Oeshiki Otaiya 2010
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.
From July 2008 until January of this year, I have been giving sermons from the Rissho Ankoku ron. At that time, I mentioned that I was going to do the remaining portions of the Rissho Ankoku ron during this ceremony. Tonight, as I promised, I will be doing the final portion of the Rissho Ankoku ron.
As you may recall, this Gosho was written and submitted to the Kamakura Shogunate government on July 16, 1260. In it, Nichiren Daishonin mentions that all the people in society have turned their backs on the correct teachings and instead, committed themselves to the heretical teachings. He explained through a question and answer exchange with the government, who is mentioned in the gosho as the traveler, and Nichiren Daishonin, who is mentioned as the host, that because the people were actually committing slander, all the guardian deities, who swore to protect the country, abandoned it, and the evil demons resided in their stead. Nichiren Daishonin clearly mentions that this is the cause of all the chaos, conflicts, and disasters around the world.
68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin even mentions: “(Nichiren Daishonin) states that the single evil cause that has brought forth all adversities, misfortune, confusion, and suffering is Honen’s writing, The Sole Selection of Nembutsu.”
The heated debate with the traveler and the host goes through eight questions and entered the ninth question. By that time though, the traveler seemed to have softened his approach, and mentioned the following:
The teachings of the Buddha are so diverse that their true intentions are difficult to grasp. They have so many puzzling aspects that there is no way of judging what is right and what is wrong.
However, Priest Honen’s The Sole Selection of Nembutsu exists in reality, and it states that all Buddhas, sutras, bodhisattvas, and guardian deities must be discarded, closed, ignored, and rejected. These [slanderous] words clearly appear in his writing. Due to this teaching, sages have left the land, while guardian deities have abandoned their domains; people of the whole nation are suffering from starvation and thirst; pestilence afflicts the entire nation. By extensively citing the sutras, you have clearly shown what is consistent with and contrary to reason. Thus, my deluded attachment has vanished, and now my ears have cleared and my eyes have opened.
Ultimately, it is the peace and stability of the land that everyone from the emperor to the commoner seeks and longs for. If we instantly cease giving alms to the icchantika, and instead consistently make offerings to the many priests and nuns of the correct Law, and if we defeat the pirates on the vast ocean of Buddhist teachings and rout out the bandits in the high mountains of the Law, then the land will be peaceful, just as it was during the eras of Fu Xi and Shennong, and the nation will be an ideal one, just as it was during the periods of Yao and Shun.
I will contemplate the depths of the Buddhist teachings and will seek, from now on, to revere the highest teaching of all.
(GND Vol. II, p. 37~8)
To this question, or quote, the host, Nichiren Daishonin responds with the following:
[Before my very eyes], the pigeon has transformed into a hawk, the sparrow into a clam. I am delighted to see that you have corrected your views by conversing with a friend of virtue in the orchid room, just as [the winding] mugwort grows straight in a hemp field.
(GND Vol. II, p. 38)
The first half of this quote is mentioned in an old Chinese writing, where it says that in the midst of spring, the hawk will transform into a pigeon, the pigeon will transform into a hawk in the midst of autumn, the sparrow will enter the water before the season will change to winter to transform into a clam. Keep in mind that in ancient times in China and Japan, that the view of seasons is different from that here. Spring is from January to March, summer is from April to June, autumn is from July to September, and winter is from October to December. Here, it mentions that the hawk transforms itself into a weak pigeon during the coldest time of the year. Then the pigeon turns into a powerful hawk during the summer. Nichiren Daishonin uses this proverb, along with the ‘sparrow into a clam’ proverb as well. These express that when the season changes, so does everything around us. It also expresses whoever hears a sound argument, an inferior being will change into a superior being. But since this is a country full of people with heavy karma, that is not an easy task. Yet it is what we have to do in order to respond to the will of Nichiren Daishonin.
The second half of the phrase mentions “a friend of virtue in the orchid room”. Someone living in a room filled with an orchid scent, a highly superior and pure room is a person with a pure and proper heart. Nichiren Daishonin applies it to himself, the host, and tells the traveler that he became ‘the winding mugwort growing straight in a hemp field’ by listening to what the host said. A mugwort usually grows in a winding form. But it will grow straight up when it grows inside a hemp field. Here, it means that anyone who has a distorted view will change into a person with a correct view if that person associates with someone who has.
