Koshi-e Ceremony February 2010

 

I would like to thank you for attending todayŐs Kofu Shodai ceremony, and the Koshi-e ceremony, commemorating the memorial of Nikko ShoninŐs death, despite your busy schedule. I have offered your sincere Gokuyo to the Gohonzon, and sincerely prayed to the Gohonzon for your 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.

 

We are here to commemorate the memorial of Nikko Shonin, second High Priest of Nichiren Shoshu, and founder of Head Temple Taisekiji.

 

Nikko Shonin was born 764 years ago, on March 8th, 1246 in Yamanashi Prefecture. His birth name is unknown, but his father was called Oi Kitsuroku and his mother, Myofuku. His father died when he was a child, and his mother married into another family. Because of this, his maternal grandfather, Yui Nyudo, raised him.

 

At first, Nikko Shonin was a priest of the Tendai sect. He went to Jissoji Temple in Iwamoto to continue his studies at the equivalent of the university level. The more he studied, the more he questioned the doctrines of Buddhism because of the disturbance, decay and corruption he saw. In August of 1257, following a great earthquake that nearly leveled Kamakura, Nichiren Daishonin went to Jissoji to study the Temple's extensive collection of Buddhist Sutras in preparation for writing the Rissho Ankoku Ron, His most important work.

Hokibo met the Daishonin during His stay at Jissoji. He was so impressed by the Daishonin he asked to become His disciple and apprentice. The Daishonin accepted him, recognizing Hokibo's competence and will. The Daishonin conferred the Buddhist name Nikko on him and encouraged him to exert himself in his studies. The Daishonin was 37 and Hokibo was 13 years old at the time. Nikko was also called by the names of Hokiko, Hokibo, and Byakuren Ajari as well.

After the Daishonin went back to Kamakura, Nikko Shonin continued his studies at Jissoji for a few years. The Daishonin submitted the Rissho Ankoku Ron to Saimyoji Nyudo in July 16, of 1260. Following this was the attack at the Daishonin's home in Matsubagayatsu by low ranking samurai, and then His exile to Ito in May of 1261. When Nikko Shonin heard of the exile, he set out for Izu on foot in order to join Him.

It was from that time on that he became Nichiren DaishoninŐs close disciple. He was responsible for converting many priests and lay people from other Buddhist schools. Later, he once again followed the Daishonin into exile, this time to Sado Island where he endured numerous hardships with Him. Through his devoted service, sparing no pain in his efforts to support the Daishonin and the struggle for propagation, Nikko Shonin developed an incomparable understanding of the depth and truth of Nichiren DaishoninŐs Buddhism.

 

His vigorous propagation efforts centered in the Kai, Suruga, Izu and Totomi areas, where he developed countless strong believers. As the number of converts increased, so did the pressure on the DaishoninŐs followers culminating in the most tragic incident of martyrdom in Nichiren Shoshu history, the Atsuhara Persecution. But due to Nikko ShoninŐs leadership for Kosen-rufu, the Atsuhara believers had developed the unshakable faith to chant Daimoku despite the imminent threat of death.

Nichiren Daishonin recognized Nikko ShoninŐs accomplishments and his profound understanding of True Buddhism. Seeing that His own death was approaching, Nichiren Daishonin designates Nikko Shonin as His successor in two different transfer documents. One was written at Mount Minobu in September 1282, transmitting the Lifeblood of the Law to Nikko Shonin. This is known as the ŇMinobu Transfer Document.Ó The other one is known as the ŇIkegami Transfer DocumentÓ, which He entrusted Kuon-ji Temple at Minobu to Nikko Shonin. This was written at the Ikegami residence on the day of His death, October 13, 1282. Nikko Shonin was 36 years old when He received this.

 

After the DaishoninŐs death, there were five other senior priests who were supposed to support Nikko Shonin as the legitimate successor, as well as to watch over the DaishoninŐs tomb. Instead, they all compromised the DaishoninŐs Buddhism by mixing it wit elements of other popular teachings. This made it easier for them to survive in a time when provisional and incorrect forms of Buddhism prevailed. They didnŐt understand that their inability to remain true to their masterŐs teaching was an act of slander against the Daishonin Himself. They eventually lost sight of the prime point of Nichiren DaishoninŐs Buddhism and declared themselves to be priests of the Tendai sect. During this period, Nikko Shonin stayed at Kuon-ji Temple in Minobu and upheld the orthodoxy of the DaishoninŐs teaching.

 

In 1285 Minbu Niko, one of the senior priests, returned to Minobu. Nikko was delighted to see him and appointed him to the important post of chief instructor of priests without asking the reason for his absence. But Niko misunderstood Nikko Shonin's compassionate deed. He grew more arrogant, conspired with Hakiri Sanenaga and encouraged him to act contrary to the Law. They built a statue of Shakyamuni as an object of worship and visited different shrines in opposition to the Daishonin's teachings. Seeing this, Nikko Shonin decided to leave Mt. Minobu. In so doing, he was following the Daishonin's will. The Daishonin had said that his spirit would not reside in the same district if the steward acts contrary to the Law.

Actually, it was ultimately necessary for Nikko Shonin to leave Minobu in order to prepare for the future erection of the High Sanctuary of Honmonji. The Daishonin had instructed to:

Ň... seek out a place of the finest scenery comparable to the pure land of Eagle Peak and there erect the High Sanctuary.Ó

The Daishonin had also stated:

ŇWhen the sovereign accepts this Law, erect the High Sanctuary of the Temple of the Essential Teachings (Honmonji) at the foot of Mount Fuji.Ó

After leaving Mount Minobu in 1289, Nikko Shonin responded to the sincere urging of a devout lay believer, Nanjo Tokimitsu, and moved to the Fuji area. There, he founded the Head Temple of Nichiren Shoshu, Taisekiji, as the center for Kosen-rufu.

The establishment of Taisekiji at Mount Fuji was in accordance with Nichiren DaishoninŐs will and was essential in order to provide a sanctuary in keeping with the Three Great Secret Laws of True Buddhism.

As soon as Taisekiji was built, Nikko Shonin transferred it to Nichimoku Shonin and worked to foster young priests at Omosu. On November 10th in 1330, Nikko Shonin transferred the document entitled Nikko Ato Jojo no Koto to Nichimoku Shonin, and officially entrusted the entire body of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism to Nichimoku Shonin. Then he instructed Nichimoku Shonin to take the lead in propagation.

The following year, Nikko Shonin set out twenty-six guidelines for Nichiren Shoshu priests and believers to observe forever. This is called the "Twenty-six Articles of Warning" (Nikko Yuikai Okimon). Having completed the mission entrusted to him when he received the Heritage of the Law from the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, Nikko Shonin passed away on February 7th, 1333, at the grand age of 88.

 

As we observe the memorial of Nikko Shonin today, we must also understand what he went through to help with the propagation of Nichiren DaishoninŐs Buddhism. We must also not forget his strong will to protect this Buddhism, even if it meant to leave the land of Minobu for Ueno.

 

Last year, 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin provided us new goals for us to accomplish by 2015, the 770th anniversary of Second High Priest Nikko ShoninŐs birthday. The goal is to increase the membership 50% by that year. We are all determined to accomplish this goal for 2015, as well as the goal we set up to accomplish this year.

 

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