May Oko 2008
Nichiren Daishonin mentions in “The Fourteen Slanders”
Bodhisattva Fukyo of old said that all people have the Buddha nature and that if they embrace the Lotus Sutra, they will never fail to attain Buddhahood. He further stated that to slight a person is to slight the Buddha himself. Thus, his practice was to revere all people. He revered even those who did not embrace the Lotus Sutra because they too had the Buddha nature and might someday believe in the sutra. Therefore, it is all the more natural to revere those priests and lay people who do embrace the sutra. Take these teachings to heart, and always remember that believers in the Lotus Sutra should absolutely be the last to abuse each other. All those who keep faith in the Lotus Sutra are most certainly Buddhas, and one who slanders a Buddha commits a grave offense. (MW3-207/208)
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.
Today, I have read a quote from the Gosho “The Fourteen Slanders”. This Gosho was written in the second year of Kenji (1276), when Nichiren Daishonin was 55 years old, as a letter answering a question that Lord Matsuno, steward of the Matsuno Village, gave to Him. That question was,
“Since I took faith in this sutra [the Lotus], I have continued to recite the junyoze and the Jigage and chant the daimoku without the slightest neglect. But how great is the difference between the blessings received when a sage chants the daimoku and the blessings received when we chant it?” (MW3-206/ 207)
Nichiren Daishonin replies the following
“One is in no way superior to the other… However, there is a difference if one chants the daimoku while acting against the intent of this sutra. ” (MW3-207)
The part “acting against the intent of this sutra”, basically talks about not to speak ill of the votary of the Lotus Sutra. If you spoke ill of somebody just because you found fault to something that couldn’t be confirmed as a fact or not, that is an act against the intent of this sutra. Nichiren Daishonin strictly mentions to beware the fourteen slanders: (1) arrogance, (2) negligence, (3) arbitrary, egotistical judgment, (4) shallow, self-satisfied understanding, (5) attachment to earthly desires, (6) lack of seeking spirit, (7) not believing, (8) aversion, (9) deluded doubt, (10) vilification, (11) contempt, (12) hatred, (13) jealousy and (14) grudges. We all know this, yet for some reason, emotions get the best of us, and we forget about it. These are the attitudes we must not take towards our fellow believers. It will affect not only the relationship among fellow members, but also the activities of this practice as well.
As an organization, we want to deepen our faith, practice, and study in a positive manner. But at times, the purpose goes way off greatly, and results in a person being inactive, or worse leaving the practice for good. Why do these things happen? It is because that even in a group, we are all individual human beings still in training. Any organization, company, or community groups, are an assembly of people that are full of illusions of desire, which are greed, anger, stupidity, arrogance, and suspicion.
We as individuals are different in personalities, habits, and so on. Just because you don’t like one person’s personality, you must not let it lead to any slander towards a fellow member. But, if we have to call to the attention of something to someone, we must consider how we bring it. We cannot get emotionally angry, which might lead to damaging his/her esteem, nor gain any cooperation. If Hokkeko members don’t respect and instead slander each other, it will lead to vilification, contempt, hatred, jealousy and grudges. Not only that, but whatever merit accumulated will be gone. We don’t want that to happen, and we really must not forget about this.
Nichiren Daishonin mentions in the Gosho “On Itai Doshin”,
The believers at Atsuhara, united in their courageous faith, proved the true strength of itai doshin.
If itai doshin (many in body, one in mind) prevails among the people, they will achieve all their goals, whereas in dotai ishin (one in body, different in mind), they can achieve nothing remarkable. The more than three thousand volumes of Confucianism and Taoist literature are filled with examples.
King Chou of Yin led 700,000 soldiers into battle against King Wu of Chou and his 800 men. Yet King Chou's army lost because of disunity while King Wu's men defeated him because of perfect unity.
Even an individual at cross-purposes with himself is certain to end in failure. Yet a hundred or even a thousand people can definitely attain their goal if they are of one mind.
Though numerous, the Japanese will find it difficult to accomplish anything, because they are divided in spirit. On the contrary, I believe that although Nichiren and his followers are few in number, because they act in itai doshin, they will accomplish their great mission of propagating the Lotus Sutra. (MW 1-153/154)
Through this passage Nichiren Daishonin shows us the importance of Itai-doshin.
This past April, at the Omushibarai-e Ceremony, there was a sermon conducted by Rev. Gikyu Hayase, Chief Priest of Shosetsuji Temple in Hamamatsu Japan. He gave a sermon about the Buddhist term, “Mongai shakubuku, Monnai shoju”. The 59th High Priest Nichiko Shonin first introduced this term when he was explaining the Kegi-sho, which were numerous guidance given by the 9th High Priest Nichiu Shonin. It is in Article 57, where Nichiu Shonin preaches,
“ It is slander for anyone to go against the obligation of the fundamental principles of the Hokke Religion.”
First, he explains the term “Mongai shakubuku”. Everyone knows about shakubuku, so I will explain the first half of this term, Mongai. This directly means outside the gate. The gate mentioned here is Nichiren Shoshu. So, the direct meaning is to do shakubuku.
Then, he explains the term “Monnai shoju”. Shoju is a method of propagating Buddhism by leading people in a way suited to the people's capacity, thinking, and way of life so that they will gradually correct their erroneous ideas about faith. The first half of this term, Monnai, means inside the gate. In this day and age, it points to us, Nichiren Shoshu believers.
For Nichiren Shoshu believers, to follow “the obligation of the fundamental principles of the Hokke Religion” means to revere the Three Treasures, the Treasure of the Buddha, which is Nichiren Daishonin; the Treasure of the Law, which is the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching; and the Treasure of the Priest, which is Nikko Shonin, who inherited the self-actualized enlightenment of the True Buddha, with the lineage transmitted to the successive High Priests. We follow the High Priest’s guidance, and discard other religious sects.
As long as we follow the guidance of High Priest, we must solidify our ties with each other, fellow members of this organization, and encourage each other by having a wide-open, tolerant heart. What this means, as Rev. Hayase mentions in his sermon, is that we must help and encourage each other.
This is very significant. If we are to grow as a whole, we must put aside whatever differences we have on each other and help and encourage each other to grow as a Hokkeko member. As a human being, we tend to look for other people’s weaknesses when things aren’t going the way we wanted. This naturally happens because our faith is weak; our practice is falling into inertia; or our organization’s development is stalling. Everyone here today is an important part in the development of this organization.
Last week, I mentioned that starting this month; the temples on the East side would hold Kick-off Meetings for the next three months. Here at Myogyoji, the Kick-off Meeting will be held here on June 28, beginning at 1:00. This Kick-off Meeting will coincide with the 27th Anniversary of the Establishment of Myogyoji Temple, and the 18th Hokkeko General Meeting. 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin mentioned,
“Based on the current situation, this General Meeting will be held in order to make a breakthrough. It will be a pre-meeting to bring greater momentum and a leap forward toward our objectives for 2009, for which all Hokkeko believers should work together in itai doshin.”
As a whole, we are growing slowly but steadily. In order for us to grow, we must unite in itai-doshin. Furthermore, we must not let the fourteen slanders get the better of us in our development. All of this depends on everyone respecting each other as Hokkeko members, and each one of us cooperating with each other.
In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much.