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 far distances. 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 around the world decorate the altar with colorful paper cherry blossoms. Traditionally the “Rissho Ankoku Ron” is read during this ceremony. This 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 at once there was an earthquake and 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.
Last March, the Northeast region of Japan was struck by a tremendous earthquake that created a humungous tsunami wave, which devastated the region and took many lives. Following this major disaster, 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin stated the following at the Kofu Shodaikai in April:
After witnessing this recent great earthquake, I felt that I strictly had been reminded that the Daishonin’s warning in his Risshō ankoku-ron is real and not imaginary.
He further states:
At the same time, however, from the viewpoint of Buddhism, each of us now should sow the seed of the mystic Law (Myōhō) into the life of each individual. We must shakubuku as many people as possible, as soon as possible, and work toward the realization of the ideal land described in the Risshō ankoku-ron.
A Gosho passage states:
When great evil occurs, great good will follow.
(“Dai-aku Daizen Gosho”Gosho, p. 796)
I sincerely hope that you will have conviction in these golden words, and devote yourselves more than ever to do shakubuku with firm faith, based on unity between priesthood and laity.
Through this guidance, Nichinyo Shonin tells us that it is essential for us to continue our shakubuku efforts even in this crucial time. What is important about this is that Nichinyo Shonin provides us with what is essential to do shakubuku; and that is to have firm faith, based on unity between priesthood and laity.
Having firm faith means that we must be extremely strict when telling people about this Buddhism. Yet it doesn’t mean to be tough on them. Being strict means that when you are explaining about this Buddhism, there cannot be a gray area. There is black, and there is white. But there cannot be anything in the middle. Those who try to find something in the middle are people who are compromising on the practice. That also means that they are not putting their best efforts toward shakubuku. What I just said might irritate some people. But 68th High Priest Nichinyo Shonin told us during the June Kofu Shodaikai,
… faith means actual practice. If anyone around you has not joined Nichiren Shoshu, you immediately must take action and do shakubuku. When conducting shakubuku, you wholeheartedly must teach others about the great benefits of the Gohonzon. Furthermore, it is important to sincerely pray for their happiness.
Actual practice means that it must be put into action. Many people can talk about what needs to be done. Yet those who talk more are more unlikely to put it into action.
Accomplishing our shakubuku goals means that an effort by everyone in the chapter must be put forth. Since the beginning of this year, the Temple has been holding shakubuku strategy meetings twice a month, with the officers and coordinators in the local and outlying areas attending. During this meeting, every area within this chapter provides a report on their progress in shakubuku. By hearing the areas’ efforts, I want them to understand that they are not alone in their efforts to do shakubuku.
Last month, I visited members in Arkansas and Memphis, TN. At their meetings we read the Gosho passage of the month. Locally, we started reading the monthly passage last year, and I explained the significance of it to the local members during the monthly memorial ceremony, however, I never explained it to the outlying areas at their meetings until this last visit. While this may seem a small step to most, for the outlying area members, it is an enormous step.
This past June, while we were celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of this temple, Overseas Department Chief Rev. Gyoyu Urushibata mentioned the shakubuku efforts in India, and how three people were able to convert 1,000 people to this Buddhism. I already have heard that the country is continuing to grow. The reason for the rise in the membership in India lies in the determination of the people in India to accomplish their goals for 2015 and 2021. They are putting the High Priest’s guidance into action. There is a whole lot that we can learn from the experience in India.
We are now close to the end of the “year of taking action to do shakubuku.” I am certain that we have made shakubuku efforts throughout the year. This chapter is fortunate to have accomplished shakubuku in a much faster pace compared to last year, yet we sputtered in the summer months. For the remainder of the year, through High Priest Nichinyo Shonin’s guidance, let us strive in our practice of shakubuku with firm faith, based on unity between priesthood and laity.
In closing, I wish for further development of faith and greater health and happiness for each and everyone here today. Tomorrow is the Oeshiki Ceremony. I hope to see everyone here. Thank you very much.