Shakubuku (折伏)

Shakubuku is an abbreviation of hashaku-kupukku. It is one of the approaches of propagation by Buddhism (especially Nichiren-related religious schools), and is a word as opposed to shoju (a method of expounding Buddhism in which one gradually leads another to the correct teaching according to that person's capacity and without refuting his or her attachment to mistaken views). It is to preach Buddhism through dialogue, not by compromising oneself to appeal to someone, but by insisting that what is right is right.


Based on 'No mater who the person may be, to the extent my order is effective, I will apply shakubuku to him if he is to be chastened or I will apply shoju if he is to be saved, the reason for which is to spread widely throughout the world the teaching of the truth (Shobo [the true teachings of Buddha])' written in 'Shomanngyo' (Srimala Sutra), the two methods, namely the application of shakubuku to the bad and that of shoju to the good are considered to be the major principles of Buddhism. Also there is an interpretation that shakubuku corresponds to Chie mon (entry of wisdom) and shoju to Jihi mon (entry to mercy).

As Nichiren, in his literary work, "Kaimokusho" (Liberation from Blindness) judged that shakubuku was a more suitable propagation method than shoju in the era of Mappo (the phase of decadent after Zoho) in Japan, it has been the word frequently used especially by various schools of Hokkeshu sect.

Nichiren took a skeptical view of the way in which many teachings contradictory to each other were claimed to be the teaching of Shakyamuni. As a result of having practiced asceticism at Mt. Hiei seeking the true teaching of Shakyamuni, Nichiren considered what Tendai Daishi called the Kyoso hanjaku (evaluation of sutras) (Buddhist Doctrines known as "Fivefold Periods and Eight Teachings") to be a correct one, reached the conclusion that Hokke-kyo Sutra was the true teaching of Shakyamuni, and began to do shakubuku with the four dictums (of Nichiren Buddhism) according to "Fivefold Periods and Eight Teachings." That was the origin of shakubuku which has been lasting up to now.

Since Nichiren, his Hokkeshu sect followed the teaching, performing street preaching at various places, and strived for shakubuku. However, many of these shakubuku activities served as a trigger of the suppression of them. The typical case was the well-known Azuchi religious dispute which was set by Nobunaga ODA. Also, in 1608, Nikkyo of Nichirenshu sect's Joraku-in Temple who criticized Jodoshu sect (Pure Land sect of Buddhism) in Owari Province (Aichi Prefecture) was prosecuted, called back to the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and ordered to hold a dialogue with Jodoshu sect at Edo-jo Castle, but failed in fully answering questions because he had been attacked and injured by a mob at the previous night or because he pretended he was sick, thus ending up a victory of Jodoshu sect. In the following year Nikkyo suffered the punishment of having his ears and nose cut. Taking this occasion, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was ordered to write and submit a letter of awareness stating that the sansho (three norms to be used for discrimination between right and wrong in religion) in the Four Dictums (of Nichiren Buddhism) did not exist. This resulted in severe suppression of shakubuku practiced by Nichiren's Hokkeshu sect. Nichirenshu sect calls this the religious persecution in the Keicho era.

The 'Big March for Shakubuku' campain started by Soka Gakkai after 1951 has made the shakubuku known in general. The present Soka Gakkai is relatively refraining from conducting such a large-scale campaign, while not only non-believers, but believers admit that it was extremely severe at that time as compared with today, yet there are many who are proud of it. The devotees at that time applied shakubuku to people one after another with 'Shakubuku Scripture' in one hand. This Shakubuku Scripture is an original one of Soka Gakkai and is not publicly available at present, but its contents are thorough criticism and condemnations of all kinds of religious philosophies including Nichirenshu sect, Tendaishu sect, Shingonshu sect, Zen sect, Nenbutsushu sect, and Christianity, etc.

Many of those who have been criticizing it since then continuously are allergic and have a sense of vigilance against Soka Gakkai because of the 'incidents of speech and press interference' in addition to the severity of shakubuku at that time.

In recent years, cases of the shakubuku by extremist organization's believers getting into trouble with the police have been reported by mass media.

However, there are differences of insistence and interpretation that shakubuku is a method to be applied to persons who understand Buddhism to a certain extent or those who have advanced understanding through the teaching of the same sect, and that it should not be applied to those who do not know what is Buddhism. Also, it is pointed out that, although shakubuku and shoju are said to be opposite techniques, both of them are absolutely inseparable Homon (dharma-gates) for the conversion to Buddhism (for having the teachings of Buddhism understood).

