On the Occasion of the April Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony
April 4, 2010
Reception Hall, Head Temple Taisekiji
On this occasion of the April Kosen-rufu Shodai Ceremony, conducted here today at the Head Temple, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the large number of participants in attendance, despite your busy schedules.
The month of April has already arrived in this “Year of Advancing toward Kosen-rufu.” I imagine you are devoting yourselves to your practice day and night, aiming toward the achievement of your shakubuku goals.
Nichiren Daishonin teaches that the Latter Day of the Law is the “Age of Conflict, when the pure Law is lost.” It is a time when the people’s minds are extremely confused, conflict is ceaseless, and tragedy and misfortune occur frequently in the forms of natural and human disasters.
In fact, when we look at society today, we can see that tragic and devastating incidents—such as frequent terrorist bomb attacks, warfare, and riots—are occurring over the world.
At home, we too are faced with various difficult problems, including political and financial issues. Under these present conditions, everyone feels apprehension about the future.
However, if we change our point of view, and look at the current situation from the perspective of Buddhism, we can understand that the Latter Day of the Law is the era when the True Buddha from the infinite past of kuon-ganjo makes his advent and reveals the great Law to save all living beings. Shakyamuni Buddha taught the following in the Wondrous Powers of the Tathagata (Jinriki; twenty-first) chapter of the Lotus Sutra:
Just as the sunlight or moonlight dispels the darkness, this person will practice [Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo] in the world and eliminate [the fundamental] darkness of all living beings.
(Hokekyo, p. 516)
In this passage, Shakyamuni predicts the advent of the True Buddha in the Latter Day of the Law. The Daishonin expounds on this passage as follows:
The sutra states, “Just as the sunlight or moonlight dispels the darkness, this person will practice [Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo] in the world and eliminate [the fundamental] darkness of all living beings.” Carefully ponder on the meaning of these words. “This person will practice [Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo] in the world” means that Bodhisattva Jogyo makes his advent in the first five hundred years of the Latter Day of the Law, reveals the light of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, and illuminates the fundamental darkness and earthly desires. The efforts of Nichiren and his followers to have all people in the country of Japan embrace the Lotus Sutra are the work of the envoy of Bodhisattva Jogyo.
(Gosho, p. 1393)
In this passage, the Daishonin refers to himself as “the envoy of Bodhisattva Jogyo.” However, this is his provisional status. If we read this passage from the perspective of his inner enlightenment, the Daishonin is the True Buddha from the infinite past of kuon-ganjo.
The Latter Day of the Law—the so-called evil age defiled by the five impurities—is the age when the True Buddha from kuon-ganjo, who is endowed with the great virtue to save all living beings in the entire world, makes his advent. He then reveals the fundamental great Law of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and leads the people who do not possess the seed of Buddhahood to enlightenment. Through upholding and practicing this fundamental, great Law of the five characters of Myo-Ho-Renge-Kyo, the people in the Latter Day of the Law can achieve their own happiness for the first time. Then they can also lead everyone in the world to true happiness.
We were all born into the world of humanity, which is difficult to achieve. We have encountered this Buddhism, which is difficult to meet. Furthermore, we have met the Dai-Gohonzon, the only supreme object of worship in the entire world. This is the greatest joy of all, which could not be expressed, even in a thousand words.
We should be profoundly grateful for our rare and deep relationship with this Buddhism and sincerely repay our debts of gratitude to the three treasures. If you receive this benefit and joy passively, and keep it only for yourself, this long-awaited benefit will decrease by half.
The Daishonin teaches that the sole cause for various human sufferings and misfortunes is the poison of slander against the true Law. The only way to eliminate slander and enable one to accumulate benefits is shakubuku. By doing shakubuku, we can expiate negative karma from the remote past without beginning, and receive benefits in this life and the next. This will lead both ourselves and others to true happiness.
The Benefits of Joyful Acceptance (Zuiki kudoku; eighteenth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra expounds the “benefits of continual propagation to the fiftieth person.” This refers to when one rejoices upon hearing the Lotus Sutra [after Shakyamuni Buddha’s passing] and preaches it to a second person, who in turn preaches it to a third person, and so on, until a fiftieth person hears the sutra. The benefits that this fiftieth person receives are millions and billions times greater than the benefits received by those who made offerings for eighty long years to all living beings in the six paths and four forms of birth, enabling them to attain the stage of arhat. Even the fiftieth person, who does not preach the sutra to others, can receive such great merit. How much more would the benefits be for the first person who practiced for both oneself and others! They are certainly immeasurable.
Illustrating the great benefits of the fiftieth person, who does not practice for others, the Daishonin teaches how tremendous the benefits would be for those who do preach to others. This is to say, the benefits for those who practice shakubuku would be immeasurable.
In fact, I know of many people who have received great benefit as a result of conducting shakubuku. One’s life condition can be changed through the practice of shakubuku. I believe that if a person devotes themselves for the sake of kosen-rufu, society and humankind—following the teaching of the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin—their life condition cannot possibly remain unchanged.
This year is the “Year of Advancing toward Kosen-rufu.” Advancing toward kosen-rufu is, in other words, advancing toward shakubuku.
I assume every chapter set this year’s shakubuku goal at the beginning of the year. Everyone should try to achieve the goal that they pledged in front of the Gohonzon, no matter what happens. This pledge was made for the purpose of achieving it.
“The Opening of the Eyes” (“Kaimoku-sho”) reads:
It is often the case that those who have shallow faith forget the promises they made in crucial situations.
(Gosho, p. 574)
I hope none of us will be judged like this. We should achieve the pledge we made in front of the Gohonzon with concentrated efforts, based on unity among the members of each chapter. There is no greater joy than reporting the achievement of your goal to the Gohonzon.
There are many chapters nationwide that have already achieved this year’s shakubuku goals. The Daishonin teaches in “Questions and Answers on Embracing the Lotus Sutra” (“Jimyo hokke mondo-sho”):
I pray that you will embrace Myoho-Renge-Kyo and achieve “peace and security in this present existence and good circumstances in the next.” This is the only honor to pursue in this lifetime and it is a guide for the next life. Single-mindedly chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and urge others to do the same. This will remain as the only memory of your present life in this human world.
(Gosho, p. 300)
I sincerely pray that all those attending today’s Shodai Ceremony will take these golden words to heart, and that each of you will participate in a great shakubuku effort, based on firm conviction in the Dai-Gohonzon. I also pray that you will establish unshakable, true happiness that will remain throughout the three existences.