Oko Lecture

February 12, 2012

 

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

 

Today’s ceremony coincides with the Otanjo-e Ceremony, commemorating the birth of Nichiren Daishonin, who was born on February 16, 1222, as the son of a fisherman named Mikuni no Taifu Shigetada, and his wife Umegiku-nyo, in the fishing village of Kominato, Province of Awa, (presently the southern part of Chiba Prefecture).

Nichiren Daishonin’s birthdate has a mystic connection with Shakyamuni’s Buddhism because Shakyamuni died on February 15. This indicates that the Daishonin’s Buddhism began at the point where the power of Shakyamuni’s Buddhism ceased. Shakyamuni was born in India to a royal family as the prince of King Shuddhodana. In contrast, the Daishonin was born to “a fisherman’s family” or “a common family.” The Daishonin’s humble origin has three profound and significant points in Buddhism.

 

1. The Daishonin went through various persecutions to fulfill the predictions about the practice of the foremost votary of the Lotus Sutra in the world. The “Fortitude” or the Kanji chapter of the Lotus Sutra states the following passages:

            “…curse and speak ill of us”

            “…attack us with swords and staves”

            “…again and again we will be banished”

If the Daishonin had been born to a royal, noble or shogun family, He could not have fulfilled the prophecies of the Lotus Sutra. In other words, had this been the case, it would have been impossible for Him to overcome the persecutions and to reveal Himself as the votary of the Lotus Sutra.

 

2. The people in the age of Mappo, the Latter Day of the Law, do not have any past relationship with Shakyamuni. Therefore, the Daishonin, as the True Buddha of Sowing, made His advent as a common person in this world so we could receive the benefit of the relationship we have with Him as the True Buddha who sows in our lives the seed of the True Cause of original enlightenment. Thus we concretely can form a relationship with the True Buddha’s Three Virtues of sovereign, teacher and parent.

 

3. Nichiren Daishonin quotes in the Gosho “On the Four Stages of Faith and the Five Stages of Practice”:

            “…the truer the teaching, the lower the capacity.”

 

And again in the Gosho “The Person and the Law”:

            “Since the law is supreme, the person is worthy of respect; since the person is worthy of respect, the place is sacred.”

 

These passages suggest that the Daishonin manifested the principle of “the True Buddha is a common mortal.” He was born in a low and humble social status so that He could lead all the people in the defiled age of Mappo, who possess low faculties and low capacities, and whose lives are tainted with the three poisons of greed, anger and stupidity. Thus the Daishonin actually manifested the great benefit of showing that “a common mortal is equal to the Buddha” and “earthly desires are enlightenment.”

 

Having taken these factors into consideration, the Daishonin stated:

“I, Nichiren, humble person though I am, have received Shakyamuni Buddha’s royal command and have come to this country of Japan.

“If I, Nichiren, had not appeared in this country of Japan, the golden words of the Buddha would have been in vain, and the proof demonstrated by Taho Buddha would have been worthless. …Were it not for me, Nichiren, the words of the Buddha would have been meaningless.

And in the “One Hundred and Six Comparisons,” the Daishonin stated:

“My true identity is the Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom. My provisional identity is the reincarnation of Bodhisattva Jogyo, Nichiren, present Great Master of the Essential Teaching.”

This reveals that Bodhisattva Jogyo is still His provisional identity. The true, ultimate identity is the Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom who has existed from the very beginning of the remotest past.

 

The birth of Nichiren Daishonin signifies the advent of the True Buddha of “the eternal past, which is equal to the age of Mappo” and “the Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom from the time of the eternal past” in this age of Mappo. The birth date of Nichiren Daishonin, February 16, 1222, was truly the most significant day. Neither Shakyamuni, T’ien-t’ai nor Dengyo revealed the greatest Buddhism in the entire world. The Daishonin’s mission originated at the time of His birth as a human being.

We should well understand the significance of the advent of Nichiren Daishonin deep in our hearts, and appreciate the great debt of gratitude we owe to Him. Let us make further efforts to propagate True Buddhism at this time.

 

Today, I have read a passage from the Gosho “The Selection of the Time.” This Gosho is designated as one of the Five Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin. (Rissho ankoku-ron, The Opening of the Eyes, The True Object of Worship, Repaying Debts of Gratitude are the other four goshos.) This was written on the tenth day of the sixth month of the first year of Kenji, June 10, 1275, when Nichiren Daishonin was 54 years old. This Gosho clearly states that in this age of the Latter Day of the Law, only the Three Great Secret Laws, hidden in the depths of the Juryo Chapter of the Lotus Sutra must be spread around the world. He also mentions that He himself is the votary of the Lotus Sutra not only for Japan, but for the entire world as well.

