June Oko 2011

 

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 for Toba, I have offered my sincere prayers to the Gohonzon for the peace and happiness of your late relatives, friends, and ancestors.

 

The Learned Doctor Shan-wu-wei

(MWND 4-63~4)

 

But ignorant persons living in this latter age of ours, a time of evil and confusion, should discard the so-called "difficult-to-practice way" and "easy-to-practice way" that the Nembutsu believers talk of, and devote themselves solely to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra. When the sun rises in the eastern sector of the sky, then all the skies over the great continent of Jambudvipa in the south will be illuminated, because of the vast light that the sun possesses. But the feeble glow of the firefly can never shed light on a whole nation. A man who carries a wish-granting jewel in his bosom can produce whatever he desires, but mere tiles and stones can confer no treasures upon him. The Nembutsu and other practices, when compared to the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, are like tiles and stones compared to a precious jewel, or like the flicker of a firefly compared to the light of the sun. How can we, whose eyes are darkened, ever distinguish the true color of things by the mere glow of a firefly? The fact is that the lesser, provisional sutras of the Nembutsu and Shingon sects are not teachings that enable common mortals to attain Buddhahood. Our teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, in the course of his lifetime of teaching, expounded eighty thousand sacred doctrines. He was the first Buddha to appear in this saha world of ours, which previously had not known any Buddha, and he opened the eyes of all living beings.

 

 

Today, I have read a passage from the gosho “The Learned Doctor Shan-wu-wei.” This gosho was written in the seventh year of Bun’ei (1270), when Nichiren Daishonin was 49 years old. It was addressed to His senior priests at Seichoji Temple, Gijyo-bo and Jyoken-bo. This gosho explains how the Shingon and Nembutsu sects will bring a nation to ruin, lead people to the hell of incessant suffering and refutes their beliefs.

Today, I would like to talk about the determination required to maintain and develop faith in this practice.

 

Today’s passage begins with But ignorant persons living in this latter age of ours, a time of evil and confusion, should discard the so-called "difficult-to-practice way" and "easy-to-practice way" that the Nembutsu believers talk of, and devote themselves solely to chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra.

Before this passage, Nichiren Daishonin states:

Men of wisdom should of course devote themselves to the study of all the eighty thousand doctrines of Buddhism, and should become familiar with all the twelve divisions of the sutras.

This quote is comparing ‘men of wisdom’ with ‘ignorant persons’. The comparison between these two types of people does not end with the surface meaning of this sentence. Men of wisdom were able to attain enlightenment through the twelve divisions of the sutras because they were living during the Former or Middle Days of the Law.  Although ‘ignorant persons’ think they can attain enlightenment doing the same as people of wisdom, they are unable to do so because they have not accumulated good causes in their past lives. Therefore, ignorant people should discard the easy-to-practice way of the Nembutsu sect, devote themselves to Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as the only way to attain enlightenment in the latter day of the Law.

 

Next, is the passage “When the sun rises in the eastern sector of the sky, then all the skies over the great continent of Jambudvipa in the south will be illuminated, because of the vast light that the sun possesses. But the feeble glow of the firefly can never shed light on a whole nation.” Here, the sun represents the Lotus Sutra, while the feeble glow of the firefly represents the Nembutsu sect.

 High Priest Nichinyo Shonin said during the Summer Study Tozan of 2008:

“The sun comes from the east, shining the skies of the world. But the feeble glow of the firefly can’t even shine a whole nation. That means only the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra is the only teaching that can save and provide light to the people around the world. Just as the light of the firefly can’t shine brightly, the Nembutsu cannot save the people”.

 

This comparison is very clear. The sun shines to a vast area on the earth all day, while the firefly can only light a limited area, and only at night. Nichiren Daishonin uses the two as a metaphor for the Lotus Sutra and the Nembutsu sect.

 

Next:

A man who carries a wish-granting jewel in his bosom can produce whatever he desires, but mere tiles and stones can confer no treasures upon him. The Nembutsu and other practices, when compared to the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra, are like tiles and stones compared to a precious jewel, or like the flicker of a firefly compared to the light of the sun.

