The Sōzan 草山 teaching refers to the teaching advocated by Sōzan Gensei (草山元政, 1623–1668) to expand the doctrinal study of Honge (本化) (the orthodox teaching of Nichiren). This teaching was organized and systematized through the exposition of the Second Sōzan abbot Emyō Nittō (慧明日燈, 1642–1717). Although the teaching later degenerated and lost substance, it was eventually completed by Honmyō Nichirin (本妙日臨, 1793–1823). Nichirin’s teaching greatly influenced Udana Nichiki (優陀那日輝, 1800–1859), leading to the success of Jūgōen (充洽園) (Buddhist school) graduates as leaders of the Nichiren-shū during the period of the Meiji Restoration.
Existing studies see Gensei → Nichirin → Nichiki as a single lineage, and attempt to understand the thought of Gensei through Emyō’s writings by recognizing Emyō as a faithful exponent of Gensei. On the other hand, some raise an important point that Emyō was the root cause of the loss of substance in the Sōzan teaching.
Nichirin, who looked up to Gensei, positioned himself as Gensei’s “disciple” and worked hard to succeed the spirit of Gensei, which prioritized Zokushu Gohō (続種護法) (passing on and preserving the orthodox teaching), to achieve its spirited appearance in the world. The first question is, what kinds of influence did Nichirin receive from Gensei? Second, how did Nichirin, who is considered to have perfected the Sōzan teaching, perceive Emyō? The purpose of this paper is to examine these questions to contribute to the study of the Sōzan teaching.
Nichirin perceived the two priests as “a master and a pupil between whom entire teachings were passed on” and understood Gensei’s intent through the writings of Emyō. From this, we can point out the need to study Emyō, for which existing literature is severely limited, to further understand Nichirin, Gensei, and the Sōzan teaching.