Quite a few NST members run away from any contact with SGI members. They slip behind a self-righteous belief that Nichiren Daishonin prohibited conctact with “slanderers.” Other NST members tut, cluck, and roll their eyes, believing that this dispute is no more than a fight between the Hatfields and McCoys. Neither of these approaches is befitting a practitioner of Buddhism.
The spirit of refuting falsehood and error is the essence of Nichiren Buddhism. Remaining silent in the face of evil and injustice is actually a form of support for them. It’s tantamount to being an accomplice.
The true spirit of Nichiren Buddhism is to fight tirelessly against abuses of his teaching and triumph through the power of words. A good example of this is Shijo Kingo who invoked the wrath of his lord by trying to break him away from following the corrupt priest Ryokan. Nichiren wrote to him:
“How admirable it is that…you communicated this teaching [the Lotus Sutra] to your lord and urged him to take faith in it. Even though he may fail to accept it now, you have managed to avoided the offense of complicity” (WND I, p. 461).
Hiding behind the wall of silence means “the offense of complicity.” If Rev. Nakamoto had any real sense of responsibility or integrity he would discuss point by point the doctrinal differences with SGI representatives until clarity were reached. In his absence, his members should be willing to do this.
Even Nichiren Shoshu once claimed this. I’m quoting here from Chapter 44 of The Doctrines and Practice of Nichiren Shoshu:
The next question is, what are we to do if we see someone committing Slander of the Law. In the “Reply to Lord Soya,” the Daishonin teaches:
Trying to attain enlightenment without admonishing Slander of the Law is like seeking water in fire or trying to light a fire under water.(Gosho, p. 1040)
In the Rissho ankoku ron, the Daishonin quotes from the Nirvana Sutra to illustrate that a true disciple of the Buddha, upon seeing someone slandering the Law, would not let the offense pass unchallenged:
If even a good priest sees someone slandering the Law and ignores him, failing to reproach him, to send him away or to punish him for his offense, then that priest is betraying Buddhism. But if he takes the slanderer severely to task, sends him away or punishes him, then he is my disciple and one who truly understands my teachings.(Gosho, p. 243)
“Reproach” and “take to task” mean to relentlessly pursue the slanderer’s offense, while “oust” means to drive the offender away and “punish” means to point out the person’s error and reprimand him for it. Furthermore, in “Letter to Akimoto,” the Daishonin explains that failure to respond is complicity with slander. He states:
For example, even if you yourself do not rebel, if you do not inform the ruler of a person who, you know, is plotting a rebellion, then you are guilty of committing the same crime as that person.(Gosho, p. 1453)
By your complicity in the act by failing to take steps against it, 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.
The same is true of Buddhism. Suppose that you see a person slandering True Buddhism, and you join in with him or follow him and allow him to continue unchallenged. You have slandered True Buddhism in the same way he has, and your sin is as grave as his as well.
So teaches the Daishonin. Beware of the offense of committing slander through inaction.
We must always take precautions against committing the Fourteen Slanders. In addition, we must explain to slanderers how grave the offense of slander is. Let’s devote ourselves to the correct practice of the True Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin to advance ourselves and others on the great path of enlightenment.
Here is an inconvenient truth for Mr. Nakamoto and his followers: Nichiren Buddhism demands that a practitioner go way beyond chanting and sitting in a congregation; a practitioner must defend the teachings using the power of words, ideas, communication, and conviction.