June Oko 2008
In “ Reply to Lord Soya”
To hope to attain Buddhahood without speaking out against slander is as futile as trying to find water in the midst of fire or fire in the midst of water. No matter how much one may believe in the Lotus Sutra, if one commits slander, one will fall into hell. (Gosho p. 1040)
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.
All of you here in attendance today are aware that we are nearing towards our 27th Anniversary of the Establishment of Myogyoji Temple. We will have the Kick-off Meeting for 2009, on Saturday June 28, beginning at 1:00 pm. This Kick-off meeting will coincide with the Anniversary and the 18th Hokkeko General Meeting. So I want to let all of you know that this Meeting is specifically for members only, and everyone should get a letter from this temple. It is an invitation for the Meeting. And you will need to bring the letter in order to participate in the Meeting. Please, do not forget the letter when you come for the meeting on the 28th.
he Gosho passage I read, “Reply to Lord Soya”, was written to Soya Kyoshin, who lived in the Shimosa country, in 1276, when Nichiren Daishonin was 55 years of age. Nichiren Daishonin strictly expresses the path to enlightenment is inside the practice of admonishing slander. The practice that applies here is shakubuku.
Last week at the Kofu Shodaikai, I read the guidance from High Priest Nichinyo Shonin from the Kofu Shodaikai of this March. In the Kofu Shodaikai last month, I read the guidance from Nichinyo Shonin from the Kofu Shodaikai of this April. If you may have noticed in each of the High Priest’s guidance’s, He has strongly mentioned in every opportunity about doing shakubuku.
There is no such thing as only special people do Shakubuku. All people do it. So I want to use today’s Oko on how we do shakubuku.
In shakubuku, there are five points that we must prepare ourselves.
1. It is important that we must think, “we want to do shakubuku”, rather than “we must do shakubuku”. This thinking comes from the joy of sharing this Buddhism to other people. It shouldn’t be from a sense of duty, for it will not be at all persuasive.
2. We should not be afraid of failure. After all, there is this saying “success is the mother of all failures.”
I want to talk a little baseball here. And I want to start with a question. What do Reggie Jackson, Sammy Sosa, and Jim Thome have in common? All three have hit at least 500 homers in their careers, but this is not important here. Did you know that all three have struck out at least 2000 times during their career? Jackson holds the Major League record, striking out 2597 times. All three know in order to hit the homerun; they have to swing the bat first. It is why they hit that many homeruns and struck out that many times.
When doing shakubuku, we must understand that the people won’t understand what we are talking about because they have never heard of Nichiren Daishonin’s True Buddhism. Those who have accomplished shakubuku have gone through bitter experiences. Through those bitter experiences, they have learned how to do shakubuku, and relayed them to other people. It is through these experiences that we develop ourselves to do shakubuku.
3. We should not think that there is a “next time.” If we believe that there is a next time, then we will not be able to accomplish shakubuku. We must convince them about the importance of this Buddhist practice. It is also important that we must be aware of it. If we are aware of it, we will naturally be aware of the importance of telling it immediately, rather than next time.
4. We must let them trust us. If the person we shakubuku doesn’t trust us, then that person will not listen to us. If we want to be trustworthy to who we shakubuku, we must be trustworthy to other people in our neighborhood and our workplace, at all times. Being trustworthy as usual is very persuasive toward anyone. We don’t know what kind of connection we have. We must keep in mind that we must be trustworthy in our workplace, and in our community.
5. Shodai and shakubuku must be as one. If we lack one from the other, then the message we tell to the person will be a mixed one.
Then, there are five points we must put into consideration.
1. We must talk when we should talk, we must listen when we should listen.
We must not forget to talk about the greatness of the Gohonzon, and chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo will lead to your happiness. But we must also listen to what they have to say. If we mention to them “ this is the only practice”, they may reply with the simple question “ why?” When we conduct shakubuku, we must create an atmosphere in which the shakubuku can open up.
2. We must not deny everything. More specifically, there are few things we can agree. But, if we deny from the beginning, we will give them the impression that we are denying what he feels. Everyone prays for his/her happiness. But we must emphasize the difference of Nichiren Shoshu, and that of the other religions.
3. We must not drive the shakubuku into a corner. Of course it is important to tell, and refute to them about the heretical teachings. Such as the parable “let bygones be bygones”, if we bring everything out without giving the shakubuku the opportunity to talk, then that person will feel annoyed and will feel a burden. If he/she feels that way, then they won’t hear what we have to say, and cut all ties with us.
4. Bring them to the temple. Talking to your shakubuku at the temple is an appropriate place to talk about this Buddhism. Talk at a coffee house, and you have to deal with people around you. Talk at your home or your shakubuku’s home, and you have to deal with interruptions, such as the ringing telephone, or the doorbell.
5. Have compassion towards your shakubuku. If we lack compassion, then it will be impossible to bring the first four parts into consideration.
These are the five points we must prepare ourselves, and the five points we must consider when we do shakubuku. But these are only mere steps, or methods. What we must have when conducting shakubuku is to have a resolute mind that we are going to do shakubuku.
As I mentioned in the beginning, not only special people do Shakubuku. If there is anybody here who thinks that shakubuku is something special, then those people will not be able to accomplish shakubuku. Nichiren Daishonin mentions,
Now, In the Latter Day of the Law, the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo Nichiren chants differs from previous ages. Nichiren’s Daimoku encompasses Jigyo-Keta (practice for oneself and for others).
Also, He mentions
To wish to attain Buddhahood without remonstrating slanders of Buddhism is like trying to find water in the midst of fire, or fire in the midst of water. It is useless, it is useless.
If we are to have the beliefs of praying for our enlightenment, then it is natural to conduct shakubuku.
So, I have mentioned the steps we must take on doing shakubuku. But, there are things that we must put into action when conducting shakubuku. There are many things to do.
First, if we are to accomplish shakubuku, then we must expand the number of seeds to sow. Look into your family or relatives, then your colleagues, friends, people in your neighborhood, or by chance, such as fellow patients in the hospital, inside the sports gym, or any social gathering. Then, list all of the names you gathered. They’re maybe some names that may surprise you. If you have their name and number, give each of them a call. “Hello, it has been a long time since we last talked.” “ I just called since we haven’t met each other in a while.” “ Can we talk at the coffee house?”
Then, we must create the opportunity to meet with many people. Make concrete plans to meet with people. When we meet them, lets listen to what their situations are. Make sure you promise them to meet one more time. If you know there is not much you can talk, have them meet with fellow members, officers, or even come to the temple.
Finally, if we are to accomplish shakubuku, we must seriously chant sincere Daimoku abundantly. We must have the courage to refute the heretical teachings. And we must be persistent.
We take these steps to do shakubuku. But just because they received Gojukai, or bestowed the Gohonzon, this is not the end. If you remember the process that you went through regarding shakubuku, then you can share that experience it with them. This experience, either positive or negative, is genuine for those who have not done shakubuku before.
We must continue to make an effort and resolution towards the accomplishment of the success of the upcoming Kick-off Meeting, our shakubuku goal of 30 households, and the Tozans to commemorate the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho Ankoku ron.
In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much.