February Oko 2010
Myogyoji Temple Oko Passage February 2010
On the Buddhafs Behavior
None of you who declare yourselves to be my disciples should ever be cowardly. Neither should you allow concern for your parents, wives or children to hold you back, or be worried about your property. Since the infinite past you have thrown away your life more times than the number of dust particles on earth in order to save your parents, your children or your property. But you have not once given your life for the Lotus Sutra. You may have tried to practice its teachings to some extent, but whenever you were persecuted, you ceased to live by the sutra. That is like boiling water only to pour it into cold water, or like trying to strike fire but giving up halfway. Each and every one of you should be certain deep in your hearts that sacrificing your life for the Lotus Sutra is like trading rocks for gold or filth for rice.
I would like to thank you for attending todayfs 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.
Todayfs ceremony coincides with the Otanjo-e Ceremony, commemorating the birth of Nichiren Daishonin. Nichiren Daishonin was born on February 16, 1222, the son of a fisherman 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 February 16, has a mystic connection with Shakyamunifs date of death, February 15. These dates indicate the Daishoninfs Buddhism began at the point where the power of Shakyamunifs Buddhism ceased to help people. Shakyamuni was born in India to a royal family as the prince of King Shuddhodana. In contrast, the Daishonin was born to ga fishermanfs familyh or ga common family.h
The Daishoninfs 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 gFortitudeh or the Kanji chapter of the Lotus Sutra states the following passages:
@@@@@@@@@ gccurse and speak ill of ush
@@@@@@@@@ gcattack us with swords and stavesh
@@@@@@@@@ gcagain and again we will be banishedh
If the Daishonin had been born to a royal, noble or shogun family, He could not have fulfilled the prophecies of the Lotus Sutra. and 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. We can thus concretely form a relationship with the True Buddhafs Three Virtues of sovereign, teacher and parent.
3. Nichiren Daishonin quotes in the Gosho gOn the Four Stages of Faith and the Five Stages of Practiceh:
@@@@@@@@@ gcthe truer the teaching, the lower the capacity.h
And again in the Gosho gThe Person and the Lawh:
@@@@@@@@@ gSince the law is supreme, the person is worthy of respect; since the person is worthy of respect, the place is sacred.h
These passages suggest that the Daishonin manifested the principle of gthe True Buddha is a common mortal.h 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 was the Daishonin able to actually manifest the great benefit of showing that ga common mortal is equal to the Buddhah and gearthly desires are enlightenment.h
Having taken these three factors into consideration the Daishonin stated:
gI, Nichiren, humble person though I am, have received Shakyamuni Buddhafs 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. cWere it not for me, Nichiren, the words of the Buddha would have been meaningless".
And in the gOne Hundred and Six Comparisonsh, the Daishonin stated:
gMy true identity is the Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom. My provisional identity is the reincarnation of Bodhisattva Jogyo, Nichiren, the present Great Master of the Essential Teaching.h
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 gthe eternal past, which is equal to the age of Mappoh and gthe Buddha of Intrinsically Perfect Wisdom from the time of the eternal pasth in this age of Mappo. The birth date of Nichiren Daishonin, February 16, 1222, was truly the most significant day. Neither Shakyamuni, Tfian-tfai nor Dengyo had previously revealed the greatest Buddhism in the entire world. The Daishoninfs 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 gOn the Buddhafs Behavior.h This Gosho was written by Nichiren Daishonin at Minobu in the second year of Kenji (1276), when He was 55 years old. It was a letter that 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.
This passage expresses that we, as common mortals, are willing to sacrifice our lives for our family, jobs, or things within our ordinary life. When it comes to sacrificing for the protection and propagation of this Buddhism, however, it becomes very difficult to do so But, even if we encounter difficulties or hardships that threatens our very lives, if we have the power of faith and practice strong enough to avoid going taiten, then we are also capable enough to accomplish our goals that we pledged to the Gohonzon. Nichiren Daishonin mentions in the Gosho gThe Gift of Riceh,
Yet even common mortals can attain Buddhahood if they cherish one thing: earnest faith.
It is clear that through our practice of faith where one should spread the Buddha's teachings even though it may cost him his life, namely, to seriously and strongly pursue the path towards enlightenment and strive with strong devotion, we can attain enlightenment and the will of Nichiren Daishonin, Kosen-rufu.
Through the protection and propagation of this True Buddhism, and for the sake of seeking the truth, we are capable of living in peace and boundless joy from the Law.
In our daily lives, we will surely encounter the four sufferings of birth, death, illness, and aging. Through our encounters with the four sufferings we react in many different ways: we worry, we suffer, we rejoice, we are pleased, going through these emotional swings. It is a natural for anyone. It also means that we are easily swayed by these swings and find it difficult to establish who we are.
If you recall, Shijo Kingo was serving his Lord, Ema Mitsutoki. Shijo Kingo did shakubuku him, resulting in Lord Ema's anger, and Shijo was ordered not to leave his house. During this time, many of his co-workers slandered him, and he was emotionally drained by all of this. It was during that time Nichiren Daishonin gave His golden words in the Gosho gHappiness in this Worldh.
Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. Then you will experience boundless joy from the Law. Strengthen your faith more than ever.
Whenever we encounter pain or suffering in life, we often think to ourselves, gWhy am I dealing with pain and suffering when Ifm doing this practice? Is it because of my lack in faith? Or the lack of shodai?h We are hesitant to ask this question, if even pointed out by someone else. When that happens, we always put on a bold front, and deny any existence of pain or suffering. But Nichiren Daishonin clearly states that we should accept the suffering that we face. Accept it as it is, for it is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that we are willing to accept and overcome anything that we might face.
Also, we should enjoy whatever there is to enjoy, and through our chanting of Daimoku, we are able to live through pain and joy without being swayed by them, and live a peaceful life.
By holding absolute faith in the Gohonzon, chanting Daimoku, and striving in this practice, we are able to open up to the unlimited boundless joy from the Law.
68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin guides us with the following:
gWhen we are practicing and encounter difficulty, we think that something is going to happen. But that is not the case. The guardian deities will definitely protect us. But, there is going to be a struggle within ourselves, so we must overcome that. If we do not take that first step forward, the deities will not protect us. This is very importantc. This passage tells us to make the determination to conduct shakubuku.h
As you well know by now, 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin has set up two goals for us to accomplish. One is to increase our membership 50% by 2015, and the other is to have 800,000 members worldwide by 2021, the 800th anniversary of the advent of the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin. The goal for 2015 is very crucial for us if we are to accomplish the goal of 2021. Letfs strive in our practice of conducting shakubuku, daily Gongyo and Shodai, and continue the growth and development of ourselves, as well as the development of Myogyoji 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.