If you seriously reflect on the recent disasters and wholeheartedly trust my words, then the land will soon prosper, just as the ocean calms when the winds subsides.
(GND Vol. II, p. 38)
This passage mentions the traveler admitting that Honen’s writing, The Sole Selection of Nembutsu, is the sole cause of these recent disasters. The traveler intends to abandon the heretical teachings and devote himself to the correct teachings. The land will prosper, and people will welcome years of comfort and prosperity.
But, the next passage reads,
However, human hearts change with the passage of time, and human nature is affected by its surroundings.
This is just like the reflection of the moon on the water rippling with the waves, or soldiers in the face of battle quailing at the sight of the swords of their enemy.
You believe in my words at this moment; however, later you will surely forget them.
(GND Vol. II, p. 38~9)
Nichiren Daishonin warns us that the feelings of a person easily change. It also points out that everything changes based on the circumstances of a person’s nature.
If you desire a secure land, and wish to pray for peace in your present and future existences, you should waste no time, ponder on the correct path, and immediately eliminate slanders.
(GND Vol. II, p. 39)
It is certainly not easy for anyone to start doing shakubuku immediately after they received Gojukai. But because they made the commitment to practice True Buddhism, it is important that the person draws the line on heretical teachings. Which is why that person must chant Daimoku, receive merit from the Gohonzon, and have total confidence when doing shakubuku.
Next, is a long passage that covers from the eighth line from the top all the way to the fifth line from the bottom of page 39. All of these explain the disasters that actually occurred and the disasters that have yet to occur based on the sutras. From this, you will know that disasters related to conflict have yet to occur. But later on, these conflicts will definitely occur afterwards.
Then it mentions,
What will you do if these disasters occur simultaneously and relentlessly as a result of the people taking faith in erroneous teachings?
(GND Vol. II, p. 39)
This passage is a warning towards the people who continue to devote themselves to the heretical teachings.
It continues with the following.
The emperor rules the nation by keeping his kingdom in order, while his subjects make their living by tending their farms and fields. If marauders invade from other countries or revolt occurs from within, and the people’s lands are pillaged, will they not be shocked? Will they not panic? If the nation is conquered and homes are lost, where will you flee? If you truly desire your own peace and security, should you not first pray for peace of the entire nation?
(GND Vol. II, p. 39~40)
Above all, everyone living in this world fears what is to come after death. In fear of this, people unknowingly take faith in erroneous teachings or venerate slanderous religions. Their inability to differentiate right from wrong is disgraceful. How pitiful it is that they believe they are dedicating themselves to correct Buddhism! If people were inclined to take faith, why would they heedlessly follow erroneous doctrines? If they cannot sever their attachments to heretical teachings, and if they continue to hold distorted views, they will certainly find that their lifespan will be diminished and they will fall into the hell of incessant suffering.
(GND Vol. II, p. 40)
The first half notes the method and warnings of attaining happiness and avoiding any disasters while we are alive. The second half tells us what happens when we are dead. This is related to our current and future existences (gento nise).
In regards to these two passages, Retired High Priest Nikken Shonin states:
The outline of “Rissho Ankoku Ron doesn’t deal what is going on in this existence. From the essence of Buddhism, it is the current and future existences, which is enjoying peace and security in this life and good circumstances in the next that is important. Planning on how to attain a peaceful and happy life while we eradicate the pain and suffering while we are alive is necessary. However, we must avoid falling into the world of hell, hunger, and animality, and receive suffering after our death.
Nikken Shonin further states:
People in this world tend to believe that they will lose everything when they die. Which is why they are not concerned what happens when they die. But, as believers and practitioners of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, we must firmly believe and correctly consider the reasoning of our current and future existences.
The portion continues on with a passage from the Sutra of the Great Assembly. But I will go into that tomorrow.
Since the beginning of the “year of advancing toward Kosen-rufu”, we have shakubuku efforts throughout the year, and we are two and a half months away from the end of this year. I cannot say that we are close to accomplishing our goals, but I can say is that we are striving in more ways than one. We are close to accomplishing twenty shakubukus this year, and we want to move further ahead. Next year will be the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of Myogyoji Temple, so let us continue our advancement in the development of Myogyoji Temple and the Myogyoji Hokkeko Chapter.
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.