January 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 Toba, I have offered my sincere prayers to the Gohonzon for the peace and happiness of your late relatives, friends, and ancestors.
On the Buddha’s Behavior
Now we are at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law and I, Nichiren, am the first to set out on the worldwide propagation of Myoho-renge-kyo. These five characters are the heart of the Lotus Sutra and the source of the enlightenment of all Buddhas. During the more than twenty-two hundred years that have passed since Shakyamuni entered nirvana, no one has ever embarked on this mission, not even the greatest of his followers, Mahakashyapa, Ananda, Ashvaghosha, Nagarjuna, Nan-yueh, T'ien-t'ai, Miao-lo or Dengyo. My disciples form your ranks and follow me, and you shall surpass even Mahakashyapa or Ananda, T'ien-t'ai or Dengyo! If you quail before the threats of the rulers of this little island country and abandon your faith, how will you face the even more terrible anger of Emma, the King of Hell? You have proclaimed yourselves to be the messengers of the Buddha. But if you falter, there will be no one more despicable than you.
This gosho was written in the second year of Kenji (1276), when Nichiren Daishonin was 55 years old, at Mt. Minobu. This gosho was addressed to Konichi-ama, a nun who resided in Amatsu, which is located inside Awa Province. The Gosho preaches the behavior Nichiren Daishonin took while refuting heresy and upholding the truth and the endurance of persecution to propagate the Law, especially during the period where Nichiren Daishonin discarded His provisional identity and revealed His true identity (Hosshaku Kempon) through the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, His exile to Sado Island, and His entry into Mt. Minobu.
The passage that I read today tells us the type of determination we must have in order to propagate Nichiren Daishonin’s True Buddhism.
As many of you may recall, during the Grand Ceremony to Commemorate the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho Ankoku-ron, 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin provided us the following goals to accomplish.
1. Each Hokkeko chapter to accomplish a 50% increase of membership by 2015, the 770th Anniversary of the birth of Second High Priest, Nikko Shonin.
2. To reach 800,000 members worldwide by 2021, the 800th Anniversary of the advent of our Founder Nichiren Daishonin.
As many of you are well aware, we are living in an evil age that is stained with the five impurities. At the same time though, we are living in the age where we can realize the vow to secure the peace of the land through the propagation of True Buddhism found only through doing shakubuku.
Nichiren Daishonin states in “Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man”:
But the present age is a defiled one. Because the minds of people are warped and twisted, and provisional teachings and slander alone 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. (MWND Vol. 5 p. 104~5)
Here, He mentions that only through the practice of shakubuku can we crush and strike heretical teachings with high spirits in this defiled age.
We must also not forget to follow the other elements of our practice as practitioners of Nichiren Shoshu.
The practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is based on the three essential elements of faith, practice, and study. Faith is the foundation or root that leads to the actions of practice and study. The essential element of Practice is to take action through our practice depending on the three categories of body, mouth and mind. Especially, since all of this relates to shakubuku, it is best that we take action to do shakubuku. Taking action means to move our feet, instead of through our theory and concepts. Always keeping in touch with a person is important, not just through the phone, but in person as well. It is through our actions and our willingness to change that will definitely lead to changes in our lives, our family relationship, our chapter, and especially our society.
Next, since the end of last year, I started preaching about the fundamental points a Hokkeko member should take. Gongyo and Shodai, the first and most important point is followed by shakubuku. While every point is important, shakubuku, second behind our daily practice of Shodai and Gongyo, must be accorded with the same effort and level of significance as fundamental to our practice.
