Oeshiki Otaiya 2008

 

I would like to thank you for attending today’s Otaiya ceremony despite your busy schedule. I want to thank members who have made the determination to participate in today’s ceremony from long distance. Just now, 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 two days, today and tomorrow, the Otaiya and Oeshiki ceremonies will be conducted at Myogyoji Temple. The Oeshiki ceremony is the celebration of the eternal life of Nichiren Daishonin. All the temples of Nichiren Shoshu in Japan and all over the world decorate the altar with colorful paper cherry blossoms. Traditionally the “Rissho Ankoku Ron” is read which is a symbolic reaffirmation of the determination to undergo all hardships in order to achieve the absolute will of the Daishonin, Kosen-rufu.

There are three important points to keep in mind about the Oeshiki Ceremony. The first is that the wondrous life of Nichiren Daishonin has existed eternally and will continue to exist through the perfect transmission of the Three Great Secret Laws. The second point is the concept of oneness, which is an essential concept in Buddhism. The third point to remember is that the will of the Buddha is Kosen-rufu.

 

The very life of the Daishonin is Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, embodied in the Dai-Gohonzon. The Person and the Law were embodied in human form, but the body matured, aged and passed away leaving behind the Dai-Gohonzon for humankind.

The Daishonin states in His “Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings”, “There is nothing that exists on this earth eternally; whether something exists or not solely depends on time.”

Although His body definitely passed away, Nichiren Daishonin’s essential life remained one with the universe, retaining the power to influence the world. The Jigage portion of the Juryo chapter reads: “I let people witness my nirvana as a means to save them. But in truth, I do not die. I am here always, teaching the Law.”

The True Buddha exists eternally, but because of human nature, when the Buddha is incarnate right here in our midst, we forget everything else and spend all our time thinking of Him. Therefore, He must teach us and then leave, or we would be forever distracted from the task of achieving our own enlightenment.

The following passage from the Gosho makes the point clear that the life of the True Buddha lives in the Gohonzon, “I Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi.”

The essence of the Gohonzon has been handed down to us in tangible form by each successive High Priest from Nichiren Daishonin to Nikko Shonin, to Nichimoku Shonin and each one thereafter to the present High Priest, Nichinyo Shonin.

 

The second important point to remember is that at the core of Buddhist doctrine is the revelation of the concept of oneness. The fact that at the time of the Daishonin’s death there was an earthquake as the cherry trees bloomed out of season teaches us the Buddhist concept of oneness. The oneness of the common mortal and Buddha, the oneness of life and its environment, the oneness of body and mind and the oneness of death and birth cannot be separated from each other. Therefore, at the moment of the True Buddha’s physical death, the earth shook in farewell, but the cherry trees bloomed out of season in welcome. Thus, the Daishonin’s passing reveals the principle of oneness.

The “Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings” states, “When we chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, our ignorance changes to revelation because of the Mystic Law.”

After His passing, the Buddha’s life is manifested in the mandala that simultaneously contains the ten life conditions. In other words, the Buddha’s life is none other than the Gohonzon, the purpose of the Daishonin’s advent into this world.

 

The third point involves the absolute necessity of the disciples to carry on the pure Heritage after the Daishonin’s passing by maintaining a pure practice. Of the Daishonin’s six senior disciples, Nikko Shonin was the only one who understood the deep meaning of the Daishonin’s life and teaching. Only he kept the vow to protect and propagate the true teaching as it was taught.

Consequently, today, only Nichiren Shoshu carries out the true meaning of the Oeshiki Ceremony and has held it according to the doctrine and correct faith for more than 700 years.

The reason for the Daishonin’s advent was His desire to secure peace through the propagation of the True Law. This underlying principle is manifested in the Gosho “Rissho Ankoku Ron.”

Nikko Shonin, Nichimoku Shonin, and each of the successive High Priests, who themselves remonstrated with the government, inherited Nichiren Daishonin’s will. Thus, the tradition was established in Nichiren Shoshu to read the “Rissho Ankoku Ron” and other letters and treatise of remonstration called Moshi-jo during the Oeshiki Ceremony to remind us of our tradition and pledge to accomplish Kosen-rufu.

 

Since this July, I have been slowly lecturing the “Rissho Ankoku Ron” during the Oko ceremonies. I would like to continue today with the continuation of the second reply by the host to the host’s question regarding the evidence of why catastrophes are created. Last month, I talked about the kind of calamities that will occur if the people don’t uphold the correct teaching from the host (Nichiren Daishonin) who cited from the Konkomyo Sutra. Now, I want to talk about the other Sutras that tell us what happens if it the correct practice isn’t upheld. First, Nichiren Daishonin cites from the Daijuku Sutra,

 

The Daijuku Sutra says: "When the principles of Buddhism truly become obscured and lost, then people will all let their beards, hair and fingernails grow long, and the laws of the world will be forgotten and ignored. At that time, loud noises will sound in the air and the earth will shake; everything in the world will begin to move as though it were a waterwheel. City walls will split and tumble, and all houses and dwellings will collapse. Roots, branches, leaves, petals and fruits will lose their medicinal properties. With the exception of the five highest heavens in the world of form, all the regions of the worlds of form and desire will become deprived of the seven flavors and the three essences that nourish life and human society, until nothing remains alive any more. All the good discourses that lead men to emancipation will at this time disappear.

