December 2008 Oko

 

The guest thereupon flushed with anger and said: Emperor Ming of the Later Han dynasty, having comprehended the significance of his dream of a golden man, welcomed the teachings of Buddhism brought to China by missionaries leading white horses. Prince Shotoku, having punished Mononobe no Moriya for his opposition to Buddhism, proceeded to construct temples and pagodas in Japan. Since that time, from the supreme ruler down to the numberless masses, people have worshiped the Buddhist statues and devoted their attention to the scriptures. As a result, in the monasteries of Mount Hiei and of the southern capital at Nara, at the great temples of Onjo-ji and To-ji, throughout the land within the four seas, in the five areas adjacent to the capital and the seven outlying regions, Buddhist scriptures have been ranged like stars in the sky and halls of worship have spread over the land like clouds. Those who belong to the lineage of Shariputra meditate on the moon atop Eagle Peak, while those who adhere to the traditions of Haklenayasha transmit the teachings of Mount Kukkutapada. How, then, can anyone say that the doctrines of Shakyamuni are despised or that the three treasures of Buddhism are neglected? If there is evidence to support such a contention, I would like to hear all the facts!

The host, anxious to clarify his words, replied: To be sure, Buddha halls stand rooftop to rooftop and sutra storehouses are ranged eave to eave. Priests are as numerous as bamboo plants and rushes, monks as common as rice and hemp seedlings. The temples and priests have been honored from centuries past, and every day respect is paid to them anew. But the monks and priests today are fawning and devious, and they confuse the people and lead them astray. The ruler and his ministers lack understanding and fail to distinguish between truth and heresy.

The Ninno Sutra, for example, says: "Evil monks, hoping to gain fame and profit, in many cases appear before the ruler, the heir apparent or the other princes and take it upon themselves to preach doctrines that lead to the violation of the Buddhist Law and the destruction of the nation. The rulers, failing to perceive the truth of the situation, listen to and put faith in such doctrines, and proceed to create regulations that are perverse in nature and do not accord with the rules of Buddhist discipline. In this way they bring about the destruction of Buddhism and of the nation."

The Nirvana Sutra states: "Bodhisattvas, have no fear in your hearts because of such things as wild elephants. But evil friends--they are what you should fear! If you are killed by a wild elephant, you will not fall into any of the three evil paths. But if evil friends lead you to your death, you are certain to fall into one of them!"

 

 

I would like to thank you for attending today’s Oko ceremony, the last Oko ceremony for 2008, the Year of Great Advancement, 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.

 

This month, I have read a portion of the “Rissho Ankoku Ron”. This portion is the third question given by the traveler (Hojo Tokiyori, the most influential member of the Hojo clan, despite retiring from center stage). So far to this point, the traveler was steaming and turning red after listening to what the host (Nichiren Daishonin’s) response to the first two questions the traveler gave him. The two questions that were given was

                    1. Why are catastrophes coming to the land?

                    2. Where is the evidence that these catastrophes are created?

Listening to the response the host gave will surely make anyone who has believed in heretical teachings for such a long time furious. But, at the end of the second response, from the four sutras he cited, the Konkomyo, Daijuku, Ninno, and Yakushi sutras, the host made it clear why catastrophes are happening. The traveler asks the host about why the True Law is being slandered.

 

Let’s look at the traveler’s question. First, “Emperor Ming of the Later Han dynasty, having comprehended the significance of his dream of a golden man, welcomed the teachings of Buddhism brought to China by missionaries leading white horses.” The traveler brings up the origins of Buddhism in ancient China. It refers to a dream Emperor Ming saw about a golden man levitating above the garden. He talks to his ministers about the meaning of this dream. One of the ministers said that he had heard of the birth of a sage in the western region during the reign of King Chao of the Chou dynasty and that this sage had been called the Buddha. The emperor sent out eighteen missionaries in order to obtain the Buddha’s teachings. Along the way, they encountered two people who were heading to China, that were coming from India. The missionaries accompanied the two back to China, bringing statues of the Buddha and sutras that were being carried on the back of white horses. The emperor was very delighted, fervently protected this Buddhism, and built a temple to storage the statues and scrolls. This temple was called the “White Horse Temple (or Ministry), named after the white horse that carried the statues and sutras into China.

Next, “Prince Shotoku, having punished Mononobe no Moriya for his opposition to Buddhism, proceeded to construct temples and pagodas in Japan.” This part explains the origins of Buddhism in Japan. Prince Shotoku was a very influential person in many aspects. But more importantly, he was a patron of Buddhism to spread in Japan during the sixth century. It was said that around the year 552, during the reign of Emperor Kinno, Buddha statues and sutras were sent from King Seong of Baekje, which was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, along with Goguryeo and Silla. There was a big debate whether to adopt Buddhism or continue with Shintoism. This lead to a war between Prince Shotoku, along with Sogano Umako, a politician and noble, who strongly wanted to adopt Buddhism in Japan, and the Mononobe clan, lead by Moriya, who was very persistent with keeping the Shinto practice. This war lasted for three months, as the two sides battled four times. The Mononobe clan had the upper hand in three of them, but in the last battle, Mononobe no Moriya died in this battle, leading to the demise and ruin of the Mononobe clan. After that, Prince Shotoku proceeded to construct Buddhist temples and pagodas in Japan.

