Someone told me that we should not take pictures of Gohonzons. Could you explain why?
Shortly after entering the priesthood, I wondered the same thing myself. I was told that taking pictures of the Gohonzon is rude, though I never got a clear answer on why.
The Mandala Gohonzon of Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō is the reflection of our Buddha nature. It is also the reflection of the Gohonzon within our minds. As HBS members, we are supposed to respect human beings (and other living beings) as we do the Gohonzons that are hung in the altar at home and in the temple.
The problem isn’t necessarily taking a picture of the Gohonzon, but what you do with the pictures you take. Of course, a picture of the Gohonzon does not have the spirit of the Lotus Sutra within it, because it’s not the Gohonzon itself, just a picture of it. However, if you step on a picture of the Gohonzon, or cut it with scissors, these actions prove that you do not have respect for the Odaimoku. Consequently, you will accumulate sins by those negative actions. On the contrary, if you deal with those pictures with respect, there will be no problem at all. In Japan, when we throw those pictures away or shred them, we paint the characters of Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō shown in the pictures in black.
When you take pictures of the Gohonzon with your smartphone or digital camera, those pictures are saved safely in your phone’s memory or SD card. So what about these sorts of pictures? How can you treat them improperly? Well, if you spit on the screen and curse at the image, that is disrespectful and will cause you to accumulate sins.
Talking about whether or not taking a picture of the Gohonzon is not insignificant, but I do recommend that you focus on taking care of “living” or “walking” Gohonzons surrounding you; your family members, friends, and colleagues. After all, that is truly where the Gohonzon lies.
Questioned by an HBS-member Brazilian woman
Answered by Ryosetsu Ikemoto
Edited by Brandon Colbert (Member of Myōshōji Temple)