The Significance of the Establishment of Taisekiji

On this occasion of the Overseas Believers Summer Study Tozan, I would like to express my respect to all of you who made the pilgrimage to the Head Temple from countries around the world.
I am Rev. Shudo Sugano, and I will be presenting you with today’s lecture.
Today, I would like to talk about Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple Taisekiji, where you have come on a tozan pilgrimage.
Taisekiji was established in the autumn of 1290 by Second High Priest Nikko Shonin, and carries a deep and sacred history spanning 722 years.
Nikko Shonin felt dismayed to leave Mt. Minobu, where our founder Nichiren Daishonin spent the final nine years of his life. However, in order to protect the Daishonin’s true Law and correctly propagate the teachings into the future, he left Mt. Minobu, feeling as if his heart would break, and established Taisekiji here, at the foot of Mt. Fuji.
If we consider the background of Taisekiji's establishment at its current site after Nikko Shonin’s departure from Mt. Minobu, we clearly can see that, from the viewpoint of Nichiren Shoshu history, it was inevitable.
Therefore, I would like to discuss the background of Nikko Shonin’s departure from Mt. Minobu, the reasons why the site where Taisekiji is established is the finest location, and the significance of Taisekiji’s establishment.

The Demise of the Daishonin, and Nikko Shonin’s Arrival at Mt. Minobu
Nichiren Daishonin passed away on October 13th of the fifth year of Ko'an (1282) at Ikegami, in the Bushu region.
Before his passing, from among his many disciples, the Daishonin selected Nikko Shonin as the Great Master of Propagation in the Latter Day of the Law. He also bestowed upon Nikko Shonin all authority with regard to his Buddhism and with regard to the Gohonzon.
The existence of the two transfer documents, and the fact that Nikko Shonin became the head priest of Kuonji Temple on Mt. Minobu, undoubtedly prove that Nikko Shonin is the legitimate successor to Nichiren Daishonin.
After the funeral ceremonies for Nichiren Daishonin, Nikko Shonin, carrying the Daishonin's ashes, immediately went to Mt. Minobu. As the second head priest of Kuonji Temple and as the Great Master of Propagation of the Essential Teaching, Nikko Shonin assumed the position of leader of all the Daishonin's followers, in accordance with the Daishonin's will.
Therefore, Nikko Shonin followed the Daishonin’s will, stated in the Gosho, “Hagiri dono goho”:

Wherever I may meet my demise, I would like to be buried in the valley of Minobu.
(Gosho, p. 1596)

At Minobu, Nikko Shonin established a grave where the Daishonin’s ashes were enshrined.
A feeling of desolation filled Mt. Minobu for a time after the Daishonin’s passing, but the arrival of Nikko Shonin revitalized the land with the energy of sutra recitations, chanting Daimoku, lectures, and study permeating the area around the mountain.
In January of the sixth year of Ko'an (1283), Nichiren Daishonin’s 100th Day Memorial Ceremony was solemnly conducted by Nikko Shonin, with disciple priests and believers, from places both near and far, all in attendance.
On the occasion of this ceremony, Nikko Shonin considered the unity of the priesthood to be of utmost importance for the perpetuation of the true Law and kosen-rufu. He discussed with the other senior priests the idea of establishing a rotation system to protect and serve the Daishonin’s grave. The rotation system for the gravesite was approved, and recorded in a document entitled, “Document of Acceptance of Specified Duty to Protect the Grave.”
The purpose of establishing the rotation system for the gravesite was for the perpetuation of the true Law and kosen-rufu. More specifically, its purpose was first, for the Daishonin’s disciples who were propagating the teachings in various regions to visit the Daishonin’s grave, in order to repay their debt of gratitude to the Daishonin and cultivate their practice. Second, its purpose was for them to learn the Buddhism of the sowing hidden in the depths of the Lotus Sutra under Nikko Shonin, who received the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, and also for them always to receive correct guidance from Nikko Shonin.
This is extremely important. The true significance of the Daishonin’s Buddhism was received by Nikko Shonin, who possessed the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law entrusted to a single person.
Sadly, however, the other senior priests could not understand this point. They denied Nikko Shonin’s guidance, and conducted hostile acts against their Master.
The third purpose for establishing the rotation system was for Nikko Shonin to be able to grasp the current situation of the Daishonin’s followers through receiving reports of the circumstances of propagation.
The rotation system for the gravesite was established in order to repay the debt of gratitude owed to the Daishonin through protecting his grave and offering incense and greens. But actually, as you can see, it carried an even deeper meaning.
The “Document of Acceptance of Specified Duty to Protect the Grave,” which was approved by the senior priests, was no longer upheld after the Daishonin’s 100th Day Memorial Ceremony.
In October of the seventh year of Ko'an (1284), the third Anniversary Ceremony of the Daishonin’s Passing was conducted by Nikko Shonin, but not even one of the five senior priests made a pilgrimage to attend. Nikko Shonin stated:

Before everything else, it is absolutely deplorable that the gravesite in the valley of Minobu has become totally dilapidated from neglect and is defaced by the hoof prints of deer.
(”Letter to Minasaka-bo,” Rekizen, vol.1, p. 113)

He was deeply saddened that the five senior priests failed to protect the gravesite and left it in such a deplorable condition that it was surrounded by the hoof prints of deer.
In fact, the Daishonin’s gravesite, of course, whole-heartedly was served by Nikko Shonin and his disciples, so the grave actually was not neglected in this way. This passage uses such an expression to describe the attitude of the five unfilial senior priests.

The Decision to Leave Mt. Minobu
The five senior priests failed to uphold the rotation system for the gravesite. Furthermore, Niko, who was one of the six major disciples and Hagiri Sanenaga, who was the steward of the area, both committed slanderous acts against the true Law. Their actions of slandering the Law drove Nikko Shonin to make the decision to leave Mt. Minobu.
Today, I will not discuss the details of their actions, but it is important to note that Nikko Shonin never silently overlooked their slander of the Law.
Nikko Shonin directly met with Niko and Hagiri Sanenaga, denounced their mistaken views, and tried to guide them back to the true spirit of the Daishonin.
Hagiri Sanenaga not only refused to heed Nikko Shonin’s guidance—he disrespectfully retorted, “Minbu-ajari is my Master,” and rejected Nikko Shonin’s admonitions. In an attempt to sever the ties between Niko and Hagiri Sanenaga, Nikko Shonin ordered Niko to leave Mt. Minobu, due to the fact that he had confused Hagiri Sanenaga and conspired with him to slander the Law and oppose his Master. Nikko Shonin strongly stated:

From this time on, we never will appoint a head of teacher priests who commits such slander.
(“Hara-dono gohenji” [“Reply to Lord Hara”], Rekizen, vol.1, p. 170)

He banished Niko from Minobu.
But Niko did not leave Minobu, and continued secretly to influence Hagiri Sanenaga negatively. Under these serious circumstances, Nikko Shonin finally made the decision to leave Minobu, following the Daishonin’s will. He stated:

I received the Daishonin’s will, which states that “I (Nichiren) should not reside in the same district if the Lord of the Manor were to act contrary to the Law.”
(“Minasaka-bo gohenji,” Rekizen, vol.1, p. 113)

Nikko Shonin also stated:

It is impossible to express my regret and embarrassment at having had to take leave of Minobu; however, the more I contemplate it, the more I realize that no matter where one may be, the most important thing is to carry on with the teachings of the Master and spread them among the people. This being so, it is a shame that all of these disciples have turned against the Master. Nikko alone has fathomed the Master's true intent, and since I feel I am the person to carry on with the purpose of his advent, I shall not forsake my true mission.
(“Hara-dono gohenji” [“Reply to Lord Hara”], ibid., p. 172)

Leaving Minobu was not his original intention. However, he made the firm decision to take the action of leaving Minobu in order to protect the true teaching of the Daishonin. Regarding this passage, Fifty-ninth High Priest Nichiko Shonin explained, “Even a foolish priest would say that those who read this passage and remain calm are not followers of this sect.”
He taught us that if we understood Nikko Shonin’s heart, our hearts would ache and we could not remain calm.
In this passage, we can understand Nikko Shonin’s deep embarrassment and his resolution that states: “I am the only person who has inherited the Daishonin’s Buddhism and the only one who can transmit it.”
Nikko Shonin decided that in order to protect the Daishonin’s true Law and save the people of the Latter Day of the Law, the only choice would be to leave Mt. Minobu, which became a site of slander, and move to a pure place. With this, he moved forward with his decision to leave Minobu.
Nikko Shonin departed Mt. Minobu, because Niko and Hagiri Sanenaga abandoned the teachings and committed various slanders of the Law. However, this is only the surface reason.
If we consider these circumstances based on the doctrines of the Daishonin, we can understand that the departure from Mt. Minobu was inevitable, and it carries an even deeper significance. Nikko Shonin himself stated the following:

However, the more I contemplate it, the more I realize that no matter where one may be, the most important thing is to carry on with the teachings of the Master and spread them among the people.
(ibid.)