There is a Buddhist term called “jigyo keta.” During the Gojukai ceremony, three questions are presented to a new member: to which they answer ‘I do’. The third question is “Do you faithfully swear to keep the precepts of Nichiren Shoshu throughout your life?” This vow means that we promise to continue our practice to the Gohonzon for the remainder of our lives. It includes doing our best to practice for ourselves (jigyo) and to practice for the sake of others (keta). The practice for ourselves is the Gongyo and Shodai that we do everyday, while the practice for the sake of others is shakubuku. If you feel a sense of fulfillment through Gongyo and Shodai, then the compassion to wish for someone else’s happiness should arise within you, thus leading to the practice of shakubuku. If you do not feel full compassion inside you, do you think you can be able to do shakubuku? If your heart isn’t full of good fortune, do you honestly think you can pray for peace and happiness of another person? Nichiren Daishonin mentions to us how to polish our hearts and accumulate good fortune through both body and mind in the gosho “On Attaining Buddhahood”:
Arouse deep faith and polish your mirror night and day. How should you polish it? Only by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
(MWND Vol. 1 p. 5)
Nichiren Daishonin teaches us that only through our daily practice of Gongyo and Shodai are we capable of doing Shakubuku. Someone in one of the midwest area regions said that no one cared about doing Shodai. After hearing this statement I believe this person is not in touch with the movement priesthood and laity are working towards, and that region is not going to change unless more people got involved in shodai and shakubuku.
68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin states:
True happiness lies in being aware that your own happiness is closely tied to the happiness of the entire world. True happiness is based on striving to practice for the attainment of Buddhahood for both yourself and others. Each individual must realize the importance of shakubuku and the profound benefits of doing shakubuku, and devote oneself to propagate the mystic Law (Myōhō).
(Kofu Shodaikai Nov. 2010)
It is not easy when we are dealing with difficult and unpleasant things in our daily lives. But despite these circumstances, we are living, practicing, and chanting. We must work hard at devoting ourselves to practicing true Buddhism correctly to live in a state where we can feel joy from the bottom of our hearts.
When we take action to do shakubuku with great joy in our hearts and have absolute faith towards the Gohonzon, then we can bring a strong impression to the people and accomplish shakubuku.
Nichiren Daishonin’s will, and the guidance of the successive High Priests, all tell us that we must do shakubuku. Not just those who have the resolution, those who like doing shakubuku, those who can do shakubuku, or those who have the time to do shakubuku. Shakubuku is a practice that every person devoted to practicing Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism must do.
You should not worry about how much knowledge or the years of practice you have. Simply propagate to the best of your ability, and work together with each other. Never boast about your ability to non-members and always attend to them in a polite and humble manner. Boasting that you know more about Buddhism than the other person is going to result in a creating negative impression about this practice. This kind of behavior is showmanship attitude I cannot tolerate. So please be careful.
We must also be well aware the practice of shakubuku is the mission we as bodhisattvas of the earth must abide.
68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin states:
In our daily life, it is not possible for us to become happy alone, just by ourselves. Only when happiness is shared among oneself and others can it be regarded as true happiness.
In light of the Daishonin’s teaching, the only way to realize happiness for both oneself and others is to do shakubuku. This is because the secret Law that will save all living beings is none other than the great Law of Myoho-Renge-Kyo, hidden in the depths of the Life Span (Juryō; sixteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
(Kofu Shodaikai Oct. 2010)
In His New Year’s Address, 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin guides us with the following:
In this “Year of Taking Action to do Shakubuku,” we must embrace and believe in the true purpose expressed in the Rissho ankoku-ron. This is the doctrine of admonition for the purpose of accomplishing shakubuku. It was written by Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of true Buddhism and the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, who possesses the wisdom and perspective that transcend the ten directions and the three existences.
He further guides us with:
Emulating the Daishonin’s behavior, all of us must dauntlessly follow him, the True Buddha, and challenge ourselves in the battle of shakubuku.
(Kofu Shodaikai Ceremony April 2008)
No one is allowed to stand on the sidelines during this “Year of Taking Action to do Shakubuku.” There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to be sitting down and doing nothing. You cannot expect to receive any kind of merit by taking such an attitude. You cannot wait and have the Buddha do something for you first. That kind of approach is incorrect. One other thing I want to mention is very important and everyone must listen very carefully to: many people resist the idea that we must work together. I believe that many of you are resistant in searching for help when doing shakubuku. We all must work together in order to accomplish our shakubuku goals.
In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Thank you very much.