January Oko 2009

 

I would like to thank you for attending today’s Oko ceremony despite your busy schedule. I have offered your sincere Gokuyo to the Gohonzon, and sincerely prayed to the Gohonzon for the further development in faith; eradication of your sins and negative karma from this and infinite past lifetimes; to enjoy a safe and long life; for peace and harmony to reign in your home; for all matters to proceed forth smoothly; and for the successful achievement of all your great objectives in this and future existences.

 

For those who have requested for Toba, I have offered my sincere prayers to the Gohonzon for the peace and happiness of your late relatives, friends, and ancestors.

 

I would like to continue with my sermon of the “Rissho Ankoku ron.” To this point, the traveler (Hojo Tokiyori) has asked the host (Nichiren Daishonin) seven questions about the state of the country and why these disasters and calamities occur. Hearing the responses, the traveler is at first angered, then furious. But he would lighten up after the seventh question. Yet he quotes upon hearing the seventh response,

“In order to eliminate the offenses of these slanderous people and eradicate the teachings that violate the admonitions of the Buddha, are you suggesting that, as stated in the [Nirvana] Sutra, these people should be beheaded? That would be re-committing the offense of murder. What, then, would be done with the negative karma thus created?”

Then, the traveler uses a passage in the Daijuku Sutra, or the Sutra of the Great Assembly as for his rebuttal.

“As long as a person shaves his head and wears a priest’s robe, whether he observes or violates the precepts, both heavenly and human beings must make offerings to him because doing so is the same as making offerings to me [the Buddha]. This priest is my child. If someone attacks and strikes him, he would be harming my child. If someone abuses and humiliates him, he would be slandering and insulting me.

It should be inferred from the sutras that offerings must be made to priests without questioning whether they are good or bad, or whether it is right or wrong to do so. How could you be so shameful as to cause the Buddha to lament by attacking and humiliating his child?”

Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin mentions, “Here, the traveler deliberately doesn’t mention about right or wrong, good or bad. Rather, he mentions, because they are simply priests, basically there should be offerings for them. Yet why do you attack the children and make the father feel sad? Just because they are slanderers shouldn’t mean that you should kill them. This is the travelers opinion.”

 

Then the traveler offers two examples of actual proof about people going to hell because they killed the Buddha’s child.

“Some of the Brahmans from the Bamboo Staff School have for almost an eternity remained sunk at the bottom of the hell of incessant suffering for killing Maudgalyayana. Devadatta murdered Nun Utpalavarna and then suffered in the flames of the hell of incessant suffering for a period of time beyond measure.”

Brahmans of the Bamboo Staff School are a group of people extremely violent and tyrannical. If there is something they don’t like, they use their bamboo staffs to attack it. This group of people existed during Shakyamuni’s lifetime. They showed hatred towards the Buddha and the disciples who practice the teachings. One day, these people encountered two of Shakyamuni’s disciples, Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, who were on their way to Rajagriha. These people tell them “We hear that the teachings of Shakyamuni is the True teaching. We want to hear your master’s teachings. If we hear something that is unsatisfying, we will beat you to death.” Shariputra was foremost in knowledge, so he was able to explain knowledgeable things that the Brahmans wouldn’t understand, so he was let go.

Next Maudgalyayana comes up. He is foremost in occult powers, which many of might have heard in the Urabon ceremony. He tells them simply “I am foremost in occult powers, and I have been to hell before. There, I saw your (the Brahmans) master. He was sent there because he lied. He was suffering in pain because his tongue was spread far and wide, with people holding shovels and hoes ripping in the tongue. That is why all of you will go to hell.”

The Brahmans were not that stupid to let that go. So they beat him up, badly. Concerned that Maudgalyayana was late, Shariputra returned to the spot where he finds Maudgalyayana severely beaten and was down to his last breathe. Shariputra asks him “You are foremost in occult power. Why didn’t you use it prevent this from happening?” Then Maudgalyayana replied, “It was my past karma.” Honorable Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin mentions, “However good the benefit is, past karma is unavoidable.”

 

Next, Devadatta is the one who committed three of the five cardinal sins. Disrupting the harmony of the Buddhist order, shedding a Buddha’s blood, and killing an arhat, the sin the traveler is mentioning.

King Ajatashatru fell for his sweet talk, and killed his father. But because of his actions, a scab formed in his body. It was so bad, that he suffered through that pain. Had it not been for his aides, he would have died. Having realized the evil ways of Devadatta, he denied him access to his castle. While responding furiously to the king’s action, he encountered Nun Utpalavarna, who was coming out from the castle. She strongly scolded him, and Devadatta was so angry to that scolding, he immediately killed with his fists. But after killing her, there was a big hole that appeared outside the castle gates. He fell into that hole, sending him “in the flames of the hell of incessant suffering for a period of time beyond measure.”

 

The traveler closes his question with this quote. “ These examples of earlier ages clearly show what we, of the later ages, should all fear most. While it may appear that you are refuting slander, you are in fact defying the Buddha’s admonitions. I find your statements difficult to believe. How should I interpret them?”

 

To this question, the host responds with the following: “You have obviously read the sutras and yet you still ask such a thing.”

 

The important point here is to eliminate slander. This can also be said about doing shakubuku. We are not doing shakubuku to slander the person, but to let them know about the slanders of the heretical teachings.

 

Moving to the ninth question, the traveler has lightened up, and now realizes the errors of devoting to Honen’s “The Sole Selection of Nembutsu”. He asks the question.

“The teachings of the Buddha are so diverse that their true intentions are difficult to grasp. They have so many puzzling aspects that there is no way of judging what is right and what is wrong.

However, Priest Honen’s The Sole Selection of Nembutsu exists in reality, and it states that all Buddhas, sutras, bodhisattvas, and guardian deities must be discarded, closed, ignored, and rejected. These [slanderous] words clearly appear in his writing. Due to this teaching, sages have left the land, while guardian deities have abandoned their domains; people of the whole nation are suffering from starvation and thirst; pestilence afflicts the entire nation. By extensively citing the sutras, you have clearly shown what is consistent with and contrary to reason. Thus, my deluded attachment has vanished, and now my ears have cleared and my eyes have opened.

Ultimately, it is the peace and stability of the land that everyone from the emperor to the commoner seeks and longs for. It we instantly cease giving alms to the icchantika and instead consistently make offerings to the many priests and nuns of the correct Law, and if we defeat the pirates on the vast ocean of Buddhist teachings and rout out the bandits in the high mountains of the Law, then the land will be peaceful, just as it was during the eras of Fu Xi and Shennong, and the nation will be an ideal one, just as it was during the periods of Yao and Shun.

I will contemplate the depths of the Buddhist teachings and will seek, from now on, to revere the highest teaching of all.”

 

The host responds to this question. As you know, this portion of the Rissho Ankoku-ron is read during the Oeshiki Ceremony. I want to explain that during that ceremony. Because of that, I will end my sermon about Rissho Ankoku-ron. As you know, last year was the 750th anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho Ankoku-ron. During the Great Assembly, High Priest Nichinyo Shonin presented us new goals for us to accomplish by 2015 and 2021. As written in the Rissho Ankoku-ron, the important thing is to eliminate slander. Only through this True Buddhism we can gain happiness.

 

In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much.