Wherever in the world the site may be, it is important to propagate the true Law and true teaching that the Daishonin has established correctly. And Nikko Shonin resolved that he, himself, held this responsibility. He stated:

Nikko alone has fathomed the Master's true intent, and since I feel I am the person to carry on with the purpose of his advent, I shall not forsake my true mission.
(Seiten, p. 560)

We can understand the confidence and resolution of Nikko Shonin, who possesses the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, entrusted to a single person. Furthermore, we can recognize his confidence from the following passage:

The principles of the Fuji School propagated by our master must be followed without even the slightest deviation.
(“Twenty-six Admonitions of Nikko” [“Nikko yuikai okimon”] Gosho, p. 1883)

Nikko Shonin decided to follow the Daishonin’s will, and establish the head temple where the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching would be enshrined, at a pure site, free of slander against the Law. Therefore, it can be said that Nikko Shonin’s true intention was to ensure the perpetuation of the true Law of the Daishonin of and kosen-rufu at a pure location, rather than merely to abandon the site of slander of the Law.

A Place of the Finest Scenery: Oishigahara
Then where is the pure place to establish the head temple and enshrine the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching, following the Daishonin’s will? Nichiren Daishonin stated:

Seek out a place of the finest scenery comparable to the pure land of Eagle Peak and there erect the High Sanctuary.
(“On the Transmission of the Three Great Secret Laws” [“Sandai hiho bonjoji”], Gosho, p. 1595)

Concerning “a place of the finest scenery comparable to the pure land of Eagle Peak,” the “Document for Entrusting the Law that Nichiren Propagated throughout his Life” (“Nichiren ichigo guho fuzokusho”) which is the document transferring the Heritage of the Law from the Daishonin to Nikko Shonin states:

I, Nichiren, transfer the entirety of the Law that I have propagated throughout my life to Byakuren Ajari Nikko, and designate him the Great Master of Propagation of the Essential Teaching. When the sovereign embraces this Law, establish the [True] High Sanctuary of Honmonji Temple at Mount Fuji. You must await the time. This is the true Law of precepts. Above all else, my disciples must obey this document.
(“Nichiren ichigo guho fuzokusho,” Gosho, p. 1675)

As you can see, the location was referenced with the statement, “establish the [True] High Sanctuary of Honmonji Temple at Mount Fuji.” Regarding the background of this passage, the following writing states:

Nikko hereby requests that, in general, a picturesque and scenic location be chosen for its temple site as is customary in Buddhism. In this case, as Nikko has heard that Mt. Fuji in Suruga is the most celebrated mountain in Japan, it should be the place to establish Honmonji. When kosen-rufu is actualized, and the sovereign accepts this Law, then it will be mandatory to construct the High Sanctuary of Honmonji Temple at the foot of Mt. Fuji.
(“Fuji isseki monto zonji no koto,” Gosho, p. 1873)

Previously, Nikko Shonin had suggested to the Daishonin that the appropriate site of the finest scenery to establish the High Sanctuary is Mt. Fuji in Suruga.
In the spring of the second year of Sho’o (1289), the eighth year following the Daishonin’s passing, Nikko Shonin departed his dear and familiar home of Minobu, together with Nichimoku Shonin and other disciples. He carried with him: the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching, which is the true purpose of the Daishonin’s advent; the Daishonin’s ashes; Goshos; and all the important treasures. They stayed in Kawai along the Fuji River at the home of Nikko Shonin’s adoptive family, where he had spent his childhood.
There was a person whose heart ached throughout the course of these troubling matters. This person was Nanjo Tokimitsu, and it was his eager wish for Nikko Shonin to move to the Fuji Ueno region, where Tokimitsu was the steward and landowner.

