Oeshiki Goshoto-e 2011
I would like to thank you for attending today’s Oeshiki ceremony despite your busy schedule. I want to thank members who have made the determination to participate in today’s ceremony from far distances. Just now, 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.
The Oeshiki ceremony is the celebration of the eternal life of Nichiren Daishonin. All the temples of Nichiren Shoshu in Japan and all around the world decorate the altar with colorful paper cherry blossoms. Traditionally the “Rissho Ankoku Ron” is read during this ceremony. This is a symbolic reaffirmation of the determination to undergo all hardships in order to achieve the absolute will of the Daishonin; Kosen-rufu.
There are three important points to keep in mind about the Oeshiki Ceremony. The first is that the wondrous life of Nichiren Daishonin has existed eternally and will continue to exist through the perfect transmission of the Three Great Secret Laws. The second point is the concept of oneness, which is an essential concept in Buddhism. The third point to remember is that the will of the Buddha is Kosen-rufu.
The very life of the Daishonin is Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, embodied in the Dai-Gohonzon. The Person and the Law were embodied in human form, but the body matured, aged and passed away leaving behind the Dai-Gohonzon for humankind.
The Daishonin states in His “Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings”, “There is nothing that exists on this earth eternally; whether something exists or not solely depends on time.”
Although His body definitely passed away, Nichiren Daishonin’s essential life remained one with the universe, retaining the power to influence the world. The Jigage portion of the Juryo chapter reads: “I let people witness my nirvana as a means to save them. But in truth, I do not die. I am here always, teaching the Law.”
The True Buddha exists eternally, but because of human nature, when the Buddha is incarnate right here in our midst, we forget everything else and spend all our time thinking of Him. Therefore, He must teach us and then leave, or we would be forever distracted from the task of achieving our own enlightenment.
The following passage from the Gosho makes the point clear that the life of the True Buddha lives in the Gohonzon, “I Nichiren, have inscribed my life in sumi.”
The essence of the Gohonzon has been handed down to us in tangible form by each successive High Priest from Nichiren Daishonin to Nikko Shonin, to Nichimoku Shonin and each one thereafter to the present High Priest, Nichinyo Shonin.
The second important point to remember is that at the core of Buddhist doctrine is the revelation of the concept of oneness. The fact that at the time of the Daishonin’s death at once there was an earthquake and the cherry trees bloomed out of season, teaches us the Buddhist concept of oneness. The oneness of the common mortal and Buddha, the oneness of life and its environment, the oneness of body and mind and the oneness of death and birth cannot be separated from each other. Therefore, at the moment of the True Buddha’s physical death, the earth shook in farewell, but the cherry trees bloomed out of season in welcome. Thus, the Daishonin’s passing reveals the principle of oneness.
The “Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings” states, “When we chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, our ignorance changes to revelation because of the Mystic Law.”
After His passing, the Buddha’s life is manifested in the mandala that simultaneously contains the ten life conditions. In other words, the Buddha’s life is none other than the Gohonzon, the purpose of the Daishonin’s advent into this world.
The third point involves the absolute necessity of the disciples to carry on the pure Heritage after the Daishonin’s passing by maintaining a pure practice. Of the Daishonin’s six senior disciples, Nikko Shonin was the only one who understood the deep meaning of the Daishonin’s life and teaching. Only he kept the vow to protect and propagate the true teaching as it was taught.
Consequently, today, only Nichiren Shoshu carries out the true meaning of the Oeshiki Ceremony and has held it according to the doctrine and correct faith for more than 700 years.
The reason for the Daishonin’s advent was His desire to secure peace through the propagation of the True Law. This underlying principle is manifested in the Gosho “Rissho Ankoku Ron.”
Nikko Shonin, Nichimoku Shonin, and each of the successive High Priests, who themselves remonstrated with the government, inherited Nichiren Daishonin’s will. Thus, the tradition was established in Nichiren Shoshu to read the “Rissho Ankoku Ron” and other letters and treatise of remonstration called Moshi-jo during the Oeshiki Ceremony to remind us of our tradition and pledge to accomplish Kosen-rufu.
During today’s ceremony, I read a portion of the Gosho “Rissho Ankoku Ron.” This portion covers the reply given by the host, Nichiren Daishonin, of a question from the traveler, Hojo Tokiyori. The traveler, after listening to what the host has said, is now convinced that the Lotus Sutra is the only correct practice. At the very end, the traveler declares that the Lotus Sutra is the only correct practice, and not only will he practice, he will let others know about this practice as well.
Here, the traveler tells the host that he will abandon the heretical teachings and devotes himself to practice the True Teaching and propagate the Lotus Sutra. Ideally, Nichiren Daishonin would have liked to see the shogunate government take that kind of action immediately following the receipt of the Rissho Ankoku ron. Instead, not only did the government deny His request of abandoning the heretical sects, but also the government was determined to eliminate Nichiren Daishonin just because He told the truth.
