May 2009 Oko

 

And now we have come to this later age, when men are no longer sages. Each enters his own dark road, and all alike forget the direct way. How pitiful, that no one cures them of their blindness! How painful, to see them vainly lending encouragement to these false beliefs! And as a result, everyone from the ruler of the nation down to the humblest peasant believes that there are no true sutras outside the three Pure Land sutras, and no Buddhas other than the Buddha Amida and his two attendants.

Once there were men like Dengyo, Gishin, Jikaku and Chisho who journeyed ten thousand leagues across the waves to acquire the sacred teachings, or visited all the mountains and rivers of Japan to acquire Buddhist statues which they held in reverence. In some cases they built holy temples on the peaks of high mountains in which to preserve those scriptures and statues; in other cases they constructed sacred halls in the bottoms of deep valleys where such objects could be worshiped and honored.

As a result, the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Yakushi shone side by side, casting their influence upon present and future ages, while the Bodhisattvas Kokuzo and Jizo brought benefit to the living and the dead. The rulers of the nation contributed countries or villages so that the lamps might continue to burn bright before the images, while the stewards of the great estates offered their fields and gardens [to provide for the upkeep of the temples].

But because of this book by Honen, this Senchaku Shu, the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni is forgotten and all honor is paid to Amida, the Buddha of the Western Land. The Lord Buddha's transmission of the Law is ignored, and Yakushi, the Buddha of the Eastern Region, is neglected. All attention is paid to the three works in four volumes of the Pure Land scriptures, and all the other wonderful teachings that Shakyamuni proclaimed throughout the five periods of his preaching life are cast aside. If temples are not dedicated to Amida, then people no longer have any desire to support them or pay honor to the Buddhas enshrined there; if monks do not chant the Nembutsu, then people quickly forget about giving those monks alms.

As a result, the halls of the Buddha fall into ruin, scarcely a wisp of smoke arises above their mossy tiles; and the monks' quarters stand empty and dilapidated, the dew deep on the grasses in their courtyards.@ And in spite of such conditions, no one gives a thought to protecting the Law or to restoring the temples.@ Hence the sage monks who once presided over the temples leave and do not return, and the benevolent deities who guarded the Buddhist teachings depart and no longer appear. This has all come about because of this Senchaku Shu of Honen.

How pitiful to think that, in the space of a few decades, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people have been deluded by these devilish teachings and in so many cases confused as to the true teachings of Buddhism. If people favor perverse doctrines and forget what is correct, can the benevolent deities be anything but angry? If people cast aside doctrines that are all-encompassing and take up those that are incomplete, can the world escape the plots of demons? Rather than offering up ten thousand prayers for remedy, it would be better simply to outlaw this one evil doctrine that is the source of all the trouble!

 

I would like to thank you for attending todayfs 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.

 

For the Oko this month, I would like to conclude the response given from the host (Nichiren Daishonin) to the travelerfs (Hojo Tokiyori) fourth question, gWhat are the grounds of the evil doctrine?h

I had explained through the Senchaku-shufs quotes that misled the people to believe in their religion and disregard the rest. Nichiren Daishonin started His refutation with the following.

gWhen we examine these passages, we see that Honen quotes the erroneous explanations of T'an-luan, Tao-ch'o and Shan-tao and establishes the categories he calls Sacred Way and Pure Land, Difficult-to-Practice-Way and Easy-to-Practice-Way. He then takes all the 637 works in 2,883 volumes that comprise the Mahayana sutras of the Buddha's lifetime, including those of the Lotus Sutra and Shingon, along with all the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and deities of the heavenly and human worlds, and assigns them all to the Sacred Way, the Difficult-to-Practice-Way and the incorrect practices categories, and urges men to "discard, close, ignore and abandon" them. With these four injunctions, he leads all people astray. And on top of that, he groups together all the sage monks of the three countries of India, China and Japan as well as the students of Buddhism of the ten directions, and calls them a "band of robbers," causing the people to insult them!

In doing so, he turns his back on the passages in the three Pure Land Sutras, the sutras of his own sect, which contain Amida's vow to save everyone "except those who commit the five cardinal sins or slander the True Law." At the same time, he shows that he fails to understand the warning contained in the second volume of the Lotus Sutra, the most important sutra expounded in the five preaching periods of the Buddha's life, which reads: "One who refuses to take faith in this sutra and instead slanders it.... After he dies, he will fall into the hell of incessant suffering.h

The portion that I read at the beginning follows this quote.