The Reason for Shakubuku

Examining the differences of attitudes toward shakubuku by different schools of Hokkeshu sect, we find that Minobu group (Nichirenshu sect, etc.) emphasizes the separate use of shakubuku and shoju as the situation demands, while Fuji group (Nichiren Shoshu sect, etc.) absolutely considers shakubuku the true intent of the soso (the founder of a religious sect).

However, it is said that at first Nichirenshu sect was exclusively doing only shakubuku. The reason why Nichirenshu sect began to practice shoju also is said that it was defeated by Jodoshu sect in the dispute at the Azuchi Dialogue.

The background of the Fuji group's practicing shakubuku is as follows:
Just like the calendar of last year, the teaching of Shakyamuni will get even harmful instead of useless in the Latter Day of the Law. Nichiren is a real Honbutsu (Primordial Buddha) and superior to Shakyamuni. Believing wrong teachings makes people and their country perish. Such an aspect of the radical and principled thinking is considered to be one of the causes.

Social criticism against shakubuku activities

Due to various factors, the word shakubuku is presently used to mean 'forceful and annoying inducement to a religious community' as follows:

Many of the insistences at the time of inducement are character assassination against a religious group whose basic principle itself is different and against its believers, and the denial of science and history; and the entirety of the insistences lacks in logical consistency.

There are many cases where doctors, nurses, Hello Work (Public employment security office) personnel, etc. make improper use of their official competence to enforce religious belief against persons such as hospitalized patients, jobless workers, etc. in the situation where there is no way to say no. Partly because these problems frequently happened in the past, Soka Gakkai was forced to make a partial modification to the method of its total revolution across bureaucracy, education circles, the press, medical field, etc.

There are many activities (like gangsters'), such as summoning someone with a hidden reason, intimidation like 'Fall into the pits of hell', stalking, justification of use of physical forces (inducement surrounded by a group, violent abduction and captivity, etc.) and so on, which have become social problems. These are caused by possibilities of exceeding common sense and allowance limits as results of acting under the creed.

In order to summon persons as mentioned above, there are cases where personal information is obtained with its purpose hidden from someone just meeting for the first time at an event site or at other places. It is said that there are vicious cases where telephone numbers are obtained by stealing a cellular phone.

Even at the relatives' gatherings for succession of property, religious conversion, etc. activities which are almost the same as shakubuku are sometimes performed, which may cause serious troubles on human relationship and money problems. In these cases the troubles seldom come to the surface as criminal or civil cases. Recently, with the appearance of consultation sites such as some of bulletin-boards, they are coming to the surface although gradually.

If the victims file claims, the police, who are afraid of attacks by the organization, often reject them on grounds of freedom of religion on the side of the perpetrators and nonintervention of civil cases. There are cases where, in the trial held in response to charging the police with unjustified search after the perpetrators were captured and the facilities of the religious community were searched, the insistence of the police was totally accepted in the court and no appeal was made, but the voices saying that an appeal was made against the unjustified sentence are sometimes heard within the religious community.

In cases where inducement among students became a problem within a school, and the perpetrator was demanded to choose either leaving school voluntarily or prohibition of inducement, the religious community influenced the student who did inducement and had him leave school, but they sometimes announces in a meeting within the community that the school forced the student to leave voluntarily.

If the inducement to the religion is rejected, then it may turn to a crime, which is first of all the forced affiliation to (or rejection of) the religion or donation to the organization by exertion of unlawful physical power, or which is blackmail with the excuse of payment for pain and suffering exploiting the weak point of the relatives opposing the religious belief, or the like.

For the prevention of damages suffered from shakubuku
Do not respond to summon on an unclear matter from a long-parted friend, etc.

Do not give personal information to a person you meet for the first time. Once giving the personal information, take actions such as do-not-disturb mode.

In case of suffering damage at work or in school, strengthen the linkage with people around you.

In case of asking help for the damage suffered, avoid depending on the religious sect which is opposed to the organization in question (as you should be cautious because there exists 'Victims' Group' which is hiding its religion placed in the opposing relationship, [whose examples are the Soka Gakkai victims' group led by Nichiren Shoshu sect and the Kensho-kai victims' group led by Soka Gakkai]).

Others and diversion
Especially in some radical organizations, their own shakubuku activities are sometimes called Orugu (organizer) using an analogy from inducement activities for acquiring new activists by each party sect during the heyday of radical groups from 1965 to 1975.

As diversion, inducement methods employed in such vicious sales activities as exhibition selling (painting selling) which is to surround a weak-hearted consumer without telling the real purpose and never leave nor let him or her go till he or she agrees, hypnotic selling, and so on, or adult-entertainment business's scouting activities inducing girls with the truth hidden at the first stage, are sometimes called shakubuku in a self-mocking manner by the vendors.

[Original Japanese]