Otaiya Ceremony October 2009
I would like to thank you for attending today’s Otaiya 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.
For two days, today and tomorrow, the Otaiya and Oeshiki ceremonies will be conducted at Myogyoji Temple. 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.
Today, I will continue with my sermon from the “Rissho Ankoku Ron”. The seventh question the traveler gives to the host regards from the following question given from the traveler:
(p. 27, starting from ⑦)
You will know from the tone of the traveler when he gives the question. The traveler’s tone for the past six questions seems hostile at some times. But here in this seventh question, the traveler softens his tone a little bit, and starts his question with the following:
It is too difficult for me alone to determine whether or not Honen belittles the scriptures and slanders the priests. Honen does include all the 2,883 fascicles of the 637 works of the Mahayana scriptures as well as all Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and guardian deities in his list of what must be “discarded, closed, ignored, and rejected.” This assertion is evident in his The Sole Selection of Nembutsu. [Even if these four words are mistaken,] what you are doing is excessively focusing on this negligible fault and denigrating him. There is no way of knowing whether your argument is based on illusion or enlightenment, nor can I tell whether you are wise or foolish. Thus, I am unable to judge who is right or who is wrong.
He realizes the grave error of discarding, closing, ignoring, and rejecting every Mahayana doctrine, Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and the guardian deities. Yet he is still deluded into expressing that he still believes Honen is a great and respected priest. He is still unclear about the things that he hears from the host.
The traveler ends his question with this quote:
First, we must pray for the peace of the land, and then promote Buddhism. If there are any means by which to eliminate misfortunes and put an end to disasters, I would like to hear of them.
Before I go with the host’s response, let’s look at the quote. “ First, we must pray for the peace of the land, and then promote Buddhism.” If we practice this Buddhism long enough, we clearly understand that establishing True Buddhism comes first and foremost from other matters. As long as we maintain our absolute faith towards the Gohonzon, we are capable in accomplishing our goals we have set.
Now, moving to the host’s response, He opens with humble words towards the traveler. Then makes his case about reading from the various sutras. He goes on mentioning the methods written in the Buddhist and non-Buddhist scriptures, and concludes that the peace and tranquility of the nation will be ensured if those committing slanderous acts are strictly corrected, and priests practicing the correct way are held in high esteem.
He will start referring from various sutras in explaining his points. But I would like to go into this starting tomorrow.
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.
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.