Letter to Priest Nichiro in Prison”:
Others read the Lotus Sutra with their mouths alone, reading only the words, but do not read it with their hearts. And even if they read it with their hearts, they do not read it with their actions. Praiseworthy indeed are those like you who read the sutra with both body and mind!
(Gosho, p. 483; MW-5, p. 127)
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.
Once again, I would like to introduce myself. I am Reverend Shingi Iwaki; I was at the Head Temple the past five years, and I may have met some of you during Tozan. This will be my second time that I became a Chief Priest of a Nichiren Shoshu Temple. My first time was back in 1999, when I was installed to Jinkyoji Temple, which is located in Tanegashima Island, which has a satellite-launching base in the southern part of the island. It is also famous for introducing the Arquebus, or an old time rifle to Japan. Not only was I looking after the members of Tanegashima Island, but also the Yakushima Island. This island is mostly famous for its forest, as it was registered to the World Heritage Site in 1993. From both islands, it takes a 97-minute boat ride to Kagoshima City, but only 40 minutes to get there by plane. Getting to the Head Temple from either Island is not easy. There are no direct flights to Tokyo, and from Tanegashima, only 1 flight to Osaka. In order to go to Tokyo, you have to go to Kagoshima Airport, and then take the plane to Tokyo. The airfare between Tokyo and Kagoshima alone is about $650 roundtrip. It does not include roundtrip shinkansen fares, taxi fares, hotel fares, and above all, transportation fees between the islands and Kagoshima Airport.
I want to get back to this later on. Today, I would like to talk about what we must do to make 2009 a success. The year 2009 is the “750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho ankoku-ron.” This year 2008 is the “Year of Great Advancement.” We must make great advancements in order to accomplish the goals we have set at the beginning of the year. The Overseas Department has set forth the following objectives the members must follow:
1. To earnestly do Gongyo and chant Daimoku.
2. To constantly take action to do shakubuku.
3. To develop capable members and promote the 2009 General Tozan.
The first two objectives, Gongyo, Daimoku, and shakubuku, all comes down to the practice of Jigyo-keta, to practice for oneself, and to share with others. As all of you already know, we must do Gongyo and chant Daimoku on a daily basis. Through this, we must take action to do shakubuku. It is not easy to do both at the same time. But Overseas Department Chief, Reverend Urushibata mentioned in his guidance to the overseas members participating in the Omushibarai Ceremony using the Gosho passage I read at the beginning.
“High Priest Nichinyo Shonin often gives us guidance that it is important to chant Daimoku; however, we must do shakubuku with the strong life force that we have gained through the benefit of chanting Daimoku. If you only chant Daimoku, it is not a true practice. As the Daishonin states, we must act with both body and mind. We must do shakubuku and teach others this True Law based on our unshakable conviction in the Gohonzon. A person who conducts faith and practice together is a true practitioner of the Lotus Sutra and a true disciple of the Daishonin.”
The basic of this practice is to do Morning and Evening Gongyo everyday. To do Gongyo should be no problem at all. But to continue everyday is not. Why does this happen? It all depends on the person’s aspirations to do Gongyo, or to do it everyday. Next, even if the person has the aspiration, he won’t be able to do Gongyo or Shodai without a strong mind to put into action this aspiration. Gongyo and Shodai are for the sake of our own eradication of sins and negative karma.
Next, Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin gave us guidance to do 1 or more shakubuku a year. It is important to put it into action, but it cannot be done in an individual effort. It takes an organizational effort to accomplish shakubuku. Everyone must get involved in it. Forget the idea that those who like shakubuku, or those who have the time to do it should be doing it. Here in the Latter Day of the Law, to attain enlightenment, eradicate our sins, and accumulate merits by practicing Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, every one of us equally must put this into practice. Shakubuku is an essential part of our Buddhist practice we must put into action.
The third objective mentioned was to develop capable members and promote the 2009 General Tozan.
The first part of this objective, relates to shakubuku. Once we accomplish shakubuku, we must help them on their shakubuku as well. Receiving Gojukai or Gohonzon is not the final goal, but another starting line. From there we must develop these members to become active Hokkeko members. It is an ongoing cycle for the development of our Hokkeko organization.
The second part of the objective is to promote the 2009 General Tozan. As I mentioned before the conditions on going to Tozan when I was a Chief Priest before is not easy. Even in these conditions, there are members in these islands who yearn to go to the Head Temple, and do their best to get there. Unlike the members in the islands, we are many miles apart from the Head Temple. Although we don’t need to go by sea, we still have to be on a plane for more than 12 hours from here or anywhere with a direct flight to Japan. Definitely, it will take more than that amount of time when coming elsewhere. If we are determined to go to next year’s Tozan, we must concentrate what we must do. We must make an effort to save money for the Tozan fund and not investing into other uses.
Already you have received the survey forms sent out from the Temple. Some of you have already sent them out already. If we concentrate on going to the Head Temple, we can accomplish it. But in order to do that, we must not let obstacles or difficulties get in the way. The Overseas Department has set the number of people that can go to Tozan at 200. If we strive ourselves in shakubuku, not only we can accomplish this goal, but more importantly, we can accomplish this year’s shakubuku goal of 30 households.
Currently, there are Kick-Off Meetings being held in Japan and around the world. Here in the Eastern part of America, New York, Chicago and the Washington D.C. temples will have Kick-Off Meetings for the next three months. We will have our meeting coincide with the 27th Anniversary of the Establishment of Myogyoji Temple and the 18th Hokkeko General Meeting, on Saturday June 28, from 1:00 pm at the Hondo of Myogyoji Temple. I am hoping that this meeting will be successful, and will lead us to greater successes in the future.
In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much.