Nanjo Tokimitsu
I would like briefly to talk about Nanjo Tokimitsu, who carried out meritorious deeds in order to establish Taisekiji.
Nanjo Tokimitsu was born in the first year of Shogen (1259) and was Lord of the Manor of Ueno. Nanjo Hyoe Shichiro was his father, and the daughter of Matsuno Rokuro Zaemon was his mother.
It is said that his father, Nanjo Hyoe Shichiro took faith in the Daishonin in Kamakura. He had pure faith, and he passed away in March of the second year of Bunei (1265).
At that time, the Daishonin traveled from Kamakura to visit Nanjo’s home in Ueno Fuji and prayed at his gravesite. Nanjo Tokimitsu, at that time, was seven years old. He grew up as the head of the Nanjo Family, and followed the example of his father’s faith. He received his education from his mother and guidance from Nikko Shonin.
When the Daishonin met again with Nanjo Tokimitsu ten years later, he stated:

I was deeply grieved to hear of the death of Lord Hyo’e, who was a man in his prime. It seems that Lord Hyo’e himself has renewed his youth and left his son as a bequest. Not only his appearance, but also his attitude in faith does not differ from his father’s.
(“Nanjo gokeama gozen gohenji,” Gosho, p. 741)

As described in this Gosho passage, the Daishonin was surprised to see that Tokimitsu was incredibly similar in appearance to his father, Nanjo Hyo’e Shichiro. Furthermore, the Daishonin was pleased to see how Nanjo Tokimitsu exerted himself in this practice. He stated:

You succeeded your father and believe in this sutra, and your deceased father feels joy even from below the grass.
(“Reply to Lord Ueno,” Gosho, p. 745)

I would like to make special mention of the meritorious deeds of Nanjo Tokimitsu during the time of the Atsuhara Persecution, which occurred from the Kenji era to the Koan era. During this period, he devoted himself, following the guidance of Nikko Shonin, and protected priests and lay believers, who were united in faith. He did this despite the various oppressions he faced. The Daishonin stated:

I write this letter in deep gratitude for the encouragement you are giving to those involved in the Atsuhara Persecution.
(“Ueno dono gohenji,”Gosho, p. 1428)

He admired Tokimitsu’s meritorious deeds during the Atsuhara Persecution and bestowed upon him the honorific title, “Lord Ueno the Wise.” With regards to the persecutions he was facing, the Daishonin wrote:

Your small village has been heavily taxed and its people have been repeatedly put to forced labor, until you yourself have no horse to ride, and your wife and children lack for clothing.
(“Reply to Lord Ueno,” Gosho, p. 1529)

Because of many oppressions and taxes, Tokimitsu’s circumstances were such that he could not have a horse to ride and his wife and children could not have sufficient clothing. Even under these deprived circumstances, they continued to make offerings to the Daishonin.

The Site that Suits the Four Gods
Nanjo Tokimitsu, who had firm faith and a strong determination to protect the Law, invited Nikko Shonin to a site called Oishigahara, which is located to the northeast of the Nanjo residence at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Today, this residence is Myorenji Temple.
Oishigahara has views of scenic beauty along the foot of Mt. Fuji, the most beautiful mountain in Japan, which often is covered in white snow. Nikko Shonin mentioned the following about this location:

Mt. Fuji in the region of Suruga is a vast land; [moreover,] first, it is in the country of Fuso, and second, it is an excellent location that suits the four gods…it is the place to pray for the great aspiration of the Daishonin.
(“Fuji isseki monto zonji no koto,”Gosho, p. 1873)

He explained that this is the place of the finest scenery to establish the High Sanctuary, based on the Daishonin’s aspiration.
“Suiting the four gods” comes from the principle of Yin and Yang for choosing the best site, and it is deemed a valuable standard to follow in China and Japan.The “four gods” indicates the gods of the four directions: East, Azure Dragon; West, White Tiger; South, Vermilion Bird; and North, Black Tortoise.
This refers to: East, river of running water; West, wide road; South, large fields; and North, hills. These correspond to the Azure Dragon, White Tiger, Vermilion Bird and Black Tortoise.
Incidentally, it is said that the Heian era of Kyoto, Japan had these same geographical features.
The river of the Azure Dragon in the east corresponds to the Urui River, which is located on the east side of the current Head Temple. The wide road of the White Tiger corresponds to the road from Kariyado, which is located on the north side of the current Head Temple. It leads to Myorenji Temple, the Shimono-bo and Fujinomiya City.
South signifies the marshy areas of the Vermilion Bird. This corresponds to the rural areas located on the south side of the current Head Temple. North indicates the hill of the Black Tortoise. This corresponds to the current Sengohara Hill.
In this way, you can see that the Temple of Oishigahara, which is the current Taisekiji, is the “place of the finest scenery that suits the four gods.”
Nikko Shonin was confident that Oishigahara was the sole place that possessed the magnificence for establishing the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching, where the Dai-Gohonzon can be enshrined, following the will of the Daishonin.

