The Joy of Embracing the Flow of the Lifeblood Heritage
Propagation Lecture given in 2009 for the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho ankoku-ron (Myokyo, June 2009, pp. 44-50)
By Reverend Shinjo Kashiwaguma Chief Priest of Jushoji Temple in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture
Greetings, everyone. I extend my sincere congratulations to you today on your tozan pilgrimage to the Head Temple—the essential source of benefits—amidst the cherry blossoms that have started to bloom, as we celebrate the 750th Anniversary of Revealing the Truth and Upholding Justice through the Submission of the Rissho ankoku-ron. In particular, I express my congratulations to those who have come on this tozan pilgrimage for the first time and those who supported and enabled the tozan efforts of those first-timers.
As I was just introduced, my name is Reverend Shinjo Kashiwaguma, and I serve the Gohonzon at Jushoji Temple in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The title of my sermon today is “The Joy of Embracing the Flow of the Lifeblood Heritage.” Let me present an outline of my sermon: First, I will start by describing the Daishonin’s spirit of securing the peace of the land through the propagation of true Buddhism (rissho ankoku), which has been upheld continuously in Nichiren Shoshu throughout the ages. Next, I will talk about the benefits and joy that we experience by embracing this spirit as it continues to flow. Then, I will indicate the serious consequences of straying from the correct path. I will conclude by focusing on our general pledge into the future. I want to explain in my own way how fortunate we are and what we must seek to achieve in our lives.
The Daishonin’s Spirit of Securing the Peace of the Land Through the Propagation of True Buddhism (Rissho ankoku)
First and foremost, “securing the peace of the land through the propagation of true Buddhism” (rissho ankoku) literally means to establish the truth to bring peace and tranquility to the nation. What Law characterizes the “truth” that must be established? It is none other than Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo of the Three Great Secret Laws. In other words, [rissho ankoku] signifies the refutation of erroneous teachings and the establishment of true Buddhism; and the results of doing so will bring about the great benefits that characterize peace and tranquility in the land. The Daishonin revealed his reasoning in the Rissho ankoku-ron (On Securing the Peace of the Land through the Propagation of True Buddhism). The Rissho ankoku-ron is significant not only because it is the foremost Gosho among the voluminous writings of the Daishonin. It also is a document that the Daishonin used to shakubuku the sovereign of the nation, presenting the ultimate truth, with great conviction, to the powerful authorities of his time. Thereafter, the Daishonin used the truth set forth in the Rissho ankoku-ron as a standard and performed his Buddhist practices according to the scriptures in the Lotus Sutra, to propagate Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. As he propagated true Buddhism, he brought major persecutions upon himself and definitively proved that he was, indeed, the votary of the Lotus Sutra. Furthermore, he manifested his internal enlightenment and revealed his virtues as the true Buddha. Based on these factors, we, as Nichiren Shoshu believers, consider the Daishonin’s teachings to begin and end with the Rissho ankoku-ron. In Nichiren Shoshu, we uphold the Daishonin as the fundamental True Buddha and we consider the Rissho ankoku-ron to characterize the ultimate entirety of his teachings. Therefore, we understand that all aspects of Nichiren Shoshu are contained within the four characters that constitute ris-sho-an-koku (“securing the peace of the land through the propagation of true Buddhism”). Our Second High Priest Nikko Shonin, who established our Head Temple, not only inherited the profoundly mystical entity of the Law, but he also carried on the Daishonin’s spirit of securing the peace of the land through the propagation of true Buddhism” (rissho ankoku), without even the slightest distortion. He stated the following: Indeed, no matter what, we must carry on the will of our master and uphold it in this world. (“Reply to Lord Hara” [“Hara dono go-henji”], Nichiren Shoshu seiten, p. 560) Additionally, our Third High Priest Nichimoku Shonin, the Master of the Seat of the Law of the entire Jambudvipa world, wrote the following poem to express how, in any age, we must continue to maintain this spirit and persist in our practice and how, by so doing, we will be able to achieve kosen-rufu without fail: Throughout the times We must continue to uphold our spirit, At the base of Mt. Fuji, Let the smoke Soar past the clouds.Thereafter, the successive High Priests have continued to transmit the heritage of this spirit. They courageously have risked their lives and put forth their utmost efforts to shakubuku and instruct the sovereigns. The transfer of the Heritage of the Law entrusted to a single person and the spirit of securing the peace of the land through the propagation of true Buddhism have been upheld continuously for more than 700 years at the Head Temple Taisekiji, at the foot of Mt. Fuji. In other words, the very source of the struggle to secure the peace of the land through the propagation of true Buddhism is situated right here at this Head Temple. The commemorative exhibit at the Treasure Hall, which many of you may already have seen or may be planning to visit soon, will enable you to understand this struggle profoundly. The original document of the actual Gosho may be in the hands of the Nichiren Shu sect or the Soka Gakkai, but that only signifies their superficial possession of the writing. Clearly, it is essential for us to recognize that only Nichiren Shoshu steadfastly teaches and propagates the fundamental truth of securing the peace of the land through the propagation of true Buddhism.