The flowers and fruits that grow in the earth will become few and will lose their flavor and sweetness. The wells, springs and ponds will all go dry, the land everywhere will turn brackish and will crack open and warp into hillocks and gullies. All the mountains will be swept by fire and the heavenly dragons will no longer send down rain. The crops will all wither and die, all living creatures will perish, and even the grass will cease to grow any more. Dust will rain down until all is darkness

"All the four directions will be afflicted by drought, and evil omens will appear again and again.  The ten kinds of evil behavior will increase greatly, particularly greed, anger and stupidity, and people will think no more of their fathers and mothers than does the roe deer. Living beings will decline in numbers, in longevity, physical power and enjoyment. They will become estranged from the pleasures of human and heavenly existence and all will fall into the evil states of existence. The wicked rulers and monks who perform these ten kinds of evil behavior will destroy the True Law of the Buddha and make it impossible for sentient beings to be born in the human and heavenly states of existence. At that time the various benevolent deities and heavenly rulers, who would ordinarily take pity on living beings, will abandon this nation of confusion and evil and all will make their way to other regions."

 

First of all, the beards, hair, and fingernails express the three poisons of greed, anger, and stupidity. Using the guidance from 26th High Priest Nichikan Shonin, 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin mentions the following:

“The hair expresses greed, the fingernail expresses anger, and the beard expresses stupidity…. This means that during the time the principles of Buddhism become obscured and lost, the three poisons of greed, anger, and stupidity will grow, the dignity of the priests will be lost and won’t differ from non-buddhists, and all the laws of the world will be forgotten, ignored, and will fall into darkness.

What happens when all the laws are forgotten and ignored? The whole world will fall into darkness. In the Gosho “A Comparison of the Lotus Sutra and Other Sutras” it mentions, “Buddhism is like the body and society like the shadow. When the body is crooked, so is the shadow.” Buddhism is the body. If we practice this Buddhism correctly, then the world will naturally become peaceful. We must not forget that Buddhism is the root.”

Next, “At that time, loud noises will sound in the air and the earth will shake; everything in the world will begin to move as though it were a waterwheel” expresses what kind of calamities will happen when the principles of Buddhism becomes obscured and lost. “City walls will split and tumble, and all houses and dwellings will collapse. Roots, branches, leaves, petals and fruits will lose their medicinal properties.” Here, it explains the various calamities. But more importantly, because of these calamities, medicine that were supposed to be made from the roots, branches, leaves, petals, and fruits cannot be made, and because Buddhism is obscured and lost, all of them will be destroyed.

 

“With the exception of the five highest heavens in the world of form, all the regions of the worlds of form and desire will become deprived of the seven flavors and the three essences that nourish life and human society, until nothing remains alive any more. All the good discourses that lead men to emancipation will at this time disappear.” The seven flavors (sweet, pungent, sour, bitter, salty, astringent, faint flavors) and the three essences (the power of earth, worldly and Buddhist laws, and human life and society) will all be taken from us.

 

The ten kinds of evil behavior are as follows. They are the three evils of the body (murder, stealing, and adultery), the four evils of the mouth (lying, deceiving, defaming, and engaging in duplicity), and the three evils of the heart, which are also the three poisons of greed, anger, and stupidity.

 

Next, Nichiren Daishonin cites from the Ninno Sutra,

The Ninno Sutra states: "When a nation becomes disordered, it is the spirits which first show signs of rampancy. Because these spirits become rampant, all the people of the nation become disordered. Invaders come to plunder the country and the common people face annihilation. The ruler, the high ministers, the heir apparent and the other princes and government officials all quarrel with each other over right and wrong. Heaven and earth manifest prodigies and strange occurrences; the twenty-eight constellations, the stars, the sun and the moon appear at irregular times and in irregular positions, and numerous outlaws rise up."

The same sutra also states: "When I look at the three ages of past, present and future with the five types of vision, I see that all the rulers of nations were able to attain the position of emperor or king because in past existences they served five hundred Buddhas. And this is the reason that all the various sages and arhats are born in their nations and are assisting them to gain great advantage. But if a time should come when the good fortune of these rulers runs out, then all the sages will abandon them and depart. And once the sages have departed, then the seven disasters are certain to arise."

 

The Ninno Sutra expresses that there will be seven disasters that will arise once the sages have left the country. Here, the Ninno Sutra expresses the seven disasters, but after this, the Yakushi Sutra gives a more thorough explanation of the seven disasters. I would like to explain that next time.

 

When this weekend is over, there will only be eighty days left in this “Year of Great Advancement.” It also means we will welcome in 2009, the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho Ankoku Ron. As we approach this significant event next year with the five Commemorative General Tozans, the Commemorative Grand Ceremony to be held on July 15 & 16, the General Meeting of the Great Assembly of 75,000 believers on July 26, and the General Tozan of the 500,000 believers, we must be well aware that when we practice True Buddhism, and such a significant event comes up, many obstacles will find its way to try to stop us from participating in it. Not only Sansho-shima, but also the eight winds, fourteen slanders, even the ten kinds of evil behavior that I mentioned before will try to prevent us from going. These must not persuade us. In order to avoid this, we must constantly practice correctly based on the strict observation of the guidance of High Priest Nichinyo Shonin, and devote ourselves to the correct practice of the True Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin.

In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Tomorrow will be the Oeshiki Ceremony. I hope to see everyone tomorrow. Thank you very much.