Major events in the history of SGI and Priesthood


1941

              Division between Soka Kyoiku Gakkai and the priesthood surfaced because of the priesthood’s obedience to the authorities’ demands during the II World War to regard the Emperor as superior to the Buddha.


1952 

              After the war ended, the second president, Mr Toda was banned in 1952 from entering the Head Temple, because of Soka Gakkai’s youth demand of an apology from a priest who cooperated with the military authorities.


Toda wrote: "I thought I'd receive a reward for my loyalty in rebuking slander of the Law, but instead of praise, they handed me a reproof: ‘You're banned from visiting the head temple!' My disciples replied in unison, ‘Then we won't visit either, so there!'"  People are Sovereign


1979 

               The priesthood banned P. Ikeda from giving guidance, demanded his resignation from presidency, and demanded absolute obedience of the organisation to the priesthood. P.Ikeda turned that setback into a victory through focusing on world wide movement and strengthening SGI. 


Despite the pressure and harassment, lay believers never stopped assisting the Head Temple, donating land, buildings and branch temples: the Soka Gakkai built a total of 356 temples, of which 320 were built while I was president. Also, over the years, we conducted countless group pilgrimages to the head temple – the aggregate attendance coming to more than 70 million”.

People are Sovereign


1980-s 

                 Many members were questioning the conduct and the expensive life style of some priests (using members donations),  Ordinary members raised their complaints about local priests excessive demands for conducting spiritual services, such as at marriages or prayers for the deceased (and which required considerable donations).


Together with the monopoly on issuing Gohonzon, the priesthood objected to considering lay believers as one of the Three Treasures (being: the Buddha, the Law and Samgha or the Community of Practitioners), asserting that the Treasure of Community is that of the Priests-only.  Another matter of disagreement was the concept of Heritage of the Law, with the priesthood asserting that the heritage belongs only to one person (the High Priest), excluding laity.


1990 

                “Then, in December, as 1990 was rapidly drawing to a close, the priesthood suddenly sent the Soka Gakkai with a letter of inquiry. It contained a list of the most ridiculous charges – such as the accusation that singing Beethoven’s great hymn to universal human freedom, ‘Ode to Joy’, constitutes ‘praise for non-Buddhist teachings’.

Furthermore, the priesthood demanded a response to their charges within seven days”.   People are Sovereign


SGI request for dialogue with the priesthood was rejected by the Head Temple - assuming that lay believers will leave SGI organisation and register in temples. Members, however, submitted a petition asking for the resignation of the High Priest. Finally, the SGI was excommunicated from the Head Temple (28 November 1991), a date recognised by SGI as the day of spiritual independence of ordinary people.


“We must ensure that the common people are eternally free from domination by evil tyrants. The people are the base upon which all things rest, the most important factor. A power that does not rely on authorities, that is unswayed by them, is to be found in the power of humanity, of unity and of democracy. We must never allow this power to be diminished. This is the profound significance of the Buddhism of human revolution, which stimulates and nurtures this human power to the highest degree.”

SGI Newsletter 5821, 5826 (Dec. 2003)  


1992

               Several temples refused to follow the High Priest and disassociated themselves from the Head Temple (Association of Reformist Priests), giving their support to SGI. One of the basic issues between the Priesthood and the Association of Reformist Priests is the demand for the Head Temple’s apology for supporting the war and for altering Nichiren’s letters.


2000

               The Priesthood completes destruction of its Head Temple, the Shohondo building, which was donated by the Soka Gakkai.

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