Oeshiki Ceremony 2009

 

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 long distance. 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 over the world decorate the altar with colorful paper cherry blossoms. Traditionally the “Rissho Ankoku Ron” is read which 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 there was an earthquake as 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.

 

But in order for the traveler to get to that point, he had to exchange 10 questions and answers with the host (Nichiren Daishonin).

 

Last night, I ended with the host starting to respond to the seventh question regarding the methods of restoring order in the nation. Then he cites from various sutras on these methods. First from the Nirvana Sutra:

The Buddha said, “If one makes offerings in this world to anyone excluding one type of person, one’s behavior should be extolled.”

                      Chunda inquired: “Who is the one to be excluded?”

                      The Buddha responded: “As taught in this sutra, the one who violates the precepts.”

 

It is clear in the sutras, we should not make any offerings towards the one who violates the precepts. This means making donations, pledges, offering his/her support. During my time hear, I receive calls regarding pledge drives for our temple. I think to myself, what is their purpose of calling here when we don’t need your business? Of course, correct me if I’m wrong here, they want to create some kind of profit through these drives.

 

Next the host goes on and explains, to whom do you not make offerings.

                      Chunda then asked for clarification: “I am unable to understand your point. I beg you to further elaborate on it.”

                      The Buddha turned to Chunda and said: “Those who brake the precepts are icchantika. Making offerings to anyone other than icchantika is praiseworthy and allows one to receive immeasurable merit.”

 

He goes on and explains the three types of icchantika. The main point given in this quote is not encouraging the practice of offering, but to avoid making offerings towards slanderous and heretical practices.

 

There are other quotes from this Nirvana Sutra that Nichiren Daishonin cites for the Rissho Ankoku ron, but I will explain that next month.

 

When this weekend is over, there will only be eighty days left in this “Year of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice.” 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin presented new goals for us to accomplish by the year 2015 and 2021. The 50% increase of the Hokkeko membership by 2015, and reaching 800,000 members by 2021. Overseas Department Chief Rev. Urushibata mentioned to us last month to show great growth, and become known far and wide through the praise and respect of fellow believers all over the world. We are certain to encounter various types of obstacles when we do shakubuku. Not just the three obstacles and four devils, but also the eight winds, fourteen slanders, even the ten kinds of evil behavior will try to prevent us from accomplish anything. We must not be persuaded by these obstacles. We must constantly practice correctly based on the strict observation of the guidance of High Priest Nichinyo Shonin, and devote ourselves to the correct practice of the True Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin.

 

Although we had already crossed the starting line for the new goals, a few days from today, a group of 40 believers will be leaving for the Head Temple to participate in the October Overseas Believers General Tozan.

 

In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Tomorrow will be the Oeshiki Ceremony. I hope to see everyone tomorrow. Thank you very much.