 

The passage that I read today involves the three remonstrations that He made to the Kamakura shogunate government. The first remonstration was the submission of the Rissho ankoku-ron to the government on July 16, 1260.

The second remonstration came in the evening of September 12, 1271. Keep this date in mind. This remonstration refers to the meeting Nichiren Daishonin had with Heino Saemon’nojō Yoritsuna. There was a separate meeting that involved the two and was mentioned in the Gosho “Day before Yesterday.” As the passage mentions, Nichiren Daishonin declares to Yoritsuna, “… killing Nichiren means toppling the pillar of Japan. If the nation loses Nichiren, the disaster of revolt from within or violent conflict [within the Hojo clan] will occur.” Nichiren Daishonin continues to declare to Yoritsuna, “And the disaster of foreign invasion will appear. People in Japan will be slaughtered by the invaders, and many will be captured alive.” He is pointing out the disasters that have yet to develop when he wrote the Rissho ankoku-ron. After the Daishonin’s remonstration on that day, Yoritsuna uses his authority to apprehend the Daishonin, and without any hesitation, take him to the execution site at the Tatsunokuchi Beach. This would lead to the Tatsunokuchi Persecution.

The third and final remonstration occurs on April 8, 1274. Nichiren Daishonin once again remonstrates to the shogunate government through Yoritsuna about the dangers of continuing to put faith in heretical teachings through the Mongolian invasion. Nichiren Daishonin predicted that the invasion would happen within that year, the actual invasion took place in October.

 

Through these remonstrations, you will realize that Nichiren Daishonin wasn’t slacking toward the other Buddhist religions. On October 11, 1269, Nichiren Daishonin sent out 11 letters urging the government and the religious leaders of the heretical sects to abandon their teachings and put faith in the Lotus Sutra. In the 11 letters, Nichiren Daishonin famously refuted the erroneous doctrines of the various sects with the four dictums. The four dictums are:

Nembutsu leads to the hell of incessant suffering; Zen is the teaching of devils; Shingon will ruin the nation and Ritsu is traitorous.

Nichiren Daishonin’s declaration of refuting other religious teachings on April 28, 1253, was shocking to everyone. The 11 letters He sent to the government officials and religious leaders declaring the four dictums not only proved His determination of propagating the Lotus Sutra despite the numerous threats on His life, but furiously angered the same people He remonstrated as well.

Nichiren Daishonin faced many persecutions to propagate True Buddhism in Japan during His lifetime. Immediately following His first remonstration, He encountered the Matsubagayatsu Persecution, and was exiled to Izu Island the following year.

Nichiren Daishonin encountered the Tatsunokuchi Persecution on the day of His second remonstration. He was exiled to Sado Island a month later.

 

Throughout His life, Nichiren Daishonin remonstrated the government, declaring the four dictums, and even as He entered into enlightenment, He left directions for His disciples to follow. But it was only Nikko Shonin who faithfully followed Nichiren Daishonin’s will to refute slander and protect the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin. After refuting the four slanderous acts Hagiri Sanenaga did, but to no avail, Nikko Shonin left Mt. Minobu and ultimately settled in the Ueno District. There, Head Temple Taisekiji was established, and to this day, Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings have been protected through the lineage of the successive High Priests.

 

Refuting slander is not that simple, especially in this age of the Latter Day of the Law. For more than 760 years, Nichiren Shoshu has propagated Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism inside Japan and all over the world, through the temples and centers in the various countries. These temples are the center of Kosen-rufu, which means the propagation of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism to all people. 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin mentions in the first Kofu Shodaikai of this year:

Various heretical religions, including the Soka Gakkai, are rampant in society and are deluding many people. It is absolutely necessary for us to teach the people that slander of the Law is the root cause for unhappiness. We must refute their slander of the Law and lead them to attain true happiness and the realization of the Buddha land of peace.

It is clear that we must strongly refute the heretical teachings that delude today’s society; especially people who have mistaken assumptions about what this Buddhism is. For example, people who read books about Buddhism that are written by non-Buddhists; how they are able to convince other people about Buddhism when they haven’t the slightest idea what Buddhism is.

During the study meeting last month, I explained the difference between Buddhist and non-Buddhist teachings through the five-fold comparisons. After that comparison, the comparison of other Buddhist teachings eventually leads to the conclusion that the Buddhism of sowing is far superior to any other religions.

Our shakubuku efforts must be centered on the fact that it is the heretical teachings that is deluding the people.

 

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