First, gAnd now we have come to this later age, when men are no longer sages. Each enters his own dark road, and all alike forget the direct way.h The later age points to the latter day of the Law. The dark road is a metaphor to the erroneous belief systems. Once the people enter a dark road, they cannot see a thing. It is the same with these erroneous belief systems. The moment you start believing them, the more you canft see the truth.

Next, gHow pitiful, that no one cures them of their blindness! How painful, to see them vainly lending encouragement to these false beliefs!h The blindness mentioned here points to the eyes of the heart. Even if they have 20/20 vision, they canft seem to see the real picture. Which is why they easily sway towards the erroneous belief systems.

gAnd as a result, everyone from the ruler of the nation down to the humblest peasant believes that there are no true sutras outside the three Pure Land sutras, and no Buddhas other than the Buddha Amida and his two attendants.h Eventually, this is what will happen because the people put their beliefs on other sutras other than the Lotus Sutra.

 

The next portion mentions the appearance created by subverting Buddhism.

gOnce there were men like Dengyo, Gishin, Jikaku and Chisho who journeyed ten thousand leagues across the waves to acquire the sacred teachings, or visited all the mountains and rivers of Japan to acquire Buddhist statues which they held in reverence. In some cases they built holy temples on the peaks of high mountains in which to preserve those scriptures and statues; in other cases they constructed sacred halls in the bottoms of deep valleys where such objects could be worshiped and honored.h The priests mentioned at the beginning of this portion are all priests of the sacred way. The latter part of this portion, gIn some cases they built holy temples on the peaks of high mountains in which to preserve those scriptures and statues; in other cases they constructed sacred halls in the bottoms of deep valleys where such objects could be worshiped and honoredh, all point to the Buddhist teaching.

gAs a result, the Buddhas Shakyamuni and Yakushi shone side by side, casting their influence upon present and future ages, while the Bodhisattvas Kokuzo and Jizo brought benefit to the living and the dead.h

gThe rulers of the nation contributed countries or villages so that the lamps might continue to burn bright before the images, while the stewards of the great estates offered their fields and gardens [to provide for the upkeep of the temples].h These were things that were done in the past.

But, Nichiren Daishonin states gBut because of this book by Honen, this Senchaku Shu, the Lord Buddha Shakyamuni is forgotten and all honor is paid to Amida, the Buddha of the Western Land. The Lord Buddha's transmission of the Law is ignored, and Yakushi, the Buddha of the Eastern Region, is neglected. All attention is paid to the three works in four volumes of the Pure Land scriptures, and all the other wonderful teachings that Shakyamuni proclaimed throughout the five periods of his preaching life are cast aside.h Because of this Senchaku-shu, the people forgot their gratitude to Shakyamuni, and instead respected the Amida Buddha. Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin states, gThis Amida Buddha did not appear in this land. Instead, he appeared from Shakyamunifs mouth. It appeared from Shakyamunifs mouth, but also disappeared from Shakyamunifs mouth. Which is why it is pointed out that Shakyamuni must be respected, but instead totally forget him, and respect the Amida Buddha.h

 

Because of this, True Buddhism falls into ruins.

If temples are not dedicated to Amida, then people no longer have any desire to support them or pay honor to the Buddhas enshrined there; if monks do not chant the Nembutsu, then people quickly forget about giving those monks alms.h

 

gAs a result, the halls of the Buddha fall into ruin, scarcely a wisp of smoke arises above their mossy tiles; and the monks' quarters stand empty and dilapidated, the dew deep on the grasses in their courtyards. And in spite of such conditions, no one gives a thought to protecting the Law or to restoring the temples. Hence the sage monks who once presided over the temples leave and do not return, and the benevolent deities who guarded the Buddhist teachings depart and no longer appear. This has all come about because of this Senchaku Shu of Honen.h

 

Finally, Nichiren Daishonin made it clear that the evil doctrine is the Senchaku-shu, written by Honen.

gHow pitiful to think that, in the space of a few decades, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people have been deluded by these devilish teachings and in so many cases confused as to the true teachings of Buddhism. If people favor perverse doctrines and forget what is correct, can the benevolent deities be anything but angry? If people cast aside doctrines that are all-encompassing and take up those that are incomplete, can the world escape the plots of demons? Rather than offering up ten thousand prayers for remedy, it would be better simply to outlaw this one evil doctrine that is the source of all the trouble!h

As believers of Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism, it is our obligation to conduct shakubuku towards the one evil doctrine that is creating havoc all over the world, yet people donft know this because they are totally blind from the truth.

 

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