Risshu-e Ceremony 2010
I would like to thank you for attending today’s Risshu-e 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 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.
Today’s Risshu-e ceremony is to commemorate the declaration of True Buddhism by Nichiren Daishonin, declared 757 years ago on April 28, 1253. In the early morning of this day, Nichiren Daishonin stood alone in Kasagamori forest at the top of Seicho-zan Mountain waiting for dawn. As the sun rose above the Pacific Ocean, Nichiren Daishonin joined His hands in prayer and began to chant the Daimoku.
He also made this declaration in front of an audience at the south side of the Jibutsu-do hall of Shobutsu-bo at Seichoji Temple. He declared himself as “Nichiren, the votary of the Lotus Sutra”, and saying the first words to denounce the Nembutsu sect as one that led to the hell of incessant suffering. Many people in the hall were very offended by this; one of them was Tojo Kagenobu, the steward of the Tojo Village in Awa province. Lord Tojo was so offended that he tried to attack Nichiren Daishonin on the grounds of Seichoji Temple. With the help of senior priests Joken-bo and Gijo-bo, Nichiren Daishonin escaped safely from Seichoji Temple. After this incident, Lord Tojo saw Nichiren Daishonin as a mortal enemy.
As a child, before Nichiren Daishonin was ordained as a priest, He prayed to the Kokuzo Bosatsu to become the wisest person in Japan so that he could discover the true intention of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings. He specifically wanted to know, despite the Shingon sect advocating itself as the guardian of the nation, why the emperor had been defeated by the shogunate in 1221. This defeat revealed actual proof of the Shingon sects inability to protect the nation.
He further wanted to know why people were still suffering and even undergoing terrible and painful deaths who put their faith in Nembutsu. How could the Shingon, Nembutsu, and Zen sects proclaim themselves as the superior religion when proof pointed otherwise?
Nichiren Daishonin states in the Gosho “Repaying Depths of Gratitude” (Ho-on Sho),
When we look at the world, we find each of the various sects saying, “We are the one, we are the one!” But within a nation, there can be only one man who is sovereign. If two men try to be sovereign, the country will know no peace. Likewise, if one house has two masters, it will surely face destruction. Must it not be the same with the sutras?
(Gosho p. 1000; MW - 4,p.175)
Nichiren Daishonin rightfully thought there could be only one religion, one sutra that would serve the purposes of Shakyamuni. It was thought that Nichiren Daishonin had gone to different temples to study the various sutras, and through those studies He attained the ultimate conviction that the Lotus Sutra was the only Sutra that served the purposes of Shakyamuni. Nichiren Daishonin, however, was already filled with the knowledge of the Lotus Sutra, so his travels confirmed what He felt as a common mortal, and thereby deepened His knowledge as a realistic conviction.
As I mentioned before, Nichiren Daishonin made the declaration of True Buddhism on April 28, 1253. But He actually made His first declaration earlier, the month before on March 28th, with His closest friends, master Dozen-bo, and possibly His parents and brothers in attendance. This declaration on March 28th was solemn and respect worthy, without any dissent coming from the audience. This was not the case when He presented the declaration one month later on April 28th at Seichoji Temple.
Why did Nichiren Daishonin declare True Buddhism at Seichoji Temple? His first reason was the repayment of His debt of gratitude to Bodhisattva Kokuzo whom he prayed to as a child to become the wisest person in Japan. The second reason was His debt of gratitude to His master, Dozen-bo. The third reason was because of the contemporary significance of Awa Province, considered at that time to be the central place in the country of Japan because of the existence of the Tensho Daijin Shrine.
After declaring True Buddhism at Seichoji Temple, Nichiren Daishonin would face numerous persecutions. Amongst the major persecutions He encountered were the Matsubagayatsu Persecution, Izu Exile, Komatsubara Persecution, Tatsunokuchi Persecution, and the Sado Exile.