Just as it was during Nichiren Daishonin’s time, we live in a defiled age where earthly desires are all around us. Nichiren Daishonin states in “Questions and Answers between a Sage and a Foolish Man”,
Because the minds of the people are warped and twisted, and provisional teachings and slander abound, the true Law cannot prevail. In times like these, it is useless to practice the reading, reciting, and copying [of the Lotus Sutra] or to devote oneself to the methods and practices of meditation. One should practice only shakubuku, and if he has the capacity, use his influence and authority to destroy slander of the Law, and his knowledge of the teachings to refute erroneous doctrines. (Gosho p. 1057, MWND Vol. 5, p. 104~5)
Here, Nichiren Daishonin teaches that in this defiled age, only through the practice of shakubuku we are able to refute slander and heretical teachings. You will notice the momentum we had since the middle of last year, when we had at least two people receive either Gojukai or Kankaishiki. Because we live in a land that is heavily diluded in heretical beliefs, earthly desires are rampant, and people are more focused on their self-satisfaction, it will take compassion and patience when we do shakubuku.
We always should keep in our minds that in order to do shakubuku successfully, we must understand the fact that shakubuku is not just a theory or concept, but it means taking action. One must move one’s feet, explain this Buddhism with one’s mouth, and lead an individual to receive the Gojukai ceremony. None of this is supposed to be easy. On the other hand, not even trying will not help develop your practice, including shakubuku. How can we do shakubuku and develop our practice at the same time? By devoting ourselves to the fundamentals of this practice, which is reciting morning and evening Gongyo and chanting Daimoku. This is the basis of our practice, and should never be ignored. If we ignore this, then no matter how much we do shakubuku, in most cases, positive results will not come. Even if the shakubuku does come to fruition, the chances would be difficult for a new member to develop into a strong Nichiren Shoshu believer who could stand on his or her own. 26th High Priest Nichikan Shonin states in the “Exegesis on the ‘True Object of Worship’”,
If practice for one is fulfilled, there exists practice for others without fail. Practice for the sake of others is the act based on one’s profound compassion.
This guidance explains to us about jigyo-keta. When one’s practice of reciting Gongyo and chanting Daimoku is complete, a sense of fulfillment arises. Then, the compassion to pray for someone’s happiness from the depths of one’s life is born. It is through our sincere efforts to do Gongyo and Shodai without ever skipping and consistently chanting abundant Daimoku that we can see the results of our efforts in shakubuku. Nichiren Daishonin teaches in “The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings”,
One experiences great joy when one understands for the first time that one’s mind from the beginning has been the mind of a Buddha. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the greatest of all joys. (Gosho p. 1801)
In this passage, Nichiren Daishoinin explains that when we uphold the supreme teaching, we see evidence of our faith and practice. Both our mind and body should reside in the life condition of the “greatest of all joys,” which is Buddhahood. Not something materialistic that can relieve you for only a brief time. Even though we can gain the life condition of Buddhahood, we will experience hardships, sadness, irritations, etc. Whatever the circumstances, we should strive to reside in a life condition where we truly can experience happiness from the depths of our hearts, and rejoice over our fortune to be able to practice and to chant Daimoku. Through absolute conviction in the Gohonzon and possessing a heart overflowing with great joy, we naturally will be able to move others while doing shakubuku.
The True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin and all of the successive High Priests have taught consistently that we always should be exerting our utmost efforts to promote kosen-rufu. Which is why the priesthood and laity must do shakubuku, day and night.
Nichiren Daishonin tells us that shakubuku is a practice to be carried out by all believers who uphold and practice this Buddhism. It is ideal that each and every one of Nichiren Daishonin’s disciples and believers carry out shakubuku based on one’s level of faith, practice, and study. This is what is called “propagating the Law according to one’s individual strengths” (zui riki guzu).
26th High Priest Nichikan Shonin states in His Exegesis on “Repaying Debts of Gratitude”,
Refuting heretical teachings and propagating the true Law without begrudging one’s life is, in fact, repaying one’s debts of gratitude to all.
(Gosho mondan, p. 384)
This guidance states that the more shakubuku we do, the more times we pay our debts of gratitude. We repay our debts of gratitude toward the three treasures, to one’s parents, to all living beings, to one’s sovereign and to one’s teachers. By doing shakubuku, we are repaying our debts of gratitude to every single person that we know. I have mentioned the same thing at the Higan-e Ceremony last month. If we are afraid to do shakubuku because we are concerned of what will happen to our friendship, then we are only thinking about our own happiness rather than the happiness of the other person. We should never be satisfied with our own happiness when other people around us are suffering. If you feel that doing shakubuku to your friend is difficult, then do shakubuku to someone that you hate, that irritates you, that you dislike the most.
We are now close to ending the “year of taking action to do shakubuku.” I am certain that we have made shakubuku efforts throughout the year. This chapter was fortunate to accomplish shakubuku in a much faster pace compared to last year, yet we sputtered in the summer. For the remainder of the year, through High Priest Nichinyo Shonin’s guidance, let us strive in our practice of shakubuku with firm faith, based on unity between priesthood and laity.
In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much for your attendance for the Oeshiki Ceremonies.