The Establishment of Taisekiji
At this finest place, beginning in the fall of the second year of Sho’o (1289), Nichimoku Shonin, his disciple priests, Nanjo Tokimitsu, and other sincere priests and lay believers began to construct Taisekiji under the direction of Nikko Shonin.
In the fall of the following year, the third year of Sho’o (1290), the first building at Taisekiji, the Mutsubo, was completed, and thus, Taisekiji was established.
Afterwards, minor temples were established by Nichimoku Shonin and other disciple priests. Due to the sincere protection from Nanjo Tokimitsu’s family, the temple at Oishigahara was able to grow with distinction, as the head temple of the Daishonin’s Buddhism. It has developed over the centuries into the current Head Temple Taisekiji.

The Significance of the Establishment of Taisekiji
I have thus described the circumstances of the establishment of the Head Temple Taisekiji.
There are some people who insist that the spirit of the Daishonin resides in Minobu, since Mt. Minobu is the pure and sacred place where Nichiren Daishonin spent the last nine years of his life.
As I mentioned before, however, the Daishonin’s will states, “I (Nichiren) should not reside in the same district, if the Lord of the Manor were to act contrary to the Law.” Therefore, the spirit of the Daishonin would never reside in a place where slander of the Law permeates. The slander conducted by Niko and the Lord of the Manor, Hagiri Sanenaga, permeated all of Mt. Minobu. Regarding this, Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin stated the following:

Mt. Minobu originally was a pure and sacred place, as stated by Nichiren Daishonin, but after our founder passed away, the Lord of the Manor slandered the Law, again and again. Even though Nikko Shonin remonstrated with him, he never stopped, and the heart of our founder Nichiren Daishonin would never reside in a place where slander of the Law fills the land.

Therefore, Nikko Shonin left Mt. Minobu and moved to Mt. Fuji. He succeeded his Master’s way and never was soiled with any impurity. Later, he transmitted the Law to Nichimoku, and Nichimoku transmitted it to Nichido. For 400 and some-odd years until now, the pure water of the Law never ceases to exist, just as one cup of water is poured into the next. The heart of Nichiren Daishonin was poured into mine. Hence, his heart resides at Mt. Fuji.
(“Montei hichin-sho,” Rokkan-sho, p. 65)

He teaches that the heart of the Daishonin was transferred to the Second High Priest Nikko Shonin, the Third High Priest Nichimoku Shonin, and each successive High Priest, who inherited the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, entrusted to a single person. Today, it is in the heart of the Sixty-eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin. Therefore, the heart of the Daishonin resides here, at the Head Temple Taisekiji.
Taisekiji is called the origin of kosen-rufu, not only because its site presents the finest scenery, but also because it is where the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching—which is the true purpose of the Daishonin’s advent into this world—resides. It also is where the High Priest, who possesses the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law and who has inherited all of the teachings of the Daishonin, resides.
The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching and the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, entrusted to a single person, are the core teachings of Nichiren Shoshu.

Conclusion
Today, I have described the circumstances surrounding the establishment of Taisekiji. I hope that all of you who have made this tozan pilgrimage will overcome all difficulties, through understanding the significance of why Nikko Shonin selected this site and established the Head Temple Taisekiji. Furthermore, I hope that all of you will exert yourselves by following the example of the sincere faith of Nanjo Tokimitsu and the senior Hokkeko believers who have protected the priesthood.
Nichiren Shoshu is progressing vigorously toward the achievement of the objectives given to us by the High Priest for the years 2015 and 2021. There is no way to achieve them other than to conduct shakubuku. I hope that all of you will exert yourselves to do shakubuku in your countries and regions.
I would like to conclude my lecture by praying from the bottom of my heart for your increased faith and further efforts.
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