Regardless of the degree the persecutions took, Nichiren Daishonin knew they were going to happen as stated in The Lotus Sutra:
“Since hatred and jealousy abound even during the lifetime of the Buddha, how much worse will it be in the world after his passing?”
“The people will be full of hostility, and it will be extremely difficult to believe.”
(“Lessening One's Karmic Retribution” MW, v.1, pgs18~19)
“There will be many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill of us”
(“Opening of the Eyes” MW, v.2, pgs114~5)
Nichiren Daishonin's ultimate conviction in the Lotus Sutra is why we strive in shakubuku today. Immediately following His declaration at the Jibutsudo hall of Seichoji Temple, Nichiren Daishonin was attacked, thus proving the passages of the Lotus Sutra to be true.
Nichiren Daishonin later submitted “On Securing the Peace of the Land Through the Propagation of True Buddhism” (Rissho ankoku-ron) to the Kamakura Shogunate on July 16, 1260. He pointed out the errors of upholding heretical teachings, declaring that disasters can only be prevented if the people of the nation take faith in the Lotus Sutra. Forty-two days after submitting the Rissho ankoku-ron, Nichiren Daishonin encountered the Matsubagayatsu Persecution. This persecution was a result of the conduct of Nembutsu monks and their believers, who were backed by the Shogunate banding together to attack the Daishonin’s hut. He escaped this persecution, continuing to propagate True Buddhism with his life in constant danger.
Despite the persecutions and exiles, Nichiren Daishonin continued to refute heretical teachings. After each persecution, His determination to propagate True Buddhism grew stronger, and stronger, and stronger. The Daishonin teaches that to meet persecution or hardships for the sake of the Law is a means to offer a Buddhist apology and eradicate evil karma. He expressed His delight to face persecutions and viewed those who persecuted the Votary of the Lotus Sutra as good influences (zenchishiki). Nichiren Daishonin expresses these sentiments in the Gosho “On the Buddha’s Behavior”:
Devadatta, more than anyone else, proved the validity of Shakyamuni’s teaching. In this age as well, it is not one’s friends but one’s enemies who assist his progress. … For me, my best allies in the attainment of enlightenment are Hei no Saemon and Regent Hojo Tokimune, as well as Tojo Kagenobu and the priests Ryokan, Doryu, and Doamidabutsu. I am grateful when I think that without them, I could not have proven myself the Votary of the Lotus Sutra.
The significance of today’s ceremony is to express our gratitude to Nichiren Daishonin. Through His profound mercy, He overcame tremendous obstacles to establish True Buddhism for all eternity. We commemorate this day by making the determination to follow the Daishonin’s example of teaching everyone about Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.
This month’s daily Gosho passage expresses the declaration of His secret enlightenment in the Gosho “Letter to the Priests of Seichoji Temple.” The Gosho itself was written twenty years after His declaration. You will notice that Nichiren Daishonin never compromised himself or the Lotus Sutra during His propagation. It is crucial we all need to be in line with the golden words of Nichiren Daishonin, and the guidance of our High Priest, Nichinyo Shonin.
Nichiren Shoshu has designated the slogan for 2010 as “the Year of Advancing towards Kosen-rufu.” As you know, there is a chart on the wall in the lobby of Myogyoji Temple. I believe this is a number that can be accomplished, if we all strive ourselves in Itai-doshin (many in body, one in mind). This is the first year of our goal to accomplish the 50% increase of our membership by 2015, the 770th anniversary of the birth of our second High Priest, Nikko Shonin. What we do during this year is crucial to our accomplishment in 2015, and in 2021, the 800th anniversary of the advent of the True Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin.
Although we live in a totally different environment from the Daishonin’s time, we still inherit the spirit that has continued for 757 years. The teaching has spread all over the world. We all understand the fact that only the teaching of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo will save the people from the disasters, calamities, and turmoil breaking out all over the world. We must share this fact with everyone without fail, by carrying out the practice of Jigyo-keta, practicing for oneself and for others. Let us make great advancement towards our goals without having any regrets later on whatsoever.