The Benefits of Upholding Faith
We have yet to achieve full propagation of this truth. People lament in vain about the world. They seek salvation in a distant destination in the west or in a place far above the skies, or they hitch their hopes for such salvation on secular politics or even on strange religious leaders. However, their hopes represent an exercise in futility, since they do not choose to uphold the Law. As a result, we find that society is descending deeper and deeper into delusion and confusion. Even in recent times, when our world has been highly computerized and has seen great advancements in information technology, the very convenience that these advancements have provided us has, in fact, functioned to further harm us at times. We all are aware that, as a result, various problems are giving rise to other issues and continuing to intensify exponentially. To make matters worse, people are unaware of the fundamental cause of such distress. Even though they are burdened by various forms of suffering, they remain convinced that only what they can see and only what they can think define the limits of any resolution. Thus they continue to engage in their daily activities in this arrogant state. The Daishonin described these conditions in the following way: If one…fails to become acquainted with the Buddha of the Juryo chapter, he is no more than a talented animal who does not even know what lands his father presides over. (“The Opening of the Eyes,” Gosho, p. 554; MW-2, p. 153) Thus, a common mortal who does not possess the fundamental focus on the truth, even if he is talented in one way or another, is tantamount to a simple being that functions only to eat and sleep. Within a world populated by such people, however, we are most fortunate to have embraced our invaluable faith. Based on the benefits of our faith, we are able to transform the reality that is manifested today into a constant Land of Eternally Tranquil Light and firmly establish unshakable joy. Let me explain. Even if one is a mere common mortal with little to offer, if this person seeks the fundamental Heritage of the Law that solemnly flows through this Head Temple, and if he steadfastly devotes himself to faith based on the principle of the unity between master and disciple, he will find that the pure flow of the Law pours into his life. Furthermore, he will be illuminated by the brilliance of the Gohonzon, and his Buddha nature will be activated vigorously. As a result, this person will be able to attain the life condition of Buddhahood. This does not characterize the fun and joyfulness we frequently see in secular entertainment. Indeed, existing directly before us are the absolute benefits that are illuminated from deep within our lives. As priests and lay believers, we have been privileged to be the first ones—prior to the majority of the general populace—to be the recipients of the great compassion of the Daishonin and the successive High Priests, who sought to bring salvation to all mankind, and peace and tranquility to the world. Our lives will be illuminated and opened through their profound compassion. How could this not be true happiness? However, we must do more than just passively feel joy over receiving the precious benefits of this true Law. We must promote the joy that we feel over receiving these benefits into the joy of embracing a mission.
The Mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth
Starting in April , following the guidance of our High Priest, we are about to commence our campaign to chant 750 billion Daimoku. In the Gosho, “The True Entity of All Phenomena” (“Shoho jisso-sho”), the Daishonin wrote: Were they not Bodhisattvas of the Earth, they could not chant the Daimoku. (Gosho, p. 666; MW-1, p. 93) In other words, the Daishonin explained that we could not chant the Daimoku without cultivating the conviction and possessing the mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. Then, what characterizes the Bodhisattvas of the Earth? They represent votaries who have received a mission from the Buddha; who endure persecutions; and who find personal joy in wholeheartedly propagating the Law. There are four reasons for the advent of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth in Shakyamuni’s Lotus Sutra. They made their appearance in response to Shakyamuni’s order. They came forth to eradicate delusions from the minds of the people. They made their advent to assist Shakyamuni in revealing his true identity. And they emerged to propagate the Law into the future. These bodhisattvas are essentially the disciples of the fundamental True Buddha. As such, we must uphold our faith and practice as their followers in order to achieve our mission. In other words, we firmly must establish unwavering faith based on unity between master and disciple. Our Ninth High Priest Nichiu Shonin wrote the following: To achieve enlightenment, one must never stray from the will of his master. As a result, the stream of the Heritage of the Law will flow directly through him. (Fuyo-1, p. 64) Furthermore, the following ancient poem describes how enlightenment can be achieved by devoting oneself to the service of the Buddha: To achieve the way of the Lotus Sutra One must offer his service To collect kindling wood, To gather edible greens, and To fetch the water.In this way, we are able to manifest benefits in our lives only when we thoroughly follow the Buddha in body and mind and when we can be of assistance to him. The prime point of faith characterized by a disciple who devotedly serves his master can be exemplified by the actions taken by Nikko Shonin, who singlemindedly offered his constant service to the Daishonin. Furthermore, over a period of seven centuries, the priests and lay believers have continued the unchanging tradition of serving the successive High Priests, who represent the Daishonin. Additionally, in the branch temples, the lay believers have continued to uphold faith, based on the principle of unity between master and disciple, with the respective chief priests and teacher priests of the local temples. These all represent the vigorous flow of the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law. This faith, which continues to uphold this essential tradition without the slightest distortion, characterizes the faith of the Hokkeko.
Erroneous Sects: Negative Lessons and Denunciation
Miaole, in China, stated the following: Indeed, one is urged to look upon the essential source. If there is confusion at the essential source, then one will find surging distortion of the truth. (Shikan kaihon, vol. 1, p. 12) The Daishonin stated: If one disregards the master of the essential source—who possesses the wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, as vast as the great seas—and turns his heart elsewhere, he will bring calamity upon himself, without fail, in the transmigratory cycle of life and death. (“Reply to Lord Soya” [“Soya dono go-henji”]; Gosho, p. 1039) The Daishonin warns us that, if we do not constantly seek the essential source, we will be poisoned by our own arrogance and lose sight of true faith. There have been entities in recent years that have cast aside this warning and lost sight of the essential core. We can find negative lessons in organizations such as the Soka Gakkai, the Shoshin-kai, and the Kensho-kai. When we look upon these groups that have run astray from the flow of the Lifeblood Heritage, it is apparent that, even if they slightly retained the characteristics of Nichiren Shoshu in the beginning, they grew increasingly distorted as years went by and deteriorated into the pitiful religions that they are today. In particular, as many of you may have experienced, the Soka Gakkai has continued its campaign of irrational and oppressive tactics. In common terms, it has escalated its hysteria to the extent that it is not interested in doctrines or reason. Its singular focus and reason for existence is to harass and hinder Nichiren Shoshu at all costs. This is clear evidence that it has lost the essential source of faith. Indeed, it has turned into a pitiful organization characterized by fleeting and empty boastfulness. Nikko Shonin described such entities in the following way: Even if they are master and disciple, if he causes a distortion, he will fall into the hell of incessant suffering, even if they both embrace the Lotus Sutra.This is truly dreadful. However, when we consider the general premise upon which we receive the flow of the Lifeblood Heritage, we must understand that it is our important mission to endure the unreasonable behavior of such people and compassionately bring them salvation by strict admonition at times and gentle urgings at other times.
