Stories of Faith
The biography of Nichiren Daishonin bears some similarities with that of the Hebrew prophets, who decried the decline of society with the abandonment of true religious convictions. Nichiren’s teachings involved engaging with, and sometimes challenging, the disciplines that he was trained in, including Confucianism and the Chinese classics (Montgomery 1991: 99). This oppositional orientation prevailed within Nichiren Shoshu after Nichiren was designated as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law by the sub-school’s twenty-sixth high priest, Nichikan (1665-1726).
In the history of the Soka Gakkai, the imprisonment of their founder Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944) and his disciple Josei Toda (1900-1958) offer an example of this opposition within a modern context of conscientious objection. Makiguchi has acquired martyr-like status in the official narrative of Soka Gakkai history, which emphasises that he fell victim to “bad treatment, malnutrition and old age” while incarcerated for his beliefs (SGI-UK 2017: 41).