 

High Priest Nichinyo Shonin tells us this “wish-granting jewel” is the Lotus Sutra and continues with:

“On the other hand, you won’t be able to take out any treasure no matter if you hold on to mere tiles and stones. This means that after all, you cannot take anything out with tiles and stones, but if you possess the wish-granting jewel, you will be able to take out treasures at will”.

 

This means that the Lotus Sutra is the precious jewel or the light of the sun, while the Nembutsu and other practices are the tiles and stones or the flicker of the firefly.

 

The passage then continues with:

How can we, whose eyes are darkened, ever distinguish the true color of things by the mere glow of a firefly?

The people whose eyes are darkened describe us, the ignorant people living in the Latter Day of the Law. How are we able to judge things through the firefly’s light? Not easy? It’s totally impossible.

This passage not only expresses the obvious, but describes that the Nembutsu, Shingon and other Hinayana and provisional Mahayana Buddhist teachings will not answer your prayers. High Priest Nichinyo Shonin explains that this passage describes the Nembutsu sect as unable to see the truth.

 

High Priest Nichinyo Shonin continues:

The fact is that the lesser, provisional sutras of the Nembutsu and Shingon sects are not teachings that enable common mortals to attain Buddhahood.

 

 

Finally the following portion of the passage is clearly stated:

Our teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, in the course of his lifetime of teaching, expounded eighty thousand sacred doctrines. He was the first Buddha to appear in this saha world of ours, which previously had not known any Buddha, and he opened the eyes of all living beings.

 

Nichiren Daishonin continues this passage with:

All the other Buddhas and bodhisattvas from east and west, from the lands of the ten directions, received instruction from him.

The period prior to his advent was like the time before the appearance of the rulers and emperors of ancient China, when men did not know who their own fathers were and lived like beasts. In the time before Emperor Yao, people knew nothing about the duties to be performed in the four seasons, and were as ignorant as horses or oxen.

In the period before the appearance of Shakyamuni Buddha in the world, there were no orders of monks or nuns; there were only the two categories of men and women. But now we have monks and nuns who, because of the teachers of the Shingon sect, have decided to look upon Dainichi Buddha as the supreme object of veneration and have demoted Shakyamuni Buddha to an inferior position, or who, because they believe in the Nembutsu, pay honor to Amida Buddha and thrust Shakyamuni Buddha aside. They are monks and nuns by virtue of the Lord Shakyamuni, but because of the erroneous teachings handed down from the founders of these various sects, they have been led to behave in this way.

                                                                                               MWND v.4 p.64-65

 

Ultimately this passage explains the errors of the Shingon and Nembutsu sects begin with its founders, such as the Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei, the title of this gosho. It is because of this error that people of the Nembutsu and Shingon sects despise Shakyamuni and the Lotus Sutra. Nichiren Daishonin states the errors inside this gosho:

First of all, the Dainichi Sutra is not only inferior to the Lotus Sutra, but cannot even compare to the Nirvana, Kegon or Hannya sutras. And yet Shan-wu-wei maintained that it is superior to the Lotus Sutra, thus committing the error of slandering the Law.

Secondly, although Dainichi Buddha is a emanation of Shakyamuni Buddha, Shan-wu-wei held to the biased view that Dainichi is in fact superior to the Lord Shakyamuni. The offense of such slanders is so grave that no one who commits them could avoid falling into the evil paths, even though he should carry out the practices pertaining to the twelve hundred and more honored ones over a period of innumerable kalpas.

                                                                                                MWND v.4 p.75~6

 

It is this kind of arrogant thinking from the so-called ‘Learned Doctor’ that will mislead the people. Not only that, but the Shingon teachers who followed after him upheld his beliefs and continue to mislead the people to this very day.

 

In this present day, there are too many erroneous belief systems in this world. It is our responsibility to strive in our efforts to do shakubuku. We must be very flexible when we do shakubuku. We cannot be soft all the time. At some point, we really need to be strict. Especially when they talk about their continued reliance of their beliefs. It is very important that we strive in our practice of shakubuku and tell them about Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, through the guidances of High Priest Nichinyo Shonin, the Overseas Department, and Chief Priest of the local temple.

 

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