku Ron–the very writing which launched Nichiren’s battle to use the power of dialogue to reveal the true and refute the erroneous.
My recommendation: “Let’s use this lead up to the anniversary of the Rissho Ankoku Ron with a series of debates to clarify the true intent and spirit of Nichiren’s teachings.”
And let’s start each discussion with a handshake.