Then, “Since that time, from the supreme ruler down to the numberless masses, people have worshiped the Buddhist statues and devoted their attention to the scriptures. As a result, in the monasteries of Mount Hiei and of the southern capital at Nara, at the great temples of Onjo-ji and To-ji, throughout the land within the four seas, in the five areas adjacent to the capital and the seven outlying regions, Buddhist scriptures have been ranged like stars in the sky and halls of worship have spread over the land like clouds.” The supreme ruler here, points to the emperor. Everyone in Japan had adopted into Buddhism. I want to get into this later.

                    Those who belong to the lineage of Shariputra meditate on the moon atop Eagle Peak, while those who adhere to the traditions of Haklenayasha transmit the teachings of Mount Kukkutapada.” The first half of this sentence refers to those who put the practice of meditation first, while the second half of this sentence refers to those who abide by the teachings rather than meditation.

                    To this point, the traveler brings up the many facets of the spreading of Buddhism. Then, he questions the host with the following: “How, then, can anyone say that the doctrines of Shakyamuni are despised or that the three treasures of Buddhism are neglected? If there is evidence to support such a contention, I would like to hear all the facts!

 

Before I start going into the host’s response, there is one thing I want to bring up. Buddhism actually spread all over Japan, but as you know, this was all done before the Lotus Sutra was expounded.

                    The host response starts with the following. “The host, anxious to clarify his words, replied: To be sure, Buddha halls stand rooftop to rooftop and sutra storehouses are ranged eave to eave. Priests are as numerous as bamboo plants and rushes, monks as common as rice and hemp seedlings. The temples and priests have been honored from centuries past, and every day respect is paid to them anew.” The host wants to assure that the traveler is right. He understands what the traveler wants to say. This is like the way we do shakubuku. Or the way we should do shakubuku. To immediately say “You are wrong”, also means that the person we want to talk to will get angry, and doesn’t want to listen. We should comply to what the person said, then reply “But…”

                    Here, the host continues his initial response and discloses his motive. “But the monks and priests today are fawning and devious, and they confuse the people and lead them astray. The ruler and his ministers lack understanding and fail to distinguish between truth and heresy.” The priests and monks of this time have deceived the people. And because the rulers and ministers who run the country lack the understanding and knowledge, they fall into the influence of these priests.

                    This explains that on the surface, Buddhism has spread all over the country. But the priests are more interested in bringing up for themselves, and in their hearts, they know that they are going against the real intentions of the Buddha, but are quietly preaching evil teachings to the people. The people on the other hand, don’t have the knowledge to compare the good and evil teachings. They are at a loss when asked if the priest is preaching the correct teachings.

 

                    Next, like the second response, the host cites various sutras to make clear of his motives. First, he brings up the Ninno Sutra.

Evil monks, hoping to gain fame and profit, in many cases appear before the ruler, the heir apparent or the other princes and take it upon themselves to preach doctrines that lead to the violation of the Buddhist Law and the destruction of the nation. The rulers, failing to perceive the truth of the situation, listen to and put faith in such doctrines, and proceed to create regulations that are perverse in nature and do not accord with the rules of Buddhist discipline. In this way they bring about the destruction of Buddhism and of the nation.”

This part expresses the written proof of the existence of right or wrong among Buddhism. Nichiren Daishonin preaches in the Latter Day of the Law, even though it shows “Buddhism” on the surface, the true intentions of the Buddha are not being followed, the world is filled with heretical beliefs, and will lead to “the destruction of the Buddha and the nation.”

 

                    Then, in the Nirvana Sutra, it has the following.

Bodhisattvas, have no fear in your hearts because of such things as wild elephants. But evil friends--they are what you should fear! If you are killed by a wild elephant, you will not fall into any of the three evil paths. But if evil friends lead you to your death, you are certain to fall into one of them!

Regarding this part, 67th High Priest Nikken Shonin mentions,

“Akuchishiki, a person who prevents others from practicing True Buddhism and propagates incorrect teachings, will break our good hearts to become a Buddha. The wild elephant mentioned here cannot break our good hearts. It can break our physical body, but it cannot break our good hearts. But akuchishiki can break our good hearts. This is why akuchishiki will tell something incorrect, and if we believe in that, the good hearts of the people will be gone and will create the evil hearts that will lead the people to hell.” And He adds to this, “The people of the Soka Gakkai (SGI) are absolutely like this.”

                    Also, 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin mentions the following.

“They might show to the public about how magnificent they are, but in reality they are a heretical organization that is destructing the Three Treasures.”

 

                    There is more to the third response from the host, but I will explain that next month.

 

With 2009, Nichiren Shoshu Priesthood and the Hokkeko Federation has declared next year as “the Year of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice.” With the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho Ankoku Ron upcoming, we are now getting very close to the various General Tozans that we will attend next year. The objectives that all members overseas must take are as follows:

1. To conduct safe and successful tozan pilgrimages.

2. To widely declare the significance of this “Year of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice” and to carry out shakubuku.

3. To consistently do Gongyo and chant Daimoku, fostering the spirit of many in body, one in mind.

We must take these objectives and put them into practice. The General Tozans next year will be a one of its kind of Tozans. If we miss this opportunity, then a Tozan of this magnitude will never happen again. So please have that in mind.

 

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