Continuing the Daishonin’s Compassionate Faith
When we seriously and sincerely perform our Buddhist practice—such as, doing shakubuku and promoting the tozan pilgrimage—we may encounter various problems or hardships. At this point, let us revisit the Daishonin’s behavior in his propagation efforts. He chose to appear as a common mortal, just like us, even though he knew that deep within him, his life was that of the True Buddha. Furthermore, through his behavior, he manifested his life as the leader of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. He described his life condition as the Buddha of Limitless Joy (jiju horaku) in the following way: The adversities that one encounters are a source of tranquility and joy. (“Orally Transmitted Teachings, vol. 1,” [“Ongi kuden-jo”], Gosho, p. 1762) He further stated: Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo is the greatest of all joys. (“Orally Transmitted Teachings, vol. 2,” [“Ongi kuden-ge”], Gosho, p. 1801) The Daishonin instructed us to follow in his path by indicating the following: If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth. (“The True Entity of Life.” Gosho, p. 666, MW-1, p. 93) He also stated: Those who practice the Lotus Sutra must follow the ways of Nichiren. (Gosho, p. 1370) Furthermore, he wrote: My disciples, form your ranks and follow me, and you shall surpass even Mahakashyapa or Ananda, Tiantai or Dengyo! (“On the Buddha’s Behavior,” Gosho, p. 1057; MW-1, p. 176) Thus, we honestly must follow these directions. Regardless of the various difficulties that we may encounter, we must refute the arbitrary attachments held by the Soka Gakkai believers, individuals in society, and even among believers who have become estranged from the temple. By showing them the true way, we can change poison into medicine (hen doku i yaku). We can transform our various difficulties into opportunities for our own growth. There may be occasions when we look upon shakubuku and activities to promote the tozan pilgrimage as obligations. However, if we uphold the traditional sense of mission, as the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, we will no longer perform these activities out of a perfunctory sense of obligation. Exerting our utmost efforts into shakubuku and other Buddhist activities will be directly transformed into the joy of faith. Indeed, as priests and lay believers, we are directly involved now in striving to achieve success in the Commemorative General Tozan pilgrimage, the Great Assembly of 75,000 Believers, and our shakubuku objective. These are the directives from our High Priest who has directly received the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, which has been successively transmitted from the Daishonin. By exerting our utmost efforts to successfully achieve these directives, we can accomplish the mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and ensure our own enlightenment. In other words, by inserting our precious existence—as individuals who share a karmic bond with the Bodhisattvas of the Earth—into the simple life of the common mortal, we are able to achieve absolute happiness that transcends the present and the future. If our determination is unshakable, this will be naturally manifested in our actions. It will take the form of sincere service based on the spirit of “single mindedly yearning to see the Buddha we do not begrudge our lives” (isshin yokken butsu fuji shaku shinmyo). This will lead to infinite joy. In other words, we will be able to advance based on our initial determination and putting that determination into action. The Daishonin wrote the following in the Rissho ankoku-ron: 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. (Gosho, p. 248; The Gosho of Nichiren Daishonin-2, p. 39) The Daishonin urges us to “waste no time” and to act “immediately.” He definitely does not tell us to act “whenever you get around to it.” Given the world of delusion and evil in which we live, how fortunate we are to be able to embrace the flow of the Lifeblood Heritage; to be able to devote our lives to the one and only absolute Gohonzon; and to be able to receive benefits of joy and to uphold our mission. We do not even have a fraction of a second to grumble and complain. The calamities occurring in our world are caused by the slanders committed by the people, and based on the awareness we must have of our responsibilities, I am convinced that we must look upon the current chaos that ails our world to be the result of our collective insufficiency in serving the Buddha. The compassion of our current High Priest Nichinyo Shonin has enabled us to fill our hearts with the realization and joy that we share a karmic bond with the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and to single-mindedly devote ourselves to our practice for ourselves and for others. We must strive to attain our own enlightenment and to achieve peace and tranquility in our world. This, in turn, will become the ultimate memory of our present lifetime in this human realm. I would like to conclude my sermon by reciting the following passage from the Gosho, “Reply to Sairen-bo” (“Sairen-bo go-henji”): There can be none who overflow with joy as we do. Therefore, wherever we dwell and practice the single vehicle, that place will be the capital of Eternally Tranquil Light. And, without having to advance a step, those who are our disciples and lay supporters can view Eagle Peak in India, and day and night, will go to and from the Land of Eternally Tranquil Light that has existed for all time. How inexpressibly joyful to think of it! (Gosho, p. 588; MW-7, pp. 26-27)