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Hokkeko

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Hokkeko (technically, Hokkekō) is a lay organization affiliated with the Nichiren Shoshu school of Japanese Buddhism and the name most Nichiren Shoshu temple congregations are known by. Hokke is a reference to the Lotus Sutra (Myōhō-Renge-Kyō 妙法蓮華経 or Hokkekyō 法華経), the Buddhist scripture Nichiren Shoshu bases its teachings on, and kō (講[1]) in this usage means lay group or congregation. Historical references to temple congregations as Hokkekō or Hokkekōshū date back to at least the 13th century. Nichiren (1222-1282), the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, also referred collectively to his lay followers as Hokkekōshū (法華講衆) in the dedication written on the Dai-Gohonzon, the school's object of veneration, inscribed on October 12, 1279. Nichiren Shoshu attributes the appellation Hokkekō to this usage by Nichiren.

In addition to being what congregations of Nichiren Shoshu temples (close to 700 in Japan and 20 in other countries) have traditionally called themselves, Hokkekō is also used loosely in reference to all temple congregations (local Hokkekō chapters) collectively. When used this way, it can be understood to mean the national Hokkekō umbrella organization in Japan and Hokkekō groups that encompass the congregations of Nichiren Shoshu temples outside Japan.

The Japanese umbrella organization, officially called Hokkekō Rengō Kai ("federation of Hokkekōs"), was incorporated under Japanese law in 1962. Its headquarters is located at Nichiren Shoshu's head temple Taisekiji in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, Japan, and it maintains a chapter at each local temple. [2]

Hokkekō groups tend to be organized fairly loosely and are generally unregimented. Whereas some members are very active in temple-based propagation and other activities, others come only for a monthly service called o-kō (or, more formally, go-hōon o-kō, "meeting to show gratitude to the Buddha"), the annual Oeshiki ceremony on the anniversary of Nichiren's passing, and other temple events.

Hokkekō experienced a spurt of fast growth in the early to mid 1990s following a split between the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and Soka Gakkai over doctrinal and practical differences. Friction between the two surfaced as 1990 drew to a close, sparking an inflow of Soka Gakkai members into Hokkekō that accelerated for a while after Nichiren Shoshu stripped Soka Gakkai of its status as a lay organization on November 28, 1991. Though Nichiren Shoshu still considered individual Soka Gakkai members as lay followers until a rule change in 1997, most mistakenly believed that they had been excommunicated along with the Soka Gakkai organization. Hokkekō growth has since slowed substantially but is now more organic.

Hokkekō is not affiliated with any political organizations.

See also: Soka Gakkai, Nichiren Shoshu

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