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Techno-Ritualization : the Gohozon Controversy on the Internet

TitleTechno-Ritualization : the Gohozon Controversy on the Internet
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsMacWilliams, M
JournalOnline – Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet
IssueSpecial Issue on Rituals on the Internet
Start Page91
KeywordsDigital Religion, Gohonzon, Lotus Sutra, Nichiren, Nichiren Buddhist sects, religion, Ritual, sacred mandala, Sôka Gakkai, worship

In Techno-Ritualization – The Gohozon Controversy on the Internet, Mark MacWilliams describes the case of the “Gohonzon”, Nichiren’s sacred mandala consisting of the title of the Lotus Sutra that is used for worship in the various Nichiren Buddhist sects. Whereas this mandala is generally considered as extremely sacred and it is demanded that it should be housed in the home altar and only displayed privately for devotional chanting, it can nowadays be found on the Internet as a “prayer Gohonzon” from the American Independent Movement, a Buddhist group unaffiliated with the official authority Sôka Gakkai International (SGI). The Internet site offers a virtual altar with a fully displayed Gohonzon, twinkling lighted candles before it, and the chant, “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,” flashing syllable by syllable on the screen. MacWilliam underlines the power of the Internet to transform religious practice with the example of the virtual prayer and to challenge real life ecclesiastical organizations: the way the Internet is being used is transforming the way people “do” religion.