March Oko 2010
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 Toba, I have offered my sincere prayers to the Gohonzon for the peace and happiness of your late relatives, friends, and ancestors.
The Supreme Leader of the World
No matter how furiously a fire may rage, it burns out after a while. On the other hand, water may appear to move slowly, but its flow does not easily vanish. Since you are hot-tempered and behave like a blazing fire, you will certainly be deceived by others. If your lord coaxes you with soft words, I am sure you will be won over, just as a fire is extinguished by water. Untempered iron quickly melts in a blazing fire, like ice put in hot water. But a sword, even when exposed to a great fire, withstands the heat for a while, because it has been well forged. In admonishing you in this way, I am trying to forge your faith. Buddhism is reason. Reason will win over your lord.
The above passage is from the Gosho “Reply to Shijo Kingo”, also known as “The Supreme Leader of the World.” This Gosho was written by Nichiren Daishonin at Minobu in the fall of 1277,the third year of Kenji, when He was 56 years old. This Gosho is a reply to a letter from Shijo Kingo.
On June 9 1277, Shijo Kingo attended a debate at Kuwagayatsu, in Kamakura, between Nichiren Daishonin's disciple Sanmibo and Ryuzobo, a disciple of Ryokan and a runaway priest from the Eizan Temple of Tendai.
Following this debate, two weeks later on June 23rd, Shijo Kingo, received orders from his master, Lord Ema Mitsutoki, a follower of the Nembutsu sect, to turn in a written oath discarding the practice of the Lotus Sutra, or face severe punishment which included confiscation of his fief (land), and banishment from the Ema family.
In those orders, it said Shijo Kingo was fully armored, forcibly disrupted the debate, and showed contempt towards Ryuzobo and his mentor Ryokan of Gokurakuji Temple. Lord Ema heavily revered Ryokan, a representative of the Nembutsu sect, and thus it was no surprise Lord Ema gave such harsh orders to Shijo Kingo.
The allegations against Shijo Kingo, however, were all a creation of Ryuzobo who lost the debate, and Ryokan, who was seeking an opportunity to be rid of Nichiren Daishonin and His believers and disciples by making false accusations to the Kamakura Shogunate government. The Shogunate government entrusted Lord Ema with solving this matter, and he approached it with an absolute determination to eliminate anyone who followed the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
Shijo Kingo was as determined as Lord Ema and wasn’t going to let these orders deter him from following Nichiren Daishonin. Once he received the orders, Shijo Kingo wrote a pledge defying the orders of his master Lord Ema to discard the Lotus Sutra. He sent the pledge along with his master’s orders to Nichiren Daishonin, informing Him of the ongoing situation and asking for His guidance.
Upon receiving Shijo Kingo’s letter, Nichiren Daishonin immediately wrote the “Letter of Petition from Yorimoto” on Shijo Kingo’s behalf, had it proofread and told him to turn in the letter to his master Lord Ema. More than two months passed and Shijo Kingo, however, did not turn in the letter to Lord Ema. He reported to Nichiren Daishonin his negligence in both turning in the oath to discard the Lotus Sutra and the letter of petition written by Nichiren Daishonin. It was a result of these actions by Shijo Kingo that prompted Nichiren Daishonin to write this Gosho.
At the beginning of this Gosho Nichiren Daishonin states:
“Buddhism primarily concerns itself with victory or defeat, while
government is based on the principle of reward and punishment. For this
reason, a Buddha is looked up to as the supreme leader of the world, while a
king is called the one who rules at his will.”
Here Nichiren Daishonin is stating that victory or defeat is the comparison between Buddhism and other religions and why the Buddha is looked up as the supreme leader of the world. “Victory or defeat” isn’t determined by an individual's physical strength, but through knowledge, compassion, theoretical proof and actual proof. Through the guidance received by Nichien Daishonin, Shijo Kingo did not respond to the pledge ordered by Lord Ema, but did send in the "Letter of Petition from Yorimoto". Despite defying the orders, Shijo Kingo maintained his position within Lord Ema's clan.
Nichiren Daishonin reminds of the importance of maintaining a correct practice of Buddhism throughout our lives in the following example of how Buddhism started in Japan. Buddhism in Japan originated approximately 1500 years ago during Emperor Kinmei’s time with the Soga clan eagerly practicing Buddhism. The next three Emperors though didn’t practice Buddhism and this lead to their demise. Not only that, but during this period the Mononobe clan, a strong opponent to the spread of Buddhism, used the Emperor’s order to destroy any Buddhist statues and temples, and continued to suppress Buddhism. In the end these three Emperors’ who supported the Mononobe clan met their demise through illness, and the Mononobe clan also perished.
After this period, the Soga clan and Prince Shotoku rose in prosperity as they protected Buddhism. Over time however, the Soga clan became arrogant and neglected their practice of Buddhism, and eventually followed the same path as that of the Mononobe clan.
From this Gosho to Shijo Kingo, Nichiren Daishonin also says the following:
“Those among my followers who fail to carry through their faith to the end
will incur punishment even more severe. Even so, they should not harbor a
grudge against Nichiren.”
Nichiren Daishonin expresses to his disciples and believers the importance in fulfilling their practice to the very end, or face consequences from the Buddha. Nichiren Daishonin admonished Shijo Kingo for neglecting to follow his guidance to turn in the Letter of Petition to Yorimoto.
In the Gosho “Three Learned Doctors Pray for Rain.”, Nichiren Daishonin states:
“In judging the worth of Buddhist doctrines, I, Nichiren, believe that
the best standards are those of reason and documentary proof. And even
more valuable than reason and documentary proof are the proofs of actual
Nichiren Daishonin thereby reminds us through his guidance to Shijo Kingo that “Buddhism primarily concerns itself with victory or defeat..." and by believing and practicing this superior Buddhism throughout our daily lives up to our last moment, we will clearly see the victory within our own lives as they fill with merit and how we can truly build a peaceful society through practicing this Buddhism.
We are currently advancing towards the 50% increase of our membership by 2015, and the accomplishment of 800,000 members worldwide by 2021. When you enter Myogyoji Temple, a chart is posted indicating our shakubuku goals for this year. The more we advance towards these goals, the more certain we are to encounter various difficulties and hardships
as Nichiren Daishonin tells us:
“Just as a sleeping lion will not get angry unless you touch it, or waves won’t
be created unless you set up a bamboo pole on the stream, you will not face
any difficulty unless you refute slander.”
We are also certain to have friction within the organization of Myogyoji Temple. We are taking big steps toward our development as an organization as well as big steps in individual personal development. We constitute a group of different personalities joined in Buddhist training. It is important to keep this in mind as we strive together to accomplish our goals for this year and beyond, realizing that we are still in training, and that we are not completely developed as Buddhists or as people. Through our Buddhist practice, we are certain to continue and develop ourselves as both Buddhists and individuals, which will surely help us in shakubuku as well.
We have already entered the third month of the “Year of Advancing Towards Kosen-rufu.” I believe everyone here is making progress in accomplishing our goals for the years 2015 and 2021. 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin has directed us that 2010 “is an extremely important year for the achievement of these goals.” Let’s make the determination to accomplish the shakubuku goals each local area has made.
In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much.